Sunday, June 27, 2010


Obama administration to auction off 500 mhz of broadband spectrum.

Romania, in attempt at austerity, to raise VAT to 25%. Look for actions like this to become more the norm than the exception (and naturally, therefore, to put the brakes on the economy.)

Great article on universities fostering innovation through “proof-of-concept centers.”

On the other hand, this article on the burgeoning pot economy in Colorado is generally well-thought-out, well-written and all that…but the writer can’t help himself with grafs like this:
As supply met demand, politicians decided that a body of regulations was overdue. The state’s Department of Revenue has spent months conceiving rules for this new industry, ending the reefer-madness phase here in favor of buzz-killing specifics about cultivation, distribution, storage and every other part of the business.
I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE! YOU’RE SO VERY CLEVER! The author has a tendency to play cute with his writing at several points in this article because hee-hee it’s just pot. Which, again, just shows how objectivity is a pretense newspaper journalists can’t follow through on.

Turns out that B.P. isn’t just reckless when it comes to drilling, it’s a reckless energy financial markets trader.

Interesting thoughts on the future of the book: rethinking the slate computer and releasing add-ons to books (e.g. “director’s cut”-type stuff, or notes, or the author explaining things, etc.) as iPhone apps.

How was your country's recession?

China and Africa:
Let's go back to Kinshasa. Congo's got problems. The Western way of helping has been with aid — multilateral, bilateral or through self-funding religious groups and NGOs. To stem the fighting in the east, Congo has a 21,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force — MONUC — the biggest in the world. These efforts have had mixed success. The war hasn't ended, and the world's loans to Congo have helped fuel corruption. Little has been done to address Congo's infrastructure deficit. Coordinating aid among so many groups and nations remains difficult.

Enter China. Beijing doesn't do gifts; it does deals. In Congo, China's infrastructure-for-mines deal irked the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Fund argued that Congo's guarantee to China that it would recoup at least $3 billion in minerals was an IOU on Congo's national assets and therefore a new debt. That fell afoul of debt-write-off conditions, which require that the debtor take on no new loans. "If the Congolese take the Chinese deal," said a Western official familiar with the negotiations in mid-2009, "they will not get any more [Western] support." A standoff ensued. An earlier deal, in 2007 with Angola, also outraged the IMF. It had been negotiating a new loan with Angola for years, with carefully calibrated conditions to block corruption and alleviate poverty. By paying Luanda $5 billion in return for oil concessions and infrastructure contracts, China effectively made the IMF redundant. Diplomats across Africa like to say the continent offers space for everyone. But what's happening in Angola and Congo is a new scramble for Africa. Xu, the translator, has no doubt that he is engaged in an intense rivalry. "Not everybody is pleased to see us here, that's for sure. But we are not going to lose."
Also, on the idealistic Chinese media group that tried to buy Newsweek.

Choose your deficits.

The greatest thing about soccer referee controversies is invariably that the referees are far more entertaining personalities (to hate) in soccer, e.g. the dude who screwed the pooch for England: “Bizarrely he also has a private zoo and cites his favourite hobby as animal-breeding.” Isn’t that a lot more fun than Tim Donaghy?

Related stories: will we be seeing the world’s first genetically modified salmon on our tables soon? And, will we be seeing the end of tuna soon? (very good):
Until the 1970s, fishing in the high seas tended to be based on the principles of Hugo Grotius’s 1609 treatise “Mare Liberum” — a document that advocated free use of the oceans by all. But in the last 40 years, Grotius’s “free sea” has grown progressively more circumscribed. Today, high-seas and highly migratory fish are overseen by 18 regional fisheries-management organizations. These “consensus-oriented” institutions, in which each member nation has equal status, can be guided more by political horse-trading than by sound science. A former chairman of the scientific committee of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (or Iccat), the body responsible for Atlantic bluefin, told me, “Even though scientific advice says you should stick to a specific catch number, in order to negotiate a deal they tend to nudge that number over a little bit.” That little nudge can be enough to put a population of tuna in jeopardy.

9 dead in a drug clinic in Mexico by shooting…and here’s a sad story about a Mexican state security director who can’t trust the police to do their job from personal experience (she was shot at in an armored SUV—nearly 3,000 bullets—while the police dithered.)

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