Open Thread – 25 May 2017



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76 Responses to Open Thread – 25 May 2017

  1. Valissa says:

    “I Am History”: New Orleans Principal Forced Out Of Post For Merely Being Photographed Near Confederate Flag

  2. Fred says:

    Weather permitting spending some time in Southern Kentucky with a stop or two on the Bourbon Trail, just for sampling of course. Anyone have a recommendation besides the usual mass market stuff?

  3. Philippe says:

    The MSM seems to slowly discover the grim reality of Syria, and acknowledge that Assad will be part of the resolution process. A somehow balanced (*) assessment by the NYT ME correspondant.
    (*) the title of course is “fall”, not “liberation”, but one could understand, giving the consensus PC narration, that the latter world is still out of reach for these guys. In french we use to say “il faut donner du temps au temps”, something like one must give time to the time (to accomplish his work of transformation).

  4. mauisurfer says:

    Emir Abdelkader – Muslim, Sufi, sheikh, ferocious warrior, humanist, mystic, protector of his people against Western barbarism, protector of Christians against Muslim barbarism, so brave that the Algerian state insisted his bones were brought home from his beloved Damascus, so noble that Abe Lincoln sent him a pair of Colt pistols and the French gave him the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. He loved education, he admired the Greek philosophers, he forbade his fighters to destroy books, he worshipped a religion which believed – so he thought – in human rights. But hands up all readers who know the name of Abdelkader.

  5. confusedponderer says:

    excellent question. Generally, my preferences in whisky terms go by an large to smokeys from Islay.
    I also like ‘irish whiskey’, bourbons and rye also, and there are some descent blends around. There is some interesting bourbon out there that ought to be interesting to be tried, some mass market stuff to the more expensive stuff…
    * Makers Mark (nice – nice bottles, nice aromatic taste)
    * Bulleit standard and Rye (both nice)
    * Blaton Barrel stuff (to make it short – all quite nice)
    * Basil Haydens 8 years (excellent – very aromatic)
    * Elijah Craig 12 years (excellent – very armoatic, mild, a favourite)
    * Bookers 8 years (excellent – very armoatic, a favourite)
    * Knob Creek Standard and Rye (nice stuff, I like both)
    * George Dickel (excellent – I especially like the 12 years version but the Rye is excellent also, and so is the Cascade version (red label – another favourite)
    * Woodford Reserve makes quite nice stuff.
    * Old Grand-Dad is a nice stuff – very armomatic, rye like, and affordable.
    * Basil Hayden 8 years, very nice stuff, very aromatic, not so much affordable
    * Wild Turkey, tastes well, and is also especially useful when Erdogan gets one of his whacky days.
    * etx. pp.
    I want to try new stuff, which would be:
    * Michter’s US 1 Rye Whiskey
    * Sazerac Straight Rye
    More goodies, which only fit in because they are ‘irish whiskey’, not bourbon, are this:
    * (Irish) Redbreast Single Pot Still 21-Year (formidable stuff, very armoatic, mild)
    * Connemara – unusual design whiskey, which is was iirc the first smokey ‘irish whiskey’. Very nice stuff, tastes very well.

  6. Mokey says:

    This country is nuts.

  7. Fred says:

    What has happened to the NYT:
    “As the Syrian civil war turns in favor of the regime, a nation adjusts to a new reality…”
    Does this mean the borg might be seeing the changing foreign policy landscape?

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    For All Global Warming Alarmists:
    “Growth in terrestrial gross primary production (GPP)—the amount of carbon dioxide that is ‘fixed’ into organic material through the photosynthesis of land plants—may provide a negative feedback for climate change.”

  9. Jeeee-zuss. What next? A ban on Lynard Skynard?

  10. Jov says:

    For those interested in WW2 history regarding the atrocities committed, this is a link to a documentary in English which documents the genocide of Serbs in the 1941. formed Independent State of Croatia (NDH), with focus on the organized murder of Serbian children (at that time both Jews and Gypsies, including their children, suffered the same fate).
    Although, this documentary wasn’t made according to the principle ”audiatur et altera pars” and the official Croat historians would have their arguments (just as Nazi commanders had their justifications of more or less every crime), the saddest part is that the documentary depicts true crimes often incomprehensible to a normal human mind, as well as the bloody role of many in the Roman Catholic Church clergy in Croatia and Vatican.
    The only thing equally disturbing is that the mindset of most of the Croats (including politicians, catholic clergy,etc.) hasn’t changed, until today, especially after they got everything they wanted in the 1990s (murder of few thousand Serbs and and ethnic cleansing and banishing of 250.000,00 people in Krajina, Slavonija, Baranja and many other parts of today’s Croatia) and nobody did answer for the crimes during the 1940s as well as the crimes in 1990s.
    Here is a picture of a poster distributed and put on public surfaces a few months ago, in several Croatian cities (just google ”Serbian family tree Vukovar”)×447.jpg
    And here is a video of the current Croatian president Ms Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic singing just a few days ago the song “Lijepa li si” (meaning beautiful you are) whose author and interpreter is Marko Perkovic Thompson.
    This singer is ”famous” for singing songs like ”Jasenovac and Gradiska Stara to je kuca Maskovih mesara” – meaning Jasenovac and Gradsiska Stara (those were two death camps in which Croats slaughtered predominantly Serbs, but Jews and Gypsies as well in WW2) that’s the house of Max buthers (Max meaning Vhekoslav Maks Luburic,commander of the Jasenovac extermination camp and other extermination camp in the Indepent state of Croatia). Of course, as time passes, these songs and their parts disappear, and only the clean ones which don’t expressly brag about genocide stay.

  11. Jack says:

    You may want to taste Pappy’s bourbon. SWMBO got me a bottle for my birthday some years back.

