In Xi We Trust: How Propaganda Might Be Working in the New Era - MacroPolo
Good piece on the centrality of propaganda (and the centralization of propaganda) under XI Jinping.
3 days ago
In China, Bush remains a popular president - latimes
Chinese political scientists also see Sept. 11 as a turning point for the Bush administration's attitudes toward their nation. During the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush described China as a "strategic competitor" and, after taking office, further angered the Chinese by pledging to do whatever it took to defend Taiwan, which is viewed by Beijing as a renegade province.

"Things changed after 9/11. China extended its hand to Bush, promising to support the war on terror," said Shen Dingli, a professor of American studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. He said that Beijing, in return, felt that it had Washington's support for its campaign against Muslim separatists in western China. And even though the Bush administration in October approved a $6.5-billion arms sale to Taiwan, the package excluded U.S.-made submarines, which China had argued were offensive weapons.

"Over time, Bush came to understand that China is a very important friend when it comes to national security interests," Shen said.
3 days ago
Singapore Sham
"it has always meant that North Korea would denuclearize after the United States walks away from its defense alliance with South Korea, removes its troops from the Korean Peninsula, withdraws the"
from instapaper
4 days ago
US-China trade war is based on false assumptions | Financial Times
The Trump administration wrongly thinks China’s economy is on the ropes, in part because of the escalating trade war. For their part, Chinese officials are fixated on November’s congressional midterm elections, naively believing that Republican losses will force Mr Trump to back down.

On August 16, Mr Trump’s top economic adviser endorsed a view that has grown popular in Washington. “[China’s] economy is just heading south,” Larry Kudlow told reporters. “Right now, their economy looks terrible.”

Some US officials also seem to believe that Mr Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese exports worth $34bn in July — and on another $16bn in August — is why investment and overall economic growth are slowing in China.
10 days ago
China spends big in Tibet to avert a crisis when the Dalai Lama dies
China is pouring billions of dollars into Tibet as Beijing seeks to cement its control before the succession struggle that is likely to follow the death of the Dalai Lama.

During a rare Chinese government-organized visit to the region, local officials described a development program that they contend will bring prosperity to the 3.3 million Tibetans who inhabit a vast area roughly double the size of Texas.

The massive infrastructure projects include new airports and highways that cut through the world’s highest mountains, with planned investment totaling $97 billion.
10 days ago
To Counter China, U.S. Looks to Invest Billions More Overseas - WSJ
Congress is working to resolve the last barriers to passing a bill that would boost the U.S.’s role in international development. It would combine several little-known government agencies into a new body, with authority to do $60 billion in development financing—more than double the cap of the current agency that performs that function. The measure, supported by the Trump administration, easily passed the House this summer; it faces its biggest test in the Senate.

The new agency would have broad authority to go toe-to-toe with China in offering countries financing options for major infrastructure and development projects.

The bill’s momentum reflects growing bipartisan concern in Washington about the scale of China’s ambitions to restructure global trade routes so that all roads lead to Beijing. Senators have become especially concerned with China’s global investment plan known as the One Belt, One Road Initiative. China, which has flexed development muscle across the globe since it announced its plan in 2013, is thought to be willing to spend and lend trillions of dollars on projects like superhighways, railroads, harbors and ports.
10 days ago
ESPN’s Three-Pronged Podcast Bucket List : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”
At the present time, the self-dubbed “worldwide leader” is publishing in the neighborhood of 60 podcasts, including all those under its network umbrella. “We publish many original podcasts and we have repurposed radio and television shows,” Ricks reveals. “In addition, we own radio stations in New York [sports talk WEPN ‘ESPN New York 98.7’]; Los Angeles [sports talk KSPN ‘ESPN LA 710’]; and Chicago [sports talk WMVP ‘ESPN Chicago 1000 AM’]. Those stations publish podcasts on the local level, as well. Probably the biggest challenges have been keeping up with the monetization of the content; having systems that are able to correctly forecast inventory; and deliver what an advertiser bought. Those are the pieces that have developed over the last few years, as we try to figure out which resources are needed to facilitate an efficient work process.”

