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Shifting Middle East

Team Trump is heading to 'Davos in the Desert'. The administration has apparently gotten over its outrage at the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, so now senior adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin are heading to Saudi Arabia for a major business conference.

Trump admin apparently over Khashoggi killing, will attend Saudi’s ‘Davos in the Desert’

By scouring contract solicitations, Justin was able to piece together the fact that high level Trump administration officials are heading to Saudi Arabia to talk business at Davos in the Desert. The only problem with that? It's extremely unseemly. Saudi Arabia brutally killed an American journalist last

By scouring contract solicitations, Justin was able to piece together the fact that high level Trump administration officials are heading to Saudi Arabia to talk business at Davos in the Desert. The only problem with that? It's extremely unseemly. Saudi Arabia brutally killed an American journalist last year, and brushing aside his cruel murder signals US indifference to the crime.

A bit of news buried in a haystack's worth of State Department contract solicitations, confirming the attendance of Jared Kushner and Steven Mnuchin at Saudi Arabia's version of Davos later this month. Interestingly, the Saudi Arabian government "did not authorize" the US delegation to stay at the Riyadh

A bit of news buried in a haystack's worth of State Department contract solicitations, confirming the attendance of Jared Kushner and Steven Mnuchin at Saudi Arabia's version of Davos later this month. Interestingly, the Saudi Arabian government "did not authorize" the US delegation to stay at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, where the event is being held. So they booked 45 rooms at the nearby Burj Rafal, instead.

Biases holding us back...

Class bias creeps into the hiring process in just a matter of seconds. A Yale study shows hiring managers' decisions are influenced in ways that perpetuate wealth inequality.

Yale study shows class bias creeps into the hiring process in just a matter of seconds

This is such an interesting study and story. Kind of chilling too, especially for those of us who like to think we're operating in egalitarian settings. Read it and weep, or at least cringe, like I did, when you get to this part about cultural fit. “It’s going to seem like the person just has this vibe

This is such an interesting study and story. Kind of chilling too, especially for those of us who like to think we're operating in egalitarian settings. Read it and weep, or at least cringe, like I did, when you get to this part about cultural fit. “It’s going to seem like the person just has this vibe, right? But it might be class,” Kraus says.

Democracy is hard

Netanyahu backs down. Israel's prime minister of a decade, Bibi Netanyahu, admitted defeat in an effort to form a coalition government after elections in September—which signals Netanyahu may finally be on his way out.

Netanyahu might finally be on his way out

A decade under the hawkish and quite likely corrupt prime minister Bibi brought out Palestinian voters in impressive numbers in the September elections. Arab Joint List parties will no doubt be celebrating Netanyahu's announcement today that he cannot form a coalition government. The mandate will next

A decade under the hawkish and quite likely corrupt prime minister Bibi brought out Palestinian voters in impressive numbers in the September elections. Arab Joint List parties will no doubt be celebrating Netanyahu's announcement today that he cannot form a coalition government. The mandate will next go to Benny Gantz, a man the joint list members are willing to get behind. And that could mean an important shift in Israeli politics, policy, and rhetoric.

Brexit vote blocked. Parliament speaker John Bercow has blocked a new vote on the Brexit deal reached between prime minister Boris Johnson and European leaders, BBC News reports.

MPs' vote on Brexit deal ruled out by Speaker

No rush. Full 10 days to go. In order for the UK to leave the EU with the agreement on future relations:

- UK Gov needs to propose the implementing legislation (on all fields where the EU law will leave a vacuum, I assume) AND timetable for its adoption

- Only then the UK parliament will grant a green

No rush. Full 10 days to go. In order for the UK to leave the EU with the agreement on future relations:

- UK Gov needs to propose the implementing legislation (on all fields where the EU law will leave a vacuum, I assume) AND timetable for its adoption

- Only then the UK parliament will grant a green light to “deal”

- and only then the EP will green-light the withdrawal agreement

- only then the UK leaves with a deal

The EP said it is ready to call extraordinary session even for Oct 31 if necessary. Yes the 700+ MEPs representing of 500 000 000 europeans will do a special physical sitting session for the UK

- there is only one task for the UK politicians, only one, the task that was supposed to be done in last 3 years: get their mess together.

10 days to go. Time! Start!

Opioid settlement delays courtroom justice

Four major players in the US opioid crisis reached a tentative deal in Ohio. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the $260 million settlement would provide much-needed funds for addiction recovery programs.

Four major players in the US opioid crisis reached a tentative deal in Ohio

Who is responsible for the opioid epidemic? Is it the manufacturers who made opioids and marketed them as less addictive and more effective than they actually were? The distributors who flooded entire communities with pills, in some cases knowingly circumventing federal safeguards? The pharmacists and

Who is responsible for the opioid epidemic? Is it the manufacturers who made opioids and marketed them as less addictive and more effective than they actually were? The distributors who flooded entire communities with pills, in some cases knowingly circumventing federal safeguards? The pharmacists and doctors who handed out unnecessary prescriptions while taking money from Big Pharma? The federal government and the FDA, which didn't exercise its oversight and enforcement duties?

