This is great.
The 6-year-old dangled his legs above the floor as he sat at the table with his defense attorney, before a North Carolina judge.
He was accused of picking a tulip from a yard at his bus stop, his attorney Julie Boyer said, and he was on trial in juvenile court for injury to real property.
The boy’s attention span was too short to follow the proceedings, Boyer said, so she handed him crayons and a coloring book.
“I asked him to color a picture,” she said, “so he did.”
He didn’t know it, but no matter what the judge decided, the experience could change the boy’s life, experts say, from how he sees the court system to increasing his chance of getting into trouble again and being sent to alternative school.
In March 2020, the Trump administration put into place one of the most controversial and restrictive immigration policies ever implemented at the U.S. border — and in January, President Biden quietly continued it.
The Biden administration says the Trump-era policy known as Title 42, which relies on a 1944 public health statute to indefinitely close the border to “nonessential” travel, remains necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, Biden officials say, migrants at the southern border still can seek protection in the United States, a right afforded to them under U.S. law.
Yet since March 20, 2020, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its order invoking Title 42, U.S. border officials have claimed unchecked, unilateral authority to summarily expel from the country hundreds of thousands of immigrant adults, families and unaccompanied minors who didn’t have prior permission to enter, without due process or access to asylum — let alone testing for the coronavirus.
In a year of Title 42, of more than 650,000 encounters with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, fewer than 1% have been able to seek protection, the Los Angeles Times has learned…
“The Biden administration’s use of Title 42 is flatly illegal,” said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union, who sued the Trump administration over the policy, which the Biden administration is defending in court. “There is zero daylight between the Biden administration and Trump administration’s position.”
Experts said Biden’s decision to exempt minors from expulsion will keep the numbers flowing. “It’s a no-brainer”, said Jasmin Singh, a New York-based immigration lawyer. “It’s all kids at the moment,” said one person in Guatemala involved in the smuggling, or coyote, trade.
Should India ban crypto in a return to foreign currency regulations of the past or embrace cryptocurrency? Shruti Rajagopalan has an excellent column reminding us of India’s old system of currency control under the License Raj.
If India proceeds with a rumored ban on cryptocurrency, it wouldn’t be the country’s first attempt to impose currency controls. This time, however, a ban is even less likely to succeed — and the consequences for India’s economy could be more dire. The country shouldn’t make the same mistake twice.
In the 1970s and 80s, at the height of what was known as the License Raj, Indians could only hold foreign currency for a specific purpose and with a permit from the central bank. If a businessman bought foreign exchange to spend over two days in Paris and one in Frankfurt, and instead spent two days in Germany, the Reserve Bank of India would demand to know why he’d deviated from the currency permit. Violators were routinely threatened with fines and jail time of up to seven years.
Imports required additional permits. Infosys Ltd. founder Narayana Murthy recalls spending about $25,000 (including bribes) to make 50 trips to Delhi over three years, just to get permission to import a $150,000 computer. Plus, since any foreign exchange that the company earned notionally belonged to the government, the RBI would release only half of Infosys’s earnings for the firm to spend on business expenses abroad.
Naturally a black market, with all its unsavory elements, emerged for foreign currency. The government doubled down, subjecting those dealing in illicit foreign exchange to preventative detention, usually reserved for terrorists. Businessmen selling Nike shoes and Sony stereos were arrested as smugglers.
The system impoverished Indians and made it impossible for Indian firms to compete globally. There’s a reason the country’s world-class IT sector took off only after a balance of payments crisis forced India to open up its economy in 1991.
…While details of the possible crypto ban remain unclear, a draft bill from 2019 bears eerie resemblance to the 1970s controls. It would criminalize the possession, mining, trading or transferring of cryptocurrency assets. Offenders could face up to ten years in jail as well as fines. Such a blanket prohibition would be foolish on multiple levels….
