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The world, Gaia, our globe

Iran and China Tied by Threads of Steel

Global politics and global economics are interwoven. The way the warhawks talk about Iran, one would think it is just another primitive society. It isn’t.

IRAN: The Minister of Roads & Urban Development attended a ceremony to officially launch work to electrify the Tehran - Mashhad line on February 1. The first phase of the upgrading project is expected to take 24 months to complete.

Electrification and infrastructure upgrades will raise the top speed of passenger trains from 160 km/h to 200 km/h, and allow journey times on the 926 km route to be cut from around 12 h to 6 h. Capacity will be increased with a view to raising annual traffic from 13 million to 20 million passengers.

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An Intelligent Conversation on Paul’s Foreign Policy

Within the comments on a Vox Popoli post about Santorum comes a reasoned and reasonable discussion of Ron Paul’s foreign policy. At last!

Following are excerpts which I think flow together well enough. I would normally put this in “blockquote” style, but it is long so I am not quoting in favor of readability.

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SWW
I think you're essentially correct, that the foreign policy is an obstacle for many. It doesn't help that the media mostly distorts his position and attempts to box him in with gotcha questions. All in all, I think he handles it quite well.

But let me ask you, or anyone, how would you articulate the non-interventionist position any better, so that it wasn't automatically disregarded as crazy.

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Plutocracy Rising

Conspiracy theorists are held in disregard for their crazy conclusions about hierarchies of control. The New World Order, a canonical example of conspiracy theories, is alleged to be:

a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government—which replaces sovereign nation-states—and an all-encompassing propaganda that ideologizes its establishment as the culmination of history's progress.

To me, that’s more than far-fetched. It presumes a god-like ability to coordinate and control conflicting factions. People don’t fall into line so easily, and local conditions are always pushing them out of line. Even God can’t seem to get everyone to agree on who He is or what He demands.

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Fragments on Foreign Policy

As I argue around the intertracks, I find it necessary to confirm, extend and adjust what I think I know. As Big Media and the Righty Establishment is apoplectic over what they think Ron Paul’s foreign policy is, I wondered what the current foreign policy of the United States claims to be. To Wikipedia!

The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, as mentioned in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the U.S. Department of State, are "to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community." In addition, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs states as some of its jurisdictional goals: "export controls, including nonproliferation of nuclear technology and nuclear hardware; measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard American business abroad; international commodity agreements; international education; and protection of American citizens abroad and expatriation." U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid have been the subject of much debate, praise and criticism both domestically and abroad.

The essential test for all of that is: Is it Constitutional?

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A Gospel of Democracy

The People’s Economist, Walter E. Williams, writes about democracy and the Arab world:

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The Kerfuffle in Libya

The U.S. attacks on Libya have all the factions twisted around. I’ve heard the same arguments and justifications and condemnations for both ends of my radio dial. And across the intertracks.

I applaud those lefties who hold some integrity to the anti-war stance. We’re halfway through Bush’s third term. But it was a lefty who teased out the line from Obama’s speech about Libyan agents having killed Americans (a quarter-century ago) as evidence that Obama is defending U.S. interests and American lives.

Many righties and libertarian types are having difficulty with the newly-minted Obama doctrine, which seems to be call for U.S. military action when human rights are grossly violated. So, why aren’t we bombing Iran, Saudia Arabia, and Myanmar (or Barney Frank’s apartment)?

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What Do You Call a Racist Muslim?

Congressional hearings on the threat of radical Muslims have renewed accusations of racism and Islamophobia. A doubt about Muslims anywhere is an attack on Islam everywhere. At least in the eyes of our xenophile Progressives and Democrats.

One thing I find interesting about the multiculturalists is that the liberals and leftists who are most likely to be grounded in the actual realities of countries like Egypt and Turkey are those who are giving advice about them to travelers. They cannot adopt the “West bad, everyone else good” attitude that most leftists seem to have, because it can be dangerous. They need to give advice that is based on the realities of the country they are giving advice about.

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The Trinity of Evil

I’ve just previously quoted from Mencius Moldbug. His context was the rioting in Egypt. Moldbug’s whole post is worth reading. He winds up offering alternate responses to the official lines offered by Hillary and the current Administration.

Although not explicitly, Moldbug highlights that there are no solutions, only trade-offs. His lines fit well with both the anti-American-Imperialists in the lefty and Progressive factions, and with the isolationist libertarian factions.

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No Arab Riots in Israel

But why? An Israeli blogger asks—and answers—the question:

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The World is Awash in Oil

Not in the greasy-pelican pollution sense, but in the magic of higher prices leading to increased production:

As an article last month in The New York Times observed: “Just as it seemed that the world was running on fumes, giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia. In addition, the United States has increased domestic oil production for the first time in a generation.” Further still: “Another wave of natural gas drilling has taken off in shale rock fields across the United States, and more shale gas drilling is just beginning in Europe and Asia.”

A few years back, when oil was $120+ per barrel and gasoline was over $4 per gallon, the economically ignorant were concerned about the end of oil. Then the depression started and oil dropped back to the 60s for a while. The price of crude has drifted upward into the 80s over the past year. But the break-even price to make all those new fields viable was in the 40s.

So North American drillers kept working their plays.

With rising production from shale fields, the U.S. surpassed Russia last year to become the world’s largest supplier of natural gas.

