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Tuesday: Trauma

A little neo soul, something to ease the day. If you like this bit by 20-year-old Doja Cat, check out more of her work at her YouTube channel.

FOUR DAYS
That’s all that’s left of in-session days in U.S. House this month, and nothing done yesterday to help Flint. Yet another report on Flint water crisis, this one featuring VA-Tech’s Dr. Marc Edwards on the lack of trust in water quality, governance and water science since the city’s transition back to Detroit’s water supply. But the necessity of filters means tap water is suspect; Flint residents never needed filters before the switch to Flint river water, and now much regularly take additional steps to check their filters and water quality. Just replace the damned lead pipes so they can take the filters off and they’ll trust the water system. They need assistance with speeding up pipe replacement, stat.

Oh, and deal with the collapse of property values in Flint. Who wants to buy a house there, let alone offer financing as long as the water system remains under suspicion?

Oh no, Pokémon GO
My kid has been playing this augmented reality game with his friends, driving around after dark to different ‘gyms’. We’ve had a few discussions about the application’s privacy problems as well as the game’s requirements for collecting points. This is NOT a game for kids to play by themselves without parent or guardian engagement if they aren’t old enough to drive. My son told me about running into creepy guys parked for hours late into the evening at key locations where Pokémon are found. Recipe for trouble, that.

Brexit means broken

TL;BRTLA (too long, but read this later anyhow)
Especially today — now that Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton — read how women were included in the Civil Rights Act as a joke. Hah. Funny. But very sad that 51% of the population is still not accorded their creator-endowed equal rights in spite of shrewd, dogged work by Michigan’s Rep. Martha Griffiths, and folks like Ida Phillips and attorney Reese Marshall.

Didn’t have enough time to cover China. Guess you now what I’ll tackle tomorrow, see you then.

Tuesday: Rubbish

This won’t be everybody’s cup of matcha and may not offer an optimum listening experience for most business offices. Today’s kick-in-the-seat to start the week is a Japanese rock genre at the intersection of glam rock and black metal. Visual kei rock combines glam’s signature elements with black metal’s dark, heaviness. Some say punk influences visual kei but I really don’t see or hear it. Depending on the song, death metal is far more likely to leak through both in sound and appearance.

For a little lighter variant — more pure metal than glam or black — try this live performance from Vistlip. The relationship between visual kei and both anime and video games is quite obvious. Want a little estrogen-loaded visual kei? Try exist trace’s Daybreak; it, too, is not as dark and heavy, though the band can still hammer really black tunes.

Now that the kick in the ass has been locked and loaded…

NINE DAYS
Including today, that’s the total number of days booked as in session on the U.S. House of Representatives’ business calendar for July, of which only six days have events scheduled.

Can’t see anything farther out. And of the events booked so far, nothing appears for the benefit of the Flint Water Crisis. Roughly 8000 lead-poisoned kids completely forgotten.

Michigan’s state house has a mess of stuff on the calendar, but none of it clearly marked in reference to Flint Water Crisis. I imagine that hack Rep. Pscholka may have something buried in the items labeled “zero budget.”

Brexit buffoonery
Whenever I get really upset with the condition of our state and federal governance, I can just take a look across the pond. The back-stabbing drama surrounding the future leadership of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister’s office looks like a mashup of House of Cards and Game of Thrones minus dragons. I’ll let Christoph Waltz speak for me about the resignation of Ukip’s Nigel Farage this weekend. I fear, though, that U.S. politics will take the Brexit debacle as a prompt going into the general election.

  • Pound fell to lowest level post-Brexit vote (France24) — The perceived inability for either the Conservatives or Labour parties to organize its leadership let alone steer out of Brexit weighs on business. Let’s say Marcy’s right and the Brits manage to put the brakes on this: when and how will that happen? The lack of direction and specificity between now and sometime after September’s next UK election costs money.
  • Apple stock could take a hit because of Brexit (Bloomberg) — Folks may update their iPhones more slowly due to economic pressures, says Citigroup analyst. IMO, it’s not the updates that will hurt Apple’s income as much as currency fluctuations. Was Apple able to hedge its financial holdings adequately against the abrupt drop in GBP value?
  • EU to spend $2B on public+private cybersecurity efforts (The Register) — Will UK be omitted from this spending plan altogether, AND will the EU begin to treat the UK as a potential cybersecurity risk in whatever plans it develops?

