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Javier E

Abortion Rights Debate Shifts to Pregnancy and Fertility as Election Nears - The New Yo... - 0 views

  • The public conversation about abortion has grown into one about the complexities of pregnancy and reproduction, as the consequences of bans have played out in the news. The question is no longer just whether you can get an abortion, but also, Can you get one if pregnancy complications put you in septic shock? Can you find an obstetrician when so many are leaving states with bans? If you miscarry, will the hospital send you home to bleed? Can you and your partner do in vitro fertilization?
  • That shift helps explain why a record percentage of Americans are now declaring themselves single-issue voters on abortion rights — especially among Black voters, Democrats, women and those ages 18 to 29. Republican women are increasingly saying their party’s opposition to abortion is too extreme, and Democrats are running on the issue after years of running away from it.
  • Tresa Undem, who has been polling people on abortion for 25 years, estimated that before the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe, less than 15 percent of the public considered abortion personally relevant — women who could get pregnant and would choose an abortion.
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  • “People used to talk about politicians trying to control our bodies,” she said. “Now it’s, they have no business getting involved in these medical decisions, these politicians don’t have medical expertise, they’re making these laws, and they’re not basing it on health care or science.”
  • Seventy-three percent of independents who support abortion rights said stories about women almost dying because of bans would affect how they vote.
  • “Now it’s about pregnancy, and everybody knows someone who had a baby or wants to have a baby or might get pregnant,” she said. “It’s profoundly personal to a majority of the public.”
  • Anti-abortion groups have responded by trying to carve out a difference between “elective abortion” for unwanted pregnancies — which they want banned — and “maternal fetal separation” in medical emergencies. (The medical procedure is the same.)
  • Opponents have long stigmatized abortion as something irresponsible women use as birth control or because they care more about their careers than having children. “When the focus shifts to the dangers that abortion bans inflict on pregnant people,” said Reva Siegel, a constitutional law professor at Yale who has written extensively about the country’s abortion conflict, “it’s easier for Americans to talk about.”
  • Technology and criminal law have flipped the script, she said.
  • Before Roe legalized abortion nationally in 1973, the law allowed more leeway for what were considered “therapeutic abortions.” Doctors, often solo practitioners, could use their good faith judgment to provide them. Even the Southern Baptist Convention supported abortions in cases of fetal deformity or when a woman’s physical or mental health was at risk.
  • Now, the threat of prosecution, $100,000 fines and loss of their medical licenses have chilled doctors and hospital systems in treating women with pregnancy complications. More often than not in some states, lawyers are making the decisions.
  • In Georgia, she said, more people opposed the state’s ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy once they were told that this meant two weeks after the average woman misses her period — not, as her own partner believed, six weeks after conception. Some voters, she said, believed that six weeks meant six weeks after women found out they were pregnant.
Javier E

Opinion | In Indiana, the MAGA Revolution Eats Its Own - The New York Times - 0 views

  • According to the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2023 American Values Atlas, 55 percent of Trump supporters are Christian nationalists, as measured by their agreement with statements like “Being Christian is an important part of being truly American” and “God has called Christians to exercise dominion over all areas of American society.”
  • The Christian right increasingly sees American politics as zero-sum, meaning it is either going to triumph or face subjugation. As Justice Samuel Alito of the Supreme Court was recorded saying, “One side or the other is going to win.”
Javier E

'Anxiety' Review: Confronting That Queasy Feeling - WSJ - 0 views

  • In “Anxiety: A Philosophical Guide,” Mr. Chopra builds his case on the pillars of four traditions of thought that in their various ways see anxiety as an inevitable part of the human condition
  • he first and oldest is Buddhism, which teaches that a feeling of dissatisfaction with life, dukkha, is the root of all mental suffering.
  • n the 19th and 20th centuries, Mr. Chopra notes, European existentialists saw anxiety as the necessary consequence of human freedom: Realizing that we have to choose our moral values and fashion our own futures induces a kind of vertigo as we feel the burden of responsibility for our fates.
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  • Freudian psychoanalysis offers yet another account. As Mr. Chopra’s summary has it: “Anxiety is a signal to us that we harbor repressed emotions, desires, and sexuality.”
  • Finally, there is the idea of “materialist alienation,” advocated by both Karl Marx and Herbert Marcuse. This theory identifies the sources of anxiety in the material and economic conditions of society rather than in the individual psyche:
  • Although Mr. Chopra, a philosophy professor emeritus at Brooklyn College, notes many overlaps and commonalities in the four approaches, their differences make them inconsistent as a set. It isn’t clear that they are centrally concerned with anxiety at all.
  • ukkha in Buddhism isn’t usually understood to refer to anxiety but rather to a state of discontent.
  • Mr. Chopra acknowledges that one of his key existentialist figures, Nietzsche, never uses the term. Alluding to Marx’s alienated labor, Mr. Chopra asks: “What does such alienation feel like?” His answer: “Like anxiety, for it is anxiety.
  • Mr. Chopra interprets everything through the lens of anxiety and as a result either magnifies its significance or sees it where it is not. He says, for example, that from his own experience he has concluded that being “indecisive, distracted, insecure, or anxious . . . amounted to the same thing.” But for many people those conditions are very different.
  • Mr. Chopra is a serial user of the “presumptive we”: using the first-person plural to speak for all of us when he is really speaking for some or sometimes only himself.
  • At times Mr. Chopra writes of anxiety as though it were a key to self-definition, saying, at one point “thus does anxiety inform me of who I am.” Tell me your anxieties and I’ll tell you who you are may sound profound, but replace “anxieties” with “dreams,” “loves,” “hopes” or “values” and it is just as true.
  • Even philosophy in Mr. Chopra’s view springs not from wonder, as Aristotle and Plato claimed, but from anxiety. However, neither those giants of thought nor others who followed them for centuries had much to say about it
  • That “anxiety is a basic human affect and signature of human consciousness” is made somewhat problematic, he concedes, by the fact that it only emerged as “an explicitly named and identified problem in the nineteenth century.”
  • Still, Mr. Chopra is right to want to normalize the anxiety that people really do feel, saying that it is wrong to think that mental health consists in being anxiety-free. His basic therapeutic advice—not to push anxiety away but “to see what it ‘points to’ ”—is also spot-on
  • his book is a good primer on the major philosophers of anxiety, or at least its close relations.
Javier E

