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Supreme triangulation

the economistLun, 30/03/2015 - 21:36

ON MARCH 27th Ellen Pao lost her high-profile discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins, a venture-capital firm in Silicon Valley. The jury did not buy her story that the firm's male partners had mistreated and fired her because of her sex. Earlier last week, the Supreme Court issued a less-noticed but potentially more consequential decision relating to women's rights in the workplace.

Peggy Young (pictured), a former driver for United Parcel Service (UPS), was rebuffed in 2006 when, on her doctor’s advice, she asked to be relieved from heavy lifting during her pregnancy. UPS told Ms Young that light-duty assignments are reserved for workers who lose their driver’s licences, are disabled under the Americans With Disabilities Act, or sustain an injury on the job. Ms Young failed to...Continue reading

Firebirds Meeting

Tom PetersLun, 30/03/2015 - 18:23

Today, Tom's in Florida escaping the New England so-called spring—two feet of snow still on the ground in places. He's speaking to the Firebirds Annual Managers Awards Meeting in Fort Lauderdale. Presentations: Firebirds Managers Awards Meeting, Final Firebirds Managers Meeting, Long Version

The post Firebirds Meeting appeared first on Tom Peters.

Republicans get their wish

the economistSáb, 28/03/2015 - 00:10

HARRY REID, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, announced today that he will not seek re-election. The Nevada senator was not due to face voters again for nearly two years. Yet in the run up to the midterm elections in 2014, Americans watching television could easily have presumed that he was not only on the ballot, but also running in their state. A favourite bogey-man for Republicans, Mr Reid inspired countless attack ads urging viewers to “retire Harry Reid” in contests from Alaska to Wyoming. In a single one-hour campaign debate in Kansas, the sitting Republican senator invoked Mr Reid by name 20 times. But having lost the Senate majority, and with a tough election battle up ahead, Mr Reid has decided to call it a day. Republicans have been quick to cheer, though they have lost a favourite foil.

Republicans describe Mr Reid's reign as majority leader, between 2007 and 2014, as a dark chapter in Washington history. They accuse him of twisting Senate rules to ram through an outrageously partisan agenda. In their telling, Mr Reid left the chamber’s traditions of lofty debate...Continue reading

Getting nicer

the economistJue, 26/03/2015 - 21:09

DESPITE all the partisan bickering, Americans are an increasingly tolerant bunch. A new study published in Social Forces, an academic journal, finds that the country’s attitudes towards once-marginalised groups, such as communists, gays and atheists, have softened considerably since the 1970s. Using the General Social Survey, administered by the University of Chicago since 1972, Jean Twenge of San Diego State University and Nathan Carter and Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia measured how attitudes have changed over time. Their study draws from more than 35,000 responses over three decades. 

Since the survey began, the proportion of people who feel comfortable with a gay teacher has risen from 52% to 85%. More than three-quarters of respondents in 2012 had no problem with their local library carrying a book by an anti-religious author—up from 63% in the early 1970s. But this growing leniency has its limits: the share of people who would let a racist person speak publically dropped slightly, from...Continue reading

Is marijuana a gateway drug?

the economistJue, 26/03/2015 - 13:27

“AS LONG as I am governor of New Jersey, there won’t be legalised marijuana in this state,” vowed Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, on March 25th. A potential Republican contender in the 2016 presidential race, Mr Christie explained that “every bit of objective data tells us that it’s a gateway drug to other drugs”. Is he right?

The gateway theory seems reasonable enough at first. Most people who take hard drugs start with soft ones. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that among people who have tried illicit drugs, about two-thirds began with marijuana. Hardly anyone jumps straight in at the deep end: less than 1% of drug users reported that their first-ever outing was with heroin or cocaine.

But then, it’s also a fact that most heroin addicts had previously tried chocolate. The trouble is that marijuana is so common—about four out of ten Americans, including the president, admit to having tried it—that any abuser of hard drugs is likely to have encountered it along the way....Continue reading

Flag waiving

the economistMar, 24/03/2015 - 16:06

AMERICANS love their cars, and they adore personalising them. Trail a Yankee’s sedan and you’ll see family stick-figure decals, bumper stickers and, occasionally, idiosyncratic licence plates. Motorists may compose their own seven-character messages (that’s a “vanity” plate), or they may opt for a “specialty” plate of a design that an organisation has persuaded the state to adopt. On Monday the Supreme Court grappled with whether states have any say in deciding what the parameters of these tags can be.

