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The notion of bringing extinct species back to life has hovered at the boundary between reality and science fiction for more than two decades. De-extinction is now within reach. The species theoretically capable of being revived all disappeared while humanity was rapidly climbing toward world domination.
Although America has accounted for a sizable share of all technological innovations that have shaped our modern world, the wider historical evidence is disappointing for anyone who thinks political freedom is a fundamental precondition for innovation. Even the evidence of America’s own history undercuts the “all you need is freedom” story.
The Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing. But the flood of liquidity has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble. When it bursts America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even today’s feeble remnants of economic growth.
For a country exhausted after more than a decade of war, remote-controlled drones are undeniably tempting. Obama has yet to explain the basics of the broader policy, but that wall of silence is starting to erode. This new pledge of accountability comes amid growing international criticism.
Republicans and Democrats’ fibs rest on ill-concealed contempt for an undeserving other: the feckless poor, the immoral rich, those who live in states of the wrong partisan hue. Mutual dislike is the dirty secret that best explains European paralysis. American politicians have no business stoking it in their far more ambitious union.
FREE-THE-WEED campaigners speak not of “legalising” marijuana but of “taxing and regulating” it. The ballot measure they placed before Colorado’s voters last November, which won the support of 55% of them, was called the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act and contained provisions for a 15% excise tax.
Sixteen years ago a book by Clayton Christensen changed business thinking forever. The Innovator’s Dilemma looked at industries and exposed a surprising phenomenon: When big companies fail, it’s often not because they do something wrong but because they do everything right.
Mr Obama named the officials charged with fulfilling his climate policy: Gina McCarthy, his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest Moniz, the prospective new secretary of energy. Their selection suggests that Mr Obama is indeed serious about tackling climate change, but not doctrinaire in his approach.
Discusses how government, and the Democratic Party, changed after the New Deal, with the onset of the Cold War and the disenchantment of Southern Democrats. Discusses the history of worries about the emergence of a new ruling class composed of bureaucrats and technocrats.
Study shows that in the United States, voting rights do not translate into much actual political power. You could predict what the government would do based on the preferences of the top 10% income level. When the preferences of middle class and poor income levels diverged from the affluent, there was no impact at all on the policies that were adopted.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned back a challenge to a federal law that broadened the government’s power to eavesdrop on international phone calls and e-mails. The ruling illustrated how hard it is to mount court challenges to a wide array of antiterrorism measures, including renditions of terrorism suspects to foreign countries and targeted killings using drones.
A dream Obama would point out that the issue is not size but sclerosis of government. The future has no lobby, so there are inexorable pressures favoring present consumption over future investment. The crucial point is not whether a dollar is spent publicly or privately, it’s whether it is spent on the present or future.
Of the many injustices that permeate America’s byzantine tax code, few are as outrageous as the tax rate on “carried interest” — the profits made by private equity and hedge fund managers, as well as venture capitalists and partners in real estate investment trusts. This huge tax benefit enriches an already privileged sliver of financiers and violates basic standards of fairness and common sense.
Nearly 365 years ago, more than 100 warring diplomats and princes got together and created the basic framework for territorial sovereignty: nation-states, demarcated by borders. But 30 years ago, humanity gave birth to the internet. With the flip of a switch, three engineers had undone the work of more than 100 princes and diplomats.
The U.S. government faces a tough fiscal future. Absent significant changes to current taxation and spending policies, debt held by the public will mount within two decades to levels never before experienced by this country. The consequences for the American economy and for the nation’s place in the world could be severe.
Now, more than ever, the United States might be tempted to pull back from the world. That would be a mistake, since an engaged grand strategy has served the country exceptionally well for the past six decades — helping prevent the outbreak of conflict in the world’s most important regions, keeping the global economy humming, and facilitating international cooperation.
The United States has consistently spent hundreds of billions of dollars per year on its military. This undisciplined, expensive, and bloody strategy has done untold harm to U.S. national security. This undisciplined strategy has done untold harm to U.S. national security. It is time to abandon the United States’ hegemonic strategy and replace it with one of restraint.
Venom is nature’s most efficient killer, but top medicines for heart disease and diabetes have been derived from venom. New treatments for autoimmune diseases, cancer, and pain could be available within a decade. There could be upwards of 20 million venom toxins waiting to be screened. Venom has opened up whole new avenues of pharmacology.
President Barack Obama’s promise to attack climate change is likely to light a fire under federal agencies slow to comply with a mandate to cut energy use – which could be very good news for companies that specialize in systems that save power. Major efficiency companies have been working to develop project proposals.
