French soldier opens fire on machete-wielding man who ‘ran towards’ security forces at Louvre in Paris
A French soldier opened fire on a machete-wielding man who “ran towards” security forces around the Mus e du Louvre. The man – whose identity and nationality are not yet known – was reportedly attempting to enter the museum’s underground shop carrying two backpacks. Parisian police chief Michel Cadot said the attacker had been carrying a machete and had “run towards” a group of soldiers, shouting “Allahu akhbar” – ‘God is great’ in Arabic.
We are dealing with an attack from an individual who was clearly aggressive and represented a direct threat, and whose comments lead us to believe that he wished to carry out a terrorist incident.
Michel Cadot, police chief, Paris
Neither backpack – which sources had originally reported as suitcases – contained explosives, he confirmed. Benoit Brulon, spokesman for the military force which patrols key sites in the city, said the man attacked the four-strong team after being refused entry with his bags. They had tried to fight the man off before opening fire, he said.
One of the soldiers suffered minor injuries, and one of the others then have fired back five times, seriously injuring the man, including in the stomach. Mr Cadot said that a second individual had been detained after being spotted “behaving suspiciously”, but that there did not appear to be a link between them and the attack. Chinese tourist Jiao Liyang was among the 250 people inside the museum at the time, and said they had been told to sit on the ground in a locked room as the area was put on lockdown.
The Interior Ministry said they would be evacuated in small groups as soon as the “necessary precautions” had been taken.
Armed forces have been in place across the French capital to reassure tourists in the city after two major terror attacks in 2015.
For many parts of the world, it is hard to predict which Donald Trump will enter the White House on January 20 . Will it be the Donald Trump who promised to decimate ISIS in 100 days, or the Donald Trump who promised to avoid an Iraq-like quagmire ? Will it be the Donald Trump who campaigned on building up a decrepit U.S .
military, or the Donald Trump who said he would slash military spending1 to balance the budget ? Will it be a Donald Trump who is eager to strong-arm China at the negotiating table, or the Donald Trump who promised to discard the Trans-Pacific trade deal designed to increase American leverage over the region? While Trump continues to regularly contradict his own supposed views on U.S . foreign policy, his approach to the U.S . southern border is clear . He talked a lot about building a wall while running for president . Since winning, he s repeatedly emphasized the seriousness of his promise.
We re going to build the wall, okay ? Believe me . We re going to build the wall . We have to . We have got to stop the drugs from coming in and the wall is going to be a big, big factor. In the Trumpist view, the lack of a continuous border wall between the U.S . and Mexico facilitates the flow of drugs, undermines U.S .
wages, and provides a potential gateway for terrorists trying to find their way into the United States . The wall is a concrete way to address fears among Trump s base surrounding immigration, an issue that gives concerns over jobs, wages, and terrorist attacks a common focal point along the southern border . This worldview is so compelling as a political vision that it has sometimes caused Trump s national security team to back it up with fabrications . Michael Flynn, Trump s choice for national security adviser, has wrongly claimed3 that there are Arabic letters written on the backs of signs along the Mexico border, intended to guide terrorists into the United States. John Kelly, the retired Marine general who Trump has chosen to lead the Department of Homeland Security, has his own pattern of exaggerating the border threat . Between 2012 and his retirement in early 2016, Kelly served as head of U.S . Southern Command .
In this role, he coordinated all U.S . forces in the Western Hemisphere south of Mexico, including the Caribbean and Guant namo, which is home to the hemisphere s largest overseas U.S . military base . As Obama trimmed the military s budget with the sequester, and prioritized Asia and the Middle East over the relatively peaceful Western Hemisphere, Kelly complained that the budget cuts4 were undermining regional security. In a 2014 interview5, he said that the flow of drugs and instability in Latin America posed an existential threat to the United States . During a March 2015 hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee, Sen . Mike Lee .
