FM newswire for June 18, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. Recommended, an important new report:  “The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market“, David Autor (Prof Economics, MIT), Center for American Progress and the Hamilton Project, April 2010
  2. About the most vital underfunded service:  “Building a U.S. Coast Guard for the 21st Century“, Lawrence J. Korb et al, Center for American Progress, 9 June 2010
  3. Another amateur hour performance by Team Obama:  appointing an attorney with no training or experience in the mining or energy sectors to run the Minerals Management Agency — Gushing but vague DOI press release; New York Times article.
  4. Things could be worse; we could have this crazy guy as President:  “John McCain on the Evil, Barbaric Iranians“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 12 June 2010
  5. GAO finds ACORN innocent of most — but not all — charges:  “Preliminary Observations on Funding, Oversight, and Investigations and Prosecutions of ACORN or Potentially Related Organizations“, Government Accountability Office, 14 June 2010 — See pp 19-23.
  6. Excellent staff work can make any mess look like a strategy:  “The Strategic Framework for U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan“, Government Accountability Office, 15 June 2010 — Great graphics (we’re #1 at Powerpoint warfare).
  7. An American becomes a man without a country, but with neither formal charges nor trial:  “American Man in Limbo on No-Fly List“, New York Times, 15 June 2010 — Get into the spirit of our new America; shout “baa baa baa” as you read this.
  8. South Korea institutes some controls on capital flows, a small step to a new global financial regime:  “The won that got away“, Economist, 16 June 2010 — I believe the capital will be more regulated, with controls on the flow of international funds a key component of the system.
  9. Is This the End of the War on Crime?“, Sasha Abramsky, The Nation, 16 June 2010 — As Paul Kennedy showed, wars often end with the bankruptcy of one side.  Crime remains profitable.
  10. Recommended:  Their fidelity to us weakens our allies:  “The hollow Arab core“, Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy, 17 June 2010
  11. Into the 4th generation of warfare between the sexes:  “The End Of Beta Providers“, Chateau, Citizen Renegade 17 June 2010 — The generations are 4 ages of humanity:  hunter-gatherer, agriculture, industrial, and now post-industrial.  Here are some insights from the fringes, where new and often unmentionable insights are born.
  12. For the future of G.O.P. governance, look here:  “What’s The Matter With Arizona? A conversation with Senator Rebecca Rios“, Ken Silverstein, blog of Harper’s, 16 June 2010 — It’s a short version of this must-read but subscription-only article:  “Tea Party in the Sonora“, Harper’s, July 2010

Update, recommended:  “The strange and consequential case of Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo and WikiLeaks“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 18 June 2010 — We may never know what happened, but this might be a sophisticated government info op.  If not, it’s very convenient.

Today’s two feature articles appear below the fold.

(13)  Quote of the Day, something familiar to readers of the FM website

The debate about the bank bailout, and the stimulus package, has all revolved around issues that are entirely at the level of Econ 1. What is the multiplier from government spending? Does government spending crowd out private spending? How quickly can you increase government spending? If you got a A in college in Econ 1 you are an expert in this debate: fully an equal of Summers and Geithner.  The bailout debate has also been conducted in terms that would be quite familiar to economists in the 1920s and 1930s. There has essentially been no advance in our knowledge in 80 years.
— “Dismal scientists: how the crash is reshaping economics“, Gregory Clark (Prof economics at UC Davis), The Atlantic, 16 February 2010

I disagree with the cause he gives in the last sentence.  Rather than a lack of knowledge, there are political forces that keep otherwise bankrupt economic theories alive — no matter how frequently and thoroughly disproven.  Europe may be about to re-test some of these economic myths, again at great cost:  “That ’30s Feeling“, Paul Krugman, op-ed in the New York Times, 17 June 2010.

(14)  Climate un-science

If you cannot find the trend you want, assume it!  As in “Climate Change Will Affect the Asian Water Towers“, Walter W. Immerzeel et al, Science, 11 June 2010 — Note how they bury the lede, that there is little melting seen in the Himalayan glaciers.   Excerpt:

We used the DMT-1 GRACE gravity model in combination with derived precipitation trends to identify large-scale trends in snow and ice storage in each of the five basins. Results were inconclusive. We identified a negative trend of −0.22 T 0.05 m/year only in the Ganges basin. A positive trend of 0.19 T 0.02 m/year was observed in the Indus basin, while in the other basins no discernable trends were identified. On the basis of this review, we conclude that there is a general decrease in the ice volumes of Asian basins, although regional anomalies exist and, as regional quantification of these trends is lacking, the uncertainty about these trends is substantial.

They then assume melting — either severe or total melting by 2050 — to forecasting results that “threatening the food security of an estimated 60 million people.”  It’s the science version of “if it bleeds, it leads.”  See the New Scientist for a summary of this study.

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