Could Brexit Be A Catastrophe That Never Happens?

What if the craziest thing about the Brexit is that it never happens?

In the wake of the U.K.’s historic, market-shaking vote, financial heavyweights, commenters and the stock market itself are sending a signal that maybe, possibly, there might be hope that Britain’s departure from the European Union will not happen. The vote, after all, wasn’t binding, and it will be up to the next British government to decide if the country formally withdraws from the E.U.

Then there’s the fact that the London FTSE 100 stock index has made back up the losses it incurred after the surprise “leave” vote. (The pound, however remains deeply depressed against the U.S. dollar.)

There are also finance industry executives who have come out to calm fears, perhaps in hope as much as belief. Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, told Bloomberg TV that he wasn’t sure the Brexit would happen. Uncertainty, he said, was the only thing he could be sure of. Pressed on what he thought would happen, Fink said there is “plenty of time to find a less harmful” alternative to leaving the E.U.

David Rubenstein, founder and co-CEO of private equity giant Carlyle, told Bloomberg TV that economic self-interest alone would keep British politicians from accepting the results of the 52-48 vote.

“When it becomes clear that the terms of the exit are so expensive,” he said, “I think the next prime minister of England [sic] will not invoke Article 50,” referring to the binding notice that a country wishes to leave the E.U. “I’m reasonably optimistic that, in the end, Britain will come to its sense, or the government leaders will come to their senses, and recognize that a Brexit is not in anybody’s interests.”

The Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman looks at another kind of self-interest — the sheepish reaction of Boris Johnson, London’s former mayor and a prominent “leave” campaigner — and is hopeful. Johnson, Rachman reasons, just wants to be prime minister. That door has been opened by the resignation of his club mate and fellow Tory David Cameron, who was on the “remain” side. Rachman writes that if Johnson becomes PM, he’ll be satisfied with a slight renegotiation of immigration terms and leave it at that.

But even that scenario, which looks like the best hope for “remain” supporters, would need a drawn-out set of negotiations over arcane matters to end in a very specific way.

And regardless of whether that outcome occurs, Fink says there are already indications of cash-hoarding and a slowing of the types of investments that drive economic growth. In other words, even if the Brexit doesn’t happen, it’s already done harm.

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Here’s Why It Feels Like Rent Is Eating Up Your Entire Paycheck

This is the clearest explanation for why more and more people are struggling to afford a place to live: in the last 50 years, rents have gone up significantly faster than incomes.

Renting has taken off in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, and 36 percent of Americans are renting, a larger portion than anytime since the 1960s. And they’re paying a lot more than they would have then — rents have increased more than three times as fast as incomes over the last five decades, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data conducted by the listings site Apartment List.

Andrew Woo, director of data science for Apartment List, explained in a post that the service used 1960 as the baseline to chart how much median rent and income have gone up each year through 2014.

Though rents have gone up at a faster rate than incomes in every decade besides the 1990s, it’s only recently that the two diverged wildly. Between 2000 and 2010, rents increased 12 percent while incomes fell 7 percent. Rent growth has been slower since 2000, Apartment List notes, and there have been small increases in income in the last couple years.

While coastal cities with tight housing markets, like San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, are often spotlighted for their shockingly high rents, they aren’t the only places affected. In so-called cheaper cities like St. Louis or Detroit, rents are far lower, but incomes have barely gone up, or have declined, since 1980.

There are some exceptions: in Austin, Texas; Phoenix and Las Vegas, incomes and rent have gone up at a similar pace since 1980, according to Apartment List.

The breakdown by city helps show why people struggle to pay rent even in more affordable markets. The standard for an affordable rent payment is 30 percent or less than a household’s monthly income. Any more is considered “cost-burdened” and can lead to families cutting spending on food, health care and savings.

The portion of renters who are cost-burdened nationally has doubled since 1960, according to Apartment List. While cost burdens are widespread among people making lower incomes, they’re lately affecting a growing number of middle-income households, according to Harvard University’s Center for Joint Housing Studies’ December report on rental housing.

Last year’s Harvard report wasn’t optimistic about rents leveling out.
“Most new rentals are targeted to the high end of the market,” the researchers wrote. “And with the huge millennial population poised to enter the housing market, the pressure on rents will only increase.”

Apartment List puts a very real figure on what long-term rent growth means for your bank account.

“If rents had only risen at the rate of inflation, the average renter would be paying $366 less in rent each month,” writes Woo.