R-Utah, asked him to explain why the southern border posed such a large threat . Kelly responded with these words:
there s 40,000 Americans that die every year from the drugs that move up through my part of the world, and into Bill s Adm . William Gortney, who was then head of Northern Command, and into our homeland 40,000 people a year. You know, since 9/11, there s half a million people have died from narco terrorism, as we call it in down where I live narco terrorism . Five hundred thousand Americans have died . Very few have died from, you know, traditional terrorism, if you will, since 9/11 . It costs our country $200 billion a year to deal with the people that are into drugs but are not, you know, dying .
So I see that as a huge, huge, huge threat. Kelly s first claim drugs kill roughly 40,0006 Americans each year is accurate . It is also true that drugs have killed more than half a million Americans in the 15 years since 9/11. But Kelly s second claim to the Senate committee, that 500,000 Americans have died from narcoterrorism since 9/11, is a significant exaggeration . The real number of Americans who have died of post-9/11 terrorism in all its forms is well under 1,000, according to a 2014 study7 that was supported by the Department of Homeland Security .
And at least one-third of the 40,000 killed by drugs annually do not die, as Kelly claimed, from drugs coming into the U.S . across the southern border, but from overdoses of legally prescribed opioids . Almost all of the profits from those addicts flow not to drug cartels but to pharmaceutical companies . Sales of legal opioids have quadrupled8 since 1999, particularly in those white, rural areas of the country9 where Trump s support is strongest. Kelly s claim of 500,000 deaths doesn t appear to be reflected in any known official numbers . The RAND Corporation, for example, estimated that less than 100 people in total10 died due to terrorism in the U.S . between 9/11 and 2009.
While it is true that drug-related violence poses an existential threat to Mexico and Central America, Kelly was wrong to suggest that is the case in the United States . The number of Americans killed each year in drug-related homicides is around 1,00011, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics . That is one thousand too many, but it does not add up to the half million post-9/11 U.S . victims of narcoterrorism that Kelly claimed had lost their lives in his testimony before the Senate committee.
Prescription drugs make billions of dollars for Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies, said Kathleen Frydl, historian and author of The Drug Wars in America, by email . It may be preferable for John Kelly to pretend that narcotrafficking, rather than homegrown greed, lies at the heart of the opioid crisis.
Kelly s claim of 500,000 U.S . narcoterrorism deaths is more than a one-time slip of the tongue . He said the same thing later last year12 in a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
our country is right at 40,000 dead a year, year after year, from another kind of terrorism, narcoterrorism the cocaine and the drugs and the network it travels on, it moves anything . Guns, women, other people, human beings . Uh, potentially terrorists . Potentially, anything . All you have to do is pay the fare . But the network is very, very well developed.
While the rhetorical link that Kelly makes between terrorism and immigration is central to Trump s pitch for sealing the U.S . border, new walls are just one of many ways that Kelly will likely carry out his agenda at the Department of Homeland Security . DHS is a very young, very large, and very powerful federal agency created 11 days after the September 11, 2001, attacks . It is roughly one-tenth the size of the Pentagon in terms of budget ($52 billion vs. $524 billion) and personnel (240,000 vs .
2.3 million), and oversees almost all of the federal government s operations relating to immigration . If confirmed by the Senate, Kelly will be responsible for a wide portfolio of security measures inside of U.S . borders, including responding to natural disasters, stockpiling vaccines, inspecting cargo, scanning luggage and passengers at airports, passing federal intelligence on to state and local police, and managing Secret Service protection for the president and his family.
Trump said he will triple the number of federal officers working to deport immigrants, and immediately deport13 2 million to 3 million people now living on U.S . soil . He has called for the extreme vetting of Muslims trying to enter the U.S., and perhaps banning entirely those seeking entry from certain countries, such as Syria. Kelly will be the first military officer to lead the agency, in a country with longstanding legal prohibitions14 against military involvement in domestic law enforcement . Kelly, like Flynn, another retired military officer, has frequently referred to the possibility that Middle Eastern terrorist networks could link up with human smugglers to move operatives or weapons of mass destruction across U.S . borders, a persistent fear in government circles . It has never been conclusively disproven as a possibility, nor has it ever demonstrably taken place .
