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US elections 2016

The Guardian view on globalisation: its death is the making of it | Editorial

Editorial: We may be at a turning point in the nature of capitalism. That may not be such a bad thing.

Ever since US presidential candidates railed against free trade, and anti-immigrant parties madesweeping gains in Europe, the question has been asked: are we witnessing the demiseof globalisation? A trend that has dominated economics and trade for decades appears to be coming to an end. As a percentage of global GDP, world exports, which have been on a slow steady decline in the past two years, have peaked. Fines on multinationals have reached record levels. Chinas breakneck industrialisation is probably over. Britain, a nation famous for building its empire on trade, will exit the worlds biggest free-trade area Europe by the end of this decade. Donald Trump, an opponent of free-trade deals all his public life, is about to become president of the United States. These signs point to the slow death of the form of globalisation that the rich world has invented, refined and patrolled since the end of the second world war. For many, the period from 1980 to 2008 marks the high-water mark of such policies a period that came to an end with global financial crisis. There is a worry that these years resemble the previously most integrated period of world history: the Gilded Age between 1870 and 1914. This ended bloodily with the first world war.

However, history does not necessarily repeat itself. It is important to note that global prosperity is bigger than any one nation. Some of the reason for the flattening off in the globalising trend is mathematical: poorer economies are growing faster than richer ones, and they import less. As developing nations share of global GDP rises, the effect will be to shrink the ratio of trade to global income. Others could take Chinas place as a driver of worldwide growth: India is probably the only country that has the potential to mount a transformation of similar scale and global consequence. Also a number of fast-growing nations could re-energise the pattern of global growth. The International Monetary Fund suggests that 6% annual growth in a dozen countries with a combined GDP of $4tn would add more to the global economy than the eurozone growing at full tilt.

Yet these feel like the wrong questions and answers. We need to settle whether globalisation in its current incarnation aids or relieves poverty in an equitable way. Given the worldwide revolts on the right and left of politics, the answer would seem to be that it doesnt. Fairer arrangements will help poor nations get richer. Trade is not a zero-sum game: all should benefit from engaging in it. But the world that exists has not been designed this way. The thinking that has dominated recent decades comes from classical free-trade theory which holds that although imports do cost jobs, exports will generate new ones and competition keeps prices low, so, over time, everyone gains. However, recent academic research tells a different story. When economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at the impact of the trade relationship between the United States and China they found a heavy cost to American workers. When jobs vanish, the MIT paper found, the better-trained workers would bounce back, but many blue-collar workers did not. Losses in manufacturing are magnified by being geographically concentrated and entire communities were punished. Little wonder perhaps that Mr Trumps protectionist message has been central to the populist campaign that has made him the president-elect.

The trick is not to retreat behind walls. That would see a return to beggar-thy-neighbour policies and the threat of war. Policymakers must go back to watching the numbers that matter to left-behind communities: the trade deficit. International prices must be fairly set so exports are not artificially expensive and imports are not artificially cheap. Imports from nations where labour rights are trampled need addressing. These are concerns that sensible thinkers on the left have raised for years most notably the Nobel prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, who has long worried about the corporate capture of trade deals. His warning that President Obamas Trans-Pacific Partnership operated under rules that would harm the economy and US workers was a call that went unheeded by Democrats until it was too late. Work must be done to resolve the tensions between democracy, the nation state and global economic integration. Trade deals need to show nations are open for business by putting peoples interests, not corporate interests, at their heart. We may be at a turning point in the nature of capitalism. That may not be such a bad thing.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/20/the-guardian-view-on-globalisation-its-death-is-the-making-of-it

James Comey: Hillary Clinton email inquiry is FBI chief’s latest controversy

The former prosecutor and deputy attorney general has grappled with a series of contentious issues, including surveillance and the Ferguson effect.

Three days ago, James Comey was one of Donald Trump’s symbols of Washington corruption and a law enforcer of the highest integrity to Hillary Clintons campaign. On Sunday, the FBI director was the most controversial figure in the capital, heroic to Trump, irresponsible to Clinton and puzzling to nearly everyone.

Comey has a long history of trying to walk political tightropes, to varying success, dating to the earliest days of his career.

Comey, a career prosecutor who grew up in New Jersey and studied religion and chemistry, had his first brush with a high-profile investigation came in 1996, after a stint with the US attorney for New York. That year, he joined a Senate investigation into Bill and Hillary Clintons real estate investments, named Whitewater after a failed venture they joined.

He remained in the background of an investigation that ultimately petered out, but Comey soon joined two prestigious prosecutors offices, in eastern Virginia and Manhattan, where he pursued high-profile cases against identity thieves, a top Credit Suisse banker and Martha Stewart.

In 2003, he was named deputy attorney general in the administration of George W Bush, becoming a dissenting voice against surveillance programs of the National Security Agency revealed in 2005 by the New York Times.

Comey later testified to Congress that one night in March 2004, with attorney general John Ashcroft hospitalized for an emergency procedure, he raced to the sickbed to prevent the renewal of warrantless wiretapping programs which the justice department had determined were illegal.

Comey arrived just before Bushs top lawyer and chief of staff, and Ashcroft did not sign the renewal. “I was angry,” Comey told the Senate in 2007. “I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me. That night was probably the most difficult night of my professional life.”

The next day, Bush modified the wiretapping program.

