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Predictably, China’s Year-on-Year Growth Maintains Its Steady Pace

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Predictably, China’s Year-on-Year Growth Maintains Its Steady Pace

 

China said on Friday afternoon that it was revising its economic output data to take better account of fast-growing sectors like intellectual property, health care, tourism and so-called emerging industries. But Xing Zhihong, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics, said on Monday morning that this was a continuing project that had not been applied to the second-quarter growth statistics.

China’s consistent growth also reflects the government’s constant intervention as officials try to reach predetermined targets for the country’s economy — currently 6.5 percent growth or better.

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The biggest reason the Chinese economy keeps growing quickly is that the state-controlled banking system keeps pouring in loans, although the government began tapering the flow slightly during the second quarter.

Total social financing plus bonds, the broadest measure of credit, expanded 14.7 percent in June compared with the same month a year earlier. In most countries, that would be a breathtaking pace. But in China, it was actually a slight slowdown: Credit was up 15.3 percent in May from a year earlier.

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An iron and steel workshop in Hangzhou, China.

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Steven Shi/Reuters

The Communist Party Congress, which is held once every five years and chooses the country’s top leadership, will be in midautumn. So China’s leaders have been eager to keep the economy growing briskly at least until then.

China has many tools for managing a debt buildup. More than half of the credit in its economy consists of loans from state-controlled banks to state-owned enterprises. But Moody’s Investors Service downgraded China’s sovereign debt by a notch on May 24, expressing worry about the broader buildup of credit.

Factories and Services Surge

While a sizable chunk of China’s economy may depend these days on building roads and rail lines into the desert using borrowed money, industrial production and services are also strong.

Steel demand has been vigorous, especially in residential construction. Housing prices have surged in the past 15 months, ever since the government decided during a period of economic weakness in early 2016 to make it much easier for families to borrow for home buying. Some of the biggest cities, like Beijing, have recently tried to curb real estate speculation with administrative limits, but these rules have had limited effect, as credit has stayed plentiful. Overall industrial production rose 7.6 percent in June from a year earlier, the government announced on Monday morning, an unexpectedly faster tempo than May’s 6.5 percent.

Year-on-year growth in retail sales accelerated to 11 percent in June from 10.7 percent in May, while fixed-asset investment also picked up speed in June.

Trade Sustains Economy

Part of China’s economic health in the second quarter reflected robust exports, with demand beginning to recover in Europe and particularly the United States after a long period of depressed growth. But what counts in the overall economy is not the value of the exports but whether the trade surplus narrows or widens. In that respect, there were a few clouds on China’s horizon.

China’s imports rose 14.5 percent in the second quarter from the same period last year as prices soared for iron ore and other raw materials essential to Chinese manufacturing. Chinese exports rose only 9.1 percent in the second quarter.

The composition of Chinese exports also changed in ways that could intensify trade friction and affect China’s trade surplus. China is becoming even more dependent on exports to the United States, with sales reaching their second-highest level ever last month, trailing only September 2015.

Chinese imports from the United States have also risen, but most of the extra purchases have been oil and other raw materials, which create many fewer jobs than manufacturing.

President Trump promised during his campaign to create more American jobs through a more confrontational approach on trade toward China. But since taking office, he has focused more heavily on addressing North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and on very narrow trade talks involving industries like steel manufacturing and beef production.
Via: NYTimes

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What the Egyptian Revolution Can Offer #MeToo

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What the Egyptian Revolution Can Offer #MeToo

 

The second problem, the one that is talked about less, is that by separating out the struggles and experiences of Arab women we exclude them from the wider conversation and, in doing so, make their experiences less available and less useful to the rest of the world—most importantly, to women elsewhere who are thinking about similar problems.

Five years ago I stood on a street corner in Tahrir and watched, feeling useless, as dozens of men sexually attacked a woman—or perhaps multiple women. It was dark and it was difficult to make out what was going on right in front of me. The crowd was rotating around a central point that I could not see. Reports of mob attacks of this kind against female protesters had spread in recent weeks. In these mobs of dozens, sometimes hundreds of people, women were encircled, stripped, beaten, groped, and raped.

I was there with a group called Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment and Assault (OpAntiSH), which for the past few weeks had been intervening in mob attacks to rescue women. I was carrying a backpack containing an abaya (a full-length robe), a pair of medium-sized underwear, flip-flops, painkillers, gauze, and disinfectant—all the stuff we’d learned women might need after surviving these kinds of assaults. Although I could no longer see them, I knew that a team of OpAntiSH volunteers was physically fighting its way through the mob to reach the woman being attacked. I was part of a “safety unit” that was supposed to remain nearby but not get caught in the crowd so that we could get to the survivor afterwards and coordinate getting her home, or to one of the safe houses OpAntiSH had arranged, or, if necessary, to the hospital.

