My Conversion to Conservatism

My Conversion to Conservatism, by Tim Blair.

In 1983, during my solitary year at university, a boring but worthy anti-war left-wing film was followed by a young feminist speaker who declared there would be no violence if women led the world’s governments.

“What about Margaret Thatcher?” I asked, this being only a year after the Falklands War.

“She’s a man,” the speaker shot back. I laughed, but she didn’t, and neither did anyone else in the screening room. Small note to self: my comrades are not inclined to face awkward facts. …

Pilger nonsense:

In 1988, watching a John Pilger documentary with lefty friends, another such moment occurred.

Pilger, as usual, was complaining about colonialism and racism and Aboriginal injustice, so naturally we — uniformly white, urban and privileged — were lapping it up. The documentary then shifted to the former nuclear testing site at Maralinga in South Australia, where seven British bombs were detonated in the 1950s and 1960s. Pointing to a sign warning of radiation danger, Pilger observed mournfully that it was written in several languages — “but not in the Aboriginal language”.

Startled by this claim, I looked around the room. Everyone was silent, including a few who had studied Aboriginal history in considerable depth, and so must have known that Pilger’s line was completely wrong. So I just said it: “There is no single Aboriginal language. And no Aboriginal language has a written form.”

I didn’t last long with that bunch of friends, either. Small note to self: my comrades will deny even their own knowledge if it runs counter to a preferred leftist version of events.

Conservatism is easier for the same reason that honesty is easier:

Within another four years my conversion was complete. The best part of adopting conservatism after years of leftism, by the way, is how much easier life becomes. If you’re a conservative, facts are generally all you need to establish a case or mount an argument. If you’re a leftist, however, you always have to find a way around the facts, which is why combative lefties always sound like lawyers knowingly representing a guilty client.

Also, when you’re a conservative there’s a lot less marching. And the movies are better. …

On Mark Latham:

Entertainingly, many of Latham’s angriest critics would have voted for him in 2004. Then again, in an election against John Howard, your rusted-on Labor types would have voted for an animatronic flesh robot programmed to speak in a form of English known only to itself.

In fact, three years later they did.

Read it all.

hat-tip Joanne

NSW Labor conference to back Palestinian recognition in ‘historic’ shift

NSW Labor conference to back Palestinian recognition in ‘historic’ shift, by Brad Norington.

A resolution to be put to the NSW ALP conference late today that “urges the next Labor government to recognise Palestine” is set to be passed by an overwhelming majority of party delegates from right and left factions.

The resolution, which modifies a previous commitment only to “discussions” on Palestinian statehood between a Labor government and like-minded nations, follows an intense campaign over many months led by former NSW premier Bob Carr.

Mr Carr and his supporters hope a break with 40 years of unqualified Labor support for Israel by the ALP’s largest state branch will become the model for a policy change at the party’s federal conference next year.

Australian Muslims are making their political muscle felt. In NSW state and Federal several seats have substantial Muslim minorities, and the ALP needs their continuing support.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

‘Black Lives Matter’ Riots in London, Police and Public Attacked

‘Black Lives Matter’ Riots in London, Police and Public Attacked, by Liam Deacon.

Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and bottles have been hurled at police during a ‘Black Lives Matter’ riot in East London following the death of an alleged drug dealer.

Rashan Jermaine Charles, 20, died in hospital after being apprehended by police in Dalston, Hackney on the 22nd of July. He was attempting to flee a shop while swallowing a stash of drugs when tackled by officers, according to reports.

Following the death, masked activists bearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ placards shut down Kingsland Road, set fire to bins and mattresses, and even attempted to storm a passing lorry, the BBC reports.

Shop windows were also smashed, graffiti painted on buildings, and late-night businesses forced to close their doors. …

The protest began at around 4 pm on Friday, when approximately 80 people began gathering outside the shop where Mr Charles was arrested. Things turned violent as the sun went down and continued into the night.

The transition from a political protest to criminality seems to be happening in record time for Black Lives Matter. (Most violent political movements end up becoming involved in criminal enterprises to raise money to keep the organization going over the years, but normally it takes years or decades.) Despite Soros money. Guess the founding lie of “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” after robbing someone’s shop has something to do with it.

hat-tip Charles

100x faster, 10x cheaper: 3D metal printing is about to go mainstream

100x faster, 10x cheaper: 3D metal printing is about to go mainstream, by Loz Blain.

Desktop Metal – remember the name. This Massachussetts company is preparing to turn manufacturing on its head, with a 3D metal printing system that’s so much faster, safer and cheaper than existing systems that it’s going to compete with traditional mass manufacturing processes. …

Plenty of design studios and even home users run desktop printers, but the only affordable printing materials are cheap ABS plastics. …

Desktop Metal is an engineering-driven startup whose founders include several MIT professors, and Emanuel Sachs, who has patents in 3D printing dating back to the dawn of the field in 1989. …

The hype is real. And if Desktop Metal delivers on its promises – that it can make reliable metal printing up to 100 times faster, with 10 times cheaper initial costs and 20 times cheaper materials costs than existing laser technologies, using a much wider range of alloys – these machines might be the tipping point for large scale 3D manufacturing. …

Without hazardous (and sometimes explosive) metal powders to deal with, or dangerous lasers, you can stick them pretty much anywhere without needing to install ventilation or make your workers wear respirators.

Indeed, having the Studio system around is much more like a regular old FDM (fused deposition modeling) ABS plastic printer than any other metal printing machine. It’s very low maintenance and requires no special support equipment or staff.

How it works:

The metals arrive in rod form, bound to a polymer binding agent and shipped in cartridges. But there’s a ton of metal options — basically anything you can use in a Metal Injection Molding (MIM) system. That includes 4140 chromoly steel, aluminum, copper, bronze, a range of stainless steels, Hiperco 50 magnetic, titanium, and more than 200 other alloys.

The Studio printer runs around and prints parts into layers of bound metal. The parts then go into a de-binding bath that removes a good portion of the binding polymer, and then the parts go into a sintering furnace.

The furnace is the special sauce in the Desktop Metal process. It uses a combination of regular heating elements and microwave heating to bring the part up to a temperature just below its melting point, where the binding agent burns off and the metal particles within fuse to their neighbors to produce a highly dense, sintered metal. …

Depending on the nature of the part, it might be necessary to do some post-print surface finishing like sanding or bead blasting to smooth out the layered surfaces, but effectively you’re left with a prototype part, produced quickly, in the production material and ready for testing. And parts are around 99.8 percent dense, which is huge. They’re very mechanically tough. …

Faster than machining, casting, forging or any other technique, each production printer can produce up to an incredible 500 cubic inches of complex parts per hour.

hat-tip byrmol

Four arrested in Australia as police thwart Islamist-inspired plot to bring down a plane

Four arrested in Australia as police thwart Islamist-inspired plot to bring down a plane, by AP.

Police disrupted a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane and arrested four men on Saturday in raids on homes in several Sydney suburbs, the prime minister said. …

“I can report last night that there has been a major joint counterterrorism operation to disrupt a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane,” Turnbull told reporters. “The operation is continuing.”

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said details were scant on the specifics of the attack, the location and timing. …

“We believe it’s Islamic-inspired terrorism,” Colvin said when asked if the Islamic State group was behind the plot.

The plot was the 13th significant threat disrupted by police since Australia’s terrorist threat level was elevated in 2014, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said. Five plots have been executed. …

Since Australia’s terrorist threat level was raised in 2014, 70 suspects have been charged in 31 counter-terrorism police operations, Keenan said.

Rosie Lewis adds:

Four people have been arrested and are in custody after the NSW counter-terrorism team conducted raids across the Sydney suburbs of Surry Hills, Lakemba, Punchbowl and Wiley Park overnight, with searches expected to take many more hours or days. …

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Australia’s Halal Chief Says White Women Need To Be Fertilized By Muslim Men

Australia’s Halal Chief Says White Women Need To Be Fertilized By Muslim Men, by Ian Cheong.

Mohamed Elmouelhy, the head of Australia’s Halal Certification Authority, publicly commented on Facebook to state that white Australian women need Muslim men to fertilize them and “keep them surrounded by Muslim babies.”

Elmouelhy’s intolerant views led him to declare that the “white race will be extinct” in 40 years.

