Tuesday, June 2

After Doklam standoff in 2017, China got overtly aggressive at Indian border

I suspect that at least part of the backstory to China's more aggressive stance from 2017 onward is that India caught China's hand in the cookie jar. For years the Chinese had stealthily infiltrated Ladkah by gradually taking over various Tibetan Buddhist monasteries there and finally the Indians called them out on it. 

If you ask how the Indians could not have noticed for years -- well, first of all that is a very hard region to monitor. Second, it can be hard and often impossible to tell the difference between the looks of a Tibetan/Ladakhi and a Chinese national; depends on the Chinese region. Third, India's government had long tried to stay out of disputes between the Tibetan government in exile, located in India, and China's government. And fourth, Delhi wanted to stay out of feuds between the monasteries in Ladakh. 

Until, I surmise, somebody in India's military command said, 'Wait a minute. A lot of these Ladakhi monks are speaking Mandarin to each other.'  And then some Tibetan monk would've said, 'We've been trying to tell you this for years.'

Something like that, although the first reason I cited probably has a lot to do with it. In other words, India's government knew that Chinese citizens were infiltrating Ladakh but they might not have had a good idea until fairly recently how many Chinese had lodged there.

The Chinese are not only sneaky they are also nibblers. Little by little do they take a piece of a nearby region until one day: hey, it's always been China.  [laughing]  Then if they're told no it's not China, that's when they can get nasty. 

You have to keep a close watch and if you don't -- the Chinese view is that's your fault, not theirs.  

That's my two cents about the backstory, for what it's worth.   

June 1, 2020
India Today

Chinese activities after the Doklam face-off ended were more aggressive as it adopted a combative strategy at the Line of Actual Control leading up to the current build-up in Ladakh.

Massive buildings with multiple floors being used as army camps, model integrated villages, tunnels, four-lane roads — all close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — and new training modules of Chinese army are among the aggressive posturing that finds mention in security reviews after the Doklam row of 2017.

The current standoff in Ladakh is not the usual patrolling faceoff but part of the new combative strategy that was rolled out by China after Doklam, those observing China say.
Chinese activities noticed after the 73-day Doklam standoff, which was the most serious confrontation in recent years before the current standoff in Ladakh, present a clear picture of the Chinese plot.
The standoff was at the India-China-Bhutan trijunction. China’s road construction in Bhutanese territory was seen as an attempt to change the status quo by India and finally the road work had to be stopped.
On May 5 and 6, Indian and Chinese troops clashed at the contentious Pangong Lake in Ladakh leading to a big build-up in the entire region.
Indian Army carried out two crucial war games last year within a month’s gap in Eastern Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh to assess war capabilities with China against the backdrop of this aggressive display of strength by the neighbouring country.
Chinese activities, in months to come, were seen as more aggressive and unusual than in the past.

China’s integrated villages or extension of army cantonments?

The Chinese army is building integrated model villages that are an extension of cantonments close the Line of Actual Control, trying to ensure military and civilian population co-exist at the frontier.

Huge buildings with residential complexes having sports and recreational facilities like basketball and volleyball courts have come up in the last couple of years, sources said.
Officials say the idea is to have dual usage for these complexes.
However, there seem to be no takers as most of these are still empty with no civilians living here.
"Both the army and civilians can use it and its probability being done to strengthen the claim over the land in case of an escalation. They are an extension of military cantonments," said an official.
The places also have observation towers and under the close watch of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
There are over two dozen of these integrated villages across the LAC, mostly in the Eastern sector opposite Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
There are also plans to have hotels near the integrated villages that are under the close watch of the Chinese army.
These villages are meant to accommodate the tribal and nomadic population on the Chinese side and are well connected by newly made four-lane roads.
China beefed-up military power after Doklam
Even though the standoff ended, Chinese efforts to ramp it military infrastructure did not stop.
China mobilised its tank regiments in different sectors, in some cases as close as 20 km from the LAC after Doklam.
Fresh infrastructure build-up was aimed at lowering mobilisation time for the Chinese troops.
New training modules included firing and hand grenade throwing drills
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army had intensified its training schedules at the Line of Actual Control soon after the Doklam standoff in 2017, adding new modules in their routine, sources said.
The new training modules included frequent firing and grenade throwing and also more rigorous physical drills.
There were two new training manuals that came into effect in 2018 and 2019.
Sources said the intensity of these training sessions was more visible in "eyeball to eyeball forward posts" where Indian troops could see their activities.
India’s new war tactics and infra development riled up China
The Indian Army responded with new battle tactics and also enhancing its military infrastructure.
The current standoff was triggered by Indian road construction and the development of infrastructure that the Chinese objected to.
The Indian Army carried out two exercises last year in September and October close to the forward areas of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, respectively.
The Indian Army carried out a rare integrated military exercise combining its various wings in eastern Ladakh in September just days after a faceoff between the Indian and Chinese troops in the region.
The war games included tanks, infantry soldiers, paratroopers jumping from helicopters and mechanised infantry as a part of readiness exercise to test the army’s capabilities against China.
This was followed by another war game within a month, this time in Arunachal Pradesh test its new war strategy against China at 14,000 feet in Arunachal Pradesh 100 km away from the forward areas along the LAC.
The war games, to test the capabilities of the newly conceived Integrated Battle Groups, were carried out in phases in the upper reaches of Arunachal Pradesh near Tawang and faced some resistance from China but the matter was resolved through diplomatic channels.
This is the first summer after India put in place new tactics and the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir after which Ladakh is a union territory under the direct control of New Delhi.

