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I think it was Russia: Donald Trump on outside involvement in the US presidential elections

The Republican said he had no dealings with Russia and denied reports that the country had compromising information on him.

United States President-elect Donald Trump has for the first time acknowledged that Russia could have been involved in Democratic Party email hackings before the presidential elections. At the first press conference he had given in nearly six months, he said, “I think it was Russia,” when asked who was responsible for the email leaks during his campaign. “But we also get hacked by other countries and other people... The Democratic National Convention was totally open to be hacked. They did a totally poor job.” He added that he believed Russia would have released damaging information about him had they obtained such information.

Till Wednesday’s press conference, Trump had consistently denied intelligence reports suggesting Russian interference in the elections.

His meeting with the media came after reports had said that American intelligence agencies claimed that Russia had compromising information on him. The president-elect started off his conference by saying that he has “great respect” for the news and freedom of speech but that it had been irresponsible of a few news organisations to run “false reports”. Trump thanked the agencies that did not publish these reports on Russian operatives that allegedly had such information on him, though he said the “nonsense” was released by “maybe the intelligence agencies, who knows, maybe the intelligence agencies”.

The president-elect also said he had no dealings in Russia. “If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability… Do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anybody really believe that?” Trump is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump’s opponent for the presidential post Hillary Clinton had often brought up the point during her campaign and in debates.

The businessman-turned-president also said he has not released his income tax returns as “you know, they are under audit”. In October 2016, a report had said the multi-millionaire could have avoided paying taxes for up to 18 years. One of his lawyers also addressed the press conference, claiming that the Republican politician will be “completely isolated from management of his company” The Trump Organization. “The conflicts of interest laws simply do not apply to the president and the vice president,” she said. The company will also not sign any foreign deals during Trump’s presidency.

Earlier, intelligence had claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to help Republican candidate Donald Trump win the presidential elections. The report, prepared by Office of the Director of National Intelligence, says Putin ordered an “influence campaign” to “undermine public faith” in democracy and disparage Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton so that voters would see her as the poorer choice.

Other points Trump made at the conference:

  • He spoke about the wall he had announced will be built along the US-Mexico border and said its construction will soon start. “I don’t wanna wait. Mike Pence is leading an effort to get final approval...Mexico in some form will reimburse us...that will happen.”
  • “Obamacare is a complete and total disaster. We will submit a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare as soon as health secretary is approved.”
  • He said that other countries will “respect us far more, far more than they did under past administrations.”
  • “Within 90 days we will be coming up with a major report on hacking defence, how do we stop this new phenomenon.”
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Some of the worst decisions made in history

From the boardroom to the battlefield, bad decisions have been a recipe for disaster

On New Year’s Day, 1962, Dick Rowe, the official talent scout for Decca Records, went to office, little realising that this was to become one of the most notorious days in music history. He and producer Mike Smith had to audition bands and decide if any were good enough to be signed on to the record label. At 11:00 am, either Rowe or Smith, history is not sure who, listened a group of 4 boys who had driven for over 10 hours through a snowstorm from Liverpool, play 15 songs. After a long day spent listening to other bands, the Rowe-Smith duo signed on a local group that would be more cost effective. The band they rejected went on to become one of the greatest acts in musical history – The Beatles. However, in 1962, they were allegedly dismissed with the statement “Guitar groups are on the way out”.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Decca’s decision is a classic example of deciding based on biases and poor information. History is full of examples of poor decisions that have had far reaching and often disastrous consequences.

In the world of business, where decisions are usually made after much analysis, bad decisions have wiped out successful giants. Take the example of Kodak – a company that made a devastating wrong decision despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Everyone knows that Kodak couldn’t survive as digital photography replaced film. What is so ironic that Alanis Morissette could have sung about it, is that the digital camera was first invented by an engineer at Kodak as early as 1975. In 1981, an extensive study commissioned by Kodak showed that digital was likely to replace Kodak’s film camera business in about 10 years. Astonishingly, Kodak did not use this time to capitalise on their invention of digital cameras – rather they focused on making their film cameras even better. In 1996, they released a combined camera – the Advantix, which let users preview their shots digitally to decide which ones to print. Quite understandably, no one wanted to spend on printing when they could view, store and share photos digitally. The Advantix failed, but the company’s unwillingness to shift focus to digital technology continued. Kodak went from a 90% market share in US camera sales in 1976 to less than 10% in 2012, when it filed for bankruptcy. It sold off many of its biggest businesses and patents and is now a shell of its former self.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Few military blunders are as monumental as Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. The military genius had conquered most of modern day Europe. However, Britain remained out of his grasp and so, he imposed a trade blockade against the island nation. But the Russia’s Czar Alexander I refused to comply due to its effect on Russian trade. To teach the Russians a lesson, Napolean assembled his Grand Armée – one of the largest forces to ever march on war. Estimates put it between 450,000 to 680,000 soldiers. Napoleon had been so successful because his army could live off the land i.e. forage and scavenge extensively to survive. This was successful in agriculture-rich and densely populated central Europe. The vast, barren lands of Russia were a different story altogether. The Russian army kept retreating further and further inland burning crops, cities and other resources in their wake to keep these from falling into French hands. A game of cat and mouse ensued with the French losing soldiers to disease, starvation and exhaustion. The first standoff between armies was the bloody Battle of Borodino which resulted in almost 70,000 casualties. Seven days later Napoleon marched into a Moscow that was a mere shell, burned and stripped of any supplies. No Russian delegation came to formally surrender. Faced with no provisions, diminished troops and a Russian force that refused to play by the rules, Napolean began the long retreat, back to France. His miseries hadn’t ended - his troops were attacked by fresh Russian forces and had to deal with the onset of an early winter. According to some, only 22,000 French troops made it back to France after the disastrous campaign.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to sports, few long time Indian cricket fans can remember the AustralAsia Cup final of 1986 without wincing. The stakes were extremely high – Pakistan had never won a major cricket tournament, the atmosphere at the Sharjah stadium was electric, the India-Pakistan rivalry at its height. Pakistan had one wicket in hand, with four runs required off one ball. And then the unthinkable happened – Chetan Sharma decided to bowl a Yorker. This is an extremely difficult ball to bowl, many of the best bowlers shy away from it especially in high pressure situations. A badly timed Yorker can morph into a full toss ball that can be easily played by the batsman. For Sharma who was then just 18 years old, this was an ambitious plan that went wrong. The ball emerged as a low full toss which Miandad smashed for a six, taking Pakistan to victory. Almost 30 years later, this ball is still the first thing Chetan Sharma is asked about when anyone meets him.

So, what leads to bad decisions? While these examples show the role of personal biases, inertia, imperfect information and overconfidence, bad advice can also lead to bad decisions. One of the worst things you can do when making an important decision is to make it on instinct or merely on someone’s suggestion, without arming yourself with the right information. That’s why Aegon Life puts the power in your hands, so you have all you need when choosing something as important as life insurance. The Aegon Life portal has enough information to help someone unfamiliar with insurance become an expert. So empower yourself with information today and avoid decisions based on bad advice. For more information on the iDecide campaign, see here.

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This article was produced on behalf of Aegon Life by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.