Xi Jinping has been consecrated as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong after a new body of political thought carrying his name was added to the Communist party’s constitution.
The symbolic move came on the final day of a week-long political summit in Beijing – the 19th party congress – at which Xi has pledged to lead the world’s second largest economy into a “new era” of international power and influence.
At a closing ceremony in the Mao-era Great Hall of the People on Tuesday it was announced that Xi’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era had been written into the party charter.
“The congress unanimously agrees that Xi Jinping Thought … shall constitute [one of] the guides to action of the party in the party constitution,” a party resolution stated.
In a brief address to more than 2,200 delegates, Xi said: “Today we, more than 1.3bn Chinese people, live in jubilation and dignity. Our land … radiates with enormous dynamism. Our Chinese civilisation shines with lasting splendour and glamour.”
“Our party shows strong, firm and vibrant leadership. Our socialist system demonstrates great strength and vitality. The Chinese people and the Chinese nation embrace brilliant prospects,” Xi added.
Some see the historic decision to enshrine Xi’s concept as a clear hint that he will seek to remain in power beyond the end of his second – and supposedly last – five-year term, in 2022.
An even clearer indication of whether he is set on staying in power should come on Wednesday morning when Xi introduces China’s new top ruling council, the politburo standing committee, during a fiercely choreographed piece of political theatre that signals the start of his second term.
If the committee’s line-up – which is almost certain to be made up of seven men – includes no obvious successor, that would represent further proof that Xi plans to rule at least until 2027 and possibly beyond.
Read more at The Guardian.
The battle for Catalonia just got personal. Until now the main protagonists, Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, and Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, have avoided a head-on clash. All that changed at the weekend after the Madrid government decided to impose direct rule. Within minutes, insults were flying, with the opposing sides accusing each other of totalitarianism and rebellion.
Puigdemont had deliberately provoked the secession crisis, Rajoy claimed. The problem was, he lacked the stature to handle such a delicate situation. “This would probably never have happened if a different person with similar ideas had been in charge,” Rajoy said. In vowing to sack the Catalan leader, he noticeably declined to rule out charging him with sedition and locking him up.
Puigdemont and his vociferous allies were not slow to the counterpunch. Rajoy’s actions represented “the worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the dictatorship of Franco”, he declared. This comparison with the late fascist generalísimo was deeply offensive. Carme Forcadell, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, extended the historical allusion, describing the takeover as a coup.
After Saturday night’s passionate, pro-independence demonstration in Barcelona, battle lines are now being drawn and trenches figuratively dug. The senate, which is controlled by the government, is preparing to vote on Rajoy’s proposals, probably on Friday. They could be pre-empted if the Catalan assembly formally declares independence this week and calls new elections. In any event, a drawn-out war of attrition looms.
Both sides are seeking to delegitimise the other’s actions, claim the moral high ground and rally public support. For Rajoy, backed by the constitution, the courts, the monarchy and the main opposition parties, the argument boils down to a straightforward law and order message. “All the government is trying to do, and reluctantly, is to reinstate the legal order,” Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, said on Sunday.
Read more at The Guardian.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — When Leticia Miranda had a job selling newspapers on the streets, she earned about $160 a month, just enough to pay for a tiny apartment she shared with her 8-year-old son in a poor neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.
When she lost her job about six months ago amid Brazil’s worst economic crisis in decades, Miranda had no choice but to move to an abandoned building where several hundred people were already living. All of her possessions — a bed, a fridge, a stove and some clothes — have been jammed into a small room that like all the others in the building has windows with no glass. Residents bathe in large garbage cans filled with water and do their best to live with the stench of mountains of trash and rummaging pigs in the center of the building.
“I want to leave here, but there is nowhere to go,” said Miranda, 28, dressed in a bikini top, shorts and sandals to deal with the heat. “I’m applying for jobs and did two interviews. So far, nothing.”
