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December 23 2019

Memorize These 5 Ridiculously Simple 3-Ingredient Pitcher Cocktails
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How To Make the Best Moscow Mules at Home
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mr-absentia

December 21 2019

mr-absentia

Angel Fox Media: Doctors Blocked From Observing Assange’s Health Condition in Court Yesterday

The U.S. and U.K. have obviously venomously plotted out their strategy to destroy this truth teller out of vengeance for their crimes being exposed. Anyone who has a bit of morality can see how unfair this is. How can one man get justice from 2 of the biggest super powers in the world? He can’t. Only the People rising up and demanding justice for this hero can get results.

mr-absentia

Common Dreams News: 100+ Doctors Demand Julian Assange Receive Safe Passage to Australian Hospital 'Before It Is Too Late'

The Australian government has shamefully been complicit by its refusal to act, over many years. Should Mr. Assange die in a British prison, people will want to know what you, Minister, did to prevent his death.

mr-absentia

U.S. Lobbyists Prepare to Seize “Historic Opportunity” in Tory-Led Brexit to Shred Consumer Safeguards, Raise Drug Prices

«The original Brexit referendum that passed in June 2016 pitted populists against the establishment, with banks funneling huge amounts of money to oppose the referendum, which was cast as a measure to return taxes and power to local British citizens, while restoring the sovereignty of the U.K.’s borders against what was cast as unfair trade and uncontrolled migration.

But the politics of the deal have shifted over time, with hard-liners gaining power within Tory leadership and demanding a radical break from the EU. Corporate lobbyists now see an opportunity to use Johnson’s proposed swift exit from the EU as a way to forge bilateral trade deals, including one between the U.S. and the U.K, that would outsource local authority to rules set by an array of international business interests. A wide range of industries are primed to take advantage of the deal to evade EU consumer safeguards and drug pricing rules. Representatives from American pork to Silicon Valley and everything in between are trying to influence the negotiations.

Departing the EU could mean that British consumers would no longer be protected by broad EU-wide regulations on chemicals, food, and cosmetics, among other products. Several international corporate groups have pushed to ensure that in the event of Brexit, such safeguards are abandoned in exchange for a regulatory standard that conforms to the norms of the U.S.

Consultants working directly on the Brexit deal in London and in Washington, D.C., have asked to limit the ability of British regulators to set the price for pharmaceutical drugs, lift safety restrictions on pesticides and agricultural products, and constrain the ability for the U.K. to enact its own data privacy laws.

In January, a lengthy hearing hosted by trade officials from both countries provided a forum in D.C. for industry to lay out its agenda on what should happen after Brexit. Before the hearing, two major industry groups sent letters outlining their agendas for the Brexit negotiations in 2019.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the lobby group that represents the largest drugmakers in the world, insisted that any U.S.-U.K. deal “must recognize that prices of medicines should be based on a variety of value criteria.” PhRMA called for changes in the way the U.K.’s National Health Service sets price controls through comparative effectiveness research, an effort to control the costs of drugs using clinical research.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a lobby group for the biopharmaceutical industry, made similar demands in a letter to trade officials for the U.K., calling to do more in “shouldering a fair share of the costs of innovation.” BIO suggests that in order to ensure fair treatment for drugmakers, companies should have the right to petition an “independent body” to overrule decisions made by the NHS.

At the hearing, Craig Thorn, a lobbyist representing the U.S.’s National Pork Producers Council, told the Trump administration that the proposed U.S.-U.K. deal present a “historic opportunity,” citing his client’s desire to continue trade with the U.K. by evading EU restrictions on certain feed additives and antibiotics used widely on American pork. Similarly, Floyd Gaibler, a representative of the U.S. Grains Council, said that the deal provides a window for American agriculture to avoid the EU restrictions on pesticides that have been or will soon be banned.

