Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Trump’s private meeting with Putin

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

The meeting at the G20 summit on July 7 was unplanned and lasted an hour. Mr Putin’s translator was the only person who witnessed the event, so we are left with no record of the conversation. Julianne Smith explains why this is dangerous.

[I]nternational summits are not wedding receptions. World leaders do not wander from table to table, making small talk. Summits and the meals accompanying them are highly choreographed and scripted events and for good reason. ….

For one reason or another, while he was at the G20 dinner, Mr Trump decided that, irrespective of what his team had spent months planning, he would disregard both their guidance and standard protocol and meet Mr Putin for a second time. ….

Most troubling is that … [meeting without] an American translator … gave the Russians a huge advantage. It enabled Mr Putin to say things he might not have said in the presence of his own staff or Mr Trump’s. ….

Equally troubling was the fact that the meeting lasted an hour, which means it was neither happenstance nor a brief pull aside. …. Did Mr Trump, with his notorious pro-Russian views, promise to lift sanctions, give up on Ukraine or ignore Russia’s human rights abuses at home? We will never know.

…. It [also] sent a clear signal about how much the US values Russia, a signal that Mr Putin certainly relished.

Julianne Smith, “Putting aside protocol spells danger for Donald Trump”, Financial Times, 21 July 2017 (gated paywall).

Ms Smith is a former US Deputy National Security Adviser to Vice-President Joseph Biden and former Principal Director of European/Nato Policy at The Pentagon.

military and non-military spending on security

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Princeton political scientist Andrew Moravcsik argues that Europe pays its fair share of Nato security once non-military spending is included along with military spending. This is an interesting perspective, as non-military spending does contribute to security, and 23 of the 28 Nato members are criticised for spending less than 2% of GDP on defence. (more…)

job losses in US retail sales

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Productivity is rising rapidly in the US retail sector, driven by a shift to large, self-service stores and, in recent years, to online shopping. Increased productivity brings decreased employment in the sector unless there is an offsetting increase in output. Nonetheless, the fragility of jobs in retail sales has been neglected by nearly all politicians, including Donald Trump.

FT columnist Edward Luce explains. (more…)

Donald Trump’s budget

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

FT columnist Edward Luce has a very readable op-ed in today’s paper. He tells us nothing we did not already know, but expresses it clearly and forcefully. There is a good chance that Trump will be removed from office. Unfortunately, Vice-President Pence will then take command and nothing will change. (more…)

happiness in the USA

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Economist Carol Graham has written a book on the pursuit of happiness in the USA. Here is an excerpt from a review of the book, written by journalist Geoff Dayer for the Financial Times. (more…)

the US population in jail is large and growing

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

The United States incarcerates approximately 2.2 million people, resulting in a higher rate of incarceration than any other large country in the world (see chart). Current policy reverses previous guidelines, so is likely to cause the USA to stand out even further from other countries.

Two economists at the University of Texas-Austin explain.

(more…)

mangoes and other edible presents

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

[O]ne of the few recipes I can claim to make well is Jacques Pépin’s simple but glorious duck liver pâté. Carnivorous friends get pâté; vegetarian friends get mangoes, and the reaction confirms my belief that people remember what they eat far more than what they wear.

You might sometimes forget who gave you silver bracelets or neckties or perfume, but you always remember a honey-fleshed Dussehri mango, and the rich, melting flavour of pâté spread on slices of baguette. As presents, mangoes leave only a good taste in the mouth — no one in their right mind would return or regift a plump Alphonso.

Nilanjana Roy, “Mangoes, and the changing rules of buying presents“, Financial Times, 16 May 2017 (gated paywall).

FT columnist Nilanjana Roy (born 1971) is author of The Wildings (Aleph Book Company, 2012) and The Hundred Names of Darkness (Aleph, 2013), part two of The Wildings. She lives in Delhi with her journalist husband.

Trump’s tax returns

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

[W]hatever Donald Trump is hiding in his tax returns must be really explosive. Otherwise, why won’t he release them? ….

And yet he won’t. Why on Earth not? It makes no sense, zero, unless:

A. The man is a total fool; or

B. The actual returns contain information so damaging that he dare not release them under any circumstance.

And whatever else Donald Trump may be, I do not think he is a total fool.

Brett Arends, “What Trump is hiding in his tax returns must be explosive“, Market Watch, 13 May 2017.

 

With questions over Russia ties dominating the headlines again, the White House released a letter from the president’s lawyers, which said that their review of 10 years’ worth of Mr Trump’s tax returns showed no income from Russian sources, “with a few exceptions”.

Barney Jopson, Sam Fleming and Katrina Manson, “Defiant Trump courts Russia as calls for independent probe grow“, Financial Times, 13 May 2017 (metered paywall).

Quakers and Wikipedia

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

I never thought of this before, but Wikipedia has much in common with a Quaker meeting. In neither case is there an authority in charge. Anyone may contribute to a Wikipedia article, just as anyone may speak during worship at a meeting of Friends (Quakers).

Simon DeDeo, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has long studied Wikipedia, says that the online encyclopedia has operated like the Quakers: anyone can contribute whenever they are so moved.

John Thornhill, “Wiki-journalism may be part of the answer to fake news“, Financial Times, 2 May 2017 (gated paywall).

Trump and the nuclear option

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

“Given his volatility and inexperience, that is what keeps me awake at night especially as, during the campaign, he asked what the point of nuclear weapons was if you could not use them,” says Malcolm Rifkind, a former British Conservative party foreign and defence minister.

Demetri Sevastopulo and Courtney Weaver, “100 days in the court of King Donald“, FT Magazine, Financial Times, 29 April 2017 (gated paywall).


For more on the fear of Trump’s access to a nuclear button, see this TdJ post of 28 November 2016.