NEWS. "ISIS, Despite Heavy Losses, Still Inspires Global Attacks." The Islamic State's territory-building project is crumbling, but it still has an international reach and an ideology that motivates attackers around the world. I always say, we can pulverize terrorism's camp with "mother of all bombs" and even take down their leadership but until we alter or modify a system that breeds anger and hatred, terrorists will keep on spawning, with or without actual support from ISIS or Islamic State. The Arab Spring was a lesson. And terrorism isn't just confined to Muslims and we know that. Many act and carry out mayhem as self-proclaimed jihadists or Right-wing killers or Extreme Left urban guerrillas and lone wolves by mere internet indoctrination. Hatred peddled, wittingly and unwittingly, on Social Media is today's New Danger.
IT is quite logical that most cellphone users are those people living in giant countries. China, India, United States, Brazil, and Russia are the top 5. Japan, although relatively a small country, at #8 is understandable. It is also the #3 economy in the globe. But what perplexes me? Why people in tiny nations like Bangladesh and the Philippines use cellphones a lot (#10 and #12, respectively). They love gossiping and selfie'ing and tweeting and texting all the time. Uh huh.
DO you know that the most digitally-savvy country in the world is Singapore? Aside from the fact that its government promotes a digital agenda, they pretty much had that coming as they coursed their magnificent march to economic heights beginning at the time of Lee Kuan Yew. Finland and Sweden are number #2 and #3. The US is #5. But that know-how doesn't entirely mean they are the smartest. Or owning the most awesome cellphone or kickass laptop don't make one intelligent; it's how we use these gadgets that make us smart. Although Singaporeans, Finns and Swedes know their electronic technology it doesn't mean they are super reliant on them as do others who use them more. A good balance of technological savvy and primitive reflex is it. Computer overkill makes us zombies; non-adherence to technology makes us cluelessly isolated.
LET's TALK ECONOMICS. What is Trade Liberalization? It is the removal or reduction of restrictions or barriers on the free exchange of goods between nations. This includes the removal or reduction of tariff obstacles, such as duties and surcharges, and nontariff obstacles, such as licensing rules, quotas and other requirements. Such an economic dictum has always been prevalent in practically all regional economic summits, especially those controlled by the 1 Percent in the West (before the advent of the new China post-Mao or from the onset of Western mercantilism via Queen Isabella's galleon trades and/or Marco Polo's Silk Road trips to hang out with Kubla Khan in 1200s).
How does liberalization, aptly import lib, affect smaller nations prior to World Trade Organization's inception in 1995? Simple. The junk or substandard or "toxic" products that bigger economies rejected were funneled to smaller nations (read Third World) on "friendlier" tariff obstacles, duties and surcharges etc. Homegrown traders, of course, gobbled them up. Consumers eager and fascinated with anything "imported" bought into them. Now since production are spread out all over the world, the evils of import lib has been minimized since why buy a lawnmower or peanut butter that were manufactured/processed homegrown anyway just because there were shipped from Helsinki or Kentucky? Nope. They don't ship them anymore as much as they do MIT educated managers and product/IT designs for production. Hence you do away with higher cost or mark-ups etc etcetera as per supposedly excised taxes and tariffs.
Good for other countries but not good for America because of heavy imports since WTO's globalization. Your washer dryer costs more because it was made in Juarez, Mexico. Again, why blame other countries? Who invented trade liberation or globalization? What the world should do is sit down and negotiate on the basis of economic equality. We blame China for flood of products on retail, Saudi Arabia for oil pricing, Mexico for deluge of (undocumented) workers, and Russia for everything but not in the same way that we look at ourselves in the mirror.
For one, by way of globalization, bigger economies allowed other nations (via businesses or other organizations) to develop international influence or start operating on an international scale. Thus member countries, especially China and Russia are now able to compete with the US and Europe. Rest is history. How many huge US companies maintain plants in Mexico for example while Mexico remains as the #4 top exporter of oil to the US, and that's just across the border. Saudi Arabia is boss of OPEC but Aramco, the biggest oil field out there, is owned by US and Britain. Still, American oil magnates control global oil pricing. The Saudis allowed diggings of oil but we gotta supply them arms among other concessions. Russia? Russia is top producer of crude oil but they don't use their oil the way we in the US do. They use their oil as leverage to excise influence globally. China? Okay. I have to stop.
WHY did the United States put its mighty hand on Colombia's "Drug Wars" in the `90s and not in the Philippines' current version? Why President Duterte's anti-Washington girth is so convenient, for now? Okay. Colombia is #1 in coca production (think pharma 1 Percent) and it is, to date, the #4 (or #5) oil exporter to the US. (Forget about how America loves the blow.) The Philippines? There are no poppy fields or oil reserves in the islands. BUT there were two gargantuan US military bases that spelled (military) impregnability to Washington in the region. Need I recount how significant the archipelago was in the Pacific War, Korean War, and Vietnam War? Why Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam evolved into US (or West) allies?
WHY Vladimir Putin is a genius? Russia, which consolidated its massive oil wealth (#1 globally) after USSR, is NOT a member of OPEC. But a member of World Trade Organization (like China). The world's Top Three: United States, China and Russia are not OPEC members yet the US and China control world trade. Kremlin excises power over non-allies (of the West). There is no trade if there is no oil. Why is Canada a power, too? Simple: They can trade but you don't control their oil pricing (#7 producer but non-OPEC member). And why Brazil, Mexico, and Norway are powers in their own right/s? Non-OPEC members but they can compete on the WTO table. North Korea? They don't care. They don't need Netflix or Walmarts. (And their iPhones come from kin Seoul or bro Guangzhou. Made of smuggled Campbell Soup cans tied by strings. So no tax.)
RUSSIA! RUSSIA! Of course President Trump and the Russians had a deal. They are compadres. Don't people know that? It's clear as sunlight even before the D maneuvered himself to GOP kingdom come. Then he won and what do we expect? But I see all this as more of crude oil issue. As long as the US chugs in 20+ percent of total global consumption, oil will still be the top-tier issue in America irrelevant that we are #3 in production. Meantime, Saudi Arabia stays as #2 exporter to US in last 20 years, irrelevant of Arab Spring's possible blowback and ISIS threats in Middle East. President Obama stuck with Saudi Arabia/OPEC pricing despite warnings of production cut. Vladimir Putin saw that opportunity, sure. This dude is a genius in reading signs. So why not help Trump? Right?
But then Russian steel companies were already here even before Trump loomed and Obama and Congress (that time) already let Russia in WTO in 2012. So they can always compete trade-wise, irrelevant of Trump. Just like when China entered this globalization wagon by way of Clinton/George W in 2001. Now that the Russian fiasco pulled Trump deeper (all time low in public approval for a US president plus embarrassing schism in White House), now we turn to Saudi Arabia again. I saw that coming.
The Kingdom was whining over arms promised them (among others, in exchange for US/UK oil drillings) to fight the ISIS or Muslim extremism especially in Yemen which Obama cut. Obama's Defense appropriation was unprecedentedly huge so when Trump upped it some more, it's not surprising. Defense or military power are compelling negotiating chips. What's weird is, why is it Trump is balking on NATO's (esp. Germany and France) proposal in re pooled resources vs global terrorism and his issue is money? Shows that Trump doesn't know what he's doing or people around him are at odds what is it that's good for Washington.
BTW that ISIS crap in the south of the Philippines was obvious. It's gotta be ISIS otherwise how else can Washington justify repositioning itself in South China Sea without it's military clout? That's why (Philippine) President Duterte turned to Moscow. Beijing will not bite Washington's bone vis a vis Defense dare. They're busy spreading out business globally. Also, the world underestimates Vlad Putin. He knows how to work things out. He is a master spy thinker. And he's got oil first of all. Repeat: Oil is power. I don't think ISIS is going to shake his butt anyhow the way terrorism pummels top European allies. At this juncture, Putin is more influential globally than Trump is which is sad for Americans, especially that Trump just pissed Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.
Meanwhile, I do understand this anti-Russia brouhaha. It's easier to hate them than the Germans or Japanese, for example. Thing is, while we are busy reading the news and discussing shit on social media, the Russians just got in (in the way the Chinese did). And they got in few years before 2017.
