XIAOWUSILI, China — For all its economic might, China hasn’t been able to solve a crucial problem.
Soybeans. It just can’t grow enough of them.
That could blunt the impact of one of the biggest weapons the country wields in a trade fight with the United States.
Beijing placed a 25 percent tariff on American soybeans last week in retaliation for the Trump administration’s levies on Chinese-made goods. Last year, soy growers in the United States sold nearly one-third of their harvest to China. In dollar terms, only airplanes are a more significant American export to China, the world’s second-largest economy.
Source: China’s Taste for Soybeans Is a Weak Spot in the Trade War With Trump – The New York TimesMay
David Lindsay: Maybe. Here are the three most recommended comments, that doubt some of what this article says:
“PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — It’s election season in Cambodia, and the fireflies are out.
Cambodians use that term — “ampil ampik,” in the Khmer language — to refer to little-known political parties that flash onto the scene shortly before an election, then fade back into obscurity.
Twenty parties, some just a few months old, will be on the ballot when national elections are held this month. But most voters will have heard of only one: the Cambodian People’s Party, led by Hun Sen, the authoritarian prime minister.
Mr. Hun Sen has had no viable opposition since November, when the Cambodia National Rescue Party — which almost won the 2013 election — was dissolved by a court packed with his loyalists. The United Nations special rapporteur on Cambodia, Rhona Smith, and numerous rights groups have said the July 29 vote will not be legitimate.
In response, the government points to such obscure entities as the Dharmacracy Party, the Khmer Will Party and the New Light Party (whose platform is to promote “Cambodia’s natural, linguistic and alphabetical wonders”).
“If you have only one political party, you cannot say ‘multiparty,’ but we have 20 political parties,” said Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the National Election Committee.
Mr. Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, is clearly concerned that Cambodians will see it differently. In May, he warned against using the terms “fireflies” or “disembodied ghosts,” another figure of speech sometimes applied to minor parties.”
Source: As Vote Nears, Cambodia’s Leader Has Opponents, but No Competition – The New York Times
Excellent reporting by Julia Wallace, thank you. She wrote: “The leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or C.N.R.P., have been jailed or driven into exile, and lower-ranking members were harassed into joining Mr. Hun Sen’s party or getting out of politics. Mr. Hun Sen has also overseen a crackdown on the press. The United States and the European Union, which have helped fund past Cambodian elections, refused this year, saying that the vote will not be credible.” What a sorry picture, and a sorry mess. Unfortunately, the United States contributed to this mess, in ways that I am not qualified to list, but include our bombing of the country, and probably assassinating its leaders, even their good ones, just because they were communist. Is there a good book to cover the modern devastation of this once proud and vibrant country?
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com
“All of the young members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their 25-year-old coach have been rescued from Tham Luang Cave, the Thai Navy confirmed around 6:50 p.m.
• Four more people have yet to leave the cave — the Thai military personnel, including a doctor, who stayed with the team in their remote cavern in recent days. [Go here to read a Q. and A. about the details of the diving rescue operation by the Times reporter John Ismay, a former U.S. Navy diver.]
• The boys and their coach are to spend at least a week in a hospital in Chiang Rai Province, in hopes of warding off possible infection, doctors say. [Go here to read about the medical condition of the boys.]”
Source: Thailand Cave Rescue: Live Updates as All 13 Are Free After Weeks of Ordeal – The New York Times
By Jeffrey Gettleman June 19, 2018
“TURMAKHAND, Nepal — Not long ago, in rural western Nepal, Gauri Kumari Bayak was the spark of her village. Her strong voice echoed across the fields as she husked corn. When she walked down the road at a brisk clip, off to lead classes on birth control, many admired her self-confidence.
But last January, Ms. Bayak’s lifeless body was carried up the hill, a stream of mourners bawling behind her. Her remains were burned, her dresses given away. The little hut where she was pressured to sequester herself during her menstrual period — and where she died — was smashed apart, erasing the last mark of another young life lost to a deadly superstition.
“I still can’t believe she’s not alive,” said Dambar Budha, her father-in-law, full of regret, sitting on a rock, staring off into the hills.
In this corner of Nepal, deep in the Himalayas, women are banished from their homes every month when they get their period. They are considered polluted, even toxic, and an oppressive regime has evolved around this taboo, including the construction of a separate hut for menstruating women to sleep in. Some of the spaces are as tiny as a closet, walls made of mud or rock, basically menstruation foxholes. Ms. Bayak died from smoke inhalation in hers as she tried to keep warm by a small fire in the bitter Himalayan winter.”
Source: Where a Taboo Is Leading to the Deaths of Young Girls – The New York Times
David Lindsay: I spent a month in Nepal, hiking around the Annapurnas. I had no idea that this was part of the culture I witnessed and visited. Here are the top comments from the NYT that I recommended:
In September 2015, Dr. Filardi and a team of researchers from the museum and the University of the South Pacific ascended the rugged Chupukama Ridge, on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands, which he described in his field journal as “a sky island filled with scientific mystery.” The goal of the mission was not only to study Guadalcanal’s ecosystems, but to make the case for preserving them at a time when the Solomon Islands are under pressure to open more land up to logging and mining.
