Opinion | Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid

Here’s a simple idea I bet most Americans agree with: No qualified high school student should ever be barred entrance to a college based on his or her family’s bank account. Yet it happens all the time.

When colleges review applications, all but a few consider a student’s ability to pay. As a result, high-achieving applicants from low- and middle-income families are routinely denied seats that are saved for students whose families have deeper pockets. This hurts the son of a farmer in Nebraska as much as the daughter of a working mother in Detroit.

America is at its best when we reward people based on the quality of their work, not the size of their pocketbook. Denying students entry to a college based on their ability to pay undermines equal opportunity. It perpetuates intergenerational poverty. And it strikes at the heart of the American dream: the idea that every person, from every community, has the chance to rise based on merit.

I was lucky: My father was a bookkeeper who never made more than $6,000 a year. But I was able to afford Johns Hopkins University through a National Defense student loan, and by holding down a job on campus. My Hopkins diploma opened up doors that otherwise would have been closed, and allowed me to live the American dream.

I have always been grateful for that opportunity. I gave my first donation to Hopkins the year after I graduated: $5. It was all I could afford. Since then, I’ve given the school $1.5 billion to support research, teaching and financial aid.

Hopkins has made great progress toward becoming “need-blind” — admitting students based solely on merit. I want to be sure that the school that gave me a chance will be able to permanently open that same door of opportunity for others. And so, I am donating an additional $1.8 billion to Hopkins that will be used for financial aid for qualified low- and middle-income students.

This will make admissions at Hopkins forever need-blind; finances will never again factor into decisions. The school will be able to offer more generous levels of financial aid, replacing loans for many students with scholarship grants. It will ease the burden of debt for many graduates. And it will make the campus more socioeconomically diverse.

But Hopkins is one school. A recent analysis by The Times found that at dozens of America’s elite colleges, more students came from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent of that scale — even though many of those lower-income students have the qualifications to get in.

And until recently, by some estimates, half of all high-achieving low- and middle-income students have not even been applying to top colleges — largely because they believe they can’t afford it, doubt they’ll be accepted, or aren’t even aware of their options.

As a result, they often lose out — and so do colleges that would benefit from their talents and diverse perspectives. Our country loses out, too.

College is a great leveler. Multiple studies have shown that students who attend selective colleges — no matter what their family’s background — have similar earnings after graduation. But too many qualified kids from low- and middle-income families are being shut out.

As a country, we can tackle this challenge and open doors of opportunity to more students by taking three basic steps:

First, we need to improve college advising so that more students from more diverse backgrounds apply to select colleges. Through a program called CollegePoint, my foundation has counseled nearly 50,000 low- and middle-income students about their options, and helped them navigate the financial aid process.

Second, we need to persuade more colleges to increase their financial aid and accept more low- and middle-income students. Through the American Talent Initiative (which my foundation created several years ago), more than 100 state and private schools have together begun admitting and graduating more of these students.

Third, we need more graduates to direct their alumni giving to financial aid. I’m increasing my personal commitment — the largest donation to a collegiate institution, I’m told. But it’s my hope that others will, too, whether the check is for $5, $50, $50,000 or more.

But these steps alone are not sufficient. Federal grants have not kept pace with rising costs, and states have slashed student aid. Private donations cannot and should not make up for the lack of government support.

Together, the federal and state governments should make a new commitment to improving access to college and reducing the often prohibitive burdens debt places on so many students and families.

There may be no better investment that we can make in the future of the American dream — and the promise of equal opportunity for all.

Michael R. Bloomberg is the founder of Bloomberg LP and served as mayor of New York, 2002-2013.

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Opinion | Saving Wilderness Areas Before It’s Too Late

To the Editor:

Re “Why I’m Giving $1 Billion for the Planet,” by Hansjörg Wyss (Op-Ed, Nov. 1):

The Wildlife Conservation Society applauds Mr. Wyss for his $1 billion commitment to preserving the Earth’s remaining wild places. Bold philanthropy is vital to advancing new protections for nature’s strongholds on land and at sea.

Our research recently published in Nature found that we have lost 77 percent of the world’s wilderness. We must act now to save what remains, and we share Mr. Wyss’s vision and optimism about what can be accomplished if we rally the global community around the ambitious goal of protecting 30 percent of our planet’s wild places by 2030.

