Monday, June 27, 2016

10 Injured During White Nationalist Protest in Sacramento - The New York Times

10 Injured During White Nationalist Protest in Sacramento - The New York Times:



 "A rally by a white nationalist group at California’s State Capitol in Sacramento became violent on Sunday when protesters clashed with the group, leaving at least 10 people hurt, two of them critically, fire officials said."



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Clashes Draw Support for Teachers’ Protest in Mexico - The New York Times

Clashes Draw Support for Teachers’ Protest in Mexico - The New York Times:



 "NOCHIXTLÁN, Mexico — The battle over education here has suddenly turned literal."



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Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions - The New York Times

Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions - The New York Times:



 "WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday struck down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state to about 10 from what was once a high of roughly 40."



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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Against Eurotimidity - The New York Times

Against Eurotimidity - The New York Times:



"I’m on vacation, but want to take a minute to react to this new “consensus” piece on shoring up the eurozone from Voxeu. The authors really are the best and brightest, economists who have been superb guides to the crisis and in some cases have made material contributions to solving or at least dealing with it. So I’d really like to say nice things."



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Fractures From ‘Brexit’ Vote Spread Into Opposition Labour Party - The New York Times

Fractures From ‘Brexit’ Vote Spread Into Opposition Labour Party - The New York Times:



"LONDON — Britain’s political crisis intensified on Sunday after its decision to leave the European Union, with the opposition Labour Party splitting into warring camps, Scotland’s leader suggesting that its local Parliament might try to block the departure and many Britons wondering if there was a plausible way for the nation to reconsider its drastic choice.

"



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Chile Tops Argentina in Shootout for Copa América Title - The New York Times

Chile Tops Argentina in Shootout for Copa América Title - The New York Times:



 "EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Faces puckered in pain and anger. Studded cleats whipped dangerously through the air, aimed at flesh. Bodies collided with other bodies, crumpling and splaying onto the grass."



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Friday, June 24, 2016

West Virginia Floods Cause 20 Deaths and Vast Wreckage - The New York Times

West Virginia Floods Cause 20 Deaths and Vast Wreckage - The New York Times:



 "Record flooding in West Virginia killed at least 20 people, stranded thousands, left thousands more without utilities, and washed away houses, roads and vehicles after a band of thunderstorms battered the region on Thursday."



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The Rising Murder Count of Environmental Activists - The New York Times

The Rising Murder Count of Environmental Activists - The New York Times:



"On March 3, two armed men entered the home of Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist in Honduras, and shot her dead. For years, Ms. Cáceres had vigorously opposed the proposed Agua Zarca Dam, to be built on the land of an indigenous people, the Lenca."



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Brexit: The Morning After by Paul Krugman

