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Sunday, February 22, 2015

News Nuggets 1509


DAYLEE PICTURE: A Nicobar Pigeon in New York's Central Park.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Baby Bubble ... and the Big Pop That Follows

The Economics of Global Population Decline (George Friedman) from Real Clear World
"... the argument is that the contraction of the population, particularly during the transitional period before the older generations die off, will leave a relatively small number of workers supporting a very large group of retirees, particularly as life expectancy in advanced industrial countries increases. In addition, the debts incurred by the older generation would be left to the smaller, younger generation to pay off. Given this, the expectation is major economic dislocation. In addition, there is the view that a country's political power will contract with the population, based on the assumption that the military force that could be deployed - and paid for - with a smaller population would contract."

Where Are Oil Prices Headed!?

Get Ready for $10 Oil (Gary Shilling) from Bloomberg View
"At about $50 a barrel, crude oil prices are down by more than half from their June 2014 peak of $107. They may fall more, perhaps even as low as $10 to $20. Here’s why."

Europe's Sclerotic Economy: Where's the "Recovery"?

Italy is Europe’s ticking time bomb (Matt O'Brien) from the Washington Post
"What's gone wrong? Well, everything. They all have supply and demand problems. That first part means that it's too hard to start a business, too hard to expand one and too hard to fire people. That makes their economies sclerotic even in the good times, and doomed in the bad ones."

The Long-Standing World Order ... Feeling the Stress Now

Post-Cold War Order Is Breaking Down (Fyodor Lukyanov) from the Moscow Times [in English]
"The bitter feud in Ukraine is only one manifestation of how the world order is falling apart. The Islamic State is an even more striking example. It is not only challenging the established order in the Middle East by erasing borders, but is also exhibiting an increasingly savage cruelty, frightening its opponents with horrific public executions. In general, a medieval spirit reigns, with its internecine wars and in which the only great strategy, if one exists at all, is to indulge the passion for blood."

Europe REALLY Needs America to Stay Engaged

Exit America, Europe's Trust Engine? (Jan Techau) from Real Clear World 
"The United States succeeded as Europe's benevolent hegemon because it was able to pacify rivaling European states and instill mutual trust in them. That role is still needed."

How to Respond to Putin

Keep Putin talking to save Ukraine (David A. Andelman) from USA Today 
"... the Russian leader doesn't spend any time at all out there in the real world — even his real world, which is the first place the effect of sanctions might become apparent. Putin is deeply isolated, intelligence officials believe, and speaks only to a very small circle of like-minded friends and advisers."

More on Putin's Past Coming to Light

Putin was a 'lazy, drunken spy' who 'had a facelift' and 'beat his former wife', according to TV documentary from the Daily Mail [of the UK] 
"A documentary on Vladimir Putin claims he was a 'drunken groper' in 1980s. The programme 'Putin the Man' aired in Germany on Tuesday evening. The makers used Stasi police files and interviews with former KGB officers. It branded him a 'lazy, drunken spy' during his time at Dresden field office. The documentary also claimed he underwent a secret facelift in 2010."

Ukraine -- Where Historical Analogy is Appropriate and Where it is Not

Ukraine Is NOT Munich (Robert Merry) from the National Interest
"The Munich analogy is so overworked and clich├ęd by now that one would think that even Stephens might move on to something more vivid and telling. After all, as Yale’s Paul Kennedy pointed out in a penetrating National Interest article in 2010, the appeasement epithet has been used to bludgeon the kinds of foreign-policy ideas and approaches that, in history, have contributed significantly to peace and stability."

Obama and Truman -- Looking Back to Look Forward

Obama’s legacy will be like Truman’s (Neal Gabler) from the Boston Globe 
"When you compare Truman’s and Barack Obama’s presidencies, the similarities are striking, which should serve as a bracing reminder to all those now dismissing Obama."
Some may know Gabler's work from his award-winning biography of Walt Disney.

The Merits of Obamacare

Why Obamacare Will Win (Sam Baker) from National Journal
"The White House has more ways to win at the Supreme Court than its challengers."

Obamacare Critics: Running Out of Amo

Guy Who Gets Paid to Say Obamacare Doesn’t Work Can’t Find a Single True Fact to Support His Case (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Conservatives are talking much less than they used to about Obamacare, but they are saying more or less the same things, treating the law as a costly and obvious failure. What’s most striking is how oblivious most of them remain not only to measures of the law’s success, but even to the broad parameters of its objectives."

