Thursday, March 13, 2014

Maliki meets the Matrix

This is Nuri al-Maliki's (re)election poster.

 It reads: "The world leader in fighting terrorism"
 

131 comments:

Steve Finnell said...

YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR SINS

Many, who profess to be Christians, claim the Jesus is just one of many ways to heaven. If men would simply believe that the Bible is the only inerrant source for truth they could not reach that conclusion.

John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins;for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."(NKJV)

If you do not believe that Jesus is the Christ you will die in your sins. No man-made creed book can change that fact. To reject Jesus as the Messiah is the clear path to dying without forgiveness from sins.

John 4:25-26 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things." 26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."(NKJV)

It does not matter how many Bible commentators or self-proclaimed Bible scholars believe Jesus is one of many ways to heaven, Jesus is the only Messiah.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)

One way Jesus.

Acts 4:10-12.....name of Jesus Christ....12 "Nor is salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."(NKJV)

Pope Francis says atheists who do good works can go to heaven. Billy Graham proclaims that you do not even have to know the name of Jesus to be part of the body of Christ. Joel Osteen say he does not know if unbelievers will be lost or saved because he cannot judge. These professing Christians are not alone in their views. How sad is that?

PEW FORUM OF RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE: 57% of the evangelical church believes there are many religions that lead to eternal life.

IF YOU TRUST THE BIBLE AND THE BIBLE ALONE FOR THE TRUTH, YOU WILL BELIEVE THE WORDS OF JESUS. "IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE THAT I AM HE YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR SINS."

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Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Wait a minute...reelection? I thought he wasn't running again? Or is this alluding to Iraq's uptick in terrorist activity? Are you being facetious, Zeyad?

Btw, I got to the part in Gate's memoir where he talks about the Karbala incident where our people were killed and Iran's involvement. He wasn't too thrilled with the later release of some of the Iranians we had caught in Iraq. That was why. I should go back and find the post you wrote about Karbala.

Petes said...

Is Maliki referring to all those fake bomb detectors he handed over tens of millions of the Iraqi people's money for?

Are those things still in use ... even after the supplier has gone to jail?

Zeyad said...

Believe it or not they are still being used at checkpoints

Petes said...

We can only hope that they are the sort of cheap plastic crap you would expect from their fraudster seller, and will fall apart in due time. It's no joke though. Even the guy who bought them -- the most stupid man on earth, Major General Jehad al-Jabiri -- went to jail. And still Maliki is letting them be used. Clearly Iraq produces a very special breed of terrorist-fightin' world leaders.

Marcus said...

That poster would appear ludicrous in most parts of the world, and I hope Iraq is still one of them or that country is even more broken than I knew it was.

And, as Lynnette mentioned, is Maliki up for another term? Isn't he already in his second presidency and doesn't the Iraqi constitution (for what it's worth) limit a president to two consequtive terms in office?

Lee: I continued the Ukraine debate in the previous thread.

Petes said...


There is a monstrous real estate and construction bubble in China, which could burst anytime. It almost did in 2011 but China increased its credit growth significantly since then.

In the last few years we have discussed the huge real estate bubble in China. In case you continue to be a skeptic, here are a few observations from Anne Stevenson Yang, an American who has been in China for over 20 years and is the founder of JCapital Research in Beijing:


1. China added 5.9 billion square metres of commercial buildings between 2008 and 2012 – the equivalent of more than 50 Manhattans – in just five years!

2. In 2012, China completed about 2 billion square metres of residential floor space – approximately 20 million units. For perspective, the U.S. at its peak built 2 million homes in a year.

3. At the end of 2013, China had about 6.6 billion square metres of new residential space under construction, around 60 million units.

4. Yinchuan, a city of 1.2 million people including the suburbs, has 30 million square metres of available apartments – roughly 300,000 units that could house 900,000 people. This is in addition to the delivered but unoccupied units. The city of Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province, has roughly 5.5 million extra units for a city of 5 million.

5. In almost every city Anne has visited, pretty much the whole existing housing stock has been replicated and is empty.

6. Home ownership rates in China are estimated to be over 100% versus 65% in the U.S. Many cities report ownership over 200%. Tangshan, near Beijing, is one.

7. This real estate boom could only be financed through unrestrained credit growth. Since 2009, the Chinese banks have grown by the equivalent of the entire U.S. banking system or 15% of world GDP.

8. The real estate bubble has resulted in companies extensively borrowing and investing in real estate or lending on real estate in the shadow banking system. This is exactly what happened in Japan in the late 1980s.

More...

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

One of the comments at the end of that piece posed the question as to what the ramifications would be to the rest of the world if China's bubble popped. I have a feeling it won't bode well.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.      said...

 
The Chinese are sitting on over a trillion dollars in U.S. government debt.  If they take to moving that money into keeping their bubble inflated, they can stave off the collapse for some time yet.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZZZzzzzzzzz said...

"The Chinese are sitting on over a trillion dollars in U.S. government debt. If they take to moving that money into keeping their bubble inflated, they can stave off the collapse for some time yet."

What money? That trillion dollars is an IOU from the US gubmint. To turn it into money they'd have to find a buyer for it. Apart from (a) they couldn't in any reasonable time frame, and (b) the last 100 mil' would be worth a hell of a lot less than the first 100 mil', there's the little problem that a trillion bucks is what China has been pumping into the economy every four months for the last five years. I don't think yer quite appreciatin' the scale of this thing.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
I get the impression you actually believe you know what you're talking about.

ZZZzzzzzzzz said...

ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

   
Ya coulda just done that first and not wasted everybody's time with that play for attention.  Too damn late now for this time, but something for you to maybe think about going forward.

Ciao for now.

Marcus said...

@Pete,

I know there's probably quite a huge real estate bubble in China, and I know money has been misallocated espacially in public companies there. But some of the stuff in the article you linked to seem... just too bad to be true. Like:

"7. This real estate boom could only be financed through unrestrained credit growth. Since 2009, the Chinese banks have grown by the equivalent of the entire U.S. banking system or 15% of world GDP"

Is that really true? The US's is still a significantly larger economy than China's and it has a very large financial sector. That the equal amount to all US banking assets has been plowed into Chinese banks in just 6 years and largely gone into chinese real estate seems so insane I have to question the validity of the claim. Do you have more sources on that?

And if we entertain the idea that the chinese bubble is as bad as your article claims, and if it was to pop, do you have any kind of idea/thoughts on how that would unfold? How would it affect the real economies, the stock prices, commodity prices, the main currencies and the interest rates? I am aware it's a big question and that any answer is speculative, but if you feel up for answering with your thoughts on the matter do give it a shot.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Yes, intensely interested on the answers to Marcus's questions. I should think commodity prices will tank, but what else?

Marcus said...

Lynette: " I should think commodity prices will tank, but what else?"

Not necessarily. In a weakening but normal economy with less demand commodoties tend to perform badly. True.

But if there's a situation that causes doubts about banks and paper currencies some commodities tend to be seen as safer havens, such as gold and silver and oil derivtives. Possibly also food stuffs, but I have zero experience in investing into those.

Petes said...

[Marcus]: "That the equal amount to all US banking assets has been plowed into Chinese banks in just 6 years and largely gone into chinese real estate seems so insane I have to question the validity of the claim. Do you have more sources on that?"

I'm not sure it's true that it has "largely gone into real estate" although that seems to be a significant chunk of it.

Sources on the size of the Chinese credit expansion: Bloomberg [1], Fitch banks analyst Charlene Chu via Telegraph [2a], [2b]. Also: Chinese non-financial companies alone have $12tn of debt -- CNBC [3].

Sources on total assets of the American banking system: the Federal Reserve (see table 2) [4],
list of all US bank assets [5] (totals are $14.2tn and 14.8tn)

You can Google for additional source on Chinese debt-to-GDP which has done from 130% of GDP in 2008 (when GDP was about $6tn) to 225% today (when GDP is about $10tn) -- an increase of about $15tn. (Btw, lest we forget, the US has added about $8tn in the same period). The infamous Chinese shadow banks alone have issued loans equal to 85% of GDP (source: JP Morgan quoted in FT [6])

Petes said...