Automotive Uh-oh

Cyberia

  • Second “Fappening” hacker will plead guilty (NYMag) — Finally! It only took two years reach this point in prosecution of hacker who phished celebrities accounts for nude photos. But phishing corporations is a threat to the public’s security, while phishing women’s Gmail and iCloud accounts isn’t a threat to anybody, right? Because women’s bodies and personal information aren’t valuable nor is systematically invading their privacy terrorizing. Ugh. Gender bias in law enforcement.
  • Advocacy groups file rulemaking petition with FCC on automakers’ use of Direct Short Range Communication (DSRC) (PublicKnowledge.org) — Automakers are standardizing AI systems around DSRC; two groups want the FCC to

    • Limit DSRC to life and safety uses only. The auto industry plans to take spectrum allocated for safety of life and monetize it with advertising and mobile payments. This compromises cybersecurity and potentially violates the privacy of every driver and passenger.
    • Require automakers to file a cybersecurity plan before activating DSRC systems. This plan should not only show that auto manufacturers have taken appropriate precautions today, but explain how they will update security over the life of the vehicle.
    • Data transparency and breach notification. Auto manufacturers must inform purchasers of DSRC-equipped cars what personal information they collect and how they will use that information. In the event of a data breach, the manufacturer collecting the information must notify the customer.

  • Conficker malware found widely in internet-enabled medical equipment (Threatpost) — Medical facilities still aren’t taking adequate measures to ensure internet-enabled equipment remains unattached from the internet, safe from other forms of injection (like USB ports), and free of malware. Devices like dialysis pumps and diagnostic equipment for MRIs and CT scans are infected. Same security gaps also led to leak of 655,000 patients’ data over the internet two weeks ago.

Man, even in this heat this snowball just doesn’t want to stop once it starts rolling down the hill. At least it’s a short week. See you tomorrow!

Friday: Death to All That Jazz

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

— excerpt, Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen

This week has been a long death march. Death to optimism, death to pre-existing notions of political parties, death to futures defined by progressive visions.

Ironically, the march led to today’s 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme — the beginning of World War I and the bloodiest day in British military history. The battle lasted five months and cost a million soldiers’ lives. The British suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day alone as they fought alongside the French against the Germans.

Among the British dead were black soldiers from Britain and British West Indies, and Indian Army Calvary who came from what is now India and Pakistan. The British recruited from South Africa, Egypt, China, and more to replace their losses as the Somme continued.

One hundred years later they have forgotten all of this shared pain and history, along with Winston Churchill’s post-WWII vision of a unified European family, a Pan-European Union which the United Kingdom, United States, and Russia supported.

On that bright and cheery note, have a little Death to Jazz — music which never dies.

Democracy elsewhere
Australians went to the polls on July 2nd for this year’s federal election. They didn’t torture themselves with a year or more of campaign crap, thank goodness. I can’t tell you much of anything about this election except that like the US and UK, there are two major parties running neck-and-neck — the Liberal/National coalition and the Labor party — while the world might hope for Greens to succeed. At least Aussies have more than two major parties to choose from even if they are more colorful than any of ours. Putting aside my flippant attitude, this election has serious consequences for the globe given the need for Australia’s climate change research in spite of its excessive reliance on sales of coal as well as its creeping authoritarian approach toward the internet and surveillance. What policies will the next Aussie government pursue?

Wheels

  • NHTSA launches investigation into fatal autopiloted Tesla crash (Tesla Motors) — OMG if you look at the Florida Highway Patrol report sketch of the accident you’ll immediately grasp what fail this was. This was a really horrific accident. Tesla’s post indicates the sensor read the gap below the semi-truck’s trailer as open space. Jalopnik picks apart the accident; they may be right that the obstruction detection sensor is too low on the vehicle. Besides the fact the driver was completely distracted and watching a movie while on autopilot, something else doesn’t sit right about this crash — like the truck failed to yield, or the car was traveling at too high a rate of speed? Truly a sad situation for the driver’s family and the truck driver.
  • Volkswagen thinks its 3.0L passenger diesel engines can be “fixed” to meet emissions standards (Reuters) — Wait, what? They used “undeclared auxiliary emissions-control devices” on this engine, and not the emissions controls defeat software used in the 2.0L engines, which somehow means they can fix the larger engines. I’ve missed something somewhere along the way because I don’t recall reading about any “auxiliary devices” before now. Color me skeptical.
  • June car sales remain on pace with May, except for Volkswagen (Business Insider) — Dieselgate has really done a number on VW brand here in the U.S.; sales are down 22% for the German automaker over last year. Other brands have picked up the slack, though; the biggest winner is Nissan.