A related problem is that you may think you are banning a cryptocurrency but if you are banning something like Ethereum or Elrond what you are really banning is an experimental workspace, a platform capable of supporting an ecosystem of innovations in finance, art and new forms of cooperation and organization. As I said some time ago:
The Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is a new organizational form potentially as important as the creation of the corporate form in the 1600s.
and that’s just one example of how crypto will–in one form or another–under-gird much of our life in the 21st century in ways we don’t yet fully see. Banning is premature to say the least.
Moreover, the irony is that India has one of the world’s most advanced identity and payments systems, the India stack. By integrating the India stack with crypto systems regulated similarly to foreign currencies under India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act, India could become a leader in fintech. Balaji Srinivasan presents practical steps forward:
Basically, India doesn’t need to take a risk with a novel ban on the financial internet. It can just modify FEMA to regulate decentralized cryptocurrencies and national digital currencies as foreign assets. A 64-page report by the Indian law firm Nishith Desai Associates outlines in detail how that could work. In brief, the report recommends:
- Treating crypto as a foreign asset. FEMA provides language that could be used to expressly classify digital assets as “securities”, “goods”, “software”, or “foreign currencies” depending on their features and attributes.
- Regulating exchanges with startup-friendly licensing. RBI could use FEMA to regulate crypto exchanges as “authorised persons” per the Act, thereby permitting them to deal in foreign currency. Some provision would need to be made to accommodate startups, perhaps by monitoring small new licensees under a regulatory sandbox framework. By repurposing this well-established regulatory mechanism, crypto-assets become subject to all the existing safeguards that the Act provides, including RBI oversight and KYC/AML.
- Adopting KYC/AML rules. Most developed jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan, South Korea, and the US, have brought crypto-asset business activity within their AML regimes. Such an approach has also been recommended by the FATF. India can do this with a simple Central Government notification under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act.
The FEMA-based model (or a close alternative) would allow us to turn all licensed, regulated Indian exchanges like CoinDCX, WazirX, Coinswitch, Zebpay, Unocoin, and Pocketbits into well-lit venues for trading cryptocurrency. Over time, they will also become huge drivers of remittances for Indians abroad performing remote work, thereby bringing capital into India.
Have your fun while you can:
A Taiwanese official has pleaded with people to stop changing their name to “salmon” after dozens made the unusual move to take advantage of a restaurant promotion.
In a phenomenon that has been labelled “salmon chaos” by local media, about 150 mostly young people visited government offices in recent days to officially change their name.
The cause of this sudden enthusiasm was a chain of sushi restaurants.
Under the two-day promotion, which ended on Thursday, any customer whose ID card contained “gui yu” – the Chinese characters for salmon – would be entitled to an all-you-can-eat sushi meal along with five friends…
The United Daily News reported that one resident decided to add a record 36 new characters to his name, most of them seafood themed, including the characters for “abalone”, “crab” and “lobster”.
Here is the full story, via Jeremy Rubinoff.
The British health system is the single most important issue driving opposition to Irish unification in Northern Ireland. Citizens of Northern Ireland get free medical care as part of the U.K.’s socialized medicine. British taxpayers subsidize Northern Ireland’s public services to the tune of $12.5 billion, according to one estimate. That’s a lot of money to give up for the nationalist cause. Nor is it clear more generally what the costs of unification would be or who would pay them, or what the economic benefits of unification might involve and who would get them.
It rubs my intuition the wrong way to believe that one form of socialised medicine over another is actually the major factor. In any case, here is more from Kimberly Cowell-Myers.
Iceland will open its borders to vaccinated foreigners from Thursday, making the north Atlantic island one of the first countries in the world to reopen to tourists after coronavirus. Iceland’s government had already allowed vaccinated travellers from the EU to enter without quarantine, but the new decision means visitors from its main tourist destinations of the US and UK will be allowed to enter…
Visitors to Iceland will have to show proof of full vaccination from a jab that has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, which currently excludes vaccines from China — a significant source of tourists to the country — as well as Russia’s Sputnik V.
