Thursday, October 31, 2019

On this #Halloween2019 Here In the United States

On the Occasion of Halloween here in the United States, we hereby present the following thoughts we are pleased to featured on all our platforms courtesy of Jonathan Lockwood Huie and his team as we say   Happy Halloween:

Consciously adopt the mindset of a young child,
to whom all of life is a grand adventure.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
- Mark Twain

Become more and more innocent,
less knowledgeable and more childlike.
Take life as fun - because that's precisely what it is!
- Osho

Laugh at yourself and at life.
Not in the spirit of derision or whining self-pity,
but as a remedy, a miracle drug, that will ease your pain,
cure your depression, and help you to put in perspective
that seemingly terrible defeat and worry
with laughter at your predicaments,
thus freeing your mind to think clearly
toward the solution that is certain to come.
Never take yourself too seriously.
- Og Mandino

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Notations From the Grid (Mid-Week Edition): Out & About in Our World

Our team has been on the prowl assessing the fire in our home State of California over the past number of days as we captured these scenes from Grid.  

As we went to press, we were on the prowl as reports came down that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley was threatened and staff was evacuated.      The Getty Museum in West Los Angeles was also on the fire Path as well.   We could not agree more with Lakers Star LeBron James when he noted how "crazy" he was--his family had to evacuate and he sponsored a Taco Truck for First Respondents.

Beyond the challenging scenes here in California, there is the on-going calamity in Syria as Syrian State Media is reporting clashes with Turkish Forces.    A Russian-Backed meeting  has been going on in Geneva to come up with a new post-war Constitution for Syria.    This is as Iraq Protests are continuing and the Shitte Bloc has withdrawn its backing from the Iraqi Prime Minister after he refused to call for elections.

Challenging Times....

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Notations From the Grid (Special Sunday Edition): On the #CaliforniaFires

As we went to press with this special Sunday edition of Notations, our team was monitoring the fires raging throughout California with CAL Maritime being threatened.       We commend Around the Capital for putting together this update as an estimated 2 Million People may be affected by the power outages to prevent fires--although we understand already faulty equipment may have been a contributing cause per an update from PG&E--we join Scott in noting for all to please stay safe:

Many of you likely had sleepless nights, either kept up by the weather like we were here in Sacramento, worrying about friends and family, or your own life and property.
Obviously, it's still dark and we won't have fire update reports for a couple of hours, but it hasn't been a good night in Sonoma County. The mandatory evacuation area now extends on the 101 form Geyserville to North Santa Rosa east into the hills and west to the Pacific Ocean from Stewarts Point to Bodega Bay. Highway 101 is closed from North Santa Rosa to Cloverdale, primarily to keep people from entering evacuation areas.
Winds continue to pick up in many of the affected areas, with the National Weather Service reporting a wind gust of 93 mph in the Healdsburg Hills in the last hour. For a point of reference, the hurricane range for category 1 is sustained winds in the range of 74-95 mph.
Instead of emailing you with constantly changing information, I have created a page with important links that I will update throughout the day. I am receiving regular updates from PG&E that I will post on this page, as well as there are links to Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).
Here are current numbers for the public safety power shutoffs:
  • Pacific Gas and Electric: 940,000 shut off
  • Southern California Edison: 4,048 shut off; 124,609 under consideration
  • San Diego Gas and Electric: no shut offs at this time
Stay safe,

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Notations From the Grid (W-End Edition): Remembering @RepCummings

The United States bid farewell to Rep. Cummings over a two day period as he was honored at the US Capitol and thereafter at his Church.   President Obama and President Clinton spoke--For this edition of Notations, We are honored to feature the statements by President Obama and President Clinton along with Rep. Cummings as we pay tribute to the life and times of the Honorable Elijah Cummings, The Gentleman from Baltimore--It was great to see all from across the political spectrum including Congressman Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows along with Adam Schiff all come together--we join all in saying RIP @RepCummings--you made a difference and we agree you made America better:

Friday, October 25, 2019

Notations From the Grid (Weekly Edition): Out & About in Our World....

On the Week that was, we hereby present a snapshot of our World over the past two weeks: 

Remembering Elijah Cummings 

The Financial Times Ingram Pinn Reflects Upon Syria 

1. The End

I told you we would get here eventually.

When the Ukraine story first emerged, I promised you that we would be going through a predictable sequence of lines about Trump's actions:

(1) This is all made up. Fake News.
(2) There's a partial story here, but it's nothing important. The media is biased.
(3) If there's anything bad or improper, the Dems do it worse.
(4) Of course he did it and he was right to do it.

