It’s What’s On The Outside That Counts
June 25, 2019
“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” – Leo Tolstoy
“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.” – Lao Tzu
Taking Measure of a Middle East Barometer
The Arab Barometer (AB) research network is a non-partisan source for quantitative research on the social, political, and economic attitudes and values of ordinary citizens in the Middle East. The AB conducted a unique survey in 2018/2019 for BBC News Arabic, interviewing more than 25,000 Arabs across 10 countries and the Palestinian territories. The survey yielded insights into how Arabs feel about a wide range of issues.
On the subject of religion, the survey found the number of Arabs identifying as “not religious” rose from 8 percent in 2013 to 13 percent presently. 18 percent of those under 30 said they were not religious. The exception was Yemen.
Most Arabs supported the right of a woman to become prime minister or president. The exception was Algeria, where less than 50 percent agreed a woman as head of state was acceptable. Contrastingly, on the domestic front most Arab men and women believed husbands should remain the decision-makers. The exception was Morocco, where less than 50 percent thought a husband should always make the final decisions.
Honor killings are more acceptable than homosexuality in the Arab world. Lebanon is reportedly more socially liberal than its neighbors, and only 6 percent of that country’s interviewees were tolerant of homosexuality.
Donald Trump’s Middle East policies ranked the lowest among those surveyed. He received 12 percent, compared to 28 percent who preferred Vladimir Putin. Both Trump and Putin lost to Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who garnered an impressive 51 percent favorability rating. Arabs believe the nations posing the greatest threat to their stability and national security are Israel first, then the US, then Iran.
Did We Just Become Best Friends?
- President Xi Jinping looked like he was next to his best friend when he appeared with Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang last Thursday. It was the first time a Chinese leader had set foot on North Korean soil in 14 years, and suggested the two allies and neighbors might be patching up a strained relationship.
- But Xi’s trip lasted less than 24 hours, and since both leaders are looking for leverage in their separate disputes with the US, the meeting could have just been for show prior to Xi’s expected talks with President Trump at the G20 in Japan next week. (NYT)
- A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be a bloody, logistical nightmare (CNN)
A Billion Taxed Is A Billion Earned
- Elizabeth Warren wants to impose a wealth tax on the country’s richest of the rich. Now the Democratic presidential candidate is being joined by some of the very people she’s tax-targeting.
- In a letter published Monday on the website Medium.com, financier George Soros calls for “a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest one-tenth of the richest 1 percent of Americans—on us.” (NYT)
Ain’t That A Kick In The Assets
- President Trump signed an executive order Monday authorizing new sanctions designed to put an additional strangle-hold on Iran. Trump described the “hard-hitting” sanctions as cutting off Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office from certain financial assets.
- “We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its aspirations…” revolving around nuclear weapons and support for terrorism.
- It wasn’t clear how the US had access to the assets, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the assets added up to “literally billions” and would be locked away.(NPR)
- Mike Pence just revealed something important about Trump’s Iran decisions (WaPo $)
Additional World News
- Ethiopia Army Chief Killed In Attempted Coup, Government Says (NPR)
- Humans have made 8.3bn tons of plastic since 1950. This is the illustrated story of where it’s gone. (Guardian)
- Great Pacific Garbage Patch: giant plastic trap put to sea again: Floating boom is designed to trap 1.8 trillion items of plastic without harming marine life – but broke apart last time (Guardian)
- I was Boris Johnson’s boss: he is utterly unfit to be prime minister. (Guardian)
- ‘Hell is coming’: week-long heatwave begins across Europe: Temperatures could hit 40C from Spain to Switzerland, with authorities urging children and older people to stay indoors (Guardian)
- Meet The Residents Of A Norwegian Island Who Want To Kill Time – Literally (NPR)
- The new drug highway: Pacific islands at centre of cocaine trafficking boom. Explosion in number of boats carrying cocaine and meth from Latin America to Australia is causing havoc for islands on the way (Guardian)
Leaking Info On The Leak
- In 2004 Taylor Energy was operating at least 28 oil and gas wells in a leased canyon in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 11 miles off the coast of Louisiana. When Hurricane Ivan hit in September, it caused the canyon walls to collapse, burying the wells and destroying Taylor’s oil platform. The first public awareness of the 2004 Taylor oil spill came in 2010, when people monitoring the nearby Deepwater Horizon oil spill noticed contamination at the Taylor site.
