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About “Fleabag”, Corbin’s government and Kenneth Clark’s tandoori



I FINALLY FOUND TO watch a few episodes of Fleabag to figure out what all the fuss is about. Some good scenes, I thought, and a gorgeously hideous character with a beard, but other than that, not impressive. The transgression of conventions (addressing the camera, graphic sexual innuendos, sleeping with a priest) was tediously commonplace; the sentimentality, especially about the pet hamster, was cloying… “Fleabag” and the hype surrounding “Fleabag” is nevertheless interesting for sociological reasons: it demonstrates the annexation of another area of ​​British life, the self-worship of the upper middle classes.

Comedy used to be a fairly working-class thing. During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the upper classes (including Edward VII) went to music halls to listen to the songs and jokes of the working class. Many of the giants of post-war comedy, such as Eric Morecambe and Les Dawson (pictured left), came from northern working class backgrounds and were recognized for their talents in workers’ clubs and local talent competitions. The Carry On films sold a lewd marine postcard while scathingly criticizing the claims of British professionals (Carry On Doctor is a masterpiece of doctoral deflation).

“Fleabag” is to comedy what Coldplay is to music: a demonstration that another redoubt of the working class has been completely conquered by the professional class. Fleabag’s parents live in a huge house with a garden the size of a garden. Her sister is a high-ranking leader. While she’s a little weeded out, she’s weeded out in a way that only highly privileged people can be: she runs a (tediously goofy) coffee shop and comes to work when she wants to. This is how it should be. People should write about what they know, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (pictured right), the author of the series, is a descendant of baronets and a product of St. Augustine’s Priory, a posh Catholic school. But this is yet another example of British social closure as a tiny elite take over more and more areas of British life and then congratulate themselves on how brilliantly they break the rules.

The popular explanation for this great social insularity is that it is stuck in it: a tiny clique of heavily connected metropolitan liberals seize control of the machinery of cultural production and then toss a few trinkets to select minorities to convince everyone (including themselves) that Britain is still is a society of opportunity. But I fear the explanation may be darker: as the working class shrinks and loses its cultural self-confidence, working-class institutions such as workers’ clubs are dying. The modern day equivalents of Les Dawson or the Carry On Team have nowhere to learn their craft, while the Phoebe Waller-Bridges of this world drift from independent schools to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, convinced they are upending social conventions and attitudes. world on the right.


PEOPLE are finally starting to take seriously the possibility of a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party. Mr Corbyn’s impressive performance in the last general election in 2017 was largely written off as a protest vote: Part of the rest of England voted for Mr Corbyn precisely because they thought he had no hope of a real victory. Now that the Conservative Party is determined to destroy itself and the Brexit-related unrest is on the rise, people are seriously concerned.

Companies are calculating exactly what a far-left government will mean and are preparing to act accordingly. Foreign powers are starting to think seriously about what they would do if Britain were led by a man whose basic foreign policy principle is: “Whatever America does, I’m against it.” Israelis are terrified at the prospect of a British prime minister who supported Hamas, a militant Islamist group in Palestine, and pandered to anti-Semites within his party. I suspect that fear of a government led by Corbyn will soon become a major force in British politics – and not just a vague theoretical fear, but a real and living fear. People want to move. Money wants to run. Foreign powers will prepare for the worst.


The BRITISH political system is almost perfectly set up to make leaving the European Union (EU) a mess. The system is hostile: the ruling party confronts the opposition across a yawning chasm, and politicians yell at each other. But leaving the EU requires a series of difficult compromises in the middle. The system is also designed to solve the problem and move on to something else: each side expresses its position, the parliament is divided, and then you move on. But leaving the EU requires, above all, perseverance: you have to deal with the same problem week after week. It’s like cutting down a tree with a hammer. This structural problem will only get worse when (and if) Parliament moves from a withdrawal agreement to the more laborious task of shaping our future trade relationship with the EU.

Kenneth Clarke, who is surprisingly good at balancing his dual roles as Tory grandee and regular guy, recently gave a lengthy interview with The New York Times magazine. guardians in which he said that every Tuesday night he went to the Kennington Tandoori by himself to have a curry and read a copy Economist. My colleague dined in that same Tandoori last Tuesday. Indeed, Mr. Clark was sitting alone on the windowsill, diligently going through his copy of Economist. When he left, his place was taken by Ann Widdecombe, a former colleague of Clark’s who had just left the Tory to join Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. My colleague cannot be entirely sure, but he does not think that Miss Widdecombe read Economist.

