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FTC working with EU to undercut US companies



Once upon a time, US officials tried to protect American companies from zealous foreign regulators. Not in the Biden administration, where FTC Chair Lina Khan is helping and inciting foreign governments against US business interests.

Ms Khan’s collusion with foreign authorities came to light during a House hearing Tuesday, when she was questioned about recent revelations that her office is helping Europe target US tech companies. She is also trying to reduce the protection of US multinationals in the Indo-Pacific Economic Facility (IPEF) negotiations.


About “Fleabag”, Corbin’s government and Kenneth Clark’s tandoori



I FINALLY FOUND TO watch a few episodes of Fleabag to figure out what all the fuss is about. Some good scenes, I thought, and a gorgeously hideous character with a beard, but other than that, not impressive. The transgression of conventions (addressing the camera, graphic sexual innuendos, sleeping with a priest) was tediously commonplace; the sentimentality, especially about the pet hamster, was cloying… “Fleabag” and the hype surrounding “Fleabag” is nevertheless interesting for sociological reasons: it demonstrates the annexation of another area of ​​British life, the self-worship of the upper middle classes.

Comedy used to be a fairly working-class thing. During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the upper classes (including Edward VII) went to music halls to listen to the songs and jokes of the working class. Many of the giants of post-war comedy, such as Eric Morecambe and Les Dawson (pictured left), came from northern working class backgrounds and were recognized for their talents in workers’ clubs and local talent competitions. The Carry On films sold a lewd marine postcard while scathingly criticizing the claims of British professionals (Carry On Doctor is a masterpiece of doctoral deflation).

“Fleabag” is to comedy what Coldplay is to music: a demonstration that another redoubt of the working class has been completely conquered by the professional class. Fleabag’s parents live in a huge house with a garden the size of a garden. Her sister is a high-ranking leader. While she’s a little weeded out, she’s weeded out in a way that only highly privileged people can be: she runs a (tediously goofy) coffee shop and comes to work when she wants to. This is how it should be. People should write about what they know, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (pictured right), the author of the series, is a descendant of baronets and a product of St. Augustine’s Priory, a posh Catholic school. But this is yet another example of British social closure as a tiny elite take over more and more areas of British life and then congratulate themselves on how brilliantly they break the rules.

The popular explanation for this great social insularity is that it is stuck in it: a tiny clique of heavily connected metropolitan liberals seize control of the machinery of cultural production and then toss a few trinkets to select minorities to convince everyone (including themselves) that Britain is still is a society of opportunity. But I fear the explanation may be darker: as the working class shrinks and loses its cultural self-confidence, working-class institutions such as workers’ clubs are dying. The modern day equivalents of Les Dawson or the Carry On Team have nowhere to learn their craft, while the Phoebe Waller-Bridges of this world drift from independent schools to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, convinced they are upending social conventions and attitudes. world on the right.


PEOPLE are finally starting to take seriously the possibility of a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party. Mr Corbyn’s impressive performance in the last general election in 2017 was largely written off as a protest vote: Part of the rest of England voted for Mr Corbyn precisely because they thought he had no hope of a real victory. Now that the Conservative Party is determined to destroy itself and the Brexit-related unrest is on the rise, people are seriously concerned.

Companies are calculating exactly what a far-left government will mean and are preparing to act accordingly. Foreign powers are starting to think seriously about what they would do if Britain were led by a man whose basic foreign policy principle is: “Whatever America does, I’m against it.” Israelis are terrified at the prospect of a British prime minister who supported Hamas, a militant Islamist group in Palestine, and pandered to anti-Semites within his party. I suspect that fear of a government led by Corbyn will soon become a major force in British politics – and not just a vague theoretical fear, but a real and living fear. People want to move. Money wants to run. Foreign powers will prepare for the worst.