[Lynnette]: " I should think commodity prices will tank, but what else?"

[Marcus]: "But if there's a situation that causes doubts about banks and paper currencies some commodities tend to be seen as safer havens, such as gold and silver and oil derivtives."

The first impact has to be the withdrawal of "hot money", as at the end of every credit boom. Where has Chinese hot money been flowing to? Certainly to international commodity markets and international property markets. Beyond that, I can't begin to guess. I'm not claiming to be any sort of expert :-)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Apparently some of that "hot money" has been going here.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
Petes is doing an apples to oranges comparision here.  He's comparing the book total loans of the Chinese banking (and shadow banking) system to the assets of the American banking system.  Just ‘cause the Chinese banks have written the loans doesn't mean the assets are actually there to cover those loans.  Nor does it mean that much real money has been ‘plowed into’ the Chinese banking system.  They're booking the face value of their loan paper is all that's happening there.

ZZZzzzzzzzz said...

"Petes is doing an apples to oranges comparision here... They're booking the face value of their loan paper is all that's happening there."

Well, DUH! If loans equalled assets there wouldn't be any story here.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Petes said...

Fire sale: Chinese selling off Hong Kong luxury homes

I reckon it's started. Here's one thing that's entirely predictable -- the trajectory of a bursting property bubble. The essence of a bubble is that it's driven by consumer exuberance instead of market fundamentals. All it needs is for the exuberance to cool, and the game is over, even though the precise timing is unpredictable and a full unwinding can take up to a decade.

It starts with the ending of expectations of capital appreciation. Property bubbles exhibit insane rental yields -- whereas a savvy investor might expect a 6% to 15% yield, yields in a bubble might be 2% or lower. In China, yields are a small fraction of a per cent in some places, though in a lot of cases it doesn't matter at all because the investment properties aren't even rented -- they're considered more saleable if they've never been lived in. This shows that property is considered a store of value and an appreciating asset. A bubble is driven by the bizarre belief that prices can only rise forever. Any change to that sentiment heralds the end of spiralling prices.

The next phase is a slowdown in demand, but without spectacular falls in average prices. Rumours of a weakening market start to circulate but they are offset by vested interests pumping the idea that external forces are to blame and, even if the market "softens" a little, the fundamentals are sound and growth will inevitable resume. Many new entrants are sucked in at this stage by the appearance of "bargains" with a modest percentage lopped of the asking price.

A few people in the know will be bailing out of the market at this stage. But there will be surprisingly few of them -- far less than the inevitable later conspiracy theories will claim. Another essence of a bubble is that it genuinely pervades thinking at all levels of the market.

At this stage, the fall off in demand will be affecting developers. They are the ones who will cause the big and immediate problems for the banks. Developers have had to ratchet up their investments as prices rocketed in the boom. Although their previous builds sold like hotcakes, they always have to buy land ahead for the next development ... and it's more expensive by a significant factor each time. So developers have already paid the price for what would have been the next, even more expensive, phase of the bubble. These people and companies are toast, and their loans will be almost total write-offs for the banks.

The next phase is more difficult to predict for China. Usually, the markets would notice the dodgy assets of the banks, and the banks' costs of funds would go up. In China there seems to be more of an ability to cover this up, and the PBOC can turn the credit on and off for political reasons. The Chinese government well knows that a large property market setback has the potential to cause very serious unrest among the citizenry.

However, the cracks in the system will eventually show, and fears for the economy will lead to panic and a wholesale rush to the exits. In China this will not be an isolated property market thing -- a lot of the spending has been on bubble infrastructure by local governments who will become insolvent.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "Well, DUH! If loans equalled assets there wouldn't be
      any story here.
"

Actually, the point people should be paying attention to is your assertion that ‘a trillion bucks is what China has been pumping into the economy every four months for the last five years.’.  That would suggest they've been running deficits of $3 trillion a year for five years which is certainly not the case.  Or drawing in foreign money in those amounts, which I suspect is also not the case.  What they've been doing is taking the inflated bubble prices and booking it as if it's real money.  That's the money you're claiming has been ‘pumped into the economy’--not so by the way, it's just been booked into the bubble.  It's not really gone into the Chinese economy--rather it's been inducing money out of the Chinese economy into the bubble.
A trillion dollars in real money (and U.S. gubmint IOUs are about as close as it comes to real money) judiciously applied, as, for instance, as cash reserves available to those overstretched banks, can do a lot to keep the bubble inflating.

ZZZzzzzzzzz said...

"Actually, the point people should be paying attention to..."

I'm sure "people" will appreciate y'all condescendin' to spoon feed their helpless selves.

"That would suggest they've been running deficits of $3 trillion a year for five years which is certainly not the case."

On second thoughts, perhaps y'all should leave "people" to figure things out for their own selves, since y'all clearly have no clue. Nobody suggested any such thing. One suspects y'all's just thrashin' around lookin' for an opportunity to whinge.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
If you've actually got something in support of your claim that there's really $3 trillion in real money getting annually ‘pumped into’ the Chinese economy from somewhere, and has been for five years, I'll be happy to look at it.
Otherwise, I'll suggest to the audience that it's you doin’ the whinin’ here mostly in an attempt to change the subject to something else, anything else, and distract attention from the fact that your argument is baseless and, quite simply, wrong.

ZZZzzzzzzzz said...


LOLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

   
Yeah, that's what I thought.  Ya got nothin’.

I presume we're done for now then.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "The unnecessary confrontation over Ukraine has not only
      restored the Cold War between the West and Russia, but has
      done so in an exceedingly dangerous form. The epicenter is no
      longer in Berlin; it’s on Russia’s borders—with official rhetoric
      and military gestures on both sides approaching something like
      the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
"
      Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Looking at stuff like this, and the winefalcon's recent rants, it seems to me that the Russians are working themselves up into a real lather over their Crimean adventure.  (Putin's recent speech detailing all his imagined slights to Russia in the decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union don't suggest a calming of attitudes in the wake of their success either)  I get the impression that these guys can't quite believe they actually pulled this one off, and are convinced ‘The West’ is gonna come back in and take it away from them somehow, either by force or by guile.

Marcus said...

On Ukraine here's a piece about a swedish "nationalist" going there to assisst his fellow nationalists in Ukraine. It's from a web newsoutlet that normally only publish in swedish but sometimes translate into english if the topic is deemed internationally interesting:

http://www.friatider.se/swede-patrols-ukraines-streets-with-right-wing-paramilitaries

I think the article is straight forward, and I get the sense that the interviewee is being pretty honest also.

That said, I can't really understand how some guy could quit his job to go fight for some cause in a foreign nation where he probably has a limited idea of what he's actually fighting for. Unless it was for money, but that seems unlikely in this case.

Marcus said...

Lee, that last link you posted, isn't that a very sane view of the situation at hand?

I believe the approach that author argues to be, more or less, the best scenario possible. A stable, non-aligned Ukraine. Independent in itself but with some limited regional independence also. And with business ties both East and West.

How to get there from this point - admittedly not so easy. But a worthwhile goal. Or do you have a diffferent opinion?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[PeteS]: The next phase is a slowdown in demand, but without spectacular falls in average prices.

And what happens to the areas where the "hot money", that has now cooled, been congregating?

[Lee]: A trillion dollars in real money (and U.S. gubmint IOUs are about as close as it comes to real money) judiciously applied, as, for instance, as cash reserves available to those overstretched banks, can do a lot to keep the bubble inflating.

And if those overstretched banks decide they need the funds?

Marcus said...

Pete, it's a bit funny that you posted those possible predictions about a Chinese bubble popping a few days back. As of yesterday I've seen multiple such articles coming online all over the place, both in swedish press and in international.

The sum of the opinions when I read them are that your stated predictions are clearly at the negative end of the spectrum, and that there are many "experts" out there who believe the bubble is less severe.

Of course, knowing what we know about bubbles there are always those denying them until they pop for real. And, the timing for when a bubble pops is basically impossible to predict.

