Opinion | The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

. .. . An agreement by the Palestinians and America’s Arab allies on their minimum foundations for negotiations, adds Ross, gives Palestinians cover to come back to the table and puts pressure on the Trump team to deliver a credible plan or be exposed as not being serious. And “it gives Israel a partner and some fateful choices to make.”

Say what you will about Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter 40 years ago, but they came to a point at Camp David where there were only hard choices — and they made them, and they made the right ones.

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President Jimmy Carter hosted the Egyptian president, Anwar el-Sadat, left, and the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, right, at the White House in September 1978.CreditAssociated Press
We’re again at a fateful moment. For the Palestinians, it’s choose nihilism or pacifism. For Israel, it’s choose separation from the Palestinians or get bi-nationalism or apartheid. For Jared and Donald, it’s either be serious — and be ready to take a tough stance with all parties, including Israel — or stay home.

Making progress toward peace requires telling everyone the truth, twisting everyone’s arms and not letting any party drive drunk. Not ready for that? Then stick to building condos and golf courses.

via Opinion | The Broken Pieces of Middle East Peace – The New York Times

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Civil says the future of media is blockchains and cryptocurrencies – By Mathew Ingram – Columbia Journalism Review

Civil’s infrastructure, including its version of a crypto-currency, is based on Ethereum. When the platform launches in the spring, it will do an “initial coin offering” that will give its staff—including a number of journalists the company is in the process of signing up as contributors—an ownership stake. And Civil tokens will also be used to pay journalists who distribute their content through the platform.

Iles says he originally got a journalism degree and wanted to become a journalist, but then got pulled into the marketing industry. He and his wife created a digital marketing company they later sold, and he started looking for something else to do.

ICYMI: Ouch! These are headlines editors probably wish they could take back

“I had continued to follow the discussions around the state of journalism, and I was struck by how far off the mark everyone was as far as the next thing that was going to save journalism,” Iles says. “No one went to the root cause, which was that journalism needed a new business model. The leading digital advertising companies [Facebook and Google] were the distribution point, and they were just continuing the spiral journalism was going down.” As he learned more about Bitcoin, Iles says he became convinced that it provided the opportunity to reinvent journalism for the Internet era, and to wean the industry off what he believed was a toxic reliance on advertising, onto a crowdfunded model.

“I thought we’ve wrapped the world in beams of light with the Internet, and that structure should be a boon to journalism, and free and independent journalism for that matter,” says Iles. “I thought we needed to think more radically, that the existing business model couldn’t just be tweaked back into the service of journalism.”

Civil has raised a total of $5 million from a fund called Consensus Systems that specializes in crypto-currency investments, including a startup called Ujo that is focused on bringing blockchain to the music business.

Maria Bustillos, a writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, is one of those who has signed on to be part of the platform, where she will be running a Civil-based digital magazine called Popula. Among the writers she has lined up are Sasha Frere-Jones, a former writer for The New Yorker.

via Civil says the future of media is blockchains and cryptocurrencies – Columbia Journalism Review

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What Is Bitcoin- and How Does It Work? – The New York Times

What is Bitcoin mining?
Bitcoin mining refers to the process through which new Bitcoins are created and given to computers helping to maintain the network. The computers involved in Bitcoin mining are in a sort of computational race to process new transactions coming onto the network. The winner — generally the person with the fastest computers — gets a chunk of new Bitcoins, 12.5 of them right now. (The reward is halved every four years.)

There is generally a new winner about every 10 minutes, and there will be until there are 21 million Bitcoins in the world. At that point, no new Bitcoins will be created. This cap is expected to be reached in 2140. So far, about 16 million Bitcoin have been distributed.

Every Bitcoin in existence was created through this method and initially given to a computer helping to maintain the records. Anyone can set his or her computer to mine Bitcoin, but these days only people with specialized hardware manage to win the race.

via What Is Bitcoin, and How Does It Work? – The New York Times

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The Sixth Extinction? | by Elizabeth Kolbert – The New Yorker

he town of El Valle de Antón, in central Panama, sits in the middle of a volcanic crater formed about a million years ago. The crater is almost four miles across, but when the weather is clear you can see the jagged hills that surround the town, like the walls of a ruined tower. El Valle has one main street, a police station, and an open-air market that offers, in addition to the usual hats and embroidery, what must be the world’s largest selection of golden-frog figurines. There are golden frogs sitting on leaves and—more difficult to understand—golden frogs holding cell phones. There are golden frogs wearing frilly skirts, and golden frogs striking dance poses, and ashtrays featuring golden frogs smoking cigarettes through a holder, after the fashion of F.D.R. The golden frog, which is bright yellow with dark-brown splotches, is endemic to the area around El Valle. It is considered a lucky symbol in Panama—its image is often printed on lottery tickets—though it could just as easily serve as an emblem of disaster.

via The Sixth Extinction? | The New Yorker

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The Real Cost of the 2008 Financial Crisis | – by John Cassidy – The New Yorker

There is much more to the story, though, than this uplifting Washington-based narrative. In “Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World,” the Columbia economic historian Adam Tooze points out that we are still living with the consequences of 2008, including the political ones. Using taxpayers’ money to bail out greedy and incompetent bankers was intrinsically political. So was quantitative easing, a tactic that other central banks also adopted, following the Fed’s lead. It worked primarily by boosting the price of financial assets that were mostly owned by rich people.

