Pardon, your liege, may we have egg on our faces?

Updates

  1. Originally published, June 30, 12:17 pm.
  2. June 30, 12:50 pm:
    • Utterly unsurprisingly, the European Union has decided not to open its borders to non-essential travel from the United States.[1]
  3. June 30, 11:14 pm:
    • Senate testimony given by Anthony Fauci and other experts pretty much confirms what we already knew, that the U.S. is going in the wrong direction on the COVID-19 pandemic because people aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. And the spikes in some states endanger the rest.[2]

In case you missed it, there were more updates last night.


Uyghurs

There is a relatively short new blog post entitled, “Genocide.” I see it’s gotten two hits from China already. Maybe I should start talking about Hong Kong, too.[3]

Associated Press, “China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization,” June 29, 2020, copy in possession of author.

Hong Kong

Clare Jim and Yew Lun Tian, “China passes national security law in turning point for Hong Kong,” Reuters, June 30, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-hongkong-security/china-passes-national-security-law-in-turning-point-for-hong-kong-idUSKBN241061


International Criminal Court

The lawyers who want Donald Trump to rescind his sanctions against the International Criminal Court[4] may get to keep their law licenses but not much else. Regarding the Uyghurs and according to John Bolton:

China was also busily repressing ethnic minorities—in Tibet, for example—as it had been doing for decades. Beijing’s repression of the Uighurs also proceeded apace. [Donald] Trump asked me at the 2018 White House Christmas dinner why we were considering sanctioning China because of its treatment of the Uighurs, a non-Han Chinese, largely Muslim people, who lived primarily in China’s northwest Xinjiang Province. Ross had warned me that morning Trump didn’t want sanctions because of the China trade negotiations. The issue of the Uighurs had been wending its way through the NSD process, but it was not yet ready for decision. It only got worse. At the opening dinner of the Osaka G20 meeting, with only interpreters present, Xi [Jinping] explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do. Pottinger told me Trump said something very similar during the 2017 trip to China, which meant we could cross repression of the Uighurs off our list of possible reasons to sanction China, at least as long as trade negotiations continued.[5]

Though he denies having given Xi Jinping a green light to build the concentration camps, Trump has pretty much confirmed that his emphasis was on a trade deal.[6]

Asked why he hadn’t yet enacted Treasury sanctions against Chinese Communist Party officials or entities tied to the camps where the Chinese government detains Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, [Donald] Trump replied, “Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal.”[7]

So um, lawyers, the International Criminal Court has some issues, like colonialism and the fact that it functions under a paradigm of justice reduced to law, but understand I’m more in favor of it than I am against it. Trump, on the other hand, cares about trade and doesn’t give a fuck about your concerns or mine. Which means, because you know and I know you can’t do a damn thing about it, your letter amounts to egg on your faces.

Ellen Nakashima and Carol Morello, “Lawyers urge Trump to rescind sanctions and travel bans for International Criminal Court,” Washington Post, June 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/lawyers-urge-trump-to-rescind-sanctions-and-travel-bans-for-international-criminal-court/2020/06/29/0ef0c476-ba15-11ea-86d5-3b9b3863273b_story.html


Pandemic

Laurence Norman, “EU to Remain Closed to U.S. Travelers as Borders Open Up,” Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-opens-up-to-some-travelers-but-not-americans-11593524652


  1. [1]Laurence Norman, “EU to Remain Closed to U.S. Travelers as Borders Open Up,” Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-opens-up-to-some-travelers-but-not-americans-11593524652
  2. [2]Meg Wagner et al., “Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise,” CNN, June 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/webview/politics/live-news/covid-19-school-work-reopening-testimony-06-30-20/h_cc7cf09eae87064e72f75af30984acd3
  3. [3]Clare Jim and Yew Lun Tian, “China passes national security law in turning point for Hong Kong,” Reuters, June 30, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-hongkong-security/china-passes-national-security-law-in-turning-point-for-hong-kong-idUSKBN241061
  4. [4]Ellen Nakashima and Carol Morello, “Lawyers urge Trump to rescind sanctions and travel bans for International Criminal Court,” Washington Post, June 29, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/lawyers-urge-trump-to-rescind-sanctions-and-travel-bans-for-international-criminal-court/2020/06/29/0ef0c476-ba15-11ea-86d5-3b9b3863273b_story.html
  5. [5]John Bolton, The Room Where It Happened (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2020), 312.
  6. [6]Jonathan Swan, “Exclusive: Trump held off on Xinjiang sanctions for China trade deal,” Axios, June 21, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-uighur-muslims-sanctions-d4dc86fc-17f4-42bd-bdbd-c30f4d2ffa21.html
  7. [7]Jonathan Swan, “Exclusive: Trump held off on Xinjiang sanctions for China trade deal,” Axios, June 21, 2020, https://www.axios.com/trump-uighur-muslims-sanctions-d4dc86fc-17f4-42bd-bdbd-c30f4d2ffa21.html