What I'm witnessing myself these last weeks is increased volatility. The Dow can be up 1,5% in the beginning of trade, only to close in the red. Nasdaq seems even more volatile. There's no real trend either, the indexes are pretty flat so far this year, but they swing hugely from one day to the next. Good (or bad) days for datytraders I assume, if those guys can even keep up with the algoritm-trading CPU:s these days, but for regular investors.... hmmm... a bit shaky ground I'd say.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Looking at stuff like this, and the winefalcon's recent rants,...

I have to wonder if Putin moonlights as a blogger on the internet...

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "Lee, that last link you posted, isn't that a very sane view of
      the situation at hand?
"

Apparently, you need to read up on the Cuban Missle Crisis.  We (the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.) were within a hairs'-breadth of throwing nukes at one another.  Kennedy and Krustchev both defied institutional pressures from their respective political and military advisors demanding they escalate or we'd now be living in the rubble of the Great Nuclear War (those of us who might be living).
The suggestion that we're anywhere near there over the Crimea is hysterical, not sane.

And, while I think our Russian author describes a decent outcome, he seems to suggest we get there by giving Putin everything he wants today, just knuckle under and beg Putin to be nicer later.  I rather doubt that'll achieve the end he describes.
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
      "And if those overstretched banks decide they need the
      funds?
"

Well, then the guys in the Central Committee have to decide whether they want to keep the bubble going awhile longer, or whether they want the $1 trillion plus still liquid and portable so they can take it with them when they flee.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
  "Khrushchev" no ‘t

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
I'm reminded that China is holding foreign reserves and foreign cash from other western nations, in addition to its holdings in American money and bonds.  Just under $4 trillion in total.  (I think about $1.5 trillion of that is American, down from $1.7 trillion at its height.)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

And, while I think our Russian author describes a decent outcome, he seems to suggest we get there by giving Putin everything he wants today, just knuckle under and beg Putin to be nicer later. I rather doubt that'll achieve the end he describes.

Appeasement didn't work with Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein.

While the Russians may have been a little miffed at Obama's description of them as a regional power, they have not seemed to be acting from a position of self-confidence that would denote a world power, either. Annexing one's neighbors seems more the action of someone who is afraid.

It is a rather sad state of affairs, as Russia has always been a fascinating country with much to offer. To resort to cheap propaganda and thuggery is to tarnish the reputations of the good people of Russia.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[Lynnette]: And if those overstretched banks decide they need the funds?

[Lee]: Well, then the guys in the Central Committee have to decide whether they want to keep the bubble going awhile longer, or whether they want the $1 trillion plus still liquid and portable so they can take it with them when they flee.

lol! It would be interesting to know where they would flee to? Perhaps North Korea? Because somehow I don't think they will be too popular.

Marcus said...

Lynnette: "Annexing one's neighbors seems more the action of someone who is afraid."

Apart from the geopolitical thing about the importance of the Sevasopal marine base, which is certainly a motivator for Russia, you might not know that:

The Crimean peninsula has been Russian for 250 years and only "Ukranian" because Krustjev made a snap decicion in 1954 to name Krim as part of the Ukraine, which didn't really matter until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. So it's been Russian for over 2.5 centuries and really only Ukranian (in name only) for about 23 years.

The population is about 60% ethnic Russians, 25% Ukranians (of whom a majority are rather aligned with Russia than Ukraine) and 15% Krim Tartars who also have rallied to Russia (possibly to escape futuure harrassment, possibly because they rreally feel like it - I don't know)

Fact is though: The territory is Russian by history and the people there want, by an overwhelming majority, to belong to Russia.

Who are you, Lynnette - from the other side of the Atlantic ocean who should have no say whatsoever in the matter - to deny them of that? I hope you're just ignorant and not so hypocritical as you seem to be.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "25% Ukranians (of whom a majority are rather aligned with
      Russia than Ukraine)…
"

I find myself somewhat skeptical of that proposition.

      "15% Krim Tartars who also have rallied to Russia…"

I'm more than just ‘somewhat’ skeptical of that proposition.  I recall reading (but, unfortunately don't recall where) that the Russians have already begun discussions of the need to ‘relocate’ the local Tartar population.  Finish up the job Stalin started.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
By the way, Marcus, I'm gratified to see you're no longer claiming the local Crimean population is 90% ethnic Russian.
 
And, on a related note, our military analysts are telling us that there's no way that those 35,000 Russian troops still massing on Ukraine's eastern border are there for ‘training exercises’ and it's their estimation that the current deployment is setting up for a considerably more active role than mere intimidation.  They're guessing it's prelude to an invasion of, and probably partition of the Ukrainian mainland.  (I've been bettin’ that way since I realized that Putin wasn't going to use them as a bargaining chip to negotiate acceptance of his grab on the Crimea.)
So, you may very soon have the opportunity to play apologist for an invasion of the Ukrainian mainland.  I suppose you're up to the challenge? 

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "It would be interesting to know where they would flee to?"

Considering the resources they could move with, I'd guess pretty much any place in Europe would be open to them.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "The territory is Russian by history…"

The territory is Imperial Russian by history (sometimes).  On and off it's been conquered by the Russians.  (And then lost, but we're concentrating on the times it was subjugated to to Czars.)  It was however, not until Stalin's machinations just prior to World War II that there was a major Russian population there.  His calculated mass starvation of the local population (and the forced relocation of the Tartars who refused to die.) preceded his seeding the area with ethnic Russians (who also weren't asked about their move to Crimea).

I'm not sure which part of this history you wish to honor with the prize of ownership?  Might you wish to elaborate?

ZZZzzzzzzzz said...

"So, you may very soon have the opportunity to play apologist for an invasion of the Ukrainian mainland."

Breaking news! Crimea is a peninsula.

LOLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Petes said...

[Marcus]: "Pete, it's a bit funny that you posted those possible predictions about a Chinese bubble popping a few days back. As of yesterday I've seen multiple such articles coming online all over the place, both in swedish press and in international."

In fairness, I've been posting them on and off for about two years. The Chinese bubble is an plain as the nose on your face for those who wish to see it.

"What I'm witnessing myself these last weeks is increased volatility. The Dow can be up 1,5% in the beginning of trade, only to close in the red. Nasdaq seems even more volatile. There's no real trend either, the indexes are pretty flat so far this year, but they swing hugely from one day to the next. Good (or bad) days for datytraders I assume, if those guys can even keep up with the algoritm-trading CPU:s these days, but for regular investors.... hmmm... a bit shaky ground I'd say."

I'd have said most analysts/investors are expecting some sort of serious upset this side of 2016. Dunno if China or Janet Yellen or something else will be most responsible, but hot/QE money has been stoking asset prices for years now. It's nuts to think it's not going to reset some time.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
It's almost as if you never tire of making a fool of yourself.

      "main·land noun \ˈmān-ˌland, -lənd\
      : a large area of land that forms a country or a continent and
      that does not include islands
   
      "Full Definition of MAINLAND
      a continent or the main part of a continent as distinguished
      from an offshore island or sometimes from a cape or
      peninsula
"
      Merriam-Webster

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Marcus said...

Lee: "I recall reading (but, unfortunately don't recall where) that the Russians have already begun discussions of the need to ‘relocate’ the local Tartar population. Finish up the job Stalin started."

Someone might have uttered something along those lines I supposse, although I have not seen anything like that myself. But Putin most certainly did not. In his adress to the Parlaiment after the annexation of Crimea he was very clear that the Tartars there are an integral part of society and he stated clearly that their language will be one of the three official languages, alongside russian and ukrainian.

Lee: "They're guessing it's prelude to an invasion of, and probably partition of the Ukrainian mainland. (I've been bettin’ that way since I realized that Putin wasn't going to use them as a bargaining chip to negotiate acceptance of his grab on the Crimea.)"

I would bet against that. But seeing how I lost our last bet I guess I can't afford to be too cocky.

Lee: "So, you may very soon have the opportunity to play apologist for an invasion of the Ukrainian mainland. I suppose you're up to the challenge?"

