August 12th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Guam

Daily Dot

The Government of Guam has issued a 2-page document that details what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.

Kenya

Sputnik

The incumbent Kenyatta won the presidential elections in. His main rival claims the vote was rigged. There were stand-offs between government loyalists and opposition supporters. The last time this happened (2007), thousands died.

North Korean Conflict

Zero Hedge

Breitbart

We’re going to have to wait and see if even the hardline trumpists like Zero Hedge will get behind this administration opening a two-front war. From what I read, they thought the interventionism of Obama and Clinton was the worst thing to happen. They were firm isolationists, for the most part. Though I don’t think anybody really believes that anybody in the White House actually thinks this is an option that could be explored.

Society

Zero Hedge

The guy who wrote the diversity memo and got fired wrote an op-ed for WSJ. You can’t read the complete thing because you need an account, but the link above has a part of the article.

Immigration

Quillette

Argument against open borders. Author claim that this is not against immigration in general, but says that cases for open borders must be more nuanced. That’s a statement that I agree with in general, though the author does make one absurd claim: that tribalism is so robust because small groups are better at achieving certain results which lead to prosperity. This is ridiculous. Tribalism is a feature of politics which sees ethnic classes banding together. It’s not particularly self-aware or reflexive. In other word, tribalism justifies itself on the basis of ethnicity, not on the basis of efficacy.

Society

The Cut

Article on the politics of “blondeness.”

Legally Blonde - The Musical (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Legally Blonde – The Musical (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

August 4th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Feminism

Feministing

Very interesting article on the nature of what we would call modern feminism today. Again, I’m not criticizing the nature of any movement for equality that people desire. I just think there’s much to criticize in most post-modern movements. I think they all arise from this idea of absolute individual autonomy that borders on the western notion of owning something (in this case, the body) as the absolute. I also think that there are very real problems with how we code consent (as a binary), when it’s really about power relations. Take for example the fact that we think it’s wrong for a tenured professor to sleep with an undergrad student. There’s clearly no parity in terms of power between the two.

“That self-criticality means advocating for consent while questioning Western individualism’s reliance on the language of capitalism. For example, in Richard M. Wright’s essay on teaching consent through playtime, Wright explains sexual consent using the example of a friend wanting to borrow a book – if your friend says no or expresses hesitation, the author writes, you shouldn’t borrow their book. While the example itself is useful, upon closer examination it troubled me: I want to be able to make an argument for our rights over our bodies without necessarily relying on the idea of property ownership.

How do we imagine a standard of bodily autonomy which doesn’t reduce us to a libertarian vision of atomized individuals trading consent on a free market, but instead emphasizes our codependence?”

Feminist Current

Article and podcast on how the movement about reproductive rights should not be about “rights” but should be about sovereignty.

Iran

The Iran Project

Iran says its non-oil exports remain uncompetitive. This, despite the fact that the dropping of the sanctions was supposed to ease some pressure.

Iran Export Ship (Image Source: Flickr)
Iran Export Ship (Image Source: Flickr)

United States

FiveThirtyEight

Discussion on what Trump needs to do to right the ship. Strictly Machiavellian (as they mention themselves).

August 4th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Opioid Crisis

Vice

Very thorough article on the nature of what we call the opioid epidemic in the United States and the fact that it’s really about more than just opioids and it’s a lot deadlier than people think. It’s also true that this affects poorer people disproportionately. Most people agree that middle America is already having a tough time with the exodus of manufacturing jobs. Those started leaving in 90s, I believe.

Jobs

Washington Post

Manufacturing jobs might not be dead in America. They might have just migrated to the coast. Trump also said that he wanted to make encouraging people to move, a part of the outreach to his voter base. He wants to send the message that if you want jobs, you might have to move for it. There’s a hitch though (it’s also mentioned in the article). The 2008 mortgage crisis made the homes of individuals worthless. Most of them lost their homes. Some of them managed to pay off the debt, but are stuck with homes that nobody wants to buy. That’s an enormous sunk cost to just leave lying around.