Smile for your oppressors

BraveheartsSpeech
Fig. 1. Existential Comics, undated, but well-timed in my Facebook feed, fair use.


Hong Kong

U.S. Congressional concern for human rights in Hong Kong[1] is, of course, laudable. Its silence on the same for Uyghurs is contemptible.

David J. Lynch, “Trump says he might veto legislation that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong because bill could affect China trade talks,” Washington Post, November 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/11/22/trump-says-he-might-veto-legislation-that-aims-protect-human-rights-hong-kong-because-bill-would-impact-china-trade-talks/

Verna Yu, “‘Turning point’: ball in Beijing’s court after Hong Kong’s decisive vote,” Guardian, November 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/25/turning-point-ball-in-beijings-court-after-hong-kongs-decisive-vote


Uyghurs


Figs. 2 and 3. Get a load of this “vocational skills education centre.” Undated photographs by Thomas Peter of Reuters, via the Guardian,[2] fair use.

Emma Graham-Harrison and Juliette Garside, “‘Allow no escapes’: leak exposes reality of China’s vast prison camp network,” Guardian, November 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/24/china-cables-leak-no-escapes-reality-china-uighur-prison-camp


Gig economy

I’ve always found it curious that Uber, but not Lyft, occasionally requires me to take a “selfie” to verify my identity. It utterly mismanaged the camera on one of my previous phones, making the selfie very nearly impossible to take. It also seems to require these selfies be taken at the most inopportune moments, especially when lighting conditions are poor, which effectively put me out of business until I could satisfy its demands.

Apparently this still isn’t good enough for London authorities (where Lyft doesn’t operate) and Uber, in an attempt to placate them, says it will “require drivers to look at their smartphone camera and blink, smile and turn their head to verify their identity.”[3]

So it’s not enough I’m having to work seven days a week, trying and failing to keep my head above water. I’ll have to smile for these mother fuckers too? Why not require a cartwheel as well?

Parmy Olson, “Uber Loses License to Operate in London,” Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-loses-license-to-operate-in-london-11574677664


Israel

Benny Gantz’ concern for avoiding violence at a demonstration for and against Binyamin Netanyahu is touching,[4] in light of the entire Israeli establishment’s lack of such concern for avoiding it against Palestinians.

Raoul Wootliff, “Seemingly killing PM’s immunity hopes, Liberman says cases must go to court,” Times of Israel, November 25, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/seemingly-killing-pms-immunity-hopes-liberman-says-cases-must-go-to-court/


Donald Trump

Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, “Former White House counsel Donald McGahn must comply with House subpoena, judge rules,” Washington Post, November 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/former-white-house-counsel-donald-mcgahn-must-comply-with-house-subpoena-judge-rules/2019/11/25/6de26cc8-018d-11ea-8bab-0fc209e065a8_story.html


  1. [1]David J. Lynch, “Trump says he might veto legislation that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong because bill could affect China trade talks,” Washington Post, November 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/11/22/trump-says-he-might-veto-legislation-that-aims-protect-human-rights-hong-kong-because-bill-would-impact-china-trade-talks/
  2. [2]Emma Graham-Harrison and Juliette Garside, “‘Allow no escapes’: leak exposes reality of China’s vast prison camp network,” Guardian, November 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/24/china-cables-leak-no-escapes-reality-china-uighur-prison-camp
  3. [3]Parmy Olson, “Uber Loses License to Operate in London,” Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-loses-license-to-operate-in-london-11574677664
  4. [4]Raoul Wootliff, “Seemingly killing PM’s immunity hopes, Liberman says cases must go to court,” Times of Israel, November 25, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/seemingly-killing-pms-immunity-hopes-liberman-says-cases-must-go-to-court/

Colonization and a potential pogrom

Hong Kong

Tseng Yat-yiu et al., “Hong Kong District Elections Could Gauge Support For Protest Movement,” Global Security, November 22, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/china/2019/china-191122-rfa01.htm


Pittsburgh

So I saw this (figure 1):
IMG_0053
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, November 22, 2019.

