News — At The Edge — 10/19
Politically, legally and economically our politicians and institutions — Xi, Putin, Trump, Supreme Court, FBI & Central banks tech, computer & robot tech, and unstable situations in politics-economy-environment — have evolved to think we citizens serve them.
“[Were] two messages…[in] parade, which marked 70 years of Communist rule.
- China wields such firepower that no country may safely defy it.
- China is great again thanks to the Communist Party…[with] a glorious story of national progress…[but] limited tolerance for historical candor….
In elite settings…Xi has repudiated past crimes by ultra-leftists who…deviated from the party line…. No such candor is offered to the masses….
Traditionally, those urging China to reckon honestly with the past have appealed to rational self-interest….[That] feels weak today.
Xi is not a revolutionary…[rather] an authoritarian obsessed with stability, determined to assert the party’s absolute authority…happy to harness Maoist rhetoric…and the public’s justifiable pride in the endurance of past hardships….
By telling his people that Communist China has never taken a wrong turn, he is stoking an impatient, hair-trigger nationalism in which criticism from abroad equates to hostility…[and] people’s patriotism cannot be dismissed as brainwashing….
But heavily armed, self-righteous nationalism can start wars….[T]he world would be…safer if party chiefs…acknowledge their fallibility. That Mr. Xi is heading in the other direction should alarm everybody.” https://www.economist.com/china/2019/10/03/xis-embrace-of-false-history-and-fearsome-weapons-is-worrying
The Evolution of Mind Games
In biological evolution, natural selection is agnostic about what succeeds or fails. But being agnostic isn’t an option…
“Committee’s investigation of Russian interference…focuses on the…use of social media and other online channels to affect the election…[and] polarize Americans on the basis of societal, ideological, and racial differences, provoked real world events…[to] support of Russia’s favored candidate…Trump from the beginning…and no one else….
’[No] group of Americans was targeted…more than African-Americans’….
Political ads in most media are required by law to disclose who paid for them…[but] not true online….
Congress should continue to examine the full panoply of issues surrounding social media….Privacy rules, identity validation, transparency in how data is collected and used, and monitoring for inauthentic or malign content’….
[Given] 2020 election, the Executive should acknowledge that publicly or find itself accused of complicity….
’Building media literacy from an early age would help…[and] plan for notifying candidates, parties, or others…[if] the victim of a foreign country’s use of social media platforms to interfere in an election’….
[I]f we knew in 2016 what we know now, it would be required that the government…disclose not only that…Clinton’s campaign was…targeted, but…with the specific goal of getting…Trump elected….
Facebook, Google, and Twitter…must put the integrity of American democracy over their profits…
- Federal Trade Commission must be given the power to set baseline data security and privacy rules for companies….
- companies should…disclose how consumer information is collected and…provide consumers the names of every individual or institution with whom their data has been shared.
- consumers must be given the ability to easily opt out of commercial data sharing.”
“Abolishing slavery, guaranteeing equality before the law and removing a racial restriction on the right to vote…[were] the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments — were ‘profound’…‘constitutional revolution’ for democratic governance; a ‘second founding’ after America’s beta launch nearly a century earlier…premised on chattel slavery….
[Amendments] faced a skeptical…Supreme Court, which delivered a succession of rulings scaling back or eliminating their protections…[e.g.,] in Plessy v Ferguson, blessed segregation as compatible with equal protection. Just six years ago…
5–4 majority cut out the heart of the Voting Rights Act, which…shielded minority voters from discrimination at the polls….
[Ironically] 14th Amendment has become a ‘vehicle through which Americans of all backgrounds can claim greater rights’ — including abortion choice, gender equality and gay marriage…[and] ‘seek redress from various forms of discrimination’….
The main beneficiaries in recent decades…[were] ‘white plaintiffs complaining of reverse discrimination.’” https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2019/10/07/the-promise-and-shortcomings-of-the-13th-14th-and-15th-amendments
Civilization is Anti-Human, Not Machines
April 2000, as millennium celebrations passed into history, Silicon Valley luminary, Bill Joy, wrote a provocative…
“[R]are rebuke to U.S. spying programs…[with] FBI agreeing to better safeguard privacy and apply new procedures….
[FISA Court] found that the FBI’s…warrantless internet-surveillance program…[for] foreign suspects…violated the law authorizing the program, as well as the…Fourth Amendment…unreasonable searches…raising concerns about oversight of the program [that]…operates in near total secrecy….
[Searches] were deemed problematic…[because] related to thousands or tens of thousands of pieces of data, such as emails or telephone numbers…[and] to vet its personnel and cooperating sources.
Federal law requires that the database only be searched by the FBI as part of seeking evidence of a crime or for foreign-intelligence information….
[Thus] not consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment’…[losing] a secret appeals court that is rarely consulted and seldom releases opinions publicly….
