‘[T]his is a Government that is functioning well’

So-called ‘ridesharing’

Bezzle


Fig. 1. “Clarkdale Classic Gas Station, Clarkdale, Arizona,” Photograph by Alan Levine, October 28, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons, CC0.

“Uber never misses an opportunity to push the boundaries on how extractive and exploitative a company is allowed to be,” Chris Gilliard, Just Tech Fellow at the Social Science Research Council, told Motherboard. “Using the granular details gleaned from people’s travels as fodder for advertising poses a threat to anyone who doesn’t want the intimate details of where they worship, who they date or what medical conditions they have being sold to the highest bidder. This news reaffirms that Uber is a surveillance company masquerading as a transportation company.”[1]

Uber, of course, insists on its innocence,[2] but of course when I got the prompt to enable this, I declined, just like I do all such requests. Not that that will do much good:

Privacy researchers have known for more than a decade that, generally, anonymized location data can easily be de-anonymized. Specifically, Uber has a long track record of privacy concerns dating back to the company’s infamous Travis Kalanick days. In the mid-2010s, the company took apparently little effort to protect sensitive user data including geolocation information, to the extent that virtually any employee and even potentially a job interviewee could view it. In the company’s early days, it displayed a “God View” in its offices, showing the locations of specific users in front of company guests during a launch party. It later used that same tool to track journalists and celebrities. In 2016, Uber’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, paid hackers $100,000 to delete the data of 57 million customers it had stolen from the company, lied to authorities about it, and has since been convicted of two federal charges relating to the incident.[3]

Aaron Gordon, “Uber Will Start Serving You Targeted Ads Based On Where You Go,” Vice, October 19, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7vxv8/uber-will-start-serving-you-targeted-ads-based-on-where-you-go


(dis)United Kingdom

Prime minister


Fig. 2. President Reagan on the South Lawn during the arrival ceremony of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom. U.S. Government photograph, November 16, 1988, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Of Liz Truss,


I’m about to hit publish. It’s morning in Britain (and will be for a couple more hours). That said, Justin Sherin’s post (as “Richard M. Nixon”)[4] doesn’t even begin to cover the shitshow:

Amid chaotic scenes in the Commons, it was reported that Wendy Morton, the chief whip, and her deputy, Craig Whittaker, had left the government. However, after hours of confusion Downing Street released a statement saying the two “remain in post”.

In a move first revealed by the Guardian, [Suella] Braverman announced she was stepping down [as home secretary] over the misuse of her personal email, although furious allies on the Conservative right suspect she was forced out by [Liz] Truss and her new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.

In a brutal resignation letter which clearly contrasted her departure with Truss’s decision to sacrifice Kwarteng over the debacle of last month’s mini-budget, Braverman wrote: “Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see that we have made them, and hoping that things will magically come right is not serious politics. I have made a mistake; I accept responsibility; I resign.” . . .

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight, [Charles Walker, the veteran Tory backbencher] added: “Let’s not beat around the bush here. And I expect the prime minister to resign very soon because she’s not up to her job either … I will shed no tears for either of them.”

When asked when Truss should quit, he replied: “Well I hope, by tomorrow … She needs to go. She shouldn’t have been made prime minister.”[5]

There is some dispute over the stated rationale for Suella Braverman’s resignation. It is either this:

The official narrative for her resignation was that she was removed for sharing an official document from her personal email to a fellow [member of Parliament], a serious breach of ministerial rules.[6]

Or this:

The official reason for the move was met with raised eyebrows from some of [Suella] Braverman’s backers. Steve Baker, who co-led her leadership campaign but is now a Northern Ireland minister, said the use of a personal email had only been “technically” a breach of the rules, and that such liaison with other [members of Parliament] on policy was “perfectly normal”.

One Tory MP said it seemed “very minor” and that most cabinet ministers had been guilty of the same thing. Another admitted: “If they wanted to keep her and she wanted to stay, this wouldn’t be a resigning matter.”

A former No 10 [Downing Street] aide said it was “bullshit” that she would have been told to stand down for sending a draft written ministerial statement.

“Special advisers and ministers, including the [prime minister], have done much much worse,” they said, adding: “Team [Liz] Truss obviously handed her the revolver.”[7]

We’re just getting started here. Jason Stein has been suspended, apparently for indiscreet briefings offered to the press:[8]

Jason Stein, a special adviser to Liz Truss, is to face a formal investigation by the Propriety and Ethics Team, which is responsible for standards across government.[9]

Stein was previously a communications advisor to Prince Andrew.[10] Yes, that Prince Andrew.

Apparently the aforementioned Wendy Morton had resigned as chief whip over a vote on a “motion, which was defeated, [that] would have guaranteed [the House of] Commons time to debate a new law to ban fracking once and for all:”[11]

The Chief Whip was forced out of Government and then reinstated on Wednesday night, capping off a day of chaos for Liz Truss after a confidence vote descended into allegations of backbenchers being manhandled through the lobby.

It had been reported earlier in the evening that Wendy Morton, one of Liz Truss’s closest allies, had been ousted and that her deputy, Craig Whittaker, quit in protest at her treatment.

But hours later the position was reversed, with a No 10 spokesman issuing a statement to say that the “chief and deputy chief whip remain in post”. . . .

The message from Mr [Craig] Whittaker went on to say: “This is not a motion on fracking. This is a confidence motion in the Government.

“I know this is difficult for some colleagues, but we simply cannot allow this. We are voting no and I reiterate, this is a hard three line whip with all slips withdrawn.”

If a vote is being treated as a matter of confidence in the Government, it usually means that MPs who vote against it would be expelled from the Conservative Party and have to sit as independent candidates.[12]

This position, too, was reversed.[13]

By the time division bells started ringing – signalling that it was time for [members of Parliament] to vote – Tory backbenchers remained completely in the dark as to whether they would lose the whip for voting against the Government or not.

It was at this point that the mayhem appeared to reach boiling point, with Labour’s Chris Bryant claiming that Tories were “physically manhandled” into the “no” lobby.

Ms [Liz] Truss was reportedly yelled at by rebel MPs as she went through the lobby. Meanwhile, Mr [Craig] Whittaker was reportedly overheard saying: “I am f***ing furious and I don’t give a f*** any more.”[14]

[T]his is a Government that is functioning well.[15]

Ms. [Liz] Truss’s standing took another hit late Wednesday, after the government ordered that Conservative lawmakers vote in favor of a motion to allow fracking, which is banned in the U.K., on pain of being kicked out of the party. Many Tory lawmakers protested. Just before the vote, the government appeared to back down, with a minister saying members could vote how they chose. Lawmakers were left stunned by how the government handled the episode at a time when its authority was already under attack.

“It is a shambles and a disgrace,” said Charles Walker, a veteran Conservative lawmaker. “I hope all those people who put Liz Truss in number 10 [Downing Street], I hope it was worth it…because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary. I am livid.” . . .

“It is not that they don’t want [Truss] to go,” said Steven Fielding, a politics professor at the University of Nottingham. “It’s just they can’t agree on who should replace her.” Ms. Truss may be kept in place for some time to help foster a feeling of stability in British politics, he said.[16]

One senior Tory MP appeared to sum up the mood in the party and said the past 24 hours had been “beyond comedy”, adding: “You couldn’t make it up if you spent 20 years trying to write this. The greatest author in the world couldn’t make it up.”[17]

Under current rules, Britain is scheduled to hold its next general election no later than January 2025. But the Conservatives are deeply unpopular, with some predictions showing that the party could be almost wiped out if a vote were held today.

Replacing [Liz] Truss would be the most logical option, and the most logical way for her to go would be to resign.[18]

But Liz Truss called herself “a fighter, not a quitter,” at Prime Minister’s Questions Wednesday, October 19.[19] Of course, politicians very often say something to that effect even right up to just before they do in fact resign.

Christopher Hope, “I’ve seen a WhatsApp message setting out the future Tory leadership – and it’s brutal,” Telegraph, October 17, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/17/seen-whatsapp-message-setting-future-tory-leadership-brutality/

Pippa Crerar and Jessica Elgot, “Liz Truss faces unrest over public spending cuts and pensions triple lock threat,” Guardian, October 18, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/18/liz-truss-faces-fresh-unrest-over-public-spending-cuts

Max Colchester, “U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss in Limbo as Her Party Weighs How to Replace Her,” Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-prime-minister-liz-truss-in-limbo-as-her-party-weighs-how-to-replace-her-11666192271

Pippa Crerar, Peter Walker, and Aubrey Allegretti, “Liz Truss’s government on the brink after Suella Braverman’s parting shot,” Guardian, October 19, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/19/liz-truss-government-on-the-brink-after-suella-bravermans-parting-shot

Chris Mason, “Liz Truss’s special adviser suspended and faces investigation,” British Broadcasting Corporation, October 19, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-63311454

