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Monthly Archives: March 2022

Charts: China’s FDI Hit Record High in 2021

FDI totalled RMB 1.149 trillion, representing a 14.9 percent surge from the previous year.

Source : China Briefing


Paradoxes of Life

Sahil Bloom wrote . . . . . . . . .

Paradox: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.

From a young age, we are pressured to view the world as linear and logical — when in reality it is anything but. Many of life’s most important truths appear contradictory or convoluted on the surface.

Look around long enough and you’ll realize the ultimate truth:

Life is full of paradoxes.

They are everywhere around you. They have the potential to confuse…or empower.

Once you become aware of these paradoxes — once you truly internalize them — you will find yourself empowered to use them to your advantage.

To get you started on this journey, here are 20+ powerful paradoxes of life . . . . . .


The Persuasion Paradox

Have you noticed that the most argumentative people rarely persuade anyone of…well…anything?

The most persuasive people don’t argue — they observe, listen, and ask questions.

Argue less, persuade more.

Persuasion is an art that requires a paintbrush, not a sledgehammer.

The Effort Paradox

Sprezzatura is an Italian word meaning “studied carelessness”—it encapsulates the effortful art of appearing effortless.

You have to put in more effort to make something appear effortless.

Effortless, elegant performances are often the result of a large volume of effortful, gritty practice.

Watch videos of Roger Federer playing tennis in his prime. There is a certain nonchalance to his actions on the court, but this nonchalance was the earned result of endless hours of studied, careful, meticulous practice.

Small things become big things. Simple is not simple.

The Wisdom Paradox

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” — Albert Einstein

The more you learn, the more you are exposed to the immense unknown.

This should be empowering, not frightening. Embrace your own ignorance. Embrace lifelong learning.

The Productivity Paradox

Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

Work longer, get less done.

When you establish fixed hours to your work, you find unproductive ways to fill it.

Modern work culture is a remnant of the Industrial Age. It encourages long periods of steady, monotonous work unsuited for the Information Age.

To do truly great, creative work, you have to be a lion. Sprint when inspired. Rest. Repeat.

The Money Paradox

You have to lose money in order to make money.

Every successful investor & builder has stories of the invaluable lessons learned from a terrible loss in their career. Sometimes you have to pay to learn.

Put skin in the game. Scared money don’t make money!

The Growth Paradox

Growth takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you ever would have thought.

Growth happens gradually, then suddenly.

When you realize this, you start to do things differently—apply effort appropriately, stay the course, and let compounding work its magic.

The Failure Paradox

You have to fail more to succeed more.

Our greatest moments of growth often stem directly from our greatest failures.

Don’t fear failure, just learn to fail smart and fast.

After all, getting punched in the face — a few times, but not too many — builds a strong jaw.

The Say No Paradox

Take on less, accomplish more.

Success doesn’t come from taking on everything that comes your way. It comes from focus—deep focus on the tasks that really matter.

Say yes to what matters, say no to what doesn’t. Protect your time as a gift to be cherished.

The Speed Paradox

You have to slow down to speed up.

Slowing down gives you the time to be deliberate with your actions. You can focus, gather energy, and deploy your resources more efficiently.

It allows you to focus on leverage and ROI, not effort.

Move slow to move fast.

The Death Paradox

You must know your death in order to truly live your life.

Memento Mori is a Stoic reminder of the certainty and inescapability of death. It is not intended to be morbid; rather, to clarify, illuminate, and inspire.

Death is inevitable. Live while you’re alive.

The Fear Paradox

The thing we fear the most is often the thing we need the most.

Fears—when avoided—become limiters on our growth and life.

Make a habit of getting closer to your fears.

Then take the leap (metaphorically!) — you may just find growth on the other side.

The News Paradox

The more news you consume, the less well-informed you are.

Taleb calls it the noise bottleneck: As you consume more data, the noise to signal ratio increases, so you end up knowing less about what is actually going on.

Want to know more about the world? Turn off the news.

The Icarus Paradox

It is a classic tale of Greek mythology.

Icarus crafted wings out of feathers and beeswax to escape an island. He began to fly — the wings working wonders. But he quickly became blinded by his own engineering prowess and flew too close to the sun, which caused the beeswax to melt and sent him plummeting to his death.

