Prime Minister signals hard Brexit; Nevada political reporter launches new indy news site
Morning Brief: Apple raises prices in the UK App Store as the pound falls against the dollar; inflation remains below 2 percent, it is rising following the Brexit vote
The exit from the European Union by the UK likely to be a hard one, Prime Minister Theresa May signaled today. The PM revealed the UK’s 12 priorities for Brexit negotiations which include maintaining the common travel area between the UK and Irish Republic, creating tariff-free trade with the EU, and controlling immigration rights for EU citizens.
“We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe,” the Prime Minister said today. “And that is why we seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU.”
At issue remains the fate of up to 3 million EU citizens currently living in the UK. “I am very disappointed that the prime minister didn’t take this opportunity in front of an international audience to unilaterally guarantee our rights of residence and we will continue to campaign to obtain a firm guarantee before article 50. We are not bargaining chips, we are human beings,” said the founder of the group the3million, Nicolas Hatton.
Photo by Chris Devers used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
But pro-Brexit advocates were generally happy with May’s position. In Scotland, though, the position of the Prime Minister makes it more likely that the SNP will continue its push for a new referendum on independence.
“The threat of a Tory hard Brexit, taking us out of a single market eight times bigger than the UK’s alone, is getting bigger by the day,” said Mike Russell, the SNP’s Brexit Minister.
“The Tories now seem to think they can they can do what they want and Scotland will simply accept it – and if they get away with dragging us out of the EU and Single Market then they will think they can get away with anything.”
The pound recovered some of its recent losses and was trading around $1.23 to the dollar. In June of last year, just before the Brexit vote, the pound was trading near $1.48 to the dollar. (Just for reference, in November of 2007, at the height of the US fiscal crisis, the pound was at $2.10.)
I found this story both fascinating and worrisome. Many who watch cable news will recognize Jon Ralston from his appearances during the general election campaign. That he would decide now to create an independent news website, especially after casino magnate Sheldon Adelson had purchased The Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not much of a surprise.
What bothered me was that NPR may have been so influenced by Adelson that Ralston’s show would be cancelled.
So, at some point today, The Nevada Independent will be born.
“We have assembled a great team of reporters and columnists to cover politics, government, and business. We have also retained nationally recognized pollster Mark Mellman to provide quality surveys and data on the issues that matter most to you. We will provide content in English as well as in Spanish in order to serve the entire Nevada community,” Ralston wrote on the home page for his new website.
“Our initial focus will be twofold: (1) the Legislature, where three of our reporters will be based full-time from January to June of 2017, and (2) important stories in both Northern and Southern Nevada. Much of our focus will be on providing data in easy to understand formats. In our mission to provide the public with as much factual information and insight as possible, we will leave no stone unturned.”
Voice of Politics in Nevada Media Starts a News Website
In the months after Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and prominent Republican donor, purchased The Las Vegas Review-Journal in late 2015, one local journalist was particularly relentless in criticizing the new ownership.
In blog posts and postings on Twitter, Jon Ralston, perhaps the state’s most prominent political reporter and columnist, referred to The Review-Journal as “The Adelson News,” suggesting Mr. Adelson was unduly influencing Nevada’s largest newspaper. In one post in May, titled “The End of Vegas Journalism, Chapter 5,091” Mr. Ralston shared his opinions about the “journalism bankruptcy” of the city’s papers.
A month later, PBS abruptly canceled Mr. Ralston’s television show, “Ralston Live,” saying it did not have the financial resources to continue. Mr. Ralston had a different take, saying that his pointed commentary about the state’s elite “ruffled feathers.”
Back to the UK… the falling value of the pound means prices for imported goods will be going up. In other words, welcome back to inflation.
That doesn’t mean we are looking at a situation like at the start of the ’80s. In fact, inflation is only at 1.6 percent, well below the 2 percent level many economists have targeted as good for growth. Yet, with the pound declining, and Brexit plans not yet set in stone, it could become an issue later this year – and one that consumers will notice right away.
UK inflation hits two-year high of 1.6%
Inflation has jumped to the highest rate for two-and-a-half years, hitting 1.6% as the pound’s sharp drop since the Brexit vote continues to push up costs in the UK.
Official figures for December showed air fares, food prices and fuel all helped to drive the rise from 1.2% in November. The December rate, as measured on the consumer prices index (CPI), was the highest since July 2014 and higher than forecasts for 1.4% in a Reuters poll of economists.
The increase fanned concerns about a squeeze on living standards this year and economists said inflation would continue to climb much higher, leaving households worse off in real terms.
The worries stem from sterling’s drop against other currencies since the vote to leave the EU last summer. A weaker pound has raised the costs of imports such as food and fuel, and businesses are starting to pass that on to consumers. The pound has come under more pressure in recent days, dropping below $1.20 at one point, ahead of Theresa May’s speech on the Brexit process on Tuesday.
App Store app prices to rise in the UK by >25% following Brexit exchange rate fluctuations
Apple is rising the prices for apps and in-app purchases in a few countries following changes to exchange rates and taxation policy, with customers in India, Turkey and the United Kingdom to see price increases.
In the United Kingdom, one of Apple’s largest markets, app prices are rising up more than 25% following the weak pound exchange rate after the Brexit vote. An app sold for $0.99 in the US will now cost £0.99 in the UK, up from £0.79.
That is an increase of about 25% and similar rises will be seen at every price tier when the changes hit the App Store in the coming days. A Tier 2 priced app now costs £1.99 in the UK up from £1.49. An In-App Purchase that previously cost £7.99 will now be priced at £9.99, like the ‘All Worlds’ upgrade for Super Mario Run.
Some of the best coverage of the US election this year came from the Canadian press. In particular, Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, produced great stories on the election campaign.
Not surprisingly, Canadians want to know what the hell happened, and what it means for Canada. They are also, I think, fascinated by the dynamics of Trump, his followers, and those willing to work in his administration. This piece on senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway is a good example.
The only skill needed to spin for Trump? A total lack of shame
It takes a certain je ne sais quoi. I would say it was rather Orwellian to watch senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway fling mud, poop and anything else at hand at CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview last week, as they sparred over what Trump “kompromat” briefing materials did or did not exist, but even Orwell’s math tapped out at relatively sane 2+2=5. How does one argue with someone who isn’t tethered to reality, who will lie with impunity?
The only skill needed to spin for Trump is a total lack of shame. Down is the new up, the sky isn’t blue, and screw you for thinking otherwise, you mainstream news media lackey. What’s worse, after having debased yourself, the great man will, more often than not, tweet that your bravura interpretation of his antics wasn’t, in fact, correct. He really did mean whatever insane thing he tweeted that morning. Like, for example, that wacky time Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, spent a day on television arguing that Trump’s tweeted call for a new nuclear arms race was really a call for the status quo, only for a clip to surface of Trump on MSNBC saying, clear as a bell, “let it be an arms race.”