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Bursting the Chinese Bubble

In strict terms, inflation is not a rise in prices, but an increase in the supply of money. More money chasing the same quantity of goods leads to rising prices. And prices rise not entirely by the laws of supply and demand, but are influenced by speculation about where newly-printed money will flow. It’s a divergence between the real economy of goods and services and the financial economy of interest rates and currency exchange rates.

When the financial economy is out of alignment with the real economy, it’s a bubble. Money flows to where the money profits are instead of where the real value is created. The dotcom bubble and the housing bubble were both products of financial manipulations built atop some lesser amount genuine value.

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Total War at the 38th Parallel

The two Koreas have been posturing for each other for over 50 years. It seems a hopey-naïve view to think they’ve been doing it just for the theatrics.

Isegoria posts:

Marching, shoulder to shoulder, into machine-gun fire is the height of folly. No amount of élan or “heart” is going to overwhelm entrenched machine-guns. To modern Americans, even marching at a line of enemy soldiers armed with muskets seems downright insane.

But soldiers did it, right behind the officers who led them. Napoleon, who knew a thing or two about warfare, declared that the moral is to the physical as three to one — it’s not the size of the dog in fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Why would he say that?

Because it’s true — largely — just not for marching into modern automatic weapons or massed rifle fire. Throughout most of history, posturing — convincing yourself and your enemy that you’re bigger, meaner, and scarier — has been far more important than physical fighting ability:

It is widely known that most killing happens after the battle, in the pursuit phase (Clausewitz and Ardant du Picq both commented on this), and this is apparently due to two factors.

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Add a Trip to My Wish List

A train from Moscow, first since 1914, arrived in the French resort city of Nice on Saturday evening, covering the distance of 3,177 kilometers (1,974 miles) in about 52 hours.

The train, which departed from Moscow's Belorussky rail terminal every Thursday afternoon, crossed the territories of five states.

The once-in-a-week train makes stops at Smolensk in western Russia, Minsk and Brest in Belarus, Warsaw in Poland, Vienna and Innsbruck in Austria and at Italian cities of Milano, Genoa and San-Remo and arrives to Nice on Saturday evening.

Prices for a one-way ticket range from 1,050 euro ($1,416) for a luxury compartment to 306 euro ($413) for a second-class carriage.

Russia launched trains to Nice from then Russian capital St. Petersburg in 1864, but the service was halted in 1914.

H/T: Maggie’s Farm

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The People of Antijudea

George Will makes two vital points in one paragraph. The first I consider lost amid the chatter of popular rhetoric:

The creation of Israel did not involve the destruction of a Palestinian state, there having been no such state since the Romans arrived.

The Palestinian identity is a recent invention. Yes, there has been that patch of earth sometimes called Palestine (when it wasn’t called Judea or Israel). But the people who lived there were simply arabs, or Egyptians and Jordanians if they needed a political label.

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Up and Down are Relative

Australia is “down under”. But that’s only an artifact of where the ancient mapmakers lived. This view is equally valid in the geographic and astronomical senses:

Politcal map of the world with Australia at the top

H/T: Theo Spark

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Pirates Fight Over PRK Ship Headed to Scrapyard

There seems to be more to this story that you probably didn’t hear:

During a serious shoot-out between two rival pirate groups surrounding the sea-jacked MV RIM, leaving 9 Somalis dead, the Syrian crew of the vessel managed to overpower six pirates on board and to sail free.

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New Dawn Coming to Iraq

Remember Iraq?

The current President has been quietly continuing the Bush Administration policy in Iraq. So quietly that it has dropped out of the headlines. No daily body count, no handwringing about unwinnable quagmires, no sensational exposés about the brutality of U.S. forces. It’s almost like a war was won and nobody noticed.

So, what’s really happening?

General Odierno, the top U.S. commander there, says (pdf):

he’s impressed with progress the Iraqi security forces have made, particularly since the new security agreement took effect in January. “Today, they are in charge everywhere in Iraq,” he said. “We no longer conduct large-scale operations in Iraq. They do. We support those operations.”

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Copernicus-Goldwyn-Mayer

When the sound stages and backlots of Hollywood were not enough to tell their stories, movie producers found they could simulate most of the world somewhere in southern California:

Map of scenic substitute locations in California

This map, found on the site Strange Maps, is from 1927:

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Smokey Bear Wouldn’t Even Get Out of Bed

With the current President finally on the scene of the Transocean Horizon oil spill, expect increased hysteria from Big Media. Like this story from Christian Science Monitor (from last week when the explosion was breaking news):

Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion shows new risks

The dramatic oil rig explosion and fire aboard the Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig 50 miles off the Louisiana coast illustrates the growing risk for oil companies as they drill ever deeper into the earth's crust to satisfy domestic and international demand for fuel.

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Global Warming is Freezing Children to Death

While pseudo-intellectual elites are wringing their hands about globalistical warmening threatening to drown worthless places like Tuvalu, the actual climate is freezing people off Peruvian mountaintops:

For alpaca farmer Ignacio Beneto Huamani and his young family, life in the Peruvian Andes, at almost 4,700m above sea level, has always been a struggle against the elements. His village of Pichccahuasi, in Peru's Huancavelica region, is little more than a collection of small thatched shelters and herds of alpaca surrounded by beautiful, yet bleakly inhospitable, mountain terrain.

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