Well, that was pretty awesome – and I mean that in the worst way. A number of people deserve vast condemnation here, from David Cameron, who may go down in history as the man who risked wrecking Europe and his own nation for the sake of a momentary political advantage, to the seriously evil editors of Britain’s tabloids, who fed the public a steady diet of lies.
That said, I’m finding myself less horrified by Brexit than one might have expected – in fact, less than I myself expected. The economic consequences will be bad, but not, I’d argue, as bad as many are claiming. The political consequences might be much more dire; but many of the bad things I fear would probably have happened even if Remain had won.
Start with the economics.
Yes, Brexit will make Britain poorer. It’s hard to put a number on the trade effects of leaving the EU, but it will be substantial. True, normal WTO tariffs (the tariffs members of the World Trade Organization, like Britain, the US, and the EU levy on each others’ exports) are low and other traditional restraints on trade relatively mild. But everything we’ve seen in both Europe and North America suggests that the assurance of market access has a big effect in encouraging long-term investments aimed at selling across borders; revoking that assurance will, over time, erode trade even if there isn’t any kind of trade war. And Britain will become less productive as a result.
But right now all the talk is about financial repercussions – plunging markets, recession in Britain and maybe around the world, and so on. I still don’t see it.
It’s true that the pound has fallen by a lot compared with normal daily fluctuations. But for those of us who cut our teeth on emerging-market crises, the fall isn’t that big – in fact, it’s not that big compared with British historical episodes. The pound fell by a third during the 70s crisis; it fell by a quarter during Britain’s exit from the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992; it’s down about 8 percent as I write this.
Here, from Bloomberg, is the pound-euro rate over the past 5 years. This is not a world-class shock:
Photo
Credit
Furthermore, Britain is a nation that borrows in its own currency, not subject to a classic balance-sheet crisis due to currency devaluation – that is, it’s not like Argentina, where the fall in the peso wreaked havoc with firms and consumers who had borrowed in dollars. If you were worried that fears about Brexit would cause capital flight and drive up interest rates, well, no sign of that – if anything the opposite. Here, again from Bloomberg, is the interest rate on British 10-year bonds over the past five years:
Photo
Credit
Now, it’s true that world stock markets are down; so are interest rates around the world, presumably reflecting fears of economic weakness that will force central banks to keep monetary policy very loose. Why these fears?
One answer is that uncertainty might depress investment. We don’t know how the process of Brexit plays out, and I could see CEOs choosing to delay spending until matter clarify.
A bigger issue might be fears of very bad political consequences, both in Europe and within the UK. Which brings me to the politics.
It seems clear that the European project – the whole effort to promote peace and growing political union through economic integration – is in deep, deep trouble. Brexit is probably just the beginning, as populist/separatist/xenophobic movements gain influence across the continent. Add to this the underlying weakness of the European economy, which is a prime candidate for “secular stagnation” – persistent low-grade depression driven by things like demographic decline that deters investment. Lots of people are now very pessimistic about Europe’s future, and I share their worries.
But those worries wouldn’t have gone away even if Remain had won. The big mistakes were the adoption of the euro without careful thought about how a single currency would work without a unified government; the disastrous framing of the euro crisis as a morality play brought on by irresponsible southerners; the establishment of free labor mobility among culturally diverse countries with very different income levels, without careful thought about how that would work. Brexit is mainly a symptom of those problems, and the loss of official credibility that came with them. (That credibility loss is why the euro disaster played a role in Brexit even though Britain itself had the good sense to stay out.)
At the European level, in other words, I would argue that Brexit just brings to a head an abscess that would have burst fairly soon in any case.
Where I think there has been real additional damage done, damage that wouldn’t have happened but for Cameron’s policy malfeasance, is within the UK itself. I am of course not an expert here, but it looks all too likely that the vote will both empower the worst elements in British political life and lead to the breakup of the UK itself. Prime Minister Boris looks a lot more likely than President Donald; but he may find himself Prime Minister of England – full stop.
So calm down about the short-run macroeconomics; grieve for Europe, but you should have been doing that already; worry about Britain.
NYT

Bernie Sanders Campaign Showed How to Turn Viral Moments Into Money - The New York Times

Bernie Sanders Campaign Showed How to Turn Viral Moments Into Money - The New York Times:



"WASHINGTON — It was a serendipitous moment during an otherwise uneventful Bernie Sanders campaign rally in Portland, Ore.: A small bird landed on Mr. Sanders’s lectern mid-speech and locked eyes with him before flying away to applause from an appreciative crowd."



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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Britain Counts Tens of Millions of Ballots Cast in E.U. Referendum - The New York Times

Britain Counts Tens of Millions of Ballots Cast in E.U. Referendum - The New York Times:



"LONDON — Officials throughout Britain worked into Friday morning counting tens of millions of ballots that will determine whether the country will leave the European Union, after a fierce debate over trade, immigration and sovereignty that is unlikely to end no matter the outcome."



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Supreme Court Deadlocks on Obama Immigration Plan. It Remains Blocked. - The New York Times

Supreme Court Deadlocks on Obama Immigration Plan. It Remains Blocked. - The New York Times:



 "WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday announced that it had deadlocked in a case challenging President Obama’s plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and allow them to work. The 4-4 tie left in place an appeals court ruling blocking the plan, dealing a sharp blow to an ambitious program that Mr. Obama had hoped would become one of his central legacies. Instead, even as the court deadlocked, it amplified the already contentious election-year debate over the nation’s immigration policy and presidential power."



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Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas - The New York Times

Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas - The New York Times:



"WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin, handing supporters of affirmative action a major victory.

"



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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sit-in

Another Age of Discovery - The New York Times

Another Age of Discovery - The New York Times:



 "Have we been here before? I know — it feels as if the internet, virtual reality, Donald Trump, Facebook, sequencing of the human genome and machines that can reason better than people constitute a change in the pace of change without precedent. But we’ve actually been through an extraordinarily rapid transition like this before in history — a transition we can learn a lot from."



