Sunday, January 31, 2021
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Monday, January 18, 2021
Shadows on the Silk Road Finding omens of American decline on a long walk across Asia. ........ toxic polarization, mobocracy and global retreat ......... I have spent the entire Trump administration stepping over the rubble of another once dynamic but collapsed experiment in multilateralism: the Silk Road. ......... the Silk Road, a fabled 2,000-year-old trade nexus connecting the markets and minds of Asia, Europe and Africa through a complex web of commercial trails ........... the United States, under its most polarizing leader in generations, experiences extreme polarization over race and identity, the rise of white supremacist militias and an autocratic president assaulting the national institutions till his very last days in office. .............. Seen from afar, my home country is ......withdrawing into a fetal position. ............ homicidal traffic on the 2,500-year-old Grand Trunk Road in India — probably the oldest overland trade route still in bustling use. ........... made the Silk Road a conduit of human innovation .......... Chinese paper — an invention crucial, like computers, for transmitting knowledge cheaply and quickly — traveled westward into medieval Arabia and Europe. ............ “For centuries before the early modern era, the intellectual centers of excellence of the world, the Oxfords and Cambridges, the Harvards and Yales, were not located in Europe or the west, but in Baghdad and Balkh, Bukhara and Samarkand” .............. “A thousand years ago we had world-class astronomers, mathematicians and many other scientists here,” said Inessa Yuvakaeva, a cultural guide in the town’s walled old city. “We were more advanced than Europe.” ............... Ms. Yuvakaeva ticked off some homegrown Einsteins. Muhammad al-Khwarizmi, a ninth-century genius who helped formulate the precepts of algebra, has lent his name to the word “algorithm.” A century later, the brilliant polymathic Abu Rayhan Muhammad al-Biruni wrote more than 140 manuscripts on everything from pharmaceuticals to the anthropology of India. (A typical al-Biruni title: “The Exhaustive Treatise on Shadows.”) ................... Probably the most celebrated Silk Road sage of all was Abu Ali al-Hussein ibn Sina, revered in the West as Avicenna, who in the 11th century compiled an encyclopedia of healing that was still in use by European doctors as late as the 18th century. Avicenna’s “Canon of Medicine” accurately diagnosed diabetes by tasting sweetness in urine. Its pharmacopoeia cataloged more than 800 remedies. A millennium ago, Avicenna advocated quarantines to control epidemics. ................... Pacing off continents is an exercise in humility. You inhabit the limit of your daily strides. To the next tree shade. To the next horizon. ........... Back in the United States, the country seems to have U-turned into mustier Uzbek terrain. The government has erected its own fearmongering ads: Immigration and Customs Enforcement billboards in Pennsylvania featured mug shots of undocumented migrants charged with crimes. Federal agents interrogated American citizens for speaking Spanish in Montana. And a departing president with his own huge personality cult reportedly suggested shooting migrants in the legs at the Rio Grande. Mr. Trump’s mainstreaming of racism, xenophobia and science denialism doesn’t look very temporary. More than 74 million American voters endorsed it. And some even answered his call for insurrection. ..................... The Silk Road made our world. Ten centuries ago, incredibly diverse societies spanning a hemisphere extended an open hand — true enough, one holding the coin of commerce — and not a closed fist. Humanity’s capacity for curiosity grew. So, for a while, did intellectual achievement and open-mindedness. But by the 1600s, it had faded. .................. blames Mongol invasions, shriveling patronage by wealthy sultans, rising European maritime competition and even climate change as factors of collapse. But he emphasizes a phenomenon that seems scraped from today’s social media: extreme polarization. ................ “By the late 11th century a full-blown cultural war was underway,” writes Mr. Starr. It was Muslim against Muslim, with “Sunni watchdogs of the faith making sure that no thinker strayed beyond the strict bounds of tradition, and Shiite watchdogs of the faith responding in kind. Free inquiry was caught in the crossfire.” .................. on the morning of Feb. 10, 1258: Mongol invaders breached the walls of Baghdad, massacred its civilian population and dumped the wisdom gathered across centuries — thousands of priceless manuscripts looted from 36 city libraries — into the Tigris. .......... A poll conducted over the summer revealed that almost a third of the American electorate would accept “a strong incumbent leader who does not have to bother with Congress and elections.” .................. And the ground slopes east toward an Asian century. ......... India, yet another democracy cartwheeling into an abyss of right-wing populism. Riding a wave of Hindu nationalism, one Indian state all but criminalized marriages between Hindu and Muslim citizens.
