Monday, December 31, 2018

Warren Is Running

Friday, December 28, 2018

Ocasio 2024?

When John Kennedy got elected president, he had been so junior in the US Senate, he had never once been to the White House. He had not been chairing committees, things like that. And it was not for lack of want.

Hakeem Jeffries climbing up the ranks in the House perhaps is a sign he will not be president.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or Alex from the Bronx, the Jennifer Lopez of progressive politics, might want to go that route of not climbing the ladders in the House, and instead seeking speaking assignments across the country, and building a national following. Starting from right now.

And if a Democrat wins in 2020, heck, there is always 2028.

Someone wanting a Green New Deal needs to get into the White House.

The thing about the Green New Deal is it does not come at the expense of economic growth. It could give America unprecedented prosperity.

Why Green New Deal? Why not simply Green Deal?

Obama was also the Junior Senator from Illinois when he got elected. It might actually make more sense to go from the House to the White House. It is the H word.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Xinjiang’s 10 Million Muslim Uighurs

Xinjiang’s 10m Uighurs (nearly half of its population) have long been used to heavy-handed curbs: a ban on unauthorised pilgrimages to Mecca, orders to students not to fast during Ramadan, tough restrictions on Islamic garb (women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses), no entry to many mosques for people under 18, and so on. ........ But since he took over last August as Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief, Chen Quanguo has launched even harsher measures—pleased, apparently, by his crushing of dissent in Tibet where he previously served as leader. As in Tibet, many Xinjiang residents have been told to hand their passports to police and seek permission to travel abroad. In one part of Xinjiang all vehicles have been ordered to install satellite tracking-devices. There have been several shows of what officials call “thunderous power”, involving thousands of paramilitary troops parading through streets. ....... A leaked list of banned names includes Muhammad, Mecca and Saddam. Parents may not be able to obtain vital household-registration papers for children with unapproved names, meaning they could be denied free schooling and health care. ...... Residents have also been asked to spy on each other. ....... In March an official in Hotan in southern Xinjiang was demoted for “timidity” in “fighting against religious extremism” because he chose not to smoke in front of a group of mullahs. ...... China’s president, Xi Jinping, who has called for “a great wall of iron” to safeguard Xinjiang. ..... as in Tibet, intrusive surveillance and curbs on cultural expression have fuelled people’s desperation. “A community is like a fruit,” says a Uighur driver from Kashgar. “Squash it too hard and it will burst.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

