The role of the public library has evolved over time. As we move online at an even faster rate, knowledge, entertainment and opportunities for education and employment are found on the internet. Those living in well-connected, affluent places may have come to take internet access for granted. But there is a digital divide in the U.S. that has left people at a disadvantage – particularly since the arrival of COVID-19.
Finding ways to overcome that divide in a sustainable, community-led way could help bring the benefits of the internet to those who need it most. One solution is to use technologies such as TV white space to facilitate wireless broadband – as Microsoft's Airband Initiative is doing. To read more about Microsoft's work with public libraries, visit Microsoft On The Issues.
Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.
So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.
<p><strong>Trump: Is this as good as it gets?</strong> If Donald Trump's election in 2016 was supposed to dramatically improve the Russia-US relationship, then you're very disappointed. None of the <a href="https://2009-2017.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/ukrainerussia/index.htm" target="_blank">Obama-era sanctions</a> (over Ukraine or human rights) has been lifted – and in fact the Trump Administration has <em><a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/09/25/on-the-record-the-u-s-administrations-actions-on-russia/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">expanded sanctions</a></em> against your officials, companies, and cronies. What's more, Washington has, over your repeated objections, walked out of <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/read/is-the-u-s-inf-or-out" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_self">one major arms control treaty</a> that was important to you, while <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-start-of-the-end-for-arms-control" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_self">another</a> hangs by a thread with just days until the US election. </p><p>On the other hand, you love how Donald Trump sees the world. For him, US alliances are based on political and financial transactions rather than values. Trump's Washington is far less interested in playing global policeman or haranguing you about human rights and civil society. This is a world in which Russia can punch above its weight. Plus, Trump's toxic effect on an already deeply polarized American society has been a delight for you: just desserts for an America that once — obnoxiously, in your view — styled itself as a model of democracy. </p><p><strong>Joe Biden: the perks of predictability?</strong> </p><p>Joe Biden, meanwhile, has already <a href="https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-election-2020-joe-biden-campaigns-voting-d52427a53ee53993b14526e77c848e86" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">promised</a> to make you pay for election meddling— though it's not quite clear how. But even beyond that, you're not excited about a Biden administration that would shore up ties with European allies, reaffirm the US commitment to NATO, or restart efforts to break the stalemate in eastern Ukraine (you like your conflicts frozen, not stirred.) And while Washington will always be reluctant to impose crippling sanctions on your oil sector or sovereign debt — the costs would probably be too high for energy consumers and banks on both sides of the Atlantic — you could certainly see fresh US sanctions on new energy projects that are important to you. </p><p>But there'd be some upside too. As a more traditional supporter of US alliances and international agreements, Biden has signaled he'd want to rejoin the Iran Nuclear deal -- which you and the other European signatories still see as the best way to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons -- and he'd almost certainly sit down with you to renegotiate those strategic arms control treaties. </p><p>But perhaps most of all, Biden would be a much more predictable leader. Unlike the barely controlled chaos of Trump's foreign policy you'd at least know where you stand with a Biden administration. Statements and policies would be cleared and vetted and credible, in all the normal ways. (You'd no longer have your spooks watch Sean Hannity for foreign policy clues.) </p><p>In other words, you might not <em>like</em> Biden's policies, but you would at least have a clearer picture of <em>what they are</em>. Then <em>you </em>could quickly reclaim your title as world's most unpredictable leader of a great power! </p><p><strong>Then again... </strong>You know you can't shape the election outcome, and you'll be prepared to deal with whoever wins. Your <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/putin-rejects-trump-s-criticism-hunter-biden-s-business-n1244731" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">recent slap-down</a> of Trump's unsubstantiated corruption allegations about Hunter Biden show that you're looking at the polls and hedging your bets. </p><p>So maybe, in the end, you don't care that much who wins. You're rooting for chaos, the American nightmare of a close election that pushes protesters into the streets. After all, anything that claws down the drapes of American democracy is a good outcome for you. </p><p>You'll be up early next Wednesday. </p>
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October 28, 2020
"The 'American exceptionalism' that I grew up with, the 'American exceptionalism' of the Cold War…I do think has outlived its usefulness." Those words coming from Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former top State Department official under President Obama, indicate how much the world has changed in the past few decades. Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.
