Saturday, 26 May 2018

Weekend Update 26/05/2018 A World Turned Upside Down.

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.

President Trump, with apologies to Groucho Marx

We open this weekend, with a very realistic and pessimistic view of recent events by former very left-wing German Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer. As President Trump heads the world into trade wars and is setting up for new disastrous Middle East war, Europe has never been less prepared nor more disunified.

President Trump, the fastest U-turner in the west.

Can America be trusted?

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

President Trump, with apologies to Groucho Marx

'The U.S. President Is Destroying the American World Order'

In an interview with DER SPIEGEL, former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer talks about the danger of war against Iran, the deterioration of trans-Atlantic relations under U.S. President Donald Trump and the serious need for Germany to invest massively in the European Union's future.

Interview Conducted By Mathieu von Rohr and Christoph Schult
May 22, 2018  04:54 PM

DER SPIEGEL: Mr. Fischer, you were -- together with your French and British colleagues -- among the first to embark on negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program in 2003. The 2015 agreement was to some extent your legacy. How did Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran deal affect you?

Fischer: I don't take this personally, but I am very concerned about the disastrous consequences of Trump's decision. They will be much more dramatic than portrayed in most of the comments so far. The aim of the agreement was to prevent a second disaster after the Iraq War, namely a large-scale land war in Iran. After the Iraq War, the Iranians tried in vain to divide Europe and the United States. Donald Trump has now managed to do just that.

DER SPIEGEL: Are you afraid that there will now be a war against Iran?

Fischer: I can't imagine that Trump could want that. One of the reasons Trump came into power was the frustration over these unwinnable, endless wars.

---- DER SPIEGEL: You remember Bolton from your time as foreign minister.

Fischer: I know him very well. He is one of the people responsible for the Iraq disaster.

DER SPIEGEL: Bolton once wrote: "To stop Iran's bomb, bomb Iran."

Fischer: Bolton has only one answer to everything: bombing. I wouldn't pay too much attention to that. But if Iran starts enriching uranium again, we would certainly be in a very dangerous situation. The confrontation between Iran and Israel has already begun militarily in Syria.

DER SPIEGEL: Back then, before the invasion of Iraq, you famously told the Americans: "I am not convinced." Does the current crisis in trans-Atlantic relations remind you of 2003?
Fischer: The situation is much more dramatic today. The danger of a military clash between Israel and Iran in Syria is exacerbated by the U.S.'s withdrawal from the agreement. It is true that the current crisis is a result of the original sin of the invasion of Iraq. Iran's rise to hegemony would not have been possible without the active help of George W. Bush and the American neocons. And without the collapse of Iraq, the rise of the "Islamic State" in Syria would not have come this far.

---- DER SPIEGEL: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that we can no longer truly rely on the U.S.

Fischer: It's even worse than that. The American president is deliberately destroying the American world order. I was used to NATO being attacked by the left wing of the Green Party, but not by the American president! From an economic policy point of view, Trump is challenging Germany's business model, which has been geared toward exports from the very beginning. Many are saying that we shouldn't put up with that. I find this reaction understandable, but also kind of cute. What can we do? Given the current balance of power, sometimes all you can do is gnash your teeth..

DER SPIEGEL: You recently wrote a book in German with the dark title "The Descent of the West." Is the West finished?

Fischer: There is every indication that this will happen. The West was the trans-Atlantic area, and its founding fathers were Britain and the United States. The West cannot survive without them, and certainly not with a weak, divided Europe. This is why Europeans must become stronger, much stronger.

---- DER SPIEGEL: So, is Trump right when he asks the Germans to spend more on the military?

Fischer: It isn't about Trump. Hillary Clinton would have been just as critical of this as president. We have to do it for ourselves. We have been investing too little in our security for years. What are the things I've read within the past week? German armed forces pilots are losing their licenses because they cannot fly enough hours due to helicopter deficiencies. Submarines cannot sail because spare parts are missing. We only have four combat-ready Eurofighters. What a shame! If you ask me whether we can defend ourselves, the clear answer is no.