As wages and incomes continued to languish, the rescue effort generated a populist backlash on both sides of the Atlantic. Austerity policies, especially in Europe, added another dark twist to the process of political polarization. As a result, Tooze writes, the “financial and economic crisis of 2007-2012 morphed between 2013 and 2017 into a comprehensive political and geopolitical crisis of the post–cold war order”—one that helped put Donald Trump in the White House and brought right-wing nationalist parties to positions of power in many parts of Europe. “Things could be worse, of course,” Tooze notes. “A ten-year anniversary of 1929 would have been published in 1939. We are not there, at least not yet. But this is undoubtedly a moment more uncomfortable and disconcerting than could have been imagined before the crisis began.”

via The Real Cost of the 2008 Financial Crisis | The New Yorker

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Opinion | First- a Financial Crisis. Then a Geopolitical Crisis. – by David Leonhardt – NYT

The 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse — the signature moment of our modern financial crisis — will arrive on Saturday. Media organizations and book publishers are using the anniversary to look back over the last decade, and one of the best piece I’ve read so far is in the latest issue of The New Yorker, by John Cassidy.

It is a review of “Crashed,” a book by the economic historian Adam Tooze, and Cassidy’s central point is that the main aftershocks have been as much political as economic.

“We are still living with the consequences of 2008, including the political ones,” Cassidy writes. “As wages and incomes continued to languish, the rescue effort generated a populist backlash on both sides of the Atlantic. Austerity policies, especially in Europe, added another dark twist to the process of political polarization. As a result, Tooze writes, the ‘financial and economic crisis of 2007-2012 morphed between 2013 and 2017 into a comprehensive political and geopolitical crisis of the post-cold war order.’”

via Opinion | First, a Financial Crisis. Then a Geopolitical Crisis. – The New York Times

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Opinion | ‘Anonymous’ Is Hiding in Plain Sight – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

That’s the anonymous-G.O.P. credo today: We know Trump is a jerk, but you’ve gotta love the good stuff — you’ve got to admit that his tax cuts, deregulation, destruction of Obamacare and military buildup have fueled so much growth, defense spending and record stock market highs that we’re wealthier and more secure as a country, even if Trump is nuts. So our consciences are clear.

This view is not without foundation. Economic growth and employment have clearly been on a tear since Trump took office. I’m glad about that.

But what if Trump is actually heating up our economy by burning all the furniture in the house? It’s going to be nice and toasty for us — at least for a while — but where will our kids sleep?

via Opinion | ‘Anonymous’ Is Hiding in Plain Sight – The New York Times

David Lindsay Jr.:

Wow, Thank you Thomas Friedman. I knew I had something to say this week, and I was about to say it, but, not for the first time, I am scooped by Thomas Friedman.

With all my heart and soul, I endorse this op-ed. I wish I had written it.

Friedman went on to write:

“What if Trump’s tax cuts, deregulation, scrapping of Obamacare without any alternative and military spending surge were actually ill-thought-through, short-term-focused initiatives that all ignored expert opinion — because they mostly emerged from off-the-cuff remarks at Trump pep rallies — and collectively amount to a sugar high that not only will be unsustainable but will leave our economy far more vulnerable in the long term?

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President Trump promised to support the coal industry at a rally in Charleston, W.Va., in August.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Let’s take that view for a spin: I favor corporate tax cuts — big ones. But I would have offset them with a carbon tax, a tax on sugar and a small financial transaction tax. That way, we’d unleash the energy of our corporations while mitigating climate change, spurring the next great global industry — clean power — curbing childhood asthma and diabetes and not adding to our national debt, thereby making ourselves more resilient as a country.

When Trump simultaneously cuts corporate taxes and withdraws America from the Paris climate accord, tries to revive the coal industry by lowering pollution standards and weakens fuel economy standards for U.S.-made cars and trucks, he is vastly adding to the financial debts and carbon debts that will burden our children.

And he is doing this despite many economists warning that increasing thedeficit when your economy is already growing nicely is really, really reckless — because you may need that money to stimulate your way out of the next recession.”

He ends: “So the next time anonymous-G.O.P. lawmakers tell you that while Trump is a moral wreck — and they are saving the nation from his wretchedness — they love his tax cuts, deregulation and military budget, ask them to describe the strategic vision behind that defense budget. Ask them if they really are unbothered by massively increasing the deficit at a time when our economy was already growing — just when we should be saving cash to soften our next recession. Ask them if they really think it is smart to roll back our auto mileage standards, when the last time we did that the more fuel-efficient Japanese and Korean auto industries nearly killed Detroit.

Lastly, ask them if they have kids — and how they think all these Trumpian policies that they like, even if they don’t like Trump, will serve the next generation.”

