Progressive Phonies Friday, September 27th, 2019

In 2015, journalist James Bartholomew coined the term “virtue signaling” to describe “public, empty gestures intended to convey socially approved attitudes without any associated risk or sacrifice.” As a pithy phrase that perfectly captures a widespread phenomenon, the term became instantly..

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The Hollow Consensus on the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest will survive only if the will to preserve it is stronger than the desire to burn it down. And current signs are not positive. Clouds of rhetoric, controversy, and punditry, thicker than the smoke from forest fires, threaten to distract attention from the purposeful action..

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California’s Cross-Cutting Climate Strategy Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

We are parents, and one of us (Lenny Mendonca) is also a grandparent. We are keenly aware of how the intensifying impact of climate change could affect the futures of not only our children and grandchildren, but also of families throughout California and around the world. Thinking about the effects..

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The Puzzling Lure of Financial Globalization

After holding off for decades, China has finally embraced financial globalization, announcing recently that it would eliminate capital controls to allow unfettered short-term foreign inflows (so-called hot money). By contrast, after decades of boom-bust cycles, Argentina is facing another a..

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The Constitution Won’t Save American Democracy Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Revelations that a whistleblower from the intelligence community has accused US President Donald Trump of making inappropriate promises to a foreign leader have reignited the hopes that recently hung on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Many of those exasperated with Trump’s..

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Tempered Emergency: The Climate Change Summit in New York Monday, September 23rd, 2019

It had a good deal of desperate scolding. Sweden’s Greta Thunberg assumed the role of punishing advocate, a Joan of Arc of fury. The main culprit in her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit was the hideous, super ego, the big bad “You”, ever condescending, ever indifferent, the “You” of..

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Trump’s Faltering Middle East Coalition

On October 2, it will be a year since the brutal murder in Istanbul of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In June this year, a United Nations report concluded that Saudi Arabia was responsible for his death, and that there was “credible evidence” implicating the country’s de facto leader,..

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Normal Intrusions: Globalising AI Surveillance Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

They all do it: corporations, regimes, authorities. They all have the same reasons: efficiency, serviceability, profitability, all under the umbrella term of “security”. Call it surveillance, or call it monitoring the global citizenry; it all comes down to the same thing. You are being watched..

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Should Profane Contracts Be Sanctified?

Is there such a thing as too much sanctity? After all, even the word sanctimonious indicates an excessive show of devotion. The fervor for sanctification may hide darker motives, and attaining it may be deeply counterproductive. The sanctity of contracts, especially those involving the public..

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It is well recognized that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a man with enviable personal discipline and high level of determination to succeed in whatever job he undertakes. Such quality is rare in a politician and therefore ,Mr. Modi is much admired by most people in India and to some extent..

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Can Capitalist Democracy Survive? Saturday, September 21st, 2019

Once again, the developed world is feeling the inherent tension between market capitalism and representative democracy. Each institution provides its own mechanisms for allocating society’s resources and distributing the income and wealth generated by their use. Each offers procedures for..

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The Coming Crisis of China’s One-Party Regime Friday, September 20th, 2019

On October 1, to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic, Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a speech that unreservedly celebrates the Communist Party of China’s record since 1949. But, despite Xi’s apparent confidence and optimism, the CPC’s rank and file are increasingly..

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A War of Words Fought over Women’s Bodies Thursday, September 19th, 2019

This month, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a high-level meeting to secure a commitment by member states to deliver universal health coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection and access to essential health-care services, medicines, and vaccines for all. But just how much..

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The Last Days of Netanyahu?

At long last, Israel has taken a step back from the religious nationalist abyss into which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had been leading it. In the September 17 parliamentary election, the country’s second in five months, the “natural coalition” of Netanyahu’s Likud party, Orthodox..

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Asia’s Multilateral Balancing Act Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

After World War II, Asia emerged from years of conflict and centuries of colonialism. The United States quickly became the main guarantor of regional security, signing bilateral defense treaties and establishing preferential trade and investment relationships with its Asian allies – in particular..

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Brexit House of Cards Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Britain’s long-running Brexit saga has thrown up a new argument. Does Prime Minister Boris Johnson have a cunning plan for conjuring up a new and improved exit deal, or is he just dragging the United Kingdom over the “no-deal” cliff edge? The highest court in Scotland has ruled Johnson’s..

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The ECB’s Beggar-thy-Trump Strategy Monday, September 16th, 2019

On September 12, the European Central Bank decided to launch yet another asset-purchase program, with plans to buy €20 billion ($22 billion) in new securities per month for an indefinite period of time, using the same structure as it has in the past. The decision was not made unanimously: the..

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Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq Sunday, September 15th, 2019

The attack on the world’s largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia southwest of Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran had a few predictable responses. Given that the facility has a daily output of some 5.7 million barrels, damaging it was bound to cause a spike in the price of..

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How China Can Reach its Centennial Goal Monday, October 14th, 2019

Two years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that by the time the People’s Republic celebrates its centenary in 2049, it should be a “great modern socialist..

The Insanity of Austerity Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Significant protest by Tibetans at Chennai Saturday, October 12th, 2019

Europe Needs a Serious Nuclear-Energy Debate Saturday, October 12th, 2019

The Climate Kids Are Right Friday, October 11th, 2019