I don't have the answer to that question, but a bellwether trial starting today in a district court in Cleveland was supposed to provide a roadmap to an answer — instead, four out of five defendants settled.

India's coal addiction

India is shifting to renewables. More than half the country’s energy comes from burning coal, but that’s slowly changing. Exclusively for Quartz members, our new field guide explores how India might shed its coal habit, and offer valuable insights to countries facing similar disruptive climate, economic, and technological issues. ✦

The world can learn from India trying to deal with its coal addiction

Akshat Rathi's deep dives into energy are some of my favorite stories on qz.com. Check out his State of Play covering India's coal usage, and the unique challenges it faces as it tries to switch to renewables.

India’s biggest motivations to keep burning coal boil down to:

1. Large domestic coal reserves with very little gas or oil

2. Decades of coal hegemony in the national energy mix (by now there’s lots of cash tied up in coal-fired power plants, the train system is mostly dependent on revenue from coal

India’s biggest motivations to keep burning coal boil down to:

1. Large domestic coal reserves with very little gas or oil

2. Decades of coal hegemony in the national energy mix (by now there’s lots of cash tied up in coal-fired power plants, the train system is mostly dependent on revenue from coal transport, etc.)

One crucial statistic is that an average resident here uses up only 1/10th of the electricity consumed by an average American (India has among the lowest per capita emissions). The Indian government justifies coal as a necessity to improve energy access to millions of poor citizens—but they are also the worst-hit due to pollution and land rights disputes that come with coal mining and coal-fired stations.

Gaming in China

✊🇨🇱🇭🇰🇱🇧

Violent clashes in Hong Kong continued… A rally on the 20th weekend of protests turned chaotic, as protesters and police faced off amid tear gas and firebombs. Police sprayed demonstrators with a noxious blue liquid, also hitting a mosque, the Hong Kong Free Press reports.

Video: Hong Kong police accused of targeting mosque with water cannon blue dye as communities conduct clean-up | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

My architect friend, the vice president at AIA Hong Kong, has worked on a redevelopment project, which includes refining the street pavements. The protesters peeled off those bricks to use them as a weapon. His project was destroyed.

The number of tourists dropped by over 40% comparing to the same

My architect friend, the vice president at AIA Hong Kong, has worked on a redevelopment project, which includes refining the street pavements. The protesters peeled off those bricks to use them as a weapon. His project was destroyed.

The number of tourists dropped by over 40% comparing to the same month last year, which consists of 5% of GDP. For China, Hong Kong is not as economically significant as in the past, and maybe hoping Hong Kong to shrink its presence slowly. Unlike Tiananmen, the government cannot act violently because people monitor and share the information well, but people are also monitored well in China that this Chaos won't be spread to the ​mainland anyways.

…and rallies spurred Lebanon to adopt reforms. The prime minister and coalition partners agreed to implement measures to deal with the country’s economic crisis, the Guardian reports, after protests that erupted, in part, over a plan to tax WhatsApp calls.

Lebanon's mass revolt against corruption and poverty continues

This Guardian take on Lebanon protests isn’t the strongest out there, starting with the implication that a WhatsApp tax sent Lebanese on to the streets. It is also baffling that in a country where women are largely fearless, vocal and heard (there is a viral meme of a woman protester kicking an armed

This Guardian take on Lebanon protests isn’t the strongest out there, starting with the implication that a WhatsApp tax sent Lebanese on to the streets. It is also baffling that in a country where women are largely fearless, vocal and heard (there is a viral meme of a woman protester kicking an armed government bodyguard in the groin), this reporter only managed to give voice to one woman, anonymously. Is the Guardian’s photo choice of Lebanese women posing - as if in beauty contest - a fair reflection of what’s happening on the ground? I ask not as a Middle East expert (b/c I’m not), rather, as a journalist who called Beirut home for more than a few years. Quartz - here’s a better option for #LebanonProtests 101: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/18/lebanons-protests-wildfires-tell-same-grim-story/

The hidden worlds around us

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Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong

Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong

Read more on Guardian (US)

From Our Members

  • Time to look a little closer at, and start questioning, the narrative that global poverty has been decreasing through the ages (thanks to capitalism). It is likely underpinned by incomplete/inaccurate data. But more strikingly perhaps, it doesn't factor in subsistence economies, which were the norm prior

    Time to look a little closer at, and start questioning, the narrative that global poverty has been decreasing through the ages (thanks to capitalism). It is likely underpinned by incomplete/inaccurate data. But more strikingly perhaps, it doesn't factor in subsistence economies, which were the norm prior to colonisation-driven capitalism. Perhaps billionaires should all take Marx 101?

