Thursday, May 28, 2015

News Nuggets 1519

An elephant wandering the grasslands of Mozambique.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Imperialism Not Looking So Bad These Days

It’s Time to Bring Imperialism Back to the Middle East (Robert Kaplan) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Empire may have fallen out of fashion, but history shows that the only other option is the kind of chaos we see today. ... Totalitarianism was the only answer to the end of Western imperialism in these artificial states, and totalitarianism’s collapse is now the root cause of Middle East chaos."
Now, I should say that neither I (nor, I suspect, Mr. Kaplan) are actually suggesting that America or Europe resume an old-style imperialist approach to the Middle East.  But his argument certainly showcases the historical upside to imperialism in this era where instability is becoming the norm.

Obama's National Security Legacy

Obama the Carpenter: The President's National Security Legacy (Michael O'Hanlon) from Brookings
"Gauged by more reasonable and normal standards, however, Mr. Obama has in fact done acceptably well. Both his critics and his defenders tend to use unrealistic benchmarks in grading his presidency. If we use the kinds of standards that are applied to most American leaders, things look quite different."

Are America and China Spiraling toward War or Peace?

Are America and China Spiraling toward War or Peace? (Peter Harris) from the National Interest
"Contrary to much conventional wisdom and international relations theories, which tend to predict hostility between rising and established powers in world politics—a law-like dynamic that the Harvard political scientist Graham Allison has called the “Thucydides’s Trap”—Goldstein portrays the emerging U.S.-China relationship as highly contingent upon human agency. Whether peace obtains between the United States and China, he argues, will be determined by strategic choices rather than structural forces."

China Looking to Project its Naval Power

China, Updating Military Strategy, Puts Focus on Projecting Naval Power from the New York Times
"China intends to project naval power in the open ocean in coming years, and not just defend the country’s coastal waters, according to a strategy paper released on Tuesday. The paper, the first policy document issued by the Chinese military in two years, comes at a time of growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. China’s efforts to enforce its disputed claims to vast stretches of the sea by building up artificial islands and structures on reefs and outcroppings have drawn the
Philippines and its ally the United States into a test of wills in the region."

Evading Bitter Truths on the Iraq War

Was the Iraq War a Crime or a Mistake? Yes. (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"... liberal critics are correct that the war was not merely an honest mistake. But they have framed their indictment of the Bush administration’s intelligence manipulation in such a way as to help it, and its defenders, evade the truth."

India to Launch First Homegrown Aircraft Carrier

India to Launch First Homegrown Aircraft Carrier from National Interest 
"India is set to launch its first indigenous aircraft carrier later this month, according to local media reports. ... The carrier is set to undergo testing starting in 2017, and—if everything goes to plan—will be inducted into India’s navy sometime in 2018. India currently operates two aircraft carriers, both of which are foreign built."

The Age of the Overeducated Barista is Here to Stay

The Economy Is Still Terrible for Young People (Derek Thompson) from the Atlantic
"The era of the overeducated barista is here to stay. College graduates are still spending more and more years (and money) to get worse and worse entry-level jobs."

New York City's Public-Housing Crisis

New York City's Public-Housing Crisis (Alana Samuels) from the Atlantic 
"Many of the city's enormous low-income residences are in need of millions and millions of dollars of repair work. Why are they still standing at all?"

The Cost of an Adjunct

The Cost of an Adjunct (Laura McKenna) from the Atlantic
"The plight of non-tenured professors is widely known, but what about the impact they have on the students they’re hired to instruct?"

Why Obamacare makes me optimistic about US politics

Why Obamacare makes me optimistic about US politics (Ezra Klein) from Vox 
"Five years after its passage, Obamacare stands as a monument to much that's wrong with American politics. But it also, increasingly, is evidence of much that's right with it, too."

The "Inherent Fragility" of the Bush Campaign

Jeb Bush's Many Problems (David Frum) from the Atlantic
"Bush’s ability to raise large amounts of money has distracted attention from the inherent fragility of his campaign. But there are many reasons to be skeptical of his ability to secure the Republican nomination, much less win the White House, and the early months of his undeclared campaign have done little to dispel those doubts. Here are six: ..."
While, as usual, Frum makes some valid points, I could come up with a similar list on the "inherent fragility" of the Hillary Clinton campaign.  Both of these candidates come with SO MUCH historical baggage, it's anyone's guess as to which will be the most burdened by it.

With a Record this Bad (By their OWN LIGHTS) What Can the GOP Run On?

