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Will Britain delay Brexit in all but name — and for how long?

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With deadlines fast approaching for a Brexit agreement and a seemingly unresolvable impasse on the Irish border, Theresa May might have opted to punt — for as long as three years. Rather than cut off Northern Ireland from the UK’s trade policies or create a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, the UK may opt to stay within the EU’s trade rules through 2021 rather than exit in 2020 as originally planned, at least as the preferred “backstop” to a failure to resolve the border issue. That may leave everyone less than pleased, including some of the Prime Minister’s own constituencies.

Basically, it would be a Brexit in all but name for at least a year:

There’s a radical new option that Prime Minister Theresa May’s inner Brexit Cabinet has taken into consideration to address the intractable Irish border problem: keeping European Union customs rules for longer.

According to four people familiar with the matter, the 11 Cabinet ministers at the heart of setting Brexit policy spent much of their 90-minute meeting on Tuesday discussing the need for a new plan to ensure that there’s no return to frontier checks on goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland. …

The idea — already met with skepticism in Brussels — is that it would keep the U.K. aligned with some of EU trade rules for longer, as a backstop plan to avoid a crisis over the Irish border. This idea has now made its way up to the most senior levels in May’s Cabinet, with some members believing it has potential to resolve the impasse, according to the people.

Politico Europe scoffs at the idea a bit, but notes that it will play well with one important May constituency:

When is a customs union not a customs union? When it’s a “time-limited goods arrangement.”

With the Cabinet at odds over the U.K. government’s preferred option for a post-Brexit customs arrangement, British officials are exploring a new option that could provide “a bridge” to a deal. …

Such a deal also has the potential to keep the Democratic Unionist Party — whose MPs prop up May’s government — onside by avoiding a border in the Irish Sea while potentially winning Brexiteer support as a temporary “bridge” to the final position in which the whole of the U.K. exits the EU’s customs area.

“Basically it’s keeping in the external tariff until the new system is ready,” said one U.K. official. “It would have to include a sunset clause. Both sides would need this. The question is how you find the language to persuade the Irish.”

So far, Ireland’s Taoiseach seems to be reacting favorably … to an extension of the customs union. Leo Varadkar certainly won’t object to an extension of the status quo:

Beyond that, though, Varadkar threatens to oppose any proposal that leaves Ireland divided on customs policies. That would force the UK into a “hard Brexit” that will create all sorts of disruptions for both sides:

Varadkar said that the EU and Dublin had “yet to see anything that remotely approaches” a way out of the current impasse.

“By June we need to see substantial progress as the tánaiste [Varadkar’s deputy, Simon Coveney] and I have said on many occasions. The European council will review progress in June. The deadline of course for the withdrawal agreement is October, but if we are not making real and substantial progress by June then we need to seriously question whether we’re going to have a withdrawal agreement at all.” …

Varadkar said: “We need to have that backstop because that gives us the assurance that there will be no hard border on our island. So we stand by our position that there can be no withdrawal agreement without that backstop.

“If the UK wants to put forward alternatives … we’re willing to examine that. But we need to see it written down in black and white and know that its workable and legally operable. And we’ve yet to see anything that remotely approaches that.”

EU president Donald Tusk has repeatedly insisted that they will fully back Ireland on this issue and will not sign any agreement that results in a hard border on the island. That commitment hasn’t changed a whit during the period when the British government has tried to come up with alternatives to the EU-sponsored “backstop” of keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union. So far, they’ve come up empty, and the June deadline for new proposals is fast approaching.

This latest proposal doesn’t appear to rise to the level of a replacement, either. Instead, it looks more like a delay in order to give the UK more time to find a solution that will undo the Gordian knot into which Brexit has put them in Ireland. But the real question is whether there is a solution to this Gordian knot that doesn’t end up being the classic Alexandrian outcome of simply hacking right through it — the “hard Brexit” that the UK wants to avoid, resulting in the hard border by default that Ireland refuses to accept.

This has the potential for an interminable status. May has had almost two full years to come up with an answer already, and other than this delaying tactic, has come up empty.  If they can’t come up with a mutually agreeable solution in another two years, then what? Three more years of being in the customs union to keep looking for another solution? That’s not likely to satisfy anyone, which is why Varadkar is demanding that the UK meet the current deadline.

Don’t expect the EU to drop the backstop already contained within their initial agreement with May’s government based on this can-kicking idea. They have little reason to let Brexiteers off the hook anyway, and the specter of more border issues in Ireland is a good reason to demand a real solution soon, rather than just a pledge to keep working on it. June’s going to be a mighty interesting month in London, Brussels, Dublin, and Belfast.

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Previously Deported Illegal Alien Charged with Brutal Murder of Shakopee, MN Woman

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Minnesota officials charged Fraider Diaz-Carbajal from Mexico with the brutal murder of his former girlfriend in Shakopee, Minnesota earlier this month.

Fraider Diaz-Carbajal had been previously deported but told the court he has lived in the are for 18 years.
Fraider does not speak English and needed a translator.

He stabbed his former girlfriend several times before cutting his own neck.

SW News Media reported:

A 27-year-old woman who was killed in Shakopee on Aug. 12 has been identified as Enedelia Perez Garcia, 27, and today prosecutors charged Fraider Diaz-Carbajal, 35, 1279 Taylor St. Unit 6, with second-degree murder (not premeditated) in her death. Police say he was in the country illegally after being deported in 2014.