What makes you successful can lead to your downfall.

An incumbent achieves success with one thing, but overconfidence blinds them to coming disruption. Beware!

The Shrinking Paradox

In order to grow, sometimes you need to shrink.

Growth is never linear. Shedding deadweight may feel like a step back, but it is a necessity for long-term growth.

One step back, two steps forward is a recipe for consistent, long-term success.

The Looking Paradox

You may have to stop looking in order to find what you are looking for.

Have you noticed that when you are looking for something, you rarely find it?

Stop looking — what you’re looking for may just find you.

Applies to love, business, investing, or life…

The Hamlet Paradox

“I must be cruel only to be kind.” — Hamlet

In Hamlet, the protagonist is forced to take a seemingly cruel action in order to prevent a much larger harm.

Life is so complex. The long-term righteous course may be the one that appears short-term anything but.

The Tony Robbins Paradox

In investing, the willingness to admit you have no competitive advantage can be the ultimate competitive advantage.

Strong self-awareness breeds high-quality decision-making. Foolish self-confidence breeds nothing of use.

Be self-aware—act accordingly.

The Talking Paradox

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” — Epictetus

If you want your words and ideas to be heard, start by talking less and listening more. You’ll find more power in your words.

Talk less to be heard more.

The Connectedness Paradox

More connectedness, less connected.

We’re constantly connected — bombarded by notifications and dopamine hits. But while we have more connectedness, we feel less connected.

Put down the phone. Look someone in the eye. Have a conversation. Breathe.

The Taleb Surgeon Paradox

Looking the part is sometimes the worst indicator of competency.

The one who doesn’t look the part has had to overcome much more to achieve its status than the one from central casting.

If forced to choose, choose the one that doesn’t look the part.

The Constant Change Paradox

“When you are finished changing, you are finished.” — Benjamin Franklin

The only constant in life is change. Entropy is reality. It’s the one thing you can always count on—the only constant.

Embrace it — be dynamic, be adaptable.

The Control Paradox

More controlling, less control.

We have all seen or experienced this as children, partners, or parents. The most controlling often end up with the least control.

Humans are wired for independence—any attempts to counter this will be met with resistance.


Life is full of paradoxes.

They are everywhere around you. Don’t let them cloud your path.

Internalize them — use them to your advantage.

I hope this post helps you do just that…


Source : The Curiosity Chronicle

Undiagnosed Heart Disease May be Common in People with Heart Attacks Not Caused by Clots

Laura Williamson wrote . . . . . . . . .

More than two-thirds of people who have a type of heart attack not caused by a blood clot also may have undiagnosed heart disease, according to a small study from Scotland.

The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, focused on people who had what’s known as Type 2 heart attacks, which result from strain caused by an illness such as infections or fast heart rates that can lower blood pressure or oxygen in the blood. But when researchers conducted advanced heart imaging, they discovered study participants also had conditions such as narrowed arteries or weakened heart muscles that were frequently undiagnosed. Fewer than a third of those patients were being treated for heart disease.

“This is the first evidence from a study to demonstrate underlying heart artery disease and heart weakness is common in this condition,” said the study’s senior author Dr. Andrew Chapman of the BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

In the more commonly recognized type of heart attack, called Type 1 myocardial infarction, blood supply to the heart is disrupted, usually by a blood clot, causing heart muscle in that area to die. A Type 2 myocardial infarction occurs when heart muscle is damaged from the strain of not getting enough oxygen through impaired blood supply.

In recent years, highly sensitive blood tests that detect levels of troponin, a protein released into the blood when heart muscle is damaged, have made it easier to quickly diagnose heart attacks. Up to half of all people with elevated troponin levels are believed to have experienced Type 2 heart attacks. Yet less than one-third of these patients are managed by cardiologists and fewer than 20% are examined for underlying cardiovascular disease, according to a 2020 study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

The new study included 93 people, averaging 66 years old, who had been diagnosed with a Type 2 heart attack. Advanced heart imaging tests showed 68% had signs of coronary artery disease – a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Among them, 3 in 5 had been undiagnosed. And 34% of the full group had left ventricular systolic dysfunction, a weakening of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure or sudden death. This condition had been undiagnosed in 84% of the patients who had it. Only 10 patients had normal heart images.

Failing to diagnose these conditions are likely contributing to the high death rates experienced by people with Type 2 heart attacks, Chapman said.

Studies show these people “have very poor long-term outcomes,” he said. “We know 1 in 6 patients have a (subsequent) typical heart attack that results from a blockage in the artery or death from a cardiovascular cause within a year, and only a third of patients are alive five years later.”

One reason Type 2 heart attacks are so difficult to diagnose – or treat – is because they can be caused by so many different illnesses and conditions, including arrhythmias, hemorrhage or sepsis, said Dr. Jason Wasfy, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

And because these conditions are so different, it’s difficult to set up or conduct trials that explore treatment options, he said.

“Traditional treatments may be effective in this population, but that has not been validated,” said Wasfy, who was not involved in the study. “There’s not a single treatment strategy that has been validated in this population. Not one. The fact that this is so common and so deadly and there’s not a single randomized control trial showing us how to treat this is an enormous gap in the literature.”

Anti-platelet therapies or anticoagulants, typically used with stents inserted into an artery to improve blood flow after Type 1 heart attacks, could be problematic for people who had a Type 2 heart attack because they can cause hemorrhaging, Wasfy said. “This could make things worse, but even that we don’t know.”

Previously, there’s been a lack of evidence to guide decisions for investigation or treatment, Chapman said. But the new findings show underlying heart disease may be common. So, he said, it emphasizes the need to involve cardiologists in how these patients are cared for.

“Patients with this condition are managed throughout the hospital in medical wards, surgical wards and often in critical care,” Chapman said. “The primary illness is often not the heart, but the heart is damaged as a result. It is often appropriate that these patients are managed elsewhere, but cardiologists could become involved if there is a suggestion of underlying heart disease.”


Source: American Heart Association

Ukraine: What Have been Russia’s Military Mistakes?

Jonathan Beale wrote . . . . . . . . .

Russia has one of the largest and most powerful armed forces in the world, but that has not been apparent in its initial invasion of Ukraine. Many military analysts in the West have been surprised by its performance on the battlefield so far, with one describing it as “dismal”.

Its military advances appear to have largely stalled and some now question whether it can recover from the losses it has suffered. This week, a senior Nato military official told the BBC, “the Russians clearly have not achieved their goals and probably will not at the end of the day”. So what has gone wrong? I have spoken to senior Western military officers and intelligence officials, about the mistakes Russia has made.

Misguided assumptions

Russia’s first mistake was to underestimate the strength of resistance and the capabilities of Ukraine’s own smaller armed forces. Russia has an annual defence budget of more than $60bn, compared with Ukraine’s spending of just over $4bn.

At the same time, Russia, and many others, appear to have overestimated its own military strengths. President Putin had embarked on an ambitious modernisation programme for his military and he too may have believed his own hype.

A senior British military official said much of Russia’s investment had been spent on its vast nuclear arsenal and experimentation, that included developing new weapons such as hypersonic missiles. Russia is supposed to have built the world’s most advanced tank – the T-14 Armata. But while it has been seen on Moscow’s Victory Day Parade on Red Square, it has been missing in battle. Most of what Russia has fielded are older T-72 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and rocket launchers.

At the start of the invasion Russia had a clear advantage in the air, with the combat aircraft it had moved near the border outnumbering Ukraine’s air force by more than three to one. Most military analysts assumed the invading force would quickly gain superiority in the air, but it has not. Ukraine’s air defences are still proving effective, limiting Russia’s ability to manoeuvre.

Moscow may have also assumed its special forces would play an important role, helping deliver a quick, decisive blow.

A senior Western intelligence official told the BBC that Russia thought it could deploy lighter, spearhead units like the Spetsnatz and VDV paratroopers, “to eliminate a small number of defenders and that would be it”. But in the first few days their helicopter assault on Hostomel Airport, just outside Kyiv, was repelled, denying Russia an airbridge to bring in troops, equipment and supplies.

Instead, Russia has had to transport its supplies mostly by road. This has created traffic jams and choke points which are easy targets for Ukrainian forces to ambush. Some heavy armour has gone off road, only to get stuck in mud, reinforcing an image of an army that has become “bogged down”.