  12. asx says:

    Open thread is more suitable to discuss “Radical Protestantism”
    Col. and others have rightly pointed out the rationale for Saudi-led investment. They are envious and desirous of having the same levels of influence as their fellow hater of the Shia arc. Expect their investments to further the transition of our political identity from a Judeo-Christian construct to an Abrahamic one.
    History defintely rhymes. The Judeo-Christian self view of America was carefully constructed papering over real differences at the end of WW2 as a means of tempering anti-semitism. Noble as it was and fairly successful in that goal, it later took a life of its own and morphed into Radical Protestantism.
    What if the Saudis are playing the long game here? A few thousand Americans will be directly employed as a result of the Saudi largesse with associated PR. Countering Islamophobia will be the given reason to promote an Abrahamic political identity. There will be more high profile political marriages like Weiner-Abedin. CAIR will become as palatable as AIPAC. And in a couple of generations when the oil has run dry, it will be the evolved Radical Protestantism which comes to the rescue of its Abrahamic brethern, whether or not it serves the national interest. And why not the leader of the free world also explicitly take the mantle of the protector of the two holy places. Playing monarchs and controlling natural resources is exhausting work fraught with dangers. The Gulfies would rather be accepted into the pantheon of overlords who rule over us. Consider their investments as an initiation fee.

  13. Heros says:

    Few Americans have any idea what challenges a US expat faces living overseas, with FBAR’s, FATCA, IRS 8834, and US Indicia being matters of daily life.
    What even fewer are aware of is what can happen when a US green card holder tries to relinquish his green card:
    “Even after paying the exit tax on the “deemed sale” of everything you own worldwide, you will have to pay actual capital gains when you do actually sell since no tax treaty provides a credit for a deemed sale of anything. Outright double taxation. For example, if I own a house in Toronto and sell under normal conditions, I will pay capital gains tax on any profit in Canada. When filing my US tax return I will get a credit for the tax paid to Canada resulting in a single tax bite. However, if I own the Toronto property on the day of expatriation, the US taxes me on any paper profit. Since I have not actually sold the property, there is nothing to declare to Canada’s Revenue Agency (CRA) at that time. When I do eventually sell, CRA will then tax the actual profit, but there is no ability to get a credit from the IRS since expatriation is a terminating event.”

    “Green card holders are now also face discrimination by their home countries due to FATCA reporting. I am a UK citizen that has held UK Government (Treasury) bonds as a component of a diversified investment portfolio. These have been invested and reinvested through Nationals Savings and Investments (NS&I) for more than 40 years, long before arriving in the US. I received letters from NS&I dated 28 April, 2014 stating that due to the costs and burdens associated with FATCA compliance, NS&I would no longer deal with US Persons (citizens or residents). As each bonds matures, they will distribute the funds as a bank draft with no possibility of reinvestment. My own government is now denying me the ability to invest in its own sovereign bonds due FATCA. It seems I am a pariah everywhere!”

    Jared Kushner’s company is offering Visa’s for $500k investment in their ventures.
    All these Chinese and Indian millionaires making these investments or buying properties in Ca and Fl have no idea what kind of tax trap they are stepping into.

  14. The Beaver says:

    According to Angry Arab, there is a fight going on between KSA and Qatar.
    Now one wonders where the Sultan stands in that on-going dispute through the media. At the same time, the current Pharaoh is angry at the mother of Qatari emir because she is funding a movie on the pyramids of Sudan with Angelina Jolie as the main character.
    Not to forget that both KSA and UAE are at odds with each other wrt AQ fighting the Houthis in Yemen.

  15. jonst says:

    What, if anything, does the List make of the skirmish between Turkish Security, and….some people? I can’t get it straight what happened here, or what should be the proper reaction of the US. I know I don’t like what the Turks did. To the extent I can figure out what happened.

  16. Fred says:

    The left must erase the cultural memory so that the Black voters of New Orleans will always be victims of those white (southern) people and can only rely on the Federal government.

  17. Eric Newhill says:

    Woodford Reserve? It’s my fav.

  18. Fred says:

    They are doing it wrong. You do like this guy and get citizenship, then you get special status for all that discrimination you suffered where-ever you were, thus gaining a permanent competitive advantage over those pesky cis-gendered white male Americans who may own a company you are competing with.

  19. O'Bryan says:

    Good news indeed. The study concludes;
    “Overall, the sum of biophysical feedbacks related to the greening of the Earth mitigated 12% of the global land-surface warming for the past 30 years”

  20. scott s. says:

    Valissa –
    Goes to show the value of Charter Schools, which can take action without going though civil service / union rules. Per the New Orleans Times Picayune:
    “The podcast host says, “So it’s probably fair to say, then, you’re not a white supremacist, or some crazy KKK member from the Confederate past?”
    Dean responds, “I am not by my definition, absolutely not. But by others’, most certainly.”
    The video shows Dean wearing two rings that have been used as symbols of white nationalism: a German Iron Cross and a skull ring that was awarded to key members of the SS.”

  21. Valissa says:

    Fred, my husband and I did the Woodford Reserve tour (~10 years ago) and really enjoyed it. It’s in Versailles, KY.
    Even though Woodford’s is now owned by one of the large distilling companies, you wouldn’t know it from the tour.
    “The Woodford Reserve Distillery, formerly known as the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery and later the Labrot & Graham Distillery, is approximately eight miles from the town of Versailles in north-central Kentucky, off U.S. Route 60 between Interstate 64 and Versailles.
    Distilling on the site began in 1780,[citation needed] with today’s distillery building erected in 1838. Although the site has not been continuously operational as a distillery since, the structure stands as the oldest of the nine bourbon distilleries in operation in Kentucky as of 2010. In 1995 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2000 was designated a National Historic Landmark.”