GOP 2016 Contenders: Pledging Allegiance to Charlatans and Cranks

Cranking Up for 2016 (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is said to be a rising contender for the Republican presidential nomination.  So, on Wednesday, he did what, these days, any ambitious Republican must, and pledged allegiance to charlatans and cranks."

American History? Politics is More Important than What Actually Happened

AP U.S. History controversy becomes a debate on America (Adam Lerner) from Politico
"An advanced high school U.S. history course has become the subject of an academic proxy war over what some consider a quasi-sacred national principle: American exceptionalism. The simmering national debate over Advanced Placement U.S. History, an optional high-school course whose final exam can earn students college credit, boiled over this week when an Oklahoma lawmaker sought to replace recommended course guidelines with his own."

The GOP's Eudcational Mission: Making being ignorant the equivalent of being educated

Five ways the GOP is valiantly trying to make Americans as dumb as possible (Amanda Marcotte) from Salon
"In South Dakota, Republicans once again pushed for a bill that would “allow” teachers to “question” evolution in the classroom, which is a fancy way of saying that teachers would be permitted to treat being ignorant as the equivalent of being educated."

Scandalmongers: Already Working on Hillary

Among the Hillary Haters (Hanna Rossin) from the Atlantic
"Can a new, professionalized generation of scandalmongers uncover more dirt on the Clintons—without triggering a backlash?"

Jeb -- Confronting the Bush Legacy

Jeb Bush and the Ghost of W (Steve Kornacki) from MSNBC
"Fundamentally, George W. Bush was a candidate of the GOP base, and that status was essential to his impressive electoral achievement. Jeb is not a candidate of the GOP base and there’s reason to suspect he never  will be. If that keeps him from winning, he’ll have his older brother to thank for it."

Jeb's Bad Debute as a Foreign Policy "Expert"

Jeb Bungles Facts, Pronunciation in His Big National Security Speech from the Daily Beast
"Trying to sound presidential, Bush instead came off like a confused former governor. Likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush delivered a nervous, uncertain speech on national security Wednesday, full of errors and confusion. Seeking to differentiate himself from his father and brother, both former presidents, the former governor of Florida asserted, “I am my own man.” But the man who emerged on stage at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs did not sound well-versed in foreign policy. ... Bush’s clunky, rushed delivery paled in comparison to the hazy facts in the speech and vague answers he gave during a Q&A session following his remarks."

Holding to Account the Bush Legacy

Jeb Bush’s Brainless Trust (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times
"If he wants to reclaim the Bush honor, Jeb should be holding accountable those who inflicted deep scars on America, not holding court with them. Where’s the shame? For some reason, Jeb doesn’t see it."
This is one of those areas where Democrats COULD do some real damage to Bush.  Will they, though?  We'll see.

The Course of Conservative Talk Radio

Time Magazine Affirms - Rush Limbaugh Is In Trouble (Leslie Salzillo) from Daily Kos
"It seems the larger mainstream media outlets like Time Magazine are starting to realize that 'small-fry' social media outlets have become a force to be reckoned with."

BRITISH HISTORY NUGGET!!

The woman who nearly became Henry VIII's SEVENTH wife from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Katherine Willoughby could have been Henry's last wife but king resisted. Henry had considered making her his seventh wife but she was too fiery. New biography says the pair became close, gave gifts and flirted.  But Tudor royal was 'jaded' by six wives and stayed with Catherine Parr "

CLASSIC SONG NUGGET!!

Why Don McLean Won't Explain The Meaning Of 'American Pie' from the Huffington Post
"... one reason McLean won't explain the song further is that many listeners have already made up their minds about its meaning.  "I've been told that if I were to say that, people would say, 'Well, no, you're wrong.' ... They'd say, 'You're not writing about that, I know what it means.' So I don't even get into it," he said."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

News Nuggets 1508


DAYLEE PICTURE: A unique view of Dubai from the Daily Mail of the UK.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Cons of Arming Ukraine

Why Arming Kiev Is a Really, Really Bad Idea (Stephen Walt) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Washington pundits are jumping on a proposal to send weapons to Ukraine. Here's why they all need to take a deep breath."

Oil Prices ... as Weapons?

