Showing posts from April, 2017

Can China Replace the West?

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["The Party is convinced that the West fomented the string of so-called color revolutions demanding democratic governance that took place during the 2000s—from Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan to Lebanon and Iran. It fears and expects similar subversion in China." *RON*]

Jessica T. Mathews, New York Review of Books, 11 May 2017 ISSUE
Easternization: Asia’s Rise and America’s Decline from Obama to Trump and Beyond
by Gideon Rachman. Other Press, 307 pp., $25.95
Gideon Rachman’s Easternization, his new survey of a transformed Asia, admirably does what so little writing on foreign affairs attempts. It treats with equal facility economics, geopolitics, security, enough history for needed background, official thinking, and public attitudes. Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times, has an eye for the telling statistic and for the memorable detail that makes it stick. He packs an enormous amount of information into a sh…

David Ignatius’ 15 Years of Running Spin for Saudi Regime

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[It's still hard to beat Craig Unger's (2004) House of Bush House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. *RON*]

Adam Johnson, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting), 28 April 2017
Last week, in “A Young Prince Is Reimagining Saudi Arabia. Can He Make His Vision Come True?,” Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius (4/20/17) wrote what read like a press release for the Saudi regime. What’s more, he’s written the same article several times before. For almost 15 years, Ignatius has been breathlessly updating US readers on the token, meaningless public relations gestures that the Saudi regime—and, by extension, Ignatius—refer to as “reforms.”

Ignatius columns on Saudi Arabia break down roughly into two groups: straight reporting mixed with spin and concern trolling, and outright press releases documenting the dictatorship’s spectacular reforms. First the latter:
“Home-Grown Saudi…

Inside the Academic Journal That Corporations Love

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[A recent Monsanto lawsuit opens a scary window into the industry of junk science. "Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology is a vanity journal that publishes mercenary science created by polluters and producers of toxic chemicals to manufacture uncertainty about the science underlying public-health and environmental protections." "This might be a kind of a rogue journal that looks like a journal." *RON*]

Paul D. Thacker, Pacific Standard, 28 March 2017

A recent lawsuit against Monsanto offers a clear and troubling view into industry strategies that warp research for corporate gain. In a lawsuit regarding the possible carcinogenicity of the pesticide Roundup, plaintiffs’ lawyers suing Monsanto charge the company with ghostwriting an academic study finding that Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is not harmful. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer and is critical for successful cultivation of genetically …

The Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone

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[On current trends, the Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2040. See also Nature: Huge Arctic report ups estimates of sea-level rise. *RON*]

The Economist, 29 April 2017

THOSE who doubt the power of human beings to change Earth’s climate should look to the Arctic, and shiver. There is no need to pore over records of temperatures and atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations. The process is starkly visible in the shrinkage of the ice that covers the Arctic ocean. In the past 30 years, the minimum coverage of summer ice has fallen by half; its volume has fallen by three-quarters. On current trends, the Arctic ocean will be largely ice-free in summer by 2040.

Climate-change sceptics will shrug. Some may even celebrate: an ice-free Arctic ocean promises a shortcut for shipping between the Pacific coast of Asia and the Atlantic coasts of Europe and the Americas, and the possibility of prospecting for perhaps a fifth of the planet’s undiscovered su…

A columnist makes asinine arguments on climate change, prompting scientists to cut their noses, spiting our faces

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[The New York Times under Donald Trump. "The cure for false speech is more truth telling — not less speech." *RON*]
Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 29 April 2017

In his first piece as an op ed columnist for the N.Y. Times, Bret Stephens rightly decries hyperbole in discussion about climate change. Then he makes seemingly reasonable arguments that turn out to be asinine.

My reaction? Yawn. It’s quite doubtful that he will move the needle of public opinion on climate policy in the United States beyond the noise of natural variability. And I’m pretty darn sure that what he says in his superficially seductive but ultimately silly column will have no impact whatsoever on policy. In that arena, we’ve really got much bigger problems than Bret Stephens.

So I was going to leave it at that, until I started reading reactions on Twitter and elsewhere by some scientists. One renowned and highly respected climate scientist, Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor…

What ‘Confederate History Month’ Really Is

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[See also the Wikpedia article and this old piece, If You Think the Civil War Ever Ended, Think Again. Largely an excuse for revisionist history-making, such as these gems: Facts the Historians Leave Out: A Confederate Primer, and Lies My Teacher Told Me: The True History of the War for Southern Independence. *RON*]
Ashton Pittman, Jackson Free Press, 29 March 2017
In April, five states will officially celebrate Confederate History Month (or Confederate Heritage Month): Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In Georgia, which stopped the celebrations after a neo-Confederate killed nine black churchgoers in neighboring South Carolina in 2015, a lawmaker is pushing to bring it back, citing Trump's election and the end of the era of "political correctness."

To be clear, Confederate History Month isn't about remembering our past and taking lessons from it. Key proponents of the month's continued existence…

Today's Trumpery


It’s Time to Regulate the Gig Economy

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[The Gig Economy. It's regular employment masquerading under a variety of cutesy appellations with the goal of allowing employers to not call themselves employers, and so, sidestepping employment laws and avoiding all normal legal responsibility for their workers. *RON*]
Posted by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, 18 April 2017

By Janine Berg an economist with the International Labour Organisation and Valerio De Stefano, a lawyer with the International Labour Organisation. Originally published at Open Democracy.

Over a century ago, labour laws began to be instituted in diverse countries throughout the world. These laws were intended to provide protection to workers in what was recognised as an unequal relationship of exchange, but it also gave authority to managers to organise and direct their employees’ work. While the world of work has changed since these initial labour regulations were instituted, the fundamental reasons for the existence of la…

The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940

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["First, children’s prospects of earning more than their parents have faded over the past half century in the United States. Absolute income mobility has fallen across the entire income distribution, with the largest declines for families in the middle class. With the current distribution of income, higher GDP growth rates alone are insufficient to restore absolute mobility to the levels experienced by children in the 1940s and 1950s. If one wants to revive the 'American dream' of high rates of absolute mobility, then one must have an interest in growth that is spread more broadly across the income distribution." *RON*]

Raj Chetty1,*, David Grusky2,*, Maximilian Hell2, Nathaniel Hendren3,*, Robert Manduca4, Jimmy Narang5, Science, 24 April 2017: eaal4617, DOI: 10.1126/science.aal4617

Figures & Data
Info & Metrics


We estimated rates of “absolute income mobility”—the fraction of children who earn mo…