How one Chinese region shows risks of relying on heavy borrowing | Reuters


Liaoning highlights the risks of relying on repeated borrowing to invest in infrastructure and fuel economic activity – a regular fall-back policy China has used when GDP risks missing annual targets, including in 2016.

Traditionally, state-raised investment funds have been channeled through state-owned enterprises (SOEs) because they are big tax payers and employers. This has provided a life support mechanism for many dying state industries while crowding out the private sector on which China is staking its future.

Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin were once powerful industrial bases responsible for much of the coal, steel and heavy industry that underpinned China’s economy in the 1960s and 1970s.

Source: How one Chinese region shows risks of relying on heavy borrowing | Reuters

Where Crony Capitalism Rose and Prosperity Fell (and Vice Versa) | Bloomberg View


With populists emulating autocrats from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, free markets are being forced to confront crony capitalism.

One response is visible in the reversal of fortunes of Malaysia and Indonesia. The two nations still wrestle with the politics of ethnicity and religion at odds with the capitalism of market competition.

Malaysia’s embrace of an ideology of Malay supremacy and the low interest rates that invite a debt bubble are impediments to a dynamic economy.

Source: Where Crony Capitalism Rose and Prosperity Fell (and Vice Versa) – Bloomberg View

On the dark history of intelligence as domination | Aeon Essays


The story of intelligence begins with Plato. In all his writings, he ascribes a very high value to thinking, declaring (through the mouth of Socrates) that the unexamined life is not worth living. Plato emerged from a world steeped in myth and mysticism to claim something new: that the truth about reality could be established through reason, or what we might consider today to be the application of intelligence. This led him to conclude, in The Republic, that the ideal ruler is ‘the philosopher king’, as only a philosopher can work out the proper order of things. And so he launched the idea that the cleverest should rule over the rest – an intellectual meritocracy.

Plato’s novel idea fell on the eager ears of the intellectuals, including those of his pupil Aristotle. Aristotle was always the more practical, taxonomic kind of thinker. He took the notion of the primacy of reason and used it to establish what he believed was a natural social hierarchy. In his book The Politics, he explains:

‘[T]hat some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.’ What marks the ruler is their possession of ‘the rational element’.

Source: On the dark history of intelligence as domination | Aeon Essays

What Trump should do about terrorism (but probably won’t) | Brookings Institution


While the American public has an exaggerated sense of the terrorism threat, there has been a real surge in violence outside the West. Terrorism has exploded throughout much of South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Terrorist groups have eagerly exploited and exacerbated the security vacuum created by the civil wars that have killed more than one hundred thousand in Afghanistan, tens of thousands in Pakistan, tens of thousands in Nigeria, thousands in Yemen, thousands in Libya, and hundreds of thousands in Syria. Countries like Turkey, Mali, Lebanon, and others near these hotbeds have also suffered from spillover violence.

Source: What Trump should do about terrorism (but probably won’t) | Brookings Institution

Trump’s defense chief: ‘We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil’ | Reuters


Trump told CIA staff in January: “We should have kept the oil. But okay. Maybe you’ll have another chance.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, however, flatly ruled out any such intent. “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” he told reporters traveling with him late on Sunday, ahead of his arrival.

Source: Trump’s defense chief: ‘We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil’ | Reuters

A Computer Forecast of Religion and Atheism


Religion doesn’t create the shift from Abel to Cain, from nomadic shepherd to town-centered farmer. But it smooths out the transition, Wesley Wildman says. It makes early towns more likely to succeed.

In part, that’s because religion demands unorthodox behaviors, rituals, appearing at worship services. These show who is willing to participate and who is not, which might help eliminate what economists call the free-rider problem, people who take the benefits of society without contributing to it. Those who won’t perform the rituals can be cast out, or shunned.

Meanwhile, shared beliefs soften what Wildman calls “the hatred of being watched by strangers.” Religion mattered in how communities formed, Wildman says. We often think of religion as divisive, forgetting it plays an important role in bringing different people together.

Source: A Computer Forecast of Religion and Atheism

George Takei Warns Donald Trump Is Repeating a Dark History | Time.com


Takei was about 5 when he and his family were removed from their California home at gunpoint and forced to live behind the barbed wire of an internment camp. Roosevelt’s executive order affected at least 117,000 people of Japanese descent, most of whom were born in the U.S., according to the National Archives.

Source: George Takei Warns Donald Trump Is Repeating a Dark History | Time.com

Stand Your Ground: The History Behind the Law | Time.com


Originally, English common law was based on the sanctity of human life, and really the only person authorized to take a life was the King.

In fact, if someone came after you, you were supposed to retreat to the “wall behind your back” before fighting back with force. That was called the duty to retreat. The King was the one who was there to protect the people.

The one exception to that was the “castle doctrine,” which originates in the early 1600s. This was the doctrine that you did not have to retreat from an attack if you were in your home, because as the old adage says, a man’s house is his castle.

Source: Stand Your Ground: The History Behind the Law | Time.com

Big U.S. banks to push for easing of money laundering rules | Reuters


America’s largest banks are to propose a complete overhaul of how financial institutions investigate and report potential criminal activity, arguing that rules imposed in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and strengthened during the Obama administration are onerous and ineffective, sources said.

The Clearing House, a trade association representing the largest U.S. banks including Goldman Sachs (GS.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Bank of America (BAC.N), has long raised concerns about the effectiveness of the current rules, but this will be the first time the group has publicly called for them to be revamped.

Source: Exclusive: Big U.S. banks to push for easing of money laundering rules | Reuters

Inside the Black Bloc Protest Strategy That Shut Down Berkeley


What people on both sides of this argument need to understand is that black bloc isn’t a group; it’s just a tactic.

Those who do it wear black, sometimes between layers of “civilian” clothes so they can slip in and out of their protester ensembles. They often carry gear that is defensive (masks to protect against tear gas), offensive (Molotov cocktails) or both (a placard that can double as a shield). They attack storefronts and clash with police in a “hit and run” style, University of San Francisco associate professor Jeffrey Paris has written.

There is no formal network of people and no set principles, just a belief that demonstrating peacefully doesn’t accomplish nearly as much as a flash of rage.

Source: Inside the Black Bloc Protest Strategy That Shut Down Berkeley