LACK OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION CONVICTIONS

The police commander tasked with tackling female genital mutilation has excused the lack of convictions for the crime by saying it has many nuances.

Ivan Balchatchet, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead on honor violence, female genital mutilation, and forced marriage, was responding to a letter from Jonathan Nicholas, a writer who served as a frontline police officer for 30 years, asking why there has yet to be a single conviction for FGM despite tens of thousands of recorded cases since it was criminalized in 1985.

“Thank you for your letters received dated 10th October 2017 and 12th January 2018,” wrote Balhatchet. “May I apologize for the tardiness in my response, you can appreciate that as the National Policing Lead for this portfolio the need to prioritize resources to tackle all forms of Honour-Based Abuse, including Female Genital Mutilation. This includes working with both statutory and non-governmental organisations, in ways to prevent FGM and protect girls and women.”

Coming to the point, the police commander excused the lack of convictions in somewhat confused English: There are many nuances to this crime type, which even third-sector charitable organisations, do not claim to share a nexus with your rationale of concerns for the lack of successful prosecutions.

Balhatchet’s remarks, while difficult to interpret with certainty, were widely interpreted as confirmation that the police do not consider it appropriate to punish those responsible for FGM.

This would be in line with a similar statement from West Midlands Police, which said it felt prosecuting/jailing parents is unlikely to benefit the child.

Like West Midlands Police, Commander Balhatchet was forced into a rapid climbdown after receiving a furious backlash on social media, tweeting: I apologize for this letter. It is not clear at all. FGM is the appalling abuse of children. It is unacceptable that there have been no successful prosecutions. Working with others, this is something that needs to change.

The inaction on FGM and reference to nuances would appear to be broadly in line with the officer’s previous statements on such crimes under his National Police Chiefs’ Council brief.

When Freedom of Information requests revealed that police were referring just 5 per cent of honor-based crimes to prosecutors — despite the number of reports surging by 68 per cent between 2014 and 2015 — Balhatchet said that honor based abuse is a complex crime, and referred to potential issues within community or family networks.

For most of women in the Middle East, veils and abayas are an imposition by an obscurantist ideology. After the Islamic State was defeated in Raqqa, Syria, many women took to the streets to take off their veils. Similar images were seen after Raqqa was first freed from the Islamist dictatorship. Women were filmed burning their veils.

Islamists have had trouble imposing hijabs and abayas without resorting to intimidation and violence; the Western establishment, however, seems to be helping them to succeed, while legitimizing their ideology, by turning these tools of oppression into a mainstream garment. For instance, a Swedish delegation of 15 officials visiting Iran, led by Sweden’s Prime Minister, included 11 women; they wore Islamic headscarves all of the time while in Iran. Such European alacrity in submitting to political Islam was also clear in the shameful covering of nude statues in Rome during the visit of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The headscarf, even when it is worn freely, designates women, in the name of religion, as responsible for controlling sexual urges in men. By classifying women as either modest and immodest, it is a sign of submission to Islamist codes inherited from the 7th century. Even to point out that this is said in their own books, such as the Quran, is considered Islamophobic.

While the fashion industry is busy appeasing political Islam, women in many Islamic countries are still suffering violence and intimidation under Islamic law sharia. The question of women’s rights — to drive a car (now finally permitted in Saudi Arabia); to ride a bicycle (forbidden in Iran); to leave the house without the permission of a male guardian; to have the same value in a court of law as a man; not to be beaten, and so on — has become the standard for progress in the Islamic world.

In Indonesia, a woman was recently caned in public for pseudo-adultery. She was forced to kneel in front of a crowd of onlookers, then flogged 100 times by a masked enforcer, after which she had to be admitted to a hospital.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a country hosting some of these Islamic fashion events, some media are trying to deny that Muslim women are suffering abuses in the sharia courts that operate legally in Britain. In France, many cafés have become no-go zones for women. The submission of women is not only being imposed in the Islamic world, but now also in Asia and the West.

The view that all cultures are equally valid combined with the view that it is important to protect everyone’s differences has contributed to questioning the universality of human rights. Cultural relativism, on which this glamorization of Muslim veils is based, locks women into a subordinate condition. It also betrays all those Muslim women who dream of a world without religious commands — such as obligatory virginity and being the sole bearers of honor for an entire family or clan — and it betrays those women who long for a world where everyone can build his or her own identity. Does breaking barriers mean, for a woman, social emancipation and freedom of choice, or submission and modesty?

The enemies of freedom are first recruited from the free societies, from some of the enlightened elites who deny the benefit of democratic rights to the rest of humanity, even to their own compatriots, if they have the misfortune to belong to another religion, to another ethnicity.

Instead of embracing these veils, a true feminism should defend the rights and freedoms of all women. It should not be ideologically submissive to those who repress women. It should not refer women to their culture of origin on the pretext of not offending their difference. That way just leads to reinforcing wife-beating, forced marriage, forced seclusion, polygamy, legal inequality, female genital mutilation, and being stoned to death for supposed adultery, which all too often means being raped.

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ACTIONS THAT DO NOT PRODUCE AN IDENTIFIABLE VICTIM ARE NOT CRIMES.






(Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)




 

By Skyler J. Collins

The best way to understand the voluntaryist perspective on politics is to realize that there are only two types of laws: 1) those that prohibit crime, and 2) those that prohibit liberties.

Crimes and Liberty

Crimes are actions that produce victims, which in popular usage can mean almost anything undesirable under the sun. A more principled approach to understanding crime and victim-hood is to narrow the definition to a state in which somebody has been forcefully or fraudulently deprived of life, liberty, or property.

Crime includes such obvious actions like murder, battery, rape, assault, and theft. How particular people define particular instances of these types of action may differ, but for the most part, physically hurting people or taking their stuff is generally viewed as criminal behavior.

Liberties, on the other hand, are actions that do not produce an identifiable victim. They are actions that people should be free to perform as they do not victimize, in the criminal sense, other people.

Liberty includes a much broader spectrum of actions than does crime. I think we can confidently say that any action that is not criminal is a liberty. Liberties typically comprise 100% of people’s actions day-to-day. Think of anything you do: does it physically hurt somebody or take/damage their stuff? Then it’s a liberty, not a crime.