Silicon Valley, similarly, views Brexit as a chance to bypass EU-wide limits on data collection, or even new U.K.-based rules. Several technology lobbyists have pushed to provide trade provisions between the U.S. and U.K. that outlaw so-called data localization requirements. Some regulators have looked at the need for technology firms to store consumer data in local servers, to ensure that it is not resold or abused in any way.

Other corporate demands by U.S.-based groups are spelled out in a series of requests and testimony made by lobbyists before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the federal agency entrusted with negotiating trade deals. Federal lobbying disclosures show a number of interests, including Cargill, IBM, Koch Industries, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers AssociationFord Motor Company, the National Association of Manufacturers, and Salesforce, have lobbied on the potential U.K. deal in recent months.»

December 19 2019

Coffee Crème Brûlée

This coffee crème brûlée from David Lebovitz comes together almost effortlessly from coffee, cream, sugar, eggs, and liqueur in the traditional Paris way, which is to say, it leans toward more caramel and less cream. What results is reminiscent of Vietnamese coffee in the best possible way.

A shallow white dish filled with coffee creme brulee, with a spoon resting inside.

Adapted from David Lebovitz | My Paris Kitchen | Ten Speed Press, 2014

It took a move to France to rekindle my love for crème brûlée, in...

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Root Beer-Glazed Ham

This root beer-glazed ham is made with a glaze of root beer, ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard for an easy yet impressive main course. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

A barq's root beer-glazed ham on a wooden cutting board with a fork and knife resting beside it.

Adapted from Martha Hall Foose | Screen Doors and Sweet Tea | Clarkson Potter, 2008

Root beer-glazed ham. No, it’s not a carryover from your childhood. It’s a perfectly brilliant recipe in its own right given how, as author Martha Hall Foose...

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December 17 2019

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leitesculinaria.com: Leg of Lamb with Moroccan Spices

«This leg of lamb recipe can be your savior on those evenings when you’ve got a bunch of strangers around the table and the mood feels as lighthearted as a dentist’s waiting room. Serve up the dish Moroccan style, with its bowls of table herbs and spices, and a plate of lettuce leaves. The idea is that everyone has permission to eat with their fingers and try the lamb with different combinations of spices, fresh herbs, pan sauce, and even honey all rolled up in the lettuce. Conversations can’t help but take off.

Start the leg of lamb a day before by marinating it. Start the oven the day of about 2 1/2 hours before you want to sit down to dinner, as the lamb takes a total of 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook and needs to rest before serving.»

27 Winter Solstice Recipes

27 winter solstice recipes

SLIDESHOW: Comforting recipes to see you through the longest, darkest night of the year this coming weekend.

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Reposted fromsigalongastronomy sigalongastronomy

Kung Pao Chicken With Peanuts

This Kung Pao chicken is an easy, authentic Chinese dish made with crispy chicken breast, peanuts, and chiles in a sauce of everyday ingredients including soy sauce, black vinegar, and sesame oil.

A wok filled with kung pao chicken with two chopsticks on the edge

Adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop | Land of Plenty | W. W. Norton & Company, 2003

Kung Pao chicken, for those who’ve only ever seen it on Chinese menus and not ordered it, consists of a lightly sweet-and-sour sauce infused with the complexity...

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70 Easy and Impressive Side Dishes for Your Holiday Dinner
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The Best Vacuum Sealer for the Kitchen, According to the Best Experts
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December 16 2019

U.S. Lobbyists Prepare to Seize “Historic Opportunity” in Tory-Led Brexit to Shred Consumer…

U.S. Lobbyists Prepare to Seize “Historic Opportunity” in Tory-Led Brexit to Shred Consumer Safeguards, Raise Drug Prices
https://theintercept.com/2019/12/09/brexit-american-trade-deal-boris-johnson

Boris Johnson’s election on December 12 hinges on the British prime minister’s promise to leave the European Union. Johnson has remade the Conservative Party, pushing out longtime party members wary of a firm break from the EU, to cast the election as a chance to build a parliamentary majority focused on finalizing Brexit. The original Brexit referendum that passed in June 2016 pitted populists against the establishment, with banks funneling huge amounts of money to oppose the referendum, (...)

