Archive for ◊ January, 2020 ◊

Is Greece the “Canary” for Economic Decline?
Monday, January 27th, 2020 | Author:

The continuing saga of economic decline in western democracies…  Is Greece the “Canary in the Coal Mine” for how these events unfold?

Image result for acropolis

Update

Some relatively positive news on the economic situation in Greece.  The Greece Public Debt Management Agency says it plans to issue a 15-year bond, tapping international markets for financing after the country’s sovereign credit rating was upgraded to BB with a positive outlook, citing improved debt sustainability and a “stable political backdrop.”

 

July 20, 2019

A commentary about the recent direction of Greece from Taki’s Magazine:

The trouble with Greece is over-regulation and corruption. Ironically, Greek oligarchs have a very limited grip on the economy. Oligarchs are not the major obstacle to growth; bureaucracy and over-regulation are. The last four years of socialism have done only harm. That bum Tsipras sold the country down in exchange for outriders during his visits to foreign capitals. He’s now set for life, and the Greeks, being Greek, will vote him back with his new false promises in the future.

 

December 24, 2018

It doesn’t sound like any improvements:

The Greek government has agreed to even more austerity in the form of more taxes and more pension cuts… Since onset of the crisis, owing to strict Brüning-like austerity demands of Germany and the EU, the economy has contracted by 25%. Unemployment is at 20% and youth unemployment above 40%. 

 

Comments from a Greek libertarian about the reality of the current situation:

Greek public debt went from 130 percent when the crisis began to the present 180 percent of the GDP debt. Perhaps this is an improvement if one works in the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984, but I don’t. Do these crap bankers and E.U. shills take us all for idiots? Eight years of economic strangulation in order to pay the German banks, half of the middle class of doctors, engineers, and scientists gone abroad, and the extreme left-wing clowns and charlatans who have run the place since 2015 are saying that the chaos is over and everything’s hunky-dory.

 

August 31, 2018

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal provides an update on the economy in Greece:

It took three bailouts, around €290 billion in loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund… On Monday Greece’s third bailout will conclude, and the country will no longer have to rely on its official creditors to finance itself…. The Greek economy has grown slowly in recent years but is still 25% smaller than when the crisis began.

 

March 6, 2018

According to MarketWatch, Greece’s economy expanded for a fourth straight quarter in the last three months of 2017.  Gross domestic product increased by 0.1% in the October-to-December period, compared with an upwardly revised 0.4% growth in the third quarter.

Since entering recession in 2008, Greek GDP has shrunk by more than a quarter amid austerity measures imposed by international creditors after 2010, while unemployment has reached nearly 28% of the workforce.

The country is still in its third bailout program in a row, which ends this August, and the country has sought to convince its creditors that it is finally able to stand on its own feet.

 

December 6, 2017

According to Bloomberg magazine, there is some positive news about the economic decline in Greece:

Greece’s economy expanded for a third straight quarter for the first time in more than a decade, providing a foundation for the country’s attempts to exit its bailout program next year.

[…]

The third-quarter expansion was led by 5 percent boost in exports, including a 9.8 percent increase in service exports, which includes the country’s crucial tourist sector. Consumption fell 0.1 percent, while investment decreased 6.1 percent in the quarter.

 

October 15, 2017

It appears that Greece is entering the period of financial fudging:

Indeed, figures for the second quarter have been promising, mainly thanks to tourism. The finance ministry released figures showing a primary surplus slightly above the one projected. 

In addition, despite Tsipras’ boasting of lowering the unemployment figures, the truth is that more and more people work part-time or at temporary jobs, and get paid third-world wages… In the last week of September, Greece’s largest ice cream factory, Froneri Hellas, shut down, adding 102 people to the unemployment line. Froneri is the latest addition in the long list of once flourishing companies, that has succumbed to the crisis.

Source: Despite Gov’t Boasting over Growth, Greeks Get Poorer

 

July 11, 2017

From today’s US Today, an update on the situation in Greece:

Two years after an international bailout that was supposed to lead to an economic revival, conditions here have only worsened and life for Greeks has become one of constant misery.   

The economy is stagnant, unemployment hovers around 25% and is twice as high for young adults, taxes are rising, and wages are falling. Half of Greek homeowners can’t make their mortgage payments and another quarter can’t afford their property taxes, according to the Bank of Greece.

On July 5, 2015, voters soundly rejected the terms of a proposed bailout with international lenders because the plan demanded too much austerity. Yet, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza Party ignored the referendum results and signed a third bailout deal that would provide nearly $100 billion in loans the country desperately needed to avoid collapse.

Interestingly, I just had a good friend of mine return from Greece and share his thoughts on the situation in Athens… While tourism is still relatively strong, it’s not a very pretty economic environment for growth.

 

June 6, 2017

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a recent Pew Research poll showed that 98% of the residents of Greece view their current economic situation as “bad.”  As a contrast, 40% of Americans consider the current economics as bad.

