Time For 2017

Dr Diahanne Rhiney   |   December 31, 2016    4:40 PM ET

It's safe to say we've had better years. Here in the U.K, the British exit from Europe has resulted in a fractured Britain. Those who voted to stay feel as though the decision doesn't truly reflect the wishes of British citizens. Especially as recent reports published by The Guardian reveal Brexit voters are white, male, and readers of the Sun or Daily Express. Even worse is that the majority voted based on their hatred of multiculturalism. The thought that fear and xenophobia is the driving force behind our future is a scary one; depression and anxiety has risen as Brits say they feel uncertain about the future.

Over the pond isn't much better. Like Brexit, Donald Trump won the white working class by an unprecedented margin as Americans voted out of racism and 'patriotism'. Soon the USA will be run by the first person elected president with zero government or military experience. This week, First Lady Michelle Obama was interviewed by Oprah, saying 'Now we're feeling what not having hope feels like. Hope is necessary.'

To top it all off our icons have been dying all year. Musical legends David Bowie and Prince died at the start of 2016; not forgetting our home bred entertainers Ronnie Corbett, Caroline Aherne, Victoria Wood and Terry Wogan and Hollywood legends Zsa Zsa Gabor, Carrie Fisher and Gene Wilder; a long list of people who have shaped and influenced our lives in some way. The BBC reported that twice as many notable people died in 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, and five times as many as in 2012.

Whether we realise it or not; global changes like these have an impact on our mental health and well-being. They effect our sense of security and safeness and create fear. An unprecedented number of people called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the early hours of November 9th to express their distress about Trump's election. As human beings, we try to create order so that we feel organised and in control. These feelings contribute to our confidence in ourselves and the world around us. Rest assured, anxiety is a normal reaction to rapid, and particularly unwelcome, change.

On Christmas Day, George Michael, who had sold more than 100 million records worldwide, died at home at the young age of 53 and a nation of fans were left in a state of disbelief. Another well-loved star had died and it happened on the one day of the year when we like to think we are safe.

Still, there's always beauty to be found in the list unlikely of places. Just hours after George Michael's death, Twitter was flooded by people sharing their own testimonies to his generosity. From giving £15,000 to a woman he saw on TV in need of IVF treatment, to a £5,000 tip for a barmaid who had student debt; the star donated royalties from some of his biggest selling singles and made huge donations to Childline, the Terrence Higgins Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.

It reminded me that despite all the things that have changed in my life since my mum died; authenticity and legacy do still mean something. Despite spending two decades battling with the demons (which included the death of his own mum and the unplanned way he was forced to admit his sexuality in the late 90's) that led to his well-publicised issues with drink and drugs, George Michael's legacy is one of kindness.

I believe that despite all the imbalance around us, we need to position ourselves in a steady spot and remember that, as human beings, we have endured and overcome so many things. As tough as it may seem now, we will survive Trump and Brexit too. Yes, our icons passing on hasn't been easy; but remember almost 20-years ago when Princess Diana and Mother Theresa died in the same week? The world was in a state of mourning. Still, with time we were able to focus on the incredible legacy they both left to the world. Princess Diana's own legacy has the power to change the world if her sons continue to carry it forward.

Let's stay focused on the good we can put back into the world, the work we can do to better our families, our streets, our towns and countries. If we can all focus on our unique legacy and work on being the most authentic version of ourselves, I believe that good will always overcome eventually. It's just a matter of patience and faith.

As the Persian saying goes, 'This Too Shall Pass.' So, let's dust our knees off and get back up again for 2017. Often, things are never quite as bad as they seem to be. And, we still have so much more to do.

Graeme Demianyk   |   December 30, 2016    5:33 PM ET


Nigel Farage has heaped praise on the “mature response” of Vladimir Putin after the Russian President opted for now not to expel US diplomats in response to Barack Obama’s sanctions.


The US President yesterday ordered 35 Russian officials to leave the US in reaction to Moscow-linked hacking of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party’s emails.


The ex-Ukip leader, who has infamously become close to President-Elect Donald Trump, has sided with Russia over the row, and said the Trump presidency “can’t come soon enough”.





Trump has shown little interest in Russian involvement in the US election, dismissing CIA evidence and suggesting before the sanctions were issued it was time to “move on”.

Later, the Republican tweeted in support of Putin and in opposition to Obama. 

The Russian foreign ministry had asked President Putin to order out 35 American diplomats in retaliation - but he said today he would not “stoop” to “irresponsible diplomacy”. Putin said:

“We reserve the right to retaliate, but we will not sink to the level of this irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy. We will take further moves on restoring Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of President-elect Donald Trump adopts.”

Labour MP John Woodcock reacted with incredulity to Farage’s response, underlining in an earlier tweet how Russia tried to “fix the US election”.

Yesterday, the Russian Embassy in London issued a curious response to to the sanctions - tweeting a picture of a duckling emblazoned with the words “LAME”. 

Graeme Demianyk   |   December 29, 2016    8:34 PM ET

The Russian Embassy in London has issued a curious response to President Barack Obama sanctioning Russian officials over meddling in the US elections - tweeting a picture of a duckling emblazoned with the words “LAME”.

The cavalier approach to international diplomacy followed the outgoing US President’s crackdown as he warned: “All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions.”

