Google Fined Record $2.7 Billion in E.U. Antitrust Ruling – The New York Times

“Google suffered a major blow on Tuesday after European antitrust officials fined the search giant a record $2.7 billion for unfairly favoring some of its own services over those of rivals.

The penalty, of 2.4 billion euros, highlights the aggressive stance that European officials have taken in regulating many of the world’s largest technology companies, going significantly further than their American counterparts.

By levying the fine against Google — more than double the previous largest penalty in this type of antitrust case — Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust chief, also laid claim to being the Western world’s most active regulator of digital services, an industry still dominated by Silicon Valley.”

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT Pending Approval at NYT comments.

Good article, thank you. We need and deserve more information. Is it true, as I heard today on NPR, that some of Google’s competitors find that their offerings in a “want to buy x” search, appear on page 4, while the google owned retailer is at the top of page 1. Does Google own retailers, and ecommerce sites? Which ones.

Should it be illegal for Google to charge for top placement? This is how they get their money, instead of making us pay a fee each month to use their search engine capability. If I were one of regulators, I would think about requiring Google to identify the companies that it owns. It already identifies paid ads, which one can hardly quibble with.

Posted in Antitrust and Monopoly issues, European Issues | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Wishful Peace – The New York Times

“YANGON — Early this month, just days after a round of major talks in the capital, Naypyidaw, fighting broke out between the armed forces and the ethnic Kachin Independence Army in the northern state of Kachin. Ahead of a clearing operation, the Myanmar military airdropped pamphlets ordering residents of Tanai township to leave and warned that anyone who stayed would be seen as cooperating with the K.I.A. Thousands of displaced people are reported to still be stranded in the conflict zone.”

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The Iran Puzzle – The New York Times

“The fear is that Mr. Trump’s demonizing of Iran, and his unwillingness to engage its government, could result in a broadening of the American military mission from defeating ISIS to preventing Iranian influence from expanding. This would be dangerous. Iran is a vexing state to be smartly managed, not assumed to be an implacable enemy.”

Well said, NYT.   And, here is  a comment I support:

RjW

Spruce Pine NC 2 hours ago

We are being played by the Saudis as well as the Russians (not to mention the Israelis). Whatever we do, it will be in the interests of one or the other of those countries interests.
Going against Iran, our most natural ally in the area, would be the natural culmination of a fools analysis of the chess board called Middle East geopolitics.

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Liu Xiaobo- Chinese Nobel Laureate-Leaves Prison for Cancer Care – The New York Times

“BEIJING — Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his writings promoting democracy, has been moved from prison to be treated for late-stage cancer, two of his lawyers said on Monday.

Mr. Liu, who had been imprisoned in northeast China, was found in late May to have advanced liver cancer and was hospitalized soon after, said one of the lawyers, Shang Baojun, citing Mr. Liu’s relatives. Mr. Shang said the outlook for Mr. Liu appeared grim.”

. . . .         “In Mr. Liu’s absence, his statement from his 2009 trial, titled “I Have No Enemies: My Final Statement,” was read as his Nobel lecture.

“Hatred can rot away at a person’s intelligence and conscience,” he wrote. “Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation’s progress toward freedom and democracy. That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation’s development and social change, to counter the regime’s hostility with utmost good will, and to dispel hatred with love.”

What an extraordinary leader. His words remind one of Martin Luther King, or Gandhi.

Goodluck to the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party, in suppressing such a powerful voice.

Posted in China, Freedom of Expression and Democracy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Where Trump Zigs- Tillerson Zags- Putting Him at Odds With White House – The New York Times

“Exxon Mobil, arrived in Washington five months ago to become the secretary of state, his boosters said he brought two valuable assets to a job that had usually gone to someone steeped in government and diplomacy: a long history managing a global company, and deep relationships from the Middle East to Russia that enabled him to close deals.

But his first opportunity to use that experience — as a behind-the-scenes mediator in the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia — has put Mr. Tillerson in exactly the place a secretary of state does not want to be: in public disagreement with the president who appointed him.