Liberties may be offensive in the sensibilities sense, but so long as they are not criminal, they should not be prohibited by political authorities. While every property owner may prohibit the liberties enjoyed within their private domain, they may not call upon third parties with guns to prohibit them in other domains.

Unfortunately, doing so is all too common, and makes up most of the actions that political authorities engage in today. Politicians, eager to get and remain elected, pander to sensibilities and push through laws that not only prohibit crime but, in too many ways, prohibit liberties.

The Prohibition of Liberties

The prohibition of liberties is not limited to what people eat, drink, smoke, how they use their bodies, or other such actions. It goes much further, all the way to the very foundations of political authority: the prohibition of competition in the provision of law and order. This prohibition is the root of a dangerous and corrupt system of governance. It amounts to one group of people forcing others to pay them — or else — with little recourse on the part of their ignorant victims.

In any event, understanding the voluntaryist perspective on politics is not difficult. It might be bitter, but it is simple. If an action is voluntary vis-à-vis of other people, it’s not a crime and should not be forcefully prohibited by political authorities. To do so constitutes a crime in and of itself, wouldn’t you think?

YOUR COWORKERS ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CLIENTS

By James Walpole

You probably know you need your co-workers if you want to get anything done at work. But you probably also take your coworkers for granted.

I think a default position for many is to assume that — as long as you have a good idea — your coworkers are obligated to help you achieve it. After all, they’re working for the company, right? Of course they have to.

It’s frustrating when you realize that this entitled approach simply doesn’t work.

It takes time to realize that our coworkers have their own interests. They have their own unique information and perspective on what’s needed in the business. They have their own ideas about what it takes to move the company’s interests forward. And none of them really have to help you.

In reality, your relationship to your coworkers is really not that different from your relationship to your clients.

You have to provide value. You have to communicate and sell your ideas effectively. You have to build relationships, trust, and social capital. All of these things are essential in a business relationship outside of your company. So why would you not do the same things inside?

Your coworkers are the people who make your company possible in the first place.

You should spend more time doing sales, customer service, and marketing to them than you do for any external clients.

Say “thank you” to your coworkers. Do favors for them. Build relationships of trust with them. Back them up when they need support. Give them credit, and give them opportunities to shine. Capture their imaginations. Clearly communicate (“sell”) the value of any idea you have which will need their help. Clearly communicate the value any such project ends up creating. Be transparent.

In short, do unto your coworkers what you would have your company do unto clients. If you do that, your coworkers will be far more likely to help you get things done when the need comes.

TURKEY SHELLS KURDISH ROJAVA, THE KURDISH GENOCIDE HAS BEGUN





 

Turkish artillery fired into Syria’s Afrin region on Friday in what Ankara said was the start of the Kurdish genocide.

The cross-border bombardment took place after days of threats from Erdogan to crush Kurds in Afrin in response to growing Kurdish strength across Rojava.

“The operation has actually de facto started with cross-border shelling,” Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said, adding that no troops had crossed into Afrin.

Direct military action against territory held by Kurdish militia would open a new front in Syria’s civil war and would see Ankara confronting Kurds allied to the United States at a time when Turkey’s relations with Washington are reaching the breaking point.

The U.S. State Department has called on Turkey to focus on the fight against Islamic State militants and not take military action in Afrin.

We saw Turkish artillery at the border village of Sugedigi firing on Friday into Afrin region, and Kurds told us Turkish forces fired 70 shells at Kurdish villages between midnight and Friday morning. Shelling continued in the late afternoon.

It was the heaviest Turkish bombardment since Ankara stepped up threats to take military action against the Kurdish region.

Kurds are ready to confront Turkish troops. Kurds are ready to bury Turks one by one in Afrin.

But Canikli said Ankara was determined to destroy the Kurdish group. “All terror networks and elements in northern Syria will be eliminated. There is no other way,” he said.

“The operation in central Afrin may last a long time, but the terrorist organization will swiftly come undone there.”

Although Canikli said no Turkish troops have gone into Afrin, we saw thirty army buses on Friday from Turkey into a Turkish-controlled part of Rojava, on Afrin’s eastern flank.

Turkey has been angered by U.S. military support for Kurds who spearheaded the fight against Islamic State in Syria, and by an announcement that the United States would stay in Syria to train about 30,000 personnel in Rojava.

Viva Kurdistan! Kurdistan encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges, which include southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Western Kurdistan or Rojava), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and western Iran (Eastern Kurdistan). Kurds seek to create an independent nation state of Kurdistan.

Corrupt terrorist Erdoğan wants to export his Kurdish problem to EU with visa-free visits.  Because of the ongoing Kurdish genocide, any Kurd of Turkey is entitled to asylum in EU.

Jihadi-in-chief Erdoğan helps Jihadis all the way, leaking to them secret American positions and strategies.  The invading Turkish army also attacks Kurds and Americans who fight Jihadis.  It’s high time for NATO to expel Turkey and nuke Ankara!

PKK is not a terrorist organization, but the legitimate army of Northern Kurdistan.  Purpose of the heroic PKK is to liberate Northern Kurdistan, which is illegally occupied by Turkey.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê‎, is a legendary organization. Since 1984 the PKK has waged an armed struggle against the Turkish state for cultural and political rights and self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey, who comprise a quarter of the population and have been subjected to repression and genocide for decades. The heroic group was founded in 1978 by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan.

The real Euphrates Shield is to shield Northern Kurdistan from the barbarity of Turkey.  Euphrates is the border of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan. Turkey must retreat to the west of Euphrates! Corrupt terrorist Erdoğan should fuck off!

Nazi Erdoğan tries Volksverhuizing on Rojava. The People’s Protection Units, Yekîneyên Parastina Gel‎ YPG, is the main armed service of the Kurdish Federation of Western Kurdistan Rojava. Rojava demands a seat on the table, but Erdoğanistan demands Rojava on the menu! Teflon Sultan Erdoğan said the PYD forces had not retreated to east of the Euphrates River River in Rojava despite claims by the U.S. that the group is withdrawing. But Turkey is not retreating to west of Euphrates in Anatolia either!

As the ongoing clashes between the Turkish government and Kurds intensify and more innocent civilians are dying, there is something distinct and intangible about terrorist Erdogan, his deep-rooted personal hatred of Kurds. Erdogan suffers from Kurdophobia, he is a true Kurd-hater imposing a Kurdish genocide.