The BRITISH political system is almost perfectly set up to make leaving the European Union (EU) a mess. The system is hostile: the ruling party confronts the opposition across a yawning chasm, and politicians yell at each other. But leaving the EU requires a series of difficult compromises in the middle. The system is also designed to solve the problem and move on to something else: each side expresses its position, the parliament is divided, and then you move on. But leaving the EU requires, above all, perseverance: you have to deal with the same problem week after week. It’s like cutting down a tree with a hammer. This structural problem will only get worse when (and if) Parliament moves from a withdrawal agreement to the more laborious task of shaping our future trade relationship with the EU.

Kenneth Clarke, who is surprisingly good at balancing his dual roles as Tory grandee and regular guy, recently gave a lengthy interview with The New York Times magazine. guardians in which he said that every Tuesday night he went to the Kennington Tandoori by himself to have a curry and read a copy Economist. My colleague dined in that same Tandoori last Tuesday. Indeed, Mr. Clark was sitting alone on the windowsill, diligently going through his copy of Economist. When he left, his place was taken by Ann Widdecombe, a former colleague of Clark’s who had just left the Tory to join Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. My colleague cannot be entirely sure, but he does not think that Miss Widdecombe read Economist.

Image Credits: REX/Shutterstock/BBC

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Experts in sound and light of the Middle Ages will unite in an alliance



The mutiny at the Southern California castle in the Medieval Times has spread to the other wing.

On Tuesday, the castle’s sound and light specialists told the company they intended to unionize by filing a petition to hold union elections at the National Labor Relations Board. The castle show actors formed their own union last year and have been on strike since February.

In a letter of intent, the technicians said they decided to team up in part because of how management treated them during their colleagues’ break “where we were falsely accused of sabotage.”

The workers said they plan to join the Local 504 Theater Workers International Alliance, a union that represents stage workers at Disneyland. In their letter, the workers said they want Medieval Times to focus more on safety and raise wages to “meet industry standards.”

“We do not take this decision lightly, and this vote is the result of months of decision making regarding the future of our department and the changes we are striving for,” the management letter said.

The negotiation team will include about a dozen employees.

Workers demand higher pay and safer working conditions in Medieval Times.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Medieval times struggled to suppress workers’ uprising It started last summer when the show’s cast, knights and grooms at his New Jersey castle joined the Entertainers Guild of America. Artists in the California castle, in Buena Park, soon followed suit and joined the AGVA.

So far, none of the technicians producing the company’s shows have called for union elections. If the California workers are successful, the effort could spread to the same group of workers in other castles.

“We always joked about unionizing. Lots of technical work [in entertainment] already unionized,” said Emily Schmidt, sound and lighting specialist. “After the strike, things got a lot more serious.”

The cast of the show and the Knights of the Castle declared the strike “unfair labor practices” on February 11, accusing the company of unfair dealings and trying to silence them on social media. Most of the bidders refused to work and held a picket in front of the castle, asking buyers not to cross it.

“We were always kind of joking about unionizing… After the strike, things got a lot more serious.”

— Emily Schmidt, Sound and Light Specialist at Medieval Times

The technicians were not unionized and therefore continued to work, but Schmidt said many of them supported the strikers as they tried to improve their jobs. It was through the picket line of the castle that the sound and lighting engineers met with the IATSE staff.

“We have our own good reasons for doing this,” Schmidt said of the technicians. “Nevertheless, I don’t know if we would have had the drive to unionize if it hadn’t been for the strike events.”

The Medieval Times strongly opposed workers’ efforts to unionize. In New Jersey, a company hired an anti-union consultant for $3,200 a day, plus expenses, to prevent a union from forming there. Managers also held meetings at the Californian castle aimed at cracking down on union efforts.

In October the company sued against the AGVA alleging trademark infringement over the name and logo the workers chose for their Medieval Times Performers United union. The company later appears to have filed trademark infringement complaints against social media accounts run by union workers in the California castle. The workers’ TikTok account has been suspended.

Workers have filed allegations of unfair labor practices with the labor council, saying the company is trying to silence them.

Sound and lighting workers demanded that the company voluntarily acknowledge their alliance with IATSE—an unlikely scenario given the company’s opposition to previous efforts. It is more likely that the labor council will call a secret ballot if enough workers sign union tickets.

