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Daily Archives: January 14, 2022

Chart: U.S. Industrial Production Contracted in December 2021

Source : Bloomberg

China Lithium Price Breaks Record

Lithium continued a wild ride into 2022, touching new highs as concerns mounted over short supply of the mainstay battery material for powering a fast-growing number of electric vehicles.

Battery-grade lithium carbonate in China soared to a record 316,000 yuan (US$49,600) per ton Wednesday in China, adding 100,000 yuan in a month, according to data from metal research firm Shanghai Metals Market.


Source : Bloomberg

Chuckles of the Day




Alzheimer’s or AIDS?

“Mrs. Ward, please.”

“Speaking.”

“Mrs. Ward, this is Doctor Jones at the Medical Testing Laboratory. When your doctor sent your husband’s biopsy to the lab yesterday, a biopsy from another Mr. Ward arrived as well, and we are now uncertain which one is your husband’s. Frankly the results are either bad or terrible.”

“What do you mean?” Mrs. Ward asks nervously.

“Well, one Mr. Ward tested positive for Alzheimer’s and the other one was positive for AIDS. We can’t tell which is your husband’s.”

“That’s dreadful! Can’t you do the test again?” questioned Mrs. Ward.

“Normally, yes, but Medicare won’t pay for these expensive tests more than once.”

“Well, what am I supposed to do now?”

“The people at Medicare recommend that you drop your husband off somewhere in the middle of town. If he finds his way home, don’t sleep with him.”

* * * * * * *

The Waiting Room

An 86-year-old man walked into a crowded waiting room and approached the desk.

The receptionist said, “Hello, sir. Can you please tell me why you’re here to see the doctor today?”

“There’s something wrong with my dick,” he replied.

The receptionist became irritated and said, “You shouldn’t come into a crowded waiting room and say things like that.”

“Why not? You asked me what was wrong and I told you,” he said.

The receptionist replied, “Now you’ve caused some embarrassment in this room full of people. You should have said there is something wrong with your ear or something and discussed the problem further with the doctor in private.”

The man replied, “You shouldn’t ask people questions in a room full of strangers, if the answer could embarrass anyone.”

The man walked out, waited several minutes and then re-entered. The receptionist smiled smugly and asked, “Yes?”

“There’s something wrong with my ear,” he stated.

The receptionist nodded approvingly and smiled, knowing he had taken her advice. “And what is wrong with your ear, sir?”

“I can’t piss out of it,” he replied.

The waiting room erupted in laughter.




Chinese Local Land Sales Drop Off Amid Beijing’s Call for Spending

Land sales revenue fell in most Chinese local governments in 2021, damaging their budgets as Beijing calls for faster spending to counteract a slowdown of the housing market.

Analysis from Tianfeng Securities Co. has shown 13 of China’s 31 provinces suffered a drop of more than 20 per cent compared to 2020, including Xinjiang and Helongjiang in the northeast and Shanxi in the north.

Chinese local government land sales suffered heavy losses in 2021, but Beijing wants to ramp up spending. Bloomberg

Another 10 had falls of 20 per cent or less and only six provinces, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhejiang, saw revenue from land sales grow. Yunnan in the southwest only achieved 19 per cent of its sales target for the year, and some other provinces were also well below target, the report said.

The decline shows how property market problems are affecting local governments, with the plunge in home sales since the second half of last year and the cash crisis at some real-estate firms making developers reluctant or unable to replenish their land holdings. This in turn could undercut China’s plan to speed up fiscal spending and front-load infrastructure investment this year to stabilise the economy.

More than a quarter of land parcels offered by local governments went unsold in September as no developer submitted bids, the highest rate since at least 2018, according to data compiled by China Real Estate Information Corp., which tracks auctions across 128 Chinese cities. The rate declined to 16 per cent last month, CRIC figures showed, after regulators loosened financing curbs on the property sector.

Instead of selling land to cash-strapped developers, local governments may be forced to rely more on purchases by local government financing vehicles – effectively selling to themselves. These LGFVs are companies set up by governments that raise money and pay for various projects, but their finances aren’t included on official balance sheets. Quite a few regions did this last year, the analysts wrote.

To help local governments beef up their spending power, Beijing has allowed them to sell some infrastructure bonds early, just as it did in other years when top policy makers were keen to get the provinces to borrow and spend as quickly as possible. China plans to keep its 2022 quota for local government special bond sales unchanged from last year at ¥3.65 trillion (A$786 billion), Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

The Ministry of Finance said governments at all levels made a combined ¥6.8 trillion yuan from selling land-use rights in the first 11 months of 2021, up 3.8 per cent from a year earlier. Income from sales is usually the highest in December, with the new data to be released later this month.


Source : Financial Review

China Sets Five-year Targets to Boost Digital Economy

China released a five-year plan for developing the digital economy with specific targets and tasks, aiming to boost the contribution of core digital economy industries to 10% of GDP by 2025.

The plan was released Wednesday by the State Council, China’s cabinet. It defines the digital economy as a form of economic activity in which the key factor of production is data resources, the main carrier is the modern information network, and the principal driving force is the integration of information and communication technology as well as the digital transformation of all factors of production.

Based on the 14th Five-Year Plan, a roadmap for the country’s overall economic and social development from 2021 to 2025, the new digital economy plan fleshes out quantified goals and lays out the tactics to achieve them.


Source : Caixin


Read more at 中国政府网

国务院关于印发“十四五”数字经济发展规划的通知 . . . . .

Kidney Stone Friendly Low Oxalate Nuts and Seeds

Melanie Betz wrote . . . . . . . . .

Nuts and seeds are often taboo on a low oxalate, kidney stone friendly diet. This is probably because nuts and seeds are notorious for being high in oxalate. But, there are huge differences in oxalate between different nuts and seeds. If done correctly, nuts and seeds can be a part of a healthy low oxalate diet!

Who Needs Low Oxalate Nuts?

Before we jump into which nuts and seeds are low in oxalate, it is important to know who needs to avoid high oxalate nuts and seeds.

Oxalate is most known for it’s role in kidney stones. However, not everyone with kidney stones needs to avoid oxalate. It is important to work with your doctor to figure out what kind of kidney stones you have. If you have a kidney stone other than calcium oxalate, avoiding oxalate will not reduce your risk of kidney stones.

If you were not able to have your kidney stone analyzed, a 24-hour urine test will tell you what kind of stones you are most likely to make. The test will also tell you what your kidney stone urine risk factors are.

Even for the same kind of kidney stone, urine risk factors can be different. For example, too much calcium in urine is the most common risk factor for calcium oxalate kidney stones. Other urine risk factors are high urine oxalate, low urine pH, low urine citrate and high urine uric acid. You can target your specific risk factors with nutrition!

If you have high urine oxalate, it is important to follow a low oxalate diet, including low oxalate nuts.

Remember that fluid, sodium, protein, calcium and healthy diet patterns all play very important roles in kidney stone prevention too!

Why Eat Low Oxalate Nuts & Seeds?

Heart Health

Perhaps the biggest benefit of nuts and seeds is heart health! Nuts and seeds are a great source of heart healthy polyunsaturated, omega-3 and omega-6 fats. People who eat more nuts are less likely to have heart disease and high cholesterol.

Fiber

Low oxalate nuts and seeds can be an important source of fiber. Eating enough fiber can be tough! Especially on a strict low oxalate diet. Adding healthy low oxalate nuts and seeds to your diet will help you get enough fiber. Women should eat 25 grams of fiber each day. Men should aim for 38 grams. One ounce of pecans has about 3 grams of fiber.

Fiber is most known for its benefit for bowel health. Eating enough fiber keeps you regular! Fiber can also help ward off heart disease and diabetes.

Healthy Plant Protein

“Plant based” eating has become quite trendy in recent years – for good reason! Eating more plants like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds is protective against chronic disease.

In light of the “plant based” movement, products such as Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger have taken off. Although these meat substitutes can be a healthy option on occasion, they tend to be very high in salt. If you have Chronic Kidney Disease, phosphorus additives may also be a concern.

If you are trying to cut back on meat, it is better to get protein from natural sources, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Low oxalate nuts and seeds are a great source of plant based protein!

Brain Health

Nuts may also help protect your brain! Nuts are an important part of a Mediterranean diet pattern, which is associated with slower cognitive decline and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (7) In fact, nuts are a critical part of the “MIND” diet, which was created to target cognitive function and to prevent Alzheimer’s. The “MIND” diet has been proven to do just that!