---- DER SPIEGEL: This week, the Europeans and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jointly announced their intention to preserve the Iran deal. How could that work?

Fischer: Probably not at all! I'd like it to happen, but I can't imagine how. They cannot protect German companies in view of their close ties. Many have huge investments in the United States and are dependent on the U.S. market.

DER SPIEGEL: The EU has reactivated a law that could impose penalties on companies that comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran ...

Fischer: A German automobile company that does not deliver to Iran because the U.S. market is too important for it is being punished again. How's that supposed to work?

DER SPIEGEL: That would mean the deal is dead?

Fischer: It's going to be difficult. I'm very skeptical about it.

May 25, 2018 / 1:43 AM

Trump - U.S. in 'productive talks' about reinstating June North Korea summit

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump late on Friday said the United States was having “productive talks” about reinstating a June 12 summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, just a day after he cancelled the meeting citing Pyongyang’s “open hostility.”

“We are having very productive talks about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th., and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date,” Trump said in a Twitter post.

South Korea’s presidential spokesman said in response: “We are cautiously optimistic that hope is still alive for US-North Korea dialogue. We are continuing to watch developments carefully.”

Trump had earlier indicated the summit could be salvaged after welcoming a conciliatory statement from North Korea saying it remained open to talks.

“It was a very nice statement they put out,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We’ll see what happens - it could even be the 12th.

“We’re talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it.”

May 26, 2018 / 6:05 AM

Ex-Panama president's jail letter blames U.S. for extradition

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Former Panama president Ricardo Martinelli, jailed in Miami on spying charges while awaiting extradition to his home country, said in a letter released Friday that the United States reneged on promises from some U.S. officials to offer him a safe-haven.

“After years of friendship with this country, I did not expect to be thrown in a U.S. jail,” he wrote in a letter dated May 14 and released by a spokesman.

Martinelli was jailed last year in the United States after Panama requested extradition on charges that he used public money to spy on more than 150 political rivals during his 2009-2014 term.

A U.S. court authorized the extradition last year, and Martinelli last month maintained his innocence but said he would stop fighting the proceedings for judgement in Panama.

In the four-page letter, Martinelli says Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, a former ally, had sought political revenge, and that he expected the United States to offer “protection” from Varela’s government.

He also detailed examples of assisting the United States to curb cross-border crime, such as halting a North Korean ship travelling from Cuba with planes, missiles and radar.

“When the CIA requested that I stop a North Korean ship leaving Cuba that was crossing the Panama Canal, I did not blink an eye,” the letter states.

Martinelli, a wealthy supermarket magnate, also said he understood that high-ranking U.S. officials had agreed to let him settle in the United States “without fear.”

Reuters could not immediately verify Martinelli’s claims.

“I was under the impression that promises made by such government officials could be relied upon. I was mistaken,” he added in the letter, which was addressed to the “government and people of the United States”.

In other news, will our brave 21st century future be a world of autopilot, electric vehicles? Probably not.

Pivot Power Plans Massive UK Supercharger Network Paired With 2 Gigawatts of Batteries

Using battery revenues to pay for substation upgrades could help the business case.
Jason Deign
Batteries could play a key role in helping to roll out an electric vehicle supercharger network across the U.K., according to a company called Pivot Power.
The firm, which describes itself as a special-purpose venture formed between energy storage project developer Become Energy and renewables investment company Downing, hopes to install the world’s biggest battery network.
It plans to deploy forty-five 50-megawatt batteries at substations close to major auto routes across the U.K. Each battery would make money from grid services and energy trading. 
Crucially, though, the cost of adapting each substation for battery storage would also allow it to be used for EV charging.
By connecting rapid charging stations directly to the high-voltage transmission network, Pivot Power intends to gain access to up to 20 megawatts of cheap power per site. This would grant it efficiencies that would be hard to attain via regional distribution network connections.
The battery installations are a vital part of the plan, though, because converting a substation to deliver vehicle-charging services would require “seven figures’ worth of work to be done,” according to Matthew Boulton, chief operating officer.
---- This significantly weakens the business case for standalone vehicle charger installations. Under Pivot Power’s plan, though, “these chargers are only there because a 50-megawatt battery has paid for the connection,” Boulton said.
EV charging, once up and running, would create extra revenue for the battery system. The battery, meanwhile, would be able to store cheap electricity, so vehicle owners could charge their cars at a discount compared to standard tariffs. 
Along with its 2-gigawatt battery network, Pivot Power aims to install the world’s largest network of rapid charging stations, with up to 100 rapid 150-kilowatt chargers plus 350-kilowatt charging points when the technology becomes available. 