The obvious argument would be to claim some sort of R2P on behalf of russians in the Ukraine. But no, I won't be arguing that. Crimea is one thing and I believe there was just cause for the actions taken there. But annexing parts of Ukraine proper would be a crime IMO and a very, very danngerous development. I sincerely hope Putin and Russia will not go down that path.

Marcus said...

Pete: "I'd have said most analysts/investors are expecting some sort of serious upset this side of 2016. Dunno if China or Janet Yellen or something else will be most responsible, but hot/QE money has been stoking asset prices for years now. It's nuts to think it's not going to reset some time."

I'm starting to feel that being invested in the stock market has a limited upside but carries the potential for a large downside in the medium term future. What sort of timeframe "medium" is I'm less clear on. Myself I am thinking about devesting in stocks and paying off a nice chunk of my mortgage. Not much upside in that, with the low interest rates, but at least it's the safest bet out of any.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "Crimea is one thing and I believe there was just cause for the
      actions taken there.
"

And, pray tell, just what might that ‘just cause’ be?

Marcus said...

The Crimea was historically way more Russian than Ukranian, and the people living there made the choice to join Russia in a fair election and by a vast majority. So, just cause.

Way better justification than Kosovo that had been the heartland of the Serbian nation for many centuries until Tito under communism, the most repressive and vile and anti-human system ever to plague this earth, started importing good communist brothers from Albaina who then outbred the local serbs over a few decades time and became a large majority. Now the Kosovo independence I believe ya'll supported. Right?

So if ya'll supported Kosovo's independence why shouldn't Crimea who also had popular support for changing state and even had a very much better historical reason for doing so be any different?

(The real answer is that in Kosovo the US denied coastal access to the Russian ally Serbia and got a nice big naval base for themselves in return. But in Crimea it was the Russians keeping and securing their naval base i Sevastopol. It's all geopolitics and Lee will side with the US no matter what no matter where. Lee will deny this and we'll dance around the obvious with aguments about right and wrong, but facts on the ground will still always boil down to geopolitics and Lee is a team player - I'll give him that - so he'll keep on dancing)

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "The Crimea was historically way more Russian than Ukranian…"

It was historically a Russian Imperial possession.  The people who lived there were not Russian; the soldiers who subjugated them were.  But if that's good enough for you, then that's good enough for you.

      "…and the people living there made the choice to join Russia
      in a fair election and by a vast majority.
"

A fair election?  You've managed to get yourself to believe that, have you?  The 96.8% margin doesn't remind you of other dictator's ‘fair elections’?  Suffice it to say I consider that an open and obvious fraud, made the more egregious ‘cause Russia could have won a fair election.  However, that's mostly because the Russians slaughtered and ‘cleansed’ the locals and replaced them with ethnic Russian, within fairly recent history.  But, if you wish to ratify those actions, then that's what you wish to do.

      "Now the Kosovo independence I believe ya'll supported.
      Right?
"

Given that the Serbs were treating the Kosovars to the same sort of ethnic cleansing the Russians practiced in the Crimea 60 years ealier, and given that they'd not managed to complete the crime, I don't see much way we could have expected the Kosovars to have accepted continued Serbian rule.

And, just for what it's worth, nobody was threatening Russia's naval base.
And, by treaty as recently as 1994, Russia, Putin's Russia, extracted concessions from the Ukraine, including continuing that naval base, in return for which Russia undertook to guarantee Ukrainian sovereignty and its borders against all comers.

But, truth is, this is not our problem.  This is a European problem.  If ya'll wanna pretend, that's not a big problem for us.  I suppose Obama's gotta go through the motions of being indignant and trying to rally European support to oppose this (I wish we didn't have to do that, but I guess we do), but it's not a great problem for us that this effort is almost certainly doomed to failure.  That's gonna be your problem in the coming years, Europe's problem that is.

Petes said...

[Marcus]: "I'm starting to feel that being invested in the stock market has a limited upside but carries the potential for a large downside in the medium term future. What sort of timeframe "medium" is I'm less clear on. Myself I am thinking about devesting in stocks and paying off a nice chunk of my mortgage. Not much upside in that, with the low interest rates, but at least it's the safest bet out of any."

I'd agree with you, but then (as you pointed out on a previous thread that I didn't have time to respond to, but you were entirely correct) I was of the same opinion back in 2010, being ignorant back then of the fact that the rally in stocks was all about QE. However, I stuck my pension in cash, locking in the gains since 2009, which was basically a recovery of what it lost in 2008. Given the likely reset, I'm still not sure I'll regret that action. (Well, except for one thing ... since I gave up work my pension passed into someone else's hands to manage, and, in spite of myself, it's been back in stocks since last September. I'm sure I'll get around to doing something about that just too late ;-)

Petes said...

Obama hasn't been silent on the US position that Russia is primarily Europe's problem. In Brussels he dropped some heavy hints that Europe ought to wean itself off dependence on Russian gas, by a combination of nuclear and shale resources. That won't go down well with the German greenies, or the UK anti-fracking zealots. But he's basically right.

Maybe David Cameron managed to have a quiet word with him, to aid his own domestic energy policy woes. The Labour opposition were screaming for enforced freezes on gas and electricity prices six months ago, which Cameron resisted. Now the energy companies have frozen prices voluntarily (because wholesale prices have fallen, so they can have a gratuitous freeze while still making a killing). Cameron is desperately trying to claim that it's his rescinding of green energy taxes that has made it possible for the price freeze to take place.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "Obama hasn't been silent on the US position that Russia is
      primarily Europe's problem.
"

Oh thank gawd.  Press over here has been all about how Obama's been speachifying about how we are all united in opposition and such rot as that.  I'd begun to worry that he was maybe allowing himself believe that ‘cause he wanted to believe it.  (As against the obvious conclusion; he has to say these things or the Europeans will eagerly fold immediately and purport to lay the blame on the United States for allowing them to do what they want to do, ‘failure to lead’ and such rot as that.)
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
On a more instructive note…  Putin called Obama.  A new wrinkle that.  The press is claiming to not understand this fairly uncharacteristic action on Putin's part.  I have an immediate suspicion.  Putin called to put Obama on notice of the soon to be public Russian claims to a land-locked enclave, a piece of south-west Moldova (a/k/a Moldavia) known locally as ‘Trasnistra’ and bordering on Russian-speaking regions of south-western Ukraine.
Appears to me that the Ukrainians may be in somewhat deeper shit than I'd originally thought.
If there's to be any bargaining for a settlement, it'll likely be over how far Russia moves into the western Ukraine.  Eastern Ukraine is probably a goner.
We're getting word that the Russian troops on the Ukraine's eastern border are now camouflaging their forward positions, and they've moved in a mobile field hospital.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Marcus,

Fact is though: The territory is Russian by history and the people there want, by an overwhelming majority, to belong to Russia.

Who are you, Lynnette - from the other side of the Atlantic ocean who should have no say whatsoever in the matter - to deny them of that? I hope you're just ignorant and not so hypocritical as you seem to be.


While I freely admit to being ignorant on many subjects, including the intricacies of internal Russian affairs, I do try to ameliorate this by reading up on various subjects. I found this commentary on the Russian and Ukrainian languages to be thought provoking. Especially when the thoughts turn to hypocrisy.

As for my distance from the events in Ukraine I am most grateful that Russia is not my neighbor.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

PeteS,

Obama hasn't been silent on the US position that Russia is primarily Europe's problem. In Brussels he dropped some heavy hints that Europe ought to wean itself off dependence on Russian gas, by a combination of nuclear and shale resources. That won't go down well with the German greenies, or the UK anti-fracking zealots. But he's basically right.

Unfortunately, yes, he is right. Despite that amateurish "re-set" button thing our State Department came up with when trying to turn our relationship with Russia around (no doubt the Russians laughed themselves silly over that), there are actually people who have a clue about the trustworthiness of Putin & Co.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

  
      "I found this commentary on the Russian and Ukrainian
      languages…
"

That sorta harkens back to the point Marcus was trying to make at 2:56 PM, supra.  The Russian culture evolved from an original ‘Rus’, located in what is now the Ukraine.  I believe Kiev was the first capital, Moscow being founded later (or maybe it was overrun, I forget)  Our boy, Marcus seems to think that makes it alright for Russia to seize the Ukraine, or, at least Crimea.
Near as I can tell though, it'd be much the same as if we decided we could seize Great Britain, or it's territories, at our whim, or tried to pretend that British English was a dialect of an American mother tongue.
Somehow or other, Marcus is willing to buy into such thinking in the case of Russia wants somethin’, although he'd have no problem rejecting such claims if put forward by Americans. 

