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San Francisco. Photo: Francesco Vaninetti/UIG/Getty Images
In yesterday's midterms, voters set out yet again to tackle major social and economic issues — flat wages, expensive housing, discrimination against released prisoners — that public officials and companies failed to resolve.
Why it matters: In part, the populism that is roiling nations around the world is a reaction to a feeling that the system has failed to respond to large social issues. In these cases, voters said markets and public officials fell short.
The issue of rectifying skyrocketing housing costs appeared on ballots in eight states.
Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes:
In Florida, voters decisively struck down a 150-year-old law that disenfranchised anyone convicted of a felony, even after completing their sentence.
Erica writes: The ballot initiative repeals an 1868 constitutional amendment that overwhelmingly affects black men. To the degree they vote, the ex-felons could have an enormous impact on elections, since they could become 9.2% of Florida's electorate.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
In October, we reported that no one should wait for the U.S. and global anti-establishment wave to soon dissipate — the shakeup to the system is going to be a feature of politics for years and perhaps decades.
The big picture: Now, in the U.S. midterm elections, American voters have validated that conclusion — Americans are living in a different country from two years ago.
In the 22 months since President Trump took office, key underpinnings of administration policies have received begrudging intellectual support. Leading establishment thinkers condemn his divisive tactics, but validate some of his main gripes.
What they're saying: Today I contacted several of the thinkers who have spoken for our previous democracy coverage.
Brookings' Robert Kagan, author of "The Jungle Grows Back":
"It seems pretty clear that nothing in the vote suggests a shift away from the America First Troika of anti-immigration sentiment, protectionism, and a foreign policy more narrowly focused on immediate interests and away from global responsibilities. In the US, there has been a tension between two definitions of nationalism: one that is based on the universal principles of the Declaration — the one the founders intended — and one based on the premise of culture and civilization (and race). ... Today I think the nationalism as 'white nationalism' is enjoying a resurgence, as is the focus on group identity in general."
Timothy Snyder, a Yale professor and author of "The Road to Unfreedom" said Democrats did not achieve a "correction" and a return to pre-2016 politics. "Democrats got high turnout because they were against something. And rightly so."
"Nationalism can cut two ways. It can be a system of us and them, where 'they' are excluded from taking part in 'our' institutions. This is the logic of voter suppression in multiple American states. It is important that voter suppression be called for what it is, and that it not be allowed to prevail. Because when it prevails it is not only unjust. It turns nationalism into a form of systematic exclusion, the logic of which leads away from democracy towards managed democracy and authoritarianism."
But, but, but:
Charles Kupchan, a professor at Georgetown:
"The results of the midterms constitute a hung jury. The House swung to the Democrats, but the Senate went the other way. Key races split in a similar way. We are in the midst of a struggle for the heart and soul of liberal democracy — here as well as in Europe. But at least for now, Trump will face a new and potent check on his power, a most welcome development."
Photo: Alexandre Schneider/Getty
Big Tech — Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple — is using data and augmented reality in a push into the $265 billion-a-year beauty retail market.
Erica writes: Tech giants own increasingly granular data about the people who search, socialize and shop on their platforms, giving them a strong start at countering the current dominance of brick-and-mortar stores.
Amazon already has a 20% share of online beauty retail — and it's growing.
Google has partnered with Sephora, the iconic makeup brand, and Google Home users can book treatments at Sephora or take beauty quizzes.
Facebook is using all parts of its platform in a concentrated beauty push.
Apple is also working with developers on augmented reality apps that will let iPhone and iPad users try on makeup at home, CB Insights says.
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio and China's Xi Jinping. Photo: Andy Wong/Getty
Glitches on the path to Belt and Road (Janet Eom -— Axios)
Creeping up to the Milky Way's black hole (Joshua Sokol — Quanta)
The rise of China's e-sports athletes (Tom Hancock — FT)
When no one retires (Paul Irving — Harvard Biz Review)
8 U.S. retailers at risk of bankruptcy (Ben Unglesbee, Cara Salpini — Retail Dive)
Funeral procession for a victim of a Shiite mosque bombing in Gardez, Afghanistan, in August. Photo: Farid Zahrir/AFP/Getty
Researchers have used a computer model to simulate religious conflict, running the equivalent of millions of years of human interaction in order to better understand why such clashes occur.
Kaveh reports: The patterns the researchers found can help explain how xenophobia sprouts when groups with differing identities interact, according to a paper published last week.
The big picture: Conflict is most likely to erupt when there’s a roughly 60/40 split between a majority and minority religious group, the researchers found.
The bottom line: But overall, violence was not the default: It occurred in fewer than a quarter of the millions of simulations the researchers ran, LeRon Shults, another co-author, told Goldhill.
The experiment was a collaboration between Oxford University, Boston University and the University of Agder in Norway. The results were published in the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation.