Food Crisis

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I would say that there is a food crisis going on in the United States.

First, average life expectancy is beginning to edge downward, as diabetes and other related illnesses take their toll. Second, even average male height dopped a bit and became lower than the European average, largely because American food is so nutrient deprived. Much of the food is genetically-modified, sugary, salty, chemical laden, overly processed…

Third, obesity rates are through the roof… Nothing wrong with people having some extra poundage, but American obesity rates are now at world-historic levels.

I was a normal 177 lbs just before going to the US, and now I’m am back at 177 – but not before spiking at 187 for the few weeks that I was in the US. It was unavoidable, and I struggled to eat right.

Long aisles for potato chips. All kinds… How many different kinds of cereal can there be in a single universe? Cooler after cooler for soft drinks. It was difficult to find anything halfway decent. Maybe a yogurt. A tasteless apple.

Eating healthy in the US means shelling out serious cash for at specialty stores like Trader Joes or whatever. The healthier the item, the more expensive it is…

You could ask America’s worst enemies to design its system of food availability, its distribution of fast food chains, and you would end up with something similar to what we have.

 

Orderfollowers

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Few people in the media are making the argument – ethical, legal and political…

Hopefully the courts will make the distinction between right and wrong. I think it might take several court cases to do this.

The executive branch will probably witness confirmation that it can suspend new visa applications from specific countries, but that it must honor all existing visas – tourist, employment, residency, unless it wants to submit each visa holder to due process in a court of law.

That should have been the policy all along, in hindsight. The administration should have simply said “guess what? we are no longer accepting new visa applications from these countries until we establish a better vetting system” or something to that effect.

What ended up  happening was a political mistake as well as a terrible injustice to people who already had a visa. In the process, we got to witness how immigration officials at airports operate without a concience.

For example, at Dulles Airport a 5-year old Iranian tourist was detained in handcuffs at one point… How does something like that even begin to happen?

Did the Trump administration really intend to suspend the visas of ordinary Middle Eastern students and family members as they were in mid flight?

I refuse to believe anyone can be this politically reckless. Somewhere, someone on on the sidelines – the usual puppet masters – gave this order its grotesque form, and then manipulated it into existence. I mean, consider the alternative: that this administration is trying to sabotage itself.

Iranophobia?

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Reasonable people can disagree over Iran’s recent missile tests, and whether or not these violate nuclear treaties.

It is difficult, however, for US Defense Secretary James Mattis to accuse Iran of being a “state sponsor of terrorism” after it has spent so many years fighting terrorism in Syria.

Russia dismissed the US claim that Iran sponsors terrorism, and it knows something about this from being involved in Syria.

There are only two sides in the conflict in Syria. One side represents the only real legitimate force in the country: the government of Syria, with representation in the UN General Assembly. This secular government is allied with Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese party Hezbollah.

The other side of the conflict includes terrorists only. These mostly jihadist organizations seek to illegally overthrow the Syrian government, and they are backed by the European Union, the UK, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (although Turkey seems to have largely switched sides).

The Pentagon, the CIA, etc… are quick to slander Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, which is ironic considering their own backing of Islamic terrorists not only in Syria (where they were unsuccessful) but also in Libya (where they were successful).

At some point, I would like to hear US Defense Secretary James Mattis deny that the US has been sponsoring terrorism in Syria for the past five years. That would be rich.

Perhaps in the same press conference, Mattis might also deny that Iran has been fighting Islamic jihadists in Syria for the past five years. That would really make my day…

In reality Iran is highly integrated into Southwest Asia’s economic and political infrastructure. Iran and China cooperate extensively on all manner of items.

I am not a fan of any religious regime, including Iran’s. But the “terrorism” charge is ludicrous.

Even if recent missile tests did not violate the treaties, it was a bonehead move on Iran’s part. Well, it was designed to keep the game going.

When it comes to the definition of “state sponsor of terrorism” it is important to be accurate.

It’s Complicated

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American military strategy is premised on the small Daioyu islands (Senkaku for Japan) as being a part of Japan, but the situation is a lot more complicated.

In fact, Japan was new to even Okinawa in the 1890s, and this southwestern maritime expansion came rather late in its history. This region was traditionally part of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the islands often paid tribute to Chinese dynasties, which included the islands on their maps after 1534.

Japan annexed the islands after the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, but then Japan lost them, China claims, in the Potsdam Declaration that ended WWII, where Japan was only entitled to its main five islands and minor islands as designated.

So it depends on one’s default assumption…

The Daioyu Islands became part of US occupied territory, like Okinawa, and all of this was handed back to Japan in 1972 with the Okinawa Reversion Treaty. But China insists that the islands should have been given back to China right after WWII and were not. Indeed, during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, it would have been unthinkable for the US to hand these islands over to a communist power – but the history of the islands should probably have led to that.

In other words, China has a solid claim on the Daioyu Islands. At the very least, American thinking should be looking for ways around a traditional conflict, perhaps even with a “joint sovereignty” solution, rather than act overly confident that it is on the right side of history with these islands. When it is not.

Snowflakes Don’t Travel

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OK, well, there are a few young Americans traveling around, but I read an article a while back that should still hold true: this snowflake generation is not nearly as geographically mobile as previous generations of Americans.

Maybe they are worried about their data plans or something.

Travel can be domestic as well. When I was in college, life was truly complete with a Spring Break road trip to Florida, or a bus ride down the Pacific Coast, or a trek into the Grand Canyon. Some people went to Alaska.

I’d work for 6 weeks in the summer (driving pea combines in eastern Washington) and then take a month off, taking trains into Mexico with only a vague plan.

The first time I ventured into Mexico it was with a college girlfriend (with whom I would later move to Haiti), and the second time with a college roommate. Others were more intrigued by wandering around Europe with backpacks.

Maybe college tuition is now a prohibiting factor, shackling today’s generation to jobs and routine, not allowing them to spend any cash on travel.

Back then, tuition was so low that it was paid for with a moderate mix of part-time jobs, grants and parents. No one I knew went into significant debt to pay for college.

I got to thinking about this new generation of Americans being so homebound because Chinese youth are beginning to wander the world in serious numbers. I’m on WeChat, a social media platform, with about 700 mostly Chinese contacts, many of them younger Chinese (without the traits of snowflakes).

They are posting selfies of themselves in interesting places this Spring Festival. One young Chinese woman, beaming into the camera, is hanging out of a train in India. Another one is having a meal in a South Africa village. Another is backpacking in northern Thailand.

The Chinese used to travel in larger groups or tours and some still do, but there is an explosion of interest in travel for young couples or individuals (it seems that women more than men travel alone here).

The number of Americans studying abroad is now leveling off, with a slight decline this year for China, including for our program… And I’m just not seeing many young Americans in Mexico or Southeast Asia, looking for new adventures.

Have they been so coddled, and so protected, that anything beyond their immediate comfort zone is now a threat?

Nasty Divorce

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Britain is about to enter into negotiations with the European Union regarding its exit. I predict that these are not going to go well.

The EU is like a bitter soon-to-be ex wife, all lawyered up, in the middle of divorce negotiations. She wants everything.

In this case, the EU is going to demand tens of billions of dollars for the right of Britain to leave. Why? Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Also, the EU is expecting that Britain will not enter into any formal trade agreements with any other party during the negotiation. I think even flirting with others is frowned upon. Sounds like the conditions of a celebrity divorce.

The British can be overly polite as we all know. Just stop the car. And kick the bitch out of it.

Meantime, the EU is upset that the Trump administration is not giving it sufficient respect, even though the EU presides over economic stagnation with millions upon millions of unemployed, and an ongoing currency crisis.

The EU participated in the recent warmongering in Libya and Syria, producing the refugee crisis in the first place.

The EU has no real vision of the future, other than micromanaging the lives of Europeans from its grey, bureaucratic hub in Brussels.

The EU is not wild about Trump’s expected choice for EU envoy, Ted Malloch, because he would not kowtow to Europe’s political aristocracy and would instead raise tough questions.

If the EU rejects Malloch, it will only confirm that it cannot take a little criticism, that it does not respect the views of a major partner, and that it is determined to live in its bubble.