Through decades of experience partnering with governments, local communities and indigenous people to preserve the world’s great wilderness areas, we know that this approach works. A 2015 study by a consortium of Amazon NGOs found that deforestation rates in the Amazon are more than five times lower inside indigenous peoples’ territories than for the region as a whole.

What we do next will determine whether we secure a foundation for the global recovery of nature.

Cristián Samper
Bronx
The writer is president and chief executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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Opinion | Trump Is Beginning to Lose His Grip

America’s polarized citizenry took a break from intense partisan bickering to produce the highest off-year turnout in a midterm election in 50 years on Nov. 6. Is it possible that all that effort actually nudged us forward a bit?

Because the votes were counted so slowly across the country, we were also slow to realize that Democrats had won the national congressional vote by a margin greater than that of the Tea Party Republicans in 2010. In fact, Democrats overcame huge structural hurdles to win nearly 40 seats.

At first, the results looked like something of a stalemate. The Republican Party retained and even strengthened its hold on the Senate. President Trump’s approval rating was at 45 percent, one percentage point below his percentage of the popular vote in the 2016 election. Analysts said that Mr. Trump still knew how to get Republicans “excited, interested and turn them out” and that he had “deepened his hold on rural areas.”

In the days that followed, though, it became clear that Democrats had made substantial gains. Analysts I trusted concluded that this was because suburban and college-educated women issued “a sharp rebuke to President Trump” that set off a “blue wave through the urban and suburban House districts.” At first, I also believed that was the main story line.

But the 2018 election was much bigger than that. It was transformative, knocking down what we assumed were Electoral College certainties. We didn’t immediately see this transformation because we assumed that Mr. Trump and the polarization in his wake still governed as before.

First of all, Democrats did not win simply because white women with college degrees rebelled against Mr. Trump’s misogyny, sexism and disrespect for women. Nearly every category of women rebelled.

Women Turn Further Away From the Republican Party

Change in women’s vote, by party, from 2016 (vote for president) to 2018 (vote in House races).

All

women

White unmarried

women

59

60%

54

54%

DEMOCRATIC

50

48

REPUBLICAN

46

40

43

41%

40

30

Shift toward Democrats, in percentage points:

20

+6

+10

10

’16

’18

’16

’18

White women with

a college degree

White working-

class women

61

59

56

51

44

42

39

34

Shift toward Democrats, in percentage points:

+13

+13

’16

’18

’16

’18

All

women

White unmarried

women

White women with

a college degree

White working-

class women

61

59

59

60%

56

54

54%

51

DEMOCRATIC

50

48

REPUBLICAN

46

40

44

43

42

41%

40

39

30

34

20

Shift by these groups toward the Democrats, in percentage points:

+6

+10

+13

+13

10

’16

’18

’16

’18

’16

’18

’16

’18

By The New York Times | Source: Greenberg Research; women with degrees have at least four years of college

These conclusions are based on Democracy Corps’ election night survey for Women’s Voice Women’s Vote Action Fund and a study of the exit polls conducted for Edison and Catalist.

Yes, House Democrats increased their vote margin nationally among white women with at least a four-year degree by 13 points compared with the Clinton-Trump margin in 2016. But Democrats also won 71 percent of millennial women and 54 percent of unmarried white women (who split their votes two years earlier). In 2018, unmarried white women pushed up their vote margin for Democrats by 10 points. In fact, white women without a four-year degree (pollster shorthand for the white working class) raised their vote margin for Democrats by 13 points.

Overall, white women split their vote between Democrats and Republicans, but it is clear which way they are moving. Interestingly, the white college women who were supposed to be the “fuel for this Democratic wave” played a smaller role in the Democrats’ increased 2018 margin than white working class women, because the former were 15 percent of midterm voters and the latter 25 percent.

Will this shift of white women be durable? Mr. Trump is the leader of the Republican Party as it heads toward 2020. Like Mr. Trump, Senate and House Republicans were animated about white males being victimized by the P.C. police. The new Republican House caucus is 90 percent white men; nearly half of the new Democratic members will be women.

Second, Mr. Trump and his party maintained their principal base with white working class voters, the shift among women notwithstanding, and Democrats still need to do better. Nonetheless, Democrats got their wave in part because a significant portion of male and female white working class voters abandoned Mr. Trump and his Republican allies.

In 2016, the white working class men that Mr. Trump spoke most forcefully to as the “forgotten Americans” gave him 71 percent of their votes and gave only 23 percent to Hillary Clinton. This year, the Republicans won their votes with a still-impressive margin of 66 to 32 percent. But what was essentially a three-to-one margin was deflated to two-to-one, which affected a lot of races.