Don’t forget about China
Fourth largest by area, second largest by GDP, and first largest by population, let’s not forget about China!

  • ICYMI: Insurance company to CIA employees bought by Chinese company (Newsweek) — You might want to read Marcy’s piece if you haven’t already. The U.S. really needs to improve the CFIUS review process given this egregious example. It only takes some big iron computing to crunch a match between Wright USA’s business database and other breached databases out there in the cyber-wilds to identify…well, you’re smart. Figure it out.
  • Taiwanese missile mistakenly fired, kills fishing boat captain (IBT) — No words for this, which could have been very ugly. Somebody kept a cool head.
  • Taylor Swift’s love life no longer the subject of Chinese bettors (Billboard) — Chinese government banned the sale of insurance instruments which paid off when celebrity singer/songwriter Swift broke off her romance. Good move, this one, because Swift changes partners like some women change purses and shoes. Don’t waste your money betting on what is surely a PR-driven romance between Swift and the flavor of the month, British film star Tom Hiddleston. (Better off betting on who will be the next James Bond — Hiddleston? Doubtful.)

Party Plans
It’s a long holiday weekend here in the U.S. If you don’t have plans, here’s a few tips.

  • The party moved, dudes; new sandbar this year (Mlive) — Court tossed the monster party held on one of Michigan’s inland lakes because it was monster. This year it’s being held at Wixom Lake instead of Torch Lake. Poor Wixomites; brace yourselves for 1000-plus partiers.
  • Non-Terrible Songs about America (BitchMedia) — This week’s BitchTapes playlist is estrogen driven, a nice even-handed, clear-eyed change of pace for a mellow Fourth of July. Kind of like a hug from your mom or sister who love you in spite of the fact they know only too well you’re a bonehead.
  • Baking cookies for holiday snacking? Don’t eat the raw dough! (Yahoo News) — We’ve always been told raw dough is risky to eat because of uncooked eggs in the batter. But unless you’ve checked yours against the FDA’s recall list, it’s the flour that’s the potential threat. E coli-tainted flour is still in the food system and could be in uncooked dough products. Cook them well, don’t eat them raw.

Holiday mode commences in three, two, one — boom! Because nothing says freedom like incendiary devices at close range!

Wednesday: Wandering

All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost.

— excerpt, The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

It’s a lovely summer day here, cool and dry. Perfect to go walkabout, which I will do straight away after this post.

Hackety-hack-hack, Jack

  • Spearphishing method used on HRC and DNC revealed by security firm (SecureWorks) — Here’s their report, but read this Twitter thread if you don’t think you can handle the more detailed version. In short, best practice: DON’T CLICK ON SHORTENED LINKS using services like Bitly, which mask the underlying URL.
  • Researchers show speakerless computers can be hacked by listening to fans (arXiv.org) — Air-gapping a computer may not be enough if hackers can listen to fan operation to obtain information. I’ll have to check, but this may be the second such study.
  • Another massive U.S. voter database breached (Naked Security) — This time 154 million voters’ data exposed, revealing all manner of details. 154M is larger than the number of voters in the 2012 general election, though smaller than the 191M voters’ records breached in December. At least this time the database owner slammed the breach shut once they were notified of the hole by researcher Chris Vickery. Nobody’s fessed up to owning the database involved in the the December breach yet.
  • Speaking of Vickery: Terrorism databased leaked (Reddit) — Thomson-Reuters’ database used by governments and banks to identify and monitor terrorism suspects was leaked (left open?) by a third party. Vickery contacted Thomson-Reuters which responded promptly and closed the leak. Maybe some folks need to put Vickery on retainer…
  • Different kind of hack: Trump campaign hitting up overseas MPs for cash? Or is he? (Scotsman) — There are reports that Trump’s campaign sent fundraising emails received by elected representatives in the UK and Iceland. Based on what we know now about the spearphishing of HRC and DNC, has anybody thought to do forensics on these emails, especially since government officials are so willing to share them widely? Using these kinds of emails would be a particularly productive method to spearphish government and media at the same time, as well as map relationships. Oh, and sow dissension inside the Trump family, urm, campaign. On the other hand, lack of response from Trump and team suggests it’s all Trump.

