Friday, May 12, 2023

12: Ukraine

China Orders Tesla to Recall 1.1 Million Vehicles Over Braking Risks Defects on certain Tesla models could lead drivers to step on the accelerator pedals for longer than necessary, increasing the risk of collisions, China’s market regulator says........ Tesla said it would fix the vehicles with a software update sent wirelessly to the vehicles ....... China is a significant market for Tesla, with revenue from the country increasing to $18.2 billion last year from $13.8 billion in 2021. The recalls will begin on May 29, and Tesla will notify relevant car owners by mail or text.

How a Solo Gig Can Give You a Stronger Retirement Becoming a solo entrepreneur in the years after leaving an employer can give your Social Security benefit and savings a boost. Here’s what to know....... Mr. Eanes was a hiker and cyclist, and he decided to fashion a new life of independent work around those interests and his spirituality. His first move was self-publishing a book in 2019 about his pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, followed by starting a business aimed at helping other writers publish their books. ...... Along with paying income taxes, you’ll be responsible for the self-employment tax, which covers the full cost of your contributions to Social Security and Medicare. As a self-employed worker, you can deduct half of these costs from your income taxes. .... “It’s a great way to stay active and engaged, and bring in the extra income I need.”

‘Christianity’s Got a Branding Problem’ I’d never really thought of religions as brands. I’ve always thought of them in the context of personal, somewhat private beliefs — or in the way that I, as a Jew, think of Judaism as a value system passed down from previous generations....... Many said that while they no longer attend church or ally themselves with a particular faith tradition, they still believe in God, miss the sound of the choir and find transcendence in nature....... Political polarization, however, isn’t the only reason for the rise of the “nones” — a catchall term for atheists, agnostics and those who say they have no religion in particular. Nones went from 0 percent to 2 percent of the population in the 1950s, according to Gallup, to somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent of Americans today ....... the 1950s as a boom time for American religiosity, in part because “religion represented patriotism” during the Cold War against “atheistic communism.” They continue: “It was no accident that ‘under God’ was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954” and the words “In God We Trust” that we see stamped onto our coins became the national motto in 1956. Not believing in or subscribing to “Judeo-Christian” values was often considered un-American. ........ With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War, it became easier to “come out” as having no religion ....... Religion became less tightly connected to nationalism, so it was no longer seen as treasonous if you “wouldn’t show up on Sunday at church.” ........ “most pastors are not political because they don’t gain anything from being political”; they only risk alienating their flocks.

Ukraine’s Advances Near Bakhmut Threaten Russia’s Flanks

The Second Phase of the Biden Presidency Through the infrastructure law and many other measures, Team Biden directed huge amounts of money to create working-class jobs and to increase benefits to working-class families. That spending contributed to white-hot labor markets that have lifted wages, brought people back into the labor force and turbocharged American capitalism...... Today, its main purpose is to prepare the nation for a period of accelerating and explosive change. ........ there have been three periods of transformational change over the course of human history: the Neolithic period, which brought about settled farming, writing and the birth of cities; the Industrial Revolution, which gave us factories, mass production and cars; and the information age. ........ The information age is accelerating and growing more disruptive. The first cause is artificial intelligence. A.I. will produce pervasive breakthroughs and threats that none of us can now predict. ....... Another cause is the emerging cold war with China. This will produce a remorseless technological competition that will turbocharge developments in biotech, energy, chip manufacturing, trade flows, political alliances and many other spheres. ........ When Covid hit, the United States successfully pivoted and threw trillions of dollars at that problem. But the United States may not be able to mobilize that kind of response in the future. That’s because we’re now manacled by debt. ......... During the Trump administration, the debt increased by roughly $7.8 trillion, and during the Biden administration, it has increased by about $3.7 trillion. Over the past 50 years, the annual federal deficit has averaged about 3.5 percent of G.D.P. Over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office expects that deficits will average 6.1 percent of G.D.P. ......... The United States is projected to spend roughly $640 billion this year merely paying interest on that debt, a figure that is expected to more than double by 2033. That’s about the time the Social Security Trust Fund will become insolvent ........... Any prudent family saves money as hurricane season approaches, so it can deal with the coming storms. With self-destructive recklessness, the United States is doing the exact opposite. ........ In contrast to Donald Trump, who is all about himself, Biden can be the source of security in times of chaos.

