With ‘judges judging judges,’ rogues on the bench have little to fear

Confidential justice for judges is common in America. At least 38 states – Oklahoma among them – issue private sanctions when judges misbehave. The name of the judge remains secret, and most of these states keep from the public details of the transgression and the discipline. At a minimum, most states release summary statistics of how many judges are privately disciplined each year. Oklahoma doesn’t make that information public.

This practice – law professor Stephen Gillers calls it “judges judging judges” – undermines the system’s ability to prevent misconduct on the bench.

Source: With ‘judges judging judges,’ rogues on the bench have little to fear


Corona Capital: British homes, Asian skies | Reuters

EXTRA BOOST. British housebuilder Persimmon said on Thursday that revenue plunged more than 30% to 1.2 billion pounds for the six months ended June 30 after the housing market screeched to a halt during two months of lockdown as potential buyers were generally unable to visit homes.

But things aren’t all bad. Customer demand in the six weeks since its sales offices in England reopened in mid-May showed signs of life, with around 30% more weekly average net private sales reservations than last year.

On top of that, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed on Wednesday that he will give the housing market a tax break, at a cost of 3.8 billion pounds. Thursday’s hint of a recovery pushed Persimmon shares up more than 5% and suggests Sunak jumped the gun. With the economy expected to contract almost 9% this year, the money may be needed elsewhere. (By Dasha Afanasieva)

Source: Breakingviews – Corona Capital: British homes, Asian skies – Reuters

What’s Next for the WTO?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the principal forum for setting the rules of international trade. In its two and a half decades, it has helped reduce barriers to trade of both goods and services and created a dispute resolution system that supporters say reduced the threat of trade wars.

However, the institution is under considerable pressure. Negotiations on a comprehensive development agenda have foundered due to disagreements over agricultural subsidies and intellectual property rights, while members have increasingly turned to separate bilateral and regional free trade agreements to advance their trade interests.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald J. Trump has criticized the WTO for what he sees as its weakness in confronting China’s trade abuses and constraints on U.S. sovereignty. His administration has intentionally crippled the organization’s appeals body, ensuring that its decisions cannot be enforced and placing the future of global trade rules into doubt.

Source: What’s Next for the WTO?

The State of Argentina’s Debt Restructuring… | Council on Foreign Relations

Argentina pushed back the deadline for its restructuring to the end of July, after failing to reach agreement with a majority of its creditors on terms for the restructuring of Argentina’s $65 billion in bonded debt.

Differences have narrowed to the point—a few cents on the dollar—that it isn’t that difficult to see how a deal could be struck in July. But the narrowing of differences with some creditors (Argentina’s most recent offer was worth around 50 cents on the dollar at a ten percent discount rate on the new cash flow, with the high coupon “discount” bonds offered about five cents more) has made the gap between Argentina and the subset of creditors who want a richer deal much clearer.

Source: The State of Argentina’s Debt Restructuring… | Council on Foreign Relations

Slouching Toward Phase One | Council on Foreign Relations

Once an administration strikes a deal with China, it often ends up finding itself playing the role of China’s defense attorney. Admitting that China isn’t living up to the deal would cast doubt on the wisdom of the initial deal.

And right now, it would also raise a second awkward question for President Trump, namely what if anything is he willing to do ahead of the election if China isn’t living up to its end of the bargain. Going back to tariff threats might trigger a stock market sell-off (and it obviously wouldn’t do anything to help contain the virus).

Source: Slouching Toward Phase One | Council on Foreign Relations

AMLO’s Strange Trip to Washington Baffles Mexicans but Thrills Trump

Dismissing his critics, the populist leader Tuesday took his seat in coach on a commercial flight to Atlanta, where he changed planes on the way to Washington, as critics cringed at the repercussions of his gamble. Only Trump is all but assured to benefit from the jaunt. Most everyone else has been left wondering why on Earth AMLO chose to meet with an American president who has made a political punching bag of Mexico, at this charged moment, with less than four months left until Election Day in the United States.