In case it needs spelling out, the Holland Park-based Russian outpost was referring to Obama as a ‘lame duck’ - coming as it does days before he makes way for President-Elect Donald Trump on January 20.

The move will hit two Russian intelligence agencies, three companies and four individual intelligence officers with sanctions banning them from travel and business with U.S. companies or individuals. Obama also ordered 35 Russian operatives posted at diplomatic facilities in Washington and San Francisco to leave.

The administration is also closing down two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York used to gather intelligence, according to the president’s statement. Trump has cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was responsible for unearthing and releasing material damaging to Hillary Clinton. On Wednesday, Trump said it was time to “move on”.

The Embassy’s free-wheeling social media strategy prompted an eyebrow-raising baffled response.

It’s not the first time the Russian Embassy’s Twitter account has attempted to go viral. 

In October, it warned its citizens to be aware of the ‘killer clown’ craze sweeping the UK after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urged the public to march on the embassy over the country’s role in the Syrian conflict. 

The embassy put out an information alert - highlighting the rise in the number of attacks by people in clown suits. The purpose of the clowns’ antics is to “cause fear and bewilderment”, the embassy said.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said they did not “feel the need to regularly be monitoring the Russian Embassy Twitter account”. 

Kathryn Snowdon   |   December 27, 2016    2:35 PM ET

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn has hit back at Barack Obama after the outgoing US president suggested Labour had lost touch with reality.

Corbyn’s spokesman insisted the Labour leader is “grounded in reality” after Obama made controversial remarks during an interview in which he was asked if he feared the Democrats could “disintegrate” like Labour had. 

Obama was speaking with political strategist David Axelrod, who advised Ed Miliband in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

During the wide-ranging interview Obama was asked if he feared a “Corbynisation” of the Democratic Party after its surprise defeat to Republican Donald Trump in the race for the White House.

Obama said: “I don’t worry about that, partly because I think the Democratic Party has stayed pretty grounded in fact and reality.”

He said even US left-wing senator Bernie Sanders was “pretty centrist” compared with Corbyn.

However, Corbyn’s spokesman said the Labour leader represented what most voters wanted, and was “grounded in reality”.

He told the Press Association: “Both Labour and US Democrats will have to challenge power if they are going to speak for working people and change a broken system that isn’t delivering for the majority.

“What Jeremy Corbyn stands for is what most people want: to take on the tax cheats, create a fairer economy, fund a fully public NHS, build more homes, and stop backing illegal wars.

“For the establishment, those ideas are dangerous. For most people in Britain, they’re common sense and grounded in reality.”

Obama also seemed to compare Labour to the Republicans, saying the US party “started filling up with all kinds of conspiracy-theorising that became kind of common wisdom or conventional wisdom within the Republican party base. That hasn’t happened in the Democratic Party.

“I think people like the passion that Bernie brought, but Bernie Sanders is a pretty centrist politician relative to... Corbyn or relative to some of the Republicans.”

Ned Simons   |   December 19, 2016   12:20 PM ET

 Western leaders should stop “provoking” Vladimir Putin and instead find some areas on which they agree with him, Nigel Farage has said.

Theresa May and President Obama have joined other European leaders in condemning Putin for Russia’s involvement the Syrian government’s assault on the city of Aleppo.

However Farage told Fox News on Monday morning: “As far as Putin is concerned, look none of us would agree with the things Putin does in many ways.

“But we have to ask ourselves a question do we want to go on, particularly here in the EU, and with Obama’s backing, do we go on provoking Putin or do we sit round the table and has a frank conversation with him.

“The great Winston Churchill once said jaw jaw is better than war war so let’s start talking to Putin. Lets see if we can find somethings we actually agree on.”

On Sunday, Republican and Democratic Senators stepped up pressure for a bipartisan select committee to investigate Russia’s role in hacking the US election.

Republican John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN: “We need to get to the bottom of this, and we need to find out exactly what was done and what the implications of the attacks were, especially if they had an effect on our election.

“There’s no doubt they were interfering, and no doubt there was a cyberattack.”

The chair of the Democratic National Committee said Sunday that the DNC was under constant cyber attack by Russian hackers right through the election in November.

Her claim contradicts President Obama’s statement Friday that the attacks ended in September after he issued a personal warning to President Putin.

Last week Labour MP Ben Bradshaw suggested Russia had interfered wit the Brexit vote. However Downing Street said it had seen no evidence of this.

Will We See Joe Biden As President In 2020?

Danielle Cuaycong   |   December 8, 2016   11:04 AM ET

With countless quintessential memes of Joe Biden and President Obama's bromance plastered all over the Internet, America's commander in chief for the past eight years has been met with exceeding popularity to run for Presidency in 2020.

This comes as no surprise. Let's wind back to 2013 where GQ discussed the potential future of Biden as President. He stated that he "can die a happy man having never been the President of the United States of America" but there's definitely no guarantee that he "won't run". Although he declined to run in 2016, he told NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, "Yeah I am. I am going to run in 2020 so uh...". Albeit he sounded hesitant, he ended his sentence saying "What the hell man," (the exact reaction I had to Trump's Presidency).

