Is Mongolia's remarkable democratic experiment in danger after the ruling party consolidated its power in Wednesday's presidential elections?

Not just yet:…
We don't, IMO, talk enough about Mongolia's success story. While other central Asian republics drifted into authoritarianism after the fall of the USSR, it's built a robust and lively democracy with a booming economy:
Still, despite high scores for things like democratic and press freedoms, corruption is rife and the past few years have seen a rolling constitutional crisis as the Mongolian People's Party and Democratic Party have duked it out for supremacy.
The incumbent MPP has handled Covid very well. Its resounding electoral wins in parliamentary elections last year and the presidential poll on Wednesday seem of a piece with other parties around the world which have seen their popularity soar with Covid.
The concern, though, is that unified control of the presidency and more powerful parliament will allow the MPP to erode the freedoms that Mongolia has worked so hard to cultivate, in the manner of Fidesz in Hungary and Law & Justice in Poland:…
The Democratic Party was pretty explicit about this, running on a slogan of "Mongolia without Dictatorship".

The electorate, who appear to have returned the MPP candidate with huge margins and wiped out the DP, don't seem to have bought the argument.
Personally, I'm optimistic that this success story is going to continue. It's not so long ago that outgoing DP-nominated president Battulga was seen by many as the main threat to democracy in Mongolia:…
In that sense, you can see Wednesday's election result as a rejection of authoritarianism, and a negative verdict on the disintegration of the DP, rather than an embrace of it.
Mongolian has 18,000 civil society organizations and a press that's rated as free as Japan's by @RSF_inter

The fact that people worry so much about deterioration of democratic institutions is, IMO, a good sign that citizens are alert and jealous of their freedom.
@RSF_inter So I remain optimistic that what we're seeing is the growing pains of a young democracy, rather than the death rattle of a failing society.

Read the whole piece here:…

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More from @davidfickling

7 Jun
Brilliant report on a crucial moment in the history of Australia:
On the question of how the smallpox scabs made their way out from the First Fleet's medical supplies, it's worth pointing out that there were expert lock-pickers among the convicts:… Image
Convicts and soldiers were the ones coming into often fatal conflict with the local Dharug and Eora so it would hardly be surprising if some of them hatched a plan to shift the field of battle in their favour.
Read 5 tweets
3 Jun
Will China's switch to a three-child policy reverse imminent population decline and knock-on effects throughout the world?

@anjani_trivedi, @ClaraDFMarques, @Moss_Eco and I will be on @TwitterSpaces at 9pm NY Thursday/9am HK Friday to discuss. Here's a quick introductory 🧵:
@anjani_trivedi @ClaraDFMarques @Moss_Eco @TwitterSpaces China this week announced that all families would be allowed to have up to three children, after a previous relaxation of its four-decade-old one-child policy in 2015 failed to spark a sustained increase in births:…
@anjani_trivedi @ClaraDFMarques @Moss_Eco @TwitterSpaces It's hardly surprising that the 2015 measures failed. Even countries without China's legacy of extreme anti-natalist policies struggle to lift fertility rates once they fall below replacement levels of 2.1 births per mother.…
Read 23 tweets
31 May
The problem with China's plans to shut down crypto mining?

Bitcoin is now Too Big To Fail in Xinjiang, where Beijing wants the economy running hot to distract from its oppression of Muslim minorities:…
Quick way to show this:

BTC ⚡ consumption: ~120TWh…

Xinjiang share of hashrate: ~1/3 ie 40TWh:

Xinjiang ⚡ generation: 400TWh:…

So Bitcoin mining alone is about 10% of Xinjiang's electricity consumption.
That's not counting what is spent on cooling data centers (substantial in the hot summers, though a lot of mines are moved to Sichuan in those months to take advantage of cheap hydro) or what is spent on non-Bitcoin crypto.
Read 11 tweets
21 May
It's funny/infuriating that while @ARKInvest et al are spinning an impossible story about crypto mines as a key source of demand for low load-factor renewables, in the real world crypto mines are now a key source of demand for high load-factor fossil fuels.
Load factor is the share of time that a generator is producing electricity.

At the upper end it's roughly:

Nuclear: 90%
Fossil fuels: 85%
Hydro: ~70%
Offshore wind: 60%
Onshore wind: 40%
Solar: 25%
There's nothing wrong with low load factor, and given the spread of renewables technologies and the ability of grids with storage to balance the supply of power through the day with highly variable loads from households, it's not a barrier to net-zero grids.
Read 11 tweets
19 May
Idle late night thought about all this UFO stuff:

If an extraterrestrial civilization sent surveillance drones to Earth, it's almost certainly not humanity that prompted it, but pond slime. Image
As I laid out in this old thread, the odds of human civilization's electromagnetic signature showing up clearly at interstellar distances are really low.

The chances of ET civilizations getting spacecraft here since the dawn of the radio age are lower.
HOWEVER the more distinctive signal that Earth might be showing is the abnormally high concentrations of oxygen in the atmosphere, produced by blue-green algae, and theoretically visible by spectroscopy whenever the Earth crosses the disc of the Sun.
Read 8 tweets
19 May
One thing worth noting about the radical-sounding @iea announcement that no new petroleum fields need to be developed any more — this is more or less the lived reality of oil majors right now, and has been for years.

Big Oil stopped investing growth capex around 2016.
@IEA There's a few definitions of "new oil" here:

1. "Investment in new fields to *increase* production levels."

2. "Investment in new fields to *maintain* production levels."

3. "Investment in new fields, production may decline."
@IEA Production from a typical oil field declines at 5% to 7% a year (shale is much faster, on the order of 50% or more).

So to hit the IEA net zero output decline path of 4% a year, you arguably still get a little bit of investment in new production.
Read 9 tweets

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