(Reuters) - The vote by the U.S. Congress to repeal rules that limit how internet service providers can use customer data has generated renewed interest in an old internet technology: virtual private networks, or VPNs.

VPNs cloak a customer's web-surfing history by making an encrypted connection to a private server, which then searches the Web on the customer's behalf without revealing the destination addresses. VPNs are often used to connect to a secure business network, or in countries such as China and Turkey to bypass government restrictions on Web surfing.

Privacy-conscious techies are now talking of using VPNs as a matter of course to guard against broadband providers collecting data about which internet sites and services they are using.

"Time to start using a VPN at home," Vijaya Gadde‏, general counsel of Twitter Inc, said in a tweet on Tuesday that was retweeted by Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.

Gadde was not immediately available for comment. Twitter said she was commenting in her personal capacity and not on behalf of the company.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted 215-205 on Tuesday to repeal rules adopted last year by the Federal Communications Commission under then-President Barack Obama to require broadband providers to obtain consumer consent before using their data for advertising or marketing.

The U.S. Senate, also controlled by Republicans, voted 50-48 last week to reverse the rules. The White House said President Donald Trump supported the repeal measure.

Supporters of the repeal said the FCC unfairly required internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc to do more to protect customers' privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc's Google or Facebook Inc.

Critics said the repeal would weaken consumers' privacy protections.


Protected data includes a customer's web-browsing history, which in turn can be used to discover other types of information, including health and financial data.

Some smaller broadband providers are now seizing on privacy as a competitive advantage. Sonic, a California-based broadband provider, offers a free VPN service to its customers so they can connect to its network when they are not home. That ensures that when Sonic users log on to wi-fi at a coffee shop or hotel, for example, their data is not collected by that establishment's broadband provider.

"We see VPN as being important for our customers when they're not on our network. They can take it with them on the road," CEO Dane Jasper said.

In many areas of the country, there is no option to choose an independent broadband provider and consumers will have to pay for a VPN service to shield their browsing habits.

Private Internet Access, a VPN provider, took a visible stand against the repeal measure when it bought a full-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday. But the company, which boasts about a million subscribers, potentially stands to benefit from the legislation, acknowledged marketing director Caleb Chen.

VPNs have drawbacks. They funnel all user traffic through one point, so they are an attractive target for hackers and spies. The biggest obstacle to their routine use as a privacy safeguard is that they can be too much of a hassle to set up for many customers. They also cost money.

"The further along toward being a computer scientist you have to be to use a VPN, the smaller a portion of the population we're talking about that can use it," said Ernesto Falcon, a legislative counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which opposed the bill.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and David Ingram in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Peter Cooney).

Author : Stephen Nellis and David Ingram

Source : metro.us

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Google last year sacrificed the Nexus brand for an entirely new line of high-end smartphones. The Pixel phones became quick hits, especially following the Galaxy Note 7 disaster, even if they’re not as affordable as most Nexus phones used to be. The Pixels are also different from Nexus handsets in one other key area: They don’t run pure Android anymore.

However, if you’re still looking for an affordable Google phone that gets fast vanilla Android updates, you’re in luck. But don’t expect these handsets to be called either Nexus or Pixel.

Remember the low-cost Android One experience that debuted in Asian markets a couple of years ago? Well, Google is going to expand it to the US, The Information has learned.

Android One phones might not come with the same build Quality and top features as the Pixel phones, or more recent Nexus predecessors. But they won’t be expensive either. Instead, Android One will offer users a device that won’t break the bank and will be compelling from the software side of things.

Android One phones may come from Android handset manufacturers you might not be familiar with, including Micromax or QMobile. But LG, a company who made various Nexus smartphones in previous years, may also be in the cards.

No matter who makes these devices, they’ll run a somewhat bloatware-free version of Android that’ll receive fast updates from Google. That includes both major Android releases and security updates.

The Android One phones will cost $200 to $300, according to two people familiar with Google plans, and they should be launched before “the middle of the year,” which means we might hear something about it at Google I/O 2017.

Author: Chris Smith
Source: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/report-google-wants-bring-dirt-cheap-android-phones-222422322.html

Categorized in Internet Technology

PALM BEACH, Fla. – President-elect Donald Trump, in the final hours of 2016, restated his doubt about the validity of U.S. intelligence analyses that the Russian government hacked various political organizations with the goal of putting him in the Oval Office.

“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure,” Trump said in a brief question-and-answer session as he prepared to enter a New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

“And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong. And so I want them to be sure,” Trump said, referring to the faulty argument pushed by proponents of the 2003 Iraq invasion that dictator Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons. “I think it’s unfair if they don’t know. And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

Trump then stated his belief that extremely sensitive information should not be communicated via computers at all, citing the expertise of his pre-teen son.

“It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe. I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe,” Trump said. “I have a boy who’s 10 years old. He can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier.”

President-elect Donald Trump talks to reporters as he and his wife, Melania, arrive for a New Year’s Eve celebration with members and guests at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Dec. 31.

When asked what, specifically, he knew about alleged Russian hacking that others did not, Trump said he would reveal his insights into the controversy in due time. “You’ll find out Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI this week released a 13-page document outlining how Russian-based hackers stole emails of Democratic officials, which were then released online and to the outlet WikiLeaks in the closing months of the campaign.