This will undoubtedly send meme fans exploding with excitement at the potential of even more epochal memes of Biden in the future. Approaching the tender age of 75, Biden's reputation as a publicly admired figure only developed in the past decade after a string of controversial blunders. One of his most notable phrases was describing Obama's Affordable Care Act as a "big fucking deal" and pressuring a Missouri state senator who used a wheelchair to "stand up!" during the Obama campaign in 2008. Despite the buzz that occurred as a result of his clamorous statements, this has nothing on Trump's never-ending gaffes.

The current vice-president and former senator who was first elected as a US senator in 1973 from the state of Delaware has won re-election six times. In 2015, there was significant speculation that he would opt to challenge Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary for this cycle. However, the questions and speculation ended in October 2015 when he stated that he would not run since his priority was the family recovery to the loss of their eldest son Beau to cancer in May of that year. "As my family and I have worked through the grieving process," he said, "I've said all along that it may very well be that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for President. I've concluded it has closed." A "Draft Biden 2016" PAC had been established when the vice-president considered running seriously, with Beau Biden's dying wish a challenge between Biden and Clinton for the Democratic nomination and subsequently, the run for presidency. Biden's passion and kindness was noted, stating that "No one should ever seek the presidency unless they're able to devote their whole heart and soul and passion into just doing that...And Beau was my soul. I just wasn't able to do that."

Don't get your hopes too high though. Biden has pursued presidency twice before dropping out of the 1988 and 2008 elections early. As Obama's second-in-command, his popularity climbed new altitudes with the "bromance" spurring Internet memes, impelling many to view him as one of the most powerful vice-presidents in American history. Although an age of 78 would mean that Biden would be the oldest presidential nominee by far, it could be feasible with his claim that he "would've been the best president" with feelings of regret for not running rippling through him "every day".

Last month's astonishing election result left his political party basking in the air of sadness due to a reduced populist connection with the American nation. Albeit Biden may not be deemed as impious as, let's say, Lyndon B. Johnson, Biden is more than willing to say precisely what's on his mind. Surprisingly enough, his comparatively blue collar image has remained at the right elbow of power, surviving a great eight years. Biden would be met with popularity in places such as the Rust Belt and the Appalachians where Clinton was unable to battle the fight against Trump's populist ways.

Thus, when it all comes together, you've got the perfect Presidential candidate for 2020. Trump had called Biden "Mr Tough Guy" when Biden said he wished he "could take (Mr Trump) behind the gym" after the President-elect openly talked about sexually assaulting women in the broadcasting of a vulgar video. If anything, perhaps he'd win an election against Trump today. Move over Trump. We've got Biden bid-ding for your spot as President (excuse the pun).

Climate Change: Should Adaptation Be The UK's New Tactic?

Joe Mitton   |   December 3, 2016    9:25 PM ET

Barack Obama may have been our last realistic hope in a generation for action to slow climate change. He called the issue "not just the greatest environmental challenge [but] one of our greatest challenges of any kind" and made tackling C02 emissions his top environmental priority, both within the US and through international agreements. This matters because globally coordinated action between the main polluters is the only way to meaningfully slow man-made climate change.

Donald Trump has called the science of climate change "an expensive hoax", "created by and for the Chinese" and he has repeatedly said he will withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement and other accords, while promoting the coal industry at home. Little wonder that a survey by YouGov and PLMR last week showed that just four percent of British people believe tackling climate change will be easier under President Trump.

What's more, voters are not prioritising climate change. In the UK Theresa May abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change, moving its functions into the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy - a clear demotion that went virtually unnoticed by the public.

Is it time, therefore, for the UK to prioritise climate change adaptation over climate change reduction? If there is little we can do to convince the main emitters to act, should we accept that temperatures will rise, and dedicate our resources towards flood barriers, resilient crop research, and medicines against tropical diseases?

The riposte to that thinking has been that even if a medium-sized country cannot influence climate change reduction on its own, it can benefit economically from being at the forefront of the green energy revolution. Countries that develop viable clean energy solutions would sell new power technology to the world, making profits and reducing carbon emissions in the process. Yet, sadly, it seems that in the main, green energy companies remain reliant on government subsidies - it is not yet a functioning marketplace. So should we just focus on climate change adaptation, not prevention?

No.

Adaptation may seem tactically sensible at this point, but it is not a strategic solution. We should certainly prepare for weather events that will cause more flooding and drought at home, and that will disrupt our global food supply chain. But mitigation alone is not an intelligent policy.

Persistent, stubborn perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges is one of humanity's finest qualities. We have been seeking to prevent war through over a century of international treaties. We have been trying to cure illness throughout our history as a species. And that spirit of persistence has paid off in some endeavours - after centuries of trying, we did achieve global and extra-planetary travel. We have finally eradicated smallpox. We have achieved legal (though certainly not economic) equality for women in many parts of the world.

We must look at climate change mitigation - all indicators are that we can expect more severe weather and warmer temperatures in the coming decades. But mitigation is no substitute for actually tackling the problem. Scientific endeavour and continued negotiation are not a waste, no matter how unresponsive the political environment may seem at present.

And Now Comes The Great Undoing

Jack Harvey   |   December 2, 2016    5:41 PM ET

Wrapping up coverage at seven in the morning, after the night in November that we all remember, I could not believe it. He'd done it.

Most people, including members of his own party, did not think Donald Trump would come close to winning, let alone achieve victory. I thought that the groping tape was the point of no return. The Democrats were so confident, they had been preparing to take Republican safe seats. But here we are, some of us still in disbelief, in the knowledge that the businessman with no political experience will very shortly be in chief command of so-called leader of the free world and one of the most powerful nations on the globe.