Adam Isacson, who covers security for the Washington Office on Latin America, said that Kelly perceives the region in terms of complex networks of criminals looking to do ill within the United States . The potential for cross-border terrorism threat should not be completely discounted, he added . You only have to be right once, he said. The southern border narcoterrorism scenario was also graphically depicted in the 2012 film15 Act of Valor, produced with the help16 of the Navy and active-duty Navy SEALS . Real-life investigations into the drug-terror connection tend to turn up less spectacular results, as recent investigations by Pro Publica17 and The Intercept18 have shown.
Russell Baer, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said there was no official tally kept of deaths caused by narcoterrorism . There s no specific way to answer that question, he said, by email . Narcoterrorism has more to do with using drug proceeds, or drug money laundering services, to support a terroristic cause throughout the world . We are all victims of narcoterrorism. Trump s transition team did not respond to a request asking them to clarify or explain Kelly s remarks.
Top photo: Marine Corps Gen . John Kelly, former head of U.S . Southern Command, testifies with other military officers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to review the 2014 Defense Authorization Request.
- ^ slash military spending (www.politico.com)
- ^ rally in Wisconsin (wbay.com)
- ^ wrongly claimed (www.cnn.com)
- ^ complained that the budget cuts (securityassistance.org)
- ^ a 2014 interview (www.defenseone.com)
- ^ roughly 40,000 (www.whitehouse.gov)
- ^ according to a 2014 study (www.start.umd.edu)
- ^ have quadrupled (www.cdc.gov)
- ^ white, rural areas of the country (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ people in total (www.rand.org)
- ^ around 1,000 (www.bjs.gov)
- ^ same thing later last year (www.youtube.com)
- ^ immediately deport (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ longstanding legal prohibitions (www.rand.org)
- ^ the 2012 film (en.wikipedia.org)
- ^ produced with the help (www.nytimes.com)
- ^ Pro Publica (www.propublica.org)
- ^ The Intercept (theintercept.com)
The Berkshire Hathaway 50th Anniversary symposium just took place and featured conversations with the likes of Seth Klarman, Bill Ackman, Tom Gayner, Byron Trott, Carol Loomis, Roger Lowenstein, Tom Russo, John Phelan, and Whitney Tilson. The notes were compiled by Jacques Romano, MD. Notes From Berkshire Hathaway 50th Anniversary Symposium
Carol Loomis (CL) and Byron Trott’s (BT) Conversation Warren Buffett (WB) was invited but he graciously declined explaining his presence would change the nature of the discussions. BT met WB because the GS partner that had handled his account, Tom Murphy, Jr., had retired.
Hank Paulsen told Warren that BT was the only guy for him. Initial one hour meeting lasted about three hours. This was in early 2002.
WB created through GS a negative coupon convertible bond of about $300 million called SQUARZ in April 2002, whereby he was paid to borrow money and the institutional holder of the security was able to purchase Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) stock in the future at a higher price. Charlie didn t like the idea. BT represented Pritzker in the Marmon deal and was involved with MacLeans and Pampered Chef transactions.
BT also involved in Wrigley and Mars deal. BT describes WB as a perfect ten times two. He has an incredible mind and able to do math in his head and his discipline is incredible.
On the human side, he is humble and has the best sense of humor. He is someone you want to be with and is always positive about anyone. Regarding discipline, he cited some KKR transaction that WB could have done for 10-15% more in price while having a cheaper cost of capital but WB felt he could use that cash more effectively at another time.
He waits for his pitch. You should see the stuff he turns down over the years . WB looks at cash on cash returns and doesn t factor in leverage.
He looks for durable long lasting cash flow stream businesses. He realizes that sometimes to get great businesses you have to reach but he is incredibly disciplined and completely unemotional. WB told BT that CL started as a reporter but is great in accounting and finance and is a stickler for details.
She s from Missouri. CL expanded on a vignette about her dating Ty Cobb. She had come to NYC in 1950s and was on the quiz show Tic Tac Dough where she did well and was subsequently contacted by Ty s nephew for an invite by Ty to the 21 Club.
How could a baseball fan turn that down? She was his subsequent date to Yankee Stadium during an Old Timer s Game where she was presented with a Mantle, Maris, Whitey Ford autographed baseball. That s about where it went.
