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Washington is convulsed with fear and loathing | ticker VIEWS

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So, you thought that the last-minute bipartisan breakthrough in the Senate last week to buy some time to deal in December with the debt limit crisis was a good sign? That when the US again comes to the edge of the abyss the lawmakers will have practiced their “get-along” muscles and know what to do?

Forget it.

Bruce Wolpe from the US Studies Centre

Washington is convulsed with fear and loathing.  In the perverted hyper-partisan environment that suffuses the Capitol – both the House and the Senate – the response to working together is … never to work together again.

Let’s start with the loathing first

The Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell, hates the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. It’s mutual.  Right after the vote to avoid default, Schumer took the floor and said the Republicans had played a “dangerous and risky partisan game” and that it was the Democrats who could “pull our country back from the cliff’s edge that Republicans tried to push us over.” McConnell, suffused with anger, took his rage to the President, and wrote Biden:

“Senator Schumer exploded in a rant so partisan, angry and corrosive that even Democratic Senators were visibly embarrassed …This childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate” the temporary fix to the debt limit.

In the House…

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has zero respect for Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. They don’t talk to each other. Even worse:  McCarthy said in August that, if and when Republicans win the House and Pelosi turns the gavel over to him, “It will be hard not to hit her.”  Pelosi has called McCarthy a “moron” over his hostility to wearing masks to curb Covid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Former President Trump hates a lot of people – especially those Republicans who turned on him for refusing to support Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 

Most especially, Trump hates Mitch McConnell, and embroiders his rhetoric with a few choice words:  

Weak. Pathetic. Third rate. A stone-cold loser. A dumb son of a bitch. A dour, sullen political hack, bereft of any wisdom or skill.

Former U.S President Donald Trump

This relationship is not going to improve.

Democrats are far from united on how to finally close out the provisions of Biden’s social policy and climate agenda.  Senator Joe Manchin is a major holdout so far.  He does not believe that “we should turn our society into an entitlement society.” To which Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist Senator, said:

“Is protecting working families and cutting childhood poverty an entitlement? Perhaps most importantly, does Senator Manchin not believe what the scientists are telling us, that we face an existential threat regarding climate change?”

Let’s get to the fear bit

For the Republicans, Trump’s loathing of his enemies – or who he sees as enemies – means that Republicans are afraid of crossing him, because he has the power to destroy them.  Even those who deeply want to run in 2024 – former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – know they can’t run if Trump is in, that he will crush them to take the nomination.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A large group of pro-Trump protesters stand on the East steps of the Capitol Building after storming its grounds on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation’s capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Republicans in the House know that if they make any moves to support the work of the Select Committee investigating the deadly insurrection of January 6, Trump will endorse other Republicans to defeat them in pre-selection for Congress next year. He is already going after the nine Republicans who supported his impeachment for violating his oath of office under the Constitution.

For the Democrats…

If they refuse to agree to agree on the Biden program, the president’s first term will be over this year.

They have in their hands – today – the elements of a wide-ranging legislative agenda that will represent the most significant contributions to improving health, education, income security, and children, since Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s and FDR in the 1930s. Plus massive work on climate change.

U.S President Joe Biden

Unity requires compromise. A loss of three votes in the House, and one in the Senate, dooms the bill.

If there is failure to reach a compromise that brings them all in, the Democrats go into next year’s midterm elections with virtually nothing – except rhetoric and promises – to offer to their voters.

Democrats fear they will lose their majorities in the House and Senate.

And guess what? They will.

And even though Democrats understand the consequences, that fear has not concentrated their efforts enough to agree on the Biden legislation and enact it into law.

And those that survive the purge by the voters will loathe being in Congress without any power.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

Tech

Are foldable smartphones the next big thing?

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Samsung has wrapped its latest Galaxy Unpacked event, announcing two foldables, new smartwatches, and an update to its Galaxy Buds Pro line

Tech commentator Trevor Long, who was at the event, and tech expert Greg Nibler unpack the biggest announcements

What’s changed?

Taking a look at the Galaxy Zed Flip 4, Samsung hasn’t changed the overall design – but new features include the ability to see selfie previews on the cover screen and fast charging.

At a slightly higher cost, there’s the Galaxy Zed Fold 4.

This design remains largely the same, but Samsung has made some big changes to the cameras.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4

What’s probably most interesting about this latest product launch is Samsung’s wearables push.

At the Unpacked event, the tech giant finally unveiled its Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.

After serious battery life complaints, the new devices both boast bigger batteries, faster charging, and increased durability.

What was the actual event like?

Tech commentator Trevor Long joined TICKER NEWS live in New York to detail the experience.

“It was still a bit of a hybrid experience. Because this wasn’t a fully in person thing. So basically, all the gathered media were were in a room together. But there was still just a visual presentation or a short introduction from one of their executives to the same visual presentation is pretty much everyone saw on their live stream,” he says.

“But of course, we then got the opportunity to go and go hands on with all the devices. And it’s fascinating in both London and New York, they’ve set up large experience areas where the general public will be able to come through over the next few weeks and actually touch and feel and experience these devices,

“I think it’s a very smart move from Samsung, because the category is still so new. It’s been around for a few years.”

Are people warming to foldable smart phones?

Tech expert Greg Nibler says there were a lot of issues that came out and some kind of bad publicity with Galaxy fold phones, “but it feels like they’ve worked on that quite a bit”.

“Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of people that have been purchasing these overall so far. But I think just the fact that Samsung keeps on pushing this there, regardless of anything that happens, they are going to keep on making these foldable phones because they believe that this is something that people are going to want.”

Meanwhile, Trevor longs believes foldable phones won’t go mainstream.

However, he is in New York with Samsung Australia and was talking to their executive vice president about the demand.

“And he (Aus VP) said they’re seeing nearly 300% demand. Now that’s not purchasing, but they see interest at a peak, the amount of searches and things that are going on. So it there’s definitely demand there.”

But the VP also told Trevor that there will come a time (he didn’t put a date on it) but there will come a time “when the folding format is the primary format”.

Long also commented on the more refined general design.

“I think people will have trust in the fact that they are durable too.”

When is Apple going to come out with their own foldable device?

“I don’t even think it’s going to be this year, probably next year, maybe sometime Apple will do it,” Long says.

Apple

“Apple doesn’t really have something to compare directly. But we’re coming to the watch side. I do think you know, the Galaxy watches certainly made some improvements with this five and the five pro you mentioned the battery life. That’s pretty impressive specs, they said I believe was 40 hours for the watch five and up to 80 hours for the five pro if you’re not using everything on it. That’s, that’s really great..

But is that going to be enough to convince somebody who’s an Apple Watch user to switch out of that ecosystem? Long says “I doubt it.”

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Ticker Views

Who would win a war between the U.S. and China?

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The U.S and China are in the grips of an arms race, which has not been seen since the depths of the Cold War era

Chinese President Xi Jinping wants his armed forces to become a modern powerhouse by 2035.

In his eyes, they should be “fighting and winning wars” by 2050.

It’s an overt and confronting military strategy, at least that’s how the West perceives it.

In May, a reporter asked U.S. President Joe Biden if he would come to Taiwan’s aid militarily if a conflict ever arises. He answered “yes” at the time because “that’s the commitment we made”.

The answer was a change in the U.S.’ history of strategic ambiguity, and likely caused a stir among Chinese officials.

So, when U.S. House Speaker visited the democratically-ruled island last week, China was hardly going to stay silent.

“We take this trip at a time when the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.”

NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER

Pelosi is the most senior U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. This is an issue for Chinese officials who are committed to the ‘One China’ principle.

As China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said “there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China.”

China has responded to Pelosi’s visit by test firing ballistic missiles near the island, which is home to over 23 million people. Taiwan has also simulated its defence capabilities, as Chinese Navy vessels remain in the Taiwan Straits.

The U.S. House Speaker meets with Taiwan’s President.

China’s live fire drills sent ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone for the first time.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it and those who offend China will be punished.”

WANG YI, CHINA’S FOREIGN MINISTER

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen said the military exercises were “unnecessary responses”.

How does China’s military stack up?

While we don’t know much about China’s military, we do know it is growing at a rapid rate.

In 2014, China overtook the U.S. with the world’s largest navy.

“The crisis will end at a time and in a manner of China’s choosing,” said Dr Michael Sullivan, who is an international relations practitioner at Flinders University.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service, which advises lawmakers and strategy, predicts Chinese navy ships will increase by nearly 40 per cent between 2020 and 2040.

“Some U.S. observers are expressing concern or alarm regarding the pace of China’s naval shipbuilding effort and resulting trend lines regarding the relative sizes and capabilities of China’s navy and the U.S. Navy”

U.S. Congressional Research Service

Of course, the sheer size of a military does not necessarily correlate to its strength. For example, the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers while China has three.

The U.S. also has more nuclear-powered submarines and larger warships.

As such, it’s hard to imagine President Biden risking a rather expensive aircraft carrier to end the current situation in the Taiwan Straits.

The Chinese Navy is growing at a faster rate than any other fleet.

Beijing does not publish its military spending data but analysts believe the nation is seeking to fast-track its military capabilities through hypersonic missiles.

As the name suggests, these weapons are known for their speed. In fact, they can travel at more than five times the speed of sound.

China denies using these weapons but the West remains concerned because of their speed, and limited detection on radar systems.

“The Chinese government is demonstrating that the era of the U.S. calling the shots militarily in the Taiwan Straits is over.”

Dr michael sullivan, flinders university

The U.S. Pentagon increased its budget requests to $3.8 billion to develop hypersonic weapons for this fiscal year.

The nation currently uses cruise missiles but these are inferior to hypersonic weaponry because of their slower speed, shorter range and tracking capabilities.

How will this end?

China has not fought in a war since 1979 after a tense battle with Vietnamese forces.

This means Beijing’s forces have not been on show in the modern era, and it seems the West would very much like it to keep it that way.

“We await further political fallout between Beijing and Washington. Though there is no direct indication of what form that may take, diplomatic retaliation is one possibility, ranging from recalling the Chinese Ambassador in Washington to expelling US Embassy staff from Beijing,” Dr Sullivan said.

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Business

Why airline executives are being forced to face customers

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As frustrated customers take their anger out on the remaining airport checkin staff, airline executives are being forced onto the front line to face customers.

The return of summer in Europe has been overshadowed by travel chaos, leaving passengers frustrated and often out of pocket.

Thousands of people have been left to battle airport queues that last hours, long delays and thousands of cancellations.

Airports and airlines face staff shortages forcing them to reduce the number of scheduled flights – often at short notice. 

It’s a global problem, with airports and airlines rushing to hire back the thousands of positions they axed at the start of covid.

But how do you do it, and how long until things return to normal?

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