Stock up on the popcorn

“For all his [Johnson’s] bluster, history suggested that the negotiations were less likely to collapse than to enter a climactic final act, promising even more of the theatrics and brinkmanship that have characterized the Brexit drama from the start.”

The prime minister blew up over what he called Europe?s insistence that Britain make all the compromises. But Europe says it still wants to talk.

The Swedish approach to Corvid-19 revisited

From the NYT: “Normalcy has never been more contentious than in Sweden. Almost alone in the Western world, the Swedes refused to impose a coronavirus lockdown last spring, as the country’s leading health officials argued that limited restrictions were sufficient and would better protect against economic collapse.

“It was an approach that transformed Sweden into an unlikely ideological lightning rod. Many scientists blamed it for a spike in deaths, even as many libertarians critical of lockdowns portrayed Sweden as a model. During a recent Senate hearing in Washington, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease specialist, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, angrily clashed over Sweden.

“For their part, the Swedes admit to making some mistakes, particularly in nursing homes, where the death toll was staggering. Indeed, comparative analyses show that Sweden’s death rate at the height of the pandemic in the spring far surpassed the rates in neighboring countries and was more protracted. (Others point out that Sweden’s overall death rate is comparable to that of the United States.)

“Now, though, the question is whether the country’s current low caseload, compared with sharp increases elsewhere, shows that it has found a sustainable balance, something that all Western countries are seeking eight months into the pandemic — or whether the recent numbers are just a temporary aberration.”

After having weathered high death rates when it resisted a lockdown in the spring, Sweden now has one of Europe?s lowest rates of daily new cases. Whether that is an aberration remains to be seen.

Brexit: the gift that keeps on giving

More popcorn please. Better order a lifetime supply.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has strongly defended his government’s plan to override sections of the Brexit deal that he negotiated with the European Union and accused the EU of having an “extreme” interpretation of the treaty that could jeopardize the U.K.’s future

Big Brother is watching you

“The race to embrace invasive tools underscores a simple dynamic at play during the current global pandemic: Public health concerns are trumping the desire to protect individuals’ privacy online and in the real world, even in the home of the General Data Protection Regulation, Europe’s sweeping privacy rules. …

“Pointing to a wave of new surveillance powers approved nationally and EU-wide in 2015- 2017, following a wave of terrorist attacks, critics argue that regulators are green-lighting practices that will be almost impossible to unwind once the pandemic has passed. …

“According to European Commissioner Breton and other top officials urging telecoms operators to hand over data, privacy can be respected because the data concerned is anonymized and aggregated.

“But that is a little reassurance, according to privacy experts who point out that an individual’s identity can easily be deduced from just a handful of anonymized mobile phone location data points.”

European countries are hollowing out hard-fought privacy standards as they embrace tech solutions to fight the coronavirus.