Meanwhile, Russia’s long armoured column from the north that was captured by satellites has still failed to encircle Kyiv. The most significant advances have come from the south, where it has been able to use rail lines to resupply its forces. The UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, told the BBC that President Putin’s forces “have lost the momentum”.

“They’re stuck and they are slowly but surely taking significant casualties.”

Losses and low morale

Russia had amassed a force of around 190,000 troops for this invasion and most of those have already been committed to the battle. But they have already lost about 10% of that force. There are no reliable figures for the scale of either Russian or Ukrainian losses. Ukraine claims to have killed 14,000 Russian troops, though the US estimates it is probably half that number.

Western officials say there is also evidence of dwindling morale among Russian fighters, with one saying it was “very, very, low”. Another said the troops were “cold, tired and hungry” as they had already been waiting in the snow for weeks in Belarus and Russia before they were given the order to invade.

Russia has already been forced to look for more troops to make up for its losses, including moving in reserve units from as far afield as the east of the country and Armenia. Western officials believe it is also “highly likely” that foreign troops from Syria will soon join the fight, along with mercenaries from its secretive Wagner group. A senior Nato military official said this was a sign it was “scratching the bottom of the barrel”.

Supplies and logistics

Russia has struggled with the basics. There is an old military saying that amateurs talk tactics while professionals study logistics. There is evidence that Russia has not given it enough consideration. Armoured columns have run out of fuel, food and ammunition. Vehicles have broken down and been left abandoned, then towed away by Ukrainian tractors.

Western officials also believe Russia may be running low on some munitions. It has already fired between 850 and 900 long-range precision munitions, including cruise missiles, which are harder to replace than unguided weapons. US officials have warned Russia has approached China to help address some of its shortages.

In contrast, there has been a steady flow of Western-supplied weapons going into Ukraine, which has been a boost for its morale. The US has just announced it will be providing an additional $800m in defence support. As well as more anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, it is expected to include Switchblade, which is a small, US-developed, “kamikaze” drone that can be carried in a backpack before being launched to deliver a small explosive at targets on the ground.

Western officials still warn that President Putin could “double down with greater brutality”. They say he still has enough firepower to bombard Ukrainian cities for a “considerable period of time”.

Despite the setbacks, one intelligence official said President Putin was, “unlikely to be deterred and may instead escalate. He likely remains confident that Russia can militarily defeat Ukraine”. And while the Ukrainian forces have shown fierce resistance, that same official warned that without significant resupplies they too could “eventually be spent in terms of ammunition and numbers”. The odds may be better than when the war first started, but they still seem stacked against Ukraine.


Source : BBC

Chart: U.S. Has 5 million Job Openings More Than Unemployed Employees in February 2022

Source : Bloomberg

Chart: A Quick Turnaround of the Russian Ruble

Source : Trading Economics

Chart: The Link Between Soaring Food Prices and Political Instability

The Russian war in Ukraine has had immediate repercussions for global food markets given the countries’ role as major exporters of essential agricultural products, such as wheat, sunflower oil, barley and corn, while also affecting perishable foods like fruits and vegetables.

As shown in FAO data, the price of basic food products has surged since the invasion of Ukraine after already having followed an upward trend since 2020 over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Source : Statista

Putin Misunderstands History. So, Unfortunately, Does the U.S.

Niall Ferguson wrote . . . . . . . . .

“The language people speak in the corridors of power,” former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter once observed, “is not economics or politics. It is history.”

In a recent academic article, I showed how true this was after both the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 and the “9/15” bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Policy makers used all kinds of historical analogies as they reacted. “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today,” President George W. Bush noted in his diary, late on the night of the attacks, to give just one example, though many other parallels were drawn in the succeeding days, from the Civil War to the Cold War.

Seven years later, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and New York Fed President Tim Geithner were the first members of the Federal Open Market Committee to appreciate that, without drastic measures, they risked re-running the Great Depression.

What kind of history is informing today’s decisions in Washington as the war in Ukraine nears the conclusion of its first month? A few clues have emerged.

“American officials are divided on how much the lessons from Cold War proxy wars, like the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan, can be applied to the ongoing war in Ukraine,” David Sanger reported for the New York Times on Saturday.