Makers making, takers taking

  • Apple granted a patent to block photo-taking (9to5Mac) — The technology relies on detecting infrared signals emitted when cameras are used. There’s another use for the technology: content can be triggered to play when infrared signal is detected.
  • Government suppressing inventions as military secrets (Bloomberg) — There’s merit to this, preventing development of products which may undermine national security. But like bug bounties, it might be worth paying folks who identify methods to breach security; it’s a lot cheaper than an actual breach, and a bargain compared to research detecting the same.
  • Google wants to make its own smartphone (Telegraph-UK) — This is an effort apart from development of the modular Ara device, and an odd move after ditching Motorola. Some tech industry folks say this doesn’t make sense. IMO, there’s one big reason why it’d be worth building a new smartphone from the ground up: security. Google can’t buy an existing manufacturer without a security risk.
  • Phonemaker ZTE’s spanking for Iran sanction violations deferred (Reuters) — This seems kind of odd; U.S. Commerce department agreed to a reprieve if ZTE cooperated with the government. But then think about the issue of security in phone manufacturing and it makes some sense.

A-brisket, a Brexit

  • EU health commissioner Andriukaitis’ response to Nigel Farage’s insulting remarks (European Commission) — Farage prefaced his speech to European Commissioners yesterday by saying “Most of you have never done a proper day’s work in your life.” Nice way to win friends and influence people, huh? Dr. Vytenis Andriukaitis is kinder than racist wanker Farage deserves.
  • Analysis of next couple years post-Brexit (Twitter) — Alex White, Director of Country Analysis at the Economist Intelligence Unit, offers what he says is “a moderate/constructive call” with “Risks definitely to the downside not to the upside.” It’s very ugly, hate to see what a more extreme view would look like. A pity so many Leave voters will never read him.

Follow-up: Facebook effery
Looks like Facebook’s thrown in the towel on users’ privacy altogether, opening personal profiles in a way that precludes anonymous browsing. Makes the flip-flop on users’ location look even more sketchy. (I can’t tell you anymore about this from personal experience because I gave up on Facebook several years ago.)

Happy hump day!

Hillary’s National Security Alliance for Quivering Over Bank Prosecutions

Fresh off being caught lying about rolling her eyes in response to calls for Palestinian rights, Neera Tanden has rolled out something called the National Security Leadership Alliance. Best as I can tell, it exists mainly on paper right now — I couldn’t even find it on CAP’s site yet. But it seems designed to fear-monger about what will happen if Trump becomes Commander-in-Chief.

The project, called the National Security Leadership Alliance, will be funded by C.A.P. Action. It will feature a roster of major members of the foreign policy and national security community, including two retired four-star generals; Leon E. Panetta, the former C.I.A. director; Madeleine K. Albright, the former secretary of state; Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general; and Carl Levin, the former Michigan senator. All have endorsed Mrs. Clinton.

There will be an effort to highlight precisely what, in the military arsenal, Donald J. Trump would have access to as president. Mr. Trump has been criticized for his views on foreign policy, criticisms that have been central to the case that Mrs. Clinton has made against him in an effort to describe the stakes of the 2016 presidential election. The Center for American Progress is led by a top outside adviser to Mrs. Clinton, Neera Tanden, and the new project seeks to put a spotlight on what officials are calling a progressive foreign policy vision.

I’m perfectly okay with fearmongering about Trump. But let’s look at this lineup. It features the woman who said letting half a million Iraqi children die was worth the price of enforcing sanctions against the country. It also includes a guy, Panetta, whose exposure of the identities of Osama bin Laden killers’ to Hollywood producers serves to reinforce what a double standard on classified information Hillary (and Panetta) benefit from.

But I’m most curious by a “national security” team that includes both Eric Holder and Carl Levin, especially given the NYT focus, in announcing the venture, on Brexit.