Lawrence Solomon: Self-driving cars will never live up to the hype

They're being pushed on uninterested consumers who, really, just want to drive their own private vehicle

May 24, 2018 8:19 AM EDT
The age of the self-driving automobile is just around the corner, pretty much everyone in government and industry agrees, which will reduce traffic congestion, carbon-dioxide emissions and all but eliminate carnage on the road. Except it won’t eliminate congestion — it will probably add to it. It won’t reduce carbon-dioxide emissions — it will probably add to them. And while it’s likely to save lives of bad drivers, it’s also likely to cost the lives of good drivers.
The claims that self-driving cars will reduce traffic congestion are mostly based on the assumption that the private automobile will go out of vogue, as people switch to ride-sharing through Uber-like arrangements using self-driving cars. A great increase in ride-sharing seems improbable. Car-pooling never took off with conventional automobiles, despite government incentives and exhortations; there’s no reason to believe ride-sharing would suddenly soar in popularity if cars were self-driving.
Uber use does stand to increase if only because Uber rides will cost less without drivers. That extra use would lead to cars logging more miles, not fewer, since Uber’s cloud-based model encourages empty vehicles to be continually on the move, to shorten the time it takes to get to a fare. In London, where Uber and other for-hire vehicles are thriving — now accounting for 10 per cent of all traffic entering Central London — congestion and thus travel-times are increasing.
Self-driving cars dedicated to personal use are also likely to increase traffic congestion. To save on downtown parking fees, many commuters will send their cars home after arriving at work, then summon them at the end of the day for the ride home. Rather than parking when shopping at the neighbourhood hardware or grocery store, many people will just have their cars circle the block. Owners will also save the expense of delivery by dispatching their cars to pick up their shopping — sending their car on a round trip instead of a delivery courier’s more efficient routing.
That extra mileage will increase auto emissions, especially since it will be occurring on congested roads and most especially since it will involve self-driving cars, which are energy hogs. Self-driving cars demand up to three or four kilowatts to run their computerized, sensor-intensive autonomous driving systems, a major drain on their batteries. An all-electric self-driving vehicle would find its range severely compromised — even if the driving system’s energy efficiency doubled or tripled — making them impractical. Self-driving vehicles are thus more likely to be hybrid cars, allowing the battery to be recharged courtesy of fossil fuels.
---- In most respects, the self-driving car has been overhyped, pushed on us by governments to tame the perceived evils of the internal combustion engine. The public certainly hasn’t been clamouring for it: a Gallup poll published this week shows 78 per cent of Americans enjoy driving and only 19 per cent would want a self-driving car even if they became common over the next 20 years.

Inspection Firm Hacks Inverters Within Minutes, Casting Doubt on Security

TÜV Rheinland broke into commercially available solar inverters “without any problems.”
Jason Deign
The standards body TÜV Rheinland has cast doubt about inverter makers’ cybersecurity measures after it hacked commercially available PV inverters “within a few minutes.”

The Cologne-based organization stated that the finding was “all the more critical since storage systems typically communicate with the inverter, too.”

By hacking inverters, cybercriminals could gain access to battery management systems and trick batteries into operating in unsafe modes, TÜV Rheinland said.

