Pundit Wire

President Putin Addresses the Nation

putinOn 4 December Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his ‘state of the nation’ address to the Federal Assembly and an audience of over 1000 people. So, how was it as a speech?

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Safety in Numbers

Washington-20141009-00083I don’t mean it in a smarmy way:  everything is numbers these days, it just is. Undergraduates looking for a pretty sustainable livelihood should become “M&E” specialists – monitoring and evaluation.  If I were a donor I, too, would want to know what I am getting for my money.

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Encore for Proprietary Medical Schools?

Medical Schools Conventional wisdom holds that America faces a growing physician shortage and that one way of responding is by creating new medical schools.  Starting a new school is an expensive proposition which may explain the modest number that has opened in the past decade.  But now the private sector may be coming to the rescue by creating proprietary – or profit-making – schools to train physicians.

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So What’s the Problem?

healthcare If the good news we’ve been hearing about American health costs in the past few months turns out to be the new norm – it’s too early to tell – then much of today’s political debate is wildly misguided. Consultants predict 2014 will see abnormally low inflation, again. Medicare spending per beneficiary is dropping more than previously anticipated. And new tools provided by Obamacare to constrain costs could accelerate these trends.

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Gas Exports and Liberty

DSCF1077 On my last visit to Budapest about a year ago, I was treated to a dramatic illustration of the power that Vladimir Putin’s Russia exercises over its former satellites through their dependency on imports of Russian natural gas.

Near Hungary’s parliament building is a park called Liberty Square. The park was created to honor the Hungarian patriots who died in an unsuccessful rising against Habsburg rule in 1848-49. But the park also has two other monuments to Hungary’s liberators.

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Which algorithm are you?

millenial I love online quizzes.

The one I currently love most is “How Millennial Are You?” which the Pew Research Center put out on Friday. You answer 14 questions, ranging from whether living a very religious life is very important to you to whether you have a piercing in a place other than your earlobe, and your score tells you what generation you most resemble.

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Lobbying’s Hidden Persuaders

lobby There are two interesting additions to the annals of political influence which focus on quiet issue lobbying.

The quiet lobbying game works best when no one looks carefully at the sausage-making machinery. It offers a stark contrast to the money game where contributors present themselves as 800-lb gorillas who are willing to spend as much as it takes to make things happen their way.

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Flappy Bird, Happy Bird

flappybirdreuters If you’ve been on an aboriginal walkabout, you may not know that, until yesterday, Flappy Bird was the most popular iPhone and Android app on the planet.  Its appeal lies neither in its crappy graphics nor its nonexistent story, but in its addictive difficulty.  You win by tapping on your screen to prevent birds from hitting pipes in their flight path.  Or rather, you don’t win; innumerable social media posts confess to racking up humiliatingly low scores after embarrassingly time-eating attempts.

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