Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 9-15 October – Bucharest Forum 2017 Edition

Cum ne apărăm de Fake News sau Știrile Mincinoase?, by Ana Maria Florea-Harrison, RFI Romania

“Ați dat vreodată forward unui post cu informații șocante ca mai apoi să vă dați seama că era vorba despre minciuni? Fake news sau știrile false, iată unul dintre fenomenele cele mai de temut legat de rețele de socializare și de explozia internetului. Știrile false sunt arătate cu degetul de o bună parte din americani care spun că ele l-au ajutat pe Donald Trump să devină președinte. Manipularea publicului nu a fost niciodată mai ușoară. Poate publicul de rând și utilizatorul de social media să se apere de ele? Vestitele Fake News au devenit ele însele subiect de știri după alegerile din America. Victoria lui Trump este atribuită de o bună parte din americani știrilor false despre Hillary Clinton promovate, potrivit presei americane, de Rusia. Știri care spuneau, printre altele, că Hillary Clinton este grav bolnavă sau că este în fruntea unei rețele de pedofili. Știri false nu sunt numai în America. Și la noi sunt destul site-uri care scriu că romanii au învațat latină de la daci sau că pe diverși munți, aterizează OZN-uri. Subiecul știrilor false a fost dezbătut recent la Bucharest Forum, organizat de Institutul Aspen și care a avut printre invitați, jurnaliști de la CNN și Fox Business.”

VIDEO INTERVIU Mircea Geoană, președintele Aspen Institute Romania, la Bucharest Forum: România și-a fructificat geopolitic și strategic relevența geografică, trebuie să urmeze culegerea dividentelor economice, by Robert Lupitu, Caleaeuropeana.ro

“La nivel global, România nu este o țară periferică, ci o piesă centrală într-un conglomerat al spațiilor european și euro-asiatic, un stat care și-a fructificat strategic și geopolitic relevanța geografică, dar care încă nu și-a cules dividentele economice ale locației sale, afirmă Mircea Geoană, președintele Aspen Institute Romania. “Aș face o invitație, dacă aveți un atlas geografic sau globul pământesc, încercați să vă uitați la poziție României, nu cu harta Europei în centru, ci cu America sau Asia în centru. Veți observa că la nivel global nu suntem la periferie, ci o piesă centrală, în acest conglomerat care se numește spațiul european și euro-asiatic. Conceptul de România, poarta Europei, pe care Institutul Aspen pe care l-am promovat de ani de zile se reflectă în conferința de la București. Credem că România a știut să își fructifice geopolitic, strategic relevanța noastră geografică, dar economic încă nu știm să o facem. A culege dividentele economice ale locației noastre geografice este principala prioritate pentru statul român”, a declarat Geoană într-un interviu acordat CaleaEuropeana.ro la cea de-a șasea ediție a Bucharest Forum,cel mai amplu eveniment public internațional pe tematică geopolitică și geoeconomică găzduit anual de România, și care se desfășoară anul acesta sub tema ”Centrul și Periferia – Înlăturând Diviziunea”.”

CONFERENCE CALL: Romania, Bulgaria push back against multi-speed Europe, by Clare Nuttall, intellinews.ro

“ Romania in particular stands out from the so-called “illiberal democracies” of the wider CEE region, notably Hungary and Poland. Enthusiasm for EU membership is among the highest rates seen in the 28-member bloc in Romania, and the governments of both Romania and Bulgaria are still keen to pursue entry to the Eurozone, even while they admit their economies aren’t ready yet. At the Aspen Institute’s annual Bucharest Forum on October 5, ministers from both countries stressed that they want to see a greater focus on unity, and less on core vs periphery going forward. In his keynote address, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melanescu argued that the EU should go beyond the core/periphery framing and other traditional dichotomies. “It is essential to use flexible and variable speed scenarios with prudence, keeping them as measures of last resort. The EU should aim for as much unity as possible and as much flexibility as strictly necessary,” he said. This was echoed by the Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU Lilyana Pavlova,, who commented that: “We are not in favour of a multi-speed Europe, obviously. We have been working so far to have unity … minimising differences.”

DefMin Fifor: Defence begins at home; it is Romania’s duty to invest in securing its borders, by Madalina Cerban, AGERPRES

“Defense begins at home, and it is Romania’s duty to invest in this area, Minister of National Defence Mihai Fifor said on Friday. “Defence begins at home, and it is our duty to invest in defence to secure our borders and to contribute to the stability and security of the entire Euro-Atlantic community” Fifor told Bucharest Forum. He said that the allocation of 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for defence spending represents “proof that Romania is committed to accelerating the modernisation process of its armed forces.” “We are reiterating our commitment to strengthen our armed capabilities and to support the modernisation of the Romanian Armed Forces to effectively combat asymmetric and hybrid threats and to intensify strategic partnerships. Another goal is to increase our interoperability with NATO allies and partners,” said Fifor. According to him, the acquisition of major defence equipment is a priority. “New opportunities for cooperation with defence companies of Romania will emerge and contribute to the development of the defence sector (…). All the procurement programs currently being unfolded by the Ministry of Defence aim to increase the participation of business operators as product integrators or by calling on Romanian and international companies,” Fifor said.”

Wayne J. Bush (NATO): Într-o lume incertă, NATO există pentru a proteja aproape un miliard de cetățeni, by Oana Ghita, AGERPRES

“Wayne J. Bush, asistent al secretarului general NATO pentru management executiv, a declarat vineri la Bucharest Forum că într-o lume incertă NATO există pentru a proteja aproape un miliard de cetățeni, iar aceasta este o responsabilitate majoră pe care Alianța o îndeplinește “întotdeauna”. El a vorbit despre angajamentul Organizației Tratatului Nord-Atlantic de a păstra pacea. “Facem acest lucru promițându-ne să ne apărăm unii pe ceilalți în conformitate cu articolul 5 din tratat — toți pentru unul și unul pentru toți”, a afirmat Bush. El a vorbit despre relația dintre NATO și Rusia și a subliniat deschiderea către dialog a Alianței. “Rusia este cel mai mare vecin al NATO. NATO nu vrea o confruntare cu Rusia. De fapt, după Războiul Rece, noi am vrut să avem un parteneriat strategic cu Rusia, dar comportamentul agresiv al Rusiei a subminat încrederea, stabilitatea și securitatea în Europa”, a spus el, adăugând că “Rusia a anexat în mod ilegal Crimeea și continuă să destabilizeze estul Ucrainei”. În acest context, a evidențiat oficialul, NATO are o abordare cu două căi față de Rusia: “apărare și dialog”. “Nimeni nu trebuie să se îndoiască de hotărârea și disponibilitatea NATO de a-și apăra aliații”, a afirmat Bush.”