The question arose in 2009 when the Sons of Confederate Veterans, an association of male descendants of soldiers who fought on the losing side of the civil war, asked the state of Texas to issue a licence plate featuring its logo, which includes a Confederate battle flag. After critics of the design lined up to argue that the Confederate flag connotes racism and violence, the board charged with reviewing applications voted unanimously to reject the Sons’ plate. The board's rules specify...Continue reading

All-you-can-eat politics

the economistMar, 24/03/2015 - 00:06

CHOPPED up into five-second clips to be replayed on cable news, it will look impressive: close to 10,000 students at Liberty University sat in the college’s basketball stadium to listen to Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, launch his presidential bid this morning. Inside the hall a tuneful Christian rock group and an address from Jerry Falwell junior warmed up the crowd. This was hardly needed: Senator Cruz, with his wife and two cherubic daughters in tow, went down a storm. Dissenting voices were heard only on Yik Yak, an app that lets people sitting near each other share anonymous messages, where some students grumbled that their attendance had been compulsory. The crowd also included some irreverent folks in Stand with Rand T-shirts, in support of another first-term senator who is also likely to run for president.

Senator Cruz is a bundle of paradoxes: a populist with degrees from Princeton and Harvard; a politician suspicious of establishment elites, who also clerked for a Supreme Court judge and whose wife works at Goldman Sachs. He is also a talented speaker and campaigner who plays by his own rules. On arrival in the Senate...Continue reading

Cruz control

the economistLun, 23/03/2015 - 18:52

TODAY Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, took to a stage in Lynchburg, Virginia to announce he is running for president in 2016. Though plenty of candidates appear to be jockeying for position in the race to win the Republican nomination, Mr Cruz is the first to declare himself an official candidate. This is a fine way to ensure a nice boomlet of media coverage: political journalists who have grown tired of speculating about a Bush-Clinton showdown are now hungrily feeding on Mr Cruz’s grand pronouncements about everything he can't wait to overturn (Obamacare, Common Core, the president’s executive action on immigration, etc). But perhaps it would be best for Mr Cruz to not grow too attached to the limelight. As our data team shows in Continue reading

#Fail

the economistVie, 20/03/2015 - 18:27

HOWARD SCHULTZ, the head of Starbucks, thinks the gourmet coffee chain has a responsibility to address America’s vexed race relations. After a series of internal meetings at the company, he decided to launch “Race Together”, a co-venture with USA Today, a newspaper, to “stimulate conversation, compassion and action around race in America.” “Race is an unorthodox and even uncomfortable topic for an annual meeting,” Mr Schultz conceded at the company’s annual gathering for shareholders on Wednesday. “Where others see costs, risks, excuses and hopelessness, we see and create pathways of opportunity—that is the role and responsibility of a for-profit, public company.”

Though seemingly well-intentioned, the campaign has elicited a backlash. Starbucks baristas,...Continue reading

Audvisor: A Cool Friend’s Cool New Project

Tom PetersVie, 20/03/2015 - 16:42

When we interviewed Rajesh Setty for our Cool Friends collection, he described himself as a serial entrepreneur. Since then, he's skipped from one good idea to another, always with the the same goal, the tag line for his blog, "Bringing Ideas to Life, With Love!" Tom participated in a recent project, Audvisor. In Setty's words: […]

The post Audvisor: A Cool Friend’s Cool New Project appeared first on Tom Peters.

Want to make me?

the economistVie, 20/03/2015 - 14:08

ON WEDNESDAY, while Barack Obama was suggesting to an audience in Cleveland that it might be a good idea to make voting mandatory, my wife was being prevented from voting. My wife, a Dutch citizen, is away on a business trip, so for Wednesday's elections to the Netherlands' provincial assemblies she had filled out a proxy voting form. The proxy form states that a voter can designate "another voter" to cast their ballot. Without giving the matter much thought, she indicated that the "other voter" who would cast her ballot would be me.

That, as I discovered at the polling station, was not allowed. I could cast my wife's proxy ballot in the waterschapsverkiezingen, which choose the boards that run the country's dikes and canals, but not in the provincial-assembly elections, because I was not eligible to vote in them myself. The distinction had not occurred to...Continue reading

A looming threat

the economistJue, 19/03/2015 - 23:32

UNMANNED aircraft, otherwise known as drones, are becoming common. Many are familiar with America’s use of armed drones in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, but drones are increasingly being used by other parts of the government, as well as by companies and individuals. Drones can be far cheaper to operate than anything that requires an on-board pilot, and they are handy for making maps and taking pictures and videos. The FBI uses a small fleet of drones for law-enforcement surveillance. Customs and Border Patrol uses them to monitor the American border with Mexico (though the programme was recently found to be ineffective and expensive). Commercial drones are now regularly used for real-estate photography and to Continue reading

The (REAL) Story on Management

Tom PetersMar, 17/03/2015 - 17:36

What follows is the byproduct of an enhanced (>140 characters) twitter discussion in February 2015 at @tom_peters: TP: "Management" is a dreary/misleading word. E.g., mgt/standard usage = shouting (or whispering, if you're a "Theory Y" aficionado) orders in the slave galley. Consider, please, a more encompassing/more accurate definition: "'Management' is the arrangement of human affairs […]

The post The (REAL) Story on Management appeared first on Tom Peters.

