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Sunday, May 31

Cities sucker-punched by highly organized violent anarchists

Here we go.  

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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.


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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.

[END REPORT]


Returning to the WUSA report:
[BEGIN QUOTES]
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]
[END REPORT]
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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,
Pundita     

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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. 

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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.”

[END REPORT]

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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.

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Monday, May 25

Top Five Reasons for Americans not to observe Memorial Day

Because --

5. It's not to observe the start of Summer.
4. It's not to kick off the political campaign season.
3. It's not to revile the other political party.
2. It's not to comment on the awful state of government.
1. It's not the start of barbecue season.

If Memorial Day stands for none of those reasons, then what use is it?

It's to honor the American soldiers who died in the line of duty. 

If that sounds like a dumb reason for a federal holiday, look at it this way. You have 364 days out of every year to express your grievances. But on one day, Memorial Day, you can take a moment to be thankful there are Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice to fight on behalf of their fellow Americans.

So this has nothing to do with your feelings about war or any particular American war.  You have a whole 364 days to protest wars and tell how awful they are. But on this one day, can you find it in your heart to act human?  

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