Links 8/28/19

Don’t Kill the Umps! American Conservative. Say it ain’t so!

The Provocations of Camille Paglia City Journal

Pigeon treat TLS

Police urge residents in Texas town to vacate homes during nearby SpaceX rocket launch The Hill (The Rev Kev)

County: ‘We are righting the wrongs of the past’ Chicago Tribune

Pete Davidson loses it on students for breaking no-cellphone rule NY Post.

Could you travel without a smartphone? TreeHugger. Well, yes. I do.

LEGO commemorates War in Afghanistan with ‘Unlimited Edition’ set Duffelblog

‘Quichotte’ Is Salman Rushdie’s Latest. But the Act Is Getting Old. NYT.Ouch. Cannot but agree the recent work doesn’t match the earlier. But then, that’s not something that’s unique to Rushdie.

Op-Ed: Bernie Sanders on his plan for journalism Columbia Journalism Review

As Trump policies deepen farmers’ pain, Democrats see an opening in rural America Reuters

John Hickenlooper Is the New Joe Lieberman Rolling Stone. Matt Taibbi.

Sanders’ Climate Plan Includes Holding the Fossil Fuel Industry Accountable Climate Liability News

Democracy Watchdog Warns FEC Courting ‘Disaster’ by Heading Into 2020 Elections Without a Quorum Common Dreams

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch<

Google Warns Against Blocking ‘Cookies’ Entirely, Triggering Criticism WSJ

l’affaire Epstein

Two academics to leave Media Lab over Epstein ties The Tech. Note that Lambert linked last week to President Rafael Reif’s apology to the MIT community  for the Institute’s Epstein ties.

Epstein accusers detail sexual abuse in emotional court hearing AFP

Waste Watch

The Fairphone 3 Is a More Powerful, Sustainable, Repairable Smartphone Motherboard

China announces additional tariffs on US scrap commodities, including aluminum and OCC Waste Dive

How China Uses LinkedIn to Recruit Spies Abroad NYT. Whipsawed, cannot keep up. Are we now supposed to believe China is the enemy, and not Russia?

Lead Found in Drinking Fountains at 17% of California Public Schools Capital & Main

Our Famously Free Press

Protectors of Mauna Kea Are Fighting Colonialism, Not Science FAIR

Brexit

Boris Johnson’s dramatic immigration u-turn leaves 2.5m uncertain of their future The Conversation

Boris Johnson, GMOs and Glyphosate: Irresponsible, Negligent and Criminal? Counterpunch

Brexit: a plague on both their houses EUReferendum.com

How Would Brexit Affect Counterterrorism? Lawfare

Jeremy Corbyn agrees to prioritise legislation to stop no-deal Brexit  Guardian

Brazil

Lula tells world he’s back in the game from jail Asia Times. Pepe Escobar.

Brazil to reject G7 Amazon aid unless Macron withdraws ‘insults’  Al Jazeera

China?

State Pressure Forces China Champion of Pro-Market Policies to Close WSJ

Why Costco Had To Close Its First Chinese Store Early On Day One? International Business Times

China to impose ‘social credit’ system on foreign companies FT

737 MAX

Boeing faces first lawsuit from 737 Max customer FT

BOEING 737 MAX PILOT CLASS ACTION GROWS Australian Aviation

Class Warfare

How the Media Fools Us About Trade Jacobin. Dean Baker.

Jeff Bezos Mocks France BIG by Matt Stoller

David Koch Is Dead. We Must Now Take On His Harmful Legacy in Higher Education. TruthOut.

Biglaw Firm Tells Associates They Have To Take Vacation Time To Attend Firm Event Above The Law. Are we having fun yet?

India

Raids at night, handbills by day: Army siege in South Kashmir escalates after special status revoked Scroll

Indian central bank hands Modi government $24.8bn windfall FT

Pakistan mulling complete closure of airspace to India Live Mint

Kashmiri Doctor Detained After Raising Concerns About Patients, Access to Medicine The Wire

Trump Transition

Incoming Harvard Freshman Deported After Visa Revoked Harvard Crimson

‘He was outsmarted’: Trump mocks Obama on world stage Politico

Chomsky: By Focusing on Russia, We Ignore Trump’s Existential Threat to Climate TruthOut

Trump administration taps disaster, cyber funds to cover immigration Reuters

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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276 comments

  1. Redlife2017

    And in breaking Brexit new: Boris Johnson prorogues Parliament

    He’s not exactly closing Parliament right away as it is going to come back into session in September. But he’s shutting it down by cutting off 4 days in September and only re-opening on 14 October.

    Oddly, not sure what that means to a Vote of No Confidence. But it has gotten Dominic Grieves to the point that he said he’ll support one. No idea on the numbers.

    I think this is what Lambert would refer to as a fluid situation.

    I go back to the great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson for an honest appraisal of the situation: “A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

    Reply
    1. vlade

      ah, you’ve beaten me to it :)

      Re NCV (no confidence vote) – Johnson says that if he loses it, then he shuts down and calls elections for Nov 7.

      Courts, here we go.

      Reply
      1. Redlife2017

        No worries. I was like refreshing the main page to be able to comment (ha.).

        I did think he’d go just after no-deal. Good to see I can figure out his game plans…

        Reply
        1. fajensen

          He might do something like this:

          Get a no-confidence vote through parliament. Boris then calls a general election to happen after Brexit (Nov 7’th) to ensure a crash-out Brexit, setting off the crash in the GBP and the FTSE which the ERG is banking on.

          Boris has delivered Brexit in the most purist form so he will clean the clock of the Brexit Party and get a majority that does not depend on the DUP.

          Boris then signs Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement and moves the UK’s border with Northern Ireland into the Irish Sea. The DUP can do nothing and most Tories will be gleefully happy to hand over that most troublesome province to Ireland and the EU.

          The GBP and the FTSE rallies and the ERG, having reversed their positions cashes in again.

          After all these shenanigans, Boris can relax and drink himself to death like his idol.

          All of the Brexit stakeholders that matter to Boris Johnson are satisfied and the ’17 million’ voting for Brexit can go and be happy or pound sand. The Tories doesn’t care about them for the next 5 years.

          Reply
            1. vlade

              Most of Johnson’s English base wishes Scotland away anyways, so IMO Scotts are more likely to get their referendum under Johnson than Labour. Hell, they would even get rid of Wales if they could.

              Scotland is almost certainly 50 odd seats lost to Tories and never-seen-again. Drop it, and unless we get a real-no-deal, not the no-deal-quickly-followed-by-WA (but presented as no-deal to the wider public), Tories have sewn up rUK for generations.

              Reply
          1. vlade

            That is actually an entirely plausible scenario. More so because post the Brexit day, most of the UK public will see Brexit as “done”, and some negotiations with the EU will be right there for page 87.

            Farage may scream, but he will be a non-entity, and in five years no-one will remember.

            Moreover, if Boris does this trick, then his loyal basis will see it as him sucessfully delivering no-deal (because any WA signed post-Brexit will have nil impact on public conscience of what’s actually happening), with all the project fear etc. not materialising So a good chance for another 5 year term.

            I shudder.

            Reply
            1. David

              I’m not sure that it is possible to sign a (the) WA after Brexit, because Art 50, like all other EU legislation, will cease to apply after Brexit day. And don’t forget that WA has already been signed by the UK government, it’s just that Parliament didn’t like it, so it’s not in force. But it was negotiated and signed by the UK as an EU member state, which will no longer be the case. I don’t know what the lawyers would say, but I doubt in any case if you can just ask Parliament to approve the mechanisms for withdrawal when that withdrawal has already happened. Nor is it obvious why the EU should accept any such gesture even if it was made.

              Reply
              1. PlutoniumKun

                Its an interesting point though – could everyone just pretend that the UK signing it was ‘enough’ to make the WA legal and in force if Parliament then retrospectively decided to sign it off sometime in late November? I can’t see any court saying the WA is illegal under UK or EU law if the key governments decided that the ‘late’ approval by Parliament was a mere de minimus detail.

                Reply
                1. David

                  It would require a massive act of self-hypnotism, not least because the WA, even if approved by Parliament, would be out of date and need to be gone through and revised, since its basic assumption (an orderly exit) would have been invalidated. And the UK legislation would have to be amended too. That might still be waved through on De minimis grounds I suppose…..

                  Reply
                  1. a different chris

                    >It would require a massive act of self-hypnotism

                    Yeah remember what country we are talking about… it’s not even far-fetched, it’s not just likely but they’ve already done it over and over again.

                    Reply
                2. Clive

                  Unfortunately you also need the new primary legislation to enact the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement in U.K. domestic law. First reading, second reading, committee stages, Commons amendments, Lords amendments, with a lot of luck you might get it through in six months to, more likely, a year. Not with Johnson’s majority of one, you won’t. His government would be toast before Christmas.

                  Reply
              2. larry

                Here is one constitutional lawyer’s view. I don’t know who she is, but her argument is that if Parliament itself does not act on Brexit by Oct 31, then Art 50 lapses and the UK remains a member. Apparently, this is because the UK parliament must do something in order to leave which is in conformity to the country’s constitution. In her view, it seems that Johnson’s prorogation doesn’t cut the mustard. And this is because the government cannot take the UK out of the EU in the absence of parliamentary approval. I have no idea whether this is correct.

                https://www.foundrychambers.com/on-sunday-11-august-2019-rose-slowe-was-interviewed-by-richard-foster-on-bbc-radio-5-about-article-50-and-the-legality-of-a-no-deal-brexit/

                Reply
                1. David

                  IANAL but I don’t see this at all. The point about national arrangements refers specifically to the decision to leave, which has already been taken, and in any system is a prerogative of the Executive, not Parliament. What the courts said was that the actual WA needed to be approved by Parliament, which is quite different.

                  Reply
                  1. Clive

                    Correct, the Commencement Order has already been signed. This was permissible Executive Action under earlier legislation.

                    And the EU can only accept Article 50 revocation from the Head of Government or Head of State, sent to the President of the Council.

                    Honestly, it’s all bad enough without people just making up rubbish like that.

                    Reply
              3. vlade

                by “signing a WA” I mean “getting something close to WA when outside of the EU” as a shortcut.

                The actual WA will not be signable, which does have some major issues like the transitional period, the form of the backstop etc.

                At the same time, if the UK signs separate treaties that replicate WA functionality as closely as possible (which the EU says is a pre-req for their negotiation anyways), that could be good enough for the EU to provide some sort of relief while an FTA is negotiated.

                Reply
              4. ahimsa

                The uproar about proroging parliament for 5 weeks is pathethic.
                6 weeks summer recess – no problem.
                2(?) weeks recess for party conferences – no problem.
                When parliament failed to demand to sit intead of taking August holidays it sent a clear signal to the government and simply emboldened them to cut sitting time even more.
                Power never relinquishes itself without a fight and if nobody even tries, then it simply takes more for itself.
                I mean, seriously?

                Reply
          2. MisterMr

            “Boris then signs Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement”

            Maybe this is what will happen in the end (sounds likely), but I think that the WA implied a continuity from UK eis part of the EU -> we pretend the UK is still part of the EU.

            So in practice I think the WA will have to be renegotiated if the UK exits the EU after signing it.
            Also the WA was supposed to be temporary, but after the exit the EU will probably think in terms of permanent trade deals, so maybe it won’t offer the same goodies to the UK that it offered in the WA.

            Reply
          3. Clive

            There is no “Withdrawal Agreement post a No Deal Brexit”. The U.K. would have left the EU, you can’t have a process of withdrawal from what you’ve already left. It could form the basis for discussing a future relationship with the EU27 but it would be starting from zero in terms of both the EU and the U.K. legislative sausage making machines.

            Readmitting Northern Ireland as a mini-Member State, as prescribed in the Irish Protocol from a position of being a third country, not an existing acceded province would establish a precedent which would be grist to the mills of other Member States where there are regions with separatist “problems”. The EU would realise it is playing with fire to do that, certainly several EU27 Member States would, anyway.

            If it wasn’t in the Conservative Party’s election manifesto, ERG MPs could perfectly legitimately refuse to vote it through the Commons. Just like they did when May tried this same stunt. We’ve seen this movie before, we know how it ends.

