They Said That? 7/15/18

Unbelievable geographical ignorance, from a Jimmy Kimmel video:


‘Free Speech Is Dead’ – Police in Khan’s London BAN Pro-Trump Rally at U.S. Embassy, by Jack Montgomery

When only one side is allowed to assemble and make its views known, it cannot be said that a nation has freedom of assembly or speech. From Jack Montgomery at


Police in Sadiq Khan’s London have used the Public Order Act to prevent a rally in support of U.S. President Donald Trump outside the American embassy, despite permitting a large, ill-tempered anti-Trump rally on Friday.

Protestors attending the ‘Welcome Trump’ event had planned to gather outside the embassy and march from there to Whitehall, where they would have joined in with a separate ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ event in support of the activist and independent journalist who was recently imprisoned for contempt of court after reporting on a grooming gang trial.

But the Metropolitan Police Force, which answers to a large extent to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, used the Public Order Act to impose a raft of restrictions on both groups of protesters which made this impossible —  despite allowing far larger anti-Trump protests at which at least six people were arrested to go ahead on Saturday, with demonstrators carrying signs emblazoned with harsh profanity and messages such as “Die Trump Die”.

“I was planning to go to the American embassy to meet with a group of demonstrators who are planning to welcome Trump into the country… it’s really good to see him in this country, and speaking truth to the people in power in this country,” explained David Kurten, an elected member of the London Assembly for the Brexit-supporting UK Independence Party.

“But as I came out of the police station I was handed this piece of paper by a couple of friendly police officers, who were just doing their job, but they’ve imposed Section 12 Public Order Act conditions on the assembly outside the American embassy, which means that people are not allowed to proceed or have a march or any kind of demonstration,” he claimed.

To continue reading: ‘Free Speech Is Dead’ – Police in Khan’s London BAN Pro-Trump Rally at U.S. Embassy

What Future Is Uber Seeing for Itself? by John McNellis

Uber can pay its drivers more and increase its costs, or it can try to automate its drivers out of their jobs, but the technology isn’t ready for prime time. From John McNellis at

Its fleet of autonomous cars thus far has gone the way of the Spanish Armada, producing nothing but grief.

While Uber isn’t exactly driving straight to the bank, it may get there yet. The company has ripped through $10 billion to date, but its latest report (Q1 2018) is sufficiently rosy for investors to buy into a $62 billion valuation. How rosy? Uber is losing lots of money, but only half as much as it did in the first quarter of 2017, a ground-rule double for Silicon Valley.

Digging a little deeper, however, these financials reveal a disquieting fact: While the company’s 2017 earnings were up 70% over 2016, its bookings (total income from rides driven) increased by only 55%, a disparity which suggests that Uber sliced away yet a larger share of the pie for itself, cutting into its drivers’ already meager earnings.

To this point, the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at MIT determined in a March 2018 study that Uber has achieved its success the old-fashioned way, that is, on the backs of its workers. The MIT paper concluded that 74% of Uber (and Lyft) drivers earn less than the minimum wage of the state in which they drive. Uber, however, immediately challenged the MIT findings and, somewhat surprisingly, MIT conceded that its methodology might be flawed (a few key survey questions were unclear) and that different approaches to the same data suggested that Uber drivers earn somewhere in the $8-10 an hour range.

MIT asked Uber to release its own internal data to decide the issue, but the company has apparently refused. While this debate should remind us that ivory tower business studies ought to be viewed with the skepticism accorded papal bulls, this paper is buttressed by the fact that, depending on which unreliable internet source you believe, somewhere between 50% and 96% of all Uber drivers quit every year.

But put aside its drivers’ plight for a moment, take a deep breath, and simply acknowledge that Uber is the best thing to happen to transportation since Henry Ford, with the company’s service being to a taxi what a bicycle is to walking. Uber is a runaway success for its users and, in their myopic view, practically perfect just the way it is.

To continue reading: What Future Is Uber Seeing for Itself?

Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses, by Sheldon Richman

Trump is probably not going to solve the Israel-Palestinian situation. From Sheldon Richman at

The Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” for the Palestine-Israel has, predictably, gone over like a lead balloon. So it’s shifting gears. The Washington Post reports, “With President Trump’s promised Middle East peace plan stalled, administration officials are focusing on improving conditions in the impoverished Gaza Strip – a move that could put political pressure on Palestinian leaders to come to the negotiating table.”

Don’t hold your breath.

The “Deal of the Century” was dead on arrival because it was based on the idea that Saudi Arabia and Egypt would “deliver the Palestinians” on the cheap in return for a more formal Saudi-Egyptian-Israeli-US alliance against Iran. The Palestinians were expected to be satisfied with economic-development aid while their aspirations for their own state were essentially tabled, that is, confined to the rubbish bin.

Unsurprisingly, as elements of the deal got around, the demoralized Palestinians were underwhelmed. They already had lost confidence in President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, which under the Oslo Accords had become Israel’s subcontractor for suppressing the occupation resistance. Nor had the Palestinians forgotten how Abbas and his negotiators tried, unsuccessfully, to compromise to an extent that would have destroyed any prospect of a viable independent Palestinian state. This was revealed by the leak of the Palestine Papers, more than 1,600 secret documents, memos, transcripts, and maps from private Palestine-Israel-US talks held over a decade (1999-2010). The release by Al Jazeera TV and the Guardian in 2011 demonstrated the Palestinian officials’ willingness to give Israelis stunning concessions on virtually every major issue while asking little in return, including accepting illegal West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements (with minor land swaps), ceding sovereignty over a vast swath of East Jerusalem, forgoing control of the Muslim holy site Haram al-Sharif to a multiparty committee, and relinquishing the right of return for all but a token few of the millions of refugees created by Israel’s officially unacknowledged ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 and 1967. The Palestinian delegation also said the refugees would not be allowed to vote on the eventual settlement proposal, and it made no objection to Israelis description of their country as the Jewish State, despite the fact that 20 percent of the population is Arab Muslim and Christian.

