November 8, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 1:11 PM


House panel drops effort to force testimony on Trump 'dossier' (Mark Hosenball, 11/08/17, Reuters)

Fusion GPS lawyer Joshua Levy said in a statement that Republican Representative Mike Conaway and Democrat Adam Schiff, leaders of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee's investigation of Trump campaign contacts with Russia, had "agreed to withdraw a subpoena" served on Glenn Simpson, a founder of the firm.

"Mr. Simpson will instead sit for a voluntary interview next week, and nothing will be said at that interview - per the agreement of Mr. Conaway and Mr. Schiff - shall interfere with Mr. Simpson's ability to assert privileges in this investigation," Levy said.

He said that under this agreement, Fusion GPS would be allowed to "cooperate while honoring its obligations to clients."

Posted by orrinj at 12:55 PM


Sheep 'trained to recognise celebrities' in Cambridge study (bbc, 11/08/17)

...they've been taught to defend collusion between Donald and Russia in an American experiment.

Posted by orrinj at 12:51 PM


Highlights of Adam Schiff's AP Interview: Manafort's Kremlin Ties, Facebook Stonewalling, More (Ryan Goodman, November 8, 2017, Just Security)

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif) provided an in-depth interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. Schiff's remarks have an added weight this morning.[...]

Making connections: Manafort's reaching out to Kremlin-connected oligarchs in exchange for campaign information and Trump Tower meeting

SCHIFF: It's also been reported in The Washington Post and I can only talk about the public report that Manafort was reaching out to Oleg Deripaska while he was campaign manager, offering information about the campaign he's running in an effort to collect more of the money from Ukraine that he was laundering. And this is very significant because you have Manafort reaching out -- if these allegations are correct -- to the Kremlin essentially by reaching out to oligarchs close to the Kremlin, offering information in exchange for money. And you have the Kremlin reaching out to Manafort, Kushner and the president's son at the same time offering information on Hillary Clinton in exchange for help with sanctions. And those communications are running in opposite directions contemporaneously. Any intelligence agency worth their salt is going to put these things together. And the Russians have very competent intelligence agencies. So it's one issue about the degree to which these are being orchestrated by Russian intel. It's another about how aware Russian intel is. And it's another in terms of what actions the Russians concluded they would take on the basis of this outreach and this evident willingness passively to accept a meeting, aggressively to seek out a meeting with the object of exchanging information of value, to obtain something of value, so that I think is the significance of the matter for us.

Posted by orrinj at 12:37 PM


Japan's Demographic Lessons for Europe (DANIEL GROS, Nov 8, 2017, Project Syndicate)

With real output - the key measure of economic performance - having risen by only about 15% since 2000, or less than 1% per year, Japan easily seems the least dynamic of the worlds' major economies. But given Japan's demographics - the country's working-age population has been shrinking by almost 1% per year since the start of this century - this result is remarkable.

In fact, Japan's growth rate per working-age person was close to 2% - much higher than in the US or in Europe. Though the US economy grew more than 35% since 2000, its working-age population also grew markedly, leaving the annual growth rate per working-age person at only about 1%.

That indicator - growth rate per working-age person - is not widely used by economists, who instead focus on GDP per capita. By that measure, Japan is doing about as well as Europe and the US. But, while per capita indicators are useful for assessing a country's consumption potential, they do not provide an adequate picture of growth potential, because they include the elderly and the young, who do not contribute to production. Even in Japan, with its high life expectancy, those over the age of 70 do not contribute much to output.

So, given its rapidly declining potential, Japan has been extraordinarily successful. A key reason is that it has put a growing proportion of its working-age population to work: unemployment is today at a record low of less than 3%, and almost 80% of those who could work have a job, compared to about 70% for Europe and the US.

Japan's achievement of full employment and high job growth over the last two decades is all the more noteworthy in view of near-permanent deflation during this period (most prices are still lower today than they were 15-20 years ago). This should give food for thought to those who maintain that deflation imposes unbearable economic costs.

Posted by orrinj at 6:26 AM


Trump rally: 3rd best since World War II (Matt Egan, November 8, 2017, CNN Money)

The S&P 500 has soared 21% since the close of trading on Election Day 2016. That's the third-best performance during a president's first year since World War II, behind only President George H. W. Bush and President John F. Kennedy, according to Sam Stovall of CFRA Research.

The stock market also hit a record number of records under Trump. The S&P 500's 60 all-time highs since the election is unmatched during a president's first year in office, according to CFRA.

That achievement underscores the fact that Trump inherited a stock market near all-time highs and an economy that was in solid shape. It also highlights how remarkably tranquil the rally has been. Sharp drops and steep gains have been rare.

Posted by orrinj at 6:22 AM


Voters in Maine approve expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare (Brendan O'Brien, 11/08/17, Reuters) 

Voters in Maine on Tuesday approved a ballot initiative to expand the state's Medicaid program under Obamacare, sending a clear signal of support for the federal healthcare law to lawmakers in the state and Washington D.C.

Posted by orrinj at 5:40 AM


EU, U.S. affirm Lebanon support, diverging from Saudi (Tom Perry, 11/08/17, Reuters) 

The European Union on Wednesday affirmed support for Lebanon following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, echoing U.S. backing for the Beirut government which Saudi Arabia has accused of declaring war.

When the Sa'uds can order a PM to resign against his will, it's not really a difficult call.

Posted by orrinj at 5:37 AM


Israel tells its envoys to back Saudis, Hariri against Hezbollah, Iran - report (STUART WINER, 11/08/17, Times of Israel)

Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been at odds and back feuding Shiite and Sunni forces throughout the region. Although they do not share formal diplomatic ties, Israel has reportedly forged ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states over a shared distrust of Iran.

They have an obvious shared desire to thwart self-determination.

Posted by orrinj at 5:19 AM


What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer (MAX FISHER and JOSH KELLER, 11/07/17, NY Times)

[A]n ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion.

The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.

The top-line numbers suggest a correlation that, on further investigation, grows only clearer.

Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world's guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

Adjusted for population, only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people -- a distinction Mr. Lankford urged to avoid outliers. Yemen has the world's second-highest rate of gun ownership after the United States.

The staggering number I heard on Here and Now is that America has 5% of the minors in the developed world and 95% of the gun deaths among minors.