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Politics and Economies

It's the American dream: little lonely kid with only a handful of people who appear to like him talks with one or two of them and they come up with a geeky idea : let's put our college yearbook (a curiously American thing) into a database and let everyone in it tell everyone in it what they are doing, and let them read what everyone else is doing. Then, as the others, one by one, find out that the reason he's the little lonely kid is that he's a sociopathic egotistical self-absorbed autocrat, he ends up alone and somehow sitting on something that generates thousands of millions of dollars in share value. Then someone spills the saucer full of secrets and Americans are shocked out of their stupor and they don't like it.

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For those that can't be bothered to keep up with US President Trump's online twittering, there are various ways of getting just the gist of what he's up to. One of the most fun is to scan the last 11 or so months of headlines from The Economist. Here are the highlights of his Washington shenanigans. Foreign trade and foreign policy are, often, from another planet and we don't want to go there. Of course, it also allows us to relish the Economist's punny headlines and to ask a basic question: why is someone who is so in favour of the USA's pro-gun lobby so determined to shoot himself in the foot?

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For those that don't recognise the name, Elizabeth Warren is a US Senator representing the state of Massachusetts but she was born in Oklahoma. Warren is a member of the Democratic Party and has been dubbed "a progressive." She claims historical links to the Cherokee Indian tribal group and says she is part Cherokee. That's in doubt.

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It might take a stretch of the imagination to join the UK's departure from the EU and the wife-murdering, perhaps syphilitic, definitely unstable, ferociously misogynistic Tudor monarch who is, arguably, the UK's most famous king. But there is a certain logic and the admirably named Lord Judge has applied his considerable legal knowledge and intellect to make that connection and to rightly harry those responsible for the poor legal drafting that plagues English law and, in particular, that relating to the not-admirably named "Brexit." At the heart of his concerns are a major constitutional issue now known as "Henry VIII powers." This month, Parliament is making much of that while debating Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill.

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The UK's housing loan crisis of the late 1980s to early 1990s and the US version in 2006 that led to the global financial crisis were both prefaced by three very specific warning signs. In the UK, all three warning signs are once more present.

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The UK's housing loan crisis of the late 1980s to early 1990s and the US version in 2006 that led to the global financial crisis were both prefaced by three very specific warning signs. In the UK, all three warning signs are once more present.

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Boeing plays dirty:what it can't win with honest competition it tries to win by alleging dirty tricks by rivals with a view to undermining their access to markets. As a major US employer, when it starts action in the US, it's always assumed that it has home court advantage and because those judging are political appointees that vested and conflicts of interest will almost inevitably mean a decision in favour of Boeing. To the surprise of all, Boeing's action against Bombardier, has been thrown out.

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The 1MDB scandal seemingly forgotten in Malaysia, the next order of business is the forthcoming general election. After a budget that dramatically increased funding by taxpayers to various Islamic organisations and religious leaders, Prime Minister Najib's next target the federal territory of Labuan. Labuan has been on the recieving end of federal (i.e. national taxpayers') money before and that hasn't worked out as well as it was hoped - but the island has, so far, not lost faith with the Party. But with a tiny resident population, a small number of electors can swing the vote. With the smallest percentage of Parliament since it began, Najib can't afford ignore even little seats. His promises are interesting.

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The USA's fascination with finding names of laws that can be turned into snappy acronyms reached new levels in December 2015 when it past the FAST Act. The name, Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act gives no hint as to what it does. It's a highly aggressive tactic against taxpayers with unsettled debt. The Act has crept up pretty much unnoticed but it is being implemented starting this month.

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Far from providing leadership, the USA is increasingly creating friction with allies and alienating itself from countries that don't agree that ratcheting up sanctions against other countries is the best way to go. Add in the decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and only Israel) and there is an increasing risk that the tables might turn and countries begin to apply sanctions against the USA. If that was to happen, what form could they take and which countries could be caught in the cross-fire?

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