She was in her late 20s and he was in his late 60s. In 2008, Goldman Sachs was experiencing a small but daily run on the bank and wanted to raise capital. BT said it was about a 20 minute negotiation with WB.
In addition to making his BRK investment, WB wanted to make a big statement about being confident in that investing climate. He subsequently made his GE investment and wrote his Oct.
2008 NY Times op-ed. One of his points was that markets go up first and that there is reasonable cause to regain confidence.
WB is an American icon. The world doesn t understand how important WB was to the solutions during the financial crisis of 2008. I would describe him as a pragmatic optimist grounded in reality .
Hank Paulson told BT that during a late night phone call, it was Warren s idea to make TARP capital attractive to banks and for it not to be stigmatized so all the banks should receive it and none look particularly weak or strong. But he also wanted to make it more expensive for the banks if they kept this capital for a longer period. WB was doing this to help the country.
Some may be cynical about this because he owned Wells but Hank knew and everyone else who knows WB knew that he was creatively playing a constructive role. Warren is disciplined, opportunistic and long term. Charlie is not my number two; he is my equal and has kept us on the straight and narrow.
Warren doesn t want to do small deals but will do minority deals as long as it is big. Warren s the greatest, nicest and most accessible person. He s a great teacher and a great student of investing and business.
He provides a safe home for business owners that want liquidity and still passionately want to run their businesses. Warren is one of a kind and will be the best investor of all time and his record will not be beaten. He thinks very long term and Berkshire will still be intact a century from now.
Warren, you can t control things from below the ground. Maybe not, but I can try. The term investor is not quite expansive enough to describe Warren.
He s also a great acquirer, manager and owner of businesses. Matt Rose of Burlington Northern told me that Warren knows more about the railroad now than I do. And he can interconnect it to everything else.
He makes the complex seem simple. When I talk to Warren, I feel like I m 2 steps behind him. They discussed how Andrew Carnegie is known more now as a philanthropist than as a businessman and Warren may have similar impact and be known more expansively.
Seth Klarman (SK), Bill Ackman (BA), and Roger Lowenstein’s (RL) Conversation Bill went to Larry Cunningham s Cardoza symposium in 1996 and fortuitously sat next to Suzzie Buffett who invited him to sit next to Warren at lunch! When he went to HBS, there were not any classes in investing although there were classes in investment management.
There were no investment clubs at that time either. He read Graham s Intelligent Investor and then Warren s annual reports. Seth Klarman took a job at Mutual Shares after college and Warren was common parlance once I got into the business.
He thought Warren s Superinvestor article was very logical. SK feels that there must be some type of gene that makes people have an affinity for value and value investing. He told a story about a friend of his whom enthusiastically tried value investing full time but three months later ended up quitting: It doesn t work .
BA says some of the things he tries to emulate are Buffett s focus on quality, durability and concentration. Although given my experience in Valeant, perhaps I should change one of his aphorisms to be fearful when others are fearful . Making good investments is not about performing discounted cash flow analyses or reading footnotes but more about assessing the moat in our dynamic world.
Many of Buffett s investments in the 1970s like encyclopedias and newspapers did not hold their advantages. You can t just buy and hold . The world has changed rapidly.
The difficulty is the qualitative assessment and the implementation. Railroads now seem to pass the 100 year test but how many businesses can pass that test? Lowenstein made the point that Wall Street loves those 99:1 bets but not WB.
SK said that the maxim of don t lose money does not mean at every time and in every instance but to the extent that it puts you out of business. Sometimes you can bet or invest in favorable expected value situations where you lose the bet. This is similar to an insurance operation.
Some investments in a portfolio will lose but you don t put the operation at risk. SK: In the 1980s you could actually buy quality inexpensively; you didn t have to pay up. I remember Nabisco selling for 7 times after tax earnings.
You can t just kneel at the temple of Graham and Dodd, you and the world will change. We will evolve and ought to evolve because the world requires us to. WB teaches us how to make our own map.
