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What ‘moderates’?

Via Atlantic Wire — Fareed Zakaria explains in The Washington Post why viable moderate leaders are virtually nonexistent in the Middle East. Hillary Clinton’s recent statements about arming so-called moderates in the region has become popular, he writes, but it’s not realistic:

“For decades, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been to support ‘moderates.’ The problem is that there are actually very few of them. The Arab world is going through a bitter, sectarian struggle that is ‘carrying the Islamic world back to the Dark Ages,’ said Turkish President Abdullah Gul. In these circumstances, moderates either become extremists or they lose out in the brutal power struggles of the day.”

Mr. Zakaria doesn’t believe arming Syrian moderates would have mattered. He cites Washington University’s Marc Lynch and historical studies that found that, “in a chaotic, violent civil war such as Syria’s — with many outside players funding their favorite groups — U.S. intervention would have had little effect other than to extend and exacerbate the conflict.”

We drink, we’re hip

Pitt’s Chris Briem notes at Null Space a story in Australia’s Herald Sun that rolls out the Reinvented Pittsburgh “hagiography” under the title: “Why Adelaide Should Be More Like Pittsburgh — a Phoenix City That Has Reinvented Itself.” Subtitled: “Pittsburgh Has Gone from Rustbucket City to Thriving Metropolis.”

Mr. Briem congratulates the paper for getting right one aspect of the story that even many Pittsburghers get wrong: “The Superbowls of the 1970s were not played during the economic miasma of the 1980s.”

Then he describes “an odd Australian-only take on what could be construed into a more creative-cities amenity-type argument: … . ‘As a measure of vibrancy, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in May that the city had the most bars per person — 12 per 10,000 — of any city in the U.S.’

“Of course, I don’t know how one would impute causality given that I suspect we had a pretty high bars-per-capita metric decades ago as well. I mean, some city neighborhoods were hip before there was hip if that is the metric that matters.”

More immigration, please

Jason Russell at “There can be no clearer sign of the need for immigration reform than children putting themselves in physical peril for a better life in the U.S. Increased legal immigration and a simpler, shorter process for crossing the border would have enormous humanitarian benefits.

“But these reforms would also help solve America’s economic and budgetary problems. … America’s birth rate is less than half of what it was a century ago. The cost of programs such as Medicare and Social Security is projected to raise publicly held federal debt to over 100 percent of GDP by 2036. And there is good evidence that immigration could help to address all of this.

“Research by Giovanni Peri at the University of California, Davis shows that more immigration will raise U.S. wages and create additional jobs for native-born Americans. Immigrants bring different skills into the economy and typically do not compete for the same jobs as natives. … Some worry that immigration will strain the safety net, but low-income immigrant households with children rely less on the safety net than do similarly-situated native households.”

Millennials, eat veggies!

Travis McKnight in The Guardian says fellow millennials “who care about the environment should put their money where their mouths are and stop eating meat”: “Millennials represent $200 billion in economic worth, and if a statistical majority of our generation become vegetarians or vegans, or at least eat significantly less meat than previous generations, we have a chance to have a real economic — and thus environmental — impact. …

“Raising animals to eat produces more greenhouse gases (via methane and nitrous oxide) than all of the carbon dioxide excreted by automobiles, boats, planes and trains in the world combined. Over a 20-year period, methane has 86 times more climate change potential than carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide has 268 times more climate change potential, according to a 2006 U.N. report. …

“Yes, quitting meat can reduce your carbon footprint significantly more than quitting driving.”

Compiled by Greg Victor (

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