WORLD CUPDATE: POLITICS EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE!

Look, by this point, you know that we can’t watch anything, let alone the World Cup, without seeing the hints, lessons, and reflections of global politics everywhere. So here are two quick musings from the past few days of play.


Referees, Strongmen, the Rule of Law

One-man rule. Inconsistent and arbitrary application of basic laws. Constant attempts by powerful elites to influence or evade the ruler’s judgment. The basic problems of autocratic governments are captured perfectly by… the referee.

Is Tech Offside?

Will computers replace human judgments or simply augment people’s productivity? Two examples from the Cup. Goal Line Technology determines whether 100% of the ball has crossed into the goal. No human judgment needed. Video Assisted Replay (VAR), meanwhile, permits referees to watch replays of certain kinds of plays in order to confirm or reverse calls on the field. VAR increases referees’ accuracy, but it’s a supplement to human judgements which can still be “wrong” — especially if they go against your team. But hey, no one wants technology to squeeze all the uncertainty out of the game, do they? The fallibility of the refs, and the subtle psychological dramas between them and the players, is part of the poetry of the game. Tell us what you think here.

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.

Read more on Microsoft On The Issues.

What do people think is driving the stock market's recent record high gains?


Well, there's really no precise answer, but analysts point to several factors. So, number one is strong third quarter earnings. Companies have reported stronger than expected results so far this season. The second is the jobs market. You saw the October jobs numbers exceed economists' expectations. And the third is the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates three times this year. That lowers borrowing costs for consumers and businesses and encourages them to spend more.

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In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, Israel launched a precision attack in the Gaza Strip, targeting and killing a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander. In response, the terror group fired more than 220 rockets at southern Israel. Exchanges of fire have brought cities on both sides of the Gaza border to a standstill and at least 19 Palestinians are dead and dozens of Israelis wounded. With this latest escalation, Israel now faces national security crises on multiple fronts. Here's what's going on:

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