Following the release of that report, Trump announced that during the coming days he would meet with U.S. intelligence leaders to discuss Russia’s interference in the election, even though he thought it was better for the country to move on from the election.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton herself raised the issue of Russia’s involvement during one of the presidential debates. But Trump said it was impossible to know who actually had done the hacking, suggesting it might have been a 400-pound hacker sitting in his bed and, later, that it was someone in New Jersey.

Author: S.V. Date
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-russian-hacking_us_58686f8de4b0d9a5945bc5e9

Categorized in News & Politics

The United States government has started asking a select number of foreign travelers about their social media accounts.

The news came on Thursday via Politico and was confirmed to Mashable by a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after the new procedure reportedly began earlier in the week. 

The process dovetails with what has been expected for months and has been slammed by privacy advocates.

Here's what we know about the basics of the program. 

Whose information is the agency collecting?

CBP is asking for social media info from anyone traveling to the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program, which means they'd be able to travel about the country for 90 days of business or pleasure without a visa.

The social media request is a part of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form, which travelers looking for a visa waiver have to fill out before they get to the U.S. The form is used to assess "law enforcement or security risk," according to the CBP's website. 

Travelers from 38 countries are eligible for a visa waiver, including those from the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Hungary. 

What kind of information are they looking for?



The form reportedly asks for account names on prominent social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as networks many people don't think much about, such as Github and Google+.

Is it mandatory?

No one has to fill out their social media information to get into the country, and CBP has reportedly said it won't bar anyone from the U.S. just because that person didn't want to give their Twitter handle to the government.

Privacy advocates have decried the policy, since many travelers are likely to fill it out just in case.

That said, privacy advocates have decried the policy, since many travelers are likely to fill it out just in case. A number of groups including the ACLU signed an open letter in October warning of the forthcoming changes.

"Many of these travelers are likely to have business associates, family, and friends in the U.S., and many of them will communicate with their contacts in the U.S. over social media.

This data collection could therefore vacuum up a significant amount of data about Americans’ associations, beliefs, religious and political leanings, and more, chilling First Amendment freedoms."

Why do they want social media information?

The U.S. has long tried to spot radicals and radical sympathizers online, especially anyone affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS). 

ISIS has long had a prolific and disparate social media presence, especially on Twitter, which they've used to spread messages and recruit those who might be hundreds or thousands of miles away from fighting in Syria and Iraq. 

Initially, government officials wanted ISIS sympathizers to keep tweeting, because agencies were able to gather bits of information from those tweets. Then, however, the government got tired of how many ISIS members and sympathizers there were on Twitter and other platforms, so they ramped up pressure on those social networks to shut down such accounts. 



For the government, this is the next step in working out which potential travelers to the U.S. have "connections" to ISIS. Of course, it's unclear what language the CBP would find alarming, and whether their alarm bells would be warranted. 

How long will they hold onto the information?

Assuming the social media information will be used just like the rest of the information on the ESTA form travelers have to fill out for a visa waiver, the Department of Homeland Security will keep it readily available for up to three years after it's been filled out. Then the information is "archived for 12 years," but still accessible to law enforcement and national security agencies.

Can they share the social media information with others?

Homeland security and the CBP can share your social accounts with "appropriate federal, state, local, tribal and foreign governmental agencies or multilateral governmental organizations responsible for investigating or prosecuting the violations of, or for enforcing or implementing, a statute, rule, regulation, order or license, or where DHS believes information would assist enforcement of civil or criminal laws," according to the CBP website. 

In other words, assuming the social information is treated like all the other information they collect form those with a visa waiver, homeland security could potentially share it with any law enforcement agency on the planet. They just have to "believe" the information might be of use in solving some type of legal violation

So once you type out your Twitter handle and send in the application, that information is hardly yours. 

BONUS: Pushing the Boundaries: Immigration and Esports


Source: http://mashable.com/2016/12/23/us-government-social-media-travelers/?utm_cid=mash-prod-nav-sub-st#mBjkEomtpmqO

Categorized in Internet Privacy

The Pirate Bay, ExtraTorrent, Rarbg, 1337X, and YouTube-mp3 are among the websites cited on a new U.S. government hit list. The "Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets" by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) lists the popular websites among a larger group, which it cites as potentially promoting online piracy and other illegal activities.

The Pirate Bay Of Symbolic Importance

The report concedes that it is not accusing any of the listed sites as having violated the law, instead stating that it is only the intention of the report to promote worldwide action against the listed websites when legally appropriate. The list was compiled in large part based on input from industry sources, namely groups like the MPAA (Motion Picture Association Of America) and RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America), and cites The Pirate Bay as having special significance.

"Despite enforcement actions around the world and drawn-out legal battles against its operators, The Pirate Bay is of symbolic importance as one of the longest-running and most vocal torrent sites for admittedly illegal downloads of movies, television, music, and other copyrighted content." the report concludes.

The Pirate Bay is also the top site of its kind in terms of traffic. It held that position for years until being relegated to number two as competitor Kickass Torrents overtook it in popularity until it was recently shut down in July by the U.S. government.

The report specifically cites the closure of Kickass Torrents and the following voluntary closure of meta torrent search engine, Torrentz, as positive developments since the 2015 report a year ago. Both of those sites have recently returned online, however, in new versions.

