Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Francesco Sisci — The forbidden questions about the Korea crisis

The sensible approach. But it's off the table. Sisci asks why.

Asia Times
The forbidden questions about the Korea crisis
Francesco Sisci

Monday, September 18, 2017

Zero Hedge — PBOC Researcher: China Should Start Its Own Sovereign Digital Currency "As Soon As Possible"

Much more than the title suggests. Government is assserting its currrency sovereignty.

Zero Hedge
PBOC Researcher: China Should Start Its Own Sovereign Digital Currency "As Soon As Possible"
Tyler Durden

Stephen Kinzer — America’s slow-motion military coup

In a democracy, no one should be comforted to hear that generals have imposed discipline on an elected head of state. That was never supposed to happen in the United States. Now it has.

Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser....
It is no great surprise that Trump has been drawn into the foreign policy mainstream; the same happened to President Obama early in his presidency. More ominous is that Trump has turned much of his power over to generals. Worst of all, many Americans find this reassuring. They are so disgusted by the corruption and shortsightedness of our political class that they turn to soldiers as an alternative. It is a dangerous temptation.
No, this is not RT or Sputnik.

The Boston Globe
America’s slow-motion military coup
Stephen Kinzer | senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University

Reuters — Senate backs massive increase in military spending

"Affordability"? No problem.

Senate backs massive increase in military spending

The Hill News
Senate passes $700B defense bill
Jordain Carney

One of the most controversial proposals put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign was a pledge to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Critics from both parties howled that the pie-in-the-sky idea would bankrupt the country. Where, after all, would the money come from?
Such concerns were brushed aside on Monday night, as the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending, enough to have fully satisfied Sanders’ campaign promise....
To put that in further perspective: if the package becomes law, U.S. military spending would exceed the total spending of its next 10 rivals put together, going off of 2016 military spending estimates from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Put another way, with a $700 billion military budget, the U.S. would be spending more than three times as much as China on its military, and ten times as much as Russia.

According to SIPRI, the U.S. already accounts for more than a third of all military spending:The share of world military expenditure of the 15 states with the highest spending in 2016. (Credit, SIPRI)
Or, to think about it another way, with $80 billion a year you could make public colleges and universities in America tuition-free. In fact, Sanders’ proposal was only estimated to cost the federal government $47 billion per year....
The Intercept
The Senate’s Military Spending Increase Alone Is Enough to Make Public College Free
Alex Emmons

Zero Hedge — Hillary Clinton May Challenge Legitimacy Of Presidential Election

This is s joke, right?

Zero Hedge
Hillary Clinton May Challenge Legitimacy Of Presidential Election

Russia Feed — Russia not willing to be a part of US-proposed UN reforms

Russia rejects US rejection of UN as chief guarantor of the international order.

The UN has long been in the sights of the American right, and Donald Trump is a true believer in that position.
Chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Leonid Slutksy … said that Russia views the UN Trump Reform as a major step in the “US coordinate system” towards a unipolar world order and toward a reduced role for the UN in the architecture of the 21st century.

Russia Feed
Russia not willing to be a part of US-proposed UN reforms

Sputnik International — The Boeing-Bombardier Feud

Boeing claims huge Canadian government subsidies allowed them to sell a new fleet of planes at substantially less than the market price.
​But David Collins, a professor of international economic law at City University of London, said the case smacked of "double standards."
"It's a bit rich of the United States to say that Canada is subsidizing Bombardier, because the US has been doing the same for Boeing for years," Professor Collins told Sputnik.
"Lots of industries are subsidized. The convention is that everybody is doing it and you just turn a blind eye to it. Now there is a worry that this could escalate," he added....

Moon of Alabama — How The Military Defeated Trump's Insurgency

Trump's success as the "Not-Hillary" candidate was based on an anti-establishment insurgency. Representatives of that insurgency, Flynn, Bannon and the MAGA voters, drove him through his first months in office. An intense media campaign was launched to counter them and the military took control of the White House. The anti-establishment insurgents were fired. Trump is now reduced to public figure head of a stratocracy - a military junta which nominally follows the rule of law....
The soft coup is in effect complete. If Donald Trump is a good boy, he will be allowed to stay.
This is no longer a Coup Waiting to Happen The coup has happened with few noticing it and ever fewer concerned about it. Everything of importance now passes through the Junta's hands….
POTUS has been put in a bubble and relegated to the position of twitterer-in-chief.
Other countries noticed how the game has changed. The real decisions are made by the generals, Trump is ignored as a mere figurehead:
Asked whether he was predicting war [with North Korea], [former defence minister of Japan, Satoshi] Morimoto said: "I think Washington has not decided ... The final decision-maker is [US Defence Secretary] Mr Mattis ... Not the president."
Where I disagree with b is over this:
It is doubtful that Trump will be able to resist the policies imposed on him. Any flicker of resistance will be smashed. The outside insurgency which enabled his election is left without a figurehead, It will likely disperse. The system won.
No doubt the system has won, but I do very much doubt that the insurgency is over and will just disperse. The question is, as I said some time ago, who will be the next figurehead. It could be someone like Bernie Sanders but it is just as likely and perhaps more likely that it could be someone like David Duke.

Incidentally, Ravi Batra predicted the rise of the warrior class in America around this time in The New Golden Age: A Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos. But so far, the manifestation is not in line with Batra's prediction of the result.
In 2008 [Batra] published his book, The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos, where he analyzes the present day economic downturn and the forces behind it. After some significant struggle, Batra predicts a "swift and stunning" revival of American ideals based on true democratic principles that will quickly spread around the world:

The United States does not export much, but it does export ideas, which today mainly emit hedonism and materialism. A new standard exalting martial qualities and magnanimity will soon replace the currently dominant American ethos. It will also sound the death knell for tricklism which is creating poverty around the world. America's revolutionary ideas will quickly captivate the globe; they will spread like wildfire and eradicate poverty within a generation. The internet will make sure that the renaissance spreads its fragrance all over the planet. Verily, for the first time in history, there will be a Golden Age.(Pg. 204)[16] — Wikipedia
Moon of Alabama
How The Military Defeated Trump's Insurgency

Gregory Clark — Former Japanese Diplomat Hitoshi Tanaka Fears War on Horizon

Another backgrounder on Korea.

Strategic Culture Foundation
Former Diplomat Fears War on Horizon
Gregory Clark

See also

The US successfully dealt with rising nuclear powers China and Russia using diplomacy under the umbrella of deterrence. No reason that this would not work with Korea, too. The US media pictures Kim Jong Un as a madman on one hand and as evil personified on the other. This makes it difficult for the US leadership to use diplomacy. 

The reality is that like all other states, North Korea has interests and it has signaled that it want to make a deal. 

A major problem is that the US imposes unacceptable conditions that are non-negotiable as a precondition for negotiations, which is a non-starter. It's time to take a different tack. One that could be be successful. This would involve giving North Korea security guarantees. That remains unacceptable to the US leadership, however, and US public opinion has been whipped up against it.

Insider Sources
Time to Deal With North Korea
John Feffer

Pam and Russ Martens — Obama Has the Same Retirement Plan as the Clintons: Lavish Speaking Fees from Wall Street

The “Wall Street Democrats” is the wing of the party created by the Clintons and nurtured further by Barack Obama. It takes money hand over fist from Wall Street for political campaigns, wags a warning finger at Wall Street from the public podium while stuffing its administrations with Wall Street execs, then its leadership reaps millions of dollars in personal speaking fees from the robber barons after leaving office. As of this morning, there’s no longer any debate that Obama is firmly entrenched in this cozy world of money.
Sums up what wrong with the Democratic establishment. They are on make and on the take.

Wall Street On Parade
Obama Has the Same Retirement Plan as the Clintons: Lavish Speaking Fees from Wall Street
Pam Martens and Russ Martens

See also

Regardless of the degree of agreement or disagreement with Professor Davidson's analysis, just about everyone will acknowledge that a wide setgment of American voters, approaching 40% on the right are extrememly disaffected with American politics. The supporters of Bernie Sanders represent the same rejection of the status quo on the left.

This is more anti-establishmentarianism than tradition American populism. In Trump's terminology the establishment is "the swamp," and establishment figures are swamp critters that need to be removed from positions of power and influence. Bernie takes a similar stand on the left, although not in as colorful terms.

This trend promises to influence American politics for the foreseeable future, and the ruling elite and its cronies and minions are not going to go quietly.

As a result, American politics is truining into a reality show, and Donald Trump is just the person to be a major player in it. It could not have been better cast from this perspective.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania

William J. Astore — The Climate Change War

It seems Americans can’t rally support for something without declaring a “war” on it. The war on poverty. On drugs. On gangs and crime. On terror. And these wars have become open-ended, or “generational” in Pentagon-speak, with a dynamic of crisis-surge-“progress”-new crisis-new surge-repeat that sustains large bureaucracies and huge government spending.
To these “wars” we must add a new one, notes Michael Klare at TomDispatch.com: the climate change war....
So, two things are most definitely certain: the climate change war will be generational. And, much like that other generational war — the war on terror — our military won’t win it. For no one wins a war against Mother Nature — not when we’re going out of our way to piss her off.
Bracing Views
William J. Astore, Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) USAF, Professor of History, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport, PA

Spengler — Western contempt for China turns to panic

Interesting article by a American economist on the Chinese economy, showing how most US economists misread events there.

Goldman is on the side of the US maintaining hegemony but his analysis shows how and why this is just wishful thinking if the current trend persists, and there is not much the US can do about it without confronting the Thyudicides trap.

Asia Times
Western contempt for China turns to panic
Spengler (David P. Goldman)

Poking sticks into the dragon's liar is a dumb move guaranteed to result in lose-lose.

Threats against China could result in another Great Depression
Ken Moak | Associate Professor and Department Chair at Tarrant County College, Dallas/Fort Worth

Charlotte Edmond — Justin Trudeau wants to raise his sons as feminists. New research backs him up

Why is this important in economics? First, women now control a signficant slice of the pie, and secondly, women have an increasingly strong political voice to match their growing economic power.

This is chiefly a political battle between liberals and traditionalists. Identity politics is here to stay.

Economics is strong influenced by policy.
On the programme, scientists argue there is no obvious neurological explanation for the gender divide, with no significant difference between male and female brains. Both are highly plastic and largely influenced by childhood experiences.
World Economic Forum
Justin Trudeau wants to raise his sons as feminists. New research backs him up
Charlotte Edmond

Bill Mitchell — Jean-Claude Juncker in denial and somewhat delusional

Last week (September 13, 2017), the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented his State of the Union Address 2017 in Strasbourg before the European Parliament. My only query arising from the speech was which Member State has left, given that the President began his speech by thanking “the 27 leaders of our Member States” (joke). He opened by saying how unity among the Member States had “showed that Europe can deliver for its citizens when and where it matters”. I wonder which Planet he was referring to. I thought Europe was on the Mother Earth and it certainly hasn’t been delivering for its citizens, if the usual measures are considered. Juncker’s speech just continues what I considered to be ‘Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale’, which was the subtitle of my 2015 book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale. It is amazing that the denial continues after 10 years and that guys like Juncker can still command an audience and a salary.…
Translation of the speech: The European elite is doing very well. The little people don't count. Welcome to capitalism, which is the system that favors capital formation and the accumulation of capital as foundational and the ultimate criterion.

Capitalism is oppsed to socialism as the priority of all the people, and environmentalism as the priority of land. These are means for increasing capital under capitalism, and their use is based on the priorities of capital.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Jean-Claude Juncker in denial and somewhat delusional
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sunday, September 17, 2017

David Orrell — Economyths: The Five Stages of Economic Grief

Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross, a pioneer in the field of grief counselling, identified the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This extract from Economyths draws on her model of grief as inspiration to chart the long, arduous, but ultimately healthy and healing (we hope, it’s not over yet) process as the economics profession slowly comes to terms with its role in the Great Financial Crisis....
Economyths: The Five Stages of Economic Grief
David Orrell, applied mathematician

Daniel Little — Worker-owned enterprises as a social solution

There are several forms of socialism, just there there are of capitalism. One form of socialism is public ownership of the means of production, and another is worker-owned ("cooperatively owned") means of production.
Consider some of the most intractable problems we face in contemporary society: rising inequalities between rich and poor, rapid degradation of the environment, loss of control of their lives by the majority of citizens. It might be observed that these problems are the result of a classic conundrum that Marx identified 150 years ago: the separation of society into owners of the means of production and owners of labor power that capitalism depends upon has a logic that leads to bad outcomes. Marx referred to these bad outcomes as "immiseration". The label isn't completely accurate because it implies that workers are materially worse off from decade to decade. But what it gets right is the fact of "relative immiseration" -- the fact that in almost all dimensions of quality of life the bottom 50% of the population in contemporary capitalism lags further and further from the quality of life enjoyed by the top 10%. And this kind of immiseration is getting worse....
The central insight of Marx's diagnosis of capitalism is couched in terms of property and power. There is a logic to private ownership of the means of production that predictably leads to certain kinds of outcomes, dynamics that Marx outlined in Capital in fine detail: impersonalization of work relations, squeezing of wages and benefits, replacement of labor with machines, and -- Marx's ultimate accusation -- the creation of periodic crises. Marx anticipated crises of over-production and under-consumption; financial crises; and, if we layer in subsequent thinkers like Lenin, crises of war and imperialism.

At various times in the past century or two social reformers have looked to cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises as a solution for the problems of immiseration created by capitalism....
Understanding Society
Worker-owned enterprises as a social solution
Daniel Little | Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Philosophy at UM-Dearborn and Professor of Sociology at UM-Ann Arbor

Dennis J Bernstein — The Push for a Medicare-for-All Plan

Sen. Bernie Sanders has unveiled a new single-payer healthcare plan which would provide all Americans with government-sponsored health coverage. Sanders’s plan, supported by some 16 Democrats in the Senate, calls for an overhaul of the healthcare system with what would essentially be a tweaked and revitalized version of Medicare-for-all.
“Today we say that a function of a rational healthcare system is to provide quality care to all in a cost-effective way,” declared Sanders, an independent from Vermont, “and not to continue a system which allows insurance companies and drug companies to make hundreds of billions in profits each year and makes healthcare industry CEO’s extremely wealthy.”
Flanked by supporting senators in making his Wednesday announcement, Sanders also noted that a Medicare-for-all program would end “the complexity of a system which adds enormous stress at a time when people need it the least.”...
Consortium News
The Push for a Medicare-for-All Plan
Dennis J Bernstein

Brian Romanchuk — DSGE Wars (Again)

Although this sounds extremely harsh, it is the only way to describe aspects of DSGE macro such as the assumption that the level of interest rates is a key determinant of economic behaviour. In practice, this assumption is built into all mainstream models, and the empirical methodologies have no way of rejecting the assumption. It is not entirely an accident that the consensus has been shocked by the slow pace of recovery after modern recessions -- after all, it was believed that the level of interest rates was "unsustainably low." Indeed, the natural rate of interest had to be revised lower in order for the data to fit the theory.
In other words, the whole panoply of mathematics used is a gigantic red herring.

From the perspective of wanting to understand how the economy functions, there is only one real question: are the desired theoretical outcomes of DSGE macro practitioners useful? The fact that DSGE macro is roundly ignored by everyone whose job depends upon being right about the economy is probably the best answer to that question. (In theory, central bankers are supposed to care about being right about the economy, but in practice, even the raw incompetence displayed heading into 2007 did not cut into retired senior central bankers' subsequent speaking fees.)

From the perspective of academic economics, it is an obvious problem that this methodology has to be used in the "top journals." This is only a surprise if you assume that the academic system shows a tendency to progress towards the truth.…
Fitting the world to a model doesn't work so well.

The key criticsm from the POV of logical analysis and philosophy of science is this:
In Section 7.3, recursive competitive equilibrium is defined. It starts with a lot of mathematics, but even then, some economist hand-waving sneaks into the definition. They use terms that do not appear to correspond to standard mathematical concepts, and hope the reader knows what they mean. Mathematics largely consists of statements about sets and the property of sets; it is unclear what set properties they are describing at key sections of their definition.
Math may look impressive but it says nothing that is not contained in the stipulations — definitions and axioms that relate them. In represesntational models these stipulation establish the semantic connection with the "world" that the model purports to represent. That world provides the objective criteria for assessing the how representative a model actually is in application.

Problems at this foundational level result in GIGO. There is no room for lack of specificty in mathematical reasoning.

Bond Economics
DSGE Wars (Again)
Brian Romanchuk

Politnavigator — Ukrainian army to change into Russian uniform, commit provocation

The "art" of war.
On the eve of the UN resolution on the introduction of a peacekeeping contingent into the Donbass, the Ukrainian side plans to commit provocation in order to discredit Russia.
Thus, according to the intelligence of the DPR, the Ukrainian special forces have received the Russian military uniform models. It is planned to carry out a provocation in the Mariupol direction with subsequent recording of this 'fact' by the OSCE Mission.
This is reported by the correspondent of "Political Navigator" with reference to the representative of the defense ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Edward Bazurin.
"According to the information we have, the special operations forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have begun to receive Russian uniforms for conducting provocations near the contact line in the Donetsk and Mariupol directions....
Fort Russ
Ukrainian army to change into Russian uniform, commit provocation
Politnavigator - translated by Inessa Sinchougova

See also

NATO ex-Secretary General: "Russia is trembling, let's finish it off with force"


Zero Hedge
Haley Warns World: Mattis Will "Take Care" Of North Korea If Diplomacy Fails
Tyler Durden

Russia Insider
Inside N. Korea - How the US Under-Estimates Them - Excellent Russian TV Report
Charles Bausman


The Duran
6 MAJOR US foreign policy failures of the post-Cold War era
Adam Garrie

Michael Roberts — Blockchains and the crypto craze

Are blockchain and cryptocurrencies as over-hyped? Michael Roberts thinks so and explains why.

Michael Roberts Blog
Blockchains and the crypto craze
Michael Roberts

Lars P. Syll — Putting predictions to the test

Proof of uncertainity.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Putting predictions to the test
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

North Korea faces poor food harvest

Could be a source for all the recent belligerence; doesn't look good for NK if the photo is real...

Venezuela Just Stopped Accepting US Dollars for Oil As Countries Join Forces to Kill US Petrodollar

The DC War Party’s petrodollar imperialism, which funds the US war machine and allows for a constant war footing, is quickly running out of allies to maintain its global hegemony 

In what is the latest move to undermine the imperial world order maintained by the United States, which is underpinned through use of the petrodollar as the world reserve currency, the Wall Street Journal reports that Venezuelan President Maduro has officially followed through on his threat to stop accepting US Dollars as payment for crude oil exports in the wake of recent US sanctions.

Last Thursday, President Nicolas Maduro said that if the US went ahead with the sanction, Venezuela would “free” itself from the US Dollar.
According to Reuters:

“Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said in a multi-hour address to a new legislative “superbody.”