The certification chief, who immigrated to Australia in 1975 and became a citizen in 1981, made his comments in response to a study in Human Reproduction Update from Israeli researchers in Hebrew University, which revealed declining fertility rates among men in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Based on 43,000 men, the scientists found that a high proportion of men in Western countries had sperm counts below the threshold for infertility.

“According to the Hebrew University, Australian men sperm count has declined by 52 per cent over the last 40 years so your men are a dying breed, Australian women need us to fertilise them and keep them surrounded by Muslim babies while beer swilling, cigarette smoking, drug injecting can only dream of what Muslim men are capable of,” wrote Elmouelhy in a comment on Facebook that was first reported by the Daily Mail.

“If the country is left to the bigots the white race will be extinct in another 40 years,” he continued. “Muslims have a duty to make your women happy because you are declining, better go chose a plot for yourself at your local cemetery. If you can’t afford it, commit suicide it is a cheaper alternative for bigots.”

“It will [sic] mandatory for all women to wear hijab or burka if they prefer, bikinis will be displayed in Museums but not on nubile bodies anymore,” he continued. “When that happens everything in Australia will be Halal certified. Bigots and pigs will be declared Haram and must not be approached or touched, they can live together in reserves. There will be a Halal butcher on every corner, all other butchers will be offered to convert to Halal or given a passage back to where their ancestors came from.”

Elmouelhy’s diatribe also included scathing remarks towards Australian politicians and called for the creation of “religious police” who “will make sure all businesses are closed at the time of prayers.”

Let us know what you really think Mohamed.

hat-tip Joanne

Men using their Australian citizenship to extort funds from Indian brides

Men using their Australian citizenship to extort funds from Indian brides, by Ruby Jones.

When she got married, Kasish’s family paid her new husband and his family a $50,000 dowry, in cash, jewellery, gold and white goods — including a washing machine, TV and air conditioner — for her new in-laws.

That’s a standard dowry commanded by Australian-Indian men, according to a domestic violence caseworker who says she has seen hundreds of cases of dowry-related abuse in South Australia. …

Indian men with Australian citizenship command higher dowries, because of the promise of a new life in a wealthy country. Some are taking advantage of that.

Men who have arrived as international students years ago may see marriage as a way to pay off their student debts and loans, according to psychiatrist and campaigner Dr Manjula O’Connor.

“Many have girlfriends but they go back [to India] for an arranged marriage,” she said.

“Partly because their parents insist they continue their culture by getting married to someone from their culture, but partly also with the idea that this will remove their debts.” …

Typically, a woman’s family pays between $25,000 and $50,000, including bearing the cost of a lavish ceremony, she says.

But demands often keep coming after the wedding, and if the bride’s family refuses them, the husband might use physical violence to extort more money, or exact revenge.

“More than half of [my] clients have this problem. Most of the time… the husband keeps asking for dowry, and it finally ends up in physical violence,” Avni said. …

The potential for abuse and exploitation led to dowries being outlawed in India in 1961, but legislation has done little to stop the practice.

Another example of the kind of immigration that doesn’t “fit in” with Australian culture.

hat-tip Joanne

Anthony Scaramucci’s wife files for divorce because she hates Donald Trump

Anthony Scaramucci’s wife files for divorce because she hates Donald Trump, by Emily Smith.

Anthony Scaramucci, the White House’s potty-mouthed new communications director, has been dumped by his beautiful blond wife because of his “naked political ambition,” multiple sources exclusively tell Page Six.

Deidre Ball, who worked as a vice president in investor relations for SkyBridge Capital, the firm he founded in 2005 and sold to ascend to the White House, has filed for divorce from “The Mooch” after three years of marriage after getting fed up with his ruthless quest to get close to President Trump, whom she despises.

One source told Page Six, “Deidre has left him and has filed for divorce. She liked the nice Wall Street life and their home on Long Island, not the insane world of D.C. She is tired of his naked ambition, which is so enormous that it left her at her wits’ end. She has left him even though they have two children together.”

Scaramucci and Ball, 38, began dating in 2011 and are believed to have married in 2014.

I suspect Trump is not choosing people for where they lie on the Democrat-Republican axis, but simply on whether they are part of the swamp or not — which roughly translates now into how much they have Trump’s interests at heart. He wants loyalty.

