Stratfor: China builds a new Silk Road for the 21st century

Summary: As we watch the candidates babble in the Campaign2016 circus, we can look across the Pacific to see a rational geopolitical strategy, something America has not had for decades. Here’s a note about China rebuilding its fabled Silk Road — revised for the 21st century.


The Grand Design of China’s New Trade Routes
Stratfor, 24 June 2015.


  • Over the next several years, China will devote significant resources to the construction of Eurasian trade routes under its Belt and Road Initiative.
  • As transit routes come online, the proportion of Chinese maritime trade passing through South China Sea chokepoints will shrink.
  • The new infrastructure built as part of the Belt and Road Initiative will support China’s economic rebalancing by opening new markets, generating demand for higher value-added Chinese goods and helping China build globally competitive industries.
  • Improving transit routes will lead to new security and political risks, and China’s efforts to mitigate these threats could create frictions in the very areas where Beijing is trying to diversify its trade routes.


In 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping proposed a plan to stimulate development in Eurasia by constructing what he called the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road — revivals of the overland and maritime trade routes that once connected China and Europe. Since then, the “Belt and Road Initiative” has become a fixture in official Chinese discussions on both foreign and domestic policy. Nonetheless, the initiative is still loosely defined. Beijing claims there are about 60 Belt and Road countries, but there is no public listing of these countries.

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PollyVote gives a reliable forecast about the Election. Prepare for Hillary.

Summary: The polls dominate the election news, but there are better ways to forecasts of its results. Here is one of the best: aggregating the various forecasting models. The results gives us time to prepare for the Clinton administration. See below for links to posts describing what we’ll see.

Prediction: a landslide for Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College

Pollyvote - Electoral Count - 16 Sept 2016

From the PollyVote website

“The PollyVote is based on the principle of combining forecasts. That is, PollyVote combines forecasts from different forecasting methods, the so-called component methods, each of which relies on different data. The PollyVote forecast is calculated by following a two-step approach:

  1. Averaging forecasts within each component method.
  2. Averaging the resulting forecasts across component methods.

“In other words, we use equal weighting of all forecasts within each component method, then equal weighting across these forecasts from different methods. This is the same approach that the PollyVote successfully used to forecast U.S. presidential elections since 2004, and the 2013 German federal election.” {Read the rest here.}

“The PollyVote was launched in 2004 by forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong and the political scientists Alfred Cuzán and Randy Jones. In 2007, Andreas Graefe joined the project. For more information about the team click here.”

Read about their track record and their publications about the PollyVote project. To learn more see their Frequently Asked Questions page. News stories about PollyVote data are automatically generated by software of the German-based company AX Semantics. Here’s how they do it…

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Gallup sounds the death knell for the news media. Disruption coming!

Summary: The latest Gallup poll about the public’s trust in the media has bad news about this key industry — and for America, which relies on this to make the Republic run. It’s another industry ripe for disruption. We can only guess if for the better or worse.

Watch an industry die: the long decline of American’s trust in news media.

Gallup's Trust in media survey - September 2016

Here is Gallup’s dirge for the news media: “Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low“. Journalists write as if they are selling information and insights. But they are selling trust, and a only a shrinking minority of the public trusts their product.

The foundation of their industry erodes away a little more every year. Combine this with the massive excess in news services and journalists and the crushing of the middle class (subscriptions are among the first expenses to cut) — the result is (to use the current jargon) “disruption”. It will not be pretty.

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It’s the Anthropocene! But natural threats will still kill millions unless we act soon.

Summary: While scientists debate if we live in the Anthropocene era, let’s not fall into delusions of grandeur. Natural forces can wipe away cities and destroy regions despite our impressive powers. We have prepared poorly or not at all for most of these. This is a luxury we can no longer afford.

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earth), a comment posted at Climate Etc.

The Anthropecene

Some scientists have proposed designating the post-WWII era as the start of the Anthropocene, a new geologic time when humanity’s power becomes a major force shaping Earth’s geology. Here’s a good introduction by Paul Voosen in Science, describing the both sides of the issue.

If scientists decide to accept this proposal, it is vital not to misinterpret its meaning. Our power can reshape the surface of the world. We can destroy it quickly with nukes or slowly with pollution. Let’s not engage in delusions of grandeur. But we remain helpless before the ordinary processes of the Earth.

Eventually one of the certain-to-happen disasters will demonstrate our low place in the hierarchy of natural forces. We face a bewildering range of threats: a magnitude 9+ earthquake (such as these), a volcanic eruption of 7+ on the volcanic eruption index (such as these; VEI 8 is a supervolcano), a global pandemic (such as the 1918 flu or worse), a Category 5 cyclone (wind speed >157 mph, like these) hits a city, a powerful solar storm that wrecks the planet’s electronics (as a repeat of the 1859 Carrington Event would do), the impact of a largish asteroid or comet, or one of the many other perils of the Earth.

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We can learn much from the stories about Hillary’s health

Summary: The Campaign 2016 circus continues, each chapter weirder than the last. Trump’s caravan is weirdness on wings, with his bizarre stream of misinformation and fantasy. Also interesting (if less scary) are the stories about Hillary’s health. This is a follow-up to Important advice for us about the election from Obama’s doctor. Only by reviewing the full story — cutting through the lies, assembling the pieces from the daily news — can we see the full picture, identify the key questions, and draw useful conclusions. Update: see the new information in the last section.

Hillary Clinton

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Recap of the story so far

As of Saturday concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health were deemed illegitimate by mainstream journalists and political gurus. For example, on Sept 6 WaPo reporter Chris Cillizza asked plaintively “Can we just stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s health now?“, referring to the “Clinton health conspiracy” (the all-purpose dismissive hand-wave). MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter dismissed NBC’s mild story about her coughing with “this ain’t news“. Then she was ill on Sunday at a 9/11 event. We can learn much about our America by careful review of what happened next.

Clinton left the Manhattan event at 9.36 am. Here is the first official story, from campaign spokesman Nick Merrill — released aprox. 90 minutes later.

“Secretary Clinton attended the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony for just an hour and thirty minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen. During the ceremony, she felt overheated, so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment and is feeling much better.”

The NY Times told us what came next.

“About 90 minutes after arriving {at Chelsea’s apartment}, Mrs. Clinton emerged from the apartment in New York’s Flatiron district. She waved to onlookers and posed for pictures with a little girl on the sidewalk. ‘I’m feeling great,’ Mrs. Clinton said. ‘It’s a beautiful day in New York.’”

This story was greeted with derision. The temperature was in the low 80s. Sometime after 5 pm Dr. Lisa R Bardack gave us a second story — with new information.

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