Image Credits: REX/Shutterstock/BBC

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Senators and Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, Discuss How to Regulate AI



The fireworks that usually go off when tech executives testify before Congress were conspicuously absent from yesterday’s Senate AI hearings. Instead, lawmakers questioned Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, for three hours in what appeared to be a sincere attempt to understand the growing importance and dangers of artificial intelligence.

The central issue of the discussion was how Washington should regulate AI, and perhaps surprisingly, Altman and lawmakers on both sides came to more agreement than disagreement. (Another unexpected nugget: Altman says he has no stake in the sensationally growing artificial intelligence firm, the stunning Sen. John F. Kennedy, Louisiana Republican.)

Biggest surprise: Consensus to create a new AI agency. Altman proposed the creation of a new government agency that issues licenses for the development of large-scale AI models, safety regulations, and tests that AI models must pass before they are released to the general public.

Supported even by some Republicans, who usually refrain from expanding the federal government. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina chose AI over a nuclear reactor, which needs a license to operate and regular testing. When Christina Montgomery, IBM’s director of privacy and trust, and another witness, suggested that a new agency was unnecessary, Graham moved back“I don’t understand how you could say we don’t need an agency to deal with the most transformative technology, maybe ever,” he said.

Witnesses and lawmakers have said other restrictions are needed. Altman and Montgomery said users should be able to exclude their data from being used to train AI services. Meanwhile, Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, has raised concerns about who owns computer materials that create AI models after training on copyrighted data.

And Montgomery added that consumers should be aware every time they interact with the chatbot. “No one, anywhere, can be tricked into interacting with an artificial intelligence system,” she said.

Legislators sought to avoid repeating past mistakes, including what they called a failure to rein in tech giants like Facebook. “Congress didn’t capture the moment on social media,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Senate committee that conducted the hearings.

But skeptics fear that Washington may again miss important nuances. when developing new rules. Sarah Myers West of the AI ​​Now Institute’s Center for Policy Research told The Times that Altman’s proposals don’t address how the technology is being used in policing, nor does it limit the speed of new product development near Silicon Valley.

The latter may prove difficult for some lawmakers: Delaware Democrat Senator Chris Koons said China is working on products that “strengthen the core values ​​of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese system” and suggested that US industry should serve as a counterbalance.

It’s unclear whether Altman’s collaborative approach will save the AI ​​industry from a Washington ban. Consider that some cryptocurrency executives have also called on Congress and regulators to create and refine rules for their companies, only to see the SEC take a hard line.

The work in Congress continues. Yesterday, in less visible Senate hearings, it was assessed how government agencies should use AIwhile the House Judiciary Subcommittee will hold a hearing today AI and copyright.

BlackRock will require employees to go to the office four days a week. Investment management giant new policy, compared to three days a week, is due to many Wall Street firms seeking to return to pre-pandemic work patterns. But the hybrid model still seems to be gaining momentum. offices are half empty.

US Attorney’s Office accuses former Apple employee of stealing trade secrets. Indictment, Weibao Wang’s accused receiving thousands of documents — including those related to the tech giant’s work on autonomous vehicles — as well as working for the US subsidiary of a competitor headquartered in China. This is one of the first prosecutions by a task force dedicated to protecting US critical technology.

The Florida government intends to sue Wall Street firms. Lawmakers yesterday presented the bill to the governor. Ron DeSantis, who allows the Florida State Council, whose work he assists, to move additional $18 billion in government pensions in alternative investments such as hedge funds and private equity. This may raise the question of whether DeSantis is really could receive campaign donations from financial leaders.

EU Member States are adopting the most extensive cryptocurrency regulations to date. The rules will require companies involved in issuing, trading or managing crypto assets in a block of 27 countries to get a license already in 2024. From 2026, the names of senders and recipients must be disclosed in crypto transactions. The move could put pressure on other countries, including the United States, to adopt similar rules to regulate the industry.

Markets looked volatile this morning as warnings of a deadlock on the debt ceiling in Washington put pressure on investors.

Almost no one was surprised that yesterday the negotiators failed to conclude a deal. Speaker Kevin McCarthy suggested an agreement could still be reached “by the end of the week,” but Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, said bipartisan support would be needed. However, both sides agreed that a US default was out of the question.