Everyone is still talking about it. The Internet is awash with the disappointed and fearful who condemn America's decision and the insufferable I-told-you-so's of various political persuasions who smugly claim to have seen this all coming. It's a strange thing to observe. So many of the things that people like me thought were crazy, too crazy to permit a win for Trump - the exaggerations, the nonsense, the closet bigotry, the conspiracy theories and more - will be remembered as legitimate. Trump's victory has somehow rationalised so much irrationality. I dread to imagine a day in which Trump will be described as a fine orator and a perceptive political thinker. Others feel like giving up teaching reason and argument - what's the use? Who cares about facts anymore?

Among the disheartened, the optimists point to the President-elect's malleability. Many people doubt that Trump believes a thing that he said during the entirety of his campaign; the outrageous rhetoric was a clever mechanism to appeal to voters disenchanted with current politics. Whether Trump is the master of Realpolitik, adopting the policies that will fit the current public mood, or a dunce of the highest order whose status as a political nobody and his penchant for bemoaning the recent past won him the White House, we needn't fear that the terrible future awaiting us will actually come true. It took a short meeting with Barack Obama for Trump to tone down several key pledges: could some more conversations from knowledgeable figures prompt Trump to forget about building that wall?

But the members of Trump's expanding inner circle are not so manipulable. The Republicans entering Donald Trump's cabinet have clear objectives and adhere strongly to dangerous ideologies. They are determined to unravel everything that has happened over the last eight years of American politics. With a majority control of the House of Representatives and the Senate and a halfwit in the Oval Office, the Republican Party is in a prime position to enact the policies of which its elite have been dreaming. The Republicans have indicated that repealing the Affordable Care Act is one of their top priorities. After sixty failed attempts to destroy it while a Democrat was President, now is their moment to finally eradicate it.

'ObamaCare' won't be the only thing that is revoked. Now comes the great undoing. Barack Obama's hyperbolic reputation among many conservatives as the "worst president in history", something Trump himself has repeated, will become normal. The petitions to impeach him will suddenly be seen as credible. Look out for inquiry after inquiry into the Benghazi affair until the Republicans get the answer they want. Many Republican presidential candidates sought to gut Planned Parenthood's funding - will Obama's last-minute legislation save it from Republican destruction? What about climate change and all the work towards researching its effects and developing solutions? And maybe will Hillary Clinton be imprisoned too?

The President-elect himself has got cold feet about his own policies, but standing behind him is an army of Republicans rubbing their hands. Trump's own incompetence or reluctance to commit to his own proposals is no reason to think that his presidency won't be as bad as we thought; it's the people around him who will ensure that.

Get The Look - Trump's Re-Style Will Change The World

Rachel Loughran   |   November 29, 2016   11:31 AM ET

2016 is the year that will re-style the world and make Vogue's 'September issue' look nothing short of an A6 flyer for a backwater boutique.

It's more than a trend. It's a movement. And it's going global.

Over the past year we've seen revolutions and referendums, elections and investigations, heard right wing rhetoric and felt reactionary rage.

With a deft scissoring slice, it seems that continents across the globe could be cut, cropped and coloured by an ever changing political landscape that is dominated by fear, distrust and propaganda, leaving many longing to step inside a time machine and escape from this almost unreal, reality.

Our love affair with false reality has, of course, dominated the entertainment industry for over a decade and our unashamed fascination with scripted reality television shows, has propelled the most unlikely of candidates into positions power, influence, and yes, global domination.

So let me take you back in time, to where it all began. Fire up the engines. Strap yourself in. But I can't promise you're going to like the trip.

It's 2004 and 28.1 million viewers are tuned in to The Apprentice season one finale in nervous anticipation of discovering who would make the cut, and who hear that infamous phrase 'YOU'RE FIRED', uttered from the pursed pink lips of billionaire tycoon, Donald John Trump.

Fast forward 12 years and it seems almost unbelievable that Trump would himself, be in the firing line, only this time it was the American electorate doing the hiring and firing on a presidential scale.

But the decision was made. Trump was hired. And now we sit in the barber's chair at the hands of someone who has never held the scissors before.

Trump's improbable victory over seasoned rival Hilary Clinton shocked global leaders, citizens and pollsters alike.

In the video sketch 'Girl left as Speechless as Melania Trump in Barbershop Blunder' satirical as it may be, I mirror the sentiments of many Trump voters, who were sick of being dictated to and felt ignored and undervalued by previous administrations:

'I've heard it all before, what to do, how to think, what to say, but this time it's my time...I want my voice to be heard.'
This feeling of disenfranchisement and alienation from those who govern is a trend that has been mirrored across the globe. It's evident in the UK's shock exit from the EU, in the rise to popularity of France's National Front, headed by Marine Le Pen and in the increasingly alarming prominence of alt-right movements.


The re-style is happening and it's on a global scale.

Now, expert fashion forecaster I do not claim to be. I freely admit that my regular 'stylist', is in fact my Auntie Dee, a scissoring specialist in poodle pom-poms, and that my last major re-style was as a result of my entanglement with the lit sparkler, I was exuberantly brandishing after one too many mulled wines.

