Three Things: This Matin, Think Latin

I have three things cluttering up my notes — just big enough to give pause but not big enough for a full post. I’ll toss them out here for an open thread.

~ 3 ~
Aluminum -> Aeronautics -> Stock Market and Spies
I’ve spent quite a while researching the aeronautics industry over the couple of years, trying to make sense out of a snippet in the Buryakov spy case indictment. The three spies were at one point digging into an aeronautics company, but the limited amount of information in the indictment suggested they were looking at a non-U.S. company.

You can imagine my surprise on December 6, 2016, when then-president-elect tweeted about Boeing’s contract for the next Air Force One, complaining it was too expensive. Was it Boeing the spies were discussing? But the company didn’t fit what I could see in the indictment, though Boeing’s business is exposed to Russia, in terms of competition and in terms of components (titanium, in particular).

It didn’t help that Trump tweeted before the stock market opened and Boeing’s stock plummeted after the opening bell. There was plenty of time for dark pool operators to go in and take positions between Trump’s tweet and the market’s open. What an incredible bonanza for those who might be on their toes — or who knew in advance this was going to happen.

And, of course, the media explained this all away as Trump’s “Art of the Deal” tactics, ignoring the fact he wasn’t yet president and he was renegotiating the terms of a signed government contract before he took office. (Ignoring also this is not much different than renegotiating sanctions before taking office…)

I was surprised again only a couple weeks later about Boeing and Lockheed; this time I wasn’t the only person who saw the opportunity, though the timing of the tweet and market opening were different.

Again, the media took note of the change in stock prices before rolling over and playing dead before the holidays.

There have been a few other opportunities like this to “take advantage of the market,” though they are a bit more obscure. Look back at the NYSE and S&P trends whenever Trump has tweeted about North Korea; if one knew it was coming, they could make a fortune.

A human would only need the gap as long as that between a Fox and Friends’ mention of bad, bad North Korea and a corresponding Trump tweet to make the play (although one might have to watch that vomit-inducing program to do this). An algorithm monitoring FaF program and Trump tweets would need even less time.

Yesterday was somebody’s platinum opportunity even if Trump was dicking around with U.S. manufacturers (including aeronautics companies) and global aluminum and steel producers. His flip-flop on tariffs surely made somebody beaucoup bucks — maybe even an oligarch with a lot of money and a stake in one of the metals, assuming he knew in advance where Trump was going to end up by the close of the market day. The market this morning is still trying to make sense of his ridiculous premise that trade wars are good and winnable; too bad the market still believes this incredibly crappy businessman is fighting a war for U.S. trade.

Just for the heck of it, go to Google News, search for [trump tariffs -solar], look for Full Coverage, sort by date and not relevance. Note how many times you see Russia mentioned in the chronologically ordered feed — mine shows exactly zero while China, Korea, Germany are all over the feed. I sure hope somebody at the SEC is paying as much attention to this as cryptocurrency.

I suppose I have to spell this out: airplanes are made of aluminum and steel, capisce?

~ 2 ~
Italian Son
One niggling bit from Glenn Simpson’s testimony for Fusion GPS before the Senate Intelligence Committee has stuck with me. I wish I could time travel and leave Simpson a note before testimony and tell him, “TELL US WHAT YOU SEE, GLENN!” when he is presented with Paul Manafort’s handwritten notes. The recorder only types what was actually said and Glenn says only the sketchiest bit about what he sees. Reading this transcript, we have only the thinnest amount of context to piece together what he sees.

Q. Do any of the other entries in here mean anything to you in light of the research you’ve conducted or what you otherwise know about Mr. Browder?

A. I’m going to — I can only speculate about some of these things. I mean, sometimes —

MR. LEVY: Don’t speculate.

A. Just would be guesses.

Q. Okay.

A. I can skip down a couple. So “Value in Cyprus as inter,” I don’t know what that means.”Illici,” I don’t know what that means. “Active sponsors of RNC,” I don’t know what that means. “Browder hired Joanna Glover” is a mistaken reference to Juliana Glover, who was Dick Cheney’s press secretary during the Iraq war and associated with another foreign policy controversy. “Russian adoptions by American families” I assume is a reference to the adoption issue.

Q. And by “adoption issue” do you mean Russia prohibiting U.S. families from adopting Russian babies as a measure in response to the Magnitsky act?

A. I assume so.

Bold mine, to emphasis the bit which has been chewing away at me. “Illici” could be an interrupted “illicit”; the committee and Simpson use the word or a modifier, illicitly, eight times during the course of their closed door session. It’s not a word we use every day; the average American Joe/Josie is more likely to use “illegitimate” or the even more popular “illegal” to describe an unlawful or undesirable action or outcome.

(I’m skeptical Manafort was stupid enough to begin scratching out “illicit” and catch himself in time, but then I can’t believe how stupid much of this criminality has been.)

But the average American Joe/Josie doesn’t travel abroad, speak with Europeans often, or speak second languages. The average white Joe/Josie may be three or more generations from their immigrant antecedents.