The Oil Price Is not a Very Good Strategic Weapon (Lee Lane) from Real Clear World
"To some observers, the U.S. LTO boom also represents a new weapon of economic warfare. Adherents of this view correctly note that at present, Iran and Russia are U.S. foes. Increased U.S. oil output tends to lower world oil prices, which in turn undermines Iran and Russia's oil wealth. They also bolster the effect of sanctions against those countries. However, America also has dangerous rivals that are not oil exporters, and cheap oil may not be an unalloyed strategic gain for Washington."
This article implies but does not explain how current low oil prices might be a function of intentional White House policy.  This is my suspicion -- but it is hard to see where the connection is.

The Russian Economy in Free Fall

How to ensure that Russia will stick to the Ukrainian cease-fire deal (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"The Russian economy is in free fall. In a report this week, the International Energy Agency said that Russia is “facing a perfect storm of collapsing prices, international sanctions and currency depreciation.” As former U.S. deputy treasury secretary Roger Altman has said, “In this age, if the currency of a major nation collapses or its access to borrowing ends, it just can’t function.”"

The Bear Awakens?

Russia's Military Is Back (Nikolas K. Gvosdev) from the National Interest 
"Russia is now engaged in its largest military buildup since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago, with major increases in defense spending budgeted each year to 2020. Putin has pushed for this program even over the objections of some within the Kremlin who worried about costs and the possible negative impact on Russian prosperity..."

European Integration ... on the Rocks

Europe Sits on the verge of Regime Collapse (John Feffer) from Real Clear World
"... for all this success, the European project is currently teetering on the edge of failure. Growth is anemic at best and socio-economic inequality is on the rise. The countries of Eastern and Central Europe, even relatively successful Poland, have failed to bridge the income gap with the richer half of the continent. And the highly indebted periphery is in revolt."

Beijing's "Brand"

Wake Up, America: China Is a Real Threat from the National Interest 
"Even as China dumps more and more money into its public diplomacy and outreach programs, its bullying ways are undercutting the Beijing brand name. All the United States has to do is take advantage of that."

Barriers to Russia-China Cooperation

Why Putin Fears China (David Tweed) from Businssweek Bloomberg
"“Russia’s geo-strategic eyes are bigger than its stomach,” said Brad Williams, a specialist in East Asia relations at the City University of Hong Kong. “Simply put, Russia doesn’t have the economy to support a sustained presence in Asia.”"

American Education v. Chinese Education: The Chinese View

China’s Wealthy Parents Are Fed Up With State-Run Education from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Forget rote memorization and pressure-packed tests -- Western, alternative learning is the new rage. ... Chinese studying abroad, who numbered 300,000 in 2013 alone, often return with superior foreign language and critical thinking skills and are generally favored over peers who lack such experience. Influenced by this trend, parents are now racing for their children to acquire skills imparted by Western pedagogies starting at an early age."
 The Irony here is that they will NEVER have a western style education there -- so long as they have the kind of government they have.  NOT. EVER.  The darker irony is that exactly what these Chinese want for their kids is exactly what Americans seem determined to jetison from our own system of higher ed.  Sad.

DOCUMENTARY NUGGET!!

Young, Homeless—and Invisible (Terrence Ross) from the Atlantic
"The stories of and interviews with these three Chicago teenagers are the centerpieces of The Homestretch, a recent documentary created by filmmakers Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly that aims to challenge stereotypes about youth homelessness. The documentary demonstrates the complexity of the issue—a problem that's often hidden from the public eye."

More Reflections on the Prayer Breakfast

Obama: Sound Theology and Smart Politics (James Zogby) from the Huffington Post
"While I cannot read their hearts, their rhetoric was so predictable and so harsh, that I suspect some were prompted by a mixture of blind ideology and anti-Muslim animus, coupled with a tinge of racism. More to the point, the President's critics are just plain wrong-- theologically and
politically."

Same-sex Marriage: Another Front Heard From

KKK issues “call to arms” over Alabama same-sex marriage ruling from Salon
"The hate group melts down after a federal court rules an amendment banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional."

Debates Raging Over What History to Teach in US Schools

Meet The Man Behind The Right's AP History Freak Out from Talking Points Memo
"Krieger's criticism centers on a few key points: he is concerned that the College Board left out major Founding Fathers and key works like that of Alexis de Tocqueville, along with other important figures and events. He is also concerned that the framework draws a negative picture of the U.S. from a global perspective."
Now, I have read in detail the new AP History framework -- and there is some real smoke and mirrors around Krieger's terminology here.  The framework does not REQUIRE that you have any knowledge of the founding fathers, their works or de Toqueville's work.  Or any other specific historical figure.  But there are AMPLE opportunities for teachers to include them in lots of ways that fulfill the framework's skill and knowledge objectives!  When they say the framework draws a "negative picture" ... read that as the framework provides opportunities for critical assessments of US history.  As we saw with Obama's Prayer Breakfast, I think most of the critics (not all) are hooked by ANY criticism,  One of the most notable aspects of this whole converstion is that most of the critics (it seems to me) routinely know very little about US History -- or it is the Parson Weems version, almost a version of history as a holy scripture told to reinforce religious or cultural values rather than to teach what actually happened, how we can learn from the past, and to create well-informed citizens.  -- Nuggetsman

