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Shifting Middle East

Team Trump is heading to 'Davos in the Desert'. The administration has apparently gotten over its outrage at the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, so now senior adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin are heading to Saudi Arabia for a major business conference.

Trump admin apparently over Khashoggi killing, will attend Saudi’s ‘Davos in the Desert’

By scouring contract solicitations, Justin was able to piece together the fact that high level Trump administration officials are heading to Saudi Arabia to talk business at Davos in the Desert. The only problem with that? It's extremely unseemly. Saudi Arabia brutally killed an American journalist last

By scouring contract solicitations, Justin was able to piece together the fact that high level Trump administration officials are heading to Saudi Arabia to talk business at Davos in the Desert. The only problem with that? It's extremely unseemly. Saudi Arabia brutally killed an American journalist last year, and brushing aside his cruel murder signals US indifference to the crime.

A bit of news buried in a haystack's worth of State Department contract solicitations, confirming the attendance of Jared Kushner and Steven Mnuchin at Saudi Arabia's version of Davos later this month. Interestingly, the Saudi Arabian government "did not authorize" the US delegation to stay at the Riyadh

A bit of news buried in a haystack's worth of State Department contract solicitations, confirming the attendance of Jared Kushner and Steven Mnuchin at Saudi Arabia's version of Davos later this month. Interestingly, the Saudi Arabian government "did not authorize" the US delegation to stay at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, where the event is being held. So they booked 45 rooms at the nearby Burj Rafal, instead.

Biases holding us back...

Class bias creeps into the hiring process in just a matter of seconds. A Yale study shows hiring managers' decisions are influenced in ways that perpetuate wealth inequality.

Yale study shows class bias creeps into the hiring process in just a matter of seconds

This is such an interesting study and story. Kind of chilling too, especially for those of us who like to think we're operating in egalitarian settings. Read it and weep, or at least cringe, like I did, when you get to this part about cultural fit. “It’s going to seem like the person just has this vibe

This is such an interesting study and story. Kind of chilling too, especially for those of us who like to think we're operating in egalitarian settings. Read it and weep, or at least cringe, like I did, when you get to this part about cultural fit. “It’s going to seem like the person just has this vibe, right? But it might be class,” Kraus says.

Democracy is hard

Netanyahu backs down. Israel's prime minister of a decade, Bibi Netanyahu, admitted defeat in an effort to form a coalition government after elections in September—which signals Netanyahu may finally be on his way out.

Netanyahu might finally be on his way out

A decade under the hawkish and quite likely corrupt prime minister Bibi brought out Palestinian voters in impressive numbers in the September elections. Arab Joint List parties will no doubt be celebrating Netanyahu's announcement today that he cannot form a coalition government. The mandate will next

A decade under the hawkish and quite likely corrupt prime minister Bibi brought out Palestinian voters in impressive numbers in the September elections. Arab Joint List parties will no doubt be celebrating Netanyahu's announcement today that he cannot form a coalition government. The mandate will next go to Benny Gantz, a man the joint list members are willing to get behind. And that could mean an important shift in Israeli politics, policy, and rhetoric.

Brexit vote blocked. Parliament speaker John Bercow has blocked a new vote on the Brexit deal reached between prime minister Boris Johnson and European leaders, BBC News reports.

MPs' vote on Brexit deal ruled out by Speaker

No rush. Full 10 days to go. In order for the UK to leave the EU with the agreement on future relations:

- UK Gov needs to propose the implementing legislation (on all fields where the EU law will leave a vacuum, I assume) AND timetable for its adoption

- Only then the UK parliament will grant a green

No rush. Full 10 days to go. In order for the UK to leave the EU with the agreement on future relations:

- UK Gov needs to propose the implementing legislation (on all fields where the EU law will leave a vacuum, I assume) AND timetable for its adoption

- Only then the UK parliament will grant a green light to “deal”

- and only then the EP will green-light the withdrawal agreement

- only then the UK leaves with a deal

The EP said it is ready to call extraordinary session even for Oct 31 if necessary. Yes the 700+ MEPs representing of 500 000 000 europeans will do a special physical sitting session for the UK

- there is only one task for the UK politicians, only one, the task that was supposed to be done in last 3 years: get their mess together.

10 days to go. Time! Start!