- In 2015 the Associated Press challenged estimates given by the company and the US Coast Guard of the extent of the leak. The estimates were then revised to be around 20 times greater than initially reported.
- On Monday the US government released its first study of the now almost 15 year old oil leak; it estimated up to 108 barrels of oil — more than 4,500 gallons — is flowing from the site each day. Other estimates are that as much as 71,400 gallons of oil could be pouring into the Gulf daily. An environmental and natural resources damage assessment has yet to be done. (WaPo)
Copyright Law Is FUCT
- LA clothing designer Erik Brunetti tried for decades to trademark his streetwear brand “FUCT” so he could go after copycats, who, he said, were costing him real money. But the US Patent and Trademark Office kept turning him down on the basis that those letters violate a federal statute that bars trademark protection for immoral, shocking, offensive and scandalous words.
- Brunetti ‘s case got a boost in 2017 when the Supreme Court ruled that an Asian American band called The Slants could not be denied trademark protection just because the name used a term viewed as racially disparaging.
- On Monday, in a win for free speech advocates, the Court ruled in Brunetti’s favor, striking down the ban on trademarking words and symbols that are “immoral” or “scandalous.” (NPR)
- Additional read: Caterpillar Now Going After All The Cats For Trademark Cancellations. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Cat & Cloud is among 174 registered trademarks including the word “cat”. Caterpillar has filed 125 cancellation petitions so far including one to internet sensation Keyboard Cat. (Techdirt)
Additional USA News
- The Shadow Cabinet: How a Group of Powerful Business Leaders Drove Trump’s Agenda: The full member list of the Trump Leadership Council, a group of corporate influencers who guided the president’s anti-regulatory policy blitz (Rolling Stone)
- Nxivm’s Keith Raniere Convicted in Trial Exposing Sex Cult’s Inner Workings: Mr. Raniere set up a harem of sexual “slaves” who were branded with his initials and kept in line by blackmail. (NYT, $)
- Michael Savage Has Doubts About Trump. His Conservative Radio Audience Does Not.: Michael Savage was one of the first radio hosts to endorse Mr. Trump. Now he thinks the president’s fans are too uncritical. But his listeners aren’t so sure. (NYT, $)
It’s What’s On The Outside That Counts
- Can your looks and other physical attributes shape your personality? The theory known as “facultative personality calibration” holds that our personalities develop in a way that best suits the other genetic cards we’ve been dealt, including our size, strength, and attractiveness.
- It makes sense that a taller, stronger, more “macho” man might be more extroverted, more of a risk-taker, than a man who is shorter and physically weaker; one study from Germany’s University of Göttingen recently reported its research had found that to be true.
- Other research has found that physically more formidable men also tend to be more aggressive and less neurotic — which again makes sense if you see personality as an adaptive strategy.
- Interestingly, the German study did not find the same strength-extroversion association among men to be present among women in the study. (BBC)
- It’s time we tear up our economics textbooks and start over (WaPo, $)
- She’s 103 and Just Ran the 100-Meter Dash. Her Life Advice? ‘Look for Magic Moments’: Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins took up running at age 100. “As I get older, I feel like I only have so many 100-yard dashes left, and I don’t want to waste them in practice,” she said. (NYT, $)
- At Work, Expertise Is Falling Out of Favor: These days, it seems, just about all organizations are asking their employees to do more with less. Is that actually a good idea? (The Atlantic)
- A New Hope: Seal Learns To Sing Star Wars Theme (NPR)
“When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.” – Lao Tzu
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