Yesterday Mick Mulvaney said—well, let me quote it for you, exactly:

Q    But to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo.  It is: Funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well.
MR. MULVANEY:  We do that all the time with foreign policy.  We were holding money at the same time for — what was it?  The Northern Triangle countries.  We were holding up aid at the Northern Triangle countries so that they would change their policies on immigration.
By the way — and this speaks to an important —
Q    (Inaudible.)
MR. MULVANEY:  I’m sorry?  This speaks to an important point, because I heard this yesterday and I can never remember the gentleman who testified.  Was it McKinney, the guy — was that his name?  I don’t know him.  He testified yesterday.  And if you go — and if you believe the news reports — okay?  Because we’ve not seen any transcripts of this.  The only transcript I’ve seen was Sondland’s testimony this morning.
If you read the news reports and you believe them — what did McKinney say yesterday?  Well, McKinney said yesterday that he was really upset with the political influence in foreign policy.  That was one of the reasons he was so upset about this.  And I have news for everybody: Get over it.  There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.

"Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy."

Some of Trump's more shameless defenders have tried to insist that Mulvaney didn't say anything extraordinary. To believe that requires an amount of charity that borders on the saintly.
Any impartial reading of his remarks puts us at step 4 on the above list.

Don't take my word for it. Even elected Republicans who support Trump were freaked out by Mulvaney's admission.

Here's the thing: Mick Mulvaney is pretty great. He's the smartest guy in the administration and has been Trump's most able and convincing apologist. If you wanted to get the best possible explanation for Trump's actions, all you had to do was listen to Mulvaney for five minutes.

I literally once told Mulvaney that he ought to be the only person in the administration allowed to go on TV and defend Trump. He's smart. He shoots straight. He doesn't insult your intelligence. He's everything you want in a politician. (Mulvaney 2024!)

But if even Mick Mulvaney has run out of room to maneuver and can no longer defend Trump's actions in a credible way, then it means that Trump is basically at the end of the road. He's flipped to the last page of his playbook and there is no "next step." For the first time since the Access Hollywood tape, Trump is trapped.

And the trap is closing.

Nine out of the last ten polls taken on impeachment have been over the 50 percent mark on approval. (All of the usual caveats about different question wording; inquiry vs. removal; etc.)

And Trump's net approval rating is now a net -13 points.

When your overall job approval is barely at 40 percent and the percentage of people who want you impeached is over 50 percent and heading north, you're in trouble.

Real trouble.

2. Turkey

All geostrategic considerations are based on the status quo. The status quo—the facts on the ground—are the basis for all relations and all negotiations.

When one party seeks to change the status quo, they have to be prepared to give something up.

And if you are the party being asked to allow a change to the status quo, you should get something in return. This is the entire basis of leverage and negotiation.

For more than a decade, Turkey has wanted a free hand with the Kurds in Northern Syria. The facts on the ground—meaning, the presence of the United States—prevented this. Turkey sought to change this status quo.

To do so, Turkey needed the United States to give them something of value: a withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Presented with this request, the president of the United States had to determine first if he was even willing to withdrawal U.S. forces and then, if so, second what America would demand in return for this concession.

You do not make concessions, ever, without getting something of value in return. Even if you wanted to do the thing the other side was asking you to do.

Because the fact of them unlocks value for you.

Which leads us to a question: Was Trump's pull-out from Syria just a monumental mistake in which the American president was outwitted by the Turkish strongman?

Or did he get something of value that we just don't know about?

Failed diplomacy
America forsakes Syria’s Kurds in a ceasefire deal with Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan got nearly everything he wanted
 Our long read: Donald Trump triggers a Turkish invasion and trashes the national interest
The impeachment inquiry
Undermining Donald Trump’s Ukraine defence

Mick Mulvaney and Gordon Sondland fill in the gaps on the quid pro quo
Can business tread more lightly on the planet?

The stuff paradox
The week in charts
Emissions and omissions

Trade and global warming ● Decline of the chairman-CEO ● China slows ● Reform, Ramaphosa ● Congo’s shrinking rainforest
So near and yet so far
Russia’s Chukotka and America’s Alaska are an era apart

Despite being in spitting distance across the Bering Strait
Territorial claims
Is the board overseeing Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy unconstitutional?

If so Aurelius, a “vulture” hedge fund, could be in line for a big payout
Stories of an extraordinary world
How to feed a protest movement: cooking with Extinction Rebellion

A peek inside the “Rebel Kitchen”
The Economist asks
Who can trust Donald Trump’s America?

This week we speak to Ash Carter, a former secretary of defence

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Notations From the Grid (Special W-End Edition): On #China & "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"

As we gear up for a new week of deliberations throughout out platforms, our team chose this courtesy of the Fortune's Clay Chandler on China and the escalating US-China Trade War.    Our team will be continuing its' on-going assessment:

OCTOBER 19, 2019
Variety reports Quentin Tarantino won’t re-cut his latest film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” to accommodate Chinese censors, all but assuring the production will never be shown (legally, at least) in the world’s second-largest movie market.