Time to go fantasize about everything we could do with an extra $4,400 this year.

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Uber Doesn’t Do Much To Protect You From Drivers You Hate

Uber drivers and passengers may be paired together over and over again, even if they don’t like one another.

This can lead to safety concerns and reveals a substantial quality-of-life gap between Uber and Lyft’s star rating systems.

Lyft representatives told The Huffington Post that a driver and passenger will never ride with one another again if either party gives the other a rating lower than four stars after their trip. But with Uber, it appears that pairing can happen repeatedly, despite a bad experience, unless one party carries out the inconvenient task of reaching out to customer service and identifying the bad driver or passenger.

One driver said she was harassed several times by the same customer after the app continued to pair them up.

While it may sound like nitpicking a technical issue, HuffPost has spoken to several drivers who have been paired with a bad customer, only to inadvertently pick them up again.

One driver said she was harassed several times by the same customer after the app continued to pair them up. She also said she knew of another customer who gave a driver a low rating after being harassed and stalked by him, only to be paired with him again. The system technically allows either situation to happen.

The drivers who spoke to HuffPost wish to remain anonymous, and Uber didn’t respond to repeated calls for comment.

“We’ve heard plenty of those stories in California, stories of drivers who have been re-paired with people when one party or the other had problems,” said driver advocate and International Teamsters Vice President Rome Aloise. “We need to have an entity so that drivers can speak with a single voice to Uber about these problematic things.”

Indeed, the general inability to organize has been a huge issue for Uber drivers over the years. The company has allowed associations to crop up all over the country, allowing a bit of unification — but not unionization — among drivers.

The company agreed to start a guild for 35,000 drivers in New York in May, which advocates hailed as a small step in the right direction for workers’ rights. But contractors say their inability to unify and communicate among themselves has exacerbated smaller problems like the star rating issue.

Uber’s star ratings system could spell trouble for passengers, too. That said, Uber drivers do need to keep a stellar rating to stick with the company. Internal documents leaked in 2015 showed that drivers are expected to keep an average rating of 4.6 stars or above, lest the company consider kicking them off the force.

Note: The Huffington Post’s Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington is a member of Uber’s board of directors, and has recused herself from any involvement in the site’s coverage of the company.

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New rules give protesters more leeway at Republican convention

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – A federal judge on Wednesday authorized a new plan allowing protesters at next month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland to demonstrate in an area that will be readily visible to convention goers.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Accuses Apple of Trying to ‘Snuff Out Competition,’ Spotify Agrees

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren today gave a speech where she accused Amazon, Apple, and Google of attempting to “snuff out competition” by locking out smaller companies, reports Recode.

“Google, Apple and Amazon have created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and … they deserve to be highly profitable and successful,” Warren said. “But the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again.”

In regard to Apple specifically, Warren said the company has made it difficult for its rivals to offer competitive streaming services able to compete with Apple Music, presumably through the cut that it takes from streaming services like Spotify when people sign up through the iOS app.

applemusic

To account for Apple’s cut, Spotify charges $12.99 to customers who purchase a subscription through an Apple device, which is $3 higher than the $9.99 price tag of Apple Music.

While Apple declined to comment on Warren’s statements, Spotify’s head of communications and public policy Jonathan Prince took the opportunity to lambaste Apple in a statement given to Recode.

“Apple has long used its control of iOS to squash competition in music, driving up the prices of its competitors, inappropriately forbidding us from telling our customers about lower prices, and giving itself unfair advantages across its platform through everything from the lock screen to Siri. You know there’s something wrong when Apple makes more off a Spotify subscription than it does off an Apple Music subscription and doesn’t share any of that with the music industry. They want to have their cake and eat everyone else’s too.”

Spotify has long been unhappy with Apple’s pricing policy. In the past, Spotify fought against Apple’s cut by sending emails to its customers who had signed up for a $12.99 per month subscription on an iPhone or iPad, encouraging them to cancel their subscriptions and re-subscribe via the web.

Recently, Spotify criticized some upcoming App Store changes like a new revenue split for subscriptions and ads in search results, saying Apple’s efforts don’t “get to the core of the problem” and criticizing Apple’s insistence on “inserting itself between developers and their customers.”

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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6 Eye-Opening Facts About How Differently Black And White People View Race

A new Pew Research study released Monday shows that black and white America have profoundly different views on race and inequality. 

