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Is the White House an American iconic image built by the hands of slaves?

by Democrats Ramshield Sat Jul 30th, 2016 at 12:23:59 AM EST

(Written by an American expat living in Germany)

Recently Michelle Obama touched off a firestorm when she remarked that in the White House which slave labor helped build was now the playground of her two young daughters, as a statement in her view about how far America had come.

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (3 comments, 1822 words in story)

The Brexit Negotiation Process

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jul 28th, 2016 at 03:56:41 PM EST

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes (By email):

Is it yet clear what the process for British Exit is and what is to be negotiated?" UK politicians seem to depict a different view of what is involved than the EU Commission. I think the answer is important and is not being given enough attention in the UK.

Cecila Malmstrom (EU Commissioner for Trade) has stated that the process is two stage and sequential. First UK leaves completely to third country status and WTO rules.  Then, UK can begin to negotiate its future relationship, i.e. the terms of access to the single market is what some, but not all, Tory politicians think is necessary.  [UK can either negotiate that break cleanly within two years of A50 or it happens at the end of that unless extended by unanimous agreement.]

Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the official statement following the 29th June meeting of the 27 seems to support this view though the statement is not intended to clarify that Malmstrom view.

  1. Once the [A50] notification has been received, the European Council will adopt guidelines for the negotiations of an agreement with the UK. In the further process the European Commission and the European Parliament will play their full role in accordance with the Treaties.

  2. In the future, we hope to have the UK as a close partner of the EU and we look forward to the UK stating its intentions in this respect. Any agreement, which will be concluded with the UK as a third country, will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations. Access to the Single Market requires acceptance of all four freedoms. [My emphasis]

Again delusion sets in amongst the Tories when they think UK is going to control movement but have full access with all the existing benefits. [I am aware that Switzerland has failed to come up with such a deal and is running out of time to resolve its position following the Feb 2014 Swiss referendum].

Liam Fox [UK International Trade Secretary] has described Malmstrom's view as "bizarre, stupid, preposterous and ridiculous" according to the Guardian.

It would be interesting to find out if Juncker, Tusk and Michel Barnier take the same position as Malmstrom. But I don't think I am in a position to ask them. Perhaps you are or know someone who can?

Read more... (69 comments, 2325 words in story)

RIP: Finbarr Flood 1938-2016

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jul 25th, 2016 at 08:56:45 PM EST

Finbarr Flood was one of my first bosses in Guinness and taught me much of what I have learned about surviving in big business. He had joined the company as a messenger boy aged 14 and also played semi-professional soccer as a goal-keeper in both Ireland and Scotland. Having risen through the ranks to become Managing Director, he left to pursue a further career as Chairman of the Irish Labour Court, Chairman of Shelbourne Football Club, and Chair of a number of city rejuvenation projects.  Having left school at 14 he was extremely chuffed to receive an honorary Doctorate from the Dublin Institute of Technology and to become an adjunct Professor to Trinity College Dublin.

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Party and Policy in a Time of Monsters

by ChrisCook Sun Jul 24th, 2016 at 12:36:47 PM EST

The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters. Gramsci

This Diary grew out of a response to AR Geezer's LQD: Labour's Civil War Is Due To A Paradigm Shift.

As I have been saying on European Tribune since I first turned up here (which is longer ago than I care to remember) I think we are seeing the emergence of Society (Paradigm) 3.0.

Society 1.0 (which still exists everywhere but most evidently in the developing world) is decentralised/local but disconnected with physical market presence and interaction based on personal trust/credit.

Society 2.0 is centralised but connected, but with presence in the market and in decision making via trusted intermediaries/middlemen, being corporates and nation states respectively.

I see the emerging Society 3.0 as being decentralised but connected, with network presence replacing both physical presence and presence through intermediaries.

The institutions and instruments necessary for such a Society 3.0 have intrigued me and been the subject of my work for well over fifteen years.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (2 comments, 897 words in story)

Brexit and a United Ireland.

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jul 19th, 2016 at 02:44:45 PM EST

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement is an international Treaty between the UK and the Republic of Ireland lodged with the United Nations.  It was incorporated into the Irish Constitution by a referendum which was carried by a 94% yes vote.  It was also approved by a 71% majority vote in a referendum in Northern Ireland and sets up a number of internal Northern Ireland, North South, and British Irish institutions.

The Good Friday agreement was predicated on both Ireland and the United Kingdom being members of the European Union and the EU has played an active role in facilitating the peace process by supporting peace and reconciliation in the border regions. Peace IV has just been approved and has earmarked some €269m to this end. Any re-emergence of a "hard border" with customs and immigration controls will jeopardise the much improved community relations within Northern Ireland which are dependent, in part, on much closer North-south integration, at least as far as the Nationalist community is concerned.

Read more... (17 comments, 2074 words in story)

Culture Wars or Globalization for make Great Benefit Glorious Nation of ...

by epochepoque Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 08:05:58 PM EST

Authoritarianism and the Logic of Intolerant Nationalism

My previous diary focused on the socioeconomic roots of the current populist tremors. As polling data shows, that explanation is not sufficient. Today I found an article that delineates the psychological sources of the authoritarian backlash.