#MPAA #Ford #Salesforce.com #élections #législation #bénéfices #BigData #BigPharma #consommation #data #lobbying #santé (...)

##santé ##BiotechnologyInnovationOrganization-BIO

https://theintercept.imgix.net/wp-uploads/sites/1/2019/12/boris-illustration-1575673737.jpg
Reposted fromcheg00 cheg00 via02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

The Failure of the Left to Grasp Brexit

Thursday’s General Election was a bad day for the Labour Party, it spelled the end of Remainism and signalled a historic defeat for the Left. There needs to be serious reflection on all of this because the repercussions are severe and wide-ranging, and broader lessons must be learned, not just for the UK but elsewhere. It turned out, contrary to much expert assessment, that the 2016 referendum was, in fact, binding. The failure of the Left to grasp this, or to take seriously the underlying disconnect it signified.

Two initial responses have been predominant, some blaming Corbyn’s leadership, others focusing on Brexit itself. The truth is that both are to blame – they cannot be disaggregated, since Corbyn ultimately has to take responsibility for capitulating to the promise of a second referendum. If any further evidence were needed in Labour heartlands that its leadership represented just another version of a metropolitan elite that has become so utterly distrusted, this was it. John Macdonell’s rapprochement with New Labour’s Alistair Campbell and his explicit embrace of Remain was a moment that will live long in the memory.

The disconnect between the Labour Party and working class voters of course reflects a decline taking place not over months, or years, but decades. It has no easy fix. But the irony is that within the Labour Party, Corbyn was almost uniquely placed to put his weight behind a ‘Lexit’ agenda, his life-long Euro-scepticism giving him a credibility that was simply never utilised, undermined when he decided to campaign for Remain in 2016 and effectively abandoned through further concessions to the Remainers both inside and outside the Party. The tragedy, in short, is that Corbyn, and many of those around him, have gone down fighting for a cause they didn’t believe in. 

The result was clearly bad for the Labour Party, which, after doing unexpectedly well in 2017, attaining 40% of the electorate on a socialist platform and with the promise to respect the outcome of the referendum, fell to around 32% of the vote, with a similar programme but revoking its Brexit promise. Although the scale of defeat has been grossly exaggerated (Labour got more votes than under Miliband in 2015, Brown in 2010 and Blair in 2005), it can only be described as a failure. If this spells the official end of Corbyn, in truth, ‘Corbynism’ was already over once Labour capitulated to its Remain wing on Brexit, effectively giving Labour Leave voters little option but to defect to the Tories or the Brexit Party or to simply abstain. In the end, Labour lost a quarter of its Leave voters to Conservatives and 52 out of the 54 seats it lost in England were in leave-voting constituencies. 

The concessions to Remain were presumably made in part due to internal pressures and in part on the basis of some electoral calculation, the fear of losing votes to the LibDems eclipsing concern over defection to the Tories or the Brexit Party. The apparent preponderance of Remainers amongst Corbynistas themselves, along with the influence of groups such as Another Europe is Possible, meant Corbyn essentially fighting with one hand tied behind his back. From this angle, Corbyn’s position might have been justified as an attempt to perform an increasingly precarious balancing act. 

But a balancing act was not what was required. The scales had already been weighed; Remain had lost in 2016. This is such a simple point it seems extraordinary that it could have been lost from sight. No doubt, the fear of losing seats to the LibDems was real. But the real shock from this election is the complete failure of Remain as an electoral strategy, not only for Labour but for LibDems, which had turned itself into a single issue stop Brexit party but reaped scant reward. 

If the decisive victory of Johnson spells the end of Remainism, it does not, however, present an obvious path forward. Johnson’s victory was not based on a surge of enthusiasm, the Tories achieving only one percentage point more than under Teresa May. The apparent success of Johnson’s slogan of ‘Get Brexit Done’ is matched only by its emptiness. It is unclear that Johnson’s Tories has a plan of any political substance, which is not to doubt the substantial damage they may do. And if the path to leaving the EU is now open as a matter of Parliamentary arithmetic, obstacles lie ahead, not least the issue of Scottish Independence. 

