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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: February 15, 2018, 02:23:07 PM
152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sharyll Attkinson: TED talk on Fake News on: February 15, 2018, 02:09:00 PM
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / White House security clearance politics on: February 15, 2018, 01:54:54 PM
154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Opportunity Zones on: February 15, 2018, 01:53:55 PM
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / January PPI on: February 15, 2018, 01:45:10 PM
The Producer Price Index Rose 0.4% in January To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 2/15/2018

The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.4% in January, matching consensus expectations. Producer prices are up 2.7% versus a year ago.

Energy prices rose 3.4% in January, while food prices declined 0.2%. Producer prices excluding food and energy increased 0.4%.

In the past year, prices for goods are up 3.3%, while prices for services are up 2.3%. Private capital equipment prices increased 0.5% in January and are up 2.5% in the past year.

Prices for intermediate processed goods rose 0.7% in January and are up 4.6% versus a year ago. Prices for intermediate unprocessed goods increased 0.9% in January and are up 2.5% versus a year ago.

Implications: Producer prices jumped in January, rising 0.4% as nearly every major category showed increased prices. And producer prices are up 2.7% in the past year, exceeding the Fed's 2% inflation target. This follows suit with yesterday's CPI report that shows inflation pressures have been picking up of late, and it's not difficult to see why. The Federal Reserve is running an incredibly loose monetary policy. Yes, the Fed Funds rate is slowly and steadily on the rise, but there are still more than two trillion dollars of excess reserves in the banking system, and monetary policy won't be tight until that excess slack is removed. This is especially true because anti-bank attitudes and regulation have been reversed, which reduces the headwinds to monetary growth. To put it mildly, new Fed Chair Jerome Powell and the rest of the FOMC have their work cut out for them. Taking a look at the details of today's PPI report shows rising costs for hospital services, apparel, and gasoline leading the way. Energy, led by a 7.1% jump in gasoline prices, increased 3.4% in January. Meanwhile food prices declined 0.2% in January. Strip out the typically volatile food and energy groupings, and "core" producer prices rose 0.4% in January and are up 2.2% in the past year. For comparison, "core" prices rose 1.4% in the twelve months ending January 2017, and were up 0.8% in the twelve months ending January 2016. And a look further down the pipeline shows the trend higher should continue in the year to come. Intermediate processed goods rose 0.7% in January and are up 4.6% from a year ago, while unprocessed goods increased 0.9% in January and are up 2.5% in the past year. Both categories have seen a pickup in price increases over the past six and three-month periods. Given these figures, and with employment growth remaining strong and inflation rising, we expect four rate hikes in 2018. On the jobs front, initial jobless claims rose 7,000 last week to 230,000, while continuing claims rose 15,000 to 1.942 million. Both measures remain near the lowest levels seen in decades, so look for another solid jobs report in February, although heavy snow in parts of the country might put some temporary downward pressure on payrolls for the month. If so, don't fall into the trap of thinking the good times are over. Job gains should rebound in the following months.
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: US quietly gaining advantage on: February 15, 2018, 01:42:34 PM
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel, Turkey: Hamas up to no good in Turkey on: February 15, 2018, 12:49:45 PM
Shin Bet Investigation Exposes Depth of Turkey's Hamas Support
February 15, 2018
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Inflation, interest rates, and stocks on: February 15, 2018, 12:40:34 PM
Wesbury has a superior record , , , for a rising market.  But as 2008 showed, he may have a blind spot in his mental map when it comes to recognizing a genuine downturn.,-interest-rates,-and-stocks
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: Japan's North Korea Strategy on: February 15, 2018, 11:09:03 AM
By Phillip Orchard

Japan’s North Korea Strategy: A Solid Defense

Peripheral to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Japan is slowly building up military capabilities.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe isn’t having the best Olympics. Over the weekend, at a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in ahead of the opening ceremonies, Abe’s goal was to secure a commitment that Seoul would resume joint military drills with the U.S. after the Paralympics end in March and to sustain sanctions pressure on Pyongyang, while refraining from spiking a 2015 accord intended to resolve lingering animosity over Japanese abuses in World War II. According to South Korean media, Moon told Abe not to meddle in the South’s “sovereignty and internal affairs,” and essentially sent Abe to his room to think about Japan’s past bad behavior.
Abe also had to watch as the nascent detente between the two Koreas picked up pace, culminating with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inviting Moon to an inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang. During his meeting with the North Korean delegation headed by Kim’s sister, Moon reportedly declined to press Pyongyang to denuclearize, heightening concerns among the U.S., Japan and hawks in South Korea that Moon’s government may be laying the groundwork to weaken sanctions pressure on the North and potentially extend the temporary freeze in U.S.-South Korea joint exercises. Adding apparent insult to injury was yet another show of support from the Chinese for South Korea’s pursuit of reconciliation with the North, stoking concern that Beijing is succeeding in using the Korean crisis to drive a wedge between Seoul and its stalwart allies.

All of this highlights an uncomfortable reality for Japan: It is perhaps the country most vulnerable to a nuclear North Korea – including even South Korea – but also, of all the key players involved in the standoff, the one with the least ability to independently shape the outcome of the crisis. It’s a peripheral player and likely will be until the crisis is settled one way or another. But it’s also on a path to ensure that it doesn’t find itself confined to the sidelines in this sort of situation again.

Seoul Keeps Its Enemies Closer

The weakness of Japan’s hand is reflected in the peculiar dynamic that has emerged between South Korea and the two rivals on its flanks.

