Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Historic nomination for Hillary Clinton; iPhone sales fall again; The new age of uncertainty

1 Historic nomination for Hillary Clinton (San Francisco Chronicle) Taking her place in history, Hillary Clinton has become the first woman to lead a major party toward the White House, a triumphant moment for Democrats to relish before plunging into a bruising general election against Republican Donald Trump.

Supporters of Bernie Sanders, Clinton's primary rival, repeatedly interrupted Monday's proceedings with boos and chants of "Bernie." Before Clinton's nomination became official, Sanders' supporters had one more opportunity to voice their fierce loyalty to the Vermont senator. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard vowed that the movement Sanders' sparked "can never be stopped or defeated."

Sanders sat in the arena soaking in the cheers and waving to the crowd. But the convention belonged to Clinton, who was bursting through the glass ceiling she was unable to crack during her failed 2008 campaign. She was nominated by a trio of Democrats, including Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who praised Clinton as a "great leader who can unite us as a nation and a people."

"Tonight we will make history, about 100 years in the making," said Karen Finney, a senior adviser for Clinton's campaign. "What we're really going to focus on tonight is telling that story, and telling her story, talking about the fights of her life."

2 iPhone sales fall again (BBC) Apple has reported a second consecutive quarter of falling iPhone sales, but the 15% drop was not as bad as analysts had feared. The US tech giant sold 40.4 million iPhones in its third quarter, slightly above forecasts of 40.02 million.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the results reflected "stronger customer demand... than we anticipated". The firm said it expected sales to fall again in the fourth quarter to between $45.5bn and $47.5bn. Demand for Apple's flagship product has been slowing since the second quarter when the firm reported the first drop in iPhone sales since their 2007 launch.

The iPhone makes up for around two-thirds of Apple's sales and accounts for even more of its profits. The slowdown in iPhone sales sent profit down 27% to $7.8bn in the three months to 25 June, while revenues fell 14.6% to $42.4bn. Apple's sales in Greater China - defined by the company as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - plunged 33%.

3 The new age of uncertainty (Stuart Jeffries in The Guardian) The future is always to some extent uncertain, but never more so than now. “Disruption is the new normal,” says author Jonathan Fields. Will we Brexit? Could there be another referendum? What will happen next?

Not all current uncertainty is a result of the EU referendum. We worry increasingly about things that never concerned our parents. Will Donald Trump be US president in November? Will the combination of rocketing property market and burden of student debt mean that you’ll never be able to afford downpayment?

Is it more financially wise to keep your money under the mattress rather than entrust it to a bank? Is it worth saving at all now that negative interest rates are being considered? Possibly worst of all, following a spate of murderous attacks across Europe and now Japan, we’re increasingly uncertain about our safety when we go beyond our front doors.

My only consolation is what Bertrand Russell wrote in The Triumph of Stupidity: “In the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” The parents who know, with vexing self-confidence, which school would be best for their little horrors are really deluded, while I’m a genius because of my very uncertainty. That must be what’s happening.

Every choice feels like a gamble, every decision relies on making a prediction about an unpredictable future. To make a plan for a life in such circumstances feels like a fool’s wager.

Here’s a consoling thought: earlier historical eras have not felt any different to those struggling through them. In 1977, for instance, the great economist John Kenneth Galbraith presented a BBC TV series called The Age of Uncertainty, contrasting “the great certainties in economic thought in the last century with the great uncertainty with which problems are faced in our time”.

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