Things didn’t end well between George Carlo and Tom Wheeler; the last time the two met face-to-face, Wheeler had security guards escort Carlo off the premises. As president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), Wheeler was the wireless industry’s point man in Washington. Carlo was the scientist handpicked by Wheeler to defuse a public-relations crisis that threatened to strangle his infant industry in its crib. This was back in 1993, when there were only six cell-phone subscriptions for every 100 adults in the United States. But industry executives were looking forward to a booming future.
Defending the right of United States citizens to buy semi-automatic rifles or carry concealed weapons is akin to denying any human responsibility for climate change. Rational arguments are not the point. No matter how many schoolchildren are gunned down or what the scientific evidence may be for the effects of carbon dioxide emissions, people will not change beliefs that define their identity.
Einst schrieb man die Gabe, in die Zukunft zu blicken, Göttern, Propheten oder Priestern zu. Heute ist die Fähigkeit, falsifizierbare Prophezeiungen zu machen, ein Kennzeichen der anerkannten Wissenschaften. Und die Wissenschaft, die sich am meisten mit der Zukunft beschäftigt, ist die Ökonomie.
Im Gegensatz zu Wissenschaftern aus den benachbarten Gebieten (wie der Soziologie, Rechts- und Politikwissenschaft) stehen die Ökonomen stets bereit, Fragen zur Zukunft mit erstaunlicher Genauigkeit zu beantworten. Fast so, als fragte man einen Soziologen, wann der Rassismus enden werde, und er würde das genaue Jahr und Datum und die exakte Tageszeit nennen. Ökonomen gehen mit diesen Fragen auch ganz lässig um. Wenn die Medien wissen wollen: «Und, wie hoch wird das Wachstum des BIP (oder die Inflation, die Arbeitslosenrate, der Wechselkurs Euro zu Dollar usw.) Ihrer Ansicht nach im nächsten Jahr ausfallen?» lauten die Antworten etwa so: «Seien Sie nicht albern! Ich habe schliesslich keine Kristallkugel, Vorhersagen sind unmöglich, insbesondere wenn es um die Zukunft geht (haha!) usw. usw. Ich erwarte 2,4 Prozent!» Wir Ökonomen sind also nicht sicher, wir wissen es nicht – aber wir wissen es mit verblüffender Präzision nicht, nämlich auf eine Dezimalstelle genau! Es ist doch immer interessant, wenn der Anfang eines Satzes seinem Ende widerspricht.
Last November, Joe Morris, a 31-year-old film-maker from London, noticed a sore spot on his tongue. He figured he’d bitten himself in his sleep and thought nothing more about it until halfway through the winter holidays, when he realised the sore was still with him. He Googled “cut on tongue won’t heal” and, after sifting through pages of medical information on oral cancer, he decided to call his doctor.
The cut was nothing, Joe was sure: he was a non-smoker with no family history of cancer. But he’d make an appointment, just in case.
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I’m sure it’s nothing, the doctor said. You’re not a smoker, and you’re 31 years old. But see a specialist, just in case.
I’m sure it’s nothing, the specialist said, you don’t check any of the boxes, but we’ll do a biopsy, just in case.
When the biopsy results came back positive for cancerous cells, the specialist said that the lab must have made a mistake. The second time Joe’s biopsy results came back positive, the specialist was startled. Now Joe was transferred to Guy’s hospital, which has one of the best oral cancer teams in Britain.
The oncologists at Guy’s reassured Joe again: the cancerous spot was small, and cancer of the tongue typically starts on the surface and grows inward. This tiny sore could likely be nipped out without much damage to the rest of his tongue. They’d take an MRI to make sure there wasn’t any serious inward growth, and then schedule the surgery.
They might not have intended it – this is too big for them, and perhaps even too big for their arrogance, but they are the initiators of the regime, or at least its harbingers. They studied law and went to work (“to serve”) in the military courts. They were promoted and became military judges. That’s what they call the clerk-officers who work for the moral army as judges of the occupied in the occupied territories. They work in a military unit with a biblical name: the “Judea Military Court,” and they decide people’s fate. No doubt they’re certain they’re working in a legal system, like they were taught at university. There are, after all, prosecutors and defense attorneys in it. There’s even a translator.
