There’s a reason for this you know

Donald Trump moved on Tuesday to expunge rules aimed at forcing oil companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments in order to secure lucrative mining and drilling rights.

“Trump has given an astonishing gift to the American oil lobby. Oil, gas and mining companies listed across the EU, including Russian companies, have already disclosed $150bn of payments in resource-rich countries, with no ill effects. This makes a mockery of claims by US oil companies such as Exxon that greater transparency would damage companies’ competitiveness. If the European companies can do it, you have to ask – what are US companies trying to hide?” said Zorka Milin, senior legal adviser at the advocacy group Global Witness.

Isn’t it Angola that bans companies from revealing how much they pay Angola?

Well, yes Jessica

If you had any doubt that that Republicans were taking their cues on women’s health from The Handmaid’s Tale, consider Oklahoma representative Justin Humphrey, who said this week that women are not individual people once they get pregnant, just “hosts”.

Humphrey, who just proposed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to get written permission from their sexual partner, told a reporter at the Intercept that while he understands that women “feel like that is their body”, they are mistaken to think of themselves as autonomous human beings.

“What I call them is, you’re a ‘host’ … I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”

The upside is at least they’ve dispensed with any subtext.

The subtext being that this is a Sorites Problem.

For in a mammalian species the female is indeed the host. Sure, 20 minutes after fertilisation it would be very extreme indeed to say “host!” and host only. 270 days later it would be equally extreme to claim that there wasn’t something very hostlike about this situation. Just as with the development of the child itself, it’s a process with no clear dividing lines other than conception and birth (or termination, of course).

No, this isn’t to say that I support this specific law (although I’ve always had a very soft spot for the argument that as the male will be forced to pay for 21 years for a live birth then said male should indeed have some say in whether there is a live birth or not) but the basic concept of “host”, the thing you’re complaining about, isn’t an outrageous one at all.

Anti-choice legislation – from clinic restrictions to waiting periods – all come from the same ideology that trumps the potential life of a fetus over a woman’s right to autonomy, health and sometimes life.

And isn’t that an interesting argument? Because pretty much everyone agrees that at some point in our Sorites progression that it does. But when?

The left has been in charge of education for 70 years now

In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?

Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and made to sit still while they are stuffed with facts?

And the insistence is that as education isn’t working it’s not left enough.

This isn’t going to end well

WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

Just not well at all. Because we can see the beginnings at least of a plot here by he permanent state against the duly elected President.

The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.

The officials said that one of the advisers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for several months last year and had worked as a political consultant in Ukraine. The officials declined to identify the other Trump associates on the calls.

Manafort was quite obviously working for Putin (indirectly maybe) in Ukraine. OK, but that doesn’t mean that the campaign was, it means that someone in the campaign had done so.

And tg show the difference, I worked for Ukip, I have had contacts with Russian intelligence. No one working over there for any length of time has not. I’ve had contact with the US and UK guys with three letters after their job title too. Not to any great end but as someone who once had a uranium import/export licence that’s just to be expected. My mate and business partner is an arms dealer–of course there are intelligence contacts.

None of which means that Ukip nor any campaign by it had anything to do with Russian intelligence.

But read those American claims a little more closely. People in the Trump campaign had contacts with people in Russian intelligence…..which means just about anyone senior in either government or business over there. Fine, OK, that’s the nature of the state there. B ut it is a leap, and it’s a leap which is being made, to move from such contacts to they’re cooperating on the campaign.

And do note that proof offered, that the Russians hacked the DNC. We’re note sure that’s true rather than it being a Bernie Bro pissed off and leaking.

And all of those qualifications come much later in the article. Meaning that most people won’t ever read them.

Of course, It’s entirely possible that Putin thought that Trump would be easier to deal with than Hillary (no, stop giggling at the back there) and that he did intervene. But can’t say that I’m in the slightest convinced about this “contacts from the campaign” talk.

Good thing we’re going, eh?

Via Raedwald:

Finally, the EBC’s chances for success will be enormously improved if it can develop within a suitable regulatory environment. We favor an approach where major digital platform providers would have to reserve a certain percentage of their media space, say 5 percent, for EBC content (on a must-carry basis). In addition, such platforms should be levied a general fee of 5 percent on their European turnover to help fund the EBC. The present situation where the click economy thrives while undermining any reasonable business model for quality journalism and engaging in the most aggressive kind of tax avoidance planning is simply no longer sustainable.

EBC is, yes, you’ve guessed it, European Broadcasting Corporation.

At least the BBC has never demanded that ITV must carry its programs, eh?


‘Get your t*** out, show us your m****’: Drunken yob hit with £8,400 bill for abusing stewardess

Most impolite to be sure but if those stories about those who work for the airlines are true that seems very expensive for a peek at something widely shared, no?

Spud is incredible, isn’t he

The proposal for US corporate tax reform is a disaster in the making. …. Trade war would follow. It would provide no tax relief for interest paid: chaos in financial market would follow.

That’s from the bloke who has actually been insisting this past decade that the interest deductibility at places like Boots is tax abuse and must be done away with.


Aaaah, so this is how it’s going to work

Russia has begun an internet offensive using false news and email hacking against Emmanuel Macron, the new favourite for the French presidency, his campaign chief said yesterday.

Richard Ferrand, manager of En Marche (On the move), the movement set up by the centrist Mr Macron, appealed to the government to defend him against “the interference of a foreign power in our democratic life”.

Any nasty stories about righty folks like Fillon are real and true and fuck off out of public life. Any nasty stories about lefty folk are fake news and Russians and hacking and IGNORE IT!

Biting the hand that feeds

Ken Loach has launched an uncompromising attack on the UK government at the 70th British Academy Film Awards.

Speaking as he picked up his award for outstanding British film for I, Daniel Blake, which is conceived as a critique of the current state of the benefits system, Loach touched on accusations by some that his film failed to reflect reality.

Hasn’t it been said state which has financed his entire career? Including that very dandy indeed house in Widcombe?

This blog’s good deed for the day

Advised by a regular reader here you might wish to go here for a moment or two.

A more than usually shitty happenstance of life has led to two parents dying young of cancer (one gone, one going) and thus three about to be orphans. One of whom has just been selected to compete for England at the dance World Cup (that’s a real thing?) which would have made the departed parent proud.

Up to you of course but worth of considerations.

Interesting question here

In the wake of the US election, the past few months have felt like an alternate reality for many. But even in the wildest of alternate realities, did anybody think Moby would be the one to bring down the Trump administration?

In a Facebook post on Monday, the American DJ, musician and animal rights activist claimed he had spent the weekend “talking to friends who work in dc [sic]” and could therefore “accurately” post insider information about the Trump presidency.

The allegations detailed by Moby included that Trump was “being blackmailed” by the Russian government for “much more nefarious things” than prevailing rumours already suggest, but that the Trump administration is simultaneously “in collusion” with the Russian government “and has been since day one”.

What could you actually blackmail Trump about?

If it were something sexual it would have to be up there with dead boys for absolutely everyone knows that he’s not kept in his pants over the years (actually, would be fun to know who the current mistress is, wouldn’t it?). Money? Taxes? There’s not much I can see there that could be used. We can’t even try out the idea that he’s a Grey Alien for all know that was Hills.

So, what could anyone use to blackmail Trump with?

Injustice is it?

Researches have described the “environmental injustice” facing commuters, who are exposed to up to eight times more pollution than car users.

Even though motorists produce the most pollution per commuter, they are the least exposed to harmful particulate matter (PM) as they are sealed off from the outside, a study by the University of Surrey found.

“We found that there is definitely an element of environmental injustice among those commuting in London, with those who create the most pollution having the least exposure to it,” Dr Prashant Kumar, who led the study, said.


Pedestrians too, people just living there. It’s not about public transport.

This is interesting

Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has resigned from his post after less than one month in office following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia.

The standard political move is to blow smoke, deny that there’s a problem and then, when someone does eventually go, deny there ever was a problem.

Here we seem to have “Yup, Mike, that was a fuck up. Goodbye”

I wonder if this rather businesslike attitude toward failure is going to be a constant theme?

This is completely fucking absurd – the professor donating plasma

You do have to wonder about the intelligence of some in academia you know.

I’d driven 107 miles from my home in Bangor, Maine to the BPL Plasma Center in Lewiston to collect $50 for having my arm punctured and a liter of my plasma sucked out. The actual donation takes about 35 minutes, but the drive and its attendant wait makes for an eight-hour day. I clocked in for that trip five times this summer.

I’m a professor at the University of Maine. My salary is $52,000, and I am a year away from tenure. But like everyone else in that room, I was desperate for money.

OK, so why’s he desperate?

Here are my vitals: I have more than $200,000 in student loans and $46,000 in credit card debt—all accumulated during my B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., and then search for a tenure-track job. My annual salary translates to a little more than $3,000 in monthly take-home pay. I pay $800 a month in rent, $1,100 in credit card bills (paying only the monthly minimums), $350 in student loans, and have $285 a month car payment. I also pay the usual insurances, utilities, groceries, gas, et al. I don’t have cable. Or a kitchen table. Or blinds on any of my windows.

Right, so needs more money. And it’s even possible that there are professors out there whose best option for more money is plasma.

Except, except:

an actual dilemma for a journalism professor.

A journalism professor can’t pick up a couple of hundred extra bucks a month with some freelancing? What the fucks are they employing him for at that university?

I mean seriously, Crippled JC on a Sodding Pogo Stick seriously. Even at current US pay rates that’s one 1,000 word piece at somewhere like Quartz etc. And if you can’t score that then what are you doing teaching journalism?

I wonder how much of this Ritchie and Colin Hines would agree with?

“M.P.’s will be converted from windbags into men of action.”

The Curajus State, check

The government will spend much more money on research and development, with rates of return of “one hundred-fold.”

Oh yes, candidly

Cheap, wage-undercutting foreign imports will not be allowed.

Progressive protectionism

Foreign investment abroad will be eliminated

Capital controls

Inheritance will not be allowed,

100% inheritance tax

The small shopkeeper shall be favored over chain stores,

Localism and local economies.

All citizens, rich and poor, are to have the right to an education up through age 18

Ritchie extends that to PhD but still.

So there’s a certain similarity to Oswald Moseley then.

The delights of The Guardian’s readers

Reducing absolute poverty is exactly what is so detrimental for us as a species. It is our consumption that is destroying this planet for us. It’s what’s behind climate change and it’s why we have started the sixth mass extinction. It’s our success that is the problem.
Reducing poverty is just another way of saying ‘increase consumption’.
Obviously this is a nasty reality -or inconvenient truth if you will-but this doesn’t stop it from being the truth.


Stock market valuations being another thing he doesn’t understand

Despite this whole rafts of the stock market are valued not on what extractive industries companies actually do but on what their reserves are.

It’s not in fact true that they are valued on their reserves. Just isn’t.

But there’s a more important point which such a campaigner as the Spud should grasp. The central problem as revealed by Nick Stern is the discount rate. At what interest rate do we discount future events? As Nickyboy pointed out, if we use market interest rates than things which happen decades out have near to no net present value. The damages from a 70 metre sea level rise as Antarctica melts in 2,500 AD have a value of about tuppence today. and that really cannot be quite right thus we should use a lower discount rate to value far into the future events.

But note that when we do value reserves of extraction companies we do not use the lower and Stern approved social discount rate. We use the market interest rate. No, that’s not the yield on gilts either. It’s the stock market rate – something much more akin to 5 or 7%. And if we discount, say, oil reserves at 7% out to 50 years we get a net present value of spit.

That is, anyone who actually understood the climate change argument could not possibly argue that fossil fuel companies face an imminent collapse in valuation because future reserves will be stranded.

But Spud does so argue.