Not so Mr. Manafort, who is second generation Italian on both sides of his family. He may speak some Italian since his grandfather was an immigrant — and quite likely Catholic, too. Hello, Latin masses in Italian American communities.

Did Manafort mean “illici,” a derivative of Latin “illicio,” which means to entice or seduce? Or was it a corrupted variant of Latin “illico,” which means immediately?

Or is Manafort a bad speller who really meant either “elici”, “elicio,” or “elicit,” meaning to draw out or entice?

Like Simpson, these are just guesses. Only Manafort really knows and I seriously doubt he’ll ever tell what he meant.

~ 1 ~
If you haven’t checked your personal online privacy and cybersecurity recently, give Privacy Haus’s checklist a look. Nearly all of the items I’ve already addressed but I tried one of the items suggested as a fix to an ongoing challenge. Good stuff!

~ 0 ~
That’s it, have at it in this open thread! One last thing: if you didn’t read Marcy’s op-ed, Has Jared Kushner Conspired to Defraud America? in Wednesday’s NYT, you should. You’re going to need it as part of a primer going forward.

37 replies
  1. TheraP says:

    I’ve been having some fun with this:

    “Illici”- There’s an ICI – international contracting company – headquartered in Chicago, Illinois:

    (“ici” also means “here” in French – “I’ll be here”?)

    “Value in Cypress as inter[mediary]”?

    Ergo: Construction company as [money laundering] intermediary in Cyprus?

    Just riffing here. Maybe this means something to somebody.

      • Rayne says:

        French: Il est ici. -or- Il est la.

        Italian: Lui è qui.

        Romanian: El este aici. (offered as another Latin-root Romance language)

        None really quite fit, which is why this is sticking in my craw so badly.

          • Rayne says:

            NP. I’ve gone through so many languages, even Ukraine and Russian, trying to find a fit. Latin is the closest.

            Unless he really is that farking stupid and was going to write out “Illicit, much deal, very negotiate, so money,” or something like that and he caught himself just in time.

            We get the criminals we deserve, I guess.

    • cfost says:

      This plays into my suspicion that Trump and a few others are Manchurians. Not stupid, not senile or demented, not even insane: Manchurian. People are scratching their heads over the decisions and behavior of officials in the WH. But what if even THEY are not aware of the, um, inappropriateness of their decisions?
      Word is that Wilbur Ross is Trump’s only real ally on this tariff issue, and that others may resign over it. Ross, given his Bank of Cyprus connections, could well be a Manchurian. People like Ross or Javanka (or any number of others in this crowd) may be evil snakes, but they did not get to their present place in life by being stupid evil snakes. They are strategic, cunning, patient, well-informed and well prepared. Except in certain crucial circumstances, and the cumulative effect is slowly, slowly demoralizing the US population and ruining our image throughout the world. Who, pray tell, might find such a development beneficial?
      BTW, thanks Rayne for the Privacy Haus link. Good stuff, indeed!

  2. Trip says:

    I have speculated that illici could be Elche in Spain. Or a code for Spain, in general. The Russian mob, including Torshin, are all over Spain.

    Illici: Ancient city in Spain.

  3. TheraP says:

    ILLICI – written in caps could be Roman Numerals.  Not one number but a series.

    1 50 50 1 100 1

    Or some combination as a code?

  4. Trip says:

    So….Melania got the ‘Einstein’ visa.

    In 2000, Melania Knauss, a Slovenian model dating Donald Trump, began petitioning the government for the right to permanently reside in the United States under a program reserved for people with “extraordinary ability.”

    The off color jokes just write themselves, don’t they?  Trump is tough on immigration except for ‘special’ talents.


    • Rayne says:

      There isn’t a trade off here; two opponents aren’t likely to say, Geewhilikers, we’ll stick to trade war and not nuke you.

      What’s worth considering, though, is that the threats of nuclear war are kabuki theater for the benefit of market participants. Remember Trump “slipped” not long ago and said he had a good relationship with Kim Jong-un? What if he actually does, and the two of them trade insults to rile the market and create volatility on which their respective investments or beneficiaries can trade for mega profits?

      This excerpt from that linked piece — Jesus.

      The president suggested to the Wall Street Journal that his name-calling eventually pays off.

      • TheraP says:

        I meant it more as Trump distracting himself with a trade war (which isn’t good, but not so horrible as nuclear). But the Kabuki idea merits thinking about.

        Trump is getting more bonkers by the day.

  5. david sanger says:

    “The FBI may have violated criminal statutes, as well as its own strict internal procedures, by using unverified information during the 2016 election to obtain a surveillance warrant onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee charged in Thursday in a letter obtained by Fox News.”

    looks like pretty thin soup.

      • Rayne says:

        What, embed the image? Screenshot of the tweet, saved to the site’s media library (you could save to a different site, I’ve tweeted images and used the image’s URL from there). Then snagged the image’s address and used the image tag like so:

        [<img src=” jpg” alt=”image description” />]

        But I was working in HTML; you’d have to Post Comment and then use the Edit feature to insert the HTML without access to WordPress backend.