Reducing mega-city populations. Lots of luck with that.

"Governments have tried to reduce the concentration of wealth and people in Manila since the time of Ferdinand Marcos’s rule from the 1960s."

By Siegfrid Alegado and Andreo Calonzo
June 01 2020, 2:30 AM 
Bloomberg Quint

The coronavirus pandemic is giving Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte a reason to reduce overcrowding in Manila, which in recent decades has swelled into one of the most heavily populated areas on Earth. 

Duterte is offering cash and goods to induce city-dwellers to move out of the greater capital region in an ambitious program called “Back to the Province,” one of the most aggressive attempts in decades to lure Filipinos to the countryside. 

With the pandemic exposing how swift population growth and urban migration have overstretched Manila’s transport, utility and health services, the government is now attempting to alter long-entrenched patterns of labor mobility.


More than 2 million jobs had been lost in the Philippines through April 24, about one-third of them in Manila, according to the Labor Department. The densely packed capital region is home to more than 13 million people, and accounts for about two-thirds of the country’s coronavirus cases. With the economy staring at its deepest contraction in three decades and unemployment forecast to reach double digits, many are finding life in the capital less appealing.

“Manila has reached its maximum,” said Marcelino Escalada, executive director of Back to the Province. Sustained migration to the capital “will not help us in this current pandemic,” he said.


Families approved for the program can receive as much as 110,000 pesos ($2,173) in money and goods. Almost 60,000 people have applied since the plan began in mid-May, Escalada said, with priority given to the unemployed, homeless and those living in disaster-prone areas. Thousands more are believed to have left Manila in the days leading up to the lockdown, sometimes with help from nonprofit groups.

The big challenge will be finding work in the countryside, with the program at risk of becoming a temporary solution for many until the economy recovers.

“Unless and until people perceive a more balanced regional development,” it may be difficult to draw them to rural areas, researchers at Manila’s University of the Philippines’ Population Institute wrote in a recent report. “And when migrants indeed move back, we need to give them enough reason to stay there for good.” 

The government can tap those who move to the countryside for local infrastructure programs, Labor Department Director Dominique Rubia-Tutay said at a May 27 congressional hearing. The department also has said returnees can be hired for short-term jobs such as disinfection and sanitation.

Governments have tried to reduce the concentration of wealth and people in Manila since the time of Ferdinand Marcos’s rule from the 1960s. As the seat of politics and business, Manila accounts for one-third of the Philippine economy, making it a magnet for people from the provinces.

The population of the capital region, which comprises 16 cities and a municipality crammed between the Sierra Madre mountains and Manila Bay, has ballooned from about 4 million in 1970 to 13.7 million as of last year. Including neighboring towns on the edge of Manila’s sprawl, the total urban area contains about 23 million people, according to a report by Demographia.

Resettlement on a large scale requires a comprehensive plan, from ensuring adequate social services to creating jobs -- and may even require new laws around land use, said Maria Ela Atienza, a professor of health politics and local governance at the University of the Philippines. 

The success of Back to the Province “hinges on the readiness and support of many agencies and local governments,” which are already strained by the pandemic, she said. “It’s possible that many of the lofty goals will not be achieved.”

