Congo’s evolution from political crisis to humanitarian emergency


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No end to these man made crises.

In recognition of the severity of the crisis, Congo has been categorised a “Level 3” emergency by the international relief community, to galvanise the aid response. The measure will last for an initial six months and is focused on the situation in the greater Kasai region, as well as Tanganyika and South Kivu, where conflict and displacement have soared this year.

The complete article

IRIN

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For the last time: Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves


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We all hate taxes but they don’t pay for themselves. Or do they?

How do they come up with such optimistic numbers? Easy: by making optimistic assumptions. That, as former Obama economic advisers Larry Summers and Jason Furman point out, appears to be what they’re doing. They simply seem to assume the best and then say that if this scenario played out over the next 10 years — which it almost certainly wouldn’t — then these tax cuts really would add 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points to growth, which would cover $1 trillion lost in cuts. Although, as bad as that sounds, it’s actually even worse than that, since the Republican economists also seem to have misstated or misunderstood some of the studies that they claim show the economy would grow as much as they say.

The complete article

Matt O’Brien — The Washington Post

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The Simplicity Assumption


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We tend to run away from complex solutions. We do assume that every problem does have a simple solution.

The Simplicity Assumption afflicts citizens of all political persuasions. I believe that it also afflicts economists, who take pride in what they regard as the power of simple models. Some prominent health economists have made the claim that “It’s the prices, stupid,” implying that reducing the cost of health care is merely a matter of negotiating more aggressively with health care providers.4 Others have claimed that government technocrats have the ability to devise compensation systems that will induce health care providers to improve the quality of their services.5

The complete article

Arnold Kling — Library of Economics & Liberty

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Weighing 75 years of the nuclear age


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What is it like to sit for 75 years with the capability to destroy earth many times over?

No deliberate nuclear attack has taken place since the bombings of Japan, in part because of the sheer horror of those events. But the threat never goes away. “The risk of a nuclear weapon being used somewhere in the world in these next years is probably higher than it’s been since the Cuban missile crisis,” Moniz said. “We see concerns in North Korea, India-Pakistan. Russia of course remains, with a large arsenal, and we do not have a very constructive relationship right now with Russia.” North Korea launched a missile test just this week, the latest in a string of tests that have moved it steadily towards the goal of being able to hit the continental United States with a nuclear weapon.

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Elisabeth Eaves & Julian HaydaBulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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What Netflix doesn’t want you to know about how its synopses are written


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Have you ever written a synopsis of something you never watched or read?

From Haas’s description, the job sounded pretty straightforward. Why, I wondered during our conversation, would they want to hide that? Then Haas dropped a bomb: “As I’m sure you have noticed those don’t always actually match the content of the film very well which is because they did not pay us well enough for us to actually watch the movies,” Haas said. “So we would write the synopsis based on what we found online. That could be kind of challenging.” Bingo, I thought. That’s what Netflix doesn’t want us to know. No, not the possibility that they pay their writers poorly, but the possibility that SYNOPSES WRITERS DO NOT WATCH THE FILMS These synopses are based off other synopses, a feedback loop that would’ve given Baudrillard fits.

The complete article

Ann-Derrick Gaillot — The Outline

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If you get a PhD, get an economics PhD


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This needull is dedicated to a friend who made the smart choice and is now reaping the dividends.

Why do so very few newly minted econ PhDs face the prospect of unemployment? Part of it is due to the econ field’s extremely well-managed (and centrally planned!) job market. Part of it is due to the large demand from the lucrative consulting and finance industries. And part is due to the aforementioned proliferation of b-schools. There may be other reasons I don’t know. But in an America where nearly every career path is looking more and more like a gamble, the econ PhD remains a rock of stability – the closest thing you’ll find to a direct escalator to the upper middle class.

The complete article

Noahpinion

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Is there definitive proof of the existence of God?


How does Gödel try to show that God’s existence is possible? He argues that it is possible because God has only positive properties. If God were to have both positive and negative properties simultaneously it would seem impossible for him to exist because they would contradict each other. For example, it would seem impossible for God to exist if he were to have the property of being all knowing (a positive property) and the property of being ignorant (a negative property) simultaneously. Therefore God, as the greatest possible being, has only positive properties, such as the properties of being all knowing, all powerful and morally perfect, which, according to Gödel, do not contradict each other.

The complete article

Yujin Nagasawa — OUPblog