China raised the stakes in the international vaccine competition on Saturday, saying that foreigners wishing to enter the Chinese mainland from Hong Kong will face fewer paperwork requirements if they are inoculated with Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines.
The policy announcement, which covers foreigners applying for visas in the Chinese territory, comes a day after the United States, India, Japan and Australia announced plans to provide vaccines more widely to other countries.
Here is more from Keith Bradsher (NYT).
Good Fortune Burger of Toronto has named its menu items after office supplies so that customers can include them on expense reports:
Fortune Burger: Basic Steel Stapler
Diamond Chicken Burger: Mini Dry Erase Whiteboard
Double Your Fortune Burger: Ergonomic Aluminum Laptop Stand
Emerald Veggie Burger: Wired Earphones With Mic
Parmesan Fries: CPU Wireless Mouse
Ginger Beer: Yellow Lined Sticky Notes
San Pellegrino: Ball Point Black Ink Gel Pens
Build Your Fortune Burger: Silicone Keyboard Cover
“There’s no malice intended in it,” Director of Operations Jon Purdy told blogTO. “It’s all just fun and games.”
Here is the menu, via John Thorne.
NYTimes: The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Food and Drug Administration to postpone hundreds of drug company inspections, creating an enormous backlog that is delaying new drug approvals and leading the industry to warn of impending shortages of existing medicines.
…In an interview, F.D.A. officials said they sharply curtailed the inspections to protect their investigators, following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which discouraged federal employees from travel during the pandemic.
But some people in both industry and public health communities say that federal drug inspections are essential, and that the agency should bypass travel restrictions by taking precautions, including wearing proper personal protective equipment.
…In interviews, F.D.A. officials denied that the dramatic drop in inspections has slowed drug approvals. But a number of drug companies, including Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Biocon Biologics and Bristol Myers Squibb, has issued statements noting deferred F.D.A. action because of the agency’s inability to conduct inspections.
In October, Spectrum announced that the F.D.A. had deferred action on its application for Rolontis, a treatment for cancer patients who have a very low number of certain white blood cells, because it could not inspect the manufacturing plant the company uses in South Korea.
In late December, Biocon Biologics notified shareholders that the F.D.A. deferred action on its joint application with Mylan for a proposed biosimilar to Avastin, a cancer drug.
Bristol Myers Squibb announced in November that the F.D.A. would miss its November deadline for taking action on a lymphoma treatment, lisocabtagene maraleucel because it could not inspect a third-party Texas manufacturing plant. The agency eventually did complete its inspection and approved the drug last month.
Grocery store workers are working, meat packers are working, hell bars and restaurants are open in many parts of the country but FDA inspectors aren’t inspecting. It boggles the mind.
Let’s review. The FDA prevented private firms from offering SARS-Cov2 tests in the crucial early weeks of the pandemic, delayed the approval of vaccines, took weeks to arrange meetings to approve vaccines even as thousands died daily, failed to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine, failed to quickly approve rapid antigen tests, and failed to perform inspections necessary to keep pharmaceutical supply lines open.
I am a long-time critic of the FDA and frankly I am stunned at the devastation.
That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:
One issue is what exactly constitutes proof of vaccination. For my vaccinations, I have been issued a rather flimsy, easy-to-forge paper document from the Centers for Disease Control. Unlike a passport or a dollar bill, it has no embedded watermarks or other protections. Anyone with a moderately sophisticated copy machine could create many fake documents, or perhaps steal an existing stash of these documents and sell them on the black market. Once you have the documents, you can simply note that you have been vaccinated, and it is not easy for outside parties to dispute such claims.
Soon enough, of course, it may be easier for most adults to get a vaccine than to forge a vaccine passport. Still, U.S. laws and regulations work better when they can refer to clear, verifiable standards of evidence. It is hard to imagine a set of laws or procedures based on criteria so loose that they basically allow anyone to claim they are vaccinated. A more stringent standard, however, would be hard for most vaccinated Americans to meet.
