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01 декабря 2018, 08:46

Obama Comments On Death Of 'Patriot And Humble Servant' George H.W. Bush

"George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey."

01 декабря 2018, 04:25

America Needs A New National Strategy

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, A productive national Strategy would systemically decentralize power and capital rather than concentrate both in the hands of a self-serving elite. If you ask America's well-paid punditry to define America's National Strategy, you'll most likely get the UNESCO version: America's national strategy is to support a Liberal Global Order (LGO) of global cooperation on the environment, trade, etc. and the encouragement of democracy, a liberal order that benefits all by providing global security and avenues for cooperation. This sounds good, but it overlooks the Endless Wars (tm) and global meddling that characterize America's realpolitik dependence on force, which it applies with a ruthlessness born of America's peculiar marriage of exceptionalism and naivete. The happy UNESCO story also overlooks the rapacious incoherence of America's political system which is ultimately nothing but the Corporatocracy's advocacy of self-interest. This sytem is based on the bizarre notion that private-sector corporations with revolving-doors to central state agencies lobbying for state protection of their monopolies will magically benefit the entire populace. This absurd idea that the single-minded pursuit of maximizing private gain by any means available will magically benefit society is the essence of neofeudalism: the financial and political nobility maximize their take and justify this exploitation with airy assurances to the politically impotent debt-serfs that this systemic predation magically offers up the best possible outcome for the peasantry. Uh, not to put too fine a point on it, but if this is the best possible world for America's peasantry, let's switch places, Mr. Financial Noble: you take my student loan debt and $30,000 a year job and I'll take your $100 million private-wealth managed accounts in tax havens around the world, your private access to politicos and the Gulfstream on the tarmac. The no-holds-barred pursuit of self-enrichment by the Nobility is America's real-world national strategy: a system of institutionalized greed lacking any actual strategy. America's citizenry deserves better, and the place to start is to discuss a real strategy rather than justify self-serving elites' parasitic predation as "good for everyone" via PR magic. Let's start by distinguishing force and power. This is a key discussion in my new book Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic. It’s instructive to recall Edward Luttwak’s distinction between force and power in his book The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire: From the First Century CE to the Third where he defines force as a mechanical input (expense) that doesn't scale; it takes a lot of people, effort and treasure to force others to comply with authoritarian edicts. Power, on the other hand, reflects the total output of the nation-state: its productive capacity, resources, human and financial capital, social mobility and cohesiveness, shared purpose--everything. Technocrats take their authority to force compliance as power, but real power attracts cooperation; it has little need for force. Brute-force diktats to maintain a surface stability of order only increase the brittleness and fragility of the system. This is the false promise of authority: we can force stability by forcing compliance. But sustainable stability is the output of adaptability, i.e. productive disorder, not force. A national strategy that truly benefits all the citizenry starts with a simple principle: offer a secure level playing field for innovators, innovation and capital, and let that power attract opt-in cooperation of the most productive elements on the planet. Simple principle #2: relinquish force and seek power, as defined above. In plain language: stop trying to run the world. Lead by example: there is no way authoritarian regimes can match the output of productive people and capital who are offered a low-cost entry to a secure level playing field free of parasitic predatory elites. Simple principle #3: define American exceptionalism as the systemic elimination of the neofeudal dominance of financial and political elites (the New Nobility). The structure to do this is simple: A productive National Strategy would systemically decentralize power and capital rather than concentrate both in the hands of a self-serving elite. *  *  * My new book on these topics is available at a 28% discount for the ebook and 23% discount for the print edition through November 30 ($4.95 ebook, $9.95 print). Read the first section for free in PDF format. My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF). My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. My new book Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic is 23% off ($4.95 ebook, $9.95 print): Read the first section for free in PDF format. If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

01 декабря 2018, 01:12

15 Bizarre Royal Family Holiday Traditions

The British Royal has lots of traditions, many of which look like ours. However, the Windsors have a slew of truly odd customs for the holiday season.

30 ноября 2018, 17:31

Noble Corp. (NE) Down 10.7% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Rebound?

Noble Corp. (NE) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.

30 ноября 2018, 00:51

Princess Michael Of Kent: 15 Ways This Royal Is The Most Embarrassing In Modern Times

Most of the British Royal Family are poised and polite. However, Queen Elizabeth's cousin by marriage, Princess Michael of Kent is rather embarrassing.