Adam Taylor and Karla Adam, “To boot Liz Truss, U.K. Conservatives face short list of poor options,” Washington Post, October 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/10/19/liz-truss-removal-options-uk/

Camilla Turner and Nick Gutteridge, “Chief Whip Wendy Morton quits – then returns – amid reports MPs ‘manhandled,’” Telegraph, October 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/19/chief-whip-wendy-morton-quits-returns-amid-reports-mps-manhandled/


Ukraine


Fig. 3. “The atomic cloud over Nagasaki 1945.” Photograph from Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch, New York Office, News and Features Bureau, (12/17/1942 – 09/15/1945), by Charles Levy, August 9, 1945, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

I’m pretty sure I’ve previously observed, I think on Twitter, that the nuclear option is the one thing that hasn’t yet failed Vladimir Putin in his war on Ukraine. It still might:

Scenarios in which insubordination — from conscientious objection to outright mutiny — come into play aren’t far-fetched. If [Vladimir] Putin were to escalate, he’d do it with so-called tactical warheads. These are currently in storage and would first have to be transported to launch bases and mounted on missiles. Dozens of officers would have to sign off and relay the order, knowing that Western spy agencies would be watching them at every step.

We can assume that many of these officers will have qualms. They may privately oppose Putin’s war against Ukraine. They may not want to be complicit in mass murder. They may fear an uncontrolled escalation leading to Armageddon. Or they may simply be aware that one option for US President Joe Biden is to answer a Russian nuke with a conventional military strike that wipes out the base that fired the missile. Executing a launch order could well be suicidal.

Another potential for disobedience looms in Belarus, where the Russians are again massing troops to threaten a new front against Ukraine. In one scenario, Alexander Lukashenko, dictator of Minsk and minion of Moscow, would send his Belarusian forces to fight with the Russians against the Ukrainians.

“I’m sure that he would give the order to the Belarusian army to participate in this invasion — if he was sure they would fight,” reckons Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled leader of Belarus’ pro-democracy opposition movement. But Lukashenko’s not sure. Both he and Putin apparently consider mass insubordination in the Belarusian ranks possible, if not probable.[20]

In addition, however these subordinates feel about Putin’s war, they are likely aware that nuclear weapons are unlikely to change the outcome.[21] So even for the amoral, this becomes a weighing of risks: Do the consequences of insubordination outweigh those of compliance?

A significant part of Andreas Kluth’s argument is that neither Putin nor Alexander Lukashenko want to take the risk that their subordinates will fail to comply.[22] But of course this requires that both Putin and Lukashenko are rational. With Putin, this is simply not in evidence,[23] and this, ultimately, is the problem with nuclear weapons: It’s one thing if the chain of command in control of these weapons can at all times be trusted to be sane and in full command of their faculties. It’s another if they can’t. And we have ample evidence of the latter, including, just off the top of my head, Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, and Vladimir Putin.

Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Tools of Terror,” Puck News, October 18, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-tools-of-terror/

Paul Kirby, “Ukraine war: Russians start leaving Ukraine’s Kherson city,” British Broadcasting Corporation, October 19, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-63311744

Andreas Kluth, “If Putin Orders a Nuke, Will His Generals Obey?” Bloomberg, October 19, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-10-19/insubordination-the-factor-that-may-save-the-world-from-putin-s-nukes

Uliana Pavlova, “Putin declares martial law in four occupied regions as Kyiv presses offensive,” Cable News Network, October 19, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/19/europe/putin-russia-martial-law-intl/index.html

Ishaan Tharoor, “The uncomfortable need to talk about diplomacy with Russia,” Washington Post, October 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/10/19/diplomacy-russia-ukraine-need-nuclear/


  1. [1]Aaron Gordon, “Uber Will Start Serving You Targeted Ads Based On Where You Go,” Vice, October 19, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7vxv8/uber-will-start-serving-you-targeted-ads-based-on-where-you-go
  2. [2]Aaron Gordon, “Uber Will Start Serving You Targeted Ads Based On Where You Go,” Vice, October 19, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7vxv8/uber-will-start-serving-you-targeted-ads-based-on-where-you-go
  3. [3]Aaron Gordon, “Uber Will Start Serving You Targeted Ads Based On Where You Go,” Vice, October 19, 2022, https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7vxv8/uber-will-start-serving-you-targeted-ads-based-on-where-you-go
  4. [4]Richard M. Nixon [Justin Sherin], “She may be gone by morning,” Twitter, October 19, 2022, https://twitter.com/dick_nixon/status/1582828176291794944
  5. [5]Pippa Crerar, Peter Walker, and Aubrey Allegretti, “Liz Truss’s government on the brink after Suella Braverman’s parting shot,” Guardian, October 19, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/19/liz-truss-government-on-the-brink-after-suella-bravermans-parting-shot
  6. [6]Pippa Crerar, Peter Walker, and Aubrey Allegretti, “Liz Truss’s government on the brink after Suella Braverman’s parting shot,” Guardian, October 19, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/19/liz-truss-government-on-the-brink-after-suella-bravermans-parting-shot
  7. [7]Pippa Crerar, Peter Walker, and Aubrey Allegretti, “Liz Truss’s government on the brink after Suella Braverman’s parting shot,” Guardian, October 19, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/oct/19/liz-truss-government-on-the-brink-after-suella-bravermans-parting-shot
  8. [8]Chris Mason, “Liz Truss’s special adviser suspended and faces investigation,” British Broadcasting Corporation, October 19, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-63311454
  9. [9]Chris Mason, “Liz Truss’s special adviser suspended and faces investigation,” British Broadcasting Corporation, October 19, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-63311454
  10. [10]Chris Mason, “Liz Truss’s special adviser suspended and faces investigation,” British Broadcasting Corporation, October 19, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-63311454
  11. [11]Camilla Turner and Nick Gutteridge, “Chief Whip Wendy Morton quits – then returns – amid reports MPs ‘manhandled,’” Telegraph, October 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/19/chief-whip-wendy-morton-quits-returns-amid-reports-mps-manhandled/
  12. [12]Camilla Turner and Nick Gutteridge, “Chief Whip Wendy Morton quits – then returns – amid reports MPs ‘manhandled,’” Telegraph, October 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/19/chief-whip-wendy-morton-quits-returns-amid-reports-mps-manhandled/
  13. [13]Camilla Turner and Nick Gutteridge, “Chief Whip Wendy Morton quits – then returns – amid reports MPs ‘manhandled,’” Telegraph, October 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/19/chief-whip-wendy-morton-quits-returns-amid-reports-mps-manhandled/
  14. [14]Camilla Turner and Nick Gutteridge, “Chief Whip Wendy Morton quits – then returns – amid reports MPs ‘manhandled,’” Telegraph, October 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/19/chief-whip-wendy-morton-quits-returns-amid-reports-mps-manhandled/
  15. [15]Jacob Rees-Mogg, quoted in Camilla Turner and Nick Gutteridge, “Chief Whip Wendy Morton quits – then returns – amid reports MPs ‘manhandled,’” Telegraph, October 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/19/chief-whip-wendy-morton-quits-returns-amid-reports-mps-manhandled/
  16. [16]Max Colchester, “U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss in Limbo as Her Party Weighs How to Replace Her,” Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-prime-minister-liz-truss-in-limbo-as-her-party-weighs-how-to-replace-her-11666192271
  17. [17]Camilla Turner and Nick Gutteridge, “Chief Whip Wendy Morton quits – then returns – amid reports MPs ‘manhandled,’” Telegraph, October 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/19/chief-whip-wendy-morton-quits-returns-amid-reports-mps-manhandled/
  18. [18]Adam Taylor and Karla Adam, “To boot Liz Truss, U.K. Conservatives face short list of poor options,” Washington Post, October 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/10/19/liz-truss-removal-options-uk/
  19. [19]Adam Taylor and Karla Adam, “To boot Liz Truss, U.K. Conservatives face short list of poor options,” Washington Post, October 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/10/19/liz-truss-removal-options-uk/
  20. [20]Andreas Kluth, “If Putin Orders a Nuke, Will His Generals Obey?” Bloomberg, October 19, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-10-19/insubordination-the-factor-that-may-save-the-world-from-putin-s-nukes
  21. [21]Lawrence Freedman, “A ‘strategic nuclear exchange’ would offer Putin zero military gains,” New Statesman, May 4, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/ukraine/2022/05/a-strategic-nuclear-exchange-would-offer-putin-zero-military-gains; Lewis Page, “Why Putin would be a fool to go nuclear in Ukraine,” Telegraph, October 2, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/10/02/why-putin-would-fool-go-nuclear-ukraine/
  22. [22]Andreas Kluth, “If Putin Orders a Nuke, Will His Generals Obey?” Bloomberg, October 19, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-10-19/insubordination-the-factor-that-may-save-the-world-from-putin-s-nukes
  23. [23]David Benfell, “Because, somehow, Russian imperialism is okay,” Not Housebroken, October 19, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/10/19/because-somehow-russian-imperialism-is-okay/

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