The last time a Mexican president took a similar gambit, it ended in disaster.

Source: AMLO’s Strange Trip to Washington Baffles Mexicans but Thrills Trump

When Congress Chose Not to Equalize Access to US Citizenship | Time

The Senate’s debate did not begin over race and citizenship, but rather over election fraud and reform of the naturalization process. Republicans blamed their losses in recent elections on Irish and German immigrants who were churned out of “naturalization mills” just in time to vote for Democratic candidates. Depending on one’s political perspective, the Republican-backed Naturalization Bill either sought to “purify the ballot-box” or to make access to citizenship as complicated and expensive as possible, ultimately discouraging immigrants from even applying.

Sumner added fire to an already explosive debate with his amendment to do away with the “whites only” clause of the naturalization law. Congress had already amended the Constitution and passed civil rights acts to protect newly freed African Americans during Reconstruction. Sumner now pushed the Senate—an all-white male institution except for Hiram Revels of Mississippi, the nation’s first Black Senator—to expand Reconstruction’s great promise.

Source: When Congress Chose Not to Equalize Access to US Citizenship | Time

It’s a Defining Moment in the Fight Against Climate Change | Time

From our vantage point today, 2020 looks like the year when an unknown virus spun out of control, killed hundreds of thousands and altered the way we live day to day. In the future, we may look back at 2020 as the year we decided to keep driving off the climate cliff–or to take the last exit.

Taking the threat seriously would mean using the opportunity presented by this crisis to spend on solar panels and wind farms, push companies being bailed out to cut emissions and foster greener forms of transport in cities.

If we instead choose to fund new coal-fired power plants and oil wells and thoughtlessly fire up factories to urge growth, we will lock in a pathway toward climate catastrophe. There’s a divide about which way to go.

Source: It’s a Defining Moment in the Fight Against Climate Change | Time

The Brexit stalemate explained | EURACTIV.com

Nearly four years after the UK voted to leave the European Union, we are back to a familiar conundrum: deal or no deal. Except that this time we are talking about the trade agreement that will govern future EU-UK relations.

If the result is ‘no deal’, the UK will leave the Single Market on 1 January and trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms.

So what are the main dividing lines?

The UK is seeking a ‘zero tariff, zero quota’ free trade agreement, similar to the EU-Canada trade pact.

It has also rejected the EU’s demands for unchanged access to UK fishing waters, the UK committing not to roll back standards in environment and labor law – known as the ‘level playing field’ – and the UK following EU state aid law now and into the future.

This is the price the EU is asking for a free trade agreement. But on all three counts little progress has been made.

UK ministers complain that the EU does not recognize the UK as a sovereign equal. “The EU, essentially, wants us to obey the rules of their club, even though we’re no longer members,” Cabinet minister Michael Gove told the House of Commons this month.

Source: The Brexit stalemate explained – EURACTIV.com

Does the Pentagon Understand What a Navy Is For? | Defense One

A recent report that the Office of the Secretary of Defense has “taken over” planning for the future of the U.S. Navy is hardly good news for the naval service as an institution. But neither is it necessarily good news for the long-term national security of the United States.

Two conditions set the stage. First, OSD and the Joint Staff are “focused like a laser beam” on planning for war against the People’s Republic of China (actually, against the Chinese Communist Party, to which the People’s Liberation Army is pledged). Second, their thinking is stultified by the emergence of an “ideology of jointness,” in which all services and domains must be treated equally in every scenario and in every force structure analysis, and (essentially) have veto power over other services’ programs.

The problem is not that the current OSD leadership is Army-centric (which it is), but that it appears not to understand that armies and navies are vastly, repeat vastly, different tools with much different long-term roles in U.S. territorial and economic security.

Source: Does the Pentagon Understand What a Navy Is For? – Defense One