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30 ноября 2018, 00:31

The History of American Nationalism

Paul R. Pillar Politics, Americas Americans might like to think they're not nationalistic, but they are. At a recent campaign rally in Houston, Donald Trump broke a linguistic taboo by calling himself, loudly and proudly, a “nationalist.” Leaders of major American political parties generally have avoided applying that term to themselves, no matter how much they figuratively wrap themselves in the national flag and voice patriotic themes. Critical commentary about Trump’s choice of words has focused on the idea that “nationalist” in this context is bowdlerized shorthand for “white nationalist.” Trump’s rhetoric is worthy of condemnation. But to dismiss the terminology is to miss some other important issues about American nationalism. Americans, since long before Trump, have been a highly nationalist people, notwithstanding their reluctance to apply the label nationalist to themselves. Most often the substitute term, willingly self-applied across most of the U.S. political spectrum, is “American exceptionalism.” The satisfying implication of this term is that nationalism is something in which narrow-minded foreigners wallow and which they apply for narrow-minded purposes, whereas the United States is not just different but better than everyone else and stands for noble and broadly applicable principles. Of course, veneration of one’s own nation as not only different but supposedly better than anyone else is what nationalism is all about, regardless of whether it is called exceptionalism or something else. Read full article

29 ноября 2018, 19:29

Caroline Bedol From ‘Below Deck’ Drops This Damaging Allegation

Caroline Bedol from 'Below Deck' Drops this Damaging Allegation

29 ноября 2018, 14:46

Экс-главу комиссии финнадзора Польши Хжановского заключили под стражу

Ранее чиновнику предъявили обвинение в коррупции

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02 апреля 2018, 04:45

Interventionistas Outraged Over Trump's Syria Withdrawal: "We Took The Oil. We’ve Got To Keep The Oil"