  6. greengiant says:

    Hard to keep up with the scams.  Think pipelines, infrastructure, autos for steel. Aircraft not so much. Notice the grandfathered steel imports for the pipelines. Any Trump emission is subject to change.

    • Rayne says:

      That grandfathered bit should tell you a lot. He’s fully conscious of the need to avoid pissing off the Kochs and their oil and gas brethren working on XL and DAPL pipelines. He’s working for a very narrow range of oligarchs, not for the wider range of American industry. And if he’s this selective, who else is in that sweet spot even the uber wealthy of manufacturing can’t see?

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Is it a good thing that the touted replacement for McMaster, Stephen Biegun, is an old Russia hand? He’s an Ann Arbor grad who studied Russian, worked there for two years out of college, for the Int’l Republican Institute, and is now board member or adviser to a host of American Russian foundations and institutes. He worked for Condi Rice, also a Russia hound. His most recent gig is as head of “international governmental affairs”, which usually means he’s chief foreign govt lobbyist, for Ford Motor Co.

    The soon to be new Ambassador to Mexico is Ed Whitacre, former short-term CEO of GM and long term former telecoms executive, who is 76. He will replace Latin American expert and 31-year foreign service officer Roberta Jacobson, who resigned for undisclosed reasons shortly after President Trump ended one more angry phone call with the Mexican President.

    We’re outsourcing government to the private sector in more ways than one.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t trust anyone who has Trump’s imprimatur. If they have any ethics they won’t sign on to work for this criminal; a rational, informed nominee can’t possibly believe they can successfully navigate this pyroclastic flow of bullshit.

    • harpie says:

      …and Beigun:
      Sarah Kendzior:
      “I debated Stephen Biegun, the proposed replacement for McMaster, at a panel on foreign policy in Estonia last year. Here’s a video of the discussion / Do you remember this side-eye? It was directed at Biegun and another panelist who was from the Heritage Foundation. Both were defending Trump on terrible grounds.” 

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    El Presidente starts a trade war over basic metals because he’s angry, lonely and pissed.  No one outside his office knew about it ahead of time.  No background or briefing to or from department heads.  No briefing to or from lawyers or government trade specialists.  No heads up to foreign allies who might be adversely affected by his new tariff wall.  No legal or economic rationale for the tariffs.  Just ignorant decisiveness.

    Trump’s surprise move followed an hour after a surprise visit to the Oval Office by 15 bidness people with a partisan interest in benefiting from the tariff.  No prep, no names of the visitors, who were unknown even to the Chief of Staff.  They were shepherded into the White House by Commerce Sec’y and former turnaround specialist, octogenarian and billionaire Wilbur Ross.  Among his former bankruptcy-assisted turnarounds were steel and aluminum companies.

    Who thinks a guy who makes decisions that have a global impact based on so little skewed information would be smart enough not to conspire with the Russians to gain the presidency?

    Trump lurches from one disaster to another, dragging the country along with him.  His GOP is behind him 110%.

  9. harpie says:

    1] Adam Schiff: Jared making deals in the White House. Trump signing tax cuts for real estate developers. The first family is not draining the swamp, they’re licensing it, and branding it with great big gold letters.

    2] Elizabeth de la Vega @Delavegalaw Exactly. Viewed through an appropriately wide-angled lens, Trump et al have conspired to impede the lawful activities of nearly every U.S. agency, including the DOJ, NSA, DOS, DOC and GSA, through blatant misuse of the office of the presidency for personal gain.

    • harpie says:

      de la Vega, later in the day: “It’s obvious Kushner, Flynn, Trump et al’s key activity during the transition was a frenzy of machinations designed to maximize profit from Trump’s presidency. Remember: The Mueller team has all transition emails, plus Flynn & myriad other witnesses from Obama admin & Trump team.”

      • bmaz says:

        De la Vega is a bit of a noisy crank. She exists currently on the Larry Tribe scale, but without any of the early credibility Tribe once accumulated long ago.

  10. matt says:

    Great Post.

    I sure hope somebody at the SEC is paying as much attention to this as cryptocurrency.

    Remember Trump “slipped” not long ago and said he had a good relationship with Kim Jong-un? What if he actually does, and the two of them trade insults to rile the market and create volatility on which their respective investments or beneficiaries can trade for mega profits?

    These are the kind of inherit flaws in our Wall St. dominated market system that not only cause instability for the retirement saver, but obscene exploitative profits by the gods of financial capitalism- the “Market Makers.”  What I love about your thought process, is that it is conceivable to collect many instances of market manipulation when looking at the timing of Trump (or other Market Maker) comments and/or moves immediately preceding news commentary, as on Fox.  Keep up the good work!

    • TheraP says:

      With apologies to Psalm 105 (106) – listen up, fundamentalists:

      “They worshipped the idols of the [NRA]
      and these became a snare to entrap them.
      They even offered their own sons
      and their daughters in sacrifice …

      They shed the blood of the innocent,
      the blood of their sons and daughters
      whom they offered to the idols of [NRA].
      The land was polluted with blood.”

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