China Failed To Fail

The Land That Failed To Fail
The Chinese economy has grown so fast for so long now that it is easy to forget how unlikely its metamorphosis into a global powerhouse was, how much of its ascent was improvised and born of desperation. ....... China now leads the world in the number of homeowners, internet users, college graduates and, by some counts, billionaires. Extreme poverty has fallen to less than 1 percent. An isolated, impoverished backwater has evolved into the most significant rival to the United States since the fall of the Soviet Union. ........ the Trump administration has launched a trade war and is gearing up for what could be a new Cold War. Meanwhile, in Beijing the question these days is less how to catch up with the West than how to pull ahead — and how to do so in a new era of American hostility. ....... China’s Communist leaders have defied expectations again and again. ...... they presided over 40 years of uninterrupted growth, often with unorthodox policies the textbooks said would fail. ........ And China may be just hitting its stride — a new superpower with an economy on track to become not just the world’s largest but, quite soon, the largest by a wide margin. ....... There is no simple explanation for how China’s leaders pulled this off. There was foresight and luck, skill and violent resolve, but perhaps most important was the fear — a sense of crisis among Mao’s successors that they never shook, and that intensified after the Tiananmen Square massacre and the collapse of the Soviet Union. ...... Bureaucrats who were once obstacles to growth became engines of growth. Officials devoted to class warfare and price controls began chasing investment and promoting private enterprise. ....... It was a remarkable act of reinvention, one that eluded the Soviets. In both China and the Soviet Union, vast Stalinist bureaucracies had smothered economic growth, with officials who wielded unchecked power resisting change that threatened their privileges. ....... Party leaders called this go-slow, experimental approach “crossing the river by feeling the stones” — allowing farmers to grow and sell their own crops, for example, while retaining state ownership of the land; lifting investment restrictions in “special economic zones,” while leaving them in place in the rest of the country; or introducing privatization by selling only minority stakes in state firms at first. ........ After a visit to China in 1988, the Nobel laureate Milton Friedman called the party’s strategy “an open invitation to corruption and inefficiency.” ...... mainland China now produces more graduates in science and engineering every year than the United States, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan combined. ...... In cities like Shanghai, Chinese schoolchildren outperform peers around the world. ...... most students also enroll in after-school tutoring programs — a market worth $125 billion, according to one study, or as much as half the government’s annual military budget. ....... the party made changes after Mao’s death that fell short of free elections or independent courts yet were nevertheless significant. ....... The party introduced term limits and mandatory retirement ages, for example, making it easier to flush out incompetent officials. And it revamped the internal report cards it used to evaluate local leaders for promotions and bonuses, focusing them almost exclusively on concrete economic targets. ........ “China created a unique hybrid,” she said, “an autocracy with democratic characteristics.” ....... The private sector now produces more than 60 percent of the nation’s economic output, employs over 80 percent of workers in cities and towns, and generates 90 percent of new jobs ...... As often as not, the bureaucrats stay out of the way. ....... Of the many risks that the party took in its pursuit of growth, perhaps the biggest was letting in foreign investment, trade and ideas. It was an exceptional gamble by a country once as isolated as North Korea is today, and it paid off in an exceptional way: China tapped into a wave of globalization sweeping the world and emerged as the world’s factory. China’s embrace of the internet, within limits, helped make it a leader in technology. And foreign advice helped China reshape its banks, build a legal system and create modern corporations. ........ “China’s policies were tremendous,” he recalled. “They were like a sponge absorbing water, money, technology, everything.” ........ Mr. Lin was part of a torrent of investment from ethnic Chinese enclaves in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and beyond that washed over China — and gave it a leg up on other developing countries. Without this diaspora, some economists argue, the mainland’s transformation might have stalled at the level of a country like Indonesia or Mexico. ........ Taiwan jump-started capitalism in China and plugged it into the global economy. ....... Before long, the government in Taiwan began to worry about relying so much on its onetime enemy and tried to shift investment elsewhere. But the mainland was too cheap, too close and, with a common language and heritage, too familiar. ......... The shock of China’s rise as an export colossus .. was felt in factory towns around the world. ....... Now Mr. Xi is steering the party toward repression again, tightening its grip on society, concentrating power in his own hands and setting himself up to rule for life by abolishing the presidential term limit. Will the party loosen up again, as it did a few years after Tiananmen, or is this a more permanent shift? If it is, what will it mean for the Chinese economic miracle? ........ “The cost of censorship is quite limited compared to the great value created by the internet,” said Chen Tong, an industry pioneer. “We still get the information we need for economic progress.” ....... It is a rare consensus for the United States, which is deeply divided about so much else ...... a gnawing sense that the party’s formula for success may be faltering. ...... The party is investing ever more in censorship to control discussion of the challenges the nation faces: widening inequality, dangerous debt levels, an aging population. ...... Mr. Xi himself has acknowledged that the party must adapt, declaring that the nation is entering a “new era” requiring new methods. But his prescription has largely been a throwback to repression, including vast internment camps targeting Muslim ethnic minorities. “Opening up” has been replaced by an outward push, with huge loans that critics describe as predatory and other efforts to gain influence — or interfere — in the politics of other countries. At home, experimentation is out while political orthodoxy and discipline are in.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Interesting Fallouts From The US China Trade War

The US and China have very different political systems. China was the biggest beneficiary of the collapse of the Soviet Union. It allowed China to let loose the market cat that would catch mice. China today is a peculiar mix of the market and the one party state. In putting "a knife to China's neck," as the Chinese put it, Trump has necessarily questioned that mix which, curiously, allows room for the Chinese to question the role of the US government in the US market. Why are you not better educating your children? Why are you not better retraining your workers?

One line of thinking is after Trump gets his ass whooped during the impending midterm elections, he might start singing a different tune, or that the Walmart shoppers - the hard core Trump base - might revolt, or that Trump might get impeached. That might change the flavor of the trade war, if not outright downgrade it.

Many in the US argue the US government should invest more in education and training, should invest massively more in science and research. It is not "socialist" to invest in science and research. The US government could invest massively in clean energy and artificial intelligence, like the Chinese plan to do. But to be able to do that you will have to cure the dysfunction in Washington DC. Donald Trump has been a Pied Piper who has channeled the rage of the American working class to give himself hefty tax cuts, a transfer of money to the richest Americans borrowed by all Americans, from the Chinese, of all people.

The trade war has gone too far to leave the Chinese mix of the state and the market the way it was. The new mix the Chinese might be forced into would likely hew closer to the market.

But Germany is no one party state, and it runs a huge surplus with the US. The US needs to introspect. Maybe it is a capitalist that is refusing to invest in human capital. Immigration brought America this far. For America to complain about immigration is a country tired of being number one.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Could The Two Koreas Go Solo?

The message from Messrs. Moon and Kim .. was: “Why do we need the U.S. doing anything if Trump is going to oscillate between ‘fire and fury’ and sharing a hamburger with Kim? Maybe we should move things forward by ourselves.”

I don't see why not. The Paris Climate Accord is still in place with many US states vying to meet its standards. The Trans Pacific Partnership went on. The Iran nuclear deal is still holding. I think Trump reads his electoral mandate to mean that the US finds it too expensive to continue leading like it has for decades. It would like to step down a little. Others should fill that void together.

The two Korean leaders can make peace and unification happen. They can make the Trump-Kim summit happen.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Trump And Kim Ought To Meet

Trump's attitude can not be that unless North Korea utterly capitulates, he sees no point in meeting. The hot air both have been blowing is not empty bluster. There are more dangerous things than nuclear war. They are called nuclear bluster, nuclear stupidity, and nuclear miscalculation.