“I think what brought us together is obviously a lot of concern about some of the division and polarization that we’re seeing in the world,” Mr. Panetta said in an interview. “We know we’re living in a time of great change and uncertainty.”

But he added, “The concern we have is we see these forces of division that are prepared to throw out the fundamental” principles of foreign policy in the United States over many decades.

“What we’re learning from ‘Brexit’ is that there’s a price to be paid in terms of letting out emotion dictate policy instead of responsible leadership,” he said, referring to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. “We shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Leon Panetta, in rolling out a venture including Carl Levin — who as head of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations worked tirelessly for some kind of accountability on bank crime — and Eric Holder — who ignored multiple criminal referrals from Levin, including one pertaining to Goldman Sachs head Lloyd Blankfein — says the lesson from Brexit is that we can’t let emotion dictate policy but instead should practice “responsible leadership” guarding the “fundamental principles of foreign policy in the United States over many decades.”

Of course, as David Dayen argued convincingly, to the extent Brexit was an emotional vote, the emotions were largely inflamed by elite failures — the failures of people like Eric Holder to demand any responsibility (Dayen doesn’t deal with the equally large failures of hawks like Albright whose destabilizing policies in the Middle East have created the refugee crisis in Europe, which indirectly inflamed Brexit voters).

Again, I’m okay if Hillary wants to spend her time fearmongering about the dangers of Trump.

But to do so credibly, she needs to be a lot more cognizant of the dangers her own team have created.

Monday: Fierce Dog

Hunger and fear are the only realities in dog life: an empty stomach makes a fierce dog.

— excerpt, personal journal of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott

This short film by Aaron Dunleavy was inspired by his childhood in Blackburn, Lancashire UK. The script was improvised and cast using locals.

All districts in Lancashire voted Leave during last week’s Brexit referendum, with 65% of Blackburn voters supporting Leave.

Worth noting an article in Lancashire Telegraph about an Aldi’s store under construction. Aldi’s is a German-owned grocery store chain; have to wonder if construction will be completed.

Brexit botch bits

  • @shockproofbeats on Brexit’s impact on Northern Ireland (Storify) — It’s messy now and promises to be even uglier.
  • Downside for China (and other foreign investors): Real estate purchases may be put on hold (SCMP) — Some deals in the works may be halted until the pound is more stable. On the other hand, Britain may step in and put the brakes on sales; too easy for overseas entities with big money to buy up property while pound is depressed.
  • Upside for China (and other banking centers): Business could pick up in Hong Kong (SCMP) — London is the second largest trading center of yuan next to Hong Kong; some of the business could shift back to Hong Kong, especially if HSBC bank choose to relocate its headquarters to HK from London.
  • No change in position on Brexit referendum since last Friday according to PM David Cameron (Independent-UK) — Though Cameron is now going to leave in September. He continued to push triggering of the Article 50 to his successor while taking pot shots at Labor Party over its purge this weekend. Not certain most Americans will notice just how Cameron has managed to shift the blame to both MPs and the people for a referendum he proposed, or how he has turned execution of Article 50 into a poisoned chalice. Lord Chancellor Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove, Leave campaign proponent, was present at today’s session in Parliament but said nothing before disappearing. Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Leave campaign proponent, was noticably absent. Wankers all three.

SCOTUS Week
Waiting around watching the court for good or ill until this morning is kind of like waiting for Shark Week — hey, it IS Shark Week! What a coincidence!

Miscellaneous trouble

Promises to be a busy week ahead. Stay tuned!

NATO and Brexit

For the record, I think it quite likely that UK’s Tories will never trigger Article 50, which would mean the two year process of leaving the EU will never start much less finish. If that happens, we will face an increasing game of chicken between the EU — primarily Germany — and the UK, because until things settle with the UK, other right wing parties will call to Exit the EU.

All that said, I want to consider what a UK exit would mean for security, particularly as regards to the balance between privacy and dragnettery in which the EU has, in recent years, played a key but largely ineffectual role.