On the third morning, the sound of “kokoko-kiew” pulsed through the forest. The call was unmistakably a forest kingfisher’s. Dr. Filardi’s heart raced. For 20 years, he’d been searching for the mustached kingfisher, known as a “ghost” bird. Only three individuals, all female, had been discovered by scientists over the past century. There were no male specimens in any of the world’s museums; not even a photo of one was known to exist. He got a glimpse of the bird, just a flash of blue and gold, before it vanished.
Days later, when the team captured a male in a mist net, Dr. Filardi gasped. “One of the most poorly known birds in the world was there, in front of me, like a creature of myth come to life,” he wrote in a dispatch to the museum.
While the expedition was still underway, the museum released the first photographs of the bird, which seemed to be mugging for the camera. The mustached kingfisher became a viral celebrity, under headlines like “ridiculously gorgeous.”
It wasn’t until the public realized that Dr. Filardi had “collected” the bird — killing it for the museum’s research collection — that the adulation turned to venom.”
Source: Opinion | The Ornithologist the Internet Called a Murderer – The New York Times
David Lindsay: Horrible story, well reported, good comments. PETA and the bullies who have hounded this great scientist into hiding should be taken to court. I don’t know how, but they are acting like a pack of hyenas. Edward O Wilson of Harvard has written in his great short book “Half Earth,” that we desperately need more naturalists to go out and catalog and map the ecosystems of myriad species that we know so little about.
By Maria Abi-Habib and Hari Kumar
“SHIMLA, India — The people of Shimla haven’t agreed on much lately. A drought in the Himalayan resort has had residents blaming farmers, the tourism industry and one another for depleting the strained water supplies.
And everyone’s been angry at the key men.
Shimla’s decrepit network of water pipes, built under British colonial rule more than 70 years ago, depends on the civil servants known as key men to open and close the valves that supply each neighborhood. The current shortage, which in May left some homes without water for 20 days, has led to such fury toward the key men — accused, in just about every neighborhood, of depriving it of its fair share — that a court ordered police protection for them.
“I was getting angry phone calls calling me everything — stupid, worthless — at one or two in the morning,” said Inder Singh, 44, who has been a key man for 24 years. “I would be mobbed by dozens as I was trying to leave my home for work,” he said, inserting his key — a meter-long metal contraption — into the ground to open a valve.
Tourism is the mainstay of the economy in this mountain city, which the British colonial authorities made their summer capital so they could escape the brutal heat of New Delhi. But the drought — accompanied by unusually high temperatures, above 90 degrees Fahrenheit — has been so severe that in May, some residents took to Twitter to ask tourists to stay away and leave the water for local residents. Many in Shimla call it the worst shortage they can remember.”
Source: Deadly Tensions Rise as India’s Water Supply Runs Dangerously Low – The New York Times
Yes, thank you Maria Abi-Habib and Hari Kumar and the NYT for excellent reporting. Here are some of the NYT comments I recommeded:
“An optimistic take on Donald Trump’s historic meeting Tuesday with Kim Jong-un is that it’s Geneva Redux — a reprise of the 1985 summit between Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that established their rapport, fundamentally altered the tenor of relations between the superpowers and led within a few years to the end of the Cold War.
Let’s hope so. Because another take is that it’s the Plaza Redux, meaning the 1988 real estate debacle in which Trump hastily purchased New York’s Plaza Hotel because it looked like an irresistible trophy, only to be forced to sell it at a loss a few years later as part of a brutal debt restructuring.
The case for Geneva Redux, made this week by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic, sees parallels between Trump and Reagan, Republican presidents whose hawkish rhetoric and ignorance of policy details disguised an inner pragmatism and visionary imagination.
“Trump’s lack of focus on the details of denuclearization may be a good thing,” Beinart writes. “Like Reagan, he seems to sense that the nuclear technicalities matter less than the political relationship.” “
Source: Opinion | In Diplomacy, Trump Is the Anti-Reagan – The New York Times
by Tyler Cowen June 12, 2018 at 8:46 am in Current Affairs Political Science
“Many of you have asked what I think, so here goes:
1. There is a secret (and unenforceable) deal beneath what is reported. You may think this is good or bad, but for heaven’s sake don’t just be judging the press release.
2. If they didn’t actually agree to anything, that is fine.
3. I am reading so much yelping about how Trump “legitimized” Kim. The status quo ex ante simply was terrible, and there is no reason to think this change is for the worse. Trump’s great “virtue” in this regard was simply to be some mix of ignorant/disrespectful of the prior “expert consensus” and approach the problem afresh with a rather direct transactional and person-centered, personality-centered mentality.
4. As I tweeted: “Isn’t the whole point of the “deal” just to make them go visit Singapore? The real spectacle is not always where you are looking. And I hope someone brought them to the right chili crab place.”
The goal is to show the North Korean leadership there is a better way than playing the Nuclear Hermit Kingdom game. We won’t know for some time whether this has succeeded. Here is good FT coverage on this point. There are in fact numerous signs that the North Koreans are considering serious reforms. Of course those could be a feint, but the probabilities are rising in a favorable direction. Economic cooperation with South Korea is increasing at an astonishing pace.”
Source: The North Korean summit and deal – Marginal REVOLUTION