One Pundit's Personal History with the President

President Obama really really really really hates Maureen Dowd from Vox 
"... according to David Axelrod's new memoir, Obama reserves an intense loathing for their colleague Maureen Dowd. Here's how Axelrod remembers an encounter during Obama's campaign trip to Europe in the summer of 2008:..."
It clearly goes the other way as well.  This explains SO much about the relentllessly negative coverage and empty personal invective Dowd has heaped on Obama since '08.  What's Dowd's each-and-every-time response?  Anyone who calls her on it is "sexist"! Wish the Times would give her the boot. -- Nuggetsman 

Boehner Continues His Record of Extraoedinary Accomplishment

The rolling disaster of John Boehner’s speakership (Paul Waldman) from the Washington Post
"So on the whole, Boehner is managing to combine legislative incompetence with PR incompetence. He’s already sure to be known as one of the weakest speakers in American history, for at least some reasons that are out of his control. But he might also be known as one of the least effective."

Jeb will be Mum on his Brother's Wars

Jeb Bush Won't Talk About Wars His Brother Started from the Huffington Post
"Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has no interest in "re-litigating" the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which began under his brother's administration. "I won't talk about the past," Bush said at a Friday press conference when asked how he would have handled the conflicts differently, according to The Washington Post. "I'll talk about the future. ..."
AH!!  I WONDERED how Jeb was going to deal with this issue!  I'm skeptical this line will be able to hold up.  Jeb's foreign policy bona fides are already quite thin -- and to dodge this critical question (or this world of issues!) will require quite a slight of hand on Bush's part. On the other hand, what CAN he say?  It could be that Bush is laying the groundwork for saying as little as possible. After dragging things out for weeks or months, - Nuggetsman  

Jeb Bush Catching Heat from Potential Primary Opponents

The War on Jeb Bush from Politico
"His fast start has reordered the Republican 2016 race, and put a bull's-eye on his back."

HILLARY AND BILL NUGGET [of a sort]!!

Bill Clinton’s libido threatens to derail Hillary — again (Maureen Callaghan) from the New York Post
"To be clear, none of this is ancient history, affairs and misbehaviors that the nation has absorbed and seemingly forgiven. These are ongoing compulsions, tugs toward self-destruction that look to destroy his wife instead. ... “You know my husband,” she said. “You know I can’t control him, and at some point he’ll be a problem.” Also reported in the book was the existence of a “war room within a war room” during Hillary’s campaign. It was devoted solely to tracking down reports of Bill’s womanizing. What did they learn? Here, in the midst of his wife’s historic campaign, Bill was involved in a serious relationship with another woman. This, according to “Game Change,” was Hillaryland’s nightmare: “What everyone who signed up with Hillary feared each waking day.”"
While one can expect some gratuitous Clinton-bashing from the Post, in my view this column points out fundamental truths about Hillary's 2016 campaign.  Does anyone really belive Bill Cinton can stay clear of sex and other types of scandals once the campaign is in full swing -- particularly given the rumors noted in this article (many of which I have heard before from more reputable sources than this one)?  The biggest problem for the Clintons is that Bill has no reservoir of credibility or public good will to draw on IN THIS AREA! - Nuggetsman

Exercise and diet 'not enough to lose weight'

Doctors should treat obesity as a chronic disease because of biological factors that cause it from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Dieting triggers biological mechanisms which encourage weight gain. Evidence suggests these biological adaptations could persist indefinitely. Critics say obese people can lose weight if they are committed enough."

Sunday, February 8, 2015

News Nuggets 1507


DAYLEE PICTURE: Interesting storm elsewhere.  Storm Bodil over Denmark.

TODAY's BIG NUGGET: No "Recovery" a Boon to Extremists Everywhere

Aftershocks: The Political Fallout of Greece’s Economic Crisis from the World Politics Review
"According to Christos Dimas, an MP of ND, “The rise of the extreme right is not exclusively a Greek phenomenon; in periods of economic recession, extremist parties increase their political influence. Hopefully, as the economy improves and society benefits, the influence of extremist parties will diminish.”"

