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The CIA: 70 Years of Organized Crime
Plausible deniability: "the use of circumlocution and euphemism in discussions where precise definitions would expose covert actions and bring them to an end".
language  obfuscation  cia  crime  spy  usa  policy  strategy  HeartOfDarkness 
8 hours ago by amaah
Ruling Finds Solar Panels From China Hurt U.S. Makers | New Hampshire Public Radio
Installing solar panels on your home could become more expensive, depending on how President Trump responds to a decision Friday by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
nhpr  solar  trump  policy  coal  cleanenergy 
11 hours ago by eversourcenh
Ruling Finds Solar Panels From China Hurt U.S. Makers | New Hampshire Public Radio
Installing solar panels on your home could become more expensive, depending on how President Trump responds to a decision Friday by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
NHPR  solar  Trump  policy  coal  cleanenergy 
11 hours ago by northernpass
The United States Didn’t Just Help Topple Allende—We Trained the Economists, Too | The Nation
"A new documentary, Chicago Boys, looks at the Chilean economists who brought neoliberalism from the halls of Chicago to the policies of Latin America."
chicagoboys  economics  miltonfriedman  chile  history  pinochet  us  salvadorallende  economists  policy  politics  greggrandin  2015  1973 
20 hours ago by robertogreco
Economic models are broken, and economists like Joseph Stiglitz and researchers at the Bank of England have wildly different ideas about how to fix them — Quartz
"Ultimately, Stiglitz suggests that models with micro-economic foundations should be replaced with simpler alternatives, like the ones Robert Shiller used before 2007 to warn about the US housing bubble.
But instead of scrapping efforts to use micro insights to model the macro economy, researchers at the Bank of England suggest doubling down on a data-heavy approach. In a recent paper (pdf), they also acknowledge the problems with modern economic models. They say that machine learning could address some of these shortfalls by taking advantage of the increasingly large amounts of “micro and high-frequency data” available to central banks and regulators, such as transactions between financial institutions and detailed household consumption patterns.
The authors of the central bank’s paper explain that macroeconomic modelling often takes a “deductive” approach, which means starting off with a set of assumptions and arriving at the largest possible generality. Instead, machine learning could encourage an “inductive” approach that would allow economists to analyze a vast amount of data that could be used to detect and investigate underlying patterns. For example, artificial neural networks may find unknown interactions between different variables which can be used to build more accurate economic models. Economists could make a “consistent transition between a micro and macro view of the economy” this way, the researchers write.
However, there are still large barriers to machine learning really changing economic models. The Bank of England’s researchers point to a few. One example is that most AI algorithms don’t explain how some outputs are generated from particular inputs, making their results difficult to interpret—this is why some refer to algorithmic systems as “black boxes.” Another problem is that many machine-learning techniques don’t account for the the flow of time, which could lead to either too much or too little focus on certain types of information. Algorithms are still created by humans, so code is susceptible to our mistakes and biases.
While Stiglitz recommends taking a step back from micro-economic models, and researchers at the Bank of England suggest a deeper dive into detailed data, it could be that a combination of the two will produce more effective economic models than the ones that have performed so poorly in recent years."
economics  2017  policy  modeling  josephstiglitz  socialsciences 
20 hours ago by robertogreco
How a North Carolina School Segregated Again - CityLab
"From the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, Charlotte was the most desegregated major school system in the country, and West Charlotte High School was its flagship. A 1969 federal ruling mandated that each Charlotte school’s student body be 70 percent white and 30 percent black, to match the system-wide demographic.

After a few rocky years, families, students, teachers, and administrators settled in to busing and integration, and Charlotte became a national success story. In 1974, when Boston erupted in violence over its first year of full-scale, court-ordered busing, West Charlotte High hosted students from South Boston so they could see integration in action.

But in 1999, a year after Grundy decided to pen West Charlotte High’s story, a federal judge ordered the city to stop using race in school assignments. Busing ceased. “It was shocking,” says Grundy.

Today, West Charlotte High is 85 percent African American, and almost 83 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged.

Accordingly, Grundy’s book, Color and Character: West Charlotte High and the American Struggle over Educational Equality, published this month, explores not only West Charlotte High’s integration success, but also its subsequent devolution through legislation, increased inequality, and urban displacement.

CityLab caught up with Grundy to talk about the school’s trajectory and what residents can do to foster more equal schools in their communities.

What made West Charlotte High’s integration work?