However, despite my own apparent aversion to style, it would be foolish of me to dismiss new fashion trends as worthless or inconsequential.

Style development marks change in thoughts and ideas; it documents the evolution of cultures and reflects societal progression.

Therefore the rise to power of a over-combed horror of dye and lacquer, on the head of an animated tangerine, is much more significant than most Donald Trump hair memes would have you think.

Retro is back.

Regression is the new progression.

After all, not only did the American people reject the election of the first female US president, in her place, they chose a conservative white male whose negative attitudes to gender equality, racial integration and equal employment opportunity are nothing short of prehistoric.

It's clear that Trump's right wing policies and unstoppable language unite those who feel neglected by society and government, those who have struggled financially since the economic crisis of 2007, those who feel at threat from the terror of the unknown, and most significantly, those who feel their country has been taken from them.

What is perhaps less obvious to Trump's supporters is that his central promise to 'make America great again' does nothing but strip away the nation's core identity of a melting pot society, and mocks the words imprinted on the statue of liberty which proclaim:

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Trump's America is no longer 'the land of the free.'

So with the leader of the not-so-free world inciting polarisation, and government leaders like the UK's foreign minister, Boris Johnson, suggesting that we should stop the '"the collective whinge-o-rama" and accept the election results without dispute, where are we left?


Saddled with a dip dyed bowler cut? A slicked back mullet? A poodle-esq perm? (thanks Auntie Dee)

The answer, like the future, for we freethinking global citizens, is uncertain. However, one thing is for sure, it's going to take more a hastily purchased home dye kit to rectify the haircut horror of this Presidential appointment.

A Trumpian Deal, And The Path To The Next Financial Crisis

Dr Ioannis Glinavos   |   November 23, 2016    5:52 PM ET

What can we expect from a Trump administration in the field of financial services? The short answer is the dismantling of the post-financial crisis regulatory framework erected under Obama. Is this something one should worry about? The answer is yes, very much so. The headline aim in banking and financial services reform is expressed on the President-elect's transition website as the dismantling of Dodd-Frank. Trump has spoken about replacing Dodd-Frank with a 21st century version of Glass-Steagall, a policy that has met with popular approval.

What is Dodd-Frank, and why has it become the main target of a Republican shake-up of US regulation? Let us start by admitting that everyone is unhappy with financial regulation. The left because it doesn't go far enough, the Republicans and the financial services industry because it increases compliance costs and restricts the kinds of products available, putting pressure on profit margins. Dodd-Frank was the Congressional response to the 2008 financial crisis. Enacted in 2010, it contained measures designed to prevent future financial crises and, if they happen, deal with their consequences. It also heralded a new era in consumer protection in the financial services industry. The Act represented the most significant state intrusion in financial markets since the Great Depression.

Trump's team is projecting the message that replacing Dodd-Frank, perhaps by bringing back Depression era legislation, is the solution. The Banking Act of 1933 (known as the Glass-Steagall Act) separated commercial-banking and securities activities at Wall Street firms and was one of the most important legislative responses to the failures of the Depression. It is touted as being simple, short, inexpensive and successful in providing for the stability and safety of the US banking system till the beginning of the century. Why not bring it back then?

The Republican message is that measures such as Glass-Steagall worked until the Clintons took them all away, paving the way for the financial crisis. A Trumpian deal which swaps Dodd-Frank for Glass-Steagall brilliantly delivers on campaign promises in one stroke, we are told. Indeed, enthusiasm for Glass-Steagall is rife on both sides of the aisle. Resurrecting it was advocated by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, as well as the Republican convention.

Could this work? The short answer is no. The famous stability and prosperity of US finance after WWII has a lot to do with the network of rules and regulations that restricted bankers from fuelling uncontrollable crises. Glass-Steagall was a big component of this network, but only one piece of a much bigger puzzle. Asking for the return of a single piece of the puzzle makes great soundbites but is disingenuous. It reveals the real objectives of the incoming Trump administration: the dissolution of the post-2008 regulatory framework in order to release the industry from the shackles of state oversight.

Would you like a modern version of Depression era regulation? Indeed, there can be a 21st century version of Glass-Steagall; it is called Dodd-Frank. President-elect Trump is very likely to repeal significant portions of post-2008 regulation, it is true. Don't bet however that he will be bringing back their 1930s forebears.

The above assumes that it is correct to make a direct link between deregulation and financial crises, but is this the case? This is a topic of fierce debate along predictable political divides. Republicans bemoan the bureaucracy and inefficiency of a large regulatory state. Democrats fear what the market can do when left to its own devices. The best explanation of the links between deregulation (or the lack of controls) and crisis was provided by American economist, Hyman Minsky. Markets have an innate propensity towards crisis, he said. Left to their own devices, financiers will combat diminishing profits by taking more and more risks. The result is a tremendous crash sooner or later, in one sector of the economy or another. The conclusion from Minsky's studies and a lot of post-2008 research is that the job of the state is to put the brakes on markets so as to prevent things from getting out of hand. This implies costs and administrative burdens. It necessitates a less dynamic and possibly smaller financial sector. This is the price to pay for stability.