Petes said...

[Lynnette]: "there are actually people who have a clue about the trustworthiness of Putin & Co."

I've actually been impressed by how hawkish Kerry has been about Russia. After his various meetings, including with foreign minister Lavrov, his message to the press has consistently been that Russia is acting like a nineteenth century totalitarian state. That's good, because Putin is a sociopathic bully-boy thug who will take whatever he thinks he can get away with.

"As for my distance from the events in Ukraine I am most grateful that Russia is not my neighbor."

Oh but it is. Aren't you forgetting that Sarah Palin can see it from her house? ;-)

(Actually, all joking aside, Palin's house is much less than half the distance from Russia than mine is).

Marcus said...

Lee about me finding justification for Russia's move with regards tyo Crimea: "it'd be much the same as if we decided we could seize Great Britain"

Now you're just being an idiot tryin' to pick a fight. You don't believe that yourself, so why the hell are you making such a completely moronic statement? Bored?

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...


Perhaps you think Ireland and Great Britain a closer analogy to Russia's Crimean adventure (except for the language thing).  The Brits actually held Ireland much longer, centuries longer, than Imperial Russia held the Crimea (although they were somewhat less successful in slaughtering the local population and supplanting them with their own ‘planters’).  Still, if Britain were to decide to retake Ireland on the grounds that they want it back, I'm sure you'd not be giving them a pass on the grounds of their supposed ‘historical ownership’. 

Marcus said...

Lee: "The Brits actually held Ireland much longer, centuries longer, than Imperial Russia held the Crimea"

Sure, but the Ukraine "held" (no it didn't, not really) the Crimea for a far smaller amount of time and with no more justification than a Soviet beureucrat putting pen to paper.

Lee: "although they [the Brits in Ireland, as opposed to Russians against Ukrainians in Crimea] were somewhat less successful in slaughtering the local population and supplanting them with their own ‘planters’"

Were they? Take that up with PeteS and see what he has to say about the history of Ireland versus the BBritish empire. I'll watch you get squashed from the sidelines and leave the squashing up to Pete.

Lee: "Still, if Britain were to decide to retake Ireland on the grounds that they want it back, I'm sure you'd not be giving them a pass on the grounds of their supposed ‘historical ownership’"

Nope. Not at all. If the Irish voted to join England in the same overwhelming majority that the Crimeans voted to join Russia I'd be completely fine with that.

BTW, now that we are in Great Britain all of a sudden (since you're reaching for straws), the Scots are about to hold a referendum about whether to leave England and go for independence or whether to stay English. I assume by your logic you feel that vote is illegal. No? Why not then? I'm sure the margins will be much tighter there than in the Crimea where the vote to join Russia was overwhelming. So it should be EVEN MORE illegal according to you then. Is that so?

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "Were they? Take that up with PeteS and see what he
      has to say about the history of Ireland versus the BBritish
      empire.
"

I imagine that, under the circumstances, Petes will suspend his general custom of disagreeing with damn near everything I say just ‘cause I say it, and agree that despite some similarities in tactics (starvation as a weapon, for instance) the Brits were never successful in planting a British or even a Protestant majority in Ireland (the small Ulster district perhaps being an exception; I'm not sure the Protestants have a real majority even there)

      "If the Irish voted to join England in the same
      overwhelming majority that the Crimeans voted to join
      Russia I'd be completely fine with that.
"

I see; so it is the successful slaughter and supplanting of the locals that makes the difference for you.

I was working for your bottom line; think I found it here.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "I assume by your logic you feel that vote is illegal. No?"

I haven't looked into the British legal statutes nor precedents regarding the upcoming Scottish vote, and have no opinion of what their domestic law says on the subject.  However, I was under the impression that the referendum was duly authorized by the Parliment in London, signed off on by the Crown; all that good stuff to make it legal under British law to hold the referendum.

Marcus said...

Lee's analysis:

Province: "Hey we're 55 people out of a hundred who vote to go our way"

Empire: "Sure hold a referendum (that we have denied you for centuries) if you like, but we'll throw spanners into the machine for ya'll if you do."

Legal vote.

Province: "Hey we're 95 people out of a hundred who vote to go our way"

Empire: "No! You may not! If you do it's illegal anyway!"

Illegal vote not to be considered.





   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
Marcus, continuing to promote that 96.8% vote as ‘fair election’, to use your last language on the subject, does not increase your credibility.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
And, I've looked over your imagined ‘analysis’ in your 11:44 AM posting a couple of times now, and I still have absolutely no idea what your point is supposed to be or where you think you were going with that, or who held a 55% vote on what. 

I believe you may have over-excited yourself. You're making more noise than sense.

Marcus said...

OK, I'll, simplify it for you.
________________________________
Province: "Hey we're 55 people out of a hundred who vote to go our way"

Empire: "Sure hold a referendum (that we have denied you for centuries) if you like, but we'll throw spanners into the machine for ya'll if you do."

(Lee's verdict): Legal vote.
________________________________

Province: "Hey we're 95 people out of a hundred who vote to go our way"

Empire: "No! You may not! If you do it's illegal anyway!"

(Lee's verdict): Illegal vote not to be considered.
_________________________________

Easy enough?

Marcus said...

The first would be Scotland and the second Crimea, in case you still didn't get it.

Marcus said...

The first would be Scotland and the second Crimea, in case you still didn't get it.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
So, you know the vote totals on the upcoming Scottish referendum already?
 

Marcus said...

But let's turn the tables here.

Lee, why should the Crimea be forced to belong to the Ukraine when it was only ukranian for a short period of time, when it only became ukranian by the stroke of the pen of a Soviet beaureucrat, and when the populatiion in the Crimea would rathe belong to Russia, as they used to for a few centuries before?

Can you give me a good argument why Crimea shoud be forced to, against the will of its people, to remain in the failing mess of the Ukraine of today?

Marcus said...

Lee: "So, you know the vote totals on the upcoming Scottish referendum already?"

Of course not. It's a close call though, and according to polls the pro-independence factions have a slight lead. I chose 55% at the drop of a hat to make a credible argument but one that really related to another case and does therefor not need to be completely in line with the actual outcome. I thought that was obvious. You did know that too and are only asking these silly questions because they give you the chance to run off on a tangent. Guess what? I know ya'll too good for that tactic to work any longer.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "Can you give me a good argument why Crimea shoud
      be forced to, against the will of its people, to remain in the
      failing mess of the Ukraine of today?
"

Remain today, or remain tomorrow?  (By which I mean remain ‘long term’not literally tomorrow.)
That's not the question at hand right now.  If you want an argument for why they should remain attached to the Ukraine literally ‘today’, we can go there, but I suspect that conversation will not interest you.
 
Look, Marcus, I was just trying to get to your bottom line; I wondered where you were drawing your line.  (And I was fairly certain you were not going to admit to wherever it was.)  But, I do believe we've found it.  A successful slaughter and supplantation of the locals makes the difference for you.  That's good ‘nuff for me to know; that's all I wanted to know.  I have no illusions that I'm going to talk you out of your bottom line position.  (I don't much approve of it myself, but I was lookin’ for what was, not for what I might approve of.)

Marcus said...

Lee: "Remain today, or remain tomorrow?"

I never said anything about remaining today or tomorrow. I said "remain in the failing mess of the Ukraine OF [emphasis added] today?"

Lee: "But, I do believe we've found it. A successful slaughter and supplantation of the locals makes the difference for you."

If you wish to misinterpret me that way feel free to do so.

It's a done deal anyway and the vast majority of Crimeans are happy about it. That you feel they should have been denied their will is at this point completely irrelevant.