Low Oxalate Nuts

  • Macadamia Nuts – 12 mg oxalate per ounce
  • Pecans – 10 mg oxalate per ounce
  • Pistachios – 14 mg oxalate per ounce (1/4 cup)
  • Walnuts – 8 mg oxalate per ounce

Low Oxalate Seeds

  • Flax Seeds – 2 mg oxalate per 2 tablespoons, ground
  • Hemp seeds – 3 mg oxalate per 2 tablespoons
  • Pumpkin Seeds – 5 mg oxalate per 1/4 cup
  • Sunflower Seeds – 3 mg oxalate per 1/4 cup
  • Watermelon Seeds – 5 mg oxalate per 1/4 cup

High Oxalate Nuts & Seeds

On the flip side, there are some nuts and seeds that are very high in oxalate. If you have high urine oxalate, it is best to avoid these nuts and seeds. Or, eat them only on occasion!

  • Almonds – 122 mg oxalate per ounce
  • Brazil nuts – 137 mg oxalate per ounce
  • Cashews – 49 mg oxalate per ounce
  • Hazelnuts – 63 mg oxalate per ounce
  • Pine nuts – 56 mg oxalate per ounce
  • Chia seeds – 45 mg oxalate per 2 tablespoons
  • Sesame seeds – 126 mg oxalate per 2 tablespoons

Advice for Eating Low Oxalate Nuts & Seeds

Watch Portion Size

Portion size is important to help control how much oxalate you eat. Even low oxalate nuts and seeds can add up!

A portion of nuts is 1 ounce, or about 1/4 cup of whole, shelled nuts. A portion of seeds is about 2 tablespoons for smaller seeds (like hemp or flax seeds), or a 1/4 cup for larger seeds (like sunflower or pumpkin seeds).

Choose Unsalted Low Oxalate Nuts!

Make sure to find unsalted or “lightly salted” nuts and seeds. Sodium plays a big role in kidney stones. Most people should limit sodium to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day to prevent kidney stones.


Source: The Kidney Dietitian

Despotism Is the New Normal: Looming Threats to Freedom in 2022

John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead wrote . . . . . . . . .

“Looking at the present, I see a more probable future: a new despotism creeping slowly across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution.” — Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America

Despotism has become our new normal.

Digital tyranny, surveillance. Intolerance, cancel culture, censorship. Lockdowns, mandates, government overreach. Supply chain shortages, inflation. Police brutality, home invasions, martial law. The loss of bodily integrity, privacy, autonomy.

These acts of tyranny by an authoritarian government have long since ceased to alarm or unnerve us. We have become desensitized to government brutality, accustomed to government corruption, and unfazed by the government’s assaults on our freedoms.

This present trajectory is unsustainable. The center cannot hold.

The following danger points pose some of the greatest threats to our collective and individual freedoms now and in the year to come.

Censorship. The most controversial issues of our day—gay rights, abortion, race, religion, sexuality, political correctness, police brutality, et al.—have become battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom of speech but only when it favors the views and positions they support. Thus, while on paper, we are technically free to speak, in reality, we are only as free to speak as the government and tech giants such as Facebook, Google or YouTube may allow. Yet it’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth. What we are witnessing is the modern-day equivalent of book burning which involves doing away with dangerous ideas—legitimate or not—and the people who espouse them. Unfortunately, censorship is just the beginning. Once you allow the government and its corporate partners to determine who is worthy enough to participate in society, anything goes.

The Emergency State. Now that the government has gotten a taste for flexing its police state powers by way of a bevy of lockdowns, mandates, restrictions, contact tracing programs, heightened surveillance, censorship, overcriminalization, etc., “we the people” may well find ourselves burdened with a Nanny State inclined to use its draconian pandemic powers to protect us from ourselves. Therein lies the danger of the government’s Machiavellian version of crisis management that justifies all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security. This is the power grab hiding in plain sight.

Pre-crime. The government is about to rapidly expand its policing efforts to focus on pre-crime and thought crimes. Precrime, straight out of the realm of dystopian science fiction movies such as Minority Report, aims to prevent crimes before they happen by combining widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, precognitive technology, and neighborhood and family snitch programs to enable police to capture would-be criminals before they can do any damage. The intent, of course, is for the government to be all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful in its preemptive efforts to combat domestic extremism, a broad label that can be applied to anything or anyone the government perceives to be a threat to its power.