 

May 3, 2017

It’s a never-ending story.  It appears to be the proverbial “kicking the can down the road”.  They’re throwing more money at Greece once again for the promise of more austerity measures:

The preliminary deal with international creditors would allow Athens to receive emergency funds in exchange for promises of higher taxes and lower social spending.

As far as I know, the real solutions are: a) a major write-down of the debt, b) significant steps for economic growth.  I haven’t seen either of these in the plans for the Greek empire.

 

February 7, 2017

It’s now 2017 and there is still no clear path to stability for Greece… and no one appears to have an answer. The economists are now saying that Greece cannot ‘grow’ out of their economic malaise:

The new report was prepared by IMF staff ahead of a February 6 board meeting to discuss the fund’s participation in an EU-led €86bn bailout of Greece and signals the continuing hard line the IMF is taking on debt relief for Athens. It offers a bleaker view of Greece’s economic dilemmas than an analysis prepared last year, warning that the debt load is “highly unsustainable” and would not improve even if it implemented further reforms recommended by the fund. . . .

“Even with these ambitious polices in place, Greece cannot grow out of its debt problem,” IMF staff warned in the report, seen by the Financial Times and drafted as part of the fund’s annual review of member economies. “Greece requires substantial debt relief from its European partners to restore debt sustainability.”

This is a good assessment of the real challenge:

The deeper problem is that Greece does not produce like a developed country, but its citizens expect the level of services and pensions normally associated with a developed country.  That’s why there is so much hostility to Greece in the middle-income countries of Eastern Europe, where benefit levels are lower.

 

June 25, 2016

From the Wall Street Journal, there is no end in sight for the economic decline in Greece…

Mr. Tsipras’s statist ideology is as hostile as ever to the supply-side reforms Greece needs, and both the IMF and other creditors seem to be giving up hope that any other Greek politician could enact such reforms. Which means Greece’s crisis will drag on no matter what happens next with Greece’s debts.

 

May 8, 2016

The drama continues as the government of Greece passes additional austerity measures:

Greece’s parliament has passed a package of tax and pension reforms, ahead of a crucial meeting of Eurozone finance ministers… Before the vote, protesters in Athens threw petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas.  Trade unions say the country cannot bear another round of austerity… Three days of a general strike paralysed public transport and slowed the public sector and the media.  Speaking before the vote, the leader of the Greek Communist Party, Dimitris Koutsoubas, said the Greek people would “not tolerate nor accept” the measures and would “show their true power” in the event of a yes vote.

 

April 16, 2016

This article in the Daily Mail should give you an idea of the recent economic progress (or lack thereof) in Greece:

The Greek government fears it could be subjected to terror attacks if a taxpayer-funded mosque is not constructed in Athens.  Officials claim it would allow Muslims to practise their religion under the auspices of a centrally-appointed imam that would ensure it does not stray into extremism.

Hmmm… the country is broke, yet it’s using ‘taxpayer’ (in Greece, the word taxpayer should always appear in scary quotes) money to payoff potential terrorists.

 

January 25, 2016

From the analysts at investors.com, the latest status and outlook:

In protracted and bitter negotiations last summer, the country promised to raise the retirement age, cut pensions, liberalize the energy market, open up closed professions, raise taxes and sell government assets.

There have been encouraging signs. In December, the Greek Parliament narrowly passed overhauls needed to get the next $1.1 billion segment of the bailout negotiated over the summer with the IMF, the European Central Bank and European Commission, known as the troika.

Standard & Poor’s raised its long-term sovereign debt rating to B- from CCC+ with stable outlook, citing the country’s compliance with its economic program.

But the country is a long way from recovery. Third-quarter unemployment was 24% and the economy contracted 0.1% from a year earlier.

Analysts with Deutsche Bank said earlier this month that they expect Greece to slip into deep recession later this year.

 

September 21, 2015

The malaise continues… a good analysis from Strategy Page:

We know how Greece got here. Greek productivity could not pay for the lifestyle its citizens desired. The productivity of other Euro-zone nations financed Greek good times and kept Greek politicians in power.

Greece lied to obtain the largesse. When the Euro-zone officially formed in 2001, Greece claimed it had a GDP deficit of 1.5 percent. In 2012, former Greek budget minister Peter Doukas said the real 2001 figure was 8.3 percent. Over the years, Greek governments violated fiscal agreements, borrowed money they could not repay and managed to hide the lies. European Union monitoring systems failed to detect the buildup in Greek debt.

The Greek people, who supported these lying governments, enjoyed “other people’s money.” Now German, French and even Italian workers say no more. Italians complain that Greek government worker pensions are far more lavish than theirs. No la dolce vita on our euros.

As for selective law enforcement: Systemic crookedness stymies economic growth. Greeks know it. A June 2010 poll found that 78 percent of the Greek people “accept the view that many or all in government are corrupt.” That same year, a Greek finance ministry investigation uncovered extensive tax evasion, corruption and bribery in its tax collection offices. Greek tax evaders cost the country an estimated $27 billion to $30 billion a year.

