It's still the third rail
Mike Allen at Politico describes what he calls a "truth bomb" dropped by a Republican member of Congress during a recent breakfast backgrounder:
"By the way, this notion that Republicans are all eager to reform entitlements -- folks, Democrats have it all wrong. Republicans would love to avoid the issue, politically. ... I love this poll: Tea Party folks in Ohio, 'Do you think your Social Security benefits should be reduced given the record debt and deficits?' Eighty-five percent 'no.' ... [T]his is not an issue that anybody wants to take on, politically. It is the third rail of American politics, still. Is it easier? Yeah, probably than it was a couple of decades ago. But not much."
Pot shots at drones?
From Reason.com: "A majority of Americans, 57 percent, believe it is unconstitutional for the president of the United States to order the killing of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists, a new Reason-Rupe poll finds. Just 31 percent think it is constitutional for the president to order the killing of American citizens suspected of being terrorists. Even more, 59 percent, say they are concerned 'the government may abuse its power' when it comes to using drone strikes on American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists.
"As the use of drones by domestic law enforcement agencies grows, 60 percent of Americans are now concerned that their local police departments might invade their privacy with the use of drones. The public is split, 47-47, on whether or not they 'should have the right to destroy' a drone that is taking pictures or videos of their home."
China fears carbon
Writer Gwynne Dyer at straight.com out of Vancouver says the Chinese government plans to introduce a carbon tax because it is scared to death of climate change. Why is that? A study commissioned by the World Bank found that China "would lose a terrifying 38 percent of its food production at +2 degrees C," which could occur within 25 years, given current warming trends.
Mr. Dyer concludes, "No country that lost almost two-fifths of its food production could avoid huge social and political upheavals. No regime that was held responsible for such a catastrophe would survive. If the Chinese regime thinks that is what awaits it down the road, no wonder it is thinking of bringing in a carbon tax."
Not worth hacking
The Borowitz Report: "SHANGHAI -- In a rare announcement from a notoriously publicity-shy group, Chinese hackers revealed today that they were dropping the United States government from their official list of high-value targets. 'We have to allocate our time and energy to hacking powerful organizations,' a spokesman for the hackers said. 'Right now, calling the United States government an "organization" would be a reach.' He added that the hackers' ultimate goal had been to hurl the U.S. government into a state of abject paralysis, 'and they seem to have already taken care of that on their own.' "
Anya Kamenetz in Newsweek asks whether the rapidly proliferating outposts of major American universities -- like Yale and NYU and CMU -- can match the academic rigor of their home campuses. Highlighting the financial arrangements that drive universities to open shop in rich countries like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Singapore, she questions their ability to maintain their dedication to free speech and inquiry abroad.
"For nearly every university branching out overseas," she writes, "there are faculty and students raising alarms -- on discrimination, educational quality, civil liberties, academic freedom, financial motivations and the political implications of trying to establish such a core democratic institution on nondemocratic soil."
Manufacturers exit China
The Atlantic Wire picks up on a piece in Forbes: "Foxconn Technology Group, the manufacturing company used by Apple to make iProducts in China, has become a symbol for the West's relationship to Asian labor. But Foxconn founder Terry Gou could be moving his business out of China soon, argues Gordon Chang, who sees evidence of more factories coming to Brazil and, in a complete reversal of today's East-West labor chain, the United States.
" 'Why should Gou leave the country that made him rich and famous?' Chang asks. 'There are, for starters, spiraling wages, worker discontent, forced unionization, tough environmental enforcement. But the big factor today -- and the one no one thought about three years ago -- is political risk,' such as Beijing's increased hostility with Taiwan and Japan.
" 'As Beijing seeks to use its economic leverage to obtain geopolitical objectives, companies will have no choice but to reduce their China exposure.' "
Greg Victor (email@example.com).