« "Iraqi Government Confirms Cooperation With Syria, Iran And Russia ..." - South Front | Main | First among unequals. »

25 May 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


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).

Allen Thomson

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



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.

Keith Harbaugh

“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."

different clue

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?


SR Wood

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.


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.



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.


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.


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


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.

Old Microbiologist

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.https://www.creators.com/read/veronique-de-rugy/04/17/is-it-time-to-repeal-fatca

Rand Paul's attempt to repeal it:https://www.paul.senate.gov/news/press/sen-rand-paul-introduces-bill-to-repeal-fatca


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


iowa steve

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."



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.



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

The Beaver

@ 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: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/rprtng-ncm/lns101-170/127/rsdnc/menu-eng.html


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:



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

Allen Thomson

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.


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


Babak Makkinejad

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.

ex-PFC Chuck

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."


Allen Thomson

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.


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

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad