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Smart Faucets And Toilets Use Alexa To Listen To Your Conversations
It is hard to imagine a more intrusive home surveillance device than a faucet or toilet that listens to everyone's conversations, but that is just what Delta Faucet and Kohler have done.
Delta Faucet's "Voice IQ" takes advantage of where lots of people like to congregate and turns it into an Alexa eavesdropping center.
"Designed with the understanding that 20 percent of all WiFi-enabled homes are equipped with a connected home device, VoiceIQ Technology pairs with existing devices to dispense the exact amount of water needed, all with a simple voice command."
Delta lets Alexa decide how much water everyone gets.
"VoiceIQ Technology allows users to easily warm water and turn it on and off with voice activation, lending a hand in an active kitchen space. Consumers can command the faucet to dispense a metered amount of water in various quantities for precise measurement. Additionally, consumers can customize commands to make everyday tasks easier, like filling a coffee pot, a child’s sippy cup, or a dog bowl."(To learn more about Voice IQ click here.)
What they are really saying is Amazon will now monitor your home and individual water usage.
How is that for Orwellian?
Install Alexa in your kitchen at you own peril:
So despite what Delta's promotional video says, 'the kitchen is not a great place for some hands-free help.'
I mean who in their right mind thinks that Alexa's "hands free help" does not include moderators listening to your conversations while entertaining?
Delta is also offering Alexa's "hands free help" to homeowners with older kitchens.
"VoiceIQ Technology will be available summer 2019 as a pre-assembled feature on select Delta Trinsic® pull-down models with Touch2O Technology. For an added level of convenience, a retrofittable module for VoiceIQ Technology will be available to upgrade existing kitchen faucets with Delta Touch2O Technology manufactured after January 1, 2018."
No thanks, I'm good. I do not want to turn my faucet into an Amazon eavesdropping device.
I mean, what's next a voice-activated toilet?Kohler creates a voice-activated toilet
Leave is to Kohler to destroy what most people consider their most private part of life: the bathroom.
Earlier this year, Kohler unveiled their voice-activated toilet, called the "Numi 2.0" intelligent toilet.
"Numi 2.0 will come equipped with embedded Amazon Alexa for easy voice control to active toilet features as well as Alexa commands such as checking weather, traffic, accessing news, etc."
Is this really what America wants: a toilet that listens to you while you sit on the throne?
According to the Numi Intelligent video, Alexa monitors how often you go the bathroom and how much water you use.
Kohler is so sure that homeowners will want Alexa to listen to their most intimate moments that they created an app for the whole family.
"Use the Kohler Konnect app to program personalized presets for different users, and you can use voice to access the preset/profile. There is probably a difference between you, your spouse, and your children when it comes to your interaction with Numi 2.0; this lets you easily personalize your experience."
Alexa knows the difference between you and your children's voices. How is that for creepy?
In what messed up world do we live in? Where it is OK, to let a private company monitor when you go to the bathroom?
Delta Faucet and Kohler have joined the ranks of ignominious companies like Amazon and Google who have turned our private lives into a for-profit family surveillance model.Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 19:45 Tags Technology Internet
The Triumph Of Candidate Trump's Foreign Policy: Backing Off 'Disastrous War' With Iran
Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday shot back at Pompeo's Wednesday remarks from Jeddah characterizing the Aramco attacks as an "act of war" by Iran. FM Javad Zarif warned of "all-out war" if the US or Saudis attack Tehran in response. “We won’t blink to defend our territory,” Zarif told CNN.
Though the White House is said to be weighing "options" — including "substantially increased" sanctions which Trump announced this week, the consensus is the administration is cautiously walking back from a war footing. As the WSJ reports:
The White House is pushing to build an international coalition to exert pressure on Iran through the United Nations as its chief response to the attack on Saudi oil facilities, an approach consistent with President Trump’s aversion to military intervention, but also reflecting limits on his retaliatory options.Image via The Daily Beast
And the following section of the WSJ report sounds an apt description of Trump's 2016 campaign promises to avoid the disastrous global military interventions represented in the Bush, Obama, and Hillary legacies — a dovish instinct which helped propel him to the White House in the first place:
“This president, he didn’t want to go to war with anybody, OK? That’s not his inclination,” said Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman. “He will do everything he can to avoid a kinetic engagement with another country.”
Trump's aversion to taking a war-footing with Iran was also seen in the president's latest Fox interview Thursday morning, set to broadcast Friday, where with characteristic ambiguity toward the ratcheting gulf tensions he said he wants a "peaceful solution" which would be "good" but it remains that "it’s possible that that won’t happen."
“You may have some very strong hit, we’re the strongest military in the world by far,” said Trump during the interview. “We’re very powerful. We have new planes, new missiles, new everything.”
Iran has also repeatedly expressed a desire to avoid a direct war, but has assured that any US-Saudi military strike would result in certain "all-out war". Forbes has described a potential war with Iran as "disastrous and enormously costly".
.@npwcnn: What would be the consequence of an American or Saudi military strike on Iran now? Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: An all-out war. More: https://t.co/PllvEJnYBj pic.twitter.com/L8rwbEwI3d— CNN International (@cnni) September 19, 2019 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
But the president has at every turn resisted the urging of hawks in his own cabinet and in Congress, such as Lindsay Graham who this week urged a response "painful enough that they won’t do it again".
The WSJ's commentary suggests we are witnessing a return to the original foreign policy of candidate Trump, who tapped into the broader American public's desire of non-interventionism and to stay out of needless quagmires which cost untold blood and treasure:
Mr. Trump’s aversion to a more bellicose response — he publicly rebuked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) after he advocated for a military response against Iran — aligns with his “America First” approach to foreign policy and his distaste for military adventurism in the Middle East.
Of course, a commander-in-chief who desires to avoid costly wars (true to his campaign promises) has been met with general derision by mainstream pundits — some of which even on the left have suddenly begun championing uber-hawk Bolton as some sort of exiled "resistance" figure.
It must be remembered that anytime President Trump bombed Syria (he's done this twice) major network pundits momentarily gushed over him looking "presidential".
As Glenn Greenwald once observed, "the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets."
“This president, he didn’t want to go to war with anybody, OK? That’s not his inclina-tion,” said Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), the Foreign Relations Com-mittee chairman. “He will do everything he can to avoid an armed engagement” https://t.co/u310cEt6ib— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) September 19, 2019 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Speaking of the dismissed former national security adviser, he reportedly unleashed on Trump's reluctance to start new wars on Wednesday while at a closed-door luncheon hosted by the conservative Gatestone Institute. Bolton told the audience, according to Politico:
After the attack in June, Trump was poised to launch a military response against the Iranians — strongly urged by Bolton — but pulled back after Fox News host Tucker Carlson and others warned him that it was a bad idea.
During Wednesday’s luncheon, Bolton said the planned response had gone through the full process and everybody in the White House had agreed on the retaliatory strike.
Bolton followed with some biting sarcasm which appeared a further slam of Trump, apparently in reference to Fox's Carlson: But “a high authority, at the very last minute," without telling anyone, decided not to do it, Bolton complained, the Politico report relates.
* * *
Put simply, do Americans want war with Iran? No! — a recent Gallup Poll found...
Most Americans do not want to go to war with Iran. Only 18% of Americans – 25% of Republicans and 11% of Democrats – think the U.S. should take military action against Iran. Majority prefer diplomacy. (Gallup, July 2019) pic.twitter.com/Wsfn9WZDOe— Negar Mortazavi (@NegarMortazavi) August 20, 2019 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Indeed, the president's "crime" appears to be listening to the American people, which overwhelmingly according to every recent poll desire to "bring our boys home" and halt US regime change wars abroad with no more Iraq or Libya repeats.Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 19:25 Tags Politics
Will Chicago Be The Largest US City To Declare Bankruptcy?
The city of Chicago is in dire fiscal and financial straits with an almost billion dollar budget deficit, bonds rated at junk status or below, numerous extremely costly legal judgments, a shrinking tax base, and unfunded public pension liabilities to the tune of an astonishing $42 billion.
Other than that, it's a great place to live.
The state of Illinois has its own financial troubles, so the city can expect little or no help there. And good luck getting a federal bailout through the GOP Senate and signed by a president who's been called a "racist" by the mayor.
The shrinking tax base is clear proof that citizens are already over taxed. And since it's Democrats in charge, there won't be much cutting of city services.
The only option for Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city council is restructuring the city's massive debts. In other words: bankruptcy.
The city needs to lower taxes to start growing again, but lower taxes would mean Chicago can no longer service its debts. Federal law offers a procedure for reducing those debts by commencing a case in bankruptcy court. A bankruptcy judge has the power under federal law to reduce the city’s liabilities, change its pensions, reorganize its functions into a more efficient ongoing structure and eliminate some of its debts — but the judge does not have the authority to raise your taxes.
Bankruptcy is a painful process because it forces creditors who facilitated the city’s failure to take a loss: bond holders, such as hedge funds, Wall Street bankers that sold the bonds and the people who are waiting to be paid for goods and services sold to Chicago, including past and current municipal employees. (The city can and will still be able to offer generous pension benefits to its workers, but perhaps with a cap limiting pensions of well more than $100,000 and without the automatic 3% COLA; the exact terms of any new deal would be hammered out in negotiations under the auspices of the court.)
There are several problems with this plan. Good luck getting unions to agree to any change in the way pensions are figured. Former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner tried for 3 years to find a way to get the public unions in the state to make some tiny reforms and he was blown out of office.
Besides, it doesn't matter what the bankruptcy judge will say or do. There is going to be pain. Just ask the citizens of Detroit who endured the process in 2013. It wasn't pretty.
Indeed, there simply isn't an alternative:
This is Lightfoot’s moment: She didn’t make this crisis, but if she seeks higher taxes and less services instead of reform, Chicago’s population and property values will continue to bleed out. A bankruptcy restructuring is in Chicago’s future; it’s immoral to wait until empty buildings fill the downtown instead of cranes, and property values for “remainers” fall further toward zero.
Unfortunately, Lightfoot can’t make this happen on her own. Under federal law, the state must first authorize bankruptcy filings by municipalities before the city can avail itself of this procedure to restructure its debts.
Instead of lobbying Springfield to ask residents of other towns to pay Chicago’s debts, she needs Gov. Pritzker and the legislature to grant permission for the city to pursue a prudent financial reorganization and debt reduction through a federal bankruptcy procedure.
One thing is certain: a filing of bankruptcy will totally eliminate the leverage of machine politicians to bilk the public. The machine has been in decline for at least 3 decades, but remnants of the old Daley coalition survived. But there's no hiding anymore. The machine has to go if the city is to recover and thrive again.
From my 40-year observations of the Chicago political scene, I have my doubts whether Mayor Lightfoot could do what needs to be done. The powers that be are just too entrenched. It's not only politicians, it's bloodsucking businessmen, organized crime, and now street gangs who also get a cut of the action. This is the way the "City that works" has worked for more than 90 years.
Since the days of Big Bill Thompson, Chicago has been a cesspool of graft and corruption. Can waving the magic wand of bankruptcy cure the city of almost 100 years of amoral governance?
Don't bet the farm on it.Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 19:05 Tags Social Issues Labor
"They've Created A Snowflake Market" - Mark Spitznagel Warns Of "Dangerous Over-Reliance" On Central Banks
Last year, before the market collapsed in the XIV debacle, Universa's Mark Spitznagel warned "a reckoning always follows...something really big is coming"
This is an age of massive artificial economic imbalances and systemic risks.
Repress change, and you repress all that it means. Repressing it is sheer hubris and, in Dylan’s words, “beyond your command.” You can only defer it, not stop it. (Juxtapose this view with outgoing U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s ambitious claim that there will not be another financial crisis “in our lifetimes.”) When we try enforcing stability by decree, a reckoning always follows. An unsustainable boom leads headlong to an inevitable bust. A hard rain falls.
