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NBA Controversy Highlights China’s Bullying Tactics

October 28, 2019 in Economics

By Tanja Porčnik, Visio Institut

Tanja Porčnik and Visio Institut

Even though Hong Kong operates under separate laws within the ‘one country, two systems’ model, the invisible hand of mainland China is becoming increasingly visible in the territory. In response, mass protests have been ongoing for four months in Hong Kong.

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This political crisis in Hong Kong represents one of the major challenges to Communist Party authority since the Tiananmen Square protest three decades ago.

People around the world have been expressing support of Hongkongers in their fight for human rights and democratic political institutions. One of them, Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets general manager, tweeted an image that stated: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

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His tweet drew immediate and fierce condemnation in China (ironically, Twitter is banned in China) followed by substantial retaliation from several key partners, such as the Chinese Basketball Association, China’s state-run television network CCTV, Chinese Internet giant Tencent Sports, and Alibaba, biggest online retailer in China.

In response to their wrath, Morey deleted the tweet and the league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, defended freedom of expression of players, coaches, and team owners. LeBron James said Morey was “misinformed.”

After the NBA’s decades-long push to develop China into its largest overseas market, the financial consequences of a conflict with China will amount to billions of dollars. While some may not like it, the NBA has a prerogative to act in its own interest, whatever that might be, even if that interest is based solely on making money. After all, the United States upholds the economic freedom.

The same applies to the coaches and players in the NBA. Not just their pecuniary interest, they might not be prepared to put their careers on the line to speak out against human rights violations. They might also be selective about which causes they support publicly.

After all, it is their freedom to lead their lives as they wish, just like it is their right to publicly express their opinion, or not, if they wish.

International companies doing business in the Chinese 1.4 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Families Love School Choice, but Elizabeth Warren Loves Taking It Away

October 28, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

Sometimes it’s better to have no plan at all than to have an awful one. If only Sen. Elizabeth Warren took that advice.

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The Massachusetts Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate just released her education plan, which calls for more money for government-run schools and more regulations for the private and charter schools which compete with the public school system. Warren’s plan plainly ignores the wishes of families and their children. Nearly 30,000 students are desperately waiting in line for a chance to attend charter schools in Warren’s home state, but apparently, the senator thinks she knows what’s best for these children better than their parents.

My new study, just published at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, compares family satisfaction levels for private schools and charter schools to government-run schools in the United States. Using a nationally representative sample of over 13,000 students, I find that families are more satisfied with private and charter schools than government-run schools on six key measures of satisfaction.

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Specifically, families with children in charter schools are 16% more likely to report being “very satisfied” with school than families with children in government-run schools. This increase in school satisfaction compared to government-run schools is 26% for Catholic schools, 30% for non-Catholic religious private schools, and 27% for nonreligious private schools. The study’s results also suggest that private and charter school families are more satisfied with their teachers, academic standards, discipline, staff interaction with parents, and student enjoyment.

None of the models found any satisfaction advantages favoring government-run schools.

Because students likely differ on characteristics that affect school satisfaction, the analytic models include over 200 controls for factors such as household income, parent education, and family engagement. The overall advantages for private and charter schools remained even after controlling for the student’s grades and whether the school was their first choice, suggesting grade inflation …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Congestion Kills, so Why Are Politicians Making It Worse?

October 28, 2019 in Economics

By Randal O’Toole, Christopher Legras

Randal O'Toole and Christopher Legras

After evacuations bogged down during 2008 wildfires near the town of Paradise, California, a grand jury warned that Butte County needed to upgrade evacuation routes, which then consisted of three two-lane roads and a four-lane road. Instead, officials put the four-lane road on a “road diet,” reducing it to two lanes of travel. Obstacles known as “traffic calming measures” were installed throughout the town, including bulb-out’s, center medians, and extended sidewalks.

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These measures were taken in the name of safety but they were far from safe. When the Camp Fire obliterated the town in 2018, many people were unable to evacuate due to congestion. Eighty-six people died, some of them in their cars as they tried to flee.

Despite experiences like this, more than 1,500 American jurisdictions, ranging from New York and Los Angeles to small towns like Waverly, Iowa, are using road diets and similar measures that reduce the capacity of streets to move traffic. It’s all in the name of “vision zero,” a planning fad that claims slowing traffic will reduce accidents and fatalities. In fact, it is increasing them.

