As a million Brexit opponents join the People’s Vote March, a few dozen supporters March to Leave

The big day for the Leave Means Leave campaign is March 29, when it supporters will gather in their hundreds of thousands, or thousands, or hundreds, or dozens in Parliament Square at 4pm.

Why Theresa May is the worst British prime minister in living memory

Anne Applebaum writes:

“She was dealt a bad hand.” “She took a poisoned chalice.” From a great distance, it is possible to feel sorry for British Prime Minister Theresa May. She seems so dignified. She seems to be trying so hard. The circles beneath her eyes have grown so much deeper since she became prime minister back in 2016, following the surprise result of the Brexit referendum, the resignation of her hapless predecessor, David Cameron, and an ugly leadership squabble, during which several of her male colleagues metaphorically stabbed one another in the back. Since then, she has always seemed to outsiders the sensible person in the room, the adult who knows what she is doing, the sane person in a madhouse.

Alas, she is not any of those things. She is not sensible, she does not know what she is doing, and, increasingly, she doesn’t seem to be entirely sane either. Outside of Westminster, the extent of May’s responsibility for this crisis might not be fully appreciated. But in truth, almost everything about Brexit — from the nature of the deal she negotiated to the divisions in her party and her country — is very much her fault. The latest development — European leaders have told her that the United Kingdom can have a Brexit extension until May 22, if May can get her withdrawal agreement passed in Parliament, but must crash out of all of its trading arrangements on April 12 if not — underlines this bitter truth. She is not to be pitied: She is the worst prime minister in living memory, presiding over a crisis of her own creation.

The list of her mistakes is not short. She did not have to trigger Article 50, the legal mechanism for leaving the European Union, before making a plan on how to do so: That decision set a two-year clock ticking and has resulted in the cliff edge the country would have reached on the 29th of this month if an extension had not been granted. She did not have to call an unnecessary parliamentary election in 2017, one which resulted in the loss of her majority and forced her to rely on a small, radical, Protestant Northern Irish political party, as well as the extreme anti-European faction within her own party, in order to stay in power. [Continue reading…]

As Mueller report lands, a wider legal threat continues to loom over the Trump presidency

The New York Times reports:

Even as the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, submitted his confidential report to the Justice Department on Friday, federal and state prosecutors are pursuing about a dozen other investigations that largely grew out of his work, all but ensuring that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

Most of the investigations focus on President Trump or his family business or a cadre of his advisers and associates, according to court records and interviews with people briefed on the investigations. They are being conducted by officials from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, with about half of them being run by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan.

Unlike Mr. Mueller, whose mandate was largely focused on any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, the federal prosecutors in Manhattan take an expansive view of their jurisdiction. That authority has enabled them, along with F.B.I. agents, to scrutinize a broader orbit around the president, including his family business. [Continue reading…]

I wrote the special counsel rules. The attorney general can — and should — release the Mueller report

Neal Kumar Katyal writes:

The public has every right to see Robert S. Mueller III’s conclusions. Absolutely nothing in the law or the regulations prevents the report from becoming public. Indeed, the relevant sources of law give Attorney General P. William Barr all the latitude in the world to make it public.

Those regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1998 and 1999 as a young Justice Department lawyer, require three types of reports. First, the special counsel must give the attorney general “Urgent Reports” during the course of an investigation regarding things such as proposed indictments. Second, the special counsel must provide a report to the attorney general at the end of the investigation, which Mueller delivered on Friday. And third, the attorney general must furnish Congress with a report containing “an explanation for each action … upon conclusion of the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

The regulations anticipated there would be differences among these three. Generally speaking, the final report the special counsel gives to the attorney general would be “confidential,” and the report the attorney general gives to Congress would be “brief.” We wanted to avoid another Starr report — a lurid document going unnecessarily into detail about someone’s intimate conduct and the like. A subject of such a report would have no mechanism to rebut those allegations or get his or her privacy back. [Continue reading…]

Cyclone Idai shows the deadly reality of climate change in Africa

Landry Ninteretse writes:

As Africa climate week unfurls in Ghana, the countries of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe count the costs of Cyclone Idai, which ripped through villages and towns, taking hundreds of lives and leaving a trail of destruction.