Rather than fear it, we should “tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it.” This is Dylan’s resolve. Something really big is coming. Let the central bankers try to keep standing in its way, but as investors we need to recognize and accept its logical consequence of a return to the meaning of volatility. Change and volatility are good. “There is nothing perpetual but change”—according to Mises, who surely must have loved Dylan just as much as I do.
While this is a common theme from the guru of tail risks, he nailed it then; and again late last year as he warned before the December collapse.:
“All assets are priced where they are today because of central banks. That’s modern finance — it’s not about psychology or flows anymore, it’s about what the central banks are going to do next.”
And now he is back with perhaps his most ominous warning yet. In an interview with Bloomberg's Eric Schatzker, the hedge fund manager exclaimed that "the negative rates we’re seeing throughout the world are an abomination, by any objective standards,"
"It’s part of this Rube Goldberg world we’re in where you’ve got these strange interconnectedness between different markets and they start lacking meaning...
"...making long term macro calls and macro trades like that successfully isn’t possible. I think it’s a fool’s errand."
"...central banks can never step away from this. They can threaten to. And they can bluff, and they can do some probing bets like they did last year, and the market may fall for that, or call that bluff in the short term. But yes I think we’re in a position now where central banks can never back away..."
Full Transcript below:
ERIK SCHATZKER: Mark you and I have both been looking at and thinking about the bond market. Bonds are supposed to mitigate the risk of an equity slide in the event the economy slows down or perhaps even goes into recession. Is that still possible with the ten-year treasury yielding 160 basis points?
MARK SPITZNAGEL: It’s a lot harder today, that’s for sure. Bonds are kind of complicated by the fact that they have these cross-currents going on. When rates are low they raise the net present value of things like stocks. But at the same time there’s this historic flight to quality to bonds. So there are these informational cross-currents and it’s not clear what we’re going to see but of course rates where they are today and the negative rates we’re seeing throughout the world are an abomination and I think it’s pretty plain to see that bonds are not a safe place to be. Certainly not a good risk mitigation strategy.
ES: What about all the strategies that are built on the notion of bonds being a good risk mitigation strategy, specifically risk parity?
MS: Yeah, it’s a big problem. It’s a big, big problem. Especially when it’s done in the levered way that risk parity requires. It’s a big problem because—so what do we have, we have these sort of statistical hedges and we have more mechanical hedges. Bonds fall in the category of the statistical hedge, and we can extrapolate into this insanity where we can take such a levered bet thinking that this is going to balance our portfolio. A mechanical hedge would be something more like an option or even credit. By cap structure arbitrage credit has to go out in a crisis, vol has to go out in a crisis, really in a big enough crisis. Bonds it’s not clear. We don’t even know what the sign of that correlation could be in bonds versus stocks. That’s how bad it is.
ES: Now, from an investor’s point of view there are a number of ways f looking at this. You should be concerned about the risks you’re taking relative to the reward that you might get, but some people are just looking for returns and they say a year ago the ten-year treasury was yield 3 percent, today it’s yielding 1.60. Some people think it’s headed negative. If that’s the case, I just need to hold it, I’m going to make a lot of money.
MS: Yeah, yeah, that’s a great point. And I can’t argue with that. You make a great point in that we need to think about a trade like that, we need to think about bond investing much more as a tactical allocation as opposed to a strategic one. A tactical one would be you’ve got to make this call right, you’re making this macro call, you’re making this call on rates. You better be right. A strategic one would be more about how you structure your portfolio for the long run, how you’re going to balance your portfolio, how you’re going to raise your rate of compounding based on how all these pieces move together vis-à-vis each other. So I think it’s really important that people understand that when they’re putting all of this money in bonds it’s no longer a very good strategic allocation, but it might be a good tactical one, I don’t know.
ES: Well what if it is a strategic allocation and you need to hedge that. Where do you hedge your bond risk?
MS: So we need to hedge the hedges. Right? And then we need to hedge the hedges of the hedges. Once you start to even have to ask those questions I think it’s plain that this isn’t a very sound, safe risk mitigation strategy.
ES: You called the situation we’re in insanity. That’s a bit of a judgement don’t you think?
MS: Negative rates is insanity, by any objective standards.
ES: 17 trillion dollars of negative-yielding debt.
MS: It’s insane. And over a trillion of negative-yielding corporate debt. That too is insane. And how do you justify that with people thinking that rates so low and the yield curve so flat is signifying panic and coming recession?
ES: At the very least, the rate market in the United States is still positively yielding. But as we’ve just discussed, elsewhere in the developed world it’s mostly a situation of negative-yielding sovereign debt and in some cases if you will crazier things. Negative-yielding Danish mortgages. From a mechanical standpoint, because you think about things mechanically, what does it mean when assets are liabilities and liabilities are assets?
MS: Again, it’s insanity. It’s part of this Rube Goldberg world we’re in where you’ve got these strange interconnectedness between different markets and they start lacking meaning. So I can’t even answer that question because there isn’t any meaning to it any more. But I hear what you’re saying. Rates are higher here than elsewhere throughout the world, is it a bad tactical play to think that bonds could even edge higher, rates are going to go lower, and I do think there’s going to be endless accommodation by central banks and by the Fed specifically.
ES: So it might not be a bad tactical bet.
MS: See I’m not even in that business. I don’t want to make these macro calls. Frankly, I think long term making macro calls and macro trades like that successfully isn’t possible. I think it’s a fool’s errand.
ES: A lot of people have been carried out of the building trying to make those calls. Not this building. The other building. But to your point, Mark, that isn’t your business. Your business is providing what I have called before catastrophe insurance. People think of you as something of a financial Grim Reaper. Today as it happens you’re not dressed in black, but you have been before. Do you really want the markets to crash?
MS: No, I don’t want the markets to crash, I’ll be good if the markets crash, my clients will be good if the markets crash, at least in terms of the fact that they insured them. But, I don’t want the markets to crash. Would you ask a bodyguard if he wants his clients to get attacked. He doesn’t. He doesn’t want them to get hurt, or for someone to even try to harm them. He just knows that he is there so they can go on and do the things in their lives that they have to do—without the risks of getting attacked. So no, I’m a cheerleader for our economy, but I do think that we’ve done some insane things across the board.
ES: You’ve told me before, Mark, that you don’t think the Fed or the ECB or the BOJ or the Bank of England or the Bank of Canada, it doesn’t matter which central bank we’re talking about, will ever be able to normalize. In other words, the era of monetary intervention is, for all intents and purposes, never ending.
MS: That’s right. I’ve been saying for years that I’ve been saying for years that central banks can never step away from this. They can threaten to. And they can bluff, and they can do some probing bets like they did last year, and the market may fall for that, or call that bluff in the short term. But yes I think we’re in a position now where central banks can never back away, which sort of begs the question how can this ever end. Can asset markets get inflated forever? Of course they can’t. There are end games here, because this is unsustainable. There is a level of debt that becomes too much, too impossible to carry, at any rate environment. But we also have to think about price levels ticking up at some point. I know that to use the word stagflation is a bit quaint. But we have to think about that the more the world is printing money.
ES: Maybe, but nobody has been able to get paid thinking that way for the past ten years.
MS: Yeah, that’s the trap isn’t it?
ES: I suppose it is. Now, what happens if, in fact, the Fed continues to ease, which is what the market is pricing in? Is it inevitable that that just prolongs not just the downturn but makes whatever the next downturn looks like that much worse?
MS: It is inevitable. Because, you know, central banks have created this world where it’s the snowflake market, everyone gets a trophy. We know what happens, we know what that implies. It implies spoiled brats and a lack of resiliency, and that’s exactly what central banks have created in this market. An overreliance, a dangerous, dangerous overreliance.
ES: What about investors themselves? I think it’s a factual statement that the Capital Asset Pricing model doesn’t work in a negative rate environment, does it?
MS: I would argue it’s not such a good model in a normal environment. But, point taken. There’s a lot of things that we need to rethink in a zero or negative rate environment. But these are things that we should have been rethinking all along.
ES: A lot of people think, and when I say people I mean people in financial markets, that the safest place to hide is in private assets. There’s no mark to market in private assets. Hedge funds don’t have to puke out private assets, you know, in the middle of the downturn that we had in 2008, 2009. Do you believe that? Do you believe it’s a safe place to hide, and that it’s a better place to compound because you don’t have the mark to market, you’re not forced to mark to market?
MS: Not having mark to market is always a preferable thing, there’s no doubt about it. If I’m able to make a Buffet-type bet where I think the market is going to be at a certain point in ten or more years I would have much more confidence doing that without getting marked to market because it is path that ultimately gets people. Having said that, I wouldn’t want to make a broad statement about private equity any more than I would necessarily about all stocks. There are subsets of the market that are priced better and are better plays than others. So I wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. But I certainly wouldn’t want to say that just because something is private equity and just because it’s not marked to market you should rush into that. There can be very expensive, bad deals, and mark to market or not it can be very costly.
ES: Do you think though that the nature of public markets today and the way that they are influenced if not manipulated, some would use the word manipulation by central banks, makes private markets more attractive?
MS: Well it might. You know, markets are very bad at pricing risk. They’re very bad at pricing risk. At best, markets price risk by looking in the rear-view mirror. At worst, they look ahead two feet. So the markets price things very poorly and, again, that path can really hurt you in that sense. Too much mark to market, too much looking at the ticks on your Bloomberg screen is a bad thing. And being exposed to that makes it even worse. I can agree with you, but having said that, I have to assume that much of the valuation in private equity is at least as bad as the historically high valuations we’re seeing in public markets today, pretty much across the board.Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 18:45 Tags Business Finance
Luongo: Will The Yemen War Be The End Of Saudi Arabia?
The attack on Saudi Arabia’s major oil processing station in Abqaiq over the weekend was a major turning point in global politics. It may be even bigger than many of us realize.
While forces within U.S. political circles, Israel and Saudi Arabia keep trying to shift the blame to Iran, the most likely scenario is that the Houthis in North Yemen were responsible for the attack as a follow up to last month’s hit which showed off the capabilities of their new drones.
That attack set the stage for the latest one in a classic case of the past being prologue. By showing the world it was capable of throwing drones anywhere in Saudi Arabia rebels in Yemen created plausibility for last weekend’s attack.
And as I said the other day this attack begs a lot of questions. And the ham-fisted push to blame Iran for it, after President Trump all but ruled out a military response from the U.S. from all corners of the U.S. and Saudi establishment opens up even more.
If this was a swarm attack from Iraq and Iran, as claimed now (and supported by factless conjecture) then how did all the vaunted U.S. technology fail to account for it?
U.S. Naval CENTCOM is in Bahrain folks. Are these people blind as well as incompetent?
No. I don’t think they are. Say what you want about U.S. political leadership and the nigh-treasonous bureaucracy supporting it, I don’t think our military is that fundamentally corrupt, lazy or stupid.
What are we spending all of the money on, after all?
By continuing to spin this attack up as Iranian in origin people like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Saudi Arabian government are throwing the Pentagon under the bus.
The truth is that by trying to re-frame this as an attack by Iraqi Shi’ite militias, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), in conjunction with the IRGC, we are trying to further separate them from the Iraqi government who still openly support them and deflect against Saudi Arabia’s inherent weakness.
The PMUs have been our target politically in Iraq for months now so as to restart the chaos in Iraq.
Iraq and Syria continue to try and re-open the Al-Bukumai border crossing near Deir Ezzor. In response to the drone attack on Saudi Arabia there were two sets of airstrikes there on the 17th and the 18th. Saudi Arabia denies being involved and blamed Israel for the strikes.
The Shia Crescent is forming. The PMUs are an important part of this. Iran is investing billions in new road and rail links from Tehran to Beirut. So, the existential threat to Saudi Arabia and Israel is real.
Of that I have zero doubt.
But, notice what’s happening. Everyone’s pointing fingers at each other within the the U.S. alliance now.