Men Move to the Democrats, Too

Change in men’s vote, by party, from 2016 (vote for president) to 2018 (vote in House races).

All men

White working-

class men

71

70%

66

60

52%

51

REPUBLICAN

50

40

41%

47

DEMOCRATIC

30

32

20

23

Shift toward Democrats, in percentage points:

10

+7

+14

’16

’18

’16

’18

By The New York Times | Source: Greenberg Research

Working people are not fools, and Mr. Trump promised them a Republican president who would never cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid; who would repeal Obamacare but provide “insurance for everybody”; who would get rid of bad trade deals and “drain the swamp,” as he never tired of saying. Instead, had Mr. Trump’s effort to replace Obamacare passed, it would have imposed vast cuts in retirement programs and driven up health insurance costs. His tax reforms were heavily weighted to large corporations and the top 1 percent. So it is no surprise that more than half of white working class men now believe that Mr. Trump is “self-dealing” and corrupt.

The Democratic Senate candidates in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania called out the president on these issues and won by more than double digits.

There is a long way to go, but 10 percent of 2016 Trump voters supported Democrats this year, and 40 percent of moderate Republicans either voted Democratic or stayed home. For Mr. Trump, this setback will be corrosive, unless he decides to acknowledge the “shellacking” and starts to actually “drain the swamp.” Don’t hold your breath.

Third, Democrats made big gains because Mr. Trump declared war on immigrants — and on multicultural America — and lost. His ugly campaign succeeded in making immigration and the border a voting issue for the Republican base, according to the postelection survey I did with Democracy Corps, which asked those voting Republican why they did. “Open borders” was the top reason given for voting against a Democratic candidate. But it backfired among other voters.

On Election Day, a stunning 54 percent of those who voted said immigrants “strengthen our country.” Mr. Trump’s party lost the national popular vote by seven points, but he lost the debate over whether immigrants are a strength or a burden by 20 points. Mr. Trump got more than half of Republicans to believe immigrants were a burden, but three quarters of Democrats and a large majority of independents concluded that America gains from immigration.

For their part, the Democrats embraced their diversity. They supported comprehensive immigration reform and the Dreamers, opposed Mr. Trump’s border wall and opposed the separation of children from their families. They nominated African-American candidates for governor in Georgia and Florida and fought the suppression of minority voters. When it was over, the Democrats got more votes and created a new House majority that is nearly half women, and a third people of color. It also has more LBGTQ members than ever before.

In short, the Republicans lost badly in the House by running as an anti-immigrant party, while the Democrats made major gains as a self-confident multicultural party.

Fourth, Democrats could not have picked up as many House seats as they did in 2018 without raising their share of the vote by four points in the suburbs, which have grown to encompass 50 percent of voters. Mrs. Clinton won many of these districts in 2016, so it was clear that any further shift in the Democrats’ direction would prove consequential. But Democrats made their biggest gains not there, but in the rural parts of the country. That was the shocker.

Democrats cut the Republicans’ margin in rural areas by 13 points, according to the Edison exit poll and by seven points in one by Catalist. Democrats still lost rural America by somewhere between 14 and 18 points so that left Democrats in a pickle there. That had implications for the Senate, but it shouldn’t conceal the fact that Democrats actually made progress in rural areas.

In the senate races, Mr. Trump looked like a giant killer because he took out at least three incumbent Democrats. But he mainly campaigned in states that he won by large margins in 2016.

The Democratic wave exposed Mr. Trump’s vulnerability and suggests a less polarized country. In the face of his divisive campaign, parts of rural and working class America peeled off.

I thought it would take Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020 for America to be liberated from this suffocating polarization, but it may have already begun.

Stanley B. Greenberg (@StanGreenberg), the author of “America Ascendant,” is a founding partner of Greenberg Research and Democracy Corps. His latest book, “R.I.P. G. O. P.: How the New America is Dooming the Republican Party” will be published next year.

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COMMENTARY: Exercise is medicine, and doctors are starting to prescribe it

There is a movement afoot (pun intended) to get more people exercising by involving their family doctors.

In the United Kingdom, the government recently released Moving Medicine — an online resource to help doctors talk to their patients about the importance of exercise in relation to conditions as diverse as cancer and dementia. This is a welcome initiative given that physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

The benefits of exercise have been proven over and over again: Exercise reduces risk of depression, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many cancers, and prevents early death.