From a spying perspective, Brexit came just hours after the US and EU finalized a draft of the Privacy Shield that will replace the Safe Harbor agreement next week. When I read it, I wondered whether the US signed it intended to do some data analysis in the UK, an option that will likely become unavailable if and when the UK actually does leave the EU. Amazingly, the UK’s hawkish Home Secretary Theresa May (who in the past has called for the UK to leave the ECHR) is considered a favorite to replace David Cameron as the Tory Prime Minister, which would be like Jim Comey serving as President. The UK will still need to sign its own IP Bill, which will expand what is authorized spying in the UK.

But all that assumes the relative structure of nesting alliances will remain the same if and when the UK departs the EU. And I don’t think that will happen. On the contrary, I think the US will use the UK’s departure — and security concerns including both a confrontational expanding Russia and the threat of terrorism — to push to give NATO an enhanced role off what it has.

Consider what Obama said in his initial statement about Brexit [my emphasis in all these passages],

The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond. The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world.

To Cameron,

President Obama spoke by phone today with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom to discuss the outcome of yesterday’s referendum on membership in the European Union, in which a majority of British voters expressed their desire to leave the EU. The President assured Prime Minister Cameron that, in spite of the outcome, the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, along with the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO, remain vital cornerstones of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. The President also expressed his regret at the Prime Minister’s decision to step aside following a leadership transition and noted that the Prime Minister has been a trusted partner and friend, whose counsel and shared dedication to democratic values, the special relationship, and the Transatlantic community are highly valued. The President also observed that the EU, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond, will remain an indispensable partner of the United States. The President and Prime Minister concurred that they are confident that the United Kingdom and the EU will negotiate a productive way forward to ensure financial stability, continued trade and investment, and the mutual prosperity they bring.

And to Merkel,

The President spoke today by phone with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany regarding the British people’s decision to leave the European Union. Both said they regretted the decision but respected the will of the British people. The two leaders agreed that the economic and financial teams of the G-7 partners will coordinate closely to ensure all are focused on financial stability and economic growth. The President and the Chancellor affirmed that Germany and the EU will remain indispensable partners of the United States. The leaders also noted that they looked forward to the opportunity to underscore the strength and enduring bond of transatlantic ties at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland, July 8-9.

NATO, NATO, NATO.

John Kerry and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg seem to echo that viewpoint, with Stoltenberg arguing NATO will become more important.

“We have high expectations of a very strong NATO meeting and important deliverables,” Kerry said of the summit planned for Warsaw on July 8-9. “That will not change one iota as a consequence of the vote that has taken place.”

Kerry, who is on a lightning tour of Brussels and London intended to reassure U.S. allies following the British vote, noted that 22 EU nations, including Britain, are part of NATO.

In Brussels Kerry met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini.

“After the UK decided to leave the European Union I think that NATO has become even more important as a platform for cooperation between Europe and North America but also defence and security cooperation between European NATO allies,” said Stoltenberg, whose own country Norway is in NATO but not the EU.

Retired Admiral Stavridis provides a list of four reasons why Brexit will strengthen NATO.

  1. Putin’s adventurism: “NATO has provided the most resolute military balance against [Russia], and thus its stock can be expected to rise with publics in Europe.”
  2. UK manpower will be freed up from EU tasks: UK “will have additional ships, troops, and aircraft to deploy on NATO missions because they will not have to support EU military efforts such as the counter-piracy operations off the coast of East Africa or EU missions in the Balkans.”
  3. By losing the UK’s military power, the EU will become even more of a soft power entity ceding real military activities to NATO. “And, given that European military efforts will be greatly diminished by the loss of British military muscle, the EU can be expected to defer to NATO more frequently.”
  4. The UK will have to prove itself in NATO to retain its “special relationship.” UK “will have to look for new ways to demonstrate value in its partnership with the United States if it hopes to maintain anything like the “special relationship” it has become accustomed to (and dependent on).”

It’s actually the third* bullet that I think will be key — and it will be carried over into spying. Without the UK, the EU doesn’t have the capability to defend itself, so it will be more dependent on NATO than it had been. Similarly, without GCHQ, the EU doesn’t have heightened SIGINT power to surveil its own population. And so — I fear — whereas prior to Brexit the EU (and Germany specifically) would at least make a show of pushing back against US demands in exchange for protection, particularly given the heightened security concerns, everyone will be less willing to push back.

It’s unclear whether Brexit (if it happens) will hurt the UK or EU more. It probably won’t hurt the US as much as any entity in Europe. It might provide the trigger for the dismantling of the EU generally.