Focus On Stream Ripping

The report also dedicates a special section to stream ripping, describing it as "an emerging trend in digital copyright infringement that is increasingly causing substantial economic harm to music creators and undermining legitimate services."

For the first time ever, a specific stream ripping site is included on the government list, namely YouTube-mp3.org, the largest such site of its kind in the world and the subject of a recent lawsuit by the major music labels. Since that lawsuit, as we have reported, the site's stream ripping functions have been disabled by Google, although the process itself has not been determined to be illegal in the U.S.

Sites Mentioned

The complete list of websites mentioned in  the report, includes suspected counterfeit and e-commerce sites as well as file sharing and stream ripping domains.

Author:  James Geddes

Source:  http://www.techtimes.com/articles/189672/20161225/pirate-bay-extratorrent-rarbg-1337x-youtube-mp3-and-more-on-new-u-s-government-hit-list.htm

Categorized in Others

2:55 a.m. ET: Republican Donald Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States, according to the New York Times and Associated Press, who called the election in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday. Trump’s ascendance to the White House came after a sweep of many hard fought swing states in the midwest, southeast, and rust belt, capping one of the biggest upsets in modern American political history.

At 2:50 a.m. ET, Trump took the stage at the Hilton hotel in midtown Manhattan to announce that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton conceded defeat. In his remarks, Trump attempted to mend fences after a long and bitter presidential election. “It is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump said. “I pledge to every citizen in the land that I will be president to all Americans,” he added, before describing an agenda he characterized as ‘America first’ while on the campaign trail.

As the votes rolled in for Trump, U.S. stock markets plunged with futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 506 points, or roughly 4%, as investors began to brace for Trump’s agenda and his anti-free trade views. Those losses were paired when Trump struck a conciliatory tone in accepting Clinton’s concession.

Fear of a Trump presidency was evident at the open of trading in Europe, where stocks in London plunged 2%, after futures indicated losses as high as 4%. The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong tumbled 2.7%, the South Korean Kospi fell 2.5% and the Japanese Nikkei 225 was down 5.1%. Australian and New Zealand markets fell by a similar measure.

Assets that rise in value during periods of market upheaval, for instance the U.S. dollar, gold, and government bonds, surged. Gold rose $41 to $1,316 a troy ounce, or over 3.2%. Ten-year U.S. Treasury note yields fell 12 basis points to 1.73%, indicating an investor flight to the safety of government bonds. The euro fell 2%, while the Japanese yen fell 3%.

The Mexican peso, the asset that has swung most violently depending on prospects for the presidential vote, plunged. On Tuesday, as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton showed strength in early voting, the peso rose to two-week highs. However, it tumbled over 13.07% after midnight when CNN called a string of states for Trump including Ohio, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Utah.

States that continue to hang in the balance include Virginia and Michigan are trending in Clinton’s direction, while Pennsylvania is moving in Trump’s favor. New Hampshire remains too close to call. But Trump has won a clear path to the presidency with 288 electoral college votes.

As voting has come in decidedly in favor of Trump, defying the expectations of almost every national poll and many state polls, it was the IBD/TIPP Tracking poll that may have won Tuesday. It predicted Trump’s victory in a final national survey on Tuesday afternoon.

Others who foresaw Trump’s outperformance in the general election, for instance DoubleLine Capital’s Jeffrey Gundlach, did not back down from their calls on Tuesday.

“I think we can all agree that Donald J. Trump has massively outperformed expectations in the past,” said Gundlach on a conference call with investors Tuesday evening. Such an outcome would “cause a downgrade of global growth expectations or maybe even a global growth scare,” Gundlach told FORBES earlier in the year.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Dan Loeb of Third Point LLC also said last week he reduced his market exposure and increased hedges ahead of the election, comparing the vote to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June.

“We clearly didn’t predict the outcome of Brexit, but we definitely saw that as a point in time where you had to ascribe some percentage to a scenario where there was a surprise. So we’ve done the same thing here,” he said on Nov. 4.

9:53 p.m. ET: Stock futures turned sharply negative and the Mexican Peso plunged against the U.S. dollar, reversing gains as Donald Trump expanded his lead on Hillary Clinton in the state of Florida. At 9:35 p.m. ET it was Republican nominee Trump who was in the lead by roughly 125,000 votes in Florida. The peso plunged over 7.9%, while stock futures were beginning to trade down sharply. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell over 489 points, or nearly 3%. Democrat leaning counties such as Broward and Miami-Dade hold most votes remaining to be counted, however over 95% of the vote is in. Fear proxies like gold and futures on the CBOE volatility index are surging as Trump gains a path to the presidency. Gold rose 2.34% after 9 p.m. ET.

CNN has called New York and Connecticut for Clinton, while Trump won three of five electoral votes in Nebraska, in addition to the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Louisiana. States that are too close to call include North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire, while Trump is expanding leads in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

8:35 p.m. ET: Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pared gains as the state of Florida was up for grabs with over 90% of the vote in. As of 8:35 p.m. ET, Trump was winning Florida by roughly 83,000 votes with 48.9% of the vote versus Clinton’s 48% of the vote. Dow futures, which were up over 100 points, pared gains to 36 points. Trump has won Alabama and South Carolina, according to CNN. Clinton remains in the lead in North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan as the vote begins to come in. The U.S. dollar has begun to strengthen against the Mexican peso, rising 0.7% as Florida has tightened.