Jihadi-in-chief Erdoğan calls the heroic Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and all other Kurdish groups terrorists. Erdogan says he has been fighting Kurdish terrorism for forty years, adding that although different Kurdish groups and parties may have different names, they’re all terrorist organizations!

The corrupt president vowed Turkey would continue its anti-terrorist operation in Northern Kurdistan until everyone who’s fight against Turkey or even supports Kurds will be buried in the trenches they have dug. Erdogan could end up in The Hague for genocide of Kurds.

Jihadi-in-chief Erdoğan declares Turkey would do whatever is necessary to eliminate the Kurdish revolt and Ankara doesn’t want to hear anybody’s opinion about what to do with Kurds and how the ongoing confrontation could be solved using negotiations and other peaceful measures.

The Kurds, Turkey’s largest ethnic minority, are striving to create their own independent state. The PKK was founded in the late 1970s to promote the self-determination for the Kurdish community. 

Corrupt Erdoğan is a master of double-dealing.  The corrupt Turkish government made an agreement with USA to partner in the fight against ISIS. But Ankara is using that as a cover-up to escalate its fight against Kurds in Turkey.   We are witnessing a Kurdish genocide.  Turks are masters of genocides.  Kurdistan must now be liberated from the barbaric Turkish occupation.

Corrupt Erdoğan terrorizes Kurds. While the world’s attention has been focused on Syria, the Turkish army has launched an operation within its country. Turkey is moving on the fast track to civil war, and is in a spiral of violence. There are several clashes in many Kurdish cities.  In Cizre there were many civilians that were killed by the security forces. Elections are just milestones towards which this violence escalates. Regarding the war on Jihadis in Syria, the Turkish government made an agreement with USA to be a partner in that fight. But they are using that as a cover-up to escalate their fight against Kurds in Turkey.

We stand by the heroic Kurds who fight for their independence. Turkey is attacking its own civilians. There is no doubt that for the Kurds, this is going to be, in a sense, the center of a Kurdish movement in Iraq and also in Northern Syria. Right now in Syria, Kurds are the only viable ground forces that USA and allies can use against ISIS. And that is a major point of contention between the Turkish government and USA. Kurds help in fighting Jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and Jihadis are the protégé of Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the de facto caliph of Jihadis!

The Independence war of Kurdistan gets hot hot hot. The Turkish government claims these are two different organizations or the fight against terrorism includes the fight against PKK. There have been thousands of Kurds killed by Turks. Many Kurdish cities are cut from all the communications lines. Under curfew, people are not allowed to even go to hospital, buy food or drink water. Even MPs are not allowed to enter Kurdish cities. It is a complete martial law in the Kurdish cities depending on which one corrupt Erdoğan chooses to attack. Most mayors of Kurdish cities are arrested and tortured.

We also have an onslaught attack on the free press. Major newspapers are attacked including famous journalists. And corrupt Erdogan has been suing journalists left and right for insulting the president. Erdoğan mafiosi are out of control.

Turkey is scared that Kurds will move into nationhood and have independence. And any independence movement in Syria the Turkish government interprets as a track towards its own national security which is ungrounded.

Turkey’s Kurdish problem risks turning into a people’s war between Turks and Kurds, underling that the conflict and polarization policy of corrupt Erdoğan will only end when he self-destructs. The new generation of Kurds has completely lost trust in the government while the government almost encourages the lynching of Kurds, as seen in recent attacks on civilian Kurds.

Erdoğan believes that he is politically strengthened by increasing numbers of killed soldiers. Erdoğan’s policy to denounce his critics as parallel and terrorist become meaningless because it has become absurd. If Öcalan says to drop the guns, Erdoğan would not like it. Erdoğan thinks that he gains more power the more coffins arrive. For instance, the Kurdistan Communities Union KCK has asked for a joint cease-fire with Öcalan as its chief negotiator, but there has been no reaction from corrupt Erdoğan.

The incorporation into Turkey of the Kurdish-inhabited regions of eastern Anatolia was opposed by all Kurds, and has resulted in a long-running separatist conflict. In 1983, the Kurdish provinces were placed under martial law in response to the activities of the heroic Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). A guerrilla war took place through the 1980s and 1990s in which much of the countryside was evacuated, thousands of Kurdish-populated villages were destroyed, and numerous extrajudicial summary executions were carried out.

More than 40,000 people were killed in the violence and hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homes. Every day, the heroic Kurds sing Ey Reqîb (Kurdish: ئەی ڕەقیب‎), the Kurdish national anthem. It was written by the Kurdish poet and political activist, Dildar in 1938, while in jail. Ey Reqîb means Hey Enemy, in reference to the jail guards in the prison where Dildar was held and tortured and who also symbolized the occupying countries of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.

Kurdistan has been a paragon of dignity.  What soul could remain unstirred by the sight of heroic Kurds fighting for their independence from terrorist Turkey and corrupt Erdoğan? Country roads take me to the mountains of Kurdistan to meet those magnificent heroes of our times.

With the Rojava revolution, the Kurdish women organized themselves in the self-defense area as well as social, diplomatic and economic spheres. Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) was developed in the Rojava revolution, became an effective force in all three cantons and answered the attacks from the outside as the authentic women’s organization. Women organizing in both war and life have rewritten women’s history in Rojava, the fortress of resistance.

Rojava Kurds, determined to found their own system against all pressures, started building the democratic autonomy in July 19, 2012. Rojava Kurds waged a war of honor for humanity, all the while continuing their building efforts with determination. In many cities in Rojava, women started institutions like security forces women’s branches, people’s assemblies, women’s foundations, women’s communes, women’s organisations, courts, people’s centers, cultural and arts centers, youth centers and such. Armenians, Arabs and Assyrians also took part in these institutions and they were built, step by step. The people organised in these institutions on the basis of democratic autonomy and held awareness raising efforts.

Against military attacks to Rojava cities following the declaration of the democratic system, Rojava Kurds self-organized in the military area under the name People’s Defense Units (YPG).

YPG was formed for the defense of the people and Kurdish women took active part in the people’s defense. Because the Rojava revolution was developing under the leadership of women and the need for the authentic organization of Kurdish women was seen in every area. And so on December 2, 2012, Women’s Defense Units(YPJ) was formed.

