Biden's 'Garbage' Claim, Facebook's Lies, Debt Restructuring, and The Memory of the Green Revolution

A few lesser-known, but worthwhile, news items from the last week or so.

  • In this edition: (1) A ‘moral movement’ for restructuring sovereign debt? (2) Facebook lied about targeting credit card ads by age, The Markup alleges. (3) An ode to Sanjaya Rajaram, in memory of the Green Revolution. (4) Biden’s claims about the Capitol Riots are ‘ahistorical garbage,’ says Hashmi.

Share The Stringer by Daniel Mollenkamp

The big news at the moment is the U.S. oil pipeline ransomware attack, which the F.B.I. has said the DarkSide hacking group was responsible for.

The Apple-Epic Games suit, the most interesting suit in tech at the moment, is also entering its second week of hearings in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has also scheduled a vote for Wednesday to banish GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., for criticizing former President Donald Trump because he lied about the 2020 election. Cheney was one of the few Republicans to vote for impeachment and represents the most plausible anti-Trump wing of the party.

A few lesser-known, but worthwhile, things from the last week or so:

  • In an interview with Phenomenal World, Ken Shadlen, a London School of Economics professor, gave an illuminating interview about sovereign debt restructuring mechanisms. Shadlen argues, in short, that the world could see another moral movement around debt restructuring, similar to the Debt Jubilee at the turn of the century, except that this time it would be “not just about poor countries and public creditors, but countries’ debt to commercial and private creditors.”

    • Sovereign debt restructuring mechanisms have become even more important during the coronavirus pandemic. The issue of debt generally is, too. The IMF has said that the countries that have recovered most strongly from the shutdowns were those that could issue debt the mostly freely, which is partly why they also warn about the possible future where the slow recoveries of “emerging economies” (slow because of the lack of access to vaccines and because of the inflexibility of their governments, RE debt) doubles down on global inequality. SDRMs represent, according to Shadlen, one means of fairly placing the risk inherent to investments on both the creditors (as private creditors who invest in sovereigns without them often displace that risk onto the public), as well as the borrowers (the other mechanism discussed in the interview is collective action clauses, the more “tempered” option).

  • A list of news items concerning Facebook courtesy of The Markup, an NYC-based publication, which also published a piece claiming that “Facebook has continued allowing financial service firms to target credit card ads by age—despite pledging not to do exactly that multiple times, including just a few days earlier in congressional testimony.”

    • Facebook also blocked political dissent in India before saying it was a mistake, in addition to other ridiculous behavior, such as threatening to charge for its service if it is prevented from tracking user’s phones and admitting it wanted to “avoid its responsibilities” in not setting up penalties for rule violations. That’s not even to mention the leak.

  • Genetic Literacy Project published a nice ode to Sanjaya Rajaram, a World Food Prize laureate and colleague of American agronomist Norman Borlaug, “Father of the Green Revolution.” Rajaram died in February. Despite a couple of minor typos, it is a good piece.

    • Disclosure: this company once paid me to do some research on gene editing regulations around the globe, though we currently have no relationship.

  • Siraj Hashmi writes in Glenn Greenwald’s Outside Voices that President Joe Biden’s claim that the Capitol Riots were the worst attack on U.S. democracy since the Civil War, a claim made during Biden’s recent address to Congress, is “ahistorical garbage.” As historical counterpoints, he mentions: Sept. 11th and the subsequent expedited passing of the Patriot Act that made the Fourth Amendment a “relic of the past,” J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI blackmailing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in an attempt to make him commit suicide, Woodrow Wilson’s use of the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918, FDR’s unconstitutional internment of Japanese Americans, etc.

    • Defenders of Biden will probably accuse this piece of flirting the line between pedantic and rigorous, which it does, somewhat. Ultimately, I flagged this because I buy Hashmi’s implied argument that we ought to insist on rigorous regard for truth even from politicians, if we don’t want to allow partisanship to infect calls to safeguard America’s democratic institutions.

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