TYRES are remarkable pieces of engineering. They contain rubber-like polymers, layers of steel braiding and textile reinforcements, all of which improve performance and cut fuel consumption. Now Pirelli is manufacturing fuel-saving tyres that are greener still by extracting one of their ingredients from rice husks.
If EU policies work as intended, electricity from renewables will gradually take a larger share of overall generation. But at the moment, EU energy policy is boosting usage of the most polluting fuel, increasing carbon emissions, damaging the creditworthiness of utilities and diverting investment into energy projects elsewhere.
Critics counts air conditioning as more a curse than a miracle. Cooling buildings and vehicles pumps out almost half a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Between 1995 and 2004 the proportion of homes in Chinese cities with air conditioning rose from 8% to 70%.
Chicago claims to have the densest network of charging stations for electric vehicles, and to be home to more wind-farm companies than any city in America. The state is spending up to $3.2 billion on modernising the electrical grid in Illinois. It has also put aside $72.5m to invest in new smart-grid technology.
The Obama administration’s attempt to develop a more coherent doctrine of cyber-warfare is sensible so long as it is not just an excuse for hyping something that has yet to kill anybody. The essence of cyber-warfare is ambiguity and uncertainty, that makes policy both hard to construct and harder still to explain.
In November 2012, the Chinese Communist Party held its 18th National Congress. Some in China and the West have gone so far as to predict the demise of the one-party state, which they allege cannot survive if leading politicians stop delivering economic miracles. Such pessimism is misplaced; in the next decade, China will continue to rise, not fade.
Commentators are prone to seeing the challenges of the moment in unnecessarily apocalyptic terms, yet American democracy is more dysfunctional and commands less authority than ever — and it has fewer levers to pull in a globalized economy. This time, the pessimists might be right.
For all the focus on outsourcing, economic forces are actually pushing corporate giants to grow larger. We’ve been told that our unbounded connectivity will favor the rise of small, nimble organizations. But the rise of technology has conferred immense advantages on the Goliaths of American industry.
The consequences of our current patent crisis reverberate far beyond Silicon Valley. What can’t be measured are the products that are never built—taking on even bogus patents is too much of a hurdle for some innovators. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.
Russia has coasted on an oil legacy inherited from Soviet days. Much of the oil still in the ground will be more difficult and costly to find and produce. As expenses go up, profit margins will decline. At the same time, the oil industry will have to spend more of its remaining profits on its own renewal.
Far beneath the ground, Yasuní, Ecuador, harbors a treasure that poses an urgent challenge to the precious web of life on the surface: hundreds of millions of barrels of untapped Amazon crude. President Rafael Correa has offered to leave indefinitely untouched an estimated 850 million barrels of oil, but the international response to the initiative has been tepid.
By venting methane into the atmosphere, the lakes are amplifying the global warming that created them: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide is the main one, because the atmosphere holds 200 times as much of it. But a given amount of methane traps at least 25 times as much heat…
Governments around the world have been investing in plans to “climate-proof” their cities against weather-related calamities. Even if we managed to stop increasing global carbon emissions tomorrow, we would probably experience several centuries of additional warming, rising sea levels, and more frequent dangerous weather events.
For most of the past several millennia, Flevoland, a province which sits more or less at the center of the Netherlands, lay at the bottom of an inlet of the North Sea. Now, Flevoland is home to the Oostvaardersplassen, a wilderness that was also constructed, Genesis-like, from the mud.
The Brennan nomination crystallizes the ways in which Obama has also cemented and expanded the Bush approach to counterterrorism. We have a far-flung drone campaign that deals death, even to American citizens, on the say-so of the president and a secret administration “nominations” process.
What would help solve our fiscal problem: Give up your home mortgage deduction and wait two more years for Social Security and Medicare, or pay a little extra for gasoline and electricity? These will be our choices. The carbon tax would clean up the air for our kids, drive innovation and make us less dependent on the most unstable region in the world: the Middle East.
2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in the contiguous United States. 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country. 10 warmest years on record all fell within the past 15 years. 11 disasters in 2012 have exceeded $1 billion in damages, with Hurricane Sandy likely to exceed $60bn.
Industrial ecology (IE) is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems. It is concerned with the shifting of industrial process from linear (open loop) systems, in which resource and capital investments move through the system to become waste, to a closed loop system where wastes can become inputs for new processes.