  22. FB Ali says:

    Thank you for the link. I seem to recall reading about him long ago, but it was refreshing to read the new Fisk article on him.
    A remarkable man, by all counts!

  23. Tyler says:

    Nice grouping at 200 yds in medium wind using my .270 T3 yesterday. 130g Federal Power Shok. I pulled 2 an inch or so to the right but regardless, that’s a dead elk. Curious to see how 150g works. I need to order that online as the only 150g here is Winchester, which likes to throw too much with no rhyme or reason.
    The menu at RTs Restaurant looks amazing. Jealous of you Alexandria folks.

  24. Tyler says:

    I see the judiciary decided that overreach isn’t good enough and decided that they are the unelected mandarins and we better not forget it.
    There hasnt been a case of the judiciary telling the legislative and executive WE WILL TELL YOU WHAT WE WANT since Dred Scott. Good thing we are yanking out all historical references to how THAT went.

  25. Divadab says:

    Trees are growing like crazy – and sequestering carbon galore – we just need to leave them to it and harvest them from time to time , lumber is also sequestered carbon!

  26. DH says:

    Fred, I don’t know from bourbons, but there is a Makers Mark distillery in Bardstown, home of Stephen Foster of ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ fame. But more interesting to me is the Gethsemane Monastery where Thomas Merton lived, and is buried, and the lovely mother house and grounds of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (adjacent to Bardstown).

  27. Allen Thomson says:

    This thread being open, I’ll drop this here for whatever interest and use it might have:
    Mattis intervened to increase munition buy in FY18 budget request
    By: Aaron Mehta, May 23, 2017
    WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis personally intervened to increase the number of munitions being bought in the Pentagon’s fiscal 2018 budget request, pushing procurement of six specific weapons to the maximum production rate industry can handle, a top Defense Department official said Tuesday.
    The Pentagon is requesting roughly $3.5 billion for “preferred munitions” as part of a plan to replenish stocks being used as part of the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State group.
    But that wasn’t always the plan, said John Roth, the acting undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer. Speaking to reporters during the Pentagon’s budget rollout, Roth said those programs were given a last-minute boost from Mattis himself.
    “As we closed out this budget, over the last two or three weeks in particular, a great deal of concern was being raised with current inventory levels, particularly given some of the expenditures in the [Central Command] area of operations,” Roth explained. “So the secretary mandated and insisted we fully fund, to the maximum extent possible, the full production capacities for certain selected preferred munitions.”
    According to Pentagon documents, the preferred munition list includes:
    7,664 Hellfire missiles, worth $713.9 million for Lockheed Martin.
    34,529 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), worth $874.3 million for Boeing.
    6,000 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS), worth $889.5 million for Lockheed Martin.
    7,312 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB), worth $504.1 million to Boeing and Raytheon.
    100 Tomahawk Missiles, worth $381.6 million for Raytheon.
    An unlisted number of Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS), worth $200 million.
    Roth later repeated that these numbers represent the maximum production capabilities for the companies that produce them. That breaks down to rough production totals of 638 Hellfires, 2,877 JDAMs, 500 GMLRS, 609 SDBs and eight Tomahawks capable of being produced every month.
    However, a Raytheon spokesman tells Defense News that the Tomahawk line requires an annual production of 196 weapons as a minimum production rate, and that the company is capable of producing “many more” than that if needed.
    The Pentagon estimates it has spent $2.8 billion worth of munitions between the start of the counter-ISIS operation on Aug. 8, 2014, and the end of March 2017. In December, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work told Defense News that munitions were going to be a focus of the FY18 budget request.
    Unit costs from above
    Hellfire: $90,550 ; JDAM: $25,321 ; GMLRS: $148,250 ; SDB: $68,941 ; Tomahawk: $3,816,000

  28. Fred says:

    I believe one of the blogs on the right identified one of the violent Turks as a business owner from New Jersey. Why he was in D.C. beating the hell out of a protester ought to be looked at. It’s not like that is the usual m.o. for businessmen.

  29. Keith Harbaugh says:

    “After the Confederates, Who’s Next?”
    by Patrick Buchanan
    The key quote:
    “Of these icon-smashers it may be said:
    Like ISIS and Boko Haram,
    they can tear down statues,
    but these people could never build a country.”

  30. different clue says:

    The Beaver,
    Are these the pyramids of Sudan about which that movie is to be made? Does al-Sisi really think these little pyramids can divert much attention from the Great Pyramids of Egypt for long?;_ylt=AwrBT7SOcidZwCcA.49XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzMXBobHNmBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDVUkwMkM0XzEEc2VjA3Nj?p=pyramids+of+meroe+in+the+sudan&fr=sfp

  31. SR Wood says:

    and here I thought the democratically elected city government voted to get rid of the monuments. I guess the people of the city shouldn’t have a voice in what monuments the city should display.

  32. trinlae says:

    The best 15 minute live Lynyrd Skynyrd freebird video on youtube is in front of a giant confed flag during the peak of the southern rock era of the 1970s.
    Although i grew up in northern CT, none of my black or otherwise friends at the time took it as offensive, because we had a shared cultural identity that transcended the sins of our national history. However, i do believe every American should read a volume of Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman at least once.

  33. trinlae says:

    Not familiar w Abdelkader but I have heard of ban on book burning sentiment re Muslim conquests of northern India towards end 1st millennia CE.
    According to Buddhist accounts, the great monastic universities of Nalanda etc were sacked only because they were mistaken for political centers; supposedly it was regretted (maybe few women among spoils).
    This also was later a legacy of Mongolian conquests of Muslim city-states, to leave literary/religious culture intact.