But next time you have a major US decision in the making be sure to poll what the rest of the world feels about it, or invite it to participate. Maybe the rulers in Nigeria have opinions on Obamacare? Maybe the Chineese have opinions on the Keystone Pipeline? I mean, if the US is going to meddle in affairs all over the world, like Victoria "Fuck the EU, Nuland has been doing in the Ukraine, then perhaps the world should meddle in US issues as well? How'd you like that Lee?

Realist said...

Let it be known that my congregation and I regularly test, prove, and demonstrate our faith by taking up serpents (both rattlesnakes and copperheads). Never have I been stung because my faith is strong and true.

Praise Jesus!

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[PeteS]: I've actually been impressed by how hawkish Kerry has been about Russia. After his various meetings, including with foreign minister Lavrov, his message to the press has consistently been that Russia is acting like a nineteenth century totalitarian state. That's good, because Putin is a sociopathic bully-boy thug who will take whatever he thinks he can get away with.

I think other people have come to that conclusion.

[Lynnette]: As for my distance from the events in Ukraine I am most grateful that Russia is not my neighbor.

[PeteS]: Oh but it is. Aren't you forgetting that Sarah Palin can see it from her house? ;-)

Well, as long as Putin keeps his sticky fingers off Alaska he can certainly have Sarah Palin. ;)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

{Lynnette]: I found this commentary on the Russian and Ukrainian languages…

[Lee]: That sorta harkens back to the point Marcus was trying to make at 2:56 PM, supra. The Russian culture evolved from an original ‘Rus’, located in what is now the Ukraine. I believe Kiev was the first capital, Moscow being founded later (or maybe it was overrun, I forget)

From what little I've read of Russian history it seems to me it has been one of shifting sands, from various invaders, to internal power shifts, and to the amassing of territory.

What I found interesting about the commentary on the various languages was that never in the past has respect for the differences in languages been a high priority. That Putin would use the protection of Russian speakers in Crimea as a reason to annex the region seems hypocritical to me. But in any event most people understand it was merely his chosen excuse to make a land grab. Whether he will continue in this misguided fashion is the question.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[Marcus]: It's a done deal anyway and the vast majority of Crimeans are happy about it. That you feel they should have been denied their will is at this point completely irrelevant.

For me, I don't know that the vast majority of Crimeans are happy about it. I have not seen anything other than news accounts, which I take with a grain of salt. If they are, that is fortunate. But, and this is a huge but, for those who are not happy about it, the process was unfair, injudicious and emotionally rending. While my opinion might be irrelevent, theirs is not. So I will argue for those who cannot.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Realist?

Do you mean to tell me you're still reading Healing Iraq? It's been ages.



   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "If you wish to misinterpret me that way feel free to do so."

I just parsed it out.  It works out that way.  You want to pretend you have some sort of secret criteria you haven't and won't disclose, you go right ahead.  It's not like I'm interested in secret and undisclosed criteria.  (Reminds me too much of Petes and his secret magical mystery maths.)

    "That you feel they should have been denied their will is at this point completely irrelevant."

There are procedures for accomplishing that goal that don't involve Russia breaking nuclear arms treaties.  That's a real bad sign for the future, yours as well as mine, although you may still indulge in the European fantasy that the two of us would take each other out and leave Europe largely undamaged to pick up the pieces.  Putin breaking nuclear arms treaties without a blink is a somewhat bigger deal than the folks in Crimea getting their vote today, with Russian enforcers to make sure the non-Russian voters are properly intimidated before the vote.

    "But next time you have a major US decision in the making be
    sure to poll what the rest of the world feels about it…
"

Oh, hell no!  Not to say it's not a consideration, but I'll be damned if want my executive leaders to be making decisions only after polling ‘the rest of the world

      "…then perhaps the world should meddle in US issues as
        well?
"

They already do, as much as they can get away with anyway.  And bitchin’ ‘bout an Ambassador's private conversations reveals a fairly thin skin.  I am amused.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

And bitchin’ ‘bout an Ambassador's private conversations reveals a fairly thin skin.

That hardly compares to what we have listened to that was spoken to our face.

ZZZzzzzzzzz said...

"Reminds me too much of Petes and his secret magical mystery maths."

LOLZZ. Still stingin' over that one after all this time? There was nuthin' secret or magical about it. Y'all just didn't get it. And when y'all's nose was rubbed in it, y'all suddenly didn't understand things y'all had admitted to understandin' immediately prior. Wuz like an illegal alien who, when snared by immigration, suddenly can't speak English.

Was entertainin' watchin' y'all squirm -- on the one hand bein' forced to deny the most basic schoolboy-level mathematical demonstration starin' y'all in the face, and on the other, claimin' to be able to understand the mathematical implications of FTL neutrinos for Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Yeah, that sounded likely. Had me convinced anyway.

LOLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Zeyad said...

Y'all need to chill and join us down here for some beers and 'gator bbq

Petes said...

Speaking of chillin', Zeyad, do you have any other sources for Iraqi maqam music other than that brilliant site you linked a few years back. I still listen to it on youtube from time to time. Also, have discovered that there is a Turkish makam, probably imported from Mosul during the height of the Ottoman empire. Was also listening to some Sephardic Jewish music -- when the Jews were kicked out of Spain in 1492, many ended up in Ottoman Turkey which was tolerant towards them. So eastern Mediterranean Sephardic music got a double dose of Arabic influence -- from the Moors in Andalusia and then from Turkish makam. There are still Ladino (Spanish influenced by Hebrew) speaking communities in Turkey.

My current piano project is a piece of 20th century music, Dansa Andalousa by Joaquin Nin. Can't find a piano-only recording online, but this stripped-down arrangement for piano and violin contains the main theme. The Moorish influences are abstract but most definitely there. (My version's just like this, but at a quarter of the speed with every second note wrong ;-)

Zeyad said...

Yes, there are two excellent sources, The Music of the Arabs (Touma), and The Repertoire of the Iraqi Maqam (Simms)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Ahhh, but Zeyad, it is their form of entertainment, this arguing back and forth. :)

Gator? Hmmm...I've never tried it, even though our State Fair has had aligator on a stick in the past. If it's anything like frog legs, it tastes like chicken.

As for beer, give me one of those drinks with the little umbrellas. :)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

lol! That's so strange. It's like picking up the phone and finding a person on the other end instead of a dial tone...

Petes said...

Thanks Zeyad, the Touma book looks most interesting.

Marcus said...

Lynnette: "As for beer, give me one of those drinks with the little umbrellas. :)"

Try Swedish beer if you ever get the chance. My opinion is that we have first rate brews but no breweries that were ever any good at marketing them, like say the Danes have done with Carlsberg and several other brads. Or the Dutch with that OK-tasting but uninteresting Heineken of theirs.

Try a Mariestad from Sweden if you ever get the chance. It's quite good.

Also some Asian beers are worth mentioning like Tiger Beer from Singapore, not bad at all.

And there are of course many who slam down on American beers but I'm not one of them. First of all there are local breweries who brew really excellent beers. Second, the big breweries churn out something that while it's not exactly beer per say is nevertheless a pleasant drink in some settings. Like Coors Lite for instance. Not really beer even if it goes by that name but very refreshing and nice o a hot day.

The only real beef I have with the US beer industry is how Budweiser, an excellent brew that has been brewed in the Tchech Republic for 800 years is sold under the same label in the US but with horsepiss replacing the beer. That's simply an insult.

Marcus said...

And on the topic of beers, if I have to choose ONE country that excells, it would be the Chech Republic. Staropramen, Slatopramen, (original) Budweiser and many more. Long history, real beer-taste, not too much or too little alkohol, not too bitter neither too sweet.

Of course the Brits have their Ale and the Irish their Guinness, and one of those are always pleasant once in a while.

But for serious beer-drinking I'd go with Chech produce. Followed by Danish or Swedish (the latter possibly being home team preference).

German beer? Often a bit too bitter to my tastes.

Italian? Good but there are few of them.

French? Sure a cold Cronenbourg on a warm day in Paris is a delight, but they are not a contestor to the throne.

Spanish? Sorry, I don't care that much for San Miguel myself. OK, but not great.

Dutch? Some nice wheat beers like Hoogarden but they are also for one-at-a-time drinking.

Petes said...

Marcus,

Is Budweiser produced in the Czech Republic? I've always known that as Budvar. (However, on Googling it I see there is a very complicated legal situation). In any case, I rate Czech beer highly -- I used to have a collection on my desk at work ;) -- but I wouldn't touch American Budweiser with a forty foot pole: the closest I've gotten was staying in the Anheuser-Busch golf resort in Virginia a couple of years back :)

Have to disagree with you about Hoegaarden too -- that's Belgian, not Dutch. My brother's an adopted Fleming, so I know it well. Hoegaarden Grand Cru is quite a meal of a beer ... as you say, very much a one-per-session drink like a lot of yeasty Belgian beers and heavier German weissbiers.

I have to admit to liking Heineken in spite of its blandness. It was my drink of choice in the States, where I preferred it to most of the big name American beers. Coors is tolerable (although it's not "born high in the Rockies" like the ads say: I could see the factory down on the plain from the foothills when I went dustbin-lid sledding with my pal from Golden). Miller, the Wisconsinite beer is ok too. My favourite beer from the Americas is Corona.

For domestic beers it has to be Guinness. I'd be the first to acknowledge it's a bit of a fake -- the company that produces it is as British as the Queen, the Guinness family themselves were Anglo-Irish and are a lot more Anglo than Irish now, the brewery in Dublin very nearly shut down and moved shop to London a couple of years ago and the biggest market currently is Nigeria. The draught beer itself only dates from a few decades ago with its burnt grain taste and nitrogen bubbles. The Guinness that my father's generation drank from pint bottles was unpalatable pig swill that I tasted once as a youngster (and let me tell you that was more than enough). Nevertheless, the modern concoction is like the sweet nectar of the gods, with the caveat that you have to be in Guinness's Mount Olympus, i.e. Ireland, to get it served just right.

I've never had (or even heard of) a Swedish beer.

Petes said...

Marcus,

Is Budweiser produced in the Czech Republic? I've always known that as Budvar. (However, on Googling it I see there is a very complicated legal situation). In any case, I rate Czech beer highly -- I used to have a collection on my desk at work ;) -- but I wouldn't touch American Budweiser with a forty foot pole: the closest I've gotten was staying in the Anheuser-Busch golf resort in Virginia a couple of years back :)

Have to disagree with you about Hoegaarden too -- that's Belgian, not Dutch. My brother's an adopted Fleming, so I know it well. Hoegaarden Grand Cru is quite a meal of a beer ... as you say, very much a one-per-session drink like a lot of yeasty Belgian beers and heavier German weissbiers.

I have to admit to liking Heineken in spite of its blandness. It was my drink of choice in the States, where I preferred it to most of the big name American beers. Coors is tolerable (although it's not "born high in the Rockies" like the ads say: I could see the factory down on the plain from the foothills when I went dustbin-lid sledding with my pal from Golden). Miller, the Wisconsinite beer is ok too. My favourite beer from the Americas is Corona.

For domestic beers it has to be Guinness. I'd be the first to acknowledge it's a bit of a fake -- the company that produces it is as British as the Queen, the Guinness family themselves were Anglo-Irish and are a lot more Anglo than Irish now, the brewery in Dublin very nearly shut down and moved shop to London a couple of years ago and the biggest market currently is Nigeria. The draught beer itself only dates from a few decades ago with its burnt grain taste and nitrogen bubbles. The Guinness that my father's generation drank from pint bottles was unpalatable pig swill that I tasted once as a youngster (and let me tell you that was more than enough). Nevertheless, the modern concoction is like the sweet nectar of the gods, with the caveat that you have to be in Guinness's Mount Olympus, i.e. Ireland, to get it served just right.

I've never had (or even heard of) a Swedish beer.

Petes said...

(Bah! It told me I got the verification number wrong but then posted twice anyway).

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Petes said...

Seems like only yesterday we were having heated discussion here about new Iraqi oil contracts, and how they were a western conspiracy to defraud Iraq of its oil revenue.

Well, believe it or not, that was 2010, and the oil is starting to flow from those jobs. The weekend before last, they turned on the spigots on 120,000 bpd from the West Qurna-2 block developed by Lukoil.

The challenge for Iraq in the medium term could be whether oil can be sustained at current high prices as it ramps up production. To its credit, the country has upped production to 3 mbpd by the start of this year, 3.5 mbpd today, probably 4 mbpd by end of year, and still aiming for 9 mbpd by 2020. If Iranian sanctions are also lifted, there will be a hell of a lot of new oil on the market, which must be a worry for the KSA and the rest of OPEC.

Shahristani -- still the deputy prime minister for oil, although Luaibi replaced him as oil minister -- said at a talk in London in January that Iran was collaborating with Iraq in forward-looking plans for when sanctions disappear. He was quoted as saying: "Iran has been in touch with us -- they want to share our contracts model and experience." (Btw, anyone who'd like to retract any nonsense about how those contracts were a fraud on Iraq can do so now ;-)

But, trouble lies ahead when OPEC demands that Iraq rejoin the quota system it was temporarily exempted from in order to foster post-occupation growth. Iraq and Iran between them have greater reserves than the Saudis, and the capability to replace them as middle eastern swing producers.

The problem is that M.E. oil producers have become addicted to high prices. The Saudis need oil at over $100/bbl. The IMF estimates that Iraq needed $95/bbl to balance its budget in 2011, but over $106/bbl in 2013, due to increased exchequer spending. Can such prices be sustained if Iraq continues to ramp production, as seems likely. What if Iran reenters the market too? What about Libya? What if Chinese demand falters? -- Europe is not going to take up much slack, and the US is pretty much out of the demand picture for now with the shale revolution.

All that said, I'm glad to see Iraq having success with its oil development. I was dubious about whether that would come to fruition.

Marcus said...

Good thing Obama didn't bomb Syria now that it's getting known the turks were behind the Sarin attack:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

Petes said...

Wow! If that's all true, Marcus, there's some pretty damning stuff. Everything from Obama's volte face to Erdogan's clamp-down on the internet is implicated. Plus, it explains why that UN lady came out and said that it was more likely to be a rebel attack (before she promptly disappeared from the news).

Marcus said...

Pete, I guess you would at least agree that Seymor Hersh writing in the London Review of Books is not a fringe source in a fringe publication. Right?

As to whether you believe it or not that's up to you. Myself I guess some of it may be educated guesswork or some single sources given too much credibility, but overall I find it coherent and believable.

I've maintained all along that there were multiple stories out there that contradicted the "ironclad" MSM storyline that the Assad regime were behind chemical attacks. Also that IMO it would have been stupidity touching on insanity - for Assad to lauch a chemical strike just as UN weapons inspectors arrived in Syria. My view of Assad is not that he's that sort of crazy. In fact I feel that he's just the opposite of that sort of crazy.

I never bought the hype about that "chemical attack", like our american friends commenting on this blog did without question or even an attempt at critical thought, despite the debacle regarding WMD:s in Iraq which should have taught them a little something about critical thinking in the midst of a media storm you'd think.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "I guess you would at least agree that Seymor Hersh
      writing in the London Review of Books is not a fringe source
      in a fringe publication.
"

He's not a fringe source, but he has been known to get a little bit into Robert Fisk territory these past few years.  I've suspected he thinks the journalism world may be passing him by and is eager to stay out front.  I tend to look for confirmation these days on his more astonishing reporting.
 
             ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

      "Still stingin' over that one after all this time?"

You wish.

      "Y'all just didn't get it. [and etc.]"

I wouldn't be at all surprised if you've not indulged yourself enough to convince yourself that's actually true.  You'll be amazed at how little I give a damn.  Your fantasies are not my problem.  I have no intention of pursuing them.  (But, then again, you're probably just still bein’ bitchy ‘bout that ‘mainland’ definition, and figure this is where you get some back.  Wrong again; I don't give a damn.)

You may ZZZzzz now and pretend somebody cares ‘bout your posturing.

Marcus said...