8:19 p.m. ET: Stock futures hit session highs after voting results from Florida and North Carolina showed Clinton clinging onto leads with well over half of the vote in. Clinton has won Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts, while Trump has won Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee, according to CNN.

7:35 p.m. ET: Trump has won Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, according to CNN. Clinton has won the state of Vermont, while races in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and Ohio remain too close to call, according to CNN. Early voting calls caused weakness in Australian stock markets as they opened Wednesday trading, and rising investor jitters reflected by a rally in gold and a 1.1% slump in the Mexican peso versus the U.S. dollar after it closed at two-week highs on Tuesday.

6:05 p.m. ET: Futures for the CBOE Volatility Index continued to fall in trading after the market close, while the Mexican peso continued its surge against the dollar. As of 6:05 p.m. ET, the peso was trading up 0.22% against the dollar. This trading indicates investors have maintained an expectation of a victory by Clinton over Trump.

4:00 p.m. ET: Stocks closed higher heading into U.S. presidential election results with the S&P 500 Index closing up 8 points, or 0.39%, at 2,139. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%, closing at 18,332 and paring some gains near the end of trading. Indications of investor fear such as the CBOE Volatility Index, gold, and the Swiss franc all fell on Tuesday, locking in a two-day risk rally ahead of the election. “The market expectation is a Clinton presidency,” said Joseph P. Quinlan, chief market strategist at U.S. Trust, at the close of trading.

The Mexican peso, the asset most correlated to investor perceptions of who will take the White House, rose 1.2% versus the dollar. Stocks rallied after futures trading opened lower on Tuesday morning and volatility was on the rise. Those fears mitigated as traders took in polling data, which showed resilience from Clinton. In a Clinton win over Trump, U.S. Trust’s Quinlan expects a rally heading into 2017. “The global economy is being run by the U.S.” Quinlan said, noting improving employment and income data. “With this big event behind us we are positioned for higher equity prices by the end of the year, and I think dramatically so,” he added.

3:30 p.m. ET: The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, rallied in late trading as investors sought a way to buy protection against market risk heading into the close of trading. The VIX has tumbled over the past few trading sessions, in concert with rising equity markets, as investors began to price in a win by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The VIX rallied from down as much as 6% on Tuesday to slightly in the green by 3:15 p.m. ET, but equity markets held onto their gains. Confidence was bolstered when a Las Vegas judge denied a request by the Trump campaign to impound ballots from some polling stations in Clark County, Nevada.

2:28 p.m. ET: 

Markets began to sell-off in mid-afternoon trading after Republican nominee Donald Trump sued the Clark County Registrar of Voters, seeking to impound and segregate ballots from early voting on Friday, Nov. 4. Trump alleged in a suit the registrar “unlawfully”  extended voting hours by allowing voters to enter lines after an 8 p.m. deadline. The lawsuit, targeting areas of heavy reported early voting, sent the S&P 500 Index off intra-day highs to 2,139, up 0.39%, and caused fear gauges like the CBOE Volatility Index to pare early losses.


It’s Election Day in the United States and voters are taking to polling stations across the country to decide the balance of power in the White House, in addition to races in the Senate and House of Representatives. In global markets, a bumper Monday rally on strength by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton took of the thunder out of early Election Day trading.

[moduleplant id="5588"]

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

U.S. equity markets opened up moderately in early trading Tuesday after gaining over 2% on Monday as traders began to price in a Clinton victory. (Read FORBES’ Election Day Live Blog)

The S&P 500 Index was up 0.38% by noontime, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.44%, or 81-points, at 18,342. In Europe and Asia most large marked indices closed trading higher. Trading prices across assets indicated a bullish bias from traders.

Oil gained slightly in the morning trading session, rising 0.16% at 45.05 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate and gold fell slightly to 1,277 a troy ounce. Meanwhile, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury rose for a second day and similar duration government bonds in Brazil and Mexico fell. Safe haven currencies like the Swiss franc fell. The CBOE Volatility Index, meanwhile, fell 3% adding to Monday losses as traders took off their hedges.

Volatility in early trading was mostly confined to Tuesday stock blowups from Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Hertz and OneMain Financial, which all used Election Day to dump significantly negative earnings and guidance on their investors.

Embattled Valeant slashed its 2016 financial outlook, provided a cagey picture into its 2017 earnings expectations, and recorded a billion dollar writedown related to a recent acquisition. The stock, a top holding of hedge funds Pershing Square and ValueAct Capital, plunged 18% to new multi-year lows below $16 a share. It has fallen nearly 85% year-to-date, battered by an accounting and price gouging scandal that’s spawned numerous criminal and regulatory probes.

The picture was even worse for OneMain and Hertz, which both saw their shares fall more than 30% in early trading. OneMain, a consumer finance company, reported third quarter earnings that shows a significant deterioration in the credit of its customers as charge-off ratios on loans surged. The stock plunged 38% in early trading, putting year-to-date declines at 60%.

Car rental giant Hertz, meanwhile, plunged over 30% after the company significantly missed third quarter earnings estimates. The company reported third quarter earnings of 49-cents, down from the $2.60 it earned a year ago, and well below the $1.58 a share analysts were expecting. Hertz also slashed its full-year earnings guidance, causing investors to fret its $15 billion debt load.

Stock blowups aside, as midday trading began markets were trending higher and signs of investor fear mitigated. The Mexican Peso and the CBOE Volatility Index have been the two most volatile gauges of investors’ election expectations in what’s seen as a binary choice. As of now, a Trump presidency is seen as causing a volatility spike and a tumble in the peso given his anti-free trade views and temperament. So far, markets are siding with Clinton. By 12:30 pm, the Mexican Peso was trading 0.84% higher versus the dollar, while the VIX was down 4.65%.

Expect trading volatility to increase later in the afternoon or overnight as election data comes in.

moduleplant id="583"]

Investment strategists at RBC Capital Markets have laid out a baseline for a Clinton and a Trump victory, arguing that the S&P 500 should rally 3%-to–4% upon a Clinton win and decline 10%-to–12% on a Trump victory. At current levels, RBC feels the VIX should decline to 13–14 upon a Clinton victory and rise to 20–25 if Trump prevails, while emerging markets such as Mexico and China should rally under a Clinton presidency and sell off sharply if Trump wins.

Source : forbes

Categorized in Others

Washington: On Wednesday, Americans will awake from a nightmare. Donald Trump will not be their president.

But relief will be short-lived. It will be more a "ha, ha, gotcha" moment appropriate to a lingering Halloween mood; because Trump is likely to be a sore loser, ready to inflict serial new nightmares on the US before he's done with politics.

What's all this based on? The losing part is a gut feel, supplemented by the late polling and high turnout numbers in early voting, especially on a Latino surge that is especially ominous for Trump.

And those nightmares to come? That's based on what I suspect will be Trump's inability to walk away from the crater of his campaign, without attempting to make it into something else – remember his claim that he always makes success from failure?

Even before FBI chief James Comey reversed away from his bizarre intervention in the campaign, which was a body blow to Hillary Clinton, national polls had begun edging back to the Democrat, as were the local polls in swing states. A Gallup poll out just a week before election day was most telling – after 16 months of intense exposure, Trump had failed to convince 67 per cent of registered voters that he had the personality and leadership qualities for the White House.

As a man with a need to be acting a role, but who doesn't seem to know his real self, Trump will be desperate for an immediate new gig and a new spotlight after Tuesday's vote.

The Trump that greets America on Wednesday, actually, he's more likely to be snarling, will not be the slightly less objectionable candidate on view in the last week of the campaign – that guy was a product of the fact that he was up because Clinton was down; and his advisers were keeping him dosed up on political tranquilisers.

That being the case, there's no guarantee that an angry Trump will tend to what ought to be his first essential duty as a losing candidate – to make clear to his many supporters who have threatened various stages of uprising if he is defeated, that violence is not an acceptable response.

A dog urinates on a graffiti of Donald Trump at a laneway in Melbourne.

The American electoral process doesn't anoint the loser in a presidential race as a Westminster-style, leader of the opposition.

But with his "I-alone…" bravura amped up by a campaign that seemingly started in a fit of pique, Americans are likely to find themselves living through a sequel to The Apprentice, in which Trump has director's prerogative to designate himself as he likes.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by three percentage points among likely voters ...

Some of the anti-leadership qualities that he will bring to bear in that self-appointed office are – selfishness, a lack of discipline, vindictiveness, intellectual sloth, mendacity, greed, bigotry, misogyny and racism.

We've heard that in contemplating defeat, he's been mulling a new "super PAC", with vengeance as its core mission.

In defeat, Trump will have much to get even about.

This is a man who went all the way to the hallowed ground of Gettysburg , ostensibly to make a campaign-saving speech on good governance, but was unable to resist the indulgence of devoting a big chunk of his speech to how he was going to get even with the dozen women who complained of him sexually abusing them.

That's what you get with Trump – asked about great feelings in life, his response was "I love getting even…if you don't get even, you're just a schmuck."

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a Donald Trump mask during a campaign speech on Monday.

In defeat, Trump will have much to get even about.

Losing spectacularly before the eyes of the nation and the world will be a severe psychological blow, probably prompting a "wounded animal" or "cunning rat" response – or a mix of the two. The fall from would-be leader of the Western world to feather duster will take a considerable adjustment.

The former secretary of state was leading Trump by about 45 per cent to 42 per cent in the popular vote.

The former secretary of state was leading Trump by about 45 per cent to 42 per cent in the popular vote. Photo: AP

Already Trump has refused to commit to accepting the election outcome, despite his efforts to qualify his refusal by throwing in the word "reasonable". He will challenge the outcome at the slightest opportunity, for these reasons:

  • Trump didn't invest all that campaign energy in claiming the election was rigged against him just to prove that he could be a victim of the rigging, without attempting to capitalise on that victimhood
  • Presenting himself as a victim in challenging the outcome would serve as a platform on which Loser Trump would build his post election political career
  • Any challenge would help to cast doubt on the legitimacy of a Clinton presidency and pose more questions about her mandate

Trump must win North Carolina to have a realistic chance of winning the White House.