And I wrote a new blog entry entitled, “Militia territory.” My mother responded with a bunch of links[1] confirming and expanding many of my worst previously expressed fears and what my passengers have told me about racism in Pittsburgh.[2] These links don’t quite get to the militia issue but they come close, much too close for comfort, and close enough that they lay a groundwork for at least the plausibility of militias in this area, if not their likelihood.

On a more personal note, the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter lived “in a neighborhood dotted with mostly small to medium brick homes, about a 25-minute drive south of Pittsburgh in the suburb of Baldwin Borough,”[3] which is the municipality where I now live. Baldwin is a fairly large place, reaching nearly down to the Monongahela River, with a few apartment buildings so it isn’t necessarily the complex I live in. But the one I live in is probably the largest, so place your bets.

If indeed a race war[4] of the shooting sort breaks out,[5] it very much appears that the part of Pittsburgh I live in could become a combat zone. To my knowledge, however, Blacks are mostly unarmed. I think the gun nuttery I see is largely a white phenomenon. So “war” is probably the wrong word for it. We’ll be looking at a pogrom.

I feel completely helpless to stop it and, after what I saw that one day,[6] I’m pretty sure I can count on the police to stand aside and laugh.

The question, then, is, just how likely is such a scenario?


Chagos Islands

Global Security, “‘Illegal colonial occupier’: Mauritius blasts UK as it skips UN deadline to return Chagos Islands housing US airbase,” November 22, 2019, https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/uk/2019/uk-191122-rt01.htm


Israel

Times of Israel, “TV report says top Likud leaders working behind the scenes to oust Netanyahu,” November 22, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/tv-says-top-likud-leaders-working-behind-scenes-to-oust-netanyahu/


  1. [1]Colin P. Clarke, “One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren’t Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy,” Rand, October 27, 2019, https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/10/one-year-after-tree-of-life-we-still-arent-talking.html; Letrell Deshan Crittenden, “The Pittsburgh problem: race, media and everyday life in the Steel City,” Columbia Journalism Review, October 25, 2019, https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/racism-black-burnout-in-pittsburgh-journalism.php; Eric Heyl, “Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, Islamic Hate Groups Active In Pittsburgh,” Patch, August 16, 2017, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/pittsburgh/neo-nazi-white-supremacist-islamic-hate-groups-active-pittsburgh; Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018, https://forward.com/scribe/413104/pittsburgh-doesnt-need-more-guns-we-need-less-white-supremacy/; Charles Thompson, “Pennsylvania housed 36 active hate groups last year, ranking 8th in the country: report,” Penn Live, February 21, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/02/southern-poverty-law-center-counts-36-active-hate-groups-in-pennsylvania-in-2018.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  3. [3]Campbell Robertson, Christopher Mele, and Sabrina Tavernise, “11 Killed in Synagogue Massacre; Suspect Charged With 29 Counts,” New York Times, October 27, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/us/active-shooter-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html
  4. [4]Kathleen Parker, “Trump has essentially declared a ‘race war,’” Washington Post, July 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-essentially-declared-a-race-war/2019/07/30/ad6ae554-b305-11e9-8949-5f36ff92706e_story.html
  5. [5]Mary B. McCord, “Armed Militias Are Taking Trump’s Civil War Tweets Seriously,” Lawfare, October 2, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/armed-militias-are-taking-trumps-civil-war-tweets-seriously
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/

The neoliberal party’s version of Donald Trump

So I’ve been in Pittsburgh over six months now and I’m doing a bit of reflection.

It is often pretty here, even now that a somewhat disappointing fall foliage season[1] (I did see some of the amazing sort that reassures me that no, painters weren’t just making that shit up) has given way to the pastel hues of brown and, still, some green. That spectacular fall foliage is indeed spectacular, but there is a peace that accompanies the present hues that I appreciate.