Seoul’s apparent embrace of Beijing while giving the cold shoulder to Tokyo may seem mystifying. After all, it was China that implemented informal economic sanctions on South Korea last year over Seoul’s decision to go forward with the U.S. deployment of the THAAD ballistic missile defense system – a strategically dubious (and ultimately futile) attempt to coerce Seoul into prioritizing Chinese security over its own in the middle of a crisis.  During a high-profile visit to Beijing last fall, when the two sides made a show of unity by jointly declaring that war could not be allowed on the peninsula, Beijing signaled that it would continue to inflict economic pain on the South whenever it strayed from Chinese wishes – despite Seoul agreeing to refrain from additional THAAD deployments. And it’s China that is helping keep the North Korean regime afloat more than any country, except possibly Russia, by blocking U.S.-led attempts to strengthen U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang, particularly with regard to oil imports.

Yet South Korea has reportedly remained reluctant to implement parts of a landmark intelligence-sharing pact with Japan brokered by the U.S. in 2016. Some of this has to do with Seoul’s lingering resentment over Japan’s prewar occupation of Korea and unease about Japan’s growing determination to shed its postwar pacifist constraints. Some of it has to do with the perception that Japan is acting merely as a U.S. proxy to pave the way for a U.S. military operation on the peninsula over Seoul’s objections – a move that would put the South Korean capital region at risk of massive North Korean shelling. But mostly it has to do with the fact that China simply matters more than Japan in the current crisis.

That said, Chinese influence in Pyongyang has waned considerably since Kim Jong Un came to power. Though China has thrown its rhetorical support behind Moon’s detente with Pyongyang, it’s unclear what Beijing could really do to push talks toward a resolution that both it and Seoul would find acceptable. China’s overriding goals are to expel the U.S. from the peninsula and to ensure that a friendly, or at least not overtly hostile, government rules the North. These, along with the long-term threat China poses to South Korea, limit how far Seoul can align itself with Beijing in the current crisis – especially if Seoul succeeds in persuading the U.S. to refrain from a unilateral operation to disarm the North.

Nonetheless, Beijing still has as much leverage over North Korea as anyone. Even if it cannot bring Pyongyang fully to heel without harming its own core interests on the peninsula, it at least has some latent ability to alter Pyongyang’s cost calculations and, if enough stars align, potentially help the North Koreans save enough face to be willing to stand down. At minimum, China doesn’t want to see a war on the peninsula that puts U.S. forces on the Yalu River and a pro-U.S. government in Pyongyang, which means Beijing certainly isn’t going to try to thwart Seoul’s efforts to forestall a conflict through dialogue. This makes Seoul’s alignment with Beijing at this stage low risk. As was made clear when Vice President Mike Pence said that the U.S. was open to talks with the North without preconditions, at this point, “maximum pressure” and dialogue need not be seen as automatically conflicting.

Japan, in comparison, just doesn’t have the ability to either substantially further or frustrate Seoul’s objectives. Of all the relevant players, it has the least leverage over Pyongyang. It cannot yet act on its own militarily to eliminate the threat, as its slow remilitarization is still in its very early stages. Even new landmark procurements that would give it at least limited ability to strike the North, such as long-range cruise missiles, are expected to take years to complete. The best it can do for the foreseeable future is align itself with the U.S.

Thus, to South Korea, Japan may either lend a helping hand or become a threat, but at the moment there’s little downside to pushing Tokyo on politically explosive but strategically unimportant issues such as wartime “comfort women” and tiny islands in the Sea of Japan. In fact, it’s convenient to do so at a time when Moon is facing heavy criticism from South Korean conservatives and widespread public skepticism about his hearty welcome of the North Koreans at the Olympics.

Japan’s Long Game

To be clear, Japan can be a pivotal player in support of how the U.S. and South Korea decide to proceed. The Americans would lean heavily on Japanese help to facilitate and contain the fallout of a U.S. military operation. Short of war, Japan could play a valuable role in implementing a blockade on the North. It’s already using its diplomatic and economic influence across Asia and beyond to quash North Korea’s efforts to circumvent sanctions. If and when everyone simply decides to live with a nuclear North, Japan’s superb intelligence, submarine warfare, anti-ballistic missile systems and anti-mining capabilities would be invaluable in deterring Northern aggression.

But no country with Japan’s combination of untapped power and inherent vulnerabilities would be content with the role of good team player executing someone else’s strategy indefinitely. Tokyo is certainly not sitting on its hands. Japan may not have many options today, but it’s moving to ensure that it doesn’t find itself in this sort of situation in the future.

This is why Japan has been spearheading efforts to lay the groundwork for a tightened defense framework anchored by Australia and India, while also gradually ramping up security and economic assistance to strategically important ASEAN states locked in territorial disputes with China. Alongside this effort, Japan has also been the driving force behind the revival of the strategic Trans-Pacific Partnership, that, despite appearing dead following the U.S. withdrawal early last year, appears set to be finalized by the remaining 11 members later this year. Finally, at home, Japan is moving methodically to shed legal and political constraints on remilitarization, while slowly building up military capabilities that will give it greater ability to step out from under the U.S. security umbrella and secure its vital interests farther afield.

None of these efforts appears ready to come to fruition quickly, whether due to conflicting interests among the regional states Japan is trying to shepherd toward tighter cooperation, or due to powerful and unpredictable political currents at home. Nevertheless, the disquieting realities exposed by the Korean impasse – the limits of U.S. power in the Indo-Pacific, uncertainties about whether South Korea will remain a part of the U.S.-led alliance structure, and Chinese disinterest in working to preserve the established order – have certainly helped them gain traction. In this way, being confined to the sidelines in today’s crisis may ultimately help Japan get where deeper geopolitical forces are urging it to go.

160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Trump's ambassador to Australia on: February 15, 2018, 10:20:53 AM
161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 15, 2018, 10:19:50 AM
An Israeli friend with strong IDF experience in his background comments on the Glick article:

"As for the article you sent..
It’s all biased depending on which political views you hold.
Personally I think BiBi is corrupt to the core, and the claim of his supporters that it is a conspiracy to overthrow him is ridiculous..

"He appointed the chief of police, he appointed the attorney General, and he appointed the state comptroller.
Now he cries they are all out to get him..?
Gimme a fucken break..

"The asshole got cought and I really hope they put his ass in Jail."
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: February 15, 2018, 10:13:28 AM
Good for him!
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trump's accomplishments and promises kept on: February 15, 2018, 10:09:23 AM
Nice find.  This is a good sign.
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, AIDs, Superbugs, Ebola, etc on: February 15, 2018, 10:06:32 AM
If you find one/some please let us know here!
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / FISA Judge: Institutional Lack of Candor on: February 15, 2018, 10:05:51 AM
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mattis on what to do with the captured on: February 14, 2018, 11:36:04 PM
167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mattis on what to do with the captured on: February 14, 2018, 11:35:34 PM
168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gen. James N. Mattis on: February 14, 2018, 11:34:56 PM
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren, Fauxcahontas, Harvard's first woman of color on: February 14, 2018, 11:22:44 PM
"Lieawatha"   cheesy cheesy cheesy
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick: Israeli Deep State goes after Netanyahu on: February 14, 2018, 11:22:06 PM
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Presidential smoke signals from Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren on: February 14, 2018, 05:52:47 PM
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bribe to McCabe was $500,000 bigger than previously reported on: February 14, 2018, 04:36:22 PM

173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: February 14, 2018, 02:51:40 PM
Sarcasm function on:

Like the payback when the Turks shot down one of his jets?

Sarcasm function off  grin
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Qatar and Americn Jews, but Al Jazeera gunning for American Jewish Conspiracy on: February 14, 2018, 11:01:19 AM
175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good poll numbers for President Trump on: February 14, 2018, 10:50:14 AM
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / January CPI shows inflation accelerating on: February 14, 2018, 10:47:43 AM
The Consumer Price Index Rose 0.5% in January To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 2/14/2018

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.5% in January, coming in above the consensus expected increase of 0.3%. The CPI is up 2.1% from a year ago.

Energy prices rose 3.0% in January, while food prices increased 0.2%. The "core" CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.3% in December, above the consensus expected rise of 0.2%. Core prices are up 1.8% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – declined 0.2% in January but are up 0.8% in the past year. Real average weekly earnings are up 0.4% in the past year.

Implications: New Fed Chief Jerome Powell has his work cut out for him, with consumer prices in January rising at the fastest monthly pace in more than five years. The consumer price index rose 0.5% in January and is up 2.1% in the past year, marking a fifth consecutive month of year-to-year prices rising more than 2%. In the past three months, CPI is up at a 4.4% annual rate, showing clear acceleration above the Fed's 2% target. A look at the details of today's report shows rising prices across most major categories. Energy prices increased 3% in January, while food prices rose 0.2%. But even stripping out volatile food and energy prices shows rising inflation. "Core" prices rose 0.3% in January, the fastest monthly pace since 2005. Core prices are up 1.8% in the past year, but are showing acceleration in recent months, up at a 2.6% annual rate over the past six-months and a 2.9% rate in the past three months. In other words, both headline and core inflation stand above the Fed's 2% target, and both have been rising of late. Housing costs led the increase in "core" prices in January, rising 0.2%, and up 2.8% in the past year. Meanwhile prices for services rose 0.3% in January and are up 2.6% over the past twelve months. Both remain key components pushing "core" prices higher and should maintain that role in the year ahead. The most disappointing news in today's report is that real average hourly earnings declined 0.2% in January. However, these earnings are up 0.8% in the past year. And, given the strength of the labor market, with the unemployment rate at the lowest level in more than a decade and headed lower, paired with a pickup in the pace of economic activity thanks to improved policy out of Washington, expect upward pressure on wages in the months ahead. Add it all up, and the Fed is on track to raise rates at least three times in 2018, with a fourth rate hike more likely than not.
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTP: Media ignores ties between Clintonistas and the Russkis on: February 14, 2018, 10:42:12 AM
178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dozens of Russian killed on: February 14, 2018, 10:08:09 AM
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: February 14, 2018, 08:54:14 AM
Excellent find GM.


"From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.

The next paragraph of the email remains classified and has been redacted. The email concludes:

    The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.

Why did Susan Rice send herself an email purporting to document this part of the meeting? Because she was C’ing her own A. Rice was nervous about the fact that, at the president’s direction, she had failed to “share information fully as it relates to Russia” with President Trump’s incoming national security team."

Absolutely stunning how much right wing yammer (including FOX) misses this-- which is, in point of fact, the main point!
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Transgender oxymorons on: February 14, 2018, 08:49:20 AM
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: February 14, 2018, 08:23:05 AM
Excellent work Doug!

IIRC her claim about seeing stuff disappear in real time off her screen due to these intrusions was seriously challenged.
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WH budget bails out Obamacare on: February 14, 2018, 08:19:48 AM
183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS in Egypt on: February 14, 2018, 08:17:17 AM
184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Revenues under President Trump on: February 13, 2018, 03:36:23 PM
185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Realities of Nork Korea on: February 13, 2018, 02:54:56 PM
186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: February 13, 2018, 10:25:00 AM
Maybe it was a smear-- I haven't seen anything about it for quite some time , , ,
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / stratfor on: February 12, 2018, 09:32:31 PM
With its enemies distracted, Israel is seizing the opportunity to act. Early Feb. 10, the Israeli military detected an Iranian drone encroaching on Israeli airspace and shot it down. Taking things a step further, the Israeli air force then targeted the base in Syria that the drone operated out of. In the process, its aircraft came under heavy fire and an Israeli jet was shot down. The Israelis then launched another strike against 12 Syrian and Iranian sites in Syria, focusing primarily on infrastructure for air defense.

The large number of targets struck by Israeli forces in such a short period of time and the downing of an Israeli aircraft are both uncommon events. However, Israel routinely sends planes into Lebanese and Syrian airspace, and the country regularly carries out strikes on potential threats such as Syria's chemical weapons program or what Israel believes to be shipments of weapons to Hezbollah.