Russia's New GRAND Alliance!

Russia to Hold Joint Military Drills with North Korea, Cuba from the National Interest
"“We are planning an expansion of the communication lines of our military central command. We are entering preliminary negotiations with the armed forces of Brazil, Vietnam, Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Gerasimov said, according to a Newsweek report."
"we are planning an expansion..."; "We are entering preliminary negotiations..."  Ah -- there's Putin trying to organize some "grand alliance" undergirded by ... what?  With the exception of North Korea, none of these people have any long term interest in forming an alliance or even a miliary reproachment with Russia.  Vietnam's major regional opponent is China and the Vietnamese are already doing high level conversations and coordination with the US.  Cuba can't wait to shake loose from the likes of Russia, and you have to wonder what price tag Brazil will put on its willingness even to be mentioned in this company.  And North Korea?  Another boat anchor regime for Putin to add to his growing collection... - Nuggetsman.

Putin: Making It Up As He Goes Along

Europeans Laugh as Lavrov Talks Ukraine (Josh Rogin) from Bloomberg 
"Actually, it was funny, but not because the fate of Ukraine should be trivialized. The entire episode made it obvious that any notion that the West and Russia can have a discussion on Ukraine, based on a shared vision of reality, is absurd."

A $51 Billion 'Ghetto' in Russia

Extraordinary images show Vladimir Putin's Sochi Olympic park lying desolate and abandoned one year after most expensive games in history from the Daily Mail [of the UK] 
"The Winter Olympics of 2014 are a distant memory in the Russian Black Sea resort, with empty arenas left idle.  Fisht Stadium, the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the Tulip Inn hotel and the Adler Arena all sit in ghostly silence. Skiers may still pack the slopes nearby owing to the collapsing rouble, but few are visiting the Olympic park. The Formula One track, which hosted the £99 million Russian Grand Prix last year, stands dusty and unused. The company which owns some of the complex is about to go bankrupt, according to the Kommersant newspaper. At least two oligarchs involved in building the lavish facilities are dumping their toxic assets on the state . Russian taxpayers are picking up the bill for this 'perfect museum of corruption', according to a local journalist."

Outrage in Jordan: Better Late Than Never I Guess

Outrage In Mideast Over ISIS Killing Of Jordanian Pilot from the Associated Press
"The gruesome militant video of the last moments in the life of 26-year-old Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh, whose F-16 crashed in Syria in December during a U.S.-led coalition raid on the extremist group, crossed a line — beyond the beheadings of Western hostages at the hands of Islamic State extremists. From the world's most prestigious seat of Sunni Islam learning, Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque, Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb said the IS militants deserve the Quranic punishment of death, crucifixion or the chopping off of their arms for being enemies of God and the Prophet Muhammad."
IT IS ABOUT TIME!!  When were Islamic authorities going to take a stand against the heinous acts of ISIS [and by extension al Qaida, the Taliban, and their ilk]. Now... unfortunately some folks immediately went to the following position: "Jordanian politician Mohammed al-Rousan wept openly on national television as he described watching al-Kaseasbeh's death, saying even people accustomed to violence could not bear to see a man burned alive. Then, his tears turned to rage. "Let's use the same methods as them!" he shouted during the interview with Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV. "Let's kill their children! Let's kill their women!"" There -- that'll solve ... somthing. -- Nuggetsman

Nicaragua’s Controversial Canal

If You Dig It, Will They Come? from World Politics Review
"...  like Panama before it, Nicaragua could find itself transformed from a relatively quiet Central American backwater into a geopolitical linchpin in the Western Hemisphere. But while Panama’s century-old gamble paid off, Nicaragua is an entirely different case, despite the apparent
similarities. There is a big difference in the geopolitical and economic impact of opening the region’s first trans-isthmus canal—and opening its second. ... Which begs another question: Does Nicaragua, or the world, really even need this canal? Many think no."
This story corresponds with a larger theme that has emerged in the recent history of China: re-living the 20th century -- except in this version China was the GREAT POWER, not America.  And so we now get to see in the 21st century, China doing what the US did in the 20th -- except a bigger, better Chinese version.  So, America went to the moon in 1969.  Now China is going to the moon -- except they're going to go three times!  In the 20th century, the US transformed many American cities by embracing the skyscraper.  In China, they build WHOLE cities using high tech and cutting edge skyscraper designs (never mind that many of these cities in the middle of nowhere have no one living in them).  So now we get the Nicaraguan Canal -- it is BIGGER and THREE TIMES as long as America's Panama Canal (and it is over terrain that is WAY MORE perilous than Panama's).  Indeed, Panama is ALREADY working on a major project to widen their canal.  But -- as with these other examples -- you have to ask yourself, at base what is motivating these initiatives? Any clear assessment of long-term benefits and what would be in China's self interest?  I don't think so.  My answers: (1) too much spare cash meets virtually no imagination.  The ONLY reference point they have for how a great power might behave is the US in the 20th century. It's ALL about Chinese agrandizement with no connection to anything actually needed;  and (2) among Chinese leaders and policy makers, this is also about somehow making up for a "century of humiliation" by western powers.  Again, their reference point is the past, not the future or any clear-eyed assessment of what China or the world needs.  Don't be at all surprised if, after spending north of 50 billion on this Nicaraguan Canal that it ends up being under-used. -- Nuggetsman.

