No Hakuna Matatas Here

MAY 15, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



“If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language will do.”

“Intelligence is not only the ability to reason; it is also the ability to find relevant material in memory and to deploy attention when needed.”

– Daniel Kahneman




Iran Into An Uphill Battle: John Bolton has served in several administrations, including as Under Secretary of State for George W. Bush beginning in 2001. Bolton is a “war hawk” who’s advocated for regime change in Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Yemen and North Korea. He was an early supporter of Bush’s invasion of Iraq; he had also called for a confrontation with Iran, which Bush ignored. Bolton strongly criticized the nuclear deal President Obama and other countries made with Iran in 2015, and repeatedly called for its termination, which President Trump did in 2018. In March 2018 Trump chose Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and Bolton to replace H. R. McMaster as national security adviser. In May Trump withdrew the US from the Iran deal.

The addition of Bolton and Pompeo meant that Trump had surrounded himself with the most radically aggressive foreign policy team in modern memory. Their influence is clear in America’s current posture toward Iran, including the latest development. Last week Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated battle plan at a meeting of Trump’s top national security aides. The plan envisions sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in case Iran attacks American forces or accelerates work on nuclear weapons.

Trump had signed an executive order on May 9 imposing tough new sanctions on Iran. Next he ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf. Now comes shocking news of the existence of even preliminary plans for deployment of an American force almost the size of that which invaded Iraq in 2003. European allies, meeting with Pompeo on Monday, are particularly worried that these ever-increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran could boil over, possibly inadvertently, and ignite yet another devastating Middle East war. Additional read: ‘Poison pills’: Pentagon tells EU not to block U.S. companies from defense pact (Reuters)




No Hakuna Matatas Here: An epidemic of African swine flu is devastating pig herds on the Chinese mainland and is rapidly spreading elsewhere in Asia. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, and Beijing’s move to destroy more than a million pigs is now being felt throughout a global industry that includes truckers, pork dealers and soybean feed growers. Experts say containing the disease is particularly challenging in a region where many producers are small-scale farmers. (NYT)

Russian Propa5Ganda: US intelligence agencies identified the Russian television network RT America as a principal meddler in the 2016 election. Currently the network is airing segments linking 5G signals to brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors and Alzheimer’s disease. Cellphones known as 5G, or fifth generation, represent the vanguard of a wireless era of interconnected cars, factories and cities. Whichever nation dominates the new technology will gain a competitive edge for much of the rest of the century. The 5G technology race is a growing point of tension between the US and China; some analysts see the possibility of Moscow and Beijing forming a 5G political bloc. One expert called RT’s attack on 5G “economic warfare.” “Russia doesn’t have a good 5G play, so it tries to undermine and discredit ours,” he said. (NYT) Additional read: Russia tells Pompeo: Enough mistrust, let’s reboot our ties (Reuters)

Swipe Left On The Whole Ordeal: A growing number of South Korean young people are avoiding romantic relationships, believing they don’t have the time, money or emotional capacity to go on dates. Although the country’s overall unemployment rate stands at 3.8 percent, it is much higher, almost 11 percent, for those aged 15 to 29. A 2019 survey by a recruitment agency showed only one in 10 students due to graduate this year had found full-time employment. The reasons given most often for not dating were: it distracts from job hunting and it is too expensive. Other reasons given were the rise of sex crimes, voyeurism and gender discrimination, all of which have become major societal issues in South Korea. (CNN)




Shh … Join The CIA: The CIA has come up with some quirky new recruiting ideas, including advertising positions on Twitter and Facebook, and sending a representative to a superhero extravaganza in Washington DC attended by costumed comic book fans. Under Director Gina Haspel, the CIA is reaching out in very public ways like never before. The agency says it needs a wider range of specialized skills — from linguists to scientists to cyber experts. In the year she’s led the agency, Haspel has delivered two speeches at universities with explicit recruiting pitches. The new approach seems to be working although there are still plenty of challenges. President Trump has been a persistent critic of the intelligence community, and Haspel herself is linked to post 9-11 controversies involving waterboarding of suspected terrorists. In addition, some outspoken critics describe the new approach as more style than substance. (NPR)

Food Deserts, News Deserts, and Now Hospital Deserts: Fairfax Community Hospital is one of four rural hospitals in Osage County, in northern Oklahoma. There is no hospital other than Fairfax within 30 miles of two-lane roads and prairie in the sprawling county, which meant Fairfax Community was the only lifeline in a part of the country that increasingly needed rescuing. But Fairfax Community has itself been on life supportsince the out-of-state company that owns it filed for bankruptcy. In the past decade, emergency room visits to America’s more than 2,000 rural hospitals increased by more than 60 percent, even as those hospitals began collapsing under doctor shortages and historically low operating margins.

Rural hospitals treat patients that are on average six years older and 40 percent poorer than those in urban hospitals, and they have suffered disproportionately from government cuts to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement rates. Rural hospitals treat a higher percentage of uninsured patients, resulting in unpaid bills and rising debts. A record 46 percent lost money last year, and more than 400 are classified by health officials as being at “high risk of imminent failure.” In the past decade more than 100 of the country’s remote hospitals have gone broke and then closed, turning some of the most impoverished parts of the US into what experts now call “health-hazard zones.” (k4news, WaPo)




Go Where The Wind And The Wi-Fi Take You: Digital nomads are loosely defined as people who use the internet to work remotely without having a fixed home base. From copywriters to computer programmers, digital nomads can choose to live wherever they like, and move as often as they want. It’s hard to ascertain just how many true digital nomads are in the world today — there’s some overlap with groups like remote workers, long-term travelers and expatriate online workers. A 2018 study by research firm MBO Partners found that 4.8 million US citizens identified as digital nomads; a 2016 Gallup poll showed that 43 percent of employed Americans spend at least some time working outside the traditional office environment. is a website that ranks towns and cities by their nomad-friendliness, based on factors such as cost of living, internet speed and entertainment options. As more digital work becomes available in more occupations, there are increased opportunities for people to go nomadic. One nomad added this: “Life goals are also different. Millennials tend to favor experiences over possessions, which suits this kind of lifestyle.” (Guardian)




“The easiest way to increase happiness is to control your use of time. Can you find more time to do the things you enjoy doing?” – Daniel Kahneman

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