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The mass-produced automobile is one of the greatest inventions in American history because it brought both physical and economic mobility to the masses. These benefits were accompanied by pollution and safety issues, but such problems have dramatically declined. Cars today are 99 percent cleaner than cars in 1970, and fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles have declined more than 75 percent.

Vehicle fatalities did increase in 2015 and 2016, which has given momentum to the vision zero movement. However, they dropped again in 2017 and 2018. Before setting policy, we have to understand why they increased in those two years.

The numbers reveal that fatalities plummeted 21 percent after the 2008 financial crisis. This was because total driving fell by 2.3 percent, reducing congestion and apparently increasing safety. When driving and congestion increased again during the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How the Sinaloa Drug Cartel Clobbered the Mexican Army

October 28, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

While American media outlets have been trashing the Trump administration over its abandonment of America’s “noble Kurdish allies” in Syria, they have paid little attention to an extraordinary and alarming development in Mexico. This week, criminals actually declared open season on the Mexican government—and won. 

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As part of an ongoing campaign against the country’s powerful cartels, Mexican security forces arrested two sons of former Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in mid-October. Presently, the elder Guzman languishes in a maximum security prison in the United States. Mexican officials seemed to believe that taking his sons out of commission might sound the death knell for the rump Sinaloa organization.

It proved to be disastrous. Multiple battles soon erupted between government forces and cartel gunmen in the streets of Culiacan, Sinaloa’s state capital. The cartel attackers quickly freed Ivan, the eldest son. Ivan then launched an all-out siege of Culiacan in an effort to free his younger brother, Ovidio. Writing in the Federalist, analyst John Daniel Davidson described the chaotic situation:

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The ensuing scene could have been mistaken for Syria or Yemen. Footage posted on social media showed burning vehicles spewing black smoke, heavily armed gunmen blocking roads, dead bodies strewn in the streets, and residents fleeing for cover amid high-caliber gunfire.

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Armed with military-grade weapons and driving custom-built armored vehicles, cartel henchmen targeted security forces throughout Culiacan, launching more than one dozen separate attacks on Mexican security forces. They captured and held hostage eight soldiers, then kidnapped their families. Amid the fighting, an unknown number of inmates escaped from a nearby prison. At least eight people were killed and more than a dozen were injured.

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…read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Joseph Kennedy Made His Fortune (Hint: It Wasn’t Bootlegging)

October 28, 2019 in History

By Dave Roos

The Kennedy patriarch amassed great wealth partly by selling alcohol, but he also made savvy deals and sales that became extremely lucrative.

One of the greatest American political dynasties of the 20th century was funded, in part, by alcohol. Rumors have swirled for decades that Joseph P. Kennedy, whose nine children included President John F. Kennedy, and U.S. Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy, made his early fortune as a bootlegger during Prohibition.

But while the patriarch of the Kennedy clan certainly had his foibles, including playing fast and loose with the pre-1929 crash stock market, trading in illicit liquor wasn’t one of them, according to David Nasaw, author of The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy.

“As his biographer, I would have loved to have discovered that he was a bootlegger,” says Nasaw. “It would have given me all sorts of great stories. I tracked down every rumor I could find and none of them panned out. It became really clear that all of the stories about his bootlegging were just farcical.”

READ MORE: 10 Things You Should Know About Prohibition

How Prohibition Created the Mafia (TV-PG; 3:50)

The rumors of Kennedy, the bootlegger, didn’t surface until the late 1960s and 1970s, says Nasaw, when conspiracy theorists were looking for reasons why the mafia might have played a role in the assassination of JFK. The theory was that the president’s father had made enemies in the underworld during his days as a bootlegger.

It didn’t help that various mafia characters came out of the woodwork to back up the accusations against Kennedy. Al Capone’s piano tuner said that he overheard conversations between “Scarface” and the elder Kennedy. The ex-wife of another Chicago mobster claimed her husband used to do business with Kennedy.

Nasaw doesn’t believe these stories, mostly because Richard Nixon, when he was running against JFK in 1960, hired a team of opposition researchers to investigate the Kennedy clan.

“They found all sorts of dirt on Joe Kennedy,” says Nasaw, “but not that he was a bootlegger.”

Also, by the 1960s the elder Kennedy had held high-profile government posts as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and then as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Kennedy was undoubtedly extensively vetted before he took those jobs, says Nasaw, and the FBI would have …read more

Source: HISTORY