If it was a pill, exercise would be a trillion-dollar money-maker prescribed to everyone.

Exercise as a therapy is mentioned in almost all prevention and treatment guidelines, which are written by doctors themselves. Still, most patients never hear their doctor talk about it. And fewer than one in four Canadians meet current guidelines for physical activity, which recommend that people participate in moderate (such as brisk walking) and vigorous (such as jogging, swimming or running) activity for at least 150 minutes per week.

Part of the reason is that most doctors in practice today received little, if any, training on the role of exercise in managing disease. Years ago I taught a 30-minute lecture on the topic at a Canadian medical school and this was all the students got over their four-year program.

This is about to change.

Free gym prescriptions

In recent years, Canadian medical schools — such as the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary — have revised their curricula to incorporate aspects of exercise in the prevention and treatment of disease.

This is one part of growing initiatives like Exercise is Medicine that advocate for the role of exercise and encourage doctors to prescribe it.

Similarly, the Prescription to Get Active program in Alberta allows doctors to prescribe free 30-day gym memberships to patients.

A grassroots program called Walk with a Doc has local doctors walking with their patients. The program was begun by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio, who was frustrated with his inability to affect behaviour change in the clinical setting and invited his patients to go for a walk with him in a local park one Saturday morning. More than 100 people showed up, and there are now 400 chapters worldwide.

There have also been calls for exercise to be considered a vital sign, much like blood pressure and heart rate. Health insurance provider Kaiser Permanente requires doctors in the United States to record how much physical activity a patient does.

Patients who receive exercise prescriptions and counselling from their doctors are more likely to be active, so these initiatives are a good start.

More needs to be done, however, when only one-third of doctors talk to their patients about exercise.

Reactionary health-care system

Not surprisingly, doctors who exercise themselves are more likely to counsel their patients about physical activity. Therefore, targeting doctors to be more active may provide a substantial population effect.

At the same time, doctors say they need more and better training with respect to the benefits of exercise and how to counsel patients.

The need for this change in approaching health and disease comes from two key realizations. One is that there are a growing number of people with preventable chronic illness, and our health-care system is not adequately prepared to deal with all these patients.

Our system is reactionary; it is designed to wait until someone has a disease instead of preventing it. But chronic illnesses are not like diseases of old. They cannot be cured, although many can be prevented. Exercise is increasingly recognized as important to this change.

Exercise for cancer care

Second, we have greater knowledge about the benefits of exercise in treating disease in addition to preventing it. Exercise is used for cardiac rehabilitation, after a heart attack.

Exercise works as well as drugs that lower cholesterol and blood pressure in preventing early death. And diabetics who exercise require less medication to manage their blood sugar.

Even in treating cancer, exercise can reduce the side-effects of treatment, such as anxiety, depression and fatigue. This has prompted the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia to release a position statement recommending exercise as part of regular cancer care. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the world, but hopefully not the last.

Doctors would benefit from additional incentives such as specific billing codes that allow for prescribing of exercise as well as more continuing medical education sessions on how to do so.

Educating current and future doctors that exercise is as good, if not better, than many medications will be essential to prevent the increasing burden of chronic illnesses.

Scott Lear, Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, writes the weekly blog Feel healthy with Dr. Scott Lear.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Opinion | Seeking Asylum at the Border: Victims, Not Criminals

To the Editor:

Re “Common Sense on the Caravan” (editorial, Nov. 4):

As a law student more than 20 years ago, I helped Fauziya Kassindja, a 17-year-old who fled Togo to avoid forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Upon arriving in the United States, instead of finding protection, Fauziya spent more than 17 months in detention.

Her case would go on to become a landmark ruling setting the legal precedent for gender-based asylum cases and led to my founding the Tahirih Justice Center.

Since then, our pro bono lawyers have represented thousands of women and girls like Fauziya seeking protection from gender-based persecution. Those protections and the vulnerable communities they serve are now threatened if the Trump administration turns away asylum seekers or incarcerates them indefinitely.

Seeking asylum at the border is not illegal and is in compliance with United States and international law dating back to the Holocaust. Women like Fauziya and countless others are victims, not criminals.

We must continue to uphold our values and be a bridge to safety for those who seek refuge and a chance to live safely and with dignity in the United States.

Layli Miller-Muro
Falls Church, Va.
The writer is chief executive of the Tahirih Justice Center.