Section 702 surveillance, has roots in…Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks…[and] surveillance is often shared with relevant federal government agencies with the names of any U.S. persons redacted…[and] privacy advocates have long criticized….U.S. intelligence officials have defended it…[but]acknowledged that some communications from Americans are swept up in the process….Trump signed…six-year renewal of…702 program …
NSA last year turned off a program that collects domestic phone metadata…agency wasn’t authorized to obtain.” https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fbi-use-of-surveillance-database-violated-privacy-rights-court-ruled/ar-AAItjwk?ocid=spartandhp
He believes it is too late for central banks to reverse a global slowdown and warning that current conditions remind him of the Depression-era environment, so the world is currently entering a “great sag” as the natural cycle of growth ends.
Economic environment entering a 'big sag,' Ray Dalio warns
Ray Dalio, founder, co-chairman, and co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates, discusses the global…
“World Economic Forum…uses 114 indicators looking at how institutions, policy, and other factors influence levels of productivity in a country….
US-China trade war has Chinese exporters…rerouting products to the US via countries like Vietnam and Singapore…with Singapore leapfrogging…from second to first and Vietnam…the most improved country….
’Escalating trade and geopolitical tensions are fueling uncertainty…[holding] back investment and…[risks] disruptions to global supply chains, sudden price spikes or…availability of key resources.
The world is at a social, environmental and economic tipping point…[and] subdued growth, rising inequalities, and accelerating climate change provide the context for a backlash against capitalism, globalization, technology, and elites’….
Asia-Pacific region…[is] the world’s most competitive….
[The] report found…global economy plagued by low productivity since …crash — despite…$10 trillion…from central banks…[and] criticized governments…not implementing fiscal policy to [grow].” https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/wef-report-us-loses-top-spot-to-singapore-in-competitiveness-rank-2019-10-1028586400
“[Most] politicians focus on…long-term size of the state and myriad other priorities…[and] technocrats have…job of taming the business cycle…[but] arrangement is collapsing…[because] link between…unemployment and higher inflation has gone missing….
[So] rules of economic policy need redrafting….
So insatiable is the global appetite to save that more than a quarter of all investment-grade bonds, worth $15trn, now have negative yields, meaning lenders must pay to hold them to maturity…[yet] combined balance-sheets of central banks in America, the euro zone, Britain and Japan stand at over 35% of their total GDP….
As central banks run out of ways to stimulate the economy when it flags, more…will fall to tax cuts and public spending. Because interest rates are so low, or negative, high public debt is more sustainable, particularly if…boost growth, such as infrastructure….’Modern monetary theory’…says there are no costs to expanding government spending while inflation is low — so long as the central bank is supine….
[Also] central banks are starting to encroach on fiscal policy…of governments…as politicians…meddle with central banks, so the technocrats will take decisions…[in] domain of politicians…[like] how much money should they give to the poor? What investments should they make?….
In downturns either governments or central banks will need to administer a prompt, powerful but limited fiscal stimulus. One idea is to beef up the government’s automatic fiscal stabilizers, such as unemployment insurance, that guarantee bigger deficits if the economy stalls. Another is to give central banks a fiscal tool that does not…redistribute money…. Each path brings risks.
But the old arrangement no longer works…[and] institutions that steer the economy must be remade for today’s strange new world.” https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/10/10/the-world-economys-strange-new-rules
“The proposal…applies to multinationals in all sectors, would re-allocate some tax revenue to countries where big companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple ‘have significant consumer-facing activities and generate their profits’….
Currently, multinationals tend to pay most of their tax in the country where they are based….
[In] European Union, where multinationals…across the continent pay taxes almost exclusively in the EU nation where their local headquarters are based, often a low-tax haven….
OECD’s proposal will be…[for] finance ministers…[at] G-20 in Washington.” https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2019-10-09/global-plan-unveiled-to-better-tax-multinationals
“Probiotics, or ‘good’ bacteria, are thought to help maintain a healthy gut and are commonly added to foods…[as] ‘functional foods’….
Gates said if he could only work to solve one problem it would be malnutrition. ‘It’s the greatest health inequity in the world — but…[solvable] within 20 years…[with] understanding of the human microbiome…[for] the development of ‘smartly engineered’ probiotic pills…to retain more of the nutrients in the foods we eat….
A lack of nutrients in…[early] life is responsible for the mental and physical ‘stunting’ of an estimated 155 million children globally….
[Also] potential of ‘microbiota directed complementary foods’…[a] ‘fertilizer for the microbiome…[fighting] other diseases — like asthma, allergies, and some autoimmune diseases, which may be triggered by an unbalanced microbiome.’” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/probiotic-pills-could-bring-end-malnutrition-says-billionaire/
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