LGBT

Vice

I think that is we have a romantic view of what it might be to part of communities such as the furry community. It seems to be a way for people to connect sexually in a manner that makes them feel more comfortable. For young LGBT kids, as the article points out, the furry community can be very important. I get all of that, and I think that it’s pretty great, but I can’t help feeling like our sexuality is slipping further and further into the realm of the imagination. Our ideas of sexuality have changed so drastically over the past century. Just think about that for a second. In all the years of human existence, even modern human existence, we haven’t seen a period of such rapid change. There’s no way all of this will turn out to be positive in the long term.

Dutch Furries Gorichem (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Dutch Furries Gorichem (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Real Estate

Richard Green

It is not that difficult–if you have access to capital.  Here are the steps:

(1) Buy an apartment complex for $10,000,000 at a 4.5 percent cap rate with a 35 percent downpayment; finance $6,500,000 with an interest only loan at 3.5 percent that comes due in five years.

(2) Let’s say 35 percent of the value of the property is land and the remainder is improvements. Improvements on apartments are depreciated on a straight line basis over 27.5 years.  So taxable income is

450,000-227,500 (interest) – 236,363 = -13,863 or a taxable loss.

Meanwhile, cash flow is 222,500 per year.  So one gets cash while taking a tax loss.

(3) It gets better.  Suppose when refinancing happens in five years, the property has gained 20 percent in value.  Now one gets a 65 percent LTV loan on a $12,000,000 property–and gets to pull $1,300,000 out of the property.  Suppose NOI has also gone up 20 percent.  Sow now taxable income is

540,000-273,000-236,363 = 30,636.

Assume that the owner’s all in marginal tax rate is 50 percent.  In exchange for a one time $1,300,000 in cash and cash flow of $267,000, the owner pays a little over $15,000 in taxes and 3.5 percent in interest on the extra money.  No matter how one looks at it, this is a tax rate on cash of less than 10 percent.

It keeps going for 27.5 years, at which point the owner can defer taxes via a like-kind exchange. All of this is perfectly legal.  And it explains why salaried workers pay more in taxes than owners of capital.

Race

Vice

Affirmative action is controversial in any country that it is practiced in. In India, it’s a bit (very) different. Government institutions have quotas to fill. Also, we deal with caste, and not race. Very different monster, but that’s a story for another day.

I know you’re not a lawyer, but what’s your sense of how this might play given the Supreme Court has repeatedly said some consideration of race is kosher?
It’s very difficult to know what the Supreme Court would decide given the recent personnel changes. But even before, it’s a very divisive topic. One judge could change the ruling. And the Supreme Court has already made it more difficult for institutions to implement affirmative action. They want some more accountability. So an institution cannot just say they gave admission to a minority student because they want diversity. That’s not enough. The institution has to bring evidence that it tried every other option available that is race-neutral to increase racial and ethnic diversity, like implement various programs, before they started using affirmative action. The court sees the benefit of diversity but would prefer that people achieve that with race-neutral means. Of course, that’s quite impossible. And that’s a very important point to keep in mind. But the institution has to prove they tried.

So the University of Texas did a great job demonstrating they had these programs, which is why the court granted them the option to continue with Affirmative Action. There will be another institution that is less diligent in designing race-neutral admissions policies before they do racial preferences. I don’t know what the court decision will be then.”

August 3rd – International News Round-Up (Part II)

United States

Vice

Trump tweeted out that the market was at an all-time high and that stocks have never been worth as much. I haven’t checked, but this is probably true. Vice provides you with all the usual caveats to this statement.

Job Market

Zero Hedge

Article speculates that real unemployment numbers are much higher than the government is telling them. I don’t know either way. I’m more interested in the number of people who want jobs in Amazon now. It feels like it did a couple of years ago when everybody wanted a job at facebook, then at google, and now at Amazon.

Amazon (Image Source: Flickr)
Amazon (Image Source: Flickr)

Authorship

Nieman Storyboard

Katherine Boo on her craft. It’s an interesting read. Actually, makes me want to find that book of hers and see if it manages to buck the trend and not be another white person writing about Bombay. That being said, I actually like point number 8 in the article.

8) I don’t try to find simple characters.