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Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 25 September – 1 October

Expert de securitate american: Cum poate fi protejată Marea Neagră de ameninţarea Rusiei, by Harlan Ullman in Adevărul

“Sunt mult mai multe lucruri pe care SUA şi NATO le pot face pentru România şi pentru regiunea Mării Negre. Având în vedere exerciţiul Rusiei Zapad 2017 şi prezenţa trupelor NATO în ţările baltice, precum şi în Polonia, atenţia s-a concentrat pe nordul şi nu spre sudul Europei. Dar, regiunea Mării Negre este departe de a fi sigură. Intervenţia Rusiei în Ucraina şi anexarea Crimeei în 2014 au schimbat dinamica de după Războiul Rece. Rusia continuă să-şi întărească prezenţa în zona Mării Negre şi să-şi întăreasca flota, mai ales cu submarine performante. Turcia se îndreaptă spre Est. Intenţia sa declarată de a cumpăra sisteme antirachetă S-400, deşi o înţelegere similară cu China a căzut, ar putea avea aceeaşi soartă şi nu contribuie la coerenţa Alianţei. Răspunsul strategic al SUA şi NATO ar trebui să fie direct. Ambele ar trebui să declare un pivot strategic la Marea Neagră. Iar pivotul ar trebui urmat de acţiuni specifice pentru a demonstra intenţia. De ce? Răspunsurile sunt clare. În ciuda sancţiunilor, Rusia a avut, în general, un drum uşor în Ucraina.”

Fair Prices, Fair Play And Profitable Brands, by Peter Georgescu in Forbes

“The price of an Epipen injector has risen from around $100 in 2009 to more than $600 in 2016. Epipen is a life-saving emergency injector for people violently allergic to certain foods, such as peanuts: it will keep a person’s throat from closing up during anaphylactic shock. A year ago, as news spread about this enormous hike in prices, Congress summoned Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, Epipen’s manufacturer, to find out why. She told them that, with rebates and insurance coverage, 85% of patients were actually paying less than $100 for the absurdly-priced medication. But that meant the insurance industry was paying the balance of those higher prices for those with coverage. And it would raise premiums accordingly. In other words, we would all be paying for those unreasonable profits. Her testimony didn’t really explain why the company had hiked the prices so much to begin with, when the costs for producing an Epipen had remained the same. Of course, her answer could have been reduced to one word: greed.”

Taxarea firmelor din digital pe cifra de afaceri în UE este altceva decât taxarea propusă în România pe cifra de afaceri pentru că se aplică doar în IT, are studiu de impact şi se va aplica în toată UE, nu doar într-o ţară, by Dan Bădin in Ziarul financiar

“Iniţiativa privind impozitarea economiei digitale, anunţată oficial de Comisia Europeană printr-o comunicare din 21 septembrie, reprezintă în fapt o accelerare a procesului de schimbare a taxării în economia digitală, proces început de mult, dar care nu a fost finalizat până acum datorită complexităţii sale. Forul european a preluat deja acţiunile din planul BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) al OECD în directivele comunitare şi în alte acţiuni cu scopul de a taxa profiturile grupurilor multinaţionale acolo unde sunt realizate. România a devenit, în acest context, membră asociată a planului BEPS în iunie 2017. Noile modele de business nu ţin cont de graniţele fizice între care se aplică regulile fiscal Propunerile prezentate arată că cel puţin unele dintre statele membre vor ca adaptarea sistemelor fiscale la noua realitate economică generată de transformarea digitală să fie mai rapidă.”

Mapping Where Europe’s Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work, by Feargus O’Sullivan in CityLab

“Europe’s population is on the move, and a new report suggests exactly where and why. Released last week by Eurostat, the statistical office of the E.U., this blockbuster annual yearbook offers a dizzying number of insights into the state of a changing Europe. Among the sheer volume of detail, some clear trends emerge: younger people are leaving Europe’s south, especially its rural areas, in search of work in urban areas of the continent’s job-rich northwest. That’s creating a demographic hole that might presage extended, continuing decline. The chart below provides some clues to this movement. Looking at median ages, it shows what might be expected: Europe’s rural areas tend to have older populations, while capital cities (marked by blue dots) are more likely to be younger than a country as a whole. Greece’s Evrytania region posted the oldest population; it’s a rural area where outward migration of young people has pushed the median age up to 53.6 years. While rural regions are seeing the sharpest rises in median age, this phenomenon is both national and local.”

Europa de după alegerile germane, by Ovidiu Nahoi in Dilema veche

“Sînt alegerile din Germania semnalul ultim înaintea unei refondări a Uniunii Europene, care ar urma să ducă la crearea unui bloc comunitar mai bine structurat și mai puternic? ● Da, pentru că alegerile din Germania reprezintă punctul terminus al unui adevărat maraton electoral de aproape zece luni de zile, cu adevărat decisiv pentru viitorul Uniunii. Să ne imaginăm numai ce s-ar fi întîmplat dacă, la începutul lunii decembrie 2016, în Austria ar fi fost ales președinte candidatul populist Norbert Hofer și nu ecologistul Alexander Van der Bellen. Sau să ne imaginăm ce-ar fi însemnat ca la alegerile legislative din Olanda, desfășurate în luna martie, Partidul Libertății al lui Geert Wilders să fi obținut un scor convingător, care să-l poată propulsa într-o coaliție de guvernare. Cum am fi discutat astăzi dacă Franța ar fi ales-o președintă pe Marine Le Pen? Dacă toate acestea s-ar fi întîmplat, atunci ar trebui să acceptăm și că Alternativa pentru Germania (AfD) ar fi obținut un scor semnificativ mai ridicat în alegerile din 24 septembrie, astfel încît ecuația guvernării de la Berlin ar fi devenit cu mult mai complicată.”

Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 18-24 September

The Global Leadership Vacuum, by Javier Solana in Project Syndicate

“Germany and China are chief among the countries whose economic policies have drawn US President Donald Trump’s ire. While the United States has the largest current-account deficit in the world, Germany and China are running the largest surpluses, and that irritates Trump and his advisers to no end. Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, insists that China is suppressing the value of its currency, the renminbi. More surprisingly, Navarro has also accused Germany, an American ally, of “exploiting” the US and its European partners through an undervalued euro. Most economists agree that Navarro’s accusations are largely unfounded. Trump himself has flip-flopped on these issues, contradicting Navarro on occasion, even as he remains openly suspicious of US trade partners’ policies generally. Since Trump was elected last year, Germany and China have also been chief among the countries expected to supplant US global leadership. But Germany and China are profoundly different, and there is no consensus on whether either country can or will fill America’s shoes.”

Here’s why gender equality is taking so long, by Laura Liswood, World Economic Forum Agenda

“The World Economic Forum estimates gender parity globally may now be over 170 years away. Previously they estimated an 80-year time, then it was 120 years. It keeps slowing down. The Forum’s Annual Gender Gap Report shows slow progress and minimal change in many countries worldwide. What is causing this glacial pace of change, something the airline industry calls a “creeping delay”? There are many headwinds that can lengthen the time required for desired systemic change, but there is one I’d like to address here, head on, and it’s this: unconscious bias. In general, there is a lack of awareness about who others are and what their capabilities and inherent qualities may be. In corporations, this often manifests as a culture that is unfriendly or unhelpful to women. What is unconscious bias? It can include anything from the preferences and perspectives we hold to the associations, roles and behaviours we carry out. A large part of it may be down to unconscious grievance and loss.”

Mesajul lui Juncker pentru centenarul nostru, by Ovidiu Nahoi in Dilema veche

“„Voi da personal o atenţie deosebită Estoniei, Letoniei, Lituaniei şi României, în 2018. Aceste ţări vor sărbători a 100-a lor aniversare“. Sînt cuvintele președintelui Comisiei Europene, Jean-Claude Juncker, rostite în fața Parlamentului European, reunit la Strasbourg, în 13 septembrie. De altfel, liderul european i-a surprins pe mulți, la București și pe întreg cuprinsul Europei, atunci cînd a menționat România în mai multe rînduri. Iar enumerarea României, în rînd cu statele baltice, cu referire la momentul Centenarului, are semnificații mai profunde decît simpla evocare a unui moment istoric. Pentru că importanța României și a statelor baltice este dată în primul rînd de ceea ce reprezintă azi. Estonia, Letonia și Lituania sînt dovezile incontestabile că statele independente desprinse direct din fosta URSS pot aspira la succes economic, social și democratic. Cu o condiție: să adere la valorile europene și atlantice.”

We Need People in the Driver’s Seat of Autonomous Vehicle Policy, by Jennifer Bradley on the Aspen Institute blog

“Autonomous vehicles (AVs), aka driverless cars, are learning how to operate on the streets of a handful of American cities. Cities themselves are also starting to learn how to operate in a world of autonomous vehicles, and the shifts are significant: How will governments and industry support drivers as they transition into new roles in the transport sector or elsewhere? Since AVs will be programmed not to speed or run red lights, how will cities make up for the revenue they currently get from traffic violations or parking fees? What can be done to cut down on traffic congestion and air pollution and encourage car sharing? How can AVs integrate with mass transit? How can AVs be used to expand accessibility and opportunity? The House of Representatives recently passed the Self Drive Act, and the Department of Transportation just released its Vision for Safety plan for autonomous vehicles. Both of these press fast forward on the adoption and deployment of AVs, but without giving cities much room to steer their impact or develop thoughtful answers to those future-oriented questions.”

How This Washington, D.C. Museum Redefined What Museums Could Be, by Ryan P. Smith in the Smithsonian Magazine

“As opening speakers kicked off 50th anniversary festivities at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum last Friday, assembled audience members—many of them neighborhood natives—were visibly emotional. Nodding their heads and offering occasional vocal affirmations during speeches, and chatting convivially with one another in between, those gathered seemed at home in the museum, assured of their place there and glad to be sharing the moment with longtime friends and fresh faces alike. The vibe in the assembly room could not have been more appropriate given the Anacostia Museum’s mission: to bring the people of a historic D.C. region together in appreciation of the many cultural narratives playing out in their community. The 1967 founding of the museum, sited at the heart of a predominantly African-American part of the city, was at the time a radical act. Civil rights agitators were making big waves in Washington then, and the Anacostia project became a beacon of solidarity.”

Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 11-17 September

Anatomy of Illiberal Capitalism, by Jacek Rostowski in Project Syndicate

“Populists such as US President Donald Trump and de facto Polish leader Jarosław Kaczyński, and authoritarians such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, do not just share Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s brand of so-called “illiberal democracy.” Each also espouses a form of “illiberal capitalism.” But what does illiberal capitalism entail, and how compatible is it with illiberal democracy? For starters, as nationalists, Trump, Kaczyński, Erdoğan, Putin, and Orbán regard the market economy not as a means of boosting dynamism, efficiency, prosperity, and individual freedom, but mainly as an instrument for strengthening state power. Historically, there have been various schools of authoritarian right-wing thought about the relationship between the market and the state. At one extreme, the Nazis established a command economy while maintaining private property and a high level of income inequality. At the other extreme, early twentieth-century social Darwinists in Europe and the United States called for unfettered domestic free markets in which only the “fittest” would survive, leading to a stronger country.”