I don t know WB well enough to know how he feels, but I suspect that he feels that him being held as an investing demigod is a bit silly. WB isn t about that. WB is not about giving you a formula.
Business is hard. Everything is overlaid with judgment . WB has been fortuitous to invest at a time when you could get quality inexpensively.
He has built on certain advantages. No one else gets the calls that he gets. Some people are overly focused on him as opposed to understanding how he thinks.
BA: Buffett has made more people rich than anyone else in history. And he gives it all away. He s one of the great educators.
I believe in response to a questioner, BA went into a diatribe about Coca Cola (KO). It does enormous damage to society and people consume too much sugar contributing to obesity and diabetes. He wouldn t be against supermarkets that sell coke.
And he owns Mondelez: all things in moderation. But Coke doesn t seem to have had a bad effect on Buffett. I believe he has said WB hasn t had water since the 1950s!
He thinks Coke has great distribution and marketing but it is not good for children to get too much sugar water. There was some discussion that the BRK model with insurance, concentrated positions and possible illiquidity may have problems in future. You need to be a fortress and inspire confidence and trust with regulators.
Will that survive Buffett? Conglomerates do not have a great history. Buffett is a fabulous communicator.
He has stayed on the right side of politics and has avoided becoming a target of Washington. It is not automatic that the next CEO will be able to tell the story of the company as well. SK said he stole the idea of writing meaningful partner letters from WB.
And he feels that the overall quality of fund letters in general has improved because of Buffett s lead. Consistency, reassurance, and transparency give shareholders comfort. BRK can be a Warren centric model.
He is uninvolved in the management of the businesses and there may be an opportunity for optimization . With 3G he is outsourcing the less attractive aspects of the business. Catastrophic risks can destroy enormous amounts of value.
SK: excessively raising prices on drugs may not be illegal but there are social costs. Capitalism may face a more constrained environment as a result of bad behavior. WB has conducted himself generally beyond reproach.
He has not become a target. The next CEO may not get a pass so easily. Value investing is nuanced but we will always have it.
Human nature will not yield . Greed, fear and lack of intellectual honesty will result in bargains from time to time. There is always going to be a share of the investment business that is following the crowd.
There are those watching over their shoulder and who have misalignment of goals. They may be forced to do things they may not want to do for human reasons. Someone asked SK if he wanted to be an investment manager at BRK or if he had any discussions about this with WB.
He said he was never a candidate and loves his job. He said he was surprised on the upside with WB s decisions about investment managers. It was hard to do and it has gone incredibly well.
Berkshire Shareholder Panel: Tom Russo, Paul Lountzis, Whitney Tilson Only WB can fill a room without even being in it . Whitney Tilson has been adding to his BRK position.
It is safe, cheap and with decent growth. He puts fair value about $267,000 give or take 10%. You can find his slide presentation on the Internet (there were no slides at this conference).
Tom Russo said there are no agency costs and an extraordinary alignment of interests. WB owns 30% of the stock and makes $100,000 for managing. The corporate form allows for tax efficiency with respect to capital allocation.
He has the willingness to do anything if it makes sense and the capacity to do absolutely nothing if conditions warrant. Great businesses can find a home at BRK where they will be protected. Paul Lountzis tries to understand BRK broadly and deeply.
There is embedded optionality in BRK. Regarding Berkshire, he is reminded of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: Every institution is the length and shadow of one man. We try to understand it now and in the future.
He mentioned that Geico is on the books for $2-3B but is worth 10-15 times that. WT told WB that he is his role model in Jan.
1999 and he tries to emulate how he runs the business. Given how WB communicates, BRK is the opposite of a black box.
He has incredible humility and even looks for ways to self-flagellate. PL: WB is a wonderful human being and exemplifies consistency and loyalty to a high degree. He focuses on permanence over the long term and looks out 10-20 years.
His example impacts everything you do both personally and professionally. BRK values permeate seamlessly and consistently throughout its business. Despite the fact that BRK has gone down by 50% several times it has still been extraordinarily rewarding.
Few businesses have great reinvestment opportunities. If you can defer taxes on unrealized gains, this is a great advantage. The problem with many public companies is their inability to take advantage of some of their potential opportunities, unlike family controlled companies.
