SUNSTAR PRESS DIGEST AUGUST 2016 No 1

Welcome to the first edition of the fortnightly Sunstar Press Digest. Rather than trying to cover every aspect of the news, a near impossible task in a 24/7 media environment, I will aim to highlight the main stories and concentrate on trends and reflective or provocative comment pieces, and perhaps some of the interesting stories that are easily missed.  To do this I trawl through a number of different print and broadcast media sources and wherever possible I try to find links that do not involve having to step over “pay-walls”.

Inevitably the selection will be somewhat arbitrary, and in this experimental phase your comments and suggestions will be most helpful and welcome. 

I look forward to hearing from you. 

Giampi Alhadeff

Editor

 

Trump Brexit Terrorism: an unstable world

Russia and China look on. 

It is holiday time in some parts of the world, with many politicians and business people vacationing in their favourite haunts, and yet the world-wide political situation could not be more unstable.

US Elections, Brexit, Turkey, Syria
Europe
 is coping with the double whammy of Brexit (BBC 3 August) and the continuing Eurozone crisis.  In the US Hilary Clinton is facing a tough road against Trump, the populist  gaffe-prone property developer. (The Guardian)The race is so close that President Obama, felt the need to warn that Trump is unfit for the office of Leader of the Western World. Meanwhile in Turkey, a key NATO ally and potential EU Member,  President Erdogan, following the failed coup attempt, assumes near dictatorial powers sacking and imprisoning thousands whom he alleges are plotting against him, and accuses the US of harbouring the coups mastermind.  The civil war in Syria continues, with evidence of chlorine gas being used against civilian populations. Meanwhile China and Russia, who arguably can gain from these upheavals, look on.

A Bleak Scenario?
Tobias Stone, historian and polemicist,  paints a bleak possible scenario in the Huffington Post.  (Huffington Post  27 July) He argues that in these last decades the world has known a long period of peace, and that conflicts, though savage, such as in the Balkans, Rwanda or the Middle East, have been contained, but he believes that we could be entering a far more unstable period in our history.  Tobias Stone’s piece may be too pessimistic, but a timely reminder that the future is another country. It is a bleak scenario , possibly the bleakest since the 2008 global financial crisis.  Will our politicians rise to the challenge?  The signs are not altogether positive.

TTP and TTIP
One indication that domestic considerations are stalling moves towards greater trade liberalisation is to be found in the current state of trade negotiations. The WTO negotiations are notoriously slow, however it had been hoped that the global economy could receive some stimulus from the two major trade negotiations the US is currently involved in.The Trans Pacific Partnership and the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment  Partnership , but these talks too, seem to be stuck in the doldrums. EU and US negotiators are making very slow progress, but now that Hillary Clinton has made a u-turn and joined Donald Trump in opposing to TTP,  It s unlikely that agreement, in either talks, can be reached in the last days of the Obama Presidency, let alone receive the required parliamentary or Congressional approval. Even in Bavaria, in Germany, the hitherto  non-controversial EU-Canada trade deal is coming under popular pressure.   Are we therefore seeing the end of this phase of trade globalisation, a process that  has lifted millions out of poverty in Aisia, in Africa and in Latin America, but which has also excluded many ordinary working people, particularly in the developed world? The danger is that the simplistic explanations of some populist politicians will find an echo among those voters who feel disenfranchised and “left-behind” by globalisation. In the UK this feeling found an echo with the many who voted for Brexit,  in the USA those who feel this way may chose Trump over Clinton in November and  in France, in next year’s Presidential Elections,  they might vote for the far-right Marine Le Pen.  The same political forces are present in many countries worldwide. Tobias Stone’s piece may,after all, not be so far fetched.

JAPAN: Shinzo Abe new stimulus package and re-shuffle
At least Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe,  victor in the recent Upper House elections, wins some credit for his attempts to re-ignite the Japanese economy in the Financial Times (pay-wall), and setting an example to the rest of the world. Bloomberg, however is less optimistic about his chances of success. (Bloomberg 2 Aug),  As I write this note, Mr Abe has just re-shuffled his Cabinet, appointing Tomomi Inada, the woman he dubbed his “Joan of Arc”, as his Defence Minister. (Reuters 3 August), The appointment of the hawkish Inada  will be seen as another step toward changing the Japanese Constitution and a continued robust Japanese response to Chinese territorial ambitious in the South China Seas (BBC South China Seas). 

Motor Neurone Disease Research: Big Result
However amid the gloomy news we learn that the “ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE” which unexpectedly raised $100 million for research into Motor Neurone Disease, has led to a ground-breaking discovery by scientists of a gene variant  (The Guardian (28 July) which could lead researchers to find a cure for  this disease.

Obituary: Alvin Toffler, Futurologist.
It is good to remember the passing away of one of our great futurologists, Alvin Toffler, who died in his sleep at the age of 87. Toffler was one of the first to predict the society’s shift from manufacturing and mass production to information and communication. (The Guardian 27 July.   He is also credited with coining the phrase “information overload”. And on this note I close this first edition of the Sunstar News Digest.

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