Sports is naturally the focal point of ESPN podcasts. “We have broken our content into three ‘buckets’ for the podcast space,” Ricks points out. “We look at how to produce content in and around Major League Baseball, the NFL, and NBA [as well as some] niche sports [such as a recently-introduced Mixed Martial Arts-geared podcast]. Another ‘bucket’ approach is how we leverage the personalities we have and build podcast content around them. We’ve done that with several [on-air talents], including a newcomer to ESPN, Katie Nolan [who formerly hosted ‘Garbage Time with Katie Nolan’ on FOX Sports]. The third ‘bucket’ of our content strategy is focused on storytelling. Early last year, we launched a podcast [pertaining to] the revered ‘30 For 30’ brand. We take what’s best about ‘30 For 30’ and find stories in the marketplace that fit the podcast space and produce ‘storytelling’-type podcasts in and around [that particular brand].”
17 days ago
Huge Shakeups at Audible Originals – Hot Pod News
Yesterday, Nuzum, who held the title of SVP of Original Content Development at Audible, circulated an email announcing that he will be leaving the company in the next few weeks. He also noted that he plans to engage in some consulting work in the short-term, before diving into a new venture by the year’s end.

These developments come as Audible reshapes its original programming strategy. A spokesperson for the company tells me: “As you may know, we’ve been evolving our content strategy for Audible Originals (including our theater initiative, narrative storytelling “written to the form” as well as short-form programming). A related restructure of our teams resulted in the elimination of several roles and the transfer of some positions to other parts of the business.”

I briefly wrote about this shift last month, using the release of the author Michael Lewis’ audiobook-only project, The Coming Storm, as the news hook. In the piece, I posited a link between the strategic changes and recent shake-ups at the company’s executive level:

Audible has long been a horizontal curiosity for the podcast industry, given its hiring of former NPR programming VP Eric Nuzum in mid-2015 and subsequent rollout of the Audible Originals and “Channels” strategy in mid-2016, which saw the company releasing products that some, like myself, perceived as comparable to and competitive with the kinds of products you’d get from the podcast ecosystem.

This signing of authors like Michael Lewis to audiobook-first deals appears to be a ramping up of an alternate original programming strategy, one that sees Audible leaning more heavily into the preexisting nature of its core relationships with the book publishing industry and the book buying audience. It might also be a consequence of a reshuffle at the executive decision-making level: in late 2017, the Hollywood Reporter broke news that chief content officer Andrew Gaies and chief revenue officer Will Lopes unexpectedly stepped down resigned from their posts. (Later reporting noted that the resignations happened in the midst of a harassment probe.) The ripple effects of that sudden shift in leadership is probably only hitting us now, and in this form.
5 weeks ago
What podcasters can learn from the book industry. – Pacific Content
Recent Rajar Midas research showed that 90% of podcast listeners consume podcasts alone. It is a solitary medium. Movies and TV are more social and suited to watching with others. Books, however, share the intimacy and solitary consumption of podcasting.
5 weeks ago
Foreign Affairs; Now a Word From X
''I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,'' said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ''I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.''

''What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was,'' added Mr. Kennan, who was present at the creation of NATO and whose anonymous 1947 article in the journal Foreign Affairs, signed ''X,'' defined America's cold-war containment policy for 40 years. ''I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don't people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

''And Russia's democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we've just signed up to defend from Russia,'' said Mr. Kennan, who joined the State Department in 1926 and was U.S. Ambassador to Moscow in 1952. ''It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are -- but this is just wrong.''
6 weeks ago
A Chicago TV Host Knows Restaurants. She Has Some Ideas for You. - The New York Times
What’s new on the Chicago food scene?

Vegetables. And amazing neighborhood restaurants. Lee Wolen at Boka restaurant is a veritable vegetable whisperer — the guy who can make carrots exciting is pretty gangster.

And places like Bad Hunter are making produce the star of the menu in this traditionally meat-and-potato town.

But what I love most now is that high-quality chefs that could bank money with locations near downtown’s convention and tourist-friendly hotels are opening their restaurants in outlying residential neighborhoods instead, like Giant and Daisies in Logan Square, Acadia in the South Loop or Band of Bohemia in Ravenswood, where the great majority of diners can walk to the restaurant from their homes.

Your advice for an eating weekend in the city?

We are a city of vibrant ethnic enclaves — really, only San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston can compare — and to truly experience the breadth and depth of Chicago’s food scene, you need to be adventurous.