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Opinion | A President With Values Like Jell-O

To the Editor:

Re “A Chance at Criminal Justice Reform” (editorial, Nov. 16):

This country’s criminal justice system is an urgent crisis, and Democrats should pursue reform at any cost. But we should not be naïve about whom we’re dealing with. President Trump is completely devoid of principles and often listens to the last person he spoke to.

A priority today can easily be a nonstarter tomorrow. Remember when Democrats thought they would break through on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and an infrastructure bill?

Criminal justice reform is an accomplishment no matter who signs the bill, but we should not ignore the danger of dealing with a president whose values resemble Jell-O.

Jess Coleman
Boston
The writer is a student at Boston University School of Law.

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Opinion | New York City Needs Amazon as Much as Amazon Needs Us

For decades, experts have called for the diversification of the New York City economy. In the wake of postwar deindustrialization, our reliance on Wall Street and the financial industry in general had by the 1990s left our city disproportionately vulnerable to swings in the financial markets. We have experienced significant downturns that today feel like distant memories but could certainly return. I know this from my own experience as director of planning for Manhattan after Sept. 11.

In those heady dark days, few spoke about gentrification or the supposedly ominous specter of new companies entering New York City. To the contrary, many worried that no one would build so much as a Quonset hut in this city again. Darker still were the memories of my older colleagues in city government, who helped rescue us from the nose-dive of the late 1970s, when New York City lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and crime ravaged our most vulnerable neighborhoods.

It is with dismay that I hear the fiercely negative reaction to the announcement that New York City won the Amazon competition to land at least 25,000 jobs and decades of direct and indirect economic growth in Long Island City. The fact that the debate has yielded so much heat and so little light is a sign of how complacent we have become. It is easy to forget that employment generates our city tax base, which strains to help fund the public goods we so desperately need, from schools to transit to affordable housing to parks to basic services like snow and trash removal. The city’s tax revenues have more than doubled since Sept. 11, to $83 billion from $40 billion. The Bloomberg administration put us in this enviable economic position; Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be lauded for doubling down on those efforts.

Yet there are stiff headwinds. Municipal spending is outpacing growth. Federal urban investments continue to retract. And we already have some of the highest income taxes in the country. Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who served on the City Council until 2017 and was chairman of the council’s finance committee, said of the budget: “We know there’s a storm coming. We don’t know how big it’s going to be.”

It is for these reasons that we should welcome Amazon, but with a few caveats: To become true New Yorkers, the people at Amazon must abide by our implicit social compact, which is that New York City strives to be a place of opportunity for all. Amazon, the city and the state must build an “infrastructure of opportunity” that creates both physical and social mobility for all New Yorkers, and they must do so with fiscal responsibility.

While opinions differ regarding the incentive package offered Amazon, a few things are clear: Amazon obtained incentives available to any forward-looking large company seeking to relocate here. Second, government officials involved are confident that the deal will yield between $12 billion and $27 billion of direct economic benefit, which is many multiples of the incentives offered; and third, the incentives are part of the city and state’s established budget to lure companies here — not money that would otherwise go to subways and schools.

Beyond these incentives, government investments should be focused on significant improvements to the physical mobility of western Queens, including a reimagined subway, streetcar, bus, bike, scooter and ferry network. The agreement does establish an Infrastructure Fund using targeted tax revenue, but the details, time frame and scope for the improvements are murky and should be clarified. Amazon must participate as well — let’s press those logistics experts less about a helipad and more about how they hope to transport thousands of workers to one of the most congested parts of our city. First steps have been made, along with commitments to make Amazon’s new waterfront home accessible to the public in accordance with the Long Island City waterfront design guidelines.

More significant is the potential to create a new paradigm for social mobility. We lost this along with our manufacturing base and never regained it by relying on Wall Street. Unsung treasures like LaGuardia Community College, Queensbridge Houses and the public schools and cultural institutions of Queens shouldn’t be thrown the crumbs of this project. Amazon is proposing to locate in the most ethnically diverse county in the United States and near the nation’s largest public housing project — the company’s work force and campus must reflect the diversity around them.

The current agreement with Amazon, which calls for $15 million to fund work force development and three years of direct engagement with Queensbridge Houses, is a good first step. More should be done, including a longer-term goal of 50 percent of all employees drawn from the borough. This is an enormous opportunity for Amazon to differentiate itself from its competitors by proving that it can help bridge what has become a gaping American class divide.