            Reply
            1. David

              Yes, and as I pointed out above, any new Interim Agreement (it could not be a WA for obvious reasons ) would have to be approved by Parliament, as well as agreed by all member states and their own parliaments. There are, to put it mildly, no precedents for this.

              Reply
            2. PlutoniumKun

              As I was asking David above, I do wonder though if the issue of the WA being approved by Parliament ‘late’ could be overlooked in the context of it already having been agreed by the UK government.

              As to your second point, the old ‘East Germany’ precedent is often quoted to say that that its entirely possible for a non-EU member to ‘join’ via another member. I don’t see any EU countries objecting to this as their issue is with separatist countries maintaining membership when they split with their ‘home’ country when within the EU. There is no obvious precedent for a Basque Country or Catalonia when it applies to a region now outside the EU. In fact, Spain might welcome the precedent as they could apply it to Gibraltar (i.e. absorbing Gib into Spanish EU membership).

              Reply
              1. Clive

                East Germany “joined” via West Germany when, of course, West Germany was already a Member State. That parallel doesn’t seem to work at all for Northern Ireland as part of a third country.

                I think David and I covered the “quickie” Withdrawal Act being passed by the U.K. parliament — it doesn’t preclude Johnson from “unapproving” it in the next EU Council meeting, not does it pass associated legislation to get it onto the statue books.

                You need more — immediate — secondary legislation to undo the Commencement Order, too.

                Reply
                1. PlutoniumKun

                  Ireland is a member state too, I don’t really see much of a legal difference between NI (which already has its unique constitutional status) ‘joining’ the EU via Dublin’s seat, than that of East and West Germany, except insofar as East Germany ceased to exist. In the offer of an Irish Sea border, it seems to me that the EU has already accepted the legal possibility of NI having a status a little like somewhere like French Guyana – a member via another member. Or at the very least, having a status like the Isle of Man, which is has the benefits of EU membership while technically not being within the EU.

                  Reply
                  1. Clive

                    Perfectly fine, with the tiny snag-ette that the six counties don’t belong to the Republic, it has no sovereignty to enter into any agreement with the EU on behalf of Northern Ireland.

                    Even if the U.K. approved of it doing so, as a fact of international law, it’s impermissible. Otherwise, say, the U.K. could accede Florida into the EU, if Trump was happy to look the other way. Nevah gonna happen.

                    Reply
                    1. PlutoniumKun

                      NI doesn’t have the sovereignty to do so, but London does have the sovereignty to do so on its behalf (or at least divest that power to Belfast). This is the essence of the Belfast Agreement – a recognition of NI’s special constitutional status. There is nothing to prevent ‘parts’ of a State joining when others don’t, as demonstrated by Greenland, Isle of Man, etc. And various forms of Associated Membership have been granted which have amounted to membership of the Single Market and Customs Union to non-fully formed states, such as Kosovo.

                    2. Clive

                      Yes, but only while the country is an EU Member State. Otherwise, the EU will need to let the U.K. re-accede to the EU as a “new” Member State (remember that accession is agreed, or not, on a state-wide basis, there’s no provision in any of the existing EU Treaties for “partial” or “regional” accession, only entire sovereign states, as a whole, can be eligible for accession), hive off Northern Ireland in a cookie cutter Irish Protocol, then Brexit itself out of the EU again. Possible, but all so mind bendingly convoluted it makes my head hurt, anyway.

                  2. David

                    Guyane is legally part of France (or was when I was there) and there was formal unification of the two Germanies in
                    October 1990, ie before the Union Treaty was even negotiated.

                    Reply
            3. vlade

              See above. Of course there’s no post-withdrawal-withdrawal-agreement.

              But there likely will be something that replicates it closely – the EU already said it will be a precondition for any further negotitions.

              More importantly, none of that will be subject to any parliamentary approval.

              So, if Johnson decides to do smaller treaties that are less publicly visible, but replicate (to an extent available, and to an extent EU won’t get more stuff out of them) the WA, who is to say that the EU won’t make life easier for the UK?

              It is already making the life easier for the UK by its unilateral decisions – it can codify some of them in those post-Brexit treaties that would expire post any FTA.

              TLDR; – Boris gets Brexit w/o WA, which gets Farage off his back and, due to lack of public understanding, lets him to make a worse deal post Brexit with the EU that gets the UK less than what it could have had with the WA – but at the same time avoid the worst of economic consequences and present his “no deal” as a success.

              Reply
              1. David

                I don’t know. Wouldn’t any agreement on post-exit modalities (not the future arrangement) mean changes in UK law, and so involve Parliament as the WA did?

                Reply
                1. vlade

                  Yes, it would. And it would be hard if the Johnson had to operate with the current Parliament. But the original posts assumes GE on Nov 7.

                  Which could very well deliver a substantial Tory majority, because being post-Brexit BP would be gone the UKIP way, and there’s no way Labour, LD and Greens (not to mention SNP) would do any sort of pact.

                  With a substantial majority, Johnson can turn his Tory parliament into a usual UK parliament, aka govt rubber stamping machine.

                  Reply
              2. Clive

                But why would that work out for Johnson when it didn’t work for May?

                And it’s hard to keep it quiet for the year or so it would take to get it through Parliament. Johnson is hardly likely to get any assistance from the opposition parties.

                You can’t avoid the necessity to get the legislation passed. The ERG would maul Johnson far worse than they mauled May. And Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP would be only too happy to help them.

                And for what? A year or more of a No Deal Brexit environment is baked in, by the time the legislation was passed, it would be merely scant damage limitation.

                Reply
                1. vlade

                  May had to do it pre-Brexit, and had to have it parliament approved.

                  Doing it post-Brexit is different, because it’d attract much much less attention from the public and press (and even if it did attract press attention, would it really attract much public attention?), because you know “Mission accomplished”. And it would not need the treaties approved (although it would need the domestic legislation to fulfill treaties).

                  For the money to be paid out, that’s part of the budget, which the govt has to pass. The money can be hidden in a number of ways, through participation on projects.

                  The EU citizen status is thornier, especially since Johnson changed his stance on this recently – if he didn’t, he’d just say he’s passing what he said he would before.

                  NI issue – if Johnson would not need DUP and had a safe Tory majority, why not do an Irish Sea border? As I said, the English Tory voters couldn’t care less, and he’d not need DUP anymore. Why would ERG care (they don’t reall, but they needed DUP support)?

                  Again, if Johnson gets a substantial majority, it’s more likely than not that he turns the Tory party to a rubber-stump machine in the parliament, so he will get to pass what he wants.

                  Reply
                  1. PlutoniumKun

                    I really have no idea what is achievable at this stage, but I think you are right that post Brexit and Johnson declares ‘mission accomplished’ on Nov 1st, all previous bets are off, and he would be quite capable of then announcing that the UK needs a quick transitional deal that looks remarkably similar to the WA, with the long term aim of a permanent deal that looks remarkably similar to EFTA/EEA. This may indeed be his plan all along.

                    I can’t claim any insight to the mentality of the hard Brexiters as to whether they’d live with that once they’ve achieved their aim of ‘freedom’.

                    There are of course one or two potential snags along the way, but for a man like Johnson, there isn’t a snag in the world that can’t be bluffed away.

                    Reply
                    1. Clive

                      If we’re only having to get over minor snags, I might be persuaded. But having memorised the high level contents of the various EU Treaties and some of the lower level details, I simply cannot see any legal entry point for what’s being mooted.

                      The EU can offer, per the Treaty provisions:

                      1) A very — extraordinarily, even — broad degree of latitude for an existing Member State to, through Article 50, discuss their post-exit future trading relationship. Note that this is only possible, legally, for an existing Member State which has triggered the Article.

                      2) Accession for a third country to the EU — only available to a contiguous state. The same applies to EEA/EFTA — there’s no regionalist provision.

                      3) Participation for a third country to join as a member of the EU Customs Union — again, as a state as a whole, not via provinces or devolved administrative areas.

                      4) Discussing with third countries the potentials for a Free Trade Agreement being established

                      But I see nothing whatsoever where the EU can permit a third country to become a Single Market member outside of either the EEA / EFTA route or alternatively full EU accession. And even then, again, with those, there’s no potential in EU law for subdivision of a sovereign state to allow partial accession or even the concept of a mini-Member State as postulated in the Irish Protocol.

                      And even if there were, and there isn’t, provisions for this in existing EU Treaties (so, let’s say a new Treaty is drafted and accepted by the EU27 allowing for this) we’re seriously supposed to consider that the U.K. government will sign a binding Treaty committing to sweeping constitutional settlement changes in Northern Ireland in perpetuity just to get access to talks about the possibilities of a Free Trade Agreement with absolutely no guarantees at all that they’d ever amount to anything the U.K. government would be able to accept the terms of, if agreed?

                      I have to say, I’m struggling to see how all of these increasingly unlikely events will all come to pass, which they’d need to, for this thought experiment to get out the lab.

                    2. PlutoniumKun

                      Sorry, perhaps my sarcasm meter wasn’t working there, I wasn’t implying he could do it, I was suggesting that he (and his team) thinks he can do it.

      2. Clive

        Courts, certainly U.K. ones (probably US too I think) are very reluctant to end up being — or being seen to be — politics by another name.

        Constitutionally it’s water-tight. There’s several precedents for Parliament to be prorogued pending a Queen’s Speech and if anything, a single parliamentary session lasting nearly two years, having exhausted the legislative agenda in the previous Speech, is what’s unconstitutional.

        And in the court of public opinion, he (or she) MP who lives by the parliamentary procedural ruses dies by the parliamentary procedural ruses. If the Speaker is happy to rip up the precedent rule book, he has no credibility to be kvetching on about something entirely permissible.

        I bet the courts decline to hear any proceeding or else it’s thrown out in the first tier of the lower court and rejected again on appeal. The Supreme Court will decline to have another opportunity to appear on the front page of the Daily Express.

        Reply
        1. Redlife2017

          Yes, I agree. No idea why people are going to courts as this is legal. Maybe not what they want, but it is perfectly legal. I think Bercow is going to hung out to dry on this one.

          What interests me: is there really going to be an election? I’m starting to feel like no…anything that is conventional wisdom is at such a huge rate of failure that being counter-intuitive is really a useful skill.

          Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            I find it hard to see how any of the opposition parties can avoid a no-confidence motion now – if they didn’t do so at the earliest opportunity they will be roundly mocked for their meekness. The question is though whether Boris would win it or not – reports suggest that there are enough Labour rebels to balance out the Tory rebels, so he might just make it (assuming he wants to, he may well be gambling on a narrow loss and a quick electionwin).

            Reply
            1. Clive

              Even if passed, a No Confidence vote allows Johnson to name the date of the Election. Which, suffice to say, would be chosen sufficiently close to 31st October to ensure a No Deal Brexit. He’s also only allowed 9 sitting days (8 if you also discount the 6th September, a Friday and thus not a sitting day) so there’s no time to agree any new government. The Fixed Term Parliament Act stipulates 10 days are required.

              Not going to happen, following yesterday’s farce of the opposition MPs saying there was a supposed “national emergency” but it wasn’t a sufficiently bad national emergency that we could have anything that was even more terrible like a socialist government in power as a Prime Minister Corbyn is, apparently, to the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, worse than a No Deal Brexit.

              Corbyn’s just been interviewed and confirmed that the opposition would try procedural faffing around but only went so far as to say a Confidence Motion would be moved “at a time of his choosing”. Mr. Bluff, meet Mr. Call.

              Reply
              1. Redlife2017

                Yes, he’s used that formulation before (“at the time of his choosing”), which means he’s not going to do it. But even if he does, he doesn’t know if he has the numbers. He wouldn’t do the legal faff if he had the numbers.

                Reply
              2. ChrisPacific

                It is certainly looking like it’s going to be No Deal, unless the opposition parties can somehow assemble to form a GNU*. At last report they had been unable to agree on who should be the head and who the hindquarters.

                * Government of National Unity.

