Tag Archives: Americans

Is War Between the USA and North Korea Likely?

The media is foaming at the mouth at the prospect of a war between North Korea and the USA. Is a nuclear war likely between North Korea and the USA? Are Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un likely to go to … Continue reading

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The Realities of Expat Living in Moscow 2016

Let’s break down some metrics:

I live in a 2-room flat less than a 10-minute car ride to the city center (Prospect Mira for those of you who know the area).

It’s Western renovated and ran about $1330 (40k rubles) before the ruble devalued. Concurrently, most apartments in Moscow have either kept the same rental price, or have actually decreased in price in order to find tenants.

So, while someone’s income has decreased because of the exchange rate in dollar terms, so has relative housing cost; over $8k a year in my case (roughly $675 a month). That 40k includes gas, electricity, landline, cableTV/internet, trash, water and my Tajik Concierge. Great guy, and very helpful.

If I were to go back and live in a comparable flat in Los Angeles, the same cost would double, minimum.

I would also have to buy a car, so we’d be talking conservatively about another $600 for car payments, gas, insurance and maintenance for an average $20K ride. My transportation costs average about $150 a month (metro, taxis, g/f’s car, etc.).

The next biggest expense is of course food. I spend at most 1000 rubles a day. I really can’t see spending more than this, and 1000 could probably be chopped in half if push comes to shove. But for the sake of argument, let’s double it to 2000 and use this for reference.

Housing, utilities cable and WiFi internet – 40000

Transportation – 10000. Remember I’m an expat and don’t need a car here.

Food – 60000, and believe me that is an ambitious sum, more like 30-40000 at most, but again for the sake of reference. We’ll use 60k to include entertainment such as eating out, movies, theatre, etc., and a daily 300 ruble Starbuck mocha that I could easily do without, etc. This factors in a 35% rise in food costs during the devaluation period.

Restaurants/cafes prices have only increased about 5-10% during this time; closer to 5% all things considered.

Pretty much covers about everything and we’re looking at 106,000 rubles.

Now I understand that it would be nice if you could still stash away about $3k a month, but times they do change. And if you were someone who hasn’t saved for a rainy day (time), then that’s on you.

Nevertheless, that leaves us with 94000 rubles and that is still close to $1500; not bad all things considered.

If you think that things will not improve, or that your time back in the States will be better, I say don’t let the customs agent kick you in the ass on your way out. And good luck with those American women.

All I know is, given the situation, there’s no way I’m heading back, and really, why would I? Simply put, I have a wonderful life here, despite all the oppression I [don’t] feel from Putin.

Contrary to popular belief, life is good here. And it’s especially good if you’re lucky enough to be making 200k rubles a month. 98% of the working population in Moscow would love to make that kind of money. And if you’re one of the very fortunate expats to be making 200k a month or more, then count your blessings. Continue reading

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Oil: The US is in for a Bumpy Ride.

If the current price regime continues for years into the future than the value of the big agreements made last year might be impacted but the thing is that China and Russia are dealing in yuan and roubles, not in dollars. This means that the dollar’s fluctuations are not relevant and the price of the rouble and yuan as a pair will be much more stable than rouble – dollar -yuan will be.

China has devalued slightly, but the currency, due to its link to the dollar, is still very over valued. They could move another 20% to get to the ‘correct’ value. Of course by doing so they’d kick the US in the nuts such that they’d not be getting off the floor for a while.

For them cheaper energy is worthwhile but is not essential. It was the decline in China’s energy consumption early last year that told us what was happening globally – that consumption of Chinese goods was falling. The Chinese knew this too, before the energy figures gave he game away. That led them to move ahead with moving toward the internal market which has a huge amount of room to grow – just as the US market did from early in the last century when they were already the world’s largest economy (since about 1870).

It is obvious that the Chinese devaluation was a signal to the IMF and US. As many do not understand, a currency pegged to another, as the yuan and dollar are, are not freely traded. For inclusion in the IMF basket the yuan needs to be unpegged, either fully or almost so.

