May 5, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 6:26 AM

NO ONE READS BLOGS (profanity alert):

Donald Trump Is "Tweeting" Again (on His Sad, Sad Knockoff Platform) (AARON MAK, MAY 04, 2021, Slate)

To be fair, at least he's stuck in 2000, instead of 1963, with this platform. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

...AND CHEAPER...:

Could vertical wind turbines finally have their day, and be the future for wind farms? (Joshua S Hill 5 May 2021, Renew Economy)

[N]ew research from Oxford Brookes University, a public research university in Oxford, England, has found that the vertical turbine design is far more efficient than traditional turbines in large scale wind farms.

Moreover, the research found that when vertical wind turbines are set in pairs, they can increase each other's performance by up to 15%.

The study, based on more than 11,500 hours of computer simulation, showed that wind farms could potentially perform more efficiently by substituting traditional propeller wind turbines with Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs) for compact Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs).

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

RON WHO?:

Disney Brushes Off Florida Gov. DeSantis On Covid-19 Rules (Meaghan Ellis, May 05 | 2021, National Memo)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may have signed new legislation ending all COVID-related government mandates, restrictions and mask requirements but Disney is making it clear that their parks will not be following in the Republican governor's footsteps.

According to Newsweek, Disney World has added a pop-up alert on its My Disney Experience mobile app that acknowledges DeSantis' latest order.However, the entertainment resort complex made it clear they will continue to enforce their current COVID guidelines, which also include requirements for face-coverings.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

HOW THE PORKIES ARE MADE:


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

WHAT DO YOU MEAN SYSTEMIC RACISM?:

NYPD Oversight Board Overturned Hundreds of Its Own Police Misconduct Findings (YOAV GONENY, MAY 4, 2021, The City)

Several members of a board that probes NYPD misconduct regularly overturn their own staff's investigative findings that wrongdoing occurred -- helping to clear cops in hundreds of cases in recent years, an internal analysis obtained by THE CITY shows.

The process, known as "flipping" cases in Civilian Complaint Review Board parlance, represents a little-known layer in the lengthy police disciplinary process that has contributed to a wider reduction in officers facing punishment for misconduct.

The CCRB analysis found that the 15-member board's rotating three-person panels overturned 585 allegations of police misconduct that had been substantiated by the board's investigators from January 2014 to May 2020 -- for a flip rate of 11.4%. The board substantiated 5,127 allegations of misconduct over that time period, according to the analysis.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

HOW APARTHEID WORKS:

Israel may toss millions of vaccines. Why won't it give them to the PA instead? (Lazar Berman, 5/05/21, Times of Israel)

Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said that Israel was looking into the possibility of diverting the vaccines to other countries, and has hinted that the doses might even be thrown away if they arrive. This talk of tossing the vaccines might well be bureaucratic posturing to send a message to other Israeli government ministries, but there's no question that the fate of millions of doses remains up in the air.

The Palestinian Authority is struggling to vaccinate its population. As of last week, only 3.6% of Palestinians had received at least one dose, and less than 1% were fully vaccinated.

Those figures include the more than 100,000 Palestinian workers that Israel has vaccinated since March, as they come into regular contact with Israelis at their workplaces. But Israel has refrained from initiating a campaign to vaccinate the general Palestinian population, despite calls from Israeli nonprofits, a petition to the High Court of Justice, and senior health experts' urgings that it do so.

May 4, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 6:45 PM

THE TIGHTENING NOOSE:

Judge orders DOJ release Trump obstruction memo (CREW, 5/04/21)

A federal judge has ordered the Department of Justice to turn over a memo cited by then-Attorney General Bill Barr as his reasoning not to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice as part of a lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

When Barr delivered the Mueller Report to Congress, he said that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Trump, a decision made "in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers." Barr and the Department of Justice have refused to turn over the OLC memo, which led to the lawsuit from CREW.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the contents of the memo "call[] into question the accuracy of Attorney General Barr's March 24 representation to Congress," specifically that Mueller had left it to the attorney general to determine whether the conduct his report describes is a crime, and that OLC's description of the document "served to obscure the true purpose of the memorandum," which CREW argued was to help Barr spin his version of the Mueller Report.

After reviewing the OLC memo, Judge Jackson found that it "raises serious questions about how the Department of Justice could make this series of representations to a court," concluding that "It is time for the public to see that [the memo], too."

Her Honor is not amused. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:40 PM

IT'S NOT CORPORATIONS THE rIGHT HATES...:

Corporations aren't 'woke,' they just know their customers. Watch and learn, Republicans. (Tom Krattenmaker, 5/04/21, USA Today)

Whether you're conservative or liberal, whether you condemn or cheer things like Nike's Colin Kaepernick ads or the corporate pushback against Georgia's new voting law, don't be tricked into thinking that America's corporate giants are becoming something fundamentally different from what they've always been.

But what you can see them as, in addition to profit pursuers, are bellwethers -- highly useful signalers of where the culture is headed and how reality-based organizations are positioning themselves for success. While you can't count on corporations to be your political best friend (or enemy), you can certainly pick up a thing or two observing their behavior. [...]