“If you’re searching for a super-virtuous character, you’re denying … the infinite variety of the human condition,” Boo said. “When I select people to write about, I’m looking for individuals who don’t necessarily fit existing blueprints and whose choices and actions reveal the most about the societies they inhabit.” Boo also doesn’t believe in making herself a character in the story so that readers will have someone to identify with, as many of her editors have encouraged. “If you have this image of me constantly present, that distracts you from what’s going on,” she said.

July 29th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

United States

The Washington Post

Republicans need tax reform to go through. Apparently, the country hasn’t had major tax reform in 31 years. Losing that would be too many losses for the first year of the Trump administration.

Political Wire

This doesn’t explain why Priebus is gone and the Mooch is still around!

Vox

Kelly was one of three generals that Trump placed in his cabinet. He’s been the one who has stayed out of the spotlight for the most bit. The article points out that he presents the Trump administration with a tough “soldiers general” type personality. Presumably, this will at least please the people who voted for him primarily on the issue of migration.

John F. Kelly (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
John F. Kelly (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Jezebel

Trump bites harder into the anti-immigrant narrative. Watch the speech in full, if you can. A more robust stance on domestic soil will deflect from the fact that there is tremendous opposition from the legislative bodies. As mentioned before, this will also please a large portion of his support base that voted for him to be harder on immigration. The article also states sources that point out that this isolates illegal immigrants and drives them into the arms of MS-13. What incentive do immigrants have to help law enforcement authorities in an environment like this?

Drug Trade

Fusion

Cocaine produced and packed in Mexico relies on Guatemalan drug cartels to supply to the United States. It’s a stop off point on the trade route, so to speak.

Society

Rewire

On the subject of disasters and how the ensuing displacement of people can result in a permanently altered city. Naomi Klein spoke of this in the shock doctrine. There seems to be mounting evidence that she was quite right.

In Defense of Marxism

A Marxist interpretation of the Catalan question and how the author sees the proletariat of the Catalan region as having been let down by the petty bourgeoisies, at the first sign of external resistance.

Alt-Right/ Neo-Nazi

The Daily Stormer

An Alt-Right/ Neo-Nazi writer actually posted made a reference to a song by The Clash and posted a link to the song on Youtube. The irony is killing me.

The Daily Stormer

There’s some gushing about Scaramucci at the very end. It’s quite fascinating that liberal media and websites like the Daily Stormer can mention the exact same things and feel completely different about them. All of the incidents that the media reports as being indicative of crippling instability in the trump administration are exactly what the people who write for publications like the Daily Stormer want. They want the chaos.

Sudan

Sudan Tribune

Khartoum is denying that the Jebel Marra area has any need for assistance. This comes in the wake of the weekly UN bulletin that said otherwise. The government also pointed out that the World Food Program and various EU officials can attest to the fact that Jebel Marra was not in fact facing the kind of acute crisis of food, nutrition and security that the UN reported it as.

Jul 27th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Alt-Right/ Neo- Nazi

National Alliance via VNN Forum

Article is the transcript of a radio broadcast. It’s actually the first article that I have read that very clearly details the basis of the worldview of all those who are on Daily Stormer and the Vanguard Network and the entire Neo-Nazi alliance. The specific question that I had was what was the fount of much of this rhetoric. According to the Dr. Pierce that is said to have been the man behind the broadcast, the Jewish world that he sees as taking hold in the world, all came from this one transcript: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which had been published by a Russian, who had got him from another Russian official who had got it from a member of the Russian Nobility, who had herself got it from a Jew in Paris.

He then goes on to explain how communism was essentially harnessed by this alliance of Jews to wrestle power away from the gentiles. It’s difficult to see how communism could have been one monolithic institution that could have been manipulated to a specific end. Dr. Pierce counts Marx and Stalin as players in this game that he sees playing out in the world. Interestingly he points out that the Russian who published the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was not publishing an already finished document, but was instead a patriot who recognized how “harmful” the Jews were to Russia and decided to create this bit of literature to illustrate his point.

Sounds like baiting to me.

United States

FiveThirtyEight

FiveThirtyEight and their weekly political chat on what Trump hopes to gain from this Sessions fiasco, what’s going to happen to Comey and if this is a bad situation for the administration (yes, it is.)