  • Sorry, the Guardian has gotten so partisan and ideological that I just don't trust them anymore. I trust the Economist, the Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Independent, but not the Guardian.

    I also trust David Boyd ('The Optimistic Environmentalist') and Peter Singer more than I trust the writer

    Sorry, the Guardian has gotten so partisan and ideological that I just don't trust them anymore. I trust the Economist, the Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Independent, but not the Guardian.

    I also trust David Boyd ('The Optimistic Environmentalist') and Peter Singer more than I trust the writer of this article. I have looked at various datasets and I have traveled to a fair number of countries and it is quite clear that economic growth in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, East Europe, South America, and elsewhere has lifted billions of people out of abject poverty. One only has to look at cellphone sales and the growth of electronic banking worldwide to verify this.

    Deng Xiao-Ping had major faults, but his decision to allow the (relatively) free market to flourish in China allowed hundreds of millions of China's people to lift themselves out of poverty.

    Contrast this with the idiotic retrograde socialist policies of Chavez and Maduro which have sent millions of Venezuelans back into poverty. Don't read Marx, read Hayek and Friedman.

  • This article is a nice piece of propaganda that immaculately paints a “pre-capitalist” society as being easy and care free.

    We’re going to learn a hard lesson the real hard way.

  • This is such an important correction to the widely accepted narrative.

  • If the entire world was to consume the same amount as your average American, we would need 4.5 Earths for resources. The wealth gap is getting larger by the day here in the States, I cannot even imagine what some of these people in these, and I quote "shit hole countries" are going through who are suffering

    If the entire world was to consume the same amount as your average American, we would need 4.5 Earths for resources. The wealth gap is getting larger by the day here in the States, I cannot even imagine what some of these people in these, and I quote "shit hole countries" are going through who are suffering immensely due to proxy wars all in the name of "Democracy."

  • The article is so preposterously cast that while critiquing the data in an infographic as meant for another purpose, it then spends the remainder of its attempt to persuade wandering in ideology. Here an undisputed fact: Since 1900 the global average life expectancy has more than doubled and is now approaching

    The article is so preposterously cast that while critiquing the data in an infographic as meant for another purpose, it then spends the remainder of its attempt to persuade wandering in ideology. Here an undisputed fact: Since 1900 the global average life expectancy has more than doubled and is now approaching 70 years. No country in the world has a lower life expectancy than the the countries with the highest life expectancy in 1800. The author of the referenced piece had written an embarrassing polemic. Poverty has declined, lifespan has increased, and at no time in world history have more people (and I mean that literally -- population growth and its eventual leveling off as more people become wealthy relative to the past is just another sign of the reduction of poverty) lived longer in greater comfort.

  • Author mentioned China but not India. Numbers don’t tell the whole story- essentially this article is a restatement of the classic Marxist framework of explaining wealth poverty. He mentions the Global South being exploited, another dimension to be looked at is what is happening with the poor in the

    Author mentioned China but not India. Numbers don’t tell the whole story- essentially this article is a restatement of the classic Marxist framework of explaining wealth poverty. He mentions the Global South being exploited, another dimension to be looked at is what is happening with the poor in the Global North- in a way they are shut out from participating in production. Definitely Davos set should be critically seen, and solutions must be found to benefit all.

  • Greed and wealth appropriation is the norm, but of course they need to keep the majorities in the foggy illusion that tomorrow will be a better day.

  • Sigh.. Another author railing against a machine they do not understand and distracting people from what we need to be focusing on. Like eliminating waste. Reducing resource heavy food consumption of things like beef. Ending single use disposables.

    I am hoping I do not need to connect the dots between

    Sigh.. Another author railing against a machine they do not understand and distracting people from what we need to be focusing on. Like eliminating waste. Reducing resource heavy food consumption of things like beef. Ending single use disposables.

    I am hoping I do not need to connect the dots between how those things relate to the quality of life of those in question.

  • Utter sophistry.

  • More poverty is more equality.. Time for a correction.

  • He is wrong

  • Lol

  • Pre-industrial people did not have access to “abundant resources” as this article suggests. The author has created a narrative that “everything was FINE until the evil capitalist colonizers came along”. This is absurd. Before industrialism, famine was the natural state of mankind. Even when people were

    Pre-industrial people did not have access to “abundant resources” as this article suggests. The author has created a narrative that “everything was FINE until the evil capitalist colonizers came along”. This is absurd. Before industrialism, famine was the natural state of mankind. Even when people were well fed they lived mainly off of one or two foodstuffs. There was no variety. Moreover, the technology and standard of living has been steadily increasing. Poor people in Cambodia now have access to refrigerators, which VASTLY improve QoL.

  • Food for thought.

  • Bill Gates has an agenda that is known. His view is certainly formed by his wealth, which is by far one of the highest incomes known.

    Bill Gates lives a life of pampered luxury. And his life will never be like the rest of people, who live in United States of America.

  • Beautifully written!