It's not clear what the Iranians were seeking to gain from a drone flight over Israeli positions beyond intelligence, but Iran, Syria and Hezbollah all have a strong incentive to once again deter Israeli actions. Even if all three want to avoid becoming embroiled in a major war with Israel at a time when their forces are already heavily committed to the Syrian battlefield, regional dynamics require that Israel be reminded it cannot simply continue to strike targets in Syria with impunity. If Iran, Syria or Hezbollah refuse to fight back, Israel will only be incentivized to carry out more airstrikes against them.

On the other hand, this latest flurry of strikes was highly indicative of Israel's continued restraint. Though recent events have demonstrated Israel's willingness to increase airstrikes while its adversaries are overstretched in the Syrian civil war, they have also highlighted the country's willingness to de-escalate attacks. Shortly after conducting airstrikes in response to the downing of its jet, Israel announced that it did not want the situation to escalate further and called on Russia to intervene to prevent further Iranian action.

Israel's restraint is likely caused largely by the considerable damage that a war with Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrian government would bring, but Russia's presence in Syria is likely also a factor. Because Russia is heavily invested in Syria and has personnel on the ground in the country, Israel will need to be very careful in its campaign against Syrian targets to avoid escalating animosity beyond the tiny country's control.
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 12, 2018, 09:29:02 PM
Fk!!!  shocked shocked shocked
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comey told Congress FBI agents did not think Flynn lied on: February 12, 2018, 09:22:29 PM
Second post
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 12, 2018, 06:29:51 PM
I'd want to see that better sourced before passing it along , , ,
191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: New class of anti-biotics? on: February 12, 2018, 02:29:29 PM
y Robert Lee Hotz
Updated Feb. 12, 2018 11:14 a.m. ET

In a bag of backyard dirt, scientists have discovered a powerful new group of antibiotics they say can wipe out many infections in lab and animal tests, including some microbes that are resistant to most traditional antibiotics.

Researchers at Rockefeller University in New York reported the discovery of the new antibiotics, called malacidins, on Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology.

It is the latest in a series of promising antibiotics found through innovative genetic sequencing techniques that allow researchers to screen thousands of soil bacteria that previously could not be grown or studied in the laboratory. To identify the new compounds, the Rockefeller researchers sifted through genetic material culled from 1,500 soil samples.

“We extract DNA directly out of soil samples,” said biochemist Sean Brady at Rockefeller’s Laboratory for Genetically Encoded Small Molecules, a senior author on the new study. “We put it into a bug we can grow easily in the laboratory and see if it can make new molecules—the basis of new antibiotics.”

The new compounds appear to interfere with the ability of infectious bacteria to build cell walls—a function so basic to cellular life that it seems unlikely that the microbes could evolve a way to resist it. In lab tests, bacteria were exposed to the experimental antibiotics for 21 days without developing resistance, the scientists said.

So far, the new compounds also appear safe and effective in mice, but there are no plans yet to submit it for human testing. “It is early days for these compounds,” Dr. Brady said.

This image shows Enterobacteriaceae, a group of bacteria that includes common pathogens such as such as salmonella and shigella. Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The discovery of antibiotics in the early 20th century transformed modern medicine, but many of them gradually became ineffective as bacteria evolved defenses, often by acquiring protective genes from other more-resistant micro-organisms.

In the U.S. alone, at least two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths can be attributed each year to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World-wide, deaths due to untreatable infections are predicted to rise 10-fold by 2050.

About 48 experimental antibiotics are undergoing clinical trials. Few of them, though, are aimed at the most intractable drug-resistant infections and, if past history is any guide, most are unlikely to be approved for patient use, several public-health experts said.

“Only a fraction of those will make it,” said Kathy Talkington, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C. “Generating new antibiotics and new therapies will take a while.”

In the quest for new antibiotics, researchers like Dr. Brady and others are deploying advanced genomics, synthetic-biology tools, and a variety of other innovative ways to explore a vast natural reservoir of bacteria notoriously difficult to isolate and study—the so-called “dark matter” of microbiology.

In May, researchers led by chemist Dale Boger at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego created a more-potent version of vancomycin—considered an antibiotic of last resort for the most intractable infections. In a soil sample from Italy, researchers at Rutgers University last June unearthed a powerful new antibiotic called pseudouridimycin. Neither, though, is ready for clinical trials.

At Northeastern University in Boston, microbiologist Slava Epstein and his colleagues have screened thousands of bacteria strains using a portable device he invented called the iChip that allows bio-prospectors to isolate and grow finicky micro-organisms.

Researchers created an online citizen science project called ‘Drugs from Dirt’ that solicits donations of dirt from volunteers around the world.

In 2016, they discovered an antibiotic called teixobactin. It too is years away from clinical trials.

“I did not understand how long it takes to develop an antibiotic, even when things go well,” he said.

To broaden their search for new therapeutic compounds, Dr. Brady and his Rockefeller colleagues set up an online citizen science project called “Drugs from Dirt” that solicits soil donations from around the world. The sandy soil that yielded the new malacidin antibiotics was shipped by relatives from the southwestern U.S.

“I think my parents sent it to me,” said Dr. Brady.

Write to Robert Lee Hotz at
192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GPF: Israel, Iran, and the War for Syria on: February 12, 2018, 02:26:30 PM

Israel, Iran and the War for Syria
Feb 12, 2018

By Jacob L. Shapiro
For years, Israel and Iran have attacked each other with words and through their proxies. In Iran, calls for Israel’s destruction are routine, and support for militant groups in Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip intentionally challenges Israel’s security. For Israel, meanwhile, “the year is 1938 and Iran is Germany.” Those are the words of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the second-longest serving leader in the country’s history. He has held his position for so long in part because of his ability to convince Israelis that he is best suited to lead Israel in this existential battle with Iran.

