Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Fact-checking President Trump’s inaugural address

By Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee
Washington Post

January 20, 2017

Generally, inaugural addresses are not designed to be fact-checked. But President Trump’s address was nothing if not unique, presenting a portrait of the United States that often was at variance with reality. Here’s a guide to understanding whether the facts back up his rhetoric.

“Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed.”
Trump engages in some sleight of hand here, equating “politicians” with “Washington.” The suburbs around Washington are among the richest in the United States, largely because of the federal government (which attracts people with college or advanced degrees). People either work for or lobby the federal government, and that was especially enhanced by the post-9/11 growth in defense and security contracts.

Among the 25 most populous metropolitan areas, the D.C. metro area has the highest median income in the nation — $93,294 versus a U.S. median of $55,775 — though growth has slowed in recent years, in part because of reductions in defense spending. Indeed, income in the D.C. area has grown essentially at the same rate as the rest of the nation since 2006, including a dip in median income during the Great Recession.

There is no empirical evidence that the D.C. area got rich off the rest of the country, as Trump suggests.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Red-handed: China province admits faking economic data

January 18, 2017

BEIJING — A Chinese official has admitted his province falsified its economic data for years, state media said on Wednesday (Jan 18), as the country prepares to release its national growth estimates for 2016.

The announcement by the governor of the northeastern province of Liaoning partially confirms long-held suspicions among overseas investors that the world’s second largest economy has been cooking the books.

China’s GDP figures are a closely watched measure of economic growth in the country, which affect business and financial decisions around the globe.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Six astonishing things Betsy DeVos said — and refused to say — at her confirmation hearing

By Valerie Strauss

January 18 2017

6 head-scratching moments from Betsy DeVos's confirmation hearing .
Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary, appeared before senators at her confirmation hearing on Jan. 17, but some of her responses created more questions than they answered.

At her contentious confirmation hearing as Donald Trump’s nominee to be education secretary on Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was asked a question by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about an important education debate involving how student progress should be measured. The query essentially rendered her speechless as she appeared not to know how to answer. When Franken told her he was upset she didn’t understand it, she did not protest.

That was just one of several moments during the hearing in which DeVos either displayed a lack of knowledge about education fundamentals or refused to answer questions that Democratic members of the Senate Education Committee believe are critical to her fitness for the job.

Here are some of the notable moments:

Monday, January 16, 2017

No reason for S'pore to stop military training in Taiwan

Chen Wen Ping
16 Jan 2017

Straits Times

A letter bearing the headline "Exercise Starlight should be terminated" and published in Malaysian Chinese-language daily Nanyang Siang Pau on Jan 7 made some points related to Singapore's military training in Taiwan.

[Interesting that a Malaysian Chinese (presumably) would be writing about China-Singapore-Taiwan issues, and to be concerned about SG's military assets being detained in HK. And would presume to tell SG how to conduct itself in international relations. The mouthpieces of the CCP are everywhere, apparently.]

The first point was that with the issue of the seizure of Singapore's nine armoured vehicles in Hong Kong still hanging in the balance, there has again been noise over Starlight troops' use of training grounds in Taiwan.

The second point was a criticism of the Singapore Government's handling of the armoured vehicles issue as being grounded in "groupthink".

According to the forum letter writer, since Australia is providing more land for Singapore troops to train on, it is time to terminate Exercise Starlight as a good way to thaw chilly relations with China.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Democrats can’t win until they recognize how bad Obama’s financial policies were

He had opportunities to help the working class, and he passed them up.


By Matt Stoller
January 12 2017

Matt Stoller is fellow at the Open Markets Program of New America.

During his final news conference of 2016, in mid-December, President Obama criticized Democratic efforts during the election. “Where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte-sipping, you know, politically correct, out-of-touch folks,” Obama said, “we have to be in those communities.” In fact, he went on, being in those communities — “going to fish-fries and sitting in VFW halls and talking to farmers” — is how, by his account, he became president. It’s true that Obama is skilled at projecting a populist image; he beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa in 2008, for instance, partly by attacking agriculture monopolies .

But Obama can’t place the blame for Clinton’s poor performance purely on her campaign. On the contrary, the past eight years of policymaking have damaged Democrats at all levels. Recovering Democratic strength will require the party’s leaders to come to terms with what it has become — and the role Obama played in bringing it to this point.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Corporate guff scales new heights

LUCY KELLAWAY
TODAY ONLINE
JANUARY 11, 2017

Every January for the past decade, I have handed out awards for the horrible use of language in business. Usually, the task amuses me. This year, I have found the sheer weight of euphemism, grammatical infelicity, disingenuity and downright ugliness so lowering, I have decided to start the 2016 Golden Flannel Awards with something more uplifting: A prize for clarity.

I am calling this the Wan Long prize, after the Chinese meat magnate who once uttered the clearest sentence ever spoken by a CEO: “What I do is kill pigs and sell meat.”

Mr Wan will surely approve of my winner, a BNSF railway executive who told a conference: “We move stuff from one place to another.”

This elegant, informative and borderline beautiful sentence is a reminder that despite the horrific nature of the following entries, clarity remains attainable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Malacca port expansion will have ‘minimal impact’ on Singapore's status as regional transhipment hub

ANGELA TENG

TODAY ONLINE
JANUARY 10, 2017

SINGAPORE — The expansion of Malacca’s Kuala Linggi International Port (Klip) will likely have a minimal impact on Singapore’s status as a regional transhipment hub, Senior Minister of State (Transport) Josephine Teo said in Parliament yesterday, although she warned against complacency and said the Republic would take the necessary measures to retain its competitive edge.

“The expansion of Malacca’s Klip will reportedly add oil storage and bunkering facilities. The expansion is expected to be completed only within the next decade, so it is still too early to determine the exact impact on Singapore’s economy. Our preliminary assessment, however, is that Klip’s planned oil storage capacity of 1.5 million cubic metres is not big relative to Singapore’s current capacity of 20.5 million cubic metres,” she said.

“In addition, our position as a regional bunkering and oil storage hub is anchored by a strong ecosystem of oil refineries and oil traders, and by the high volume of ships calling at Singapore for various services.