23 October 2018   Leave a comment

The Pew Research Center has published a report on the differences between younger and older readers on the ability to distinguish between factual and opinion statements in the media.  The polling found that younger (ages 18-49) readers are better at making the distinction than older (ages 50+) readers.  The difference is significant and likely reflects the deeper experience younger readers have with different media sources of information.  The report suggests that

“[t]his stronger ability to classify statements regardless of their ideological appeal may well be tied to the fact that younger adults – especially Millennials – are less likely to strongly identify with either political party. Younger Americans also are more “digitally savvy” than their elders, a characteristic that is also tied to greater success at classifying news statements. But even when accounting for levels of digital savviness and party affiliation, the differences by age persist: Younger adults are still better than their elders at deciphering factual from opinion news statements.”

I would venture that many on the older age group would find this finding counterintuitive.  The questions asked were highly politicized which reflect a political bias that younger readers tend to shun.



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech today in which he accused Saudi Arabia of “political murder”.  Interestingly, Erdogan raised a number of questions about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but he gave no hard evidence of his charge of murder.   Many had hoped that the purported audio and video tapes would provide solid answers to many questions, but Erdogan continues his cat-and-mouse game with Saudi Arabia.  Bloomberg described the speech as a “damp squib” and made this conjecture:

“In Istanbul, there has been fervid conjecture that Erdogan wants to use the Khashoggi affair to weaken the prince, but that he may yet make a deal with the Saudis that would allow the royal family to save face. It’s easy to see what Turkey could want from Saudi Arabia: A cash injection to revive its flagging economy; a withdrawal of Saudi support for Kurdish militias in Syria (Turkey regards them as terrorists); and an easing of pressure on Qatar, Turkey’s ally. Erdogan’s speech did nothing to end the speculation that he’d be holding out for one or more of these things.

US President Trump called the Saudi explanation “the worst cover-up ever” but only took action to revoke the visas of 21 Saudi suspects.  The Atlantic has an interesting article teasing out the broader implications of the Khashoggi murder which raises some provocative questions.


The Italian government and the European Commission remain at loggerheads over the Italian budget.  Populism seems to be driving the government to increase its budget deficit far beyond what the rules of the European Union allow.   The Council on Foreign Relations points out the dangers of this game of chicken:

“At more than $2.6 trillion, Italy has the world’s fourth-largest total debt load. At roughly 131 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), it’s more than twice what EU rules allow. If investors get spooked and bond yields spike, as happened to crisis-ridden European economies in 2010–2012, Italy’s debt payments could spiral out of control. That could mean an Italian default, which would hit banks across Europe that hold Italian sovereign bonds. Italian banks, still weak from the last crisis, hold a lot of these bonds. If they continue to lose value, banks could fail, lending could dry up, and economic growth could plummet again—the so-called banking doom loop. And if Italy takes the unprecedented step of leaving the euro currency and returning to the lira, it would cause massive losses to investors across the continent, potentially triggering another financial crisis.

“If the eurozone is threatened, Italy would be too big to rescue. In 2012, the European Central Bank (ECB) stepped in with a dramatic promise to do “whatever it takes” to prevent contagion. The EU and the International Monetary Fund bailed out Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus. The largest bailout package, to Greece, topped $300 billion. But with a GDP of nearly $2 trillion, Italy is the bloc’s third-largest economy—there simply aren’t enough funds to bail it out. There are also concerns that the ECB used up all its firepower fighting the last crisis and has few tools left to make cheap credit available or buy up troubled bonds.”

We will have to wait to see which side blinks first.


Posted October 23, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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