At about 4:02 p.m. on Aug. 12, Shakopee police were dispatched to a fight call involving a knife at 1279 Taylor St., No. 6., and while on the way to the Taylor Ridge Towhomes, they were told a male had a knife and a female was possibly dead.

According to the charging documents, officers found a bloody scene in the upstairs bedroom: Diaz-Carbajal was lying with his head resting on the stomach and chest of a woman who was sitting on the floor with her back against the wall and did not appear to be breathing. Diaz-Carbajal’s throat was cut with a 6 to 8-inch-long laceration and there were several stab wounds in his abdomen. He was “taking occasional breaths and moving” and a large, bloody knife was at his left side.

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Can AI produce fine art?

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We don’t normally cover the fine art beat here for obvious reasons, but there was a sale of a painting to a French collector in February which drew some attention. Another work by the same artist is going on sale at Christie’s presently. They works are going for some impressive amounts of money, but that’s not what makes the story interesting. The artist is an Artificial Intelligence program from a company named Obvious. (Time)

Hanging inside a gold frame on a pristine white wall in Christie’s Central London Gallery is a dark, moody portrait of a man in Puritan-style black clothes—the work, it seems, of some Old Master. But scrawled in the bottom right corner, there’s an unexpected signature: a mathematical equation.

This is Edmond de Belamy by French art collective Obvious—or, more accurately, by an algorithm designed by Obvious.

“The whole process is about humans having as little input as possible in the finished piece,” says Gauthier Vernier, one of three 25 year-old French men who started Obvious in April 2017 out of their apartment in Paris. Since then, by teaching a computer about art history and showing it how to make its own work, Obvious have produced 11 artworks with the help of artificial intelligence.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the technical particulars behind this since you can read them all at the article and at the Obvious Art website if you wish. The short version is that they developed an algorithm that scanned a vast number of paintings taken from classical art. It uses something called Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) which randomly generate images meeting certain criteria (a face has two eyes, one nose, one mouth, etc.) and the program “tests” each image itself to see if it can tell whether it’s original art or a computer generation. The results do indeed resemble portraits.

Here’s the real question: Is this art? Allow me to offer the definitive answers (plural) because it works both ways.

First… Yes. This is art.

But that answer comes with a caveat. Anything can be art because art is in the eye of the beholder. You can walk down the beach, find a particularly interesting looking piece of driftwood, take it home, clean it up and mount it on a wooden base. If you find it attractive, if it brings you pleasure, if your friends come over and compliment you on it… it’s art. And that’s only good art I’m talking about. Some of the crap put out by human beings as “modern art” is total garbage. If a crucifix in a jar of urine or three basketballs shoved into a broken fish tank (I actually saw that one in a gallery in New York City some years ago) qualify as art, then anything this robot spits out can certainly bear the name.

Second… No. This is definitely not art.

What they are presenting is a painting. But it didn’t come from an original thought or moment of inspiration in a mind, human or otherwise. They fed a bunch of examples into a program and had it randomly place zeros and ones corresponding to random colors until it generated something which matched certain test criteria that the programmers defined as being “art.” There was no feeling, no intent nor even any knowledge in the “mind” of the program of what it was doing. It was solving a math problem by randomly guessing combinations until it arrived at some solutions which met those design criteria.

It also wasn’t “painted” in any way that requires effort, training or involves risk of messing up a brush stroke. I had to search for a while to find out how the actual, physical paintings are created, but the AI only generates an image file. It’s then fed into a fancy laserjet printer which is set up to print on canvas instead of paper. Then a human being took it out and mounted it in a frame. An artist could never reproduce one of their painting precisely by hand. There would always be at least minute differences. Obvious could crank out the same portrait a thousand times and they would all be the same.

This isn’t even artificial intelligence as near as I can see. And it’s certainly not fine art. You could switch out the canvas for paper and it would be making interesting posters. If some rich collector wants to go to Christie’s and lay out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for one of these creations, that’s up to them. But save up your money, because Obvious can produce thousands more for you in no time at all.

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President Trump Responds to Manafort Conviction “Nothing to do With Russian Collusion” (VIDEO)

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“NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIAN COLLUSION” – President Trump

President Trump responded Tuesday afternoon after a jury found his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on 8 felony counts.

The President spoke to the press shortly after he landed in Charleston, West Virginia as he headed to his rally.

“It doesn’t involve me but I still feel really sad…you know it’s a very sad thing that happened. This has nothing to do with Russian collusion. This started as Russian collusion…this has absolutely nothing to do…this is a witch hunt and it’s a disgrace,” Trump said.

President Trump also said that he feels very bad for Paul Manafort. “He worked for Bob Dole, he worked for Ronald Reagan…” Trump continued.

The President didn’t answer any questions about his former lawyer Michael Cohen who just pleaded guilty to 8 counts; his plea deal includes 3-5 years jail time.

VIDEO:


After four days of deliberations, the jury reached a verdict on 8 counts and could not make a decision on 10 counts in the tax evasion and bank fraud case against Paul Manafort.

Judge Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 counts. The jury found Manafort guilty on 8 counts.

Both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort were hunted down by Mueller and his thugs because of their association with Donald Trump.

We currently have a two-tiered justice system because AG Sessions is AWOL.

One set of laws for Trump and his supporters and another set of laws for Democrats and Clinton-Deep State cronies.

H/T: Zero Hedge

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