Daily Archive: January 28, 2018

Jan
28

Did The Smartphone Bubble In China Just Pop?

The eight-year-long smartphone bubble in China has abruptly come to an end, in yet another warning sign that the global synchronized growth narrative is merely an illusion.

The Singapore-based research firm Canalys has confirmed that China’s smartphone market suffered its first ever annual decline, with shipments down 4 percent from 2016 to 459 million phones in 2017. Canalys blames the weakness on a terrible y/y performance in the industry during the Q4 2017 period, with shipments crashing by over 14 percent to around 113 million phones.

From 2010 through 2012, the Chinese smartphone industry had triple-digit growth between 104 percent to 150 percent per annum. After 2013 to present day, growth decelerated to an outright contraction.

Despite the mounting evidence of buyer saturation in China, Huawei increased shipments by 9 percent during the overall market contraction, shipping more than 24 million smartphones in 4Q 2017 and reaffirmed itself as the number one Chinese smartphone seller.

On the other hand, during the same period, shipments declined for both Oppo and Vivo by 16 percent and 7 percent, although, both companies remained in the top two and three spots in the region.

As Huawei cemented its lead as the top smartphone seller in the country, Oppo shipped 19 million smartphones, while Vivo shipped 17 million. How did Apple do? Well, the company was able to take fourth place, pushing Xiaomi back to the fifth spot with 13 million phones.

 

In total, Huawei sold 90 million smartphones in 2017, despite the overall industry showing its first signs of contraction. “Huawei’s push into tier-three and tier-four cities has yielded positive results,” said Canalys Research Analyst Mo Jia.

“Nova and Honor have successfully gained share from smaller vendors, such as Gionee and Meizu. Honor’s performance has complemented Huawei’s success, by contributing more than half of Huawei’s total shipments. But competition between Huawei and Honor is getting fierce, and Huawei must deal with possible internal cannibalization.

Canalys Research Analyst Hattie He said, 

The declining Chinese market will have a detrimental impact on those Chinese vendors that have been heavily relying on their home market. It will affect their cashflow and profitability, limiting overseas expansion and bringing into question future survival. The threat to vendors such as Gionee and Meizu is now closer than ever.” With Lenovo and ZTE refocusing on the Chinese market in 2018, competition will intensify among vendors outside the top five.”

“There is little room left for the smaller vendors. The leading players will make aggressive plans to maintain or grow their market share. We can expect a major market shake-up in China in 2018,” he added.

To sum up, the cellphone bubble is cracking in China and threatens to unleash a deflationary trend for prices. As much as Canalys believes in market saturation in China, there is also the understanding of Moore’s Law. Technology in smartphones has rapidly increased over the past few years, that consumers are not buying new smartphones at a frequency like they were.

Bye-Bye +$800 phones, Hello $200 phones.

Jan
28

Carillion tried to ‘wriggle out’ of pension contributions

The collapsed outsourcing giant avoided paying into the pension schemes, say MPs.

Jan
28

Russia’s “Doomsday Weapon” – Disinformation Or Disaster?

Authored by Eric Margolis via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

While we agonize over such life and death questions as clumsy men groping women and the crucial need for gender and racial ‘inclusion,’ let me spare a few seconds thought to something really important and scary:  Russia’s doomsday nuclear torpedo.

 

Code-named by NATO ‘Kanyon,’  it’s reportedly something new and terrifying, a ‘third strike’ weapon designed to obliterate the US east and west coasts in a nuclear war.   US intelligence seems to think this doomsday weapon is very real indeed.

I just re-watched for the umpteenth time the wonderful, 1964 Kubrick film, ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and marveled anew at how prescient this razor-sharp satire was.  In the film, the Soviets admit they ran out of money to keep up the nuclear arms race with the United States.  Their answer was to create a secret, automated doomsday nuclear device that would destroy the entire planet in the event of a major war.

Now, the Russians appear to have responded to a new, trillion dollar US program to develop and deploy an anti-missile system that would negate their ballistic missile system:  the ‘Kanyon.’  Fact imitates fiction.

This revelation comes just after the Trump administration has also embarked on new programs to deploy an entire new generation of lower yield nuclear weapons that can be used for tactical war-fighting purposes.  North Korea and Iran are the evident targets, as well as Afghanistan.  But there is now talk aplenty in Pentagon circles about waging a limited tactical nuclear war against Russia.  New US bomber and drone programs are being speeded up.  War talk is in the air.  Military stocks are booming.