Much of Trump's "it's rigged" argument is based on the Democratic Party's control in predominantly black communities in Pennsylvania – that's where he's demanding that his supporters mount vote 'watching" operations.

Politico magazine sets out a troubling scenario: "Suppose on Election Night, Pennsylvania's secretary of state announces that Clinton has won the state, and with it the presidency, but Trump says, 'Prove it.' The secretary of state responds, 'That's what the machines tell us'. Trump responds, 'Well, how do I know that the machines weren't hacked?' What is the secretary of state supposed to say then?

Donald Trump arrives to speak to a campaign rally on Monday in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"So who will resolve the conflict if Trump loses Pennsylvania and insists on seeing proof, and the state can't provide it? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, despite being dominated by Democrats? The US Supreme Court, despite being hamstrung by a vacancy and thus at risk of a 4-4 split? Congress, paralysed by partisan gridlock?"

The extent to which the GOP establishment backs any trump challenge will be the first post-election measure of how seriously the GOP establishment will be in fighting to regain control of the Republican Party.

A natural segue from a Trump challenge to the result would be for him to assume a leader-of-the-opposition role, to become a freewheeling face and voice of all opposition to the Clinton presidency – its existence and all that she might do.

When Trump was not running his "rigged" argument in the last days of the campaign, he was crying "constitutional crisis" – warning of back-to-back congressional committees investigating Clinton and likely efforts to impeach her.

Loser Trump will be deeply conflicted – wait for the Twitter storm.

On the one hand he's not the kind of guy to hang around after he's taken a beating.

As we've learnt in this campaign, he'll take the business losses he's inflicted on others and claim them as a billion-dollar tax write-off for himself; he doesn't pony up half of what he's promised for his own campaign; and he'll scam his own charity foundation

So if there's no money to be made, why keep skin in the game?

An option that reportedly is being seriously massaged at Trump Tower is a media operation that would leverage Trump's vote, his millions of Twitter followers and his supporter's email list, who conceivably could be cajoled into paying subscriptions for cable or internet-based programs packaged around Trump, his policies and his family.

The campaign is already doing a crude version of what Trump TV might look like on its Facebook page. But a long term TV operation would be predicated on cannibalising existing TV audiences, especially that of Fox News, which would not happen without the Murdochs putting up a fight.

Any TV operation will be dictated by myriad variables – the extent to which Trump controls it; the extent to which his brand is damaged by an election defeat; who ponies up the probable hundreds of millions in investment and start-up costs; and the extent to which it absorbs all or part of the internet-based Breitbart News established by Steve Bannon, who is chief executive of Trump's presidential campaign.

On the other hand, Trump is the kind of guy who wants to keep fighting, who says that the best feeling in life is getting even; and who, some argue, would prefer the arm-to-arm combat of perpetual campaigning over the enormity of decision-making in the Oval Office.

For now, at least, Trump owns the Republican Party. With millions of primary and general election votes in the bank, his hostile take-over is complete and it's up to the GOP establishment to wrestle it back – if it can.

That prospective political terrain suits Trump's bullying style, notwithstanding his self-billing as a "deal-maker". The nature of the party's post-poll implosion will be more akin to the primaries in which Trump was more comfortable, making his pitch to party diehards than to the breadth of the general electorate.

But in pitching to white voters, Trump is up against a demographic brick wall – it's an electoral sector that shrinks at each election, as Hispanics numbers in particular grow and, in the face of GOP candidates like Trump, become more likely Democratic voters.

In an internal struggle, or in the event of a party break-up, Trump would pick up white supremacists and neo-Nazis and maybe, for a time at least, Christian Evangelicals. But all are demographic groups that are on the wrong side of that demographic wall.

The party risks finding itself as gridlocked as the congress.

The party that traditionally was capable of compromise has abandoned even the pretense of comity – if Republicans were not going to let a black president have his way, what chance a woman who already has been promised gridlock and chaos induced by endless committee investigations?

In Congress, check progress on Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland – in the old days, he'd at least have been given a confirmation hearing; these days, GOP senators simply refuse to discuss it.

In the Republican party, check progress on climate change – in the course of the primaries there was at least the semblance of a debate; these days Trump prevails, telling the world it's a Chinese hoax.

If the GOP emerges from the election intact, it will only do so by dramatically rewriting its policies, to accommodate the Trump supporters. For decades it had screwed them on economic and industry policy while throwing them unwinnable policies that didn't carry a dollar price – abortion, same-sex marriage, religious freedom.

That policy turf will be conceded reluctantly. But before the GOP gets to that internal brawl, which some insiders are casting as a "civil war", the establishment can be expected to heap blame for the election defeat on Trump and his campaign. But as Trump had demonstrated, he has become adept at whipping up rank-and-file anger at the party's leaders.

"That is the existential threat to the party," Tim Miller, a former Jeb Bush staffer and a fierce critic of Trump, told Vox. "Some candidates and elected officials will want to go down the Trump path, in ways that viscerally turn off young voters and minorities, because there would be short-term gain. And if that faction wins out, the party is going to die."