The historic defeat of the Left is a more difficult proposition to outline because it requires a deeper excavation of the underlying materials. The first and most straightforward point is that there was a near-total failure of leadership on the Left either to prepare for Brexit, or less excusably, after the referendum, to take advantage of the opportunity that it provided. By 2019, a Left programme that took exit seriously had three years to mature – not on a speculative terrain, but on a terrain primed by the electorate against political and economic elites, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a rupture from the status quo. The failure is all the more extraordinary given that over the last decade since the financial crisis, across Europe, and further afield, the conjuncture has delivered up the slow-motion collapse of social democratic parties attached to EU-style centrism. It is astonishing that the same Left that witnessed the total capitulation and then defeat of Syriza could, with some notable exceptions, have evaded this historic task. 

The Labour Party has avoided Pasokification, no doubt partly due to the UK’s electoral system, but also due to the robust social movements that have grown inside it. But there is the temptation now by some on the Left to double down on the disconnect from working class communities, dismissing the electorate as ignorant, stupid or simply racist. Apart from the folly of that position in terms of constructing a viable opposition moving forward, it overlooks the fact that this dismissal had already occurred, sealed with the promise of a second referendum, writing off half the electorate at a stroke – and possibly many more when adding in Remain voters who think the outcome of the first should have been respected. 

There is a counter-argument, which points out that class is now more complex, and that a Lexit position would alienate a new core of the young, urban, cosmopolitan Labour support. There are a number of problems with this argument, even assuming it is based on accurate assumptions. Most concrete is the electoral arithmetic, which suggests that a position to respect the referendum could have cost some seats to the LibDems, but would have saved far more from the Tories. More fundamentally, this appeal to identity politics is a dead-end for the Left, not least with the problematic conflation of a Remain identity, however real that may be, with a simplistic desire to overturn a referendum. Most basic of all, however, is that Remaining in the EU should be understood for what it is – remaining in a neoliberal straightjacket, a regressive polity that not only suffers from all the defects of its various Member States but aggravates them through structural democratic deficits.

The condensed diagnosis of this conjuncture is that Labour appear to have forgotten the democratic part of democratic socialism. Not only in the trivial sense, of failing to respect a democratic mandate. But in the more complex sense of assuming that the electorate, and particularly its working class constituency, understood in all its complexity, could simply be bought off by a top-down socialism rather than advancing through their own political empowerment. 

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mr-absentia

The Scottish Parliament Does Have the Right to Withdraw from the Act of Union - Craig Murray

17 Dec, 2018

«English MPs or English ministers in their London Parliament can, at any time, impose any legislation they choose on Scotland, overriding Scotland’s parliament and Scotland’s representation in the London parliament. Yet, under the English Votes for English Laws rules of the London Parliament introduced by the Tories in 2015, Scottish MPs cannot vote at all on matters solely affecting England.

That is plainly a situation of colonial subservience.

I am firmly of the view that the Scottish government should now move to withdraw from the Treaty of Union. Scotland’s right to self determination is inalienable. It cannot be signed away forever or restricted by past decisions.

The Independence of a country is not a matter of domestic law it is a matter of international law. The right of the Scottish Parliament to declare Independence may not be restricted by UK domestic law or by purported limitations on the powers of the Scottish Parliament.»

«I have continually explained on this site that the legality of a Declaration of Independence is in no sense determined by the law of the metropolitan state, but is purely a matter of recognition by other countries and thus acceptance into the United Nations. The UK Government set this out plainly in response to a question from a judge in the Kosovo case:

2. As the United Kingdom stated in oral argument, international law contains no prohibition against declarations of independence as such. 1 Whether a declaration of independence leads to the creation of a new State by separation or secession depends not on the fact of the declaration but on subsequent developments, notably recognition by other States. As a general matter, an act not prohibited by international law needs no authorization. This position holds with respect to States. It holds also with respect to acts of individuals or groups, for international law prohibits conduct of non-State entities only exceptionally and where expressly indicated.