Watch the episode: How a "President Biden" could reshape US foreign policy
October 27, 2020
Less than a week out from Election Day, 66 million Americans have already cast their ballots, and many of those are people who are voting "early" for the first time because of the pandemic. In fact, the early vote total alone this year is already equal to nearly half of all ballots cast in the 2016 general election, suggesting that 2020 turnout could reach historic levels. Most important, however, is how things are playing out in key battleground states where the outcome of the US election will be determined. In Texas, for instance, a huge surge in early voting by Democrats this year has raised the possibility that a state which has been won by Republican candidates since 1976 could now be up for grabs. Here we take a look at early voting in battleground states in 2020 as compared to 2016.
In a national referendum on Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. But, why are people in this oasis of political stability and steady economic growth in South America willing to undo the bedrock of the system that has allowed Chile to prosper for so long?
<p><strong>The back story.</strong> The current charter dates from forty years ago, when Chile was still ruled by despot General Augusto Pinochet. It was approved in a 1980 national plebiscite which the opposition says was <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1980/09/12/pinochet-wins-overwhelming-vote-on-new-constitution/750660cc-4fa3-4962-8720-9c4bddb2b595/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">rigged</a>.</p><p>Drafted largely by US-educated Chilean neoliberal economists, the Pinochet-era constitution gave a huge role to the private sector in state affairs. Schools, pensions and healthcare were all partially privatized. Chile soon became the most business-friendly South American nation, and its accumulated GDP expanded by an astounding <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?locations=CL%5D" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">800 percent</a> from 1990 to 2018.</p><p>However, the 1980 charter largely <a href="https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2020/10/22/chiles-momentous-referendum-on-its-constitution" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">concentrated power</a> in the hands of Santiago's political and business elite, who prospered handsomely while the rest of the country got left behind. Over time, the stark disparity bred strong resentment among working-class Chileans fed up with substandard public healthcare and education, students who can't afford rising tuition fees, the elderly who barely get by on meager public pensions, and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/world/americas/chile-mapuche-constitution.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">indigenous people</a>, who account for 9 percent of the population yet have no cultural or land rights.</p><p><strong>The four-cent spark for it all.</strong> A year ago, the residents of Santiago <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-unfare-protests-in-chile" target="_self">took to the streets</a> to reject a $0.04 fare hike for the capital's metro rail system. It was an <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/26/anger-in-chile-as-ally-of-president-says-rights-abuses-necessary" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">explosion of anger</a> that caught conservative President Sebastián Piñera by surprise. One of the main demands of the marches — some of which turned violent — was a new constitution.</p><p>Piñera, backed into a corner, agreed to hold a referendum, and a year later, three quarters of Chileans voted "yes" to rewriting the country's charter. They also supported electing a constituent assembly in April, which will set to work on a draft that could be ready for popular approval by 2022.</p><p><strong>The region is watching.</strong> For decades Chile has been an <a href="https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/chile-island-stability-south-america" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">outlier in South America</a>, boasting political stability and steady economic growth in a region long mired in conflict and economic crises. But now that this unequal prosperity has, ultimately, come at a clear political cost, the country's next steps will be closely scrutinized.</p><p>Proponents of the referendum envision a new charter that will enshrine more <a href="https://blog.petrieflom.law.harvard.edu/2020/09/18/chile-health-care-reform/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">basic rights</a> for all Chileans (especially free higher education and healthcare, as well as affordable housing and transportation), limit the role of the private sector, and expand public welfare to create a more equal society. They argue that while Chile's economy has been cruising for decades, growth has not trickled down to the majority of the people. (In 2018, the income inequality gap between the top and bottom 10 percent was <a href="https://www.oecd.org/chile/chile-should-use-upturn-to-address-low-productivity-and-high-inequality.htm" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">65 percent higher</a> than the average among the 37 OECD member countries — and that was before COVID-19.)</p><p>Although the reforms enjoy widespread support among Chileans, opponents say that implementing a robust social safety net could stifle the country's economic prospects, and open up Chile to the political and economic upheavals that have plagued neighbors like <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/argentina-macri-had-a-dream-its-fading-fast?share_id=4558156" target="_self">Argentina</a>.</p><p><strong>Looking ahead.</strong> After decades as a regional model for political stability and economic growth, Chile has discovered it can no longer maintain both. With <a href="https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2020/10/22/chiles-momentous-referendum-on-its-constitution" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">such high stakes</a>, will the new constitution will help the country's leaders find ways to maintain economic success while ensuring greater equity for the 99 percent, or will this end up being a permanent tradeoff?</p>
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