Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cup of Chinese Coffee

Served up by the last article in my printed A and B sections:

"China millennials switch to coffee as Starbucks pushes east" Bloomberg News  August 08, 2017

BEIJING —Du Beibei, who is in her 30s and still drinks tea at home, is among a growing number of Chinese consumers flocking to coffee shops and developing a taste for what’s viewed as a trendy Western beverage.

The resulting consumption growth is grabbing the attention of big-brand chains including Starbucks Corp. The Chinese coffee market grew several times faster than the global average in the decade to 2013-14, according to International Coffee Organization data, as the country prospers from urbanization, a growing middle class and rising incomes.

Retail sales of tea still outweigh coffee by about 10 to one, but consumption growth mirrors an earlier expansion in Japan, which became the world’s fourth-largest coffee consumer in the 2000s.

The $1.1 billion Chinese coffee market is dominated by Nestle SA, with a 66 percent share, according to Euromonitor International Ltd. The world’s largest food company says it’s optimistic about consumption prospects and expects China to become one of the leading coffee countries.

While Chinese demand is still a fraction of US consumption and less than half of Japan’s, the potential for growth means retail chains are already jostling for position. Starbucks has been in the country for almost 20 years and has expanded to about 2,800 outlets. Last month, the Seattle-based retailer said it would buy out its partners in a joint venture in east China, taking control of roughly 1,300 franchised locations.

It was right about there that I started taking a deep breath and wondering about the Korean crisis next door.

“We think bringing east China into a company-operated model sets the opportunity for the next two decades,” Kevin Johnson, chief executive officer of Starbucks, said in an interview. “We’re playing a long game.”

Dunkin’ Donuts, the official coffee of the Boston Red Sox, is trying to crack the market, and they can call it the East China Coffee Company (the number of times they arrested that guy and it gets a notice now?).

For now, Chinese consumers still favor instant drinks, particularly the so-called 3-in-1, which contains coffee, sugar, and creamer, as well as any flavorings. More than 90 percent of coffee retail sales are the instant type, said Limin Yu, senior research associate at London-based Euromonitor.

Most instant kinds of coffee are made from robusta, a cheaper variety of coffee that’s predominately grown in Vietnam. The growing popularity of cafes means there’s potential for consumers to trend up with higher-end beverages, which will increase demand for milder and more expensive arabica beans....

Meaning.... we will be told we are at war with China in the Middle East over coffee?


If you don't like Starbucks you can always head over to McDonalds.

"Losses in health care and consumer-focused companies pulled US stocks broadly lower Tuesday, snapping a 10-day winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average. The market slide accelerated slightly in the last half-hour of trading as President Trump denounced North Korea’s nuclear program. The remarks followed a new report that US intelligence has assessed that Pyongyang has successfully produced a nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles. The market indexes wavered between small gains and losses for much of the morning, then veered lower by afternoon. The slide deepened after Trump’s remarks on North Korea. At a briefing on opioid addiction at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., Trump warned North Korea not to make any more threats against the United States, adding that North Korea would be ‘‘met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.’’ The VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, jumped 10.4 percent. Beyond geopolitical concerns, investors continued to size up company earnings reports....."

(Blog editor shaking head; they are "jobbing" us all, if you get my drift)

Get New Zealand ambassador Scott Brown on the phone.

Meanwhile, splashed on top of the front page (no not the GE thing):

"Trump threatens ‘fire and fury’ against North Korea if it endangers U.S." by Peter Baker and Choe Sang-Hun New York Times   August 09, 2017

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it endangers the United States, as tensions with the isolated and impoverished nuclear-armed state escalate into perhaps the most serious foreign policy challenge yet in his administration.

Well, the New York Times is sure as hell trying to make it that way. 

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to go back to sipping my coffee and sizing up company earnings reports, thank you.

In chilling language that evoked the horror of a nuclear exchange, Trump sought to deter North Korea from any actions that would put Americans at risk. But it was not clear what specifically would cross his line. Administration officials have said that a pre-emptive military strike, while a last resort, is among the options they have made available to the president.

The feeling here is -- contrary to conventional NYT dogma -- is that Trump doesn't want to go down as the guy pressing the button. Neither did Obama.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, where he is spending much of the month on a working vacation.

It's tough talk, nothing more, the bad-cop to Tillerson's good cop.

Besides, the need to respond with such rhetoric is being generated by the pre$$. This whole thing is ruining his vacation and ---- aaaaaaaaaaah! Another ancillary benefit to the finger-in-the-chest pre$$ provocations for war with..... anyone willing to fight at this point!