  34. Imagine says:

    Brief discussion on chances Seth Rich was ordered killed vs. random 4:00AM DC shooting? Theory that Roth did no leaks seems to fall apart with one small flaw: Wikileaks apparently’s actually offering $20K to catch his killers. (When was last time you offered months’ salary for a murder in a foreign country? Uh huh.) Also note MSM, Snopes, Wikipedia efforts to quash. And still no one looks at the emails.

  35. Imagine says:

    What are some important ways that a thinking, intelligent A.I. could be used for the good of humanity? Serious question.

  36. Henshaw says:

    That 12% is useful, but don’t get too excited. That still leaves 78% of land surface warming, and land only covers about a third of the planet. At best, it probably amounts to a delay of a few years in current projections.
    The ‘more CO2 ➔ more growth ➔ more crops’ meme is, like many others from the Heartland Institute, misleading and selective. What isn’t addressed is the full range of effects of climate shifts on plant growth. While growth may be stimulated by additional CO2, nutritional content, such as protein content in wheat, may be compromised, so what was once breadmaking quality becomes animal feed, and the farmer takes a price hit. Wheat growth rates also decline as average temperatures move towards the mid-20degrees C.

  37. Old Microbiologist says:

    Ultimately, FATCA will die a natural death as is apropo. The original deal was to share data equally but it has only been a one way street. On top of that the costs for compliance for foreign banks and governments could be as high as $1 trillion yet they have only recovered $8.7 Billion dollars. It is onerous and obviously not functioning as intended. The big fish all are privy to exceptions and only little fish such as pensioners like myself are the actual subjects of this imperialistic invasion.
    Rand Paul’s attempt to repeal it:

  38. JMH says:

    Imagine if Ms. Baez had attempted this today, banishment at a minimum. Anything short of complete vilification is heresy.

  39. iowa steve says:

    26 Copts killed by gunmen:
    “Masked gunmen opened fire on two buses and a truck carrying Coptic Christians in Minya, Egypt on Friday, killing at least 26 and injuring 26 according to local medical sources.”

  40. anonymous says:

    I am starting to like melania trump.covered her head for the pope but not for the saudi.interesting.looks like she takes her relegion seriously.wonder what changed.

  41. turcopolier says:

    It is a matter of civil courtesy for a woman to wear a head covering in an audience with the pope. Melania is a European. She understands that. In Saudi Arabia a woman wearing a hijab is a sign of submission. pl

  42. The Beaver says:

    @ Heros
    FYI: When you sell your home, you may realize a capital gain. If the property was your principal residence for every year you owned it, you do not have to report the sale on your income tax and benefit return.
    from the CRA:

  43. Fred says:

    SR Wood,
    Of course they did. Just like the democratically elected representatives voted to make slavery legal in America. But now in 2017 we know just how evil those slave holders were and how they are people unworthy of emulation and the symbols used then must be rejected, such as the flag that flew over all those slave ships or were carried into combat by the army that conquered the Indians and paved the trail of tears. See Colin Kapernik’s movement or just read the speech of the Mayor of New Orleans.
    To quote Dr. Helms, referenced here multiple times:

  44. Fred says:

    Thanks for the tip. That is worth more than sipping bourbon.

  45. Allen Thomson says:

    How about indications and warning (I&W)? I.e., taking in existing information and correctly evaluating the chance that Something Bad will happen. Not just terrorism and military events, but things like impending infrastructure failure.
    Humans aren’t very good at I&W, witness 911, the Manchester attack and many military examples, so maybe an AI oracle would be helpful. Actually, I’m not sure sentient AI would be necessary — today’s “deep learning” systems might be able to do some degree of I&W extraction.

  46. Pundita says:

    It costs the Saudis about 9 bucks to extract a barrel of petroleum, which is the lowest production cost among all oil producing nations — or next-to-lowest depending on which survey you’re looking at.
    (One reason for the low cost is that Saudi oil is near the surface. The other reason is that the Saudis don’t pay taxes on their oil production.)
    This means that at $9 cost per barrel the Saudis can still make a good profit even if the benchmark price for crude went as low as the teens. And don’t forget the ‘secondary’ market — profits from investments on petrodollars.
    The catch is that it costs the Saudi government the equivalent of $35/bbl to continue in the style to which it’s locked into. However comma that’s with an unbalanced budget. The IMF estimated this year that it costs Riyadh the equivalent of $83/bbl to balance its budget; that’s because the budget depends almost entirely on oil revenues.
    A stark reminder of this came in 2014-2015 when the Saudis yanked $70+ billion from financial institutions to help cover operating costs after the price of oil plunged and dipped as low as $27/bbl.
    But $35 is the drop-dead figure. If the benchmark settles into that price or lower, Al Saud can’t survive, even with its low oil extraction costs. And so the Saudi scramble to diversify out of oil production (“Vision 2030,” which MbS is trying to pare to Vision 2020) and pulling out all the stops to prop up the price of oil.
    The Saudis made a big mistake in their reasoning when they set out to destroy American shale oil production by continuing high oil production in the face of a global oil glut. Yes, they managed to drive several producers out of business, but the biggest and smartest American producers chanted, ‘Adversity is the mother of invention,’ then proceeded to drive down their operating costs to the point where they could survive and make a profit. Not quite as hard as it might seem given it was the initial outlays for extracting shale oil that were the biggest hurdle.
    Today, it costs American shale oil companies about $23 to produce a barrel of oil. This means that while they can’t compete with Saudia’s low production costs, they can survive just fine on considerably less than $35/bbl, whereas Al Saud can’t.
    That barely scratches the surface of the bad news for the Saudis. The Wall Street Journal recently published a mind-blowing report on the leapfrogging advances in 3-D printing, which are allowing a footwear company to 3-D print soles for their sneakers. That’s just the beginning of what can be factory-printed with ever increasing cheapness and speed.
    Around the same time as the WSJ report another financial rag published a report on the leapfrogging uses of robotics in factory production. Many smaller factories and other small businesses are jumping on the robotics bandwagon when they realize how much it cuts their production expenses.
    Advances in 3-D printing and robotics and their usages are just two of the many indications that the world doesn’t need as much petroleum — and as much energy — as it has up to this point. This is a snowballing situation — happening faster and faster as innovation piles on top of innovation.
    Thousands of years ago the Greek playwright Aristophanes observed, “The ruler of the world is Whirlwind, that hath unseated Zeus.”
    He was making an observation about the the chaos in Athenian politics, but I thought of his words in 2015 when a whirlwind picked up a giant construction crane and tossed it like a toy into Mecca’s Grand Mosque.
    And here we are today, as societies must now prepare to survive in a world where petroleum and the order it created no longer rule.
    As to the House of Saud — it can continue on its present path of war. Or it can change by focusing completely on transiting to a new era. Unfolding events suggest the Saudis have little time left to decide which path they’ll choose.
    “Saudi Arabia withdraws overseas funds”
    By Simeon Kerr in Dubai
    September 27, 2015
    Financial Times
    Saudi Arabia has withdrawn tens of billions of dollars from global asset managers as the oil-rich kingdom seeks to cut its widening deficit and reduce exposure to volatile equities markets amid the sustained slump in oil prices.
    The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency’s foreign reserves have slumped by nearly $73bn since oil prices started to decline last year as the kingdom keeps spending to sustain the economy and fund its military campaign in Yemen. The central bank is also turning to domestic banks to finance a bond programme to offset the rapid decline in reserves.
    This month, several managers were hit by a new wave of redemptions, which came on top of an initial round of withdrawals this year, people aware of the matter said. “It was our Black Monday,” said one fund manager, referring to the large number of assets withdrawn by Saudi Arabia last week.
    Institutions benefited from years of rising assets under management from oil-rich Gulf states, but are now feeling the pinch after oil prices collapsed last year. Nigel Sillitoe, chief executive of financial services market intelligence company Insight Discovery, said fund managers estimate that Sama has pulled out $50bn-$70bn over the past six months.
    “The big question is when will they come back, because managers have been really quite reliant on Sama for business in recent years,” he said. Since the third quarter of 2014, Sama’s reserves held in foreign securities have declined by $71bn, accounting for almost all of the $72.8bn reduction in overall overseas assets.
    Other industry executives estimate that Sama has withdrawn even more than $70bn from existing managers. While some of this cash has been used to fund the deficit, these executives say the central bank is also seeking to reinvest into less risky, more liquid products.
    “They are not comfortable with their exposure to global equities,” said another manager. Fund managers with strong ties to Gulf sovereign wealth funds, such as BlackRock, Franklin Templeton and Legal & General, have received redemption notices, according to people aware of the matter.
    Some fund managers have seen several billions of dollars of withdrawals, or the equivalent of a fifth to a quarter of their Saudi assets under management, the people aware of the matter said. Institutions such as State Street, Northern Trust and BNY Mellon have large amount of assets under management and are therefore also likely to have been hit hard by the Gulf governments’ cash grab, the people added. “We are not that surprised,” said another fund manager.
    “Sama has been on high risk for a while and we were prepared for this.” Sama has over the years built up a broad range of institutions handling its funds, including other names such as Aberdeen Asset Management, Fidelity, Invesco and Goldman Sachs.
    BlackRock, which bankers describe as the manager handling the largest amount of Gulf funds, has already reported net outflows from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its second-quarter financial results reported a net outflow of $24.1bn from Emea, as opposed to an inflow of $17.7bn in the first quarter.
    Market participants say the outflow is in part explained by redemptions from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf sovereign funds, such as Abu Dhabi. BlackRock and other funds declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment. Sama did not respond to request for comment.
    Additional reporting by David Oakley in London

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It can help in preventing accidents by unburdening human operators from juggling many items in their minds; say among Air Traffic Controllers.
    Since we do not know what “Thinking” or “Intelligence” mean, I doubt that any AI, now or in the future, will have any intelligence or be thinking.
    But, calling in Artificial Intelligence appeals to the funding agencies, the book publishers, and the movie makers and movie goers.

  48. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    There’s a powerful piece on the insidious threat of Wahabi Islam by Patrick Cockburn at Counterpunch today entitled, “We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It.”

  49. Allen Thomson says:

    I said, Humans aren’t very good at I&W
    I’d amend that to be Humans and their institutions aren’t very good at incorporating I&W. Lots of Cassandras have been spot on and utterly ineffectual for institutional reasons.
    For Babak, I agree that we’re far from understanding thinking, intelligence, consciousness etc. in any deep way, or mostly in any non-deep way. But incremental advances can still be useful.

  50. turcopolier says:

    Allen Thompson
    After the first Gulf War DIA ran a board study on I&W. Since I had “called” the war several days in advance I was asked to testify. I told them essentially what you said, i.e., that the great majority of humans are unable to visualize the possibility of events that are not straight line continuations of what they know. IOW I was good at this and most people not. pl

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You cannot expect them to state:
    1 – “We adjudicated among Muslims and chose side.”
    2 – “The one we chose was the wrong one.”
    3 – “Nothing now can be done to rectify our position.”
    4 – “We still need them “wrong” Muslims.”