Trump trumps Trump, by Harlan Ullman in Daily Times

“North Korea’s test last week of what probably was a boosted fission nuclear weapon was recorded as a six on the Richter scale. Donald Trump’s dazzling display of political broken field running, however, scored double figures in the political equivalent of the Richter measurement for earthquakes. With the debt-ceiling as the explosive ingredient, in a single sitting with leaders of Capitol Hill, the president performed the hat trick of turning political adversaries into allies and allies into adversaries. His alliance with House and Senate Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer that will produce a temporary postponement of debate on the debt ceiling until December, shocked, horrified and infuriated Republicans in both Houses. Speaker Paul Ryan earlier that day condemned the idea and along with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sat stone faced as Trump consorted with the enemy. And this political theatre was surely stage managed by the arrival of first daughter Ivanka Trump to this meeting.”

Hungary Pulls Away From the Kremlin, by Antonia Colibasanu in Geopolitical Futures

“As tensions between the U.S. and Russia heat up, the concept of the Intermarium alliance among Eastern European states to block Russia’s expansion westward is gaining steam. Romania and Poland – both of which have strong military ties to the U.S., a major supporter of the Intermarium – have long been the pillars of this emerging alliance. Hungary has been the major holdout. Hungary is sometimes seen as a rogue nation in Europe for its close ties to Russia, as well as its opposition to Brussels. But for years, it has courted both Moscow and Washington. It is reliant on Russian natural gas imports, but it also depends on the European Union for trade and structural funding and on NATO for security. But the relatively cold welcome offered to Russian President Vladimir Putin on his recent visit to Budapest indicates Hungary is veering away from building closer ties to the Kremlin. The Hungarian government visibly downplayed the visit, and the leaders of the two countries opted not to hold a press conference, which is normally routine on such diplomatic trips.”

New group of experts aims to tackle vexing economic challenges. But will anyone listen?, by Damian Paletta in the Washington Post

“The Aspen Institute is beginning a new economic policy project aimed at wrestling with some of the most challenging economic problems facing the United States, including tepid growth, sluggish wages, rising debt and the effects of artificial intelligence. But the group is coming together at a time when policymakers increasingly dismiss bipartisan solutions, and the group’s ultimate impact is uncertain. The Aspen Institute’s Economic Strategy Group is being co-chaired by Henry A. Paulson, who was Treasury secretary in the George W. Bush administration, and Erskine Bowles, who was President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, Wall Street alumni who played central roles in Washington during their careers. In a joint interview, they said they thought that a group of economic experts from diverse backgrounds could help Washington tackle some of the country’s long-range problems. The group they assembled includes numerous top policymakers and corporate leaders, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke, and General Motors chief executive Mary Barra.”

Jobs are changing. But two skills will always be in demand, by Guy Berger, World Economic Forum Agenda

“Fifty years ago, work in developed countries was full of relative certainties. Aside from the periodic recession, most nations were at or near full employment. Rapid productivity growth was underpinning an improvement in living standards. A university degree was a meal ticket to a high-paying, secure job as a professional. And for workers with a high school diploma, jobs on manufacturing assembly lines offered a pathway to middle-class prosperity and upward mobility. Now we live in a much less certain world. In many countries, recovery from the latest recession has been gradual and protracted, with unemployment and underemployment coming down only slowly. Global productivity growth has decelerated sharply, as has pay growth. Cutbacks of private sector benefits and the government safety net are forcing workers to bear more risk than they did in the past. And while their economic impact has thus far been muted, automation and artificial intelligence raise the spectre of mass displacement of workers.”

Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 4-10 September

How Leading Companies Build the Workforces They Need to Stay Ahead, by Michael Mankins in Harvard Business Review

“The strategic underpinnings of most companies’ workforce plans should change dramatically as a result of technological innovation. Digital transformation, the industrial internet, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, and a plethora of other innovations are fundamentally changing the nature of work. Machine learning, for example, may not eliminate many jobs in their entirety. But it will impact the way many jobs are performed, requiring new skills and making many existing skills less valuable. The World Economic Forum predicts that “by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.” Beyond the skills required to perform specific jobs, technology will also determine which jobs matter most in the years to come. New innovations will change the basis of competition in many markets and alter the sources of advantage for most companies.”

How Much Does Trump Matter?, by Joseph S. Nye in Project Syndicate

“The United States has never had a president like Donald Trump. With a narcissistic personality and a short attention span, and lacking experience in world affairs, he tends to project slogans rather than strategy in foreign policy. Some presidents, like Richard Nixon, had similar personal insecurities and social biases, but Nixon had a strategic view of foreign policy. Others, such as Lyndon Johnson, were highly egotistical, but also had great political skill in working with Congress and other leaders. Will future historians look back at Trump’s presidency as a temporary aberration or a major turning point in America’s role in the world? Journalists tend to focus too heavily on leaders’ personalities, because it makes good copy. In contrast, social scientists tend to offer broad structural theories about economic growth and geographic location that make history seem inevitable. I once wrote a book that tried to test the importance of leaders by examining important turning points in the creation a century ago of the “American era” and speculating about what might have happened had the president’s most plausible contender been in his place instead.”

Six Banking Giants Just Decided to Partner to Create a New Cryptocurrency, by Dom Galeon in Futurism

“Security is one of the most critical aspects of banking and finance. Not only do banks need to keep money secure, they also have to keep transaction records safe, all while not slowing down the verification process. That’s why banks and other financial institutions have been taking a good hard look at blockchain, a decentralized, distributed digital ledger technology first created to support the bitcoin cryptocurrency. Now, six of those banks have decided the best way to take advantage of blockchain is by partnering on their own cryptocurrency. The digital coin, which they are calling the “utility settlement coin,” was developed back in 2015 by financial services firm UBS, and its purpose is to enable the clearing and settling of transactions worldwide over a blockchain. The six new banks — Barclays, Credit Suisse, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, HSBC, MUFG, and State Street — join UBS, BNY Mellon, and several others already on the project.”