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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Argentina Shows Its Class With Decisive Win Over U.S. in Copa América Semifinal - The New York Times

Argentina Shows Its Class With Decisive Win Over U.S. in Copa América Semifinal - The New York Times:



 "HOUSTON — Before the first ball of the Copa América Centenario was kicked earlier this month, Coach Jurgen Klinsmann set a straightforward target for the United States men’s soccer team: reach a semifinal. It was an ambitious but realistic pursuit, even for a country whose history in the Copa had been sporadic at best."



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Janet Yellen

Mexico teacher protests buffet ruling party, eight killed in clashes | Reuters

Mexico teacher protests buffet ruling party, eight killed in clashes | Reuters:



"At least eight people were killed in clashes in southern Mexico over the weekend when police and members of a teachers' union faced off in violent confrontations, a senior state official said, piling fresh pressure on the country's embattled ruling party.

"



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Monday, June 20, 2016

Donald Trump Far Behind Hillary Clinton in Campaign Cash - The New York Times

Donald Trump Far Behind Hillary Clinton in Campaign Cash - The New York Times:



"Donald J. Trump enters the general election campaign laboring under the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history, placing both his candidacy and party in political peril.

"



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Head of Mexico's Ruling PRI Steps Down After Electoral Drubbing

MEXICO CITY — The president of Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, announced his resignation on Monday, two weeks after the party of President Enrique Pena Nieto suffered a humiliating defeat in regional elections.
Manlio Fabio Beltrones, a former governor and veteran federal lawmaker, announced his decision to step down after the PRI won only five of the dozen governors races up for grabs in the June 5 vote. It previously held nine of them.
The results were far worse for the centrist party than most polls had forecast.
The PRI's losses included two oil-rich strongholds in the Gulf of Mexico, Veracruz and neighboring Tamaulipas, both of which have been plagued by gang violence for years, as well as Quintana Roo, home to Mexico's top tourist destination Cancun. All three states have been run by the PRI for over eight decades.
"It's time for a necessary pause," Beltrones told a news conference at the PRI's Mexico City headquarters.
"This is a responsible decision that opens space for an internal debate and allows our party to freely decide the best path forward," he said.
Beltrones, 63, is still seen as a possible presidential contender for the PRI in 2018. Pena Nieto is not allowed by law to seek a second six-year term.
In a poll published Monday by daily newspaper El Financiero, Beltrones was tied for second with 10 percent among PRI voters, trailing Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who had 32 percent support.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Mary Milliken)
NYT

Head of Mexico's Ruling PRI Steps Down After Electoral Drubbing - The New York Times

Head of Mexico's Ruling PRI Steps Down After Electoral Drubbing - The New York Times:



"MEXICO CITY — The president of Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, announced his resignation on Monday, two weeks after the party of President Enrique Pena Nieto suffered a humiliating defeat in regional elections."



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Important

Why some scientists are worried about a surprisingly cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean - The Washington Post

Why some scientists are worried about a surprisingly cold ‘blob’ in the North Atlantic Ocean - The Washington Post:



"It is, for our home planet, an extremely warm year."



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China Tops List of Fastest Computers Again