Business is getting more and more worried. Over 140 leaders large companies, including Goldman Sachs and Pfizer, wrote an open letter to Congress warning of the “catastrophic consequences” of a default.

Meanwhile, some Senate Democrats wonder if McCarthy can bring his assembly together to make a deal. They are concerned that Republicans in the House of Representatives will not bow to their demand for massive spending cuts to address the country’s $31.4 trillion debt problem.

Debt ceiling confrontation poses a much bigger threat to the economy than debt argues Stephanie Kelton is professor of economics at Stony Brook University. Debate over the debt limit, she told DealBook, is “scarier” than in the past, though she still hopes an agreement will be reached.

US debt is fundamental No problem, Kelton argues. This assertion is based on her commitment to Modern Monetary Theory, which essentially states that a government’s debt is not a concern if it can print its own currency. In other words, the United States must spend heavily on social programs because it can easily pay off its own debt and never go broke. (The idea sparked heated debate.)

This message has received the support of progressive lawmakers such as Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York. That could make MMT’s commitment a political factor in the fight for the debt ceiling: lawmakers like Ocasio-Cortez. warned President Biden disagree with Republican demands to cut government spending, as this could provoke a backlash from his left flank.

— Noam Chomsky, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When asked by The Wall Street Journal why he received about $270,000 from an account linked to Jeffrey Epstein.Chomsky said the money was part of an effort to reorganize his finances and did not include “a dime” from a convicted sex offender.

Elon Musk sat down yesterday long interview with CNBC after Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, ostensibly to discuss the electric vehicle business.

Instead, the billionaire insisted on often-controversial opinions on a wide range of topics and refused to back down.

Musk defended his tweets even if they cost him money. The tech mogul has come under fire in recent days for George Soros’ sympathy for once-X-Men villain Magneto, and for being weighing about whether the man accused of organizing the Dallas mall mass shooting supported Nazi ideology.

“I will say what I want, and if the consequence is loss of money, so be it,” Musk said.

This approach could make life difficult for the new head of Twitter. Linda Iaccarino has been hired to help rebuild the social network’s advertising business, which was in crisis due to the digital advertising slump and advertiser concerns about layoffs and changes to content moderation caused by Musk.

Other points from the interview:

  • The billionaire once again poked fun at remote work, calling it “immoraland blaming the higher-paid knowledge workers — the “laptop classes,” he says — for pushing it while front-line workers still have to show up in person.

  • Musk said Twitter’s finances have been grim from day one, claiming the company only had $1 billion in the bank when it took over last fall and was spending $3 billion a year.

  • Tesla will face challenges in the next 12 months, with issues such as high interest rates and consumers cutting back on spending. But he did praise the company’s upcoming Cybertruck.

  • Musk also shared his concern that the Fed would cut interest rates too slowly; asked about fraud in the 2020 elections but admitted they weren’t stolen; and said he was no longer friends with Google co-founder Larry Page due to disagreements over the dangers of artificial intelligence.

The Times has launched a new audio journalism iOS app featuring our podcasts, stories from our journalists, columnists and critics about business, politics, technology and more. The app is now available to Times news subscribers. downloaded here.

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The best of the rest

  • counting cost of pandemic dogs – Starting with a monthly wash, blow-dry and nail trim for $250 Goldendoodle. (WSJ)

  • The San Antonio Spurs of the NBA won the rights to first place. The first pick in next month’s draft is widely expected to be Victor Wembanyama, a 19-year-old French star. (New York Times)

  • Michael Lewis talks about his upcoming book, Sam Bankman-Fried and how he felt when the fallen crypto mogul was arrested. (New York Times)

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Starbucks faces union retaliation for store closure



After workers at a Starbucks store in Ithaca, New York, went on strike last April, a communications specialist from public relations firm Edelman sent out a “real-time alert” by email to Starbucks corporate officials.

“Note about article from The Ithacan discussing the Cornell University Starbucks strike,” wrote the specialist. “Partners have gone on strike over repeated spills of grease traps, resulting in an unsafe environment and inaction on the part of management.”

The story rekindled a discussion among Starbucks management about what to do with the store. The regional director recommended closing because “the space doesn’t meet the needs of our partners or the brand,” but she also noted that they are looking into refurbishment.