Will experimental blood test be a game-changer for Alzheimer’s disease?, by Susan Scutti, CNN

“An experimental blood test can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Though still in development, the test may someday be used to diagnose other degenerative brain disorders and even mild cognitive impairment resulting from head injuries. The researchers say that using the test, they were able to identify Alzheimer’s patients with up to 86% sensitivity and specificity. (Sensitivity refers true positives identified by the test, while specificity refers to true negatives.) The test also differentiated Alzheimer’s from dementia with Lewy bodies, a related condition, with 90% sensitivity and specificity. The new test’s “accuracy is markedly higher than other tests being developed,” said senior study author Francis Martin, a professor in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom. “For such a simple test to be so predictive is very exciting.””

Youth sports study: Declining participation, rising costs and unqualified coaches, by Jacob Bogage in The Washington Post

“Between skyrocketing costs, sport specialization and coaches needing training, youth sports is in the midst of a crisis, according to new data published Wednesday by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association and the Aspen Institute. Athletic participation for kids ages 6 through 12 is down almost 8 percent over the last decade, according to SFIA and Aspen data, and children from low-income households are half as likely to play one day’s worth of team sports than children from households earning at least $100,000. “Sports in America have separated into sport-haves and have-nots,” said Tom Farrey, executive director of Aspen’s Sports & Society program. The group released its research at its annual Project Play Summit on Wednesday in Washington. “All that matters is if kids come from a family that has resources. If you don’t have money, it’s hard to play.” Almost 45 percent of children ages 6 to 12 played a team sport regularly in 2008, according to Aspen data. Now only about 37 percent of children do.”

Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 28 August – 3 September

The Balkans Between Competing Poles, by Javier Solana in Project Syndicate

“Few world regions are more culturally and politically complex than the Balkans. And there may be no clearer illustration of the region’s freighted past and present than the life and legacy of one of its exceptional sons: the physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla. Born into an Orthodox Serbian family in 1856 in a town that is now part of Croatia, Tesla’s nationality remains an object of debate in the region. Tesla believed that scientific advances should be used to build bridges between countries, and ultimately to achieve universal peace. But there are some in both Croatia and Serbia who want to appropriate his legacy in ways that do not do it justice. Even Tesla’s contributions to the field of physics have evoked the complicated political dynamics of his native land. In the International System of Units, a tesla is a measurement for the flux density of a magnetic field. And as Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, pointed out a few months ago, “The Balkans can easily become one of the chessboards where the big power game can be played.” Indeed, the region has always been situated between competing poles, each projecting power through interwoven economic, political, historical, and cultural links.”

Judy Asks: Why the Delay on an EU Migration Policy?, by Judy Dempsey, Carnegie Europe

“Marta Dassù, Senior director for Europe at the Aspen Institute and editor in chief of Aspenia: “Delay” is too bland a term: Judy might have asked why there has been an utter failure of EU migration policy. It is hard to define the collapse of the relocation scheme proposed by the Commission in 2015 any differently, with an outright refusal by Central and Eastern European member states to take in asylum seekers under the plan. Things are now changing. The main EU countries are trying to “externalize” the management of migration flows: first, with the agreement with Turkey; and now, with the proposed deal with Libya (or what’s left of the country), plus Niger and Chad. This trajectory indicates that any EU migration policy is harder to pursue in its internal dimension—where migration has become an explosive political divide across the continent—than as a foreign policy compact. Externalizing the burden, however, will be neither easy nor sufficient: for an ageing Europe bordering a demographically booming Africa, migration flows are a structural phenomenon, not a temporary crisis. A change of perspective is needed: the key condition to address past failures is on the internal side, starting with the revision of the Dublin Regulation.”

A New App Can Detect The Early Signs Of Pancreatic Cancer From A Selfie, by Sophie Gallagher in The Huffington Post

“A new app that uses selfies to check for signs of pancreatic cancer has “shown promise” in helping scientists correctly identify cases of concern 89.7% of the time. The technology, called ‘BiliScreen’, uses your smartphone camera and machine learning to detect changes in the colour of a person’s sclera (white of the eye) and was developed from an already-existent version that screened newborn babies for jaundice. Pancreatic cancer has one of the worst prognosis of all cancers, according to Cancer Research UK, there are over 9,500 new cases of pancreatic cancer every year in the UK and 8,800 deaths, with less than 1% of patients surviving more than ten years after diagnosis. Lead author of the study, Alex Mariakakis, said: “The problem with pancreatic cancer is that by the time you’re symptomatic, it’s frequently too late.” This is because there are no telltale symptoms or non-invasive screening tools to catch a glimpse of a tumour before it spreads, so current programs require doctors to conduct a blood test, administered only to adults who are a cause for concern.”

Electrification Alone Will Save 42 Percent Of World Energy Demand, Stanford Prof Says, by Jeff McMahon in Forbes

“If humans can kick fossil-fuels, they will benefit from massive efficiency increases in every sector—a net savings of 42 percent of world energy use that will both derive from and ease the transition to clean energy, a Stanford University professor says in a video released this week. The video followed the release of a roadmap in which Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobsen and 26 colleagues from Stanford, Berkeley, Berlin and Denmark demonstrate how 139 countries could rely on 100 percent wind, water and solar renewables by 2050. In the video, Jacobsen rebuts the common notion that renewables are not up to the task of meeting world energy demand. “We find that by electrifying everything in these countries and by providing that electricity with clean renewable energy, power demand goes down about 42 percent without really changing much habit,” says Jacobsen, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program.”

Costa Rica wants to be the first country to ban all single-use plastics, by Rosamond Hutt, World Economic Forum

“In 2015, a video of marine biologists pulling a plastic straw from the nostril of a sea turtle off the coast of Costa Rica went viral. The shocking eight-minute video showed the male Olive Ridley turtle bleeding as the scientists struggled to extract the straw. The research team posted their footage online to raise awareness of the harm that plastics cause to marine life. Now Costa Rica is taking dramatic action against plastic waste with plan to ban all single-use plastics by 2021. This includes straws, bottles, cutlery, cups and bags. The government is offering incentives to businesses, as well as investing in research into alternatives to single-use plastics in order to achieve its goal. Every minute, one garbage truck of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife. According to one estimate, 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic by 2050, if current trends continue. A report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in partnership with the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2050 plastic in the ocean could weigh more than fish. Disposable plastics are used for a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds, but as the chart below shows, they can take hundreds of years to decompose.”

Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 21-27 August

Macron la Bucureşti (şi nu numai), by Mircea Geoană in Adevărul

“De ce vine Emmanuel Macron la Bucureşti? În primul rând, turneul său central-european mai cuprinde Viena (unde a întâlnit şi liderii ceh şi slovac, o palmă explicită dată liderilor unguri şi polonezi) şi Sofia, cele trei capitale care vor asigura preşedinţiile succesive ale Consiliului European. În încercarea sa de a redinamiza proiectul european, Macron are nevoie de aliaţi în încercarea de a reechilibra asimetriile din cuplul franco-german şi dintre nordul şi sudul Zonei Euro. Nu întâmplător, în comunicatul Palatului Elysée ce anunţă turneul prezidenţial, se menţionează că Macron va vizita statele cu cel mai mare ataşament şi angajare în proiectul european. Există, fără îndoială, şi o agendă bilaterală. Franţa pare să redescopere România ca piesa centrală a Europei de Sud-Est, singurul pilon de francofonie, francofilie şi influenţă economică şi culturală dintr-o vastă regiune în care America şi Germania domină copios.”

A Revolutionary Committed To Killing Cash, by Peter Georgescu in Forbes

“In the early 90s, on a visit to India. I met Ajay Banga at the home of America’s ambassador there at the time, Frank Wisner Jr. Nearly 30 years later, when I ran into him again, at the Atlanta Global Forum, he reminded me of that encounter. He’s been busy in those intervening years — he’s now CEO of Mastercard. In our conversation in Atlanta he told me that he’s on a campaign to phase out the use of cash around the world. At the time, this sounded a bit utopian to me, and maybe self-serving — given his role at Mastercard. Yet in recent follow-up conversations, he convinced me that this would be enormously beneficial to nearly everyone. Cash will never disappear, but most of us could rely on it less and less — especially those who are struggling to survive in the developing world. Surprisingly, the use of cash incurs a greater cost, overall, than electronic purchases — which, for most people, means using credit or debit cards.”

China’s Renewable-Energy Revolution, by Jiang Kejun and Jonathan Woetzel in Project Syndicate

“At the start of 2017, China announced that it would invest $360 billion in renewable energy by 2020 and scrap plans to build 85 coal-fired power plants. In March, Chinese authorities reported that the country was already exceeding official targets for energy efficiency, carbon intensity, and the share of clean energy sources. And just last month, China’s energy regulator, the National Energy Administration, rolled out new measures to reduce the country’s dependence on coal. These are just the latest indicators that China is at the center of a global energy transformation, which is being driven by technological change and the falling cost of renewables. But China is not just investing in renewables and phasing out coal. It also accounts for a growing share of global energy demand, meaning that its economy’s continuing shift toward service- and consumption-led growth will reshape the resource sector worldwide.”

A bold open-access push in Germany could change the future of academic publishing, by Gretchen Vogel and Kai Kupferschmidt in Science Magazine

“In a third-floor conference room here overlooking the famous Potsdamer Platz, once bisected by the Berlin Wall, the future of academic publishing is being negotiated. The backdrop is fitting, because if the librarians and academic leaders at the table get their way, another major divide will soon fall: the paywall that surrounds most research papers. Over the past 2 years, more than 150 German libraries, universities, and research institutes have formed a united front trying to force academic publishers into a new way of doing business. Instead of buying subscriptions to specific journals, consortium members want to pay publishers an annual lump sum that covers publication costs of all papers whose first authors are at German institutions. Those papers would be freely available around the world; meanwhile, German institutions would receive access to all the publishers’ online content.”

A new high-tech fabric could mean the end of bulky layers in the winter, by Marc Bain in Quartz

“Imagine it’s freezing cold outside. Now imagine that instead of bundling up in a coat, all you need to do to feel comfortable is dial up the temperature of the base layer you’re wearing, like a heated seat in a car. Researchers from the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center are trying to make that scenario a reality. At a conference of the American Chemical Society, Army researchers explained how they’re using a coating of fine silver nanowires on ordinary fabrics, such as cotton or polyester, as a way to potentially keep soldiers warm in extreme cold. The coating makes the fabric conductive, and with just a few volts of electricity, it can generate a substantial amount of heat. The researchers are working to develop a system that would allow soldiers to dial the heat up or down as needed, and Paola D’Angelo, one of the Natick researchers on the project, says the technology could ultimately make its way into consumer products too.”

Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 14-20 August

How Europe can build a Silicon Valley, by Drasko Draskovic, World Economic Forum

“Silicon Valley holds less than 0.1% of the world’s population (3 million people) and yet they’ve launched nearly half of the most valuable tech companies in the world, with a valuation of more than $100 billion. Other Silicon Valleys can be built in Europe, but it’s really hard. To make this happen, you need more than just start-ups; you need an entire ecosystem: a constant stream of entrepreneurs, capital and companies of all sizes. Public sector leadership in Europe is highly aware of the need to foster innovation-driven entrepreneurship and a large number of relevant priorities are already on the policy agenda. Interventions are being made to tailor education to the needs of entrepreneurial careers, to improve access to finance and to enhance the availability of and access to relevant talent. Environments that encourage strong innovation are crucial components of national development.”

Body Smart: Can a week of wearables improve your health?, by Samuel Burke, CNN

“I’ve hit 10,000 steps! My Fitbit is vibrating and digital fireworks are shooting across the tiny screen on my wrist. The only problem is I haven’t even arrived at my office yet.
I hit the gym before I go to work, and think heck, if I’ve already logged that many steps, why not kick back and chillax the rest of the day? This is the first sign that something is awry on my quest to find out if wearable technology, or wearables, can actually make us healthier. To find out if that’s true, I’m strapping three wearables in particular to my body for a week-long experiment. On top of my Fitbit, I’m also putting the “brain sensing” meditation headband Muse on my head five minutes a day. I’m also trying out the CheckMe health monitor, a small device which can check for more things than I ever care to know I may have. Among its capabilities is its role as a sleep monitor, thermometer and even an electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor. To get some real perspective on all this, I enlisted the help of a medical professional.”