The Surveillance State. This all-seeing fourth branch of government, comprised of a domestic army of government snitches, spies and techno-warriors, watches everything we do, reads everything we write, listens to everything we say, and monitors everywhere we go. Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it is all being recorded, stored, and catalogued, and will be used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing. Even agencies not traditionally associated with the intelligence community are part of the government’s growing network of snitches and spies.

Genetic privacy. “Guilt by association” has taken on new connotations in the technological age. Yet the debate over genetic privacy—and when one’s DNA becomes a public commodity outside the protection of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on warrantless searches and seizures—is really only beginning. Get ready, folks, because the government—helped along by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget)—has embarked on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

Bodily integrity. It doesn’t matter what your trigger issue is—whether it’s vaccines, abortion, crime, religion, immigration, terrorism or some other overtly politicized touchstone used by politicians as a rallying cry for votes—we should all be concerned when governments and businesses (i.e., the Corporate State) join forces to compel individuals to sacrifice their right to bodily integrity on the altar of so-called safety and national security. This debate over bodily integrity covers broad territory, ranging from abortion and forced vaccines to biometric surveillance and basic healthcare. Forced vaccinations, forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, and forced inclusion in biometric databases are just a few ways in which Americans continue to be reminded that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.

Gun control. After declaring more than a decade ago that citizens have a Second Amendment right to own a gun in one’s home for self-defense, the Supreme Court has now been tasked with deciding whether the Constitution also protects the right to carry a gun outside the home. Unfortunately, when it comes to gun rights in particular, and the rights of the citizenry overall, the U.S. government has adopted a “do what I say, not what I do” mindset. Nowhere is this double standard more evident than in the government’s attempts to arm itself to the teeth, all the while viewing as suspect anyone who dares to legally own a gun, let alone use one in self-defense. Indeed, while it still technically remains legal to own a firearm in America, possessing one can now get you pulled over, searched, arrested, subjected to all manner of surveillance, treated as a suspect without ever having committed a crime, shot at, and killed.

Show Your Papers Society. With every passing day, more and more private businesses and government agencies on both the state and federal level are requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in order for individuals to work, travel, shop, attend school, and generally participate in the life of the country. By allowing government agents to establish a litmus test for individuals to be able to engage in commerce, movement and any other right that corresponds to life in a supposedly free society, it lays the groundwork for a “show me your papers” society in which you are required to identify yourself at any time to any government worker who demands it for any reason. Such tactics can quickly escalate into a power-grab that empowers government agents to force anyone and everyone to prove they are in compliance with every statute and regulation on the books.

Singularity. Welcome to the Matrix (i.e. the metaverse), where reality is virtual, freedom is only as free as one’s technological overlords allow, and artificial intelligence is slowly rendering humanity unnecessary, inferior and obsolete. Indeed, it’s no coincidence that Elon Musk has announced his intentions of implanting brain chips in humans sometime in 2022. The digital universe—the metaverse—is expected to be the next step in our evolutionary transformation from a human-driven society to a technological one. Remaining singularly human and retaining your individuality and dominion over yourself—mind, body and soul—in the face of corporate and government technologies that aim to invade, intrude, monitor, manipulate and control us may be one of the greatest challenges before us.

Despotism. Even in the face of militarism, fascism, technotyranny, surveillance, etc., the gravest threat facing us as a nation may well be despotism, exercised by a ruling class whose only allegiance is to power and money. The American kakistocracy (a government run by unprincipled career politicians and corporate thieves that panders to the worst vices in our nature and has little regard for the rights of the people) continues to suck the American people into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry are powerless to defend themselves against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere.

It is a grim outlook for a new year, but it is not completely hopeless.

If hope is to be found, it will be found with those of us who do their part, at their local levels, to right the wrongs and fix what is broken. I am referring to the builders, the thinkers, the helpers, the healers, the educators, the creators, the artists, the activists, the technicians, the food gatherers and distributors, and every other person who does their part to build up rather than destroy.

“We the people” are the hope for a better year.

Until we can own that truth, until we can forge our own path back to a world in which freedom means something again, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we’re going to be stuck in this wormhole of populist anger, petty politics and destruction that is pitting us one against the other.

In such a scenario, no one wins.


Source : The Rutherford Institute