Regime change advocates, neocon beltway hawks, and all the usual armchair warrior zero-skin-in-the-game think tank interventionistas are in continued meltdown mode after Trump confirmed plans to withdraw American forces - some 2000+ troops and personnel - from Syria. On Friday the president told senior White House aides that US forces will be exiting Syria after public comments made earlier. In statements carried by Reuters, Trump said, “Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon, very soon, we’re coming out. We’re going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.” As we noted last week, the timing of Trump's dramatic Syria turn corresponded with news of an American soldier killed in Manbij in northern Syria (killed likely by an IED alongside a British coalition soldier overnight last Thursday). Perhaps to be expected, the weekend editorials and cable news pundit shows reacted in disbelief and horror - with charges of "chaos" at the Trump White House over Syria policy, and claims that "ISIS will come back" if America leaves. Nevermind the fact that Trump himself while on the campaign trail in 2016 stated in public speeches and in a tweet (and linking to a declassified intelligence memo) that US support to jihadists in Syria under President Obama is precisely what fueled the rise of ISIS in the first place.  Image source: AM Greatness.CNN, for example, painted a picture of mass revolt among the ranks of military officers and career State Department officials, asserting that, "Any decision by Trump to pull out of Syria would also go against the current military assessment, a fact that left some national security officials concerned about the impact of a withdrawal, another senior administration official told CNN." No, there's no "chaos" when it comes to Syria policy at the White House - Trump is doing exactly what he pledged to do while previously on the campaign trail, and he's further continuing what he started when he nixed the CIA's regime change program last summer. CNN has been running this chyron for days. It’s intended to suggest that presidents should never question the national security state apparatchiks who demand a permanent US military president in the Middle East, and that America’s invasion of Syria is just. pic.twitter.com/c7fRNYNBzZ — Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) April 1, 2018 But it's funny and very telling how brazenly honest interventionistas and deep state bureaucrats suddenly become in their motives whenever Trump speaks truth on Syria. Consider prominent Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, who the day after Trump's announcement of leaving Syria lamented while quoting a pro-regime change activist, “We took the oil. We’ve got to keep the oil.” That's right, the mask of pseudo-humanitarian high-minded noble ideals comes off (the Josh Rogins of the world care nothing about actual Syrians), and we learn that it's actually all about... Oil! Oil! Oil! Iran! Iran! Iran! https://twitter.com/joshrogin/status/979856522753789953 Trump doesn't seem to care about U.S. national security interests in Syria. So somebody tell him by pulling out, he is giving Iran all the oil https://t.co/ZvqHoga4Ed — Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 30, 2018 Map source: WINEP No more pretense and the slick language of R2P military intervention for the sake saving civilians in Syria... Rogin's op-ed is aptly titled, In Syria, we ‘took the oil.’ Now Trump wants to give it to Iran.  Rogin, like other interventionistas, has no more cards to play, thus we find these straightforward admissions in his column: Perhaps he would back off his urge to cut and run if he knew that the United States and its partners control almost all of the oil. And if the United States leaves, that oil will likely fall into the hands of Iran... Control over oil is the only influence we have in Syria today... “We have this 30 percent slice of Syria, which is probably where 90 percent of the pre-war oil production took place,” said David Adesnik, director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “This is leverage.” Astoundingly, these words are still being published 15 years after the myriad lies of the Iraq invasion ...no shame, no regrets. And a host of other mainstream journalists in New York and DC greeted Rogin's column as "refreshing" and respectable "essential reading" (as if it's not the same pro-regime-change script which has dominated talking points for years). Meanwhile, a well-known Syrian-American Middle East analyst and actual expert on Syria effortlessly shreds Rogin's supposed "realist" points with ease (Rogin likes to think of himself as a foreign policy 'realist' ...he's no such thing): Whenever one thinks Syria analysis has hit bottom, nonsense like comes along to remind us otherwise. Josh Rogin's piece makes a set of outrageous observations that has become a mainstay of Syria’s war coverage over the years. Let’s establish the facts first. Iran’s expansion that Josh Rogin wants to “counter” did not start with Syrian war but started in the aftermath of the ill-advised Iraq invasion that opened the pandora box which we are still dealing with today (Birth of ISIS is another). Interventionists have a short memory. Syria’s alliance with Iran did not start with the Syrian war. It was cemented after Damascus decided to side with Iran during its war with Saddam’s Iraq in early 80’s. At start of Syrian war, Tehran decided to pay back the favor and came to Assad’s aid when no one did. What Josh Rogin still can’t comprehend is that countering Iran is positively correlated with ending the Syrian war and not by adding more fuel to it. Iran’s influence grows when Damascus is threatened and not the other way around. Syria is not Saudi Arabia. Even before the war, it’s oil production was mere 150K barrels a day. This is a drop in the ocean when it comes the regional oil producers. Asking Trump to grab the oil shows total lack of understanding of scale or strategic importance. Indeed, by grabbing what little oil Syria has all you are doing is giving Iran and other allies of Syria more leverage. The more Syria can stand on its feet the less it needs those allies like Iran that you want to counter. Whenever one thinks Syria analysis has hit bottom, nonsense like 👇comes along to remind us otherwise. @joshrogin piece makes a set of outrageous observations that has become a mainstay of Syria’s war coverage over the years. Let’s establish the facts first ===> https://t.co/zPib3Kk2pV — EHSANI2 (@EHSANI22) March 31, 2018 So it's not only his conclusions, but every assumption of Rogin and his ilk concerning the Middle East is simply dead wrong. But at the very least these moments serve to remind us of what morally corrupt failures the Washington class of inverventionistas have been, and that it's certainly not their own skin in the game when they argue for "taking action" whether in Syria or other parts of the world (the establishment political and pundit class is all too willing to send the sons of others to die in foreign quagmires with dubious aims). Finally, it should be noted that Josh Rogin published his piece the same day Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar died in Syria (identified by the Department of Defense on Saturday). Rogin is ultimately arguing that more Americans must stay in harm's way for "control over oil... the only influence we have in Syria today." * * * With that, we'll leave off with the following excerpted wisdom from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Skin in the Game: “What you had historically is warmongers were warriors. And he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword… Now suddenly–and that’s only recent–we developed all these weapons and technologies and stuff like that, so you can have people cause wars and not be exposed. And not only that, but as was Bill Kristol… he’s a prime example. The people who caused the war in Iraq… absolutely no cost to them. Or a cost that’s very small, very tiny reputational cost… And then after they cause a war in Iraq–and of course we have a disaster–they will intervene again… in Libya and of course in Syria. What happens with these people is that given that there is no skin in the game, there’s no learning… In the real world, these people should be dead, because basically, if you cause a disaster… so many of them would be… pruned out that way instead of letting others die.”