On a wider scale, it might be possible to attack the entire electricity grid, causing massive power fluctuations, the researchers warned.

“We were able to re-parametrize commercially available inverters without any problems,” said Roman-Alexander Brück, laboratory head for solar components at TÜV Rheinland, in the press note.

His team hacked inverters using various techniques, including brute-force attacks and stealing passwords.

Although there are no known instances of such attacks happening outside the lab, the findings could call into question the extent to which inverter manufacturers are addressing the cybersecurity concerns that have now been apparent for some time.

Last October, for example, GTM reported on cybersecurity worries that had surfaced when a Dutch researcher uncovered 17 solar inverter vulnerabilities that hackers could use to remotely control plant output.

The list of vulnerabilities was handed over to the inverter maker, SMA, in December 2016. It is not known whether the TÜV Rheinland exercise also included SMA inverters but Susanne Henkel, SMA’s corporate press manager, said the manufacturer was aware of the tests.

I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.

President Trump, with apologies to Groucho Marx

Finally, in Grenfell Tower tragedy news, the London Fire Brigade is at long last starting to be held to account for its reckless and disastrously wrong advice. Corporate manslaughter charges or a whitewash next?

The fatal two hours: Grenfell survivors accuse London Fire Bridge of strategic failures for telling families to 'stay put' as the blaze took hold... then calling an evacuation when it was too late

  • Grenfell Tower survivors have accused the fire service of strategic failures
  • The London Fire Brigade took two hours to change their advice to evacuate 
  • Their earlier advice to residents had been to 'stay put' and wait to be rescued
  • Comes as the sister of a victim says she has lost trust in Britain after the blaze 
By Rod Ardehali For Mailonline |
A number of Grenfell Tower survivors have accused the London Fire Brigade of strategic failures which they say contributed to the amount of lives lost in the blaze.

Survivors hit out at the amount of time it took the fire service to change their advice to residents from 'stay put' and wait for rescue to evacuating urgently.

It has emerged that the first emergency call was made at 12.54am on June 14 last year, but crucially it took the fire brigade almost two hours to call for an evacuation at 2.47am - by then it was already too late for some, prompting fury from relatives. 

Flora Neda, 53, an Afghan refugee and one of only two survivors on her floor, hit out at the fire service for what she considers their slow reaction to the crisis.

'If the fire brigade had evacuated straight away, everybody would have got out alive. 

'The fire brigade knew the fire is very huge an they could not control it. At least if they told us you must save yourselves I am sure most other people would still be alive,' Ms Neda, whose husband perished in the blaze, told The Telegraph

Speaking with her son Farhad, 25, who was the only other to escape the 23rd floor, the heartbroken widow spoke of her former army officer husband who was killed.

While fellow survivor Nabil Choucair, 43, whose mother, sister, brother-in-law and three nieces all died, said it was undoubtedly the brigade's fault for not changing their 'stay put' order earlier. 


Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

Groucho Marx

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished April.

DJIA: 24,163 +255 Down. NASDAQ: 7,066 +282 Down. SP500: 2,648 +188 Down.
All three slow indicators moved down in March and continued down in April. For some a new bear signal, for others a take profits and get back to cash signal. 

Friday, 25 May 2018

Trump’s New Cold War. USA v ROW.

Baltic Dry Index. 1109 -53    Brent Crude 78.67

It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy...What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.
Adam Smith. The Wealth Of Nations, 1776.

Maybe if everyone mailed President Trump a copy of The Wealth of Nations, he might read one of them, and we might yet escape a ruinous summer trade war. Then again, does he read anything but Twitter?

Below, the confusion President Trump wrought on many global stocks and nations this week, friend and foe alike.  In this version of a new cold war, it seems to be the USA v everyone else in the Rest of the World, including apparently, US consumers.  Hard pressed US consumers will soon be paying a whole lot more for goods at Walmart. 

A summer of great global wealth destruction lies down the road Trump's America is taking. Is the falling BDI already signalling trade is  falling?