For a continent already racked by the effects of the climate crisis, Idai is another chilling reminder of the destructive power of the kind of storms that will become more common as the world warms up.

The cyclone made landfall on 14 March, the same day that the One Planet Summit started in Nairobi, called by French president Emmanuel Macron. After picking up speed, with winds of 195km/h (120mph) accompanied by lashing rains, Idai caused flooding and landslides, ruining crops and roads, and has already affected millions of people. The city of Beira in Mozambique was hit the hardest, with nearly 80% of homes and public infrastructure destroyed.

While the most vulnerable communities are facing the real impact of climate change on the ground, national leaders at the One Planet Summit kept their talk inside comfortable and acclimatised rooms. During the summit, Macron encouraged global collaboration towards ensuring sustainable preservation of forests, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya made a pledge to achieve at least 10% forest cover in the next three years.

These commitments would be laughable if it were not so tragic. Africa needs to do a lot more than that to build climate resilience. Cyclone Idai is another powerful demonstration of this. [Continue reading…]

EU leaders believe no-deal Brexit looks likely on April 12

The Guardian reports:

The EU increasingly believes a no-deal Brexit on 12 April is the most likely outcome, senior EU officials have said, prompting Emmanuel Macron to privately ask the Irish prime minister if his country could cope.

The French president sought assurance from Leo Varadkar in the closing moments of a marathon session of talks on Thursday night, as the leaders looked to settle on mid-April as the new cliff-edge.

“What will happen if there is a no-deal Brexit on 12 April?” Macron asked of the Irish taoiseach. “Would you be fine?”

Varadkar responded: “We can cope”.

The level of fatalism among the EU’s leaders was evident in the comments of the European council president, Donald Tusk, at the close of a dramatic two-day summit in Brussels.

Tusk expressed his satisfaction that “anything is possible”, including a revocation of article 50, following the leaders’ agreement to the unconditional period of extra-time.

Should the Commons vote down the withdrawal agreement next week at the third time of asking, the UK can stay a member of the EU until 12 April.

The British government could seek a further lengthy extension up to that point should a general election be called, a second referendum or a new political process that would guarantee a majority in the Commons for a deal. [Continue reading…]

Rafael Behr writes:

EU leaders cannot say explicitly that they no longer want to deal with the current prime minister. Urging regime change is beyond the pale of normal diplomacy among democratic states. But there is no effort to conceal the frustration in May or the evacuation of confidence in her as a negotiating partner. The one thing everyone in Brussels, Berlin and Paris had most wanted to avoid from an article 50 extension was giving May a licence to carry on behaving as she has done for what feels like an eternity. They could no longer tolerate the hollow shell of a prime minister shuttling back and forth between Tory hardliners demanding fantasy Brexits and Brussels negotiators who trade in realities.

There is a difference between patience with the prime minister and readiness to help her country navigate through its current crisis. There are still stores of goodwill available for Britain in Brussels, but they cannot be unlocked by May.

The bankruptcy of May’s overseas enterprise has been coming since the day she set up shop in No 10. The squandering of credibility started almost at once, with the appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in 2016. Only someone with a tin ear for European sensibilities would have given the top diplomat job to a man known on the continent as a rogue peddler of anti-Brussels propaganda.

Then there was the early negotiating period, during which EU leaders thought May’s robotic, inscrutable manner concealed a deep, strategic intelligence. They came to realise that there was no mask. The inanity – the reciting of “Brexit means Brexit” even in private meetings – was not the cover story for a secret plan. It was the plan. [Continue reading…]

Anti-Muslim hate crimes soar in UK after Christchurch shootings

The Guardian reports:

The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported across Britain increased by 593% in the week after a white supremacist terrorist killed worshippers at two New Zealand mosques, an independent monitoring group has said.