Europe Has a New Economic Engine: American Tourists - WSJ - 0 views

  • the Mediterranean rush is turning Europe’s recent economic history on its head. In the 2010s, Germany and other manufacturing-heavy economies helped drag the continent out of its debt crisis thanks to strong exports of cars and capital goods, especially to China.
  • Today, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal contribute between a quarter and half of the bloc’s annual growth. 
  • While Germany’s economy is flatlining, Spain is Europe’s fastest-growing big economy. Nearly three-quarters of the country’s recent growth and one in four new jobs are linked to tourism
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  • In Greece, an unlikely economic star since the pandemic, as many as 44% of all jobs are connected to tourism. 
  • Can Europe’s emerging “museum economy” support sustained wealth creation and the expansive welfare systems Europeans have become accustomed to since the end of World War II? And what happens if the dollar falls and the tourists leave?
  • Rent and other living expenses are rising in hot spots, making it harder for many locals to make ends meet. A heightened focus on tourism, which turns a quick profit but remains a low-productivity activity, tethers these economies to a highly cyclical industry
  • It also risks keeping workers and capital from more profitable areas, like tech and high-end manufacturing. 
  • some economists, residents and politicians are concerned about the boom’s long-term implications.
  • “It is literally, for Americans right now, the place to go,”
  • The strong dollar—and a powerful post-Covid recovery—has empowered millions of Americans who would have vacationed in the U.S. before the pandemic. They are now finding they can afford a lavish European holiday.
  • One reason is the brutal sovereign debt crisis that hit the continent’s south especially hard just over a decade ago. Unable to stimulate demand with public spending or to energize exports by devaluing their currency—the euro, which is shared by 20 states—those countries could only boost their competitiveness by lowering wages.
  • “Your dollar goes a lot further,” Cross said over coffee in the lobby of her five-star hotel. “You don’t feel you’re scrounging as much.”
  • Tourism now generates one-fifth of economic output in Lisbon and supports one in four jobs. That boom has reverberated far beyond the capital.
  • Portugal’s gross domestic product grew nearly 8% between 2019 and 2024, compared with less than 1% for Germany,
  • The government recorded a rare 1.2% of GDP budget surplus last year, and its debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to fall to 95% this year, the lowest since 2009
  • Portugal’s population is growing again after years of decline, thanks in part to an influx of migrant workers and to various tax incentives and investor visas that have attracted high-income workers. 
  • Moedas, Lisbon’s mayor, says there’s room for further growth. For a city that doubles in size to around one million every day, including commuters, only around 35,000 are tourists, he said. “We are very far from a situation of so-called overtourism.”
  • The trend is part of a global readjustment following the Covid-19 lockdowns. Spending on travel and hospitality worldwide grew roughly seven times faster than the global economy over the past two years, according to Oxford Economics. That pattern is expected to continue for the next decade, though to a lesser degree.
  • Europe, especially southern Europe, has benefited more than many other regions. Though it is home to just 5% of the world’s population, the European Union received around one-third of all international tourist dollars—more than half a trillion dollars—last year. This is up roughly threefold over two decades, and compares with about $150 billion for the U.S., where tourism has been slower to rebound.
  • In Portugal, a country of 10 million that juts out into the North Atlantic from Spain, Americans recently surpassed Spaniards as the biggest group of foreign tourists. 
  • This and a real estate collapse that left hundreds of thousands of workers suddenly available made the region’s tourist industry ultracompetitive, much cheaper than Caribbean beach destinations and on a par with Latin American destinations like Mexico. 
  • Once an owner of TAP, Neeleman increased the number of direct flights to the U.S. eightfold between 2015 and 2020, adding major hubs such as JFK and Boston Logan, betting that would open up an untapped market. As bookings soared, other U.S. airlines followed. 
  • “It was actually comical, because I went from knowing no one who had been to Portugal to everyone telling me they were going to Portugal,”
  • For Gonçalo Hall, a 36-year-old tech worker, the influx of foreign cash that has transformed Lisbon has been overwhelmingly beneficial for the city. When he lived in the capital 15 years ago, he wouldn’t walk in the historic downtown after 8 p.m. It was “full of homeless people, not safe. Lots of empty and abandoned buildings,” he said. 
  • “The quality of life in Lisbon doesn’t match the prices. Even expats are leaving,” said Hall, who moved to the Atlantic island of Madeira during the pandemic and continues to work remotely.  
  • The average Portuguese employee earns around €1,000 a month after tax, or around $1,100 a month, and only 2% earn more than €2,000. A one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon can easily cost more than €500,000 to buy, or over €1,200 a month to rent. Rents in nearby cities are also climbing as people leave the capital, squeezed out as lucrative short-term rentals transform the housing market. 
  • Jessica Ribeiro, a 35-year-old sociologist, pays around €490 a month for an apartment that she shares with her ex-husband in a town close to Lisbon. Neither can afford to leave. Both make a little more than the minimum wage of €820 a month, and soaring rents mean it is impossible to find an apartment in the neighborhood for less than €700, Ribeiro said. 
  • “The harm that tourism has brought is infinitely bigger than the benefits,” Ribeiro said. “It sends people away from their place of work, making their lives much harder.” 
  • A frequent complaint from residents and housing advocates is that some of the boom’s biggest winners are American companies, from Airbnb to Uber, which often pay little tax in the places where they do most of their business.
  • Lisbon is cracking down on Airbnbs and increasing taxes on tourists, doubling the nightly city tax from €2 to €4, which should raise €80 million a year. Airbnb has paid Lisbon and Porto, Portugal’s two biggest cities, more than €63 million after entering into voluntary tax collection agreements with local officials. Moedas said he is considering “a bit more regulation” of the city’s many Ubers, whose drivers he said don’t always respect traffic rules. 
  • Around nine in 10 Airbnb hosts in Portugal rent their family home and almost half say the extra income helps them afford to stay in their homes, according to a spokesperson for the company. “Guests using our platform account for just 10% of total nights booked in Portugal, and we follow the rules and only allow listings that are registered with local authorities,”
  • Higher rents are forcing many businesses and cultural and social spaces catering to locals to close, according to Silva. “This is not an economy that is serving the needs of the majority of people,” she said.
  • Signs of discontent are bubbling up across the region. Tens of thousands of local residents marched in Spain’s Balearic and Canary islands in recent months to protest mass tourism and overcrowding. On Mallorca, activists have put up fake signs at some popular beaches warning in English of the risk of falling rocks or dangerous jellyfish to deter tourists, according to social-media posts.
  • Serving foreigners is difficult to scale up and is more exposed to economic headwinds. Like the discovery of oil, southern Europe’s new focus on tourism can crowd out higher-value activities by hogging capital and workers, a phenomenon some economists have dubbed the “beach disease.”
  • “Portugal isn’t an industrialized country. It’s just the playground of the EU,” said Priscila Valadão, a 43-year-old administrative assistant in Lisbon. She makes €905 a month and rents a room from a friend for €250 a month. “The type of jobs being offered…are restricted to a type of activity that really doesn’t enrich the country,”
  • For Europe’s policymakers, having people open hotels or restaurants is easier than incentivizing them to build up advanced manufacturing, which is capital intensive and takes a long time to pay off, said Marcos Carias, an economist with French insurer Coface. 
  • “Tourism is the easy way out,” Carias said. “What is the incentive to look for ingenuity and go through the pain of creating new economic value if tourism works as a short-term solution?”
  • Proponents say tourism attracts capital to poor regions, and can serve as a base to build a more diversified economy. Lisbon’s Moedas said he is trying to leverage the influx of foreign visitors to build up sectors such as culture and technology, including by developing conferences and cultural events. 
  • “Some extreme left parties basically say we need to reduce tourism,” Moedas said, but that is the wrong approach. “What we have to do is to increase other sectors like innovation, technology…. We should still invest in tourism, but we should go up the ladder.”
  • While Dias, the hotel owner, is diversifying into nightlife, he refuses to envisage a future where the sector would have to rely heavily on visitors from elsewhere.
  • More than one-third of highly qualified Portuguese students leave the country after graduating,
  • Even higher-paid technology workers have started decamping to cheaper places. 
  • Tiago Araújo, chief executive of tourism tech startup HiJiffy, has held on to his employees but says many of them have been moving out of Lisbon. The trend, which started during Covid, is now being primarily driven by the housing crisis.
  • In Athens, Mayor Haris Doukas says he is working on extending the tourist season, increasing the average length of stay and promoting specific types of tourism, such as organizing conferences and business meetings, to attract visitors with higher purchasing power. He’s also called for new taxes to help the city accommodate the millions of additional tourists thronging to the ancient capital.
  • If Americans stop coming to Lisbon, he said, “I don’t think we can charge this kind of [price] because we will have to go to Europeans, and the Europeans, they don’t have money.”
Javier E

Israeli Military Says Hamas Can't Be Destroyed, Escalating Feud With Netanyahu - WSJ - 0 views

