Sculpture of Smiling Satan Causes Controversy in Spain | Time


Segovia, a city in central Spain, is divided over plans to install the bronze statue portraying the devil grinning and taking a selfie, the BBC reports.

The effigy alludes to a local folktale, which says the city’s Roman-era aqueduct was built by the devil in exchange for a young girl’s soul. (She ended up getting it back, the story goes.)

The two-tiered structure, built around the year 50 and spanning half a mile, is listed along with the old town center as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Source: Sculpture of Smiling Satan Causes Controversy in Spain | Time

50 years after ‘Earthrise,’ we are racing toward ‘Earthset’ | CNN


It was days before the astronauts returned home, and the film was developed and released by NASA to the public. Back on Earth, the reaction was euphoric. People across the globe were astonished at the image of a blue orb shrouded in wispy white clouds, its land surfaces betraying no national borders.

Commentators waxed lyrical, invoking the spiritual unity of humankind. Anders, Lovell and mission commander Frank Borman belonged to “a geographical unit we will be hearing about more in the future — Earth,” wrote the editors of the Houston Chronicle. The poet Archibald MacLeish offered his own elegy:

To see Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence as it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in that eternal cold.

Source: 50 years after ‘Earthrise,’ we are racing toward ‘Earthset’ (Opinion) – CNN

Why Haven’t U.S. Exports of Manufactures Kept Pace with China’s Growth? | Council on Foreign Relations


The policy challenge is fairly obvious, at least to me.

China wants to preserve access to the U.S. market for its own manufactures—it wants to avoid premature decoupling (see Greg Ip). But its offer, to date, doesn’t seem to include anything that would materially change the currently stalled trajectory of U.S. manufactured exports.

China’s vision of its future seems to be one where it increasingly exports capital goods while it imports consumer goods and commodities. That’s ultimately a vision where there is less trade with the world’s other advanced big economies than was the case in the period that immediately followed China’s entry into the WTO.

Source: Why Haven’t U.S. Exports of Manufactures Kept Pace with China’s Growth? | Council on Foreign Relations

Aboard the giant sand-sucking ships that China uses to reshape the world | MIT Technology Review


In recent years, China has assembled an armada of oceangoing dredges. Some it buys from Japan, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Increasingly, though, China manufactures them itself. China’s homemade dredges are not yet the world’s largest, nor are they any more technologically advanced than those of other countries, but it is building many more of them than any other country.

In the past decade, Chinese firms have built some 200 vessels of ever greater size and sophistication. In 2013, Rabobank, a Dutch firm, declared that China’s dredging industry had become the biggest in the world, and it has only grown since then. Chinese firms bring in as much revenue from domestic dredging as is accrued in all of Europe and the Middle East combined.

Since 1985, according to Deltares, a Dutch research group, humans have added 5,237 square miles (13,564 sq km) of artificial land to the world’s coasts. China is a major—and growing—contributor to that total.

Source: Aboard the giant sand-sucking ships that China uses to reshape the world – MIT Technology Review

What Trump Learned From Relying on Military Men | US News


At the beginning of the administration, President Trump believed that having former generals on his staff gave him personally a lot of credibility … gravitas and support from leaders he did not think he was getting otherwise,” says Loren DeJonge Schulman, who held multiple senior Defense positions under then-Secretary Robert Gates and later in the Obama administration’s National Security Council.

“The president probably trusts generals a lot less now.”

Advancement in the military is contingent in part on successfully following orders. If the president thought he could bolster his cache by recruiting high-profile figures proven in battle – McMaster earned a Silver Star Medal in the Persian Gulf War, Mattis has a cult-like following among Marines – he appears not to have accounted for the fact that these men demonstrated that sometimes success involves challenging authority.

They were viewed as the “grown-ups in the room” and perhaps rightly so …

Source: What Trump Learned From Relying on Military Men | The Civic Report | US News

Why midsized metro areas deserve our attention


As my colleagues Clara Hendrickson, Mark Muro, and Bill Galston recently described, the underlying trend toward greater disparities across places isn’t all that new. They show that beginning in the mid-1980s, wage and employment growth in the most prosperous metropolitan areas began to significantly outpace that in other metro areas.

And they go on to demonstrate that this trend has affected small, rural communities most negatively, especially in the last decade, with significant attendant political consequences.

So a consensus is forming that place matters for economic policy; and evidence is mounting that the largest places are succeeding while smaller ones are not.

Source: Why midsized metro areas deserve our attention

The era of U.S.-China cooperation is drawing to a close—What comes next?


.. 2018 will prove to be more than just a year of turbulence: We will look back on it as a turning point in U.S.-China relations, the closing of an era of expanding cooperation.

That era dates from China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, and reached its most expansive phase in the wake of the global financial crisis, under U.S. President Barack Obama. There were even fears in the world of a “G-2,” of a U.S.-China condominium that would leave little room for anybody else.

There is little risk of a G-2 now.

But if 2018 was an end of an era, what comes next and how rocky will the transition be?

Source: The era of U.S.-China cooperation is drawing to a close—What comes next?

World Bank president resignation: next leader shouldn’t be American | Vox


World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is leaving after seven years in office. It’s a sudden, premature departure of a leader who managed to make a lot of enemies within the organization.

But it’s also an opportunity for the world, and America, to make a change that’s long overdue. It’s time for the World Bank to be run by a non-American.

At the Bretton Woods financial institution’s founding in the wake of World War II, the United States and its European allies agreed to a simple division of labor: a European would run the International Monetary Fund and an American would run the World Bank.

Source: World Bank president resignation: next leader shouldn’t be American – Vox

How a gas pipeline to Europe is transforming the Turkish-Israeli relationship | EURACTIV.com


Many observers believed the alliance was never really at risk, due to the sheer amount of trade that moves between the two countries.

But now, all that has changed. The discovery of massive natural gas fields off Israel’s northern coast more than a decade ago and subsequent attempts to export this gas to Europe have highlighted the true fault lines in the Turkish-Israeli alliance. Recent events reveal a fundamental shift in the alliance is undeniably underway.

As part of his phenomenal rise to power, Erdoğan convinced Turks that Turkey was set to re-emerge as a new Ottoman empire, with Istanbul as its beating heart.

Source: How a gas pipeline to Europe is transforming the Turkish-Israeli relationship – EURACTIV.com

Bolsonaro vs. Maduro: The Next Clash in Latin America?


The great absence, perhaps for better than for worse, is Washington. It will almost certainly not play a role in any of these potential or already burning crises, except maybe by clumsily encouraging Colombia and Brazil to overthrow Mr. Maduro by force. But it surely will not lead the hemisphere away from these authoritarian temptations, nor toward greater collective responsibility.

Given President Trump’s penchant for making everything worse everywhere, this may not be a bad thing. But United States passivity implies one less counterweight in a region that needs as many as it can find.

Source: Bolsonaro vs. Maduro: The Next Clash in Latin America?