American voters, by electing Donald Trump, thought they were voting for more protection, stricter controls, a harder attitude towards Wall Street and more emphasis on the 'real' economy. Trump's transition plans will deliver precisely the opposite. Banks released from the restrictions of Dodd-Frank is great news for US finance. It is also bad news for citizens. Trump supporters in the Midwest may find delight in the rhetoric of bringing back 'simple' solutions that worked in the past. Let us hope that they will feel the same when the US economy reacts to 'simple' solutions by generating complicated crises.

Matt Bagwell   |   November 23, 2016   10:45 AM ET

Ellen DeGeneres has received America’s highest civilian honour from Barack Obama for her influence on the gay rights movement.

The comedian, actress and chat show host was praised by the President, who said her bravery helped “push our country in the direction of justice.”

Awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Obama said: “It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far... just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago.

“What an incredible burden that was to bear - to risk your career like that - people don’t do that very often. And then, to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders.”

The award, which recognises contributions to United States culture, security and international interests, is the highest honour a civilian can receive, alongside the Congressional Gold Medal, a similar accolade awarded by the US Congress.

Other celebrities to be honoured included Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Robert De Niro, Diana Ross, Michael Jordan and Robert Redford.

“These are folks who have helped make me who I am,’’ Obama added.

“Everybody on this stage has touched me in a very powerful, personal way, in ways that they probably couldn’t imagine.”

Before the ceremony, Ellen tweeted that she couldn’t get into the White House as she’d forgotten her ID.

“They haven’t let me into the White House yet because I forgot my ID,” she tweeted.

However, she eventually made it inside and celebrated by taking advantage of the many stars she was rubbing shoulders with to film a rather special mannequin challenge, which she also shared on Twitter...

Nice work, Ellen.

The World's Ability To Tackle Climate Change Could Vanish In A Trump Presidency

Anders Lorenzen   |   November 22, 2016    5:54 PM ET

I see myself as a positive person, always searching for the positivity in any given situation. But with Donald Trump's election to The White House, I find myself searching very hard for those positive elements.

I have never doubted that if the world is to tackle climate change and stay within the so critically important two degrees target, then we need the US onboard. That is why I have been so optimistic about overcoming the climate fight ever since Obama took office. And my optimism peaked when Obama in his second term went all in on climate change, doing more than any other US President had done on the issue. And he did not stop there. He continued to treat this issue as an absolutely top priority. And he engaged in foreign relations that would quite likely lead to the implementation of the first global climate treaty The Paris Agreement.

But if President-Elect Donald Trump is going to do as he pledged on the campaign trail, Obama's climate legacy could vanish in a matter of months. The US, as the historically largest emitter and the current second largest emitter, absolutely need to play a critical role if we are to tackle climate change. Or we would need China and India to seriously up their game, and that scenario is as unrealistic as they come, as those countries will not increase their ambitions unless the US does.

In terms of domestic emissions reductions policy, if the US was to scrap all its targets, this could result in a real increase in CO2 emissions. Nationally this could be devastating, but globally it would be a disaster. The Obama Administration has inserted climate change into almost every single government department, making it a key foreign policy issue and funding low-carbon projects in the developing world. Trump has said he would cancel any funding of UN climate programs, and this alone would be an absolute disaster. And so would be his planned reform of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the architect behind the groundbreaking Clean Power Plan - which for the first time in history saw US coal power plants regulated. Trump is set to appoint a key climate-change denier to reform the agency. Making fossil fuel infrastructure a key investment plan should also worry everybody. His energy team is set to be made up of the most extreme wing of the fossil fuel industry. The famous Keystone XL project, which had been considered a victory for environmentalists is set to be back on the drawing board. Trump would love to approve the project, that is if Canada is still interested. Other pipelines, such as the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, would be fast-tracked. A Trump Administration would also permit more oil drilling on federal land, on previously environmentally protected areas, offshore and in the Arctic. He would also attempt to revive the coal industry.

There is still a lot we don't know yet, such as what will happen to renewable energy. We know of his hate for wind power. And we know of his belief that solar does not work. But is there any legal way of him banning production? We know that many in the Republican-controlled Congress support renewables. And some optimism should be found in the fact that US leading renewable energy states are in places such as Iowa, Ohio, Kansas and not least Texas which are all Republican states. There will be an important group of Republicans who would wish to protect investment in solar and wind, and that is important.

We should also remember that a lot of US growth in renewables does not only come from national policies but also from state-lead policies. So the states mentioned above, as well as the Democratic renewable energy powerhouses such as California and New York and the New England area, would continue to do well. But in states where there is no political ambition and desire for renewable energy, we're unlikely to see a change. But the big worry, and where Trump has power, would be for offshore wind energy. The US is only just embarking on their adventure in this area, but licenses approved by Obama could be revoked by Trump.

But a real positive element is that in all the areas where Trump would seek to overturn Obama's policies there will be a fightback and legal challenges. The Clean Power Plan is already embroiled in a legal battle. It is stuck in the Supreme Court, but the proceedings cannot be resumed before a new judge is appointed following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Unless somehow Obama by pure magic can make an appointment in his last two remaining months in office, Trump would likely appoint one who is conservative-minded and will look in his direction on climate and energy. But the good thing is that it could create further delay, and we should not expect Trump can get away with all his reforms. Many will be stuck in legal battles which can take time. What has served as a setback in Obama's climate policies can be a benefit here. And it can buy time until the midterm elections in 2018. Normally a sitting President will face a backlash in the midterms, and will at least be expected to lose one of the two houses. If Democrats could mobilise and win back at least the Senate they could cause Congressional gridlock, the same gridlock that prevented Obama from doing more, and this gridlock could benefit the climate fight.