01 апреля 2018, 20:35

Peak Fragility: Why The Middle East Is Doomed

Authored by "Ehsani" - a Middle East expert, Syrian-American banker and financial analyst who visits the region frequently and writes for the influential geopolitical analysis blog, Syria Comment.  * * * The Mideast is doomed. Egypt alone needs to create 700,000 jobs every single year to absorb the new job seekers out its 98 million population. A third of this population already live below the poverty line (482 Egyptian Pounds a month, which is less than $1 a day). The seeds of the vicious circle that the Mideast region finds itself in today were planted at least 5 decades ago. Excessive public spending without matching revenues were the catalyst to a faulty and dangerous incentive system that helped to balloon populations beyond control. A governance system that was ostensibly put in place to help the poor ended up being a built-in factory for poverty generation. Excessive subsidies helped misallocate resources and mask the true cost of living for households. Correlation between family size and income was lost. Successive Mideast leaders are often referred to as evil dictators. I see them more as lousy economists and poor users of simple arithmetic and excel spreadsheets that can help demonstrate the simple, yet devastating power of compounding. Unless you are a Gulf-based monarchy enjoying the revenue stream from oil and gas that can postpone your day of reckoning, the numbers in nearly every single Arab country don't add up. Image source: Middle East Eye via AFP, Egypt.  It is important to note that excessive population growth is not fundamental the issue here. Japan and many parts of Europe are suffering from too little population growth. The problem in Arab societies is lack of productivity stemming from weak private sector and overburdened bankrupt public sector. As students of Economics know, "Potential" Economic Growth of a country is derived by adding the growth rate of its labor force to the growth rate of the economy's productivity. High labor force growth therefore ought to be a plus for the "Potential Growth". The Arab World's problem is that it suffers from shockingly low levels of "productivity". This may seem like a fancy word but the concept encapsulates everything that Arab economies and societies suffer from. Why does the Arab world have such low productivity? The answer lies in everything from excessive size of public sector, subsidies and overbearing regulatory system leading to corruption. As public sector liabilities grow, education, healthcare & infrastructure funding suffers. Why is the size of the public sector coupled with excessive subsidies the problem? Because what starts as the noble cause of helping the poor ends up masking the true costs of raising family size. Governments soon go broke. Services suffer. Anger rises. We know the drill now. * * * The average cost of raising a child until age 18 for a middle-income family in the U.S. is approximately $245,340 (or $304,480, adjusted for projected inflation). That is about $15,000 per child per year for a two-parent family with median annual income (college costs excluded). Growing up in Syria, I can still recall the "Family Booklet". The more dependents you had on that booklet, the more was your allocation of subsidized rice, sugar, tea, edible oil, etc. Your home electricity was also subsidized. So was your diesel. Schooling? Free all the way. Not only almost all your food staples and energy use was subsidized, the Syrian State used to give a prize (Nishan) to women who gave birth to 12 children or more. Syria at that time had about 6 million people (and produced 300,000 barrels of oil a day and had plenty of water). Without having to pay full price for bread, sugar, electricity, tea, fuel or education (all the way to college) and with the State becoming by far the largest employer (job guaranteed), the Syrian population doubled every 22 years. Imagine the pressures on the State coffers. There's no need for much imagination about how Syrian State fared as its population doubled every 22 years while its oil reserves and production dropped by 50%. It was still expected to offer all those freebies to a populace that never once asked how the State was to pay for all this. Not only Syrians never asked how their state could meet those obligations while they doubled every 22 years but the State itself never explained. It is debatable that the State was even aware of the power of compounding and what that does in the outer years (50 years ahead). As State finances (revenue minus expenses with little to no borrowing program) suffered, so did the services. Schools, hospitals, municipal services became insufficiently funded. They were examples of Paul who had to be robbed to pay Peter (subsidies & losing public sector). As the state could not increase salaries with inflation, real wages and standards of living suffered. Even Mother Teresa would have had to accept a bribe if she had 5 kids and a salary of $150 a month. Corruption is an inevitable by-product of a broken system. When the State can't meet its built-in obligations, services suffer, corruption is rampant. The public's anger grows and fingers start to point at anyone and everyone that is getting a bigger slice of the cake that is not growing anywhere near number of mouths it needs to feed. In the end, governments that start off by offering more than they can sustainably afford in the long run, end up being criticized and even toppled for seemingly not providing enough to a population that grew beyond that capacity of the system to handle. When Governments spend, they can fund their expenditures in three ways: 1) Collect taxes 2) Borrow (assuming Lenders are available) or 3) Print money (assuming the central bank is not totally independent of the govt). Without sustainable tax base, it's unlikely lenders will be willing to fund governments unless the latter