Here’s the big story. In Greece, we witness another hard example of an old lesson. Economic reality shakes and eventually shatters political fantasy. Fantasy may fade, but denial tends to die hard. All too often, it dies violently.

 

June 28, 2015

The saga continues… The Greeks elected a Communist leader that promised economic miracles for the citizenry (sound familiar?); and everyone has discovered the harsh reality of running out of other people’s money.  It’s now widely reported that the Greek government is shuttering the banks for a week:

Greek leaders planned to shutter their banks on Monday amid last-ditch discussions about their nation’s economic future, as panicked citizens tried to pull their money from their accounts while they still were able.

I still don’t know enough about macroeconomics to predict the eventual end game…  I suppose the other EU countries will be coming to Athens to repossess the Parthenon.

greek-economy

 

January 6, 2015

Well, three years later and we have not yet closed the loop on the outcome…  Today’s BusinessWeek discusses Greece considering its options:

The current Greek situation is particularly troubling since by as early as mid-year it could constitute Europe’s Lehman Brothers moment. Whatever the outcome of the Jan. 25 parliamentary election, it is difficult to see how Greece can avoid a major policy collision with its European partners. Greece is showing every sign of austerity and economic reform fatigue as its economy remains mired in the deepest of depressions.

 

February 3, 2014

Yes, the story continues more than two years later, but the plot and results remain the same… As noted at ZeroHedge, Europe pretends to bail out Greece… and Greece pretends to reform and comply with austerity reforms when it merely continues to spend as before until the money runs out…

At this point, I would be willing to say that Victor Davis Hanson has been the best prognosticator (see earlier posts below)

 

May 9, 2013

The Greek government began its first mass-firing of public-sector workers in more than 100 years this week, part of an effort to lay off 180,000 by 2015 under Europe-imposed austerity.

via Greece starts firing civil servants for first time in a century.

 

August 20, 2012

More bad news about the Greece economy…  They have debt coming due and the country needs to issue more bonds.  The Greek GDP shrank by more than 6% over the last 12 months.

I still have that lingering question:  How does Greece break out of this continuous decline?

 

July 24, 2012

The Prime Minister of Greece declares that his country is in a depression (any surprises here?):

Greek GDP is expected by the end of this year to have shrunk by about a fifth in five consecutive years of recession since 2008...

 

May 11, 2012

You may have missed the Greek elections, but the results are foretelling — the citizens cast quite a few ballots for the Communist and the Nazi parties…  the real takeaway that can be generalized for many western countries is that nobody wants to hear about austerity measures.  Given a choice between a leader who says “you’ll have to tighten your belt and go to work” versus a prospective leader who proclaims “the government should continue to support your lifestyle”, well, the answer is pretty obvious.

The saga about bankrupt western countries continues to unfold…

 

May 2, 2012

It’s not getting any better in Athens…

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April 5, 2012

It appears that the financial markets are not convinced that Greece has overcome its problems.  The Greek 10 year bonds are now hovering around a 20% yield rate (in contrast, US 10 year bonds are approximately 2%).

 

February 13, 2012

A prognostication from Victor Davis Hanson:

There are only three scenarios likely for Greece: (1) In exchange for debt relief, a liberated Greece changes its ways, opens up its economy, redefines labor and capital markets and becomes a sort of Spain (unlikely). (2) It defaults and its drachma-based country reverts to what one remembered in the old days and what one would expect from a top-heavy, unproductive socialist state (somewhat likely). Or (3) it gets some half-relief, but soon reneges on its promised reforms and austerity, and thus like Greek cities in the 2nd Century AD, life goes on as weeds grow among the impressive, but crumbling infrastructure of the past (very likely).

 

February 5, 2012

The saga continues… Is the situation in Greece a microcosm of the western democracies and economic decline?  A recent issue of the Washington Times discusses how the Greek bailout cycle continues unabated:

The latest examination by international debt inspectors found Greece in such dire straits that it requires another $20 billion cash infusion. This would be on top of the $171 billion promised in October, which was on top of the $145 billion Greece received in 2010…

Greece is not going to escape this repeating cycle of near-collapse and bailout without doing something that sparks sustained economic growth and private-sector job creation. It’s well past time to try something new. The last two years of bailouts and broken promises to cut back on spending have resulted in a shrinking economy and what seem to be daily news of rioting on the streets of Athens. That’s not exactly the best advertisement for Greece’s most significant industry: tourism.

 

January 31, 2012

The German news organization, Spiegel, is sharing its thoughts on the situation in Greece…  They exclaim that European politicians are not facing reality:

Once again, Europe is arguing over a bailout for Greece, and it looks as though the result will be no different that it has been in the past… Europe’s politicians continue to battle reality. Everyone knows that Greece cannot repay its massive pile of debts, now at more than €350 billion ($459 billion). But instead of effectively reducing the financial burden, European politicians intend to approve new loans for the government in Athens and go on fighting debt with new debt.

 

January 29, 2012

The latest discussion is about Greece changing from using the Euro as its currency:

Germany and the rest of the eurozone can’t actually kick a country out of the euro for fear of investor panic and speculation against Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Spain. But if Greece were to leave on its own…

 

January 25, 2012

The situation in Greece has many economists around the world concerned:

The rest of the world needs to sit up and take notice of what is going on in Greece right now. This is what can happen when you allow government debt to spiral out of control. Once it becomes clear that you can’t pay your debts, a financial collapse can happen very suddenly and you start losing your sovereignty to those that you must turn to for financial help.

 

January 15, 2012

I’ve been watching the situation in Greece with great interest.  It possesses all of the leading indicators of great decline associated with a western culture that has embraced Socialism.  These indicators include a very low reproduction rate among the indigenous population; huge amounts of entitlements showered among the citizens; and a government expenditure rate well out of line with the country’s gross domestic product.

When a country gets to this point what happens?  Do they declare bankruptcy and the creditor nations repossess the assets? Do they hyper-inflate their way out of debt by using their own currency?

Over at the Calculated Risk blog, they talk about the fact that everyone knows that the Greeks are not willing to adopt austerity measures.

At this point, it all sounds like a huge game of “kick the can” as a means to delay the inevitable…  of course, I still don’t have a clear picture of the eventual outcome.

 

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2020 Political Humor
Friday, January 10th, 2020 | Author:

From my pal, Joe K…

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Black Racist Says ‘Jews are my enemy’
Tuesday, January 07th, 2020 | Author:

Update

Anti-Semitism continues…

 

December 19, 2019

Evidently, the Jersey City official that practices “open” anti-Semitism, (Ms. Terrell-Paige) showed no remorse for her harsh comments about Jews.   When she was asked if she regretted her statements, she said, “No, I don’t.”

In a related episode, a Jewish student was recently subjected to open anti-Semitic abuse on the New York subway.  A black New Jersey resident, Zarinah Ali, began hurling racist abuse — ‘Allahu akbar, it’s in the Quran, where they curse the serpent Jew, you wouldn’t believe. You f***ing nasty a** Jew … you f***ing stinking a** Jew.’

Is there a repeatable pattern here?

 

December 18, 2019

According to a recent op-ed, the New Jersey murderers were triggered to kill Jews as a result of ideology espoused by Louis Farrakhan: “Terrorists who gunned down Jews in a Jersey City kosher market were inspired by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.”

And just to make it a little more crazy and complete, a black Jersey City elected official blamed Jewish members of the community for the shooting committed by two African Americans.  The official accused Jewish leaders of forcing blacks out of their homes and of “selling body parts,”and implied that this “assault on the Black communities of America” is what led the two people to murder unarmed Jews.

 

December 12, 2019

The black racists in the New York area are starting to show their true principles.  There are not only the unprovoked hate crimes against Jews in Queens and Brooklyn, but now we have anti-Semitic murders in New Jersey.  Of course, the mainstream media would not dare call out these groups for what they really are:

The New York Times called them “sidewalk ministers” who practice “tough love.” The paper quoted Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center who described them as victims of racism and claimed that they were non-violent.

The Washington Post, in its own puff piece on the Black Hebrew Israelites, also falsely described them as non-violent, and concluded that, “Israelite street preaching in parts of D.C., Philadelphia and New York is commonplace, a familiar if odd accent to city life.”

The odd accent to city life in Jersey City came amid a hail of bullets as two members of the racist black nationalist hate group opened fire in the JC Supermarket. Despite initial claims by the media and the authorities that the Jewish market had not been targeted, David Anderson and Francine Graham ignored passerby on Martin Luther King Dr, to get to the store and kill as many Jewish people as they could.

 

August 29, 2019

Here is another episode of black anti-Semitism… the President of the NAACP in Passaic New Jersey had some fine comments:

“I don’t talk to fucking Jews,” Dye told the New Jersey Globe during a very brief telephone interview.  “Get the fuck out of here.”

Dye was fired from his job with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development last week after the Globe reported that he had made anti-Semitic and anti-Latino comments on his personal Facebook page.

 

March 14, 2019

A reasonable summary of the Democrat party’s de facto support of Moslem anti-Semitism:

And so Ilhan Omar is the new leader of the Democratic Party, complete with all her anti-Semitism. The next time she says something anti-Semitic, and she certainly will, there will be not the mildest statement of contradiction from Democratic leadership. What can they possibly say? She has already faced them down and won. She has gotten them to accept, however tacitly, that her views are acceptable and within the Democratic Party mainstream. She has achieved the normalization of a paranoid Jew-hatred not seen in the political mainstream since the Third Reich.