Between 2004 and 2014, tens of millions of Brazilians emerged from poverty and the country was often cited as an example for the world. High prices for the country’s raw materials and newly developed oil resources helped finance social welfare programs that put money into the pockets of the poorest.
But that trend has been reversed over the last two years due to the deepest recession in Brazil’s history and cuts to the subsidy programs, raising the specter that this continent-sized nation has lost its way in addressing wide inequalities that go back to colonial times.
“Many people who had risen out of poverty, and even those who had risen into the middle class, have fallen back,” said Monica de Bolle, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.
The World Bank estimates about 28.6 million Brazilians moved out of poverty between 2004 and 2014. But the bank estimates that from the start of 2016 to the end of this year, 2.5 million to 3.6 million will have fallen back below the poverty line of 140 Brazilian reais per month, about $44 at current exchange rates.
Those figures are likely underestimates, de Bolle said, and they don’t capture the fact that many lower-middle class Brazilians who gained ground during the boom years have since slid back closer to poverty.
Read more at The Associated Press News Archive.
The Supreme Court does not compute. Or at least some of its members would rather not. The justices, the most powerful jurists in the land, seem to have a reluctance — even an allergy — to taking math and statistics seriously.
For decades, the court has struggled with quantitative evidence of all kinds in a wide variety of cases. Sometimes justices ignore this evidence. Sometimes they misinterpret it. And sometimes they cast it aside in order to hold on to more traditional legal arguments. (And, yes, sometimes they also listen to the numbers.) Yet the world itself is becoming more computationally driven, and some of those computations will need to be adjudicated before long. Some major artificial intelligence case will likely come across the court’s desk in the next decade, for example. By voicing an unwillingness to engage with data-driven empiricism, justices — and thus the court — are at risk of making decisions without fully grappling with the evidence.
This problem was on full display earlier this month, when the Supreme Court heard arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case that will determine the future of partisan gerrymandering — and the contours of American democracy along with it. As my colleague Galen Druke has reported, the case hinges on math: Is there a way to measure a map’s partisan bias and to create a standard for when a gerrymandered map infringes on voters’ rights?
The metric at the heart of the Wisconsin case is called the efficiency gap. To calculate it, you take the difference between each party’s “wasted” votes — votes for losing candidates and votes for winning candidates beyond what the candidate needed to win — and divide that by the total number of votes cast. It’s mathematical, yes, but quite simple, and aims to measure the extent of partisan gerrymandering.
Four of the eight justices who regularly speak during oral arguments1 voiced anxiety about using calculations to answer questions about bias and partisanship. Some said the math was unwieldy, complicated, and newfangled. One justice called it “baloney” and argued that the difficulty the public would have in understanding the test would ultimately erode the legitimacy of the court.
Read more at Five Thirty Eight.
At the beginning of Gloria Steinem’s career, she filed all her stories in person. There was no email, no internet, no Google Drive. She delivered her work face-to-face.
Once, she dropped off her piece at a prominent New York-based magazine, and her editor gave her a choice: “Either I could mail his letters on the way out, or I could go to a hotel room with him in the afternoon.”
Steinem bolted. And then she warned every woman she knew. It was the late 1960s, and it was a kind of induction ritual: a woman writer would move to New York, and her new female peers in the business would tell her which editors were “good.” That is, which ones didn’t ask you to drop off their mail or demand sexual favors or, as one editor at another magazine had when Steinem was still new, glance up from his papers after she’d come in to pitch a piece and tell her, “We don’t want a pretty girl. We want a writer. Go home.”
Women make sure “the word gets out,” Steinem says. And when we meet on Tuesday afternoon her claim has indeed been substantiated. It’s just hours after women have gotten the word out (for the third time this week) about Harvey Weinstein.
Steinem has a deep reverence for the power of public testimonies, especially as she first encountered them as a salve for trauma in talking circles in India; “those groups,” she wrote in My Life on the Road, “in which anyone may speak in turn, everyone must listen, and consensus is more important than time.” Stories, she tells me, give consciousness and power to all social justice movements, not only in America, but around the world.