  • A rift between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s military leadership is spilling increasingly into the open after the armed forces’ top spokesman said Netanyahu’s aim of destroying Hamas in Gaza is unachievable.“The idea that we can destroy Hamas or make Hamas disappear is misleading to the public,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari told Israeli television on Wednesday.
  • The exchange was an illustration of months of tensions between Netanyahu and the country’s military leadership, who argue that Hamas could only be defeated if Israel replaces it with another governing authority in Gaza. During more than eight months of war, the Israeli military has invaded swaths of the Gaza Strip, only to see Hamas reconstitute itself in areas when Israeli forces withdraw.“What we can do is grow something different, something to replace it,” Hagari said Wednesday. “The politicians will decide” who should replace Hamas, he said.
  • The friction between Netanyahu and the military establishment had burst into public view earlier in the war. In May, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant delivered a speech calling on the government to decide who should replace Hamas in Gaza. The lack of a decision, he said, left Israel with only two choices: Hamas rule or a complete Israeli military takeover of the strip.
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  • The Israeli military relies on reservist soldiers, some of whom have described growing exhaustion as Israel manages conflicts for months on end on multiple fronts, including the border with Lebanon and in the West Bank. An end to fighting in Gaza would give Israeli forces a respite that analysts say is needed, especially if fighting with Hezbollah escalates further.
  • Israel Ziv, a retired Israeli general and veteran of multiple wars, said tensions between the Israeli military and security establishment and Netanyahu are at a record high.“The IDF feels and the security echelon feels that we exhausted the purpose of the war. We reached the maximum tactical peak that we can achieve,” he said. “As long as Rafah was there, they could say finish the job. OK it’s finished now.”
  • Netanyahu has rejected a series of proposals for possible alternatives to Hamas, including an American plan to bring in the Palestinian Authority and Arab calls for a Palestinian unity government that would include Hamas. Some military analysts and former Israeli officials have questioned whether installing a new government in Gaza was ever possible, given that Hamas has managed to survive the Israeli military assault.
  • “We need to make a decision,” said Ziv. “Even a bad decision, that’s OK. Let’s say [we] occupy Gaza in the next few years because we need to clear up the last few terrorists. OK, it’s a bad decision, but it’s a decision. The military needs to know.”
  • The dispute between Netanyahu and the military centers in part on how officials define a defeat of Hamas. An Israeli military official said the army considers a battalion “dismantled” not when all its fighters are killed, but when its command structure and ability to carry out organized attacks are eliminated. 
  • Military analysts say that Hamas’s militia forces are likely to survive the Israeli military operation even in Rafah, in part because the Israeli army’s approach leaves many lower-ranking Hamas fighters in place. Hamas’s top leadership in the enclave, including its leader, Yahya Sinwar, have also eluded Israeli forces throughout the war.
  • “Hamas is preserving its forces in Rafah rather than engaging the Israel Defense Forces, likely because Hamas does not believe Israel’s Rafah operation will be decisive,” said an assessment this week from the Institute for the Study of War and the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project.
Javier E

The Purpose of Journalism Is to Get the Story - WSJ - 0 views

  • It is a dark night on a vast plain. There are wild sounds—the hiss of prehistoric cicadas, the scream of a hyena. A tribe of cavemen sit grunting around a fire. An antelope turns on a spit. Suddenly another caveman runs in, breathlessly, from the bush. “Something happened,” he says. They all turn. “The tribe two hills over was killed by a pack of dire wolves. Everyone torn to pieces.”
  • Clamor, questions. How do you know? Did you see it? (He did, from a tree.) Are you sure they were wolves? “Yes, with huge heads and muscled torsos.” What did it look like? “Bloody.”
  • As he reports he is given water and a favored slice of meat. Because he has run far and is hungry, but mostly because he has told them the news, and they are grateful.
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  • The purpose of journalism is to get the story and tell the story.
  • Now the cavemen turn to the tribal elder. “What should we do?” “Short term, climb a tree if you see a wolf,” she says. “They don’t like fire and noise, so we should keep lit torches and scream. In the longer term, wolf packs are seen in the west, so we should go east to high ground.” That is the authentic sound of commentary, of editorials and columns. Advice, exhortation—they’re part of the news too. People will always want it, question it, disagree.
  • It is as if journalism is no longer about Get the Story but about Meeting People Where They Are and helping them navigate through a confusing world. But do you really think current editors know where people are? Do you think they know how to navigate? It all feels presumptuous.
  • The great news for journalism is there will always be a huge market for this. The need for news is built into human nature. Tech platforms change, portals change, but the need is forever.
  • The past two decades, accelerating over the past four years, newsrooms have increasingly become distracted from their main mission, confused about their purpose. Really, they’ve grown detached from their mission
  • the journalistic product now being offered has become something vaguer than it was, more boring, less swashbuckling, more labored, as if it’s written by frightened people. There’s an emphasis on giving the story “context,” but the story doesn’t feel alive and the context seems skewed
  • But even cavemen who eat bugs and wear hides are not always grim. Man wants not only to be informed but to be amused, entertained. He wants humor, wit, mischief, a visual tour of the latest cave paintings. Cave man want cooking app. And word games and reporting on the richest tribes: “Most Expensive Cave Dwelling Sells in Malibu.”
  • More disturbing, major stories go unreported because, the reader senses, they don’t relate to the personal obsessions of the editors and reporters, or to their political priors.
  • Facebook and social media can’t get the story. They can amplify it, give an opinion, comment. But they don’t have the resources and expertise; they don’t have trained investigative journalists and first-class experienced editors and a publisher willing to take a chance and spend the money. Social media has opinions, emotions, propaganda.
  • And the great thing for newspapers is if you get the story—if you are known to get the story, like the Washington Post in the Watergate years—you will be read.
  • In early 2023, Len Downie and Andrew Heyward, formerly executive editor of the Washington Post and president of CBS News, respectively, wrote a paper about how modern journalists see standards within their professions, and it seemed to me not only confused but a kind of capitulation. There had been a “generational shift” in journalism, and the many editors and reporters they interviewed think objectivity is more or less “outmoded,” a false standard created by the white male patriarchy.
  • What was really striking was there was no mention, not one, of the thrill of the chase, of getting the story—of journalism itself. It was all about the guck and mess, not the mission, and made them look like news bureaucrats, joyless grinds, self-infatuated bores.
  • They were obsessed with who’s in the newsroom when their readers are obsessed with what comes out of the newsroom.
  • current ways of encouraging diversity seem to yield a great sameness in terms of class and viewpoint, and in any case diversity is a mission within a mission, it isn’t the mission itself, which is: Get the story, tell the story.
Javier E

Dilemma on Wall Street: Short-Term Gain or Climate Benefit? - The New York Times - 0 views