Yes, some good food can be found on Michigan Avenue (Purple Pig, I’m looking at you!) but I recommend heading to 5 Rabinitos or Birrieria Zaragoza for authentic Mexican food; visiting Maxwell Street Market on a warm day to grab some tongue tacos and agua fresca from the food carts; or heading to other neighborhood places where chefs are celebrating their culture and putting a hip twist on it — Fat Rice for Macanese food, Parachute for modernized Korean cooking or Mi Tocaya Antonjeria for regional Mexican.

Your pick for emerging food destinations in the United States?

The Midwest is having a moment. It started with Chicago — and no, it’s not hometown bias. We’ve been touted Bon Appétit’s restaurant city of the year, and the James Beard Awards moved here five years ago. As Chicago has risen to culinary dominance, our chefs have pollinated the region.

Detroit is luring top toques away, like the chef Thomas Lents, who left his post at Chicago’s Michelin-starred Sixteen [currently closed] to bring his vision to the Apparatus Room. And Jonathon Sawyer is turning Cleveland into a culinary stop (the Greenhouse Tavern, Trentina, Noodlecat).
chicago  detroit  restaurants 
6 weeks ago
How Technology Grows (a Restatement of Definite Optimism)
I think that technology ultimately progresses because of people and the deepening of the process knowledge they possess. I view the creation of new tools and IP as certifications that we’ve accumulated process knowledge. Instead of seeing tools and IP as the ultimate ends of technological progress, I’d like to view them as milestones in the training of better scientists, engineers, and technicians.

**The US industrial base has been in decline.** But I think that sustained innovation in semiconductors is an exception in US manufacturing. The country used to nurture vibrant communities of engineering practice (a [term] I like from Brad DeLong), which is another way to talk about the accumulated process knowledge in many segments of industry. But not all communities of engineering practice have been in good shape.
6 weeks ago
China’s two big mistakes in trade war may lead the country into middle-income trap | South China Morning Post
Beijing has made two mistakes in the trade war with Washington, for which China will pay a heavy price.
The first is that the Chinese leadership misjudged US President Donald Trump. Beijing wrongly thought that Trump was just a businessman, regarding his trade war threats as bluffing ahead of the midterm elections. But in fact, Washington had already made clear in its National Defence Strategy report – released months before the dispute escalated – that the US would no longer tolerate Beijing’s trade and economic practices. The message was that Beijing could not earn money from the United States while at the same time posing a challenge to it.
Beijing’s second mistake was that it misjudged the alliance between the US and the European Union, and had hoped, unrealistically, to form a united trade front with Brussels against Washington.
7 weeks ago
U.S. spy agencies: North Korea is working on new missiles
U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, according to officials familiar with the intelligence.

Newly obtained evidence, including satellite photos taken in recent weeks, indicates that work is underway on at least one and possibly two liquid-fueled ICBMs at a large research facility in Sanumdong, on the outskirts of Pyongyang, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe classified intelligence.

The findings are the latest to show ongoing activity inside North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities at a time when the country’s leaders are engaged in arms talks with the United States. The new intelligence does not suggest an expansion of North Korea’s capabilities but shows that work on advanced weapons is continuing weeks after President Trump declared in a Twitter posting that Pyongyang was “no longer a Nuclear Threat.”
7 weeks ago
Books which have influenced me most - Marginal REVOLUTION
1. Plato, Dialogues. I read these very early in life and they taught me about trying to think philosophically and also about meta-rationality.

2. The Incredible Bread Machine, by Susan Love Brown, et.al. This was the first book I ever read on economics and it got me excited about the topic.

3. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand. This got me excited about the idea that production is what matters and that producers must have the freedom and incentives to operate.

4. Friedrich A. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order. The market as a discovery procedure and why socialist calculation will not succeed. (By the way, I'll toss a chiding tsk-tsk the way of Wolfers and Thoma.)

5. John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. Keynes is one of the greatest thinkers of economics and there are new ideas on virtually every page.

6. John Stuart Mill, Autobiography. This got me thinking about how one's ideas change, and should change, over the course of a lifetime. Plus Mill is a brilliant thinker and writer more generally.

7. Willard van Orman Quine, Word and Object. This is actually a book about how to arrive at a deeper understanding than the one you already have, although I suspect few people read it that way.

8. Reasons and Persons, by Derek Parfit. This convinced me that a strictly individualistic approach to ethics will not in general succeed and introduced me to new ways of reasoning and new ways to plumb for depth.

9. Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae. I don't think the ideas in this book have influenced me very much, but reading it was, for whatever reason, the impetus to start writing about the economics of culture and also to give a broader focus to what I write. Alex, by the way, was the one who recommended it to me.

10. Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past. This is still the best book on interiority.

I'd also like to mention the two books by Fischer Black, although a) I cannot easily elevate one over the other, and b) I capped the list at ten. La Rochefoucauld's Maxims also deserves honorary mention, on self-deception and related issues. Plus there is Shakespeare — also for thinking with depth – although I cannot point to a single book above the others. Harold Bloom's The Western Canon comes to mind as well.
7 weeks ago
How Climate Change Has Altered the Way Cristal Champagne Is Made - The New York Times
For discerning consumers, who over the last 15 years have turned their attention from Champagne’s big houses to focus on the grower-producers — small farmers who make their own wine — this might seem surprising. The big houses have been dismissed by many as stodgy and dull, more interested in marketing products than producing great wine.

While some big houses have certainly been coasting for a long time, or have taken a cautious approach, Roederer is not among them. Led by Mr. Lécaillon, Roederer is a progressive leader in Champagne, as if it had seen the future and positioned itself perfectly.

Roederer has blurred the line between big house and grower-producer. It now grows more than 70 percent of its grapes in its estate vineyards, mostly farmed organically or biodynamically. Though the house still purchases grapes for its nonvintage Brut Premier, all its vintage Champagnes are entirely estate wines.
7 weeks ago
Wines of The Times: American Rosés Without Clichés Cynical producers have flooded the market with bad rosés to meet fad demand, but the wine panel found some excellent American bottles.
Tasting Notes: American Rosé

★★★½ Edmunds St. John El Dorado County Bone Jolly Rosé Gamay Noir 2017 $25

Zesty and savory, with lingering citrus, apple and saline flavors.

★★★ Soter Willamette Valley North Valley Pinot Noir Rosé 2017 $28

Vibrant and refreshing, with flavors of herbs, berries and iron.

Best Value: ★★★ Folk Machine Arroyo Seco Gamay Noir Rosé 2017 $20

Bone-dry and succulent, with aromas and flavors of citrus, flowers and minerals.

★★★ Porter Creek Mendocino Rosé Old Vines 2017 $28

Savory and high-toned, with dry, earthy aromas and flavors of flowers and citrus.

★★½ Robert Sinskey Los Carneros Vin Gris of Pinot Noir 2017 $27

Balanced and floral, with lively citrus and herbal flavors.

★★½ Fausse Piste Rogue Valley Oyster Sauce Rosé of Grenache 2017 $25

Tart, juicy and rich, with refreshing flavors of grapefruit and flowers.

★★½ Macari North Fork of Long Island Rosé 2017 $23

Juicy and fresh, with unusual aromas and flavors of watermelon and potpourri.

★★ Matthiasson California Rosé 2017 $23

Austere and reticent, with stony aromas and flavors of citrus and flowers.

★★ Idlewild Mendocino the Flower, Flora and Fauna Rosé 2017 $24

Pleasing texture, with savory, saline, floral flavors.

★★ Gramercy Cellars Columbia Valley Olsen Vineyard 2017 $29

Gentle and subtle, with soft flavors of dried fruits and citrus.
7 weeks ago
3 American Rieslings to Drink Right Now - The New York Times
look for California rieslings from Smith-Madrone, Stony Hill, Navarro and Trefethen; Finger Lakes dry rieslings from Hermann J. Wiemer, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Forge Cellars, N. Kendall, Red Tail Ridge, Red Newt, Eminence Road Farm and Bloomer Creek; and Oregon rieslings from Brooks, Trisaetum, Lemelson and Love & Squalor.
7 weeks ago
RIP Taiwan? | The National Interest
WHAT ARE the implications for Taiwan of China’s continued rise? Not today. Not next year. No, the real dilemma Taiwan will confront looms in the decades ahead, when China, whose continued economic growth seems likely although not a sure thing, is far more powerful than it is today.

Contemporary China does not possess significant military power; its military forces are inferior, and not by a small margin, to those of the United States. Beijing would be making a huge mistake to pick a fight with the American military nowadays. China, in other words, is constrained by the present global balance of power, which is clearly stacked in America’s favor.