It is not surprising, then, that this past weekend’s events seem like a watershed moment. On Feb. 10, an Iranian drone crossed into Israeli territory and was shot down. Israel responded to the Iranian incursion by dispatching fighter jets to attack targets in Syria, including the Tiyas air base, near Palmyra, where the Iranian drone reportedly took off from. Syrian anti-air systems retaliated, striking an Israeli F-16, which crashed after making it back to Israeli territory. This prompted Israel to hit eight Syrian targets and four Iranian positions, according to the Israel Defense Forces. The war of words and proxies seems to be turning into a war between nations.
(click to enlarge)

Lost in this sequence of events is the broader context. Israel is not the only country to have military aircraft shot down by enemy fire in Syria recently. Last week, Russia intensified airstrikes in Idlib province after al-Qaida-linked militants brought down a Russian fighter jet. On the same day the Israeli F-16 went down, Syrian Kurdish fighters reportedly brought down a Turkish military helicopter that was part of Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. Israel, Russia and Turkey all lost military aircraft during operations in Syria in the past week, and all three are currently working at cross purposes. The Israel-Iran showdown is about far more than just Israel and Iran. It is one aspect of a much larger war for regional power that is being waged more openly with each passing day.

Hazy Alliances

Last week’s crucial developments were not confined to downed military aircraft. On Feb. 6, pro-Assad forces attacked Turkish military forces attempting to set up an outpost close to the city of Aleppo. Some sources reported that an Iranian-backed militia was also involved in the attack. Just two months ago, Turkey and Iran were coordinating a cease-fire in Syria. Now, they are at each other’s throats.

Then on Feb. 7, pro-Assad forces attacked the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria, resulting in U.S. airstrikes. Just two months ago, pro-Assad forces and the SDF were coordinating an offensive against the Islamic State. Now, they too are at each other’s throats. The war in Syria has become more than simply a civil war; it is now a regional war featuring Israel, Iran, Russia, Turkey and the United States.

If this seems confusing, that’s because it is. Allegiances are in a constant state of flux, dependent more on what various sides can do for each other in the short term than on long-standing arrangements or promises of trust. Consider that the U.S.-backed SDF, made up primarily of Syrian Kurdish fighters, is cooperating with the Assad regime so it can send reinforcements into Afrin to combat Turkish troops. In effect, the SDF is cooperating with Assad in one part of Syria and coming under attack from Assad in another part of Syria. Consider too that Turkey, officially part of a tripartite agreement with Russia and Iran to bring an end to the Syrian war, has invaded Syria to protect its interests from Russia and Iran, and yet it is equally hostile to Russia and Iran’s main enemy, the United States, because the U.S. is providing support for Syrian Kurds. The only thing that is certain in this conflict is that no alliance is certain.

Hazy as these strategic arrangements are, they all boil down to one thing: Iran’s attempt to take over Syria. Turkey talked about its invasion of northern Syria for over a year, and its troops entered Afrin with great media fanfare. But while Turkey was talking, Iran was actually doing. Since the Syrian civil war started in 2011, Iran has been dispatching soldiers, militias, money and weapons to support the Assad regime. The result has been the transformation of Syria from an authoritarian military dictatorship friendly to Iran to an Iranian proxy in desperate need of Iranian support just to stay alive. For Iran, that is a massive strategic opportunity: It can make its continued support of Bashar Assad contingent on Assad’s allowing Iran to do whatever it wants in Syria. And what Iran wants in Syria is a forward base into the Levant.
(click to enlarge)

That is what has Israel so nervous. Despite all the rhetoric, Israel and Iran haven’t fought a war against each other because there is no way for Israel and Iran to fight a war. They are too far apart. That would no longer be the case if Iran can make Syria a staging ground for Iranian attacks against Israel. It is one thing for an Iranian proxy like Hezbollah, with its limited number of fighters, to fire rockets at Israel from Lebanon. It is quite another thing for Iran to start building missiles, massing ground forces and stationing aircraft in Syria, just across the Israeli border. To make matters worse for Israel, it has no comparable position on the Iranian border. Even if it did, Israel cannot expend soldiers the way Iran can in a protracted conflict. For Israel, Iran’s nuclear program is concerning, but Syria as a base of Iranian operations is a mortal threat.

Israel’s Advantages

Israel has a few things going for it, though. The Assad regime is not dependent on just Iran but Russia too, and Moscow has no interest in Syria becoming an Iranian protectorate. Russia wants to preserve Syria as an independent actor and a Russian ally, not as a part of Iran’s plan to project power throughout the region. The Tiyas air base, which was the target of the Israeli strike over the weekend, has also been a base for Russian aircraft in Syria. Russia and Israel have close relations – Netanyahu was in Russia just last month to express Israeli concerns to Moscow – and Russia is not looking to pick a fight with Israel. Israel may not be able to fight a conventional war against Iran, but the Israeli air force is without peer in the Middle East – and that includes Russia’s aerial presence. Furthermore, the U.S. has Israel’s back on this one. It doesn’t want Iran in Syria any more than Israel does. The Russian-Iranian marriage of convenience will fracture the more ambitious Iran gets.

Iran’s moves in Syria also directly threaten Turkey, which also has no desire to see Iranian bases on its border. The more Iran engages in Syria, the closer it pushes Israel and Turkey together. Ties between the two have been strained since the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2010, but the real reason Israeli-Turkish relations are tense is that Turkey’s position in the Middle East has changed. It went from being a dependable U.S. and NATO ally to a powerful nation-state concerned primarily with securing its own interests, which Israel must view with inherent suspicion. That said, both will see eye to eye on limiting Iran in Syria. If Israel comes to believe Russia is not doing enough to rein Iran in, it will also not hesitate to deepen coordination with Turkey, which would be disastrous from Moscow’s perspective. It would also align with our 2018 forecast.