According to Sanger, who cannot have written his piece without high-level sources, the Biden administration “seeks to help Ukraine lock Russia in a quagmire without inciting a broader conflict with a nuclear-armed adversary or cutting off potential paths to de-escalation … CIA officers are helping to ensure that crates of weapons are delivered into the hands of vetted Ukrainian military units, according to American officials. But as of now, Mr. Biden and his staff do not see the utility of an expansive covert effort to use the spy agency to ferry in arms as the United States did in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union during the 1980s.”

Reading this carefully, I conclude that the U.S. intends to keep this war going. The administration will continue to supply the Ukrainians with anti-aircraft Stingers, antitank Javelins and explosive Switchblade drones. It will keep trying to persuade other North Atlantic Treaty Organization governments to supply heavier defensive weaponry. (The latest U.S. proposal is for Turkey to provide Ukraine with the sophisticated S-400 anti-aircraft system, which Ankara purchased from Moscow just a few years ago. I expect it to go the way of the scuttled plan for Polish MiG fighters.) Washington will revert to the Afghanistan-after-1979 playbook of supplying an insurgency only if the Ukrainian government loses the conventional war.

I have evidence from other sources to corroborate this. “The only end game now,” a senior administration official was heard to say at a private event earlier this month, “is the end of Putin regime. Until then, all the time Putin stays, [Russia] will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations. China has made a huge error in thinking Putin will get away with it. Seeing Russia get cut off will not look like a good vector and they’ll have to re-evaluate the Sino-Russia axis. All this is to say that democracy and the West may well look back on this as a pivotal strengthening moment.”

I gather that senior British figures are talking in similar terms. There is a belief that “the U.K.’s No. 1 option is for the conflict to be extended and thereby bleed Putin.” Again and again, I hear such language. It helps explain, among other things, the lack of any diplomatic effort by the U.S. to secure a cease-fire. It also explains the readiness of President Joe Biden to call Putin a war criminal.

Now, I may be too pessimistic. I would very much like to share Francis Fukuyama’s optimism that “Russia is heading for an outright defeat in Ukraine.” Here is his bold prediction from March 10 (also here):

The collapse of their position could be sudden and catastrophic, rather than happening slowly through a war of attrition. The army in the field will reach a point where it can neither be supplied nor withdrawn, and morale will vaporize. … Putin will not survive the defeat of his army … A Russian defeat will make possible a “new birth of freedom,” and get us out of our funk about the declining state of global democracy. The spirit of 1989 will live on, thanks to a bunch of brave Ukrainians.

From his laptop to God’s ears.

I can see why so many Western observers attach a high probability to this scenario. There is no question that the Russian invasion force has sustained very high casualties and losses of equipment. Incredibly, Komsomolskaya Pravda, a pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper, just published Russian Ministry of Defense numbers indicating 9,861 Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine and 16,153 wounded. (The story was quickly removed.) By comparison, 15,000 Soviet troops died and 35,000 were wounded in 10 years in Afghanistan.

Moreover, there is ample evidence that their logistics is a mess, exemplified by the many supply trucks that have simply been abandoned because their tires or engines gave out. By these measures, Ukraine does seem to be winning the war, as Phillips O’Brien and Eliot A. Cohen have argued. History also provides numerous cases of authoritarian regimes that fell apart quite rapidly in the face of military reverses — think of the fates of Saddam Hussein and Moammar Al Qaddafi, or the Argentine junta that invaded the Falklands almost exactly 40 years ago.

It would indeed be wonderful if the combination of attrition in Ukraine and a sanctions-induced financial crisis at home led to Putin’s downfall. Take that, China! Just you try the same trick with Taiwan — which, by the way, we care about a lot more than Ukraine because of all those amazing semiconductors they make at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

The fascinating thing about this strategy is the way it combines cynicism and optimism. It is, when you come to think of it, archetypal Realpolitik to allow the carnage in Ukraine to continue; to sit back and watch the heroic Ukrainians “bleed Russia dry”; to think of the conflict as a mere sub-plot in Cold War II, a struggle in which China is our real opponent.

