A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • Apostrophen’s ‘Nathan Smith writes about Christmas cards and memory.
  • blogTO notes the impending expansion of the Drake Hotel.
  • The Broadside Blog describes a documentary, The Eagle Huntress, about a Mongolian teenage girl who becomes a hunter using eagles, that sounds spectacular.
  • Crooked Timber asks readers to help a teenager who has been arrested by the LAPD.
  • Dangerous Minds notes some weird monsters from Japanese folklore.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests that the Hellas basin hides the remnants of its ocean.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the finding that Russia was trying to get Trump elected.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the issue of hate speech and immigration.
  • Window on Eurasia quotes a former Ukrainian president who argues Russia does not want to restore the Soviet Union so much as it wants to dominate others.
  • The Yorkshire Ranter notes how the Daily Telegraph is recommending its readers use tax shelters.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at the language of side-eye and stink-eye.

[URBAN NOTE] “Trump’s Doomed Black Sea Tower Might Happen After All”

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For Bloomberg, Stephanie Baker and Helena Bedwell report from the Georgian port city of Batumi about how a mothballed Trump Organization project there is set to take off. The next four years will be interesting, won’t they?

Donald Trump flew to the Black Sea resort town of Batumi in 2012 and, standing alongside then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, announced a deal licensing his name to a $250-million 47-story residential Trump Tower to be built by a local developer called Silk Road Group.

Six months later, Saakashvili’s party lost parliamentary elections and later his term ended. He left Georgia, afraid his newly empowered opponents might jail him. Batumi’s Trump Tower seemed doomed — until now.

“The project will go ahead, talks are on,” Giorgi Ramishvili, Silk Road’s founder, told Georgian television Tuesday. “As soon as the transition period is over some time in January, we can talk.”

Reached by phone, Ramishvili declined to elaborate. “I cannot say anything else without the green light of partners,’’ he said.

The Georgian development is one of many Trump deals suddenly in a new light now that they are associated with the incoming U.S. president. Experts say some may find financing or approval more easily, raising concerns over conflict of interest. Trump has said he will outline his plan to remove himself from his business Thursday, but deals he’s signed with business partners around the world are unlikely to be torn up.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 9, 2016 at 6:45 pm

[LINK] “Trump Can’t Deliver the Rust Belt Jobs He Promised Because Work Has Changed”

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Wired‘s Joseph Bien-Kahn notes that technological changes in the workplace make Trump’s promises to restore the Rust Belt’s jobs simply impossible.

On Election Night, voters in northeastern Ohio’s Trumbull and Ashtabula counties made Sean O’Brien—a three-term Democratic state representative—their state senator. They also helped make Donald Trump president. In 2012, 60 percent of Trumbull’s largely white, working class electorate voted for Barack Obama. In 2016, they flipped their support to the populist GOP candidate who offered his own promises for change.

The partisan shift surprised O’Brien, but he realized it shouldn’t have. Days before the election, O’Brien’s cousin snapped a photo of his own front yard and sent it to the soon-to-be state senator. A Trump sign stood right next to one supporting O’Brien.

“He didn’t expect a lot of what Trump promised, and yet he still voted for him,” O’Brien said. “Maybe he won’t bring jobs back, but at least it’s somebody new, it’s somebody outside. It’s somebody who’s talking his talk, their talk, our constituents’ talk.”

In the Rust Belt, that talk is all about the factories that left and the jobs that went with them. Trump succeeded in places like Trumbull and Ashtabula by convincing voters he’d truly fight to bring back their factory work. He promised to rip up trade deals, punish currency manipulators, and make it harder to outsource jobs. This was change Rust Belt voters at least wanted to believe in.

But Trump will enter office with the nearly impossible challenge of rebuilding a sector of the economy that technology has altered at least as much as globalization has. To help the constituents who were instrumental in electing him, he’ll need to get a GOP Congress to back policies at stark odds with conservative orthodoxy. Even then, the implacable forces of automation guarantee that whatever jobs may return to the Rust Belt won’t look like those of days gone by.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 8, 2016 at 6:15 pm

[LINK] “U.K.’s Lingering `Lost Decade’ Pushes Carney Into Marx’s Arms”

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Bloomberg’s Lucy Meakin notes Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s speech warning of political tumult ahead, a consequence of a bad decade for wage increases.

The mid-19th century was a period of social and political upheaval in the U.K. economy that saw an international financial crisis and technological revolution. Sound familiar? Mark Carney thinks so.