Meanwhile Iran very calmly keeps denying the attack. I fully expect proof from them in the near future if the U.S. shows “proof” of Iran’s involvement.
Think back to the drone incident in June which nearly landed us in a war with Iran. The story morphed and changed with each day. The Iranians had the data, the proof, on their side and they let morons like Pompeo say provably false things before releasing it.
“Drip Drip Drip” is the strategy, as Andrew Breitbart used to call it. Drip out some information and allow your target to lie about it. Then drip out the next bit exposing that lie. And so on, and so on.
That’s what Iran did in June, humiliating Trump at every turn. And I’m sure if they weren’t behind this attack they will do the same thing in the coming days.
And I also think the U.S knows this as well. And that’s why nothing much more will come of it. It will be used diplomatically to tie Trump’s hands and front a lie to conceal more important truths.
The Saudi Arabians cannot defend their home. As Moon of Alabama points out Saudi air defense coverage is poor.
U.S. naval positioning is not prepared for a step up in violence. Carrier Groups are not in the Persian Gulf.
The Iranians believe they can hit targets up to 2000 kilometers away. How true that is versus U.S. air defense systems is questionable.
The Saudis have lost nearly all of their external support. The coalition against Yemen has collapsed.
The Houthis are winning.
Qatar hates them.
Egypt wouldn’t join Trump’s Arab NATO.
OPEC+ is floundering and Russia sets the tone.
And this brings me to the stark possibility Pepe Escobar laid out in his recent column. The Houthis may, right now, be in a position to launch an all-out attack from Yemen on Saudi Arabia and destabilize the country.
The situation has now reached a point where there’s plenty of chatter across the Persian Gulf about a spectacular scenario: the Houthis investing in a mad dash across the Arabian desert to capture Mecca and Medina in conjunction with a mass Shiite uprising in the Eastern oil belt. That’s not far-fetched anymore. Stranger things have happened in the Middle East. After all, the Saudis can’t even win a bar brawl – that’s why they rely on mercenaries.
An uprising in the east has always been on the table. It’s why the Saudis need $80+ per barrel oil. They have to pay for social programs that keep the population relatively happy.
From every side now, the Saudi Kingdom is under existential threat. So, I’m not surprised they are trying to push the blame for this incident onto Iran.
The quick announcement by newly-minted Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman that Aramco’s production will be back to normal quickly was done to reassure potential investors in the upcoming Aramco IPO, a $400 billion affair. It is the lynchpin to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) Vision 2030 plan for modernizing the kingdom’s economy.
That fits with the desire to deflect the source of the attack away from their war in Yemen. Because, as bad as the optics are for the U.S. military, they are far worse for the Saudis if the Houthis are truly the culprits.
At a minimum the changing of the energy minister was a signal that a shift in Saudi policy is forthcoming. But without suing for peace soon MbS may not have time he thought he did.
Because there is no appetite for all out war with Iran in the U.S. The Saudis are no longer the ‘good Arabs’ to most Americans.
The military doesn’t want to put the soldiers at risk, Wall St. doesn’t want to see a financial collapse that makes Lehman Bros. look like a couple of Amish kids on rumspringa.
The MIC doesn’t want to expose their toys to the potential for them failing to dominate in the field.
War with Iran will not be conventional. It will come from all sides, all across the Shia Crescent, but especially Yemen. Of this the Iranians have been very clear, regardless of the outcome. They believe their missile technology is superior to U.S. air defense systems.
They may be correct and the last thing the U.S. wants is an actual shooting war where the outcome isn’t a foregone conclusion. The U.S. military is better served as a bogeyman, politically, rather than an actual physical threat.
So, MbS better come to the conclusion quick that a settlement in Yemen is the key to his near-term survival. Because in a quick strike by the Houthis which creates an uprising across the country there’s precious little the U.S. can or will do to oppose that.
And while an all-out war would certainly bring $150+ per barrel oil which the Saudis need to balance their budget, they most likely wouldn’t be the ones selling into that market.
* * *Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 18:25 Tags Politics
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