This is not about regime change in North Korea. This is about walking away from the nuclear brink.

It is wise to involve third parties like China and Russia, not to say South Korea and Japan. Both the North and the South need that participation. Unless China is on the table American troops can not meaningfully leave the peninsula. And Trump desperately wants to leave. It is costing America too much to stay there.

You tone down the nuclear rhetoric. You formally end the war. You pull out the troops, and open up the border. And then good things start happening.

China is not the Soviet Union. It has a thriving private sector. There is no China collapse in the offing. But a Korean unification will be good for the free, open world.

The American political system is pretty good, but it is not the final word on political systems.

Trump and Kim meeting will be reassuring for the world, even if there is no progress made. But likely some progress will be made, and they will then have a second summit. A botched effort will ring alarm bells in too many of the world's capitals.

Trump says North Korea summit talks continue: 'Could even be the 12th': "We'll see what happens. It could even be the 12th. We're talking to them now," he said. "They very much want to do it. We'd like to do it." ...... Asked whether the North Koreans were playing games, Trump acknowledged they were -- and suggested he was too....... Kim Kye Gwan, a top official at North Korea's Foreign Ministry, said Trump's decision to cancel the talks, which were scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, ran counter to the global community's wishes for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump Says North Korea Summit Still Possible
How Trump Got Outplayed on North Korea: Over the past year, the president has repeatedly underestimated the importance of making real trade-offs in diplomacy. These choices appear to be anathema to his “go big or go home” style of deal-making. The Trump administration has been eager to jettison the “weak,” “terrible” deals negotiated by previous presidents — including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate agreement, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. With North Korea, he was seeking something bigger and better, “a very special moment for World Peace.” ........ While it’s true that deals like the Iran nuclear agreement had inherent shortcomings, they also effectively advanced America’s national security. In fact, their limitations reflect a hard-nosed assessment of the risk of the alternatives, the broader geostrategic interests in play and the constraints on America’s leverage. In diplomacy, every deal is an imperfect deal. The question is, how imperfect? And at what cost? Unless you can produce a better alternative, tossing out a less-than-perfect agreement that does advance some concrete goals is an exercise in peril. “Repeal” is almost always simpler than “replace.” ...... a deal that constrains, even if it does not immediately eliminate, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs without offering unacceptable concessions in return. Whether such a deal is possible depends on Mr. Trump’s ability to embrace the art of the imperfect deal...... The United States has less leverage than it thinks in this negotiation. ...... If the past six weeks of diplomatic speed-dating over North Korea have made one thing clear, it’s that all the other people at this dance have a clear strategy and are playing their limited hands to full effect. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has attitude, swagger, and now a breakup letter for the ages. What it doesn’t yet have is a viable strategy.

Trump's nuclear failures from Iran to North Korea: In just over a year, Donald Trump has managed to nudge the world closer to conflict on both ends of the Asian continent. ....... The Trump administration simply lacks the basic strategic understanding and diplomatic finesse to cope with perplexing foreign policy challenges. When confronted with difficult geopolitical realities, Trump seems to prefer turning things into reality show episodes....... Trump's announcement was met by a melange of puzzlement, outrage and profound anxiety across the world. South Korea responded in total confusion, struggling to find a way out of the latest plot twist in the Trump-Kim saga. ....... Back in April, the South Korean leader held a crucial summit with Kim Jung-un at the Panmunjom demilitarised zone. There, for the first time in history, both sides seriously discussed the prospect of full denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula. ....... Moon staked his presidency on unlocking the Korean conflict. In an event of actual war, Seoul, which lies within the range of North Korean artilleries, would likely be the first and biggest victim. ...... In recent days, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the de facto leader of the "free world", went so far as stating that Europe can no longer rely on the US as a source of protection. ...... One by one, the US' most important allies have openly questioned the Trump administration's capacity for global leadership. For them, Washington is an increasingly unreliable superpower, which is beginning to threaten the existing international order with "Trump-style" leadership....... Interestingly, North Korea responded with uncharacteristic restraint, expressing its continued "willingness to sit at any time, in any way to resolve issues". All of a sudden, Pyongyang looked like the adult in the room....... the Trump administration insisted on unilateral, comprehensive, and immediate nuclear disarmament........ For anyone familiar with North Korea's strategic calculus, however, this was an outrageous non-starter. After all, what Pyongyang prefers is a step-by-step approach, whereby both sides de-escalate their confrontation on a gradual and reciprocal basis over time. ...... More fundamentally, countries around the world, both friends and foes, are wondering whether the US is a country that can be negotiated with at all.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Delhi Meerut 14 Lane Expressway


When North Korea had already held talks with the Chinese president and had talked of peninsular denuclearization and a possible Korean unification with a major gesture of time zone synchronization, those were positive signs. Pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal was not good timing, to say the least. The US sounded like it wanted a deal with North Korea that it had with Iran. If that is your tune to sing, you don't walk out of the Iran nuclear deal. That was a clear signal to North Korea even if they agreed to a deal that the US wanted, the US had no intention of honoring it. Trump also managed to talk about Libya and Gaddafi in the meantime. That was like saying to Kim, sign the deal that we will not honor, and, by the way, we want you killed out in the streets.