Here’s what a permanent treaty with North Korea might look like, by David Ignatius in The Washington Post

“After weeks of belligerent rhetoric, North Korea took a pause Tuesday. But where is the mercurial Kim Jong Un headed next? U.S. officials are debating whether he may want direct talks with Washington about a formal treaty to replace the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. The United States has been pursuing a dual path, threatening military conflict (semi-believably because of President Trump’s verbal thunderbolts) while also urging stabilization of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. The diplomatic trick here is simultaneously reassuring North Korea, China, South Korea and Japan that their vital interests would be protected. This process of negotiation was hinted at Sunday by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, they warned North Korea to “take a new path toward peace, prosperity and international acceptance,” or face increased isolation.”

Europe’s quality of life improved for the first time in a decade despite terrorism attacks, by Lianna Brinded in Quartz

“The spate of terror attacks across Britain and in Europe has led to some major cities falling in a benchmark ranking for “liveability.” But this was not enough to bring down Europe’s overall quality of living. The Economist Intelligence Unit puts together a report, titled “The Global Liveability Report,” each year to rank 140 cities across the world in order of best living conditions. The idea behind the report is to also help corporations better understand the environment they send workers into, and subsequently pay them premium, the harsher conditions are. The rankings are calculated by scoring 30 qualitative and quantitative factors, such as health care, education, and stability, that provide the best and worst living conditions for people. The scores from each factor are then put together and weighted to give a final score of between 1-100, with 100 being ideal and 1 being intolerable. This year, the EIU pointed out that liveability in Europe overall, as well as globally, registered an improvement for the first time in decade, by just 0.06 percentage points.”

Lithium from Supervolcanoes Could Power An Electric Future, by Claudia Geib in Futurism

“Whether you’re scrolling through cat memes on your phone, writing a glowing Game of Thrones review on your laptop, or running out to grab a coffee in your electric car, modern life relies on lithium — most likely, lithium mined in Australia or Chile. But a new study suggests future electronic devices could be powered by lithium from an explosive source here in America: supervolcanoes. Published today in Nature Communications, the research from scientists at Stanford University investigated lithium laid down by these unusually large volcanic eruptions, which eject more than 1000 cubic kilometers of magma. The researchers analyzed rock samples from several lithium-rich sites, including the McDermitt volcanic field on the Nevada-Oregon border, where several supervolcanic eruptions originating in the Yellowstone hotspot occurred between 16.5 and 15.5 million years ago.”

Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 7-13 August

What Makes a Great Leader?, by Kishore Mahbubani and Klaus Schwab in Project Syndicate

“Not long ago, over dinner in Singapore, we attempted to define what qualities make a great leader. For Klaus, the five key elements were heart, brain, muscle, nerve, and soul. For Kishore, compassion, canniness, and courage were key, as was the ability to identify talent and understand complexity. The extent of the overlap is telling. It is no coincidence that both lists begin with heart. Like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, a leader cannot achieve greatness without showing deep empathy with his or her people – a sentiment that fuels the fight against the injustices those people may face. Such heroic leaders are unlikely to emerge in normal times. But these are not normal times. On the contrary, today’s unprecedented inequality in many parts of the world is precisely the kind of injustice that could spur the emergence of great leaders with compassion for those at the bottom.”

Pay More To Earn More, by Peter Georgescu in Forbes

“What I’m suggesting is a complete transformation in the way workers are respected as the source of a company’s growth. It’s been shown that great CEOs, and great companies, are creating a more valuable employee by training and treating that employee as the origin of their success. Part of how they do this is by increasing employee compensation. When they do this, along with training in customer satisfaction, they create a workforce that is motivated and creative in a unique way. In other words, these employees prove themselves to be worth more money — loyal, customer-focused, creatively thinking about how to please customers and always mindful of the company’s future. In a sense, higher wages are a self-fulfilling prophecy; they treat employees as more valuable in order to build the morale and motivation that actually makes them more valuable.”

“Meseria de jurnalist este în pericol pentru că nu ţinem cu dinţii de standard” – Interviu cu Cristian Lupșa, editor la Decât o Revistă (DoR), in Sinteza

“Jurnalismul narativ nu a fost niciodată un gen popular, important ori bine făcut. O spun jurnaliştii care totuşi îl practică şi o confirmă lipsa de pe piaţa din România, aproape în totalitate, a unor publicaţii care să promoveze acest gen. Unui asemenea tip de scriitură trebuie să îi dedici mult timp şi multe resurse. În plus, cine mai citeşte astăzi poveşti jurnalistice despre cum trăim azi? Şi totuşi. O revistă trimestrială generalistă, care de opt ani explorează familiarul realităţii româneşti, experienţele şi trăirile care ne sunt comune şi aprofundează o varietate de subiecte pe care le discutăm acasă, la muncă sau la bere, de la schimbări sociale, la trenduri culturale şi decizii personale, a reuşit, în condiţii deloc uşoare, să devină un reper pentru ceea ce înţelegem astăzi prin jurnalism narativ.”