  52. trinlae says:

    Well, from the South and East and Northeast Asian religious perspectives of Vedic and Buddhist (Sanskrit and later Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Mongolian language based) dharma traditions, which count many millions of adherents/practitioners, Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all Abrahamic in theological history and lineage of divinity construction (David, Moses, etc) and Semitic langage based vs Indo-European Sanskrit.
    However, culturally, Shia or Sufi style Islam shares more similarities with South Asian religious cultures i.e., mala rosary meditation practice, prostration (bowing/humility) devotional practices, sitting on floor mats, daily rhythms of prayer/meditation. It is interesting and hard to know who influenced who first in these matters, and is a very interesting cultural history question (to theology scholars/people like me lol). I would guess influence of Persian culture as a bridge w earlier Happaran civilizations.
    I feel there are several important considerations and factors in the “new” 350bn ksa relations worth considering carefully, especially in light of current scrutiny of Congressional IT/Blackberry security vis a vis Pakistani agents:
    * Massive deal cutting by DT & MIC w KSA brings former MO of Clinton Foundation money laundering “charity” murkiness into daylight and before the cameras. A side effect is that while KSA prince still has majority private shareholder privileges at Citigroup, and while Wall St would still make a lot of money on transaction fees, going directly to KSA cuts out Wall St as political middlemen possibly less able to nefariously influence further down stream from WH executive, at least in the dark
    * Massive fund is almost a giant money laundering to Israel via USA, introducing a ‘sort of’ balance of power that Israel and KSA get to wield over DC. It is sort of, because KSA would seem to be far from enjoying US-Israeli ties in nuke tech and insec
    * However, w nuked Pakistan across the Arabian Sea, it would, imho, be a mistake to fail to preserve the Shia-Sunni balance of power atop which pinnacle Pakistan seems to sit in unstable equilibrium, propped up in some ways by India and Iran respectively. Angling for some kind of west Asia sunni utopia w shia Islam obliterated is not going to work, without going for final nuke apocalypse.
    As an addendum, if war on drugs could get someone more informed than Sessions (preferably someone from Europe where successful work with heroin addicts has been validated by evidence) to get Cannibis and Heroin mfg & export legalized but controlled for recreational (or latter case) medicinal use, these black market economies could be brought into the fold akin to farming subsidies enjoyed by rest of the world, and then perhaps Afghanistan could further stabilize at least economically. I am obviously not an expert, do this is just an example of merely one way thinking about this shadow dimension is part of the trifecta of nukes, petrodollars, and dope trade (w associated evils like human trafficking). Chinese would also have to upgrade the thinking on this too, given their economic presence in w asia, which in view of opium wars history may be a touchy subject, but they have plenty of oncology units w controlled narco RX, social work expertise also. It does sound a bit like a pipe dream, but better than continued shadows for narco trade spilling over into the other areas.

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Western Fortress chose sides in that religious war; Westerners chose Catholic Croats, Russians the Orthodox Serbs, and Muslim states the Bosnian Muslims.
    Did Tito – a Croat – protect the war-criminals?

  54. trinlae says:

    In psychology there are known human fallacies of thinking/cognitive biases.
    An AI system designed to work qualitatively and voluntarily w humans to consider these systematically in decision making especially in strategic critical areas could help.
    i.e., ai has taken up some of this quantitatively via auto pilot controls and air traffick controls but for example in finance and banking known yo be prone to excessive risk taking and in some cases psychopathology, politics, business marketing, mfg, military, and especially group consensus processes wrt to these, having an impartial 3rd party feedback a cognitive bias report based on inputs could be helpful if designed to work systematically integrated in processes vs fire fighting reactivity.

  55. trinlae says:

    Well neary all hard labor is imported from South Asia and paid lower than Saudi wages (but still higher than these people can make at home in Bangaladesh, Nepal etc)

  56. Pundita says:

    KSA’s low oil production cost is famously known in the business. One of the Oil Price links I provided above discusses the cost in some detail:
    To repeat the link:
    “Saudi Arabia is well known for its super low production costs for oil. In fact, its oil is almost the cheapest to extract. Only Kuwait sports even lower costs, according to a ranking by Rystad Energy and CNN. And yet, the Kingdom has been at the forefront of production cut efforts as it obviously can’t cope with the current price levels.
    According to a Wall Street Journal breakdown of production costs per barrel for 13 large producers, Saudi Arabia can extract a barrel of crude at US$8.98, just a little bit less than Iran, at US$9.08. To compare, the cost per barrel of U.S. shale comes in at US$23.35.
    This cost includes taxes, pure production costs, administrative costs, and capital expenditure. When it comes to production costs, Saudi Arabia actually ranks below Iraq, Iran, and Russia, but in other areas—taxes for example—it has an advantage over almost everybody else as its oil production is not taxed.
    U.S. shale, on the other hand, has to bear US$6.42 in gross taxes per barrel, while non-shale producers are marginally better, with gross tax due at US$5.03 per barrel. Russian producers have to pay US$8.44 into the state budget for each barrel they extract.
    So, based on these figures, which are from last year, Saudi Arabia has a substantial advantage over its main rivals—its oil is near the surface, the weather is not as harsh as in Siberia, and Aramco does not pay taxes. So why are some analysts claiming that shale is taking the upper hand?
    Of course, not everyone agrees that U.S. shale is gaining on Saudi Arabia. In fact, some observers and industry insiders argue that shale will never be able to compete with Saudi oil on an equal footing due to production costs. Some insist that what the shale producers are doing right now is creating a bubble by increasing production on the back of rising debt. The bubble, they warn, will soon burst and take many of them down.
    I suggest you read the entire report if you’re interested in the issue. But the costs cited in the report are beyond dispute although some analysts contend that the Saudi cost is the lowest, period; either way, the cost hovers around $9/bbl. Given the factors that create the low cost, there’s no reason for the production costs to increase unless the Saudis start taxing the production, which is unlikely. If they should start taxing, you may trust the IMF will know about it — and be the first to know.
    As to diversification — the fund for Vision 2030 is the neighborhood of $4 trillion, if my memory serves — that’s trillion with a t.
    Now whether that figure is just blowing smoke — okay so maybe it will work out to 1 or 2 trillion. It’s still a mountain of money. And nobody says the Saudis have to diversify within the confines of their own geography, which affords them little opportunity for diversification. If you’re interested, study up on the plans that MbS has already announced for diversification.
    The point is that there is no way that Iran and Iraq can match the amount of money the Saudis have available for diversification, and nobody says the Saudis have to do it themselves. They can hire the best brains to do it for them.
    But diversification isn’t the issue, which is why I didn’t spend time on the topic. It’s going to take years before diversification can match what the Saudis are taking in now in oil revenues. Meanwhile the future is bearing down fast, as I noted, and it’s a future that calls for much less petroleum.
    And the future is not a tinker-toy, where events fit neatly into each other. So there could be a gap — maybe not big, maybe as little as five or ten years, where the diversification isn’t yet up to speed and the oil revenues are working out to less than $35/bbl. That’s the abyss opening up before KSA.
    So in my view they should not be listening to talk about an Arab NATO; they shouldn’t listen to anything the US tells them because of the very fast differences between the two countries. And they should cut bait in Yemen and Syria, unless it’s for offers to do reconstruction, which is how they can get lots of favorable press and make piles of money.
    For God’s sake — they know they need to diversify and war isn’t diversification unless standing in quicksand is somebody’s idea of diversifying.
    So don’t worry about saving Face or being seen as weaklings for withdrawing from war. Hello, the future is breaking down the gates, and the Whirlwind will be in charge once those gates fall. In an uncertain world, the Saudis can be certain of that. So use this time of relative peace and order wisely. Beep this is a recording.