That night, our team’s plan had fallen apart. There were too few of us, too many of them; we weren’t prepared for a level of violence that involved knives and tasers; we hadn’t yet comprehended the overwhelming power of a crowd that size. I don’t know—or I can’t recall—what happened to the woman or women who were in the middle of that attack.

These attacks continued for months, plaguing political rallies in Tahrir, the square that symbolized a revolution. Now women were being attacked simply for being there, for being women. For OpAntiSH, things would get worse before they got better. The group had formed out of a network of friends, allies, and comrades in the revolution. It started out with about a dozen volunteers. We would face increased levels of violence—there was more than one gun. Many volunteers were physically and sexually attacked in the course of this work.

But over the months that followed, we learned, reorganized, and grew. We developed tactics for efficiently entering the mob, reaching and surrounding the woman or women being attacked, and getting them to safety.

During the week of June 30, 2013, protests drove the unseating of President Mohamed Morsi, who had succeeded Hosni Mubarak after his resignation during the first wave of protest, bringing the current regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to power. By this point, OpAntiSH was a sophisticated operation, deploying hundreds of volunteers, a central operations room, and getaway cars, and coordinating access to networks of safe houses, lawyers, and doctors. OpAntiSH was one of at least three civilian groups combating assaults on the ground during that summer week of protests, during which the groups documented 186 cases of mob attacks.

OpAntiSH was women-led, feminist, and revolutionary. Most of the organizers were women, and female volunteers engaged in all kinds of work—from physically intervening on the ground to manning hotlines to overseeing the complicated logistics of the operation. In the press, we exposed the government’s complicity in sexual violence against women, called out activists and political groups for ignoring or even denying the attacks (this isn’t the time for women’s issues, they said), and organized ourselves around an unapologetic feminism dedicated to protecting women and their place within Egypt’s revolution.

Many of us spoke out about our personal experiences with attacks, propelling a national conversation about violence against women which some believe is still having an impact on the work that feminist and women’s groups are doing now. All rights advocacy is currently beleaguered in Egypt, but gender- and women’s-rights advocates say that the media work done at the time broke social taboos in speaking out about sexual violence, pushed the discourse to a more progressive standard and triggered multiple ongoing campaigns and civil-society initiatives on the issue.

I remember, during quiet weeks, looking for examples of women doing the sort of work we were doing: using direct action to save themselves and each other from sexual violence. The closest model I found was the Pink Gang of India, which formed in response to domestic violence and government corruption. There are probably other stories, elsewhere. Perhaps I just haven’t found them. We’ve seen how quickly our own history, after a few moments of media attention, has been forgotten. People remember the mob attacks, but they mostly do not know about the women who resisted them.

Even as it was happening, I knew that I would want to share the story of OpAntiSH. I knew that it carried a trove of insights and experiences that women in other parts of the world might draw from: about organizing and resisting in emergencies; about fear; about dealing with men who wanted to help—those who were real allies and those who were there for the wrong reasons; about calling out political movements (in this case, certain supposedly progressive allies in the Egyptian revolution) for their sexism, without betraying the larger cause.

I started trying to write about it almost as soon as it was over. Trauma and a paralyzing sense of defeat got in the way—the end of OpAntiSH came at the same time as the end of any hope for Egypt’s revolution and the beginning of the bloody repression we are still living with today. The task also felt enormous—how to write about a history so recent, that involved so many people, many that I still know and care about, about something so sensitive and personal—that was also so public and political?

I began by interviewing other OpAntiSH organizers. As I listened to the recordings months later, I had the realization, sudden and obvious, that the story is not about violence and trauma and rape. It is about fighting back.

The women and men I spoke with didn’t shy away from the dark terror of those nights, of the violence that happened to them or that they witnessed. But they also said they were grateful that, in the face of such darkness, they were able to do something. “I think if there hadn’t been something that I could do, if I’d had to stay home and keep hearing about the attacks night after night, I would have lost my mind,” one organizer said.

I wonder how many women who’ve been sharing their stories using #MeToo are looking to take more direct, offensive action on any of the different battlegrounds we face—at work, at home, on the streets.

Many of the women in OpAntiSH were survivors of those specific mob assaults themselves. The whole movement was built on women’s shifting roles from victim/survivor to organizer/actor, or perhaps more accurately, occupying both at the same time. This was not a neat or perfect experience—no matter how much the group tried to fight it, there was still a pressure, both internal and implied, to be “brave.” We felt a need to keep going, even when sometimes we weren’t able to.

There are great differences between the fight waged by OpAntiSH and the one happening now in the aftermath of Weinstein. With OpAntiSH, women sidestepped the state and took matters into their own hands. Circumstances demanded and allowed for that kind of resistance: it was a time of revolution; people were in the habit of coming together quickly and taking direct action.