The first order of business was a path to denuclearization. Then massive engagement leading to a Korean unification. The North Korean regime as is would not have stayed in its current shape. West Germany did not become East Germany. And there has not been a one state two systems in Germany.

In the mean time the US has managed to lose all of its allies in Europe on the Iran nuclear deal. And that was not the first strike. The Paris Climate Accord, and trade were already major issues. Japan kept the Trans Pacific Partnership, that Trump would now like to join, he says. To that the TPP nations have said, welcome, but there is nothing to negotiate anymore. Join as is.

And India thought America, Europe, India, Japan and Australia are a thing. That was before Trump declared his intentions for a trade war with China, a recipe for a global Great Depression. India's Modi has had to spend two full days in informal talks with the Chinese president in response, and another full day with the Russian president.

Just like the climate accord and the Iran deal can go on with or without the US, the two Koreas should take steps towards unification.

Trump’s Relationship With North Korea Just Got More Dangerous: Some Republicans have praised Trump for his North Korea diplomacy, and there’s been talk about him winning a Nobel Peace Prize. That was always ludicrous, and his North Korea policy is in fact a fine example of ineptitude. .......... Trump’s jingoistic rhetoric didn’t particularly intimidate North Korea, but it terrified South Korea, which feared it would be collateral damage in a new Korean War. So President Moon shrewdly used the Olympics to undertake a careful peace mission to bring the U.S. and North Korea together, flattering each side to make this happen (Moon is a world-class Trump flatterer, and other leaders around the world have noted his success). This was commendable on Moon’s part; he’s the one who genuinely did have a shot at the peace prize. ........ Yet John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, spoke up in ways calculated to unnerve the North Koreans, by talking about the Libya model. When you cite as a model a country whose leader then ended up being executed by his own people, that’s not usually persuasive to another dictator. ....... North Korean leaders themselves responded to Bolton’s comments with harsh, over-the-top rhetoric, including the comment about Pence. This was a major miscalculation on their part, escalating the ineptitude and helping to kill the summit. ......... While the North Koreans didn’t get the summit they wanted with Trump, they have managed the process quite well. They used the rush of diplomacy to rebuild ties with Beijing and start discussions about economic integration with South Korea, and to moderate their international image. They’ve also created something of a wedge between Washington and Seoul, as was apparent in the response to Trump’s cancellation by a South Korean government spokesman: “We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means.”

Trump’s foolish conviction on North Korea: In the end what we had was the Art of the Schlemiel. It’s a Yiddish word — a New Yorkism — which President Trump may know. It means a foolish person, in this case a president who accepts the North Korean leader’s invitation to a summit meeting with no preparation but a touching belief in his own negotiating brilliance. That summit is now off. ......... The president announced he would be a no-show at next month’s planned meeting after North Korea showed “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement.” Trump was referring to recent comments by North Korean officials. The latest called Vice President Pence “ignorant and stupid.” Pence is neither, but it was not smart of him to advance Libya as the model for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. Not only did Libya essentially capitulate to Western demands, but its leader, Moammar Gaddafi, lost both his regime and his life. ......... Trump’s narcissism and his lack of empathy are a hindrance in foreign affairs. He has to put himself in the shoes of his adversaries and that he cannot do. ......... he was wrong in the first place to plunge into a summit that had not been meticulously planned. Characteristically, his ego got the best of him and he trusted his instincts which he feels are never wrong. It is the conviction of a schlemiel.

North Korea nuclear test tunnels 'destroyed'

South Korean president says Trump cancelling Kim Jong Un summit is 'very regretful and disconcerting'

Twitter Critics Mercilessly Mock Trump For Canceling Summit With Kim
Donald Trump cancels Kim Jong-un summit, citing North Korea’s ‘tremendous anger’ and boasts of US’s ‘massive’ nukes
'Very Perplexed': International Confusion, Concern After Trump Cancels Summit: "Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace are historic tasks that can neither be abandoned nor delayed," Yonhap quotes Moon as saying.......... Moon, who spoke to Kim Jong Un in a historic meeting in April, was in Washington earlier this week to meet with Trump and discuss strategy for the summit......... And other world leaders expressed confusion or alarm about Trump's decision. ........... British Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K. is "disappointed" that the talks have been called off ........ On Tuesday, Trump warned that there was a "very substantial chance [the meeting] won't work out." North Korea had been signaling that it might call off the summit itself, objecting to military exercises in South Korea and comments from American politicians.