Last but not least is that the majority of the region’s powers are hostile to Iran. Notably absent from the recent developments in Syria is Iran’s most vociferous enemy, Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, who as recently as November were threatening war against Iran, have fallen eerily silent. But make no mistake: Saudi Arabia remains extremely antagonistic to Iran and will support Israeli moves against it (and Saudi Arabia, unlike Israel, is within range of Iran). In addition, Egypt and Jordan remain aligned with Israel. Egypt invited Hamas leaders to Cairo for a meeting this past weekend, perhaps to let them know that their recent willingness to mend relations with Iran is a nonstarter.
Iran is attempting to take control of Syria. Israel does not want that to happen. Israel has been bombing targets in Syria for years to prevent it from happening. It will continue to do so. But Israel’s future depends not on its bombs but on its ability to position itself within a regional coalition that opposes Iran’s ambitions for power. The outline of that coalition is beginning to take shape: The interests of Israel, Turkey and the Arab states are converging. In a sense, Iran is now in the position the Islamic State was mere months ago. The Islamic State’s emergence created strange bedfellows, all of whom cooperated to ensure its demise. Now Iran is seeking to fill the power vacuum left behind by the Islamic State’s defeat. The responses, of which Israel’s attacks over the weekend are just one example, show why in the long term Iran’s gains are likely to be ephemeral. In the short term, however, Iran will press its advantage. The war in Syria has only just begun.

The post Israel, Iran and the War for Syria appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYC's DiBlasio forcing schools to take unwanted teachers on: February 12, 2018, 02:15:35 PM
194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Budget Process Primer on: February 12, 2018, 02:13:20 PM
195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Trump proposes cutting these programs on: February 12, 2018, 02:11:57 PM
196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: February 12, 2018, 01:25:47 PM
IIRC it had to do with this:

Sharyl Attkisson Shares Update On Computer Hacking Investigation

June 17, 2013 2:22 PM

HACKED: Twitter Accounts Gone Wrong

Reporting Dom Giordano
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)  — Just days after CBS News confirmed that reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computer had indeed been hacked, Attkisson spoke to Dom Giordano about the investigation.

“This suspicious activity has been going on for quite some time – both on my CBS computer and my personal computer,” Attkisson said. “CBS then hired its own independent cyber security firm, which has been conducting a thorough forensic exam … they were able to rule out malware, phishing programs, that sort of thing.”

Attkisson described some of the bizarre things that were happening with her computer.

“There were just signs of unusual happenings for many months, odd behavior like the computers just turning themselves on at night and then turning themselves back off again. I was basically able to verify and obtain information from my sources on the suspicious activity and I reported it to CBS News in January because of course it included CBS equipment and systems.”

Attkisson could not speak about whether the hacking was related to her questions about Benghazi because of “legal counsel,” but she did say her work at that time was primarily on the occurrence.

“Whoever was in my work computer, the only thing I was working on were work-related things with CBS were big stories I guess during the time period in questions were I guess Benghazi and ‘Fast and Furious.’ The intruders did have access to personal information including passwords to my financial accounts and so on, but didn’t tamper with those, so they weren’t interested in stealing my identity or doing things to my finances. So people can decide on their own what they might have been trying to do in there.”

When asked how she felt about being hacked, Attkisson had this to say:

“Even apart from this specific incident with my computers … I operate as though someone is looking at what I do, just because that’s the safest thing,” Attkisson said. “While it’s upsetting to have that sort of intrusion done, it’s also not that unexpected.”

Attkisson also confirmed that the investigation is still ongoing, and that she still has questions about the way the Benghazi incident was handled.

“We’re continuing to move forward aggressively, CBS News takes this very seriously, as do I. I think whenever an unauthorized party comes into the home of an American, whether it’s any private citizen or journalist and gets in their house, searches their computers — these are computers my family uses — and they’re inserting or removing material for whatever their reasons are, I think that’s a really serious and disturbing matter and we’re gonna follow it up and keep pursuing it.”
197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Hamas-- Life is tougher when you are stupid on: February 12, 2018, 12:59:12 PM
With Gaza in Financial Crisis, Fears That ‘an Explosion’s Coming’

GAZA CITY — The payday line at a downtown A.T.M. here in Gaza City was dozens deep with government clerks and pensioners, waiting to get what cash they could.

Muhammad Abu Shaaban, 45, forced into retirement two months ago, stood six hours to withdraw a $285 monthly check — a steep reduction from his $1,320 salary as a member of the Palestinian Authority’s presidential guard.

“Life has become completely different,” Mr. Abu Shaaban said, his eyes welling up. He has stopped paying a son’s college tuition. He buys his wife vegetables to cook for their six children, not meat.

And the pay he had just collected was almost entirely spoken for to pay off last month’s grocery bills. “At most, I’ll have no money left in five days,” he said.

Across Gaza, the densely populated enclave of two million Palestinians sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, daily life, long a struggle, is unraveling before people’s eyes.

At the heart of the crisis — and its most immediate cause — is a crushing financial squeeze, the result of a tense standoff between Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules Gaza, and Fatah, the secular party entrenched on the West Bank. Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority but was driven out of Gaza by Hamas in 2007.

At grocery stores, beggars jostle with middle-class shoppers, who sheepishly ask to put their purchases on credit. The newly destitute scrounge for spoiled produce they can get for little or nothing.

“We are dead, but we have breath,” said Zakia Abu Ajwa, 57, who now cooks greens normally fed to donkeys for her three small grandchildren.

The jails are filling with shopkeepers arrested for unpaid debts; the talk on the streets is of homes being burglarized. The boys who skip school to hawk fresh mint or wipe car windshields face brutal competition. At open-air markets, shelves remain mostly full, but vendors sit around reading the Quran.

There are no buyers, the sellers say. There is no money.