I DON'T get it why some people still hail hallelujah WikiLeaks. Julian dude has always been Kremlin's leverage. Where is he? Ecuadorian embassy. And who's a friend of Ecuador? China. Both Russia and Ecuador got oil. Both countries are beneficiaries of Chinese credit or investment. The US and Ecuador used to have close ties, especially in combating drug trafficking etcetera, until President Correa offered political asylum to Julian Assange in 2012. Ecuador and Iceland (where WikiLeaks was formed) have extradition treaty with the US but refuse to honor it. The Chinese leadership isn't like Vladimir Putin. They don't bully, they offer business. And Assange is business to Beijing. Meantime, he is Russia's negotiating chip.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT. It's just something that makes Social Media alive. Imagine if Russia is Greenland or Trump is as cute as Trudeau? Facebook will be boring. No one to diss, nothing to ridicule. Long time ago, we'd probably leaf through morning paper for 10 mins and watch evening news for 15, eat breakfast and supper, check out "Bewitched!" or baseball, sleep. Wake up, drive kids to school, go to work, pay bills. I mean, did we talk much about Russia during Cold War as much we do these days? Escobar was handing out moolah to poor Colombians and selling coke to Americans, and blood spilled in the street like monsoon flood, yet did we ever care beyond a glance? New Wave and hair bands were more fun dalliances in those years. Ellsberg before, Assange today. Same story yet the Mighty MIBs, on 1 Percent payroll, are still doing it. Tomorrow they will be whistleblowing what the world already knew but choose to ignore in favor of ice cream and funnel cakes or Buds.
In these times of Netflix and politics, these are okay distractions from funk and blues, as long as hey did they do something about mortgage and stuff lately? Truth is, whether Trump sits still or gets out the door, another target practice will be onstage. And we will still be feeling the pain in our gut. At least yes I enjoyed "My Sharona" and "Turning Japanese Sa!" in those years. Yet there were massacres in Bologna and El Salvador, airport attacks in Rome and Vienna and a Beirut bombing that killed 299 American and French servicemen. Three important political figures were assassinated: Anwar Sadat, Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Olof Palme yet people didn't argue or unfriend. Instead they forgot their ism fixation and partyline allegiance/s and merged as one, somehow.
MORE on these so-called Trials or Justice System. TRIAL by the mob, media overkill, or public perception don't really work in American jury system. Throw in the best in Defense lawyering in the likes of F. Lee Bailey, Gerry Spence, or Johnnie Cochran? Done. They will exploit what's in front of them to the hilt and win. I don't know who Bill Cosby's lawyers are but history repeats itself for a reason or two. Cochran (in O.J. trial): "I don't fight. I win." Who bailed out Imelda Marcos in her racketeering etc New York trial in 1988? Her BFF Doris Duke. When the fact is, Imelda's $5 million bail money was just coffee dough in the Marcoses' stash lounging in a Swiss bank. More so, her I am the victim the Filipino people are my children I love them tearjerker worked in front of the jury weaned on daytime soap. The media don't hand down verdicts, you see. The jury does.
Like, can you imagine if Pablo Escobar was brought to Miami to face trial? He had to be wasted because he had to be wasted, period. Meantime, Colombia is still #1 in coca/cocaine production 24 years after his death. Who benefits? You tell me. This makes Julian Assange a genius. He had it all figured out from the get go in Iceland in 2006. He may not have the jury although he won the truth-deprived left side of the road. He got more and better than his "enlightened" public exalting his WikiLeaks. He's got Moscow and Beijing behind him. Genius!
SINCE there's so much talk about China and Russia which are traditional Communist powers (agrarian and proleteriat, respectively), and are currently spreading out influence in Southeast Asia, in place of America and Europe's (England, Netherlands, Spain, France) historical protectionist hold, many think the region is Communist/Socialist by itself. No. I'd say the region is more religious/cultural than ideological. Yet there were significant instances when Communism, Chinese/Maoist styled mostly, tried to slip in particularly in British Malaya (Malaysia) and Indochina (Vietnam, Cho Chi Minh time) or via Sukarno’s Indonesia or Ne Win's Burma (Myanmar) as well as during Pol Pot's horror reign (Cambodia).