The study, which involved 3,769 adults (1,799 whites, 1,004 blacks and 654 Hispanics) and was conducted between Feb. 29 through May 8, says that the results show how black and white America are worlds apart, and when it comes to achieving equality, black respondents see it as an elusive goal.

Here are six takeaways that highlight some of the important points from the study: 

1. Most black people believe the country should do more to achieve racial equality, while less than half of white people say enough has already been done.

The study shows that 88 percent of black people think that the goal for racial equality requires more work, while about half (43 percent) are skeptical that changes will actually come about. When compared to whites, 40 percent are hopeful that the country will continue to work towards giving black people equal rights as whites, while 38 percent believe that the country has already made the necessary changes.

2. Black and white America’s assessment of President Barack Obama’s impact on race relations widely differ.

Around 51 percent of black people believe President Obama has made progress when it comes to race relations, while 28 percent of white people believe the same. Meanwhile, 34 percent of black people say he has tried but failed to make progress, compared to 24 percent of whites. But the most glaring difference is revealed in results that show 32 percent of white people, mostly Republican, who say Obama has made race relations worse, which stands in stark contrast to the nine percent of black people who feel the same.

3. Most black and white Americans are aware of Black Lives Matter but have mixed views on their support and assessment of the movement.

Black Lives Matter is a massive movement that formed in 2012 and is led by young black activists who demand justice and are fighting against police killings of black men and women. However, many white and black people harbor mixed feelings about the movement’s impact and success.

According to the study, around 65 percent of black people show support for Black Lives Matter while some, around 31 percent and mostly those with bachelor’s degree or more, remain skeptical over how effective the movement will be in helping to bring about racial equality. On the contrary, about 40 percent of white people, mostly Democrats and those under 30, express some level of support for the movement. When split along party lines, 64 percent of white Democrats and 42 percent of independents support Black Lives Matter, while only 20 percent of white Republicans, who are among the least likely to believe in the movement’s potential impact, feel the same. 

4. Black people believe institutional racism is a critical problem while more white people say individual instances of discrimination are a bigger concern.

An overwhelming number of white people, 66 percent, say that individual instances of discrimination in America are a bigger problem than institutional racism while only 19 percent of white people feel the latter is a larger concern. However, the black opinion is more evenly distributed (48 percent and 40 percent, respectively). Despite the large number of white people who don’t see institutional racism as a problem, it has a real effect on black men and women who believe they are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with the police (84 percent), when applying for a loan mortgage (66 percent), in the workplace (64 percent), in stores and restaurants (49 percent) and when voting (43 percent).

“Across all of these realms, whites are much less likely than blacks to perceive unequal treatment,” the study says.

5. Black people experience discrimination at a much higher rate than whites.

Around 71 percent of black people say that have been treated unfairly because of their race: 47 percent say people have acted suspicious of them, 45 percent say people have treated them as if they are not smart and 18 percent say they have been unfairly stopped by police. These numbers tower over those of whites where only 30 percent say they have been discriminated against on account of their race.

6. Racial gaps persist when it comes to household income and poverty.

The median income for black households is around $30,000 less than those of white households and black families are nearly are more than twice as likely as whites to live in poverty. An overwhelming number of black people attribute the reasons for why black people lag behind to critical societal factors like racial discrimination (70 percent), poor schools (75 percent) and lack of jobs (66 percent). However, attitudes towards racial discrimination show the most glaring and widest gap with only 36 percent of white people (almost half the number of black people) believe it plays a role in black people having a harder time getting ahead.

To read the full Pew study, click here. 

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Billionaire GOP Donor Says Trump Could Create ‘Widespread Global Depression’

A Wall Street billionaire thinks a Donald Trump presidency could spell doom for the global economy.

Paul Singer, who runs the hedge fund Elliott Management and has been a big GOP donor in the past, told a crowd at the Aspen Ideas Festival that he wasn’t very impressed with Trump’s economic policy positions, according to CNBC.

“The most impactful of the economic policies that I recall him coming out for are these anti-trade policies. And I think if he actually stuck to those policies and gets elected president, it’s close to a guarantee of a global depression, widespread global depression,” he said. 

Trump laid out his economic policy plans in a speech in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. He said he would renegotiate all the country’s trade deals, and hinted at a trade war with China.

Singer has been a big supporter of the “Never Trump” movement, and backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio before he dropped out of the Republican primary race. Singer and Trump have been slinging insults at each other throughout the campaign.