 

Many international bodies including the United Nations, the European Union, and the Arab League continue to push for a Palestinian state, while ignoring calls for a Kurdish one. For far too long, the Arab, Turkish and Iranian peoples and leaderships have used the Israeli-Palestinian issue as justification for their own problems.

Without acknowledging the Kurdish question, which spans four major states — Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey — the Middle East will have trouble achieving stability.

The goal of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long been used by Arabs, Turks and Iranians in the Middle East as a cover to deflect criticism away from their own indifferent leadership. The 22 existing Arab States, along with Turkey and Iran, can easily establish a homeland for the Palestinians, but they are not interested in doing so. The goal of these states is not to create another Arab state, but to eradicate an only Jewish state.

Giving the Palestinians a state will not solve the Syrian civil war, the Sunni-Shiite divisions in Iraq will remain, the destructive Islamist path of Turkey’s President Erdogan will continue, the world will see continued Iranian aggression against Israel, Sunnis, and Kurds, and the hold hat both Iran and Saudi Arabia have on Islam will only strengthen.

The Kurds are large in number (an estimated 40-50 million) and have a unique language, culture, and identity that differs markedly from their neighbors. The main problems in the region center around Islam versus Islam (Arab-Arab, Arab-Iran, Arab-Turk, Iran-Turk) or Islam versus minorities, including Christians, Yezidis, Chaldeans, Alevis, Jews, etc. Kurds embrace Western values such as gender equality, religious freedom and human rights.

The Kurdish people have continually suffered in the Middle East. The Turks, under the Ottomans killed tens of thousands of Kurds in massacres in Dersim and Zilan. By the 1990s, more than 3,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed. According to Human Rights Watch, 378,335 Kurdish villagers had been displaced in Turkey.

The Kurds have a distinct language and, although Sunni Muslim, they are relatively secular. Within areas with majority Kurdish populations live Kurdish Jews, Shiites, Christians, and Yezidis. This diversity has shaped a tolerant nature within their society. The Kurds push for the separation of religion and state, and allow for churches, mosques, synagogues and temples to be built next to one another — a respect for the “other” rarely seen in the Middle East.

Under the dictatorships in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, the Kurds are still suffering from Arabization, Turkification, and the Iranian tactic of forcible land confiscation.

The Kurds are no strangers to having their historical territories taken over by such regimes; they therefore understand and respect minority rights. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has embraced its Jewish community, and rescued over 3,000 Kurdish Yezedis from ISIS when they were trapped on Mount Shingal in Mosul. Many Christians and minority communities have even requested they be part of the Kurdistan region after the state of Iraq failed them.

Kurds have also taken in 300,000 Syrian refugees and 2.3 million internally displaced peoples (IDP) from Iraq. The KRG does not distinguish between them as Sunni-Shiite or Muslim-Christian, but recognizes them as humans suffering from war. This is far different from what we see in Arab nations. Many Gulf states to date have not taken in any refugees, despite sharing a common religion. Saudi Arabia, home of holy cities of Mecca and Medina, has quietly squelched the thought of allowing refugees to seek protection there, even as the Saudi kingdom has hundreds of thousands of empty air-conditioned tents available while their own Arab brothers are suffering in neighboring states. A similar situation is seen in Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait.

Iran has sent Afghan refugees to fight in Syria by force, under the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which already has violated countless human rights agreements. Peter Bouckaert, Emergencies Director at HRW states that, Iran has not just offered Afghan refugees and migrants incentives to fight in Syria, but several said they were threatened with deportation back to Afghanistan unless they did. Iran imprisons and publicly executes Kurds to this day. States such as Jordan and Lebanon are forced to take in refugees largely because they share a border with Iraq and Syria; would they if they were not forced?

Turkey has used the refugee crisis from the Syrian civil war as political leverage against the European Union to gain accession into the 28-nation bloc, to receive financial aid ($3 billion a year) and to change the demographics of the Kurdish regions in the southeast. There are even reports of Erdogan’s regime forcing male refugees in Turkey to go back into Syria to fight with the Turkish military in exchange for aid to their families.

Women in Kurdish society were not always free. Kurds are predominantly tribal and many live in rural mountainous regions. Kurdish women were historically victims of honor killings and child marriages. The move away from these practices began when Kurdish resistance groups began to form in the wake of Turkey’s crackdowns during the 1980’s military coups. The founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, strongly believes in women’s liberation and even wrote a book titled Liberating Life: Women’s Revolution. Ocalan believed that, “A country cannot be free unless women are free.” Kurdistan even recently hosted the International Conference on Women and Human Rights, where it pushed for greater support for women’s leadership in the KRG.

The emphasis on gender rights as well as ethnic and national rights is a form of democracy unseen in the Middle East. States such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) appoint women to positions such as “Minister of Happiness,” which not only belittles women but continues to suppress the potential they can provide to society as a whole.

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein attacked the Kurds with chemical weapons in 1988. He murdered 5,000 civilians and destroyed 4,000 villages. Hussein aggressively went after minorities such as the Kurds, despite being Sunni Muslims. Between 1988-1991, his regime murdered thousands, effectively committing genocide.

Under Saddam Hussein, thousands of Kurds were forced to leave their homes when the Iraqi military destroyed villages and towns. Arab families were given financial incentives to move north, and the Iraqi government embarked on housing construction projects to bring more Arab families north in order to change the demographic make-up of the north.

The Syrian and Turkish regimes have done the same. In Syria, Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad’s father, cracked down on Sunni majority and denied Kurds their right to speak Kurdish or open Kurdish schools. Kurds were considered stateless peoples as they were denied Syrian citizenship. Ironically, Hafez Assad had ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1969, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. His son, Bashar, also agreed to the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 2003. So much for that.

Turkey is virtually at war with its Kurds and continues to deny rights to effectively all minorities. Greeks, Armenians and Alevis are oppressed and removed from their historical lands. From the Armenian Genocide to denying the peoplehood of the Kurds, Turkish nationalism has been the main cause of instability within the state. Founded upon the notion of western-secularism by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been attempting to reestablish the primacy of Islam. Erdogan has labeled the Kurds as separatists and a threat.