Biden’s Covid-19 Plan Is Maddeningly Obvious It is infuriating that the Trump administration left so many of these things undone. ....... But vaccines don’t save people; vaccinations do. And vaccinating more than 300 million people, at breakneck speed, is a challenge that only the federal government has the resources to meet. ............ broke the plan down into four buckets. Loosen the restrictions on who can get vaccinated (and when). Set up many more sites where vaccinations can take place. Mobilize more medical personnel to deliver the vaccinations. And use the might of the federal government to increase the vaccine supply by manufacturing whatever is needed, whenever it is needed, to accelerate the effort. ............ Biden’s team members intend to use the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up thousands of vaccination sites in gyms, sports stadiums and community centers, and to deploy mobile vaccination options to reach those who can’t travel or who live in remote places. They want to mobilize the National Guard to staff the effort and ensure that strapped states don’t have to bear the cost. They want to expand who can deliver the vaccine and call up retired medical personnel to aid the campaign. They want to launch a massive public education blitz, aimed at communities skeptical of the vaccine. They’re evaluating how to eke out more doses from the existing supply — there is, for instance, a particular vial that will get you six doses out of a given quantity of Pfizer’s vaccine rather than five, and they are looking at whether the Defense Production Act could accelerate production of that particular vial and other, similarly useful goods. ......... people who could’ve been saved by simple competence and foresight will die instead. ............... Even on the most optimistic timetable, it will take until well into the summer for America to reach herd immunity. ........... the coronavirus death toll in America will pass 500,000 by the end of February. And it will not end there. ............. Back in May, I wrote that we were operating, in effect, without a president and without a national plan. It is January, and that remains true.
Yellen Readies Big Changes for Treasury From financial regulation to minority lending, Biden’s pick is poised to change course sharply from the policies of Secretary Steven Mnuchin. ........... Ms. Yellen’s plans to revive a pandemic-stricken economy. .......... emphasized the need to create “equitable growth,” using the tools of the Treasury Department to combat climate change and rebuild regulatory institutions like the F.S.O.C. .............. She called last year for a “new Dodd-Frank,” arguing at a Brookings Institution event that existing laws were insufficient for dealing with problems in the “shadow” banking sector that emerged when the pandemic caused severe market turmoil. ............ “This is the worst economic crisis in 100 years, and nobody is better qualified than Secretary-designate Yellen to lead an economic recovery”
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Trump Is Blowing Apart the G.O.P. God Bless Him. There still will be a place for principled Republicans. ............... If you look closely, there are actually four different Republican factions today: principled conservatives, pragmatic conservatives, unprincipled conservatives and Trump cultists. In the principled conservatives camp, I’d put Romney and Murkowski. They are the true America firsters. While animated by conservative ideas about small government and free markets, they put country and Constitution before party and ideology. They are rule-abiders. In the pragmatic conservative camp, which you could call the Mitch McConnell camp, I’d put all of those who tried to humor Trump for a while — going along with his refusal to acknowledge the election results until “all the legal votes were counted” — but once the Electoral College votes were cast by each state, slid into the reality-based world and confirmed Biden’s victory, some sooner than others. ............... The unprincipled Republicans — the “rule-breakers” in Charney’s lingo — are led by Hawley and Cruz, along with the other seditious senators and representatives who tried to get Congress to block its ceremonial confirmation of Biden’s election. Finally, there are the hard-core Trump cultists and QAnon conspiracy types, true believers in and purveyors of the Big Lie. I just don’t see how these four camps stay together.
The great mall of China Why retailers everywhere should look to China That is where they will see the future of e-commerce .............. For a century the world’s consumer businesses have looked to America to spot new trends, from scannable barcodes on Wrigley’s gum in the 1970s to keeping up with the Kardashians’ consumption habits in the 2010s. Now they should be looking to the East.