This is a signal to the IMF that China is willing to do what is needed.

The US is being told that China will no longer support the dollar as it has been doing.

Whilst events may seem to be coincidental they are probably less coincidental than we might imagine. China is making foreign policy moves, in concert with Russia. Saudi Arabia is making its own moves. The target, on the whole, is the US.

The goal is to force the dollar into appreciation against as many significant currency pairs as possible thus weakening the US freedom of action across the globe and in the internal market.

Remember, having a ‘strong’ currency is often not the best option, especially when the holders of that currency have been spending the past 6 years trying to devalue it, without success.

The big issue facing all of us is this: it is quite possible that the global economy can no longer afford to pay as much as it is for oil. If we can not afford to pay then we will not and the price will fall further. This WILL result in a fall in oil output from all but the cheapest sources – this means the US will cease to produce almost any oil. Only the cheapest producers will be viable and only the cheapest producers with manufacturing infrastructure will be able to maintain anything like current standards of living. Continue reading

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Russian “Threat” Proves American Ignorance, Arrogance and Hypocrisy

The current situation in Ukraine was instigated by the United States. The collapse of the government, the civil war and the installation of a pro-American government, all the consequence of American meddling in the affairs of a country bordering Russia. As usual, the American media played its usual role, selling the government’s version of reality, thus making it easy to cast Putin and the Russians as the bad guys.

The Russian response, the annexation of the Crimea, moving troops near the border, whatever, would all seem reasonable to Americans if a similar crisis was happening in Mexico. Imagine the Russians deciding they didn’t like a Mexican government they claimed was too pro-American and took measures to cause its collapse, then taking an active part to ensure a government friendly to Moscow took its place. That’s what the United States has effectively done in Ukraine.

Too many Americans just don’t understand how the world works and how their own government is the instigator of so much strife in the world. If they can think they sure don’t demonstrate an ability or willingness to do so. If they did they would honestly and rationally conclude that their own government is provoking Russian near intrusions into U.S. airspace.

But since coming to that conclusion would require reading (sorry, no pictures, no tracing your finger slowly across the page, and absolutely no mouthing the words as you read them) and thinking about information more than a few minutes into the past, that’s not gonna happen. So when Americans read about Russian military aircraft flying near U.S. airspace they’re outraged because that’s the easiest reaction.

Maybe that’s exactly what the U.S. government wants. As the article points out, U.S. military surveillance can track Russian military aircraft before they leave Russian airspace. Let them get close and then intercept. Feign outrage and foster fears of Russian aggression. The terrorist bogeyman is getting old so why not return to an old favorite. All governments need a bad guy; if one’s not readily available then fabricate one. As history has demonstrated, the U.S. government is hands down, best at that.

Reaction to these Russian flights just proves what critics of American policy have been saying since the Bush administration cherry-picked “intelligence” to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, taking the United States down a permanent path of financial destruction through stupid, unnecessary and unwinnable military operations.

If another country acted similarly the American government would be ablaze with self-righteous outrage. The media would perform like the trained seal that it is and toot the government’s propaganda horn, riling the American people into an irrational, frothing patriotic fervor. Among the political class there would be calls for economic sanctions and, if the country was small and weak, threats of imminent military action.

And we do that for non-existent threats. General Joseph Dunford, nominee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Russia an “existential threat” to the United States. No doubt many Americans would, like zombies, nod in agreement, all because of what the media told them about outdated Russian aircraft flying close to U.S. airspace.

Ignoring tangible and ongoing threats to Russian security instigated by the United States over the last quarter century demonstrates that when it comes to American foreign policy and assessing its real consequences, ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy remains the order of the day. Continue reading

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Russia’s Cunning Plan on Sanctions, Europe and the US.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has implemented a cunning plan in relation to Europe and their sanctions on Russia. I call it “Right back at ya – watch this!”

“Russia is finished! Sanctions from Obama and the European Union will finished the Russian economy and now it will become the poorest country in the world! Russia can not do anything to answer the West! We will all die”

So love to scream those who do not know about Putin’s cunning plan.