Shorten’s fix for imaginary inequality issue is to tax the rich

Shorten’s fix for imaginary inequality issue is to tax the rich, by Henry Ergas.

When Bill Shorten says “tax reform” what he means is the largest peacetime increase in tax rates since federation.

Under federal Labor’s plan for government the top marginal rate of personal income tax would rise to levels not seen since 1989; capital gains tax would jump to historic highs; and the elimination of negative gearing on existing properties, together with likely but not yet announced changes in the taxation of trusts, would further increase effective tax rates on personal income.

In international terms, our top income tax rates would be well above the average top rate in every region of the world, with taxpayers hitting those rates at lower incomes than elsewhere while benefiting from fewer exemptions and deductions.

As for capital gains tax, it would be the second highest among the advanced economies, with only Denmark taxing capital gains more harshly.

At the same time, by reversing the Coalition’s initial reduction in the company tax rate, and not proceeding with the further reductions to which the Coalition is committed, Labor would keep our effective tax rates on company income much higher than those in the other advanced economies, with the gap made all the greater by the fact that we apply those rates to a far broader base than do countries such as the US.

Those changes flatly contradict the recommendations of the Henry tax review, which Labor commissioned. That they would make our tax system even more inefficient, dragging down Australia’s prosperity, is beyond doubt.

Labor’s increase of the top personal rate to 49.5 per cent alone would decrease our economic wellbeing by 83c for every dollar of revenue raised, according to a calculation by Chris Murphy, whose model of the Australian economy was used by the Henry review to estimate the economic impacts of tax changes. …

And Murphy estimates that raising the company tax rate to 30 per cent, rather than the planned reduction to 25 per cent for all companies, would have a cost in terms of wellbeing of fully $2.39 for every dollar of tax revenue it allowed the government to retain. …

Envy:

WK Hancock, whose Australia, published in 1930, remains unsurpassed as a study of our national character, regarded envy, cloaked in the language of fairness and leavened by the constant fear of being dudded, as the quintessential Australian vice.

“Properly anxious to run a fair race”, he wrote, Australian democracy “is improperly resentful if anybody runs a fast race”, with the result that “in its fear of the strong, it succumbs to the destructive vandalism of the weak”. The country’s “intellectually lazy” politicians could therefore trade all too easily on the tall poppy syndrome…

Blond British wombat Boris Johnson may redefine politics

Blond British wombat Boris Johnson may redefine politics, by Greg Sheridan.

Boris Johnson, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, is an astonishing international brand. As the Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove pointed out in his introduction at Johnson’s hilarious Sydney Town Hall lecture on Thursday night, hardly anyone else in the world is instantly recognisable by a single name — Madonna and Beyonce come to mind.

Because everyone expects Johnson to be funny all the time, they are primed to laugh at his jokes. And they are very good jokes, flawlessly delivered. But sometimes this reputation for wit and hilarity can get in the way of the big, substantial, real things Johnson wants to tell the world. …

There is a trace of genius in the way Johnson can defuse difficulties through humour, but it has become a bit of a burden as well. …

You will seldom hear Johnson complain about the press, British or foreign. He seems to have made a decision in principle always to be good humoured and positive. It’s a surprisingly powerful disposition but requires enormous discipline — that art which conceals an art — to maintain. …

Here is the larger question that haunts Johnson. Does his wit and humour and spontaneity render impossible a shot at national and international leadership? Is he prime minister material?

On the face of it, he is the most powerful campaigner in contemporary British politics. He twice won election as mayor of London, a Labour-friendly city not sympathetic to Tories. And then his personal campaigning was the X factor that got Brexit over the line in last year’s referendum.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Shorten Labor’s false road to fairness

Shorten Labor’s false road to fairness, by Paul Kelly.

Attempting to hold together the centre of politics, Treasurer Scott Morrison has launched his initial foray against Bill Shorten’s inequality crusade, warning that the politics of envy — “that someone has to do worse for you to do better” — is the road to ruin. …

The question is whether the Opposition Leader can control the tidal wave of ideological sentiment he has authorised as the Labor right — having moved to the left — now faces a Corbynite eruption from the left and from trade unions convinced that a pre-Thatcherite policy is an idea whose time has come.