  • team of economists recently analyzed 20 years of peer-reviewed research on the social cost of carbon, an estimate of the damage from climate change. They concluded that the average cost, adjusted for improved methods, is substantially higher than even the U.S. government’s most up-to-date figure.
  • That means greenhouse gas emissions, over time, will take a larger toll than regulators are accounting for. As tools for measuring the links between weather patterns and economic output evolve — and the interactions between weather and the economy magnify the costs in unpredictable ways — the damage estimates have only risen.
  • It’s the kind of data that one might expect to set off alarm bells across the financial industry, which closely tracks economic developments that might affect portfolios of stocks and loans. But it was hard to detect even a ripple.
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  • In fact, the news from Wall Street lately has mostly been about retreat from climate goals, rather than recommitment. Banks and asset managers are withdrawing from international climate alliances and chafing at their rules. Regional banks are stepping up lending to fossil fuel producers. Sustainable investment funds have sustained crippling outflows, and many have collapsed.
  • In some cases, it’s a classic prisoner’s dilemma: If firms collectively shift to cleaner energy, a cooler climate benefits everyone more in the future
  • in the short term, each firm has an individual incentive to cash in on fossil fuels, making the transition much harder to achieve.
  • when it comes to avoiding climate damage to their own operations, the financial industry is genuinely struggling to comprehend what a warming future will mean.
  • A global compact of financial institutions made commitments worth $130 trillion to try to bring down emissions, confident that governments would create a regulatory and financial infrastructure to make those investments profitable. And in 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act passed.
  • What about the risk that climate change poses to the financial industry’s own investments, through more powerful hurricanes, heat waves that knock out power grids, wildfires that wipe out towns?
  • “If we think about what is going to be the best way to tilt your portfolios in the direction to benefit, it’s really difficult to do,”
  • “These will probably be great investments over 20 years, but when we’re judged over one to three years, it’s a little more challenging for us.”
  • Some firms cater to institutional clients, like public employee pension funds, that want combating climate change to be part of their investment strategy and are willing to take a short-term hit. But they aren’t a majority
  • And over the past couple of years, many banks and asset managers have shrunk from anything with a climate label for fear of losing business from states that frown on such concerns.
  • On top of that, the war in Ukraine scrambled the financial case for backing a rapid energy transition. Artificial intelligence and the movement toward greater electrification are adding demand for power, and renewables haven’t kept up
  • All of that is about the relative appeal of investments that would slow climate change
  • If you bought some of the largest solar-energy exchange-traded funds in early 2023, you would have lost about 20 percent of your money, while the rest of the stock market soared.
  • There is evidence that banks and investors price in some physical risk, but also that much of it still lurks, unheeded.
  • “I’m very, very worried about this, because insurance markets are this opaque weak link,” Dr. Sastry said. “There are parallels to some of the complex linkages that happened in 2008, where there is a weak and unregulated market that spills over to the banking system.”
  • Regulators worry that failing to understand those ripple effects could not just put a single bank in trouble but even become a contagion that would undermine the financial system.
  • But while the European Central Bank has made climate risk a consideration in its policy and oversight, the Federal Reserve has resisted taking a more active role, despite indications that extreme weather is feeding inflation and that high interest rates are slowing the transition to clean energy.
  • “The argument has been, ‘Unless we can convincingly show it’s part of our mandate, Congress should deal with it, it’s none of our business,’”
  • a much nearer-term uncertainty looms: the outcome of the U.S. election, which could determine whether further action is taken to address climate concerns or existing efforts are rolled back. An aggressive climate strategy might not fare as well during a second Trump administration, so it may seem wise to wait and see how it shakes out.
  • big companies are hesitating on climate-sensitive investments as November approaches, but says that “two things are misguided and quite dangerous about that hypothesis.”
  • One: States like California are establishing stricter rules for carbon-related financial disclosures and may step it up further if Republicans win
  • And two: Europe is phasing in a “carbon border adjustment mechanism,” which will punish polluting companies that want to do business there.
  • at the moment, even European financial institutions feel pressure from the United States, which — while providing some of the most generous subsidies so far for renewable-energy investment — has not imposed a price on carbon.
  • The global insurance company Allianz has set out a plan to align its investments in a way that would prevent warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, if everyone else did the same. But it’s difficult to steer a portfolio to climate-friendly assets while other funds take on polluting companies and reap short-term profits for impatient clients.
  • “This is the main challenge for an asset manager, to really bring the customer along,” said Markus Zimmer, an Allianz economist. Asset managers don’t have sufficient tools on their own to move money out of polluting investments and into clean ones, if they want to stay in business,
  • “Of course it helps if the financial industry is somehow ambitious, but you cannot really substitute the lack of actions by policymakers,”
  • According to new research, the benefit is greater when decarbonization occurs faster, because the risks of extreme damage mount as time goes on. But without a uniform set of rules, someone is bound to scoop up the immediate profits, disadvantaging those that don’t — and the longer-term outcome is adverse for all.
Javier E

It's not just vibes. Americans' perception of the economy has completely changed. - ABC... - 0 views

  • Applying the same pre-pandemic model to consumer sentiment during and after the pandemic, however, simply does not work. The indicators that correlated with people's feelings about the economy before 2020 no longer seem to matter in the same way
  • As with so many areas of American life, the pandemic has changed virtually everything about how people think about the economy and the issues that concern them
  • Prior to the pandemic, our model shows consumers felt better about the economy when the personal savings rate, a measure of how much money households are able to save rather than spend each month, was higher. This makes sense: People feel better when they have money in the bank and are able to save for important purchases like cars and houses.
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  • Before the pandemic, a number of variables were statistically significant indicators for consumer sentiment in our model; in particular, the most salient variables appear to be vehicle sales, gas prices, median household income, the federal funds effective rate, personal savings and household expenditures (excluding food and energy).
  • During the pandemic, the personal savings rate soared. In April 2020, the metric was nearly double its previous high, recorded in May 1975.
  • All this taken together meant Americans were flush with cash but had nowhere to spend it. So despite the fact that the savings rate went way up, consumers still weren't feeling positively about the economy — contrary to the relationship between these two variables we saw in the decades before the pandemic.
  • Fast forward to 2024, and the personal savings rate has dropped to one of its lowest levels ever (the only time the savings rate was lower was in the years surrounding the Great Recession)
  • during and after the pandemic, Americans saw some of the highest rates of inflation the country has had in decades, and in a very short period of time. These sudden spikes naturally shocked many people who had been blissfully enjoying slow, steady price growth their entire adult lives. And it has taken a while for that shock to wear off, even as inflation has cre
  • the numbers align with our intuitive sense of how consumers process suddenly having their grocery store bill jump, as well as the findings from our model. In simple terms: Even if inflation is getting better, Americans aren't done being ticked off that it was bad to begin with.
  • surprisingly, our pre-pandemic model didn't find a notable relationship between housing prices and consumer sentiment
  • However, in our post-pandemic data, when we examined how correlated consumer sentiment was with each indicator we considered, consumer sentiment and median housing prices had the strongest correlation of all****** (a negative one, meaning higher prices were associated with lower consumer sentiment)
  • during the pandemic, low interest rates, high savings rates and changes in working patterns — namely, many workers' newfound ability to work from home — helped overheat the homebuying market, and buyers ran headlong into an enduring supply shortage. There simply weren't enough houses to buy, which drove up the costs of the ones that were for sale.
  • That's true even if a family has been able to save enough for a down payment, already a difficult task when rents remain high as well. Fewer people are able to cover their current housing costs while saving enough to make a down payment.
  • Low-income households are still the most likely to be burdened with high rents, but they're not the only ones affected anymore. High rents have also begun to affect those at middle-income levels as well.
  • In short, there was already a housing affordability crisis before the pandemic. Now it's worse, locking a wider array of people, at higher and higher income levels, out of the home-buying market
  • People who are renting but want to buy are stuck. People who live in starter homes and want to move to bigger homes are stuck. The conditions have frustrated a fundamental element of the American dream
  • In our pre-pandemic model, total vehicle sales had a strong positive relationship with consumer sentiment: If people were buying cars, you could pretty reasonably bet that they felt good about the economy. This feels intuitive — who buys a car if they think the economy
  • Cox Automotive also tracks vehicle affordability by calculating the estimated number of weeks' worth of median income needed to purchase the average new vehicle, and while that number has improved over the last two years, it remains high compared to pre-pandemic levels. In April, the most recent month with data, it took 37.7 weeks of median income to purchase a car, compared with fewer than 35 weeks at the end of 2019.
  • "Right before the pandemic, the typical average transaction price was around $38,000 for a new car. By 2023, it was $48,000," Schirmer said. This could all be contributing to the break in the relationship between car sales and sentiment, he noted. Basically, people might be buying cars, but they aren't necessarily happy about it.
  • Inspired by our model of economic indicators and sentiment from 1987 to 2019, we tried to train a similar linear regression model on the same data from 2021 to 2024 to more directly compare how things changed after the pandemic. While we were able to get a pretty good fit for this post-pandemic model,******* something interesting happened: Not a single variable showed up as a statistically significant predictor of consumer sentiment.
  • This suggests there's something much more complicated going on behind the scenes: Interactions between these variables are probably driving the prediction, and there's too much noise in this small post-pandemic data set for the model to disentangle i
  • Changes in the kinds of purchases we've discussed — homes, cars and everyday items like groceries — have fundamentally shifted the way Americans view how affordable their lives are and how they measure their quality of life.
  • Even though some indicators may be improving, Americans are simply weighing the factors differently than they used to, and that gives folks more than enough reason to have the economic blues.
Javier E

Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI Co-Founder Who Helped Oust Sam Altman, Starts His Own Company - ... - 0 views

  • The new start-up is called Safe Superintelligence. It aims to produce superintelligence — a machine that is more intelligent than humans — in a safe way, according to the company spokeswoman Lulu Cheng Meservey.
  • Last year, Dr. Sutskever helped create what was called a Superalignment team inside OpenAI that aimed to ensure that future A.I. technologies would not do harm. Like others in the field, he had grown increasingly concerned that A.I. could become dangerous and perhaps even destroy humanity.
  • Jan Leike, who ran the Superalignment team alongside Dr. Sutskever, has also resigned from OpenAI. He has since been hired by OpenAI’s competitor Anthropic, another company founded by former OpenAI researchers.
Javier E

Opinion | Bidenomics: The Queen Bee Is Jennifer Harris - The New York Times - 0 views

  • I was thrilled when the Biden administration came in with a plan for big federal investments in the American industrial base, tariffs, support for labor unions and actions against monopolies. No one knew what to call it — Post-neoliberalism? Democratic capitalism? Neopopulism? — but for the first time in generations a U.S. administration was saying that people should control the market, not the other way around.
  • But if it was the right path, why didn’t more voters trust President Biden on the economy?
  • To understand who Ms. Harris is, you have to know who she used to be.
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  • As a young State Department policy planner in the 2000s, she was a lonely voice in Washington raising the alarm about the rise of China. She pushed for tariffs and against trade agreements before it was cool, and was an author of a book called “War by Other Means” about how blind faith in free markets put the United States at a geopolitical disadvantage. For years, she felt like an oddball in Washington, where both parties were still in thrall to neoliberalism.
  • The Hewlett Foundation hired her as the head of an initiative that has given away $140 million so far to people who are devising a new economic philosophy. Then she served a stint in the White House. Today, she’s an intellectual leader of a growing, bipartisan consensus
  • She fell in love with economics and studied it at Wake Forest. After she joined a student delegation to a NATO summit in Prague in 2002, a faculty adviser on that trip offered her a job in Washington working at the National Intelligence Council. In those early years, she believed what everyone else in Washington believed about the economy — that governments ought not meddle with it.
  • if Mr. Trump correctly identified a problem — “China is eating our lunch” — he did not solve it, beyond putting tariffs on Chinese products. His tax cut for the rich hurt rather than helped matters.
  • It’s the Biden administration that came in with a plan to build an economy that was good for workers, not just shareholders, using some strategies Ms. Harris had been talking about for years.
  • The thinking behind it goes like this: Unquestioning belief in the free market created a globalism that funneled money to the 1 percent, which has used its wealth to amass political power at the expense of everyone else. It produced free trade agreements that sent too many U.S. factories to China and rescue plans after the 2008 financial crisis that bailed out Wall Street instead of Main Street.
  • It was her job to track China’s use of subsidies, industrial espionage and currency manipulation to fuel its rise as a manufacturing powerhouse. Ms. Harris argued that tariffs on China were a necessary defense. Nobody agreed. “I was kind of just banging my head against this wall,” she told me. “The wall was a foreign policy establishment that saw markets as sacrosanct.”
  • Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to renegotiate NAFTA, but he struck up a new trade deal instead — the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Ms. Harris argued against it. “We didn’t have the foggiest idea” of what it would do to our economy, she told me. Nobody listened.
  • it sent Democrats back to the intellectual drawing board. Larry Kramer, then the president of the Hewlett Foundation, recruited her in 2018 to promote alternatives to ideas that had guided U.S. policy for decades. He hoped she could do for free-market skepticism what Milton Friedman and his allies had done for free-market fundamentalism, which became policy under the Reagan administration and eventually was embraced by both parties as truth.
  • She has since rejoined the Hewlett Foundation, where she funds people who are proposing new solutions to economic problems. One grantee, the conservative think tank American Compass, promotes the idea of a domestic development bank to fund infrastructure — an idea with bipartisan appeal.
  • But the work that Ms. Harris and others in the Biden administration have done is unfinished, and poorly understood. The terms “Bidenomics” and “Build Back Better” don’t seem to resonate
  • Ms. Harris acknowledges that these ideas haven’t yet taken hold in the broader electorate, and that high interest rates overshadow the progress that’s been made. It’s too early for voters to feel it, she told me: “The investments Biden has pushed through aren’t going to be felt in a month, a year, two years.”
  • she celebrates the fact that leaders across the political spectrum are embracing the idea that Americans need to “get back to building things in this country.” This election has no candidates blindly promoting the free market. The last one didn’t either. In the battle of ideas, she has already won.
Javier E

Trump's Campaign Has Lost Whatever Substance It Once Had - The Atlantic - 0 views

  • Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was, among other things, one of the most impressive displays of branding on a large scale, in a short time, ever. There were hats. There were flags. And above all, there were slogans.
  • “Make America Great Again.” “Build the wall.” “Lock her up.” And later, “Drain the swamp,” which Trump conceded on the stump that he’d initially hated. No matter: Crowds loved it, which was good enough for Trump to decide that he did, too.
  • One peculiarity of Trump’s 2024 campaign is the absence of any similar mantra. At some recent rallies, neither Trump nor the audience has even uttered “Build the wall,” once a standard. Crowds are reverting instead to generic “U-S-A” chants or, as at a recent Phoenix rally, “Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit!,” which has a winning simplicity but doesn’t have the specificity and originality of its predecessors.
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  • In their place, Trump’s stump speech has become dominated by grievances about the wrongs he believes have been done to him and his promises to get even for them. It doesn’t quite create the festive atmosphere of eight years ago, when many attendees were clearly having a great time. Where the new, more prosaic feeling lacks the uplift of the past, though, it has still managed to generate enough enthusiasm
  • The lack of catchy slogans might not matter if they were just slogans. But in 2016, they were a symbol of Trump’s willingness to talk about things that other candidates, including other Republicans, shied away from.
  • Regarding the war in Gaza, he has criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for the conflict to end quickly—but on Israel’s terms.
  • He had several such policy positions, including breaking with the bipartisan consensus on free trade, pledging to protect Social Security and Medicare, and claiming to have opposed the Iraq War from the start.
  • The focus on the wall also showed that he was willing to deploy (putatively) “commonsense” ideas that other politicians weren’t. This helped Trump to appeal not just to Republicans but to disaffected voters of all stripes
  • Where Trump once trumpeted his appointment of justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, he is now fumblingly trying to formulate a position on abortion that doesn’t alienate either his base or swing voters, mostly relying on ambiguity
  • Trump is emphasizing fewer big transformational ideas compared with 2016. His promises are a scattershot collection of ideas targeted at particular segments of the electorate: ending taxes on salary earned from tips, defending TikTok (a platform he once tried to ban), declassifying files on John F. Kennedy’s assassination, rolling back fossil-fuel regulations. Although he promises to clamp down on the border and deport undocumented immigrants, you won’t catch a “Round ’em up” chant at his rallies. And Project 2025, his allies’ proposal to overhaul the federal government by massively expanding political patronage, doesn’t lend itself to a bumper sticker.
  • Trump allots a great deal of his stump speech to mocking Biden as incoherent and senile (sometimes awkwardly) while also warning that Biden’s administration has made the United States a failed nation, and that his reelection could be fatal to the country. The disconnect between the images of Biden as doddering fool and as evil schemer is one that Republicans have struggled to reconcile but that Trump has concluded doesn’t need resolving.
  • Grievance is not a new note at Trump rallies, but four and eight years ago, he used to talk about other people’s grievances and promise to redress them. Now the grievances are largely his own
  • One big problem for Clinton was the criticism that she had no compelling goal for her candidacy other than that she wanted to be president. Trump’s campaign now is about nothing so much as his desire to be president.
  • Even Project 2025 is about the accumulation of executive power itself, rather than any particular policy goal
Javier E

