May 23, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 4:30 PM


Donald Trump's Legal Team Is in Utter Turmoil (ROBERT KATZBERG, MAY 23, 2023, Slate)

Parlatore's departure follows that of Evan Corcoran, a Trump lawyer who resigned from the Mar-a-Lago investigation after being compelled to testify in the grand jury against his client in the classified documents matter. Despite resigning from the Mar-a-Lago investigation, Corcoran will remain counsel to the former president in other investigations. While Parlatore was also compelled to testify in the grand jury, he apparently saw no ethical or practical bar to his continuing to work for Trump until Epshteyn annoyed him sufficiently to trigger his exit. Both Parlatore and Corcoran have it wrong.

As a white-collar criminal defense attorney for four decades, I cannot fathom how any attorney who has testified in a grand jury investigation of a client can remain that client's lawyer. Justice Department attorneys did not subpoena Parlatore and Corcoran after randomly pulling their names from the phone book. They were subpoenaed because the DOJ must have had substantial evidence involving them in the criminal conduct of their client. Otherwise there would be no way to successfully litigate the matter over many months to break the attorney-client privilege under the "crime fraud" exception. 

Gonna need a bigger cell...

Posted by orrinj at 4:19 PM


Joe Biden and Walter Russell Mead Deserve an "F" on India (SALIL TRIPATHI, MAY 23, 2023, The UnPopulist)

Mead betrays no hint that he is aware that as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, Modi presided over one of the worst episodes of anti-Muslim bloodletting since India's independence. Hindu militants--some tied to the BJP--massacred thousands of Muslims in a few days. Muslim women were beaten, gang raped and murdered. One survivor is Bilkis Bano, a pregnant woman whose toddler's head was bashed in front of her before she was raped by 11 neighbors and left for dead. After 17 long years, her tormentors were finally convicted--only to be released last year by the Gujarat government, which Modi or his party have ruled uninterrupted for just over a quarter century, due to "good behavior" in prison. Worse, Gujarat did so after obtaining a green light from Amit Shah, Modi's Home Minister and right-hand man. When the rapists got out, BJP leaders and activists greeted them with garlands. A BBC documentary earlier this year examining Modi's role in the Gujarat pogrom was effectively banned from the country. (To their credit, some Australian politicians and human rights activists have arranged to screen that documentary in the Australian parliament during Modi's visit.)

During Modi's first term from 2015 to 2018, Human Rights Watch found that Hindu "cow protection" vigilantes lynched 44 people--36 of whom were Muslim.

The BJP is targeting Muslims not just with violence but also abusive laws. Modi's notorious Citizenship Amendment Act, which has generated massive protests around the country, could potentially strip millions of Muslims of their citizenship unless they meet complicated conditions to prove they are Indians. Mosques that have allegedly breached municipal laws are being razed, and Muslims are increasingly facing restrictions over praying in public. Muslim girls and women are not allowed to wear the headscarf in academic institutions in one state. Muslim tenants are increasingly finding it hard to get rental property and many Muslims find their job applications go unanswered.

BJP activists take every opportunity to vilify Muslims. When the pandemic took off in India, they blamed Tablighi Muslims, who had gathered for a religious event, as super spreaders while initially ignoring large electoral rallies that Modi was addressing; the rallies were later canceled. Modi has repeatedly dog-whistled that you can tell who is violent by how they dress--a not-so-subtle effort to demonize observant Muslims. It is not surprising then that the BJP no longer has a single Muslim member of parliament even though nearly 14% of India's population is Muslim, not even a token one as had been the case in the previous BJP government.

But except for gesturing against BJP's efforts to pass anti-conversion laws, Mead maintains a stoic silence about the BJP's concerted and in-your-face, anti-Muslim crusade. Not even the BJP's efforts to make inter-faith marriages exceedingly hard to solve the entirely imaginary problem of "love jihad"--Muslim men seducing Hindu girls into marrying them--gets a mention.

An apartheid India can not be a US ally. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Why Inflation Erupted: Two Top Economists Have the Answer: Former Fed chair, IMF chief economist say it wasn't pandemic or stimulus; it was the pandemic, then the stimulus (Greg Ip, May 23, 2023 WSJ)

Inflation did shoot up, hitting 7% that December, 5.5% excluding food and energy. "The critics' forecasts of higher inflation would prove to be correct--indeed, even too optimistic--but, in substantial part, the sources of the inflation would prove to be different from those they warned about," Blanchard, one of those critics, and Bernanke write in their study.

To tease out the sources of inflation, Bernanke and Blanchard build a relatively conventional model in which inflation is a function of, among other things, the gap between the supply and demand for labor, the public's expectations of inflation, and idiosyncratic shocks. They include a variable for supply-chain disruptions derived from Google searches for "shortage."