The next big thing in retail comes with Chinese characteristics Chinese apps are to 21st-century shopping what American malls were to last century’s
The End of the GOP It is easy to forget that the Emancipation Proclamation was a wartime measure that freed slaves only as a military exigency and only in those states in rebellion against the Union. If the Civil War had not dragged on long enough for the 13th Amendment to finally escape the House of Representatives, many of those men and women set free by Lincoln’s proclamation might very well have been forced back into manacles. ............... It wasn’t Chief Justice Earl Warren who desegregated the schools: It was President Dwight Eisenhower, who deployed the 101st Airborne to Little Rock to get it done. But Eisenhower thought Brown was a bad decision and came to regard his appointment of Warren as chief justice one of the great blunders of his presidency. That skepticism about Brown was superseded by his conviction that it is the duty of the executive to enforce the law rather than to make it unilaterally, as a dictator. ................. Many progressives who once embraced the expansive view of the Supreme Court championed by Warren et al. must currently be rethinking that stance. ........... Lincoln, for his part, bitterly noted that if he had listened to the radicals in the early days of the Civil War or in the lead-up to it, then the war almost certainly would have been lost with the defection of the border states. The result would have been the preservation not of the Union but of slavery — and not merely its preservation but almost certainly its expansion. As a moral question, we might be with John Brown, even while we concede that as a political question Abraham Lincoln had the better case. ................... The United States is a nation founded in revolution — that’s what treason is called when you win — with a long history of resistance, sometimes violent, to duly constituted authority. .............. The largest U.S. corporations by market capitalization are firms such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet, and Tesla; by revenue, the top of the list comprises Walmart, Amazon, ExxonMobil, Apple, CVS, and Berkshire Hathaway. Which of those firms is led or owned by Republican-friendly, conservative-leaning activists? ............... The radical conservatives described by Buckley were “those who have not made their peace with the New Deal,” as he put it in 1955, unlike Eisenhower and his clique. ............. Donald Trump is the candidate of the 9/11 Republicans, whose politics is Kulturkampf and whose style is paranoid. (It is not for nothing that the worst and most embarrassing of his sycophants described 2016 as the “Flight 93 election.”) ................. Donald Trump, an avid conspiracy buff — 9/11, vaccines, Barack Obama’s place of birth, etc. — found himself in a petri dish practically tailored to his cultural DNA. .............. Trump had been, until five minutes before seeking the Republican nomination, pro-abortion and pro-gun control. ........... Patriotism? He is a funny kind of patriot who cheers the sacking of the seat of government by barbarians carrying enemy flags. Republican radicals once stood for resistance to the worst kind of tyranny. Today’s Republican radicals stand for tyranny itself, for junta government, and they march under the banner of the very tyranny the Republican Party originally was constituted to oppose. ......... In 2016, I wrote that the likely outcome of a Trump presidency would be the end of the Republican Party as we had known it....... In 2016, I wrote that the likely outcome of a Trump presidency would be the end of the Republican Party as we had known it. And so it ends for the Grand Old Party: From abolition to anarchy, from republicans to rabble, a bloody-minded, homicidal gang in thrall to the very democracy John Adams warned us about. A dog in this condition would be put to sleep. It would be a piece of mercy.
Cuomo Widens Eligibility After Vaccine Goes Unused or Is Even Thrown Out Three million more people will be permitted to schedule vaccinations, including those 75 and older, as the campaign in New York gets off to a dispiriting start. .......... He estimated that it could take into April to finish vaccinations for the two groups, which total about five million New Yorkers.
FBI warns of plans for nationwide armed protests next week “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January” ......... A tweet in which Trump promised that last Wednesday’s event in Washington, D.C., “will be wild” fueled a “month-long frenzy of incitements, strategizing, and embrace of violence against lawmakers” .............. the Capitol attack has emboldened Trump-supporting extremists. ............. Boogaloo followers advocate for a second civil war or the collapse of society, and they don’t adhere to a coherent political philosophy.
Boogaloo followers advocate for a second civil war or the collapse of society, and they don’t adhere to a coherent political philosophy. ............. Trump has violated his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. He is a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States. He has disqualified himself from continuing to serve out even his few remaining days as president, as well as from ever again holding, according to the Constitution, “any Office of honor, Trust or profit under the United States.” We urge members of the House of Representatives to conduct a speedy impeachment and the Senate to hold a prompt trial as the Constitution stipulates.
Who Dies for Donald Trump? Now her family members are trying to reconcile their own image of the feisty but private woman they knew with the one who stormed Congress as part of a violent mob that called for the killing of lawmakers. ........... The Air Force veteran would hold court at barbecues for hours about the state of the country, but she often segued into conspiracy-theory-tinged rants that people couldn’t comprehend.
Biden dresses down his Covid team over plans to speed vaccinations The president-elect has criticized his Covid coordinator on multiple occasions in front of groups of transition officials. ...... he’s refused to back off his own goal, instead doubling down on the belief that his administration can get at least 100 million shots into arms by April 30. ........ Inside the Biden camp, officials pinned the success of their plan — and the 100-million pledge — largely on the ability to persuade Congress to quickly pass another relief package that includes billions of dollars for state and local governments. ....... The administration is also planning to offer clear and regular updates on its progress, a practice absent throughout much of the Trump response and that officials believe will build goodwill.
We've seen this movie before — Rumors of Trump's political demise are greatly exaggerated dispatching mobile vaccination units to rural areas and erecting new federal sites to administer the shots. ........
Sirota weighs in on what Democrats are likely to do with Senate majority the “most immediate” thing Democrats could do is pass legislation to provide $2,000 coronavirus stimulus payments to Americans. ............ Sirota also predicted that Democrats would try to pass a public health insurance option.
Hillary Clinton: Trump should be impeached. But that alone won’t remove white supremacy from America. Trump ran for president on a vision of America where whiteness is valued at the expense of everything else. In the White House, he gave white supremacists, members of the extreme right and conspiracy theorists their most powerful platforms yet .......... Members of Congress who joined him in subverting our democracy should resign, and those who conspired with the domestic terrorists should be expelled immediately.