Europeans believed that Russia does not respond to sanctions; but Russia has. The EU will soon feel the pain as they now know that they will lose at least 12 billion euros by being Washington’s puppet.

Putin has decided to act on the principle “I will beat gently, but firmly.” The effects wont take long to be seen.

European politicians have expressed “surprise”, “confusion”, “misunderstanding” and the hope that we can somehow “get out of the logic of sanctions.”

For the European Union, Russia is a key market. The EU’s share in the Russian food imports was 42%, and for the EU, Russia was the largest consumer, after the United States.

It is significant that the European politicians console themselves in the fact that sanctions are only imposed for a year, but the Russian market can be lost forever. Therefore, the damage from the “sanctions” Putin has retaliated with will be long-term.

In addition to the direct economic effect, the Russian sanctions will create permanent political problems. It turns out that Putin has – as Russians say – generously laid out a whole constellation of buttons on the chair – and the European Union will soon think twice about imposing sanctions on Russia.

The fact is that now all the affected countries will require from the European Commission compensation for loss, and the European Commission has to then find an extra 12 billion euros a year – and it can’t.

Finland is asking already for money: Finland is worried it will slip into another economic crisis due to the fact that Russia introduced sanctions against it. The Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said, “There is the potential that it will be the economic crisis number two,” at a press conference yesterday. It’s funny that the Finnish politician immediately demanded compensation from the European Union: “It is absolutely clear. If sanctions hit Finland disproportionately, we will try to get help from our partners in the EU. he said”

With a flick of the wrist, Putin has turned a few EU countries into clones of Ukraine. They will now also lose money just for the fact that they hate Russia (or believe they should). For Ukraine, this disease has already ended badly, but Finland and other countries will be cured of it quickly.

The treatment with be with the favorite German medicine – budget austerity policy, better known as the “healing by starvation.”

Another headache for the EU is the need to somehow arrest the indirect consequences of Russian sanctions. For example, farmers are unable to repay part of the loans that they have secured via export contracts in Russia.

Some manufacturers will not be able to pay subcontractors, some will have to lay off workers – it’s creating problems; the solution of which requires money. And the most annoying is the fact that it is now or will need to accept the fact that the export potential of the EU is diminished. 10% or so is the food consumed in Russia from European exports. The EU will have to increase subsidies to European producers, so they have a chance in other markets.

The level of subsidies in the EU amounts to 30% already, and to increase it will be very expensive, and the WTO rules will not allow this. For some countries, even the increase in grants won’t help.

For example, the Minister of Agriculture of Poland has already admitted that to replace the Russian market will be extremely difficult. The Europeans do not even have options to respond in kind, because Russia does not export food to Europe.

Russia is a major exporter of grain, but does not sell it in the EU.

With the exception of certain premium goods like French wine, Italian ham and certain cheeses, all food exports from Europe are easily replaced by exports from other countries, or Russian production.

It turns out that for Russia, there is potential for growth of its own production, while for the EU losing money is guaranteed.

There is something to think about. Assessing the long-term problems that arise from the first Russian sanctions, EU bureaucrats are likely to come to the conclusion that it is much more profitable ignore Ukraine and forget about the situation there. It is very possible that such thoughts have already dawned on EU leaders.

Just a few hours after the administration of Russian sanctions, news feeds carried this message:

“We want to overcome the logic of sanctions, we want to sit down with the Russian to the table to jointly discuss further ways of development of Ukraine”, – said the spokesman of the European Commission in Germany, Austrian Richard Kuehnel, RIA “Novosti” with reference to Deutsche Welle.
Russia offered this at the beginning, but, apparently, the Europeans needed a demonstration of political will and proof that Russia can inflict pain, without even touching the gas valve.

They got the proof, and in a rather offensive manner.

One has to be very naive to believe that the Europeans would agree to suffer economic losses for Ukraine. As can be seen from the statement by Kuehnel, they can not even tolerate a couple of weeks in order to “save face” and at least pretend that they care about the problems of Ukrainians more than the problems of their own farmers.