Bibi's Bubble -- The Same One Most of the GOP Live In

Bibi's Bad Mistake (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"You know how this happened: Netanyahu; his ambassador; the pro-Israel lobby Aipac; Sheldon Adelson, the huge donor to Bibi and the G.O.P.; and Boehner all live in their own self-contained bubble."

Bibi's Playing in the Wrong Sandbox!

Bibi Netanyahu -- aka 'The Republican Senator From Israel' -- May Have Made A Fatal Political Mistake from Bloomberg
"It turns out, the plan to have the Israeli Prime Minister speak to Congress, without first discussing with the White House, was the brainchild of Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer who has, for weeks now, been endorsing the re-election of Bibi Netanyahu on American television programs despite explicit Israeli Civil Service regulations prohibiting him from doing so."

What Recovery?

For Most Of Us, There's No "Recovery" (Jack Kelly) from Real Clear Politics
"The incomes of the top one-tenth of 1 percent (about $8 million a year) grew 39 percent. The incomes of the bottom 90 percent declined, according to University of California-Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez. Real median household income was $54,417 in December, 5.1 percent lower than in January 2008 ($57,317)."
One of the interesting side lights to this column is Kelly's use of "Us" in the headline.  As an old print-media guy, this self-discription works because most newspaper writers like Kelly (as newspaper reporters have historically) aren't getting rich doing their jobs.  If you tune into any news network or cable news outlet any night of the week, you can go hours at a time and not see anyone reporting anything that could say the same.  Virtually all of them make north of six figures now -- and yet they are the ones telling us "how it is" every night. Sorry -- my economic populist underwear is showing here a bit -- Nuggetsman.

Another Look at the Costs of the Recession

The Great Recession’s Lost Generation? Older millennials from the Washington Post
"More likely, what we’re seeing is evidence of the scarring effects of an unusually severe economic downturn. The younger members of Gen Y are loaded with debt, but they are at least graduating into an economy with expanding job opportunities; meanwhile, the cohort of young people unlucky enough to have entered the job market during a time of scarcer openings sees its economic misfortunes (and resulting inability to afford a homestead or other life milestones) persist. In other words, the Great Recession may have led to a new Lost Generation — or at least a Lost Half-Generation."

PUBLIC EDUCATION NUGGET!!

Here Are The States That Spend The Most On Public School Students from the Huffington Post
"The graphics below outline some of the data's highlights. The first map shows which states spent the most per pupil in 2012. The District of Columbia and New York took the top spots, spending over $19,000 per student. Utah and Idaho spent the least per student, around $6,500."

The Link Between Segregated Housing and Poverty

Is Ending Segregation the Key to Ending Poverty? from the Atlantic 
"Chicago's experiment in relocating poor African American families to rich white suburbs seems to be a success. So why are so few other cities doing the same?"

What You Need to Say to be Taken Seriously in the GOP These Days

The GOP: Still the Party of Stupid (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast 
"That Scott Walker speech was great? It was shallow, tedious, and wrong. In other words, it struck the perfect chord for today’s GOP voters."

MASSIVE MILLENNIAL POLL

Young people will hit the polls in 2016, and they want Hillary (Brett LoGiurato) from Fusion
"Where millennials differ from the rest of the American population, however, is in their view that, overall, government is generally good. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said government is “helpful,” compared with just 18 percent who called it “harmful.” That suggests millennials want the next president to be more active in tackling their prioritized issues."