Lean in, push out

the economistMar, 17/03/2015 - 17:17

KLEINER Perkins Caulfield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious venture-capital firms, had promoted only one woman to the position of senior partner by 2011, nearly 40 years after the firm was founded. This isn’t unusual in the world of venture capital, which has long maintained a reputation for being an old boys’ club. Indeed, these firms tend to be even less diverse than the technology companies they fund. The number of female partners in VC firms has actually decreased from 10% in 1999 to 6% in 2014, according to a recent report from Babson College.

Ellen Pao, a Harvard-trained lawyer with a background in business development, joined Kleiner Perkins in 2005. By 2012 she had seen three of her male peers promoted to senior partner while she was passed over. Ms Pao filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in May 2012, citing multiple complaints: men were promoted before women; men were allowed to serve on multiple boards while women were only allowed to serve on one;...Continue reading

¡Adelante!

the economistSáb, 14/03/2015 - 05:33

THE city’s Latino population has grown 13-fold since 1990, making it one of the fastest growing Hispanic cities in America and a harbinger of the country’s changing demography

 Continue reading

A damn punk in Ferguson

the economistVie, 13/03/2015 - 04:03

EIGHT months after the fatal shooting of a local unarmed black teenager by a white police officer, tensions still simmer in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. Last night about 150 demonstrators congregated where they always meet: in front of the police station on South Florissant Avenue. They rallied because of the resignation earlier yesterday of Thomas Jackson, the head of Ferguson police, in the wake of a scathing report by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that found that racial bias and petty harassment was rife in his force. Most of the demonstrators applauded Mr Jackson’s departure, but called for more heads to roll.

The demonstrators were just about to pack up at around midnight when gun shots suddenly rang through the air, injuring two policemen who were part of a cordon of officers standing side-by-side to protect the police station. The two policemen were from the neighbouring St Louis county police department, as the Ferguson force had asked for back-up last night. The department was "lucky by God’s grace we didn’t lose...Continue reading

The path of least disruption

the economistMié, 11/03/2015 - 15:15

HOW will the Supreme Court decide this term’s two biggest cases? One slightly cynical prediction floating around forecasts a split decision: the justices will announce a constitutional right to gay marriage, a huge victory for liberals, while voting to upend the Affordable Care Act, a dream of conservatives. According to some iterations of this hypothesis, the chief justice, John Roberts, will broker such a compromise—and vote accordingly—in order to maintain his image as the even-handed “balls-and-strikes” caller he claimed to be a decade ago in his Senate nomination hearing. By giving both liberals and conservatives something, but not too much, to cheer about, the chief will save the court from charges of an ideological tilt. As Noah Feldman wrote a few months ago at Bloomberg View, the chief seems loth to have “a court associated with his name...come to be seen as the most activist conservative court since the 1920s and...Continue reading

An enigmatic soul

the economistMié, 11/03/2015 - 03:47

SUNDAY services at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York featured a portrait at the altar of Edward Cardinal Egan, who died on March 5th. After the funeral today his body will be interred in a crypt at the cathedral. The ceremonies in tribute to his life and work have been fairly subdued. This is perhaps apt. Cardinal Egan, who presided over New York’s archdiocese from 2000 to 2009, may have had an imposing presence and a powerful baritone voice, but he kept a low profile. He was rarely in front of a camera. He hardly ever gave interviews. Indeed he was an enigmatic figure for many New Yorkers and a polarising leader among Catholics. He was not universally loved by his flock.

Cardinal Egan arrived in New York in 2000 with an impossible task: to fill the shoes of John Cardinal O’Connor, his beloved predecessor. New York’s cardinals tend to be a charismatic bunch, but Cardinal O’Connor was uniquely powerful. As the unofficial head of the Catholic Church in America, he was courted by presidents. He was not afraid to take on politicians, even well-known Catholics. He threatened to excommunicate Geraldine Ferraro, a vice-presidential...Continue reading

Poor judgment

the economistMar, 10/03/2015 - 23:30

GOVERNMENT technology is a pain. Anyone who works for the American government—or knows someone who does—knows that sending an official e-mail requires using an authorised device. Logging into Gmail, on the other hand, can be done from anywhere. So Hillary Clinton’s claim that she used a personal e-mail account instead of a government one for the sake of convenience rings true. 

The problem is that Mrs Clinton was no mere government employee, but Secretary of State. And instead of using Gmail, say, she maintained a personal e-mail server in her suburban home in Chappaqua, New York. 

This goes against federal rules that all official e-mails should be stored by government departments. It also means Mrs Clinton can choose which missives she turns over to authorities, which looks suspicious. Complaints of foul play, particularly from Republicans in the House, forced Mrs Clinton to plead her case in a hastily arranged press conference at the United Nations this afternoon. She argued, essentially, that she should be treated like any other minor bureaucrat, and that her secretive personal e-mail account is basically...Continue reading

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