Two months later, Starbucks closed the store permanently, prompting workers and federal enforcers to accuse the company of retaliation. Workers recently voted 19-1 in favor of joining Workers United, making it one of 300 Starbucks corporate stores across the country that have been established since late 2021.

The emails that Starbucks disclosed in a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) lawsuit shed light on Starbucks management’s thoughts leading up to the closure. The store was in a great location with great sales potential, but had serious service problems, the main one being an overflowing grease trap.

In June, Denise Nelsen, senior vice president of US operations, emailed Rossanne Williams, then head of Starbucks’ business in North America, about a debate about whether the store should close permanently or refurbish it.

“We need to resolve these conditions issues because we also continue to receive information about the state of the store,” Nelsen wrote.

Kolya Witek, a barista who worked at the College Avenue establishment, argued that the strike’s unwanted attention prompted Starbucks to close the store for good.

“It was retaliation for the strike we went on because we were forced to work in unsafe conditions,” said Vitek, who now works at another Starbucks store in Ithaca. “They didn’t care [before]. Now that we’re making national news, they suddenly feel uneasy.”

“We need to address these conditions issues because we also continue to receive information about the state of the store.”

— Starbucks spokesperson Denise Nelsen in an email to colleagues.

Starbucks insists it closed the cafe for legitimate business reasons, saying its concerns about the store date back to the previous year. The company also denied that the negative press played any role in the call.

“The media attention did not affect our decision to close the store,” company spokesman Andrew Trull told HuffPost.

It would be illegal for a company to close an individual workplace because of union activity. The General Counsel of the NLRB considered the union’s claims in Ithaca to be justified and filed a lawsuit. sweeping complaint against the company in November last year.

On June 3, 2022, Starbucks told workers that the College Avenue store would be closed permanently, according to the union. But Starbucks emails suggest the company still hadn’t decided what to do with the cafe at the time, in part because the location was so secure.

A memo on the store’s situation stated that it had “the strongest real estate position in the area” and “any move would be worse.” Operations team members recommended a permanent closure, while the “real estate recommendation” for the store was to “close, reinvest and reopen”.

The former Starbucks CEO ran tests on Capitol Hill last month. The union accused the company of closing more than two stores in retaliation.

Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

Days after workers were told the store was closing for good, company officials were still debating whether they should rehabilitate it and reopen it.

“It’s getting dark, this is our last desperate attempt to get [landlord] to solve these problems,” Nelsen wrote to Williams.

Noting the media attention to the store, Nelsen added, “If we can’t get him to respond to this message and cooperate, we will need to discuss a permanent closure.”

Michael Dolce, a lawyer for the union, said the emails show Starbucks hasn’t been honest with store employees. He noted that on the same day that Nelsen and Williams were discussing the store’s possibilities, a Starbucks lawyer sent workers a list of reasons they were closing it for good, including a problematic fat trap.

“At the negotiating table, they told the union they were closing the store for good,” Dolce said. “The plan was No permanently close the store; it was for exploring options.”

Dolce claimed that the negative publicity generated by the strike prompted Starbucks to hurry up and close the store, even as he was still assessing what to do.

Another Starbucks email says the original plan to close was to keep the cafe open until June, but the operating team pushed back the closing date by nearly three weeks.

Starbucks says it still considered the closure “permanent” because it could not restore the cafe in a matter of weeks. Instead, it would take one to two years and cost $700,000.

Asked why the company told workers that the store would be closed permanently when repairs were pending, Nelsen said during a labor council lawsuit that the store’s “depth of problems” makes the timing of reopening uncertain.

“Our timeline for something new — like opening a brand new store — is a year,” she said. “So we are literally talking about something that takes so long. Like, yes, it will be treated as a permanent closure.”

Williams played a leading role in the company’s efforts to contain unionism. before leaving Starbucks last June. While in Seattle, the executive visited and worked in stores in the Buffalo area, where the campaign began when workers were considering unionizing – the presence of some workers was deemed close. The emails suggest that Williams received details of the union’s progress.

“It was retaliation for the strike we went on because we were forced to work in unsafe conditions.”

– Starbucks employee Kolya Vitek

In a June 2022 email, the regional COO sent an email to Williams with a “Buffalo CV” calling Ithaca a “hot spot” for union activity that “continues to have Buffalo union organizers”.

She also told Williams about the upcoming union elections. She said the company planned to challenge the store’s recent vote because four employees apparently did not receive ballots. The Union won this vote 7-4.