Group of Austrians Picks 77 Charities to Receive Heiress's Fortune - The New York Times - 0 views

  • Without any laws in place that would tax Ms. Engelhorn’s inherited fortune, she decided to redistribute it herself, and she turned to the public to decide how her money should be spent. She is part of the group Millionaires for Humanity, which advocates wealth taxes, and she co-founded a group called Tax Me Now.
  • Before the project was announced in January, Ms. Engelhorn had publicly committed to giving away at least 90 percent of her inheritance. She is part of a small movement of superrich individuals who want to not only redistribute their money, but also to challenge the structures that allowed them to inherit their riches.
  • Ms. Engelhorn said she would continue to fight for a more equal and fair distribution of wealth in her country. She said she hoped that she would make other people talk about the issue, too.
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  • “Please talk about money, everyone,” she said. “The more people are active in it, the better the results will be.”
Javier E

Opinion | How Capitalism Went Off the Rails - The New York Times - 0 views

  • Last year the Edelman Trust Barometer found that only 20 percent of people in the G7 countries thought that they and their families would be better off in five years.
  • Another Edelman survey, from 2020, uncovered a broad distrust of capitalism in countries across the world, “driven by a growing sense of inequity and unfairness in the system.”
  • Why the broad dissatisfaction with an economic system that is supposed to offer unsurpassed prosperity?
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  • easy money. In an eye-opening new book, “What Went Wrong With Capitalism,” he makes a convincing case.
  • “When the price of borrowing money is zero,” Sharma told me this week, “the price of everything else goes bonkers.”
  • To take just one example: In 2010, as the era of ultralow and even negative interest rates was getting started, the median sale price for a house in the United States hovered around $220,000. By the start of this year, it was more than $420,000.
  • Nowhere has inflation (in the broad sense of the term) been more evident than in global financial markets. In 1980 they were worth a total of $12 trillion — equal to the size of the global economy at the time. After the pandemic, Sharma noted, those markets were worth $390 trillion, or around four times the world’s total gross domestic product.
  • But the worst hit is to capitalism itself: a pervasive and well-founded sense that the system is broken and rigged, particularly against the poor and the young. “A generation ago, it took the typical young family three years to save up to the down payment on a home,” Sharma observes in the book. “By 2019, thanks to no return on savings, it was taking 19 years.”
  • First, there was inflation in real and financial assets, followed by inflation in consumer prices, followed by higher financing costs as interest rates have risen to fight inflation
  • For wealthier Americans who own assets or had locked in low-interest mortgages, this hasn’t been a bad thing. But for Americans who rely heavily on credit, it’s been devastating.
  • Since investors “can’t make anything on government bonds when those yields are near zero,” he said, “they take bigger risks, buying assets that promise higher returns, from fine art to high-yield debt of zombie firms, which earn too little to make even interest payments and survive by taking on new debt.”
  • The hit to the overall economy comes in other forms, too: inefficient markets that no longer deploy money carefully to their most productive uses, large corporations swallowing smaller competitors and deploying lobbyists to bend government rules in their favor, the collapse of prudential economic practices.
  • “The most successful investment strategy of the 2010s,” Sharma writes, citing the podcaster Joshua Brown, “would have been to buy the most expensive tech stocks and then buy more as they rose in price and valuation.”
  • In theory, easy money should have broad benefits for regular people, from employees with 401(k)s to consumers taking out cheap mortgages. In practice, it has destroyed much of what used to make capitalism an engine of middle-class prosperity in favor of the old and very rich.
  • The social consequence of this is rage; the political consequence is populism.
  • “He promised to deconstruct the administrative state but ended up adding new rules at the same pace as his predecessor — 3,000 a year,” Sharma said of Trump. “His exercise of presidential authority to personal ends shattered historic precedents and did more to expand than restrict the scope of government. For all their policy differences, both leading U.S. candidates are committed and fearless statists, not friends of competitive capitalism.”
  • We are wandering in fog. And the precipice is closer than we think.
Javier E

This Is Why You're Exhausted by Politics - 0 views

  • You and I, sitting on the side that would like to preserve liberal democracy, are exhausted. The people lined up across the way, the ones who want to transition to illiberalism? They are energized.
  • Damon is right that we are on the cusp of something new. But where he sees it as the dawning of a new epoch, I believe we are on the cusp of a revolution.2
  • views on policy are merely the ornaments on a wholesale reimagining of government as a tool for minority rule and a rejection of the rule of law.3
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  • Those are revolutionary aspirations in that they reject not a policy consensus, but social and governing compacts that date to the Founding. (Or at least the end of the Civil War.)
  • Most revolutions are borne of dissatisfaction.
  • The Trumpian revolution, on the other hand, seems to be the product of decadent boredom commingled with casual nihilism.
  • Circumstances for our revolutionaries have never been better. They are so flush that they parade on their boats. And fly upside-down flags outside of their million-dollar suburban homes. And put stickers depicting a hogtied president on their $75,000 pickup trucks. All while posting angry memes to Facebook on their $1,000 iPhones.
  • Unlike normal revolutionaries, the Trumpist revolutionaries risk nothing. If their gambit succeeds, then they overturn the Constitutional order. And if it fails? They go back to their boats, and trucks, and good-paying jobs, and iPhones.
  • What’s more, this revolution has discovered that it gets as many bites at the apple as it likes. All defeats and setback are temporary. The movement lives to fight again. They can lose a dozen times—they only have to win once more.
  • Trumpist revolutionaries get to tell themselves that they are part of a historic, final battle—but also that if they lose, they get to keep their normal, pampered lives. And four years from now they can try again.
  • In sum: While the revolutionaries get to have their glamorous Götterdämmerung, over and over, the forces of the status quo have to defend against wave after wave of challenges. And it doesn’t matter how many authoritarian attempts are beaten back. There’s always another one looming.That is why you’re exhausted.
  • let’s be honest about human nature: Breaking things is fun. Especially when you don’t experience any consequences. But running around putting out fires, and cleaning up broken glass, and asking people to stop breaking things? That is not fun. It is enervating.
  • So while the revolutionary feels like a hero, you feel like a scold.
  • To paraphrase Mr. Cobb, once an idea has taken hold in society, it’s almost impossible to eradicate.
  • the Trumpist revolution’s weakness is that it has no ideas. It has goals, but these are motivated by nothing more than will-to-power. There is no logic—not even a faulty logic—behind them.7
  • How do we fight the exhaustion?First, we try to have some fun while we are scolding the twits and defending the imperfect status quo.Second, we remain fearless about the fight and clear eyed about reality.
  • Third, we organize and build communities to rally normal people to the cause of democracy.
Javier E

Opinion | The GOP has a lock on some states, Democrats others. It's not healthy. - The ... - 0 views