Reagan, Bush, and the Search for a Usable Republican Past (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"What makes the question so devilish is that the ranks of the living presidents offer no answer to the question that can square with conservative doctrine. ... The other two, George Bush and George W. Bush, have been excommunicated for committing real or imagined ideological heresy. The Reagan answer was not a mistake — it was the reflection of a party lacking a usable past."

GOP 2016 Agenda: Defend Old Policies?

Why the GOP Can't Get No Satisfaction (Jim Messina) from Politico
"My British experience — including insights from Mick Jagger — taught me that the Republican Party could end up like Ed Miliband. ... So far, during the 2016 cycle, Republican presidential candidates seem dedicated to defending old policies across the spectrum from going back to pre-crisis rules for Wall Street to attacking the science of climate change to constantly focusing on restricting women’s health care decisions."

How Jeb Bush Stumbled His Way Through Four Days Of Iraq Questions

How Jeb Bush Stumbled His Way Through Four Days Of Iraq Questions from Talking Points Memo
"More than a decade after President George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), ended up in his own Iraq quagmire this week. The likely presidential contender for months somehow had managed to avoid talking much about his older brother even as he began to steam toward a White House bid."


Jeb Bush: It's 'Just Really Arrogant' To Say The Science Is Decided On Climate Change from Reuters
"Look, first of all, the climate is changing. I don't think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you," he said. "It's this intellectual arrogance that now you can't even have a conversation about it. The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality," he said.
"Intellectual arrogance..."!  Translation: "Don't let those east-coast liberals, Jews and effete snobs tell you what to think!"  Of all the GOP contenders for 2016, I can honestly say that I had the most respect for Jeb Bush -- both as someone who was demonstrably smarter than his brother AND largely unwilling to say the stupidest stuff running rampant on the right.  No more.  When it comes to climate change, Jeb KNOWS better -- but to get the nomination he is willing to spout anti-environmental nonsense and be a total tool for climate-change deniers. Most pols sell their souls in increments.  Jeb just moved over to selling his at the bulk rate.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

News Nuggets 1518

The beautiful Jame Masjid Mosque in Yazd, Iran.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Losing the "Martyr-state" Myth

The Many False Assumptions of Iran Hawks (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative 
"It should be mentioned here that Rubio’s thinking on Iran and its nuclear program is badly distorted by his acceptance of the absurd “martyr-state” myth and associated false assumptions about the apocalyptic views of Iran’s leaders."

Paging Mr. Cheney! Paging Mr. Cheney!

Obama Administration Faces Mounting Pressure To Answer For Torture from Huffington Post
"In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Friday, human rights group Amnesty International pressed the Justice Department to revisit its decision not to prosecute former officials from the CIA and the George W. Bush administration for their involvement in the agency’s post-9/11 torture program."
I'm going to quibble about the headline: Obama has nothing to "answer for" regarding torture.  The real question is: Will anyone from the BUSH YEARS have to "answer for" torture?  What about it, Mr. Cheney?

Debt: A Real Leak in China's Economic Tub

Is the U.S. Economy Actually Leaving China Behind? (Derek Scissors) from Real Clear World
"U.S. debt accumulation is now slower than China's. Looking further down the road, China's economy is plainly slowing (by any measure), while the U.S. outlook is uncertain. The absolute wealth gap rose despite very rapid Chinese expansion from 2000 to 2007."

Ending Bulk Data Collection by the NSA

House Approves Bill That Would End NSA Bulk Data Collection from Reuters 
"The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would end spy agencies' bulk collections of Americans' telephone data, setting up a potential showdown with the U.S. Senate over the program that expires on June 1."

Shutting Down Debate on the Nuclear Deal

Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio face defeat on Iran (Burgess Everett) from Politico
"Senate leaders are expected to shut down debate on a nuclear review bill, clearing the way for passage."

Pay No Attention to That War Behind the Curtain...

Jeb Bush: Iraq Questioning Is Disservice to Slain Soldiers from Bloomberg Business
"Likely Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Wednesday that questioning about how he would have handled Iraq War authorization “does a disservice” to military service members killed in action."
Bzzzt!! Oh pu-LEEZ!!  Nice try.  No -- rushing into war for false or misleading reasons is an exponentially bigger disservice to military service members who are then killed in action. It is very interesting seeing how the Bush people are seriously struggling to find responses to inevitable questions about the Iraq War, responses that pass the smell test.  They are NOT there yet! - Nuggetsman

For Seniors ... Who Want to Stay in Their Homes...

Living, and Dying, at Home (Alana Semuels) from the Atlantic
"America is aging, and most seniors want to stay in the places where they've lived for decades. Can they? What will it take?"