West Charlotte was the only historically black high school left in the city, and there was a lot of conflict over which white kids were going to have go to it. In the end, a group of wealthy, white parents decided that they were going to put their kids on those buses, and this served as a catalyst. There was a strong sense among them that they were doing something bigger than themselves and their children. The city’s leaders also made integration a priority, as having Charlotte’s schools in racial turmoil did not advance the city’s reputation on the national stage.

It was tough for the West Charlotte community to see their school change. It was an elite black school with strong black teachers. But they welcomed the white students.

What were some successes of West Charlotte High School as an integrated school?

Having the children of powerful parents brought more resources to the school, which strengthened its materials and curriculum. It also had great music and drama programs and sports teams, and the community felt that the school's diversity played a key role in that success.

And if you talk to alumni from the heyday of integration, they all say how much it meant to them to know different types of kids. West Charlotte was very balanced: The black and white students came from a variety of economic backgrounds, and an ESL program brought immigrants as well. No one was dominant, and that meant kids felt that they could try on different identities, be part of different groups.

What about the challenges?

There were stereotypes and misconceptions to overcome. It took work to integrate some of the extracurricular activities, and especially to make sure that black students were in advanced classes.

The other problem, even as schools were integrating, is that Charlotte itself became more segregated by income and race. In the 1980s we see the income gap start to widen, as Ronald Reagan’s economic policies—tax cuts, decreased social spending, deregulation—benefit the well-off and harm the poor. Developers built housing for affluent, mostly white residents in the suburbs. Low-income housing for mostly black residents became even more clustered in the city’s center. These changes made it more difficult to bus, because blacks and whites were living farther from each other. [Editors’ note: See the maps below for an illustration of how segregation increased in Charlotte from 1970 to 1990.]

How did the increase in economic and spatial inequality contribute to West Charlotte High’s resegregation?

The city reassigned students to schools primarily based on where they lived. Because of the concentration of poverty in the city center, West Charlotte's population ended up as the city’s poorest and least diverse.

This occurred at a time when parents were feeling more anxiety about schooling, with a greater focus on the well-being of individual children rather than larger social goals. There was a scramble to get kids to what were seen as the better schools, and when families from better-off areas were given the choice to continue sending their children to West Charlotte, most didn’t. And many more-prosperous families who were newly assigned to West Charlotte sent their children to magnet programs instead. The school was faced with educating a large number of the city’s most challenged children.

For a long time, policymakers were operating with the idea that a school’s demographics didn’t matter, that the right combination of training, testing, and accountability could lift up any school. Charlotte has tried a lot of that, and it doesn’t work. Schools with high concentrations of low-income students are trying to counter all the challenges in those students’ lives—and they just can’t. There’s a lot of stress and instability when you’re poor. For instance, it’s hard for low-income families to find affordable housing, so a lot of families are constantly moving. That’s hard on kids.

There are dedicated, hardworking teachers at these schools, as well as students who overcome great obstacles and succeed. But there’s also a lot of turnover. It’s hard to recruit experienced teachers, and the less-experienced teachers tend to burn out quickly or move to higher-income schools as soon as they can. High-stakes standardized testing creates a huge amount of stress, and it often turns into an exercise in shame and punishment when scores are low.

I strongly believe that if you want schools to be equal, they have to be racially and economically integrated. The community as a whole has to have a stake in all the schools. But there’s so much emphasis on choice now—on making what you think is the best individual decision for your child—rather than working toward a common good. Choice and competition mainly benefit families and communities that already have resources. And there isn't much appetite at the state or federal level to pursue integration. Nor is there a desire among leaders at any level to challenge the market forces that are increasing inequality. Without some of these larger shifts, there’s a limit to what schools can do.

So, in many ways, it doesn’t seem like change is coming down the pike. But we can start with small, local efforts. For instance, the Charlotte school board recently decided to pair two sets of schools—two low poverty and two high poverty—that are relatively close to each other. In each pairing, all the students will go to one school for K-2 and the other for 3-5. Some parents will send their kids to private or charter schools to avoid the arrangement. But others will do it.

It isn’t nearly enough, but we have to start somewhere."