are asked to pay unsustainably high interest rates. Similarly, printing money will soon lead to debasing the currency and rampant inflation. * * * What about Collecting taxes? Inscribed over the front door of the US tax office, (IRS) are the words "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society." As one once also said: "Countries that don't have a properly observed tax regime usually fall into chaos and corruption." Growing up in Syria, avoiding taxes was akin to breathing. It had to be done. Often times, tax rates were impossibly high (top marginal rate was once over 70%). Not paying taxes is not just the fault of citizens but also the government's which needs to accurately calibrate those rates. Regardless of underlying factors behind poor tax collection, the fact is that the Syrian government was expected to provide services, run losing businesses (public sector) & offer generous subsidies without matching tax collection or borrowing. Something had to give - quality of services. As spending increased with rise of the population, the government investment in schools, hospitals, roads, municipal services, civil servant salaries and human capital suffered and even froze. The public had the right to complain but the public didn't want to know how the government was funding itself. "When the children come, God will hand their fortunes along with them" - this is what we grew up hearing from families whose income did not seem to support the number of children they had. People would laugh it off as a joke. Sadly, this was Syria's ticking time bomb. On my trip to Syria few months ago, a young gentleman at my hotel explained to me how he was finding it hard to resist the pressure from his extended family and friends to stop at 5 kids. His father had 11. His brothers had 8-9. Having only 5 himself was insulting to his manhood. Like most Arab countries, Syria's peak fertility (Avg number of children per woman) was between 1975-1980. The world's highest then was Yemen at 8.7. Syria was 9th in the world at 7.47. It was in the company of Senegal, Malawi, Niger, Kenya, Rwanda, Afghanistan & Gaza. Even by 2005-2010, Syria's population growth rate was still in the top 10 in the world at 3.26%. It also had one of the world's youngest populations with a median age of only 15.4 years (only 4.8% was over the age of 60; these statistics are from UN'S World Population tables). * * * Egypt did embark on strong population control strategy. Over two decades and by early 2000, its population growth rate dropped from 3.5% to 1.7%. Large billboards were used in rural areas. An expanded use of contraception program was also effective. Sadly, success didn't last, and by 2007, complacency set in. Mubarak also started pushing back against international NGO's administrating the programs. Once he was overthrown & Morsi came in, all contraceptions were banned. Before long, growth rate was back up to 2.55% taking country's population near 100 million. While Egypt tried its hand with family planning, Syria never did. But this thread is not about merits or problems of population growth - it's about fiscal pressures and what this dynamic inflicts on state budgets in a world of high subsidies, excessive public spending and limited resources. The Syrian government was either not fully aware of the unfolding dynamic or that it was aware but it found it politically difficult to embark on a serious family planning program. Was the religious minority status of the leadership a factor and how would the religious establishment react? Whatever the motivations or the excuses were, the fact remains that no steps were taken to match the baked-in future population numbers with revenues or resources. The only way was to make cuts in government investment, freeze public salaries and watch the quality of the services decline. Many have blamed current Syrian Leadership for a long list of governance shortfalls. No one (included Assad himself) can claim otherwise. What this long explanation has to highlight is that at least empirically speaking, Bashar Assad inherited a near impossible situation. * * * Ironically, when Hafez Assad took over, he wrestled the Ba’ath party to the right as he fought off the more leftist wing that took power with him first. He immediately embarked on his “corrective movement”. I recall American cars being allowed as imports (yellow dodge taxis). Older members of my family still refer to the period between 1970 and 1976 as Syria’s golden period. Merchants saw their businesses boom as foreign trade was relaxed and the corrective movement quickly became seen as a tilt to the right from an earlier ultra leftist leaning. Regardless of your politics, Hafez Assad was a larger than life figure in modern Syrian politics. Soon after taking over, he powered forward building a top down centralized State (Syria was part of Soviet camp during Cold War) that would come to dominate Syria’s future. Merely 6 years after taking over, sporadic assassinations became widespread. Syrians would later find out their Govt was at war with the Muslim Brotherhood culminating in Hama in 1982. This 6-year battle between Islamists & Damascus left its mark in Syria’s DNA ever since. Having been near a death situation, Syrian Leadership abruptly reversed the trends from 1970-1976 when it opened the economy and relaxed international trade and moved almost the exact opposite direction. The old Eco corrective movement was frozen. Security reined supreme now. Between 1982 and the year 2000 when Bashar took over, Syrian Leadership spent most of its energies making sure the Islamist and Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) would never see the day of light again.Being charged with belonging to Muslim Brotherhood received the death sentence by law. Add in the collapse of the Soviet union (Syria was a big victim of this huge event), falling reserves and oil production, currency devaluation, restrictions