An IATSE spokesman said the union had the support of an overwhelming majority of workers in the proposed negotiating group.

In their letter to management, the workers said they were “proud and happy to join an organization whose members are treated with dignity and respect.”

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Fox News is on trial, as are lies about 2020



WILMINGTON, Del. A Delaware Supreme Court judge is expected to be sworn in by a jury this week in a defamation trial that has no precedent in American law. Fox News, one of the most powerful and profitable media companies, will defend itself against extensive evidence that it told its audience a 2020 election conspiracy and fraud story that it knew wasn’t true.

The jurors will be asked to weigh up the lofty questions about First Amendment restrictions and consider imposing a hefty financial penalty on Fox. Some of the most influential names in the conservative media are expected to be called to testify – Rupert Murdoch, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson. But there is another fundamental question that this case raises: will there be a price to be paid to profit from the spread of disinformation?

Few people have been held legally accountable for their role in trying to delegitimize President Biden’s victory. Sydney Powell, a lawyer who was one of the biggest conspiracy theorists about Dominion Voting Systems, the company that filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox, avoided being disbarred in Texas after a judge dismissed a complaint against her in February.

Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who worked with Ms. Powell and the Trump campaign, was reprimanded last month in lieu of having her license revoked by the Colorado Bar Association. Donald J. Trump, whose false claim that he was cheated in victory provoked a violent crowd on January 6, 2021, is running for president for the third time and remains the clear leader in the Republican nomination.

Judge Eric M. Davis, who is overseeing the case, said in a statement on Sunday that the trial will be adjourned by a day until Tuesday. He did not give a reason, but said he would make an announcement on Monday at 9 am.

Political disinformation has become so pervasive partly because the government can do little to stop it.

“Lying to American voters is not really actionable,” said Andrew Weismann, a former FBI general counsel who was a senior member of the Robert S. Mueller task force that studied the Trump campaign in 2016.

A quirk of American law is that most of the lies – even those that destabilize the nation and are told by people of great power and scope – cannot be prosecuted. Charges can only be filed in a limited number of circumstances, such as if a business executive lies to shareholders or an individual lies to the FBI. Politicians can be charged if they lie about campaign contributions, which is the crux of the criminal case against Mr. Trump. Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

In the case of Fox News, the lawsuit is ongoing because the law allows companies like Dominion and people to seek damages if they can prove that their reputation has been damaged by lying.

The legal barrier that a company like Dominion must comply with in order to prove defamation is known as malice. And this is extremely difficult to prove due to the decision of the Supreme Court in 1964 in the case The New York Times v. Sullivanwhich stated that public officials could only claim defamation if they could prove that the defendants either knew they were making a false statement or acted recklessly in choosing to publish the libelous statement.

“There are many cases where you can lie with impunity, but here is the real victim,” Mr. Weissmann added. “It was only because of intuition that they attacked the company.”

Typically, media lawyers and First Amendment scholars treat defamation defendants with great respect. They argue that the law should give the media a breathing space to make mistakes, even serious ones, as long as they are not intentional.

But many legal scholars have said they believe there is sufficient evidence to support the Dominion case, in which they claim they were intentionally affected by the lies broadcast by Fox and that they would not only be surprised, but disappointed if no matter the jury found Fox was liable for defamation.

“If this case goes wrong,” said John Culhane, professor of law at Widener University’s Delaware School of Law, “it’s clear from my point of view that it would be a terrible mistake, because this case is just as strong as the case you are about to get into.” for slander.” Mr. Culhane added that Fox’s victory would only make it harder to curb the misinformation that is rampant in the pro-Trump media.

“I think it would give them even more courage,” he said.

This case turned out to be extraordinary on many levels, not only because of its ability to reach a decision that has so far eluded prosecutors such as Mr. Weissmann, who have spent years prosecuting Mr. , bowed the American side. democratic system to the limit.