The Biden administration not only thinks it’s doing enough to sustain the Ukrainian war effort, but not so much as to provoke Putin to escalation. It also thinks it’s doing enough to satisfy public opinion, which has rallied strongly behind Ukraine, but not so much as to cost American lives, aside from a few unlucky volunteers and journalists.

The optimism, however, is the assumption that allowing the war to keep going will necessarily undermine Putin’s position; and that his humiliation in turn will serve as a deterrent to China. I fear these assumptions may be badly wrong and reflect a misunderstanding of the relevant history.

Prolonging the war runs the risk not just of leaving tens of thousands of Ukrainians dead and millions homeless, but also of handing Putin something that he can plausibly present at home as victory. Betting on a Russian revolution is betting on an exceedingly rare event, even if the war continues to go badly for Putin; if the war turns in his favor, there will be no palace coup.

As for China, I believe the Biden administration is deeply misguided in thinking that its threats of secondary sanctions against Chinese companies will deter President Xi Jinping from providing economic assistance to Russia.

Begin with the military situation, which Western analysts consistently present in too favorable a light for the Ukrainians. As I write, it is true that the Russians seem to have put on hold their planned encirclement of Kyiv, though fighting continues on the outskirts of the city. But the theaters of war to watch are in the east and the south.

In the east, according to military experts whom I trust, there is a significant risk that the Ukrainian positions near the Donbas will come under serious threat in the coming weeks. In the south, a battalion-sized Chechen force is closing in on the besieged and 80%-destroyed city of Mariupol. The Ukrainian defenders lack resupply outlets and room for tactical breakout. In short, the fall of Mariupol may be just days away. That in turn will free up Russian forces to complete the envelopment of the Donbas front.

The next major targets in the south lie further west: Mykolayiv, which is inland, northwest of Kherson, and then the real prize, the historic port city of Odesa. It doesn’t help the defenders that a large storm in the northern Black Sea on Friday did considerable damage to Ukrainian sea defenses by dislodging mines.

Also on Friday, the Russians claim, they used a hypersonic weapon in combat for the first time: a Kinzhal air-launched missile which was used to take out an underground munitions depot at Deliatyn in western Ukraine. They could have achieved the same result with a conventional cruise missile. The point was presumably to remind Ukraine’s backers of the vastly superior firepower Russia has at its disposal. Thus far, around 1,100 missiles have struck Ukraine. There are plenty more where they came from.

And, of course, Putin has the power — unlike Saddam or Qaddafi — to threaten to use nuclear weapons, though I don’t believe he needs to do more than make threats, given that the conventional war is likely to turn in his favor. The next blow will be when Belarusian forces invade western Ukraine from the north, which the Ukrainian general staff expects to happen in the coming days, and which could pose a threat to the supply of arms from Poland.

In any case, Putin has other less inflammatory options if he chooses to escalate. Cyberwarfare thus far has been Sherlock Holmes’s dog that didn’t bark. On Monday the Biden administration officially warned the private sector: “Beware of the dog.” Direct physical attacks on infrastructure (e.g., the undersea cables that carry the bulk of global digital traffic) are also conceivable.

I fail to see in current Western strategizing any real recognition of how badly this war could go for Ukraine in the coming weeks. The incentive for Putin is obviously to create for himself a stronger bargaining position than he currently has before entering into serious negotiations. The Ukrainians have shown their cards. They are ready to drop the idea of NATO membership; to accept neutrality; to seek security guarantees from third parties; to accept limits on their own military capability.

What is less clear is where they stand on the future status of Crimea and the supposedly independent republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. It seems obvious that Putin needs more than just these to be able to claim credibly to have won his war. It seems equally obvious that, if they believe they are winning, the Ukrainians will not yield a square mile of territory. Control of the Black Sea coast would give Putin the basis from which to demand further concessions, notably a “land bridge” from Crimea to Russia.

Meanwhile, the mainly financial sanctions imposed on Russia are doing their intended work, in causing something like a nationwide bank run and consumer goods shortages. Estimates vary as to the scale of the economic contraction — perhaps as much as a third, recalling the depression conditions that followed the Soviet collapse in 1991.

Yet, so long as European Union countries refuse to impose an energy embargo on Russia, Putin’s regime continues to receive around $1.1 billion a day from the EU in oil and gas receipts. I remain skeptical that the sanctions as presently constituted can either halt the Russian war machine or topple Putin. Why has the ruble not fallen further and even rallied against the euro last week?