 

March 8, 2019

Since the Internet is filled with commentary about the blatant anti-semitism of the two new Moslem representatives in Congress, this post has not included many references to those stories.  Instead, I leave it to the reader to determine if there is a clear pattern that can be gleaned from the empirical data about the relationships between Black Moslems and Jews:

As it is, Omar is unchastened, a valuable message is undelivered, and a learning opportunity is lost.  But every day brings the possibility of new information.   Perhaps someone will ask her the bottom-line question that reveals the truthful Jew-hater:  Does Israel have the right to exist?

 

February 11, 2019

Organized anti-Semitism is perfectly acceptable among the Leftists:

For decades, Farrakhan has promoted anti-Semitism, in sermons, in media appearances, and in writing. In his 2018 Saviour’s day speech, Farrakhan castigated Jews for rejecting Christ and accused them of promoting homosexuality in the black community. Despite his anti-Semitism, Farrakhan has avoided the type of ostracism that someone like David Duke experiences.

For decades, surveys have consistently found higher levels of anti-Semitism among African Americans… 22% of African-Americans, and 40% of foreign-born Hispanics were anti-Semitic, according to the ADL’s definition…. Many Jews believe that because both blacks and Jews have suffered discrimination, blacks will be more sympathetic toward them. However, the evidence suggests that blacks are not particularly sympathetic toward Jews

 

January 13, 2019

The hatred for Israel and Jews is very rampant in the community of haters, especially Tamika Mallory, one of the organizers of this lunatic woman’s march.  Their convoluted logic in supporting avowed haters is astounding:

“As a leader, as a black leader in a country that is still dealing with some very serious unresolved issues as it relates to the black experience in this country, I go into a lot of difficult spaces…

“I didn’t call him [Farrakhan] the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric, I called him the greatest of all time for what he’s done in black communities,” she replied, as The View‘s audience applauded.

In other words, if you do something nice for ‘your people’ (Hamas distributing food for Gazans, Farrakhan supporting the black community), that absolves you from any culpability for avowed hatred for other people.

 

October 17, 2018

Once again, testing how far the Leftists and mainstream media will allow him to operate, Farrakhan is unequivocal in showing his anti-semitism:

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan addressed a gathering in Detroit on Sunday to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March, and used it as a platform to launch yet another attack on Jews, calling them “termites.”

I’ll give Democrat Dov Hikind of New York credit with his clear statement:

Farrakhan’s vile statements against Whites and Jews have been ignored by my fellow Democrats.  There is nothing subtle about this modern-day Goebbels’ hatred. This racist doesn’t even hide behind an anti-Israel statement; he just publicly attacks Jews and the Jewish religion, and works to incite hatred and racism among his followers. Even worse, Democrats continue to give him a pass. Former President Bill Clinton sat next to him at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. It was appalling!”

 

June 12, 2018

From Karin McQuillan, some preliminary analysis on Black and Moslem anti-Semitism:

Dig  into the ADL report on anti-Semitism in America and you find that Black anti-Semitism is twice the national average and was three times the national average when Obama was in office… The bombings, arson, Molotov cocktail attacks, and shootings by American Moslems attacking Jews speak for themselves.

 

June 11, 2018

He’s baaaccckk…  Mr. Farrakhan just can’t seem to get or give enough.  Evidently, the infamous Black Moslem gave another rousing speech over the weekend where he said:

Do you know that many of us who go to Hollywood seeking a chance have to submit to anal sex and all kind of debauchery and they give you a little part? It’s called the casting couch. See that’s Jewish power.

Perhaps someone should interview Roseanne Barr for her comments about people making harsh criticisms.

 

March 23, 2018

More on the fallout from Farrakhan acolyte Trayon White… the PowerLine blog shares some of their thoughts about impudent Leftist Jews:

As for Jewish organizations, the Washington Post reports they are ready to forgive the councilman. In a confession of its stupidity, Jews United for Justice, a left-wing outfit that endorsed White in 2016, said of him, “this is not the guy we know.” “We want to work with him,” its spokesperson added.

There was a time when Jewish organizations (no matter how liberal) and environmentalists would be embarrassed to work with an anti-Semite who thinks Jews create natural disasters for profit. But these days, almost nothing embarrasses the left, and the cluelessness of liberal American Jews defies belief.

As one of my good friends used to say “True That”.

 

March 19, 2018

Farrakhan’s outlook on Jews must be contagious… A black Washington, DC lawmaker blamed a recent snowfall on a family of Jewish bankers — accusing them of controlling the climate and orchestrating natural disasters.  Trayon White recorded a video full of antisemitism in which he said:

“Man it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation,” 

 

March 12, 2018

The Blacks, Moslems, and Social Justice Warriors love Farrakhan. For his loyalists, they explain away his bigotry and anti-Semitism as it’s simply ‘Farrakhan being Farrakhan’.  They’ll comment about him the same way the UN comments about Hezbollah — yes, he hates the Jews but he also has a good side.  As the Leftists in Chicago describe Farrakhan: “I don’t hate him, I pity him. To me, he’s crazy old Uncle Lou. For all his bad-boy blather, Farrakhan has a weird vulnerability, almost a sweetness.”