The Illogic of Anti-vaxxers amply on Display within the GOP

Rand Paul: Parents 'Own' Children, Not the State from The Hill
"Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) doubled down on his position that most vaccines should be voluntary, suggesting Monday that mandated immunization is an example of government overreach. "The state doesn't own your children," Paul said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell." "Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom and public health." "
Deeper ... and deeper ... and deeper.  Paul lives in a world where being profoundly irresponsible has no consequences for others or for larger society.  Sorry, dude.  But, hey -- keep going!  This guy has spouted so much Ron-Paul-lite B.S. that this is only edge of the toilet bowl we will see much more of over the next two years. -- Nuggetsman

A Glimpse of Rand Paul's Presidential Prospects?

Why Rand Paul Ain't Happening (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"... quite apart from vaccines themselves, this flareup is again illustrating what should be obvious. Rand Paul has no future as a presidential candidate."

Brian Williams: Will He Get What He Deserves?

Brian Williams apologizes for false Iraq story from Politico
"NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams apologized Wednesday for falsely claiming that he had been aboard a helicopter that was shot down during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Stars and Stripes reports."
Of course, Williams has since "stepped down" for some amount of time.  This is all of a piece with the ratings-ization of television news.  Thirty years ago, Williams would have been fired.  Now, like Lara Logan at CBS, he will be asked to lay low until the media becomes distracted by the next Bill Cosby disclosure, the next celebrity suicide, or the next hysterical over-reaction/hissy fit the right throws over some innocuous Obama statement -- then he will be quietly reinstated or, who knows, even given some new, even higher-profile-show.  This is the 21st century way the networks ensure "good" reporting.

CLASSIC AUTHOR NUGGET!!

Second Harper Lee to be Published in July from the Associated Press 
""To Kill a Mockingbird" will not be Harper Lee's only published book after all. Publisher Harper announced Tuesday that "Go Set a Watchman," a novel the Pulitzer Prize-winning author completed in the 1950s and put aside, will be released July 14. Rediscovered last fall, "Go Set a Watchman" is essentially a sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird," although it was finished earlier."

TECHNOLOGY NUGGET!!

What My Hearing Aid Taught Me About the Future of Wearables (Ryan Budish) from the Atlantic
"Although many will never need hearing aids, today’s tech firms are making it likely that, someday soon, tiny computers will become extensions of your body, just as they have been part of mine for nearly 30 years. Thanks to that experience, I feel as though I’ve had a sneak peek into our wearable future—and I can make some predictions about what it will look like."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

News Nuggets 1506


DAYLEE PICTURE: A serious storm front approaching Enid, Oklahoma.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

TODAY'S BIG MEDIA NUGGET: The Continental-sized Laugh Coming from Europe

Why Serious People Discount Fox (Leonard Pitts) from National Memo  
"There was Fox, doing what Fox does, in this case hosting one Steve Emerson, a supposed expert on Islamic extremist terrorism, who spoke about so-called “no go” zones in Europe — i.e., areas of Germany, Sweden, France and Great Britain — where non-Muslims are banned, the government has no control and sharia law is in effect. Naturally, Fox did not question this outrageous assertion — in fact, it repeated it throughout the week — and most of us, long ago benumbed by the network’s serial mendacities, did not challenge Fox. Then, there erupted from Europe the jarring sound of a continent laughing. ... It’s amazing, the things you can get used to, that can come to seem normal. In America, it has come to seem normal that a major news organization functions as the propaganda arm of an extremist political ideology, that it spews a constant stream of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, paranoia and manufactured outrage, and that it does so with brazen disregard for what is factual, what is right, what is fair, what is balanced — virtues that are supposed to be the sine qua non of anything calling itself a newsroom."

"Austerity" has Robbed European Authorities of Credibility

Ending Greece’s Nightmare (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"... now that Mr. Tsipras has won, and won big, European officials would be well advised to skip the lectures calling on him to act responsibly and to go along with their program. The fact is they have no credibility; the program they imposed on Greece never made sense. It had no chance of working."

Chinese Money Is Backing Putin’s War

Chinese Money Is Backing Putin’s War (Gordon Chang) from the Daily Beast 
"Where does he find the wherewithal to go on with his quasi-imperial plans? There’s a one-word answer: China. In recent months China has thrown his economy a lifeline—several of them in fact."

Putin's Message to the World: "we have absolutely no idea what we're doing."

