November 17, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Hungary's 'Trump before Trump' PM Orban faces US reset  (AFP, 11/17/20)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is bracing for tougher treatment from a Joe Biden-led administration in Washington after his all-in bet on a win for President Donald Trump backfired.

Orban's hardline anti-immigration policies, such as building border fences, earned him praise from the President's former advisor Steve Bannon who called him "Trump before Trump".

The only EU leader to endorse Trump's campaign during the 2016 election, Orban praised the President in 2017 for "thinking precisely as we do when he says 'America First'".

"We say the same: 'Hungary first, and then everyone else'," he said in a speech.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Small Cities Are A Big Draw For Remote Workers During The Pandemic (JON MARCUS, 11/16/20, NPR: Morning Edition)

Rising from the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, just south of the Canadian border, this distant city looks like a quaint throwback, with Victorian-era architecture, church steeples and a main shopping street laid with brick.

But over the last few years, Burlington, Vt., has become home to an invisible economy of people who work remotely for the world's most cutting-edge technology businesses -- and the pandemic has only increased the number decamping to this bucolic enclave.

Exactly how many Burlington residents work remotely for companies such as Apple, Google, Twitter and IBM "is hard to gauge because we all are sort of like hermit crabs in our own little shells and under our own little rocks," said Tyler Littwin, art director at the marketing software developer HubSpot. Littwin moved to Vermont from HubSpot's headquarters outside Boston and started telecommuting in 2013.

But there are so many, locals have a name for them. They call them "the remotes."

"Pre-pandemic, on a weekly basis, I'd be talking to somebody at a coffee shop and find out that somebody's husband or wife was also a remote worker," Littwin said.

Since COVID-19 has allowed people to work hundreds or thousands of miles from their company's office, this trend appears to be speeding up dramatically. More young, well-paid and well-educated people are relocating permanently from big metro areas such as Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and New York to small cities such as Burlington, which has a population just under 43,000.

It's a shift that could revitalize these places, change the way many Americans choose where to live and widen the supply of workers for employers struggling to fill jobs in high-demand fields, even during a recession, according to policymakers and economists.

"What COVID has allowed is this whole awakening to remote work," said David Bradbury, president of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Fewer Americans Call for Tougher Criminal Justice System (MEGAN BRENAN, 11/16/20, Gallup)

Americans' belief that the U.S. criminal justice system is "not tough enough" on crime is now half of what it was in Gallup's initial reading of 83% in 1992. The latest measure, at 41%, is the lowest on record and down slightly from the previous reading in 2016 -- although it remains the view of the plurality. At the same time, there has been a seven-percentage-point uptick among those who say the system is "too tough" (21%) and no change among those who think it is "about right" (35%).

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Bosch Is What L.A. NeededA police drama that makes Amazon look good as well. (BRADLEY ANDERSON, November 17, 2020, American Spectator)

Even that name, Hieronymus Bosch, lends an antique tint. Like his Flemish painter namesake, he sees a complex and dangerous world that others don't. Harry Bosch tries to make his peace with the world everyone else sees: working at quitting smoking, listening to his daughter's recommended playlists, and dutifully learning to cope with computerized police-work, even though his heart manifestly isn't in any of it.

Welliver's portrayal of Bosch conveys an understanding that some degree of brokenness is the lot of those who live by an old code in a new world. Over the course of the series, we encounter the detritus of a life lived in single-minded obsession. The first season in particular explores the moral choices that meant the difference between an orphan like Bosch growing up to become a detective obsessed with obtaining justice for murdered victims rather than one of the predators he hunts.

Bosch is an old soul surrounded by a changed Los Angeles, and his every misstep is hounded by Internal Affairs apparatchiks, by reporters rushing half-examined stories online in the hunt for clicks, and by opportunistic lawyers looking to sue the city for alleged police misconduct. Bosch survives, and even thrives in his own way, by doing things the old-fashioned way -- paying attention to details like the scent of gunpowder on the hands of a corpse or noticing a photo that should be there but isn't.

The series gives an obligatory nod to gritty NCIS-style forensic procedurals and gruesome smut in the first season. But as Bosch's character unfolds through story arcs that stretch across multiple seasons, one increasingly sees a version of the Father Brown quality that G. K. Chesterton built into his own corpus of detective stories. Like Father Brown, Bosch's most important tools are moral. The probable identity of a killer is derived from the investigator's ability to discern the moral character of possible suspects, comparing those observations with the crime committed. Sometimes this intuition leads to nailing a slippery suspect, and at other times it means that Bosch refuses to accept too readily even seemingly damning evidence or a plausible confession when it doesn't line up with his moral intuition.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Counted out: Trump's desperate fight to stop the minority voteHow Republicans applied old school racism to new demographics, and lost (Gary Younge, 17 Nov 2020, The Guardian)

Shortly after he won in 2016, the then president-elect thanked African Americans - for not voting in large numbers. "The African American community was great to us," he told a crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "They came through, big league. Big league. And frankly, if they had any doubt, they didn't vote, and that was almost as good, because a lot of people didn't show up, because they felt good about me."

This time around, Trump was not so smug. By the morning after the election, it became clear that the presidency would be decided by the votes still being counted in big cities in key states: Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Phoenix and Las Vegas. White people are a minority in all of them. In Atlanta and Detroit, African Americans are a majority; in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, they outnumber white people.

State troopers beat civil rights protesters in Selma, Alabama on 7 March 1965.
 State troopers beat civil rights protesters in Selma, Alabama on 7 March 1965. Photograph: Unknown/AP
According to Trump, these votes were illegitimate by dint of where they were cast. "Detroit and Philadelphia are known as two of the most corrupt political places anywhere in our country - easily," he said. "They cannot be responsible for engineering the outcome of a presidential race."

This was a new twist in the racial logic of the American right, which has gone from blocking Black people from voting to allowing them to vote as long as their votes don't all get counted.

It is important to remember that the US was a slave state for more than 200 years - and an apartheid state, after the abolition of slavery, for another century. Throughout that time, in certain parts of the country, all Black votes were, by definition, illegal, and conservatives worked hard to keep it that way. It has only been a nonracial democracy for 55 years. And that short reign now hangs in the balance.

In 2013, just a year after turnout rates for Black voters surpassed that for white voters for the first time, the supreme court gutted the Voting Rights Act, which provided some legal protections for Black voters in places where they had once been excluded.

Lewis's home state of Georgia soon got to work thwarting the Black vote with weapons more subtle than teargas and billy clubs. The state cut the number of polling stations by almost 10%, purged tens of thousands of voters from the rolls simply because they had not voted for a while, and suspended the registrations of another 50,000 people - mostly Black - for discrepancies as minor as omitting a hyphen in their name. Those long lines we witnessed around the election were not simply voter enthusiasm - they were also voter suppression.

The trouble is that as white people become a minority in the US, efforts to disfranchise non-white voters necessarily become ever more crude and ever more desperate, but cannot be guaranteed to produce results. The sums just don't add up. The group sought for exclusion is growing at a faster rate than can plausibly be excluded.