Mr. Tillerson tried to position himself as an intermediary and sought for all sides to put their demands on the table. But President Trump openly sided with the Saudis, first on Twitter, then again at a news conference. Mr. Trump called Qatar a “funder of terrorism at a very high level” just as the State Department was questioning whether the Saudis were using the terrorism charge to cover for “long-simmering grievances” between the Arab nations.”

 

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT Pending Approval

This article is excellent, but depressing. What is wrong with Rex Tillerson? Maybe he is in an impossible situation. The man I listened to in two days of hearings was smart and decisive. That does not prepare us for a secretary who fails to surround himself with the best and brightest and most learned about the many countries and areas around the world where the United States has interests and roles to play. In Tillerson’s defense, he did ask for an old GOP hand as his right hand man, but the famous diplomat was rejected, for having not supported Trump for President. It must be hard to express leadership when the President undermines your work through his tweets, his son iin law, and his weird loyalty to Steve Bannon. I join the more famous diplomats quoted in the article, in urging Rex Tilllerson to demonstrate that he is listening and using his expert team, while methodically filling in the holes in higher level staff. David blogs at InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com

Posted in David Lindsay, Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

In Greece- China Finds an Ally Against Human Rights Criticism – The New York Times

“GENEVA — China has long won diplomatic allies in the world’s poor countries by helping them build expensive roads and ports. Now, it appears to have similarly won over a needy country in Europe.At a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council this month in Geneva, the European Union sought to draw renewed attention to human rights abuses in China — only to be blocked by one of its member countries, Greece.

A spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry in Athens called it “unproductive criticism.” ”

Is the question now how to punish Greece?     Maybe not. Nicholas Kistof’s op-ed Sunday, about the black man in California on death row, though many are sure he was framed by the Sheriff’s office, suggests that we are in need of focusing on our own human rights abuses.

Unfortunately, I have just seen the play Titus Andronicus, by William Shakespeare, in its movie form of 1999, and have much to digest about the cruelty and evil of human kind.

One can love China and the United States, and yet, want to hold both to a high level of moral and political leadership. Shakespeare writes in Titus Andronicus about the fragility of leadership, and the abundance of evil and corruption in human centers of power. I do not advocate surrender to evil and corruption. We need to sharpen our weapons, even if only pencils and keyboards, and prepare multiple scenarios for how to attack an army of windmills.

Posted in Atrocities, China, David Lindsay, Greece | Tagged , | Leave a comment

In French Labor Overhaul- Union Leader Offers a Way to a Compromise – The New York Times

“PARIS — As thousands of workers last summer protested changes to France’s labor laws, Laurent Berger, the head of one of the country’s most influential unions, got an unsettling call.

Around 100 protesters had split from a rally and surrounded the headquarters of his union, the French Democratic Confederation of Labor, shouting and smashing windows. Scrawled near the entrance was a warning in red paint: “This treason must end!”

The “treason” referred to a contentious decision by Mr. Berger to support revisions to France’s 3,400-page labor code — a rarity in a country known for stark divisions between union leaders and government officials. Some of the changes would relax rules around the cherished 35-hour workweek, which Mr. Berger saw as a way to encourage companies to hire.”

Allez Allez Macron!

Posted in Declline and Renaissance, France | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mr. Trump- Afghanistan Is Your War Now – The New York Times

“Yet, when it comes to the actual life-and-death responsibilities of the commander in chief — overseeing America’s vast war machine and sending men and women into conflict — Mr. Trump seems more like the delegator in chief. The latest evidence was his decision this week to give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan, which could lead to an increase of as many as 5,000 troops, if proposals favored by Mr. Mattis and his generals go forward.

Mr. Mattis has acknowledged to Congress that the United States-led coalition is “not winning” in Afghanistan. It is not at all clear that adding 5,000 more troops — a roughly 50 percent increase over the current troop level of 9,800 — can make a difference, especially when the administration has yet to confront the basic problem of ensuring public safety and the larger political and economic issues that must be part of a comprehensive strategy to resolve the conflict.