Farming, Infrastructure

Even if city-dwellers move to the countryside, keeping them there is another issue. “In the villages it’s cheaper to survive for the time being, but the workers will eventually go where the jobs are,” said Chua Hak Bin, a senior economist at Maybank Kim Eng Research Pte. in Singapore. “Like it or not, that’s Manila or the rest of the world.”

Boosting sustainable employment in the provinces will be crucial. Duterte wants to industrialize the farm sector and build more infrastructure in the countryside, and businesses could be offered incentives to relocate. Still, jobs must match migrants’ skills and the needs of the communities they return to, according to Alvin Ang, director of the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development.
Regional Trend 

The Philippines isn’t the only country in Southeast Asia grappling with over-urbanization. With Jakarta suffering massive gridlock and slowly sinking below sea level, Indonesia is planning to carve a new capital out of the Borneo jungle -- although that’s on hold for now because of the economic crisis. Before that, Malaysia and Myanmar relocated their capitals to newly built cities, partly to relieve the strain on Kuala Lumpur and Yangon.



Monday, June 1

"Arrests began as thousands of demonstrators remained on D.C.'s streets after 7 p.m. curfew".

Quote published at 9:28 PM ET at Twitter page for ABC7- WJLA, Washington DC TV station.

Also from the same Twitter page:

"Military and law enforcement protecting the monuments" [a number of which were defaced on Sunday] [photo of security personnel]

"Chairman of the Joint Chiefs assessing the military presence in Washington, DC." [footage]

From Fox5 Washington TV Twitter page, published 9 minutes ago:

"The scene right now at 16th and I, 2 blocks from the White House. DC National Guard members are here but essentially no protesters. Very different from the past few nights" :


Andy Ngo: “There is going to be a hell of a lot of gaslighting.”

[Gaslighting definition. manipulate someone into questioning his own sanity].

Pointing to a Washington Post column headlined “Antifa isn’t the problem”: “That’s just propaganda and we’re going to get more of that from legacy media,” he said. “There is going to be a hell of a lot of gaslighting.”

Above quotes from a Fox News interview with Andy Ngo published 30 minutes ago, Andy Ngo: Liberal media ‘has many sympathies’ toward Antifa, conservatives didn’t take threats seriously.


Prevalent Covid strain in Italy could be greatly weakened

Reuters, MAY 31, 2020 / 2:44 PM / UPDATED 8 HOURS AGO

ROME (Reuters) - The new coronavirus is losing its potency and has become much less lethal, a senior Italian doctor said on Sunday.

“In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy,” said Alberto Zangrillo, the head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s coronavirus contagion.
“The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago,” he told RAI television.
Italy has the third highest death toll in the world from COVID-19, with 33,415 people dying since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21. It has the sixth highest global tally of cases at 233,019.
However new infections and fatalities have fallen steadily in May and the country is unwinding some of the most rigid lockdown restrictions introduced anywhere on the continent.
A second doctor from northern Italy told the national ANSA news agency that he was also seeing the coronavirus weaken.
“The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today,” said Matteo Bassetti, head of the infectious diseases clinic at the San Martino hospital in the city of Genoa.
“It is clear that today the COVID-19 disease is different.”
Italy's government is still calling for caution. See the entire Reuters report for details.

"Active duty US military forces deploying to Washington, DC"

CNN, 25 minutes ago:

An active duty military police battalion consisting of 200 to 250 military personnel is now in the process of deploying to Washington, DC, and could be in the nation's capital as soon as tonight, three US defense officials tell CNN.

The troops are expected to provide security in the nation's capital but not perform law enforcement duties such as arrest and detention of protesters or rioters.

Two defense officials said the troops will be coming from a unit at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Because of Washington, DC's unique status, the deployment does not require local authorization.

There is no indication that President Trump is invoking the Insurrection Act, which is not required due to the fact that the forces will not be performing law enforcement actions.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond for request for comment.


Also, from Sputnik:
Members of the United States National Guard have descended on the nation's capital ahead of the city's scheduled curfew, which runs from 7 p.m. local time to 6 a.m. the next day.