The buddy pic, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt and pays homage to 1960s Hollywood, was expected to rake in hundreds of millions in China for Tarantino and financial backers including Sony Pictures and Beijing-based Bona Film Group.

Instead, Tarantino appears to have joined the growing ranks of commercial casualties—among them the National Basketball Association, AppleViacom, and Starbucks—caught in the crossfire of the escalating U.S.-China trade war.

“Once Upon a Time” was slated for release in Chinese theaters on October 25. The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that distribution has been postponed indefinitely by Chinese film regulators.

Beijing has declined comment about the delay. In the past, Chinese censors have cited excessive violence and nudity as reasons for blocking Tarantino films. But in the global business press, the prevailing theory is that this time Chinese authorities spiked Tarantino because of his film’s portrayal of martial arts icon Bruce Lee.

The Times speculates cancelation was a response to a direct appeal to China’s National Film Administration by Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon, who has decried the film’s depiction of her father as a “mockery,” and demanded changes before its release in China.

I haven’t seen the film, but by all accounts the martial arts legend comes off badly in it. Reportedly Lee’s character, played by actor Mike Moh, boasts that he could have crippled Mohammed Ali—then ends up getting thrashed by Pitt’s character.

Shannon Lee has blasted Tarantino for making her father out to be “this arrogant, egotistical punching bag.” Tarantino scoffs at the complaint. The truth is, he insists, Bruce Lee was “kind of an arrogant guy.”

The tussle over Lee’s image is rich with irony. He was born in San Francisco grew up in Hong Kong, and became one of the first Asian actors recognized in Hollywood. But Hong Kong didn’t fully embrace him as a star until after his death at age 32 from a brain edema.

A statue of Lee on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront has become one of Hong Kong’s most photographed landmarks. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators have embraced his “be like water” martial arts philosophy as one of their primary spiritual influences.

Beijing, for all its hostility to Hong Kong’s protestors, seems no less keen to lay claim to Lee’s legacy—and has lately shown itself to be hypersensitive to even the smallest slights to Chinese sovereignty and identity.

Meanwhile, demonstrations in Hong Kong show no sign of dying down. Pro-democracy leaders are calling for a huge anti-government march Sunday in defiance of a police ban.

More China news below.

Clay Chandler
– @ClayChandler



Tim Cook visits China. Apple CEO Tim Cook was in Beijing this week to meet with the chief of China's market regulator. They discussed Apple expanding investment into China, among other topics, according to the Chinese agency. The meeting comes on the heels of Apple's controversial decision to remove a Hong Kong protest-related app from its App Store for alleged targeting of police officers. Critics of Apple's decision accused the company of appeasing mainland China, a key market for Apple. CNBC 

Facebook vs. P.R.C. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at Georgetown University this week, extolled the importance of free speech and said global tech companies like Facebook must fight to protect it or the global Internet may start resembling China's censored version. Seemingly resigned to the fact that he will never get Facebook into the Chinese market, Zuckerberg criticized TikTok for censoring content deemed sensitive by the Chinese government and said he is not going to open Facebook data centers in China out of security concerns—a far cry from 2015, when he unsuccessfully asked Xi Jinping to help name his newborn child. Bloomberg


Is the deal real? More than a week after the White House announced a preliminary "phase one" trade deal between the U.S. and China, the two sides have yet to release written details about the terms of their agreement. The lack of documentation has led analysts and investors to speculate that, in fact, no agreement was reached during Trump's meeting with Chinese vice premier Liu He in Washington last Friday. But Liu, speaking at a conference in Nanchang yesterday, suggested some sort of bargain is in the works. “The two sides have made substantial progress in many fields, laying an important foundation for the signing of a phased agreement,” he said.  CNBC

Slowing growth. China's third-quarter economic growth dipped to its to its slowest pace in nearly three decades, with GDP rising only 6.0% year-on-year after an already faltering second quarter that saw just 6.2% growth. The U.S.-China trade war is starting to hit factory production, and analysts say the slowdown is mainly due to weakness in export industries. Some analysts note that China's growth was slowing before the trade war, and the slowdown will not be solved by a simple resolution of China's dispute with the U.S. Fortune

Shaky stocks. Asian stocks fell, erasing the week's earlier gains, in response to China's third-quarter slowdown, which came out 0.1 percentage points lower than economists predicted. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.48% at close on Friday Hong Kong time, the Shanghai composite ended Friday 1.32% lower, and the Shenzhen composite was down 1.17%. Analysts pinned the stumble in shares on "macro uncertainty" around the U.S.-China trade war and widespread doubts that last week's "mini-deal" will bring economic relief. Apart from Japan, stocks elsewhere in Asia-Pacific lowered as well. CNN