It is possible that we will have to watch the show and it will become quite funny. Washington will put pressure on the European Union and demand the preservation and strengthening of the sanctions, or the European Union will require compensation from the United States.

Extra money, the Americans do not have now they are bombing Iraq again, and so they may be forced to run the printing presses (“quantitative easing”) this autumn for fear of completely undermining the economy.

The most likely scenario is the US and the EU will organise some kind of scheme that could pass for a “diplomatic solution to the issue”, allowing Europeans to wear the halo as peacekeepers.

Russian sanctions have freed the EU from its default feeling of invulnerability and exclusivity.

Understanding that the loss of good relations with Russia is an unaffordable luxury, will greatly help the EU to build a better relationship with Russia, in spite of pressure from Washington. Continue reading

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What is the real story with Ukraine, Russia, the EU and America?

What is the real story with Ukraine, Russia, the EU and America?

Anyone who reads Western media might feel that they have a handle on what is going on in Ukraine.

You have been misled by the Western media to hold one, and only one view: There is ‘terrorism’ perpetrated by ‘pro-Russian separatists’, armed by Russia, and Vladimir Putin is the main culprit. Especially with flight MH17.

End of story. Anyone who believes differently is a Russian propaganda merchant.

Vladimir Putin is the evil bogeyman (white cat optional). America wants to spread democracy across the world. The EU wants to ‘help’ Ukraine, etc.

The British newspapers are rather good at fooling you in this regard. Look at the headlines.

Anti-Russian propaganda

Yeah, not so much……..

Want the real story with Ukraine? Here it is. This is the big picture that very few in the media will tell you.

America together with the EU sought to bring Ukraine into their orbit. There were many ultimate aims to this, but one was the missile defence shield and NATO creeping ever closer to Russia, and that would have ultimately led to Russia being evicted from Crimea.

By doing so, Russia’s military capability would be decreased and Russia would be hemmed in. This can be seen as America trying to cut off Russia’s balls. Not gonna happen. Putin isn’t that dumb.

The ultimate aim of America, and maybe the EU, is to unseat Putin, as they would seek to unseat anybody that goes against the New World Order (for want of a better phrase – others might call it American world domination).

America is well known to fund regime changes. They tried it in Moscow, it was slapped down quickly. This time it worked in Ukraine. The elected president was ousted for not agreeing with the US/EU. Pliable US puppets (ie the junta) were installed in his place.

At this point is where the innocent people of Ukraine start to suffer, because the decisions from that point lie not with them. By now, elections are useless; elections will say whatever the puppet master makes them say, as will the media. At that point Ukraine became a chess board where the EU and the US together against Russia play for power and influence in what is a geographically important spot.

Interspersed with this is some local oligarchs, would-be politicians and others with their own interests all seeking to position themselves in a place where they can earn a slew of cash when this has played out. At this point, nobody is fighting on behalf of the people, but the duped people feel they are fighting for something. In this case EU membership and ultimately a better life.

They can wave EU flags all they like, EU membership is a very, very long way off for these people. Just that nobody told them. The people are victims. Their home is a battleground for foreign powers. Ukraine and its people dont get much of a say beyond this point. The future is pretty much out of their hands.

Once the dice are thrown, the game has to play out. This is what we have seen since Maidan. Russia moved quickly to secure Crimea so it doesn’t lose its naval port, then it needs land access to it, cheaper and faster than a bridge from Kerch.

The logical next thing to do is to encourage the eastern regions to break away; Russia supports that and the new puppet masters support the western regions remaining um…. independent. But that isn’t enough for the new Western overlords, so they support Ukraine keeping the east too – gotta try to castrate Putin. In so doing, it turns the people of Ukraine on each other, and many civilians die.

Even American politicians are not dumb enough to start WW3 by taking Russia on in a full frontal attack, so as usual, they do it by covert means, sly funding, and of course silly sanctions to punish Russia for daring to express an opinion about what goes on in its backyard.