  • We have watched the national polarization that divides Americans in eerily equal numbers play out in vastly uneven ways, state to state. But talk of “red” and “blue” doesn’t capture either the full extent of the imbalance, or the knock-on consequences for the formation and pursuit of sound public policy.
  • It happened pretty quickly. In the early 2000s, three-fifths of the states saw reasonable political balance between the two major parties
  • Today, “trifecta” government, meaning one-party control of the governorship and both legislative bodies, has become the norm across the 50 states. In 40 states, containing 83 percent of the American population, one party enjoys trifecta dominance, and often by overwhelming margins.
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  • The roots of this phenomenon have been well studied. They include the cultural aggression of elite institutions and the predictable reaction to it, the nationalization of issues abetted by the collapse of local media and the pernicious effects of the antisocial media.
  • The gerrymandering that once exaggerated a dominant party’s political margin is no longer much of a factor; social clustering and these other factors have often done a more effective job than the political bosses ever did. In many jurisdictions today, one would have to reverse gerrymander, mixing geographies and crossing all kinds of legal boundary lines, to produce a truly competitive electorate.
  • Our campaign messages, as they had to, mostly centered on specific, new ideas: ethics reforms, access to health insurance, property tax caps, automatic tax refunds and many more, all couched in rhetoric stressing Indianans’ commonality as people, and the need for every part of the state to participate fully in its better future. Boy, is that passé.
  • Ideas fashioned not to stroke the erogenous zones of a riled-up minority of left or right, but to speak to the broader public in pursuit of a general election victory, evoke our common interest instead of our differences and antagonisms. But such campaigns rarely make sense these days.
  • Political campaigns need not necessarily be dispiriting, narrowcasting mudfests. They can be vehicles, in fact the best possible vehicles, for floating constructive ideas to an attentive public. Ideas proposed by a successful campaign have a higher likelihood of enactment after the election
  • Once in office, to make effective change, we had to engage with our Democratic counterparts, even in the years when we achieved full but narrow legislative control.
  • In 2024, 30 states feature not only trifecta government but 2-to-1 majorities in at least one house. In that setting, both campaigns and governance look totally different than they do in genuine two-party polities.
  • This year, our next governor ran a smart race and won his victory fair and square. The problem is that neither he, nor any of his competitors, had an incentive to offer their soon-to-be employers a sense of how Indiana could move forward.
  • What voters saw instead, besides attacks on each other, were political advertisements centered on “standing up to China,” taking on foreign drug cartels and closing the Mexican border. It became difficult to tell whether these folks were running for secretary of state or secretary of homeland security.
  • Wise policy and good government can and do emerge in lopsided states. But competition, always and everywhere, fosters innovation. In politics, it also compels a sensitivity and an outreach to the widest possible audiences.
  • The contours of the current system don’t conduce to those outcomes; until that changes, we have to hope for candidates who, elected by 5 percent of the state, somehow come to consider their duty of service to all the rest.
Javier E

How Asian Groceries Like H Mart and Patel Brothers Are Reshaping America - The New York... - 0 views

  • The H Mart of today is a $2 billion company with 96 stores and a namesake book (the best-selling memoir “Crying in H Mart,” by the musician Michelle Zauner). Last month, the chain purchased an entire shopping center in San Francisco for $37 million. Patel Brothers has 52 locations in 20 states, with six more stores planned in the next two years. 99 Ranch opened four new branches just last year, bringing its reach to 62 stores in 11 states. Weee!, an online Asian food store, is valued at $4.1 billion.
  • Asian grocery stores are no longer niche businesses: They are a cultural phenomenon.
  • Asian American grocers still represent less than one percent of the total U.S. grocery business,
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  • ate which products the big-box chains stock.
  • But these stores exercise an outsize impact, she said, as they di
  • more than any restaurant, cookbook or online video, Asian grocers are driving this shift.
  • April 2023 to April 2024, sales of items in the “Asian/ethnic aisle” in U.S. grocery stores grew nearly four times more than overall sales
  • Miso, ghee, turmeric, soy sauce — their journeys to becoming widely available pantry staples all began with an Asian grocer.
  • H Mart is attracting the clientele of the big grocers, too. Thirty percent of its shoppers today are non Asian, Mr. Kwon said, and he’s made changes to continue drawing them
  • placing more emphasis on in-store tastings, explaining how ingredients are used and posting signs in both Korean and English. Similarly, at 99 Ranch, the announcements ring out in Mandarin and English, and Western music has been added to the store playlists.
  • Swetal Patel, a partner at Patel Brothers, said that as the chain has expanded its audience — he estimates that 20 to 25 percent of shoppers are now non South Asian
  • “I find it fascinating that there are things on the shelf that I have no idea what they are,” said Jill Connors, an economic development director for the city of Dubuque, Iowa, who started shopping at Hornbill Asian Market earlier this year because she and her husband became vegan and wanted high-quality tofu at a reasonable price.
  • The sheer variety of foods to explore “brings more joy to the shopping and cooking process,”
Javier E

The Influencer Is a Young Teenage Girl. The Audience Is 92% Adult Men. - WSJ - 0 views

  • Instagram makes it easy for strangers to find photos of children, and its algorithm is built to identify users’ interests and push similar content. Investigations by The Wall Street Journal and outside researchers have found that, upon recognizing that an account might be sexually interested in children, Instagram’s algorithm recommends child accounts for the user to follow, as well as sexual content related to both children and adults.
  • That algorithm has become the engine powering the growth of an insidious world in which young girls’ online popularity is perversely predicated on gaining large numbers of male followers. 
  • Instagram photos of young girls become a dark currency, swapped and discussed obsessively among men on encrypted messaging apps such as Telegram. The Journal reviewed dozens of conversations in which the men fetishized specific body parts and expressed pleasure in knowing that many parents of young influencers understand that hundreds, if not thousands, of pedophiles have found their children online.   
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  • One man, speaking about one of his favorite young influencers in a Telegram exchange captured by a child-safety activist, said that her mother knew “damn well” that many of her daughter’s followers were “pervy adult men.”
  • Meta looms over everything young influencers do on Instagram. It connects their accounts with strangers, and it can upend their star turns when it chooses. The company periodically shuts down accounts if it determines they have violated policies against child sexual exploitation or abuse. Some parents say their accounts have been shut down without such violations. 
  • Over the course of reporting this story, during which time the Journal inquired about the account the mom managed for her daughter, Meta shut down the account twice. The mom said she believed she hadn’t violated Meta’s policies. 
  • Meta’s guidance for content creators stresses the importance of engaging with followers to keep them and attract new ones. The hundreds of comments on any given post included some from other young fashion influencers, but also a large number of men leaving comments like “Gorgeous!” The mom generally liked or thanked them all, save for any that were expressly inappropriate. 
  • Meta spokesman Andy Stone said the company enables parents who run accounts for their children to control who is able to message them on Instagram or comment on their accounts. Meta’s guidance for creators also offers tips for building a safe online community, and the company has publicized a range of tools to help teens and parents achieve this.
  • Like many young girls, the daughter envied fashion influencers who made a living posting glamour content. When the mother agreed to help her daughter build her following and become an influencer, she set some rules. Her daughter wouldn’t be allowed to access the account or interact with anyone who sent messages. And they couldn’t post anything indicating exactly where they live. 
  • The mom stopped blocking so many users. Within a year of launching, the account had more than 100,000 followers. The daughter’s popularity earned her invitations to modeling events in big coastal cities where she met other young influencers. 
  • Social-media platforms have helped level the playing field for parents seeking an audience for their children’s talents. Instagram, in particular, is visually driven and easily navigable, which also makes it appealing for child-focused brands.
  • While Meta bans children under the age of 13 from independently opening social-media accounts, the company allows what it calls adult-run minor accounts, managed by parents. Often those accounts are pursuing influencer status, part of a burgeoning global influencer industry expected to be worth $480 billion by 2027, according to a recent Goldman Sachs report. 
  • Young influencers, reachable through direct messages, routinely solicit their followers for patronage, posting links to payment accounts and Amazon gift registries in their bios.
  • The Midwestern mom debated whether to charge for access to extra photos and videos via Instagram’s subscription feature. She said she has always rejected private offers to buy photos of her daughter, but she decided that offering subscriptions was different because it didn’t involve a one-on-one transaction.
  • The Journal asked Meta why it had at some points removed photos from the account. Weeks later, Meta disabled the account’s subscription feature, and then shut down the account without saying why. 
  • “There’s no personal connection,” she said. “You’re just finding a way to monetize from this fame that’s impersonal.”
  • The mom allowed the men to purchase subscriptions so long as they kept their distance and weren’t overtly inappropriate in messages and comments. “In hindsight, they’re probably the scariest ones of all,” she said. 
  • Stone, the Meta spokesman, said that the company will no longer allow accounts that primarily post child-focused content to offer subscriptions or receive gifts, and that the company is developing tools to enforce that.
  • he mom saw her daughter, though young, as capable of choosing to make money as an influencer and deciding when she felt uncomfortable. The mom saw her own role as providing the support needed for her daughter to do that.
  • The mom also discussed safety concerns with her now ex-husband, who has generally supported the influencer pursuit. In an interview, he characterized the untoward interest in his daughter as “the seedy underbelly” of the industry, and said he felt comfortable with her online presence so long as her mom posted appropriate content and remained vigilant about protecting her physical safety.
  • an anonymous person professing to be a child-safety activist sent her an email that contained screenshots and videos showing her daughter’s photos being traded on Telegram. Some of the users were painfully explicit about their sexual interest. Many of the photos were bikini or leotard photos from when the account first started.
  • Still, the mom realized she couldn’t stop men from trading the photos, which will likely continue to circulate even after her daughter becomes an adult. “Every little influencer with a thousand or more followers is on Telegram,” she said. “They just don’t know it.”
  • Early last year, Meta safety staffers began investigating the risks associated with adult-run accounts for children offering subscriptions, according to internal documents. The staffers reviewed a sample of subscribers to such accounts and determined that nearly all the subscribers demonstrated malicious behavior toward children.
  • The staffers found that the subscribers mostly liked or saved photos of children, child-sexualizing material and, in some cases, illicit underage-sex content. The users searched the platform using hashtags such as #sexualizegirls and #tweenmodel. 
  • The staffers found that some accounts with large numbers of followers sold additional content to subscribers who offered extra money on Instagram or other platforms, and that some engaged with subscribers in sexual discussions about their children. In every case, they concluded that the parents running those accounts knew that their subscribers were motivated by sexual gratification.
  • In the following months, the Journal began its own review of parent-run modeling accounts and found numerous instances where Meta wasn’t enforcing its own child-safety policies and community guidelines. 
  • The Journal asked Meta about several accounts that appeared to have violated platform rules in how they promoted photos of their children. The company deleted some of those accounts, as well as others, as it worked to address safety issues.
  • In 2022, Instagram started letting certain content creators offer paid-subscription services. At the time, the company allowed accounts featuring children to offer subscriptions if they were run or co-managed by parents.
  • The removal of the account made for a despondent week for the mom and daughter. The mother was incensed at Meta’s lack of explanation and the prospect that users had falsely reported inappropriate activity on the account. She was torn about what to do. When it was shut down, the account had roughly 80% male followers.
  • The account soon had more than 100,000 followers, about 92% of whom were male, according to the dashboard. Within months, Meta shut down that account as well. The company said the account had violated its policies related to child exploitation, but it didn’t specify how. 
  • Meta’s Stone said it doesn’t allow accounts it has previously shut down to resume the same activity on backup accounts. 
Javier E