Antivacciniștii & Co. Conjurația ignoranților sau bărbatul care s-a stropit cu suc de lămâie pe față ca să devină invizibil și pe urmă a jefuit o bancă, by Mirela Oprea in Republica

“Într-o dimineaţă a anului 1955 un bărbat de 44 ani din Pittsburg a decis să jefuiască o bancă. Era convins că nimeni niciodată nu îl va putea prinde, pentru că tocmai descoperise secretul invizibilităţii, aflat într-o proprietate chimică uluitoare a sucului de lămâie. Astfel, o scrisoare scrisă cu suc de lămâie devine vizibilă doar dacă hârtia este ţinută aproape de o sursă de căldură. McArthur Wheeler era convins că dacă îşi pune suc de lămâie pe faţă şi stă departe de orice sursă de căldură va rămâne invizibil. Când s-a văzut ridicat de Poliţie a exclamat uluit: „Dar aveam suc de lămâie pe faţă!”. Doi psihologi, Dunning şi Kruger, au auzit povestea uluitoare a lui McArthur şi au decis să studieze convingerea absolută a lui Wheeler, având în vedere că Wheeler era un cetăţean absolut normal, ce putea fi considerat în deplinătatea facultăţilor sale mintale. Întrebarea era: „De ce era Wheeler aşa de sigur că o să fie invizibil?”. Rezultatele cercetărilor lor au dus la descoperirea efectului Dunning – Kruger, care spune că un individ, cu cât este mai incompetent, cu atât e mai probabil să se autoevalueze ca fiind mai competent.”

Scientists found more evidence that we can learn during sleep, by Katherine Ellen Foley in Quartz

“It may seem to you like time sleeping is time lost. To our brains, though, sleep is not only productive, but vital. Sleeping provides the chance for our brains to do some chemical house cleaning, which helps us feel rested, awake, and a lot less grumpy the next day. And now, new research from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris suggests that our brains are capable of both learning and suppressing information during different phases of sleep. Their work was published Aug. 8 in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers led by Thomas Andrillon, a psychologist studying sleep, hooked up 20 participants to electroencephalograms, which measure the brain’s electrical activity. In the lab before the individuals fell asleep, researches played them white noise, similar to television static. They interspersed this noise with blips of other sounds, and asked participants to pick out when they heard distinct patterns. Participants were then allowed to get some shuteye through the night while wearing their electroencephalograms (granted, it probably wasn’t the best sleep of their lives).”

Aspen 5 Ideas. Week 31 July – 6 August

Toward a Post-Brexit Defense Partnership, by Lisa Aronsson and Frances G. Burwell in Judy Dempsey’s Strategic Europe

“With the Brexit negotiations under way, it is time to begin planning for a future defense partnership between the UK and the EU. Such a relationship is essential for British and European security and is a necessary foundation for UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s ambitious plan for a “Global Britain.” NATO will remain the cornerstone of British defense policy. The UK has committed to the alliance’s target of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense and made major investments in defense capabilities, including commitments to operate Queen Elizabeth–class aircraft carriers and buy the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Britain has emerged as a leader of NATO’s forward presence in Central Europe. NATO alone, however, is not sufficient to meet the challenges facing Europe—and Britain—today. Nor can the UK count on the United States to underpin a global Britain.”

Scientists edit human embryos to safely remove disease for the first time – here’s how they did it, by Joyce Harper and Helen O’Neill in The Conversation

“Scientists in the US have released a paper showing that they have successfully edited human embryos to correct a mutation that causes an inheritable heart condition. The findings are hugely important as they demonstrate for the first time that the technology may one day be used safely to edit out many devastating diseases. But how close to curing genetic diseases does the new study actually take us? And how concerned should we be about the ethical implications of the technology? The genome editing tool used, CRISPR-Cas9, has transformed the field of biology in the short time since its discovery in that it not only promises, but delivers. CRISPR has surpassed all previous efforts to engineer cells and alter genomes at a fraction of the time and cost. The technology, which works like molecular scissors to cut and paste DNA, is a natural defence system that bacteria use to fend off harmful infections.”

Mesajul pentru Europa al maşinii electrice de 35.000 de dolari, by Ovidiu Nahoi in Dilema veche

“Una dintre știrile importante și care nu s-a bucurat de atenția cuvenită este cea conform căreia compania Tesla a livrat primilor 30 de clienți – de fapt, chiar angajați ai Tesla – cel mai nou model, sedanul Model 3. Acesta este automobilul electric destinat publicului larg, transmit agențiile internaționale de presă. Prețul de pornire: 35.000 de dolari, mai puțin de jumătate față de precedentele modele. Compania americană a precizat că a primit deja 500.000 de precomenzi pentru Modelul 3. Obiectivul companiei îl reprezintă producerea a 500.000 de mașini electrice în 2018 și apoi un milion în 2020. Cu alte cuvinte, nu doar un brand de lux ar urma să se transforme într-unul popular. Dar și grija pentru conservarea mediului, manifestată prin folosirea automobilelor electrice, se „democratizează“. Tot mai mulți oameni – primii clienți sînt chiar angajații companiei Tesla – își vor putea permite să aibă cu adevărat grijă de mediu.”

Will you need a driving licence in the age of self-driving cars?, by Jennifer Bradley for BBC

“Driverless vehicles may seem unfamiliar now, but over the coming years you’ll start to encounter – or even use them – on a daily basis. Will it mean the end of the driving licence and changes to the rules of the road? It’s not uncommon to see a squat white droid trundling along the streets of Greenwich, south-east London, as it delivers takeaway food to the borough’s residents at 4mph. In Paris and Helsinki, robot buses are shuttling passengers along city streets, while in Colorado an 18-wheeler truck drove beer 120 miles down a highway – without a driver. Around the world, projects like these are under way to help develop the technology that will ultimately bring driverless cars and other vehicles to our roads. But alongside the issue of whether they will work is another big question: how will pedestrians, cyclists and human drivers be kept safe?”

Japan has engineered an ice cream that “doesn’t melt”, by Echo Huang in Quartz

“In Japan’s humid summers, some popsicles are staying cool even in the heat. An accidental discovery at Kanazawa-based Biotherapy Development Research Center helped create popsicles that don’t melt, and they’re available for sale in parts of Japan. Kanazawa Ice—also known as “not melting popsicles”—first hit stores in the northwestern city Kanazawa in April, reported Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, before rolling out in Osaka and Tokyo. The secret ingredient that helps the popsicles keep their shape is polyphenol liquid extracted from strawberries. “Polyphenol liquid has properties to make it difficult for water and oil to separate so that a popsicle containing it will be able to retain the original shape of the cream for a longer time than usual and be hard to melt,” said Tomihisa Ota, the popsicle’s developer. The company didn’t set out to create popsicles that don’t melt.”