North Korea launches tirade against ‘stupid’ US officials: North Korea has launched a tirade against the “ignorant and stupid remarks” of US officials and threatened to walk away from a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump next month..........“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behaviour of the United States,” said Choe Son Hui, a North Korean vice-foreign minister, on Thursday. ........ The comments followed continued references by US officials, in particular vice-president Mike Pence, to the “Libya model” for denuclearisation, which is increasingly being used by the White House as a euphemism for the overthrow and murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. ....... Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi was toppled and murdered in 2011 by western-backed rebels — a fate that North Korean officials believe he could have avoided had he not abandoned his nuclear weapons programme years earlier. ....... the potentially historic meeting has been thrown into jeopardy in recent days amid a bitter backlash from Pyongyang over what it calls Washington’s “unilateral” demands. ....... At the crux of the issue lies a chasm in perception over what prompted the summit in the first place. .......... Mr Trump believes his “maximum pressure” strategy coerced Mr Kim to the negotiating table and the US can dictate terms as a result. ......... For its part, North Korea said it agreed to the meeting out of its own volition and should be treated as an equal nuclear power in negotiations. ........ Initially hailed as “gracious gesture” by Mr Trump, the dismantlement of the site has been criticised by experts, who say evidence about the extent of the regime’s nuclear programme will be lost in the process. 

North Korea says it has officially dismantled its nuclear test site

When Trump meets Kim, a whole lot could go wrong: Washington and Pyongyang are presenting different interpretations of what denuclearization means to the world (more on that later), and they clearly have conflicting expectations about how the mechanics would work...... Pyongyang is thought to have a number of deadly agents in its hands, including anthrax, cholera and the plague....... Kim and Trump's red lines may be unbridgeable. Although the North Korean dictator has been talking about peace treaties and a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, there is a strong likelihood that he never intended to follow through. As last week's "no unilateral denuclearization" announcement indicated, it defies common sense for the Kim regime to give up its nuclear weapons after decades of research, development and testing. North Korea has endured harsh sanctions, political isolation and financial deprivation; why would it destroy its functioning nuclear deterrent at the urging of the U.S. now? ...... The summit may be called off.

North Korea: U.S.' actions will determine if there is a summit or a "nuclear-to-nuclear showdown"

China’s backroom talks with North Korea thrust into spotlight: Trump blames Beijing for summit setbacks, but experts say Pyongyang is not a vassal state........ Analysts say Kim Jong Un could be playing the big powers off each other to North Korea’s advantage ...... China has always preferred to do diplomacy in quiet back rooms, far away from the public glare. ....... But against the backdrop of a similarly epoch-making diplomatic opening between the US and North Korea, Beijing’s behind-the-scenes role has been thrust into the limelight by US President Donald Trump.......... It is a position where China is profoundly uncomfortable. “One side is whispering, and the other is saying everything through a bullhorn,” joked one foreign diplomat. ........... China insists it backs peace talks between the US and North Korea, although it wants bilateral talks replaced by multilateral talks as soon as possible, giving Beijing a seat at the table.......... North Korea’s overture to the US of a freeze on nuclear testing earlier this year was not accompanied by a corresponding freeze on military exercises in the South. ........ China has always championed the idea of a “dual freeze” — of nuclear tests by the North and military manoeuvres by the South. ....... Kim Il Sung, Mr Kim’s grandfather, grew adept at playing the Soviet Union against China in the 1950s and 1960s, and now his grandson may be using the same tactics with China and the US.

The hypothetical reunification of Korea: ...... the transfers from West Germany to East Germany in 1989, calculating a cost at around €1.7trn in today's euros, around 62 per cent of West Germany's current GDP, or roughly 8 per cent of the European Union's nominal GDP ......... The Korean populations are closer in size, with around 26m North Korean citizens compared to South Korea's 51m, a near 2-to-1 ratio versus West and East Germany's split of around 4-to-1. So all else being equal, the lack of a need for serious population flows from south to north should at least partly aid unification. ........ Much of the industrial base in Germany that supported the war efforts during the 1940s were located in the former East Germany. Mercedes, BMW, VW, ThyssenKrupp, and Bosch, which are household names today, but all of them had major factories before May 1945 in support of Germany’s military operations. The industrial ‘culture’ has never disappeared in EG, even if it had faded somewhat under communist rule. ........ the severe lack of industrial infrastructure north of the Korean border will ultimately require heavier investment than Eastern Germany. For perspective on just how far behind North Korea's infamously isolated economy is, UBS estimates GDP per capita in North Korea to be only $648. In comparison, the equivalent figure south of the peninsula comes in at $27,396. ........ Scaling its per-capita figure up to nationwide GDP, North Korea's economy totals $16.3bn, about 12 per cent of Jeff Bezos's net worth. If North Korea's economy was to match it's southern counterpart, this figure would have to grow by a factor of 43, or $684bn. ....... the US, China, Japan, and South Korea split the costs evenly: USD500 billion each over a decade. ......... This would be 2.4%, 3.5%, 9.7%, and 29.5% of today’s GDP of the US, China, Japan, and SK, and only 1.7%, 1.6%, 7.3%, and 18.3% of the GDP of the four nations over the coming decade. This price tag seems affordable for the four countries mentioned above. ........... Around $2trn over ten years then. Whether the four named countries will deem it “affordable” is another question, particularly as the Trump administration seems reticent to fiscally support Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last year. ...... the extreme malnutrition in North Korea. A UNICEF estimate from January estimates around 200,000 children in North Korea suffer from the affliction. Malnutrition, of course, carries health effects beyond childhood, such as a reduction in motor skills and learning ability. ........ Malnutrition’s economic costs are substantial: productivity losses to individuals are estimated at more than 10 percent of lifetime earnings, and gross domestic product (GDP) lost to malnutrition runs as high as 2 to 3 percent ....... less risk of nuclear apocalypse is bullish for global growth.