                Reply
        2. UserFriendly

          Well there is this argument that:

          ‘No Deal’ is unlawful as a matter of domestic law and, in extremis, a court would order Boris Johnson to revoke Article 50

          That I strongly suspect is a lot of Hopium but I’m no expert on uk law.

          Reply
          1. Clive

            Yes, a big dose of hopium. From https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN03861/SN03861.pdf#page18

            6.4 Prerogative powers and the European Union

            R. v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Ex p. Lord Rees-Mogg [1993]92

            Generally, the courts do not have jurisdiction to consider questions of pure international law.

            Specifically, the establishment of a foreign and security policy was a legitimate exercise of a prerogative power, and the court has no jurisdiction to consider it.

            A meeting, attended by the Prime Minister, as Head of Government, with other Heads of Government or Heads of State (i.e. in the EU Council) is as close to a textbook definition of “pure international law”as it’s possible to get. Even on an EU level, the workings of the Council are very prescribed and limited in any variation. The notion that the whims of any national Parliament or other legislative body had to be accommodated by the EU, such as a national parliament insisting it gets told what its Head of Government did or didn’t say or did or didn’t ask for or how they asked for it, at the Council meeting, are fanciful. It’s not for nothing that the EU is, rightly, labelled a supranational organisation. It limits the ability of a sovereign state to intervene in what goes on there.

            Reply
            1. David

              Yes, see my comment above. After all if the point were this obvious someone would have picked it up long ago. If the UK had a Constitution and somebody argued that a decision to leave violated it then the courts might get involved, but not here.

              Reply
        3. vlade

          Can you pro-rogue parliament against its wishes (assuming it can get together a majority against it)? Charles I tried, and look what it got him.

          Only the court can decide if something is or isn’t unconstitutional, given the vagueness of the UK’s “constitution”, and even then the Parliament can override it (again, on the massive assumption it can agree on anything).

          For example, the whole “government controls parliament which is supposed to be sovereign” might come under a constitutional review by the courts.

          Not that I really expect I result, TBH. But us arguing what is or isn’t constitutional is irrelevant, as our opinions matter little in this.

          Basically, the only thing that matters here are two things – what can get in front of the parliament for a vote, and can it get through?

          Reply
          1. Clive

            Yes, Parliament doesn’t get to vote on that. Once HM The Queen has signed the order, which is all that is required, that’s all there is to it. There’s a reason she’s called “the sovereign”. She bestows sovereignty on parliament, which is near-universal. But ending a session is her retained power.

            She might be right royally pissed off with it, but there you go. Or, rather, there she is. That’s the problem with “only” being a constitutional monarchy.

            Reply
            1. vlade

              Nope, she doesn’t bestow the sovreignty on parliament. The monarchy is subordinated to Parliament and the parliament can take and dispense away with any remaining powers vested in the Monarch (the infamous FPTA is a case when it did so).

              She currently has the power to pro-rogue, but if she did so post a vote indicating that the parliament does not wish itself to be pro-rogued, it would be certainly a court matter.

              She has way fewer freedoms as in regard to the parliament than to the PM (who is technically her stand-in for executive powers and she can fire and hire as she wishes).

              Reply
              1. Clive

                Not quite correct. When that big shiny bauble (the Mace) is carried into the House of commons chamber it is, symbolically (and legally) conveying that the crown’s authority has “passed” to Parliament. What the Order which Johnson has just had her (the Queen) sign stipulates is that, on the appointed day (or range of dates) the Mace will not be brought to Parliament and, even if it “sits”, it does not have the crown’s authority and it has no sovereignty ceded to it. It is (or would / will be) impotent, as a legislative and sovereign body.

                I know this all seems rather quaint and delightfully archaic, but the concepts which all the ceremony convey are very real and very profound — certainly in terms of where power fundamentally lies in the UK constitution, when and on whom it is allocated to and in what circumstances who can give it and who can take it away again.

                Reply
                1. vlade

                  The Parliament can remove powers from the monarch, the monarch cannot remove the powers from parliament. Are you telling me that there would be really a court in the UK that rule a law invalid if the Mace wasn’t present even if the UK parliament, repatedly, by a majority, would pass the said law?

                  The right to pro-rogue is a right that is now explicitly available to the sovreign (stated in FPTA), as agreed by the parliament. The parliament may fundamentally strip that right.

                  If the parliament expresses (by a vote) wish not to be pro-rogued, but still is, I do not believe that the case would be as clear cut as you make it.

                  Reply
                  1. Clive

                    Yes, absolutely a court would strike down any “law” (and it wouldn’t be a “law” if the sovereign hadn’t authorised Parliament to sit) which Parliament “passed”. It wouldn’t even be a matter for the courts, it would be non liquet. The Mace is just symbolic, it is what it symbolises that’s important — that the sovereign has granted Parliament permission to sit. After the end of the second week in September, she hasn’t.

                    Parliament could, in future, legislate to further reduce the Royal Prerogative to prevent a government from requesting the sovereign to prorogue Parliament. But that would be new, primary legislation. This would need government support to get through all the parliamentary hurdles (including committee stages) and wouldn’t be doable in the time Parliament will sit for in September.

                    And it’s worth taking a step back or two and consider why it (the U.K. constitution) works is way. Why is it that Johnson can legitimately make this request of the Queen? Why did she grant the request? Why can’t Parliament do anything about it?

                    Because it is an essential check and balance in the parliamentary system, the extent of and limits of both Executive Action and parliamentary reach (or overreach) and ultimate sovereignty which can never be dissolved, even by Parliament itself.

                    It is nicely circular that this has all come to the fore with Brexit, which (despite attempts to shift the ground to economics, is really all about sovereignty) represents an attempt to identify the limits of how far a nation state (the U.K. here, but this will at some point in time become a decision event for all EU Member States) can devolve itself out of existence to another supranational entity. In a supreme irony, Remain’ers are reaching for the ultimate expression of national sovereignty — the monarch — to try to get themselves out of a legislative bind they find themselves in. Sooner or later, if it’s not “this Brexit” there’ll inevitably be “another Brexit” where the monarch themselves will have to make the ultimate decision as to whether they — and the U.K. (or certainly England, if there no longer is a U.K.) will continue to exist. Can a monarch even do that — enact themselves away?

                    On the evidence of today, no, they can’t (or won’t, without getting too existential about it all).

                    Reply
                    1. David

                      The whole point of the way the British system has always operated is to avoid questions like this having to be decided. No previous PM would have put the Queen in this position. Historically, there were informal mechanisms to prevent it, and it’s not clear to me that the British system would actually survive a head-on clash, whatever the formal rights and wrongs. Incidentally, the official Parliament site describes the situation thus:

                      ‘In centuries past, the Sovereign used the power of prorogation to suit his own purposes, both summoning Parliament so it could authorise taxes, and proroguing it to limit its activities and power.’

                      Rather implying that such is not the case today.

            2. The Rev Kev

              I am sure that the Queen is thrilled at the prospect of having the Monarchy dragged into some petty politician’s schemes. I would not be so sure that the Queen would not ask Boris for a special briefing conference on neutral ground, say, the Tower of London. And as it is a special occasion, he would be invited to make use of the water-gate entrance to the Tower in his honour. Revive maybe a few old customs for the occasion.

              Reply
        1. Clive

          Hopefully there’ll be, if our hosts are kind enough, a post on this tomorrow — we’ve exhausted comments capacity to process everything above ! And we’re still not done with it all ! You know you’re really in trouble when NC’s threads run out of “reply” room on a topic…

          Reply
          1. ChrisPacific

            It’s certainly shaping up to be a week of fireworks in September. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if there was an unexplained bomb scare or two.

            Reply
    2. Redlife2017

      I’ll note as well that obviously no-deal is getting awfully realistic. Although the bookies still have it at under 50%. We’ll see how that looks next week after the possible Vote of No Confidence.

      I’d also like to have a shout-out to David Cameron. There has never been a man who has screwed up so much in such a short period of time as PM. Brexit vote and Fixed Term Parliament Act (without fixes around constitutional issues like what is happening now). Like, fricken’ cheers, dude. Slow CLAP.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think this is one case where the bookies have been consistently wrong. As Yves has constantly pointed out, the assumption that some sort of fudge would be worked out is hopelessly optimistic when there is no obvious overlap of red lines, and the default is a no-deal. I kind of regret not actually putting money on this a year or two ago…

        Reply
          1. Off The Street

            Consolation prize would be to quote Rush: If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. :)

            “Freewill”

            There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance
            A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance

            A planet of play things
            We dance on the strings
            Of powers we cannot perceive
            ‘The stars aren’t aligned
            Or the gods are malign…’
            Blame is better to give than receive

            [Chorus:]
            You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
            If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
            You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
            I will choose a path that’s clear
            I will choose freewill

            There are those who think
            That they were dealt a losing hand
            The cards were stacked against them
            They weren’t born in Lotusland

            All preordained
            A prisoner in chains
            A victim of venomous fate
            Kicked in the face
            You can’t pray for a place
            In heaven’s unearthly estate

            [Chorus]

            Each of us
            A cell of awareness
            Imperfect and incomplete
            Genetic blends
            With uncertain ends
            On a fortune hunt that’s far too fleet

            [Chorus]

            Reply
    3. Summer

      And this…Marketwatch:
      “The short answer is yes, he can. Under the U.K.’s constitution, the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has the sovereign power to suspend parliament. Since the democratic era, however, British monarchs have without exception followed the recommendations of their chief adviser, the elected Prime Minister. So the Queen will almost certainly do what Johnson asks – even in controversial circumstances such as these. If she didn’t, it would upend at least a century of constitutional tradition in the U.K.”

      I have to laugh. In order to respect the will of the Democratic vote, the Brexit mantra, here comes the monarchy…
      You. Can’t. Make. This. Sh- -. UP.

      Reply
    4. jefemt

      So, if ‘the markets’ are typically a bit woozly on an October Black Friday, could this be a black swan trigger?

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Normally we live on a lake full of white swans, and a black one paddling in gets a notice.

        Today the lake is covered in black swans, from Kashmir to the Golan Heights to Jackson Hole to the Amazon to the Straits of Hormuz to Westminster to the Marriner Eccles building and Hong Kong. I could go on.

        One flap of wings (swan or butterfly) and the blinded souls crowding the lake will finally see that the kindling for The Bonfire of the Vanities has been piling high for quite a long time.

        Lambert calls it The Jackpot and indeed billionaire pirates are well-positioned to scoop up even more booty for their extra-national fiefdoms in the conflagration. The rest of us should endeavor simply to survive and to get through with local food sources, the love of our friends and neighbors, and maybe an iodine pill or two.

        Reply
    5. skk

      Now that’s set the cat among the pigeons – or rather Middle England. The cry “This is not cricket” is going up all over the area, perhaps not the lower-middle-class but the solidly middle class. After all they of all people, with their strong work ethic and a highly developed sense of conscientiousness were only going along with Boris holding their nose.
      They know fully well that he’s a cad, a chancer – and after all he’s from Eton ( shd I mention his Turkish aristocratic ancestry too ? )- whereas they with their Victorian values so well explained in Tom Brown’s School Days are from Rugby, NOT Eton.
      For a more modern understanding of that socio-demographic group I’d watch and absorb “MidSomer Murders” – the Brian True-May ( quote ‘ the series does not have did not have any non-white characters because the series was a “bastion of Englishness.”‘ ) produced series, approx pre-2011.

      My bet is its over for Boris – within his own party. He’s going to be characterized as the cad, and bully Flashman. Which, of course, he is.

      Reply
  2. vlade

    Brexit, latest developmens: Johnson asks the Queen to suspend the parliament from early Sep to Oct 14 (5 weeks instead of the three weeks conference season).

    An unnamed No 10 source also says that if in the small time window in Sep the Parliament passes no-confidence vote, Johnson will NOT suggest any other government and call elections for Nov 7.

    Of course, if an MP comes to the Queen saying they have (for example signature) to have enough votes to put a govt togehter, then what Johnson does is immaterial, as he serves at monarchs pleasure.

    Reply
    1. NotReallyHere

      You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing lately…. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go

      Reply
    2. Pavel

      “as he serves at monarchs pleasure”… your daily reminder that the UK is far from a true democracy.