I am not missing California, even as there are the occasional place name reminders—street names and the like—that evoke places in California that I know, sometimes with irritating discrepancies in spelling. For the most part, the places I loved in California are so much a part of me that I need only think of them to be there.

The racism here is horrifyingly apparent.[2] I don’t know what to do about it beyond acknowledging that it is so apparent and condemning it utterly.

The conservatism is also apparent. Confederate battle flags can be seen in front yards. People fly “Trump 2020” flags along with their U.S. flags as if to affirm Donald Trump’s identification of the United States with himself.[3]

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1K1CjgWPOH71L1UsUSHs00ubbu-jYnWux&w=640&h=480]
Fig. 1. Map of gratuitously displayed artillery that by its very locations, mostly seems to metaphorically target Blacks. Pictures here.

And even where Confederate battle flags, Gadsden (“Don’t Tread On Me”) flags, or Trump 2020 flags are absent, there is a hyper-patriotism that evokes a wonder at what folks here might be over-compensating for. U.S. flags are flown much more commonly here than in California and monuments to veterans and war dead are everywhere. Some of those banners commemorating (almost exclusively white) war dead that I thought were coming down are still up, seemingly permanently, in all their manifestly racist splendor. Government institutions, including those that should know better, routinely fly the black POW-MIA flags that evoke a conspiracy theory about missing Vietnam soldiers who do not and never did, in fact, exist.[4] This is by no means the patriotism of people who are confident in the country they stand for, but rather a loud, conformist affirmation that denies troubling questions, both historic and present.

But mostly, it has been good to reconnect with a place I had thought I might never see again, to explore it, and to really begin to learn my way around it.

How long that lasts is an open question. I do very much sense that I am on the frontier with what Colin Woodard calls “Greater Appalachia,”[5] which I associate with authoritarian populism,[6] and that is not a comfortable place for me to be. I also sense that it might be possible to soften that by moving a bit north. Even around North Park, streets start to widen, traffic seems a bit less maddening, and the gun nuttery seems less omnipresent.


Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg is an ass. Anyone who knows anything about the history of U.S.-Mexico relations knows that the last thing the U.S. can do is send its troops into Mexico. No Mexican government could agree to it; to do so would provoke a fury that would, at a bare minimum, bring that government down.

That, nonetheless, is what Buttigieg suggested.[7]

Mexicans have many grievances against the U.S. and little reason to trust U.S. troops on their soil. There’s the the U.S. invasion of 1846-1847, the subsequent Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) which ceded about half of Mexico’s territory to the U.S., and a rather lop-sided balance of everything that has happened since.[8] “Poor Mexico,” said Porfirio Díaz, who served seven terms as president of the country, “so far from God and so close to the United States!”[9] And I will never forget a remark I overheard while bringing some folks down from a concert at the Mountain Winery overlooking Saratoga, California: “It’s our land anyway!”

Daniel Kim, “Pete Buttigieg says he’s open to sending U.S. troops to Mexico,” Sacramento Bee, November 17, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article237463004.html


Hong Kong

What we see now in Hong Kong[10] is an extreme example of a phenomenon in which the rulers’ pretense of ruling by consent is exposed as a hollow facade. The imperative here is to rule, to control.

If it were otherwise, territories could be allowed to secede. But from Scotland, to Catalonia, to Hong Kong, it is never that way. Rulers will never permit it and will, if necessary, respond with force to prevent it.

John Lyons, Dan Strumpf, and Natasha Khan, “Hong Kong Police Try to Storm University in Bid to Retake Campus From Protesters,” Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-police-officer-shot-with-an-arrow-at-university-battle-11573981792


Ageism

Carol Hymowitz, “Older Workers Have a Big Secret: Their Age,” Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/older-workers-have-a-big-secret-their-age-11574046301


Palestine

Associated Press, “Trump changes decades-old U.S. position on illegality of Israeli settlements,” Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-18/u-s-softens-position-on-israeli-settlements