“Even if it doesn’t involve Donald Trump, Fox, and the uprising, this is a unique libel lawsuit, period,” said David Logan, a professor of law at the Roger Williams School of Law and an expert on defamation. “This has never happened before.”

It is extremely rare for defamation cases to reach a jury trial. Mr. Logan said his study shows a steady decline over the years, with an average of 27 per year in the 1980s and only three in 2017.

Some experts, such as Mr. Logan, believe the case’s significance could extend beyond its relevance to the current disinformation-infested political climate. They see an opportunity for the Supreme Court to eventually consider the case as a means to overhaul libel law and the “actual malice” standard. Judges haven’t done this since 1989. happening involving a losing candidate for municipal office in Ohio who successfully sued a newspaper after it published a false article about him the week before the election. The court stated that a public figure could not recover damages unless there was “clear and convincing evidence” of actual malice.

The actual standard of malice has been vital to individual journalists and media outlets who make mistakes—as long as they are honest mistakes. But some scholars, such as Mr. Logan, as well as two conservative Supreme Court justices, Neil M. Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, have argued that “actual malice” should be reconsidered as too high a standard. Judge Thomas specifically cited “spreading lies” as the reason.

“The nature of that privilege is at the core of our democracy, especially in this case,” said Mr. Logan, whose article, alleging that the courts made it too difficult for victims of defamation to get help, was cited in a Justice Dissent. Gorsuch in 2021.

Fox’s lawyers are already preparing for an appeal, a sign they have no illusions that it will be easy to win the Dominion case. Fox was represented in several recent hearings before Judge Davis by Erin Murphy, an appellate attorney with experience in the Supreme Court.

The Dominion also appears to consider the possibility of an appeal to be very real. He had his own attorney of appeal, Rodney A. Small, acting on his behalf when Fox’s First Amendment defense issues came up last month – the kind of constitutional issues that federal appeals courts will hear.

The belief that the Supreme Court will eventually be able to hear the Fox-Dominion case is shared by Fox Corporation General Counsel Viet Din. Mr. Dean, who will likely be called by the Dominion as a witness during the trial, privately told colleagues he thought Fox’s chances in the Supreme Court would be good – definitely better than before a Delaware jury, according to people who know his thinking.

Evidence against Fox includes a massive amount of text messages and emails showing that producers, hosts and executives downplayed claims made on-air about hacked voting machines and a conspiracy, details that Dominion says prove the network slandered her.

But Fox’s lawyers and its public relations department say its broadcasts were protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution because they included the kind of coverage and commentary that the media are entitled to make at official events of great public interest.

“Free, vibrant American discourse depends on First Amendment protection for news gathering and press reporting,” a spokeswoman for the network said in a written statement. The statement added that Fox viewers expected comments that aired on the network after the election “just as they expect exaggeration, speculation and opinion from the commentary section of a newspaper.”

Judge Davis dismissed Fox on some of his First Amendment claims, limiting his ability to defend certain points in court, such as his claim that he does not endorse any of the president’s and his allies’ false claims, but merely repeats them as they were. news statements.

A Dominion spokeswoman expressed confidence, saying, “We will prove in the coming weeks that Fox is spreading lies, causing massive damage to the Dominion. We look forward to the trial.”

Inside Fox, from corporate offices in Los Angeles to the news channel’s headquarters in Manhattan, there is little optimism about the case. Several current and former employees have said privately that few people at the company would be surprised to see a jury rule against Fox.

Judge Davis expressed considerable skepticism about Fox in the courtroom. Last week, he sanctioned Fox when Dominion said the company had not disclosed details of Mr. Murdoch’s involvement in Fox News cases, ruling that Dominion had the right to testify further at Fox’s expense. In a letter to the judge on Friday, Fox said: “We understand the court’s concerns, we apologize and are committed to clear and full communication with the court going forward.”

But the last word is not for the judge. Twelve men and women from Delaware will eventually decide the case. And defamation suits so rarely prevail that it’s also prudent to consider the possibility of Fox actually winning – and what the 2024 election looks like with an emboldened pro-Trump media.

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