Newslinks 2015-6-1

It was a big weekend for China watchers. China’s ambassador to the US accused Washington of a Cold War mentality and attempting to build an anti-China alliance. He tries to give the US a classic appeasement choice to stop pursuing policies that make Beijing believe the US is its enemy, although it seems pretty clear China has gotten bold precisely because it knows its policies will not be challenged by countries afraid of a major confrontation, including the US.

A Chinese admiral also defended the policies of entrenchment and creating new reefs, which is a good news-bad news kind of thing. Good news is China isn’t being particularly aggressive about this. Bad news is they’re not stopping. It seems the Chinese strategy is to elbow their way into the western Pacific and expand the area they consider a threat to Chinese security.

This WaPo editorial, however, shows that China is just like the rest of us. Which for Americans means they’re stupid, lazy, and greedy. We shouldn’t fall back on the bad habit of the 80s when Americans projected all kinds of good qualities on Japanese without noting the trade-offs and downsides.

This WSJ op-ed reflects the American thinking of China as a strategic rival. It doesn’t make China our enemy per se, although it is also a bad habit of many people to think in that way. China’s lack of freedoms, abuse of human rights, unwillingness to protect workers or the environment, bullying of regional neighbors, big money attitude, expanding military power, and routine stealing of foreign technology and trade secrets doesn’t help as context though. But the people are great.

Joe Biden’s son died of brain cancer on Saturday at 46.

Republican Senators called for making birth control over the counter and it faced surprising resistance from contraceptive groups. The groups say such measures will actually hurt access to birth control because insurance will stop covering them. Republicans in support of the bill fired back that they’re opposed because such measures threaten their survival since women won’t need to pay them for prescriptions. This is the kind of bill that makes so much sense that it will never pass, and it’s interesting to know that incumbent groups do oppose it in a funny “the only thing worse than never getting what you want is getting it” kind of way.

US Treasury Secretary urged the EU and Greece to make a deal quickly, reflecting that US policymakers are also nervous and frustrated with the continuing saga.

NYT covers the European labor market for fake jobs. If you’re kind, it’s simulated training. If you’re not, this is the brutal Keynesian “pay some people to dig a big hole and pay some others to fill it back in”. At worst, the NYT got a front row seat to a money laundering front for billionaires and organized crime.

Sepp Blatter, making his run as the most corrupt leader in the entire world, begins his fifth term as president of FIFA. He sounded a defiant tone regarding the corruption allegations. He’s one of these guys that makes you wonder if dirty business is worth it if it makes soccer a more popular and lucrative sport, providing entertainment and jobs to lots of people around the world.

A fantastic interview with Rachel Laudan, a food historian whose book I read a while back. I like her anti-contrarian attitude (the food version of Ronald Reagan) with regard to the trend towards “traditional foods”, the kind of attitude that responds “You mean the traditions where only 10% of people lived to see their 25th birthday?”, and how unabashed she is that the modern American supermarket is as close to the Garden of Eden as humanity has ever seen. The essential message is enjoy the wide range of food and appreciate the incredible accessibility that you have. It still isn’t that way in most of the world and it was never that way in the past.

Japan is preparing to lower the voting age from 20 to 18. It will enfranchise 2.4 million additional voters, although it probably won’t make too much difference since young voters around the world are the most indifferent and inconsistent, and the Japanese public is especially indifferent towards politics. Of course, politicians could take advantage of that by playing to identity politics and social policies, which tend to be the kinds of things that do attract the attention of young voters.

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