Photo
A processor used in the Sunway TaihuLight System, the Chinese supercomputer ranked as the world’s fastest. CreditLi Xiang/Xinhua, via Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — A new list of the world’s fastest supercomputers provides more evidence that the once-yawning technology gap between the United States and China is closing.
China dominates a biannual ranking of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, called the Top500, that was published on Monday. Not only does China have the world’s fastest machine for the seventh consecutive time, it has the largest number of computers among the top 500 — a first for any country other than the United States.
Also for the first time, the world’s fastest supercomputer uses Chinese-made microprocessor chips instead of chips from Silicon Valley’s Intel.
Supercomputers are viewed in scientific circles as an indicator of national technology leadership, and they are vital for research in areas ranging from the development of new weapons and medicines, to the design of cars and consumer products. American computing experts and business executives have warned for years that leadership in supercomputing is vital to a range of national interests.
“Today even consumer detergent bottles are designed with supercomputers,” said Eric D. Isaacs, a physicist and provost of the University of Chicago. “The Chinese are getting good at building these computers, and it’s a competitive issue now for U.S. industry and national security.”
The United States primacy on the Top500 list has slipped for a number of reasons. Government support for supercomputing has been slowed by long-running debates on the level of federal spending on basic scientific research, as well as opposition to funding for industrial innovation that is not directly related to national security.
In the private sector, companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon invested billions of dollars in cloud-computing centers that don’t focus as much on solving scientific problems.
And last year, the United States blocked the sale of a number of advanced microprocessors to China over concerns they were being used in nuclear weapon development, which most likely accelerated the development of China’s own technology, said Jack Dongarra, a University of Tennessee computer scientist who helped create the list of the world’s fastest computers in 1993.
The Top500 list is maintained by Dr. Dongarra and Erich Strohmaier, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Individual computing centers report descriptions and performance to them twice a year.
In 2001, there were no Chinese supercomputers on the Top500. Now, China has 167 systems on the list compared to 165 from the United States. China also leads a more obscure category — total processing power, or the combined computing speeds of all of its supercomputers on the list.
The fastest machine, the Sunway TaihuLight System, was installed this year at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, in China’s Jiangsu province.
Despite those achievements, Intel still provided the chips for 91 percent of the machines on the list. And China is still catching up with the United States in state-of-the-art technologies, like software and the networking that links the thousands of chips in a modern supercomputer.
But that could soon change. Officials at the Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group, said the Chinese government has an ambitious $150 billion program to acquire as well as develop new technologies in various kinds of chips.
After years of neglect, the United States does appear to be taking the competitive threat seriously, said John Neuffer, president of the S.I.A. “It’s an opportunity for us to double down on supercomputing and get ourselves back on track,” he said.
Last year, the Obama administration began a new effort to develop a so-called “exascale” supercomputer that would be 10 times faster than today’s fastest supercomputers. (An exaflop is a quintillion — one million trillion — mathematical instructions a second.) Computer scientists have argued that such machines will allow more definitive answers on crucial questions such as the danger posed by climate change.
Until President Obama signed the National Strategic Computing Initiative last July, the construction of the fastest American supercomputers had largely been driven by the nation’s Stockpile Stewardship and Management program, which was created in 1995 to simulate the testing and maintenance of nuclear weapons.
While the Chinese have perfected the manufacture of traditional supercomputers pioneered by American companies like IBM and Cray, the United States may focus on new, more efficient supercomputers that might lead to machines intended for challenges like artificial intelligence, according to Larry Smarr, a physicist who directs the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California, San Diego.
One of the design challenges of the fastest computers is their vast power consumption. The world’s fastest supercomputer in China, which could fill a large warehouse, requires the same electric power needed to run roughly 15,000 homes. An exascale supercomputer will very likely require more than twice that amount of power, or roughly the amount of power produced by the Copper Mountain Solar Facility, the largest producer of solar power in the United States.
At the same time, even if the United States is able to design an exascale computer within the next decade, the Chinese could get there first. According to Dr. Dongarra, the Chinese government is committed to reaching the exascale goal by the end of this decade.
Because of funding shortages and technology challenges, “there has been a delay in getting the exascale launched in the U.S., and as a result, we’re further behind than we should be,” he said.
The Sunway supercomputer in Wuxi is a marvel of Chinese manufacturing prowess, Dr. Dongorra noted. The computer is based on 10.6 million processor “cores” spread across 40,960 microprocessors that work together. The chips are relatively slow individually — about the speed of the processor in Apple’s iPhone 6.
The Sunway machine does have its shortcomings. It has older memory-chip technology, meaning it is limited in the speed with which it can move data in and out of each processor when compared with the most powerful American supercomputers. And the new Chinese supercomputer is still based on American-made optical network technology that is used to connect the thousands of microprocessor chips.
Despite the fact that the Chinese now have the most supercomputers on the list, the United States still dominates the top 20, with 10 machines. There are now 105 supercomputers in Europe. Japan has 29 systems on the list, down from 37 systems in November.
Several American scientists compared what is going on now to the 1980s, when they worried that the nation was losing ground to Japanese supercomputers.
“Scientists might be saying, ‘I have to go to China to run my computations,’” said Dr. Smarr.

NYT

China Tops List of Fastest Computers Again - The New York Times

China Tops List of Fastest Computers Again - The New York Times:



"SAN FRANCISCO — A new list of the world’s fastest supercomputers provides more evidence that the once-yawning technology gap between the United States and China is closing."



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