“The Labor Party is taking us back to a pre-Whitlam time,” Morrison tells Inquirer. “This is not the Hawke-Keating approach — they knew equality was best achieved by creating jobs — but this is now retro Labor going back to the 1960s. …

Morrison is right to be alarmed: last year Shorten stole a long march on the Turnbull government by building his campaign on the misleading claim that Medicare was going to be privatised, and now he taps into a deep public sentiment to build the next campaign on the premise that Australia has failed the equity test. …

There are many elements folding into Shorten’s momentum. The single biggest element is generational hostility from the under-30s at exclusion from the Sydney/Melbourne housing market. The British experience was stunning — the key to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s surge was command of the youth vote and his fantastic pledge to abolish university tuition fees (at a cost of £9.5 billion, financed by taxing the better off). The ALP is already using every tool in the education debate to seize control of the youth vote from the Coalition and the Greens. What else might it pledge before the next election?

The current redistribution of income by government in Australia:

Asking what constitutes a fair society, Morrison said this week:

  • the poorest 20 per cent of householders, on average, get cash transfers and benefits worth eight times more than they pay in tax;
  • more than 40 per cent of families pay no net tax according to the Productivity Commission (other studies put this figure far higher);
  • the top 10 per cent of income taxpayers pay almost 50 per cent of total income tax; and
  • the top 1 per cent pay “a staggering 17 per cent of all tax received”.

Morrison calls this system “pretty fair” and says Labor’s plans for a further decisive change and even higher taxes are “ideology masquerading as fairness”. Given Shorten wants to shift the system towards greater redistribution as a priority, the issue becomes: what sort of society does this mean? …

How does Australia rate in global measures of inequality? Wilkins warns these measures are highly unreliable. But a recent OECD analysis shows Australia rates above the midpoint in terms of inequality, with 13 nations rated worse — including New Zealand, Britain and the US — and 21 nations rated better. …

Labor’s direction:

Shorten wants to eliminate tax breaks that favour the better-off — a justified move in terms of both tax equity and efficiency. Beyond that, Labor is fixated by the idea of zero-sum politics redistribution.

Are many Americans poor because Bill Gates is worth about US$90 billion? If Gates had never succeeded, would poorer Americans be better off? Is one person’s poverty because of another person’s success?

The logical answer is to repudiate such cause-effect propositions. But Labor jumps this hurdle with its political coupling of the process, witness Anthony Albanese on the ABC saying: “The wealthiest two Australians own as much as the bottom 20 per cent.” Game, set and match — there must be a link.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Australian selective public schools: NSW plans broader test to throw the school gates wide open

Australian selective public schools: NSW plans broader test to throw the school gates wide open, by Rosemary Neill.

Christina Ho admits she has given her forthcoming research paper, Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians, a contentious title.

Ho, a senior lecturer in the University of Technology Sydney’s arts and social sciences faculty … has critiqued everything from the “ethnically unbalanced’’ Asian domination of selective schools to “white flight’’ from highly diverse public schools.

Ho’s latest research is a qualitative study of Asian and Anglo-Australian parents and students who have experienced NSW selective high schools and primary schools’ opportunity classes.

With 19 selective schools, 29 semi-selective campuses and 76 primary schools with opportunity classes, NSW has the nation’s largest selective system. Ho’s study suggests white families often feel excluded from it.

The outspoken academic tells Inquirer she was surprised at the “level of anger and resentment’’ among Anglo-Australians about this. She says such parents “feel they are being shut out of the selective system because of the prevalence of tutoring, which they associate with Asian cultures’’.

“I was quite struck by just how deeply felt this anger was. There’s now this racialised hostility to ­tutoring among a lot of Anglo-Australian families.’’

Everyone knows, but the statistics are stark:

The federally funded MySchool website shows that typically 80 per cent to 95 per cent of the students who attend top-ranked NSW and Victorian selective schools are from non-English-speaking, usually Asian, backgrounds. Experts say most would have undergone intensive coaching to get into these elite classes and schools.