Just Another Tuesday in the GOP Lunatic Asylum...

Anti-Government Resistance Now The Beating Heart Of GOP (Leonard Pitts) from the National Memo
"Duly elected leaders, putatively responsible people, give credence to the crazy idea that the federal government is about to attack its second most populous state and we shrug because it’s just another Tuesday in the lunatic asylum of American politics."

GOP Primaries: A Can't-Lose Proposition for All Wingnuts

The GOP's clamorous, counterproductive 2016 circus (Michael Brendan Dougherty) from The Week
"There is broad agreement among elite Republicans that the sheer number of serious and unserious candidates may hurt the party. It crams the debate stage, elicits shallow questions, and reduces the nationally televised answers to the tiniest sound-bites or hand-raises. It's bad for the party, and the country. It's also a can't-lose deal for any would-be candidate willing to endure flights to Des Moines and house parties in Nashua."

Barriers to Bernie in NH

Question: Is Bernie Sanders eligible to run in the NH Democratic primary? from WMUR News [in New Hampshire]
"Gardner: Law says he must be a registered Democrat when he files."

Iraq War Continues to Bite Bush in the Butt

Laura Ingraham On Jeb's Iraq Answer: There's 'Something Wrong With You' (AUDIO) from Talking Points Memo
"Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham dropped the hammer on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Monday after the likely presidential candidate said he would invade Iraq again, knowing what we know now. "You can't still think that going into Iraq, now, as a sane human being, was the right thing to do," Ingraham said on her radio show. "If you do, there has to be something wrong with you," she added."

The Link Between Work-Life Balance and Income Equality

Home Economics from the Atlantic
"The central conflict of domestic life right now isn't men versus women or mothers versus fathers; it's the family against money."


Family reunites with missing German Shepherd after 3 years from Fox 5 News [in San Diego]

Friday, May 1, 2015

News Nuggets 1516

DAYLEE PICTURE: A cowboy overlooking Monument Valley in Utah.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Learning the Lessons of Imperial Power

Coming to Terms With American Empire (George Friedman) from Real Clear World
"... if the United States thinks of itself as an empire, then it will begin to learn the lessons of imperial power. Nothing is more harmful than an empire using its powerful carelessly. It is true that the United States did not genuinely intend to be an empire. It is also true that its intentions do not matter one way or another. Circumstance, history and geopolitics have created an entity that, if it isn't an empire, certainly looks like one."

The Real Choices with the Iran Nuclear Deal

The New Deal (Jessica T. Mathews) from the New York Review of Books 
"Judging it begins and ends with clarity about what choices are truly before us. That has a simple answer: there are only two alternatives to a negotiated deal."

China's $28 Trillion Problem

China Has a Massive Debt Problem from Bloomberg View
"China has a $28 trillion problem. That’s the country’s total government, corporate and household debt load as of mid-2014, according to McKinsey & Co. It’s equal to 282 percent of the country’s total annual economic output. ... China’s also trying to prop up a $10.4 trillion economy that’s decelerating and probably will continue to do so through 2016, or so says the International Monetary Fund. The economy expanded 7 percent -- the leadership’s growth target for this year -- in the first quarter, the weakest since 2009 and a far cry from the 10 percent average China managed from 1980 through 2012."

China's "Banks" --Finally Becoming Real BANKS?

China Rethinks Safety Net for Its Banking System from the New York Times 
"When the United States started insuring customer deposits, the government wanted to instill faith in the country’s financial system, which had been broken by a string of bank runs and failures during the Great Depression. China wants to do the opposite. With the introduction of deposit insurance on Friday, Beijing is looking to shake the public’s faith, namely the long-held belief that the government will bail out troubled banks. In short, China is trying to introduce risk into the system."

Where China is Advancing ... and Where it Isn't

China’s new, better ‘leap forward’ (Robert Samuelson) from the Washington Post
"“China’s leap forward in science and engineering,” write Freeman and Huang, “is one of the defining events in modern intellectual history.” Still, they caution against overstating China’s advances."

What Putin is Trying to Prove in Ukraine

Welcome Back to Kiev (Vitaly Klitchko) from the Wall Street Journal 
"The fighting in the east has targeted Ukraine’s industrial heartland, shutting down mines and factories. All of this is a response to the Maidan movement, because from Moscow’s perspective it is existentially vital to prove that people can’t prevail over corruption, can’t determine their own future and can’t prosper without bowing to a foreign leader."