  57. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You write:
    “…to get Cannibis and Heroin mfg & export legalized but controlled for recreational…”
    Do you support the creation and maintenance of a publicly available databases of individuals who partake in this “re-creation”?
    In US, there is a publicly database of sex offenders and their addresses.
    In regards to Afghanistan: legitimate authority is needed to stabilize it. None exists.

  58. Fred says:

    For the right price Google analytics will provide sell it to you.

  59. Allen Thomson says:

    Yes, I’ve had similar experiences and made similar observations:
    Another example is the vulnerability of satellite systems the US depends on greatly.

  60. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    What if our not knowing what thinking or intelligence is . . . merely renders us unable to see it if the computers develop a thinking intelligence of their own?
    ” It’s life, Jim. But not as we know it!”

  61. Imagine says:

    NYT sources VOA and Bellingcat(!), it is a surprisingly nice analysis. If we continue to have multiple cameras on episodes, and actual analyses, it will be very healthy and counteract state thuggism, hopefully of all sorts. Sunlight kills vampires.

  62. MRW says:

    Furthermore, she’s Catholic. And that is part of the understanding as well.

  63. MRW says:

    The State Department would have informed them of the protocol.

  64. Imagine says:

    Allen Thomson, Babak Makkinejad, trinlae: Thank you gentlemen. Good stuff.

  65. Jov says:

    It’s a bit more complicated situation, than a religious war, especially in the 1918-1941 period. There was no Czarist Russia, but instead a communist state / Soviet union which was more or less hostile to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (e.g. the Soviet union supported the Kemalist Turkey against Greece in the Greco-Turkish war, because Ataturk was a smart leader, presenting him at times close to communist ideas).
    There were no strong Muslim countries which would influence the Yugoslav state, although there was a young Albania which drained Yugoslav/Serb forces trying to have a peaceful, maybe even obedient neighbor, instead of a neighbor specialized in raids.
    The new state didn’t expel Muslims, it even enforced the principal of personal law application – that means Shariah law was enforced for Muslims through Yugoslav courts and laws. On the other hand, the state did nothing to prevent emigration of ethnic Turks to Kemalist Turkey from ”passive” regions such as Macedonia , it even tacitly encouraged it.
    Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic in 1918. proclaimed unification into a single Yugoslavia, without a popular consensus, joining Serbia which was devastated by WWI (relatively, compared to the size of pre war population and economy, Serbia had the biggest casualties in WWI) with Croatia and Slovenia, where many Croats fought the Serbs in K&К uniforms, and many perpetuated crimes as parts of Schutzkor of regular forces, mostly in Macva-today’s Serbia. This was a cardinal mistake from the perspective of the Serbs, which proved to have devastating consequences in the 1941-1945 genocide.
    Add to this the Great depression of 1929, the attempts of the Habsburgs to regain power in Austria, the rise of Nazism, and the soup is just half cooked. Some argue, that if the Yugoslav melting pot had more time to cook, it would have resembled to a small USA.
    Never mind the context, the point is the Croat perpetuated genocide during WWII tends to be incomprehensible to a reasonable person, how ever you combine the facts, history or and other factor.
    The other point is if people (e.g. the Serbs) forget their fallen, those people have no future.
    And yes, Tito for personal power reasons did everything to relativize the genocide, he never visited any extermination camp, many of them were demolished, and the official story was ”of brotherhood and unity” of Yugoslav people, and there was as a ban on talking about the before mentioned tragic events.
    Many war criminals, Croat monsters, were evacuated through Vatican ”ratlines”, about which there is e.g. this documentary

  66. Combine this with the anti-Iranian attitude Trump promoted in KSA and it looks like things will stay the same, except worse, in our relations with our fellow followers of Abrahamic religions. I just read Brzezinski’s obit at the NYT and was struck by how many of the policies he advocated, because of his hatred of the USSR, got us further stuck to the tar baby. I felt sad. May the Creative Forces of the Universe have mercy on all our souls, if any.