Amazon will continue to be criticized about the way it held this competition, even though New Yorkers have long advocated more business growth outside of Manhattan. (Queens has a population similar to Chicago’s but nowhere near the economic output.) Amazon will be criticized for its impacts on small retailers, although it arguably hurts big-box stores far more than mom-and-pops, which sell through Amazon. It will be criticized for being one of the world’s richest companies, by both the left and the right.

But in the end, the benefits to everyday New Yorkers should be substantial enough to put all of these criticisms to rest. At best, it will spur a return on investment that in 20 years doubles the city’s tax revenues, as happened in the past two decades. Such an outcome would fund the physical and social infrastructure needs for a city that by then could be 10 million strong.

This isn’t about one company. It is about fulfilling our collective dream of New York as a city of opportunity for millions of strivers of all colors, genders and creeds. Our new socioeconomic ladder appears to be digital, and we should embrace it, if — and only if — its creators have the tenacity and temerity to embrace us.

Vishaan Chakrabarti is an architect, author and professor at Columbia University.

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Commentary: The prolonged torture that is Brexit

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason stood outside of the mother of parliaments on Monday morning and said he didn’t have the “foggiest idea” about where Brexit is going. Then he made what have been described as “exasperated noises” – and promptly became an online viral sensation.

But Mason’s exhalations were a disgrace for two reasons. There was much to explain about the UK government’s draft deal on leaving the European Union, and many future possibilities to explore. More importantly, Brexit, for all of the chaotic politics it has provoked, is a genuine political argument conducted within the bounds of a robust democracy. Indeed, it is a sign of a robust democracy. To make exasperated noises about it is to mock the purpose of the famed public-service BBC in national life.

To be sure, the political process is chaotic, and at times alarming. At this stage in the prolonged torture that is Brexit, a plan has been provisionally accepted by the European Union, provisionally agreed by a majority in a split cabinet and is likely to go to a parliament which, at present, seems disposed to vote it down. The nay-sayers include the Democratic Unionist Party, the largest party in Northern Ireland, which has provided a slim majority to give support to Theresa May’s Conservatives, but now seems too outraged by the implications of the deal for the province to continue.

To add strength to this view of the future, the cabinet has suffered a rash of resignations this week. One of those leaving is Dominic Raab, recently appointed as Brexit secretary charged with securing a departure deal. The government is being shredded bit by bit: the prime minister has retained the occupants of the three main offices of state – the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Home Secretary Sajid Javid. If one of these goes, May’s government is over. Even now, Brexiteers are striving to fire her. And the best analysts of the parliamentary arithmetic indicate her time in office will soon be over anyway.

Why? What is the plan to which so many object so strongly – and for such very different reasons? The overarching truth is two-fold. First, it is a highly temporary deal, with most of the technical details, especially on trade, still to be worked out in an extended negotiation period. And second, it constrains the UK, preventing it from making trade deals with non-EU states, as when it was a full member – but giving it no voice in the councils of the Union. The UK will stay in a customs union, which will allow the continuing of frictionless trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But Northern Ireland will be subject to a tighter regulatory regime than the rest of the country – a fact which leading Unionists in the province believe will hasten the break-up of the UK itself, and prompt Scots nationalists, who are in power in the Scottish parliament, to demand a separate deal – arguing that Scotland voted heavily to remain, and bolstering their demand for independence.

The plan has attracted opposition from pro-Brexiteers, who believe it imprisons the UK in a cage which the EU has constructed for an indefinite period. Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson used his Telegraph column, and his Churchillian rhetoric, earlier this week to draw a picture of a country “in captivity,” only now able to “savor the full horror of this capitulation.” His younger brother, Jo Johnson, who is opposed to Brexit, resigned from his post as transport minister for some of the same reasons, calling the deal “an utterly abject and shameful national humiliation,” and stressing that no deal could possibly be better than the country’s membership of the EU.

The one political force which could save the deal is the opposition Labour Party – though hopes are very thin indeed. Most party members are for Remain, but its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and his closest colleagues in the shadow cabinet are not: he told the German magazine Der Spiegel last week that “we can’t stop Brexit.” Though Labour’s present position is that it will vote down the plan, and call for a government resignation and a general election, there are groups within the party who may defy the leadership and support the prime minister – yet probably not enough to counter the Conservatives pledged to vote against her.

