…deja fu [DOT 12/10/21]

done, did...yet to do...

…sometimes it’s hard to know where to start

The government said it is exploring a new app pitched by a major British telecom that aims to protect women by tracking their journeys — with the goal of launching it as soon as December following public outrage over the recent killings of women while they were walking alone in London.
Yet Ludo Orlando, cofounder of the organization “Reclaim These Streets” which seeks to protect women and educate men on the issue of violence against women and girls, said in an email that the proposed app is “yet another case of women having to change their behaviour, instead of actually tackling the issue at its root cause which is male violence.”

She also called on the government to invest in emergency service networks that already exist and need support — instead of embracing new ones.

“That 50 million could make a huge different to some of the amazing front-line organisations tacking violence against women everyday on the ground,” Orlando said, adding that women have been using technology to let people know they are safe “since mobile phones were introduced.”
On social media, there was also criticism for the proposed app. “What if, instead of wondering how to keep women safe, we worked out how to make women free,” tweeted one user, while others echoed the sentiment that the funds could be better spent on existing women’s services that say they are struggling to stay afloat.

Earlier this year, a report from the charity Women’s Aid found that more than 1 in 5 of refuge services set up to help people fleeing domestic abuse have no local authority funding and were relying on emergency funds.


…to be fair it’s probably more likely that it looks like my bigger difficulty lies with getting to the end of these…but from my end where to begin seems the less straightforward

A whistleblower standing before Congress. A global scandal involving Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg missing in action and a series of lesser executives spinning wildly on US television networks. So far, so 2018. Because last week, we had 2018: the remake. A week that started for Facebook with a six-hour global outage and ended with one of its most trenchant critics, the American-Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, being awarded a Nobel prize. And in the middle of it, a whistleblower captured the attention of America.
If there’s one thing last week has proved, it’s that nothing beats a human face telling a human story. There was much of Haugen’s testimony that was already known or at least glimpsed. Every day for the last three years has brought a fresh tide of Facebook-so-toxic stories – they’ve just lost their ability to shock.
Wylie’s testimony in 2018 set the hares running. It precipitated numerous investigations into the company, investigations whose failure explains why, three years on, we are here again. Haugen testified to problems that are a direct result of a corrupt and corrosive internal corporate culture exposed then. Facebook’s executive suite should have been burned down three years ago. It wasn’t. In 2018, the mask came off. But the authorities failed to hold a single person to account. And we, and our increasingly fragile democracies and fraught teenagers, are living with the consequences. When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook a record $5bn (£3.6bn) for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the only outcome was to send Facebook’s stock price even higher. After all, what’s $5bn to a company worth a trillion dollars?

And although the SEC found that Facebook had made “misleading disclosures”, including lying to journalists, it allowed Facebook to settle its suit with a $100m fine. No executive was harmed in the making of these penalties. Zuckerberg was not deposed. Sheryl Sandberg was not forced to account for her actions. Everyone got away with everything.


…& I think part of it often has to do with the extent to which some things simmer in the headlines for so long it’s not always obvious what might be boiling over

Haugen said 87% of misinformation spending at Facebook is on English content when only 9% of users are English speakers.


…& yes I am thinking about coffee at the moment…why do you ask?

Clegg insisted individuals were responsible for their own actions on 6 January, and would not say if he believed Facebook bore any responsibility for amplifying toxic messaging such as Donald Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election.

“Given that we have thousands of algorithms and millions of people using it, I can’t give you a yes or no answer to individual personalised feeds each person uses,” Clegg told CNN’s State of the Union.

“Where we see content we think is relevant to the investigation, to law enforcement, of course we cooperate. But if our algorithms are as nefarious as some people suggest, why is it that those systems have reduced the prevalence of hate speech on our platforms to as little as 0.05%?”
He outlined steps he said the company was taking to “reduce and mitigate the bad and amplify the good”, including new tools to direct users, especially teenagers, away from harmful content on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. He also said Facebook was open to discussions over stricter regulation including internet privacy legislation.
“We’re going to give new tools to adults, to parents, so they can supervise what their teens are doing online. And we want to give users more control. We give users the ability to override the algorithm, to compose their own newsfeed. Many people who use Facebook in the US and elsewhere want to see more friends, less politics.”