To continue reading: Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses

“Big Four” Audit Oligopoly Strikes Back at Plans to Break it Up, by Don Quijones

Four giant firms control most of the world’s accounting market. From Don Quijones at

After a series of sudden corporate collapses, audit firms face a crisis in the UK.

Deloitte, one of the so-called “Big Four” accountancy firms that have effectively cornered the global audit industry, has warnedthe UK government and regulators that any attempt to break up their oligopoly could backfire. Forcing the Big Four — which also include KPMG, PwC and EY — to split could harm Britain’s standing as a global financial center just at a time when the City is straining under Brexit pressures, the accountancy firm told a parliamentary inquiry.

“The Committees, and other commentators, have suggested that the break up of the largest professional services firms should be examined as a means of increasing competition and ensuring audit quality,” Deloitte said. “We do not believe that this is a viable solution to either matter and would be concerned that it would damage both audit quality and the UK’s position as an attractive capital market.”

In April, following a string of corporate scandals and collapses, the UK’s top accounting regulator, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), called for an inquiry to explore the possibility of breaking the audit arms of the Big Four accounting firms — KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and Price WaterhouseCoopers — into separate pieces. Serious doubts remain as to how genuine the regulator’s stated intentions are, since the FRC faces its own government inquiry following accusations of being too soft on big accountancy firms.

The influence of the Big Four is virtually unparalleled across the industries in which they operate. Their alumni control the international and national standard-setters of the accounting industry, ensuring that the rules of the game suit the major accountancy firms and their clients. Their reach also extends deep into the heart of government. “There’s no major policy change without the big four involved,” says Richard Brooks, award-winning journalist and author of Bean Counters: The Triumph of the Accountants and How They Broke Capitalism.

To continue reading: “Big Four” Audit Oligopoly Strikes Back at Plans to Break it Up

Iraq Protesters Storm Airport, Oil Offices Amidst Energy Crisis; Foreign Companies Begin Evacuations, by Tyler Durden

Fifteen years after the US invasion, Iraq still has a way to go before it becomes a model Middle East democracy. From Tyler Durden at

Widespread protests have gripped multiple Iraqi cities for a week in response to government corruption, rising unemployment, and an electricity shortage which has left residents suffocating in soaring summer temperatures. 

What began as anger over a continued failing infrastructure, however, has increasingly turned into political protests and clashes with police after May 12th parliamentary elections tainted by broad allegations of fraud failed to produce a new government.

And now Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has weighed in publicly on the side of the protesters, stating they are facing an “extreme lack of public services”.

Sistani’s words were issued via live television broadcast during a significant escalation in the Shia hotbed of Najaf on Friday, where hundreds of protesters stormed the city’s international airport, bringing air traffic to a halt.

Video showed demonstrators rushing through security barriers while chanting demands, and multiple fires were lit just outside the terminal. Iraqi police appear to have held back, as the protesters numbers were significant — possibly into the thousands according to social media footage — and were able to block key access points to the airport. State TV reported that security was restored and operations resumed as normal by late Friday.

Though sporadic protests over the country’s failing electricity grid have been ongoing throughout the summer, last weekend witnessed the first significant clashes with security forces in the southern city of Basra, resulting in an least one death. And this weekend’s clashes appear to be escalating with at least two more deaths reported in Amara, the capital of the Maysan province on the border with Iran.

In response, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi reportedly held an emergency homeland security cabinet meeting Friday and personally went to the restive southern city of Basra to address and attempt to calm the current unrest.

To continue reading: Iraq Protesters Storm Airport, Oil Offices Amidst Energy Crisis; Foreign Companies Begin Evacuations

After The Strzok Stonewall: WSJ Says Trump Should Declassify This To Expose The Truth, by Tyler Durden

The only meaningful step closer to the truth concerning FBI and Department of Justice’s depredations in the Clinton and Trump investigations will come when Trump declassifies documents in their possession. From Tyler Durden at

While the left and the liberal media desperately defended ‘FBI lovebird’ Peter Strzok this week as he came under attack from a rightly angry ‘right’ over the level of cognitive dissonance required to ignore his text expletions and ‘assume’ no bias, The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel was carefully observing and asking ‘awkward’ questions…

But it is the full Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal that today’s lays out the path ahead, after Strzok’s stonewalling – Here’s what Trump should declassify if he wants the truth known

FBI agent Peter Strzok’s appearance before Congress Thursday was a predictable political circus, and here’s what we learned: President Trump will have to declassify a host of documents if he wants Americans to learn the truth about what happened in 2016.

Mr. Strzok was combative, and he pointed to an FBI lawyer in the room as reason not to disclose much of anything about his investigation into the Russia connections of the Trump campaign. Under pressure from Ohio’s Jim Jordan, Mr. Strzok did reveal that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr acted as a channel between the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and the FBI in 2016. We already knew that Mr. Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion.

This means that Fusion, an outfit on the payroll of the Clinton campaign, had a messenger on the government payroll to deliver its anti-Trump documents to the FBI. This confirms that the FBI relied on politically motivated sources as part of its probe, even as Mr. Strzok insists he showed no political bias in his investigating decisions.

To continue reading: After The Strzok Stonewall: WSJ Says Trump Should Declassify This To Expose The Truth