on foreign exchange transfers using draconian laws, Syria’s economy took a beating just when its fertility was in the top 10 globally. * * * Fast forward to 2000 when current President Assad takes over. Yes, expectations and hopes were high both domestically and internationally. A very young population now has one of theirs. He studied abroad. He was surely going to reverse direction both politically & economically. From the start, Bashar’s main challenge was always going to be how to meet those high expectations. Political activists and thinkers quickly set up Damascus salons to carve a new political platform where they can start to participate in political life. Economically speaking, there was now talk about allowing foreign banks and even starting a stock market. Economic reforms of this type were always going to produce winners & losers. Those w capital made it big. They now owned banks, insurance companies and hotels. And the losers? Losers were all those one of 7.4 kids born around 1980 to mothers with high fertility rates and fathers who did not have the income to support them. Those in rural areas fared worse. They were ill prepared or educated. The state was increasingly unable to support them. The state never implemented family planning campaign (how would Islamists have reacted to Alawi President trying to reduce the numbers of the majority?). The state also never communicated to the public that course country was on was arithmetically untenable. The clock kept ticking. This is not to say State didn’t make mistakes. Old agrarian policies were by now resulting in over-exploitation of groundwater resources (again this was an inherited legacy). What was new was 2007-2009 drought that was one of worst in recent memory. * * * What about corruption? Corruption thrives in heavily bureaucratic centralized systems where civil servants suffer from frozen salaries and inflation rates that eats away at their real purchasing power. Without supplemental income, employees at all levels of the state apparatus will hardly survive As the State can't afford to raise salaries with inflation, employees at all levels are left to fend off for themselves to make ends meet. The state knows it, the public knows it & what you end up with is institutionalized corruption as inevitable consequence of broken system. For corruption at this level to be addressed, the level of public spending and liabilities have to fall dramatically. The size of government has to be smaller. The public sector has to slim down. Those left can now receive proper wages. Taxes must all get collected as the state gets a handle on finances, What about corruption at highest levels? What about Rami Makhlouf? As we found out recently in Saudi, this problem is not restricted to Syria. This is not to say that Rami and leadership made a mistake in occupying such visible position in Syria's economy. Rami Makhlouf seems to have turned into the lightening rod for every Syrian whose purchasing power or standard of living fell behind. While its impossible not to appreciate the reasons behind this widespread public sentiment at the time, a little bit of math helps here. Many cite the "billions that Rami stole". Suppose that all this is true and that Rami siphoned off $1 billion every single year. Had this money gone to the public, each of 23 million Syrian would have had their income rise $43 a year ($3.65 per month). Hardly solves the issue. No one ought to dismiss the negative effects of high level corruption at the high end. Appearance and optics matter tremendously and Rami’s case is a perfect microcosm of that. But, had Rami not been around, it would make very little difference to the broader issue at hand. * * * What about Western political meddling? The state department had run a democracy promotion program since September 11 (2001) and many activists were supplied with media training & equipment to help them capitalize on the moment when it presented itself. March 2011 was that moment. What about political reforms that were expected after Assad’s arrival in 2000? This was classic case of high expectations clashing with reality on the ground and the system as a whole. What was seen as needed “reforms” to some was viewed as dangerous slippery slope by others. What was described above was the nasty cocktail mix that was waiting in the wings as events unfolded in March 2011. Those who wanted more political participation included the poor, those from the rural areas, the Islamists and the regional/western adversaries of the Syrian leadership. Assad may not have anticipated the Tsunami early but by the summer & end of 2011, he made up his mind. This was going to be a fight till the end where losing was not an option. There would be no panic but he would stop at nothing till he ensures victory. * * * In conclusion, Assad was dealt a tough hand. He inherited a legacy that was born out of years of governance challenges. How would one maintain a largely socialist structure while the population doubled every 22 years and revenues from the country’s natural resources were falling by nearly 50%? When and if Syria’s war is over, a new chapter and contract must start. The private sector must become the engine of growth. Regulations must be streamlined. Taxes must be cut to level low enough to ensure respectable collection rate. And one final idea, or a wish list of sorts: Rather than financial handouts, Syria must ask for 20 year grace period that would allow it to get to export to the rest of the world free of duties. Sanctions ought to also be lifted. Investments in labor intensive industries must be encouraged to help employment. If and when the economy finds its footing, it's critical that women's labor participation rises from the abysmal rates in the region. Studies conclusively show that increased women participation in the labor force is the single biggest factor behind population growth control.

