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Ted Ewen
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Encyclopedia Britannica made this 10 minute video about how a country slides into despotism. Please watch.

Half-assed programming was a time-filler that, like knitting, must date to the beginning of the human experience.

Excerpt From
Vinge, Vernor. “Zones of Thought Trilogy.” 

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The director of public prosecutions is considering a complaint that voters were misled by the Leave campaigns ahead of the EU referendum, it was announced today.

The complaint, which cites “undue influence” on the referendum by the Vote Leave and Leave.EU campaigns, was submitted by an independent group led by Professor Bob Watt, an expert in electoral law from the University of Buckingham.

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, is considering the complaint, which centres on “instances where the Leave campaigns continued to make assertions of fact that were knowingly misleading”, including a claim of the EU costing the UK £350m a week which could be given to the NHS.

The complaint also cites pro-Brexit leaflets that said Nissan and Unilever supported Brexit and posters claiming Turkey is joining the EU.

Professor Watt said: “It is clear that there remains deep public concern over the conduct of the referendum campaigning. In referring this public interest matter to the DPP, concerns centre on instances where the Leave campaigns continued to make assertions of fact that were knowingly misleading.

“Under election law, these amount to 'fraudulent devices or contrivances' which constitute a serious criminal offence.

"Other fraudulent devices include misrepresentation of businesses and individuals as having supported Leave where they made it very clear they did not, as well as certain leaflets and websites which we believe were intentionally designed to trick voters.”

He added: “None of us is willing to allow the UK to be dragged down to some kind of populist 'who can lie and deceive the most?' race to the bottom, such as we witnessed earlier this year.”

Under normal circumstances, a police complaint must be lodged before evidence can be considered by the Crown Prosecution Service but under the 1983 Representation of the People Act, Ms Saunders is permitted to consider cases of election offences when they are referred to her office directly.

A CPS spokesperson said: “We can confirm that this letter has been received and we are currently considering its content.”

It is being dealt with by the special crime team, which deals with election offences.

Under electoral law "undue influence" is considered a corrupt practice and includes the use of "a fraudulent device or contrivance" to "impede or prevent or intend to impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise"

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Senior Conservative MPs have seized on a forgotten Government promise to let Parliament decide the response to any referendum result – insisting it must hold true for Brexit.

Ministers agreed, exactly six years ago, that referendums “cannot be legally binding” – which meant MPs and peers should decide “whether or not to take action” on the verdict given by voters.

The unequivocal statement flies in the face of Theresa May’s repeated insistence that her Government, not Parliament, will decide how to deliver Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Prime Minister is locked in a court battle for the right to use the ancient royal prerogative – legal authority derived from the Crown – to trigger the Article 50 withdrawal process, ignoring Parliament.

But, in October 2010, David Cameron’s Government stated exactly the opposite in a little-noticed response to an inquiry by a House of Lords committee.

That inquiry concluded that “because of the sovereignty of Parliament, referendums cannot be legally binding in the UK, and are therefore advisory”.

In response, then-constitutional reform minister Mark Harper stated: “The Government agrees with this recommendation.

“Under the UK’s constitutional arrangements, Parliament must be responsible for deciding whether or not to take action in response to a referendum result.”

Nicky Morgan, the former Education Secretary who has called for a vote on Article 50, told The Independent that the document bolstered the case for that vote to take place.

She said: “The referendum was advisory and Parliament has to be responsible for deciding whether or not to take action in response to that result.

“The 2010 Government made that important commitment and – although the complexion of the Government has changed since - the current Prime Minister was a very important part of that Government.”

Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, said: “It is the case that all referendums are advisory – that’s absolutely, abundantly clear.

“The Government doesn’t have a blank cheque on what model we pursue as we come out of the EU, or our future relationship with the European Union, because the electorate made no pronouncement on that whatsoever.”...

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There is no magic bullet.

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We Have Had Enough

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Tesco has stopped selling dozens of its most famous household brands to its online shoppers because of a dispute with its biggest supplier, Unilever. The row is said to have developed when Unilever - which says it faces higher costs because of the fall in sterling - attempted to increase wholesale prices.

Included are Marmite, PG Tips tea, Pot Noodles and Surf washing powder...Comfort fabric conditioner, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

The products are still being sold in stores but Tesco said its shelves were running short of several products.

It said it was "currently experiencing availability issues on a number of Unilever products".

"We hope to have this issue resolved soon," the company added. However, it did not indicate when that might be.

Sterling has dropped by 16% against the euro since the UK's Brexit vote.

Unilever is the UK's biggest food and grocery manufacturer with many famous brand names.

Tell me more about the economic advantages of #Brexit.

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"When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set." -Lin Yutang, writer and translator


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If your neighbour offends you give his child a drum....

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Leading foreign academics from the LSE acting as expert advisers to the UK government were told they would not be asked to contribute to government work and analysis on Brexit because they are not British nationals.

The news was met with outrage by many academics, while legal experts questioned whether it could be legal under anti-discrimination laws and senior politicians criticised it as bewildering.

“It is utterly baffling that the government is turning down expert, independent advice on Brexit simply because someone is from another country,” said Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats’ EU spokesman.