      On #Brexit twitter I see people suggesting this will destroy the monarchy and also hasten the breakup of the UK (starting with Scotland, of course). I say, bring it on!

      Reply
      1. bob

        She doesn’t have any real power! She stays out of politics by ending politics. You’ve been warned, no more politics.

        Reply
    3. Larry Taylor

      We all know that the Government, the Parliament, the Court and every other agency that matters has top-secret contingency plans; we can also surmise that right at the moment they are all silently praying ‘No, no — please! No, no — please!’ But what if, having signed the prorogation order today, what if Her Majesty were to die between now and 31 October? What would happen?

      Reply
        1. Larry Taylor

          That’s not what I meant and I think you know it.

          There will be a wildly extravagant Royal Funeral; she is the longest-reigning monarch in British history, after all. There will be a lengthy period of National Mourning. I mean, just look at what happened when Diana died. It took weeks for things to get back to normal. Now, drop this immense social disruption on top of the current political uncertainty (if not yet chaos) with its ‘ticking clock’ and it will definitely turn the dial up to 11. I’m wondering, in particular, what the actual effects could be. Another extension to the 31 October no-excuses withdrawal date? I think BJ would in fact be excused, under the circumstances. (The EU could hardly deny him.) No confidence? New election? All these things people are speculating about now would, I think it’s safe to say, be even more complicated in the event of the queen’s death, ready heir or no.

          Reply
    1. flora

      Thanks for the link. Interesting observations.
      When Mark Carney spoke at the Jackson Hole meeting suggesting the dollar could/should be replaced as the global reserve currency, my first thought was: ‘ah ha, the dollar can’t be driven into negative interest rate territory… at least not yet. That is the dollar’s real problem for Carney. ‘ ha.


      The Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, has challenged the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency, arguing that it could be replaced by a global digital alternative to end a savings glut that resulted in 10 years of low inflation and ultra-low interest rates.

      https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/markets/mark-carney-dollar-is-too-dominant-and-could-be-replaced-by-digital-currency/ar-AAGeG8Y

      What better way to end a “savings glut” than using negative interest rates? How much easier to force negative interest rates with digital currency, imo. heh.

      Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Maybe by the savings glut he means the massive amount of wealth that the top 1% of the population have corralled for themselves. The Panama Papers show what they do with it so it is not a trickle down but a trickle out.

          Reply
          1. flora

            Maybe he is referencing the top 1 to 1/tenth percent, but how will his scheme reach their off-shore accounts? I doubt it will. It will fall most harshly, imo, on regular people who do not have millions in off-shore, tax-dodging, savings accounts. Hard to imagine Panama or the treasure islands accounts losing a penny out of this.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Unless the crypto-liberal government decides to institute “Crypto Letters of Marque.” Declare the offshore havens as waging economic warfare against the Commonweal and license Pirate Hackers to do all manner of mischief to and plundering of those offshore ‘Havens.’

              Reply
            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The highest priests (central bankers) of our highest cult (Money) are preparing us in language that is as plain as day:

              “Past instances of very low rates have tended to coincide with high risk events such as wars and financial crises” M. Carney

              It rarely gets more plainspeak than that. See my comment above under “black swans”.

              Reply
          2. Olga

            That’s what I thought, too – the 1% and corporations are sitting on a ton of cash (at least, that is what we’re told). The rest of us, not so much. But then, who cares about the rest of us…

            Reply
        2. John Wright

          The total debt increased by 1.4%/yearly per your link while the USA population increased by 0.7%/yearly, which may suggest that the debt growth effects are muted by population growth.

          One problem in mentioning a “savings glut” is that this is a financial bookkeeping entry, while the USA and other nations are mining/depleting the worlds available resources, be they forests, farm land, climate, fresh water, wildlife, unpolluted oceans.

          From an environmental view, one might view the world’s human population as continuing to create a usable resource deficit for future generations that cannot be alleviated by financial alchemy.

          An alleged “Savings Glut” is something only the elite and mainstream economists can posit.

          Reply
        1. Procopius

          Forgot to specify — he starts talking about interest rates at about 41 minutes. Marvelous graph, going back to 1314 AD.

          Reply
    2. Summer

      The Asia Times article said this:
      “And while a shrinkage of finance relative to the rest of GDP may be good for the rest of us, absent a fundamental philosophical change in overall policy (especially on the fiscal front), we will still be facing an environment characterized by wage stagnation, non-existent job security, rising inequality, and subpar growth potential, all the while continuing to reward irresponsible economic behavior.”

      “will be facing”
      All of that had already happened.

      All of the worst is already happening.
      There is no way to prevent the worst. It ia about stioping the continuation of the worse.
      That is an important distinction. It means the great majority of people currently making policy, laws, etc….NEED TO BE REPLACED.

      Reply
  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    The problem with machine umpires is guys like Pedro never threw a strike except when they dialed it up. They just looked like strikes coming in, and batters would swing at bad pitches. Laser measured strike zones will simply give an edge to batters, hence all the whining for getting rid of umpires. Major league hitters hit pitches in the strike zone.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I think the problem with robot umpires is rather basic – what happens when they break? Are you going to stop play to reboot the system? What happens if it can’t get back on line? What people seem to forget with automation (and this applies particularly to robot cars and robot umpires) is that while you may fix some existing problems, you run the risk of introducing a bunch of new ones.

      Reply
    2. Ignim Brites

      Implicitly, if it looks like a strike to me the batter, it will look like a strike to the human ump. Automated “umps” will be more discriminating, and therefore so will batters?

      Reply
      1. cnchal

        > . . . if it looks like a strike to me the batter, it will look like a strike to the human ump

        I couldn’t care less about baseball, but I disagree. Two different perspectives.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It would be two different perspectives, but mlb umpires don’t answer a random want ad for entry level major league umpire. They work in the minors, college, and high school circuits if they didn’t play as well.

          They know a strike will look different from different perspectives but should know the theoretical place of the strike zone.

          Most of the time, batters (or anyone in sports) disagree its just because they are trying to give the umpire a chance to make the correct call in case the umpire missed it, maybe he sneezed or zoned out. You might as well call him blind on a called strike.

          Reply
    3. PKMKII

      The counter-argument would be that the “art” of catcher framing leads umps, who are often paying more attention to the catcher’s positioning than where the ball actually crossed the plate, to call what should be balls as strikes.

      What I think they should do is collect the strike/ball data from the robo-umps, still use the human umps for the game calls, but then have some sort of consequence for umps whose calls fall under a certain percentage of matching with the robo-ump’s calls. The solution is not to mechanize strike/ball calls, it’s that there needs to be repercussions when an ump’s calls are consistently bad.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        Yeah but how do you separate an ump who is consistently wrong – whose strike zone is a couple of inches over and down from the ideal but all the players are ok with it because they know where it is – from one that is conventionally right 80% of the time and completely zoned out (pretty girl in front row seats maybe) for the other 20%.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          They already get graded, and well, they have a union too. To me the problem lies with better managed bullpens and the decline of the starter, set up, closer roles. Now fireballers who don’t have enough pitches to last more than an inning or enough stuff to go against the best lineups are capable of making careers when they would have stayed down on the farm until they “got their head together.”

          If you have a guy on the farm who throws around 87 and a guy who throws around 98, who is going to come up to fill in an odd inning? A few years back you might go with the dependable guy, but now the stats will show how much you can get out of a nut case. The scouting reports are way better now. Every pitch is on there. No details are missed.

          I would limit bullpen changes and require an automatic trip to the 10 day IR for going over the limit.

          *There is also a race based issue that goes to whether the pitcher gets the benefit of the doubt, so hiring more non-white umpires matters. I’m not sure how the international rosters work now.

          Reply
          1. Craig H.

            The hitters are the last people who need any affirmative action. Between the muscle supplements and juicing of the baseball we fans have got all of the home runs anybody needs.

            Do any of the pitchers want robo-umps? It seems to me the batters do more complaining than the pitchers.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              I was watching baseball tonight on the telly a few days ago, and saw the highlights of so many hitters slamming home runs on check swings, opposite field dingers, getting jammed on a pitch, but still getting it over the left field wall, that sort of thing.

              It’s quite telling the only thing MLB has to get the fans back is homers, cheapened ones.

              Reply
              1. PKMKII

                The rise in home run hitting has less to do with any ball “juicing” (of course the pitchers will complain that the MLB is doing something to make the balls go farther) or player juicing, and more a response to the ubiquitous shift. Unless you’re a really good pull hitter or are speedy enough to regularly run out infield hits, the shift presents the hitter with two options: hit into a ground ball every time, or swing for the fences. The latter at least gives you a chance.

                They could also try to bunt on the shift, but that is more difficult than it looks. There’s a reason starting pitchers who’ve pitched in the AL for most of their career struggle with sac bunting if they switch to an NL team.

                Reply
    4. fajensen

      I think sports does not benefit from the cold precision offered by machines. It’s a game, the human umpires making the occasional mistake is part of what makes the game interesting.

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        +1

        If they want to use robots to call the game, how about have them play the game too. Or just make it a video game. Then leave real baseball for the rest of us to enjoy.

        This fetish that computers can do everything better than humans and should therefore replace them has really got to go. It’s true only in the minds of some delusional silicon valley squillionaires but they are increasingly calling the shots for the rest of us,.

        Reply
      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        That’s what I think, we’re humans, with all our flaws and beautiful contradictions and inconsistencies. A plan for robo umpires sounds like a way for five tech billionaires to make bank while the rest of humanity just gets an early euthanized intro into the Machinocene Era (after we leave the Anthropocene).

        The sooner all of us in meatspace recognize that the grandest of all battles is between flesh and silicon the better. So do your bit for the home team, take that wooden clog you’re wearing and jam it into a machine somewhere

        Reply
    5. roadrider

      I’m not really in favor of the robo-umps but I don’t see how their introduction would make hitters stop chasing pitches that look like strikes coming in but end up out of the zone. They have a few hundreths of a second to judge whether the pitch will be in the zone (and even if it looks like it will be, is it one they want to offer at) and science tells us that the human eye cannot track the pitch all the way to the plate.

      I would guess that the effect would be that the zone would be more consistent but pitchers will always be able to fool them with movement, changes of speed and eye level, etc.

      In the Atlantic League the robo umpire called strikes on some borderline pitches that batters were confident would be balls and called balls on some pitches off the plate that catchers had “framed” to look like strikes.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The batters already know they swing at balls, and the umpires know they miss calls. This is established. Its been this way since Abner Doubleday and Three Fingered Mordecai.

        A ball a batter makes contact with out of the strike zone is going to be an out unless they have incredible hands (Ichiro) or are super strong (Trout). If the numbers indicate many of those “strikes” will be deemed as balls, then batters are going to stop swinging at close stuff which means more walks and more hits as pitchers throw more strikes.

        This is a case of using technology to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist because MLB doesn’t want to address the problem of a wonky skin color related disparity between strikes and balls and more importantly the rate of Tommy John surgery in kids and young men when guys who pitched on 4 days rest and threw for 9 innings never had these problems from a time when they weren’t pitching all year as teens.

        More hits and more walks means longer games. Baseball needs more fielded outs and less walks.

        Reply
        1. chuck roast

          hear him, hear him!

          I have totally lost my interest in baseball. Do they do double-plays anymore or do just strike-out, walk and hit the occasional dinger?

          Come back Earl Weaver and ‘splain it to us!

          Reply
      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        I also think the jury is still out on whether the technology would provide significantly improved accuracy in calling breaking balls. The strike zone is three-dimensional and 17 inches deep.

        Reply
      2. ewmayer

        The page you link to shows that the definition of the strike zone is subject to change over the years, not that it’s “ambiguous”. The digital strike zone overlay which is now common in TV broadcasts seems to capture the actual height and stance of the various batters quite well, and it’s 3-D, i.e. captures the ball precisely at the point it crosses the imaginary vertical plane through the front of home plate, something human umps have always had trouble with, which is why “framing” by catchers is an effective stratagem.

        You still need the home plate ump to call plays at the plate and look for e.g. interference by the catcher or batter, so I would have no problem with said ump being equipped with, say, a wrist monitor that shows the same strike zone graphic TV viewers are privy to and signals ball/strike via different tones (i.e. the visual check would only be needed in borderline cases, or where the batter or pitcher objects to the computer call – I would think that having a pitch-by-pitch comparison of “this is what I saw versus what the 3d imaging says” would make umps more consistent over time, and said consistency would likely not evaporate if/when the computerized system goes down.

        Also, I disagree with those who claim bad calls are somehow an integral and even enjoyable part of the game – the only ‘excitement’ they add is of the drunken-bar-disputes variety, i.e. of the wrong kind. Due to the number of pitches in a typical game bad ball/strike calls don’t carry the weight of, say, a soccer ref missing a handball or mis-calling a PK and thus deciding the game, but the whole point of – even in the pre-computer era – training refs/umps and picking the most experienced and considered-to-be-accurate ones for the big contests is surely to minimize the chances of bad calls deciding the outcome, no?

        Reply
        1. lyman alpha blob

          I do think that page shows the ambiguity – where exactly does the “top of the knee” start for example? We’re talking about a game where an inch one way or the other is the difference between ball or strike, safe or out, and possibly the outcome of a ballgame. Unless they are going to adopt a set strike zone that is the same for every player, I would still rather have a person rather than a computer make the calls behind the plate. And a set strike zone would ruin baseball – there’d be no place for the likes of Ricky Henderson and his fairly unique batting stance.

          I wholeheartedly agree though about wanting to see bad calls kept to a minimum and as you alluded to the individual ball/strike calls don’t carry the same weight as other calls. It’s the safe/out and fair/foul calls that can change the outcome of a game a lot quicker – Denkinger’s blown call in the ’85 World Series arguably cost the Cards the title. The current method to challenge a call is video reply which does not help much in my opinion. It often takes several minutes to determine the correct call, and this at a time when baseball is looking for ways to speed up the game.

          But baseball really had a good system right before video replay started. I can’t remember when MLB instituted it, maybe sometime in the 90s, but at one point they allowed a manager to challenge a call on the field by getting all four umpires to confer together. This was a great system – it didn’t take long for the umpires to decide whether to overrule their colleague, and they invariably got the call right. They should have stuck with that system – it really was a big improvement over the Denkinger days, and they didn’t need unnecessary technology to do it.

          Reply
    6. JB

      Long overdue. Umpires have brought this upon themselves. Whether it’s due to incompetence or malice, umpires have been flat out wrong too often behind the plate…and sadly, there is favoritism, which is understood in clubhouses but rarely discussed by the media. I’m so sick of Angel Hernandez, he has no business donning blue. Not a Reds fan, but he called a strike out on Joey Votto about two weeks ago in which all three strikes were outside of the zone! It completely compromises the integrity of the game. I don’t understand why people want to maintain avenues for corruption and incompetence for the sake of what, Earl Weaver bumping bellies with umps?

      Ask yourself why umpires aren’t put on stage behind mics under bright lights after each game in a press conference like the players. They should have to feel the antagonism of the media for their mistakes just as much as the players do. Instead, they get a free pass…feature, not a bug. I guess the fans are supposed to believe Tim Donaghy was a black swan outlier among a sea of tens of thousands of umpires through the years who are upright and honest. Given the material that we read regularly on NC reflecting the abuse of power for greed, why should we think that big time athletics is different? Leagues, owners, bookies, boosters, agents, etc. have a stake in changing the outcome of games. So they can funnel hundreds of thousands of $ to lure high school recruits to their alma maters through back channels, but they aren’t using those same back channels to pay off the officials? I don’t buy it for a second. When there’s a viable solution to remove corruption from the game, let’s embrace it!

      Reply
  4. Drake

    “How China Uses LinkedIn to Recruit Spies Abroad NYT. Whipsawed, cannot keep up. Are we now supposed to believe China is the enemy, and not Russia?“

    We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    Reply
    1. Drake

      “LinkedIn is also the only major American social media platform not blocked in China because the company has agreed to censor posts containing delicate material.”

      LinkedIn has always felt like a corporate safe-space to me. The posts people make have been cleansed of anything that might resemble a personality, original thought, or opinion. Just happy, fulfilled (but not too fulfilled, because they can always be better) worker bees sharing their tips on how to work so much more effectively. I can see the appeal to the CCP.

      Reply
    2. pjay

      Perhaps. But now it is official, reported in the NYT and all — just like our “war” with Russia. Why, just yesterday in the links I read a terrifying article in Foreign Policy about the new Red Hordes — of Chinese fangirls on social media — scaling the (fire)wall to overwhelm the brave defenders of democracy in Hong Kong. Of course, to fight this new Red Menace, we will have to censor our social media to protect its defenseless users from this vicious propaganda. Regretful, but necessary.

      Back when Apple, Wal Mart, et al. were enjoying their great friendship with China, we grew a little lax in our vigilance. I’m greatly comforted now that we have once again recognized our True Enemy.

      I mean “Enemies.” Plenty of room for two Evil Empires. The more the merrier.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      Been seeing more China!China!China! stories in the Oz media tonight too. One about some rich Chinese guy slipping cash to one of the two main political parties and another warning about foreign influence and spying in Australian universities without naming which country (cough-China-cough). Another about a Chinese-Australian activist in China arrested for spying. I smell a propaganda campaign underway.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Obama’s Pivot to Asia was always about China when everyone realized the free traders (the people in charge) sent everything important to China. The anti-Russian stuff was about preventing Russia from integrating with the EU or central Asian states opening the door for a China balanced by a Russia who could be a better balance to the hegemon than the UK, Germany, or France have been to the U.S.

        Until Hollywood needed to sell to Chinese markets, we were awash in “OMG the Chinese are coming” propaganda.

        Of course, these narcissistic elites can’t formulate sane industrial policies because they might empower local labor which is also something they don’t want to do.

        My sense is the panic about Japan and Germany in the late 80’s and Forever War on the Muslims distracted our elites, but guys like Brezezinski were always on the perceived China threat.

        Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Keeping a low profile – that is not particularly Western nor Asian.

        From pg 246 of Dr. Shengfei Gan’s How To Do Business With China:

        “Traditionally, Chinese parents educate their children from a young age to keep a low profile to stay away from unnecessary trouble. There are numerous Chinese proverbs that attest to this:

        A tall tree catches the wind

        A man dreads fame as a pig dreads growing fat

        Fortune is made in silence.

        Practically speaking, that means lettting Moscow be Number One, be the tall tree, in their joint venture, and keeping rich guys in China (which is being done to some degree).

        Reply
    1. Drake

      I was wondering when the all-war-all-the-time blob would raise its ugly head again. Of course it’s Trump’s fault for scaling down our presence in a conflict literally no one asked us to join. Not the rabid weasel who turned Iraq into a failed state with the near-unanimous support of both parties, nor his moist-towellete successor who tried to overthrow Assad to keep his psychopathic Sec-of-State off his back. No, naturally its Trump’s fault for recognizing a no-win forever-war and cutting our losses.

      Reply
      1. Ignaciio

        Except that Trump giving more money to the military complex feeds the blob, and the more they are feed with dollars the more blood thirsty they are because they have to justify their existence. At some point Trump will feel the need to select any conflict for which nobody has asked him to join. So far Iran has every chance to be the next. War is the logical consequence of weapon escalation. In effect, war in not consequence of fear although we are always told it is.

        Reply
        1. Drake

          I hear you, but so far Trump shows little sign of being particularly blood-thirsty. Every time we’ve neared some sort of military action he backs away from it. He uses the threat of war to try to make things happen, but doesn’t seem to have any desire for actual fighting. I’m not saying he hasn’t inflicted harm through strikes and sanctions (which have killed plenty in Venezuela), nor does he shy away from supporting Saudi and Israeli aggression, but I just don’t see that he has a taste for it himself. By the standards of his predecessors he is a peacenik. Which is all the more amazing to me given his standings in the polls. Iraq was W’s solution to getting re-elected. He was a really unpopular little ape prior to 9/11.

          Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      I take that article as saying that the Pentagon really needs more money, please as they do not have enough. But they do not really want to do any fighting as such but let the locals do it on their behalf. If they were serious about fighting terrorists then all they have to do is go after al-Qaeda in Idlib in cooperation with the Russians and the Syrians but that will never happen

      Reply
      1. Off The Street

        Timing the pending end of the gov’t fiscal year in September with another bite at a whole bushel of apples for the new FY. Another DC MIC version of getting out ahead of the story, or laying the groundwork, or establishing a backstory, or fill in the blank characterization, as happens routinely.

        Reply
  5. Tom

    The Guardian link opens with

    Jeremy Corbyn has backed cross-party plans to delay a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson and prioritise rebel MPs’ attempts to use legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit, with plans set to be agreed by the end of the week.

    But these MPs must know there exists no legislative route to stopping Brexit against the will of the government. So are these meetings just a PR exercise? an alternative news story to the truth, which I guess is roughly “In a choice between Oct 31 no-deal and Corbyn as PM, even for a day, we choose the former” ?

    Reply
  6. Carolinian

    From the FAIR Mauna Kea article

    “The point that that misses is there’s not anything to negotiate. Either the Mauna is sacred or it’s not. When you talk about these issues, how do you compromise that?” said Kenneth Lawson, a Mauna Kea protector and law professor at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

    Fair enough. It isn’t sacred and if that’s their argument then it isn’t one. Personal religious beliefs do not supersede the law in our non theocracy and one wonders whether these “protectors” of sacred beliefs would have the same attitude toward Hobby Lobby in that abortion dispute or the bakery that wouldn’t serve gays.

    I like FAIR but this is not one of their better articles.

    Reply
    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      I didn’t add a comment to the link to highlight that point. Thanks for making it. That’s precisely the reason I posted this link – because of the invocation of a religious belief as the basis for supporting a position I might otherwise agree w/.

      Reply
      1. Shane Mage

        But isn’t the project of those telescopes itself the imposition of a religious belief, the Scientistic religion which holds that the universe was divinely created in a Big Bang necessarily ordained by a Big Banger, alias God? And, by the way, by what right (except that of imperial conquest) do white American colonialists rather than native Hawaiians decide what can be done in Hawaii?

        Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Scientifically, man is just the third ape, part of the animal kingdom.

            Is human flesh then an ingredient for soylent green?

            Why do many of us react negatively to a dead human body being profaned?

            Reply
          2. newcatty

            Science is actually, if it is as “rigorous ” in its claim to be based on “facts” that have been proven by the scientific method, is also based on current research and is not immune to the bias or point of view of the scientists and their related communities…universities, government entities, corporate sponsors, etc. A vested proven theory is as accurate as the consensus says it is at the moment. Why are so many people, who see religion as just made up stories and myths; so ready to dismiss anything that can’t be, so called scientifically proven “objectively ” as not having validity in any way in this cosmos? Mauna Kea is seen as sacred for native Hawaiians. Why is the fact that “a religious belief” being a basis to support its protection and perseverance be any reason to not support that position? As I am thinking along these lines, I am struck by the fact that it is rather amazing that the native Hawaiians cultural and spiritual beliefs are just not important or seen as just an impediment to “Science “. Imagine some group of scientists saying you know, that cathedral, or mosque, or synagogue or temple is in the way of our desire to “do research”. The state and local university entities, unfortunately, must have the whole area for Science ! Now, run along, you can still have a little chapel, etc., but the land and it’s access is ours now. Your cathedral will have to be removed to another locale. Oh, there will be environmental “consequences” to any wildlife, flora…we will be so careful to “mitigate ” that impact. Oh, there is a real chance that an aquifer can be negatively impacted by the new, huge footprint of infrastructure built on the site. We are “aware” and, of course, will do our best to protect the water supply for all of the people who depend on this source of fresh water. Sacred sites usually have great significance for many people’s. By not protecting them, it often goes hand-in-hand of not protecting the environment of our planet.

            Reply
            1. juliania

              It isn’t an issue between science and religion; it is an issue of sovereignty. If native Hawaians had sovereignty as do many other tribes, they could maintain their religious beliefs in opposition to what the state insists upon, and perhaps (I say perhaps) win in a court. At the same time, it would seem to behoove states in which these issues arise to have a certain amount of give along with their take.

              They were, historically speaking, there first.

              Reply
              1. Carolinian

                Actually Nature was there first. The Polynesians came by boat like everyone else.

                And like it or not they are now American citizens, not imperial subjects. The notion that descendants of earlier inhabitants have special rights is interesting coming from a left that might say the opposite if it was wealthy heirs evading inheritance taxes from some tycoon. As citizens we are all supposed to be equal and there’s a democratic process that they apparently lost.

                If there’s a public interest or environmental argument against the telescope and not a special pleading argument that would be different.

                Reply
        1. ewmayer

          “Scientistic religion which holds that the universe was divinely created in a Big Bang necessarily ordained by a Big Banger, alias God?”

          Nonsense – a mere 50 years ago the Big Bang was a quite-radical new theory which came about due to a number of experimental observations – most notably the Hubble redshift ‘law’, the proportions of the lightest 3 elements, those which predominate in the early universe, and the cosmic microwave background radiation – which were not explainable via other means, at least not any simpler means. Said cosmological theory is still undergoing continual testing and refinement – the Guth inflationary epoch and recent claims about variable rate of expansion with distance are examples of the latter. And there remain conflicting hypotheses put forth by people not considered to be cranks, for example this one. It’s a messy, ever-ongoing process with lots of chasing of false leads, turf wars and disputes, but no one has yet found a better one for gaining an ever-improving understanding of how the universe works and of our place in it.

          For those who want a sense of how things stood in those heady days of the 1960s when this “cosmological revolution” was occurring, I recommend Steven Weinberg’s classic slim tome The First Three Minutes.

          Reply
          1. boz

            Big Bang Theory, proposed and advocated by a Catholic priest, no less!

            From Wikipedia:

            Lemaître and Daniel O’Connell, the Pope’s scientific advisor, persuaded the Pope not to mention Creationism publicly, and to stop making proclamations about cosmology. While a devout Catholic, he opposed mixing science with religion, although he held that the two fields were not in conflict.

            The pretend religion / science antagonism is incredibly boring. It is a fake conflict.

            In simplistic terms, science helps us understand WHAT and WHEN. It is less suitable for WHO and WHY. (Or, although it mangles the aphorism, WHAT-WHY rather than WHO-WHY)

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Disagree. Science does answer them quite succinctly:

              WHO: nobody
              WHY: for no reason

              And that’s perfectly OK with me.

              Reply
    2. boz

      I disagree.

      It is fairly straightforward that if the locals don’t want it (and from my brief skim of the article, that is the case), then this is overriding the wishes of the locals.

      Anything else is condescension – whether the sneering tone of the atheist, or the invasion of monied, educated betters demanding something* be built.

      I thought that article was nicely nuanced. It hints that maybe a mutually acceptable outcome might have been found?

      * I like observatories, but would you be making the same case were it a casino?

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        That article is dubious on its facts as well. The telescope issue was voted on by the Hawaiian legislature. The general public did have a say.

        Reply
    3. cuibon0

      The larger question is the one the article rightly points out: this isnt an argument about Science versus culture.This is an argument about the history of colonialism and the trampling of indigenous peoples in the name of science and progress

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In the name of science and progress.

        Other times, it is done in ‘the name of love (peace, justice, etc).’

        Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m not sure Trump turned the GOP base against “free trade” and immigration.

      In the case of trade, I think Trump recognized smaller operators were getting burned since the advent of modern “neoliberal” free trade deals and he was able to siphon off voters from Team Blue because of their embrace of pro-corporate trade policies.

      As for immigration, the GOP elite, since 2000 when Shrub did quite well with young non-Cuban Hispanics because of his social views, has recognized their own demographic problem. Engaging Hispanic voters without actually helping people has long been a priority of elements of the GOP at the top. However, the various groups that make up the GOP base such as Southern Baptists and libertarians aren’t exactly ready to embrace multi-culturalism. They were just voting for the candidate who wasn’t pretending to do a Spanish accent. The GOP base didn’t support the GOP elite efforts in 2006 to sponsor that rotating slave labor faux immigration plan because it would simply allow too many non-white faces at any given time.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The thing about moving candidates (as mentioned by JohnnyGL), as opposed to moving voters, is that candidates (those being moved now, for example) are known to take one tack in the primary phase, and another tack during the general elections.

        Reply
  7. Craig H.

    > Pigeon treat

    Definitely a treat! Mentions Sheldrake and does not mention Tesla.

    The mystery of how pigeons do it – how racers can find their way back from a distant place they have never been before – he tackles with relish. They navigate in a variety of ways: with a sun compass, an ability to sense the magnetic fields of the earth, and, perhaps even more evocatively, through an ability to smell the wind. It turns out that different winds have different odours, and the pigeons orient themselves according to an olfactory gradient map.

    Is this true? I thought the consensus is nobody knows how homing pigeons home. They can fly seven hundred miles in a day. I don’t care if you are driving top lexus if you drive seven hundred miles in a day you will have one sore butt.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      It was really enjoyable. I wonder about this though:

      >after an Oxford DPhil on modernism, neurology and the philosophy of mind, he spent three years as a London cycle courier,

      Was it really a choice as the author infers, or maybe not so many jobs in “modernism, neurology, and the philosophy of mind” ???

      Reply
  8. epynonymous

    RE: space launch

    The rocket’s only 60 feet, and the article is promising us Mars…

    The Saturn V was over 350 feet tall, so there’s a bit of a gap there.

    Reply
  9. Mike

    Re: Fairphone 3

    The hardware side is indeed great news for those seeking longevity in their appliances.

    Now, drop the Google Play apps sourcing, and I’ll bite. No spy apps for me, thanks — and don’t substitute apps without making open source top dog. Of course, this will probably mean that Fairphone will lose some development cash, as Google is subsidizing this to undercut other phone makers. An ethical world is not easy, is it?

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Aren’t Fairphones quite expensive–at least as much as an iPhone? And the problem is that cellphone technology is not mature and settled like, say, a washing machine and is still constantly evolving. That puts a crimp in the longevity thing regardless of how the phone is constructed.

      I’m all for open source and we may soon be getting an Android alternative as Trump forbids its use by Chinese companies. But the laudable wish for longevity may play against the widespread adoption needed to truly create an alternative. Right to repair laws covering all electronics might be a better solution.

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “China to impose ‘social credit’ system on foreign companies”

    This article may be more significant than it appears. One of Trump’s many, many demands on China is that they water down their regulations and let in US financial firms to allow takeovers of local companies by these same firms. China could relent but then use this ‘social credit’ system to crack down on those very same firms. And you know that a Goldman Sachs could not help themselves but would try to bend the rules and bribe officials thus opening themselves up to be blacklisted.

    Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Social credit…political correctness.

        The difference is a blog like NC would not be allowed under Beijing’s heaven or tianxia.

        Reply
    1. ChristopherJ

      I think that’s the MO, Kev, except the bribes properly made avoid the blacklist.

      Most of the commenters here are on their lists, asio’s too I would posit

      I think there are some Aussie companies that wouldn’t mind accessing such lists as it gives them more room and reason to enable more visa entrants to undercut and undermine Australians and Australia

      Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Our Revolution” is outside the Sanders campaign. OFA was very active in Virginia in 2009 recruiting people to hold those fraudulent healthcare gatherings to propagandize people about what would be the ACA. Did OFA lift a finger to elect a Democrat in the Governor’s race? Nope.

      Obama folded everything into his vanity operation. This was very bad. Stoller is always demanding Democrats repudiate Obama. Here is an actual example of the repudiation.

      Not that Perez should be at the DNC, but preventing Obama style operations is exceedingly important. He wrecked organizing efforts…well its still backwards from where it was on a whim once he had what he wanted.

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        I can certainly understand the state party’s position, but after the Hillary for Victory debacle this is going to read very badly for the Democratic leaning Independents. That is where the votes are, and one whiff of trying to fix another primary and they are off to start another party.

        I was in hopes that Our Revolution was doing just that, and have no doubt that the DNC is worried about the potential for it actually happening. This is a clear effort to coopt the left wing, and that has happened so often now that no one should be surprised when OR tells them to….mind their own business.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          I hope so…and i hope that Bernie, Nina, and OR and justice and all the rest of the upstarts have the stones to go on and form a Labor Party when the DNC trots out hillary, or jiggers the primary, or whatever.
          there will, of course, be a withering nazgul howl from msdnc, et alia…and that will be hard to counter, given the lack of a sense of fairness(it’ll be gotcha journalism, and ‘when did you stop beating your wife?”)
          nevertheless, i hope it happens.
          the demparty’s clintonist, 3rd way parasite has never been weaker.

          Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Epstein accusers detail sexual abuse in emotional court hearing”

    Now that Epstein is on ice in a morgue somewhere, attention is shifting to his cohorts and enablers. Those young women have come out and made it plain that the British Royal family has a molester of young girls in their midst. And right out in public in an open press conference too. I wonder what will happen when Andrew has to sit in a court of law giving his testimony and undergoing cross-examination?

    Reply
    1. fajensen

      I hope that he flies only on private jets. I don’t like flying already as it is and I’d rather not take the extra risk of sharing a commercial flight with him.

      Reply
      1. Summer

        I’d imagine that more people don’t want their young daughters sitting next to him.

        The royal fam should have a couple of private jets.

        I only think something is going to come of it if a daughter of nobility comes forward. Was he really capable of controlling himself to only the girls provided undercover? We’re talking about a compulsion.

        Reply
      2. Off The Street

        Would Andrew claim some Royal Privilege, or ask ERII for some pardon, or Tower confinement? If Prince Philip takes a turn for the worse, could there be some abdication, leading to the ascension of Charles and Camilla? Think of the screenplays underway about loose zippers toppling monarchies.

        Reply
      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        What extra risk are you talking about? The risk of being on a plane that is shot down to kill the prince to stop him from testifying?

        Or some other risk . . . a risk the prince himself is supposed to pose?

        Reply
    2. apber

      The obvious “tell” in the Epstein farce is the non-arrest and non-indictment of Ms Maxwell as co-conspirator, accomplice and enabler. She would be a corroborating witness to elite sexual habits and criminality. And even if she winds up mysteriously diseased like her father or “suicided”, the sheeple will no longer have any doubts about our two-tiered justice system.

      Reply
      1. Summer

        How is she not in jail for having sex with minors? Some of the girls reported threesomes that included Maxwell, an adult woman. Reports from victims landed Epstein in jail, but not Maxwell.

        Reply
      2. ChristopherJ

        does anyone still have doubts that the system’s rigged against us and enables elite criminal behaviour. That ‘system’ would seem to include most of the west’s elite intelligence agencies. They enable and conceal, it’s what they do. They know where Maxwell is.

        They know where everyone is

        Reply
    3. ChristopherJ

      I don’t think it is that easy to get a royal into a court of law.

      Laws don’t apply to that ‘family’

      Reply
    4. polecat

      Common on Rev ! ..the bodydouble already got snatched up, from the morgue ! .. as for Jeffery, he is hangin in some other out-of-the-way safe-n-sound venue beyond the reach of mere mortals, havin a laugh with the likes of ‘Slingback’ Willy !

      removes tinfoil helm ..

      Reply
  12. Summer

    RE: Google / cookies

    I’m already thinking my smartphone days are numbered. The lack of control over so many aspects of it already has me only keeping basics amd deleting as many apps that come with the phone as possible.

    I want tech that I control. Not tech that controls me.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Just about every day I get an offer for an app to improve the flashlight function on my phone. My phone’s flashlight functions just fine as it is, thank you very much. What the hell is that about?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I heard about one flashlight app on Apple mobiles that was also sheer spyware by design and would suck all the info off that mobile. But it was still offered on App online and was not taken down. I suspect those flashlight apps would be more of the same.

        Reply
      2. Off The Street

        Agreed, as it should be simply just a switch and a display, not some big file with unknown bugs and features.

        Reply
      3. Oh

        On an Android phone if you install Fdroid (an open source app) you can get a number of open source apps including a version of flashlight that won’t (I hope) spy on you.

        Reply
      4. Summer

        The flashlight app…did you check what other apps the flashlight app is accessing?
        If you turned alot of that off, their idea of improving it probably involves accessing other apps from contacts to whatever…

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          hmmph…my flashlight sure doesn’t spy on me.
          but it cost like $5 in the feedstore, has a battery i can change and fits in the other pocket.
          pretty ruggedly constructed, too.
          know that if it ever DID spy on my, I’d fire it in a wink.

          Reply
    2. Monty

      Have you thought about rooting it and installing a firewall? It’s pretty easy to do on android. Just look up your phone on xda-developers. You can even spoof location data once your the root user.

      Reply
      1. bob

        You can’t “root” android. It’s still android. There are still completely opaque libraries from google that are necessary for the phone to operate.

        Reply
        1. Bugs Bunny

          Seriously? If you root and install Cyanogen or AOKP you can open up privacy options that don’t exist on stock Android. Moreover, if you don’t install the g-apps, there’s nothing there that will send data to Google. These are pure OSS.

          You can use a VPN or a mobile version of TOR as well. If those aren’t a way around Google’s data mining, then tell me why.

          These are not options for the general public, obviously.

          Reply
          1. bob

            Very seriously.

            TOR is a joke. Built by spooks, for spooks, and not at all as “secure” as the spooks make it sound. The spooks also are reputed to own most of the exit nodes.

            https://yashalevine.com/articles/tor-spooks?source=post_page—————————

            And a VPN only secures traffic leaving the phone to the VPN point. What google does inside the phone, and after it reaches the VPN endpoint are still subject to googling and very little transparency.

            Reply
      2. Oh

        Beware: If you bought your phone from AT&T, the firmware on the phone on some models cannot be upgraded and therefore rooting will not accomplish anything useful.

        You can spoof your location from an app (fake traveler) downloaded from FDroid which allows you to set a lat-long quite different from where you’re located. I don’t know if it’s infallible. This can be done withou rooting your phone.

        Reply
        1. bob

          They then look at the cell tower or WIFI are are connected to. If your spoofed location says your in New York, but you’re connected to a cell tower in Nebraska….

          Very Fallible

          This stuff is done in several layers, millions, probably billions of times a day. One layer ‘location services” is not working, move onto the next, then the next…

          Reply
    3. bob

      Another OS for smartphones seems necessary. It’s almost as if google is using its monopoly power in software AND hardware to not allow another OS to come along.

      Anyone who says they know what android is doing at any given moment is lying. Its a giant memory hive designed to obscure what the phone is doing.

      Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “Could you travel without a smartphone?”

    Not only a smartphone but perhaps a camera as well. While I was overseas I dumped my camera for a year or more as I was beginning to suspect that taking photos was stopping really taking in a scene. Maybe more so with a smartphone as when you are taking a selfie, you usually have your back turned towards what is most interesting. What put me onto this line of thought was reading about the young English gentry who undertook the Grand Tour of Europe and the Mediterranean in the 18th & early 19th centuries. No cameras back then so many took along a sketchpad and drew what they were seeing which took time and long observation. Nowadays you come across the same scene, whip out your mobile to snap a selfie, and go off to the next thing on the list. As Sherlock Holmes observed, we look but we don’t see.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      I love reading 19th and early 20th Century travel writers, people like Robert Byron. I’ve been inspired by them to drop the tech too, now I never bring a phone or laptop. I travel minimalist, just my faithful butler, 2 spare dinner jackets, and a few porters to carry my case of cognac and syphilus shots.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Don’t forget you mosquito netting, with yellow fever, and malaria being all the rage.

        No need to meet the same fate as of many a warlord and military general of ages past. Your porters however …..

        Reply
      2. Brian (another one they call)

        I can’t go without my codpiece/heater in a cold clime. I can’t use a smart phone because it will cook the contents. I don’t have to electrify the map, and I have a small flashlight already. I’m on the road again.

        Reply
      3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Serious shoutout for the mention of Robert Byron, his The Road to Oxiana invented the entire “acute observer self-aware travel writer” genre.

        Some of the most beautiful descriptive language I’ve ever read

        Reply
    2. Bugs Bunny

      I recently traveled to a country that I never visited before and brought a film camera, 10 rolls of film and had a great time using it. The photos look amazing.

      Added to the experience.

      Reply
    3. Wukchumni

      I stopped taking a camera with me when in the back of beyond a few years ago, and there’s been a few times when it would’ve been nice to convey it visually, but sometimes 71 words can tell you all you need to know about the encounter.

      6 weeks ago we were hiking and came across a snowfield tinged with light red algae, known as ‘Watermelon Snow’, when 100 feet away, a 6 & 8 point buck walked onto the surface, nibbling at something or another on the snow, and weren’t perturbed by our presence and allowed us to hang out with them for 15 minutes and you know how it goes, everybody’s famous for about that long, eh?

      Reply
    4. Partyless Poster

      Actually the opposite can be true as well, I take a lot of photos with my phone and due to the high resolution I’m always seeing things I didn’t see when I took the shot.
      You just have to spend time actually looking closely at the photo.
      And just because its a phone doesn’t mean you have to take selfies.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Those of us who are camera nuts agree with you. Photos can serve as a kind of fixative for the visual memory.

        Also a hundred tourists standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon sketching (perhaps putting themselves in the picture) could be annoying. That Grand Tour tradition preceded mass tourism.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          At least they wouldn’t be taking impromptu dives of the precipice while clutching their precious selfy-sticks. I have a feeling that those tourists of artistic bent .. whether singular or plural .. would be a much more pleasant, and quieter, experiance .. than some cluelessly obnoxious duffus making an ego-trippin fool of him/her/theyself.1

          Reply
    5. turtle

      Perhaps not surprisingly, “urban sketching” is becoming a bit of a trend in the last few years, with books, websites, and even local clubs dedicated to the art. A quick internet search will turn up a lot of resources.

      I’ve thought about trying this, but I think in terms of travel it would be a bit difficult as my wife probably wouldn’t have the patience to wait for me to do the sketches. So I’m looking instead to the future, toward making 360 degree photos and videos when traveling. With a relatively inexpensive camera and relatively little effort you can now take high-quality photos and videos that capture your entire surroundings at once, without distracting you with having to look through a camera and missing what’s in front of you. You can also look into this by searching for 360 degree travel videos and photos online.

      Reply
  14. amfortas the hippie

    dems think they can win rural deplorables on ethanol policy.
    sigh
    negative eroei and further ossifies Big Ag as the TINA-only way to do ag
    it’s like yelling down a well

    Reply
  15. John Zelnicker

    Jerri-Lynn – You have two links run together at “Lead Found in Drinking Water…” and “Protectors of Mauna Kea…”, under Waste Watch.

    Reply
  16. pretzelattack

    sigh, leafing through the latest edition of scientific american in the dentist’s office, an issue on the theme of truth, lies and uncertainty, and distinguishing them, i see that “as we now know from the mueller report, russia engaged in a large scale effort to subvert the 2016 election” (quoting from memory, but that’s the gist of it). unimpeachable sourcing, that.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Yes. If only more deplorables would read periodicals like Scientific American, where statements like these are assumed to be unquestionably objective… I had a similar experience in a doctor’s office just the other day while perusing National Geographic (I never learn; next time it’s Field & Stream for me).

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Correct me if I’m wrong .. but isn’t Nat Geo owned by our boy Ruppert M ?? As for S A .. by mid 90s it became dreck !

        hence the ongoing attempts at crapification .. ?

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Yep, after the transition I saw a NatGeo article about how cool America’s latest tanks were and my heart sank, a part of my boyhood died, that impressionable 13-year old devouring stories and images of faroff lands and the brave scientists and adventurers going forth to see and understand.

          No, Rupert, we don’t need to see and understand the latest tank, you greedy bloodthirsty SOB

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i obtained both my dad’s and his dad’s collection of natgeo when i was maybe 6…filled up my closet with them…and grandad gave me a lifetime membership for a birthday sometime after that.
            i still have the bulk of those 3 combined collections in my library(about 300+ pounds, I’d hazard. earliest extant is from the 40’s)
            like you say, roaming the world with them was formative to who i am, now.
            they still have good stories, sometimes…and the photographers are still top notch…but something went out of the world when rupert bought it.

            Reply
  17. bob

    The Fairphone 3 Is a More Powerful, Sustainable, Repairable Smartphone Motherboard

    Is there no other operating sytem than Android? The press release is also very light on tech specs, but very heavy on the Product of Personal Testimony, this is the very long winded intro-

    “I was raised by a pastor and an engineer. They taught me to believe that my talents and privileges come with a responsibility to choose how I use them. From my father I got an appreciation for the power of facts and well-organized systems. And at big multinationals I got an understanding of how these systems embrace and resist change. In the last ten years I’ve experienced first-hand the power of social enterprises to move entire industries simply by bending the rules about what’s normal and what’s right in tiny ways. When people get behind those tiny changes, the results can be amazing. I admire Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, for how she transformed the way we think about the ethics and sustainability of personal care products. She once said: “If you think you’re too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.””

    Reply
    1. kj1313

      Is there a Linux type system for smartphones? Most smartphones seem to be automatically joined to the hip with android if they’re not iPhones.

      Reply
      1. bob

        Not quite yet!

        “Launch dates

        The continued tensions between Huawei and the U.S., and the trade war between the U.S. and China, mean Huawei may need to have its software ready in the near future. Richard Yu has said the software will be ready for China in late 2019, and internationally in 2020. Previous reports stating the software would be released in June 2019 were retracted after clarification from Huawei.”

        Reply
  18. dcrane

    I’d be interested to know if anyone here has additional info/context on this allegation. Seems like questionable judgement (esp. the travel funding)?


    Ilhan Omar’s Campaign Has Paid Over $200,000 to Her Alleged Lover for ‘Fundraising Consulting’

    Representative Ilhan Omar’s (D., Minn.) campaigns have, since 2018, disbursed roughly $230,000 to a consulting firm owned by Tim Mynett, a fundraising strategist whose wife accused him of having an affair with Omar in a recent divorce filing obtained by the New York Post.

    Omar’s 2018 campaign spent $62,674 on “fundraising consulting” services provided by the E Street Group and the spending has only increased since. The freshman Democrat’s 2020 reelection campaign has, according to FEC data, spent $160,000 on Mynett’s services thus far in 2019, nearly one-third of its total expenditures, despite it being an off year.

    Mynett, who has a partnership stake in E Street, told his wife that he had fallen in love with Omar over the months they had been working together and rejected her attempts to salvage their marriage.

    “The parties physically separated on or about April 7, 2019, when Defendant told Plaintiff that he was romantically involved with and in love with another woman, Ilhan Omar,” reads the divorce filing, submitted in D.C. court on Tuesday.

    Less than one week after Mynett disclosed the affair, Omar’s reelection campaign began paying for Mynett’s travel. Mynett’s wife believes the travel, which has cost the campaign more than 20,000 since April, was not work-related.

    Reply
  19. Summer

    RE: Aide / Amazon…Al J

    They too left out the total comment by the chief of staff.
    Glad I caught it when I did. Priceless.

    Reply
  20. Camp Lo

    Right after Noam Chomsky explains how Trump, with avarice historically reserved for pirates, subverted the will of working people, Chomsky laments that Democrats abandoned the “working class”. But perhaps class solidarity is irrelevant to US electoral politics. The New World never experienced residual country feudalism stuffed into city-hives. The New World was conquest, cash crops, and collateral serviced by people either dragged in chains or pushed into boats from decaying monarchies. Maybe to Americans, the socialist context is a drag, another hustle by monocultural communards in cosplay and academics living off the largess of others who took on huge student loans.

    Now early 18th century pirates… what might be called “neoliberals” ahead of their time, ran ships that were extremely egalitarian, democratic, and fair. It’s a contradiction. But maybe the Democratic Party, if they’re even interested in ruling anymore, should mold themselves in the image of Bartholomew Roberts [Black Bart] and less in the image of Karl Marx.

    Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I think early 20th century US shows you can get capitalist classes without feudal antecedents. There would be no New Deal without socialists (and communists). I wouldn’t call that “another hustle.”

      Having said that, classes are always being made, un-made, and re-made. I think it’s legit to question whether the US now has such a thing as a (single) working class. As discussed here the other day, there seem to be two completely distinct conceptions of “left” floating around these days.

      Reply
  21. Ranger Rick

    I disagree with Taibbi’s take that Colorado is a “solidly blue state.” There was a wave election in 2018, but the state is as purple as it gets, with no side having any particular advantage and the two major cities in the state counterbalancing each other politically. The current uproar over the National Vote Compact, among other bills, and the ensuing attempt to recall the governor is testament to this.

    Reply
  22. Cal2

    City Collapse Watch:
    California governor Gavin Newsom, after presiding over the decline of San Francisco, when he was mayor, along with then d.a. Kamala Harris, has finally uttered some partially true words about homelessness:
    “They are from Texas” he claims,
    https://www.statesman.com/news/20190821/fact-check-are-vast-majority-of-san-franciscos-homeless-people-from-texas
    rather than promoting the myth that they are “locals forced onto the streets by exorbitant rents that must be offset by more and more high density building [by his party’s donors] and at least 300 million tax dollars a year spent on services for [attracting more of the nation’s] homeless.

    “San Francisco has struggled for decades with a large homeless population, which reached 8,011 in January up 17 percent from two years ago. A majority of people surveyed said they “lived in San Francisco prior to becoming homeless.” *
    For what? A month, a week? Claiming residence is needed to register to vote at the non-profit’s p.o.box, which the homeless service agencies immediately do, and then the agencies are legally allowed to physically bundle their marked ballots and carry them to the registrar of voters through the California Ballot Harvesting process, thus helping re elect supervisors to shovel more tax dollars their way.
    *https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Breaking-Point-475109113.html

    Reply
  23. bob

    This type of words not meaning words is quite impressive. The Queen’s english-

    “Queen Elizabeth II has approved the U.K. government’s request to suspend Parliament amid a growing crisis over Brexit.

    The move was not unexpected, as the monarch has steadfastly refused to get involved in politics throughout her long reign.”

    The queen has to approve the suspension, but she stays out of politics. She’s a monarch, politics are for the little people.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      The Queen will always grant the Government’s requests.

      The Government making requests is a form of symbolism.

      Reply
      1. bob

        The queen is not required to grant requests.

        If it’s so simple, why not change it? Because she IS THE SOVEREIGN. It’s not symbolism. It’s fact. She is the monarch.

        It really is tiring dealing with the semantics that this monarch really isn’t, but really is a monarch.

        Reply
        1. ewmayer

          Indeed – similarly risible to hear e.g. Aussies and Canadians talk about their “democracies”. Here Wikipedia on Oz, where the passage’s ending puts the lie to the preceding “merely acts as a legal figurehead” weasel-wording:

          Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy.[186] Elizabeth II reigns as Queen of Australia. Since she resides in the United Kingdom, she is represented in Australia by the governor-general at the federal level and by the governors at the state level, who by convention act on the advice of her ministers.[187][188] Thus, in practice the Governor-General has no actual decision-making or de facto governmental role, and merely acts as a legal figurehead for the actions of the prime minister and the Federal Executive Council. The governor-general does have extraordinary reserve powers which may be exercised outside the prime minister’s request in rare and limited circumstances, the most notable exercise of which was the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in the constitutional crisis of 1975.[189]

          “Rare and limited” — as in, we’re a democracy, except when the English monarch decide’s we’re not.

          A more lowbrow way of making the same point to a we’re-a-democracy natterer is to ask, “so who’s that on your coinage, then?” (Ribald aside: The old joke about the Canadian nickel is that on the obverse is the Queen and on the reverse is the Queen’s beaver.)

          Reply
      1. bob

        I said here a while ago, when brexit first passed, that it would force the queen out of her ‘norm’ of pretending she’s not really a queen.

        I still think there’s a very good possibility that she flat out issues a ‘royal decree’ that somehow solves all of the problems of this mess. The subjects will be elated! Long live the queen!

        How does it happen? Ask the heredity members of the house of lords. They work from the same comic book in progress. Its much too difficult for us proles to divine.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          One option is for the US to annex.

          Historically, the US and the UK were one (at one time).

          We already have military there.

          Need a referendum though.

          It would be kind of like an adult kid giving care to an ageing parent.

          Reply
          1. Massinissa

            Great. Now American can have a Queen too. We’ve been denied access to the Commonwealth Club for too long!

            Reply
          2. polecat

            First Greenland, now the U.K. .. ??

            “Nice stepped-on stones ya gots there .. be a sham if some Yanked where to buy them off ya”

            Reply
        2. Amfortas the hippie

          i don’t pay very close attention to British politics…when’s the last time something like that happened?
          when the monarch had to act like a monarch, after pretending not to be for a long while?

          Reply
          1. bob

            Just a quick google search says queen anne in 1708. She denied assent to a law that parliament had passed.

            royal assent is required for anything from parliment to become law, much like the prez in the US has to sign every bill from congress, even when he’s been overruled after a veto. He’s forced to sign it by law.

            You cannot force the queen to do anything she doesn’t want to do. Could they fix this? Maybe, but she’d have to sign off on it.

            Reply
  24. Synoia

    Don’t Kill the Umps!

    No replace them with Robots. Then replace the players with robots.

    Team owners will love the new inexpensive ball players.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And moar robot fans.

      Additionally, if robots can judge on a baseball field, will it be long before they judge in a traffic court?

      Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Look, it’s all good until a manager kicks dirt on the robo-ump on a perceived bad call, which gets into the circuits and renders it incapable of going 9 innings.

            Reply
    2. KFritz

      Apologies upfront, NC’s link tool has never worked with Firefox or Chrome in my computer

      According to an 8 April ESPN article, younger umpires consistently outperform older ones. Soccer/association football puts its officials out to pasture at age 45, no exceptions. Baseball would do well to follow suit.

      The article further states that umpiring has improved steadily since the first decade of the century, seemingly on account of analysis and feedback.

      Lastly, a question: have any of the other commentators caught a throw at first base and felt the runner make contact with the base a nano-second later, only to be called safe? Or had a strike called that Ted Williams couldn’t reach with a fungo bat? Or watched the new technology clarify a goal or offsides in a crucial soccer match? If so, you might feel slightly differently about robot umps.

      Reply
  25. Wukchumni

    Was out for a 9 hour hike with a friend yesterday and we ran into a group of 10 teenagers and 1 adult, and there was something eerie about the tableau, as the kids were incredibly well behaved, which is not the scene i’m used to seeing with a gaggle of that size, so I knew something was up. Turns out they were from the Kirby School in Santa Cruz, a 6-12th grade learning establishment that will set you back $31k a year, yikes!

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      10 kids with affluenza were “incredibly well behaved”? What were they medicating them with?

      Maybe they were just spellbound by the wonders of nature.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        It was a funny scene, a young miss had dinged her big toe when said digit in open sandal hit against granite, and the teacher had one of those large syringes where he was shooting soothing water @ the offended part, comes with the affluenza I guess. They seemed more tired, than inspired. A couple of them made a beeline for a couple marmots as if they’d never seen em’ before, which was refreshing, as nobody ever does that.

        I’d run across a similar group of students & teacher 6 years ago in the backcountry, with the same demeanor, and they were from the Thacher School in Ojai, which will set you back $62k a year if living on campus, only $47k if commuting.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          if they take them out hiking, the private school experience has improved a lot since the 60’s. Of course, mine was back east and not close to the Sierras.

          Hmmm – got to college in Portland, the first thing was a hike up a mountain and the other was a weekend on a YWCA camp at the coast. Maybe it’s a West Coast thing.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            It was impressive I felt, there were 3 groups of 10 students and 1 teacher that backpacked to Eagle, Monarch & Mosquito Lakes, and after they got back, everybody was going to be @ the Cold Springs car campground to compare experiences.

            Now, why you couldn’t do the same with run of the mill 6-12th graders is a good question.

            Each student would need approx $300 worth of gear which would be communal and used over & over again, and a wilderness permit is $15, with $5 more per additional person, so that’s not much of a hurdle.

            Getting young people out into the wilderness, where there is no wi-fi?

            Priceless.

            Reply
    2. Massinissa

      You need to pay that much money to make sure the kids are fully indoctrinated into being candidates for being in the PTB. Can’t have people in the PTB being against the PTB, doncha know.

      Reply
  26. Oregoncharles

    “Are we now supposed to believe China is the enemy, and not Russia?”
    Word choices matter. Both are RIVALS, rival great powers, rival empires (both are still imperial states, even after Russia was shorn of much of its empire.) So there’s always an irreducible element of competition and conflict, which we need to expect and allow for.

    Granted, there are those who equate “rival” with “enemy” – and that’s what Jerri-Lynn is mocking. I see using the correct term as a corrective. But we still need to be alert to abuses by other empires – China’s power grab in the South China Sea (Philippine Sea?) is an example. Or the suppression of the Uighurs, or before that the conquest and genocide in Tibet (a formative experience for me).

    Treating nuclear powers as “enemies” puts all of us in terrible danger.

    Reply
    1. Adam Eran

      I’d add that one tells the truth to one’s friends, and lies to one’s enemies. That’s the advice of The Art of War…a book with incredibly detailed instructions about how to lie.

      If that’s so, then the U.S. population is as much the enemy as these furriners.

      Reply
  27. Matthew G. Saroff

    Camille Paglia has been a dull and predictable pedant her entire career.

    More even than Michael Kinsley, she suffers from Michael Kinsley disease, where the counter factual is favored over actual thought.

    Reply
    1. RMO

      She always manages to impress me by how few words she needs to convey the fact that she is a complete dolt though. That takes a sort of genius.

      Reply
  28. skippy

    Why do I get the feeling that the whole Brexit thingy is some manufactured ideological trigger point to usher in its proponents grand visage – without having to actually own [tm] it ….

    Um … sorta like our Keating recession “we had to have” ushering in thirdway and the selling off of assets to international investors – because TINA. Seems everyone positioned correctly at launch made packet whilst the unwashed were tube feed equities and RE IP gruel.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Manufactured vs. accidental turn points of history.

      Is this a case of ‘Cleopatra’s nose’ or not?

      Reply
      1. skippy

        Blaise Pascal’s blending of maths and esoterica would not seem a good optic in reconciling the Ultras machinations since the hand book was held high in party chambers.

        Funding vectors would also seem to negate any references to randomness E.g. notions of the creators matrix where free will is distributed via gifts [wealth].

        But then my L.A. Jewish girlfriends dad used to joke, at the dinning table, that my nose had no character, but was a good sort anyway.

        Reply
    2. ChristopherJ

      not many assets left to sell, Skip, but the point is made that the instability provides great cover for the thieving to continue and be even legitimised.

      Still, I think the english will only be pushed so far before the beatings will no longer be a deterrent to mass protest accompanied by mass violence.

      I hear Windsor Castle is pretty well stocked for a seige

      Reply
      1. skippy

        I think the point is victory cannot be had till – all – are sold, then the magic foretold can happen …

        The great atomistic numerator demands it.

        Reply
  29. Wukchumni

    Police urge residents in Texas town to vacate homes during nearby SpaceX rocket launch The Hill (The Rev Kev)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I had a modest rocket launch program going on in my ‘hood, where i’d launch an Estes with a D engine and then go chase in whatever direction it went, not always finding them.

    My mom told me a few weeks ago that a neighbor was terrified I was going to burn down the street with my antics, wish i’d known that back then, i’d have tried harder on the terra firma.

    Reply
    1. MichaelSF

      A friend’s house roof was set on fire by a model rocket launched from a nearby school. The damage was extensive, and I think the fire was well in progress before the people inside realized they were in danger.

      Reply
  30. nothing but the truth

    “Cannot but agree the recent work doesn’t match the earlier. But then, that’s not something that’s unique to Rushdie”

    i have noticed intellectual standards have fallen dramatically since early 1990s.

    quality of music, books, newspapers, academic articles… its not as deep as before.

    Maybe its clinton, maybe its the internet, global warming, excess information…

    Reply

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