An interplay between nationalism, internationalism, and communism was/is prevalent in the region. To understand that better, try to define "nationalism" Eastern style than via Western thinking and maybe zoom in on Thailand (Siam), the only country in Southeast Asia that wasn't invaded or colonized by a foreign power. Internationalism, Eastern way, is not globalization (WTO design) or globalism, by the way. Credit the Chinese for shrewdly cocktailing (active verb) Eastern internationalism and Western/US globalization and then look at them now.
Meantime, you may ask, why is it Asean (the organization) is tight, especially economic wise? And why West's 1 Percent emissary George Soros is perennially focused in the region like a modern day Marco Polo (to the East)? Then we need a few beers to discuss the Asian Tigers and Asian Cubs of the 1990s. And I will tell you why it isn't about China or Russia why Southeast Asia and/or Philippine president (and Asean head) Duterte acts the way he does via a vis Washington and European Union.
DON'T superpowers influence national elections in other countries where their 1 Percenter interest thrives? I believe that is a no-brainer. Russia got in WTO in 2012 even before this Trump/Russia fiasco came out. With the Chinese' staggering investment in the US and vice versa, don't mutual "interference" happens? Don't their respective emissaries meet up secretly in some backroom of a steakhouse and discuss business? Don't we know that? Then a 25 year old youngster touched the issue. Boom! Jailed. Wanna be rescued as well by the Russians? It's both sad and dumb. One breaks the law in the name of a political/economic truth that has always been the case since the politico and the trader became BFFs.
I DON'T think communism/socialism still exists in its traditional template or model. Especially in the economic sense. It's interesting though how the Chinese (traditional agrarian socialism) modified (or interfaced) their communist principle with Western-styled capitalism. How is that? For one, the Central Committee still commands the loyalty of its workforce (disciplined via Maoist production style adherence) in terms of quota/product delivery yet their marketing mojo is old school capitalism. Their capital spread out globally in just less than 20 years (since their entry to WTO in 2001).
Meantime, the Russian Marxism (proletariat socialism) still works due to their focused or grip of the culture but Kremlin's problem is diversification vis a vis marketing. Russia is "rich" due to its massive deposit of crude oil and natural gas (and how Vladimir Putin brilliantly fills up the gap between OPEC deals) but like the Saudis they are stuck with their ancient dictum (Saudi's religion, Russia's politics). These days though the capitalist 1 Percent is blurred. It's now a combination or partnership of all these guys. Diversity, you know.
IF you ask me, I believe China hasn't really changed despite their obvious embrace, or modification, of capitalism Western style. The Chinese are still essentially governed by a tightly-disciplined, production line-styled adherence to their government and socialist principles yet they adapted big time with changing global truths and facts, and see them now. Capitalism, Maoist version. America's Left that are aligned with Bernie Sanders' socialist democracy, of course, believe that their guru could do better. Maybe. But again this is Corporate America, whoever or whatever governs. It is not the template or system, it is the people and the socioeconomic structure where it is housed that ushers a political governance. China.
BEIJING's socialism, or should I say the Chinese version of democratic socialism, is what works in these current times when the 1 Percent rules the roost. Many progressives gravitate to Bernie Sanders' version because it is very ideal. It hasn't been done, at least in corporate America. Or in its strictest sense, democratic socialism, which relies heavily on workers hands and face to face interaction, hasn't really been tried within/around current computer technology reality. Think Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Pakistan, late 70s) or Olof Palme (Sweden, early 80s).
China's socialism is realistic than idealistic--because it works. It's staring at us. First, it compromised with WTO's austere regulations when they got in 2001. Then they regrouped and slowly ushered their own shrewd version of globalization. More so, they recognize the 1 Percent because the 1 Percent isn't just the cloud, it is the sky unfortunately. They work around Western protectionist capitalism till we don't know anymore where's 1 Percent in the Chinese side of economic Milky Way.
I mean, they knew that Russia's oil will start to boil as OPEC roils over Arab Spring and ISIS blowbacks. But Kremlin isn't high on diversification like the Chinese do. So Beijing lent Russian oil magnates money so they can keep digging as China keeps on investing in other industries. America's young has begun to dismiss the 1 Percent and its wasteful shenanigan that kills the environment so China offered its 1.3 billion-strong non-complaining humanity to do the factory work. So there. Now they are spreading the love globally. But this is "love" not nirvana love ruminating in a haze of herbal smoke, trapped in dreamful inertia. This is "love" that pays the rent in a swirl of sweat, pro-active with a timeline. Chinese socialism in the time of apps.