01 апреля 2018, 08:00

National Geographic’s righting of its racist wrongs is well meant but slow in coming | David Olusoga

The highly influential magazine has at last owned up to decades of reinforcing readers’ colonial attitudes‘For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It.” So states a headline in this month’s National Geographic, a special edition of the magazine that has been dubbed the “race issue”.The author of this controversial essay is the magazine’s editor in chief, Susan Goldberg, who makes the remarkable admission that “until the 1970s, National Geographic all but ignored people of colour who lived in the United States – rarely acknowledging them beyond labourers or domestic workers – while picturing ‘natives’ elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages, every type of cliche.” Continue reading...

29 марта 2018, 15:49

Concho (CXO) Inks Mega $9.5B Deal to Acquire RSP Permian

The acquisition of its rival RSP Permian is set to create a humongous Permian Pure-play and is likely to make Concho (CXO) one of the top-most energy producers in the Permian basin.

28 марта 2018, 15:31

Израиль включился в мировую газовую гонку?

Израиль - страна, которая из-за отсутствия природных ресурсов и первичных материалов строила свою экономику в основном на отраслях последующей обработки.

28 марта 2018, 15:31

Израиль включился в мировую газовую гонку?

Израиль - страна, которая из-за отсутствия природных ресурсов и первичных материалов строила свою экономику в основном на отраслях последующей обработки.

28 марта 2018, 14:39

15 Surprising Products You Should Always Buy at the Dollar Store

The Dollar Store is a mecca for cheap products worth buying.

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27 марта 2018, 22:11

Should You Buy Constellation Brands (STZ) Stock Ahead of Earnings?

Shares of Constellation Brands (STZ) climbed nearly 1% on Tuesday, just a couple days before the alcoholic beverage giant is set to post its fourth quarter financial results. Investors are often on the hunt for stocks that look poised to top earnings estimates, but after the recent, nearly market-wide downturn, expect Wall Street to really hone in on Constellation when it reports on Thursday.

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27 марта 2018, 19:04

Far-right Jewish activists re-enact Passover sacrifice ceremony in Jerusalem

A group of far-right Jewish activists gathered on Monday (March 26) near Jerusalem's holiest site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, to take part in the annual re-enactment of an ancient Passover sacrifice ceremony.… Let the pictures do the talking: subscribe to No Comment http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=NoCommentTV No Comment is brought to you by euronews, the most watched news channel in Europe. Find us on: Youtube http://eurone.ws/yDXQ7c Facebook http://eurone.ws/110HFkw Twitter http://eurone.ws/ZuMzJb euronews.com http://eurone.ws/17qIsCK

27 марта 2018, 18:00

Обзор плеера theBit OPUS#1S — хороший шаг вперёд

Оглядываясь назад, можно признать, что компания theBit уже доказала свою состоятельность на рынке портативного аудио. Их плееры OPUS#2 и OPUS#3 показали, что компания может выпускать стильные решения с хорошим звуком и юзабилити, вполне конкурируя с A&K. Теперь же пришла пора получить свою порцию обновлений первой модели компании, встречайте OPUS#1S. Внешне новый «бюджетник» мало чем отличается […]