The Weinstein exposé and the flood of cases which followed have largely led women to pursue change through institutions—the courts, the media, professional syndicates. And to some degree it’s working. There have been consequences for several powerful men, and the country has been consumed with discussions of sexual harassment and assault.

But both movements began when women exposed the crimes committed against them, at risk to their reputations and even their personal safety. When narrative is grabbed by the voiceless, it has the ability to grow with a pace and breadth that is startling and exciting and unknowable. Didn’t the Arab revolutions themselves show us that?

The importance of the story of OpAntiSH and others like it—stories of extreme female agency—isn’t simply its utility as a model to be replicated or copied. Nor is it only about offering inspiration for women looking to take radical action—although that can be crucial.

What we lose when we don’t know these histories is the opportunity and the ability to move toward feminist thinking and practice  aimed at real global and systemic change and to shake the systems that disadvantage us all. We’re more likely to repeat old mistakes and patterns of exclusion, ones that are set by the same neocolonial and racist power dynamics that we’re ultimately aiming to dismantle. We end up with movements that are more easily divided and coopted, and we limit our imaginations.

What is happening because women spoke out against Weinstein and the powerful, silencing machinery behind him is extraordinary, and its potential is endless. Now we need to talk not only about the ways in which we are in danger, but also about the ways in which we resist, alone or together.

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New Jane Austen Pound Note Features Egregiously Misused Quote

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New Jane Austen Pound Note Features Egregiously Misused Quote

 

With much fanfare, on the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the Bank of England revealed a long-planned 10 pound note featuring the Regency novelist. The plastic note, which boasts raised dots for the vision-impaired and a host of new security features, is emblazoned with Austen’s portrait and a quote from Pride and Prejudice: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

And that’s where the trouble comes in. As many Janeites were quick to point out, that quote wasn’t sincere. Caroline Bingley, the haughty gentlewoman who competes with Elizabeth Bennet for Mr. Darcy’s attentions, makes this announcement in hopes of impressing him. “How much sooner one tires of anything than a book!” Miss Bingley adds. Shortly after saying so, already bored by a quick dip into a book, she throws it aside and tries another gambit to grab his attention.

In short, Austen wrote the line as a satirical comment on how we perform certain admirable qualities to win approval.

CHRIS J RATCLIFFE via Getty Images
The new Jane Austen 10 pound note has made its first appearance.

Austen, often portrayed as a prim lady novelist of prim lady romances, actually possessed a wickedly satirical pen, which she wielded mercilessly to lampoon her most self-satisfied characters. So it makes sense that many of her most oft-quoted lines have typically been taken out of context, and used earnestly where the author was being ironic.

“Ah! There is nothing like staying home for real comfort” ― an appealing quote for introverts ― was uttered by a particularly unpleasant lady who intends only to condescend to her countrified acquaintances. “There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart” sounds romantic but is deeply ironic in context; the speaker, Emma Woodhouse, is attempting to convince herself of a depth of admiration for her friend Harriet that she doesn’t truly feel.

The quote selected by the Bank of England is a popular one ― after all, as an author Austen surely did love reading, and so do her many fans. When planning the note, they might have plucked the quote from any number of Pinterest memes. In its true context, the line reads quite differently. Ultimately, it’s a commentary on the value of presenting oneself genuinely, rather than a straightforward endorsement of literature.

Many on Twitter reacted with frustration, pointing out that the Bank’s choice of quote suggests a slapdash approach to putting together the tenner rather than a thoughtful appreciation of an iconic Brit.

Austen is frequently misunderstood, romanticized and misquoted ― but engraving such a misquote onto national currency holds a bit more weight than another Etsy print that ignores context.

Unfortunately, it seems true Austen fans will be stuck with this irritating error for the foreseeable future. The notes, which are set to be released on September 14, were designed to last five years, significantly longer than the current, less durable bills. And to that, we have just one thing to say: It was badly done, indeed, Bank of England.

Via: Huffington Post

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Prince Harry’s Just Another Bloke Watching The Killers at British Summer Time

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Prince Harry’s Just Another Bloke Watching The Killers at British Summer Time

Prince Harry became Mr. Brightside at The Killers‘ concert this weekend — throwing on a hat and guzzling beer with the common folk at a British music festival.

Harry was seen hangin’ with some friends Saturday at Hyde Park in London, where he caught the band’s headlining set for British Summer Time.

His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, wasn’t with him — but that didn’t stop His Highness from having a damn good time. He was snapping some selfies, throwing around thumbs up signs and downing Heineken like nobody’s business … all from what appears to be a private booth. The guy’s royalty, after all.

Harry, you’re a star.
Via: TMZ

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