The “super PACs” and secret-money groups that polluted this year’s election with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of largely ineffective attack ads are not slinking away in shame. Many are regrouping and raising more money to lobby Congress and the White House on behalf of their special-interest donors.
President Barack Obama has closely followed the policy of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, when it comes to tactics used in the “war on terror” — from rendition, targeted killings, state secrets, Guantanamo Bay to domestic spying, according to Michael Hayden, Bush’s former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. The heavily fortified $2 billion center will store all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.
If Barack Obama is re-elected on November 6, he will owe more to his first lady than any president ever to win a second term. Michelle Obama gave one of the finest speeches ever delivered at a national political convention. More important, it could have more impact on the immediate future of the country than her husband’s celebrated 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
The myth of a classless society has been exposed: Among rich countries, America stands out as the place where economic and social status is most likely to be inherited. The social changes taking place in America’s working class result from sharply rising inequality, and are not its cause.
To break the grip Wall Street has over political power would take a broad citizens’ movement, a groundswell of educated opinion focused on breaking that power, but the biggest Wall Street firms are larger and probably now more powerful than they were in the run-up to 2008.
Maybe it’s a sign that the public has given up on honesty from presidential candidates. The assumption seems to be that politicians will always lie and that voters’ defense against that is fact checking by journalists. But … why do voters let politicians lie to them?
The world has been so preoccupied with the man-made catastrophes of subprime mortgages and sovereign debt that it may not have noticed how much economic mayhem nature has wreaked. With earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, floods in Thailand and Australia and tornadoes in America, last year was the costliest on record for natural disasters.
The global financial system still teeters on the brink of collapse, and virtually nothing has been done to avert another disaster. With the spectacle of “extend and pretend” unfolding, what needs explaining is why even the well-informed and high-minded remain committed to so unpromising a status quo.
On April 21, 2012, Leonard Mlodinow published an Op-Ed in the New York Times Sunday Review titled, A Facial Theory of Politics. The article describes studies made into the effect of visual cues on electoral results. “How important is a political candidate’s appearance? We’re all worldly enough to understand that looks matter. You probably know about the famous 1960 presidential debate between an unshaven and tired Richard Nixon and a tanned and rested John F. Kennedy: those who watched on television generally thought Kennedy won the debate, while those who listened over the radio overwhelmingly favored Nixon. Still, even the most jaded politico assumes that appearance is a relatively small factor — and one that we are basically aware of. Everyone knew that part of Kennedy’s appeal was how he looked…”
When externalities are present and transaction costs are absent, private parties will strike welfare-enhancing deals regardless of who owns what. In a frictionless world, bargaining leads to efficiency. That is the essence of the Coase Theorem, and it is fiction, according to Steven Medema.
Banks take on excessive risk since they know, in case of failure, the taxpayer will step in to rescue them. That is a form of free insurance, and Ed Kane wants to end it. To do so, he says, we need to put a number on systemic risk, the amount for which the taxpayer is on the hook.
The Congressional Budget Office expects economic growth to be slow for several years. The bulk of economic and human costs remain ahead and will fall disproportionately on people who lose their jobs, who are displaced from their homes, or who own businesses that fail.
CBO’s assessment of the cost of the TARP’s transactions is $2 billion lower than its previous estimate. The decrease stems from an increase in the market value of the government’s investments in AIG and General Motors, partially offset by added costs resulting from mortgage programs.
The aging of the US population and increases in health care costs will push up federal spending significantly in coming decades relative to the size of the economy. If revenues remain at their past levels, the rise in spending will lead to rapidly growing budget deficits and mounting federal debt.
If federal debt continues to expand faster than the economy—as it has since 2007— the growth of people’s income will slow, the share of federal spending devoted to paying interest on the debt will rise more quickly, and the risk of a fiscal crisis will increase.
Support for the mortgage market has been part of a broader federal policy aimed at encouraging home ownership and at making housing more affordable for families. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration have been an important aspect of that policy.
The budget deficit for 2011 was $1.3 trillion; at 8.7% of GDP, that deficit was the third-largest shortfall in the past 40 years. Federal spending exceeded 24% of GDP, the third-highest level in the past 40 years, while federal revenues were just over 15% of GDP, the third-lowest level during that period.
In their New York Times article, Secret Kill List Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will, Jo Becker and Scott Shane discuss the Obama Administration’s approach to the fight against terrorism. The article is the third in a series of articles, called A Measure of Change, that assess President Obama’s record.