“This is yet more evidence of the Conservatives’ alarming embrace of petty chauvinism over rational policymaking.”

Sara Hagemann, an assistant professor at the London School of Economics who specialises in EU policymaking processes, EU treaty matters, the role of national parliaments and the consequences of EU enlargements, said she had been told her services would not be required. Hagemann tweeted on Thursday:

Sara Hagemann
UK govt previously sought work& advice from best experts. Just told I & many colleagues no longer qualify as not UKcitizens #Brexit @LSEnews

Asked to clarify whether she was responding to speeches at the Conservative party conference pledging tough new immigration controls, Hagemann, who is Danish, said she had been informed specifically that she would not be contributing to any further government Brexit work.

It is understood up to nine LSE academics specialising in EU affairs have been briefing the Foreign Office on Brexit issues, but the school was informed by a senior FCO official that submissions from non-UK citizens would no longer be accepted. The staff group concerned were then made aware of the instruction.

One of the group is understood to be a dual national, with citizenship of both the UK and another EU member state.

The Foreign Office was said to be concerned about the risk of sensitive material being exposed as article 50 negotiations over Britain’s exit from the EU – and subsequent talks on its future trade and other relations with the bloc – start to get under way.

A spokesman denied non-British nationals had been barred from the work, saying it had been misunderstood. “The FCO regularly works with academic institutions to assist in its policy research and nothing has changed as a result of the referendum,” a spokesman said.

“It has always been the case that anyone working in the FCO may require security clearance depending on the nature and duration of their work. Britain is an outward-looking nation and we will continue to take advice from the best and brightest minds, regardless of nationality.

But Steve Peers, a professor of EU law at the University of Essex who has advised the government, said it should be “perfectly possible to get useful input from some of the best-qualified people in the country” without anything sensitive being revealed.

“I don’t really get the security or sensitivity argument,” he said. “Whatever the reasons, this will come across as hostile, narrow and xenophobic.” He tweeted:

Steve Peers
_One of the best EU political scientists in the country
What kind of know-nothing nativist govt rejects the expertise of all non-citizens?

Legal experts questioned whether the FCO could be in breach of UK public procurement law by requiring the work be carried out by British nationals. Albert Sanchez Graells, a senior law lecturer at Bristol university, said it “definitely” would be if the work was in the context of a services contract.

@DavidAllenGreen if this was in context of a services contract, most definitely. I am happy to provide free legal opinion on this @LSEnews

Simon Cox, a migration lawyer at the Open Society Justice Initiative, said it might be possible for the government to legally restrict high-level advisers to British citizens, but added that the way the situation had been handled was “beyond disrespectful, and in a worryingly xenophobic context”.

The LSE said in statement that the government regularly called on its academics for advice, adding: “We believe our academics, including non-UK nationals, have hugely valuable expertise which will be vital in this time of uncertainty around the UK’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. Any changes to security measures are a matter for the UK government.”

LSE interim director Prof Julia Black said in an internal school update memo on the matter that the world-renowned university stood by its academic principles of independence. “You may have seen reports in the media that the Foreign Office have advised us that they will be issuing tenders to contract for advisory work, but that only UK nationals will be eligible to apply,” she said in the memo, which was posted on Twitter.

“Whilst the Foreign Office has long had a rule restricting the nationality of employees or secondees, the extension of the bar to advisory work seems to be new. However, it is for the Foreign Office to determine what its national security arrangements are, and their legality, not for us.

“We are standing firm to our principles of academic independence and valuing our truly international community of scholars. We will continue to stand by our colleagues and we strongly value the work that you all do.”

UK in a Changing Europe, a thinktank on UK-EU relations of which Hagemann is a senior fellow, said it believed there was “a more pressing need than ever before for academic expertise to inform the multitude of difficult decisions to be taken in connection with Brexit” and that it would continue to publish research “whatever the nationality of the author”.

Separately, the Guardian has learned that another EU national – a migration specialist who asked not to be identified – was approached by a private recruitment firm for a Foreign Office post for which she was well qualified, but informed after several conversations that only British citizens would be eligible.

European academics, who make up about 15% of research and teaching staff at British universities, responded with dismay. Jan Eichhorn, a fellow in social policy at Edinburgh university, tweeted: “For the first time this makes me question whether it makes sense to continue working at a UK university as an EU policy-focussed academic.”

The government has come under sustained fire over immigration since the Conservative conference when the home secretary, Amber Rudd, said it was considering requiring companies to declare the proportion of international staff in their workforce.

Ministers were said to want to see lists of companies published and those employers with the highest proportions of foreign staff “named and shamed” for not employing British people when they could.

Rudd, who was forced to defend herself on radio against allegations of xenophobia, also announced a crackdown on overseas students and work visas, and pledged to prevent migrants “taking jobs British people could do”.

Theresa May was also accused after her conference speech of stoking anti-immigrant sentiment in the country by playing to fears about the impact of foreign workers on jobs and wages.

The prime minister said the EU referendum result legitimised a tougher line on immigration and some people did not like to admit that British workers could “find themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration”.

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