…speaking of people that sound like they could use a jolt of something to the brain…that last part about “new tools” to “supervise”…couple of things…for a start that seems like a pretty obvious bid to invert the responsibility (& attendant liabilities) regarding the real-world effects of the time its users spend engaging with the platform…& leaving aside the part where for data-mining purposes active users are really only a sub-set of what it’s looking at…or how to unpack that claim about 9% of users being english speakers (which might be more than a little misleading when compared to how much more than 9% of facebook is in english) but is still pretty important in some ways…context is important whether you happen to be looking at the forest or the trees

Many of the largest fossil fuel companies reward top executives for meeting environmental goals, a compensation tactic they adopted over the past two decades as a response to regulators and investors concerned with pollution and worker safety.

But the way some of these incentive programs are designed allows companies to award executives their full bonuses even in years when the firms cause major environmental damage or total emissions go up, according to a review of pay disclosures from six of the largest U.S. oil and gas companies and interviews with experts in compensation and environmental data.
Critics say climate goals are usually such a small portion of bonus plans that they have little influence over executive behavior. When Shell made emission reduction goals 10 percent of its executive bonus last year, some environmentally minded investors opposed the plan, arguing that over 50 percent of the annual bonus was still based on growing the company’s production of gas.
The failure of some pay programs to promote better corporate behavior highlights a lack of oversight by corporate boards of directors, who approve executive pay at publicly traded companies and are tasked with managing long-term risks such as climate change, Rawson said. Even as many boards acknowledge this mandate — creating climate committees and designating sustainability chairs — they’ve failed to hold executives accountable for real action on environmental issues, he said.
The energy industry’s experience is a cautionary tale for the broader business world. Dozens of large companies, including Coca-Cola, Walmart, Ford Motor Co. and Procter & Gamble, have tied executive pay plans to environmental targets as they face pressure from investors to mitigate climate change, said Mindy Lubber, chief executive of climate advocacy group Ceres.
But as evidence from oil and gas companies shows, executives can score highly on environmental goals even when their companies have mixed track records on the environment.
The challenge, says U.K. researcher Dario Kenner, is that oil executives are already hardwired to grow profits and revenue from fossil fuels, which often means generating more carbon emissions. Kenner, who researches wealth and climate change, co-authored a study this year that found executives of BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell all have strong personal incentives to delay significant carbon reducing measures.

Despite spills and air pollution, fossil fuel companies award CEOs for environmental records [WaPo]

…leaving all that aside…for a platform often labelled as being way up there in the creepy stakes for the degree to which invasions of user privacy seem to be baked into its fabric it’s kind of a bold move to suggest that a way to make it better is to get parents on board the surveillance bandwagon…because (much like that make-women-feel-safer-by-stalking-them app proposal) it’s not even a little bit clear to me that’s any more a healthy way to go than it is one that’s likely to actually mitigate the problems being cited as justification for it

When the pandemic started last year, countless forms of inequality were exposed – including the millions of American families who don’t have access to laptops or broadband internet. After some delays, schools across the country jumped into action and distributed technology to allow students to learn remotely. The catch? They ended up spying on students. “For their own good”, of course.
The problem is, a lot of those electronics were being used to monitor students, even combing through private chats, emails and documents all in the name of protecting them. More than 80% of surveyed teachers and 77% of surveyed high school students told the CDT that their schools use surveillance software on those devices, and the more reliant students are on those electronics, unable to afford supplementary phones or tablets, the more they are subjected to scrutiny.
Thousands of school districts across the United States have installed surveillance software on school-provided devices to monitor their students’ online interactions. If a student emails or chats with another student saying they’ve been thinking of hurting themselves or that there is trouble at home, an AI bot or a human moderator watching over the messages in real time can send an alert to a teacher or administrator, allowing the teacher to jump in within minutes and ask if everything is OK.

These programs, such as Bark, Gnosis IQ, Gaggle, and Lightspeed, can cost the schools tens of thousands of dollars to implement, and they can be set up to search for language and online behavior indicating the possibility of violent tendencies, suicidal ideation, drug use, pornography use, or eating disorders.

I can certainly understand why schools would jump on technology they think might prevent teen suicide, bullying, and the like. […] The only problem is that we’ve tried this before, in a different form. Everyone’s proposed solution to the advent of school shootings was, “Well, let’s just watch these little deviants much more closely.” Metal detectors at the entrance to schools became the norm, police had a more visible presence, and security cameras went up in classrooms and hallways.
It’s not clear whether students are going to benefit from this surveillance, or if it is merely going to reduce schools’ liability when an act of violence or self-harm takes place. If teens are in need of help, it seems obvious that the best way to protect them is to ensure they have trusted adults in their lives they can turn to. A snooping AI is no substitute for that.


Police in Arlington, Tex., have repeatedly emphasized that this week’s shooting at Timberview High School was “not a random act of violence.” A student drew a gun following a fight and four people were injured, a police official said, emphasizing that “this is not somebody attacking our schools.” No doubt the comments were meant to be reassuring. But it is a sad commentary if we are meant to find it reassuring that a school shooting is just a routine extension of everyday life.
“Sadly, back to school has meant back to school shootings for too many communities across the country,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said during a media call on Thursday that highlighted the increased numbers of school shootings so far this year. Between Aug. 1 and Sept. 15, there have been at least 30 instances of gunfire on school grounds, killing five and wounding 23 people, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. That is the most instances and most people shot during the back-to-school period since Everytown for Gun Safety started tracking gunfire on school grounds in 2013. Analysis by The Post showed that, since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, more than 250,000 students at more than 270 schools have been exposed to gun violence in schools.


…but I’m sure giving parents “tools” to help them “supervise” their kids online is a great idea with no obvious drawbacks or precedents that might be worth considering & definitely better than the platform & its algorithms & A/B testing & general disdain for its users and their wellbeing actually getting its shit together & “engaging” with problems of its own creation…after all that would be in line with…well…an awful lot of mostly awful stuff, as it happens

Congress tucked a provision into the 2017 tax bill that led to the creation of 8,764 tax havens across the United States called opportunity zones.

A capital-gains tax break sold as a way to induce the wealthy to invest in poor neighborhoods, opportunity zones appear to be providing more opportunity for the wealthy to cut their tax bills than to the people who live in designated zones. It’s a case study on how very hard it is to tweak the tax code to direct money to places and activities that Congress favors without creating windfalls for the rich.
And therein lies the problem. Architects of opportunity zones believed that previous attempts to use the tax code to push money to capital-starved neighborhoods flopped because they had too many rules and required investors to navigate maddeningly complex bureaucratic mazes. So their disruptive version of place-based policy had few rules and little government oversight. Once governors designated opportunity zones from a list of census tracts that the law made eligible, almost any investment in a property or business in a zone qualified. One doesn’t need to even assert that an investment will help the people who live in the zone.


The revelations, published on Oct. 3, are global in scope. But if there is one country at the system’s heart, it is Britain. Taken together with its partly controlled territories overseas, Britain is instrumental in the worldwide concealment of cash and assets. It is, as a member of the ruling Conservative Party said last week, “the money laundering capital of the world.” And the City of London, its gilded financial center, is at the system’s core.
The offshore ecosystem is, by design, fiendishly complicated. Many intricate and opaque instruments — including offshore trusts, tax loopholes and shell companies — plus banking secrecy and negligent financial regulation shroud the wealthy’s assets in murky legal mists. Central to it all are tax havens, such as the Cook Islands, British Virgin Islands and Jersey (one of the Channel Islands), which can operate like smugglers’ coves. The wealthy and nefarious take their money there to protect it, but also to escape from rules, laws and taxes they don’t like.

The wealth held in tax havens is staggering: Estimates range from $6 trillion to $36 trillion. And some tax havens are closer to home than many would imagine. The United States, with its shady Delaware shell companies and South Dakota trusts, has long been a big part of the secrecy system. A cluster of European countries, including Luxembourg, Ireland and Switzerland, offer another menu of escape routes. Asia, of course, has Hong Kong and Singapore.
Once the finance-pumping heart of the British Empire, the City has refashioned itself as a crucial conduit for international capital of all sorts. The key moment came when, amid decolonization, the Bank of England let the country play host to the new Eurodollar market. This was an almost unregulated and highly profitable offshore space, separate from the British economy, where foreign banks, mostly American, could do things they could not at home.

In the 1970s, this fast-growing market began to meld with Britain’s tax havens, and others, into a seamless global network. The British havens have since acted as collecting vessels for diverse financial activity from around the globe, legal or not, often passing the accounting, banking and lawyering to companies in the City.

In tandem, the two have caused untold damage. The tax revenue lost is eye-watering: Corporations use tax havens to escape paying an estimated $245 billion to $600 billion a year. (A new global deal for a 15 percent minimum corporate tax rate will curb those losses.) Individuals stash vast sums, too.
After the global financial crash in 2008, which exposed the extravagant excesses of the financial system, there were some efforts at reform. The “London loophole,” as the chairman of a U.S. regulatory agency, Gary Gensler, called it, was reined in. But now, as memories of crisis fade and Brexit begins to bite, the government wants to revive the City’s darker arts. “A New Chapter for Financial Services,” a key guidance document it published in July, clearly signaled a return to more permissive times. “Competitiveness” and “competitive,” code words for low taxes, weak regulation and lax enforcement, appear over 15 times.

The City of London Is Hiding the World’s Stolen Money [NYT]

That is not to say others are innocent. From China to Azerbaijan, from the Philippines to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dirty money extorted from the weak and powerless swamps our political processes and corrupts our system.
Worse, we cannot even speak about this publicly, for fear of bankruptcy. The great Catherine Belton, author of the searingly insightful book “Putin’s People,” is facing a ruinous personal lawsuit brought by the regime’s insiders. The aim is not just to crush her, but to deter anyone else who dares to investigate the nexus of intelligence, business, organized crime and state power that gave birth to and sustains Russia’s ruling elite.
Where there is no rule of law, where the autocrat can steal or take away anyone’s property, his overriding fear is that someone will do to him what he has done to enrich himself. Thus, the despot’s only recourse is ship his money to a place that enjoys the benefits of a well-established legal system, be it London or Dubai, New York or Tallinn, Estonia — anywhere there are secure legal protections for those earn their wealth through work, rather than through theft or pumping it out of land that belongs to the population, which is just a more indirect form of theft.


…it’s…well…you know that thing about some things being “a feature not a bug”?

Rishi Sunak is to save billions of pounds by counting as aid financial assistance to poor countries being provided as a result of a windfall Britain has received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In a move that has been condemned by former Conservative international development secretaries, the chancellor has chosen not to use the UK’s share of a new $650bn IMF global fighting fund to increase the share of national output spent on aid.

Britain received $27.4bn (£20bn) as its share of an allocation of IMF special drawing rights (SDRs) – financial assets designed to help poor countries struggling during the pandemic – months after the government decided to cut aid spending from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income.
[Romilly] Greenhill [the UK director of the global anti-poverty campaign group ONE] said Sunak should reverse the decision in the spending review at the end of the month.

“It’s shocking that the Treasury is planning on classifying part of our SDR allocation as overseas development assistance,” she said. “It’s yet more evidence that they’re planning further cuts to the aid budget and are not being transparent about how they’re going about it, all of which will mean the loss of yet more life-saving programmes for the world’s poorest.

“It’s even more outrageous that we are the only rich donor to be considering counting this money as aid. Because of the way SDRs work, this money comes at barely any cost to the UK taxpayer. It’s literally taking charity away from those most in need.”


…all in all…it’s hard to be objective about much…which isn’t exactly new, either

In 1979, two journalists got into an argument. More than four decades later, they haven’t settled it.

The subject of their disagreement was journalistic “objectivity,” a notion that goes back at least to the 1920s, when some of the more high-minded newspapers and magazines were trying to distinguish themselves from the scandal sheets and publications led by partisan and sometimes warmongering publishers.
In a recent interview, Mr. Berger recalled that his view of the issue was influenced by the news media’s deferential coverage of the Vietnam War. The “excessive fealty to its own traditional notions of balance and objectivity,” he wrote in his column, had actually distorted reality — and Mr. Palmer’s earnest dedication to the old values, Mr. Berger wrote, was exactly what was so dangerous about him.

“By the end of this millennium, the objectivity of some very decent people in the media will make them, too, look like irresponsible fanatics,” the columnist wrote of Mr. Palmer and others like him.

The particulars have changed in the decades since, but much of Mr. Berger’s column could have been written yesterday. (And alt-weeklies did prefigure the style and tone of online journalism.) The rise of Donald Trump, and the media’s growing realization that a studied neutrality often conceals a single, dominant perspective, has shaken many of the industry’s traditional assumptions.
Much of the shift has to do with the changing nature of the news business, and the decline of local newspapers, whose business often depended on taking an establishment position. The internet has also blurred for readers the lines between news and opinion, which were clear in a print newspaper.
Mr. Berger, in an interview, allowed that he had “to some extent” won the argument. Mr. Palmer’s conventional position, in the Trump era, “begins to look like a radical view,” he said.

This decades-long argument doesn’t fit neatly onto some of the most important questions of the moment, the ones faced by the journalists who won the Nobel Peace Prize this past week, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia. They have been persecuted, at heart, not because their governments don’t like their style of journalism, but because their governments won’t tolerate the notion of independent, truth-seeking journalism.

The original idea around the much-misused notion of objectivity, when it was introduced in the 1920s, had to do with making journalism “scientific” — that is, with the idea that reporters could test hypotheses against reality and prove their claims right. In the most generous interpretation, it was about establishing a shared public space in which facts could be arbitrated and knowing that you could also be wrong.

Indeed, one of the easiest ways to know whether you can trust a journalist, I’ve always found, is to check whether the person is capable of admitting they’ve been wrong — something that applies to just-the-facts newspaper editors and moralizing columnists alike. People love to mock corrections, but they’re actually a badge of integrity.
[Berger] quoted Mr. Palmer saying that “it’s not clear yet who is right” on the big policy questions around nuclear power.

“If not now, when?” Mr. Berger asked. “Does there have to be a body count in this war, too?” That line, so soon after Vietnam, stung.
And yet: Mr. Berger now believes he was wrong about that. The American left of that era hadn’t understood the risks of carbon emissions.


…& that thing from earlier about “fear of bankruptcy”…which obviously might work differently for, say, a multiply-bankrupt-multiply-impeached-improperly-unconvicted-ex-president than it might for, say, you or I…or even news organizations

The rich, the famous and the powerful don’t like criticism and don’t like having their dirty laundry aired in public. They can be well-resourced, and will spend heavily on expensive lawyers. They don’t always tell the truth, or fight fair. In April 1995, Jonathan Aitken, then a Treasury minister, denounced the “wicked lies” told by the Guardian and Granada TV’s World in Action about his business activities.

But the Guardian held its nerve and two years later his legal action collapsed and he was jailed for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

That story set the tone: never again would the Guardian be considered a soft touch when it came to defending itself. But the implication was that it would have to be sure of itself on every contentious story it published.
Big investigative series generally present the biggest legal challenges, as they often publish material that powerful interests do not want aired – and involve many stories by a number of journalists, based in the UK and abroad. Here, editorial lawyers tend to get involved early on, so we can advise on what is being planned, and facilitate discussions around the public interest or what the editorial code is saying.

Later, the journalists will put together any “right to reply” letters that will be sent out seeking comment from those who may be criticised. Once those letters go out, we can usually expect to get a barrage of responses, often from expensive claimant-friendly lawyers, some of whom are hired to try to put journalists off publishing, usually by whatever means they can – threats, bluster, as well as, where appropriate, pointing out that we have misunderstood something or missed a key bit of evidence.

These letters are often headed “private and confidential and “not for publication” and can be tricky and time-consuming to respond to, particular as things near the publishing deadline. We have to take on board what these letters say, consider how they might affect what the journalists want to write, and discuss any next steps.
For example, over the past five to 10 years, the courts have got very hot on what they call audit trails – they like to see evidence of journalists and editors’ workings and thought processes before something contentious gets published. This is a relatively new court-created development. It’s not something the government or a regulator have put in place. And it can be tricky when there’s a deadline looming.

A free press stands for the kind of liberties and tolerances that are vital and precious to all of us. As the philosopher JS Mill and the poet John Milton recognised, we need to believe and have faith that in a free and equal encounter with falsehood truth will emerge, that differences of opinion encourage debate and help truth emerge, and that by this process we have a better chance to get the whole picture and not a partial one fed to us by those in power or who are able to influence it.


…& how does that work?

After an appearance on Newsnight in 2017, in which she spoke publicly about the oppressive non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she had been silenced by as a 24-year-old two decades earlier, Perkins found herself feted in parliament. The end of the use of NDAs as a means to cover up abuse was, she thought, in sight.

Four years later, on the anniversary that Weinstein’s crimes were finally exposed, that optimism has been all but extinguished. “Legally, nothing has changed, nothing. The regulators have not changed the rules since 1998,” she says.

She argues that the use of NDAs, a contract in which the parties agree to not discuss any issues relating to a disagreement normally in return for a settlement, remains rife in matters from building disagreements to sexual harassment in the workplace.

And while there has been a “societal shift”, she fears all she has done is “highlight the loophole”, and as a result lawyers are using more obfuscation and threatening tactics to impose NDAs.
“Everything that’s going on at the moment to me is just ripples coming from the same place, which is a systematic problem,” she says. “We have to be careful that we don’t get a false sense of confidence. All the shouting, all this pointing out the problems doesn’t actually make the change where it needs to be made – at the heart of the system.”


…so…where do I think I’m going with this?

British law enforcement officials are dropping their investigation into Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, following a review of sexual assault allegations sparked by an American woman who says convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with the prince on at least three occasions.
In an email to The Washington Post on Monday, London’s Metropolitan police service said it was “taking no further action” but that it would continue to “liaise with other law enforcement agencies who lead the investigation into matters related to Jeffrey Epstein.”
The decision by British police to drop their investigation comes at a period of intense scrutiny of Britain’s police force and its treatment of crimes against women. Earlier this year, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving police officer — sparking widespread calls for police reform.


The Metropolitan police’s decision to take no further action over Virginia Giuffre’s allegations of sexual assault against Prince Andrew “comes as no surprise”, a source close to the royal has said.
“Despite pressure from the media and claims of new evidence, the Met have concluded that the claims are not sufficient to warrant any further investigation. The duke has always vigorously maintained his innocence and continues to do so.”


…except…well…I know the term innocence has come up a lot…but…it might be more accurate to say that he remains confident that his exposure to legal liability is already on the books

Prince Andrew will have a chance to review a 2009 settlement agreement that he hopes will shield him from a civil lawsuit accusing him of sexually abusing a woman two decades ago, when she was underage.

In an order made in New York on Wednesday, US district judge Loretta Preska granted permission for Andrew’s lawyers to receive a copy of the confidential agreement between the late financier Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Giuffre.
Andrew Brettler, a lawyer for the prince, said in an email that he expected to receive the agreement soon from Giuffre’s lawyers.

At a hearing last month, Brettler told the judge overseeing Giuffre’s lawsuit that he believed the agreement “absolves our client from any and all liability”
David Boies, one of [Giuffre’s] lawyers, said in a court filing last month that he believed the settlement was “irrelevant” to Giuffre’s case against Andrew.


…so…that’ll be a positively trumpian definition of “total exoneration” then?

…except for the part where it would be frowned upon for a kid to consume what seems like an appropriate amount of coffee with which to face today, anyway?



  1. Do you or anyone else have any idea how and why Nick Clegg, of all people, wound up as Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs, or whatever his title is? Didn’t he preside over the disastrous collapse of the Lib-Dem Party and was booted out unceremoniously? I wonder what Marky Zuck and His Funky Bunch think Clegg is bringing to the table?

    I guess a posh accent and a Spanish wife is useful to be involved in Global Life. I see by his wiki page that he did a year at the College of Europe, which sounds about as credible as The School of Hard Knocks, but it is a thing, with a campus in Brugge and a satellite campus in Warsaw.

    Life surrounds us with mysteries, doesn’t it.

    • Nick Clegg is probably like most incompetents who fail upwards, charming in person and quick to lay blame at the feet of others.


    • He didn’t just preside over the collapse of the Lib Dems, he sold them out and never seriously owned up to it or the disastrous outcome of his coalition with Cameron.

      Facebook wants a plummy accent to front for sweaty Zuckerberg, but they also need a gutless weasel who will never stand up to Zuckerberg or the shadow drivers of their authoritarian programs.

      The right wing con is that they playact at beating up Facebook in public while collude with Facebook behind the scenes. Clegg is effective in that role, although he may be a too superficial to sustain it.

    • …nick clegg is definitely the poster child for some variation of paving the road to hell with good intentions…viewed in the context of what a tory government did once it no longer had to contend with the lib-dem slice of that coalition blunting some of the sharp edges it was trying to hone there’s a surprisingly robust case to be made for the idea that agreeing to the coalition was a pretty genuine example of trying to put the interests of a nation above those of a party…for the party whose electoral stock the whole thing cratered

      …the thing was that they never could counter the extent to which the tories played them like the proverbial fiddle & in doing so managed to avoid being held responsible for much of what crucified the lib dems in the next general election…pretty much all of which was very much the conservatives’ doing

      …so he was sort of a perfect fit for facebook…since he’s pretty much been providing the same service for zuckerberg et al as he did for the conservatives while he was in government…while they get to claim they hired a serious person with a global profile & experience in state-level governance to hold them accountable…to themselves

        • Oh very well done. Top marks!

      • There was never any real thinking by Clegg about the good of the nation when he chose to hand the government to Cameron over Brown, though — he made it clear he wasn’t choosing on principle or strategy, just he felt more comfortable with Cameron and thought Brown was a slug (which he was, but Clegg still owed it to the UK to go more than a millimeter deep).

        If he honestly believed that the Lib Dem platform was for the good of the nation, then he would have joined with Labour where they would have had much fuller representation in the government.

        Everyone knew at the time that Cameron was going to screw over the Lib Dems as soon as he had the chance, and he did, and Clegg went along when it happened.

        This wasn’t a choice Clegg had to make — he could have chosen Labour. It was seen at the time as a giant fit of self delusion on a par with Blair’s faith that he would be a key player in Bush’s world policy if he joined in the Iraq misadventure, and Clegg like Blair based it on nothing more than vague promises and personal feelings.

        That’s the kind of emptiness Facebook wanted.


        • …eh…po-tay-to/po-tah-to…there was considerably more to the way events shook out between that election result & the deal that produced a lib dem/tory coalition government than “just he felt more comfortable with Cameron and thought Brown was a slug”…& it is (& was) by no means clear at any point that “they would have had much fuller representation in the government” had they thrown their lot in with labour

          …in fact at the outset it was somewhat assumed that they would do exactly that since labour had won more seats than the tories…only for labour to more or less take that option off the table in hopes of being able to operate as a minority government rather than have to share a mandate…which was just one part of a precarious house of cards that many were scared would collapse before a government of any stripe could be formed…& there was a predictably large contingent whose overriding concern was to forestall any of that dangerous uncertainty that can so swiftly undermine the precious confidence relied on by the ever-fickle market(s)

          …in truth I think most would acknowledge clegg himself knew full well that the tories would screw the lib dems over in any coalition…& (regardless of its wisdom) arguably that he chose to put his party in that position rather than allow things to flail around longer might be the most principled action he ever took as a politician…& if you compare the actions of those tories while in that coalition to those they opted for when no longer encumbered by a coalition partner I don’t think any analysis can paint the latter as not being worse

          …the fact that the lib dems not only aren’t viewed as deserving any credit for that difference but instead enjoyed more than their share of the blame for actions the majority-partner in that coalition was effectively entirely responsible for (& indeed would have preferred a worse version of in many cases, as their prior &/or subsequent actions attest to) is a good enough example of how much better the tories are at selling their desired narrative than the lib dems have ever been…with or without nick clegg

          …but you’re free to see it that way if you prefer…it’s not like it makes much difference at this point, after all

          • …fair chance nobody will read this but it’s been bugging me since yesterday…I don’t know where my brain pulled the idea that labour had more seats from after the 2010 election…what they had was a sitting prime minister…& arguably a more natural ideological fit with the lib dems

            …either way there was pretty circus-like media feeding frenzy about how things were going in negotiations between who & for a few days the lib dems were “in talks” with both the tories & labour…& I’d be inclined to the view that boiling all of either set of negotiations down to how cameron/clegg/brown felt about their opposite number is a bit more reductive than can be representative of that whole mess?

        • When the hot mic caught Clegg and Cameron  more or less saying “We agree on everything. We’ll have to make up things we disagree on, won’t we? Heh heh,” that was the truest bit of dialogue the public heard. Although a simple Lib-Lab coalition still would not have produced a parliamentary majority in the 2010 election, Clegg flat out refused to deliberate with Brown on a path forward. It was easier for an Old Westminster to ally with a surface-level Old Etonian than to attempt to join his ideological home with a grumpy Scot who was bad at being telegenic.

          If anyone doubted that the personality politics we often slight the US for having had fully infiltrated Britain, this was the moment it was undeniable. That shallowness hurt Brown massively, but it’s also the reason we ever gave two shits about Clegg. Someone speaking directly into camera was somehow enough to convince people he could PM one day and that the Lib Dems actually had a chance to  do anything other than be perpetual third wheel.

          • …I’m not a fan of the guy but I still think it’s a bit steep to suggest it was all him not being willing to deal with labour & not labour throwing their own wrenches in those gears that screwed that up

            …but again…it makes little difference now…so by all means boil it down to that if you prefer

      • ^^^^ THIS.

    • Clegg had a bit of a Buttigieg thing going on when he was Lib-Dem leader. People touted how he was smart and accomplished, and that he spoke multiple languages. It’s your usual classic “burnish the youngish white guy’s credentials when there’s a Cory Booker stage left with all that plus a Yale law degree and two more resume pages”.

      Facebook was likely supposed to be his golden parachute equivalent of a cushy lobbying job where he could collect money and New World prestige based on his worldly connections and political capital. Just a handshake guy with access, really. But he failed to see that Facebook was unpopular and would only become more so…and that the job would be actual work that would invite actual scrutiny. [I shuddered when I heard Obama was considering a tech sector position in his post-presidency. It would likely not have been much different…so perhaps it’s a good thing that the shit result in 2016 inspired him to go a different route?]

      • …just out of curiosity…who would have been the cory booker in that analogy?

  2. I have a friend who is a big Raiders fan.  He’s not been a happy guy when it comes to footbawl.  Watching mediocre “coaching geniuz” Jon Gruden blow himself up and get pushed out as coach thanks to racist emails is just so Raiders these days.

    Ironic especially considering the Raiders were kind of progressive under a not senile Al Davis hiring a lot of black coaches, hiring the first black head coach and a female coach and that Jon Gruden’s Super Bowl in Tampa win was based on the work of a black defensive genius.


  3. Been there for 36 years.  It’s time to finally hit the junkyard in the sky.

    So long, old trusty 4 stroke push 1985 Toro.

    I never thought I’d ever write an eulogy for a lawnmower, but this one lasted a bloody long time and at least earned it.  Never had an issue with it for 36 years from when my dad said “cutting the lawn is your job now, donkey” and handed me the lawnmower.  I brought it with me to my home (my dad didn’t want it because he needed a power assist mower) till the last three days.  It’s time.

    Not a paid ad for Toro…

    • I had a Toro that lasted for 10 years and it was a damned good mower, but I’ve since switched to a self-propelled Snapper 82v electric mower and I fucking love it.

  4. Last night I watched the Trudell documentary for Indigenous Peoples’ Day and it was pretty damn life changing.  The things that man did, saw, and spoke about are so important yet so few have heard his words.  I highly recommend everyone watch it and listen to more of his rants, music and poetry.


  5. Some people are stupid and desperate.  It’s not like I don’t check my credit card balance on a near daily basis.  I know how much I spend on the damn thing and was kind of surprised to see $300 extra dollars on my total today.

    Why put yourself into a deep hole legal wise over concert tickets (cheap), two meals at mediocre restaurants and (even worse) Tim Hortons cards?  Good luck trying that again… but they don’t care.

    Card cancelled and now I’ve got to deal with a pile of automatic payments.


  6. Wasn’t CCTV supposed to do what this 888 number is proposing?

    I clearly remember around 2005 when a murder involving a woman who was in a minicab prompted a “know your minicab driver” campaign, and it just feels like we’re rehashing the same thing, now with smartphone apps, 15 years later.

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