Kyiv’s gains near Bakhmut raise alarms in Russia that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has begun
Recriminations plague Russian forces as Ukraine steps up pressure
China will send an envoy to Russia and Ukraine in a quest for peace talks. Beijing had said that Mr. Li would “conduct in-depth communication with all parties” to try to reach a “political settlement.”
The United States is wiring Ukraine with radiation sensors to detect nuclear blasts

Putin Is Fighting, and Losing, His Last War Today’s Russia issues an unending stream of nuclear threats. In the West today, unlike during the Cold War, these are discussed in psychological rather than strategic terms. How does Mr. Putin feel? How do we feel? ....... Americans’ fear of escalation delayed the supply of weapons that could have allowed Ukraine to win last year. One after the other, the weapons systems deemed escalatory have now been delivered, with no negative consequences. But the cost of delay can be observed in the Ukrainian territories that Russia still controls: the death pits, the torture chambers and the empty homes of kidnapped children. Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides have unnecessarily died. .......... Strategic thinkers point to deterrence and note that nuclear use would not in fact bring a Russian victory. It would ensure a dramatic Western response and make Russian leaders pariahs. But there is a deeper explanation: Russia’s nuclear talk is itself the weapon. ......... Russian nuclear propaganda assumes that the bully always wins. But the bully does not always win. Russian propagandists want us to think that nuclear powers can never lose wars, on the logic that they could always deploy nuclear weapons to win. This is an ahistoric fantasy. Nuclear weapons did not bring the French victory in Algeria, nor did they preserve the British Empire. The Soviet Union lost its war in Afghanistan. America lost in Vietnam and in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Israel failed to win in Lebanon. Nuclear powers lose wars with some regularity........ Russia has been defeated in Ukraine, on its own terms, again and again. What it has proved is its ability to change those terms after each defeat. .......... Russia can lose without being cornered. It has 11 time zones of space for retreating soldiers and plenty of practice in propaganda refashionings. Indeed, Russian leaders have already indicated what they will do if they believe that they are losing: change the terms of reference and change the subject in Russian media. Mr. Putin’s kleptocratic state as a whole and its dependencies such as the Wagner mercenary army are public relations projects with a military arm. The assumption in Russian politics is that rhetoric overcomes reality. And the rhetorical preparations for defeat have been made. ............ Beneath Mr. Putin’s vague bellicosity is the idea that Russia wins if it avoids (in his words) “strategic defeat” imposed by NATO. Almost no matter what happens, it will be easy for him to define the war in Ukraine as a strategic victory. Since the Kremlin claims that it is fighting NATO, all Mr. Putin has to say is that Russia stopped NATO from crossing into Russia. The commander of Wagner wrote recently, in this spirit, that Russia can end the “special military operation” at any time and just claim that its goals have been achieved, so long as Russia does not retreat from any more occupied Ukrainian territory. ........ If nuclear blackmail enables a Russian victory, the consequences will be incalculably awful. If any country with nuclear weapons can do whatever it likes, then law means nothing, no international order is possible and catastrophe beckons at every turn. Countries without nuclear weapons will have to build them, on the logic that they will need nuclear deterrence in the future. Nuclear proliferation would make nuclear war much more likely in the future. ........... The Russians talk about nuclear weapons not because they mean to use them but because they believe a large nuclear arsenal makes them a superpower. Nuclear talk makes them feel powerful. They see nuclear bullying as their prerogative and believe that others should automatically yield at the first mention of their weapons. The Ukrainians have not allowed this to affect their tactics. ......... If Russia detonated a weapon, it would lose that jealously guarded treasure of superpower status. Such an act would constitute an admission that its army has been beaten — a tremendous loss of face. Worse still, neighbors would build (or build up) their own nuclear arsenals. That would deprive Russia of superpower status in the minds of the Russians themselves. That is, for the Russian leadership, the one intolerable outcome of this war. In my view, the greatest risk of a Russian nuclear action would therefore be one that Moscow would lay the blame for on Ukraine, such as the deliberate destruction of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. ........... When Russians talk about nuclear war, the safest response is to ensure their very conventional defeat.

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