By Peter S. Goodman
April 1, 2019
LONDON — In the political realm, no one knows how Brexit’s long-running theater of the absurd will end. But for much of the business world, Britain’s departure from the European Union has effectively happened.
Nearly three years of uncertainty since the June 2016 referendum has forced companies to plan for the worst — the prospect that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a deal governing future relations. The twisting road to Brexit has already slowed economic growth, discouraged investment and damaged the reputation of the nation as a haven for commerce.
Global banks and other financial services companies are steadily shifting thousands of jobs and more than $1 trillion in assets to European cities to ensure that they are able to serve customers across the English Channel regardless of the rules that national regulators impose after Brexit.
Japanese automakers have scrapped plans to expand in Britain, in part because Brexit undermines the country’s virtues as a hub for European trade.
As Scotland transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energy, it is investing in an unexpected source: tidal currents. Similar to wind turbines, which sit above ground, tidal turbines are one hundred feet below water and use tides instead of wind to generate power. In the first of a two-part series, Hari Sreenivasan reports on what may become the world’s biggest tidal power resource.
By Philip N. Howard
Professor Howard is the director of the Oxford Internet Institute and the author of “Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up.”
March 27, 2019
Some of the Facebook ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the 2016 American presidential election, released by members of the House Intelligence Committee in late 2017.
Jon Elswick/Associated Press
“Despite the best efforts of several technology firms, there still seem to be secretive groups distributing political ads without disclosing who is funding those ads. Even if Facebook starts discouraging advertisers from targeting users on the basis of race, gender or age, as it recently announced, the wealth of existing data that it has already collected will still allow advertisers to do sophisticated ad targeting.
Social media firms want to regulate themselves, and Google has threatened to withdraw all political ads in Canada if it finds transparency rules too onerous. Facebook offers political ad archives in a few countries, and searching by hand is laborious. Independent researchers can investigate trends computationally, but Facebook, Twitter and Google are doing more and more to restrict access. There is negligible access to Instagram, where huge volumes of Russian-origin misinformation now flows. Banning political ads or creating partial ad archives in some countries won’t strengthen the world’s democracies. Ad bans give incumbent politicians an unfair advantage, and establishing partial ad archives gives political ad buyers an incentive to not declare their ads as political.
Elections officials and ad regulators in the world’s democracies urgently need to sort this out: Nearly a billion people in India and across Europe will prepare to vote in the next few months, and presidential campaigning in the United States has already started. The solution is to have all technology companies put all ads, all the time, into public archives.”
By Leigh Elston
Ms. Elston writes about the energy industry in sub-Saharan Africa.
March 26, 2019
A A A family stranded after Cyclone Ida in the Buzi District of Mozambique last Thursday.CreditCreditSiphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
“MAPUTO, Mozambique — On Tuesday evening, five days after Cyclone Idai hit central Mozambique and the rains started, thousands of survivors were still stranded, waiting to be rescued from trees or the roofs of houses.
On that same evening, far from the floods, I was in an air-conditioned office here in the capital with a group of bankers and oil industry executives, hearing about how rich and happy Mozambicans would soon be. Standard Bank was presenting a new report on the billions of dollars it predicted the Mozambique government will earn from the giant natural gas projects the American oil companies Exxon Mobil and Anadarko plan to start building in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado this year.
We observed a minute of silence for the victims of the flood. What was not observed was the possibility that climate change, driven by the oil and gas industry, had any responsibility for the natural disaster.
If the Standard Bank report is right, Mozambique will earn $80 billion to $100 billion over the next 30 years from Exxon’s project alone. Anadarko’s project is estimated to deliver $67 billion. Those are huge sums in a country whose gross domestic product is estimated to be around $14 billion.
With that kind of money, the government could hire around 850 doctors and 17,600 teachers, build 3,200 low-cost homes and provide 4,000 hospital beds, the bank estimates.
It could rebuild Beira, Mozambique’s fourth-largest city, 90 percent of which is estimated to have been damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Idai, and the town of Buzi, home to 200,000 inhabitants, which is totally submerged.
It could also fund a proper climate risk management and resilience program, which would be able to provide better warning of disasters, giving people time to evacuate, and improve rescue and relief efforts. It could finance the building of houses, schools, hospitals and roads better able to withstand storms and flooding.
This should be a priority. Mozambique ranks third in Africa as the most exposed to weather-related hazards, including cyclones, droughts and floods — the number and intensity of which are likely to increase.”
Thank you Leigh Elston for this tragic and disturbing story. It breaks my heart, because, I sense deeply, that it is beyond my powers to help the poor and middle class of Mozambique, or to stop the government from stealing the wealth of the country, while contributing to the ruin of the planet’s environments.
By Somini Sengupta Photographs by Charlotte de la Fuente
March 25, 2019, 189
COPENHAGEN — Can a city cancel out its greenhouse gas emissions?
Copenhagen intends to, and fast. By 2025, this once-grimy industrial city aims to be net carbon neutral, meaning it plans to generate more renewable energy than the dirty energy it consumes.
Here’s why it matters to the rest of the world: Half of humanity now lives in cities, and the vast share of planet-warming gases come from cities. The big fixes for climate change need to come from cities too. They are both a problem and a potential source of solutions.
The experience of Copenhagen, home to 624,000 people, can show what’s possible, and what’s tough, for other urban governments on a warming planet.
The mayor, Frank Jensen, said cities “can change the way we behave, the way we are living, and go more green.” His city has some advantages. It is small, it is rich and its people care a lot about climate change.
