Monday, August 26, 2019

The other phone call

You wouldn't know it from the US State Department, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo phoned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday; there is much more publicity about Pompeo's call to Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the Beirut phone call, "Pompeo stressed the need to avoid any escalation."

Whatever attack took place in Lebanon, took place on Lebanon

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Brazil searches Trump's tweets

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian warplanes are dumping water on the burning forest in the Amazon state of Rondonia, responding to a global outcry over the destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest, according to a government video.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Automatic partner

From Boris Johnson's letter to Donald Tusk --

This Government will not put in place infrastructure, checks, or controls at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We would be happy to accept a legally binding commitment to this effect and hope that the EU would do likewise. 

This is the critical point. Compliance with any trade deal that the UK signs with a non-EU partner will entangle the border -- unless the partner country doesn't care about the leaky bucket in the middle of the deal. And the EU will face the same considerations on its own trade deals with other third countries. Unless Boris has some further elaboration of his proposal ready, it looks like the UK would have to provide assurances to other third countries that Ireland consents to the border obligations created by such deals -- which of course, Ireland is free not to do!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

When the eye of the needle is wide

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Quote of the Day

David Allen Green in the Financial Times:

But still the finality of a potential departure ("no-deal Brexit) is not fully recognised. The airlock door will slam shut on the astronaut and there is no easy way back into the spacecraft. This brutal finality is written into the Treaty on the European Union itself, the highest form of EU law which neither inconvenience nor wishful thinking can gainsay.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Epstein Supremacy

Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times,  January 2019:

But Twitter isn't just ruining the media's image. It's also skewing our journalism. Everything about Twitter's interface encourages a mind-set antithetical to journalistic inquiry: It prizes image over substance and cheap dunks over reasoned debate, all the while severely abridging the temporal scope of the press.

At the time, he was talking about the Covington outrage cycle (remember that?). But his point is perfectly illustrated by the Epstein suicide, where every political reporter and writer is using Twitter to elevate the conspiracy theories,  even while ostensibly downgrading them. 

And Donald Trump,  who knows that his Twitter audience includes writers and reporters, stokes the fire perfectly. The result, as Manjoo says, is not just the attention to the event but the skewing of journalism about it to engagement with the cranks and trolls. 

Friday, August 09, 2019

The problem is not just the Trump fund raiser

Amanda Hess in the New York Times last year, on the contorted messaging of I Feel Pretty:

And SoulCycle, prominently featured in "I Feel Pretty," frames the fitness craze as a moral imperative: "With every pedal stroke, our minds clear and we connect with our true and best selves."

SoulCycle's philosophy is a hair away from Renee's own delusional body transformation. As Ms. Widdows notes, the beauty ideal is so pervasive that it is internalized in many women, who are haunted by idealized visions of their own bodies — fantasies of how they might look after undergoing extreme diets or cosmetic procedures. But because nobody can ever achieve perfection, we instead begin to fetishize the striving for it — spinning on bikes and slathering on lotions. So even after Renee experiences her awakening to self-acceptance, she ends up right back at SoulCycle, this time having completely swallowed the "I'm doing this for me" line. 

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Sometimes Chris was correct

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Palestine on the verge (5 decades ago)

Time Magazine cover, 13 December 1968

Britain on the verge (4 decades ago)

Questions to the Prime Minister, 3 April 1979 [Hansard]

Mr. David Atkinson 
Will the Prime Minister take time today to go into the Library and read page 505 of volume 6 of the "Collected Works of Marx and Engels" where he will see a list of the 10 preconditions necessary for any country to be ripe for a Communist takeover, seven of which have already been satisfied in this country, largely through his Government's policies? Will he give a pledge to the country and the House that he will support the next Conservative Government in reversing that trend? 

The Prime Minister (Jim Callaghan)
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on getting as far as page 505. I wish that his question had shown a more percipient understanding of the erudite conclusions reached by Karl Marx, some of which are apposite in the present state of development of our world.