Referring to North Korea’s volatile leader, Kim Jong Un, Trump said, “he has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said, they will be met with fire and fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

I don't know what that means coming from a government of a nation that has bombed so many countries in the world into wreckage at one time or another, let alone the only nation that has ever actually used them in a war.

Undaunted, North Korea warned several hours later that it was considering a strike that would create “an enveloping fire” around Guam, the Western Pacific island where the United States operates a key Air Force base. In recent months, U.S. strategic bombers from Guam’s Anderson Air Force base have flown over Korea in a show of force.

Of course, the Koreans shouldn't feel threatened by such shows of force and what would you expect to be their response?

Trump’s stark comments went well beyond the firm but measured language typically preferred by U.S. presidents in confronting North Korea, and indeed seemed almost to echo the bellicose words used by Kim. Whether it was mainly bluff or an authentic expression of intent, it instantly scrambled the diplomatic equation in one of the world’s most perilous regions.

I don't know if I can keep coming here and reporting daily on what drivel my war-pushing pre$$ is delivering because I can no longer take this every paragraph push, I'm sorry!

Supporters suggested Trump was trying to get Kim’s attention in a way that the North Korean would understand, while critics expressed concern that he could stumble into a war with devastating consequences.


Who front-paged all those Iraq lies anyway??

The way I see it, he has been doing everything possible to avoid another big war while selectively satisfy the war hawks with the blood dripping from their mouths. It's a narrow tightrope and he will be a genius if he manages to pull it off. 

I mean, think about political realities and think about what he has done. He's avoided bombing Libya as far as I know, maybe less than a handful of times if anything. Somalia gets scuffed up a bit here and there, but no major actions on the continent. ISIS has been chased out of Iraq and Syria. The rubble of Mosul is regrettable and Syria is being carved up into four pieces (Zioglobalist goal all along, hmmm), but it is better than the alternative. Yes, the Deep State sent their Islamist mercenaries to the Philippines and other places, but they could still be sitting in a caliphate. He's letting Saudi Arabia handle Yemen, as odious as that is, and the Qatar crisis has gone nowhere. Trump is now asking questions about the wisdom of surging in Afghanistan, and he was even making some movement on Israel-Palestine before the Al-Aqsa Mosque crisis.

“This is a more dangerous moment than faced by Trump’s predecessors,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit group in Washington, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said it would be counterproductive. “President Trump is not helping the situation with his bombastic comments,” she said in a statement.

The NYT turned to who for expert analysis and opposition?

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, also took exception. “All it’s going to do is bring us closer to some kind of serious confrontation,” he told KTAR News radio.

Never met a war he didn't like (think Syria, Iraq, Ukraine), but now that he's sick is he repenting?

North Korea has accelerated its progress toward a working nuclear-tipped missile force since Trump took office vowing never to allow that to happen. Just last month, the North successfully tested for the first time an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the continental United States.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that North Korea has miniaturized a warhead that could fit on top of one of its missiles. The Japanese government also said in an annual threat assessment Tuesday that “it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has acquired nuclear warheads.” 

In this case Japan is Britain and Iraq has nukes!

But experts said the main issue challenging North Korea is not miniaturization; the bombs are already judged small enough to fit on a ballistic missile, as a famous picture of Kim with a warhead seemed to make clear. The real test is whether a warhead can survive the intense heat of re-entry as it plunges through the atmosphere from space, a hurdle North Korea is not believed to have overcome.

Don't backtrack the scare mongering!

Even before Trump’s comments, North Korea’s militant response to the sanctions on Tuesday was the strongest indication yet that it could conduct another nuclear or missile test, as it had often done in response to past United Nations sanctions.

“Packs of wolves are coming in attack to strangle a nation,” the North Korean statement said. “They should be mindful that the DPRK’s strategic steps accompanied by physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength,” it added, using the initials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Trump’s “fire and fury” response echoed the kind of language the North Koreans themselves have used in the past. In the last few years, North Korean officials and the government news agency have repeatedly warned the United States and South Korea against any pre-emptive attack, with “sea of fire” a favorite phrase.

While Trump’s statement was among the most militant a president has made about North Korea, it may have been aimed as much at Beijing as Pyongyang. By discussing military options, the administration may be attempting to convince China and its president, Xi Jinping, that the status quo is dangerous because it risks war.

“It may be a message to Xi Jinping, that you have to be doing more than just sanctions at the U.N.,” said Joseph Nye, a Harvard University scholar who once ran the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council.

But after so many warnings of a trade war with China and other belligerent statements, Trump’s threat would likely be interpreted by Xi as “another thumping-the-table” exercise, said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.


Material from The Washington Post and the Associated Press was used in this report

Then they are all in it together, huh?