Turkey also apparently fears the success of the Kurds in Syria in their fight against ISIS, and their declaration of an autonomous region. Erdogan seems concerned that his Kurdish population will call for autonomy, as it has.

The Kurds, in 1946, temporarily managed to establish their own independent state in northwestern Iran, with the help of the Soviet Union. The Kurdish struggle for freedom continues in Rojhalat (east) for the recognition of their identity and political rights. During the Iran-Iraq war, Kurds were used by both powers against one another as pawns, in order to irritate the other side. Saddam Hussein pushed the Kurds in Iran to rise up, and Iran gave arms to the Kurds in Iraq to fight against the Ba’athist regime, all while killing their own Kurdish populations. To date, Kurds striving to be recognized as a legitimate minority within Iran either disappear, are imprisoned, or are publicly executed.

Many of the Kurds affected by these ruling powers did not want to separate, but simply to be able to live a peaceful and stable life; the push for a state was the creation of the states themselves, through their oppression of the Kurds.

Any new state that is established must be willing to live with its neighbor in peace. Kurds will need to establish close relations with all the states from which they are separating, particularly as Kurdistan will be landlocked.

The creation of a Kurdish state would above all acknowledge that the Kurds exist as a distinct entity, through their language, respect for equal rights, and their secular culture.

With the little stability the Kurds have in northern Iraq since the downfall of Saddam Hussein, and the advancement of the Kurds in Rojava within two years after pushing back ISIS, they have proven capable of running a state and respecting all those within it. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the recently-declared autonomous territory in Rojava (western Syrian-Kurdistan) have been a model for all states in the region to follow.

As liberal as Kurdistan has become in respect to social freedoms, it continues to be surrounded by states that lack similar values. The states surrounding Kurdish territories, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey are currently either failed or under oppressive regimes.

Because Kurds are religiously diverse moderates who prioritize their ethno-linguistic identity over religion, Kurdistan offers an opportunity for all its citizens to look towards an inclusive, pluralistic society where religious freedom is not only tolerated, but encouraged.

Kurds respect both the Sunnis and the Shiites within their territories and have strong ties with the only Jewish state in the Middle East. A Kurdish state has the potential to bring amity to an otherwise unstable region.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS


 

The report published today jointly by the European Commission and the European External Action Service shows the positive impact of the European Union’s duty-rebate schemes on developing economies.

Trade acts as an engine for growth and helps promote human and labour rights, good governance and sustainable development principles.

Since the reformed EU initiative known as Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) entered into force in 2014, exports from countries to the EU benefitting from these tariff cuts rose by nearly a quarter to a yearly amount of €63 billion. Least developed countries benefited the most: their exports to the EU increased by nearly 40% and reached €23.5 billion in 2016.

In addition to the economic benefits of the scheme, today’s report points out the progress made on issues such as women’s empowerment, child and forced labour, torture, illegal drugs trafficking and climate change. The EU monitoring reveals many positive changes due to EU engagement related to the scheme. Among many other examples, this includes Pakistan’s new legislation against honour killing and rape, or the inclusion of Paraguay on the list of countries with the strongest commitment to the protection of endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. However, the report points also at areas that require further improvement in order to fulfil the conditions of the scheme, for instance as regards the implementation and enforcement of the relevant legislation by the beneficiary countries.

A separate document accompanying today’s report provides a detailed overview of progress and remaining shortcomings, specifically in the countries participating in the Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance, known as GSP+.

The report also shows the increased involvement of civil society in the monitoring of the scheme: 16 civil society dialogues took place in 2016 and 2017; the one dedicated to preparation of the present report involved 20 non-governmental organisations.

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini said: “When democracy and fundamental freedoms are guaranteed, our economies are strong, our societies are resilient, our security is sustainable and our development is built on more solid foundations. The Generalised Scheme of Preference complements the European Union’s political engagement with its partners. As a result, we have contributed to the strengthening of civil society and independent voices and to the better protection of human rights through national legislation in partner countries. And we will continue to work together with our partners, investing in human rights, investing in the work of civil society, investing in open societies – to guarantee sustainable security for all.”

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “Our policies offer generous access to the EU market, coupled with strong engagement with national authorities. We’re now seeing positive changes in many places around the world – strengthening core values of EU trade policy such as human rights and sustainable development. Stronger domestic institutions and laws are helping to put crucial international conventions into place. In some countries, there are still areas of serious concern as regards human rights and sustainability. Here, our trade schemes provide leverage for us to apply pressure and effect change, and we need to strengthen our joint efforts.”

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: “The international dimension of employment and social policy is strategic to achieve job-rich, inclusive and sustainable growth. The GSP scheme is a unique tool to put forward decent work conditions and respect for international labour standards. We are encouraged to see positive developments and to have an open dialogue on important labour rights issues, such as eliminating child labour. As significant challenges remain, it is even more so important to step up our efforts. We are committed to promote fundamental principles and rights at work and to achieve growth with benefits to all.”

During the next two years, the EU will continue engaging with each GSP beneficiary country on the necessary priority actions and organise GSP monitoring missions targeting specifically those countries where strengthened efforts are required due to more serious shortcomings. The EU will also continue to support efforts of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to improve GSP+ countries’ compliance with Organisation’s reporting and implementation obligations. The EU will also continue to work for the empowering of local civil society organisations in order for them to contribute more effectively to the implementation of international conventions, through a three-year EU-funded project of €4.5 million.

Background

The Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) is the EU’s main trade instrument to support developing countries. It consists of three different arrangements to grant privileged access to the EU market, designed to take into account the different needs of beneficiary countries:

  • The standard GSP scheme reduces EU import duties for around 66% of all product categotries in 23 countries.
  • GSP+, or Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance, removes customs duties for two thirds of products coming from 10 other vulnerable countries (Armenia, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines and Sri Lanka) that committed to apply 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance.
  • “Everything But Arms” (EBA) removes customs duties for nearly all products coming from 49 least developed countries.

The current GSP Regulation, in place since January 2014, requires the European Commission to submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council every two years, on the effects of the GSP system. The reporting also regularly consists of a ‘Staff Working Document’ accompanying the main report, focusing on GSP+ beneficiaries. It points out legislative and practical developments in the GSP+ beneficiary countries regarding implementation of the 27 international conventions to which they committed. EU monitoring takes place both through monitoring missions, dialogues with the beneficiary countries and written questionnaires.