Next month, Steinem will co-host the Festival Albertine, the annual French-American cultural event, with Robin Morgan, the feminist activist who founded the Sisterhood Is Global Institute with the writer Simone de Beauvoir in 1984 and the Women’s Media Center with Steinem and Jane Fonda in 2005. The theme is “Feminism Has No Boundaries,” more mission statement at this point than statement of fact.
Our interview has been scheduled for weeks, but in the meantime, both the New York Times (twice) and the New Yorker have reported on over a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Weinstein. (In a statement released through his spokesperson to the New Yorker, Weinstein denies the allegations, including all allegations of non-consensual sex.) When I arrive at the Payne Whitney Mansion on the Upper East Side, where the festival will be held in November, a plate of mini madeleines is proffered, but never mind those. I came for a deeper nourishment, an assurance that despite all the bad news and the bad men, Steinem still believes in redemption. “Are you kidding!” Of course, she does. The events of the past several months and the birth of a renewed progressive movement in particular have just bolstered her convictions — that there’s a kind of divine spark in all men, women, and nature, that the world is worth the trouble. (Even in her youth, when politicians would end their speeches with “God bless America,” she liked to respond, with fervor, “She will!”)
Read more at Elle.
The business world is constantly changing and now it’s changing at an accelerated speed. American workers no longer have decades to adapt to new technologies or business advancements. People need to be able to adapt — and adapt quickly — if they want to thrive in the business world and not fall behind or become obsolete. The idea that you can go to college and receive a two-year or four-year degree and then be equipped to work at a job for the next 30 years is not true anymore.
Bono, lead vocalist for the rock band U2, and Thomas L. Friedman, a foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times and author of the book, Thank You for Being Late, recently shared what skill sets workers should have to be successful now and in the future — whether they are a new graduate or have already been in the workforce for 10 years or 40 years. Here are the three traits workers should possess to help them quickly adapt to changes in business and set themselves apart as a leader in the workplace.
1. Embrace a lifelong passion for learning. We no longer live during a time where it’s beneficial to stock up a bunch of knowledge and resources and be set for your career. What you know today could be obsolete tomorrow or the job you perform now may be taken over by a computer system. This is why it’s imperative to embrace learning as a means to adapt to a shifting marketplace. “When you have an accelerated pace of change, the single most competitive advantage is to be a lifelong learner,” Friedman says.
Part of being a lifelong learner means being connected to the flow of the world. That is what digital globalization is all about, Friedman says. During the Middle Ages, it was wise to build a town near a river, because the river provided transportation, food, energy and ideas. It’s just as important today to be connected to the pulse of the world by surrounding yourself with innovative people, who have a global perspective as well as employees, who are able to take advantage of a changing marketplace.
“We are in the middle of three climate changes at once,” Friedman notes. “First, there is climate change, and the knowledge that the time where we could fix any environmental problem either now or later has shifted to needing to be fixed now. Next, the climate of globalization has changed. The world is no longer just interconnected; it is now interdependent. Lastly, the climate of technology has changed. People are adapting to a world with cloud computing, artificial intelligence and big data. These changes have created a business environment where you can analyze, optimize, prophesize, customize and digitize anything.” In fact, Friedman says if your business is not taking advantage of those five business practices, then your company will be at a real disadvantage.
Read more at Forbes.
Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook. But even that wasn’t enough. In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies.
Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.
He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place.
A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who complain about the rise of the so-called “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy.
These refuseniks are rarely founders or chief executives, who have little incentive to deviate from the mantra that their companies are making the world a better place. Instead, they tend to have worked a rung or two down the corporate ladder: designers, engineers and product managers who, like Rosenstein, several years ago put in place the building blocks of a digital world from which they are now trying to disentangle themselves. “It is very common,” Rosenstein says, “for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.”
Rosenstein, who also helped create Gchat during a stint at Google, and now leads a San Francisco-based company that improves office productivity, appears most concerned about the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day.
There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.”
Read more at The Guardian.