Boston marathon

♦ The FT argues today that Apple’s decision to borrow money in order to fund a dividend, despite being one of America’s most liquid companies, indicates a need for reform to the US tax system.
♦ Despite impressive economic growth, improvements in living standards in Malaysia have lagged behind those of its neighbours, building pressure for change ahead of Sunday’s election.
♦ North African governments are trying to stem the flow of young Islamic militants, heading to Syria to fight the regime.
♦ President François Hollande is struggling to please everyone and, in fact, anyone – leading to concerns that France might become the next European problem child. After a draft paper by the president’s party described Angela Merkel as “selfish”, Mr Hollande has had to reassure her that he still believes in a Franco-German relationship.
♦ William Finnegan discusses his article on Mark Lyttle, a US citizen from North Carolina who was deported to Mexico despite ample evidence that he was an American, and the soaring number of deportations.
♦ Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told the FBI that he and his brother considered suicide attacks on July 4, but instead decided to strike on Patriots’ day.
♦ Politics and vetting processes mean that Barack Obama has yet to fill some long-empty posts in his cabinet.
♦ Evangelical Christians in California have struck up a debate over whether yoga is a religion or not – where is the line between the body and the soul?
♦ SAYA, a Jerusalem-based design studio, is trying to provide a architectural resolutions to territorial disputes: “you can’t stop terror with just a fence. We need to imagine structures that can build hope instead of fear and resentment.”
♦ When Alex Christodoulou tried to quit his job for life in the Greek public sector, he found the process harder (and more labyrinthine) than he ever thought it could be, especially when the government had committed to taking thousands of workers off the public payroll. “They wanted to rehire him so that they could fire him and include him in the number of public servants being laid off to appease Greece’s international creditors”.
♦ In a review of The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future, Richard Lloyd Parry argues against the idea that North Korea is a “zombie nation”, but wonders if the idea that the country is in a state of “political undeath” doesn’t perhaps suit some other states.
 

Boston With one of the suspects dead and the other in hospital, the Boston marathon investigation has turned to the men’s motives. The Wall Street Journal looks at how a turn to religion caused fissures within the family. David Remnick examines the disaffection of the Tsarnaev brothers. (It seems the links the brothers had to Chechnya were rather remote.) Edward Luce thinks Obama should tread warily after the Boston attack.
The US economy is getting a Hollywood makeover, as the Bureau of Economic Analysis rewrites economic history by adding 21st century components such as film royalties, and research and development spending. This will make the US economy three per cent bigger.
♦ Civic involvement in the rescue effort following the Sichuan earthquake was so big, officials had to turn helpers away.
♦ Steve Schwarzman, founder of alternative investment company Blackstone, is donating $100m to establish an elite international education programme at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

 

Esther Bintliff

Reinhart-Rogoff Redux

♦ The FT’s Robin Harding and Chris Giles look at the perils of austerity theory, and argue that “the essential problem is limited data.”

♦ To catch up on the debate thus far, check out our reading list.

♦ Over on Counterparties, Felix Salmon has helpfully summarised a long blog by an econometrician, Arindrajit Dube. As Salmon puts it: the causation here seems about as clear as causal analysis can ever be: low growth causes high debt, rather than high debt causing low growth.

Elsewhere

♦ The FT’s Tom Mitchell, a Bostonian, writes about his response to the bombs at Monday’s marathon – “An attack on much more than a race.”

♦ A new Israeli guidebook “offers maps, tips, and tours through 18 areas of Israel where Palestinian villages once stood”. The Economist reviews it.

♦ Obama’s administration appears to hold varying views on the Syrian opposition, something that became obvious on Wednesday when Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made separate appearances before Congress, reports the New York Times.

♦ The European Central Bank’s newest game [wait, they do games?] was released on Wednesday. Alphaville’s Lisa Pollack has played it.

♦ Silicon Valley is welcoming a new kind of business pilgrim – “itinerant company executives who come from the benighted analogue world”, writes Richard Waters. 

Esther Bintliff

The Boston aftermath

♦ Police in Boston said they had found fragments of nylon bags, shrapnel and the remnants of a pressure cooker at the site of Monday’s bombing, report Geoff Dyer and Robert Wright. Time’s Swampland blog put together a short history of pressure cooker bombs.

♦ Within hours of the attack, some US media outlets were discussing the possible involvement of a 20-year-old man seen running – along with almost everyone else who could – from the scene. He was later declared to be only a witness, but not before his apartment had been searched. So why was he singled out? Probably because he’s Saudi, says Amy Davidson.

♦ “There’s not much to say about Monday’s Boston Marathon attack because there is virtually no known evidence regarding who did it or why,” writes Glenn Greenwald. “There are, however, several points to be made about some of the widespread reactions to this incident.

♦ David Kenner muses on the difference between the Muslim Brotherhood’s official response to the bombs, and the message posted by a senior Brotherhood leader, Essam el-Erian, on his facebook page. El-Erian condemned the attack — but also linked it to the French war in Mali, the destruction in Syria and Iraq.

Elsewhere

♦ A senior Chinese auditor told Simon Rabinovitch that local government debt is “out of control” and could spark a bigger financial crisis than the US housing market crash. But don’t worry – there won’t be any sudden collapse in China’s financial system, says Jamil Anderlini in today’s Global Insight column – it’ll be slow.

On the theme of accountancy in China, Simon Rabinovitch and Adam Jones looked at how homegrown auditors are eroding the influence of established western firms in China.

♦ India’s first major theme park opens on Thursdsay. Among its rides is “a gigantic six-armed animatronic Hindu god, standing astride a trio of curly-horned fire-breathing rams”. Yes you should go – but in the meantime, read James Crabtree’s report.

♦ The 2013 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography has been awarded to five photographers from the Associated Press – Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra and Muhammed Muheisen – for their “compelling coverage of the civil war in Syria, producing memorable images under extreme hazard.” You can see the images on the Pulitzer website (warning: some are graphic).

♦ InsideClimate News may be the leanest news start-up ever to be presented with a Pulitzer, says Brian Stelter – and they don’t even have a newsroom.