Public companies may need to make earnings estimates as opposed to investing in opportunities that may penalize current earnings. They may worry about activists. BRK is a unique public marriage between private and public investments.
BRK gets $1.5B month in free cash. It is effectively a source of permanent capital and a robust re-investment engine. During times of stunning market drops, WB was never forced to sell.
Permanent capital is very valuable. The ability to do nothing is valuable in the investment business. Operationally, they can turn down the noise of Wall St.
Buffett has the flexibility to do nothing. He is unique and special and combines analytical strengths with strong people skills to a degree that is very rare. He has unique qualitative insights.
You don t see the 99% of opportunities he says no to. Buffett plays a very important cheerleading role. Many company CEOs are rich and old and feel personally loyal to Buffett.
Are they going to be as loyal to the next CEO? There is somewhat limited corporate governance but Buffett holds it all together. What is the next BRK?
The best BRK is BRK. One interesting point that was made: investors that held the S&P 500 going into the financial crisis more than likely sold when everyone was running for the hills. But given their understanding of and loyalty toward BRK, shareholders were much more likely to garner the full return of the company and not otherwise sell low and buy high.
This is a point that can be missed when one compares BRK returns to the index. The index s returns are more likely illusory and less likely realized. Other companies wave people in at the peak .
Partnership Session With Markel’s Tom Gayner and John Phelan John Phelan. We don t take 1% or more positions without visiting the company.
Should you locate far from Wall St? Mindset trumps location. We think we have semi-permanent capital.
There is always a balance between the short term and long term. Our benchmark is not the S&P 500. Our benchmark is to make money.
The risk free rate is your benchmark. We have the luxury of not being invested all the time. Simplicity is a virtue and we have fewer problems that way.
If you hire someone that is not from a top school, they are less likely to think, You re lucky to get me . Some of our best hires are from the military. They know how to get things done.
We currently have 18% cash which is on the high side. We are company focused and not market focused. Tom Gayner: Good meat priced right is better than poor meat priced cheap .
JP worries about the credit markets. Now a $250M 10 year Treasury trade moves the market whereas before $1B wouldn t make it blink. We are defensively positioned but not bearish on the US economy.
We are seeing wage pressure in our companies. The best hedge is a great attractively priced business. Paying up for a business is counter-intuitive.
It costs more but may be worth a lot more. Lawrence Cunningham: Buffett s presence here would steal the stage and by electing not to come, he is letting us have the conversation. LC organized a conference at Cardoza Law School in 1996.
One questioner asked what happens to the shareholders when Buffett dies. Buffett said, it won t be as bad for you as it will for me! BRK looks a lot different today than it did then but the core values have stayed the same.
He has created an institution that goes beyond him in the quality of the people, businesses and values and that is the best succession plan possible. BRK gets funds from internal generation and insurance float versus the cost of borrowing to make acquisitions. The float is currently $85B with no due dates, covenants or banker negotiations.
The Board is not there to monitor management but to partner with it. They have no options, liability insurance and bought stock with their own cash. Company CEOs have clear and simple mandates.
Called out Bruce Whitman, CEO of Flight Safety who was at the conference. He has never sold a subsidiary and sometimes business sellers accept a discount compared with offers from other business buyers. We would rather bear the visible costs of a few bad decisions than suffer under stifling bureaucracy.
GenRe would have gone bankrupt after 9/11 without BRK! Dexter Shoe was another mistake . BRK sometimes is a juicy target for journalists-recently Clayton Homes and National Indemnity.
He spoke about a recent acquisition called Detlev Louis from Germany that sells motorcycle gear. Similar to See s being a small deal but defining the future of the company, he sees this company as a possible harbinger of future deals in Europe. He points out that it only has about $40M in earnings which is less than WB s minimum size but he made an exception to get a toehold in Germany and Europe.
He made mention that Pampered Chef s sales have considerably decreased and that there is some turmoil in the capital intensive business of NetJets.
Don t focus on beating the market but in finding the greatest discrepancy between price and value.