Speakers in the news 16th February

1) CLAY CHANDLER

  • Clay Chandler is Executive Editor for the international division of Time Inc., where he oversees editorial operations outside North America and develops content and programming for high-profile business conferences including the Fortune Global Forum, Brainstorm Tech and Brainstorm Design. Clay writes frequently on topics related to global business and Asian affairs for Fortune and other Time Inc. titles, and publishes the weekly China-focused edition of Fortune’s popular CEO Daily newsletter.
  • Writing for Fortune Magazine, Clay said that this week brought a flurry of anguished reports that China is readying options to strike back against the United States if President Trump makes good on his vow to slap trade penalties on China as punishment for alleged intellectual property theft. He argued that the two giants could be heading for a mutually destructive showdown. US trade representative Robert Lighthizer lit the fuse on trade last August by announcing a Section 301 investigation into whether China’s intellectual property policies harm US businesses. In the months since, Congress has pressured AT&T and Verizon to abandon plans to sell phones made by China’s Huawei; the federal government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) blocked the sale of MoneyGram, a money-transfer company. Clay says, a tit-for-tat trade fight between the world’s two largest economies coming on the heels of last week’s wild gyrations in global stock markets may not be the end of the world. But it will certainly make the world a much trickier place to do business.

2) RORY CELLAN-JONES

  • Rory Cellan-Jones has been a reporter for the BBC for a quarter of a century, covering business and technology stories for much of that time.

  • The surge in value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies hasn’t escaped the attention of hackers looking to make a quick buck. Rory reported for the BBC this week that mining, the process where new digital coins are created by solving complex mathematical problems, uses increasing amounts of computer processing power and that means big electricity bills. All the better then if you can get other people’s computers to do the job. The hackers do this by inserting software into websites which then means that, unbeknown to them, visitors’ computers are put to work mining cryptocurrencies.It seems that the Information Commissioner’s site along with others run by the government were infected by crypto-mining code injected into some accessibility software they all use.This kind of attack is becoming increasingly common and while it appears not to cause data loss or damage to systems, it does mean computers can run much more slowly.

3) JOHN SAWERS

  • Sir John Sawers GCMG is the former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also known as MI6). During his tenure, he modernised the Service and led it through major changes in operations, technology, and public accountability. The first outsider to be appointed to SIS in decades, he draws from his experience in managing the most challenging foreign and security policy issues of the last 20 years, including the rise of China, the evolution of Russia, the threat of terrorism and cyber attack, the changes in the Middle East, and the nuclear negotiations in Iran.
  • John spoke to Prospect this week, the day before Boris Johnson gave his optimistic speech about Britain after Brexit. He however, did not share the Foreign Secretary’s upbeat mood, in particular when it came to keeping Britain safe once we have left the European Union.“My concern on the intelligence and security front is over the exchange of data,” Sawers told me, as we sat in a meeting room overlooking the West End. “Data is now central to the way in which security services in particular monitor threats—track people who might pose a threat to UK security. And the rules on exchange of data are going to be set in the EU.”

4) ANNE MCELVOY

  • Anne McElvoy is Senior Editor and former Public Policy Editor at The Economist. She has been a Political Columnist for the Evening Standard since 2001. She is also the presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Shows the Moral Maze and Free Thinking.
  • Writing for The Evening Standard, this week, Anne argued that if there’s another referendum Remainers must change tack. The next couple of weeks will see Theresa May and her Cabinet being forced to choose a combined stance from a  narrow range of options — an overdue clarification. But it is also the moment when Remainers will have to choose whether they continue to campaign for a softer Brexit or throw their lot in with second referendum disciples. Advocates of the first path run the risk of asking for an option that is disappearing bit by bit while vote-againers face a dilemma embodied by George Soros’s donation to Best for Britain, a prominent anti-Brexit group: namely the tendency to end up running pretty much the same campaign as the one they lost in 2016. Anne says she cannot see a ‘neat solution’, but whatever the Remain campaign’s strategy is, it needs to be careful not to end up fronted and funded primarily by the super-wealthy and 21st-century equivalents of the Whigs, all meeting in the same salons with wealthy patrons footing the bill.

5) IAN BREMMER

  • Professor Ian Bremmer is an American political scientist and expert speaker specialising in US foreign policy, states in transition, and global political risk. Ian is President of Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy he founded with just $25,000 in 1998. The company now has offices in New York, Washington and London and is one of the most successful political risk consultancies in the world, advising financial services companies, multinationals and governments on how political developments can move markets.
  • Ian wrote an article that asked why millennials increasingly aren’t sure whether democracy is essential. According to a study published in October 2017 by Pew Research, there’s a division of opinion in many countries today on whether states are more effectively governed by “experts” or elected officials. In advanced economies, young adults are more likely than older people to prefer technocracy to democracy. The study found that in the U.S., 46 percent of those aged 18 to 29 would prefer to be governed by experts compared with 36 percent of respondents aged 50 and older. A study from Harvard’s Yascha Mounk and the University of Melbourne’s Roberto Stefan Foa published in the Journal of Democracy in January 2017 produced an even more striking result. Just 19 percent of U.S. millennials agreed with the statement that “military takeover is not legitimate in a democracy.” Among older citizens, the total was a still-surprising 43 percent. (In Europe, by contrast, the corresponding numbers were 36 percent for younger people and 53 percent for older people.) Perhaps most alarming was the revelation than one-quarter of millennials agreed that “choosing leaders through free elections is unimportant.” Just 14 percent of Baby Boomers and 10 percent of older Americans agreed. Ian said the problem may lie in the fact that Americans – and Westerners — have grown up without a fascist or communist enemy to pose an existential threat.
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