Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trump is killing the Republican Party

By Joe Scarborough

Washington Post

July 16, 2017


I did not leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left its senses. The political movement that once stood athwart history resisting bloated government and military adventurism has been reduced to an amalgam of talk-radio resentments. President Trump’s Republicans have devolved into a party without a cause, dominated by a leader hopelessly ill-informed about the basics of conservatism, U.S. history and the Constitution.

America’s first Republican president reportedly said , “Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” The current Republican president and the party he controls were granted monopoly power over Washington in November and already find themselves spectacularly failing Abraham Lincoln’s character exam.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

This is what foreign spies see when they read President Trump’s tweets

Nada Bakos

June 23

Nada Bakos was formerly a CIA analyst and targeting officer. She is the author of the forthcoming book “The Targeter: My Life in the CIA.”

The Washington Post

Every time President Trump tweets, journalists and Twitter followers attempt to analyze what he means. Intelligence agencies around the world do, too: They’re trying to determine what vulnerabilities the president of the United States may have. And he’s giving them a lot to work with.

Trump’s Twitter feed is a gold mine for every foreign intelligence agency. Usually, intelligence officers’ efforts to collect information on world leaders are methodical, painstaking and often covert. CIA operatives have risked their lives to learn about foreign leaders so the United States could devise strategies to counter our adversaries. With Trump, though, secret operations are not necessary to understand what’s on his mind: The president’s unfiltered thoughts are available night and day, broadcast to his 32.7 million Twitter followers immediately and without much obvious mediation by diplomats, strategists or handlers.

Intelligence agencies try to answer these main questions when looking at a rival head of state: Who is he as a person? What type of leader is he? How does that compare to what he strives to be or presents himself as? What can we expect from him? And how can we use this insight to our advantage?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Is it inequality of income we care about — or inequality of opportunity?

By Steven Pearlstein

July 1


The Washington Post


Inequality may well be the issue of our time. But is it inequality of income we care about, or inequality of opportunity? And what is opportunity — the opportunity to do better than our parents, or better than ourselves at an earlier age, or does it mean doing better relative to everyone else? Can some of us get wealthier without making others poorer? Would inequality recede if we just had more economic growth?

These questions animate two new books. One is “Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem and What To do About It,” by Richard Reeves, a British-born philosopher by training, politician by instinct and a Brookings Institution social scientist by trade. (Richard is also a friend). The other, “The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live and Die,” is by Keith Payne, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina. Both books are authoritative, thought provoking, accessible and well worth a spot on your summer reading list.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Once a model city, Hong Kong is in trouble

Keith Bradsher

June 30, 2017


HONG KONG — When Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule two decades ago, the city was seen as a model of what China might one day become: prosperous, modern, international, with the broad protections of the rule of law.

There was anxiety about how such a place could survive in authoritarian China. But even after Beijing began encroaching on this former British colony’s freedoms, its reputation as one of the best-managed cities in Asia endured.

The trains ran on time. Crime and taxes were low. The skyline dazzled with ever taller buildings.

Those are still true. Yet as the 20th anniversary of the handover approaches this weekend, that perception of Hong Kong as something special — a vibrant crossroads of East and West that China might want to emulate — is fading fast.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Economic model that Asia has used for decades is now broken

Kevin Hamlin AND
Dexter Roberts

June 28, 2017

Thirty minutes by car into the scrubby desert outside Korla, in China’s remote Xinjiang region, a textile manufacturer owned by the Jinsheng Group is building its latest factory complex.

Inside the 16 billion-yuan facility—a collection of stark white warehouses surrounded by an enormous expanse of pristine artificial grass — are rows of huge cotton spools, more than a million bright red and blue spindles, and almost no people.

A few German engineers wander around, making sure the equipment runs at peak efficiency.

This is the depopulated future of an industry that has lifted millions of Asians out of poverty.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Capital controls, high-speed rail behind collapse of Bandar Malaysia deal?

A US$1.7 billion property deal that was expected to ease the debt burden of Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fell through on Wednesday (May 3). A Malaysian minister says the government needs time to find a new partner.

KUALA LUMPUR: China's capital controls, bidding for the KL-Singapore High Speed Rail project and Bandar Malaysia's increased worth may have contributed to the collapse of a US$1.7 billion deal to offset a Malaysian state fund's debts, according to analysts and people familiar with the matter.

TRX City, owned by Malaysia's finance ministry, on Wednesday (May 3) announced it had terminated an agreement for a China Railway consortium to be the master developer of Bandar Malaysia - a major residential and commercial real estate project, set to house a terminal for the high-speed rail (HSR) line connecting KL to Singapore on the basis it "failed to meet payment obligations outlined in the Conditions Precedent”.

The S$139 billion city next to Singapore has a big China problem

June 23, 2017


SINGAPORE — The US$100 billion (S$139 billion) city rising from the sea next to Singapore has hit a roadblock: China’s capital controls.

The dream of a Malaysian version of Shenzhen — largely funded by Chinese developers and buyers — with hotels, offices, golf courses, tech parks and thousands of ritzy new apartments, is having to adapt after China’s government clamped down on an exodus of money for investment in overseas property.

Developers’ sales offices in China that once brought in buyers by the hundreds are now pushing developments in Chinese cities. Subsidised junkets that flew in prospective buyers to development sites in the southern Malaysian state of Johor have dwindled. And some buyers who paid deposits for yet-to-be-built homes are considering cancelling their purchases.