Wide damage in Washington, DC from rioting, looting, vandalism, arson on Sunday

11:59 AM ET, June 1, WTOP All News Radio, Washington, DC:
Bowser orders new curfew; ‘sad and angry’ after destruction, mayhem in DC during protests
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered another curfew for the District on Monday, starting at 7 p.m. and lasting until 6 a.m., following protests in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody.
She said the city will also be under a curfew Tuesday night as D.C. expects more demonstrations.
“I have spent this morning walking around the city to assess damage, and there is significant damage in the downtown areas, especially in the blocks immediately around Lafayette Square,” Bowser said at a news conference.
Among the stores damaged during Sunday’s protests were a looted liquor store in Foggy Bottom, a Giant food store in Shaw and a Sephora in Gallery Place. In Friendship Heights and Tenleytown, many stores were boarded up Monday, including a Target — which was hit — along with Rodman’s specialty store on Wisconsin Avenue.
Mayor Bowser knows Friendship Heights and Tenleytown aren't in downtown DC; they're in they city's upper Northwest with a mostly-white population. She also knows she left the door wide open for the mobs by not calling for a curfew on Sunday until 11 PM and bringing in only a small contingent of DC National Guards when the mobs were already clearly staging for an onslaught. 

She also knows that her Deer in the Headlights response to the mobs worked against the Covid lockdown and social distancing in DC that she's worked so hard to establish and maintain.

Or did she want to see Abraham Lincoln's memorial and the WWII Memorial defaced?  Did she want to see a church set afire?  Did she want the whole world to see the capital city of United States of America in chaos because -- uh, black people were angry?     


Washington to deploy more "federal assets" as riots continue UPDATE

Sputnik couldn't get the details; CNN got them less than an hour ago: 

Active duty US military forces deploying to Washington, DC 


Breaking news from Sputnik. "Details to follow."

See also Sputnik's Live Updates: "Mayhem in US Enters Seventh Day as Furious Riots Over Floyd's Death Continue"


"Antifa’s American insurgency The far-left has perfected the art of rioting"

"Media, politicians, the public — all of us — have underestimated the training and capability of left-wing extremists."

The quotes are from Andy Ngo's May  31 column for Spectator USA.  Andy Ngo has probably done more than any other American reporter to expose Antifa's tactics, and he didn't do it sitting at a desk. He repeatedly put his safety and indeed his life on the line to report on Antifa up close.  

Unsurprisingly Antifa and their supporters hate Ngo, and have done everything in their power to destroy his credibility.

As to whether I think Ngo is correct in claiming that Antifa is working toward a genuine insurrection in the United States, well, if they aren't, they could've fooled Ngo and probably others who've also closely followed their rhetoric and actions.

We'll see how much a threat they remain if the U.S. government actually starts treating them as terrorists, although it's extremely unlikely they can be legally designated as such.   

As to Black Lives Matter, from Ngo's column:
At its core, BLM is a revolutionary Marxist ideology. Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, BLM’s founders, are self-identified Marxists who make no secret of their worship of communist terrorists and fugitives, like Assata Shakur. They want the abolishment of law enforcement and capitalism. They want regime change and the end of the rule of law.
Antifa has partnered with Black Lives Matter, for now, to help accelerate the breakdown of society.
Many American Democrats sympathize with Marxist ideology, so BLM has had a built-in sympathy for its views. However, BLM might have made a catastrophic mistake in hooking up with Antifa.  We'll just have to see what happens when the damage from the 'George Floyd' anti-police rioting is totted up. 

See also Sixth Night of George Floyd Riots: Unparalleled Unrest Boils Over Into Utter Destruction Across US, Sputnik, June 1.


Sunday, May 31

Assault on Washington: historic St. John’s Church, several other sites set afire

RT, 1 Jun, 2020 - 02:53 / Updated 7 minutes ago
[Includes videos]

Multiple fires are flaring near the White House as a day of peaceful protests against police brutality escalated from tense standoffs with police into rioting and vandalism.

The St. John's Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square, a historic landmark located just 300 meters from the White House, was targeted by an apparent arson amid the chaos. Footage from the scene showed flames raging inside. The walls of the church have been tagged with graffiti.

The church is among the best-known features of Washington DC and has been attended by every sitting president of the US since it was built over two centuries ago.

DC police used tear gas to disperse crowds of rioters and make a clear path for firefighter trucks to get to the church.

The office of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations in the 16th Street Northwest was targeted by vandals too. Its windows were smashed and fire could be seen inside the lobby.

Small fires were started by rioters across the US capital, with plumes of smoke partially covering the Washington Monument.


Multiple fires set near White House minutes before DC curfew begins
May 31 -- 11:59 PM ET
WTOP All news radio (Washington, DC)

In response to a third straight night of protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew that started at 11 p.m. Sunday and lasts through 6 a.m. Monday.

Earlier in the day, Bowser had said she would not impose a curfew because she did not believe that the protesters engaging in violent behavior would abide by it.

Also, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec told NBC Washington that U.S. Marshals personnel, as well as DEA agents were deployed to assist police with security.

A tense night followed a day of protests at several spots in D.C., which prompted Bowser to call in the D.C. National Guard to back up D.C. police earlier in dealing with potentially violent protests.

Around the time curfew went into effect, a fire inside the AFL-CIO building on 16th Street and I Street Northwest was reported.

D.C. police said Sunday night that they were responding to “multiple fires intentionally set” around the city, including one reported at St. John’s Episcopal Church on H Street NW.

Near the Faragut West Metro, fire alarms went off inside a bank as its door was forced open and its windows shattered.

In Wisconsin Avenue NW in Friendship Heights, Montgomery County police provided backup support to D.C. police responding to dozens of people who broke into shops at the Mazza Gallerie.

Wisconsin Avenue at Western Avenue on the Maryland side was shut down. Montgomery County police said a group of about 75 people were running around after breaking into shops but none have crossed the city line into Maryland.

Protests at Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House, were at first “quite orderly but quite vocal,” WTOP’s Steve Dresner reported earlier Sunday.

As day turned into night Dresner said police attempted to disperse protesters, and what appeared to be rubber pellets were fired at the crowd, causing them to run and clearing Lafayette Square for a bit.

At around 7:30 p.m. WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez reported that someone broke the windshield of a D.C. police car, which led to “a volley of flashbangs and pepperballs” – a form of pepper spray that’s concentrated and directional – from the D.C. police.

Law enforcement fire tear gas as protesters increased their resistance, which included throwing bottles and lighting a flag, Alvarez reported.



See also Protesters deface World War II Memorial and other National Mall monuments  (including Lincoln Memorial).  


Cities sucker-punched by highly organized violent anarchists

Here we go.  


Two Americas

Man in Elmo mask dances along Philadelphia street wrecked by rioting

One of many huge crowds gathered to watch manned SpaceX launch

Top photo from Daily Mail's Anarchy in USA, May 30, as mob violence took over anti-police protests in 25 American cities.

Second photo from CNN's In pictures: SpaceX's historic launch, May 30.


DC National Guard mustered to defend White House. Looting, violence break out in DC

Statement from Commanding General, D.C. National Guard, 
posted on their Facebook page on May 30 at about 9:00 PM ET:
The District of Columbia National Guard (DCNG) has been activated at the direction of the Secretary of the Army in response to a request for assistance from the U.S. Park Police to help maintain order during protests in the vicinity of the White House.
The DCNG, the Nation’s only Federal National Guard, reports to the President of the United States through the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army. [...]
This news report from a Washington, DC television station WUSA9, published at 1:03 this morning, states that "some members" of the DC National Guard were deployed around 11:00 PM ET (5/30). From the report, the protests and violence are continuing.

From Fox5 News, another Washington, DC television station, about 30 minutes ago:

WASHINGTON - What began as peaceful, disciplined protests in the District in the wake of George Floyd’s death Saturday afternoon devolved into looting and violence around midnight.

Tensions between police and protesters escalated quickly as the night drew on, with demonstrators hurling burning debris and fireworks, and police in riot gear firing rubber bullets.

At one point, demonstrators could be seen shoving a burning dumpster down a roadway, and near the White House at least one crane and one vehicle could be seen burning.

The demonstrations evaporated, however, and were followed by ... people smashing windows, tagging vehicles with graffiti and looters pouring out of stores with armloads of liquor bottles.

FOX 5 reporter Josh Rosenthal noted that the looting caught on camera was just one spot in the city, which was dotted with crowds and protests at that point.


Returning to the WUSA report:
Multiple levels of scaffolding in an alleyway behind the iconic Hay Adams Hotel in downtown D.C. went up in flames as Justice for George protests continued on their second night [Fri, Sat].

Smoke and flames could be seen from nearby blocks and thousands continued to be in the area for demonstrations. D.C. Fire and EMS responded to the scene just after midnight with crews extinguishing the flames and keeping pedestrians out of the nearby alleyway where the flames went up.