Asian markets cautious after Trump cancels North Korea summit

Published: May 24, 2018 10:54 p.m. ET

Japanese auto makers continue to fall; energy stocks weigh in Hong Kong

Asian markets were mixed in cautious early trading Friday, after President Donald Trump canceled his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, +0.07%   was off 0.1%, after initially dropping 0.5%, as the dollar JPYUSD, -0.261092%   pushed above ¥109.50 to session highs from ¥109.30. Commodity-related names were leading the way lower for Japanese stocks as they were poised to notch their first down week in two months. The marine-transportation sector was off 1.6%, the weakest performer in the Topix. Mining was off 1.1% following a sizable drop overnight in oil prices LCON8, -0.16%  . But that had the airline sector up 1%. Meanwhile, auto stocks were extending Thursday’s sharp selloff, with Honda 7267, -0.57%   and Toyota 7203, -1.22%   off nearly 1% more.

Hong Kong stocks started modestly weaker, with the Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.26%   off 0.4%, with energy stocks again a sore spot.

After a strong rebound Thursday, Singapore’s Straits Times Index STI, -0.02%   was down 0.3%, on the way to a second-straight weekly decline, which hasn’t happened since early February. Telecom stocks were down, with StarHub CC3, -1.89%   off nearly 1%. Weakness was also seen in bank and property names.

Malaysian stocks FBMKLCI, +1.11%   started strongly higher after two days of heavy selling.

Stocks in South Korea SEU, -0.05%   and Taiwan Y9999, +0.24%   were up modestly, while Australian stocks XJO, -0.09%   dipped lower.

Trump Threatens Allies With New Tariffs, Sowing Global Confusion

By Andrew Mayeda, Ryan Beene, and Jenny Leonard
24 May 2018, 01:24 GMT+1 Updated on 24 May 2018, 11:46 GMT+1
President Donald Trump’s push for tariffs on imported cars and trucks threatened a shake-up of the global auto industry while motivating nations including China and Germany to reiterate commitments of varying strength to free trade.

The U.S. statement late Wednesday that it’s investigating auto imports on national security concerns drew pointed responses from Japan and South Korea -- two nations that have been at pains to placate Trump -- as well as Germany.

It also ended the temporary calm between the U.S. and China, which in contrast to Washington’s actions is said to be planning to reduce import duties on a range of consumer goods in a bid to open its market to outsiders.

The competing headlines demonstrate how the world’s two largest economies are likely set for years of skirmishes over commerce as Trump already backs away from an agreement struck just last weekend with China amid domestic criticism.

“Imposing broad, comprehensive restrictions on such a large industry could cause confusion in world markets, and could lead to the breakdown of the multilateral trade system based on WTO rules,” Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said Thursday in Tokyo. Automakers were the biggest drag on Japan’s Topix stock index on Thursday.

Trump’s latest probe will be conducted under Section 232 of a 1960s trade law, the same tool the president invoked in imposing global tariffs on imported steel and aluminum earlier this year. An additional tariff on vehicles of up to 25 percent is also under consideration, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel downplayed her nation’s own discomfort with China’s industrial rise, and locked arms with Premier Li Keqiang in a pointed defense of the multilateral trading order.

---- While the threat of new tariffs didn’t specifically point to Germany, it would strike at the heart of the German economy, further straining relations between the two sides as they’re locked in negotiations over steel and aluminum tariffs that are set to hit the European Union on June 1. Trump has made clear that he resents Berlin’s trade surplus, which amounted to 14.2 billion euros ($16.7 billion) last year for Germany’s auto industry alone.

In response to the new car tariffs, South Korea’s government said it has formed a task force with automakers and car associations to review the potential impact on the local auto industry of the U.S. move and to consider countermeasures.

Beijing also weighed in, with a Ministry of Commerce spokesman saying “China opposes the abusing of national security provisions, which would severely undermine the multilateral trading system, and disrupt the normal trade order.”