As I have stressed, the SNP should now be making a massive effort to prepare other countries, especially in the EU and in the developing world, to recognise Scotland when the moment comes. There is no task more important. There is a worrying lack of activity in this area. It may currently not be possible to spend government money on sending out envoys for this task, but if personal envoys were endorsed by the First Minister they would get access and could easily be crowd funded by the Independence Movement. I am one of a number of former senior British diplomats who would happily undertake this work without pay. We should be lobbying not just the EU but every country in Africa, Asia and South America.»

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Resolution - Craig Murray

«The disillusionment will be on the same scale as Johnson’s bombastic promises. The Establishment are not stupid and realise there will be an anti-Tory reaction. Their major effort will therefore be to change Labour back into a party supporting neo-liberal economic policy and neo-conservative foreign (or rather war) policy. They will want to be quite certain that, having seen off the Labour Party’s popular European style social democratic programme with Brexit anti-immigrant fervour, the electorate have no effective non-right wing choice at the next election, just like in the Blair years.

To that end, every Blairite horror has been resurrected already by the BBC to tell us that the Labour Party must now move right – McNicol, McTernan, Campbell, Hazarayika and many more, not to mention the platforms given to Caroline Flint, Ruth Smeeth and John Mann. The most important immediate fight for radicals in England is to maintain Labour as a mainstream European social democratic party and resist its reversion to a Clinton style right wing ultra capitalist party. Whether that is possible depends how many of the Momentum generation lose heart and quit.

Northern Ireland is perhaps the most important story of this election, with a seismic shift in a net gain of two seats in Belfast from the Unionists, plus the replacement of a unionist independent by the Alliance Party. Irish reunification is now very much on the agenda. The largesse to the DUP will be cut off now Boris does not need them.

For me personally, Scotland is the most important development of all. A stunning result for the SNP. The SNP result gave them a bigger voter share in Scotland than the Tories got in the UK. So if Johnson got a “stonking mandate for Brexit”, as he just claimed in his private school idiom, the SNP got a “stonking mandate” for Independence.

I hope the SNP learnt the lesson that by being much more upfront about Independence than in the disastrous “don’t mention Independence” election of 2017, the SNP got spectacularly better results.»

December 11 2019

Genetic Genealogy Company GEDmatch Acquired by Company With Ties to FBI & Law Enforcement—Why You Should Be Worried

This week, GEDmatch, a genetic genealogy company that gained notoriety for giving law enforcement access to its customers’ DNA data, quietly informed its users it is now operated by Verogen, Inc., a company expressly formed two years ago to market “next-generation [DNA] sequencing” technology to crime labs.  

What this means for GEDmatch’s 1.3 million users—and for the 60% of white Americans who share DNA with those users—remains to be seen. 

GEDmatch allows users to upload an electronic file containing their raw genotyped DNA data so that they can compare it to other users’ data to find biological family relationships. It estimates how close or distant those relationships may be (e.g., a direct connection, like a parent, or a distant connection, like a third cousin), and it enables users to determine where, along each chromosome, their DNA may be similar to another user. It also predicts characteristics like ethnicity. 

An estimated 30 million people have used genetic genealogy databases like GEDmatch to identify biological relatives and build a family tree, and law enforcement officers have been capitalizing on all that freely available data in criminal investigations. Estimates are that genetic genealogy sites were used in around 200 cases just last year. For many of those cases, officers never sought a warrant or any legal process at all. 

Earlier this year, after public outcry, GEDmatch changed its previous position allowing for warrantless law enforcement searches, opted out all its users from those searches, and required all users to expressly opt in if they wanted to allow access to their genetic data. Only a small percentage did. But opting out has not prevented law enforcement from accessing consumers’ genetic data, as long as they can get a warrant, which one Orlando, Florida officer did last summer.  