Opioid settlement delays courtroom justice

Four major players in the US opioid crisis reached a tentative deal in Ohio. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the $260 million settlement would provide much-needed funds for addiction recovery programs.

Four major players in the US opioid crisis reached a tentative deal in Ohio

Who is responsible for the opioid epidemic? Is it the manufacturers who made opioids and marketed them as less addictive and more effective than they actually were? The distributors who flooded entire communities with pills, in some cases knowingly circumventing federal safeguards? The pharmacists and

Who is responsible for the opioid epidemic? Is it the manufacturers who made opioids and marketed them as less addictive and more effective than they actually were? The distributors who flooded entire communities with pills, in some cases knowingly circumventing federal safeguards? The pharmacists and doctors who handed out unnecessary prescriptions while taking money from Big Pharma? The federal government and the FDA, which didn't exercise its oversight and enforcement duties?

I don't have the answer to that question, but a bellwether trial starting today in a district court in Cleveland was supposed to provide a roadmap to an answer — instead, four out of five defendants settled.

India's coal addiction

India is shifting to renewables. More than half the country’s energy comes from burning coal, but that’s slowly changing. Exclusively for Quartz members, our new field guide explores how India might shed its coal habit, and offer valuable insights to countries facing similar disruptive climate, economic, and technological issues. ✦

The world can learn from India trying to deal with its coal addiction

Akshat Rathi's deep dives into energy are some of my favorite stories on qz.com. Check out his State of Play covering India's coal usage, and the unique challenges it faces as it tries to switch to renewables.

India’s biggest motivations to keep burning coal boil down to:

1. Large domestic coal reserves with very little gas or oil

2. Decades of coal hegemony in the national energy mix (by now there’s lots of cash tied up in coal-fired power plants, the train system is mostly dependent on revenue from coal

India’s biggest motivations to keep burning coal boil down to:

1. Large domestic coal reserves with very little gas or oil

2. Decades of coal hegemony in the national energy mix (by now there’s lots of cash tied up in coal-fired power plants, the train system is mostly dependent on revenue from coal transport, etc.)

One crucial statistic is that an average resident here uses up only 1/10th of the electricity consumed by an average American (India has among the lowest per capita emissions). The Indian government justifies coal as a necessity to improve energy access to millions of poor citizens—but they are also the worst-hit due to pollution and land rights disputes that come with coal mining and coal-fired stations.

Gaming in China

✊🇨🇱🇭🇰🇱🇧

Violent clashes in Hong Kong continued… A rally on the 20th weekend of protests turned chaotic, as protesters and police faced off amid tear gas and firebombs. Police sprayed demonstrators with a noxious blue liquid, also hitting a mosque, the Hong Kong Free Press reports.

Video: Hong Kong police accused of targeting mosque with water cannon blue dye as communities conduct clean-up | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

My architect friend, the vice president at AIA Hong Kong, has worked on a redevelopment project, which includes refining the street pavements. The protesters peeled off those bricks to use them as a weapon. His project was destroyed.

The number of tourists dropped by over 40% comparing to the same

My architect friend, the vice president at AIA Hong Kong, has worked on a redevelopment project, which includes refining the street pavements. The protesters peeled off those bricks to use them as a weapon. His project was destroyed.

The number of tourists dropped by over 40% comparing to the same month last year, which consists of 5% of GDP. For China, Hong Kong is not as economically significant as in the past, and maybe hoping Hong Kong to shrink its presence slowly. Unlike Tiananmen, the government cannot act violently because people monitor and share the information well, but people are also monitored well in China that this Chaos won't be spread to the ​mainland anyways.

…and rallies spurred Lebanon to adopt reforms. The prime minister and coalition partners agreed to implement measures to deal with the country’s economic crisis, the Guardian reports, after protests that erupted, in part, over a plan to tax WhatsApp calls.

