Signal

"Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." So said Winston Churchill in November 1947, a time when Soviet Communism was beginning to offer the world a new alternative.

Read Now Show less

My high school history teacher Dr. Cohen once told me, as we shuffled through the school cafeteria, that computers would one day make socialism viable. Given that the Soviet collapse had already happened, and that Super Nintendo still seemed vastly more magical than anything you could put on your desk, this seemed far-fetched.

Read Now Show less

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Syria ISIS attack A suicide bombing in Syria claimed by ISIS killed 14 people including four Americans this week. Two questions we'll be watching: Will this attack impact the pace of President Trump's ordered withdrawal of US troops from Syria, and is the bombing part of a broader ISIS strategy to launch a wave of new attacks as US troops depart?

Read Now Show less

Hard Numbers

610,577: The latest experiment with guaranteed basic income will be the world's largest so far. In India, the governing party in the small Himalayan state of Sikkim has announced a plan to provide a universal basic income for every one of its 610,577 citizens. Promoters of this idea and its skeptics around the world will be watching.

1,330: In Brazil, criminal gangs have posed a serious challenge for the state for many years, and the problem is getting worse. In the state of Ceará, gangs are reportedly paying young people in poor communities to plant bombs and start fires. The latest wave of destruction is now in its third week. It includes attacks on banks, bridges, and other infrastructure. The kids can reportedly earn 1,000 reais ($266) for torching a bus and 5,000 reais ($1,330) for igniting "a fire of great proportions."

6.6: The enrollment of new foreign students in the US fell by 6.6 percent in the 2017-18 academic year, double the previous year's rate of decline. This is the steepest drop in new enrollees since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The number of F-1 visas, those issued to foreign full-time students, fell from 644,000 in fiscal 2015 to about 394,000 in fiscal 2017.

2: Before this week's attack that killed four Americans and injured three others, only two Americans had been killed in action in Syria since the US-led military campaign began in late 2014.

Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday suffered the worst parliamentary defeat for a British leader in 95 years, with the House of Commons voting 432-202 to reject her proposed withdrawal plan from the EU. Given the size of the rebuke, why is Theresa May not politically dead yet?

The fact of her survival suggests that far from a Brexit breakthrough, Britain is now heading for a period of severe political paralysis. Here's why:

Read Now Show less

The size of Prime Minister May's defeat was truly historic. The last British leader to even come close to matching the 230 vote margin was Ramsay McDonald, who in 1924 lost a vote to withdraw the prosecution of a communist activist by 161. Here's a look at how yesterday's vote compares to previous defeats for UK prime ministers.

You've probably ever heard of Ren Zhengfei. But the billionaire founder of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is arguably one of the most important private sector figures in global politics today. On Tuesday, the reclusive Mr. Ren spoke with the media for the first time in years, amid an escalating dispute between US and China that's seen his daughter arrested in Canada, where she is now fighting extradition to the US.

Read Now Show less

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

US-EU trade talks – Last summer, President Trump committed to slowing escalating trade measures against the EU in return for a deal to lower European subsidies on agricultural goods and protections for the automotive industry. But EU negotiators now want to exclude Europe's massive agricultural subsidies and other farmer-friendly policies in an upcoming round of talks. That jars with the goals of the US, and issues like labelling genetically-modified foods and the free flow of data are also likely to prove contentious. We're watching this, because failed trade negotiations could quickly lead to a renewed fight between the US and EU.

Read Now Show less