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Opinion | The Real Lesson of Sept. 11 – by Joe Quinn – NYT

“. . . . . I learned that Osama bin Laden’s strategic logic was to embroil the United States in a never-ending conflict to ultimately bankrupt the country. “All that we have to do is send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written ‘Al Qaeda,’” he said in 2004, “in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note ….” Why are we continuing to do what Bin Laden wanted all along?

But that, ultimately, was not the thing I realized.

I learned that every part of me wanted to just stay quiet with my feelings about the war because I was afraid of what people might say. It’s easier to bask in the warm embrace of “Thank you for your service” without questioning what that service was for. One way or another, we were all affected by Sept. 11, which has caused us to view the war through a distorted lens. This is why most of us won’t comment or share or at least have a dialogue about the war.

But the main reason I wanted to stay quiet is because it has embarrassingly taken me 17 years to realize something, and what I realized was this: Seventeen years ago, staring at that picture of Mohammad Atta, I wanted revenge against the people who killed my brother. But what I finally realized was that the people who killed my brother died the same day he did.

I refuse to take Atta’s orders, or Bin Laden’s. I will not “stay quiet.” End the war.”

Joe Quinn is a United States Army veteran.

DL: In hindsight, invading Iraq and Afghanistan were mistakes. I recommend “State of Denial,” by Bob Woodward, for a briefing on the Iraq mismanagement.  We ignored the rules of war as delineated over a thousand years ago by Sun Tsu, in “The Art of War.”

For example, three of his cardinal rules are: know your enemy better than you know yourself.  Only go to war as a last resort. Never occupy a foreign land for a long time, it is too expensive, and reveals your ignorance while all of your advantages will slowly erode.

Having severely damaged these two counties, and Syria, Libya and Yemen, perhaps we have no better choice than to pull out.  Here is the top comment which I endorsed:

Ken of Sag Harbor
Sag Harbor, NY

I write from Tunis, working with Libyans. The biggest tragedy of 9/11 was not the humans killed that day but the American reaction. Funneling fury against a handful of Muslim Arabs upon a whole diverse people, we destroyed Iraq, and by contagion Syria, and then Libya, and now Yemen. Our racist anger blinded us. I am that rare bird, an American who speaks Arabic and gets the Middle East. I am working in all these nations, a miniscule clean-up crew against the colossal onslaught of American destruction. Our constants wars on the Middle East have not only led to the breaking apart of a whole swath of nations, which like Humpty are hard to put together again, but refugees flooding Europe and thereby triggering a global right-wing resurgence. In a hundred years they will look back at how a few hijacked planes led the most powerful nation on earth to destroy its legacy in a few short years. Osama must be thrilled. And it is not over.

 

via Opinion | The Real Lesson of Sept. 11 – The New York Times

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Opinion | Martina Navratilova: What Serena Got Wrong – The New York Times

“Serena Williams has part of it right. There is a huge double standard for women when it comes to how bad behavior is punished — and not just in tennis.

But in her protests against an umpire during the United States Open final on Saturday, she also got part of it wrong. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to apply a standard of “If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too.” Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?”

via Opinion | Martina Navratilova: What Serena Got Wrong – The New York Times

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Serena Williams Spotlights Tennis Inequities, but in the Best Way? – By Juliet Macur – NYT

“Had I behaved like that on a tennis court, I would have expected to get everything that happened to Serena,” said Martina Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and a record nine Wimbledon titles, and has been a longtime advocate for equality in the sport. “ It should’ve ended right there with the point warning, but Serena just couldn’t let it go.”

She added, “She completely had the right message about women’s inequality, but it wasn’t the right time to bring it up.”

Ramos officiated with his usual exacting eye. He gave Williams a warning for receiving coaching in the second set. His action was warranted because Williams’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, admitted to coaching her.”

. . .

“Billie Jean King, a pioneer for women’s equality in sports, weighed in on Twitter.

“When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it,’ ” King wrote. “When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no such repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”

Hard to argue with that. But it was disappointing that King said nothing about the poor timing of Williams’s powerful voice. It made me think back to last year’s Open, when the Italian player Fabio Fognini unleashed a barrage of Italian curses upon a female umpire and was kicked out of the tournament.

So sometimes, there are repercussions.

Rafael Nadal feuded with Ramos during last year’s French Open, and Djokovic did so at Wimbledon. “Double standards, my friend, double standards,” Djokovic said to Ramos. Those players vented and moved on without derailing the entire match.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Juliet Macur. I  agree with Martina Navratolova, Serena’s complaint was valid, but her timing and refusal to move on was terrible. A female friend wondered if the relentless anger might have been exaggerated by post partum spirits, or ferocity. I criticize the World Tennis Association, for not have more choices in the rules than, 1,2,3:  1, a warning, 2. dock a point, then 3. dock a game. In the end I fear that, the umpire made a judgement mistake, by taking a whole game away from Serena without a second soft warning. While Serena got what she deserved, it seems that the umpire did a disservice to Naomi Osaka, who was doing fine without his help, even though Serena was completely out of line. In defense of the umpire,  Serena did not appear to respect anything he said.

via Serena Williams Spotlights Tennis Inequities, but in the Best Way? – The New York Times

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