Lebanon's mass revolt against corruption and poverty continues

This Guardian take on Lebanon protests isn’t the strongest out there, starting with the implication that a WhatsApp tax sent Lebanese on to the streets. It is also baffling that in a country where women are largely fearless, vocal and heard (there is a viral meme of a woman protester kicking an armed

This Guardian take on Lebanon protests isn’t the strongest out there, starting with the implication that a WhatsApp tax sent Lebanese on to the streets. It is also baffling that in a country where women are largely fearless, vocal and heard (there is a viral meme of a woman protester kicking an armed government bodyguard in the groin), this reporter only managed to give voice to one woman, anonymously. Is the Guardian’s photo choice of Lebanese women posing - as if in beauty contest - a fair reflection of what’s happening on the ground? I ask not as a Middle East expert (b/c I’m not), rather, as a journalist who called Beirut home for more than a few years. Quartz - here’s a better option for #LebanonProtests 101: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/18/lebanons-protests-wildfires-tell-same-grim-story/

The hidden worlds around us

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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says extradition bill ‘is dead’ after weeks of protests

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says extradition bill ‘is dead’ after weeks of protests

Read more on South China Morning Post

From Our Members

  • It matters not that Lam chooses to shelve the bill. Yes it's a seemingly small victory for protestors. However we have to realise that with Xi's essentially unlimited time in office, he can always reinstate these issues with the next CE of Hong Kong. Nothing to see here, just another fake.

  • Whoa. A small victory for HK, but still a long road ahead until China officially takes over the island...

  • Classic case of horrible leadership. Lacked foresight to see the obvious solution was the kill this bill weeks ago. What’s worst: she thinks she should stay in power. How ignorant! She has zero mandate and should resign yesterday. Unreal how people like this “lead”

  • So, there are many audiences relevant to this decision in Hong Kong, though perhaps the most interesting one is Taiwan.

    When the “One Country, Two Systems” policy was first conceived prior to the 97’ handover of Hong Kong, many people believe it was Deng Xiaoping’s initial plan for Taiwan’s reunification

    So, there are many audiences relevant to this decision in Hong Kong, though perhaps the most interesting one is Taiwan.

    When the “One Country, Two Systems” policy was first conceived prior to the 97’ handover of Hong Kong, many people believe it was Deng Xiaoping’s initial plan for Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland. As a way to help stem outright independence, and in time bring the island back into the fold.

    It’s implementation, concurrent with the stipulations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, has made Hong Kong in most respects a different country. Similar, but not identical to Macau. Hong Kong has their own currency, foreign policy, economic system, justice system, civil rights, etc. Some also believe that Deng meant for Hong Kong to serve as window dressing for Taiwan. The results of which are certainly mixed.

    What we have learned recently, and what Xi has made abundantly clear: Xi is no Deng. In no uncertain terms, Xi has promised to reunite all of China’s claimed territories by 2049 - the centennial of the PRC’s founding. Its definitely not in harmony with Deng, and his approach of mostly concealing China’s true power, and biding its time. Indeed it’s quite bellicose.

    So while this is certainly a victory in the short term for Hong Kong, it looks like a minor tactical retreat by Xi, supporting clear strategic long term objectives. More or less putting off the fight for another day. None of which has likely fooled anyone watching from across the Straits.

  • Dead for now protestors beware. China can be patient. The question will be what benefits China. Will China step into the Iran crisis as a friend to Europe and Iran. The belt and roads initiative is more important than Hong Kong.

  • This is huge. How official is this announcement? Will protesters still demand for Carrie Lam to step down? And--last but not least--what's Beijing thinking?

  • That China wants to keep Hong Kong prosperous is definite and obvious but how the situation is going to play out in the long term is still very up in the air. Lam is in an awkward situation and despite the small win for the protesters China views Hong Kong as it's territory, part of China, and sees interference

    That China wants to keep Hong Kong prosperous is definite and obvious but how the situation is going to play out in the long term is still very up in the air. Lam is in an awkward situation and despite the small win for the protesters China views Hong Kong as it's territory, part of China, and sees interference as impingements of it's sovereignty. Despite what the local Hong Kong population may feel they are entitled to they are not in a democracy and as Xi has already been quite clear on Beijing's intention this is far from over.

  • The deal was for a fifty year period before a complete takeover. This is showing signs of the deal fraying in the details. Communist governments seek complete control, it is in the nature of the beast. My fear is in the repercussions to those identified as protesters.

  • The people's voice always matter, this is huge for the citizens trying to take a stand against China's will to reclaim Hong Kong. Their grab for more control was halted, now we'll have to wait for their next move.

  • When they say jump, you say how high.

  • This is what democracy looks like.