In those hearings, about possible misconduct by the White House chief counsel and, ironically, missing emails from the Republican National Committee, Comey told Congress he felt it imperative that the justice department stand outside partisan politics.

The Department of Justice, in my view, is run by political appointees of the president, he testified. But once they take those jobs and run this institution, its very important in my view for that institution to be an other in American life.

My people had to stand up before juries of all stripes, talk to sheriffs of all stripes, judges of all stripes. They had to be seen as the good guys, and not as either this administration or that administration.

Comey left the justice department in 2005 for Lockheed Martin, the largest military contractor in the US, and eventually an investment firm and Columbia Law School. In 2013, Barack Obama nominated the registered Republican to lead the FBI, joking that the 6ft 8in prosecutor was a man who stands very tall for justice and the rule of law.

He was confirmed as the agencys seventh director in a 93-1 vote only Kentucky senator Rand Paul voted against him, over domestic drone surveillance and quickly took on a series of controversial cases.

Though he opposed the NSAs warrantless wiretapping, Comey has emerged as a steady advocate of US security agencies since the Guardian revealed a host of programs in 2013, a system that gave the FBI access to a trove of data. Comey has repeatedly argued that security agencies should be given tools to bypass private encryption, and took the FBI to court against Apple over unlocking the phone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

Were asking Apple to take the vicious guard dog away and let us pick the lock, he told Congress in March. Its not their job to watch out for public safety. Thats our job. The logic of encryption will bring us to a place in the not too distant future where all of our conversations and all our papers and effects are entirely private.

The legal battle ended in anticlimax, as the FBI found another way into the iPhone. It has since said that the hack it used does not work on newer phone models.

Comey has walked a careful line on race and police killings. Last year he said it was unacceptable that the Guardian and Washington Post had better data on police shootings than the federal government, but also dipped into controversy by suggesting a Ferguson effect named after sometimes violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police shooting of an unarmed black teen may cause police officers to step back from their responsibilities.

Comey conceded he lacked evidence for that claim, which led him into an unusually public disagreement with the president, who warned last year: What we cant do is cherry-pick data or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or to feed political agendas.

Since then, tentative research by the justice department and a St Louis criminologist has suggested the Ferguson effect is plausible as an explanation for a single-year spike in violent crime.

The director rose to national prominence in July, when he announced the FBI’s findings in its investigation into whether Clinton and her staff had acted criminally in their use of a private email server. He concluded there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing.

Comey used a press conference itself a break from tradition and his original sin, in one former officials words to lay out the facts at the time, correct several false claims by Clinton, and castigate her and her staff for their extremely careless email practices. He was then called to Congress to defend his decision, which ended months of expensive and inconclusive Republican investigations.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/30/james-comey-fbi-director-hillary-clinton-email

Bruce Springsteen: ‘Donald Trump is undermining the entire democratic tradition’

The Boss speaks out against Trump, and opens up about his approach to parenting, at an event in London to promote his autobiography, Born to Run.

Bruce Springsteen has again condemned Donald Trump, with less than a month before the US presidential election. Springsteen, who had previously called the Republican presidential candidate a moron, told an audience in London: Its a terrible thing thats happening in the States. Hes undermining the entire democratic tradition.

Springsteen was speaking at an invitation-only event for European press at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London to promote his autobiography, Born to Run. When asked by host Antoine de Caunes to explain to Europeans the appeal of Trump, Springsteen replied: Nobodys been able to explain that.

Springsteen also paid further tribute to Bob Dylan, following the latter winning the Nobel prize in literature. Like a Rolling Stone was the first time I heard a version of my country that felt naggingly real, he said. Long after all of us are forgotten, Bobs work is going to be ringing out loud and clear. He contrasted Dylans writing favourably with his own work: Bobs certainly a poet. Im a hardworking journeyman.

Born to Run dealt extensively with Springsteens family, covering not just his relationship with his parents and grandparents, but also the changes parenthood had wrought on his own life. He said the final section of the book, writing about everyone you know now, was the hardest to write. I showed my kids the things I wrote about them, he said. Patti [Scialfa, his wife] and I discussed that section of the book and she didnt change anything, [though] she wasnt necessarily comfortable with everything. There were some things I wasnt comfortable with myself. But she gave me a lot of room to explore.

Discussing how his troubled relationship with his father had affected his own parenting, he spoke of how people honour their own parents by trying to steer away from the things they had difficulty with and by passing on the things they did well. The difficult thing was not having a role model to pass on what it meant to be a good parent, he said. That meant being a father did not come naturally: the suspension of deep personal time; the giving over of yourself at any moment of the day. I was used to my work taking over my time. It was my sacred space. To have Hey! I need a ride to Billys house, was something it took me a while to get used to. But I have a good relationship with my kids. I wouldnt say I was perfect, but I did OK.

He spoke, too, about how playing live had helped him cope with the depression that had struck him at intervals over the past 30 years. Playing such long sets Springsteen routinely goes well past three hours when performing with the E Street Band meant he would be too tired to be depressed. To be depressed you need to have certain amount of energy, to go hunting through the weeds. Theres also a great centring element that wards off [the effects of depression]. It hardens your centre; that wards off self doubt and the unproductive questioning that comes with depression.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/oct/17/bruce-springsteen-donald-trump-undermining-democratic-tradition-book

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