Lee. " he has been known to get a little bit into Robert Fisk territory these past few years. I've suspected he thinks the journalism world may be passing him by and is eager to stay out front."

So you figure him wrong on this then? Just for the record. It was all a bunch of hogwash as ar as you're concerned, right? For the record.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "So you figure him wrong on this then?"

Dunno.  I've not had time to look his claims over in detail, just gleaned the gist of them from your posting.  (Springtime in the backwoods and the real world is demanding my attention; in fact, I'm on my back out just now.)  Tell ya what, I'll try to get a chance to take a good look at it by maybe Sunday.  Supposed to rain Sunday maybe.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Marcus,

Try a Mariestad from Sweden if you ever get the chance. It's quite good.

Thanks for the tip. I'll make a note of it. My main problem with beer is that it can be too bitter. My favorite mixed drink is still vodka,7-Up or Sprite and then a splash of orange juice. You get the fiz and the vodka cuts the sweetness.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[PeteS]: The challenge for Iraq in the medium term could be whether oil can be sustained at current high prices as it ramps up production. To its credit, the country has upped production to 3 mbpd by the start of this year, 3.5 mbpd today, probably 4 mbpd by end of year, and still aiming for 9 mbpd by 2020. If Iranian sanctions are also lifted, there will be a hell of a lot of new oil on the market, which must be a worry for the KSA and the rest of OPEC.

The implication in this would be that there are certain people who would prefer sanctions on Iran not be eased and that Iraq's oil capacity not be raised.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Assad gives up his chemical weapons because Turkey used sarin in Syria? Somehow that doesn't seem logical to me. But Lee is right, it does put Hersh back in the spotlight.

ZZZzzzzzzzz said...

"You'll be amazed at how little I give a damn."

I'm more amazed at how much y'all's prepared to keep writin' about it, despite y'all's protestations to the contrary.

"You may ZZZzzz now and pretend somebody cares ‘bout your posturing."

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Petes said...

[Marcus]: "Pete, I guess you would at least agree that Seymor Hersh writing in the London Review of Books is not a fringe source in a fringe publication. Right? As to whether you believe it or not that's up to you."

I don't disbelieve it. I just think it would need a bit more corroboration -- which, of course, is hard to come by in such matters -- to be totally credible.

[Lynnette]: "Assad gives up his chemical weapons because Turkey used sarin in Syria? Somehow that doesn't seem logical to me."

Personally I find this plausible. Assad had nothing to lose by giving up weapons he couldn't possibly use anyway. On the other hand, he had everything to gain by defusing a situation that could have American bombers over Damascus in a matter of days versus the longer game which he stands every chance of winning. It didn't matter a whit that he wasn't the culprit in the sarin case -- there was no mileage in asserting his innocence as a matter of principle (and I doubt he's very principled ;-)

Petes said...

[Lynnette]: "The implication in this would be that there are certain people who would prefer sanctions on Iran not be eased and that Iraq's oil capacity not be raised"

Isn't it ironic that here we are twenty-four years after Iraq attacked Kuwait for depressing prices through overproduction. The curse of oil...

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

   
      "…he stands every chance of winning…"

He's not even in charge, much less winning.  He hasn't made his own decisions in well over a year.  The Iranian who consolidated ‘his’ defenses reports to the Ayatollah, not to him.  Putin and the Ayatollah are unlikely to give Syria back to him in his lifetime.  Neither will the Saudi tire of using him as a dumping ground for their angry young men.

Marcus said...

Lee: "The Iranian who consolidated ‘his’ defenses reports to the Ayatollah, not to him."

I've not come across anything about that. Do you have sources? I'd be most interested in reading up on that.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

  
Also not a ‘fringe’ source. Lunch time's over; gotta go.

Marcus said...

Thanks Lee, a real interesting piece.

I came across an interesting question today, that I've seen on and off but ever really thought hard about:

Why does the US government borrow money (from the privately owned FED) at an interest, when the government could issue it's own currency?

Can anyone answer that one?

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

   
      "Why does the US government borrow money (from the
      privately owned FED) at an interest, when the government
      could issue it's own currency?
"

The Republicans control the House of Representatives, and have a filibuster sustaining minority in the Senate (all they need is 40 and they have 45).  So, the government cannot, in fact, ‘issue its own currency’  They got that blocked.
The Fed is independent (wiser men gave them political independence back when the current system was set up; the Republicans cannot block them; all they can do is bitch ‘bout it, so they do plenty of that).

Marcus said...

So it's basically to prevent political bickering from affecting the money-supply then?

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
 
I'm not sure I understand your question.  Specifically, I'm not sure of the referent of your pronoun ‘it’.
Does that refer to the political independence of The Fed, or to the question of why the Republicans won't agree to ‘issue’ currency?

Marcus said...

"Does that refer to the political independence of The Fed, or to the question of why the Republicans won't agree to ‘issue’ currency?"

The first part.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
Political bickering’ and gridlock is part of it.  Politically inspired manipulation is perhaps a greater concern.  Theoretically, bankers will be more interested in stability of the money supply and the long-term economic outlook and less interested in getting an artificial boost to the economy before upcoming important elections.  Not the best system I suppose, but probably optimal, certainly better than leaving it to the pols.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

[Lynnette]: Assad gives up his chemical weapons because Turkey used sarin in Syria? Somehow that doesn't seem logical to me.

[PeteS]: Personally I find this plausible. Assad had nothing to lose by giving up weapons he couldn't possibly use anyway. On the other hand, he had everything to gain by defusing a situation that could have American bombers over Damascus in a matter of days versus the longer game which he stands every chance of winning.

Keeping in mind that there are those of us out here who do believe that it was Syria who already did use chemical weapons, giving them up may stave off an open American military assault on him, but it would not save him from the neighbors. That is if they actually were willing to supply rebels with chemical weapons themselves. In the Turkey supplies the rebels scenario there is nothing to stop them from doing so again and this time they are used against Assad's forces.

But I do understand the point you are making. And I do believe that Assad made the choice with the least expense for him.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

The curse of oil...

It has been the root of many an evil deed.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Does anyone else think that Russia has gone stark raving mad?

To so strip away the very thin veneer of civil behavior in one fell swoop seems the height of folly.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

P.S.

Just a small thought on the Russia/Ukraine thing...it is so easy to come out on top when no one fights back. Not so easy when the bullets are returned.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

      "Does anyone else think…etc…the height of folly."

Ya know, from end to end, there is almost nothing in that posting for me to agree with.  We see this very differently, you and I.

Although, I do find I can be more agreeable to you second post.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Ahhhh, you think Putin's decision making comes from more of a hard headed Russian strategic planning point of view? Well, anything is possible. But I stand by my "height of folly" thinking. Sometimes the best layed plans of mice and men...you know. I'm sure they thought Afghanistan was a good idea at the time too. Of course, the ramifications of this move may turn out rather different than any of us expect. Listening to Thomas Friedman on CNN Sunday, he is quite enthusiastic about Putin's actions. Global climate change being a major issue for him, his thinking is that this may force various countries(read Europe) to move to alternative sources of fuel, that are less climate damaging, even quicker than they already are. He may be right.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
Yeah, it occurred to me later that you were probably jnot being nearly as literal as I took it.  More likely you were intending to merely express some astonishment at the decisions coming out of Moscow.  Our positions on this are likely less divergent than at first it seemes.  However…

      "  his thinking is that this may force various countries
      (read Europe) to move to alternative sources of fuel, that are
      less climate damaging, even quicker than they already are.
      He may be right.
"

I'm considerably less optimistic about this than Mr. Friedman is.  I don't think the ‘various countries’ are gonna get all that bent ‘bout this until the Russians get much closer.  I'm figurin’ the Europeans will give up most of the Ukraine.  (Putin won't take the northwestern part just ‘cause he doesn't want the grief.)   Then they'll give up parts of southeastern Europe, and the Balkins, and probably parts of Poland before they figure the Russians are getting close ‘nuff to be a real worry.  (The problem with this attitude is that the Poles will fight even if they have to fight alone.  That could screw up western-European appeasment plans to some extent.)

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
Screw the typos.

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