Most of the work attracts no attention. In Israel, who cares what happens in the prefabs at the Ofer military base? They have sent thousands of people to an aggregate tens of thousands of years of imprisonment, and almost never exonerated anyone; at their workplace, there’s no such thing. They have also approved hundreds of detentions without hearings, even though there is no such thing in a country of law. Day after day, it’s just another day at the office.
The presidential election in Russia a week ago resulted in an impressive, if unsurprising, victory for Vladimir Putin. He was elected to a fourth term with a wide margin and high turnout in a vote that appeared to be the cleanest in Russia’s recent history (at least when it comes to what happened on Election Day itself).
But this election was about more than just reinstalling Mr. Putin in the Kremlin. It signaled the beginning of post-Putin Russia. Because while the president has gained popular support for policies like annexing Crimea and confronting the West, the legitimacy of his next term will be determined by his success in reassuring ordinary Russians that his regime will endure even when he is no longer in the Kremlin.
When Britain threw out 23 Russian diplomats in response to an assassination attempt on Russian agent Sergei Skripal, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia and current bad boy of modern geopolitics, shrugged it off. With relations between London and Moscow so strained, the embassy didn’t have all that much to do, anyway. The cost, Putin no doubt felt, was predictable and bearable. Then on Monday, 20 additional countries, from Albania to Ukraine, joined in a coordinated expulsion campaign, with the United States accounting for 60 of the Russians sent packing. On Tuesday, NATO announced it would expel seven Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning. Suddenly, the Kremlin isn’t looking quite so comfortable. With the Skripal hit, it looks as if Putin may have finally overreached.
A cross section of Africa’s most powerful people gathered in Kigali this week to sell a dream – and sell it hard.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who revelled in his role as host of this extraordinary African Union (AU) summit, described this dream as “among the most consequential actions that this Assembly has ever taken”. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said that anyone who did not support it was a “criminal”. South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa invoked not one but three liberation heroes to underscore the significance of the moment:
“This is probably just as important as the formation of Organisation of African Unity (OAU). This is what Kwame Nkrumah dreamt of, what Julius Nyerere wanted to see, what Nelson Mandela wanted to see realised. It’s truly a new dawn for Africa,” he said.
The presidents were speaking, of course, about the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a landmark trade deal that would create a single market from the Cape to Cairo, and from Djibouti to Dakar.
During the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City in 2011, there was a man who appeared regularly with a sign, painted in black block letters on a white painter’s canvas, that read, “Shit is fucked up and bullshit.” At first glance it felt lazily ironic, directionless, representative of the disorganization that was so often read into (and occasionally true of) the movement. But it was also appropriate. Everything was a mess, and to list all the things that needed changing on one canvas would have taken many more yards and smaller print. Rather, “shit is fucked up and bullshit” became shorthand for the need for systemic change.
It’s lunchtime on a Tuesday, and the kids are piling into a pizzeria booth in Coral Springs, Fla., to plot a revolution. “The adults know that we’re cleaning up their mess,” says Cameron Kasky, an 11th-grader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who started the #NeverAgain movement to curb gun violence three weeks earlier in his living room. “It’s like they’re saying, ‘I’m sorry I made this mess,’” adds buzzcut senior Emma González, “while continuing to spill soda on the floor.”
Kasky and González are sitting with two more of the movement’s leaders, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin. Except they’re not sitting, exactly. They’re crouching diagonally on the seat and leaning back on one another’s knees in order to devour their calzones while maintaining as much physical contact as possible. Corin throws a crouton into González’s mouth. Kasky uses Corin’s knees as a pillow. The conversation turns from their fellow organizer David Hogg (“So laser-focused,” González says, that “he could make his body get pregnant if he wanted to”) to the conspiracy theory that they’re actors being paid by shadowy donors (prompting Kasky to ask why his credit card was recently declined at McDonald’s) to their prolific trolling of the NRA. They agree that the gun lobby’s spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, is “very hot but kind of scary,” as González puts it.