Kim Jong Un watched the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, in an image from video.
Kim Jong Un watched the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, in an image from video (KRT via AP Video, File).

Think he can see it coming?


"In 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, a US B-29 Superfortress code-named Bockscar dropped a nuclear device (“Fat Man”) over Nagasaki, killing an estimated 74,000 people." 

That make it any clearer?

"In 2012, the United States began a landmark project to clean up dioxin left from Agent Orange at the site of a former US air base in Danang in central Vietnam, 50 years after the defoliant was first sprayed by American planes on Vietnam’s jungles to destroy enemy cover."

That's called chemical warfare.

Of course, the North Koreans don't need to be reminded of such things.

I will tell you this, the Globe's reckless rhetoric and motormouthing of the warpath could end in a fireball with Trump declared the greatest villain in human history, and at that point I will have reached my limit.

Related: Trump's Bay of Pigs?

More like his Korean Missile Crisis.

"As long as the North Koreans keep up with their provocations, the Americans will continue to look to the Chinese to solve the problem, and Trump will back down on his threats of trade sanctions on China as China provides the only hope of a Korean settlement.  As long as they dither, the Chinese avoid American trade sanctions.  The only route to a possible settlement that the North Koreans can live with is to continue to provide some reason for the Americans to want to settle, which encourages more provocations to provide an incentive to pay attention to the issue.  The new sanctions are stringent enough that they will encourage further North Korean acts to gain attention, as attention is the only possible path to getting the negotiated deal they want. The North Koreans, and the rest of the world, remember that Gadaffi gave up his nukes, and got a bayonet up the ass from the neocons for his troubles, with his country laid waste.  The lesson learned from the neocons - not to mention the horrors the American inflicted on Korea during the Korean War - is that you can never, in any circumstances, give up your nukes.  'We came, we saw, he died' (and note the horror-movie cackle).  Killary would have already started WWIII over this, no question, so the phony alarm of the Clintonistas to Trump's rhetorical flourishes is disgusting.  Americans are never going to get a negotiated deal anywhere now if part of it is giving up nukes. Essentially, the Americans have set the incentives up in this case completely backwards, encouraging brinkmanship and chaos." -- xymphora


"Embattled President Nicolas Maduro convoked the constitutional assembly Tuesday amid mounting criticism from foreign governments that have refused to recognize the new super-body. More than a dozen Latin American leaders were gathering in Peru to discuss how to force Maduro to back down. In response, Maduro convened a meeting of foreign ministers from the Bolivarian Alliance, a leftist coalition of 11 Latin American nations. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told representatives from nations including Cuba and Bolivia Tuesday that longstanding US aggressions against his troubled South American nation have ‘‘entered a much stronger phase.’’

I said that yesterday, meaning the whole damn world can see it if I can!!


"Iran president’s Cabinet cuts out Revolutionary Guard" by Nasser Karimi and Jon Gambrell Associated Press  August 08, 2017

TEHRAN — After decisively winning reelection almost three months ago, Iran’s president on Tuesday proposed a new Cabinet for his second term that cuts out the hard-line Revolutionary Guard from controlling the Defense Ministry for the first time in nearly 25 years.

However, Hassan Rouhani’s Cabinet for now also fails to include women and his pick for the Justice Ministry is on a European Union sanctions list over human rights abuse allegations.

The Cabinet selection shows Rouhani, a cleric whose stances are moderate compared to others in the Islamic Republic, remains pragmatic about how far he can push his administration that is under the ultimate control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rouhani’s Cabinet picks ultimately must be approved by parliament, which is expected to take up the issue next week.

Do they have a filibuster rule?

According to the proposal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that saw sanctions lifted in exchange for limits of Iran’s enrichment of uranium, would remain the country’s top diplomat. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, who oversaw Iran’s rush into the global energy market following the atomic accord, and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi also would retain their posts.

Rouhani nominated Iran’s acting defense minister, General Amir Hatami of the Iranian army, to permanently take over the position. That represents a major departure from previous Iranian presidents who have since 1993 appointed members of the Revolutionary Guard to the position.

The Guard, a paramilitary force answering only to Khamenei, controls Iran’s disputed ballistic missile program and regularly has tense encounters with the US Navy in the Persian Gulf. It has deployed into Iraq as part of the fight against the Islamic State group and into Syria to support embattled President Bashar Assad. It also holds vast economic interests in Iran. 

It is their version of a military-industrial complex and Khamenei is commander-in-chief.

Rouhani, who was sworn in on Saturday, strongly criticized the Guard during his presidential campaign for trying to sabotage the nuclear deal.

After the election, Rouhani met with the Guard and acknowledged their role in Iran’s defense. But his passing over them for the defense minister position will likely draw hard-line criticism.