No injuries from the fire have been reported at this time and the fire did not spread to the nearby Hay Adams Hotel.
The hotel is just north of the White House and blocks away from Lafayette Park, an epicenter for the protests on both nights.

Other fires have broken out throughout the night as protest activity picked up, with some members of the DC National Guard employed around 11 p.m. Multiple uses of tear gas have been employed with many pedestrians having a hard time breathing.

[Photos, video]

Saturday, May 30

St. Paul police deny one of theirs escalated rioting by smashing windows

I have deleted yesterday's post that mentioned the window-smashing incident and the claim that it was done by a policeman out of uniform. I did so after reading RT's report on what is currently known about the accusation and the official police denial. 

I don't know what to believe at this point about the situation. All I know is that I am weary of the constant uproar in the United States, the lies and counter-lies, claims and counter-claims, the protests and counter-protests, the shrieking news media and social media, the unrelenting political campaigning.

One commenter called my kind of weariness it "bluster fatigue." 

When it comes to the point where news about virus death rates is a welcome relief from the din, I think this is a sign of bluster fatigue and that I have a serious case of it.  

But weariness is no excuse to pass along an unproven accusation about a serious matter. My apology to Pundita readers. 

I think it's time I took a break from the internet and blogging. I'll return in two weeks. Until then,

Stay safe,


Thursday, May 28

I don't think America's economic recovery will be consumer driven.

Mark Cuban has been brainstorming, which is what wealthy business investors are supposed to do.  He's proposed a "use it or lose it" prepaid debt card for about $1,200 for each American household. Well, 1,200 bucks is a drop in the bucket next to what millions of American households need at this time. And I think many people would demand to use the debit card to pay for rent and other critical necessities, rather than helping to boost sales at stores even if the stores are in desperate straits. 

Right now at least one big rental company in Washington, DC is allowing tenants to work out long-term rent payments, and this is probably the same for big rental companies and mortgage lenders across the USA where pandemic lockdowns have brought business to a virtual standstill. 

But these are stopgap measures that can't hold for many more months if tenants and homeowners who are now months behind on their payments can't get work at a high enough salary that will allow them to repay. 

Mark Cuban's other idea is somewhat more realistic:
Cuban has also called for the implementation of a transitional federally-guaranteed jobs program to jumpstart a recovery giving people "confidence in their jobs."
But he's talking about making a temporary industry out of Covid:
"We're going to have to have a transitional, not permanent transitional federal jobs program,” he said, linking such efforts to the massive COVID-19 testing regime that’s been touted as a linchpin of getting the economy restarted.
“And so we're going to need to hire people, millions of people, you know, preferably for testing, tracing, tracking, supporting vulnerable populations, long-term care, you know, giving people jobs that they know, are stable, because that gives them the impetus to spend money," Cuban added.
I'm sorry but Cuban isn't confronting how badly Americans have been burned. They know there's no such thing as a temporary stable job.  Give them temporary jobs and they will save whatever money they can from the salaries, not make the kind of retail purchases that might save stores. 

The government needs to throw in the towel and create millions of long-term jobs in industries that build and repair infrastructure in the United States -- and in other countries. 

In short, the government needs to copy Beijing's vast make-work scheme for Chinese citizens, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative. Part of doing this would be to set up an American version of the World Bank. 

Such a bank would also sop up Americans who aren't fit to do actual construction work but have skills that a construction/reconstruction bank needs such as accounting, statistics, engineering, and the hosts of 'soft' sciences that contribute to numerous types of World Bank-funded projects around the world that aren't purely construction. 

Standing in the way of an American Bank has been  'geopolitics.' The U.S. state department and various other American players haven't wanted to relinquish the U.S. role at the World Bank because it gives them leverage with other Bank members.  

They need to change their thinking.  This needs to be done fast because of the really bad news, which the Yahoo! report today about Mark Cuban's debit card idea explains:
For many businesses, the future is uncertain. Some can't afford to bring back laid-off employees because they can only operate at partial capacity.
The other challenge they face is that 68% of people on unemployment are currently making more than they did in their previous job. In the past 10 weeks, more than 40 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance.
With much of the economy still shut down, “employers can't afford to bring them back. So they're stuck in never Never-never land,” Cuban said. “That's a huge problem."
Why yes, it's a huge problem, and it will an even huger problem when the unemployment benefits run out or are scaled back:  
The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in March, expanded existing unemployment benefits by adding an extra $600 weekly payment on top of the amount someone receives under state law through. However, Cuban pointed out that those extended benefits are expected to run out before August.
Against this, Cuban expects Americans to use a prepaid debt card to buy clothes and appliances? I think he's dreaming. 