The Bank of England governor described the economy as experiencing its “first lost decade since the 1860s” in a speech this week. Citing wage growth that’s at its slowest since that period, he said globalization for some has come to be associated with low pay, job insecurity and inequality.

“Substitute Northern Rock for Overend Gurney; Uber and machine learning for the Spinning Jenny and the steam engine; and Twitter for the telegraph; and you have the dynamics that echo those of 150 years ago,” he said.

Not even the Great Depression or two world wars produced a period of falling real wages like the present one, BOE data show.

[. . .]

Carney noted in his speech that the economic upheavals of the mid-19th century produced Karl Marx, who argued that the only way for workers to throw off the yoke of wage labor is revolution. Carney said the key is to redistribute the benefits of globalization and do more to ensure workers have the right skills to thrive.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO recommends five neighbourhoods for people looking for apartments.
  • False Steps’ Paul Drye describes a failed European-Russian project for a manned capsule.
  • Language Log looks at the oddity of English pronunciations of words in foreign languages, like placenames, with no connection to how these words are pronounced in English.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is critical of the coverage given to Trump and Clinton, finding it biased against the latter.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that seasteading has a future.
  • The NYRB Daily suggests Israeli colonization will mean the end of the traditional lifestyle of Palestinian Bedouin.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on the spread of the red fire ant in Australia.
  • Peter Rukavina describes the unusual round boundaries of the Island village of Crapaud.
  • Savage Minds shares a lovely timeline of the history of anthropology.
  • Torontoist looks at the origins of human rights law in Ontario.
  • Window on Eurasia argues Russia’s position as the Soviet successor state hampers its ability to engage with Communism, and reports on Belarus’ concern at the dominance of local television by Russian imports.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO reports on the Union Station Holiday Market.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about how she has fled toxic environments.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the next generation of observational astronomy with Alpha Centauri in mind.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at how foreseeeable advances may mean that Proxima Centauri b’s atmosphere could soon by studied for indirect signs of life.
  • Far Outliers notes how, in the dying ways of the War of American Independence, British forces were setting slaves free.
  • Language Log shares Chinese science fiction writer Ken Liu’s thoughts about the Chinese language and Chinese literature.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money warns about the potential threat posed to indigenous peoples in the United States by the Trump Administration.
  • The LRB Blog considers the likely fates of Italy after Renzi.
  • The Planetary Society Blog describes the impending launch of a solar sail craft into orbit.
  • Savage Minds considers ways in which the different subfields of anthropology can more profitably interact, looking at scholarship and politics both.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the American left should make the Trump Administration cause to advocate for a renewed federalism.
  • Arnold Zwicky writes about the art of being camp and its selective deployments.

[LINK] “The dangerous ‘zombie identities’ of those left behind by global capitalism”

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At Open Democracy, Kristian Thorup looks at how class identities can survive the collapse of their economic functions, and how they can inspire new–sometimes threatening–populist ideologies.

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election it was clear that Donald Trump’s victory relied heavily on the white working class vote. It’s well-known that his rhetoric and ideology resonates especially well with this class as he speaks effectively to the feelings and experiences of the victims of a more and more globalised economy and the subsequent decline of the American manufacturing industry.

As the frustrations among these working class voters emanate from the pitfalls of globalisation, it should be clear that the basis for Trump’s victory tells us a story much larger than that of the 2016 election. The frustrations among Trump’s voters tell us about the fundamental mechanisms of today’s more and more globalised capitalism.

Today, capital moves around the globe effortlessly. It easily crosses national borders, finding the most cost effective place to produce its commodities. Free market preachers are excited by the mere thought of how the market with fluid elegance lets itself equilibrate by balancing supply and demand. From their strictly economic standpoint this kind of development only entails advantages from cheaper goods, more efficient production, and allegedly higher economic growth.

But the economic structures do not only produce the material goods of society. They also produce a lot of society’s meaning and identities. People’s identities to a large extent emanate from their place in the production system. They work as distinguished lawyers, proud and strong coal miners or caring doctors. People tend to find their social value and dignity through their professions.

The question is what happens to people’s identities when companies move their production to other countries and thereby remove the economic ‘base’ of these identities. What happens to the proud worker of a car plant when most of the car plants move to the other side of the globe where labor is cheaper? What happens when a factory worker doesn’t have any factory work any more?

Written by Randy McDonald

December 6, 2016 at 8:00 pm