United Nations officials warn that Gaza is nearing total collapse, with medical supplies dwindling, clinics closing and 12-hour power failures threatening hospitals. The water is almost entirely undrinkable, and raw sewage is befouling beaches and fishing grounds. Israeli officials and aid workers are bracing for a cholera outbreak any day.

A Palestinian cancer patient at a hospital in Gaza City. United Nations officials warn that Gaza is nearing total collapse, with medical supplies dwindling, clinics closing and 12-hour power failures threatening hospitals. Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

Israel has blockaded Gaza for more than a decade, with severe restrictions on the flow of goods into the territory and people out of it, hoping to contain Hamas and also, perhaps, to pressure Gazans to eventually oust the group from power.

For years, Hamas sidestepped the Israeli siege and generated revenue by taxing goods smuggled in through tunnels from Sinai. But President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, after taking power in 2013, choked off Hamas — an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Mr. Sisi sees as a threat — by shutting the main border crossing at Rafah for long stretches. Egypt, which has no interest in becoming Gaza’s de facto administrator, used that pressure to force Hamas to close the Sinai tunnels.

For Hamas, the deteriorating situation is leaving it with few options. The one it has resorted to three times — going to war with Israel, in hopes of generating international sympathy and relief in the aftermath — suddenly seems least attractive.

Hamas can count on little aid now from the Arab world, let alone beyond. And Israel, in an underground-barrier project with a nearly $1 billion price tag, is steadily sealing its border to the attack tunnels into Israel that Gaza militants spent years digging.

The collapsing tunnel enterprise, in a way, neatly captures where Hamas finds itself: with no good way out.

Last year, the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, ratcheted up the pressure on Hamas, stopping its payments for fuel for Gaza’s power station and to Israel for electrical transmission into the Gaza Strip. It slashed the salaries of thousands of its workers who remained on its payroll in Gaza, even though they no longer had jobs to do after Hamas took power. Those measures forced Hamas into reconciliation talks that kindled new hopes, reaching their peak in a much-heralded October agreement in Cairo.

Hamas, eager to rid itself of the burdens of governing — though unwilling to disarm its military wing — showed flexibility at the talks, quickly ceding control over border crossings like the one with Israel at Kerem Shalom, and the tax collections there that had provided it with some $20 million a month.

But a series of missed deadlines for handing over governance to the Palestinian Authority, and the removal last month of the Egyptian intelligence chief who had brokered the reconciliation talks, have dashed hopes and left the two factions squabbling, the rapprochement slowly bleeding out.

Hamas now refuses to relinquish its collection of taxes inside Gaza until the Palestinian Authority starts paying the salaries of public employees. But the authority is refusing to do that until Hamas hands over the internal revenue stream.

“The most hard-line people in the P.A. believe they need full capitulation from Hamas, including the dismantling of its military,” said Nathan Thrall, an analyst for International Crisis Group who closely monitors Gaza. “The vast majority of Palestinians see that as wholly unrealistic. But the P.A. thinks that strategy is working. So they think the pressure should continue, and they’ll get even more.”

The longer the stalemate lasts, the more Hamas hemorrhages funds and Gaza’s economy suffocates. While thousands of Palestinian Authority workers in Gaza like Mr. Abu Shaaban were forced into early retirement, and those who remained saw their pay cut 40 percent, some 40,000 Hamas workers — many of them police officers — have not been paid in months, officials say.

As Gaza’s buying power plummets, imports through Kerem Shalom are falling — from a monthly average of 9,720 truckloads last year to just 7,855 in January — which will only cut Hamas’s revenue more.

“Abu Mazen has punished all of us, not only Hamas,” Fawzi Barhoum, the chief Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in an interview, using Mr. Abbas’s nickname.

From Israel, a Conflicted View

A debate raged in Israel this past week, which sees the possibility of war both to its north and south, between military leaders warning about the looming crisis in Gaza and politicians questioning just how much and how soon the situation there would threaten national security.

Such a conflicted view has characterized Israeli policy ever since the blockade was imposed, analysts say, as the country sought to protect itself by cordoning off the strip.

But that meant keeping an enormous degree of control over the flow of people, cargo, energy and international aid across the border — and as it clamps down, the resulting social harm in Gaza can blow back against Israel.

Nowhere is that more palpable than just across the border in Israel, where soldiers patrol close enough to wave at the Hamas militants eyeing them from watchtowers, and commanders talk of Gaza’s unemployment and poverty rates as fluently as of their battle preparations.

Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fox, who leads the army’s Gaza division, recently showed Hamas and Islamic Jihad tunnels discovered and destroyed in the past few months. The tunnels were supplied with air, electricity and water, and dug by an estimated 100 men working in shifts.

The showpiece of the army tour, though, was not the tunnels, but the construction of a concrete-and-electronic barrier, dug deep into the earth, that General Fox said will eventually detect other tunnels and stop more from being built.

About three miles of the barrier is finished, with about 38 miles to go. It is an impressive display of ingenuity, but comes at an enormous cost: Five concrete plants have been set up, supplying 20 digging sites, at a cost of nearly $1 billion. Enough concrete is being poured into the desert sand, the general said, to “build Manhattan.”

But he also acknowledged that the underground-barrier project had increased the pressure on Hamas to use its existing tunnels soon, or risk losing them forever — heightening their dangers to Israel.

As moribund as the reconciliation process has become, General Fox said, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were keeping it alive because “no one wants to be blamed for destroying it.” If it does fail, Hamas will likely deflect Gazans’ anger: “They’ll say Israel is the problem — ‘Let’s go to jihad and start a war.’”

Climbing back into an armored vehicle, the general drove past an Iron Dome antimissile battery to a park where hundreds of picnickers and mountain bikers — Jews and Arabs alike — had flocked to see meadows blooming with scarlet anemones. Israel calls this February festival “Red South.”