The same political machine that made America insolvent seeks to do the same to Russia. But that is slowly backfiring. Russia will fight back with its own sanctions, and nobody will win the sanction game.

The end game is still up for grabs. It may be the separatists in the east are thwarted in the short term. But if so, I suspect that wont be the end of it. They will come back.

As for flight MH17, there is strong evidence that Ukraine shot that plane down. The hope might have been that it crashed in Russia, the west could blame Putin, call him a war criminal, and that would have been a game changer. But it crashed in Ukraine. Russia is holding intelligence on this. Unlike America, it didn’t get it from Youtube and Twitter.
So what of the Ukrainian people? I feel most of them are unfortunate victims of a power struggle; a power struggle that was started by an expansionist America/NATO and the country-gobbling EU seeking to push their influence right up to Russia’s borders in any place they can.

Few in the Western media get it. Or those that do won’t write it. One that will write it and DOES get it is Peter Hitchens. Read his blog >>here<<. Others in the western media are slowly catching on too, as these articles show: The Huffington Post: >>Let Eastern Ukraine Go<< The Washington Post: >>Why the sanctions against Russia probably won’t work<< Russia has the backing of China, much of Asia and many Muslim countries. The United States hasn't quite got the hang of world domination yet. Don't be a sheeple. Learn that western controlled media on the whole, can no longer be trusted to tell the truth. Continue reading

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Selling Online to Americans and Canadians: The Pitfalls.

Chargeback and Fraud.

With Paypal users, all they need to do is pretend the item hasn’t arrived – and they get free cash as Paypal will gleefully refund them from your account. Simple as that. No ifs or buts.

Proofs of posting are meaningless.

The seller will always always always be in the wrong with Paypal.

This is called item not received fraud. Yes, its certainly fraud. But, its almost impossible to prove. So many of them get away with it time and time again. Its a hobby for some of them. Free shopping!

If sending untracked, buy some fake tracked barcode stickers online and stick on the envelope (yes, they exist). That will fool some and dissuade some fraud.

Americans can also charge a credit card transaction back (reverse the payment) on a whim, and on a single phone call with no burden of proof of any wrongdoing at all.

They have no grasp of Sofort, IBAN numbers or other international bank transfer systems, and will think anything other than a credit card or Paypal is a scam. So you won’t get them to pay by any secure, irreversible means.

Accept that you will be giving some stuff away and write it into your pricing.

Fear of Other Currencies.

Americans understand American dollars (Canadians grasp CAD and USD but they are pretty much the same value). And that is about all they understand. Trying to have them shop in Australian dollars, Pounds or Euros will confuse them.

They only understand dollars and will happily shop in dollars. A shopping cart in anything but dollars will result in a ton of emails asking about currency conversions, “How much does this work out to in dollars?” type questions, how to use a credit card in another currency and other silly stuff.

If it isn’t in dollars, its out of the comfort zone of most.

Charge them only in dollars to avoid that complication. If that means mirror sites or different landing pages, so be it. If eBay, list on the .com site in dollars. Don’t use the pay option on eBay of “US and Canada visibility” from the UK site.

Remember, if using Paypal, Paypal will shaft you on the exchange rate, so take that into account.

Customer Service Issues.

Another problem with selling to Americans: Americans use chargeback instead of customer service.

They have no concept of time zones outside of the US so cannot grasp why you haven’t replied their email in three minutes at 4am your time.

They will not make international phone calls, so forget that.

As demanding consumers, they expect bells and whistles, including free returns and exchanges (thank Amazon for that). Most sellers want to sell to other continents on a ‘no returns’ basis. Or at best, buyer pays return postage.

That doesn’t go down well there. You will get screamers because of that.

Remember, the first sniff of something that doesn’t suit them or is outside of their normal sphere of experience, you will get the chargeback.

If they are unhappy, and you are an eBay seller, they will gladly one star and/or negative feedback you. Bad DSR’s mean you lose your Power Seller discounts. Continue reading

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