Looking for a New "Culture War" -- Conservatves Will Always FInd One

The New Enemy Within (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"...  while they still depict themselves as under cultural assault, they don’t generally identify feminists as the ones leading the attack anymore. Increasingly, they blame Muslims."

Echoes of a Recession: Half of Americans have money worries

Half of Americans have money worries (Bernie Becker) from The Hill 
"Half of Americans have deep concerns about their financial situation, according to Gallup. The 50 percent of people in the U.S. who have money worries is basically unchanged from the 49 percent Gallup found in 2014."

The Mythes Surrounding "Life Expectancy"

Zombies of 2016 (Paul Frugman) from the New York Times
"... the Social Security Administration issued a report showing that almost all the rise in life expectancy has taken place among the affluent. The bottom half of workers, who are precisely the Americans who rely on Social Security most, have seen their life expectancy at age 65 rise only a bit more than a year since the 1970s. Furthermore, while lawyers and politicians may consider working into their late 60s no hardship, things look somewhat different to ordinary workers, many of whom still have to perform manual labor."

Robots and Jobs: An International Perspective

Will Robots Kill the Asian Century? from the National Interest
"The rise of technologies such as 3-D printing and advanced robotics means that the next few decades for Asia’s economies will not be as easy or promising as the previous five."

Testing Students and Testing Teachers

This Is Why These Students Stopped Taking Tests (Casey Quinlan) from Think Progress
"Cuomo laid out a controversial agenda for school reform, which included making students’ standardized test scores 50 percent of teacher evaluations, with the other half determined by outside evaluators’ and school officials’ observations. ... The opt-outs are in part a reaction to years of education reform efforts that are focused on teacher evaluation through standardized tests and growing frustration with common core state standards, a voluntary set of standards implemented in 46 states and the District of Columbia."

The REAL Disconnect between Robots and Jobs

Fighting Robots With Robots (Froma Harrop) from the National Memo
"It sounds so efficient. Robots make the running shoes, sell the running shoes and buy the running shoes by the most cost-effective means possible. But there’s a problem. Who’s going to pay for the running shoes? I mean, if a robot can do your job taking drink orders, reading ultrasounds or selling washing machines, how are you going to earn the wherewithal to buy stuff?"

Traditional marriage gets a SCOTUS smackdown

The incomprehensible right-wing logic that’s poised to go down in flames from Salon
"Even a typically conservative majority can't save gay-marriage opponents now. At least one of these men will break."


The Slow Death of the University (Terry Eagleton) from the Chronicle of Higher Education
"From Cape Town to Reykjavik, Sydney to São Paulo, an event as momentous in its own way as the Cuban revolution or the invasion of Iraq is steadily under way: the slow death of the university as a center of humane critique. ... Some years ago, I resigned from a chair at the University of Oxford (an event almost as rare as an earthquake in Edinburgh) when I became aware that I was expected in some respects to behave less as a scholar than a CEO."

Scott Walker's Approval Drops In Wisconsin

Scott Walker's Approval Drops In Wisconsin from the Huffington Post 
"Marquette is the only non-partisan pollster to survey Wisconsin since the 2014 midterms. The results, coming after years of relatively steady ratings for the governor, could represent either a significant outlier from earlier polling or a marked drop in Walker's standing."

Relationship Sours Between Bush And Rubio

Relationship Sours Between Bush And Rubio As GOP Primary Heats Up from the Huffington Post
"Bush allies have started quietly spreading negative information about Rubio's record. Also, supporters of the two Miami politicians are drawing contrasts between Rubio, a 43-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, and 62-year-old Bush, a member of one of the nation's most powerful political dynasties."
I am SOOO Surprised!!

Emerging Talking Points AGAINST Clinton's Run

Martin O'Malley Goes After Hillary Clinton For Leading By 'Polls,' Not 'Principles' from the Huffington Post
"Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) went after Hillary Clinton Thursday, accusing her of changing policy positions based on polls rather than her convictions. It's the first time the prospective Democratic presidential candidate has attacked Clinton since she announced her presidential bid Sunday."


Judge’s ruling grants legal right to research chimps from Science 
"In a decision that seems to recognize chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge today granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court."


‘De-extinction’ of the woolly mammoth: A step closer from the New York Times
"Four thousand years after the woolly mammoth vanished from the Earth, scientists have deciphered the genetic blueprint that may offer a key to bringing it back. By comparing DNA recovered from two long-dead individuals, a team of researchers have sequenced the species’s entire genome — effectively providing a gene-by-gene instruction manual on how to build a mammoth."