Conservative commentator Peter Wehner is at the barricades already, writing in The New York Times: "The forces that propelled Trump's rise need to be confronted and defeated. It won't be easy, given that tens of millions of Americans will vote for him and believe deeply in him. But if these forces are not defeated, what happened this year will be replicated in one form or another, and the Republican Party will continue to inflict great harm on our republic".

Unclear in all of this is whether Trump has the stamina or the inclination.

His options for remaining in politics amount to continual presidential campaigning – and for what?

He caught the GOP napping when he sought the 2016 nomination. But is the party likely to let him barnstorm his way through another primaries season, to steal the 2020 nomination? And if the electorate has opted for Clinton in 2016, what chance does he have of being preferred over in the next go-round?

The risk for the GOP is that it's working class and some of its middle class voters will break away – either to a new Trump-led party or to a reformed Democratic Party, from whence a good number of them came in the Nixon and Reagan years.

It took confiscation of Trump's Twitter account to make Trump focus in the last week of the campaign. What'll they have to do to make him pay attention next week – take away his Tic Tacs?

Source: smh.com.au

Categorized in News & Politics

Many think the value of the dollar will initially sink against the currencies of developed countries such as the UK, Japan and Switzerland if Trump edges the contest.

The mighty US dollar has been gradually strengthening against most other currencies since May 2016.

This is mainly because the American economy has been performing relatively well (compared with much of Europe and Japan), with employment growing quite strongly.

This momentum has increased expectations of another interest rate hike by the American central bank, the Federal Reserve, which has supported the value of the currency.

Yet the dollar index, which measures the value of the greenback against a basket of global currencies, has slipped slightly in the past week.

This coincides with a tightening of the polls and the higher implied possibility of a Donald Trump victory.

So what will happen to the greenback after the result of the election is announced?

We look below at the two scenarios.

Hillary Clinton wins….

A victory for the experienced Democrat politician is expected to prompt a dollar rally.

Since she was cleared by the FBI of wrongdoing in relation to her emails at the weekend the dollar has already strengthened. 

This trend is expected to continue if Clinton wins the White House.

Notwithstanding her tacking to the left on economic policy in her Presidential campaign to gain the votes of disaffected Americans, few expect any economic policy shocks from Clinton.

Donald Trump wins…

Here the impact is vastly more uncertain – both in the short-term and medium term. 

Many analysts think the value of the dollar will initially sink against the currencies of developed countries such as the UK, Japan and Switzerland if Trump edges the contest.

It will also probably fall against the euro, the second most important global currency.

But some think the dollar could strengthen against developing nation currencies – such as the Mexican peso –  due to anticipation that Trump will push through new protectionist trade policies, which will damage their economies.

There might well also be serious volatility in the dollar if Trump prevails because so little is known about his likely economic policy or who his economic advisers would be.

Signals of major domestic tax cuts or big spending pledges in the following weeks and months could have large impacts on the value of the greenback – but, rather like Trump himself, it is very hard to say in which direction the dollar would move.

Source : independent

Categorized in News & Politics

Who is winning the vote right now - and who will win out come election day? Will we see President Donald Trump or President Hillary Clinton? Based on data from RealClearPolitics, here are our latest predictions and an estimate of the final electoral college result.

Will Hillary Clinton win?

Clinton has been ahead almost continuously in the Telegraph's poll of polls, which takes an average of the last five published on RealClearPolitics.

US presidential poll trackerAverage of the last five polls, based on a four-way raceTrumpClintonMar '16May '16Jul '16Sep '16Nov '163540455055Wednesday, Feb 3, 2016

Will Donald Trump win?

The presidential campaign has seen Donald Trump, once a Republican outsider, close the gap on Clinton before falling back after a series of controversies.

Trump has briefly pulled ahead a couple of times - first on 19 May. His polling threatened to consistently overtake Clinton in September, but fell back after a series of allegations.

How does the presidential election work?

Each of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, has a set number of electoral college votes to award a candidate, based on the number of members of Congress it has. This is roughly in line with population. Except in Maine and Nebraska, votes are on a winner-takes-all basis.

This system matters, as the popular vote is less important than the electoral college vote. Clinton's campaign should be buoyed by big Democratic states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California, and these populous states could lead her to victory with their large number of electoral college votes.

The states to watch

Swing states – states that often switch between Democrat and Republican in different elections – are also important.States like Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia have the power to swing the election. So far, neither Trump nor Clinton has a significant lead in these crucial states.

How could demographics impact the US election?

Age, race, gender and education are all big dividing points in the presidential race, with polling showing that men and whites are backing Trump while women and ethnic minorities support Clinton.

Race has always been a huge dividing line in the US election, and the clash between Trump and Clinton is no different. Just 17 per cent of Hispanics and three per cent of black people back Trump, according to recent polling.

This could prove significant in this election. For example, Hispanics account for more than a fifth of the population in four key swing states.

Education is another big demographic division in the race - and there's a reason why Trump said he "loved the poorly educated".

Among high school graduates or those with a lower level of education, Trump has the backing of 44% - compared to the 36% who support Clinton.

This could prove significant in the swing states of Georgia and Nevada, which both have a high proportion of people failing to graduate from high school.

We've mapped out each candidate's road to the White House hereand you can keep up with what to look out for in the US Senate and House of Representatives elections with our handy guide.

Source : telegraph

Categorized in News & Politics

You’re fed up with this presidential election campaign, and so am I. So this will be my last article about it.

