Showing posts from March 6, 2016

Fighting Wall Street Predators with Game Theory

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[Punishing the financial defectors. A piece by the evolutionary game theorist David Sloan Wilson (his book Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society is an interesting read) that looks at computer-controlled High Frequency Trading (aka 'flash trading' the source of 'flash crashes') through the lens of the Prisoner's Dilemma Game. *RON*]
By David Sloan Wilson

The newest Wall Street bestseller by Michael Lewis, Flash Boys, chronicles the unlikely emergence of fairness in the corrupt world of high-frequency trading (HFT). It’s a gripping and enlightening read for anyone who doesn’t already know the story, but it becomes especially enlightening when viewed through the lens of evolutionary game theory (EGT).

The EGT story is simpler than the HFT story. It consists of only four actors, who reflect combinations of two binary strategies: whether to cooperate or defect in a social interaction, and whether t…

Brazil’s breakdown: ‘A political and ethical crisis without precedent’

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[Venezuela has gone to hell in a handcart - Brazil is now running in a close second place with simultaneous political, economic and public health crises. Also re: that place where the nuts come from: If you thought the economy was bad in Canada, you should see what’s happening in Brazil. *RON*]

Stephanie Nolen, The Globe and Mail, 4 March 2016

God, people around here like to say, is Brazilian – a cheery way of celebrating this country’s natural beauty, bountiful resources, lovely people.
God, however, appears to be in an Old Testament phase.

Each day in Brazil of late is more dramatic than the one before, and the news is uniformly grim. There is a political crisis, an economic crisis and, as if that wasn’t enough, a public-health crisis.

The country entered uncharted territory in the past two days, as President Dilma Rousseff was implicated in the country’s giant graft scandal, and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was briefly detained…

McDonald's Being "Called Out Worldwide" as Brazil Opens Probe

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[This joins inquiries that have already been launched by Italy and Luxembourg. This Brazilian prosecutors' inquiry is further evidence that McDonald's is "driving a global race to the bottom." *RON*]

By Deirdre FultonCommon Dreams, 4 March 2016.

As the fight against McDonald's expands its global front, federal prosecutors in Brazil have opened a probe into the fast food giant and its main operator in Latin America, Arcos Dorados, for alleged violations of tax, labor, and franchise laws.

The investigation comes in response to a petition from Brazil's General Workers' Union (UGT), which asked the country's Public Prosecution Service to open a civil inquiry into allegations of tax dodging, unfair competition, and labor infringements. The complaintalleged McDonald's has organized its business in Brazil in a way that allows it to avoid taxes, skirt compliance with local franchise laws, and engage in anti-competi…

Supreme Court Reopens Clinics Closed By Anti-Abortion Law

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[As predicted, the vacancy on the Supreme Court caused by Scalia's death is having a positive effect for progressive causes. At the end of February it was reported that Dow Chemical Would Rather Pay $835 Million Than Take Its Chances With a Scalia-less Supreme Court. It sounds as though the Louisiana law amounted to political posturing in any case, since the Supreme Court had already struck down a similar law and had indicated that they would strike this one down if it was passed as well. *RON*]

By Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, 4 March 2016
The Supreme Court handed down a brief order Friday allowing four Louisiana abortion clinics to reopen after they were closed due to a recent decision by a conservative federal appeals court.

Last week, an especially conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down an “emergency” decision permitting an anti-abortion Louisiana law to go into effect. Under this law,…

US-led airstrikes hit Isis targets in Syria and Iraq as group reports civilian deaths

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[The ceasefire that wasn't. Ceasefire between rebel groups and Syria does not include Isis militants. 135 people were killed in the first week of the fragile truce agreement. See also: Syria rebels say government continuing attacks despite truce, and Surgeon in Syria says Russia is carrying out air strikes on his patients and colleagues despite ceasefire . *RON*]
Reuters, The Guardian, 5 March 2016

The US and its allies struck 12 Islamic State targets in Iraq and two in Syria on Friday, the US military reported on Saturday as human rights group reports civilians killed in ceasefire violations.

Two of the strikes in Iraq were near Ramadi, hitting two Islamic State tactical units and a tunnel. One of the strikes in Syria destroyed two Islamic State fighting positions near Palmyra, according to the Pentagon.

The ceasefire between rebel groups and the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad does not include Isis militants, and coalition nations …

No One Knows Why Trump Is Winning. Here’s What Cognitive Science Says.

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[American political science has been taking a bashing over its poor explanations for Donald Trump’s victories—as well as its failure to predict these outcomes. This piece is on the "language psychology" behind voting. George Lakoff has some excellent, insightful books on political allegiances and cognitive science, e.g., The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics, and The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. *RON*]

By George Lakoff, Evonomics, 4 March 2016.

As the editors of Evonomics, we recognize the importance of moral and political behavior in economic systems. This essay explores voting behavior in the United States as a way to see how different ideological tribes make sense of economic issues.

Donald Trump is winning Republican presidential primaries at such a great rate that he seems likely to become the next Republican presidential nominee and p…