The CIA has a long history of helping to kill leaders around the world

According to North Korea’s ministry of state security, the CIA has not abandoned its old ways. In a statement on Friday, it accused that the CIA and South Korea’s intelligence service of being behind an alleged recent an assassination attempt on its leader Kim Jong-un.

IMF Chief Lagarde Says Economic Outlook Is Dimming

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde is raising alarm bells about the health of the global economy, saying international growth may have plateaued.

“For most countries, it has become more difficult to deliver on the promise of greater prosperity, because the global economic weather is beginning to change,” Ms. Lagarde said in a speech in Washington on Monday.

.. While other emerging-market currencies, from Indonesia’s to South Africa’s, have also experienced difficult declines this year, most emerging markets have avoided the acute turmoil of Turkey and Argentina.

If the crisis spreads, as some fear, capital could flood out of emerging markets, Ms. Lagarde warned, saying that IMF economists had estimated emerging markets could face up to $100 billion in portfolio outflows. In recent years, about $240 billion per year had flowed into those countries, so a $100 billion outflow would be a dramatic reversal.

.. Ms. Lagarde said another mounting concern is that threats to impose new trade restrictions have been carried out in a number of countries.

“A key issue is that rhetoric is morphing into a new reality of actual trade barriers,” Ms. Lagarde said. “This is hurting not only trade itself, but also investment and manufacturing as uncertainty continues to rise.”

.. countries have continued to pile on debt, which has tended to foretell slower growth in years ahead as the burden of debt service mounts. The total debt of the private sector has reached an “all-time high of $182 trillion,” Ms. Lagarde said, noting that the figure was 60% higher than in 2007.


Partying Like It’s 1998

start with a country that, for whatever reason, became a favorite of foreign lenders, and experienced a large inflow of foreign capital over a number of years. Crucially, the debt thus incurred is denominated in foreign currency, not domestic (which is why the U.S., also a recipient of large inflows in the past, isn’t similarly vulnerable — we borrow in dollars).

.. Whatever the shock, the crucial thing is that foreign debt has made your economy vulnerable to a death spiral. Loss of confidence causes your currency to drop; this makes it harder to repay debts in foreign currency; this hurts the real economy and further reduces confidence, leading to a further decline in your currency; and so on.

.. Indonesia came into the ’90s financial crisis with foreign debt less than 60 percent of GDP, roughly comparable to Turkey early this year. By 1998 a plunging rupiah had sent that debt to almost 170 percent of GDP.

.. How does such a crisis end? If there is no effective policy response, what happens is that the currency drops and debt measured in domestic currency balloons until everyone who can go bankrupt, does. At that point the weak currency fuels an export boom, and the economy starts a recovery built around huge trade surpluses.

..  stop the explosion of the debt ratio with some combination of temporary capital controls, to place a curfew on panicked capital flight, and possibly the repudiation of some foreign-currency debt.

.. get things in place for a fiscally sustainable regime once the crisis is over.

.. Malaysia did this in 1998; South Korea, with U.S. aid, effectively did something like it at the same time, by pressuring banks into maintaining their short-term credit lines. A decade later, Iceland did very well with a combination of capital controls and debt repudiation (strictly speaking, refusing to take public responsibility for the debts run up by private bankers).

.. Argentina also did quite well with heterodox policies in 2002 and for a few years after, effectively repudiating 2/3 of its debt.

  • .. You need a government that is both
  • flexible and
  • responsible, not to mention
  • technically competent enough to implement special measures and
  • honest enough to carry out that implementation without massive corruption.

CDC to Scale Back Work in Dozens of Foreign Countries Amid Funding Worries

Efforts to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats were funded mostly through a five-year supplemental package

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to scale back or discontinue its work to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats in 39 foreign countries because it expects funding for the work to end, the agency told employees.

.. The CDC currently works in 49 countries as part of an initiative called the global health security agenda, to prevent, detect and respond to dangerous infectious disease threats. It helps expand surveillance for new viruses and​ ​drug-resistant bacteria, modernize laboratories to detect dangerous pathogens​and train workers who respond to epidemics... The package included $582 million in funds to work with countries around the world after the Ebola crisis in 2014 and 2015. But that funding runs out at the end of fiscal 2019.
.. Public health leaders had said they hoped dollars for the work would eventually be added into the CDC’s core budget, after the epidemic delivered a wake-up call about the world’s lack of preparedness for deadly epidemics.
.. if its funding situation remains the same, it will have to narrow activities to 10 “priority countries” starting in October 2019
.. The 10 countries where global health security activities will remain are India, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Jordan and Guatemala
.. Other countries where the agency currently conducts global health security agenda activities include Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the world’s main hot spots for emerging infectious diseases and the site of the first Ebola outbreak in history; Pakistan; Indonesia; Haiti; and China
.. Those countries next on the priority list, after the top 10, are China, the DRC, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Sierra Leone

Hard-Line Islamists Capture Spotlight in Indonesia

Islamist activists use blasphemy case to galvanize population in world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation

A darker side also has emerged: vigilante groups have grown more emboldened in attacking religious and sexual minorities, rights groups say.

The FPI has galvanized opposition to Mr. Purnama, who is running for re-election, saying that a non-Muslim should not govern Muslims. The organization seeks his conviction on blasphemy. Two FPI-led rallies in Jakarta each drew hundreds of thousands of people, despite admonitions by officials and mainstream Muslim leaders to stay away.

.. Groups like the FPI have capitalized on the case to boost their street credentials. By tapping into anger at Mr. Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian whose brash manner and attempts to overhaul the bureaucracy have earned him enemies, they have united moderates and conservatives and exploited divisions in mainstream Muslim groups, rights activists say.

.. the FPI is believed by rights groups and many academics to have had support from Indonesia’s security forces to act as an periodic check on potential threats, such as communists or deviant sects.

.. What is clear is that hard-line influence has grown, amplified by social media, which has allowed the FPI to spread its message more widely and call people to action. The FPI’s 70,000 Twitter followers are exhorted to fight blasphemers. The group has also built support by providing charity to disadvantaged communities.


  • March 2006 The government issues a decree that requires community approval for a house of worship to be built. A spate of churches are closed after Islamic hard-liners allege they don’t have proper building permits.

Indonesia: Frameworks of Comparison

The second factor is that Americans are not naturally given to grand theory. A glance across the social sciences and humanities for the ‘great theorists’ of the past century makes this abundantly clear, whether in philosophy (Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, Levinas), history (Bloch, Braudel, Hobsbawm, Needham, Elliott), sociology (Mosca, Pareto, Weber, Simmel, Mann), anthropology (Mauss, Lévi-Strauss, Dumont, Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard) or literary studies (Bakhtin, de Man, Barthes). All these foundational figures are European. The grand American exception is Chomsky, who revolutionised the study of linguistics, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Milton Friedman in economics, though Keynes may last longer.

.. What I overheard Bloom say was this: ‘Well, you know that the ancient Greeks, even Plato and Aristotle, had no concept of “power” as we know it today.’ It had never occurred to me that the two philosophical masters, whom we were always told to revere as the founders of Western thought, had no idea of power in their heads. I rushed to the library to consult a Classical Greek dictionary. I could find tyranny, democracy,aristocracy, monarchy, city, army etc, but no entry for any abstract or general concept of power.

..  Much later on I was gratified to learn that Reagan never made important decisions before his wife had telephoned her fortune-teller, and that the top leaders of today’s Chinese Communist Party eagerly consult astrologers and feng shui masters – out of the limelight, of course.