COUNTERING FREE SPEECH ONLINE










 

The third evaluation of the stupid Code of Conduct on countering free speech carried out by NGOs and public bodies released today shows that IT companies removed on average 70% of free speech notified to them.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google kowtow to the Islamic diktats of EU and Germany.  This is slow death, pure and simple.  These social media chose kleptocrats over the people.  This stupidity cannot last forever, leading to their decline and fall.

 

Since May 2016, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have committed to combating the spread of such content in Europe through the Code of Conduct. The third monitoring round shows that the companies are now increasingly fulfilling their stupid commitment to remove the majority of free speech within 24 hours. However, some further challenges still remain, in particular the lack of systematic feedback to users.

Google+ announced today that they are joining the stupid Code of Conduct, and Facebook confirmed that Instagram would also do so, thus further expanding the numbers of actors covered by it.

Andrus Ansip, stupid European Commission Vice President for the Digital Single Market, welcomed these improvements: “Today’s results clearly show that online platforms take seriously their commitment to review notifications and remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours. I strongly encourage IT companies to improve transparency and feedback to users, in line with the guidance we published last year. It is also important that safeguards are in place to avoid over-removal and protect fundamental rights such as freedom of speech.”

Vĕra Jourová, stupid EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said:” The Internet must be a safe place, free from illegal hate speech, free from xenophobic and racist content. The Code of Conduct is now proving to be a valuable tool to tackle illegal content quickly and efficiently. This shows that where there is a strong collaboration between technology companies, civil society and policy makers we can get results, and at the same time, preserve freedom of speech. I expect IT companies to show similar determination when working on other important issues, such as the fight with terrorism, or unfavourable terms and conditions for their users.

Since its adoption in May 2016, the stupid Code of Conduct has delivered steady progress in the removal of notified illegal content, as today’s evaluation shows:

  • On average,IT companies removed 70% of all the illegal hate speech notified to them by the NGOs and public bodies participating in the evaluation. This rate has steadily increased from 28% in the first monitoring round in 2016 and 59% in the second monitoring exercise in May 2017.
  • Today, all participating IT Companies fully meet the target of reviewing the majority of notifications within 24 hours, reaching an average of more than 81%. This figure has doubled compared to the first monitoring round and increased from 51% of notifications assessed within 24 hours registered in the previous monitoring round.

Expected improvements

While the main commitments in the stupid Code of Conduct have been fulfilled, further improvements need to be achieved in the following areas:

  • Feedback to users is still lacking for nearly a third of notifications on average, with different response rates from different IT Companies. Transparency and feedback to users is an area where further improvements should be made.
  • The Code of Conduct complements legislation fighting racism and xenophobia which requires authors of illegal hate speech offences – whether online or offline – to be effectively prosecuted. On average one in five cases reported to companies were also reported by NGOs to the police or prosecutors. This figure has more than doubled since the last monitoring report. Such cases need to be promptly investigated by the police. The Commission has provided a network for cooperation and for the exchange of good practices for national authorities, civil society and companies, as well as targeted financial support and operational guidance. About two third of the Member States have now in place a national contact point responsible for online hate speech. A dedicated dialogue between competent Member State authorities and IT Companies is envisaged for spring 2018.

The Commission will continue to monitor regularly the implementation of the Code by the participating IT Companies with the help of civil society organisations and aims at widening it to further online platforms. The Commission will consider additional measures if efforts are not pursued or slow down.

The Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia criminalises the public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. Hate speech as defined in this Framework Decision is a criminal offence also when it occurs online.

The EU, its Member States, social media companies and other platforms, all share a collective responsibility to promote and facilitate freedom of expression in the online world. At the same time, all these actors have a responsibility to ensure that the internet does not become a free haven for violence and hatred.

To respond to the proliferation of racist and xenophobic hate speech online, the European Commission and four major IT companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube) presented a “Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online” in May 2016.

This third evaluation was carried out by NGOs and public bodies in 27 Member States, which issued the notifications. On 7 December 2016 the Commission presented the results of a first monitoring exercise to evaluate the implementation of the Code of Conduct. On 1 June 2017, the results of a second monitoring round were published.

On 28 September, the Commission adopted a Communication which provides for guidance to platforms on notice-and-action procedures to tackle illegal content online. The importance of countering illegal hate speech online and the need to continue working with the implementation of the Code of Conduct feature prominently in this guidance document.

On 9 January 2018, several European Commissioners met with representatives of online platformsto discuss the progress made in tackling the spread of illegal content online, including online terrorist propaganda and xenophobic, racist illegal hate speech as well as breaches of intellectual property rights (see joint-statement).

Germany fines social networks up to 50 million euros if they fail to remove hateful postings quickly! Germany has some of the world’s toughest laws covering defamation, public incitement to commit crimes and threats of violence, with prison sentences for Holocaust denial or inciting hatred against minorities. The measure requires social media platforms to remove obviously illegal hate speech and other postings within 24 hours after receiving a notification or complaint, and to block other offensive content within seven days.

It’s amazing how the establishment controls hoi polloi by censorship.  Every blog that dares tell the truth about the established institutions of politics, religion, education, and society is suspended by most blogging platforms for violating the terms of service.  Governments, big investors, and big donors are part of this scheme to gag dissenting voices.

Never forget that hate speech is also a part of free speech.  It’s amazing how frequently politicians accuse their competitors of hate speech or fake news. Instead of arguments based on facts and reason, we read nonsense based on false accusations and superstition.   

Schools and religions are major tools in brainwashing and controlling hoi polloi. It’s inhumane and ridiculous to imprison kids in schools for many years in order to indoctrinate them to the status quo and keep teachers busy.  Even though all religions are wrong and mumbo-jumbo escape from reality, governments support them in order to hoodwink the masses about the divinity of suffering.