‘Kanyon,’ according to the right-wing Heritage Foundation, a cheerleader for military spending, is a mammoth 100-megaton nuclear device carried by an unmanned submarine.  This monster weapon is designed to detonate on the US west coast, destroying the ports of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  The device is reportedly covered with cobalt, for maximum radioactive effect.

A similar device launched from the Atlantic Ocean would devastate the US East coast, leaving it under a lethal shroud of radiation for generations. 

If these reports are true, any hopes that some US generals have of fighting and winning a ‘limited’ nuclear exchange with Russia or China (never mind India) are absurd.   But in fact any serious nuclear exchange between the great powers would be a death sentence for the entire planet, wrapping us in a lethal shroud of nuclear winter. 

One US intelligence study done of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan estimated two million immediate dead and 100 million deaths within weeks.  That was from a rather limited nuclear war using first generation weapons.  Today’s weapons have ten times the explosive power.

Russia has a large and effective nuclear arsenal.  The sharp decline of Russia’s once-mighty conventional military forces after 1991 drove Moscow to place ever greater reliance on nuclear weapons to defend its interests.   Russia has also begun introducing modernized nuclear weapons in strategic and tactical versions.  China is also slowly developing its nuclear forces to be able to fight a thermonuclear war against the United States and India at the same time.

President Trump, who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War on spurious medical grounds, appears infatuated by military affairs and the panoply of weapons that he commands.  In an act of historic irresponsibility, he has brought the US to the edge of nuclear war against North Korea heedless of the dire consequences of even a ‘small’ nuclear war in Asia. 

Anyone who thinks a nuclear war can be waged without permanently polluting our planet should be put under psychiatric care.  As crazy as this notion sounds, there are some senior US generals who share this view and, most likely, President Trump, the man with the big red button.  Russia’s marshals are more cautious.  They still see the scars of World War II, in which some 27 million Soviet civilians died, and know what war means.  

Perhaps leaks about this Russian monster weapon are clever disinformation spread by Moscow to give the Americans a big scare.  Let’s hope so because, if real, they should scare the pants off all of us.

Jan
28

Female Kurdish Fighter Blows Herself Up As Turkish Tank Enters Syrian Village

With the assistance of Al Masdar News,

A female fighter within the Kurdish People’s Protection Units paramilitary group has blown herself up amid an ongoing offensive by Turkey-led forces in Syria’s Afrin regional sources report. Sources following developments on the ground in Afrin are reporting that a Kurdish female fighter by the name of Avesta Khabur committed the suicide attack to in an attempt to turn back an armored assault by the Turkish Army.

#YPJ fighter Avesta Khaboor blows herself up and destroys a Turkish tank in Jandaris district, #Afrin. January 28, 2018. pic.twitter.com/rnuqIGBe9x

— Rojava Defense Units | YPG (@DefenseUnits) January 28, 2018

The incident is said to have taken place in the village of Hemmam and that it resulted in Avesta Khabur taking the lives of several Turkish troops along with her own as well as the destruction of a battle tank. However, sources are vague about the conditions in which Avesta Khabur carried out the suicide bombing.

It is hard to believe that it was a preempted Islamist-style martyrdom operation in the fashion that jihadist factions carry out such attacks as it is an unusual tactic for Kurdish groups. Rather it is likely the case that Avesta found herself surrounded by enemy forces and–seeing no way out–then committed to the suicide attack against the Turkish Army.

The YPJ-General Command (YPJ is the all-female Kurdish military organization parallel to the YPG)  released an official statement which described Khabur’s actions as follows: “she attacked with her grenades a Turkish tank which was trying to enter Hemmam village. As such she exploded her body and destroyed the tank.”

Earlier on Sunday, the Turkish Armed Forces managed to capture the strategic mountaintop of Jabal Barsaya in the northeastern part of the Afrin Canton, which overlooks many Kurdish villages.  This was later confirmed the Turkish regime, as their troops continue to move through heavily fortified areas controlled by the predominately Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ).

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the moment and seized on images of soldiers planting the Turkish flag at the top of Jabal Barsaya to energize his political base during a speech Sunday while claiming “484 terrorists have been killed so far” in reference to US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters. He stated enthusiastically after proclaiming the death of “terrorists” that, “this will keep getting better!” while adding that thanks to the operation “people have literally found peace”

Footage of both the mountaintop advance and Erdoğan’s speech can be seen in the following pro-Turkish media clip:

In other related developments, on Saturday Kurdish activists in northern Syria accused the Turkish Air Force of using internationally banned napalm bombs over the Afrin Canton in northern Aleppo.