The charity Tell Mama said almost all of the increase was caused by hate incidents linked to the New Zealand attacks last Friday, and there were more recorded in the last seven days than the week following the 2017 Islamist terrorist attack on Manchester.

According to figures passed to the Guardian, 95 incidents were reported to the charity between 15 March, the day of the New Zealand atrocity, and midnight on 21 March.

Of those, 85 incidents – 89% of the total – contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims.

The news will alarm community groups who may have expected extremists to lie low after the massacre of 50 Muslims in Christchurch, which drew widespread condemnation around the world. [Continue reading…]

Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes

Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton and Valerie Martinez-Ebers write:

Using the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate, Extremism, Anti-Semitism, Terrorism map data (HEAT map), we examined whether there was a correlation between the counties that hosted one of Trump’s 275 presidential campaign rallies in 2016 and increased incidents of hate crimes in subsequent months.

To test this, we aggregated hate-crime incident data and Trump rally data to the county level and then used statistical tools to estimate a rally’s impact. We included controls for factors such as the county’s crime rates, its number of active hate groups, its minority populations, its percentage with college educations, its location in the country and the month when the rallies occurred.

We found that counties that had hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally.

Of course, our analysis cannot be certain it was Trump’s campaign rally rhetoric that caused people to commit more hate crimes in the host county. However, suggestions that this effect can be explained through a plethora of faux hate crimes are at best unrealistic. In fact, this charge is frequently used as a political tool to dismiss concerns about hate crimes. Research shows it is far more likely that hate crime statistics are considerably lower because of underreporting.

Additionally, it is hard to discount a “Trump effect” when a considerable number of these reported hate crimes reference Trump. [Continue reading…]

Mueller delivers report on Trump-Russia investigation to Attorney General

The New York Times reports:

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr, according to the Justice Department, bringing to a close an investigation that has consumed the nation and cast a shadow over President Trump for nearly two years.

Mr. Barr told congressional leaders in a letter late Friday that he may brief them within days on the special counsel’s findings. “I may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,” he wrote in a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary committees.

It is up to Mr. Barr how much of the report to share with Congress and, by extension, the American public. The House voted unanimously in March on a nonbinding resolution to make public the report’s findings, an indication of the deep support within both parties to air whatever evidence prosecutors uncovered. [Continue reading…]

Why Hannah Arendt is the philosopher for now

Lyndsey Stonebridge writes:

When Hannah Arendt was herded into Gurs, a detention camp in south-west France in May 1940, she did one of the most sensible things you can do when you are trapped in a real-life nightmare: she read – Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, Clausewitz’s On War and, compulsively, the detective stories of Georges Simenon. Today people are reading Arendt to understand our own grimly bewildering predicament.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Arendt’s 1951 masterpiece The Origins of Totalitarianism entered the US bestseller lists. Tweet-size nuggets of her warnings about post-truth political life have swirled through social media ever since. Arendt, the one time “illegal emigrant” (her words), historian of totalitarianism, analyst of the banality of administrative evil and advocate for new political beginnings, is currently the go-to political thinker for the second age of fascist brutality.

It is not just the opponents of far-right nationalism who are rediscovering her work. Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has attempted to garnish its claims to serious research with a half-quotation from Arendt. The AfD’s intellectual mission, in case you hadn’t guessed, is to create “clarity and transparency” in public discourse. They warn us sagely that power, according to Arendt, “becomes dangerous exactly where the public ends”. Power, Arendt also said, becomes dangerous when the capitalist elite align with the mob, when racism is allowed to take over the institutions of state, and when the aching loneliness of living in a fact-free atomised society sends people running towards whatever tawdry myth will keep them company. [Continue reading…]