Another knotty question is which vaccines will count for the passport. Pfizer’s, Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s for sure, but what if you are a U.S. citizen living in Canada who received AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has been approved by some 15 nations but not the U.S.? Is the federal government willing to tell a whole class of responsible individuals that they cannot fly on U.S. planes? Or will the vaccine-passport bureaucracy be willing to approve vaccines that the Food and Drug Administration will not?
These dilemmas can become stickier yet. What about Sputnik, the Russian vaccine, or the numerous Chinese vaccines, which are being administered around the world, including in Mexico?
Do Americans really wish to create a country to which most foreigners would not be very welcome? Furthermore, what counts as proof of foreign vaccination? Some Asian countries, including China, are creating elaborate and supposedly secure vaccine verification systems, using advanced information technology. Good for them — but how would that connect with U.S. regulations? How many different passport systems would a flight attendant or gate agent have to read, interpret and render judgment upon?
The likely result of all this: Many foreign visitors to the U.S. would never quite know in advance whether they could board an airplane or attend a public event.
And how would the passport reflect any new vaccines deemed necessary? What if new Covid-19 strains require booster shots? What if you’ve had Covid and thus get only one shot for now rather than two, as many experts are recommending? What will happen as the number of vaccines around the world proliferates? Given the slowness of the FDA and CDC, it is hard to imagine any new U.S. approvals coming quickly. A vaccine passport system could end up being fetters not only for foreigners and anti-vaxxers but also for vaccinated Americans.
Recommended, there are additional arguments at the link.
Yes, the CFO of Huawei. She has been held under house arrest by Canada since December 2018, under the supposition that she will be extradited to the United States to face trial. Don’t we believe in something like a right to a fair and speedy trial? Can she get that at this point?
I am not pleading for her innocence, rather this is a major foreign policy and tactical mistake. How would the United States react if China held say Bill Gates, on the grounds that he had violated some extraterritorial Chinese law? The U.S.-China relationship is the world’s most important, so why are we partially wrecking it over such a matter?
It is also an erosion of the rule of law in the United States and Canada. You might plead “independent judiciary,” but when American law “goes extraterritorial,” as it has in this case, there are so many potential cases that the selection of charges and extradition requests cannot help but be political. How many other people have acted to “conspire to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran”, as are the charges here? Are they all being detailed and held? This dilemma is a good reason to limit the reach of American law into extraterritorial matters, namely that there is no objective way to apply the law fairly and impartially against a very large number of (possible) foreign perpetrators operating overseas. We go after corrupt soccer officials abroad but not corrupt chess officials at FIDE?
There is plenty of evidence (Bloomberg) that North American politicians have been interfering in this matter already, so to cancel the charges and release her would hardly be soiling our constitutional innocence. Best would be if the Canadian government would step in and end the mess.
To be clear, I am supportive of the United States working very hard to make sure its allies do not install Huawei communications equipment, as that could compromise their and our national security. Still, that is not the issue here and so it is time to free Meng Wanzhou.
Here is the audio, transcript, and video. So many good parts it is hard to excerpt, here is part of the summary:
John joined Tyler to apply that habit of mind to a number of puzzles, including why real interest rates don’t equalize across countries, what explains why high trading volumes and active management persist in finance, how the pandemic has affected his opinion of habit formation theories, his fiscal theory of price level and inflation, the danger of a US sovereign debt crisis, why he thinks Bitcoin will eventually die, his idea for health-status insurance, becoming a national gliding champion, how a Renaissance historian for a father and a book translator for a mother shaped him intellectually, what’s causing the leftward drift in economics, the need to increase competition among universities, how he became libertarian, the benefits of blogging, and more.
Here is one bit from John:
COCHRANE: You ask two questions here. One is active management, and the other is trading. I’d like to distinguish them. It’s a puzzle in the Chicago free market sense.
