Lazy Saturday Reads: April the Giraffe Gives Birth (and Other News)Posted: April 15, 2017
Here’s some breaking news that isn’t about war and government corruption. April the giraffe has finally given birth!
After months of anticipation for one pregnant giraffe and hundreds of thousands of obsessed viewers, April just made good.
“It’s happening!” Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch yelled into a camera from his car about 7:30 Saturday morning. “We are in labor 100 percent!”
There had been false starts before, but not far away in a pen in Upstate New York, two hooves were peeking out of April’s backside.
Then a head.
Then at 9:55 a.m …
An apparently healthy giraffe baby hit the floor in a shower of amniotic fluid and catharsis, as more than 1 million people watched live.
Half an hour later, the not-so-tiny infant took its first wobbly steps across a pen that’s been live-streamed 24 hours a day for nearly two months.
Then it flopped delightfully back to the floor and submitted to a tongue bath from its mother.
We still don’t know if the calf is a boy or girl giraffe. Read more at the WaPo.
Here’s a report from The Upshot at the NYT on research that shows that social programs are good for the economy: Supply-Side Economics, but for Liberals.
Certain social welfare policies, according to an emerging body of research, may actually encourage more people to work and enable them to do so more productively.
That is the conclusion of work that aims to understand in granular detail how different government interventions affect people’s behavior. It amounts to a liberal version of “supply-side economics,” an approach to economics often associated with the conservatives of the Reagan era.
Those conservative supply-siders argued that cutting taxes would lead businesses to invest more, unleashing faster economic growth as the productive capacity of the nation increases. In the emerging liberal version, government programs enable more people to work, and to work in higher-productivity, higher-income jobs. The end result, if the research is correct, is the same: a nation that is capable of growing faster and producing more.The clearest example of a program that appears to increase labor supply and hence the United States’ economic potential is the earned-income tax credit (E.I.T.C.), first enacted in 1975 and expanded several times since then. It supplements the income of low-income workers, and numerousstudies find that its existence means more Americans work than would in its absence.
For example, there was a major expansion of the program that was passed in 1993 and phased in over the ensuing years. Jeffrey Grogger of the University of Chicago finds that it was a major driver of higher employment among single mothers. By 1999, his researchsuggests, 460,000 more women who headed their household were working than would have been without the E.I.T.C. expansion. That is more, in his estimates, than the number of such women who were pulled into the work force by welfare reforms or a booming economy during that decade.
Child care subsidies appear to work the same way. It’s a pretty straightforward equation that when government intervention makes child care services cheaper than they would otherwise be, people who might otherwise stay home raising their children instead work. More women work in countries that subsidize child care and offer generous parental leave than in those that don’t.
Please go read the whole thing.
All eyes have been on North Korea for the past couple of days as the country celebrates the anniversary of its founding with a huge parade on Saturday.
North Korea paraded its military might Saturday in a massive public display that experts said showed new capabilities for its long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Kim Jong Un did not speak during the huge event, which celebrates the birthday of North Korea’s founding ruler Kim Il Sung, but another top official, Choe Ryong Hae, warned that the North would stand up to any threat posed by the United States.
Choe said President Donald Trump was guilty of “creating a war situation” on the Korean Peninsula by dispatching U.S. forces to the region.
“We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack,” Choe added.
The parade, the annual highlight of North Korea’s most important holiday, came amid growing international worries that North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a major missile launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM capable of reaching U.S. shores.
North Korea displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles on the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, as a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region.
Missiles appeared to be the main theme of a giant military parade, with Kim’s grandson, leader Kim Jong Un, taking time to greet the commander of the Strategic Forces, the branch that oversees the missile arsenal.
A U.S. Navy attack on a Syrian airfield this month with Tomahawk missiles raised questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for reclusive North Korea, which has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions, regularly threatening to destroy the United States.
Trump would love to be able to parade military equipment through the streets of Washington DC, as we learned from leaks about his inauguration plans. I have no doubt he’d love to be a dictator like Kim Jong-Un or Vladimir Putin.
The Washington Post: Trump delights in watching the U.S. military display its strength.
Amid the often jarring inconsistency of President Trump’s foreign policy, one thing has always been crystal clear: He loves a big show of American military force.
“You gotta knock the hell out of them — Boom! Boom! Boom!” Trump said of Islamic State terrorists at a January 2016 rally in Iowa, punctuating each “boom” with a punch of his fist.
That same impulse has been apparent over the past 10 days as Trump pummeled a Syrian air base with cruise missiles, threatened military action against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and praised the U.S. military’s first-ever use of a massive 11-ton bomb, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” to kill Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.
“So incredible. It’s brilliant. It’s genius,” Trump said Tuesday of the missile strike in Syria. “Our technology, our equipment is better than anybody by a factor of five.”
As he searches for a coherent foreign policy during his first months in office, Trump has celebrated but often inflated the effect of military actions. The massive shows of strength, at times, have seemed to be a strategy unto themselves.
Remember during the campaign, when Trump kept telling us our military was “depleted?” Suddenly it’s the greatest show on earth, according to the man who took 5 draft deferments during the Vietnam war.
Meanwhile sane people are just hoping Trump doesn’t start World War III.