[See also:
"The Resegregation of Jefferson County: What one Alabama town’s attempt to secede from its school district tells us about the fragile progress of racial integration in America."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/magazine/the-resegregation-of-jefferson-county.html ]
schools  publicschools  integration  segregation  histoy  race  racism  us  charlotte  northcarolina  history  housing  2017  mimikirk  inequality  equality  pamelagrundy  economics  choice  charters  magnetschools  competition  policy  politics  society  regression 
22 hours ago by robertogreco
Why Texas Is No Longer Feeling Miraculous - The New York Times
"The tale of the Texas Miracle was a big fat lie: Plentiful oil, low regulation and even lower taxes are not a panacea. Sure, they don’t hurt. But they don’t help, not without consistent, well-considered state policy to attract and build businesses."
texas  politics  policy  2017  longview  richardparker  taxes 
22 hours ago by robertogreco
Yes, You Can Build Your Way to Affordable Housing | Sightline Institute
"Houston, Tokyo, Chicago, Montreal, Vienna, Singapore, Germany—all these places have built their way to affordable housing. They’re not alone. Housing economist Issi Romem has detailed the numerous American metro areas that have done the same: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, and more. Many more. They have done so mostly by sprawling like Houston.

In fact, Romem’s principal finding is that US cities divide into three groups: expansive cities (sprawling cities where housing is relatively affordable such as those just listed), expensive cities (which sprawl much less but are more expensive because they resist densification, typified by San Francisco), and legacy cities (like Detroit, which are not growing).

Romem’s research makes clear that the challenge for Cascadian cities is to densify their way to affordability—a rare feat on this continent. Chicago and Montreal are the best examples mentioned above.

In Cascadia’s cities, though, an ascendant left-leaning political approach tends to discount such private-market urbanism for social democratic approaches like that in Vienna.

Unfortunately, the Vienna model, like the Singapore one, may not be replicable in Cascadia. Massive public spending and massive public control work in both Vienna and Singapore, but they depend on long histories of public-sector involvement in housing plus entrenched institutions and national laws that are beyond the pale of North American politics. No North American jurisdiction has ever come close to building enough public or nonprofit housing to keep up with aggregate housing demand. This statement is not to disparage subsidized housing for those at the bottom of the economic ladder or with special needs. Cascadia’s social housing programs provide better residences for hundreds of thousands of people who would otherwise be in substandard homes or on the streets.

But acknowledging the implausibility of the Vienna model for Cascadia may help us have realistic expectations about how large (well, small) a contribution public and nonprofit housing can make in solving the region’s housing shortage writ large. Accepting that reality may help us guard against wishful thinking.

Because adopting a blinkered view of housing models is dangerous. Adopting the view that Vienna, for example, is the one true path to the affordable city—a view that fits well with a strand of urban Cascadia’s current left-leaning politics, which holds that profit-seeking in homebuilding is suspect and that capitalist developers, rather than being necessary means to the end of abundant housing, are to be resisted in favor of virtuous not-for-profit or public ventures—runs the risk of taking us to a different city entirely.

In the political, legal, and institutional context of North America, trying to tame the mega-billion-dollar home building industry—and the mega-trillion dollar real-estate asset value held by homeowners and companies—in order to steer the entire housing economy toward a Viennese public-and-nonprofit model may end up taking us not to Vienna at all but to a different city. It might end up delivering us to San Francisco. So . . ."
housing  houston  tokyo  chicago  montreal  vienna  singapore  germany  economics  policy  cascadia  sanfrancisco  seattle  phoenix  atlanta  chrarlotte  dallas  lasvegas  orlando  raleigh  sprawl  northamerica  us  canada 
23 hours ago by robertogreco
Make Kin, Not Borders – The New Inquiry
"PERHAPS, as Murphy suggests in the book’s coda, we should do away with the concept of population altogether. “Population has become for me an intolerable concept,” Murphy admits. It is always “profoundly entangled with designations of surplus life, of life unworthy, of life contained, of life open to destruction.” Moreover, she adds, it makes a crucial analytical mistake: It “points the finger at masses rather than distributions and accumulations, at people rather than economy.”"

"Population points to babies rather than borders and systemic inequality as culprits for poverty. Free movement, not capital. Plan utopias, not people. Make Kin, Not Borders!"
population  migration  border  borders  economics  life  humans  donnaharaway  michellemurphy  thomasmalthus  conservation  raymondpearl  policy  eugenics  birthcontrol  distributions  accumulations  simontorracinta 
yesterday by robertogreco
Experts: China won't meet 2030 air quality standards by solely enforcing end-of-pipe controls (Original: 专家:仅靠末端控制,2030年空气质量无法达标)
Summary by Lauri Myllyvirta from Greenpeace China:
"Important Qinghua study: 30% of Chinese cities can't meet air quality standards with end-of-pipe controls only - China needs to cut coal to 35% of total energy, end small-scale coal use, cut heavy industry output by 25% and CO2 by 17% to meet even current air quality standards."

China  Agrachina  Energy  Energiemix  Standardization  Environment  Policy  Research  NGO_NPO  coal  Renewable_Energy  Industry  Air  Pollution 
yesterday by eocas

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