  1. [1]Mary Ann Thomas, “Leaf peeper season in full swing in the Laurel Highlands; Pittsburgh, Alle-Kiski Valley must wait,” TribLive, October 20, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/leaf-peeper-season-in-full-swing-in-the-laurel-highlands-pittsburgh-alle-kiski-valley-must-wait/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not HOusebroken, October 12, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  3. [3]Peter Nicholas, “Trump’s Dark Assumption About America,” Atlantic, October 30, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/10/trump-impeachment-2020/601048/
  4. [4]Rick Perlstein, The Invisible Bridge (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014).
  5. [5]Colin Woodard, American Nations (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’” Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  7. [7]Daniel Kim, “Pete Buttigieg says he’s open to sending U.S. troops to Mexico,” Sacramento Bee, November 17, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article237463004.html
  8. [8]Manuel G. Gonzales, Mexicanos (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 2000).
  9. [9]Wikiquote, s.v. “Porfirio Díaz,” last modified July 19, 2018, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Porfirio_D%C3%ADaz
  10. [10]John Lyons, Dan Strumpf, and Natasha Khan, “Hong Kong Police Try to Storm University in Bid to Retake Campus From Protesters,” Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-police-officer-shot-with-an-arrow-at-university-battle-11573981792

Not the good kind of acid

There is a correction in the previous issue.


Ohio River

April Johnston, “‘That’s vinegar:’ The Ohio River’s history of contamination and progress made,” Environmental Health News, November 14, 2019, https://www.ehn.org/ohio-river-pollution-cleanup-2641307895.html


Hong Kong

The appearance of the People’s Liberation Army, that is, Mainland China’s army, on the streets of Hong Kong was relatively benign: They cleared roadblocks set up by protesters. But everyone understands the implicit threat of possible intervention.[1]

John Lyons, Steven Russolillo, and Eun-Young Jeong, “Mainland Chinese Soldiers Take to Hong Kong Streets for First Time During Protests,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mainland-chinese-soldiers-take-to-hong-kong-streets-for-first-time-since-protests-began-11573907250


  1. [1]John Lyons, Steven Russolillo, and Eun-Young Jeong, “Mainland Chinese Soldiers Take to Hong Kong Streets for First Time During Protests,” Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mainland-chinese-soldiers-take-to-hong-kong-streets-for-first-time-since-protests-began-11573907250

A criminal in 10 Downing Street

Brexit

Boris Johnson has threatened to refuse to comply with the law requiring he seek an extension to Brexit.[1] Sound like someone else we know? I mean, this is more explicit—with Donald Trump, on the other hand, it’s more like a denial the law even applies to him.

Heather Stewart and Severin Carrell, “Boris Johnson short of options as rebels vow to secure Brexit delay,” Guardian, September 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/06/boris-johnson-short-of-options-as-rebels-vow-to-secure-brexit-delay


Hong Kong

Steven Lee Myers, Chris Buckley, and Keith Bradsher, “Is Xi Mishandling Hong Kong Crisis? Hints of Unease in China’s Leadership,” New York Times, September 7, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/07/world/asia/china-hong-kong-xi-jinping.html


Veganism

There is a new blog post entitled, “The question of methodology and that allegedly higher risk of stroke for vegans.”

Nina Avramova, “Vegetarians might have higher risk of stroke than meat eaters, study says,” CNN, September 4, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/04/health/vegetarian-vegan-diet-stroke-heart-disease-risk-intl/index.html


  1. [1]Heather Stewart and Severin Carrell, “Boris Johnson short of options as rebels vow to secure Brexit delay,” Guardian, September 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/06/boris-johnson-short-of-options-as-rebels-vow-to-secure-brexit-delay

Fun with a cell phone

So Android 10 came out yesterday and as near as I can tell, it still doesn’t support dual SIM, dual standby (DSDS), which enables me to combine my two old phones onto one. It had been expected to do so.

That meant going down to the Apple Store to get an unlocked cell phone.

Then nobody local knew how to get DSDS working at least with my particular set up. AT&T put in a nanoSIM card such as is the usual. But I needed Verizon to go on something called eSIM.

Fortunately I got somebody at Verizon online chat who knew how to do it.

So now I have both lines running on one phone instead of having to carry two of the damned things.

Unfortunately, I have to learn my way around an iPhone.


Hong Kong

There is a new blog post entitled, “Treading on a tiger’s tail.”

Lily Kuo and Verna Yu, “Hong Kong protests: Carrie Lam denies offering to resign,” Guardian, September 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/03/hong-kong-protests-carrie-lam-denies-she-considered-resigning

Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin, “Hong Kong leader fully withdraws extradition bill, a demand of protesters,” Washington Post, September 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/hong-kong-leader-expected-to-fully-withdraw-extradition-bill-a-demand-of-protesters/2019/09/04/b3ca1dec-cee0-11e9-87fa-8501a456c003_story.html


Brexit

Boris Johnson followed through[1] on his threat to “deselect” Conservative members of Parliament who voted against him.[2]

So Tuesday night, Boris Johnson found “himself at the command of a minority government 22 MPs short of a majority, having effectively sacked some of his own most eminent MPs.”[3] It didn’t get better for Johnson: “By Wednesday, after defections and excommunications, he was 43 seats short of a working majority, making it nearly impossible for him to pass any legislation, even on non-Brexit bills.”[4] With tactics like this, it does not appear likely this will be his last comeuppance.[5]

So, now what? The Times has a flowchart.[6] No wonder you’re confused. I know I am.
methodetimesprodwebbinb3e05f1e-c
Start with “Rebels take control of order paper” and proceed directly to “Extension Bill Passes Commons.” Times graphic, September 4, 2019,[7] fair use.

The Lords are expected to pass the legislation requiring Johnson to request an extension, which would take us to Johnson scrambling to try to defer royal assent or failing. And the Commons refused to endorse an election because they couldn’t trust Johnson to call it before the current Brexit day, October 31. Oh, but Donald Trump still thinks Johnson can get the job done.[8]

I gotta tell you, I don’t remember ever seeing a political collapse like this. This is like carefully setting explosives in a building for demolition, detonating them, and then being surprised and even angered when the damned thing actually comes down.

Charlie Cooper, Annabelle Dickson, and Emilio Casalicchio, “Boris Johnson loses control,” Politico, September 4, 2019, https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-loses-control-brexit/

Francis Elliott and Oliver Wright, “Moderates attack Boris Johnson after Tory rebels have whip removed,” Times, September 4, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/tory-rebels-defy-boris-johnson-in-historic-vote-hbnhhpzh7

Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, “Boris Johnson suffers two major losses in Parliament, leaving his governing authority and the terms of Brexit in doubt,” Washington Post, September 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/uk-parliament-brexit-vote/2019/09/04/cc934b1c-cb6d-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html


  1. [1]Charlie Cooper, Annabelle Dickson, and Emilio Casalicchio, “Boris Johnson loses control,” Politico, September 4, 2019, https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-loses-control-brexit/; Francis Elliott and Oliver Wright, “Moderates attack Boris Johnson after Tory rebels have whip removed,” Times, September 4, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/tory-rebels-defy-boris-johnson-in-historic-vote-hbnhhpzh7
  2. [2]Jessica Elgot, “Johnson could sacrifice majority by withdrawing whip from rebel MPs,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/01/boris-johnson-brexit-sacrifice-majority-by-withdrawing-whip-from-rebel-mps
  3. [3]Charlie Cooper, Annabelle Dickson, and Emilio Casalicchio, “Boris Johnson loses control,” Politico, September 4, 2019, https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-loses-control-brexit/
  4. [4]Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, “Boris Johnson suffers two major losses in Parliament, leaving his governing authority and the terms of Brexit in doubt,” Washington Post, September 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/uk-parliament-brexit-vote/2019/09/04/cc934b1c-cb6d-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html
  5. [5]Charlie Cooper, Annabelle Dickson, and Emilio Casalicchio, “Boris Johnson loses control,” Politico, September 4, 2019, https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-loses-control-brexit/; Francis Elliott and Oliver Wright, “Moderates attack Boris Johnson after Tory rebels have whip removed,” Times, September 4, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/tory-rebels-defy-boris-johnson-in-historic-vote-hbnhhpzh7; Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, “Britain may face snap elections after Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffers major loss in Parliament,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/showdown-set-for-the-british-parliament-as-legislators-return-from-summer-recess/2019/09/03/105ecca6-cb6c-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html; Esther Webber and Kate Devlin, “Try and stop me rebelling, Philip Hammond tells No 10,” Times, September 3, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/try-and-stop-me-rebelling-philip-hammond-tells-no-10-kbdzj8nwf
  6. [6]Francis Elliott and Oliver Wright, “Moderates attack Boris Johnson after Tory rebels have whip removed,” Times, September 4, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/tory-rebels-defy-boris-johnson-in-historic-vote-hbnhhpzh7
  7. [7]Francis Elliott and Oliver Wright, “Moderates attack Boris Johnson after Tory rebels have whip removed,” Times, September 4, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/tory-rebels-defy-boris-johnson-in-historic-vote-hbnhhpzh7
  8. [8]Francis Elliott and Oliver Wright, “Moderates attack Boris Johnson after Tory rebels have whip removed,” Times, September 4, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/tory-rebels-defy-boris-johnson-in-historic-vote-hbnhhpzh7; Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, “Boris Johnson suffers two major losses in Parliament, leaving his governing authority and the terms of Brexit in doubt,” Washington Post, September 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/uk-parliament-brexit-vote/2019/09/04/cc934b1c-cb6d-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html