Rouhani played it safe with the rest of his Cabinet, with analysts describing his choices as the oldest overall Cabinet since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

As in Rouhani’s previous Cabinet, there are no women nominated for ministerial posts, though he still has three female vice presidents who are expected to keep their posts. Rouhani’s senior vice president, Eshaq Jahangir, is staying on.

What also may trouble European nations is Rouhani’s choice of Alireza Avaee as justice minister. Avaee is on a European Union sanctions list for alleged human rights violations from when he served as president of the Tehran judiciary, from 2005 to 2014.

‘‘He has been responsible for human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, denials of prisoners’ rights, and an increase in executions,’’ the EU said.

Eight of the 17 nominees are new to their posts, including Habibollah Bitaraf, an energy minister under former reformist president Mohammad Khatami. Bitaraf was among the militant students who stormed the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held Americans hostage there for 444 days.

Gotta hit that mental trigger for Americans.

Only the position of science minister remains unselected — a position that saw Rouhani get into a legislative dogfight in parliament in 2014. The science minister oversees Iran’s universities and hard-line lawmakers worry about allowing anyone who offered any sympathy with reformists or the West....

AP, NYTWaPo, what's the difference?


RelatedMarines eye plan to put women in West Coast combat training


FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2013 file photo, female recruits stand at the Marine Corps Training Depot on Parris Island, S.C. The U.S. Marine Corps for the first time is eyeing a plan to let women attend what has been male-only combat training in Southern California, as officials work to quash recurring problems with sexism and other bad behavior among Marines, according to Marine Corps officials. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)
The US Marine Corps is eyeing a plan to let women attend what has been male-only combat training in Southern California, as officials work to quash recurring problems with sexism and other bad behavior among Marines, according to Marine Corps officials (Associated Press/File).

That their front line best? 

I can see why they want the transgender, the illegals with the promise of citizenship (the new black soldier of past century?), and the contractors.

How much all this war-rattling going to cost anyway because ‘‘the American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent.’’ 

"This summer, however, was not a good time to push ahead on the project. The French Parliament is working on an ethics law for politicians that would, among other things, ban the hiring of relatives....."

At least they aren't backing out of the car deal.

"An Iranian drone just threatened a US fighter as it tried to land on an aircraft carrier" by Andrew deGrandpre The Washington Post  August 08, 2017

US military officials say an Iranian drone harassed and nearly collided with a Navy attack jet Tuesday as it prepared to land on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

The two aircraft — an Iranian QOM-1 and a US F/A-18E Super Hornet — came within 100 feet of each other as the Super Hornet circled above the USS Nimitz, officials said, noting the pilot was forced to make a sudden maneuver to avoid crashing into the drone.

Takeoffs and landings at sea are inherently dangerous under normal circumstances, requiring extreme concentration and precision. Tuesday’s incident, which occurred in international airspace, US officials said, is an unsettling development for that reason, and it marks the latest in a series of threatening encounters between the two militaries.

In a statement, US Central Command declared the incident ‘‘unsafe and unprofessional,’’ calling it a breach of international maritime customs and laws. It was the Navy’s 13th such run-in with Iranian military forces this year, officials said.

It was unclear whether the drone was armed or if Iranian military officials communicated with the Americans, who said they made repeated radio calls warning the drone’s operator to keep away.

Last year, the Pentagon documented 35 hostile interactions with Iranian forces, up from to 23 in 2015.

Edging towards confrontation, huh?


So when does the Israeli sub sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to kick the whole thing off?


"China’s pretty boys find a new gig: propaganda films" New York Times   August 08, 2017

BEIJING — Commissioned by the government to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, China’s latest propaganda film was meant to be a patriotic tale about the young soldiers who served their country in its earliest days.

But when it came time to find actors to play some of the Communist Party’s most venerated military commanders, the filmmakers behind “The Founding of an Army” made an unusual — some say disrespectful — casting decision: They piled on the “little fresh meat.”

Known in Chinese as xiao xian rou, “little fresh meat” refers to Chinese teen idols and boy band members, famous mostly for their manicured looks and sculpted physiques.

Since the movie opened in the last week of July, at least one descendant of a figure portrayed in the film has taken to social media to criticize the filmmakers.

“Who is this effeminate boy who can hardly stand up straight playing my grandfather?” Ye Daying, a grandson of Ye Ting, a Communist military commander, wrote on Weibo, a microblogging site. He was referring to Oho Ou, a 24-year-old actor and singer who plays the army officer. “Who are you trying to humiliate?”

Just when you think they can't go any lower..... ha-ha-ha (as I shake my head).


Bye bye bye!