The profit motive that compels companies to commit dastardly deeds also compels them, at other times, to do things that might strike you as righteous. When the latter, it's not because they are essentially virtuous (they're not) but because pursuit of profit has, for a moment at least, driven them to the side of the angels.

Their calculations are not always right. But public-facing companies have powerful incentive to figure out where their current or desired markets are going and how they can go there, too. When their bottom lines are at stake, businesses cannot afford to be ruled by the fact-free ideologies and conspiracy theories that hold such sway today.


...it's the marketplace of ideas. 

Posted by orrinj at 3:01 PM

THE DRAGON HAS NO TEETH:

China's New Silk Road is full of potholes (Deutsche-Welle, 5/04/21)

There are cracks appearing in the New Silk Road, otherwise known as the Belt and Road Initiative. Launched in 2015 as Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature foreign policy project, it received a warm welcome from countries keen to benefit from Chinese globalization.

Since then, the attitude to China has hardened, especially in many democratic countries. Revelations about 1 million Uyghurs held in reeducation camps and reports of forced labor in Xinjiang, serious questions about China's handling of the coronavirus and its origins, and Beijing's dismantling of democracy in Hong Kong have cooled international enthusiasm for Xi's pet project.

Western countries have been emboldened by a reset of relations under US President Joe Biden, following the chaos and division of the Donald Trump era.

Uncle Joe should make it clear that we consider any monies that developing nations owe China are odious debt and will not be recognized as legitimate. 

Posted by orrinj at 2:44 PM

SEEING THE THE lEFT IS THE rIGHT:

How Orwell Became 'Bitter Enemy' of Communism (John Rossi 5/04/21, RealClearHistory)

Orwell was eager to tell his story of what he had seen and was shocked to discover that the war and especially its political dimension was being misrepresented throughout the British press. He offered an essay to Kingsley Martin, the editor of the leading leftwing journal, The New Statesman recounting what he saw during the suppression of the POUM in Barcelona, especially the role played by the communists, only to have it rejected on the grounds that it contradicted the Popular Front party line of 'no enemies on the left.'  Orwell was outraged and began a campaign to get what he knew was truth out to the public. He never forgave Martin. Years later Orwell was having lunch with Malcolm Muggeridge and asked him to change seats. When Muggeridge inquired why, Orwell said that Martin was sitting across from him and he couldn't abide looking at his corrupt face. Orwell did not forgive easily.

Orwell's struggle to tell his story was the transforming event of his life, one that turned him into a bitter enemy of communism and especially its worshippers of Stalin. Unlike many of his fellow leftists, he never went through a Stalinoid phase as many British leftists did -- a point noted by Christopher Hitchens.

Orwell began writing his version of what he knew was happening in Spain, entitled Homage to Catalonia in a fit of anger. He argued that what he saw in Barcelona, the comradeship of the people -- genuine equality -- was destroyed by the Communists in order to gain control of the Revolution. He had to tell the truth of what happened even if it damaged the Republican cause, for otherwise no good would come of the Revolution. The way the war was presented in Britain disturbed him. "I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed ... I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various party lines." 

His experiences in Spain foreshadowed the grim world of 1984 for Spain taught him the that the very concept of objective truth was disappearing.

Orwell noted that in Spain, contrary to the view in liberal circles in the West, Communism had become a counter-revolutionary force, more interested in gaining control of the Revolution than seeing a victory over Franco. Unlike most of his fellow leftists Orwell rejected the view that totalitarianism and political brutality was a monopoly of the Right. Failure to tell the truth and cover up for the Communists, he wrote in bitter terms was to "adopt the mentality of a whore."    

These comments enraged some on the Left. Herbert Matthews reported on the war in Spain and who gave a dishonest reading of the conflict for the New York Times. Twenty years later, he would match that with a fawning report on Castro's Cuba. And he attacked Orwell for political naivete.  In writing Homage to Catalonia, Orwell was doing more "to blacken the loyalist cause than any work written by enemies of the Republic." In certain left-wing circles, especially in the work of writers like Raymond Williams and E.P. Thompson, Orwell was never to be trusted again and a campaign of vilification began in the late 1930's that continues today.

The Spanish Civil War changed Orwell forever: "thereafter I knew where I stood." The war began the process where Orwell developed his idiosyncratic brand of what he called "democratic socialism"-- he always placed the emphasis on the first word, "democratic."  Despite the dreadful events he witnessed in Spain, Orwell was not depressed. He wrote that the war taught him several things: not to trust Communism; that he was a Socialist after all; and that truth had to be protected against modern ideological lies and distortions.  "Curiously enough," he told one of his closest friends, "the whole experience has left me with not less, but more belief in the decency of human beings."

Posted by orrinj at 7:25 AM

IF YOUR CHIEF CAN'T DO YOUR JOB HE ISN'T QUALIFIED:

Ron Klain, the man executing Biden's mission (James Politi and Lauren Fedor, 4/30/21, Financial Times)

Klain, the White House chief of staff, is among the key architects of that success, cementing his status as one of the most skilled US political managers of his generation. "No one was as well prepared to be White House chief of staff, and up to now I think he's living up to that," says Chris Whipple, author of The Gatekeepers, a book about the role. "If the Trump White House was a smoking, backfiring jalopy, then the Biden White House is a finely tuned Rolls-Royce". [...]

One of Klain's most high-profile assignments during the Obama years was managing the Ebola outbreak, which prepared him for coronavirus. "He knows how government works and how to make it work," says Tom Frieden, former head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Klain has also had a spell as a lobbyist, working for clients including Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage giant. He was also general counsel at Revolution LLC, the venture capital firm founded by Steve Case, former CEO of AOL.

Over the years, he has gained a reputation for his approachability. "He is one of the most even tempered [people in Washington], which is a rare quality sometimes in politics these days," says Tom Daschle, the former South Dakota senator who hired him in the 1990s.

Not everything has gone flawlessly. Klain has had to deal with the botched nomination of Neera Tanden for budget director; the White House's struggles to address a surge in migration across the southern border and heavy criticism for hesitating to raise the cap on refugees, a key campaign pledge. Republicans have accused the White House of overly aggressive tax-and-spending policies and said the president has not lived up to his vows of bipartisanship.

But Klain is not easily rattled, people close to him say. "A genuine strength is the ability to not let any immediate twist or turn derail an overall strategy or derail the building -- not to let people get down on themselves or decide that all is lost," says Anita Dunn, the senior White House adviser.

Some allies of the president believe Klain has the potential to be one of the most effective White House chiefs of staff ever. But Whipple says it's too early to tell. "The hard part of being chief of staff is walking into the Oval Office, closing the door and telling the president what he doesn't want to hear. He may be up to that, and he may not. Some White House chiefs who become too close to the boss have a hard time".

For now at least, Democrats are generally thrilled with Klain's performance. "He is putting out fires big and small, he is solving problems and helping deliver on promises," says Scott Mulhauser, a former Obama administration official. "That's what you want from your chief of staff".

The problem, of course, is that many presidents have been to insecure to surround themselves with qualified peers (see under, Clinton, Obama, Trump).  The best cabinet we've ever had contained not just a former deputy as chief but a VP who'd been chief and a Defense Secretary who had been, plus numerous former governors. 


Posted by orrinj at 7:11 AM

IN LOVE:

How Malcolm X Inspired John Coltrane to Embrace Islamic Spirituality: Richard Brent Turner on A Love Supreme, Artistic Transformation, and the Black Arts Movement (Richard Brent Turner, May 4, 2021, Lit Hub)

Just as Trane's "interest in spiritual ideas from around the world was accompanied by listening to the music of India, the Middle East, and Africa," as Ingrid Monson has noted, his embrace of Islamic spirituality was influenced by listening to Malcolm X. Coltrane met jazz pianist Alice McLeod in 1963 and they married and raised four children to­gether in their Huntington, Long Island, home.

Alice Coltrane remem­bered, "As for Malcolm, I know he would go downtown and attend some of the talks that were in [New York]. Once he came back and I asked him how was the lecture, and he said he thought it was superb."

In a 1966 interview in Japan, he was asked, "What do you think about Malcolm X?," and the saxophonist answered, "I admired him. I admired him."

Why was John Coltrane impressed with Malcolm X in 1964? First, they were kindred spirits in terms of their conversion experiences, which turned them away from drug addiction in the jazz world and led them to embrace Islamic and Eastern spirituality on Coltrane's part and the Nation of Islam and then Sunni Islam on Malcolm's part. They were both jazz brothers in spirit who became known for their "openness to self-transformation" on an international level. Malcolm X left the Na­tion of Islam in March 1964, made the hajj to Mecca in April 1964, and changed his name to El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

"He went to Mecca as a black Muslim and there he became only a Muslim," adopting a univer­sal understanding of his religion, which paralleled Coltrane's universal ideas about the power of non-Western religious and musical forms to uplift humanity. Malcolm received certification as a Muslim mis­sionary from Al-Azhar University and the Muslim World League after completing Islamic training in Egypt and Saudi Arabia in 1964. His human rights group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which he established in June 1964, supported the Pan-African values that Col­trane exemplified in his later collaborations with Olatunji and Lateef: freedom, self-defense, black economic and political power, education in community-based alternative schools and cultural centers, the sig­nificance of Afro-American history, social uplift of youth, freedom from drug addiction and alcoholism, reconciliation with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders, connections with the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity to support black liberation in the United States, and "workshops in all the arts... [as] an indispensable weapon in the freedom struggle."

These forces culminated in the revo­lutionary politics of Malcolm X's transnational communal masculinity as he cultivated pan-Islamic, Pan-African allies like the Egyptian presi­dent Gamal Abdel Nasser to support his opposition to anti-black racism in the United States.

On July 27, 1964, he spoke to Cairo's Young Men's Muslim Association and argued that the Egyptian leader's "concept of Islam forces him to fight for the liberation of all oppressed people, whether they are Muslim or otherwise, because Islam teaches us that all humanity comes from Allah, and... has the same God-given right to freedom, justice, equality--life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Malcolm's opposition to the Vietnam War and his trips to Africa and Europe to promote his new religious and human rights agenda were also of great interest to the saxophonist, who was headed on a similar international path to perform his music, which eventually was called "a revolution in sound... that would release the true universal God he sensed lurking beneath the layers of confusion and hangup that Ameri­can society stuffs all black folk with."

A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) was recorded in 1964. John Col­trane's autobiographical conversion story, which he told in the liner notes, mirrored the austere themes of Malcolm's narrative of submission, deliverance, conversion, and pilgrimage to Islam that he narrated with Alex Haley in his autobiography. Coltrane wrote,

Dear Listener:

All Praise Be To God To Whom All Praise Is Due. Let us pursue Him in the righteous path... During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace... As time and events moved on... I entered into a phase which was contradictory to the pledge and away from the esteemed path; but thankfully... through the unerring and merciful hand of God, I do perceive and have been duly re-informed of His Omnipotence, and of our need for and depen­dence on Him. At this time I would like to tell you that NO MATTER WHAT... IT IS WITH GOD. HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL. HIS WAY IS IN LOVE, THROUGH WHICH WE ALL ARE. IT IS TRULY--A LOVE SUPREME--.

*

A Love Supreme shaped discussions about the interplay between African American Is­lamic identities and Coltrane's jazz among his fans and musical col­leagues during the 1960s and beyond. Sold in American stores for the first time in February 1965, the album quickly became a hit among jazz fans and musicians. Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, and The Autobiography of Mal­colm X was published that year. Malcolm's hajj to Mecca, conversion to Sunni Islam, Black Power speeches, travel to Africa, and provocative representations of black manhood made him the most famous Muslim in the United States and the world.

Because of the tenor of the times in which the golden age of jazz and the golden age of African American Islam collided in a burst of creativity, thousands of black Americans crit­ically considered Islam and converted to the religion, and among black youth in Philadelphia and other American cities, "there was a spiritual response" to the album, "a response to A Love Supreme like you would have to Malcolm... like you have with the emergence of black con­sciousness," according to a jazz radio deejay in Philadelphia.

Amiri Baraka, the black poet, playwright, music critic, and author of Blues People: Negro Music in White America, sensed similar themes of black consciousness, Islamic spirituality, and Third World creativity in Malcolm X's and Coltrane's work and explained that "so much is made of Trane's link with Malcolm in the 60s, because those periods are when art of that kind does emerge. You have social upsurges, and for every social upsurge, there's an artistic upsurge that corresponds with that."

Posted by orrinj at 7:03 AM

WHEN YOU ENRAGE ALL THE OPPONENTS OF MUSLIM DEMOCRACY...:

Speculation swirls of Iran deal resurrection as diplomatic activity intensifies (MATTHEW LEE, 5/04/21, AP) 

A flurry of diplomatic contacts and reports of major progress suggest that indirect talks between the US and Iran may be nearing an agreement. That's despite efforts by US officials to play down chances of an imminent deal that would bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. [...]

A US return to the deal would be the biggest and most controversial foreign policy initiative in the early months of Joe Biden's presidency. It would revive a deal that top Biden aides put together during their years in the Obama administration, only to see former US President Donald Trump pull out and try to prevent the US from ever returning. Rejoining it -- and making the concessions required to do so -- would enrage Republicans and likely unsettle Israel and Gulf Arab allies. [...]

Later Friday, and on Saturday, reports emerged from Iran and Iran-linked media outlets that an agreement had been struck on what the US would provide in return for Iran returning to compliance with the 2015 deal, which had given billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. On Sunday reports of the prisoner swap deal emerged.


...you've done God's work. 

May 3, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 9:40 PM

THE TIGHTENING NOOSE:

Second Steele dossier contained evidence of additional compromising Trump sex tapes: report (Bob Brigham, May 03, 2021, Raw Story)

"The former MI6 spy Christopher Steele produced a second dossier for the FBI on Donald Trump while he was in the White House, sources told The Telegraph. Mr Steele filed a series of intelligence reports to US authorities during the Trump presidency, including information concerning alleged sexual exploits," the British newspaper reported Monday evening.

"Mr Steele's continued involvement supplying intelligence to the FBI appears to give credibility to his original dossier, which sparked a Special Counsel investigation by prosecutor Robert Mueller into Russian interference into the 2016 US presidential elections," the newspaper noted. "The second dossier contains raw intelligence that makes further claims of Russian meddling in the US election and also references claims regarding the existence of further sex tapes. The second dossier is reliant on separate sources to those who supplied information for the first reports."

Posted by orrinj at 7:06 PM

SEEN ONE NATIONALIST YOU'VE SEEN THEM ALL:


Posted by orrinj at 6:48 PM

FAITH SUFFICES:

The foundations of mathematics are unproven: Philosopher and logician Kurt Gödel upended our understanding of mathematics and truth. (JONNY THOMSON, 30 April, 2021, Rightly Understood)

Imagine the whole of mathematics as a huge sack, and inside are all the possible things math can do. It's a mighty big sack, indeed. What Gödel proved is that, first, there exists in this sack a set of things which cannot be proven or disproven, such as axioms. Second, there is no possible way to prove these axioms from within that sack. It's impossible for math, on its own, to prove its own axioms.

Essentially, it's a problem of self-reference. It's an issue seen, too, in Russell's paradox about sets. More famously, the liar paradox imagines a sentence like, "This sentence is false." When you examine it closely, it creates a logical circularity. If the sentence is true, then it's false; but then if it's false, it's true. It's enough to make a robot's brain explode.

Gödel applied a similar logic to the whole system of mathematics. He took the sentence, "This statement is unproven," and converted it into a number statement about numbers (with a code system known as "Gödel numbering"). He discovered that this proposition cannot be proven within that system.

Going even further than this, Gödel concluded that in every system that's rich enough to allow for arithmetic, there will be a proposition within it that cannot be proven by it's own tools. We need some kind of "meta language" to prove the rules by which a system operates. It's a bit like how we can't see our own eyes or draw around the hand that's holding the pencil.

How postmodernists weaponized Gödel
Gödel has been misrepresented, even in his lifetime. For instance, certain postmodernist philosophers used him to say, "There is no truth! Even math is groundless!" They wanted to show how everything was meaningless, and truth amounted only to opinion.

But this isn't the point. Gödel only showed that truth does not always need to be proven.

Posted by orrinj at 6:35 PM

THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CALL IT OBAMAVOTE:

Republicans feared Democrats' voting protections bill polls well. A new poll says they're right. (Andrew Prokop,  May 3, 2021, Vox)

Back in March, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer obtained a recording of an adviser to Mitch McConnell privately bemoaning, on a call with conservative group leaders, that Democrats' big voting rights bill, the For the People Act, polled quite well. "When presented with a very neutral description" of it, "people were generally supportive," the adviser said.

A new Data for Progress poll conducted as part of a partnership with Vox backs up that assessment. The poll surveyed 1,138 likely voters nationally between April 16 and April 19, and it finds that much of what the 800-page bill claims to do is overwhelmingly popular.

More than 80 percent of respondents said they supported preventing foreign interference in elections, limiting the influence of money in politics, and modernizing election infrastructure to increase election security. More than 60 percent of respondents supported requiring nonpartisan redistricting commissions, a 15-day early voting period for all federal elections, same-day registration for all eligible voters, automatic voter registration for all eligible voters, and giving every voter the option to vote by mail.

Posted by orrinj at 4:06 PM

LOOK MA, NO TEETH:

China Is a Paper Dragon: U.S. policy makers should look to the future with a little more confidence and a lot more trust in trade, markets, and the superior potential of a free people. (David Frum, 5/03/21, The Atlantic)

 In 2018, the Tufts University professor Michael Beckley published a richly detailed study of Chinese military and economic weaknesses. The book is titled Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World's Sole Superpower. [...]

When Chinese forces do train, Beckley argues, the exercises bear little resemblance to the challenges the People's Liberation Army would face in a great-power conflict:

PLA exercises remain heavily scripted (the red team almost always wins) ... Most exercises involve a single service or branch, so troops lack the ability to conduct joint operations, and assessments are often nothing more than "subjective judgments based on visual observation rather than on detailed quantitative data" and are scored "based simply on whether a training program has been implemented rather than on whether the goals of the program have been achieved."

Worried about Chinese students' high scores on comparative math tests? You're looking at the curated outputs of highly selective groups of students.

Whereas public school is free through high school in the United States, China's government only covers the costs of elementary and middle school. At many Chinese high schools, families have to pay tuition and other expenses, and these outlays are among the highest in the world. Consequently, 76 percent of China's working-age population has not completed high school.

Things don't improve at the college level.

Many Chinese college students describe their universities as "diploma factories," where student-teacher ratios are double the average in U.S. universities, cheating is rampant, students spend a quarter of their time studying "Mao Zedong thought," and students and professors are denied access to basic sources of information, such as Google Scholar and certain academic journal repositories.

Surely China is winning the industries of the future? Not really.

Chinese firms' total spending on R&D as a percentage of sales revenue stalled at levels four times below the average for American firms. ... Chinese firms remain dependent on foreign technologies and manual labor and have a rudimentary level of automation and digitization: on average Chinese enterprises have just nineteen robots per ten thousand employees; U.S. firms, by contrast, use an average of 176 robots per ten thousand employees.

But isn't China sprinting to overtake the United States? Yes, but it's stumbling badly in that pursuit.

China now leads the world in retractions of scientific studies due to fraud; one-third of Chinese scientists have admitted to plagiarizing or falsifying results (versus 2 percent of U.S. scientists); and two-thirds of China's R&D spending has been lost to corruption.

Undergirding these examples and dozens more like them is Beckley's clarifying theoretical insight: Repression is expensive.

Comparing China's military spending to that of the United States, for example, doesn't make much sense. The Chinese military's first and paramount mission is preserving the power of the Chinese Communist Party against China's own people. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:02 PM

OR, AS THE rIGHT CALLS IT, DEFENDING YOURSELF FROM ANTIFA:

Man Allegedly Plowed Pickup Truck into Picnic Birthday Party After Complaining About 'Asians,' 'Yuppies with Dogs' (ALBERTO LUPERON, May 3rd, 2021, Law & Crime)

A man in Chicago, Illinois allegedly plowed a pickup truck into a running club that was holding a picnic birthday party. Police say Timothy Nielsen, 57, jumped a curb to hit the picnickers, striking a 42-year-old woman.

Posted by orrinj at 1:49 PM

...AND CHEAPER...:

Why Not Turn Airports Into Giant Solar Farms? (MATT SIMON, 05.03.2021, Wired)

So why aren't we covering our airports--dedicated spaces that can't be used for anything other than the business of air travel--with solar arrays? Well, it turns out that airports not only have a lot of empty space, they also have a lot of rules.

But let's talk about their potential first. New research out of Australia shows how massively effective it would be to solarize 21 airports in that country. Researchers scanned satellite images of the airports for open roof space, where solar panels best avoid shadows, and found a total of 2.61 square kilometers, or 1 square mile, of usable area. 

For comparison, they also scanned satellite imagery and found 17,000 residential solar panels in the town of Bendigo, just north of Melbourne in southern Australia. The researchers calculated that the airports could potentially produce 10 times the amount of solar energy as those 17,000 residential panels--enough to power 136,000 homes. Perth Airport alone would generate twice as much as Bendigo. (Perth is very sunny, and the airport has lots of big buildings.) They further calculated that solarizing all 21 airports would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 152 kilotons a year, the equivalent of pulling 71,000 passenger cars off the road.

With their plentiful sunshine, Australians are sitting on the energy equivalent of a gold mine; large swaths of blank rooftop space in airports provide an opportunity to centralize solar energy production. Installing panels house by house is great--and no one is saying we should stop, because we need all the solar power we can get. But commercial panels are bigger and more efficient, so they can generate more power. Plus, residential roofs come in all shapes and sizes, making them more difficult to work with than a commercial roof, which is usually flat. "Just imagine the labor to install on all the different shapes of residential buildings," says Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology geospatial scientist Chayn Sun, the corresponding author on the new paper describing the modeling in the Journal of Building Engineering. "Compare that with flat-roof, low-rise airport buildings."

Solarizing airports could potentially power the airport itself and even export energy. "Not only can they be self sufficient, they may have excess electricity they can send to the grid to supply the surrounding area," says Sun.

Installing solar panels over California's canals could yield water, land, air and climate payoffs (Brandi McKuin & Roger Bales, 5/03/21, The Conversation)

Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the western U.S. The region's climate is warming, a severe multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many locations.

Western states are pursuing many strategies to adapt to these stresses and prepare for the future. These include measures to promote renewable energy development, conserve water, and manage natural and working lands more sustainably.

As engineers working on climate-smart solutions, we've found an easy win-win for both water and climate in California with what we call the "solar canal solution." About 4,000 miles of canals transport water to some 35 million Californians and 5.7 million acres of farmland across the state. Covering these canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation of precious water - one of California's most critical resources - and help meet the state's renewable energy goals, while also saving money.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

WHAT REMAINS:

Europe is back in recession. It's not just the virus. (Ryan Cooper, May 3, 2021, The Week)

Europe is in the unaccustomed position of being roundly whipped by the United States at a public health effort. Thanks apparently to bureaucratic disasters and widespread anti-vaccine paranoia, the coronavirus vaccine rollout there is going much more slowly than here -- the share of Americans with at least one vaccine shot is 60 percent greater than in Germany, and twice the figure in France (admittedly contrary to my own expectations).

As a result, many E.U. countries have been forced back into partial lockdowns, and the region's economy is suffering. Whereas America saw powerful economic growth in the first quarter of this year, the E.U. actually shrank slightly and is now technically in recession once more.

The European vaccine rollout does seem to be accelerating finally after the slow start, and E.U. authorities have planned some programs to goose their economy. But it's critical to realize that even before the pandemic hit, the E.U. had profound economic problems -- it basically never got even close to recovering from the Great Recession. 

Other than that, how's transnationalism working out?
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

POD FODDER:


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

THE GREAT UNIFIER:

Where Are the Filibusters?Psst. Don't tell anyone but the Senate is passing bills and Biden has been signing them. (Bill Scher, May 3, 2021, Washington Monthly)

[D]uring the course of Joe Biden's first 100 days as president, the Senate passed 13 bills and filibustered zero. 10 of the 13 bills have been signed into law by President Biden, and the remaining three should soon follow suit.

Maybe the place still works.

Of course, those numbers don't paint the entire picture. The biggest of the 13 bills, by about $2 trillion, is the American Rescue Plan which passed through budget reconciliation on a party-line vote and could not be filibustered. No other major priority of Biden's has a clear path to passage because the mere existence of the filibuster power constrains the ability of the majority to act.

But Senate resistance to a president's ambitions is hardly equivalent to Senate dysfunction, which is what many were expecting and, to be fair, not without reason. Back in March, political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson explained in The Atlantic, "Why McConnell Gets Away With Filibustering," which characterized the now-Senate Minority Leader's strategy during the Obama presidency as complete and total obstruction at every point possible: "Everything that could be filibustered was -- even routine and trivial matters, even bills and appointments that the Republicans ultimately planned to support."

Whatever there is to say about Mitch McConnell's soulless approach to politics, we cannot say that today he has organized his party to filibuster everything he can. In fact, McConnell has voted "Yea" on most of the 13 successful bills, including legislation to authorize $35 billion for water infrastructure, strengthen the Justice Department's ability to prosecute hate crimes, extend a suspension of automatic Medicare cuts, extend the pandemic small business relief loan program and waive the law that would have prevented Lloyd Austin from becoming Defense Secretary. Neera Tanden's nomination tanked, but no major presidential nomination has led to thermonuclear war.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

A PEOPLE WHO THINK THEMSELVES A NATION ARE ONE:

The U.K.'s Future May Be in the Hands of Scotland's Rebel Youth (Katharine Gemmell, May. 3rd, 2021, Bloomberg)

Scotland heads into an election on May 6 that's become a pitched battle over whether the nation should get another say on its place in the U.K. after Brexit. Polls predict the pro-independence camp is on course to win big and intensify a standoff with the government in London.

The problem for the integrity of the U.K. is that the demographics look increasing stacked against it the longer the wrangling rumbles on. While Scotland is roughly evenly split between support for independence and remaining in the U.K., its rebel youth is disproportionately in favor of going it alone. John Curtice, Britain's most prominent psephologist, calls it a gradual erosion of the foundations of support for the union.

A recent YouGov poll found that 70% of people age 18-24 would vote "yes" in an independence referendum when excluding "don't knows." A Believe In Scotland poll, commissioned by PanelBase, showed that the disparity with older voters ran even deeper: It found 72% of voters between 16--the minimum voting age in Scotland--and 35 would vote "yes." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

WELCOME BACK, AMERICA:

DHS: Migrant family reunifications to begin this week (Ivana Saric, 5/03/21, Axios)

Michelle Brané, executive director of the Family Reunification Task Force, said that over a thousand families have been identified thus far.

Mayorkas added that the files the Biden administration inherited from their predecessors had a "significant number of issues" and that officials have been working to verify much of the information in them. [...]

What they're saying: "This is just the beginning. We continue to work tirelessly to reunite many more children, with their parents in the weeks and months ahead," Mayorkas said.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

YEAH, BUT DO HAVE ENOUGH ROOFS?:

The One Question I Hate Getting About My Home's Solar RoofYes, it can power my home and two cars. No, that isn't the point. (RYAN CORNELL, APRIL 26, 2021, Slate)

The fact that it is possible to power an entire house and two cars with today's technology seems to intrigue most people. It also inevitably leads to another question. The question that drives me a little bit crazy:

When will the roof pay for itself?

I can hear the comments coming my way: What's wrong with that question? Why wouldn't someone want to know the payback? So, before I dig too deep of a hole, let me state that I don't begrudge anyone that asks it. It is a completely valid question, and while there are problems with the question itself, I still understand why someone wants to know.

The problem with the question is that it is a gross oversimplification. It's a bit like making a yearly budget, but only tracking purchases made on your debit card and ignoring those made with cash. You're tracking, but you'll miss out on the bigger picture. The standard payback calculation for solar is no different: You learn something about some of the benefits of your system, but you completely ignore the environmental benefits and other factors. Many rooftop solar systems will pay for themselves in five to 10 years using a simple cost-benefit calculation, but that only tells us part of the story. We need to factor in a variety of other costs and benefits, which might be a little less obvious but are still just as real.

The environmental impact of electricity generation is a complex calculation that involves a host of variables. But, if we simplify it down, you are essentially replacing a kilowatt hour of electricity (kWh) from the grid with a kWh that comes from your roof. We can then ask: How much pollution is caused from a kWh of coal or natural gas? What are the health and climate costs? How much are these costs reduced if we replace that kWh from fossil fuels with a kWh from solar? The answer: a lot.

A study by the Harvard School of Public Health demonstrated that a single kWh from a coal power plant costs society between 9 cents and 26 cents (taking into account health costs, climate costs, and other damages). Another study found that the health costs of fossil fuels represented 14 cents to 35 cents per kWh. These types of studies are essential, as they tell us about the "social cost" of electricity generation. The social cost gives us a true understanding of what something actually costs, as it factors in the real impact to the climate, human health, and other costs that are outside the normal market transaction.

If we take into account the fact that an average American household consumes more than 10,000 kWh of electricity per year, we can see that a single household could correspond to thousands of dollars in costs to society (if those kWh are coming from fossil fuels). That is incredibly significant. Now, a kilowatt hour produced from solar power has its own costs; the panels aren't made with magic and fairy dust. But the social costs are undeniably far less than combusting fossil fuels.

How much less? Well, that is going to vary from home to home and region to region. But even a 10 cent per kWh reduction in social costs would represent a yearly decrease of over a thousand dollars of damages to our climate, our collective health, and our environment. That's a big deal and it's imperative that we take it into account.

But that's not the only benefit. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

SEEN ONE NATIONALIST YOU'VE SEEN THEM ALL:

Hitler liked women peeing on him during sex and was incestuous with niece, doc claims (James Caven, 2 MAY 2021, Daily Star)

Hitler is said to have had an incestuous relationship with his niece Geli Raubal, which is believed to have lasted for six years.

Former Hitler ally Otto Strasser, who later broke with the party, went on to claim the tyrant liked women to urinate on him.