And I want to end on a high note. So as the race goes down to the wire, let me offer some comfort to tens of millions of decent American Never-Trumpers who view Tuesday’s nail-biter with terror.

Pass this on to your terrified friends. Cut this out and stick it on your fridge till Wednesday if need be.

The message? Don’t be too despondent. Don’t be too worried. Even if Donald Trump wins, look on the bright side.

Sure, he could somehow, miraculously, turn out OK (That’s not the way to bet, but it could happen). But even if he’s an utter disaster, as common sense suggests, it still won’t be all bad.

Here are seven good things that could still happen.

1. Sales! You want bargains? You want cheap food and rent, cheap vacations, and cheap items in the stores? A President Trump should be great for that. He’s promising trade wars with our major partners. As we learned in the 1930s, that’s a terrific recipe for an economic depression — and if you still have any money, depressions are a terrific recipe for cheap prices. After the 1930 version of Donald Trump, the famous Smoot-Hawley tariff, the U.S. consumer price index collapsed by 25% over three years. Servants got cheap, too, on account of all the unemployment. Good times!

2. Money! If you’re holding a ton of cash in your portfolio — and especially things like euros, Swiss francs, and gold bullion — Trump could be your ticket to the big time. This year’s Brexit shock, for example, caused a plunge in the British stock market and a collapse in the pound. After Smoot-Hawley more than 85 years ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 80%. What a bargain — for smart people who still had money. If history is any guide, a Trump victory could be bad for a lot of suckers, but great for you.

Polls Show Clinton Close in Georgia, but Not Texas


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are pushing their message to new states in an attempt to broader their potential pickups. New WSJ/NBC News/Marist polls fill in more of the gaps in the election picture. WSJ national politics editor Aaron Zitner explains. Photo: AP

3-Opportunity! It doesn’t stop there, either. Nothing’s better for the savvy investor or the ruthless entrepreneur than lots of volatility. That’s where you get the easy bargains, and chances over and again to make the big money. And what could make volatility more likely than giving power to an ignorantarrogant, petulant man with contempt for the separation of powers and zero impulse control? Those of us in the media will be in fat city. Personally, I’m going to launch a side business peddling conspiracy theories. Apparently Trump supporters are so gullible that they’ll buy anything. Let the bad times roll.

4. Laughs! If Trump is the disaster that his own words and actions lead us to expect, it’s going to be hilarious watching all the pseudo-respectable people who helped him into power — from Neville Chamberlains like Charles Krauthammerand John Kasich to the outright quislings like Paul Ryan — bleat and whine that it’s “not their fault.” I may even get some laughs tuning in to Sean Hannity from time to time — just to watch him eat the world’s largest crap taco.

5. More laughs! That’s not all. It’ll also be hilarious listening to Trump’s fanbase come up with one enraged excuse after another to avoid taking the blame. Oh, this disaster is really “Obama’s fault.” Oh, that snafu is really down to “Nancy Pelosi.” Oh, this war with France “would have happened anyway.” Oh, Trump’s actually been a disaster because “he’s really a liberal.” Oh yeah — and if there’s a financial crisis or an economic slump, watch the euphemisms fly. “Goldman Sachs is manipulating the market! No, wait — the Rothschilds! A global cabal! The liberal elite! George Soros!” (Can I hear an “Elders of Zion?”)

Melania Trump calls for respectful civil discours

Melania Trump campaigned for her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on Thursday in Pennsylvania, emphasizing her advocacy for women as first lady and calling for respectful civil discourse. Photo: AP

6. Justice! Maybe, just maybe, this will be the moment the far right in this country finally gets nailed for all their crimes. They wriggled out of “America First” and McCarthyism,Iran-Contra and the Iraq War. They cheered for Donald Rumsfeld, whose outrages as defense secretary included a gigantic self-dealing contract at the taxpayers’ expense. Enough is enough. I want to see these people pay for what they’ve done to America — for all the lives lost, the liberties trashed, and the livelihoods destroyed. And yes, I know I should feel sympathy for blue-collar Trumpists. But I won’t. These people are grown ups. They had all the facts. No matter their legitimate grievances, this was not the answer. If they vote for a guy who makes their own lives worse, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

7. Freedom! Finally, but maybe foremost: Isn’t it about time the Blue States stood up for themselves and took back what’s theirs? We pay most of the bills in this country — including those of the South and the West. And yet we give the Red States at least half the power. It’s nuts — especially as they are the opposite of grateful. If Trump wins on Tuesday it will be thanks to all the Red States — just like Bush-Cheney in 2000 and 2004. Maybe, just maybe, this will finally cause Blue Staters to wake up and see the light. Our false “union” makes no sense: The Red States don’t want to be dragged into the 21st century against their will - and we don’t want to be dragged back to the 1930s (or the Middle Ages). A full-scale divorce is probably out of the question, alas. But at least we might start fighting. Maybe we’ll finally start fighting for a rational Blue State agenda — like cutting federal taxes, raising state taxes – and bringing all our blue dollars home.

Call me a cynic. Call me a dreamer. But there’s a silver lining to every cloud. Even, potentially, one shaped like Donald Trump.

Source : marketwatch

Categorized in News & Politics
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