Democracy, when passions and principles are aroused, is a messy business. That is especially the case when, as now, a large boil filled with anti-EU sentiment has been lanced, and the barely-suppressed animosity to the loss of sovereignty to a multinational union which seeks to be a European state has been fully roused.

Like many of the British boomer generation, I had been a supporter of the EU – less for the UK, more as a capacious gathering of democratic states which could enfold the east and central European states once they sloughed off communism. In 10 years in the area as a correspondent, I thought, in the euphoric period after the end of the Soviet Union, that even Russia might come into membership.

No longer. Russia is using all of its considerable diplomatic skill to woo European states away from the EU, finding allies in Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Hungary and President Milos Zeman in the Czech Republic – and more recently, Italy’s most powerful and popular politician, deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, together with the extraordinary prize of U.S. President Donald Trump – a populist International. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Merkel continue to pursue – probably futilely – a more closely integrated EU, with the ambition of creating a European army.

Yet Britain is making a large mistake in leaving. It might have taken the lead in pushing within the EU for a third way – between exit and integration. The EU cannot overcome national attachments and the desire of Europeans to have a government they can hold to account – a necessary part of democracy the EU cannot offer. However, much of what it does in facilitating trade among members, in drawing together the leading politicians on joint projects and problems – on the environment, on security, on education – is admirable and needed. An explicitly two-speed Europe, where the integrators pursue the dream and the pragmatists pursue both national and common interests would have the result of retaining much of the value the Union has added to European life, and depriving the national populists of a large part of the problem. But it is now, it seems, too late.

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Tata Sons only in preliminary talks with Jet Airways about a deal

MUMBAI/ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Indian conglomerate Tata Sons Ltd said on Friday it is in preliminary talks with struggling Jet Airways Ltd (JET.NS) but has not made a proposal to acquire a stake, cooling speculation that a deal was imminent.

Shares in debt-laden Jet Airways surged on Friday for a fourth straight day after media reported that Tata was close to making a takeover bid for the airline, which flies to destinations including Hong Kong, Dubai, London and New York.

“Over the last few days there has been growing speculation in the print and electronic media about Tata’s interest in Jet Airways,” Tata said in a statement. “We would like to clarify that any such discussions have been preliminary and no proposal has been made.”

Jet Airways’ shares closed up 7.9 percent at 346.5 rupees ($4.82), their highest close in four months.

Tata already owns two Indian airlines but has less than 10 percent of the country’s aviation market.

A deal with Jet would transform Tata from a fringe player into the country’s dominant, full-service international carrier, but would also give it a loss-making company that is struggling to stay afloat and owes money to vendors and employees alike.

Jet is 24 percent owned by Etihad Airways. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier is keeping all options open but would want to retain its stake even if Jet is sold to another airline or the Tata group, a source aware of the matter told Reuters.

India is the world’s fastest-growing domestic aviation market with 20 percent annual passenger growth but rising fuel costs, a weak rupee and intense competition have wrought havoc on the finances of Jet and other carriers.

The survival of the 25-year-old airline, founded by entrepreneur Naresh Goyal, is crucial for a host of companies from which it leases over 100 of its fleet of 124 planes. The airline also has 225 Boeing Co (BA.N) 737 MAX jets on order.

Tata Sons board met on Friday and were told about the conglomerate’s preliminary interest in Jet at the meeting, one source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

After losing money at Alitalia and Air Berlin, Etihad is not ready to take another hit by simply selling out and might want to be part of the new consortium, if that happens, said the source, adding that India is a big and important market.

“Etihad is waiting to see what the deal on the table is; it is working out the best-case scenario, the price is a big factor,” said the source.

An Etihad spokesman declined to comment.

Indian airlines are increasingly looking abroad in search of better returns as price competition intensifies domestically.

Tata’s two airline ventures in India include full-service carrier Vistara, which is in partnership with Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIAL.SI), and low-cost carrier AirAsia India in combination with AirAsia Group Bhd (AIRA.KL).

If the deal goes through, Tata would likely seek to combine Vistara with Jet, sources have told Reuters, thereby achieving international expansion in a fraction of the time it would take organically.

($1 = 71.8850 Indian rupees)

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Opinion | Democrats Should Un-Friend Facebook

In their recent book “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media,” P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking describe the surprising role of online communication in spurring gang violence in Chicago. They quote Chicago Alderman Joe Moore saying that, contrary to popular belief, most gang disputes begin not with conflict over drug sales or territory, but with insults hurled on the internet. (Slang terms for online threats, the authors report, include “Facebook drilling” and “wallbanging.”) According to Singer and Brooking, “80 percent of the fights that break out in Chicago schools are now instigated online.”