Britain disappointed after Trump cancels North Korea summit: UK PM May
Canceling of Trump-Kim Meeting Upends Asia but Could Help China: “Trump walking away from the summit lets North Korea meet all its objectives: public recognition, lighter sanctions, damage to U.S. alliances and continued nuclear advancement” ........ Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, on the other hand, may be breathing a sigh of relief. Officials in Tokyo were worried that the talks were moving too quickly, without enough Japanese involvement, and could result in a deal that would benefit the United States but leave Japan vulnerable to North Korea’s arsenal. ........ Mr. Trump also called Mr. Xi a “world-class poker player,” a backhanded compliment for a world leader whom Mr. Trump has called a friend and a partner in enforcing international sanctions on the North over its nuclear weapons program. ...... The confusion and finger-pointing show how complex the situation is, with numerous actors negotiating in multiple channels with myriad and sometimes overlapping agendas. ....... Chinese analysts say China has much to gain from a peace deal that would prevent a potentially disastrous conflict with the United States on its border, and that in the long run might result in the removal of American troops from South Korea. ....... “Blaming the Chinese for the change in tone from North Korea strikes me as trying to find a Chinese scapegoat for a summit failure"

My holiday in North Korea – what I learned in the world's most secretive state: On our 10-night tour, our three English speaking guides, the enforcer, the cheerleader and the persuader, show us a good time while keeping us on message. They take the lead in the open mic sessions on the bus that becomes our daytime home. They sing Korean folk songs with gusto but take even more pleasure in telling jokes against Americans and Japanese, the latter loathed on both sides of the DMZ for their brutal colonisation (1910-1945) and the “comfort women” they conscripted to pleasure the Imperial Army. ......... citizens have no foreign television, no internet and no right to travel outside their provinces. The fields, seen through the windows of the bus, are ploughed by oxen and harvested by hand. On occasion, uniformed soldiers are spotted digging ditches. Housing allocation ensures that children stay with their parents until they get married. Workers have 15 days holiday a year plus Sundays. What do they do? Go to the cinema or have a picnic in the park.

Inside the luxury world of Kim Jong-un: satellite images revealed that construction had been completed on a series of five private aircraft runways next to a few of the leader’s palaces. ...... "These runways are located near Kim family compounds - sometimes within the security perimeters - and next to private train stations that were used by Kim Jong Il” ...... The palace area is said to also house the leader’s private yachts, jet-skis and villas used for entertaining guests, while another extravagant palace a short drive from the new runway was said to be a summer haunt of Kenji Fujimoto, the Japanese chef who claimed to have spent summers with the leader’s father. ....... The former NBA (National Basketball Association) star described the life of Mr Kim, who he referred to as a “good friend” at the time, as a “seven-star” party of endless cocktails and jet-skis following a week spent on the leader’s private island........"It's [the island] like going to Hawaii or Ibiza, but he's the only one that lives there," Mr Rodman said. ........... "He's got 50 to 60 [people] around him all the time - just normal people, drinking cocktails and laughing the whole time..... "If you drink a bottle of tequila, it's the best tequila," he added. "Everything you want, he has the best." ......Mr Kim’s 200 foot-yacht was a "cross between a ferry and a Disney boat," according to Mr Rodman. ....... Princess Yachts, the manufacturer of the yacht, is owned by LVMH, the French luxury goods group which includes the luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton. The 98MY model of the yacht, which was an updated version of the 95MY, was estimated to cost more than £5.6 million at the time. ........ Perhaps inspired by the boarding school days of his formative teenage years spent in Switzerland, Mr Kim also ordered a “world class” luxury ski resort to be built, which opened last year. The estimated £21 million ski resort, which features 70 miles of multi-level ski runs, a hotel, a heliport and cable cars, was visited by Mr Kim in late 2013 who spent New Year’s Eve there and described “with great satisfaction" that everything was "impeccable". ........ While some of the country's nearly 24 million people might be lacking food, shelter and other basic necessities, the North Korean leader's regime was found to have had an increase in imports of musical instruments, cosmetics, handbags, leather products, watches and cars made in Japan and China ........ Other purchases that were revealed included bottles of high-end alcohol costing the state $30 million (£20 million), electronic goods costing $37 million and luxury watches costing a further $8.2 million.

