Afghanistan can’t wait for the U.S. to get out of the way — to let in China and Pakistan

As the U.S. exits Afghanistan, Beijing is preparing to swoop into the war-torn country and fill the vacuum left by the departed U.S. and NATO troops.

China is poised to make an exclusive entry into post-U.S. Afghanistan with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source close to government officials in Afghanistan told The Daily Beast that Kabul authorities are growing more intensively engaged with China on an extension of the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — the flagship project of BRI, which involves the construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines between Pakistan and China — to Afghanistan…

In other words: The Afghan government, behind the scenes, is welcoming China immediately after saying goodbye to America.

Yup. All part of an obviously subversive plot. Here’s Uncle Sugar finishing decades of superb foreign policy – stationing tens of thousands of American troops in yet one more small nation to show off the benefits of American democracy [and military hardware]. We’re going out the door. Meanwhile, the “subversive” Chinese and their Pakistani allies in the Belt-and-Road Initiative are actually going to build highways, railways and energy pipelines – making the country a key link in East/West infrastructure. And profits.

How sly.

Wandering elephants heading straight for a city of 8 million people


Nap time

A herd of 15 Asian elephants in China is on an unprecedented journey: Over the past year, the pachyderms have wandered 300 miles from their home in Xishuangbanna, a nature reserve in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, north toward some unknown destination. Their travels have captivated the nation. No one knows why the elephants started migrating in the first place—or where they’re headed along the longest recorded elephant migration in China’s history.

Now, the family of elephants—six adult females, three adult males, and six juveniles—is lingering on the outskirts of Kunming, home to more than eight million people. In recent months, as they’ve drawn closer to the city, they’ve encroached on human settlements, raiding crops, wandering down streets, and searching for food in small towns. They’ve broken into kitchens and popped into a nursing home. Some reportedly may have gotten drunk on fermented grain. While most of the group has banded together, one male left the main herd and is now approximately 15 miles away from the rest.

As the herd’s antics have captured public attention throughout the country, experts are left with a daunting challenge: figuring out how to reduce interactions between the elephants and people…

Everyone likes elephant stories. This herd apparently had a happy home where they’ve been on a nature reserve for decades. Someone got the wanderlust … and off they went.

China kicking bitcoin miners out – and where do you think they’re going?

China has long been home to more than half the world’s bitcoin miners, but now, Beijing wants them out ASAP.

In May, the government called for a severe crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading, setting off what’s being dubbed in crypto circles as “the great mining migration.” This exodus is underway now, and it could be a game changer for Texas.

Despite a lack of reserves that caused dayslong blackouts last winter, Texas often has some of the world’s lowest energy prices, and its share of renewables is growing over time, with 20% of its power coming from wind as of 2019. It has a deregulated power grid that lets customers choose between power providers, and crucially, its political leaders are very pro-crypto – dream conditions for a miner looking for a kind welcome and cheap energy sources.

And a significant lack of anything approaching ethical and economic standards.

A year after COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, Americans there – look back at the U.S.


NBC News

Benjamin Wilson, a Louisiana native who lives in the Chinese city where the Covid-19 virus was first identified a year ago, is watching the unfolding crisis back home with disappointment.

“I would be very afraid if I were living in the States,” said Wilson, who has lived in Wuhan, the sprawling capital of Hubei province, for almost two decades. “I didn’t really think that I would be where I’m at now, worried more about my family than myself.”

The contrast between his homeland and his adopted home is stark, the English teacher said. Although he endured more than 70 days of strict lockdown, that at times made him feel almost “imprisoned,” being shuttered indoors was a sacrifice that has paid off, he said.

Now, Wuhan is “one of the safest places in the world,” he added.

If we lived in a nation that treasured science, education, healthcare more than the quest for the almighty dollar$…I might question what the English teacher in China is seeing. But, we witness, every day, every week, here in the GOUSA, exactly what is discussed in this article from NBC News. Not at all surprising to any globally well-read American.

Brief note for coffee lovers

Starbucks is planning to open 600 new stores in China next year, thus operating 6,000 stores across 230 cities by the end of 2022.
Source: Pandaily newsletter

So, if you’re an American traveling in China, pretty good odds you’ll be able to hook up with your favorite addiction.

🙂

Asia forms world’s biggest trade bloc — “U.S. being left behind”


Kham/Reuters

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said on Monday it was concerned the United States was being left behind after 15 Asia-Pacific economies on Sunday formed the world’s largest free-trade bloc, cementing China’s dominant role in regional trade…

RCEP covers 30% of the global economy and 30% of the global population, joining for the first time Asian powers China, Japan and South Korea. It aims in coming years to progressively lower tariffs across many areas.

The United States is absent from both RCEP and the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), leaving the world’s biggest economy out of two trade groups that span the world’s fastest-growing region.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce serves as the conservative voice of the most reactionary and out-of-date elements of corporate America. The absurdity of advocating for separatism from trade organizations while acknowledging this diminishes opportunity and ease of doing business with the leading segment of the world’s economy is sillier than the crap still exuded by the Republican Party. The Chamber tries to hide this behind their stuffy traditions.

Asia-Pacific countries form world’s largest trading bloc


VNA

Fifteen countries have formed the world’s largest trading bloc, covering nearly a third of the global economy.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is made up of 10 Southeast Asian countries, as well as South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand…

Negotiations over the RCEP began in 2012. The deal was signed on Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), hosted by Vietnam…

India was also part of the negotiations, but it pulled out last year over concerns that lower tariffs could hurt local producers…Signatories of the deal said the door remained open for India to join in the future…

Members of the RCEP make up nearly a third of the world’s population and account for 29% of global gross domestic product.

I left out the BBC commentary. Predictably, the Brits’ noses are out of joint over this.

The GOUSA wasn’t invited.

Hard to find dumbbells in GOUSA

I know. I know. Just turn on the telly and watch the Republican Convention in action. This ain’t about that. 🙂


Even a $400 set like this from NordicTrack

Dumbbells, like Nintendo Switches, yeast, and bidets, are one of those things that have become extremely popular during the pandemic and extremely hard to find. People are spending more and more time at home, and they’re buying things they never needed or possibly wanted before. The sudden surge in demand has created shortages of the most seemingly disparate things.

For gym-goers, obtaining your own weights and working out from home had always been a possibility. But justifying the purchase was hard, especially with the rise of gyms and boutique fitness studios.

The pandemic swung the pendulum the other way — so much that it’s hard to rationalize going back before a vaccine is created. Depending on where you live, gyms may not be open (which has led to the rise of “speakeasy” gyms), and disconcerting research shows that they are looking more and more like coronavirus hot zones. Working out from home with dumbbells — for one reason or another — seems like the future of fitness. Just as soon as you can get your hands on some.

95% of the world’s dumbbells are manufactured in China. You better believe they’re working overtime to catch up with demand. They are weeks behind. They were months behind. And they’ll catch up; hopefully, before you take up speed crocheting or something equally arcane.

Ray Dalio’s perspective on China

Couple of quick notes:

Recently, I read reviews of Ray Dalio‘s essays on China and investing and that was what I was looking for. That is over here. In the course of my search for an easily accessible link, I came across this video. ‘Nuff said.

It’s long for my usual liking, though, there’s nothing slow or boring about it. Whenever he is on one of the (very few) TV channels I ever watch, I try to catch his appearance. I always learn something useful to managing the comparatively small retirement account I have to backup Social Security.