This law sets out binding standards for the way operators of social networks deal with complaints and obliges them to delete criminal content. Statements that are deemed illegal under German law are now being conflated with statements that are merely deemed, subjectively and on the basis of entirely random complaints from social media users, who are free to abuse the code of conduct to their heart’s content, to be hate speech. Hate speech includes critiques of migration policies. To be in disagreement with the government’s policies is now criminal. Social media companies, such as Facebook, are supposed to be the government’s informers and enforcers, working at the speed of light to comply with the 24-hour rule. Rule of law, clearly, as in North Korea, Iran, Russia or any banana-republic, has no place in this system.

Social media platforms with more than two million users are obliged to delete or block any libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. The networks receive seven days for more complicated cases. Government could fine a social media company up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law; it could fine a company’s chief representative up to 5 million euros.

If Facebook insists on operating under rules of censorship, it should at the very least aim to administer those rules in a fair manner. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness. Instead, Facebook’s practice of its so-called Community Standards, the standards to which Facebook refers when deleting or allowing content on its platform in response to user complaints, shows evidence of entrenched bias. Posts critical of migrant policies, for example, can get categorized as Islamophobia, and are often found to violate Community Standards, while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook’s Community Standards!

Facebook’s bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah’s Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews, despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and the murder of Jews.

EU is now imposing censorship on email providers and ordering postal authorities to screen letters, magazines, and brochures in the event that citizens spread xenophobia and fake news. During the Cold War, people living behind the Iron Curtain had their private letters opened by the communist authorities. Those passages deemed to be out of line with the communist orthodoxy, were simply blacked out. So many years after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), EU is reinventing itself in the image of the Soviet Union!

Don’t like millionaire black nationalists in the NFL refusing to stand for the anthem?

Too bad! It’s freedom of speech.

The same left that decided James Damore didn’t have freedom of speech at Google now insists that football players have it at the NFL. Never mind that the Google engineer was unknown until his firing while NFL players are celebrities whose behavior is televised nationwide to audiences of millions.

The left’s recent reunion with free speech came after vocally insisting that free speech was harmful, hurtful and racist. And the reunion didn’t last long. Right after insisting that the right of NFL black nationalists not to stand for the anthem was free speech, the left pivoted to accusing those players still standing for the anthem of “white supremacy”.

It’s only free speech if the left agrees.

The First Amendment protects unpopular speech as much as it protects popular speech. But popular speech doesn’t need much protecting. It’s unpopular speech that has to be defended.

And the nature of unpopular speech has changed. The anthem protests are a sign of how much.

When standing for the anthem becomes unpopular speech while demeaning it is popular speech, then the old measures of what kind of free speech needs defending no longer look anything like they used to.

Standing for the anthem has become the new counterculture. The question is, how do we protect it?

The biggest threat to free speech isn’t really government action. At least not right now. The Obama era saw ugly crimes against free speech that ranged from the arrest of a filmmaker for a YouTube video offending Muslims to eavesdropping on reporters to using the DOJ to investigate jokes about Obama.

But the real free speech threat was a crowdsourced culture war which manufactured its own social sanctions. The culture war is the collision between a secular leftist value system that its followers seek to forcefully impose on the entire country and the existing system of American values. When these two sets of opposing values collide, as they do when conservative speakers come to campus, Christian photographers refuse to participate in gay weddings or a tech company employee questions diversity, the most obvious victim is free speech. But free speech is always the first casualty of the culture war.

Speech is the lifeblood of culture. To win a culture war, you have to shut the other side up.

In the first phase of the culture war, the left seized the commanding heights of the media. Movies, television, music, newspapers and radio were consolidated into a network echoing the same ideas. This was largely done without any compulsion though victims of the old Fairness Doctrine might disagree. Outliers like conservative talk radio remained, but much like FOX News, they highlighted the homogeneity of the rest of the media. Everyone was getting the same set of political ideas all the time.

And, most impressively, a massive propaganda machine had been built without any of the brutality of the old USSR. Instead the machinery of capitalism had created a monopoly constantly spewing socialism.

But the old infrastructure model was quickly disrupted by the arrival of the internet.

The media coup had monopolized speech by monopolizing infrastructure. If you had enough licenses, printing presses and broadcasting facilities, you didn’t have to forcibly silence anyone. They just couldn’t be heard over the roar of your media machine.

The internet broke that model. Anyone could speak to millions with a site, a blog and a tweet.

Control was quickly reasserted. The media’s old stable brands were diversified with millennial internet brands. BuzzFeed and CNN might be wildly different in style, but they were vehicles for the same political message. The left still had the advertising industry connections and the networks to dominate messaging. Its entertainment side was expert at commodifying cool.

But the internet in general, and social media specifically, had altered the power relationship.

CNN and the New York Times didn’t care if you disagreed with them. You could try writing letters to the editor. You might even summon a small protest outside their headquarters. And it wouldn’t shake their monopoly over speech in any way. But speech on the internet is crowdsourced. The algorithms can be rigged, and occasionally are, but individuals still have too much choice and too much voice.

You couldn’t talk back to your TV. But you can talk back to CNN. And people can hear you.

The second phase of the culture war can only be won by controlling everyone’s free speech. The media has been trying to rig the game at the big tech company level. It’s gotten Facebook and Google to agree to political censorship under the guise of fighting “fake news” with “fact checking”. But even the term “fake news”, once the banner headline of the media’s censorship crusade, was hijacked by Trump.

Once upon a time, derailing a media narrative in such a short time would have been nearly impossible.

And that’s why the second phase of the culture war is underway. The internet has made it impossible to proceed with the culture war without destroying free speech. It’s why the New York Times is running serial anti-free speech pieces (even while condemning President Trump for threatening free speech).

The only way for the left to win the second phase is to either fundamentally change the structure of the internet so that it more closely resembles its old media model or to silence everyone who opposes it.

Changing the internet is an ambition that the American left now shares with leftist regimes like the People’s Republic of China. But even with the consolidation of the internet in the hands of a handful of big companies, Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc, it remains an improbable project. The hysteria over election tampering doesn’t just serve the purposes of the Dem coup plot against Trump. It also creates a casus belli for political “fake news” censorship and deeper changes to individual agency on the internet.

If China and (ironically) Russia ever get their dream of a completely censorable internet, it will be the left that built it for them as part of a plot against free speech disguised as a xenophobic political panic.

But the easier course is still crowdsourced censorship under the guidance of the media network.

