From new IMF report on a certain country –
The case for fiscal adjustment is also grounded in fairness. Without it and with ever more debt, interest payments will soar to some 12 percent of GDP, or about 40 percent of total spending, crowding out essential social programs and infrastructure projects and largely benefitting public debt holders at the expense of the less-privileged. Thus lack of fiscal adjustment is also costly and inequitable.
That country where debt service will ever more crowd out social spending and be increasingly unfair: Lebanon.
Once upon a time, there was a lovely newspaper known as the International Herald Tribune. Each year on baseball’s opening day, the paper would publish its late sports editor Dick Roraback’s poem recalling what it was like to be Over Here when the season was starting Over There.
Its language is sliding toward the archaic, its references even more so — although while Forbes and Griffith have been gone for decades, the Nats are back and playing their 10th season — but since the international edition of the New York Times (the Hairy Trib’s successor) won’t be putting any rhymes on its sports page today, we might as well.
Under the fold, “The Crack of the Bat.”
If the Russian grandmothers don’t win it, something’s wrong. That is all.
Update: Wall St. Journal is liveblogging. Sign of the end times? Also #eurovision on Twitter is home of the best commentary.
Bond contracts and diplomatic notes aren’t the only places where the casual asides can be more rewarding than the main text.
NASA announced yesterday that its Kepler space telescope has helped scientists identify an exoplanet clearly positioned in an orbit that would allow it to have liquid water on its surface.
Twice before astronomers have announced planets found in that zone, but neither was as promising. One was disputed; the other is on the hot edge of the zone. Kepler 22-B is the smallest and the best positioned of the more than 500 planets found to orbit stars beyond our solar system to have liquid water on its surface — among the ingredients necessary for life on Earth.
Good news of course, and with its
mass size estimated at 2.4 times Earth’s, it’s the closest match yet to our own. But did you see what the author did right after the word “of”? Mentioned that, just by the by, humanity has now found more than 500 planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system. Five. Hundred.
Moreover, “With the discovery, the Kepler space telescope has now located 2,326 potential planets during its first 16 months of operation.” I’ve written about this before, but it never ceases to amaze. This is what living in the future is like.
ps Six years ago, the smallest confirmed exoplanet had a
mass size of about seven times Earth’s. The intervening years have tripled the precision of humanity’s detection capabilities.
I missed this when it came out a week ago. Have yourselves a cheerful read:
On the morning of Sept. 4, in the riverside boomtown of Wuhan, Mr. Li, an 88-year-old man, fell in the street and injured his nose. People passed him by, but no one raised a hand to help as he lay on the ground, suffocating on his own blood.
This week, Chinaâ€™s netizens have expressed an outpouring of sympathy – for the bystanders. This is nothing new here. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of elderly men and women who have collapsed or suffered accidents in public spaces who then sue the good Samaritans who have tried to help them. These cases have created a genuine and widespread fear that helping a person in need will lead to personal financial loss.
The proximate cause of this is a court ruling back in 2006 which found the fact that someone helped an old lady in distress was evidence that he caused that distress in the first place. But there's maybe more to it than that. More good commentary here.
The New York Times talks to its sources in the NY Police Department and prosecutor’s office and reports:
The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials.
Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors now do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.
More key phrases include “repeatedly lied” to investigators, “issues involving the asylum application,” and “possible links to people involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.”
Sonia Le Gouriellec at Alliance GÃ©ostrategique quotes Bernard Badie on the Ivory Coast and the fact that democracy is a lot more than just elections.
Prenons-la [la dÃ©mocratie] comme un idÃ©al, câ€™est-Ã -dire faisons-en une valeur partagÃ©e par tous, câ€™est-Ã -dire reconstruite par ceux-lÃ mÃªme auxquels elle est censÃ©e sâ€™adresser. Sa faiblesse se trouve dans sa dÃ©rive procÃ©durale, dans son universalisme naÃ¯f, dans son formalisme, dans la volontÃ© de plaquer et dâ€™imposer de lâ€™extÃ©rieur des modÃ¨les tout faits auxquels on ne cherche mÃªme pas Ã faire adhÃ©rer ceux auxquels on veut lâ€™adresser. Peut-Ãªtre que le fond du problÃ¨me est lÃ ; nous avons oubliÃ© chez nous que la dÃ©mocratie Ã©tait un idÃ©al, nous nâ€™en retenons plus que lâ€™aspect facile de technique de gouvernement : on lâ€™exporte telle quelle et on veut en faire en plus une technique dâ€™action diplomatique ; on a alors tout faux.
This is, arguably, something the EU got right but the UN usually doesn’t. It’s never enough to put on an election, as you put on a play. In fact, it’s often the worst thing that could happen.
But at least it’s not the newly invigorated and enlarged Gulf Cooperation Council. Marc Lynch (he’s a serious these days so we can’t call him Abu Aardvark any more) covers this in some detail. Basically, what is emerging is a new reactionary international institution – a sort of NATO for dictators. In fact, it’s something like all the most radical criticisms of NATO, if they were all true, rolled into one. It doesn’t have nukes but it does want a nuclear industry.
Instead, it seems to be evolving into a club for Sunni Arab monarchs — the institutional home of the counter-revolution, directed against not only Iran but also against the forces for change in the region. Where the United States fits in that new conception remains distinctly unclear.
You bet, as they say. As it seems to be evolving into a police-military alliance, perhaps the closest parallel would be one of the reactionary alliances Europe tried out in the 19th century.
Once upon a time, before it became the Paris printing of the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune published its late sports editor Dick Rorabackâ€™s ode to baseballâ€™s opening day each year.
Under the fold, â€œThe Crack of the Bat.â€
Kevin Drum makes the mistake of reading McArdle and writes “I have to admit that ‘gigantic earthquake in Japan’ was not on my list of possible flash points for the global economy. And in the end, I don’t think it will be.”
It certainly shouldn’t be, if only because Tokyo Earthquake is probably the most widely used wildcard in any sort of future/scenario planning. Sure, it was a low-probability event at any given time, but over longer terms it had a non-trivial likelihood of coming to pass. From financial markets to supply-chain managers, they all should have a file at hand marked Tokyo Earthquake, and the work — for people far away — now involves dealing with how reality diverges from what was planned. Maybe some international actors will be exposed as having neglected to answer this most obvious of what-ifs, but most will have worked through the possibilities.