May 24, 2018 / 6:45 PM

Republicans in Congress slam Trump probe of auto imports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in the U.S. Congress said on Thursday that his administration’s national security investigation of car and truck imports amid a trade spat with China is being pursued under false pretenses and could hurt U.S. consumers.

Shortly after, the Commerce Department launched a probe of auto imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 that could lead to new U.S. tariffs similar to those imposed on imported steel and aluminum in March.

Higher tariffs could be particularly painful for Asian automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), which count the United States as a key market.

Congressional Republicans said it was unclear what Trump was aiming to accomplish with the probe, warning it could result in U.S. job losses, and with some suggesting it was a political tactic ahead of midterm elections in November.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said there was “no reason” to conduct a national security investigation of auto imports.

----“This appears to be either an attempt to affect domestic politics ahead of the election or for some other transactional purpose regarding ongoing trade discussions. This is a dangerous course and should be abandoned immediately,” Corker said in a statement.

Corker is a Republican from Tennessee, where Volkswagen, Nissan and other auto-related manufacturers have assembly and production plants.

Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator Pat Toomey said on Twitter that Trump was making the move “under the false pretense of national security” and that it “invites retaliation.”

May 25, 2018 / 4:02 AM

U.S. Commerce's Ross to visit China for trade talks in early June

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will visit China early next month for another round of talks amid ongoing trade frictions between the world’s two largest economies.
Ross will visit China from June 2 to June 4, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday, adding that Vice Premier Liu He, China’s chief negotiator in the trade dispute, had spoken with Ross over the phone. It gave no further details.

The trade dispute took on added complexity this week when U.S. President Donald Trump announced a national security investigation into imports of cars and trucks, a probe that could lead to tariffs against China as well as key U.S. allies such as Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that Ross is aiming to negotiate “a framework” that could then turn into “binding agreements ... between companies.”

In the last round of talks in Washington in mid-May, China agreed to ramp up purchases of U.S. agriculture and energy products, and the two sides worked towards a possible reprieve for ZTE Corp (000063.SZ)(0763.HK) from a U.S. ban on American companies supplying the Chinese maker of telecoms equipment.

The developments and constructive comments from both sides eased fears that the United States and China could plunge into a trade war, but President Donald Trump said this week that any deal would need “a different structure,” fueling uncertainty over the negotiations.

The rising tensions between China, US

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump has often bragged of his friendship with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, but recent events point to growing stresses between Washington and Beijing.
This week, the Pentagon pulled its invitation for China to participate in maritime exercises in the Pacific, then Trump on Thursday scrapped a summit with North Korea after suggesting Xi may have exacerbated a breakdown in communications.

And all this against a backdrop of simmering trade tensions -- and a bizarre case involving a US official and a possible "sonic attack."

- Summit sunk -

Trump on Thursday scrapped the historic summit with Kim Jong Un -- set to take place June 12 in Singapore -- to discuss the "denuclearization" of North Korea.

Before he pulled the plug, Trump had suggested Xi might have played a role in a recent toughening of North Korean rhetoric.

"There was a difference when Kim Jong Un left China the second time," Trump said.

"There was a different attitude after that meeting and I was a little surprised. ... And I think things changed after that meeting so I can't say that I am happy about it."

On Monday, Trump suggested China might have prematurely eased up on enforcing economic sanctions against Pyongyang, a move that runs counter to the US leader's "maximum pressure" campaign.

China insists it is strictly enforcing sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council.

- Pacific exercise -

The Pentagon on Wednesday withdrew its invitation for China to join maritime exercises in the Pacific because of Beijing's "continued militarization" of the South China Sea.

China hit back at the decision to disinvite it from the Rim of the Pacific exercises, calling it "very non-constructive" and saying it was taken without due reflection.

"It's also a decision taken lightly and is unhelpful to mutual understanding between China and the US," China's Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi said.

But is President Trump just following US treaty precedent? 

Why the Very First Treaty Between the United States and a Native People Still Resonates Today

The Treaty With the Delawares, signed in 1778, has arrived at the National Museum of the American Indian

We close for the long weekend with more on that growing US drought.