Surveys show that the generation that came of age in the wild and open spaces of the internet is also the most illiberal when it comes to free speech. Growing up screaming at each other in YouTube comments sections and Xbox Live tournaments has made for touchiness, not tolerance.

The culture war of identity politics is a natural fit for the most diverse and narcissistic generation whose greatest skill is still being nasty to other people on the internet while playing the heroic victim.

If you’re going to crowdsource censorship, it helps to keep your censors personally invested. And that’s what identity politics does. It also doesn’t hurt that some of the worst violations of the Constitution in the last several generations were enacted in the name of fighting bigotry. If you are going to end free speech, the best flag to fly is still anti-racism. And if you’re going to demean the anthem, do it by claiming to be the victim of racism even when you’re a privileged black nationalist celebrity who sees more money in one year than most working people of any race will ever see in an entire lifetime.

The quiet reshaping of the national culture is no longer an option. The culture war uses harassment, shaming and even violence to silence speech by those it opposes and to impose its speech instead.

And that is the overlooked element in the free speech debate.

It’s not just about silencing those you don’t like. It’s about creating a safe space in which your views are the only ones that can be heard. Professional victimhood is the pose of professional victimizers. And the best evidence of that is how easily they turn to violence when they don’t get their own way. Social justice crybullies go from shouting, “I can’t breathe” to wrapping their hands around their victim’s necks.

The culture war is a conflict between two sets of values. These values are meaningful and personal. Like the anthem, they stir our hearts, command our respect and embody the best of us.

And the left wages its culture war by attacking American values while demanding respect for its own.

The anthem must be disrespected, but Black Lives Matter can’t be criticized. Piss Christ must be displayed in museums, but don’t you dare wear a sombrero for Halloween. Speakers who praise Hamas and call for the murder of Jews are welcome on campus. But there’s no room for thinkers who praise free enterprise.

This is what a culture war looks like. And its first casualty is free speech.

The left doesn’t reject free speech because it’s a bunch of easily triggered “snowflakes”. It rejects free speech because it wants absolute power. And the first step is killing a free and open society.

FORMULATING AN OPTIMAL PRODUCT MIX

 

Here’s a common dilemma in an organization: One team relies on another team to supply outputs, and the supplying department claims that it needs a certain budget to meet those demands. However, the supplying team may be inflating its cost estimates in order to give itself a comfortable cushion.

“People like to pad their budgets,” says Rick Antle, the William S. Beinecke Professor of Accounting at the Yale School of Management. “They like to get more resources.” This near-universal tendency for departments to leave themselves a little leeway can end up distorting the final choices managers make about product mix—creating a tendency to stick with existing proportions.

To take a simple hypothetical example, imagine a beverage company that makes lemonade and orange juice. The fruit-picking team knows that it costs around $2,000-5,000 per year to gather the fruit, depending on crop quality. But to be safe, they tell the juice production department that they require a budget of $5,000 every year.

If the company wants to adjust its mix of products—say, doubling lemonade production—the fruit-picking team could respond by claiming that lemons are much more difficult to obtain than oranges, and their overall budget will need to be nearly doubled. But that team could say the same about oranges if the firm wanted to increase orange juice production. In other words, the fruit-pickers could take advantage of either situation to increase their budget padding. As a result, the cost of adjusting the product mix may be too high, and managers may not make changes as often as would be optimal for maximizing profits.

Antle and his collaborator, Peter Bogetoft at Copenhagen Business School, devised a mathematical model to investigate such scenarios. The model represented interactions between a principal (the entity that needs the goods or services) and the agent (the entity supplying them). Antle and Bogetoft found that whether a principal should stick with an existing product mix or make a change depended on the value of the final product and how information about costs is shared. The study could have implications for scenarios ranging from firm downsizing to health care, the researchers say.

In the model, the principal needs two outputs from the agent. The principal wants to maximize its profit, and the agent wants to maximize its budget padding, also called slack.

First, Antle and Bogetoft analyzed what happened if the principal and agent could not communicate about actual production costs. If the products were very valuable, the principal generally continued to choose the same product mix. Absolute amounts might change, but relative amounts remained the same—say, 50% lemonade and 50% orange juice. “The principal just throws up his hands and makes proportional adjustments,” Antle says. “And if that involves the agents getting budgetary slack, well, so be it.”

Why might that be the case? Because the products in this scenario are valuable, the principal does not want to risk making an offer that the agent will reject, which would halt production. To increase the amount of, say, lemonade and still guarantee that production will continue, the principal must assume that lemonade accounts for most of the agent’s budget. In that case, the principal might as well scale up orange juice as well and keep the mix proportions the same.

But if the products were not very valuable, then reducing slack became a higher priority. The principal was willing to risk making offers that the agent would refuse and stopping production. So the principal was more inclined to make drastic changes—for example, cutting orange juice entirely. Sometimes the principal “just gambles on one product,” Antle says. Having one product instead of two may reduce the agent’s opportunities to introduce slack.

Antle and Bogetoft also considered scenarios where the principal and agent could communicate about actual costs. If the principal’s profit margin was large, more communication increased the chances of changing the product mix. But if the profit margin was small, the researchers saw the opposite effect. Communication made it more likely that the principal would stick with the same mix.

The researchers then considered two practical applications. The first was downsizing: Firms might, say, cut production of all items by 10% or slash entire product lines. The research suggests that in many cases, the across-the-board “lawn mowing” approach is better. But if the company needs to downsize drastically and the principal and agent are not communicating, eliminating some products is optimal.

The second application was healthcare. The reasons for escalating healthcare costs are complex. But Antle suggests that one problem might be that some players know more than others about actual costs, and those with less knowledge don’t want to cut production. For example, perhaps doctors and hospitals understand costs better than Medicare does, and Medicare is unwilling to ration treatments.

“In healthcare, we don’t like to say we’re going to take away production,” Antle says. But without this rationing, budgetary padding “goes crazy,” he says. For instance, hospitals might overtreat patients or inflate costs.

Antle cautions that the model does not precisely reflect reality. It has only two players, and each player is an individual. If the “agent” refers collectively to doctors and hospitals, it’s not clear whether they actually act as one unified decision maker. Managers will need to consider the details of each situation, but Antle hopes the model can help them reshape their intuitions, in particular by being aware of the stickiness of product mix, and make the right call.