All hail the State!

Imagine if the Curajus really did run more of our lives.

Two trials would both like me as a witness (expert I insist, not the Scouser in the suit). Both in London, both going on at the same time. The various people scheduling know I live outside the UK. They are obviously paying expenses.

The two evidence dates are 8 days apart……

Sigh.

Rhiannon…..

Look at these men. Look at them. Gathered around the most powerful man in the world – a man who has openly bragged of sexual assault, who refers to a vulva as a woman’s “wherever” – as he signs away the reproductive rights of women in developing countries. In reimposing the global gag rule, Donald Trump is removing US funding to any overseas organisation that offers abortions, even if the organisation provides those specific services with their own funds. It means that doctors, midwives, nurses and volunteers cannot so much as mention the word “abortion” to their patients and service users without risking the loss of the US funding they receive for services including the supply of contraceptives.

If there is a woman present in this room, as this executive order is being signed along with two others, she is not included in the shot. This photograph is what patriarchy looks like – a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded. Nothing quite says powerlessness like the removal of your right to bodily autonomy, at the behest of a group of people who will never – can never – know what that feels like.

No one has changed anything at all about womens’ bodily autonomy. The only thing that has changed, and that in a minor manner, is whether the taxpayer gets dinged for you to exercise it or you’ve got to find some other source of funds to do so. Abortion, contraception, D&C, rug munching, bolts and piercings in unlikely (or perhaps today, likely) places and on and on and on are just as legal today as they were yesterday.

And here’s a general point about civil liberties R. Lucy. We are indeed supposed to be free to get on with life as we wish to get on with life. And with that comes the responsibility to both pay for that life ourselves and to take the consequences of how we live. Autonomy does not, whatever you think it does, mean that you’ve the right to what you want and also that someone else pay for it. That’s actually called dependency.

Dear God these people are ignorant

A sexism row has erupted over a new Barbie doll which encourages girls to become engineers by building washing machines and racks for their shoes and jewellery.

No, not that bit, this bit:

Jo Jawers, a spokeswoman at campaign group Let Toys Be Toys, accused the Engineering Barbie of “pinkifying” science, adding that it risked sending out a message that domestic machinery is used primarily by women.

She added: “While the doll is a step in the right direction it’s a real shame the things the girls can build relate to domestic chores while boys get the whole of the rest of the world. Arguably the washing machine is greatest invention of the 20th century but its not a women’s machine. We don’t want the message to be that the washing machines belongs to the girl.”

Twat. Damn near the entire Industrial Revolution has been about automating women’s work. We’ve still not quite managed to crate children properly but the first step was to automate the largest part of any woman’s working life, spinning. Seriously, the number of hours of hand spinning that went into even the homeliest of home spun shirt was horrendous. Then came weaving, in this century that washing machine and…..running a household has gone from being a full, full (60-80 hours a week) time occupation to being something that can be done in the small gap between getting home and wine o’clock.

The Spinning Jenny and the Washing Machine are, arguably, the two inventions that made women’s liberation possible.

That Nigerian case against Shell

He was represented in court this week by the British firm Leigh Day, which argued that Shell should be liable for failing to protect its pipelines to prevent criminal damage.

As I understand it, peeps breach the pipelines to nick stuff, this causes pollution, that disease, and this is Shell’s fault.

Under English law? Rilly?

“It is a UK registered company and that is why we came to the High Court in London seeking justice….the legal system in Nigeria is highly corrupt and there is no way we could get justice [from a Nigerian court.]

“Even if you tried it could take twenty to thirty years. But we do not have that time as the situation is an emergency.”

Bit colonial, innit?

Presumably I’m the only one whose opinion is “Well dodgy” when I see Leigh Day is involved?

Sigh

They’re never going to believe this but it is true all the same:

The existence of Walmart is positive sum for Americans. That’s why so many of us go shop there. The existence of imports is positive sum for Americans. That’s why so many of us buy them. And just as insisting, as some areas of the country do, that Walmart will never be allowed to sell nice cheap stuff there makes those areas poorer so too does insisting that imports will never sully our purple mountains make all the inhabitants of the fruited plains poorer.

The Wisdom of David Leonhardt

Brenda Barnes became a national figure 20 years ago when she quit her job as a top PepsiCo executive to become a full-time parent. Some people celebrated her decision, and others criticized it. But everyone seemed to agree that she was doing it for her children.

Barnes died last week, from a stroke, at the age of 63. She died at an unfairly young age, but lived a deeply fulfilling life. She reminds me of what the psychologist Amos Tversky said before his own early death: “Life is a book. The fact that it was a short book doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good book. It was a very good book.”

Barnes always described her decision as a personal one, more for her own benefit than for her children’s (although they quickly came to relish it). She hated judgmental debates over women’s choices about work and family.

Yet there was really a larger wisdom in what she did. In her own graceful way, she called the country’s bluff. She made clear that our society demands impossible choices from parents — and pretends otherwise.

Society enables, nay positively celebrates, people taking decisions which they themselves feel leads to a good life well lived.

And this is society demanding impossible choices?

Jeez….

Sigh

There’s a theme emerging in the new international political economy post-Brexit.

The US is willing to offer the UK a trade deal, with a condition attached. That condition seems to be freedom of movement for people.

Australia is willing to offer a trade deal. But wants relaxed migration rules.

Not long ago India made clear that it was in the same place.

And so, I suspect, will be all other states.

And there’s logic to this. Although not often stated the simple fact is that if you allow free movement to trade and capital and deny it to labour the inevitable consequence is that the likely rate of return to capital is increased compared to that for labour. The logic is simple: without restriction capital can seek the best returns. With restrictions labour can’t. Cut out all the other important factors and if you’re going to control labour you have to, at the very least, control capital as much. Actually, because capital has not got family, school, in-law and other ties you almost certainly have to control it more than labour to balance returns.

So of course countries want as much freedom to move as they can get if free trade is sought. It’s the only way to make sure their people aren’t exploited.

We have, then, three options.

The first is to accept free movement of people.

“Freer” movement of people is not the same thing as “free” movement of people.

Tinder

There is a very funny riff in the hilarious new play Raising Martha, on at the little Park Theatre in north London, that revolves around the name Linda. In the play, a middle-aged character called Gerry is trying to write a song about his true love but falters because, as he sings: “Nothing really rhymes with Linda…”

There’s the basic structure of a limerick there.

Good thing we’re leaving, eh?

Pubs and restaurants could soon be fined for serving well-done items such as triple-cooked chips or thin and crispy pizza under a second phase of the Government’s crackdown on burnt food.

Following the launch of a major public awareness campaign yesterday to help people reduce “cancer-causing” acrylamide in food, the Daily Telegraph can reveal that food safety watchdogs are planning to extend the warning to every food-serving business in Britain.

Under a new European Union food hygiene directive, due to be adopted in the UK by the the end of 2017, pubs and restaurants will be told to take reasonable steps to reduce acrylamide in food or face enforcement measures.

Until now many local establishments will be unaware that they may soon need to drastically alter cooking practices to reduce acrylamide, which forms when potatoes and grain-based items are cooked in temperatures hotter than 120C.

It means those continuing to serve “high acrylamide” foods, such as brown roast potatoes or burned Yorkshire puddings, could be visited by the Food Standards Agency’s enforcement officers and face hefty fines.

But it’s an interesting example of the inertia of a bureaucracy. Even though we’re leaving they’re still planning to enforce nonsense like this.

We call this whistling in the wind Guy

Britain’s decision to make a clean break from the EU was an opportunity to reform Europe and avoid a further breakdown in ties between its remaining member states,the European Union Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator said on Monday.

Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister and member of the European Parliament, also said the election of US President Donald Trump, and what he views as Washington’s move toward more protectionism, was a wake-up call for the EU.

“The Brexit discussion is a good opportunity not only to discuss and negotiate a new agreement, a new partnership with Britain, but also to fix that now it is time to have a real government in Europe,” Mr Verhofstadt said in an interview in New York while promoting his new book: “Europe’s Last Chance.”

By real government he means fiscal union. Germany pays 20% of GDP to Brussels which then spends it on Greek pensions.

I’d actually be interested to see someone try it. See how long it would be before they were torn apart by the howling mob.

Small question here

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) said it would file the lawsuit in a Manhattan federal court on Monday morning.
“We did not want to get to this point,” Crew executive director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.
“It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office. We were forced to take legal action.”
The US constitution says no federal official should receive a gift or “emolument” – a fee – from a foreign government.

They’re claiming that getting paid for a hotel room by a government violates the emoluents clause.

So, a small question. Did Obama getting book royalties from a Chinese state owned publisher violate the same clause?

Please show your working.

(I have sent an email to ask and will share any result).

Issue the teaspoons!

Third, where are the jobs for most people? Digitisation and robotics; AI and 5G are all about eliminating work. Nuclear employs a relative handful of people. Outside Cambridge so too do life sciences.

There would appear to be a glaringly obvious flaw in Theresa May’s plan. It’s called a lack of people who might create the demand for whatever it is she wishes to invest in. This is already one of the crises of modern capitalism: it is unable to think of things that people want or can afford.

Amazingly, people rather like their smartphones and those Amazon Echo things and Google’s machine translation and so on. They also like cheap ‘leccie if we can ever get some. And being able to supply those things using the labour of fewer people makes us richer. It’s called increasing productivity, you see? More value of output from each hour of human labour? That measure by which we are apparently not as efficient as France?

Second, the biggest energy issue is cutting usage and there is nothing in here focussed on that. Where is the building insulation and double glazing that is still needed to make the UK’s buildings energy efficient?

The UK needs a new industrial strategy, but it’s a Green New Deal that we need and not more remote tech that alienates people ever more from the world they live in, the companies that create what they consume and any chance of meaningful work.

We’ve just tried that, recall? Damaging millions of buildings in doing so?

It’s not just that he’s an ignorant twat it’s that he’s a fascist with it too.

Stump thinking

Wages are too low

People are under-employed and underpaid in the UK. The result is we simply don’t have enough to spend to rebalance the economy.

The UK won’t tackle the tax gap

The UK government says there is £35 billion of unpaid UK tax. I say it’s maybe three times that. And we’re sacking tax inspectors, still. As a result the level playing field that is required to build the confidence for small business to invest, most especially in skills, does not exist. Instead tax cheating prospers. We shoot ourselves in the foot by perpetuating this policy. And it is a choice. But it’s one that’s not being changed soon. That costs us growth.

The people don’t have enough money so the solution is to take more off them?

Sigh.

So, we’re getting the guilds back, are we?

She will say the government would be prepared to deregulate, help with trade deals or create new institutions to boost skills or research if any sector can show this would address specific problems.

The deals will only be available to sectors that organise themselves and make the case for government action, with May citing the automotive and aerospace industries as sectors that have successfully used this model.

Idiot stupidity.