Remember, both sides get to apply history. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is a master of the art, carefully tailoring his speeches to each national parliament he addresses, effectively telling one country after another: “Our history is your history. We are you.” He gave the Brits Churchill, the Germans the Berlin Wall, the Yanks Martin Luther King Jr., and the Israelis the Holocaust.

Putin applies history in a diametrically opposite way. “The president has completely lost interest in the present,” the Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar argued in a recent New York Times piece. “The economy, social issues, the coronavirus pandemic, these all annoy him. Instead, he and [his adviser Yuri] Kovalchuk obsess over the past.”

I can see that. Putin’s recent pseudo-scholarly writing — on the origins of World War II and “On the Historical Unity of the Russians and Ukrainians” — confirm the historical turn in his thought.

I disagree with the former Russian foreign minister, Andrey Kozyrev, who told the Financial Times that, for Putin and his cronies, “the cold war never stopped.” That is not the history that interests Putin. As the Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev told Der Spiegel, Putin “expressed outrage that the annexation of the Crimea had been compared with Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. Putin lives in historic analogies and metaphors. Those who are enemies of eternal Russia must be Nazis.” Moreover:

The hypocrisy of the West has become an obsession of his, and it is reflected in everything the Russian government does. Did you know that in parts of his declaration on the annexation of Crimea, he took passages almost verbatim from the Kosovo declaration of independence, which was supported by the West? Or that the attack on Kyiv began with the destruction of the television tower just as NATO attacked the television tower in Belgrade in 1999?

Yet such recent history is less significant to Putin than the much older history of Russia’s imperial past. I have made this argument here before. Fresh evidence that Putin’s project is not the resurrection of the Soviet Union, but looks back to tsarist imperialism and Orthodoxy, was provided by his speech at the fascistic rally held on Friday at Moscow’s main football stadium. Its concluding allusion to the tsarist admiral Fyodor Ushakov, who made his reputation by winning victories in the Black Sea, struck me as ominous for Odesa.

The Chinese also know how to apply history to contemporary problems, but they do it in a different way again. While Putin wants to transport post-Soviet Russia back into a mythologized tsarist past, Xi remains the heir to Mao Zedong, and one who aspires to a place alongside him in the Chinese Communist Party’s pantheon. In their two-hour call on Friday, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry read-out, Biden told Xi:

50 years ago, the US and China made the important choice of issuing the Shanghai Communique. Fifty years on, the US-China relationship has once again come to a critical time. How this relationship develops will shape the world in the 21st century. Biden reiterated that the US does not seek a new Cold War with China; it does not aim to change China’s system; the revitalization of its alliances is not targeted at China; the US does not support “Taiwan independence”; and it has no intention to seek a conflict with China.

To judge by Xi’s response, he believes not one word of Biden’s assurances. As he replied:

The China-US relationship, instead of getting out of the predicament created by the previous US administration, has encountered a growing number of challenges. …

In particular … some people in the US have sent a wrong signal to “Taiwan independence” forces. This is very dangerous. Mishandling of the Taiwan question will have a disruptive impact on the bilateral ties … The direct cause for the current situation in the China-US relationship is that some people on the US side have not followed through on the important common understanding reached by the two Presidents …

Xi concluded with a Chinese saying: “He who tied the bell to the tiger must take it off.” Make of that what you will, but it didn’t strike me as very encouraging to those in Team Biden who have been pushing a hawkish line toward China.

The China hawks in the administration — notably Kurt Campbell and Rush Doshi at the National Security Council — do not like the term “Cold War II.” But Doshi’s recent book “The Long Game” (which I reviewed here) is essentially a manual for the containment of China — the nearest thing we are likely to get to George Kennan’s foundational Long Telegram and “X” article in Foreign Affairs.

And National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan did not make himself popular at last Monday’s marathon meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, by threatening secondary sanctions against a list of Chinese companies the U.S. will be watching for signs that they are trading with Russia. If Benn Steill and Benjamin Della Rocca of the Council on Foreign Relations are right, the Chinese have already helped Russia hide some of its foreign exchange reserves from financial sanctions.

Judging by his weekend interview in the Wall Street Journal, a member of President Donald Trump’s NSC, Matthew Pottinger, is now more than content to call a cold war by its real name. I agree: The invasion of Ukraine in many ways resembles the invasion of South Korea by North Korea in 1950.

I would put it like this: Cold War II is like a strange mirror-image of Cold War I. In the First Cold War, the senior partner was Russia, the junior partner was China — now the roles are reversed. In Cold War I, the first hot war was in Asia (Korea) — now it’s in Europe (Ukraine). In Cold War I, Korea was just the first of many confrontations with aggressive Soviet-backed proxies — today the crisis in Ukraine will likely be followed by crises in the Middle East (Iran) and Far East (Taiwan).

But there’s one very striking contrast. In Cold War I, President Harry Truman’s administration was able to lead an international coalition with a United Nations mandate to defend South Korea; now Ukraine has to make do with just arms supplies. And the reason for that, as we have seen, is the Biden administration’s intense fear that Putin may escalate to nuclear war if U.S. support for Ukraine goes too far.

That wasn’t a concern in 1950. Although the Soviets conducted their first atomic test on August 29, 1949, less than a year before the outbreak of the Korean War, they were in no way ready to retaliate if (as General Douglas MacArthur recommended) the U.S. had used atomic bombs to win the Korean War.

History talks in the corridors of power. But it speaks in different voices, according to where the corridors are located. In my view — and I really would love to be wrong about this — the Biden administration is making a colossal mistake in thinking that it can protract the war in Ukraine, bleed Russia dry, topple Putin and signal to China to keep its hands off Taiwan.

Every step of this strategy is based on dubious history. Ukraine is not Afghanistan in the 1980s, and even if it were, this war isn’t going to last 10 years — more like 10 weeks. Allowing Ukraine to be bombed to rubble by Putin is not smart; it creates the chance for him to achieve his goal of rendering Ukrainian independence unviable. Putin, like most Russian leaders in history, will most likely die of natural causes.

And China watches all this with a growing sense of certainty that it is not up against the U.S. of Truman and Kennan. For that America — the one that so confidently waged the opening phase of Cold War I — is itself now history.


Source : Bloomberg

Will a Little Drinking Help Your Heart? Maybe Not

If you believe an occasional tipple is good for your heart, a new study may make you reconsider the notion.

Some previous research has suggested that light drinking may benefit the heart, but this large study concluded that any amount of drinking is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, and that any supposed benefits of alcohol may actually be due to healthy lifestyle habits practiced among light and moderate drinkers.

“The findings affirm that alcohol intake should not be recommended to improve cardiovascular health; rather, that reducing alcohol intake will likely reduce cardiovascular risk in all individuals, albeit to different extents based on one’s current level of consumption,” study senior author Dr. Krishna Aragam said in a Massachusetts General Hospital news release. He’s a cardiologist at the hospital and an associate scientist at MIT’s Broad Institute.

In the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 371,000 British adults who had an average of nine drinks a week.

As in previous studies, this new paper found that light to moderate drinkers had the lowest heart disease risk, followed by people who did not drink. People who drank heavily had the highest risk.

However, light to moderate drinkers tended to have healthier lifestyles than those who didn’t drink, including more physical activity, more vegetables in their diet and less smoking.

Taking just a few healthy lifestyle factors into account made any benefit associated with alcohol less significant, according to the study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The researchers also conducted a genetic analysis of samples from study participants and discovered substantial differences in heart risk from drinking, with minimal increases in risk when going from zero to seven drinks per week, much higher increases when going from seven to 14 drinks per week, and especially high risk with 21 or more drinks per week.

Significantly, the findings suggested a rise in heart risk even at levels of drinking considered “low risk” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (less than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women), the study authors noted.

The finding that the connection between heart risk and drinking is an exponential one rather than a linear one was supported by an additional analysis of data from more than 30,000 U.S. participants in the Mass General Brigham Biobank.

That means that reducing drinking can benefit even people who have just one alcoholic beverage per day, but the health benefits of cutting back may be more substantial in those who drink more, according to the researchers.


Source: HealthDay

Infographic: 中國氢能产业发展中长期规划(2021-2035年)

Source : 国家能源局