I think it very likely it will shift Trans-Atlantic relationships, among all parties, to a much more militaristic footing. That’s dangerous — especially as things heat up with Russia. And the countervailing human rights influence of the EU will be weakened.

But I think the US will gain power, relatively, out it.

Update: I originally said “fourth” bullet but meant third. Also, I originally said an “expanding” Russia, which I changed because with the coup in Ukraine I think the “west” started the expansionary push.

Update: This piece games out a number of possibilities on data protection.

Friday: There’s Always The Second Line

After the shock, denial, horror, anger, and grief of death, there’s always the second line. Seems fitting today in the wake of Brexit to observe the passing of an ideal — a United Kingdom, in harmony with its European neighbors and allies — that we have a second line.

You’re probably familiar with the imagery of the second line, a New Orleans tradition in which a jazz band plays for a funeral procession after the mourners have buried the dead. The history of the second line isn’t clear in no small part because it originated among the African diaspora and the creole community, whose cultural history is poorly documented because of race. The second line was the other face of death — the celebration of the departed’s arrival at better world beyond the reach of the living. Over the last hundred years, the second line became a community event not confined to funeral processions alone. Sunday afternoons revolved around street parties centered on the local Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and Benevolent Societies from which many brass jazz bands emerged as a part of the services offered through their co-op funeral insurance.

The video embedded here is more of a traditional blues dirge among second line tunes, but it might be played before or after the funeral. This video, however, shares music with true second line spirit, recorded as an observation of the passing year. And this second line following the funeral of Ernest “Doc” Watson is the definitive example.

Best jazz I can do post-Brexit referendum.

Brexit Backwash

  • What’s next after the referendum?  (EU Law Analysis) — First snappy overview of the legal steps Britain will take, by Professor of EU and Human Rights Law at the University of Essex. More emphasis here on pertinent human rights issues.
  • What’s next after the referendum, redux? (Public Law for Everyone) — Second equally snappy overview of the legal steps Britain will take, this time by Mark Elliott, Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge, Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and Legal Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution.
  • EU’s disintegration will still affect UK in spite of Brexit (The Guardian) — Cripes, did none of the UK’s Eton elites or the white nationalists think to listen to Yanis Varoufakis, former Finance Minister to Greece during Grexit? This op-ed is grim and frank — Varoufakis is plain-spoken. Reading it only makes me more certain the EU will utterly abandon comprehensive emissions controls for the region, and Volkswagen’s fraudulent passenger diesels will never leave the bloody roads.
  • Jo Cox’s death and Brexit (The New Yorker) — If aren’t already sickened by either Brexit or the murder of MP Jo Cox eight days ago, read this. Guess how her constituency voted.
  • Brexit’s future impact on British cuisine (Europa) — European cook Thom Eagle looks at the effect Brexit will have on what he does, from Spanish olive oil to French mushrooms. Hard to imagine the soft-handed elitist prats wanting to go back to Heinz canned beans on toast. Oh wait, UK doesn’t grow much of its own wheat. Beans it is…nuts, they import those from the U.S., many of them from Michigan.
  • Speaking of which, Brexit’s affect on Michigan (Detroit Free Press) — Michigan may well be one of the states Brexit affects most, given the existence of General Motors’ plants in the UK and the UK market for automobiles. UK bought more than Brazil or Germany from GM last year, but the cost to continue operations in UK…oy.

Legal and other la-la

  • SCOTUS ruling on Abigail “#BeckyWithTheBadGrades” Fisher and why it matters (The Establishment) — In SCOTUS ruling this week on Fisher v. University of Texas, UT-Austin had not only ensured true meritocracy by accepting the top 10% of students from each high school without regard for any other criteria, but they built a strong justification for selectivity of other students. Fisher, in spite of having the advantages that come from being white and adequately resourced, simply didn’t make the top 10% at her school in a year when admission was incredibly competitive, AND she brought nothing else to the school to benefit other students.
  • Split decision upholds lower court ruling reinforcing tribal sovereignty (Bitch Media) — If you commit a crime on tribal lands even if you’re not a Native American, expect an American Indian tribe to file civil suit. Simple as that. In this case, if s a child molester working for Dollar General molests a child on Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians’ tribal lands, the Choctaws can file against the perp and employer regardless of non-native status.
  • Marginalization of poor white Americans (Pacific Standard) — The U.S version of Brexit could be built on this segment of the population, which feels left out by efforts to increase equality for minorities. Point taken, but somebody’s going to have to write the bridge out of this pity party for people who constantly vote against their best interests, and discuss intersectionality in raising equality across the population.