There are many ifs and buts here, and it is a long and distant road we face with many unknowns. And from the outset, it looks disastrous for climate change. But amongst all the dark clouds there is hope, and we must do our utmost to pursue that hope.

First published on A greener life, a greener world.

US Presidential Election 2016 - Lessons Learned As A Young Fabians US Delegate In Florida

Louisa Metcalfe   |   November 17, 2016    8:49 PM ET

I joined the YF US Delegation to Florida to campaign for the Democrats during the US Presidential election as this was an election which not only affected US interests, but also had an impact globally. Having studied a Masters in international relations, and now work with the UN and EU, I had an interest in this election and had seen first-hand the stealth isolationist wave beginning to champion western democracy after June 23.

We flew out to Orlando, Florida on 2 November 2016, with a week to go before the election to central Florida, a key part of a marginal swing State with a significant number of Electoral College votes. We were assigned by the local Democrat Party campaign office to canvass Hunters Creek, in Orange County, which we were told was the third most significant area in the country.

The doorstep
I, as well as most of the delegation, had an intuition that Trump might swing this election (I guess, hence our decision to spend our annual leave volunteering to stop this). Once arriving in Florida, our intuition became confirmed. Around half of the voters I spoke to on the doorstep, said they'd vote for Trump, with a fair number not willing to disclose (interestingly the ones not willing to disclose were always women, signifying a 'shy Trump' vote which may misled pollsters). The results put question marks over our campaigning data, as well as polling data, which was meant to contain 100% Democrat voters. This in turn, undermined our strategy, which was to only target Democrats, as it was not effective to be speaking to Trump voters this late in the game, according to our strategists (I'm not sure if this is true if the election was won in the last week).

One thing that we noted on the doorstep, that we had not predicted was support from all sections of society. We'd been lazy in putting the support for Trump down to a perceived marginal decline in the interest of white, working class men; when the reality was that the people who voted for Trump were Hispanic, black, white, old, young, men or women; and lived in large white picket fenced houses to lower income housing estates.

Resources and strategy
The second turning point, which solidified our prediction was the lack of other volunteers in the area, which was the third most important district in the USA. Outside of our British delegation of 15, there were sporadic shifts of other volunteers from all over the country, but this was thin on the ground. There were hardly any local volunteers. It became clear that there was little flexibility locally, as the campaign was also rigidly controlled from 'the top', and members of our team who'd worked in similar campaigns in the UK (and later, the campaign manager at our local office) conceded that the strategy was weak and not coordinated well. We queried why we weren't shifting to the rust belt, if we'd already lost Florida, or at least another more rural area in Florida, after Orange County looked sure to be going Blue.

In terms of election materials, we could see that the Democrat's leaflets and flyers were not as glossy as that of Trump's. Importantly, Hillary had no signs up, bar a couple outside the Staging Office, whilst Trump had a barrage of 'TRUMP PENCE' signs up all over one of the local polling station (which was curiously a Baptist Church, which may alienate atheists and those of other faiths). This was targeted, efficient and bullish, although potentially pushing the boundaries of electoral rules (since you should not promote a candidate within 50m of a polling station, and these signs were on its lawn). Another worrying fact, was on top of voters having to queue for hours on end on polling day (voters are not allowed to vote if they are not in the queue at 7pm, which has previously meant that many were not able to vote); we heard from one voter, that he had been to vote early three times and had not gotten the chance to vote. From what we could see there were far too many areas which had been assigned only one polling station.

Rallies
The third turning point was attending the Obama Rally in Kissimmee two days ahead of the election. Although the spectacle of the event was incomparable to any political event I've seen in the UK, there was a lack of a sense of hope and optimism, and Obama himself appeared tired after 8 years in office, and spoke his past achievements and the need to elect Hillary to continue his past legacy, rather than to offer something new. There was also no sight of Hillary in Central Florida, who went to Miami a few days before the election, a Democrat stronghold in the State. Meanwhile, Trump offered change, and was darting around the country, staging rallies in New Hampshire and Michigan on the same night, only a couple of days before the election, challenging contested and marginal seats, rather than sticking to safer areas.

Election Night
On the election night it was clear to see early on that we had lost Florida, and many of the 'rust belt' States, which were traditionally Democratic strongholds, had gone red for the first time in decades. Although we had won Orange County at 60.4% of the vote, the majority of the more rural areas of the State had turned Red. The shock and fallout after the election showed that many just could not anticipate the result, and had not been able to comprehend the result. It reminded me of the Brexit result, which unfortunately was not a surprise to most of us in the Delegation (also Labour Party members, who had campaigned for the Brexit Vote), but which took the UK largely unawares, as did the US Presidential election. I'd go as far to say I think this is the key factor in the outcome of the US presidential election. It looked like either complacency or denial to not have campaigned harder earlier on in the election, with many, at home at least, finding the idea of Trump as president no more than a laughable impossibility, rather than a dangerous economic and political threat.