DO you know that more recent terrorism related attacks and deaths in Western Europe were more widespread in 1979-80 than they are these days? Number of attacks then was 1,615 against 2015-16's 604. Deaths were tallied at 719 then; 383 in 2015/16. Number 1 cause of death in those years? Suicide, which accounted for 433. Terrorism, 1. Western Europe, yes. But it's a compelling indication of what it was then and now in our midst. It's interesting if we could sit down and figure things out why. By the way, the data above was from the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database. Not my data or alternative fact. Western Europe: Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.
A NEW York Times article infers that China may be oversharing. Sharing stuff. Ride sharing. Bike sharing. Then there's start-ups on share umbrellas, concrete mixers and mobile phone power banks. One wants to share basketballs. What is wrong with sharing? How can we over-share? This is socialist/communist China, after all. You know the story? Hint: Homegrown ride sharing in China drove Uber out of the giant country, uhh giant market. That is why. And that's the story.
DO you know that the world's top two oil companies in terms of revenue are Chinese? China National Petroleum Corporation ($428.62 billion/year) and PetroChina ($367.982)? China is "only" #6 in oil production. America's Exxon Mobil (#3) earns $268.9 billion annually. That is why the Chinese got money to help Russia dig up its massive oil deposits (and others elsewhere, mostly non-OPEC members). At least, Beijing commits $360 billion on renewable energy through 2020. NOTE: The US (eg Aramco etc) has more oil on its disposal yet the Chinese oil dudes are richer? That's beside the fact that American companies do essentially dictate oil pricing, globally. Yet the Chinese got more moolah? So who is smarter?
NORTH Korea is our favorite punching bag. Villain royale! Their leader's hairdo worse than President Trump's. Nuke devils! But then check this out. Aside from the fact that many of their basic services are a lot better than ours, it's not like many Americans are scared of visiting that communist nation. Uri Tours, headquartered in Kearny NJ, brings thousands of tourists there each year. I mean, you may even participate in a marathon officially sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations. They got funnel cakes and organic leeks out there as well.
It is popularly known that North Korea bans religion. But then Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is run by evangelical Christians. Founded seven years ago by a South Korea-born American, the school has thrived because of a deal with the leadership. It provides children with an education they cannot get elsewhere — computer science, agriculture, international finance and management, all conducted in English by an international faculty. And you know they don't ban the utterance of "Merry Christmas!" in this school.
Let's be kind to one and all. And they'll be kind with us, too. And stop believing in all those media links fed by Murdoch and Soros. You see, going to another place that isn't our comfort zone is a no-brainer. Common sense. If your agent says, no dissing their bosschief leader, don't. Respect the sonamagun. At least pretend since it's not like he's gonna share his kimchi with you in an official dinner, anyway. Who do you think you are? Jared K? LOL! If your host says, weed is cilantro and coke is Coca Cola there, and that's what those are, believe. Don't argue. Don't fight. Don't get jailed. Don't be stupid. Otherwise don't go. Yet there are more to enjoy in places like North Korea than you know. You know what I mean, right?
THE kind of "licks" that WikiLicks lick/ed out to the public seemed so new yet these are old stuff. Long time ago, scribes like Antonio Pigafetta for example wrote shit detailing gruesome shenanigans by the white explorer somewhere else beyond Cracker Barrel. Imagine, if there's already an iBook that time? Or Facebook? Meantime, awful things happened in Islas de Filipinas for 300 years and then when Spain and USA were wrestling each other who'd wrest power over the tiny country, more awful things went down. Same during the Pacific War. And so on and so forth. Those were "open" secrets. No need to lick them. Surveillance and spying are widespread especially during the Cold War. Or politicians carelessly talking (or exchanging correspondence/s) with whoever that they shouldn't.
Only difference is, these "licks" weren't sold to the public like merchandise. We "buy" them or buy into them. We say, "OMG! That was awful!" And then we discuss and debate these in Social Media. Chat argue fight explain elaborate chat again etc etcetera. Unfriend unfriend unfriend more. And then boom! We already spent so much time online. We just forgot that we overdrafted again and oh well! We've been "licked" again!