Opinion | Jan. 6, America's Rupture and the Strange, Forgotten Power of Oblivion - The ... - 0 views

  • This is not the first time our nation has survived a profound internal rupture, but it may be the first time in which the political ringleaders of the revolt may very well escape much accountability while hundreds of their followers serve jail time.
  • In previous times of national crisis, the same spirit of mercy that Mr. Biden conjured generally applied to lower-level offenders, while those who had committed the worst crimes were the first to be arrested and tried for their treasonous acts.
  • As a legal mechanism, oblivion promised the return to a past that still had a future, in which the battles of old would not predetermine those still to come. It did not always achieve its lofty aspirations, nor was it appropriate for all conflicts. But the ideals it grasped for had an enduring appeal.
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  • After the Civil War, a series of amnesties were passed, eventually encompassing almost all Confederate soldiers.
  • The complicit were so great in number that identifying and trying every one of them would come at significant cost, but more important, no law could sufficiently condemn what they had done, and no criminal procedure could adequately consecrate the memory of their wrongs.
  • the “act of oblivion,” an ancient, imperfect legal and moral mechanism for bringing an end to episodes of political violence. These acts were invoked when forgiveness was impossible, yet when pragmatism demanded a certain strain of forgetting — a forgetting that instead of erasing unforgivable transgressions, paradoxically memorialized them in the minds of all who had survived their assault
  • Rather than relying upon the courts to deliver impossible and unattainable forms of reckoning, oblivion provided opportunities for the extralegal recognition of political and moral wrongs, and reminded its subjects of the desire for, and necessity of, coexistence.
  • For centuries, legislative “acts of oblivion” were declared in times when betrayal, war and tyranny had usurped and undermined the very foundations of law; when a household or nation had been torn apart, its citizens pitted against one another; when identifying, investigating, trying and sentencing every single guilty party threatened to redouble the harm
  • Under the oblivions of old, the ringleaders of riots, insurrections and tyrannical reigns were prosecuted for their crimes and in many cases were forced out of the cities and states they had once claimed to rule. Treasonous leaders were prohibited from holding public office
  • I wondered what it would mean to revive the old idea of oblivion in our age of seemingly unending memory.
  • Oblivion demanded accountability for those who bore primary responsibility for political rupture and often required material compensation and restitution for the harms don
  • consecrating the facts of what had occurred while refusing to allow the misfortunes of the past to dictate the future.
  • over the course of the 20th century, as the cultural tide gradually turned toward an embrace of remembrance and recrimination, oblivion fell out of favor, and out of collective memory.
  • The oldest act of oblivion is usually dated to 403 B.C., when the Athenians, having survived the bloody reign of the Thirty Tyrants, swore to never remember the wrongs of a war within the family, a civil war that had divided Athens.
  • The 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, the supposed origin point of our world of sovereign states, promised that all the violence, hostility, damage and expenses that had been incurred “on the one side, and the other … shall be bury’d in eternal Oblivion.”
  • In 1660, the Indemnity and Oblivion Act restored the British monarchy after the English Civil War
  • To remember the power of oblivion is not to naïvely wish away the wrongs of the recent past, but rather quite the opposite: By marking certain transgressions as unforgivable and unforgettable, it recognizes the depth of the loss while also opening a path toward political pragmatism
  • the Continental Congress passed a resolution recommending that states treat loyalists with leniency, “to receive such returning penitents with compassion and mercy, and to forgive and bury in oblivion their past failings and transgressions.” Punishments for loyalists were, according to the scholar Mugambi Jouet, “particularly mild” for the era.
  • Over the past several decades, our society has become oversaturated with memory. In our legal system, a single, low-level crime can ruin an individual’s life forever, people are forced to serve sentences for acts that are no longer illegal, and even a sealed conviction or an arrest with no charge can jeopardize job, housing and volunteer opportunities.
  • This virtual culture of incessant, uncompromising remembrance and recrimination has seeped from our screens, affecting the kinds of conversations we are willing to have in public, and with whom.
  • Every day, we depend on our devices to store every photograph, every video, every file. We store all these things because we have learned a bit too well that it is important to remember, to archive, to keep receipts and screenshots. To create a faithful, digitized log not only of our own lives but also of those around us
  • we have been very good students of memory. So good that we have, I think, forgotten what all our memory is for — that it can guide us to choose justice over vengeance
  • Revisiting the forgotten idea of oblivion would give us permission to reconsider our unthinking overdependence on memory and perhaps to begin to let go of all the data, digital and otherwise, that we do not need
  • our personal and political memories, which, left to fester for too long, can corrode and transform, causing us to lose sight of their original force and feeling.
  • Gripped too tightly, memory can become a vengeful and violent force.
  • The unique power of oblivion is that it does not forgive the crimes committed on one side or the other, but rather consecrates and memorializes the profound gravity of the wrongs. It demands accountability and refuses absolution, yet it rejects the project of perpetual punishment.
  • Historically, appeals to oblivion offered political communities the prospect of rethinking the present, presenting a rare opportunity to re-evaluate and confront societal divisions.
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