Law enforcement has argued that people using genetic genealogy services have no expectation of privacy in their genetic data because users have willingly shared their data with the genetics company and with other users and have “consented” to a company’s terms of service. But the Supreme Court rejected a similar argument in Carpenter v. United States. 

In Carpenter, the Court ruled that even though our cell phone location data is shared with or stored by a phone company, we still have a reasonable expectation of privacy in it because of all the sensitive and private information it can reveal about our lives. Similarly, genetic data can reveal a whole host of extremely private and sensitive information about people, from their likelihood to inherit specific diseases to where their ancestors are from to whether they have a sister or brother they never knew about. Researchers have even theorized at one time or another that DNA may predict race, intelligence, criminality, sexual orientation, and political ideology. Even if later disproved, officials may rely on outdated research like this to make judgements about and discriminate against people. Because genetic data is so sensitive, we have an expectation of privacy in it, even if other people can access it.

However, whether individual users of genetic genealogy databases have consented to law enforcement searches is somewhat beside the point. In all cases that we know of so far, law enforcement isn’t looking for the person who uploaded their DNA to a consumer site, they are looking for that person’s distant relatives—people who never could have consented to this kind of use of their genetic data because they don’t have any control over the DNA they happen to share with the site’s users.  

We need to think long and hard as a society about whether law enforcement should be allowed to access genetic genealogy databases at all—even with a warrant.


These are also dragnet searches, conducted under “general warrants,” and no different from officers searching every house in a town with a population of 1.3 million on the off chance that one of those houses could contain evidence useful to finding the perpetrator of a crime. With or without a warrant, the Fourth Amendment prohibits searches like this in the physical world, and it should prohibit genetic dragnets like this one as well.  That means these searches are nothing more than fishing expeditions through millions of innocent people’s DNA. They are not targeted at finding specific users or based on individualized suspicion—a fact the police admit because they don’t know who their suspect is. They are supported only by the hope that a crime scene sample might somehow be genetically linked to DNA submitted to a genetic genealogy database by a distant relative, which might give officers a lead in a case. There's a real question whether a warrant that allows this kind of search could ever meet the particularity requirements of the Fourth Amendment. 

We need to think long and hard as a society about whether law enforcement should be allowed to access genetic genealogy databases at all—even with a warrant. These searches impact millions of Americans. Although GEDmatch likely only encompasses about 0.5% of the U.S. adult population, research shows 60% of white Americans can already be identified from its 1.3 million users. This same research shows that once GEDmatch’s users encompass just 2% of the U.S. population, 90% of white Americans will be identifiable.

Although many authorities once argued these kinds of searches would only be used as a way to solve cold cases involving the most terrible and serious crimes, that is changing; this year, police used genetic genealogy to implicate a teenager for a sexual assault. Next year it could be used to identify political or environmental protestors. Unlike established criminal DNA databases like the FBI’s CODIS database, there are currently few rules governing how and when genetic genealogy searching may be used.

We should worry about these searches for another reason: they can implicate people for crimes they didn’t commit. Although police used genetic searching to finally identify the man they believe is the “Golden State Killer,” an earlier search in the same case identified a different person. In 2015, a similar search in a different case led police to suspect an innocent man. Even without genetic genealogy searches, DNA matches may lead officers to suspect—and jail—the wrong person, as happened in a California case in 2012. That can happen because we shed DNA constantly and because our DNA may be transferred from one location to another, possibly ending up at the scene of a crime, even if we were never there. 

All of this is made even more concerning by the recent acquisition of GEDmatch by a company whose main purpose is to help the police solve crimes. The ability to research family history and disease risk shouldn’t carry the threat that our data will be accessible to police or others and used in ways we never could have foreseen. Genetic genealogy searches by law enforcement invade our privacy in unique ways—they allow law enforcement to access information about us that we may not even know ourselves, that we have no ability to hide, and that could reveal more about us in the future than scientists know now. These searches should never be allowed—even with a warrant.

Related Cases:  Maryland v. King Carpenter v. United States
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