Ho’s study of 20 Anglo and Asian families found that even white families whose kids secured places in the NSW selective system felt “marginalised’’ within it. “They felt that the whole selective system was being used in a way that it wasn’t designed for,’’ she says.

They also felt the tutoring industry “has warped the selective school system, because it’s very difficult now in their experience to get a kid into the selective system if you haven’t had coaching. It’s something they don’t feel comfortable doing as parents.’’

Even the bureaucrats eventually have to sit up and take notice:

Now, however, after years of stubbornly denying the coaching industry’s impact on selective school entry, the NSW Education Department has decided to act. Last week Mark Scott, the department’s high-profile secretary, said the selective schools entry exam would be broadened in a bid to ­encourage more disadvantaged students into the system. …

He also says there is a “significant community perception that tutoring is necessary for successful entry and parents can spend more than $20,000 a year on preparation for OC (opportunity class) or selective high school tests’’. …

Scott’s comments mark a radical break with the department’s long-term refusal to acknowledge that intensively coached children are likelier to excel in the ­selective school entry exam than non-coached students.

Yes, coaching matters:

Australian Tutoring Association head Mohan Dhall says coaching centres would “probably not’’ be able to teach or rehearse an IQ test. …

He, too, welcomes Scott’s plan to broaden the selective entrance exam: “I think it’s good … At the moment we’re basing entry into a school on one particular test which isn’t publicly available and in which you can train kids in the item types. This means it isn’t ­always the most intelligent kids who get into the schools. It’s a mix of kids who are bright and those who have learned particular limited forms (of questions).’’

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Australia’s gold demise bar none … well, four

Australia’s gold demise bar none … well, four, by Paul Garvey.

In a vault deep in the basement of the Reserve Bank’s Martin Place headquarters in Sydney sits a hoard of gold bars worth about $US500,000 each — all four of them.

The RBA now holds almost the entirety of the nation’s gold in vaults administered by the Bank of England.

To add insult to injury to the nation’s gold devotees, the vaults are stuffed full of the redesigned $10 polymer banknotes awaiting official release in September. …

Australia sold its gold in 1997, in a sale timed to suppress the price of gold, to bury it forever, and replace it with government paper:

Then-treasurer Peter Costello agreed to sell most of its holdings in 1997.

The decision prompted cries of betrayal from the gold industry and, with the benefit of hindsight, was incredibly poorly timed. Since the sale of 167 tonnes of gold for $2.4 billion, or just over $400 an ounce, gold in Australian terms has rallied to record highs. The price peaked last July at $1819.44 an ounce, at which point the gold Australia sold for $2.4bn would have been worth $10.7bn. …

Australia is in the paper camp, with the monetary progressives:

The RBA’s current gold holdings, in the Bank of England’s vaults, now total just under 80 tonnes.

That’s less gold than is held by the central banks of Iraq, Poland and Romania, according to figures compiled by the World Gold Council, and is just a sliver of the amount held by similarly sized economies such as Spain (281.6 tonnes) and Russia (1706.8 tonnes).

Gold has been accepted as money most everywhere civilized for the last 5,000 years. Paper currencies come and go, usually ending in a storm of inflation and over-production to meet some crisis or other.

That storm will be on the West soon. We have record low interest rates, near zero, so next time there is a recession the only available tool for the central banks is “printing.” In addition, the debt load across society is greater by far than at anytime in history (courtesy of the great bubble, 1982 – 2008), and the temptation to inflate society out of its debt will become irresistible at some point.

Government got us into this mess, and government will keep digging until it collapses.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Whitehouse Shakeup: Reince Priebus Ousted

Whitehouse Shakeup: Reince Priebus Ousted, by Peter Baker.

Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff who failed to impose order on a chaos-racked West Wing, was pushed out on Friday after a stormy six-month tenure, and President Trump replaced him with John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security and retired four-star Marine general. …

Mr. Priebus said after the announcement that he had always made clear to Mr. Trump that when the president thought it was time for a new chief, he would support that. “The president has a right to change directions,” he said on CNN. “The president has a right to hit a reset button. I think it’s a good time to hit the reset button.”