Arena Football in China

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CCTV just had a lengthy report about American football in China, but the kind played in an arena surrounded by padding.

There are several advantages to arena football. The field is much smaller, so players rarely get up to full speed to spear one another… The injuries are not as serious.

Also, the teams combine half American and half Chinese players, and encourages on field celebrations and antics. So the league is not just about the cutthroat approach of winning is everything. Of course winning is important, but having fun is more important. This football league is about entertainment and showmanship. For these players, the NFL stands for the “No Fun League.” Plus the cheeleaders are cute.

Arena football’s advantages are evident when one considers the NFL playoff games of a few weeks ago. They were so boring. Hopefully the superbowl will be better, although one of the downsides of living in Asia is that, for me, I will simply watch youtube highlights of the game. I’m not going to wake up in the  middle of the night to watch NFL.

But I will watch prime time Chinese arena football.

Here are two quick two minute videos.

Who Decides?

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Iran recently tested ballistic missile technology. Is Iran in violation of UN resolution 2231?

Iran says no (of course) because the missiles are not designed to employ nuclear warheads, and that the tests are unrelated to any nuclear program. Theoretically, Iran is entitled to develop conventional missile technology.

Of course Iran is going to play innocent, and of course the US, Israel and their allies are going to cry foul.

The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia are convinced that Iran is in violation of the resolution. Western media has already passed judgment: the test in “in defiance” of the UN resolution.

It seems that this is what the Security Council was designed to do… The IAEA and other parties submit their reports, and then the 15- member Security Council determines if there is any breach of the resolution.

Meantime, the claims made by all national parties – Iran, the US, Israel, and others – are so predictable that official statements can write themselves.

I think the UN resolution was originally intended to be vague, precisely so that the game can play out as it is now doing.

The next post will be Feb 3 because of travel.

Upside Downside

It is just as well that I am preparing to leave for China once again, running around, loading up on coffee, razor blades, and stuff… I’m not fitting into the right-left spectrum here, the democrat-republican spectrum, and it is pretty much the only category permissible…

For example, I support some of the new administration’s policies but am also adamantly opposed to other policies.

For example, I like the new Trump approach to Russia, the TPP, rethinking NAFTA, etc…, And there is respect for the Second Amendment… I also like the combative relationship with the press, which pretty much lies about everything.

But am not wild about banning people from countries that realistically pose little threat (while giving a pass to Saudi Arabia and Egypt). And while it makes sense to go after illegal felons, and perhaps even build a wall, I think any moves against ordinary illegal immigrants will backfire, and the Union could even witness a crackup.

I am also not wild about current rhetoric against China. Historically, when China is strong East Asia is stable, and when it is weak there are macro wars… So there is no point in trying to chip away at China’s sphere of influene, as if the world were a giant game of Risk.

Finally, I think it would be wrong to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem, seeing as this is supposed to be an international city under the law… The upside of that, however, is that US influence will greatly diminish in the Arab-Israeli conflict, as Washington would be revealed as partisan, belligerent, and as having a foreign policy captured by an ethnic mafia.

After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are still pundits who consider the US to be a “beacon of hope” in the Middle East, and relocating the Embassy to Jerusalem will finally put an end to that myth. So I’m hoping they do it. For an epic fail.

Few people in the US, from what I can tell, take a line-item approach to supporting or opposing the new administration. People are falling into loving or hating personalities, and caught up in the media carnival.

I like the US, I hang out with lots of Americans, but as for living and working here ever again… thanks but no thanks…

Update

While the Trump administration might be able to block new visa applications from certain countries, a federal judge ruled that current visa holders cannot be denied entry or removed.

My earlier post below did not delve into that second layer of detail.

In any case, a federal judge has now blocked part of Trump’s immigration plan.

As part of the Alt-Right media, Infowars was over confident. Infowars boldly predicted that the immigration orders would hold up in court.

Its article still remains up, despite being proved wrong: “Lawsuits Against Trump on Muslim Immigration Ban Will Fail Fast.”

Again, I predict that the suspension of new visa applications will be proven constitutional. But I predict that all efforts to restrict those already legally entitled to enter the US, or to restrict permanent residents and citizens, will (and should) fail.