Jeez-Louise…this could be the shortest column ever.
US markets, banks and whatever’s have today off for President’s Day.
The end. Have a nice day.
Just kidding. there’s all kinds of crap going on in the background, but we thought we’d dispense with the usual high falutin economic BS and get a little more real today.
Not without first doing the overnight scores, however: Japan was up half a percent, China up a full percent, England is up 1%, while German and French gains are minimal. And gold is still on its way up to the $1,400 bounce target while bitcoins have rallied a bit.
There. This being a holiday, I won’t take a cynical pill. I’ll take two tomorrow, however.
Now, on to what matters: Three hots and a cot.
There’s an article this morning over on Wired about the “Ephemeral nature of magma prior to eruption” which I’ve made a note to send to our Indonesia Bureau Chief Bernard Grover who sends this pithy report on conditions in the vicinity of the latest volcanic mess:
We’re getting a major ash kicking here, if I can indulge in a cheap pun, from Gunung Kelud, located in east Java. The seasonal easterlies are carrying significant ashfall as far as Jakarta. We got a good dusting Friday and the air quality was worse than bad. Up at the mountain house yesterday, you might have thought it had snowed a bit if you squinted just right. Rooftops and cars were coated with ash, and the usually clear mountain air was very hazy. One result is much cooler temps. Here in Jakarta, the mornings are actually pleasant, if just a little on the damp side. Up in the mountains, it was down-right cold last night. Not entirely unheard of, but much more than usual. The haze was too heavy for me to see the steam plume from Gunung Gede (20km from the mountain house), so couldn’t tell if she is stirring (for the first time in 700 years).
As far east as Bandung (about an hour and a half west of Jakarta), airports were closed and the largest refinery in Java, at Cilacap, is shut down, which will likely play hell with gas prices and LPG supplies for a while. The body count so far is 5, with about 100,000 folks displaced. Word is that things have calmed a bit in the last 24 hours, but that’s no guarantee of a return to normalcy. Look for an increase in lung-related problems. I’m wearing a filter mask outdoors, in any event.
In the past few months, Tankuban Perahu south of Bandung has been rumbling. Also, the weird situation at Banten – the sea has gone out as much as 2 km for more than a week now – suggests that something is rising, rather than sea levels falling. That area happens to be in eye-shot of Anak Kerakatau, by the way.
No major shakes around these parts lately, but plenty of the tiny suckers that tingle the spine of those of us who aren’t used to the ground moving.
From the land of liquid rock and ash blizzards,
Meantime, we keep thinking that this is going to be one of those “years without a summer” because of all the volcanic activity of late. So against this background (of common sense thinking) go ahead and flip over to the NY Times which is maintaining impartiality with the headline “Science linking Drought to Global Warming remains matter of dispute.”
Not to SecState John Kerry, I’m afraid. He’s still pimping global warming on his current Asia road trip. Yep, in case you missed it, the globalclimatists are now claiming “extreme weather” as their code word of the day.
While the US is having a cool winter (which is what winters are, last time I checked) we can’t help but notice that even in Oman’s capital Muscat it’s a wintry high of 13C today.
Oh, and one other earth note: No luck for the hide under the bed with the dust bunnies crowd…you know the ones: Predicting BIG QUAKE soon. Sorry, no cigar yet. 6.9 last week in China and northing since over a 5.8.
Squaring Off in Asia
Our military affairs/wargamer pal, warhammer, has been keeping an eye on the coming fight for oil rights in the South China Sea…
Usually a key diplomat or lofty politician will make public statements regarding U.S. treaty obligations.
The fact that the sitting Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Greenert, would do the deed by assuring the Philippines that America will support our treaty obligations to prevent Chinese bullying in the oil rich S. China Sea, is interesting from a number of perspectives.
Do the Chinese not respect statements and/or diplomatic demarches issued by by John Kerry or Barak Obama? Does a Naval officer subordinate to the Secretary of Defense, let alone the President, carry more weight with China policy makers? Was Adm. Greenert speaking primarily via public channels (vice diplomatic or military ones) exclusively to Chinese military leaders? Or was the CNO putting in a very public wakeup call to the U.S. president and congress? Who was the real target of Greenert’s statement?
If nothing more, this is another interesting sub-plot added to already complex, shifting global strategic dynamic that runs from the Middle East thought the Western Pacific.
Maybe, just maybe, this is something the Obama administration is getting right. With all the turnover lately in the upper echelons of the US military, maybe China’s been thinking “Isolation, lack of loyalistas…we may be bold.”
Having the CNO speak up ensures that China won’t misread the situation. The sharp end of America’s spear is still very, very damn sharp. Maybe the the PLA needed to hear it peer-to-peer.
This time the copilot of an Ethiopian jet has decided to fly to Geneva for asylum. Hankering for Swiss cheese, perhaps?
Syria Talks Trashed
Speaking of cheeses in Geneva, the Syria peace talks, which are really Western Threat Talks if you hadn’t figured it out yet, have pretty much blown up. Which led John Kerry to blame Russia in the Washington Post this morning.
No, wait, Kerry is blaming the Syrian government for the talks failing, sayeth the NY Times.
The situation would be like if California was a country and there was an uprising where many of the S.A. gangs got together, and starting a war on the government of California. Now, picture China getting together with Russia and sending aid to the gangs and calling for urgent “peace talks.”
That’s roughly what’s going on…
That’s what I meant when I said these are really threat talks that have blown up. Oh, and would the country that was California be considered “blocking the peace process” if they wanted nothing to do with cutting a deal with the gangs and sharing power with them? Don’t be ridiculous. Oh, wait, we have “leaders” who are… We are, after all, in the midst of the Manufacturer’s Resource Wars, are we not?
That’s why peace ain’t the agenda item. Economic conquest by the US – West is.
The West’s War on Russia
The Sochi Games wrap up next weekend…and good thing, too, because the US is getting its ass kicked there. Down to 7th place in the race for gold, but no surprise there as the US has pretty consistently trashed gold, over on the financial side of life, right?
But to the point: Keep in mind that world peace is likely to take a dump in a week, or so..and that could trash markets in March. More like “whirled peas.”
Go check www.nostracodeus.com later on this morning – I expect when Grady tears into the overnight data run we will see a further edging toward military kinds of stuff…
US Gov Wants DNA Database
Of course, it might not happen if we had an elected government. But we don’t. We have a bought government, which means the little people are constantly outspent by the powersthatbe.’ Which is why there’s never meaningful campaign reform, because it’s all a system and it all works to those one top. How’s it feel to be a bottom?
And this new DNA database idea will be hugely profitable for someone…just not you and me.