Unsurprisingly, Maduro noted that his country would look to the BRICS countries, and begin using the Chinese yuan and Russian ruble instead — along with other currencies — to bypass the US Dollar stranglehold.

“If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro,” Maduro said.

Rather than work diplomatically with other nations, the United States often uses sanctions to force compliance. Due to the dollar being accepted as the world’s reserve currency, almost all financial transactions are denominated in dollars. This phenomenon gives the US a powerful weapon to wield against states that refuse to follow US directives, and underpins the unipolar model of global domination exercised by the US.


Venezuela Just Stopped Accepting US Dollars for Oil

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ramaa Vausdevan — The Significance of Marx’s Theory of Money

Link to paper by Ramaa Vausdevan

Radical Political Economy
The Significance of Marx’s Theory of Money
Posted by David Fields

Branko Milanovic — How I lost my past

Yet it is very difficult to tell these other stories. History is written, we are told, by the victors and stories that do not fit the pattern narrative are rejected. This is especially the case, I have come to believe, in the United States that has created during the Cold War a formidable machinery of open and concealed propaganda. That machinery cannot be easily turned off. It cannot produce narratives that do not agree with the dominant one because no one would believe them or buy such books. There is an almost daily and active rewriting of history to which many people from Eastern Europe participate: some because they do have such memories, others because they force themselves (often successfully) to believe that they have such memories. Others can remain with their individual memories which, at their passing, will be lost. The victory shall be complete.…
Global Inequality
How I lost my past
Branko Milanovic | Visiting Presidential Professor at City University of New York Graduate Center and senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), and formerly lead economist in the World Bank's research department and senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Sputnik — US Sanctions Continue to Backfire: China Opens $10 Billion Credit Line for Iran

Assisting Tehran with sidestepping an ongoing Washington sanctions regime against the country, China has opened a $10 billion line of credit intended to finance energy, transportation, water and other key Iranian infrastructure projects.…
The significant credit line will primarily use euros and yuan to bypass the US sanctions....

Zero Hedge — Even Bernie Sanders Thinks "Medicare For All" Would Bankrupt America

This is an illustration of the political cost of Bernie not understanding and embracing MMT. He should have paid closer attention to MMT economist Stephanie Kelton when she was his economic adviser.

1. A currency sovereign cannot "go bankrupt." A currency issuer can always issue currency to cover its obligations in the currency of issue. In this case, default is a political choice rather than a financial necessity.

2. The only actual constraint on a currency soveriegn is the availability of real resources. This implies a financial constraint if effective demand created exceeds the capacity to supply real resources to meet it. Then accelerating inflation could result.

3. The United States government is a currency soveriegn. Affordability is never an issue.

4. A sovereign currency issuer has a monopoly on the issuance of the currency and can exercise this monopoloy by setting the prices the government will pay, including the interest rate.

Lars P. Syll — Stiglitz and the full force of Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu

Just why is anyone still going to these people for policy advice, let alone putting some of them in charge of setting policy?

The power of elite discourse to persuade is dangerous when an elite controls the frame and there is no accountability for results.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

AP: Tax cuts quiet once-deafening GOP call for fiscal discipline

Definitely moving this way as we head into Q4; you just knew this was going to happen.

GOP starting to salivate over the tax cuts; the appeal of this USD windfall is starting to overcome the "debt!" phobia. GOP libertarian "Freedom!" Caucus (35 members max) still will be somewhat of an obstacle Ryan/Trump have to get around.

teleSUR — China to Teach ‘Core Socialist Values’ in Schools

"Learning the core values can make the younger generation better understand their responsibilities. It is a moral impetus to make students become better people," Li Shenghui, a middle school math teacher in Guangzong, North China's Hebei Province told the Global Times.
The ethical codes were first defined at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012.
There are 12 in all, which are written in 24 Chinese characters.
According to the People's Daily, the values include prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship.
China to Teach ‘Core Socialist Values’ in Schools