Don’t mistake Singer for a Hillary Clinton supporter, though. Apparently he told the room he is considering voting for himself as a write-in. (While he is not a politician, he does have some foreign policy experience: his hedge fund once seized one of Argentina’s naval vessels.)

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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Facebook Finally Did Something To Make Facebook Better For You

Of course, the media mostly freaked out on Tuesday after Facebook announced that it would be prioritizing posts from your family and friends over posts from media outlets in your news feed. Facebook warned publishers that they’d take a traffic hit with this latest change.

But for normals, this seems like reasonably good news (even though it probably means hardly anyone will even read this post I’m writing right now).

Like many others, I joined Facebook back in the day to stay connected to other humans, not to any particular newspaper or charming viral news site. I was home with a new baby, feeling isolated and overwhelmed by the challenges of new motherhood. I reconnected with long-lost friends, some of whom were already new moms and understood what the hell I was going through. 

When I was struggling to breastfeed, an old friend gave me some advice on Facebook about getting a lactation consultant. I had not known that such persons existed. In the middle of the night, awake with a baby, the site was not only a great distraction but a comfort — there were people out there who were up with babies, too! They were talking to me. 

I joined Facebook back in the day to stay connected to other humans, not to any particular newspaper or charming viral news site.

I was following the news, too, at the time. Not on Facebook. Publishers hadn’t yet really caught on to the site’s massive audience or power. I dutifully visited news sites, like everyone else. That was all fine and good, but reading the news online didn’t make me feel better; it certainly didn’t make me feel less alone.  

In recent years, as more of us connect to the Internet on smartphones, fewer of us visit those news websites anymore. Most people look at texts, maybe email, and then open the Facebook app. News organizations went where the people were: to Facebook. They’ve leaned heavily on the massive social network of more than 1 billion daily active users.

As a result, a lot of Americans get news from Facebook — about 142 million of us, according to Pew. The site is “far and away the most popular source of news about government and politics,” Farhad Manjoo wrote in The New York Times.

Over the past year, I’ve come to find Facebook kind of overwhelming and corporate. Maybe it’s because I’m a journalist and have followed too many institutional accounts over the years, but my feed has become crowded with post after post from newspapers or websites offering the hottest takes on whatever story is raging that day. As Donald Trump has risen to prominence recently, it’s become suffocating. How many stories about one man’s ill-advised taco salad tweet does a woman need to read? 

The same held true for more important stories, too. Do I need 50 takes on the Brexit? I do not. 

How many stories about one man’s ill-advised taco salad tweet does a woman need to read?

Like many others, I turned to Instagram (which Facebook owns). Others now go to Snapchat. Facebook has been wringing its hands recently as more people turn away from the site toward other less news-driven social networks.

At the same time, fewer users were sharing personal status updates, photos and videos. Those shares are more critical to Facebook’s business than the news. “Personal updates—including the half-based opinions, but also the baby photos, engagement announcements, and vacation photos—are what keep people coming back to Facebook,” Erin Griffith noted in April, writing for Fortune.

Without those users, the whole ad-based business of Facebook would collapse. In its announcement, Facebook emphasized its commitment to its original purpose: “connecting people with their friends and family.” 

It’s a familiar theme for all those folks in the media freaking out today. 

There’s a bit of hand-wringing now that, in light of Tuesday’s announcement that Americans will see less “news” and more pics of babies and puppies, the public will grow less informed. (My colleague Damon Beres convincingly makes that case.)

It’s really too early to tell how this change will look. It might mean we see just a smidge less news, as Beres writes. So, no big deal.

And if you think about the level of discourse on Facebook, you’d have to realize that getting our news on a social network is a dubious, possibly even dangerous, proposition.

The Facebook algorithm shows you what you like to see, and when you’re talking about news — particularly political news — that means liberals get a liberal spin on the news, while conservatives get the opposite. Most people live online in little Facebook silos. That helps further polarize Americans, who could arguably use a little less polarization these days. (See: Congress.)

“Facebook users do indeed … tend to engage in creating echo chambers, encasing themselves in environments that mesh with their own personal beliefs while rejecting other viewpoints,” researchers concluded in a paper published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Others have made similar arguments.

Those echo chambers can have the disastrous results, the researchers argued — spreading the idea, for example, that global warming isn’t real or that Sept. 11 was a U.S. government conspiracy. 

I’d much rather spread the idea that my kids looked extremely adorable last weekend. 

Read the other side of the argument: Facebook Just Gave The Finger To Millions Of People Who Use It For News

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