Daily Digest 1/7 – US-Iran Tensions Send Gold Higher, A Challenging Decade is Upon Us


“On the Edge of a Precipice”​ – A Challenging Decade is Upon Us (Thomas R.)

Modern agriculture has been very successful in delivering calories, basically by converting copious amounts of fossil fuels into food, but rather less so in delivering nutrients. This is because it exhausts top soil and organic matter, critical to produce nutrient-dense foods. As such the health crisis will become worse as a depleted nutrition acts as a catalyst to major diseases.

The Future of America’s Contest with China (tmn)

Xi’s speech gave no acknowledgment of the headlines—China’s heavily criticized internment of Muslims in Xinjiang, protests in Hong Kong, a grinding trade war with the United States. In his telling, the momentum of history was beyond question. “No force can shake the status of our great motherland,” Xi said. “No force can stop the advance of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.”

Man who called Dow 20,000 says one of the biggest stock-market dangers in 2020 is ‘people could be throwing risk to the wind’ (Thomas R.)

The U.S. is “much less impacted by oil shocks than we were years ago,” the professor said. “I suspect minimal economic impact from this,” adding that he believes that Saudi Arabia would also come into pump additional oil to deflate the price of crude, which has soared in the past two sessions after Soleimani’s assassination. West Texas Intermediate oil for February delivery CLG20, -1.00% was trading at a roughly seven-month high, gaining 0.5% on Monday.

Esper contradicts Trump on targeting Iranian cultural sites: We ‘follow the laws of armed conflict’ (tmn)

“Nothing rallies people like the deliberate destruction of beloved cultural sites. Whether ISIS’s destruction of religious monuments or the burning of the Leuven Library in WWI, history shows targeting locations giving civilization meaning is not only immoral but self-defeating,” one of the officials told CNN.

US-Iran tensions send gold to its highest level in nearly 7 years (Thomas R.)

The situation is pushing global investors to sell stocks, while Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, reached $70 per barrel on Monday. “The market is pricing in an event like Iraq seeing a significant disruption to supply” as foreign companies pull their personnel, Anish Kapadia, director of energy at Palissy Advisors, told me.

U.S.-led coalition says it will withdraw from Iraq -letter (Thomas R.)

“Sir, in deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement,” read a letter from United States Marine Corps Brigadier General William H. Seely III, the commanding general of Task Force Iraq.

A Terrorist Attack Against Eurasian Integration (westcoastjan)

In this extraordinary and unprecedented situation, the Russians and Chinese are offering themselves variously as military, political and economic guarantors of the emerging Eurasian mega-project (the recent naval exercises between Beijing, Moscow and Tehran serving as a tangible example of this commitment). Naturally, it is in their interests to avoid any extended regional conflict that may only serve to throw a monkey wrench into their vast Eurasian mega-project.

Putin and Xi Jinping face tough days ahead, trying to council Iran in avoiding an excessive response that would give Washington the perfect excuse for a war against Iran.

SpaceX is now the world’s largest satellite operator (Thomas R.)

Becoming a satellite operator has not been without its challenges for SpaceX. It has had to work closely with the Air Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron to track its Starlink satellites and ensure they do not collide with other satellites on orbit. SpaceX has also faced a backlash of criticism from astronomers and dark sky advocates who say its “trains” of satellites have polluted the sky. In response, SpaceX has said it will take steps to make the satellites less visible and disruptive to nighttime skies.

Dozens of Iranians and Iranian Americans report being detained at US border crossing (Thomas R.)

“Many more were reportedly refused entry to the United States due to a lack of capacity for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to detain them,” the group states.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are at one of their highest points since the 1979 Iranian Revolution after President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike that killed the regime’s top general near the Baghdad airport last week.

Iraqi parliament passes resolution to end foreign troop presence (Thomas R.)

Since the killings, rival Shi’ite political leaders have called for U.S. troops to be expelled from Iraq in an unusual show of unity among factions that have squabbled for months.

“There is no need for the presence of American forces after defeating Daesh (Islamic State),” said Ammar al-Shibli, a Shi’ite lawmaker and member of the parliamentary legal committee, before the parliamentary meeting.

Why Americans Fear Trial By Jury (Thomas R.)

In the recent celebrity Hollywood college admissions scandal, actress Felicity Huffman immediately accepted a plea and received a 14-day sentence, while Lori Loughlin was told by prosecutors she could go to jail for up to 45 years if she continued to exercise her right to a jury trial. Celebrities are especially vulnerable. Stanford University law professor Robert Weisberg said he could not remember a celebrity fraud case “that went to trial that led to an acquittal.”

Now you know why no one exercises their right to trial by jury.

Unjust Deserts (thc0655)

The idea that dollar stores are invaders ignores the fact that these retailers are expanding in neighborhoods that want them. And the notion that the stores lower the quality of retailers in an area overlooks how they’ve become popular in prosperous neighborhoods, too. “What’s driving the growth [of dollar stores] is affluent households,” an expert with consumer-research outfit Nielsen Company told the New York Times Magazine, in a story entitled “The Dollar Store Economy,” published before these stores became the latest bête noire of activists.

Risk of pension meltdown grows as Congress fails to act (Sparky1)

Congress did slip a rescue package into the massive $1.4 trillion spending bill passed last month for one plan close to failure, sponsored by the United Mine Workers of America. But the House and Senate are deeply divided on how to solve the broader problem. Democrats are pushing for a package of low-interest loans to prop up the funds, while Republicans want to boost insurance premiums paid by employers, add new premiums paid by plan participants and force more conservative accounting assumptions.

Chilling assessment: BEE has de-industrialised SA, pushed it backwards in time (thc0655)

That game is called Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and it has de-industrialised a country that once produced 40% of all the gold ever mined in all of recorded history, from the Incas to modernity. That country once pioneered the production of oil from coal. That country once pioneered the first human heart transplant and gave us the first base-bleed artillery capable of firing a tactical nuclear weapon. That country pioneered water treatment technologies that recovered safe drinking water from sewage and it produced sophisticated steels used in highly specialised engineering processes. The list goes on, but you get the point.

Will Oil Prices Crash Or Rally When Iran Reacts? (Michael S.)

Others agreed. “If Iraq were to plunge into chaos, up to 4 million barrels per day could be at risk. Even Saudi Arabia could not plug such a big hole. A risk premium on the oil price is therefore justified,” Commerzbank wrote in a note on Monday. On that note, the WSJ reported that oil companies in Iraq are stepping up security. The State Department told all Americans to leave Iraq, although it’s not clear that operations at Iraqi oil fields will be affected. Chevron is reportedly evacuating its non-Iraqi staff from Kurdistan.

Australian bushfires: Cops and arson unit round up 24 alleged firestarters in NSW (thc0655)

A further 53 people faced legal action for allegedly failing to comply with a total fire ban.

Police urge people to provide footage and images from phones, dashcam or other devices that show any of fires in their infancy, even if only from a distance.

Bushfires: Firebugs fuelling crisis as arson arrest toll hits 183 (thc0655)

“There is no one profile, but generally they seem to have a background of disadvantage, a traumatic upbringing and often have endured neglect and abuse as a child,” Professor Stanley said. “They are often kids not succeeding in school, or they have left school early and are unemployed. The boundaries between accidentally and purposefully are unclear because many arsonists don’t plan on causing the catastrophe that occurs. Often there is not an intention to cause chaos and the penalties for accidentally lighting a fire are far less than purposefully lighting a fire.”

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