He said Geli was among those who had been forced to take part in it.

Geli was later discovered dead at Hitler's apartment in Munich, Germany in 1931 after being shot in the chest, aged 23, fuelling suspicions he murdered her.

She reportedly claimed Hitler demanded "simply repulsive" things from her, according to the Sun.

Professor Robert Kaplan, an Australian historian and forensic psychiatrist, told the publication: "Sadomasochistic practices fit perfectly in with Hitler's personality.

"He internalised everything he didn't like, like the losses in his life, and he projected his rage on everybody.

"It's quite feasible that somebody like that would have these sexual practices."

Actress Renata Mueller, who plunged to her death after engaging in sadomasochistic acts with Hitler, also revealed he had pleaded with her to kick him.

She reportedly told film director Alfred Ziesler she kept kicking him as he lay on the floor begging for more.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

AND PUT $100 A MONTH IN A ROTH IRA FOR EACH KID:

Let's Cut Child Poverty In Half -- By Making Tax Credit Permanent (Suzan Delbene, May 03 | 2021, American Independent)

Most other developed countries offer a child benefit that gives families money to help cover the basic necessities of raising children.

In the United States, we have the Child Tax Credit, but it is much more narrow than the benefit in other countries. Until recently, it didn't serve the people who needed it most, leaving behind one-third of all children who live in families that didn't make enough money to qualify for the full benefit.

That's why Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and I introduced the American Family Act, which would give families up to $300 per month per child and make sure all low- and middle-income families can access the full credit.

A one-year version of our proposal was included in the American Rescue Plan. That's because the New Democrat Coalition, a group of 94 forward-thinking Democrats that I lead in the House, endorsed the American Family Act and pushed for its inclusion as a way to rebuild the middle class. The federal government is expected to start issuing these monthly checks to families in July, to help pay for groceries, rent, and other regular bills.

This is only the beginning of this effort. We cannot lift children out of poverty for just one year. Parents need consistency and predictability knowing this support will be here for the long term as they raise their families. Some might contend this will cost too much or will be too hard to achieve. I say how can we afford not to? Childhood poverty costs the nation upwards of $1 trillion a year. Permanent expansion of the benefit is supported broadly by Democrats, including the New Democrats and Progressives. Giving children a fair chance at success is a position that shouldn't be partisan. The permanent enhanced credit is estimated to save eight dollars for every dollar it costs. This means better health and education outcomes for children and more stability and predictability for parents.

May 2, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 11:35 AM

THE GREAT UNIFIER:

Country optimistic after Biden's 1st 100 days: POLL (Kendall Karson, May 2, 2021, ABC News)

Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) are optimistic about the direction of the country in the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel.

The last time the country came close to that level of optimism about the coming year was in December 2006, when 61% said they were optimistic about where the country was headed, according to previous ABC News/Washington Post polls. Shortly before the 2016 election catapulted Donald Trump to the Oval Office, only 42% of Americans were optimistic about the future, compared to 52% who were pessimistic.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

THE CULTURE WARS ARE A ROUT:

The Strange Bipartisan Appeal of Ted Lasso (JOANNA WEISS, 05/02/2021, Politico)

It's ironic that so many people have hung the American self-image on a show with its roots in a mildly condescending joke about ugly Americans. The Ted Lasso character originated in a pair of cheeky NBC Sports promotional videos from 2013 and 2014, when the network had bought broadcast rights to Premiere League games. The Ted in those old spots is cocky and clueless, parading around the soccer pitch in short shorts and aviator glasses. The joke is that he tries to impose an American way of doing things on the Brits, without a hint of self-awareness: When his players start calling him "wanker," he assumes it's a sign of respect.

The Apple TV+ series came six years later, a passion project of Sudeikis, who partnered with Bill Lawrence, the creator of the upbeat sitcoms "Scrubs" and "Cougartown." And while some dialogue from the original NBC promotional spots is lifted almost word-for-word--jokes about how Ted doesn't realize British football can end in a tie, and can't grasp the concept of "offsides"--the mood and meaning are completely different. The character has taken a subtle but important shift: Now his naïve optimism represents, not self-centeredness, but openheartedness. This version of Ted fully acknowledges that he knows nothing about the game the rest of the world calls football. He understands what it means to be called a wanker, but he accepts the jab as part of a coach's job. And there's a poignancy to his situation: He has accepted the job because he promised his unhappy wife that he would give her space--a whole ocean apart, if it helps.

The characters around Ted, meanwhile, start off as cynical and combative as anyone on social media these days: an aging football star, bitter that his best days are behind him; an arrogant franchise player who won't share glory with his teammates; a billionaire team owner who is consumed with fury at her philandering ex-husband. (The show's conceit is that, unbeknownst to Ted, she has hired him to run the team into the ground.) Ted knows how hard it will be to get through to them. But he tries anyway, with relentless positivity and an American can-do attitude that some viewers have taken as a statement of purpose. In a Slate review headlined "Ted Lasso Makes America Good Again," Willa Paskin wrote that "the show vends a soothing vision of a red state-coded American as a kindly, gentle internationalist, as well as a world in which American soft power still works and does good."



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