David Remnick | New Yorker | 18th January 2014
Portrait of a President in the middle of his second term, and at a fairly low point in his fortunes. Healthcare is floundering; Snowden has shaken the country. It's a sympathetic account, of course; Obama comes across, still, as a highly intelligent and likeable figure. But the mood is one of disappointment. What happened to the high hopes of 2008? What went wrong? Was there another way?
Gregory Johnsen | Buzzfeed | 16th January 2014
A not-so-short history of the Authorization For The Use of Military Force ("AUMF"), which provides the legal foundation for America's "war on terror". Drafted and passed by Congress in the aftermath of 9/11, it authorises Presidents to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to hunt down the 9/11 terrorists and to "prevent any future acts of international terrorism". In effect: Anything, anywhere
Noah Smith | Néojaponisme | 15th January 2014
Interview. Much conventional wisdom about the Japanese economy is wrong, by virtue of being out of date. Exports aren't all that important. Households don't save much. "Japan is just not as rich of a country as the United States. Productivity is significantly lower, and Japan is also not endowed with natural resources. That means prices will tend to be higher relative to incomes — that’s the definition of being poor"
Ed Smith | Intelligent Life | 16th January 2014
What makes for a great sports team? "From a management perspective, the challenge is to establish two distinct but overlapping majorities: a majority of strong characters who have the ability to carry people with them, and a majority of players in form on any given day. A subtler kind of majority is also needed for long-term victory: a core of team-spirited players. The story of good teams is really the story of good senior players"
Robert Cooper | New Statesman | 16th January 2014
Britain is "drifting" towards a referendum on leaving the European Union. A referendum would a bad thing in itself, a surrender to populism; Britain is meant to be a representative democracy in which Parliament decides national issues. A referendum vote against EU membership would be disastrous. "This is the best Europe we have ever had; and Britain, as an influential member, has been a force for good in it"
Thought for the day:
"Science is not about certainty. Science is about finding the most reliable way of thinking, at the present level of knowledge" — Carlo Novelli
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