“These four partners are believed to have no votes,” she wrote. (The challenge eventually failed.)

The College Avenue store is one of 25 stores the union says Starbucks has closed either permanently or temporarily to disrupt the union’s campaign. Union members argue that the Starbucks closure serves two purposes: to disrupt and disperse the core of union support—perhaps provoking the layoffs of baristas who couldn’t or didn’t want to work elsewhere—and to make workers think twice before trying to organize.

Starbucks says it hasn’t closed any stores in retaliation for union activity. But an ALJ has already ruled that Starbucks is illegal. closed the shop who organized into unions, considering the reasons for closing the company “clearly a pretext.” The NLRB General Counsel has not yet announced whether the union’s allegations of nearly two dozen other closures have merit.

After Starbucks announced it was closing the Ithaca store, workers began what it called “bargaining” with the company to discuss their rights during the closure. The workers were offered jobs in other stores. Witek said they pushed for a severance pay for workers who would not take other positions, but the company was strongly against it.

Evan Sunshine, the Ithaca barista who led the bidding, said he didn’t expect Starbucks to close the store for good. He believed that the grease trap was a serious problem and that the company could close the store for a while to fix it, but eventually the workers would be able to return to the same store.

Sunshine said they were raising money to help cover the wages of workers affected by the shutdown.

“We didn’t hit our targets every week,” he said.

Ultimately, according to Sunshine, the closure of the College Avenue store had a major impact on the workforce and organizing campaign in the city. When elections took place in April 2022, the store had 27 employees. Starbucks said that after the closure, fourteen employees agreed to work in other stores, while the rest refused. The vast majority have since left the company.

“Two of the 27 still work at Starbucks,” Sunshine said, referring to himself and Vitek.

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Week in Business: Trump on TV



Until last week, former President Donald Trump had not appeared on CNN since 2016. But Wednesday night at a town hall hosted by the network, Mr. Trump, the Republican leader in the 2024 presidential campaign, resumed the lies and name-calling that marked his presidency. When questioned by host Caitlan Collins, he repeated misinformation about the 2020 election, called writer E. Jean Carroll, who won her sexual harassment and defamation lawsuit, a “fool” and ridiculed Ms. Collins as a “nasty person.” Ms. Collins tried to correct Mr. Trump’s lies, he often talked about her. All evening the sympathetic public cheered him on. Critics of the CNN forum said it was reckless to give Mr. Trump such a large platform for his message, especially because his claims proved difficult to verify in real time.CNN Chairman Chris Licht defended the broadcast on Thursday, saying it stressed that coverage of Trump “will continue to be messy and complicated.”

A closely watched report on Wednesday showed that inflation in the United States had hit a remarkable milestone, with April marking the 10th straight month in which price growth slowed. The consumer price index rose 4.9 percent year-over-year, beating analysts’ expectations – in a good way. Economists in a Bloomberg survey predicted a 5 percent rise. Core inflation, which rules out food and fuel price volatility, also eased slightly. The report follows the 10th consecutive increase in the base rate by the Federal Reserve. The latest inflation data, along with other signs of a slowdown in the economy, could make May’s last rise for now.

Elon Musk has long asked Twitter users if he should step down as the platform’s chief executive. “I will honor the results of this poll,” he said. The results came in: Almost 58 percent of the 17.5 million people who voted agreed that Mr. Musk should leave office. But it was still somewhat surprising when Mr. Musk announced on Friday that he had chosen his replacement A: He said his successor would be Linda Iaccarino, chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal. Mr. Musk said that Ms. Iaccarino, who recently interviewed him on stage at a promotional event in Miami, will focus on business operations while he continues to work on product design and technology.

The two groups that have tried to blame each other for the recent bank failures will appear in two Senate hearings this week – the heads of those banks and the federal regulators that oversee them. On Tuesday, Greg Becker, the former Silicon Valley Bank chief executive who stepped down after the bank collapsed in March, will testify before the Senate Banking Committee. Two former senior executives from Signature Bank, which went bankrupt two days later, will also testify. They are expected to receive a tough reception from legislators. In a letter challenging Mr. Becker, the chairman of the committee wrote: “You must answer for the collapse of the bank.” Regulators can also expect questioning at a separate hearing on Thursday. When regulators appeared before the committee last month, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle chided shortcomings in oversight of the banking crisis. Regulators have also pointed the finger at bank mismanagement.

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