The mainstream media continues to pretend that there is nothing wrong.  While many other bigots have been limited or removed from Twitter, Farrakhan just goes on tweeting with the coveted blue check mark next to his name.

Fortunately, there are various web sites and blogs that have not been willing to let this situation pass without comment.  For example, over at American Thinker, Michael Curtis remarks:

In the United States the silence is deafening on the part of the media and Twitter concerning members of the Congressional Black Caucus and others tolerant of or not critical of the raucous bigoted rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan (once Louis Walcott and Louis X), the African-American activist who has been leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI)

What is disconcerting are two things: the refusal of members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the very people concerned with discrimination and bigotry, to condemn wholeheartedly or to dissociate themselves from Farrakhan’s bigotry; and the almost universal absence of critical, explicit, candid commentary by most of the mainstream media on these failings.

 

Over at the Daily Caller, the noted that the Republicans National Committee was calling out for a response:

“Keith Ellison’s long pattern of lies about his ongoing relationship with Louis Farrakhan, who the Anti-Defamation League calls ‘America’s leading anti-Semite,’ has put a stain on the Democrat Party,” McDaniel said in a press release. “Anti-Semitism has no place in American politics, Tom Perez must address this issue.”

 

And from Ace of Spades, a reasonable question is posed:

Media Intensely Interested in Right-Wing (Allegedly) Anti-Semite That Draws Crowds of Less Than 50;  But Not At All Interested in Left-Wing Anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan Who Draws Crowds of 10,000, and Has High-Profile Democrats Like Barack Obama Courting.

 

Then there is Jeff Dunetz at the Lid telling the world the reality about Farrakhan-follower Ellison and the Democrat party:

Ellison is a featured keynote speaker at many BDS organization events including the American Friends Service Committee which runs a BDS boot camp, Progressives for Palestine, and is a favorite of the anti-Israel group ironically called Jewish Voice for Peace. In a rare occurrence of disagreeing with progressives, The Jewish Voice for Peace was named by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the 10 most anti-Israel organizations in America (I am sure their mothers are proud).

Keith Ellison’s history and actions of mainstream Democrats demonstrate that no one should really be surprised so many in the party support Louis Farrakhan and his anti-Jewish hatred… The only remaining question is, will my fellow American Jews who overwhelmingly (and blindly) support the Democratic Party finally wake up and smell the truth.

Of course, I’m still waiting for Alan Dershowitz to take a position on the latest news about Perez, Ellison, and the anti-Semite Democrats.

Democrats and the Hitler-loving Jew-hater

 

March 8, 2018

From the political party that lacks any ethics whatsoever: Democrat Keith Ellison believes that people don’t care about his ties to the notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.  As revealed by The Daily Caller, Ellison, a devout Moslem, attended multiple meetings with Farrakhan while in Congress.   Ellison is currently the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.

 

March 7, 2018

What is it about western culture that when Blacks and Moslems extol hatred and violence it is met with silence?  Whether it is Farrakhan in the US, Khamenei in Iran, or Malema in South Africa, the threats (and actions) against life never seem to warrant a comment from the New York Times, Washington Post, ABC, NBC, etc.

Is this based on the belief that these actors with a third-world mentality are just exaggerating for effect and thus not worthy of comment?  Is it actually more insidious and these news organizations are concerned about drawing negative attention to these folks that are held in high esteem by the Black and Moslem communities?

Does it ever make sense to vote for someone that is running for public office based on being a member of the black congressional caucus?  The hispanic congressional caucus?  The hillbilly congressional caucus?   Does this approach represent the best interests of American citizens?

 

March 6, 2018

From ‘The Lid” web site:

Recently released pictures and videos, revealed that Obama and other Democrats including Maxine Waters (D-CA), Al Green (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and seventeen other Democratic members of Congress had very friendly meetings with racist, anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. The Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Party Keith Ellison had a closer relationship with the bigot whose hatred’s been displayed throughout his long career.

As for the mainstream media, they usually ignore Antisemitism (see Al Sharpton and Barack Obama) but Farrakhan spews hatred against all white people why is the media silent?  Is it because they only care about some bigotry? Is it because Farrakahn has a relationship with Democrats, and the bigots who support the president are supporting a Republican? Perhaps it’s because the media hates Trump more than the average Republican?

 

March 4, 2018

It appears that many members of the black congressional caucus support Farrakhan’s views.  In fact, Representative Danny Davis, who serves the 7th Congressional District of the state of Illinois had this say about his friendship with the man who is as divisive as the Grand Dragon of the KKK:

“That’s just one segment of what goes on in our world. The world is so much bigger than Farrakhan and the Jewish question and his position on that and so forth. For those heavy into it, that’s their thing, but it ain’t my thing,” 

So you now have the appropriate response when anyone calls you a racist — just say “the world is so much bigger then that and the black question…it ain’t my thing”

 

March 2, 2018

Louis Farrakhan gave a speech on February 25 in which he declared that “Jews are my enemy.”   He further said “White folks are going down. And Satan is going down… pulled a cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”

Did you know that Barack Obama and Keith Ellison are followers of Mr. Farrakhan.  They are also strong supporters of the regime in Iran.

