Score 35 to 1: The US has officially lost the struggle with China over the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a Chinese initiative that has now gathered contributions from Great Britain, France, etc. etc. Washington picked a completely unnecessary fight with China over the bank because they saw it as a challenge to the traditionally US-dominated IMF and Word Bank. Which it is. China, in a reverse on the West's one-time Gunboat Diplomacy in China, is demanding its place on the world stage through Checkbook Diplomacy at the expense of the United States which had dominated international finance since World War Two. Even the IMF and World Bank are joining th China-led initiative. This is an historic shift away from US hegemony. Washington has belatedly conceeded that the AIIB is a Good Idea, but only if "it works in partnership" with the US owned & operated World Bank..
Last Things: Things have gotten so bad in the Greece vs. Germany grudge match that a mere 12 hours after a two days of marathon negotiations the two sides could not even agree on what they had – supposedly triumphantly – agreed on. Greece, quite simply, is both broke and broken and Germany is going to keep kicking the Greeks until the situation improves, which is not going to happen.
Another One Bites The Dust: The US has
Bootleg Option Play: After six months of coquettish bumblilng about the timing of interest rate hikes, soft and softening US economic data may lead to the Fed trotting out QE4 instead of boosting interest rates. Someday, perhaps way in the distance, an acknowledgement will have to be made that QE's 1 -3 failed. This, in turn, should not do Draghi's attempts in the EU much good. Additional currency warfare, behind polite smiles, will continue; beggar not just the hindmost, but most likely, all.
Piece Movement: The US Army Europe (the occupation force left over from 1945) will dispatch “columns of Stryker vehicles” on a road march across Easten Europe this spring in a novel exercise designed to reassure American's allies and to piss off Putin. Win-win.
Mouths of Babes: Senator John McCain excused Netanyahu's racist diatribes during the closing hours of his re-election campaign as “just politics” and reminded reporters that politicians cannot be held to everything they say just to get elected.
Magic Act: The Republicans have a new & improved Magic Asterisk Budget, based, like its predecessor, on the irrational and disproven belief that tax cuts for the rich improve the lot of the poor and result in balanced budgets. Dishonesty on this scale is new even for the current crop of Republicans. “The simplest way to understand these budgets is to suppose that they are intended to do what they would, in fact, actually do: make the rich richer and ordinary families poorer.” And they are grounded in the equally firmly held Republican belief that they can fool the American public at least one more time. It is another “enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry.”
Healthy Caring: California has stripped Blue Shield of its non-profit status. The insurance giant has $4.2 billion in the bank and pays its CEO $5 million a year
Broken Record: February 2014 was the second warmest February on record and, despite a a couple of blizzards here and there, was part of the warmest winter on record for the Northern Hemisphere. 2014 was also the warmest calendar year on record.
Nor Any Drop: As their available supplies of water decline, San Francisco Bay Area water agencies are planning to charge more for the diminishing amount they have, in order to cover lost income from the absent water. In Nevada, it's the Gamblers verses the Mormons.
The Anthropocene: Humanity is the most powerful force on the planet, shaping the environment more than water, wind, or plate tectonics. Unless something on the scale of a giant meteor impact or massive volcanic activity intervenes, the earth will carry the geologic evidence of mankind's impact for tens of thousands if not millions of years. It is quite possible we'll attain this goal through nuclear war, but far more likely that we'll peacefully (all things are relative...) provoke sufficient global warming to change the earth beyond recognition – and beyond human habitation.
They're Baaack: NOAA confirms that El Niño has officially arrived, and is likely to boost global warming to new record levels. Simultaneously, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation reached record levels this winter and, along with El Niño could kick off a surge in global warming lasting 5 to 10 years.
Down South: The Totten Glacier in East Antarctica is melting from below as warm ocean currents reach further into Antarctic waters. The glacier acts as a stopper to restrain 538,000 square kilometers of ice from flowing into the ocean. Scientists now say that this inevitable and irreversible collapse will raise the world's oceans by 11 feet over then next couple of hundred years. Joined with the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet – which will add its own 11 feet of sea level rise and is also now deemed to be inevitable and irreversible – the six to ten feet Greenland's melting ice cap is going to contribute becomes just a footnote.
Peak Peek: This year's maximum extent of winter sea ice in the Arctic is the lowest on record.