He expressed no bitterness about his removal. “I’m always going to be a Trump fan,” he said. “I’m on Team Trump, and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals and his agenda for the American people.” …

Mr. Trump has considered pushing out Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, according to a White House official who discussed internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity. Several conservative supporters of Mr. Bannon — including Representative Mark Meadows, the House Freedom Caucus chairman — told Mr. Trump on Friday that the president would risk losing base supporters if he let the strategist go. …

During last year’s campaign, Mr. Priebus was slow to embrace Mr. Trump’s candidacy …  Mr. Trump often reminded people around him that Mr. Priebus had suggested that he consider dropping out after an “Access Hollywood” tape of Mr. Trump’s crude remarks about women was made public in October.

Germany’s Biggest Carmakers are a Cheating Cartel

Germany’s Biggest Carmakers are a Cheating Cartel, by Frank Dohmen. The diesel scandal was just the tip of the iceberg.

Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen are engaged in cutthroat competition to produce the best cars. At least that’s the story often told by auto company CEOs, economists and politicians. It’s a narrative about the beneficial effect of the market economy, which is based on competition among companies. But the narrative is wrong, and this is reflected in the convertible top.

Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen did not in fact compete over which company could offer its customers the best top. On the contrary, experts with the five automakers coordinated their actions in numerous meetings. For instance, they determined the maximum speed at which a driver could open or close the top.

“No arms race when it comes to speeds,” read the minutes of a meeting in Bad Kissingen. Arguments against an arms race, according to the minutes, were “costs, weight, increasing technological risk and crash relevance.” The result of that meeting is that the soft tops on the convertibles sold by Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen can only be opened and closed at speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour.

It was an agreement that suspended both competition and the market economy. It was reached by the “working group for mechanical attachments.” There were many, many other working groups involving the five German automakers, including working groups for braking control systems, seating systems, air suspensions, clutches, gasoline engines and diesel engines. The major issues were discussed and arranged in these groups.

Reporting by DER SPIEGEL into the anti-cartel authorities in Brussels and Bonn, and automakers in Stuttgart, Munich and Wolfsburg, and conversations with current and former executives, provide a previously unknown image of Germany’s most important industry. The conclusion is that Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen often no longer compete with one another. Instead, they secretly cooperate, very closely, in fact, in the same way one would normally expect of the subsidiaries of a single company to work together, as something like a “German Cars Inc.” — or a cartel. …

It is not just a matter of the establishment of an exclusive club of the five German automakers with the goal of attaining economic advantages over the competition. The secret agreements are also detrimental to customers, who buy German vehicles because, among other things, they expect to be getting the best possible products from a technical standpoint. But how can a company produce the best if competition is curbed, and if the engineers stop doing their utmost to outdo the engineers working for other brands? …

And then there are the millions of owners of diesel cars. In an almost bizarre way, they too are victims of the German auto cartel. For the first time, there is proof that it was agreements among these five automakers that ultimately ensured that emissions from diesel vehicles were not cleaned as effectively as would have been technically possible. …

The cartel authorities face a Sisyphean task in their investigation of the auto cartel. There were more than 60 working groups in which the automakers cooperated. … More than 60 working groups and more than 1,000 meetings. …

Market principles were thwarted for their own advantage:

But beyond this known cooperation, apparently the companies, in their groups of five, secretly shut out the competition in many areas of vehicle development for years, thereby violating the basic principle of the market economy. …

It is standard practice in the industry to analyze competitors’ vehicles. The automakers buy cars, drive them and sometimes dismantle them. This is a complex and expensive undertaking.

The members of the group of five helped each other to facilitate these comparisons by exchanging data on such variables as the “driving resistance coefficient.” The Third-Party-Motor Analysis working group oversaw this effort. According to one employee, “the ‘give and take’ motto is correct and, in this manner, is also experienced in a friendly manner within the working group.”

This may not have posed a problem under cartel law if all automakers had been given access to the data, including competitors from France, Italy, Japan and the United States. But the members of the German group of five wanted it to remain an exclusive group. Inquiries from Jaguar, Volvo, Renault and Fiat were rejected. …

The individual cases described in the Volkswagen brief reveal that the German automakers live in two worlds. The one world, the hidden one, is characterized by a lively “give and take.” In the other world, the one on display at auto shows, the automakers act as if they were in bitter competition with each other.