Hmmm,  did you read about this incident at the Google or Yahoo web site?  How about the Washington Post or New York Times?

 

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Does AI Mean ‘Augmented Intelligence’?
Saturday, January 04th, 2020 | Author:

Update

A recent article in Kaiser Health News about the overblown claims of AI in healthcare:

Early experiments in AI provide a reason for caution, said Mildred Cho, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford’s Center for Biomedical Ethics… In one case, AI software incorrectly concluded that people with pneumonia were less likely to die if they had asthma ― an error that could have led doctors to deprive asthma patients of the extra care they need….

Medical AI, which pulled in $1.6 billion in venture capital funding in the third quarter alone, is “nearly at the peak of inflated expectations,” concluded a July report from the research company Gartner. “As the reality gets tested, there will likely be a rough slide into the trough of disillusionment.”

It’s important to remember that what many people are claiming as ‘artificial intelligence’ is hardly that… In reality, it’s predominantly algorithms leveraging large amounts of data.   As I’ve previously mentioned, I feel that I’m reliving the ballyhooed AI claims of the 1980s all over again.

 

June 29, 2019

Well, here is Joe from Forbes trying to steal my thunder in using ‘Augmented’ instead if ‘Artificial’:

Perhaps “artificial” is too artificial of a word for the AI equation. Augmented intelligence describes the essence of the technology in a more elegant and accurate way.

Not much more interesting in the article…

 

April 16, 2019

Here is another example of the underwhelming performance of technology mistakenly referred to “artificial intelligence”.  In this case, Google’s DeepMind tool was used to take a high school math test;

The algorithm was trained on the sorts of algebra, calculus, and other types of math questions that would appear on a 16-year-old’s math exam… But artificial intelligence is quite literally built to pore over data, scanning for patterns and analyzing them…. In that regard, the results of the test — on which the algorithm scored a 14 out of 40 — aren’t reassuring.

 

April 3, 2019

This is a very good article in the reputable IEEE Spectrum.  It explains some of the massive over-promising and under-delivering associated with the IBM Watson initiatives in the medical industry (note: I am an IBM stockholder):

Experts in computer science and medicine alike agree that AI has the potential to transform the health care industry. Yet so far, that potential has primarily been demonstrated in carefully controlled experiments… Today, IBM’s leaders talk about the Watson Health effort as “a journey” down a road with many twists and turns. “It’s a difficult task to inject AI into health care, and it’s a challenge. But we’re doing it.”

AI systems can’t understand ambiguity and don’t pick up on subtle clues that a human doctor would notice… no AI built so far can match a human doctor’s comprehension and insight… a fundamental mismatch between the promise of machine learning and the reality of medical care—between “real AI” and the requirements of a functional product for today’s doctors.

It’s been 50 years since the folks at Stanford first created the Mycin ‘expert system’ for identifying infections, and there is still a long-way to go.  That is one reason that I continue to refer to AI as “augmented intelligence”.

 

February 18, 2019

A recent article in Electrical Engineering Times, proclaims that the latest incarnation of AI represents a lot of “pretending”:

In fact, modern AI (i.e. Siri, IBM’s Watson, etc.) is not capable of “reading” (a sentence, situation, an expression) or “understanding” same. AI, however, is great at pretending as though it understands what someone just asked, by doing a lot of “searching” and “optimizing.”

You might have heard of Japan’s Fifth Generation Computer System, a massive government-industry collaboration launched in 1982. The goal was a computer “using massively parallel computing and processing” to provide a platform for future developments in “artificial intelligence.” Reading through what was stated then, I know I’m not the only one feeling a twinge of “Déjà vu.”…  

Big companies like IBM and Google “quickly abandoned the idea of developing AI around logic programming. They shifted their efforts to developing a statistical method in designing AI for Google translation, or IBM’s Watson,” she explained in her book. Modern AI thrives on the power of statistics and probability.

 

February 16, 2019

I’ve had lengthy discussions with a famous neurologist/computer scientist about the man-made creation of synthetic intelligence, which I contend is constrained by the lack of the normative model of the brain (i.e., an understanding at the biochemical level of brain processes such the formation of memories).  I’ve been telling him for the last 10 years that our current knowledge of the brain is similar to the medical knowledge reflected in the 17th century Rembrandt painting that depicts early medical practitioners performing a vivisection on the human body (and likely remarking “hey, what’s that?”).

Well, I finally found a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins that exclaims that science needs the equivalent of the periodic table of elements to provide a framework for brain functions:

Gül Dölen, assistant professor of neuroscience at the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins, thinks that neuroscientists might need take a step back in order to better understand this organ… Slicing a few brains apart or taking a few MRIs won’t be enough… neuroscientists can’t even agree on the brain’s most basic information-carrying unit… 

The impact could be extraordinary, from revolutionizing AI to curing brain diseases.