Drought Conditions In The Southwest Are So Bad That They Are Already Being Compared To The Dust Bowl Of The 1930s

The worst drought to hit the Southwest in decades continues to grow even worse, and many are already comparing this current crisis to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.  Agricultural production is way down, major rivers are running dry, and horses are dropping dead from a lack of water.  The epicenter of this drought is where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all come together, but it is also devastating areas of north Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas as well.  Portions of seven states are already at the highest level of drought on the scale that scientists use, and summer won’t even start for about another two months. 

If we don’t start seeing some significant rainfall, it won’t be too long before massive dust storms start devastating the entire region.  The mainstream media is finally beginning to wake up and start reporting on this crisis, and some reporters are choosing to make a direct comparison between this drought and the Dust Bowl conditions during the Great Depression

---- If you are not familiar with the Dust Bowl period, you should be able to find a good documentary online to watch.  It was one of the most painful periods in American history, and we could be right on the verge of a repeat.

Those that have followed my work for an extended period of time know that I have been warning about a return of Dust Bowl conditions, and now it is actually happening.  The flow of the Colorado River is way, way down, and in some areas the Rio Grande has already dried up completely

---- As urban populations have surged, the Southwest has already been dealing with unprecedented water stress, and now this crisis is going to take things to an entirely new level.

Meanwhile, this drought has been hitting farms really hard.  Winter wheat production in some areas will be about half of what it was last year, and this summer some wheat farmers may have to abandon their fields entirely

---- Somewhere around 60 percent of all winter wheat in Texas is being graded “poor” or “very poor”, and Kansas is on pace to have its smallest winter wheat crop in nearly 30 years.

Not only must we fight to end disastrous unfettered free trade agreements with China, Mexico, and other low wage countries, we must fight to fundamentally rewrite our trade agreements so that American products, not jobs, are our number one export.

Donald Trump, with apologies to Bernie Sanders

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Today, Bitcoin fraud again. Unicorn ranching anyone?

U.S. Launches Criminal Probe into Bitcoin Price Manipulation

By Matt Robinson and Tom Schoenberg
24 May 2018, 09:00 GMT+1 Updated on 24 May 2018, 09:41 GMT+1
The Justice Department has opened a criminal probe into whether traders are manipulating the price of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, dramatically ratcheting up U.S. scrutiny of red-hot markets that critics say are rife with misconduct, according to four people familiar with the matter.
The investigation is focused on illegal practices that can influence prices -- such as spoofing, or flooding the market with fake orders to trick other traders into buying or selling, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the review is private. Federal prosecutors are working with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a financial regulator that oversees derivatives tied to Bitcoin, the people said.

Authorities worry that virtual currencies are susceptible to fraud for multiple reasons: skepticism that all exchanges are actively pursuing cheaters, wild price swings that could make it easy to push valuations around and a lack of regulations like the ones that govern stocks and other assets.

Bitcoin extended its Thursday declines after Bloomberg News reported the investigation, and was down 3 percent to $7,409 as of 9:32 a.m. London time. It’s down more than 20 percent since a May 4 peak.
Such concerns have prompted China to ban cryptocurrency exchanges and nations including Japan and the Philippines to regulate them, contributing to a slump that has sent Bitcoin below $8,000 this year. Still, digital coins continue to be a global investment craze, drawing legions of loyalists to industry conferences, generating celebrity endorsements and increasingly attracting the attention of Wall Street.
The illicit tactics that the Justice Department is looking into include spoofing and wash trading -- forms of cheating that regulators have spent years trying to root out of futures and equities markets, the people said. In spoofing, a trader submits a spate of orders and then cancels them once prices move in a desired direction. Wash trades involve a cheater trading with herself to give a false impression of market demand that lures other to dive in too. Coins prosecutors are examining include Bitcoin and Ether, the people said.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment and CFTC officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Spoofing Is a Silly Name for Serious Market Rigging: QuickTake
Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.
Adam Smith. The Wealth Of Nations, 1776.
Technology Update.
With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported. Is converting sunlight to usable cheap AC or DC energy mankind’s future from the 21st century onwards?