Wednesday, May 27

China-India border dispute escalates. Trump pats air with his hands.

“This escalation is serious; I don’t think this is just a localised incident. China’s behaviour is more aggressive this time, backed up by a fairly large number of troops, which is not typical of this border where troop levels tend to be low on both sides. ..."

Does the big escalation also mean Beijing is sending a message to Washington to back off? We'll find out soon enough.

China and India move troops as border tensions escalate
By Hannah-Ellis Peterson
May 27, 202
The Guardian

Thousands of Chinese troops reportedly move into sensitive areas along Himalayan frontier

Tensions between China and India over their Himalayan border have escalated, with China accused of moving thousands of troops into disputed territory and expanding a military airbase in the region.

Thousands of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops are reported to have moved into sensitive areas along the eastern Ladakh border, setting up tents and stationing vehicles and heavy machinery in what India considers to be its territory.

In response, the Indian army has moved several battalions from an infantry division usually based in the Ladakh city of Leh to “operational alert areas” along the border, and reinforcement troops have been brought in.

The aggressive military posturing follows two skirmishes between the two sides on 5 and 9 May in the border areas of Pangong Lake and North Sikkim in Ladakh, in which more than 100 soldiers from both sides were injured.

On Wednesday Donald Trump waded into the heightened standoff, claiming that he had “informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute”.

The high-altitude border has been aggressively contested and heavily militarised since 1962 when China launched an offensive into Indian territory, sparking a short but bloody war.

Ashok K Kantha, a former Indian ambassador to China and now director of the Institute of Chinese Studies based in Delhi, said the recent incursions and border aggressions from China were “far from routine occurrences”.

He said: “This escalation is serious; I don’t think this is just a localised incident. China’s behaviour is more aggressive this time, backed up by a fairly large number of troops, which is not typical of this border where troop levels tend to be low on both sides. It could be a territorial claim or part of a wider messaging to India that they need to be more mindful of China on sensitive geopolitical issues.”

Kantha said it was “in the interest of both India and China to keep the situation under control and maintain relative peace”.

China’s actions appear to be a response to India’s construction of roads and airstrips adjacent to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which will improve connectivity and enable easier mobility for Indian troops in the area. Construction has paused during the coronavirus lockdown but is due to resume imminently.

There have been diplomatic discussions as well as multiple meetings on a local level in an attempt to defuse the tensions.

On Tuesday India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, held a meeting with his national security adviser, Ajit Doval, plus his chief of defence staff and three security chiefs to discuss “bolstering India’s military preparedness to deal with external security challenges”.

According to satellite footage published by the Indian news channel NDTV, there has been large-scale construction work at a Chinese military airbase less than 120 miles from the border in recent weeks, including the building of a new runway suitable for warplanes.

“China is committed to safeguarding the security of its national territorial sovereignty, as well as safeguarding peace and stability in the China-India border areas,” a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.

In a recent statement, India’s external affairs ministry blamed China for provoking the military escalation. “In fact, it is the Chinese side that has recently undertaken activity hindering India’s normal patrolling patterns,” the statement said. “The Indian side has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management.”



Tuesday, May 26

When saving face is more important than life itself. U.S.-China dispute.

There are so many subplots in Story of Yanxi Palace that I'm not being a plot-spoiler when I note that one of the emperor's consorts commits suicide because she lost face. Wei Ying Luo, the heroine of the tale, is horrified by this. New to the Forbidden City, she tells her supervisor in the embroidery department that she wouldn't kill herself even if a million people spat on her.  The supervisor replies that without maintaining face there is no surviving the Forbidden City.

That is still how a great many people think, and nowhere is this truer than with governments, whether democratically elected or imposed. Face is everything for governments. They will do anything to save face. 

Would anything include nuclear war? It could.  

That is why I hesitate to say there will be no war between China and the United States. If you remove the face factor, if those countries were run by people who thought like Wei Ying Luo, then I'd state with confidence there would be no war because so many things mitigate against it. But humanity does not have that much advantage at this time. So I think it's fair to say we are now in a very dangerous period.