US President Donald Trump and wife Melania (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

VISIONS OF FARCES PAST AND PRESENT

Twenty years ago, the Pentagon released a new war-fighting strategy filled with management-speak and technobabble. It has not, to put it mildly, aged well.

“We’re gonna build a wall,” Trump declared. And they did, too… about as competently as everything else Trump has ever built.

How fondly I recall all those articles in the Financial Review two years ago about how brilliantly the US economy was performing under Trump. Too bad about the facts — especially the claim that company tax cuts would drive an investment boom.

But it’s not all on Trump. In resolutely blue state California, a techno-dystopia is busy being created. Anna Weiner on the lies Silicon Valley capitalists tell themselves, the gendering of skills and why engineers don’t need humanities degrees.

CORRUPTION, TERROR AND OTHER POLICY PRESCRIPTIONS

If you still have any doubts about how dangerous Narendra Modi is, be very afraid. And he could be paving the way for someone even more Islamophobic.

Britain has only approved Huawei’s 5G equipment because it’s terrified of China’s retaliation (gee, if only it were part of a far more powerful trade bloc…).

They Issue An Ultimatum And Call It Peace”: Trump’s “peace plan” for Israel and the Palestinians is as contemptuous of its targets as many of his other policies are. Meanwhile, the EU is splitting over whether to cave in to Trump on farm trade.

Elsewhere, former South African president Jacob Zuma has refused to show up to his corruption trial, so the court issued an arrest warrant. Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index shows that South Africa is still seen to be deeply corrupt despite Zuma’s replacement by Cyril Ramaphosa (Australia has failed to recover the ground lost since 2017 – whoda thunk it).

THE JOYS OF CAPITALISM

How management consultants led the neoliberal drive to gut middle management, paving the way for the vanishing of the middle class and growing inequality.

Now here’s an excellent scam: in the US, private equity firms have taken advantage of loose regulation to set-up fake emergency departments that trick people into paying for high-price, sub-standard care.

I’ve long called bullshit on autonomous cars, which are mainly the vanity projects of tech companies. As people will discover over and over again, they can’t operate in bad weather.

Plus, how one coal enthusiast came to let renewables dominate his major energy company.

CORONAVIRUS AND ITS DISCONTENTS

Coronavirus has focused considerable attention on how world health issues are regulated both internationally and unilaterally by governments. Rebecca Katz and Alexandra Phelan explain the governance arrangements for global health.

Deutsche Welle has examined how cuts to the World Health Organisation (WHO) by countries like the US have made the organisation more dependent on private donors — and their agendas and preferences.

We’re not the only ones with a problem in the coming collapse of Chinese tourism: Japan will have at least 400,000 fewer visitors from China this month and next, and the number will likely be much higher.

Different attitudes to the wearing of (by and large useless) masks create tensions when infectious diseases spread. And stupidity and hysteria about the virus has spread much faster than the bug itself — and the vector, of course, is social media. Although Facebook has declared it will take down coronavirus misinformation.

Wuhan virus outbreak
(Image: Flickr/Global Panorama)

MEDIACRITY

Celeste Liddle on how the Australian media systematically downplays and misrepresents Invasion Day rallies.

Long the bane of a free press, defamation laws are starting to be used by journalists to fight back against trolls and extremist groups.

Managers in the Trump administration are increasingly retaliating against whistleblowers with impunity, a key watchdog agency reports. And, yes, Trump is also deterring whistleblowers with his behaviour.

And just for laughs — unsettling ones — you may have heard of the backlash against the novel American Dirt. Myriam Gurba has a demolition of it worthy of Great Hatchet Jobs of Our Time.

FINALLY…

This section is always given over to dogs, so how about a history of Schrödinger’s Cat cartoons. And I guess this is why they don’t call it a cat wheel.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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