Making massive leaps in electronics at nano-scale

Researchers have found ways to control the spin transport in networks of the smallest electrical conductor known to man

Date: May 23, 2018

Source: University of the Witwatersrand

Summary: By chemically attaching nano-particles of the rare earth element, gadolinium, to carbon nanotubes, the researchers have found that the electrical conductivity in the nanotubes can be increased by incorporating the spin properties of the gadolinium which arises from its magnetic nature.

Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand have found ways to control the spin transport in networks of the smallest electrical conductor known to man.

By chemically attaching nano-particles of the rare earth element, gadolinium, to carbon nanotubes, the researchers have found that the electrical conductivity in the nanotubes can be increased by incorporating the spin properties of the gadolinium which arises from its magnetic nature. To put it plainly the presence of a magnet in an electron transfer media introduces another degree of freedom that enhances the electron transfer but only if tailored precisely.

Discovered in Japan in 1993, carbon nanotubes are the thinnest tubes in the universe, consisting of a cylinder of single carbon atoms. At the time of its discovery it was revolutionary, and it was expected that it could replace silicon in electronic circuits, such as microchips and computer hard drives.

"Carbon nanotubes are known for their ability to carry a high amount of electrical current and they are very strong. They are very thin but electrons can move very fast in them, with speeds of up to Gigahertz or Terahertz, and when coupled to nanomagnets they greatly extend the functionality of the carbon nanotubes, which is required to advance modern technology through the development of high speed spintronic devices," says Siphephile Ncube, a PhD student at the Wits School of Physics and the lead author of the study. Her research was published in Scientific Reports on Wednesday (23 May 2018).

During her PhD, Ncube collaborated with a team of researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg and the Paul Sabatier University in France. The researchers chemically attached gadolinium nanoparticles on the surface of the carbon nanotubes to test whether the magnetism increases or inhibits the transfer of electrons through the system. The measurements to interrogate the effect of magnetic nanoparticles on a network of multi-walled carbon nanotubes were carried out at the Nanoscale Transport Physics Laboratory (NSTPL) at Wits. This facility is dedicated to novel nano-electronics and it was initiated by the NRF Nanotechnology flagship programme.

"We found that the effect of the magnetic nano-particles is read off in the electronic transport of the nanotubes. Due to the presence of the magnet the electrons become spin polarised and the charge transfer is dependent on the magnetic state of the gadolinium. When the overall magnetic poles of the gadolinium are oppositely aligned, it causes higher resistance in the nanotubes and slows down the flows of electrons. When the magnetic poles are misaligned, it has a low resistance, and assists the electron transport," says Ncube. This phenomenon is known as the Spin Valve Effect, which finds wide application in the development of hard disk drives used for data storage.

----"Ncube's research established the great potential of carbon nanotubes for ultra-fast switching device and magnetic memory applications, a realisation we have been working towards since the establishment of the NSTPL facility in 2009," says Ncube's PhD supervisor, Professor Somnath Bhattacharyya. "To date, modified nanotubes have demonstrated good spin transport for devices made from individual nanotubes. For the first time we have demonstrated spin mediated electron transport in a network of nanotubes without incorporation of magnetic leads." The project is part of the objectives outlined in the NRF Nanotechnology flagship program.

Another weekend and a long weekend on both sides of the Atlantic too. In the USA Monday is Memorial Day. In GB, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, Monday is the Spring Bank Holiday, traditionally in GB at least, the rainy start to summer. Have a great weekend everyone, whatever the weather.

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

Anon. GB Poem.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished April.

DJIA: 24,163 +255 Down. NASDAQ: 7,066 +282 Down. SP500: 2,648 +188 Down.
All three slow indicators moved down in March and continued down in April. For some a new bear signal, for others a take profits and get back to cash signal.