 

November 14, 2018

It’s similar to the old retort for those who can’t believe the truth: don’t ask me about my opinion on the latest rendition of AI, just ask this executive at Google:

AI is currently very, very stupid,” said Andrew Moore, a Google vice president. “It is really good at doing certain things which our brains can’t handle, but it’s not something we could press to do general-purpose reasoning involving things like analogies or creative thinking or jumping outside the box.”

 

July 28, 2018

Here are some words from a venture capital investor that has had similar experiences to my own when it comes to (currently) unrealistic expectations from artificial intelligence (AI):

Last year AI companies attracted more than $10.8 billion in funding from venture capitalists like me. AI has the ability to enable smarter decision-making. It allows entrepreneurs and innovators to create products of great value to the customer. So why don’t I don’t focus on investing in AI?

During the AI boom of the 1980s, the field also enjoyed a great deal of hype and rapid investment. Rather than considering the value of individual startups’ ideas, investors were looking for interesting technologies to fund. This is why most of the first generation of AI companies have already disappeared. Companies like Symbolics, Intellicorp, and Gensym — AI companies founded in the ’80s — have all transformed or gone defunct.

And here we are again, nearly 40 years later, facing the same issues.

Though the technology is more sophisticated today, one fundamental truth remains: AI does not intrinsically create consumer value. This is why I don’t invest in AI or “deep tech.” Instead, I invest in deep value.

 

April 22, 2018

It’s interesting that so many famous prognosticators, such Hawking, Musk, et al., are acting like the Luddites of the 19th century.  That is, they make dire predictions that new technology is harboring the end of the world.  Elon Musk has gone on record stating that artificial intelligence will bring human extinction.

Fortunately, there are more pragmatic scientists, such as Nathan Myhrvold, that understand the real nature of technology adoption.  He uses the history of mathematics to articulate a pertinent analogy as well as justify his skepticism.

This situation is a classic example of something that the innovation doomsayers routinely forget: in almost all areas where we have deployed computers, the more capable the computers have become, the wider the range of uses we have found for them. It takes a lot of human effort and jobs to satisfy that rising demand.

 

March 21, 2018

One of the reasons that I still have not bought-into true synthetic/artificial intelligence is the fact that we still lack a normative model that explains the operation of the human brain.  In contrast, many of the other physiological systems can be analogized by engineering systems — the cardiovascular system is a hydraulic pumping system; the excretory system is a fluid filtering system; the skeletal system is a structural support system; and so on.

One of my regular tennis partners is an anesthesiologist who has shared with me that the medical practitioners don’t really know what causes changes in consciousness.  This implies that anesthesia is still based on ‘Edisonian’ science (i.e., based predominantly on trial and error without the benefit of understanding the deterministic cause & effects).  This highlights the fact that the model for what constitutes brain states and functions is still incomplete.  Thus, it’s difficult to create an ‘artificial’ version of that extremely complex neurological system.

 

March 17, 2018

A great summary description of the current situation from Vivek Wadhwa:

Artificial intelligence is like teenage sex: “Everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.” Even though AI systems can now learn a game and beat champions within hours, they are hard to apply to business applications.

 

March 6, 2018

It’s interesting how this recent article about AI starts: “I took an Uber to an artificial intelligence conference… “  In my case, it was late 1988 and I took a taxi to an artificial intelligence conference in Philadelphia.  AI then was filled with all these fanciful promises, and frankly the attendance at the conference felt like a feeding frenzy.  It reminded me of the Jerry Lewis movie “Who’s Minding the Store” with all of the attendees pushing each other to get inside the convention hall.

Of course, AI didn’t take over the world then and I don’t expect it to now.  However, with advances in technology over the last 30 years, I do see the adoption of a different AI — ‘augmented intelligence’ –becoming more of a mainstay.  One reason (which is typically associated with the ‘internet of things’) is sensors cost next to nothing and they are much more effective – i.e., recognizing voice commands; recognizing images & shapes; determining current locations; and so on.  This provides much more human-like sensing that augments people in ways we have not yet totally imagined (e.g. food and voice recognition to support blind people).

On the flip side, there are many AI-related technologies that are really based more on the availability of large amounts of data and raw computing power.  These are often referred to with esoteric names such as neural networks and machine learning.  While these do not truly represent synthetic intelligence, they have the basis for making vast improvements in analyses.  For example, we’re working with a company to accumulate data on all the details of everything that they make to enable them to rapidly understand the true drivers of what makes a good part versus a bad part.  This is enabled by the combination of the sensors described above along with the advanced computing techniques.

The marketing people in industry have adopted the use of the phrase ‘digital transformation’ to describe the opportunities and necessities that exist with the latest technology.  For me, I just view it as the latest generation of computer hardware and software that is enabling another great wave —  If futurist Alvin Toffler were alive today, he’d likely be calling it the ‘fourth wave’.

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