But power is rarely static. The real question that is often overlooked is what happens in a future world in which the balance of power has shifted sharply against Taiwan and the United States, in which China controls much more relative power than it does today, and in which China is in roughly the same economic and military league as the United States. In essence: a world in which China is much less constrained than it is today. That world may seem forbidding, even ominous, but it is one that may be coming.
7 weeks ago
“We Didn’t Expect to Make Money”: How The Daily’s Michael Barbaro Unexpectedly Became the Ira Glass of The New York Times | Vanity Fair
The Daily

The Daily - most downloaded new show on Apple Podcasts last year, with 5 million listeners a month at the latest count, more than 1 million of whom tune in every day.

A sales proposal for June sought $290k a month to be part of the show’s sponsorship rotation, which generally includes several advertisers.

The show will book ad revenue in the low eight figures this year.
7 weeks ago
For news publishers, smart speakers are the hot new platform - Digiday
NPR has six people who are dedicated to voice assistants and is in the process of creating an editorial position that will be dedicated to them. The New York Times is advertising for a voice editor to help define the Times on voice-enabled devices. The person will be part of special projects and work on prototypes and the publication of its first set of voice experiences on these platforms, according to a job posting.

Al Jazeera just appointed a senior producer in editorial to decide what of its existing news to put on the devices and is working on content that’s specifically created for them. The Washington Post has a six-person audio team in the newsroom, which it split off from audience development early this year, to focus on home assistants along with podcasts and other kinds of audio storytelling.

Bloomberg Media has two to three people who work getting content like its Market Minute on the Apple HomePod, Echo and Home — a “substantial” number, said Julia Beizer, chief product officer there.

Publishers have already used automation to convert their text content for the devices or just taken their existing audio like podcasts and redistributed them there. Now, along with dedicating people to the devices, publishers also are starting to create device-specific content, which is often shorter than regular podcasts and with a daily frequency. The Washington Post has its “Daily 202” and “Retropod” that are short and created with smart speakers in mind; in the same way, NPR created a short, daily spinoff of its Planet Money podcast called “The Indicator.”
7 weeks ago
Illycaffè takes a shot at fending off food and drink’s giants | Financial Times
Illy, which makes coffee with nine types of pure high-end Arabica beans, has staked out its territory, saying it aims to be known as the best-quality coffee producer. Mr Pogliani said Illy had no plans for an initial public offering but could refinance a €70m loan. It had earmarked “less than €10m” for a push to upgrade its internal technology and systems, he said.

“It is complicated because you are alone fighting against these giants,” Mr Pogliani said. “But being a relatively small company fighting against these sharks is a relative mark of our reputation.”

In a sign of the fashion industry’s appetite for food, two doors down from Illy’s bar is the Marchesi coffee bar owned by Prada; across the road is Cova, a historic Milanese bar bought by LVMH. Both Marchesi and Cova are being rolled out internationally.

Bankers compare the potential of Italy’s food industry to that of the country’s ready-to-wear fashion industry in the 1980s. Like independent Italian fashion houses then, Illy also has a brand recognition that dwarfs its revenues.
7 weeks ago
The U.S. makes a new push to bolster Taiwan’s military defenses. China won’t like it. - The Washington Post
An influential report written in 2008 by a retired U.S. naval commander was embraced by officials from the Obama administration because it argued that the United States no longer needed to sell Taiwan big-ticket items, such as fighter jets, or support its submarine program, which would anger Beijing. Instead, the author, William Murray, contended that Taiwan could forgo an air force and a big navy and focus instead on making itself a “porcupine” by adding smaller weapons systems and mobile infantry units that could defend Taiwan’s beaches from an all-out Chinese assault. The logic, in the words of Thomas X. Hammes, a former Marine Corps colonel now at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, was that “a grizzly bear can eat a porcupine anytime it wants to, but it just isn’t worth the pain.”

However, intensifying Chinese pressure on Taiwan, a growing disenchantment with China within the ranks of the U.S. government and Congress, and the rise to prominence of Taiwan’s friends within the Trump administration have presaged a move away from the “porcupine” strategy toward one more willing to confront Beijing. This trend could continue further if President Trump, always unpredictable, lets his advisers on the National Security Council and Defense Department have their way.
8 weeks ago
The AskHistorians subreddit banned Holocaust deniers, and Facebook should too.
Conversation is impossible if one side refuses to acknowledge the basic premise that facts are facts. This is why engaging deniers in such an effort means having already lost. And it is why AskHistorians, where I am one of the volunteer moderators, takes a strict stance on Holocaust denial: We ban it immediately. Deniers need a public forum to spread their lies and to sow doubt among readers not well-informed about history. By convincing people that they might have a point or two, they open the door for further radicalization in pursuit of their ultimate goal: to rehabilitate Nazism as an ideology in public discourse by distancing it from the key elements that make it so rightfully reviled—the genocide against Jews, Roma, Sinti, and others.