The Atlantic: North Korea and the Risks of Miscalculation.
Not long after the United States Navy dispatched a carrier strike group in the direction of the Korean peninsula following a North Korean missile test last week, Pyongyang vowed to counter “the reckless act of aggression” and hinted at “catastrophic consequences.” The remarks came amid rising tension in the region as satellite images seem to indicate that North Korea is preparing for a possible sixth nuclear test, and as U.S. President Donald Trump warns that North Korean President Kim Jong Un is “doing the wrong thing” and that “we have the best military people on earth.”
There’s nothing particularly unusual about this sort of creative, bellicose rhetoric from the North Korean regime, which routinely threatens to do things like turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” or fire “nuclear-armed missiles at the White House and the Pentagon—the sources of all evil.” North Korea needs to be taken seriously as a hostile regime in artillery range of a close U.S. ally, and potentially in missile range of another. But its leadership lobs threats so promiscuously and outlandishly that one can build in a discount factor—there’s a long track record of unrealized North Korean threats to judge by. In that context, the probability that any given one will be realized is quite small….
What’s different now is Donald Trump. Whereas many of his predecessors steered sedulously clear of escalatory rhetoric, preferring to treat various North Korean leaders as recalcitrant children at worst or distasteful but nevertheless semi-rational negotiating partners at best, Trump has threatened North Korea via Twitter, declaring that the regime is “looking for trouble.” As my colleague Uri Friedman pointed out Thursday, three successive presidents prior to Trump, since the Clinton administration considered military action against the North’s then-nascent nuclear program, have opted for trying negotiations rather than risk a strike. It’s apparent that none succeeded in halting the nuclear program’s progress. But it’s equally apparent that the kind of massive conflagration on the Korean peninsula that world leaders are now warning against has been avoided since 1953.
For allies, enemies, and observers alike, though, Trump appears to be a wild card,and self-avowedly so. Even foreign-policy positions that are “predictable” for an American president—condemning the use of chemical weapons in war, say, or not deriding NATO as obsolete—were unanticipated reversals from this particular president. Trump himself has said that America needs to be more “unpredictable;” as Kevin Sullivan and Karen Tumulty reported in The Washington Post this week, he has made it so, leaving diplomats to ask what exactly the White House intends to do on issues ranging from border-adjustment taxes to Russia. (Russians are themselves confused: A foreign ministry spokeswoman told my colleague Julia Ioffe and other journalists this week: “We don’t understand what they’re going to do in Syria, and not only there. … No one understands what they’re going to do with Iran, no one understands what they’re going to do with Afghanistan. Excuse me, and I still haven’t said anything about Iraq.”)
Read more at The Atlantic link.
One more important foreign policy read from Anne Applebaum at the WaPo: Yes, Rex Tillerson, U.S. taxpayers should care about Ukraine. Here’s why.
“Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” That was the question that Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, was heard to ask at a meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers, America’s closest allies, a day before his visit to Moscow this week. We don’t know what he meant by that question, or in what context it was asked. When queried, the State Department replied that it was a “rhetorical device,” seeking neither to defend nor retract it.
If Tillerson were a different person and this were a different historical moment, we could forget about this odd dropped comment and move on. But Tillerson has an unusual background for a secretary of state. Unlike everyone who has held the job for at least the past century, he has no experience in diplomacy, politics or the military; instead he has spent his life extracting oil and selling it for profit. At that he was successful. But no one knows whether he can change his value system to focus instead on the very different task of selling something intangible — American values — to maximize something even more intangible: American influence.
So what’s Applebaum’s answer to Tillerson’s question?
It’s an explanation that cannot be boiled down to bullet points or a chart, or even reflected in numbers at all. I’m not even sure it can be done in a few paragraphs, but here goes. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in 2014 were an open attack on the principle of border security in Europe. The principle of border security, in turn, is what turned Europe, once a continent wracked by bloody conflicts, into a safe and peaceful trading alliance in the second half of the 20th century. Europe’s collective decision to abandon aggressive nationalism, open its internal borders and drop its territorial ambitions made Europe rich, as well as peaceful.It also made the United States rich, as well as powerful. U.S. companies do billions of dollars of business in Europe; U.S. leaders have long been able to count on European support all over the world, in matters economic, political, scientific and more. It’s not a perfect alliance but it is an unusual alliance, one that is held together by shared values as well as common interests. If Ukraine, a country of about 43 million people, were permanently affiliated with Europe, it too might become part of this zone of peace, trade and commerce.Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an aggressive, emboldened Russia increasingly threatens European security and prosperity, as well as Europe’s alliance with the United States. Russia supports anti-American, anti-NATO and indeed anti-democratic political candidates all across the continent; Russia seeks business and political allies who will help promote its companies and turn a blind eye to its corrupt practices. Over the long term, these policies threaten U.S. business interests and U.S. political interests all across the continent and around the world.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. If you’re celebrating, I hope you have a wonderful day. It’s also a long weekend here in Boston, because Monday is Patriot’s Day and the running of the Boston Marathon. I plan to relax and enjoy what I hope will be peace and quiet. I’m still getting used to the traffic noise and police sirens in my new apartment. (My old neighborhood was quiet every weekend and dead on long weekends.)
Have a great weekend Sky Dancers!