Chicago, of course, is far from the only place where Facebook — and social media more broadly — seems to have acted as an accelerant to violence. United Nations investigators concluded that Facebook played a “determining role” in fomenting genocidal attacks against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. Hate speech on Facebook incited murderous mobs in Sri Lanka; as The Times reported, “Facebook’s newsfeed played a central role in nearly every step from rumor to killing.” Social media was key to the elevation of brutal Filipino demagogue Rodrigo Duterte, and, as Bloomberg reported, his government uses Facebook as a weapon against his enemies.

Without Facebook, Donald Trump probably wouldn’t be president, which is reason enough to curse its existence. The platform was an essential vector for Russian disinformation. It allowed the shady “psychographics” company Cambridge Analytica to harvest private user data. And Facebook helped decimate local newspapers, contributing to America’s widespread epistemological derangement.

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

In general, people trust local papers more than the national media; when stories are about your immediate community, you can see they’re not fake news. Without a trusted news source, people are more vulnerable to the atmosphere of disinformation, cynicism and wild conspiracy theories in which fascism — and Trumpism — flourishes. Politico found that “Voters in so-called news deserts — places with minimal newspaper subscriptions, print or online,” voted for Trump in higher-than-expected numbers, even accounting for employment and education.

So well before The Times’s blockbuster story on Wednesday about how Facebook deals with its critics, we knew it was a socially toxic force, a globe-bestriding company whose veneer of social progressivism hides amoral corporate ruthlessness. Still, it was staggering to learn that Facebook had hired a Republican opposition-research firm that sought to discredit some of the company’s detractors by linking them to George Soros — exploiting a classic anti-Semitic trope — while at the same time lobbying a Jewish group to paint the critics as anti-Semitic. Or that C.O.O. Sheryl Sandberg, who has spent years cultivating an image as Facebook’s humane, feminist face, reportedly helped cover up the company’s internal findings about Russian activity on the site, lest they alienate Republican politicians.

Now we’re nearing something close to a progressive consensus: Facebook is bad. The question, as always, is what is to be done.

In theory, there could be a bipartisan coalition against Facebook, since many conservatives also fear and resent it, believing it is biased against them. (Trump has floated the idea of using antitrust law against some of the major tech platforms to pressure them to give more exposure to right-wing voices.) Given the polarization of our politics, however, it’s hard to imagine Republicans actually siding with Democrats to regulate Facebook, as opposed to simply using the threat of regulation as a cudgel.

Democrats, of course, are hardly united in seeing Facebook as a problem. As The Times reported, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer — who in 2016 received more donations from Facebook employees than any other member of Congress — pressured Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, to back off from his pointed inquiries into the company. Sandberg, a veteran of Bill Clinton’s administration, has lots of connections in Democratic politics; there were rumors she was being considered as a potential Treasury secretary in a Hillary Clinton administration.

Still, there are plenty of Democrats who are ready to take on Facebook, and we can expect the new Congress to hold hearings about the exponentially expanding influence of the biggest tech platforms. The “challenge of this enormous concentration of economic power and corresponding political power is a very serious problem facing our country,” said Representative David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who is in line to head a House subcommittee that deals with antitrust law.

If Democrats can muster the will to regulate Facebook and other enormous tech companies, next comes the complicated question of how. Warner has laid out some intriguing ideas in a white paper. Among them are amending the Communications Decency Act to open platforms up to defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuits, mandating more transparency in the algorithms that decide what content we see, and giving consumers ownership rights over the data that platforms collect from them.

The important thing is that there are solutions; the overweening dominance of the tech platforms need not be seen as an immutable fact of nature. “We’ve seen these problems in the past,” said Barry Lynn, director of the Open Markets Institute and organizer of the Freedom From Facebook coalition, which Facebook sought to smear. “We’ve seen analogous types of corporations in the past.” He pointed to "network monopolies" like railroads, AT&T and electrical utilities, saying, “there was a period in every single instance in which the people who commanded those corporations exploited the power within them to enrich themselves and to control other people in bad ways. And in every case, America said, ‘Hey, we know how to regulate this problem.’” America once had the confidence to subdue tyrannical plutocrats. We’ll see if we still do.

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Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women’s rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @michelleinbklyn

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