Russian Officials Are Dangerously Out of Touch (Mark Adomanis) from Moscow Today [in English]
".. from the standpoint of the Russian "man on the street," who according to statistics will spend around 40 percent of his disposable income on food, Gaffner's comment is almost laughably out of touch. The fact that a politician would propose "eat less" as a solution suggests that the elite is pretty much out of ideas: it is tantamount to releasing a public statement that says "we have absolutely no idea what we're doing.""

S&P Cuts Russia's Rating to Junk

S&P Cuts Russia's Rating to Junk Putting It Below Investment Grade from Bloomberg
"“Russia’s monetary-policy flexibility has become more limited and its economic growth prospects have weakened,” S&P said in a statement. “We also see a heightened risk that external and fiscal buffers will deteriorate due to rising external pressures and increased government support to the economy.”"
Putin's System Is Built on Shaky Foundations (Maxim Trudolyubov) from Moscow Today [in English]
"This system considers ideas in any form — unless they serve the needs of the regime — as mortal enemies. This even includes nationalism and fundamentalism. Leaders know that if any idea were to "break free" from its Kremlin handlers and unite the masses under its banner, it could completely obliterate the political system as it now exists.... The main limitation to this system is that now it is only capable of spurring ever greater negative consequences and hastening its own demise."

The "Ghosts" Inside Putin's Domestic Polling

How Russia props up Putin in the polls from the Washington Post
"Deeper scrutiny is especially important because the more Putin’s sky-high popularity ratings are mentioned, the more they become accepted wisdom. Western news media and political analysts frequently report on them without providing critically needed context."

Joining the Jihad: Why?

Here's The Real Reason Young Muslims Join The Global Jihad from Talking Points Memo
"One begins to see parallels emerge with past youth movements claiming to defend fundamental human values against powerful countervailing forces in the world, like the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. At its core, the global jihad presents itself as a challenge to the status quo, to a global order where the cultural, political, and economic positions of ruling elites in the West prevail, at least in part because of Western military might."

Obama's Positive Foreign Policy?

Will Washington allow the pursuit of positive foreign policy? (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"India has gone from being a country, 30 years ago, that was reflexively anti-American to one that is increasingly pro-American. Indian society has long been attracted to America, but in recent years, the Indian government has been moving away from its encrusted ideology of “nonalignment” to something far more practical. Its energetic new prime minister, Narendra Modi, has pushed his government in an unambiguously pro-American direction."

Training Civilians as Cyber Warriors

The U.S. Army's Next Big Challenge from the National Interest
"The new arms race scrambles for bytes, not bombs. To take and hold the cyber high ground, the armed services (and just about everybody else) want more fingers on keyboards and eyes on screens."

Who and What Didn't Recover with the "Recovery"

This Map Reveals Just How Unequal The So-Called Recovery Is from the Huffington Post
"In 39 U.S. states, the top 1 percent of earners gobbled up at least half of all of the income gains between 2009 and 2012. And in 17 of those states, the top earners got every bit of the income growth in those years. That's according to a new paper released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on labor issues."

Technological Unemployment: The Next Wave

Workers' New Robot Overlords Will Probably Not Be Welcome (Gerald Huff) from the Daily Beast
"In the run-up to the 2016 election, no leading candidates are talking about one of the most important issues facing the country, the risk of large-scale technological unemployment."

The Morality of Obamacare Repeal

Repealing Obamacare Would Be Extremely Immoral (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Strain’s piece continues the Republican reformist tradition of comparing the actually existing Democratic health-care plan against a hypothetical Republican one. And the reason is that the actual trade-offs created by the Republican health care agenda — denying millions access to basic medical care, subjecting them to pain, financial ruin, and even easily preventable death -— is impossible to defend."

Hillary's Competition: No Air and No Space

Hillary stands alone (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"I’ve been in the minority that believed Clinton had made no final decision about running, but I’m switching to the majority view. If she were going to step aside, party loyalty would dictate she should have done so by now so that other Democratic contenders could begin to assemble campaign teams, court donors and introduce themselves to the nation. Instead, Clinton continues to draw away all the political oxygen."

Hillary's VP Choices Considered

Hillary's Veep Options Already Being Floated To Politico from Talking Points Memo
"President Bill Clinton is already "deeply engaged," per Politico. But beyond the bureaucracy, Allen surfaced some of the vice presidential possibilities being discussed by anonymous sources somewhere within Clinton's world."

Walker Surging in Iowa; Bush Struggles

Walker Surging in Iowa Poll as Bush Struggles from Bloomberg
"Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is surging, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is an also-ran and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is dominating in a new poll of Iowans likely to vote in the nation's first presidential nominating contest."