“The Turkish army uses the forbidden weapon napalm in Afrin against civilians,” Syrian-Kurdish politician Îlham Ehmed tweeted last night.

Kurds Accuse Turks of Dropping Napalm https://t.co/NexTpjUf2E pic.twitter.com/u9IBnCQPjB

— The Voice of America (@VOANews) January 28, 2018

While no visual proof has been released, several Kurdish activists in northern Syria took to social media to accuse the Turkish Air Force of using the munitions. In addition to accusing the Turkish Air Force of using napalm, Kurdish activists also claimed that the former bombed archaeological sites inside the Afrin Canton.

Meanwhile, Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) ground forces continue to advance on villages on the edges of Afrin Canton. Though Turkey claims it is “bringing peace” to the area, several FSA media accounts have released videos showing its Islamist fighters declaring their intent to conduct ethnic cleansing against the “atheist Kurds”.

Below is one such widely circulated video released over the weekend:

“Allah o Akbar we are gonna kill atheist Kurds”

Not ISIS but #Turkey backed jihadist attacking #Afrin and now they are part of NATO!#DefendAfrin#NoFlyZone4Afrin pic.twitter.com/JAe389rkRo

— SЯOD (@SrooooD) January 27, 2018

Though a number of such videos with threats of genocide by invading Turkish and FSA forces have made the rounds over the last week, and though President Erdoğan himself in public speeches of late has used similar language, mainstream media in the West has continued to be mild or completely silent in its criticism of Erdoğan or the Turkish military invasion of Syria. 

Indeed Erdoğan has recently vowed “to give Afrin back to its real owners” while claiming that “55% of Afrin is composed of Arabs with 35% of Kurds coming there later on”. Such language of militarily forced “demographic shift” inside another nation’s sovereign territory by Turkish leadership has gone relatively unreported in major international press. 

On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) – a Syrian opposition outlet in England which has long been a favored source for mainstream media – reported 42 civilian casualties among the Kurds, Arabs and Armenians killed by the Turkish shelling of Afrin. As reported by SOHR “about half of them are children and women”. 

SOHR further reports a total of 144 killed among soldiers and paramilitary factions on both sides of the fighting, now in its ninth day.

Jan
28

Gowdy “100 Percent” Confident In Mueller, Tells Lawmakers To “Leave Him The Hell Alone”

Trey Gowdy (R-SC) says he has “100 percent” confidence in Robert Mueller to conduct a fair investigation if he’s given the proper time and resources, and urged lawmakers criticizing the special counsel to “leave him the hell alone,” the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman told Fox News Sunday. 

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“I think he’s got a fair prosecutor in Bob Mueller, but I don’t think he’s got a fair jury,” Gowdy said, referring to President Trump. 

“Mueller didn’t raise his hand and say ‘pick me,’ ” Gowdy added. “We as a country asked him to do this.”

(Actually, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – who is apparently named in the FISA memo – asked Mueller to do it). 

Mueller’s investigation has been widely criticised by Congressional GOP legislators, while president Trump has labeled the probe a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.” Trump reportedly ordered Mueller fired last June – only to back off when White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign according to the WSJ, however Trump has denied the report as Fake News

Several Republicans in Congress, including Gowdy, have called for the release of a classified memo that purports to show FBI officials abusing surveillance power. 

Republicans have also fixated on text messages exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page that they argue show anti-Trump bias. Strzok was removed from Mueller’s investigation last year after the texts were discovered.

“Republicans would be well served, let the texts speak for themselves, let the jury make up their mind and quit engaging in hyperbole, which we seem to do a lot,” Gowdy said. -The Hill

That said – Gowdy notably did not join fellow House Republicans last month in their efforts to build a case against the FBI and DOJ for “improper” and perhaps criminal mishandling of the salacious and unproven 34-page “Trump-Russia” dossier.

As POLITICO reported at the time, “A congressional aide with knowledge of the meetings said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) was not among the participants. ”While he does believe the FBI and DOJ have recently made decisions worth looking into, he [Gowdy] is and will always be a defender of the FBI, DOJ and the special counsel,” the aide said.

Of course, Gowdy having spearheaded the controversial Benghazi probe puts him on equal footing with the FBI when it comes to Hillary Clinton exonerations.

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