An Israeli Arab woman sitting in a park where hundreds of picnickers and mountain bikers — Jews and Arabs alike — had flocked to see meadows blooming with scarlet anemones. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

It was well within mortar range of the border.

“It’s their decision what to do,” the general said of Hamas. “Three times in the past 10 years they’ve chosen war. They wasted many lives and a lot of money and destroyed Gaza. And they can try to do it a fourth time.”

Then again, he said, “Everybody learns.”

Israel, in an underground-barrier project with a nearly $1 billion price tag, is steadily sealing its border to the attack tunnels that Gaza militants spent years digging. Credit Uriel Sinai for The New York Times

Israel recently called on donor countries to fund some $1 billion in water and energy improvements in Gaza, measures that would take time. But there is more it could do to alleviate the crisis quickly, according to the Israeli advocacy group Gisha — like easing the way for cancer patients to travel for treatment, or renewing exit permits for traders, which Israel slashed to just 551 at the end of 2017 from about 3,600 two years earlier.

The United States has done the opposite, withholding $65 million from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees, including some 1.2 million in Gaza, many of whom rely on its regular handouts of flour, cooking oil and other staples.

Hamas itself has few ways to alleviate the crisis, according to Mr. Thrall and other Gaza experts.

It could retake control of Kerem Shalom, regaining vital revenue but inviting blame, and retribution, for the demise of reconciliation. It could seek intervention by Muhammad Dahlan, a Fatah leader exiled and reviled by Mr. Abbas, in hopes that Mr. Dahlan’s patron, the United Arab Emirates, might pour money into Gaza. Or it could muddle along, perhaps hoping that an expected American peace initiative might entail quieting Gaza with aid.

For the moment, those with money in Gaza are trying to help those without. A few merchants have forgiven customers’ debts. The Gaza Chamber of Commerce paid $35,000 to get 107 indebted merchants temporarily released from jail. A donor gave 1,000 liters of fuel to a hospital for its generator.

The Gaza Chamber of Commerce paid $35,000 to get 107 indebted merchants temporarily released from jail. Credit Wissam Nassar for The New York Times

But the fuel quickly ran out. Gestures only help so much. And Gaza residents invariably say that war is coming.

Hamas is under no illusions that it would fare better in the next fight than it did after its 2014 battle with Israel, Mr. Thrall said.

“Hamas sees how isolated they are in the region, and how isolated the Palestinians are at large,” he said. “Before, in wars, they could hope to light up the Arab street and pressure Arab leaders. But in 2014, there was barely a peep, and now it’s even more so.”

Still, whether out of bluster or desperation, Gazans both in and out of power have begun talking openly about confronting Israel over its blockade in the kind of mass action that could easily lead to casualties and escalation.

A social-media activist, Ahmed Abu Artema, is promoting the idea of a “Great Return,” a peaceable encampment of 100,000 protesters along the Israel-Gaza border. Mr. Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman, envisioned a million or more Gazans taking part, though perhaps not so peacefully.

One way or the other, “an explosion’s coming,” said Mr. Abu Shaaban, the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority pensioner. “We have only Israel to explode against. Should we explode against each other?”
198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Plowhorse lurking in the barn on: February 12, 2018, 12:38:34 PM
Snatching Slow Growth from the Jaws of Fast Growth To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 2/12/2018

The U.S. economy continues to be lifted by an incredible wave of new technology.  Fracking, 3-D printing, smartphones, apps, and the cloud have boosted productivity and profits.  Yet taxes, regulation and spending all increased markedly in the past decade, raising the burden of government and dragging down the real GDP growth rate to a modest 2.2% from mid-2009 to early 2017.

Then 2017 saw the tides start to shift. Regulation was cut dramatically and the U.S. saw the most sweeping corporate tax reform in history.  Guess what?  Growth picked up to almost 3% annualized in the last three quarters of 2017 and real GDP looks set for about 4% growth in the first quarter of 2018.

But the dream of getting back to long-term 4% growth died this week in a bipartisan orgy of government spending.  Congress lifted the budget caps on "discretionary" (non-entitlement) spending by about $300 billion over the next two years, and spending is now set to rise by 10% this year.

No, this won't kill the economy tomorrow (or this year), but unless the Congress gets control of federal spending, the benefits from the tax cuts and deregulation will be short-lived.

Many argued that making corporate tax cuts temporary would limit their effectiveness because corporations would not change their behavior.  So, what does a corporate CFO do now?  Trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see mean Congress has a reason – and an excuse - to raise tax rates in the future.  This doesn't mean they're going back to 35%, but massive deficits will make it hard to sustain a 21% tax rate over time.  In other words, while Congress passed permanent tax cuts, it now makes them almost impossible to sustain. 

Every dollar the government spends must be either taxed or borrowed from the private sector.  The bigger the government, the smaller the private sector.  Not only does increased spending mean higher tax rates are expected in the future, but also a smaller private sector as it's forced to fund a bigger government.  It's the Spending that crowds out growth, not deficits themselves

Look, we get it.  The world is a dangerous place and we are sure there are parts of our military that need better funding.  But the government can't do everything.  If we need more spending on defense, those funds should be found by reducing spending elsewhere. Otherwise, eventually, the country won't be able to afford to defend itself, either. 

But, in order to reach the minimum of 60 votes needed in the US Senate, Republicans capitulated to Democrats demands for more non-military spending.  The result was a budget blow-out.

So, where does that leave us?  Optimistic about an acceleration in growth this year and 2019, which will help lift stock prices as well, but not as optimistic beyond that as we were before the budget deal.  The Plow Horse is not coming back overnight, but unless we get our fiscal house in order, it's still lurking in the barn.                             
199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ellison and two other Dems met w Farrakhan and Iran leader in 2013. on: February 12, 2018, 12:09:49 PM
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Harvard and Berkeley among the worst for free speech on: February 12, 2018, 12:07:45 PM
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