The world’s worst poker player

Brexit

Boris Johnson keeps raising the ante. There is a new blog entry entitled, “The world’s worst poker player, on a jet-powered bicycle at full throttle toward a brick wall.” He might be strapping on a rocket next.

Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, “Britain may face snap elections after Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffers major loss in Parliament,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/showdown-set-for-the-british-parliament-as-legislators-return-from-summer-recess/2019/09/03/105ecca6-cb6c-11e9-9615-8f1a32962e04_story.html

Peter Walker and Jessica Elgot, “Boris Johnson’s ultimatum: back me or face 14 October election,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/boris-johnson-threatens-to-ignore-mps-on-no-deal-brexit

Esther Webber and Kate Devlin, “Try and stop me rebelling, Philip Hammond tells No 10,” Times, September 3, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/try-and-stop-me-rebelling-philip-hammond-tells-no-10-kbdzj8nwf


Recession

I’ve been inclined to think a recession is on the way for a while now[1] for a bunch of reasons.[2] Now Aaron Back, writing for the Wall Street Journal’s “Heard on the Street” column opines that “[s]igns of a possible recession keep stacking up. At some point it no longer makes sense to keep explaining them away.” The manufacturing index dipping below 50 is not a perfect recession signal and Back seems to think it’s less reliable than the inverted yield curve. But he concludes, “With both the yield curve and manufacturing surveys flashing red at the same time, it would be foolish to dismiss them both. No wonder investors are spooked.”[3]

Ruth Simon, Megumi Fujikawa, and Paul Hannon, “U.S.-China Trade War’s Global Impact Grows,” Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-china-trade-wars-global-impact-grows-11567466809

Aaron Back, “Another Recession Sign to Ignore at Your Peril,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/another-recession-sign-to-ignore-at-your-peril-11567530230


Hong Kong

Natasha Khan and Eva Dou, “Beijing Asserts Power to Declare Emergency to Quell Hong Kong Unrest,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/beijing-asserts-power-to-declare-emergency-to-quell-hong-kong-unrest-11567509276


Dorian

Continental US - Clean Longwave Window - IR
As of 8:00 am, Dorian’s eye had moved off of Grand Bahama, but the storm was still lashing the island. The storm had weakened to category 3,[4] but appeared to be beginning to affect Florida. It killed at least five people on the Abaco islands, to the east of Grand Bahama.[5]

The storm has weakened further since, to category 2, but looks set to graze the Atlantic Coast all the way up to Newfoundland.[6]
eusgm-2019-09-03-20FireShot Capture 083 - HURRICANE DORIAN - www.nhc.noaa.gov
72-hour gif, images 2 hours apart, as of 8:00 pm and National Hurricane Center storm track forecast as of 8:00 pm.

Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, “Dorian expands in size as tropical storm conditions hit Florida and the hurricane risk increases in the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/03/hurricane-dorian-is-set-creep-north-closer-florida-georgia-carolinas-after-pounding-bahamas/

Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839


  1. [1]David Benfell, “About that recession timing and the 2020 election,” Not Housebroken, August 25, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/25/about-that-recession-timing-and-the-2020-election/
  2. [2]Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF; Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html; Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath, and Taylor Telford, “Stocks tank as another recession warning surfaces,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/14/stocks-tank-another-recession-warning-surfaces/; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/; Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html
  3. [3]Aaron Back, “Another Recession Sign to Ignore at Your Peril,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/another-recession-sign-to-ignore-at-your-peril-11567530230
  4. [4]Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839
  5. [5]Arian Campo-Flores and Erin Ailworth, “Hurricane Dorian Death Toll at Five in Bahamas as Storm Is Headed for U.S.,” Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-dorian-batters-bahamas-drives-toward-u-s-11567429839
  6. [6]Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, “Dorian expands in size as tropical storm conditions hit Florida and the hurricane risk increases in the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/03/hurricane-dorian-is-set-creep-north-closer-florida-georgia-carolinas-after-pounding-bahamas/

Boris Johnson isn’t even a bad poker player

Brexit

There is a new blog post entitled, “Even bad poker players know better.”

Jessica Elgot, “Johnson could sacrifice majority by withdrawing whip from rebel MPs,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/01/boris-johnson-brexit-sacrifice-majority-by-withdrawing-whip-from-rebel-mps

Kate Proctor, “Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/irish-border-after-brexit-all-ideas-beset-by-issues


Dorian

Hurricane Dorian has pounded the northernmost islands of the Bahamas with winds gusting to more than 220mph (355km/h), the biggest storm to hit the Caribbean island chain in modern times.[1]

And of course this somehow has to be about Donald Trump, his astonishing ignorance, and his raging narcissism:

The storm decreased to category 4 and is expected to weaken further.[2] I would be cautious about that: The eye was passing over land, even if only the northwestern Bahama Islands; storms have been known to regain strength when they return to open water. It now appears to be turning north, off of Grand Bahama.
eusgm-2019-09-02-20
72-hour gif, images two hours apart (missing two images, from 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, from yesterday), as of 8:00 pm.

Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, “Historic Hurricane Dorian unleashing ‘catastrophic’ blow in northern Bahamas. Hurricane warnings posted for Florida’s east coast,” Washington Post, September 1, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/01/catastrophic-hurricane-dorian-unleashes-devastating-blow-northern-bahamas-takes-aim-southeast-us/

Richard Luscombe, “Hurricane Dorian: first reported death as category 5 storm hits Bahamas,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/01/hurricane-dorian-bahamas-us-flooding-florida-south-north-carolina

Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman, “‘Catastrophic’ Hurricane Dorian blasting Bahamas while bearing down on Florida, threatening Georgia and the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/02/catastrophic-hurricane-dorian-blasting-bahamas-bearing-down-florida-georgia-carolinas/


Hong Kong

Stack-HongKongDispatch
Undated photograph attributed to Anthony Kwan, via the New Yorker.[3]

I have wondered since Britain agreed to hand over Hong Kong how this could possibly end well. It seems we’re seeing the answer. I hope I’m wrong.

Megan K. Stack, “Bravery and Nihilism on the Streets of Hong Kong,” New Yorker, August 31, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/bravery-and-nihilism-amid-the-protests-in-hong-kong

Violet Law, “Looking to future, school students join Hong Kong protests,” Al Jazeera, September 2, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/future-school-students-join-hong-kong-protests-190902082122134.html

Iain Marlow, Aaron McNicholas, and Natalie Lung, “Hong Kong Officials Urge Calm While Warning of ‘Signs of Terror,’” Bloomberg, September 2, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-02/hong-kong-officials-urge-calm-while-warning-of-signs-of-terror


  1. [1]Richard Luscombe, “Hurricane Dorian: first reported death as category 5 storm hits Bahamas,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/01/hurricane-dorian-bahamas-us-flooding-florida-south-north-carolina
  2. [2]Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman, “‘Catastrophic’ Hurricane Dorian blasting Bahamas while bearing down on Florida, threatening Georgia and the Carolinas,” Washington Post, September 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/02/catastrophic-hurricane-dorian-blasting-bahamas-bearing-down-florida-georgia-carolinas/
  3. [3]Megan K. Stack, “Bravery and Nihilism on the Streets of Hong Kong,” New Yorker, August 31, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/bravery-and-nihilism-amid-the-protests-in-hong-kong