Libyan remarks may have sunk Donald Trump’s North Korea summit: both sides have resorted to chest-beating about their respective nuclear arsenals. ....... increasingly clear that the US and North Korea understand different things by the term “denuclearisation”. For the Trump administration, that must simply mean that North Korea scraps its nuclear weapons and dismantles its nuclear programme. For the North Koreans, however, “denuclearisation” was always framed as being part of a general disarmament process on the Korean peninsula, which would probably also involve the departure of US troops from South Korea ..... In the soap opera of “the Donald” and “little rocket man”, almost any plot-twist remains possible.

Trump Can Win by Walking Away From Korea Talks: What’s more, the U.S. can promise Kim not to invade his country. The U.S. can entice Kim with cash and trade. The U.S. can perform all kinds of diplomatic acrobatics and pretend this tyrant is a statesman. But no one can guarantee that one day the North Korean people will not rise up against him. The Soviet Union had a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the world dozens of times over, but even that regime eventually met its end after Boris Yeltsin decided holding the empire together wasn’t worth the repression required. ..... Back when Bolton was undersecretary of state in George W. Bush’s first term, he used to keep framed copies of Iranian and North Korean propaganda sheets that denounced him. ..... Bolton knows the nuclear file and rogue states better than almost anyone else in the foreign policy establishment. If anyone will know a tough nuclear agreement, it’s the man who has spent the last three years trying to get America out of the weak one Barack Obama cut with Iran....... Ronald Reagan was also eager for a diplomatic victory, in his summit with Mikhail Gorbachev. The two leaders came close to an agreement that would end the arms race that had bankrupted the Soviets. But at the last minute, Gorbachev asked Reagan to end testing missile defense systems. The Bolton of that scenario – administration hard-liner Richard Perle – told Reagan that this demand would kill the Pentagon's program. ....... Reagan went against popular opinion and walked out of the summit. Within three years the Soviet Union collapsed......Forget “the art of the deal”; sometimes you win by walking away. Reagan never received a Nobel Peace Prize for reaching a grand bargain with Gorbachev. He had to settle for winning the Cold War.

White House: North Korea's response to Pence was 'last straw'
Trump calls off North Korea summit with Kim

'Political Dummy' and 'Libya Model': The Mike Pence - North Korea Exchange That Killed the Summit: When asked to clarify if he was threatening Kim as the 'Libya model' ended with regime change and death for Moammar Gadhafi, Pence added this is not a 'threat' so much as a 'fact' ......... She added: “To borrow their words, we can also make the U.S. taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now.”

South Korea's President Moon Says Talks With Kim Will Resume When U.S. Air Drills End: Pyongyang pulled out of high-level talks with Seoul on May 16, blunting the optimism that followed Moon and Kim’s historic April 27 meeting, in which the latter pledged “a new era of peace” on the peninsula. Calling the joint drills a “provocative military ruckus” North Korea also said it would “reconsider” Kim’s planned June 12 summit with the U.S. if America tried to “force” its “unilateral nuclear abandonment.” ........ Pyongyang has long regarded U.S.–South Korea joint military exercises a rehearsal for invasion and particularly objects to the inclusion of bombers. The U.S. dropped more ordinance on North Korea in the 1950’s than it did in the entire Pacific theater during World War II. ...... While Pinkston has described North Korean nuclear disarmament as analogous to “the Pope abandoning Jesus” he says that Moon, an accomplished diplomat, would be hoping that social interaction and engagement will persuade Kim leader he is not under threat. ...... Trump meanwhile, “is applying the kind of tools and instruments and tactics in a local real estate market in NYC,” says Pinkston. But “with an international system there are no courts, there’s no third-party enforcer. It’s way over his head and it’s dangerous.”

North Korea Demolishes Its Nuclear Test Site In A 'Huge Explosion'

Trump cancels summit with North Korea's Kim, warns that military ready: and warned that the U.S. military was ready in the event of any reckless acts by North Korea. ....... what would have been the first-ever meeting between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12. ..... The cancellation came just hours after North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its main nuclear test site, which Pyongyang said was proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing....... North Korea’s announcement of its plan to destroy its only nuclear test site had been widely welcomed as a positive, if largely symbolic, step. Kim has declared his nuclear force complete, amid speculation the site was obsolete anyway...... South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who worked hard to help set up the summit and urged Trump at a White House meeting on Tuesday not to let a rare opportunity slip away, said he was “perplexed” by the cancellation. He urged Trump and Kim to talk directly......... The reference to Pence that offended the White House came in a statement released by North Korean media citing Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui. She called Pence a “political dummy” for comparing North Korea - a “nuclear weapons state” - to Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi gave up his unfinished nuclear development program, only to be killed later by NATO-backed fighters. ....... “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God that they will never have to be used” ..... Rhetoric reached new heights under Trump as he mocked Kim as “little rocket man” and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary. Kim called Trump mentally deranged. ....... It comes at a time when Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has drawn criticism and his moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem has fueled violence. An investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election hangs over his presidency.