Taken together or separately, these beliefs serve one goal: to make the ideas of the Nazis socially acceptable.

Clarifying, as Zuckerberg later did, that Facebook would remove posts for “advocating violence” will never be effective for a simple reason. Any attempt to make Nazism palatable again is a call for violence. More than 11 million victims prove that. Because Holocaust deniers want and need a platform to reach this goal, it is imperative to deny it to them, as an institution, a newspaper, or a social media forum.
8 weeks ago
North Korea’s economy suffers worst contraction for 20 years | Financial Times
North Korea’s economy shrank at the sharpest rate in 20 years last year, according to estimates from South Korea’s central bank, as tougher international sanctions imposed over Pyongyang’s nuclear programmes began to bite.

Gross domestic product in the impoverished communist state contracted 3.5 per cent in 2017 from the previous year, when the North Korean economy reported 3.9 per cent growth. The reversal in North Korea’s economy was the biggest since a 6.5 per cent contraction in 1997 when the country was hit by a devastating famine. 

The country’s external trade slid 15 per cent to $5.6bn last year with exports down 37.2 per cent, the Bank of Korea said. North Korea’s exports of minerals, coal and textile products were hit hard by the UN sanctions.

In addition, China, its biggest trading partner, became stricter in enforcing sanctions in the latter half of 2017. North Korea’s annual per-capita income stood at just $1,300 compared with the $29,600 earned by South Koreans. 

“External trade volume fell significantly with the exports ban on coal, steel, fisheries and textile products,” said Shin Seung-cheol, a bank official who leads the national accounts data team. “It’s difficult to put exact numbers on those but it crashed industrial production.”
8 weeks ago
A year after Trump’s zero-budget threat, public broadcasting is…doing okay » Nieman Journalism Lab
In public radio, the average weekly broadcast audiences of the top 20 NPR member stations continue to grow — from 8.7 million in 2015 to 11.2 million last year.

NPR’s mobile strategy seems to be working too: It’s seen monthly sessions in the NPR News and NPR One apps (which launched in 2014) spike over the past two years. The NPR News app saw on average more than 14 million sessions a month last year.

Another nugget of good news: Funding for public radio stations is up slightly (at least in 2016, the last year data is available), with increases in both individual gift giving and underwriting. Membership levels at news-oriented stations are also up, if only slightly.
8 weeks ago
AM/FM radio holds strong for American listeners » Nieman Journalism Lab
90 percent of Americans over age 12 listen to AM/FM radio at least once a week — down 2 percent since 2009. (This does not include public media, which Pew covered in a separate fact sheet.) As of early 2018, 57 percent of online radio listeners were tuning in once a week — up from 12 percent in 2007.
8 weeks ago
In Beijing, Doors Shut on a Bastion of Independent Ideas - The New York Times
An independent think tank that was one of China’s few remaining bastions for liberal-democratic ideas was shut out of its Beijing offices on Wednesday, throwing its survival into doubt.

Some workers at the think tank, the Unirule Institute of Economics, found themselves briefly trapped inside when the company that manages the lease on the institute’s offices locked and welded its door shut.

Unirule was founded 25 years ago to promoteliberalizing China’s economy and democratizing its government. Those ideas have become officially unwelcome under Xi Jinping, the Communist Party leader who has driven China to re-embrace staunchly socialist values, and the group has come under increased government pressure.

The institute’s executive director, Sheng Hong, said the landlord appeared to be acting under pressure from the government authorities. Finding another landlord who would tolerate its presence would be difficult, he said.
9 weeks ago
Robert Ray, Iowa governor who gave Vietnam War refugees a home in his state, dies at 89 - The Washington Post
Iowa became one of the largest resettlement locations in the United States, and Mr. Ray dismissed any notion that relocating thousands of people fleeing Vietnam to his largely rural Midwestern state would carry political risks.
10 weeks ago
Robert Ray, beloved 5-term Iowa governor, dies at 89
Three times in his governorship, Ray reached out to refugee populations of Southeast Asia displaced by the Vietnam War and other conflicts. Ray opened the Hawkeye State’s borders to Tai Dam refugees in 1974 and Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian refugees in 1977.
10 weeks ago
Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras - The New York Times
China’s new surveillance is based on an old idea: Only strong authority can bring order to a turbulent country. Mao Zedong took that philosophy to devastating ends, as his top-down rule brought famine and then the Cultural Revolution.

