"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

House of Lords Backs Down on House of Commons Parliament Brexit Bill and the Resolution of EU Residents' Rights in the UK

We do not question the sovereign right of the UK to leave the EU, but how it is done reflects greatly on what the world can expect from Britain in the future....

In a surprise to us, as reported at BBC News, the House of Lords has backed down on its initial stance on the House of Commons Brexit Bill, giving the present UK government a blank check to trigger leaving the European Union without a previous handling of the after-Brexit rights of present European Union residents in the UK.

The rationale of the House of Lords was stated to be to avoid "divisiveness", a laudatory aim. However, the Brexit referendum with a near 50/50 vote result remains politically divisive ... regardless.

Our surprise is based especially on the fact that we are aware of numerous EU citizens (both in and out of the UK) whose personal and professional lives are integrally tied to the manner in which Brexit is ultimately implemented.

It must be emphasized that the issue of EU citizens' rights in the UK, as well as UK citizens' rights in Member States of the European Union after Brexit is not a "theoretical" legal construct, but represents a very acute real problem.

As widely reported, some UK citizens working and residing in other EU Member States have already applied for or have already obtained dual foreign citizenship in those countries to counteract further possible personal losses and deprivations based on their "in limbo" status.

It is of course apparent that the nationalistic populist trend we see elsewhere in the USA and in Europe is also present in the UK. Obviously, a main objective is "exclusion" of outsiders, which is a territorial political decision.

There is e.g. an ongoing "exclusionary war" from which neither the EU nor the UK are excepted. In addition to the selective travel ban in the USA, see e.g. the visa war at EU escalates 'visa war' with US with Americans set to lose visa-free travel to Europe.

We are similarly familiar with several recent cases of persons applying for various visas in the UK. The UK fees for visa application are steeply priced. The scope of the required visa application paperwork is considerable. And there is no guarantee that the application will be granted.

Perhaps matters will get better once the UK leave of the EU is final.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

The UK House of Lords Does Not Rubber Stamp the House of Commons Brexit Bill But Requires Protections of the Rights of Resident EU Nationals

As we previously predicted, we did not expect the House of Lords in the United Kingdom to "rubber stamp" Brexit -- the UK exit from the European Union, and the peers indeed have now voted 358 to 256 against the Brexit bill passed by the House of Commons, which made no provision for the rights of resident EU nationals who would still be living in the UK after Brexit.

This is not an issue that can be "handled" after Brexit is triggered. Rather, applicable existing rights must be protected via any Brexit bill before the EU exit is actually triggered.

This is a matter of the internal legal structure of the United Kingdom and of the tried and true norms of the "rule of law".

From a legal standpoint, the House of Lords decision is of course the correct one.

The United Kingdom can not just say, "goodbye, ta...ta" to the European Union and make no provision for the protection of the rights of EU citizens currently living within its borders under the UK's present European Union membership.

As a matter of legal logic, also a political "divorce" always involves a balancing of the rights of all parties concerned. You can't just run away as if what had been before never happened.

The House of Lords is thus confirming an elementary aspect of traditional legal rights and obligations.

Now it is up to the House of Commons to get back on the right track. As a sovereign nation-state, the UK can of course leave the EU if it so chooses ... but ... it has to do so in conformance with the general rules of law, which protect everyone.

Accordingly, a Brexit bill acceptable to the House of Lords must contain protections effectively applicable to all inhabitants, also resident EU nationals, whose status otherwise would be in a legal state of limbo.

Friday, February 17, 2017

UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Opens Investigation of Heineken Purchase of Punch Taverns While Technology Company Monopolies Flourish

It is time to turn from ephemeral political issues to things that really matter long-term to the average man out there in the real world: like the future of beer and pubs in the Brexit-besotted United Kingdom.

As we read at Out-Law.com, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened an investigation into the Heineken purchase of Punch Taverns.

Now what could be competitively wrong with that purchase? The number of different beers available in the UK is immense and the number of superb pubs on the British Isles is of course legendary.  Here is what Heineken's managing director, David Forde, wrote about the beverage market in the UK in November, 2014 (fairly recent in terms of publications of this nature):

"Heineken UK is a company that has 42% market share in cider and roughly 24% market share in beer.  And I know you guys know the market well.  It’s a fragmented market.  The UK is a very competitive market.  It’s one of the few markets where the five big global brewers are all present.  We still have a strong regional brewer base in the UK and they have about between 20% and 23% of the market with strong pub estates.  So this is one of the more competitive markets in the UK, or in the world. But we find ourselves with Heineken UK with a remarkably strong position."

Of course, pub acquisition is one way to make sure that your beverage brands retain high visibility and help to expand your markets, if possible. Nevertheless, there is little reason here to worry that the strong competitive beverage climate in the UK will suffer greatly from the Punch Taverns acquisition.

What irritates this writer is that anti-trust and competition authorities in the USA and Europe have no qualms to investigate the highly competitive beverage industry, but seem to do virtually nothing to halt the abusive ongoing and proliferating monopolistic excesses that permeate the oft non-competitive technology industry among the big tech monopoly players (the percentages below are not as recent as they could be, but they give a good general picture of the competitive lay of the land):
  • Qualcomm (90% of small mobile device LTE semiconductors) --- see in this regard the recent FTC Charges Qualcomm With Monopolizing Key Semiconductor Device Used in Cell Phones (is a whopping 90% the monopoly threshold to get the FTC to initiate action??!!!!)
  • Microsoft (89% of the PC operating system market via Windows)
  • Intel (88% of the x86 processor market)
  • Google (88% of the smartphone operating system market via Android)
  • Google (80% of the search engine market share via Google Search)
  • Oracle (55% market share of integrated systems - Oracle is the world's 2nd largest software company, behind 1st-place Microsoft)
  • Amazon (43% of online retail sales in the USA)
  • Facebook (42% of the social network market)
  • Verizon (ca. 35% market share of wireless systems in the USA)
  • AT&T (ca. 32% market share of wireless systems in the USA)
  • Vodafone (ca. 30% telecommunications market share in numerous countries)
  • Apple (ca. 25% of the global tablet market)
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprises (ca. 25% of the enterprise server market)
So, now the competition authorities are going to go after a beverage company with a 24% beer market share in the UK????, a market share LOWER than ANY of the above tech company market shares....

There are 1700 breweries in the UK. One Thousand Seven Hundred. We call that a pretty healthy, competitive industry.

How many competitors are there in each of the above mentioned categories of the technology monopolists and why have the anti-trust and competition authorities in Europe and the USA already long ago not instituted massive corrective measures, and not have passed desperately needed reformed patent laws, to restore healthy competition to the various branches of those technological industries????

That is the question.


 



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Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1 :
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
,
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2 :
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    ,
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.

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    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
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    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
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