What such a decision would do is reverse the drawdown President Barack Obama put in place and set a new policy of expanding involvement in a war that has already dragged on for 16 years, cost thousands of American and Afghan lives and consumed billions of dollars.”

It is a sad day indeed, when the comments are stronger and clearer than the editorial. Here are two comments I support:

Eric G

USA 4 hours ago

As an Afghan Vet, its nice to see someone actually talking critically about the war. The question? Why now? Years ago, while we were slogging it out under rosey predictions, it became clear that our leaders had concluded that Afghanistan was a lost effort and our Soldiers, my fellow Soldiers, were dying either for officers to punch their ‘combat ticket’, or in operations that were almost theatrical, deeply focused on killing, and then total abandonment once the initial attack stopped. Our hands were tied in the face of endemic corruption, local force exploitation and often severe criminality, that rapidly (and very clearly) undermined our strategic efforts – there is no way to build a better state than the Taliban by empowering people even more rapacious and greedy. All of this has been greeted by silence, and even the Times doesn’t seem to want to offer badly needed advice – cut our losses and get out. The War, and everything in Afghanistan, has been badly bungled for years. There is no fixing it, there is only delaying the return of the Taliban (and every power in the region is reaching out to the Taliban in acknowledgment of their expected ascension). The writing is on the wall, and has been for some time. The best policy on Afghanistan is an easy one: end it.

Bruce Rozenblit

is a trusted commenter Kansas City, MO 5 hours ago

We can’t win in Afghanistan because there is nothing there to win. There is no military solution. Afghanistan is far too rural and spread out to police to the point that the Taliban can be subdued. The political and social infrastructure is not in place carry out such policing. Afghanistan is an open ended conflict. That is, the Taliban have no time table. They aren’t on a schedule. Their cause is holy and they are perfectly happy to keep fighting as many decades into the future as necessary.

The only way to stop the Taliban is for the locals to not want to be Taliban, not support the Taliban, and shut off all corruption that aids the Taliban. We, as a nation, cannot affect any of this.

It’s time to let the Afghans determine their own destiny. We cannot and far too many have died trying.

Posted in Foreign Affairs and U.S.ForeignPolicy, India Pakistan Afganistan and Bangladesh | Tagged | Leave a comment

Trump’s Imminent Cuba Problem – The New York Times

Soon — maybe as early as Friday — President Donald Trump, with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, is expected to announce a presidential initiative that will roll back the Obama-era efforts that loosened the 56-year-old United States embargo on Cuba. How far will the president go?

More important than the actual content of the executive changes, though, will be how the United States Congress, businesses and other interested groups react to Mr. Trump’s reversal of policies that, according to Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Americans support.”

 

Good op-ed. Here is the top comment, which I support:

Civic Samurai

USA 7 hours ago

Trump “wasn’t elected by a small sliver of the Cuban-American population in Florida.” But on Cuba and virtually every other issue, Trump has only championed the interest of his base. Trump has ceased being president of the American people. He is now the leader of a radical faction that represents less than a third of Americans at best. That number will diminish further as the effects of his policies begin to savage his working class supporters.

But politically and psychologically, pandering to his base has become Trump’s survival strategy. Trump knows his position with most Americans has become irredeemable. He has no other choice but to preach to the choir.

Another factor aiding Trump’s demise is his pathological need to destroy Obama’s legacy. Only 17% of Americans now favor the repeal of Obamacare. Obama’s Cuba policy has bi-partisan support and 75% approval. But the thin-skinned Trump will never forgive his humiliation by Obama at the 2011 correspondents dinner. Trump’s hatred for Obama will only accelerate his collapse.

Cuba has privatized the entire hospitality industry Entrepreneurship is flourishing among everyday Cubans. Bed-and-breakfasts, private restaurants, taxi services and artisan shops are putting hard currency into the hands of the Cuban people, not their government. Trump would undo all that out of spite and pettiness. This is the man a minority of voters elected — and one who must be removed from office at the earliest opportunity.