By Gail Collins
March 20, 2019
When Donald Trump defaulted on a loan for Trump International Hotel in Chicago, he sued Deutsche Bank, which had lent him the money.CreditCreditDavid Kasnic for The New York Times
Department of Irony: Republicans can’t stop howling about socialism. But nobody makes capitalism look worse than Donald Trump.
The president’s party is trying to set up the 2020 election as a war against the S-word. “America will never be a socialist country,” Trump announced in his last State of the Union speech. At a big gathering of conservatives, Mike Pence warned that “Medicare for all” and the Green New Deal were “the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations … over the past century. That system is socialism.”
There have certainly been socialist disaster cases around the world, although the Republican definition seems to include everyplace that has universal health coverage. But the magic of the marketplace can get you into plenty of trouble, too. For a good example of when the system doesn’t work, just look at Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, which has given him about $2 billion in loans over the years. Two billion dollars to a guy whose major financial talent seems to be defaulting.
The Times’s David Enrich took us through the story this week. It starts in the late 1990s when Deutsche Bank was a kind of minor league player who wanted to be cool and get into U.S. commercial real estate lending in a big way. Where better to start than Trump? He owned stuff.
October 28, 2016
Erika Christakis is an early-childhood educator and the
By Erika Christakisauthor of “The Importance of Being Little.”
The right to speak freely may be enshrined in some of our nation’s great universities, but the culture of listening needs repair. That is the lesson I learned a year ago, when I sent an email urging Yale University students to think critically about an official set of guidelines on costumes to avoid at Halloween.
I had hoped to generate a reflective conversation among students: What happens when one person’s offense is another person’s pride? Should a costume-wearer’s intent or context matter? Can we always tell the difference between a mocking costume and one that satirizes ignorance? In what circumstances should we allow — or punish — youthful transgression?
“I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation,” I wrote, in part. “I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.”
David Lindsay: I am a graduate of Yale College, and this story is embarrassing, especially what happend to the spouse.
By Frank Bruni
March 19, 2019
“The bright side has been denied the attention it deserves,” writes Nicholas Christakis.
Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times
“The bright side has been denied the attention it deserves,” writes Nicholas Christakis.CreditCreditDemetrius Freeman for The New York Times
An intellectual rock star, Nicholas Christakis has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard and, since 2013, Yale. He has done trailblazing work — distilled in a TED talk, of course — on how our social networks shape us. All of the most esteemed academies that validate scholars’ brilliance have validated his. In 2009, Time magazine put him on its list of 100 most influential people.
But to many Americans, he is best known not for what he has accomplished but for what he absorbed: taunts and insults from furious Yale students who swarmed him in a campus courtyard one day. “You should not sleep at night!” one of them screeched, as he miraculously kept his cool, a mute punching bag. “You are disgusting!”
Perhaps you saw the video. It became a viral sensation in the fall of 2015, Exhibit A in the tension, on so many campuses, between free expression and many minority students’ pleas for an atmosphere in which they feel fully respected and safe. Christakis’s wife, Erika, who also taught at Yale back then, had circulated a memo in which she questioned a university edict against culturally insensitive Halloween costumes, suggesting that students could police themselves and should have both the freedom to err and the strength to cope with offense. She wrote that her husband concurred.
And all hell broke loose. Hundreds of students signed an open letter denouncing her and hundreds demanded that the couple be punished. There were protests. And when, in that courtyard, Christakis apologized for any pain that the memo had caused but refused to disavow its content, he was pilloried.
By Steven Kurutz
Feb. 16, 2019
Drowning in plastic, but not sure how to set yourself free? Plastic purgers say you can drastically reduce, if not eliminate, your plastic consumption by changing a few daily habits. Here are nine steps to get you started.
1. Carry a reusable bag.
This is Plastic-Free-Living 101. Take a cloth bag to the grocery store, farmers’ market, drugstore and anywhere else you may be given a plastic bag.
2. Use plastic-free containers.
Glass or metal jars can be used to store grains, nuts, flour and other foods, as well as laundry detergent, dish soap and body creams. But don’t automatically purge all of your plastic containers; that creates unnecessary waste.
Plastic purgers can never have enough stainless-steel bottles.CreditAdam Amengual for The New York Times
3. Pack a travel kit.
Bamboo cutlery and a nonplastic food tray, straw and water bottle will eliminate the need for most single-use plastics while on-the-go. “Restaurants and vendors all over the world are getting much more used to people bringing their own containers,” said Jay Sinha, a founder of Life Without Plastic, an online store.
“. . . . Mr. Lapid is aware of this. “Security will be the first demand every Israeli in his right mind will talk to you about,” he told me.
“There several issues in which the majority of Israelis — 70 to 80 percent — think approximately the same,” he said. “We are all students of the disengagement of 2005, in which Israel did what the world asked us to do. We left Gaza. We dismantled the settlements. And I supported it at the time. But you know what? It was a mistake, doing it unilaterally. The only thing that happened is that less than a year later they voted Hamas into power. We left them with 3,000 greenhouses for them to build an economy and instead they built training camps” for jihadis.
So where does that leave the West Bank? Can the occupation go on indefinitely?
He paused. “It’s a very American question.” Because Americans think “everything is fixable.”
“Really, really wanting something or desiring something strongly is just not enough,” he said. “I’m not willing to see one Jew die because someone took an unnecessary risk in the name of values I really cherish. Like peace, like humanity, like people’s need for self-recognition.” “