Weekend long read
Governor Jerry Brown reviews a new book by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. My Journey at the Nuclear Brink is some eyebrow-raising stuff.

That’s a wrap on a particularly grueling week. Have a nice weekend.

Democracy Has Always Been Post-Factual

In my earlier post on Brexit, I pointed to this comment, which has gotten a lot of attention. I agree with what the comment said about swapping elites (its first point) and the impact on the young (its second). But I don’t agree with the third:

Thirdly and perhaps most significantly, we now live in a post-factual democracy. When the facts met the myths they were as useless as bullets bouncing off the bodies of aliens in a HG Wells novel.

I’m not saying that the Brexit side told the truth about the downsides of exiting. Indeed, within hours of victory, Ukip leader Nigel Farage admitted a key claim made in Brexit propaganda, that the UK would save £350 million a week that could be put into social services like the National Health Service (which got cut significantly under Cameron) was a “mistake.”

I’m not even saying that this election, in the UK, was not exception in terms of the bald propaganda unleashed. I haven’t seen that measured, but everything I’ve heard reports that it was awful.

Still, what does it mean that we live in a post-factual democracy? I thought, at first, that the US is just ahead of its cousin, in that we’ve had WMD and birther lies for over a decade. But the UK had the very same WMD lies. Indeed, both countries have proudly lied about national security secrets for decades, centuries in England.

Plus, as I thought back in US history, I couldn’t get to a time when democracy didn’t depend on some key, big lies. Remarkably, they’re still some of the very same lies mobilized in the Brexit vote. You don’t get a United States, you don’t get a British Empire, without spewing a lot of lies about the inferiority of black (brown, beige, continental) men. You don’t get America, as it currently exists, without the myth of American exceptionalism, the unique national myth that has served to root an increasingly diverse former colony. You don’t get Britain without certain beliefs, traced back to Matthew Arnold and earlier, about the enobling force of British culture.

Those myths are precisely what have driven the democracy of both countries for a long time. They were a way of imposing discipline, privilege, and selective cohesion such that less privileged members of those included in the myth would buy in and tolerate the other inequities without undue violence.

They’re really the same myths deployed by some in Brexit: the immigrants, not the austerity policies, are taking your jobs and disrupting your English way of life.

Perhaps we’re moving closer to a fact-based democracy. Access to rebut sanctioned lies is more readily accessible, though the scaffold of spying makes it harder to release, except in bulk. We’re becoming more cosmopolitan, too. At least some voted Remain for that reason — the old nationalism has been dented in the decades of a failed European experiment.

But make no mistake, the myths have always been there. We’re still trying to break free.

Brexit: Unicorn-Sniffing Naifs Deprived of Their Future

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As you surely know, Britain voted to Brexit the European Union yesterday, confounding predictions and setting off a great deal of uncertainty.

One detail people are focusing most closely on is the age differential shown in a YouGov exit poll. It showed that voters 18-24 voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. “The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries,” a widely linked FT comment laid out. “We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied.”

That Millennial sentiment, and the overwhelming support for Remain, has been celebrated as wise by the punditocracy — and it probably is.

But the same people celebrating this Millennial view — one that embraced tolerance and opportunity — often as not attacked the overwhelming support by American Millennials for Bernie Sanders. That disproportionate support, coming from a much smaller part of the electorate but by very similar margins, was deemed a naive belief in empty promises (promises, of course, that largely resembled adopting the policies that the EU used to and in some places still represents).

I suspect the reality is that, on top of a real cosmopolitanism among younger people, both votes were just a vote for perceived self-interest, no more or less wise than the votes of their older, less cosmopolitan parents.

Still, those celebrating the UK’s Millennials for their wisdom might give some consideration as to why the underlying cosmopolitanism and interest in European style social policies of the young would be the perceived self-interest of the young on both sides of the pond.