  67. As Heraclitus said, “Lovers of wisdom must be inquirers into many things indeed.”
    In my web wanderings I came across the following:–Ottoman-Germania-a-Turkish-biker-gang-releases-a-Rap-Music-video-threatening-to-takeover-Germany

  68. Clwydshire says:

    Thanks. They might be moving arms around, as well as ordering more. I came across the following a while ago and it was interpreted as indicating the movement of arms, though whether that notion is plausible or not, I do not know enough to assess.
    “North European shippers of heavylift and out-of-gauge cargo to the Middle East and Asia are being told by container lines there is no hope of shipment before June.” Apparently capacity had been heavily advertised previously, and then it disappeared.

  69. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You cannot create something that is superior to yourself.

  70. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you.

  71. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    Artificial Intelligence would not have to be superior, just different. It could be way inferior to Man the Spiritual Animal and Lover of Good Food but still become a monomaniacal sort of Artificial Idiot-Savant dedicated to ruling the earth-as-it-knows-it for its own mysterious-to-the-humans reasons.

  72. Allen Thomson says:

    Late in the game here, but another thing come up on another blog: preservation of institutional memory. It appeared there in the context of NASA, but I certainly saw examples of significant loss of institutional memory from within the CIA and, as a visitor, in DARPA. Once the people who had the memory weren’t there, it seemed to evaporate in a decade or less even though it was still in the filing cabinets.
    So an AI might help remember where we’ve seen this stuff before.

  73. trinlae says:

    For the heroin, probably yes, although if i am dying of cancer without institutionalized health care due to lack of access, I probably won’t care if it comes from the underground or legit economies.
    For cannibis, Switzerland, Germany, and Netherlands already have over the counter recreational cannibis in a variety of products such as flower buds, oils, meusli, pasta, etc., with TCH concentrations disclosed much in the same way grain alcohol is marked on alcohol products.
    The cannibis paranoia and abolition is ultimately racist, imo, even if couched in standardized regulation concerns: Cannibis has been an indigenous plant and psychospiritual substance in south Asian vedic culture for many thousands of years (I’ve heard the number 7 thousand). That these countries should be bullied into criminalizing indigenous culture because of paranoid and failed Western control protocols is immoral, given that such a large percentage of the population are historically farmers.
    So, instead of a young Nepali man, for example, staying on his own land, which he already owns in full, to farm a product with international and/or domestic demand that would fund a sufficient economic lifestyle, he is slaving away as little more than a bonded laborer on some god-forsaken building site in Qatar or Saudi Arabia, apart from his wife and kids and elderly parents he probably will only see a few times while his health allows him to work abroad.
    Interestingly, a day after I penned the first reply above, the DIY investigative journalist G Webb announced his own (conspiracy) theory of controlled substance trafficking: he proposed that a Iran-contra like network is operating between USA VA hospital networks and Afghanistan via Pakistan and Turkey, based on looking at publicly available metadata for logistics and resource allocations and public records:
    a related (amateur but empirical) logistics report re VA system followed a day later:
    He reckons that everyone in DC of both legacy parties know all about this, and that just the public have never been told. I.e., the public that usually goes back to sleep a month or two after elections, but seems to be staying awake with eyes wide open now.

  74. trinlae says:

    Illicit narco economy undermines legitimate authority or at least financial basis for it.
    When was the last time, before British era, that Afghanistan had a legitimate indigenous authority of self governance?

  75. confusedponderer says:

    “What is interesting to me is why the neocon leaning news media have turned against Erdogan.”
    Well, it appears that Lord Erdogan, somewhat impolite and atypical for a GUEST in a foreign country, actually commanded his group of bodyguards to go after the demonstrants, and give it to them really hard. He was heared saying things like that. That’s not a way to get friends.
    Brutal his bodyguards got: I read about one victim, a turkish-amrican protester, who got a tooth kicked out by them, and several other teeth kicked loose when Erdogan’s bodyguards kicked his head when he fell to the ground after the initial hits. Acting that way, they could have killed him.
    Such acts speak a long tale about what individual rights practically are worth in turkish policy. Erdogan’s brutality, arrgoance and indifference to politeness showed by his bodyguards probably did lead to US media to turn against the new ‘King of Turkey’. Probably rightly so.
    Well, that written, ‘bodyguards’ is, of course, a bad joke. They certainly didn’t guard the bodies of the protesters. They not only did act brutally, but also with the practical benefit of a diplomat status. Such brutal dumbness only happened in the US this time. In Turkey, such behaviour plays a role every day.
    Amusingly, Lord Erdogan has recently issued a new emergency decret, conveniently sidelining the parliament:
    His issue was the term ‘arena’ and he issued in the decree that using the term ‘arena’ is no longer allowed in turkey … because the romans butchered people in ‘arenas’ etc. and for such a thing there was no turkish term. So, in turkey football arenas are from now on only to be called … football stadion!
    He also recently made another brilliant, parliament sidelining, emergency decree that said that laser depilation now is allowed to be done by pedicurists, not just by medical doctors.
    So severe problems, brilliantly solved, with emergency decrees. No nasty debations where nasty accidents could happen – like parliamentartians die from laughter …
    If Erdogan has time for nonsense like that, then Turkey apparently – beyond of course beating up and/or arresting and/or firing critics – does not have really important things to do.
    If that is so, then that ‘lack of other stuff to do’ is a choice:
    Beyond the folks Erdogan fired out of the army (40.000 + or so) Erdogan has since the coup attempt last year had some 100.000 + or so folks arrested. Likely, he isn’t done yet.
    I wonder, if he has so much time, couldn’t he start to do something sensible about the inflation and, say, the crash of the lira? Oh yes, and while at thinking, what about the invasion troops he, well, just sent to Syria and Iraq? Will they be led well by who’s left, say, by AKP preachers? Like this: ‘If someone shoots at you – pray, allahu akbar, and the bullets will miss you?

  76. trinlae says:

    Memorializing memorial day via this memorial tribute to fallen Gurkhas, (on behalf of all the others):

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