Tech

Motherboard

Motherboard (VICE) video on what you need to build an ethereum mining rig and the parts that you need to do it. Use the links and VICE Media gets kickbacks. Support them if you like them, maybe. Or alternatively you could go on Youtube and learn how to do it. It’s not that complex. Though I will have to warn you that it’s not worth the effort unless you have the money to really scale up the process and know how to create cooling solutions for these monster mining rigs that people have.

Ethereum (Image Source: Flickr)
Ethereum (Image Source: Flickr)

(1) MSI Z-170a Motherboard – http://fave.co/2vGI3LV

(2) 470rx Gigabyte graphics processing units –
http://fave.co/2h0XzyP

(2) powered risers – http://fave.co/2h19X22

(8) ½ in. aluminum angles – http://fave.co/2h1a1P8 cut to 14 inches

(5) ½ in. aluminum angles – http://fave.co/2h1a1P8 cut to 24 inches

(3) 1×2 wooden blocks – http://fave.co/2h1uyTJ

(1) 1000 watt Corsair power supply unit – http://fave.co/2vH129p

(1) Intel Celeron G3900 central processing unit –
http://fave.co/2h132pH

(1) 4 GB stick of RAM – http://fave.co/2vGLcvc

(1) power switch – http://fave.co/2h0y0hE

(1) ethernet cable – http://fave.co/2h1diOs

(1) 16 GB USB stick – http://fave.co/2vGJMkk

(1) computer monitor – http://fave.co/2vH9y8i

(1) computer keyboard – http://fave.co/2vGPIK6

(1) computer mouse – http://fave.co/2h1iGRC

(1) pack of zipties – http://fave.co/2h11I69

(36) self-driving screws – http://fave.co/2vGLjXP

July 24th – International News and Writings Round-Up (Part I)

Iraq

Musing on Iraq

Ayatollah Ali Sistani called on Iraqis and the Iraqi forces in specific to not engage in the handing out of the extra-judicial punishment to captured IS forces in the recently captured city of Mosul. There have also been reports of confrontation between the various armed forces/militia that helped in the military assault on IS controlled Mosul. Bodies continue to be moved as an eerie calm descends on the city.

Iraqi News

2 policemen were killed in a bomb blast took place at the entrance of Fallujah City in the Anbar Province in Iraq. Iraqi defense forces have restored some calm since retaking the cities in the Anbar province from the Islamic State.

Ukraine

Kyivpost

Anzhelina Diash, a Femen activist who bared her breasts, which had “Long Live Belarus” scrawled on, in black. Her protest took place at the meeting of the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The specific action that could lead to her facing time in prison is the fact that she resisted arrest when a law-enforcement official attempted to remove her from the premises.

Femen Activists
Femen Activists (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

France

Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron has been having a rough time. His approval ratings dropped a full 10 percentage points, though he still enjoys 54% approval in France. The drop-off in popularity comes after spats with his Prime Minister and with the former Chief of the Armed Forces.

Venezuela

Reuters

Venezuela’s opposition coalition controlled parliamentarians called for a 2-day strike against the government of Nicolas Maduro. Violence continues to grip the country. Wuilly Arteaga, a violinist, who is famous for adding a musical flavor to the protest has been injured in the newest wave of protests. Maduro does not seem to be backing down, despite increasing national and international pressure. He also reportedly took to state TV to sing along to John Lennon’s Imagine, in a confusing display of symbology.

Syria

Iraqi News

Russian cluster bombs have killed 25 people in the besieged city of Raqqa. Reports suggest that they were probably civilians.

United States

Marginal Revolution

President Trump might not have the power to grant pardons to anybody he wants to. According to Marginal Revolution, the President can only grant pardons for federal crimes, and not crimes that came under the jurisdiction of specific states.

“President’s authority to grant clemency is limited to federal offenses and offenses prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia in the name of the United States in the D.C. Superior Court.  An offense that violates a state law is not an offense against the United States.  A person who wishes to seek a pardon or a commutation of sentence for a state offense should contact the authorities of the state in which the conviction occurred.  Such state authorities are typically the Governor or a state board of pardons and/or paroles, if the state government has created such a board.”