Why did anyone ever take Trump’s North Korea diplomacy seriously?: Trump lies and says nonsense all the time. ....... He never delivered his much-promised plan to release a “terrific” Obamacare alternative that would cover everyone. Instead, he backtracked on his promise to protect Medicaid from cuts. He never took on the National Rifle Association. He never delivered a solution for DREAMers, and, of course, Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall...... He’s dropped the promise to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare. He dropped the promise to break up big banks. He dropped the promise of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. He dropped the promise to develop a tax program that would leave the rich paying more. And, of course, his version of “draining the swamp“ has brought a level of corruption to official Washington that would have embarrassed the congressional barons of the Gilded Age....... it has been conducted so far like you would expect a bullshitter to conduct policy. ...... “for at least two decades, leaders in North Korea have been seeking a personal meeting with an American president,” and across all that time, American presidents have been saying no. ...... “Kim Jong Il wanted to meet with President Clinton.” ...... rather than defend the president’s dovish new direction, Republicans — including the White House itself — spun the meeting as a concession by the North Koreans. ....... When a notorious liar does something dramatic and new and immediately tries (poorly) to cover up what it is that he’s doing, a sensible reaction would have been to become alarmed and suspicious — not to suddenly become credulous and naive. ....... Much of the US national security establishment, however, decided to simply block out everything they have learned from everything Trump has ever done in his career in business and politics. ...... It’s good that Trump gave up the ghost here rather than trying to fake his way through a summit. But it’s critical that the country’s political and media establishment try to actually learn its lesson here. Trump lies about a lot of things. He talks nonsense constantly. And while those of us who don’t work in the White House can’t stop him from doing those things, we can certainly cover him as a habitual liar and bullshitter rather than waking up each morning like we’ve never seen Trump in action before.

Trump canceled the Kim Jong Un summit — but you can still buy the official summit coin

Kim Jong Un holds second meeting with Xi Jinping in China: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has paid a second visit to China in two months, meeting with President Xi Jinping ahead of highly anticipated talks between Kim and US President Donald Trump...... Kim said he was willing to denuclearize "as long as relevant parties eliminate the hostile policy and security threats" against Pyongyang...... In an unprecedented meeting at the demilitarized zone separating the two countries, Kim became the first North Korean leader to step into South Korean territory since 1953...... During the summit, Kim and Moon committed themselves to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pledged to bring a formal end to the Korean War, 65 years after hostilities ceased...... In the past, North Korean leaders have been reluctant to travel by air on international journeys, especially Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, who famously went everywhere in his personal armored train....... The Chinese President is reportedly planning a trip to the North Korean capital Pyongyang

South Korean president says Trump cancelling Kim Jong Un summit is 'very regretful and disconcerting': "It is very regretful and disconcerting that the US-NK summit will not happen as planned," Moon's office said. "Denuclearization and the lasting peace on the Korean peninsula cannot be abandoned or delayed as they are the historical assignment.........."South Korea's Blue House added: "The sincerity of the affected parties who have been working to resolve the problem has not changed. It is hard to resolve sensitive and difficult diplomatic issues with the current way of communications. [We] hope that the leaders resolve problems through direct and close dialogue." ...... The meeting, which was scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, would have been the first-ever face-to-face meeting between a U.S. president and a North Korean leader...... North Korea had recently canceled planned talks with South Korea, saying the annual military drills between its southern neighbor and the U.S. represented a threat.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The US-India-Japan-Australia Alternative To OBOR Should Focus on Broadband And Hyperloop And Drones

Talk of four-nation-led ‘alternative’ to Belt and Road picks up steam
Planning is under way to establish a joint regional infrastructure scheme led by the US, India, Japan and Australia, as the four countries continue efforts to balance China’s growing regional influence. ....... The official played down the idea that the plan would be a “rival” to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, saying he preferred the word “alternative.” ....... “No one is saying China should not build infrastructure” ........ “China might build a port which on its own is not economically viable. We could make it economically viable by building a road or rail line linking that port.” ......... The planning comes as the Trump administration embraces Japan’s articulation of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” ....... the China hawk nominated to be the US ambassador to Australia, Harry Harris, was expressing concerns about China’s “predatory economic behavior in the Indo-Pacific.”
There is no need for a Cold War mentality. This is not war. This is trade. But competition is good. Let US-India-Japan-Australia compete with China. The peoples of Asia and Africa will benefit.

The primary focus ought be to take broadband to every community across the region. Then there has to be a major push for clean energy. Energy is the number one bottleneck to prosperity. And the bullet train perhaps should be bypassed for hyperloop technology. The biggest cities should connect to satellite cities and to each other. But if broadband gets there first, education will improve fast, and many people will get to telecommute, there will be ecommerce proliferation.

Ports, and rails, and roads have not gone out of fashion.

But infrastructure is not only physical. It can be argued, the number one item is identity infrastructure, the biometric kind that India has managed to build. The number two item is credit infrastructure so as to make loands available to everyone. What has been done in India should be replicated across the region, across Africa.

And just like Indians skipped landlines and went straight to mobile phones, the drone technology allows one to not wait until roads and bridges are built in remote, sparsely populated regions. Drones are the new "wireless."

Both camps - China and the alternate - ought to get the interest rate right. The work has to feel more like a Marshall Plan than usury.