 

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Solving the Korea Crisis by Teaching a Horse to Sing – By Thomas Friedman – NYT

“After a couple of days of such discussions, I realized that America is now the odd man out in this drama. Why? Because China and South Korea have one thing in common: The thing they fear most is not a North Korean nuclear missile blowing them up.

It’s North Korea either blowing itself up — economically collapsing under the weight of sanctions — or being blown up by America.

That would spill refugees and fissile material into China and South Korea, presenting both with a huge cleanup bill and China with a possible united Korea with a nuclear weapon next door.The U.S. — by contrast — now fears North Korea blowing us up, or at least Los Angeles. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Washington fears North Korea more than ever, while China and South Korea fear a unilateral U.S. strike on North Korea more than ever.”

David Lindsay     Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Bravo Tom Friedman. Lets teach the horse to sing. I do have minor problems with your analysis. The Koreas are not our backyard, they are China’s backyard, It is for China, not the US, to lead on this mess. Much to my surprise, I find myself today agreeing with the controversial commentor Richard Luettgen, who suggests we offer to China, if they engineer South Korea taking over North Korea, we will remove our troops and armaments from South Korea. By writing this, I realize the possible flaw in Leuttgen’s idea, is that there could possibly be a future need still to protect Korea under the South Korean Government, from attacks, incursions or pressure from China. Nevertheless, it is still China’s backyard, and we have a big future with China as one of our largest trading partners. We would have to let South Korea determine the amount of US protection that they will need, and not dictate it from the opposite side of the world.

 

Richard Luettgen

is a trusted commenter New Jersey 5 hours ago

Have you ever eaten kimche? Have you ever SMELLED kimche? Why would anyone with a nose that still functions ask you to pass it?

I note not in passing that eventually the solution to squashing North Korea like a bug is not really in the hands of the U.S., unless you count preemptory nuclear aggression a legitimate response: it’s in the hands of China. If Kim Jong-un fired a missile at us or at South Korea, it’s a given that there would be catastrophic response, and China could just go play Mahjong. However, anything less than that places the fate of the North, its client, squarely in China’s orbit. And why is it such an issue with China to keep the North as a viable counter to the South? Because of our presence in force, 64 years after the division of the peninsula and creation of the DMZ by North Korea, China and a United Nations led by us.

Tell China that in return for their support of a reunification of the peninsula under South Korean leadership thereafter friendly to China (and us), we would remove our troops and weapons. What they do with Kim Jong-un and his goons in preparation for such a move would be up to China. Announce that initiative publicly and await the North Korean response – do it soon, before the goons have the ability to strike a nuclear suicide blow.

Who knows, after all? The horse may learn to sing.

More good comments:

Larry Eisenberg

is a trusted commenter Medford, Ma. 7 hours ago

With Trump there’s no Horse and no song,
There are countless things to go wrong,
Gets more brazen each day
In his arrogant way
And Repubs shrug shoulders all day long.

This ego/nut job that ill chance
With spite Rust Belters did enhance
No strategy, no plan,
A decerebrate man,
Intent on an end of earth dance.

DH

Miami-Dade County 7 hours ago

I am surprised by Mr. Friedman’s pessimism with regard to diplomacy with N. Korea. As Walter Lippman wrote in response to George Kennan’s famous “X”article concerning Stalinist Russia: ” The history of diplomacy is the history of relations among rival powers, which did not seek political intimacy, and did not respond to appeals of common purposes. Nevertheless, there have been settlements.”

The counterintuitive approach that may work would involve making N. Korea more secure. As outlined in a recent article in Foreign Affairs magazine, the logic is that N. Korea has shown real interest in improving its economy, but it fears US annihilation. Therefore, in exchange for removing their Nukes promise recognition of borders, a peace treaty between our 2 countries, and removal of American troops from the Korean peninsula. At the same time, integrate N. Korea’s economy into the economy of Northwest Asia.

We have tried isolation and aggression, and it hasn’t worked. It’s time to try a different approach.

Posted in Korea North & South, Thomas Friedman | Tagged | Leave a comment