His successors also craved order but feared the consequences of totalitarian rule. They formed a new understanding with the Chinese people. In exchange for political impotence, they would be mostly left alone and allowed to get rich.

It worked. Censorship and police powers remained strong, but China’s people still found more freedom. That new attitude helped usher in decades of breakneck economic growth.

Today, that unwritten agreement is breaking down.

China’s economy isn’t growing at the same pace. It suffers from a severe wealth gap. After four decades of fatter paychecks and better living, its people have higher expectations.

Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, has moved to solidify his power. Changes to Chinese law mean he could rule longer than any leader since Mao. And he has undertaken a broad corruption crackdown that could make him plenty of enemies.

For support, he has turned to the Mao-era beliefs in the importance of a cult of personality and the role of the Communist Party in everyday life. Technology gives him the power to make it happen.

“Reform and opening has already failed, but no one dares to say it,” said Chinese historian Zhang Lifan, citing China’s four-decade post-Mao policy. “The current system has created severe social and economic segregation. So now the rulers use the taxpayers’ money to monitor the taxpayers.”
10 weeks ago
HBO Must Get Bigger and Broader, Says Its New Overseer - The New York Times
Mr. Stankey described a future in which HBO would substantially increase its subscriber base and the number of hours that viewers spend watching its shows. To pull it off, the network will have to come up with more content, transforming itself from a boutique operation, with a focus on its signature Sunday night lineup, into something bigger and broader.

“We need hours a day,” Mr. Stankey said, referring to the time viewers spend watching HBO programs. “It’s not hours a week, and it’s not hours a month. We need hours a day. You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes.”

Continuing the theme, he added: “I want more hours of engagement. Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.”

Known for “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld,” HBO has long favored quality over quantity. Its high-gloss productions often take years to develop and can cost millions per episode. That approach has won the network more Primetime Emmy Awards than any of its competitors over the last 16 years, with Mr. Plepler the master curator.

In recent years, Mr. Plepler has emphasized HBO’s “bespoke culture” and its enduring appeal to A-list producers and stars at a time when Netflix, Amazon and Apple have bottomless budgets. On his watch, “Big Little Lies” has brought the Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep to the network, and shows like “Barry” and “Insecure” have charmed critics. But during the town hall meeting, Mr. Stankey said HBO should consider trying something new.
television  streaming 
10 weeks ago
Does Vladimir Putin Speak for the Russian People? - The New York Times
Putin is clearly the villain in this story. McFaul concluded that the Russian president was “paranoid,” a man of “fixed and flawed views” who “saw us as the enemy,” and that so long as he ruled Russia, “strategic partnership was impossible.” He makes his case with energy and conviction. Yet his relentless focus on Putin’s individual role tends to obscure the broader evolution of attitudes toward the West within the Russian political establishment. There are, for instance, only passing references to the siloviki — hard-liners with a background in the security services who were all along uneasy about Medvedev’s embrace of the Reset. In fact, Putin is far from alone in his hostility to what he sees as aggressive NATO expansionism and the threat of American missile defense programs. Neither is he alone in his belief that the United States orchestrated the overthrow of the Ukrainian government of Viktor F. Yanukovych in 2014.

And what of wider public opinion? McFaul concedes that Putin’s popularity “suggests a deep societal demand for this kind of autocratic leader, and this kind of antagonistic relationship with the United States and the West.” But instead of developing this insight, McFaul leaves it hanging.

Placing responsibility for the rapid deterioration in United States-Russian relations squarely on the shoulders of the Russian president has its appeal. It holds out the promise that Kremlin policy toward the West might pivot once again when Putin finally retires or is pushed out. Maybe so, but the more pessimistic view is that Putin represents a now-entrenched revanchist nationalism that sees the liberal international order as a mere smokescreen for the advancement of Western political agendas. Deep-rooted antagonism toward the United States might well endure long after Putin has gone. As McFaul himself laments, “the hot peace, tragically but perhaps necessarily, seems here to stay.”
10 weeks ago
MacStories Weekly: Issue 135
Federico Viticci’s piece about Keep It file manager and notebook.
10 weeks ago
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