In Pakistan, it's too dangerous to print your opinion. So it may be surprising that 2 Pakistani musicians are Internet celebrities after releasing songs lambasting the nation's mullahs and military.
Speaking at the Bo’ao forum for Asia, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reassured attendees that China’s economy “has had a smooth start this year, and our overall performance is good.”
As Li said this, key economic data was released from China showing exports from the world’s second biggest economy had slipped 6.6% in March from a year ago. Imports were down more than 11%.
Both numbers were worse than forecasters predicted. Part of the reason is that a year ago, many Chinese exporters were overstating the value of their shipments in order to bypass China’s strict currency controls. That allowed them to bring more dollars into China with the hopes that the Yuan would appreciate. This year, China’s central bank has pushed down the value of the Yuan, so there’s no longer an incentive for exporters to fake the numbers.
The 11% decline in imports, however, surprised a lot of economists. The month of March is always an important one for China, because it’s the first month after the Chinese New Year, which tends to skew numbers a bit because of the inactivity of the markets.
A decline in imports is a sign that China’s economy is still in slowdown mode. Premier Li acknowledged as much during his speech today. “These problems are not only the result of a complex international environment, but also objective reflections of prominent conflicts that lie deep inside China’s economy, as well as the fact that China’s growth rate is shifting gear,” said Li.
The U.S. Senate Energy Committee is meeting to consider the reliability and security of the U.S. electric grid. It's a question that bears asking, considering the entire U.S. runs on just three, large-scale power grids (East coast, West coast and Texas. Go figure). As the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
At least David Newman, a physics professor at the University of Alaska, thinks so. His research explores how smaller power grids could help avoid massive outages like the 2003 Northeast blackout. Though, he certainly understands the appeal of having a larger grid:
"As you increase the size of the network, you’re increasing the number of places that you can be getting the energy to, and so you make it -- in a sense -- more efficient. But our work showed that it’s actually also potentially a bad thing because what it does is that it allows larger and larger failures of the system."
Newman acknowledges that there's no way to get rid of system failures completely, but with massive outages potentially costing billions of dollars, it's at least worth exploring what size network optimally combines efficiency and security.
A record number of kids are joining the FFA, formerly the Future Farmers of America. Many are from urban and suburban areas, and they're shifting the group's focus from agriculture to food science.
People in the region cling to the decaying world they're familiar with — and think they would have a more secure future with post-Soviet Russia than with Ukraine in the "capitalist" EU.
NPR's Jackie Northam was a freelance reporter based in Kenya when the Rwandan genocide erupted. In this essay, she recalls covering those terrible events and trying to make sense of them afterward.
Last week Congress delayed an upgrade of codes that govern the U.S. health system. Some say this will waste millions of dollars and make cost-saving and life-saving research more difficult.
What's the etiquette around using your laptop in public? If you stop for lunch at the August First Bakery in Burlington, Vt., keep your computer in your bag. The cafe is banning screens.