Lessons learned
The key takeaway from the result of the UK EU referendum and the US Presidential election was the fact that it is not only those who lose out to globalization who might want to turn to a more protectionist system, a la Trump, Brexit or possibly, in the future, Le Pen. It is now the majority, as inequality grows, the more 'losers' of globalization there are, and in a democratic system, the more far right governments there will be, until the Left come up with a new narrative for the 21st century. Just as Labour's stagnant position is rooted in the past, Clinton's was 'more of the same'; whilst Trump and Brexit had the air of radical change and catchy slogans. So if there's one thing we've learnt from this election it's that just as the cause of the shift to the right is rooted in a backlash to globalization, so is its solution: a united and cohesive solution to the problems of inequality and economic insecurity globally. The US, UK, and Europe as a whole must learn from these lessons and not continue to laugh off the wave of the populist right. This is a backlash against globalization, inequality and problems with the financial system which have not been addressed in the since the financial crisis, and this should be the battle ground of the left. Instead of finding solutions to Fordist capitalist models, we need to look at the issues centred on the Anglo Saxon model of capitalism, or 'casino capitalism', which rather than impacting just white working class men, affects us all.

Louisa Metcalfe - Young Fabian US Delegate, Chartered Accountant, auditor of UN and EU projects and is holding a YF event in Parliament on 6 December 2016 on reforming wealth taxes, with Richard Murphy, Seema Malhotra, and Andrew Harrop.

Something Within Keeping It Great

Sonja Lewis   |   November 17, 2016    7:27 PM ET

Since President Obama's election in 2008, American expats have been thrown into the spotlight, particularly in the days following an election. Eight years ago, my girlfriend and I couldn't go anywhere without being offered congratulations, as if we had elected him single-handedly. Four years later when he was re-elected, although the hype had died down somewhat, we were still hailed as children of a great nation and treated with respect wherever we went.

Fast-forward to 2016. The spotlight is on US expats again, but this time it feels rather uncomfortable. Wherever I am -- in a taxi, a restaurant, the supermarket, the hair salon, a posh designer shop -- someone offers me condolences. To be honest, I am starting to feel like taking cover, like I did the day after the election, when after finally wrenching myself out of bed, I dressed in sloppy clothes and holed up in the house all day. I could not face the world, not even the news ... especially the news.

But wait a minute! I've had my day of mourning, right? It's time to move on. After all, the USA is a democracy and everybody's candidate can't win. I do get it ... really! But here's the thing: this was not a normal election. And that is the point that I fear is being overlooked, except at a superficial level. The abnormal somehow became the norm, cutting right into the heart of what underpins the country.

Folks had vehemently compared plums and sour grapes for nearly two years, insisting the grapes were better, healthier for the nation. Still I held out hope. But when that hope vanished into in a map of red, I sort of vacated too.

Although it bothers me how the candidate who lacked any political experience could beat the candidate who is perhaps the most qualified candidate the American people have ever had to run for President -- like her or lump her, she has the goods --it bothers me even more that someone could win on a platform that rejects its country's core values and waves that rejection in its people's faces.

I think that is what the tears are about: mine; the inconsolable lady my Uber driver told me about; the countless men and women who confessed to tears in the media. And those who have sobbed silently, too.


We understand that we are facing one of the biggest anomalies of modern times; an aberration that is less about the person who won and more about what it means that he did; what it means about our mores, our ethics, our norms. Who are we? What do we stand for?

No one is perfect. Nor is any country. But most of us have something within us that determines right from wrong, fact from fiction. Governments have it too when they have the best interests of their people at heart. Some call it a 'moral compass'; others refer to it as the 'conscience'. And for some; it is linked intrinsically to a faith, a creed, and for others, it is not.

That something connects us to a moral code, which guides the way we live. It is at the heart of our standards, our customs, as individuals, groups, societies, irrespective of creed, colour, gender, sexual orientation and so on.

It is this something that binds relationships, holds friends, families and societies together, even when we beg to differ. It is that same something that demands tolerance, upholds freedoms and embraces equality.

Normally when this something is rejected or shattered, we recognise it as extreme and do what we can to put it right again. On a global scale, we have seen this throughout history in the form of radical movements powered by facism, racism, sexism, terrorism and so on. Needless to say, it feels unsafe, uncertain and worrying when the core values that underpin our lives are threatened.

So what do we do to maintain the values that steer us clear of a complete breakdown? When I think back to a time in my life when the world as I knew it had changed, and not for the better, I remember trying my best to put it back as it had been. It took weeks, if not months, to understand a few key elements for avoiding collapse.

Acknowledgement is key: understanding that the new situation is what it is and in doing so, realising that acknowledging this fact can be a healthy form of rejecting the anomaly, even when those driving it insist that it is indeed normal ... just a different way of seeing life. Whatever!

Next, I held fast to what was good and pure, as St Paul advised the Philippians: 'Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things' (NIV, Phil. 4:8).


This helped me to discern between an extreme opinion and a reasonable one that feeds into healthy living.

Then, I took affirmative action such as avoiding volatile debates and got on with doing the right thing. I dug deep into that something within me, even when I didn't feel like it. And you know what? I think that is what America is going to have to do, too.

After all, it is still a great country, as a close friend reminded me recently. I can vouch for that. But here's the thing: greatness comes with an admission of mistakes, a campaign to make reparation and the willingness to remember, if only for the purpose of avoiding previous mistakes.

Moving forward, politics has to be about keeping America great. That's the spirit!