Let me ask your question even more pointedly. If you believe in efficient markets, and you believe in competition, and things work out right, we’ve scientifically proven since the 1960s, that high-fee active managers don’t earn any more than a proverbial monkey throwing darts in a well-managed slow index. So why do people keep paying for high-fee active management?
Chicago free market — we’re not supposed to say, “Oh, people are dumb for 40 years — 50 years now,” [laughs] but there’s a lot of it. It’s one of those things. Active management is slowly falling away. The move towards passive index investment is getting stronger and stronger.
There’s a strong new literature, which I’ll point to. My colleague here, Jonathan Berk, has written some good articles on it. This is the puzzle of efficient markets. If everybody indexed, markets couldn’t be efficient because no one’s out there getting the information that makes markets efficient. Markets have to be a little inefficient, and somebody has to do the trading.
Your second question is about trading. Why is there this immense volume of trading? When was the last time you bought or sold a stock? You don’t do it every 20 milliseconds, do you? [laughs]
I’ll highlight this. If I get my list of the 10 great unsolved puzzles that I hope our grandchildren will have figured out, why does getting the information into asset prices require that the stock be turned over a hundred times? That’s clearly what’s going on. There’s this vast amount of trading, which is based on information or opinion and so forth. I hate to discount it at all just as human folly, but that’s clearly what’s going on, but we don’t have a good model.
That is a Substack essay from Matt Yglesias, and open source at that. Excerpt, using quotation marks rather than forcing further indents on the segment:
“To me, there’s something attractive about the “constitutional copyright” idea of returning to the 1790 Copyright Act rule. But there’s also something attractive about the idea of an author retaining control over their works during their lifetime. There’s also something to be said for the idea that if you publish something and then get hit by a bus the next day, maybe that happenstance shouldn’t cut your heirs out of the downside. Mashing that all together might leave you with life of the author OR 28 years, whichever is longer.
I think it’s hard to specify the exact right number (Rufus Pollock tries with some fancy math and comes up with 15 to 38 years), but these two points from Hal Varian’s paper on copyright terms seem relevant:
- “Fewer than 11 percent of the copyrights registered between 1883 and 1964 were renewed after 28 years.”
- “Of the 10,027 books published in 1930, only 174 were still in print in 2001.”
It is just super-rare for old works to have large commercial value. But Xing Li, Megan MacGarvie, and Petra Moser show that copyright extensions have a big impact on consumer prices. And I would argue the cultural cost is higher.”
There is much more at the link.
According to Arizona Department of Corrections whistleblowers, hundreds of incarcerated people who should be eligible for release are being held in prison because the inmate management software cannot interpret current sentencing laws.
KJZZ is not naming the whistleblowers because they fear retaliation. The employees said they have been raising the issue internally for more than a year, but prison administrators have not acted to fix the software bug. The sources said Chief Information Officer Holly Greene and Deputy Director Joe Profiri have been aware of the problem since 2019.
The Arizona Department of Corrections confirmed there is a problem with the software.
As of 2019, the department had spent more than $24 million contracting with IT company Business & Decision, North America to build and maintain the software program, known as ACIS, that is used to manage the inmate population in state prisons.
One of the software modules within ACIS, designed to calculate release dates for inmates, is presently unable to account for an amendment to state law that was passed in 2019.
Senate Bill 1310, authored by former Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, amended the Arizona Revised Statutes so that certain inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses could earn additional release credits upon the completion of programming in state prisons. Gov. Ducey signed the bill in June of 2019.
But department sources say the ACIS software is not still able to identify inmates who qualify for SB 1310 programming, nor can it calculate their new release dates upon completion of the programming.
“We knew from day one this wasn’t going to work” a department source said. “When they approved that bill, we looked at it and said ‘Oh, s—.’”
Here is the full story, via Zach Valenta.