Usually economists judge labor market tightness from how far unemployment is above or below its natural rate. But this time the labor market heated up before unemployment got that low. So instead, Bernanke and Blanchard use the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed workers. Finally, their model lets all these factors interact, with varying lags.

If stimulus caused the initial surge in inflation, it should have shown up in an overheated labor market, i.e., an unusually high ratio of vacancies to unemployed. In fact, labor market conditions put downward pressure on inflation through the third quarter of 2021, the authors concluded. Instead, the inflation that year was driven almost entirely by shortages and energy prices.

Demand shifted abruptly from services to goods in the early months of the pandemic. The overall effect should have been a wash as prices rose for goods and fell for services. It wasn't, because goods producers faced supply constraints, which caused costs and prices to spike, while costs to service producers didn't decline much. "These sectoral mismatches between demand and supply proved more intractable and longer-lasting than many had expected," the authors note.

These supply effects did eventually subside. Why didn't inflation then fall? The reason, the authors conclude, is that by this point demand was so strong, reflecting the legacy of low interest rates and fiscal largess, the labor market was significantly overheated with the ratio of vacancies to unemployed up dramatically. Moreover, the initial surge of inflation had an echo: It lifted workers' expectations of short-term inflation, which then partly found its way into their wages.

If anything, the study might understate the effect of pandemic disruptions. The labor market didn't just overheat because of excess demand, but reduced supply, as well. The rising ratio of vacancies to unemployed, which the model equates with a tighter labor market, reflects employers struggling to fill vacancies. The authors note much of that struggle was because of the pandemic: Firms that had laid off employees had to find new ones, while some workers left the labor force because of family obligations, illness or work-life balance priorities.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Massive Sails Power Ships Like Never Before (JACOPO PRISCO, May 23, 2023, Wired)

The Oceanbird Wing 560 isn't a wing, but it isn't a sail either. When it's first assembled a few months from now in a shipyard just north of Malmö, Sweden, it'll be 40 meters high with a 560-square-meter surface and will weigh around 200 metric tons. Its creators call it a wingsail, and they think it's the future of sea travel.

"It's more like an airplane wing that you put on top of a ship rather than a normal sail, that's why we call it a wingsail," says Niclas Dhal, managing director of Oceanbird.

The wingsail consists of two parts: a rigid main core and a flap that draws air onto the core in a system inspired by high-performance racing yachts, which can travel faster than the speed of the wind. The core is made of steel, surrounded by glass fiber and recycled PET, and the whole thing can contract to less than half of its total length and tilt down to lie flat over the deck. This summer, its prototype will be tested on land, and next year it will be fitted to a 14-year-old cargo ship, the car carrier Wallenius Tirranna.

Making the sail work on a vessel that's already in service is critical for a company that wants to help decarbonize the shipping industry, which is responsible for just under 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Building more fuel-efficient ships is the long-term mission, Dhal says, "but if you really want to change the world, you need to address all the existing vessels."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Chinese citizens sue Florida over law barring them from owning houses (ANDRES PICON, 05/22/2023, Politico)

The plaintiffs allege that the law, SB 264, is discriminatory and that it stokes racial biases against Chinese Americans and undermines their financial freedom. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law and it is set to go into effect on July 1.

It's a proud racist tradition

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Republican witness faces questions over whether he lied under oath to key panel (David Smith, 22 May 2023, The Guardian)

At one point, O'Boyle was asked by Democrat Dan Goldman whether Kash Patel, who held multiple roles in the Trump administration, is helping finance O'Boyle's legal counsel. The witness replied: "Not that I'm aware of."

The answer has raised eyebrows because, during a previous interview with the House of Representatives' weaponisation subcommittee in February, O'Boyle disclosed that his legal fees are being paid by a nonprofit organisation called Fight With Kash, also known as the Kash Foundation and run by Kash Patel.

Furthermore, a Democratic staff report published in March notes that Patel arranged for Jesse Binnall, who served as Trump's top "election fraud" lawyer in 2020, to serve as counsel for O'Boyle. Binnall sits on the Kash Foundation's board of directors and has acknowledged working on past lawsuits funded by the foundation.

In light of these details, Democrats are concerned that O'Boyle was not fully truthful before the committee chaired by Republican Jim Jordan, a staunch Trump backer. Lying to Congress carries a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment.

On the other hand, at least they could find this "whistleblower" so he could lie to Congress.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The future of Dutch aerospace? Meet Fokker Next Gen's hydrogen plane (Next Web,  May 23, 2023)

With €25 million in funding from the Dutch government, and an additional EU Clean Aviation grant of undisclosed amount, Fokker is aiming at a 2035 entry into service of a clean-sheet aircraft design operating on liquid hydrogen. The plane's intended range is 2,500 km, meaning it could fly across Europe from London to Kyiv - without generating any CO₂ emissions.