When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism - And how moral psychology can help explain and reduce tensions between the two - Jonathan Haidt - The American Interest

I'll show how globalization and rising prosperity have changed the values and behavior of the urban elite, leading them to talk and act in ways that unwittingly activate authoritarian tendencies in a subset of the nationalists. I'll show why immigration has been so central in nearly all right-wing populist movements. It's not just the spark, it's the explosive material, and those who dismiss anti-immigrant sentiment as mere racism have missed several important aspects of moral psychology related to the general human need to live in a stable and coherent moral order.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Tories do ruthless so well...but Boris?

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jul 14th, 2016 at 11:59:02 AM EST

With Labour stuck in what seems like an interminable leadership struggle, the Tories are wasting no time putting together a new order post Brexit.  Within days of losing the Brexit referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron is gone, replaced by Theresa May, and she has just sacked more cabinet ministers in a few hours than Cameron did in his 6 years in Office.

George Osborne, Michel Gove, Oliver Letwin, John Whittingdale, Teresa Villiers and Nicky Morgan have all been sacked while devout Christian and leadership candidate, Stephen Crabb, has resigned apparently for sexting a women who is not his wife. Presumably Johnson and Gove cold not have been expected to serve in the same Cabinet after the latter stabbed Johnson in the front...

But it is the early appointments she has made which are the more interesting: She has put three of the top Brexiteers in charge of foreign relations: Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, Liam Fox in charge of a new Department for international Trade, and David Davis in charge of the Brexit negotiations themselves. None will appeal to the Europeans. Boris Johnson is hated for his persistent lies, and his appointment has been the subject of much derision worldwide.

Read more... (51 comments, 828 words in story)

Larry Summers as hero: Que Helicopter Money?

by ARGeezer Tue Jul 12th, 2016 at 10:07:28 PM EST

Is "Helicopter Money" About to Rain Upon the World? Guest Post by David Llewellyn-Smith in Naked Capitalism

Ever since the BOJ announced a new negative interest rate policy earlier this year (NIRP) the yen has stopped falling and reversed upwards. That is, despite weak Japanese growth, despite an inverted yield curve and deeply negative long bond, and despite still weak inflation, markets have bet on spectacularly easy monetary policy generating even more of all four.  This is what is know as "quantitative failure", the notion that negative interest rates will not expand the monetary base owing to such phenomenon as crushed bank margins and the hoarding of cash under mattresses, so the currency is therefore going to rise.
Meanwhile, in an effort to calm potential concerns about the integrity of the fiscal budget central bankers implementing such a future monetisation of infrastructure spending will doubtless be at pains to describe the process as a "one off" though, as the ever theoretical Bernanke stated in his blog: "To have its full effect, the increase in the money supply must be perceived as permanent by the public."

...a policy of "helicopter money" is only likely to work if it is done on an ongoing basis and in continuing and growing amounts. But at that point the risk of a policy mistake grows exponentially, in terms of a potentially destabilising pickup in inflation expectations and a related pickup in velocity.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Irish economy grew by 26% in 2015?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jul 12th, 2016 at 02:52:50 PM EST

The Irish Central Statistics office has just revised Ireland's GDP for 2015 up from €215 to €255n Billion. GDP growth for 2015 has been revised upwards from an already high 7.8% to 26.3% with the GNP growth rate coming in at 18.7%.  Ireland is a small, open economy and the actions of a few gigantic multinationals can throw the national accounts into total disarray. Apparently:

Crazy growth figures bear scant relationship to reality

A handful of companies in the tech sector relocated their IP assets or patents here last year amid the global clampdown on multinational tax avoidance.

This had the affect of transferring billions in capital assets to Ireland inc and boosting the measured level of investment.

These companies are also involved in contract manufacturing, whereby they engage third-party companies abroad to manufacture products on their behalf.

However, the exports which never touch down here are reflected in our trade balance. Hence the 102 per cent growth in net exports last year.

Another reason for the inflated figures relates to an aircraft leasing company, which redomicilled its entire multibillion euro balance sheet to Ireland in 2015.

Read more... (9 comments, 463 words in story)

Two Weeks Post Brexit - Is Anything Clear Yet?

by ARGeezer Tue Jul 12th, 2016 at 12:29:48 PM EST

Questions and Answers:

1. It seems clear that it is in the interests of the current government to hold onto power as long as possible. But how long is that likely to be?

2. It seems clear that the City is opposed to leaving the EU. A. But will they settle for a massive 'shock doctrine' roll back of social and labor protections? B. Will they be divided in their response, and, if so, what will be the majority response? C. And how effective will their response be?

3. It seems likely that Corbyn can hold on to the leadership of Labour. But will Labour be able to bring forth a program that is able to attract or bring back enough supporters to win by-elections and a new General Election.

4. How will legal challenges and issues impact the course of events?

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (55 comments, 326 words in story)

The Rising Middle Finger

by epochepoque Mon Jul 11th, 2016 at 12:13:47 AM EST

Brexit, Populism, Inequality, and the Precariat

Since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt. It seems in both cases (Trumpism and Brexit), many voters are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say FUCK YOU to people like me (and probably you).

Vincent Bevins - LA Times

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Chilcot and Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 8th, 2016 at 02:03:52 PM EST

Tony Blair and the Chilcot report

Sir, - The Chilcot report has found that the public were misled, expert warnings were ignored, and that there was inadequate planning.

Too bad its publication was delayed until after the Brexit debacle, another historic mistake that could have been avoided had warnings been heeded. - Yours, etc,



Comments >> (12 comments)

Charities sector in Ireland in crisis

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jul 7th, 2016 at 11:59:17 AM EST

Console scandal creates fresh difficulties for charities - Independent.ie

I am a director and honorary treasurer of a number of charities. I give of my time freely and without compensation. I am glad to do so and feel honoured to have the opportunity to be of assistance.

But I am also a hostage to fortune. I rely entirely on the salaried staff to provide me with accurate information so the board can make wise decisions.

One of the fall-outs of the scandals in the Central Rehabilitation Clinic, and now in Console, is that charitable donations have declined precipitously. Another less publicised consequence is that it is increasingly difficult to find anyone with suitable skills to volunteer to serve on the board of charities.

I have offered my resignation on several occasions because I feel it is time to give others the opportunity to serve, and yet there are never any replacements available. The responsibilities of directors are increasingly onerous under both company law and the Charities Act. Few people feel they have the time or expertise to take them on.

Others may feel discouraged by the prospect of finding themselves at the centre of a scandal should some irregularities be discovered in the running of their organisation.

Not many people have the skills of a forensic accountant to uncover those irregularities by themselves.

As a result, the voluntary and community sector in Ireland is in freefall. Those charities which have not closed have generally downsized substantially in recent years.

It would be a pity if our rich tradition of voluntary work were to die out substantially because of the scandals at a few major charities. I urge people not tar all charities with the same brush.

Frank Schnittger, Blessington, Co Wicklow

Read more... (5 comments, 1310 words in story)

Corbyn becomes a British and European hero...

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jul 5th, 2016 at 05:24:48 PM EST

With Michael Gove increasingly being seen as the truly loathsome creature that he is, it looks as if Andrea Leadsom may become the main challenger to Teresa May from within the Brexit campaign. She has just secured the support of no less a luminary than Boris Johnson who is very popular with the Tory Party members who will make the final choice.  If she succeeds in winning the Tory leadership, I doubt that George Osborne - who reportedly blocked her promotion to Cabinet - will agree to join her Government in any position whatsoever.  Indeed, he may well go on to lead a rebellion against an Article 50 invocation in Westminster Parliament.  

Should the new Tory Prime Minster, be it May or Leadsom, fail to secure parliamentary backing for an Article 50 invocation they may have no option but to call a general election,  which will effectively become a second referendum on Brexit, and each party will then have to set out a clear policy on the EU.

Read more... (62 comments, 629 words in story)

Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

by rifek Mon Jun 27th, 2016 at 05:20:33 AM EST

As I commented elsewhere, Labour will fracture because it just can't help itself.  And here we go.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Clear Leadership from the EU

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 27th, 2016 at 12:33:10 AM EST

Not so long ago any article touting the EU as an example of clear leadership would have been heading for the spike anywhere except perhaps on The Onion or the Waterford Whisperer - see current lead on "thousands of British refugees make dangerous journey across the Irish Sea"...  

However the Brexit campaign has all the trappings of a train wreck as far as the UK is concerned, and for once the EU is acting quickly, clearly, and with one voice. As Bernard has documented, EU leaders are pressing for a quick resolution. In effect, they are saying that there is only one process, Article 50, by which a member state may leave the EU, and all else is hot air and silly manoeuvring.  Without the invocation of article 50, the Brexit referendum was an entirely internal UK affair of no legal consequence within the EU.

Read more... (68 comments, 1084 words in story)

Brexit: Get on with it already?

by Bernard Sun Jun 26th, 2016 at 08:46:57 PM EST

Until last Friday, when Brexit was just a possibility and European governments were drawing contingency plans, there was a consensus that, should it come to pass,  within a week or so, David Cameron, or his successor, would arrive at a special European summit to officially announce UK's intention to start the leave process and trigger the famous article 50.

At least, this is more or less what most people were expecting.
Well, it looks like the British leadership will eventually start negotiations with the EU27, but they're going to take their sweet time doing so.

David Cameron resigns after UK votes to leave European Union | Politics | The Guardian

Cameron said it would be best for his successor to negotiate the terms of Britain's exit - and to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which begins the formal process of withdrawal, adding that he had already discussed his intentions with the Queen.

The prime minister promised to stay on until the autumn, to "steady the ship"; but suggested a new leader should be in place by the start of the Conservative party's conference in October.

In October?

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (55 comments, 841 words in story)

Spain votes again

by Migeru Sun Jun 26th, 2016 at 06:01:37 PM EST

There have been two events in the last week of campaigning for Spain's repeat election that could have influenced voters. Interior minister Jorge Fernández Díaz was recorded two years ago conspiring to spy on separatist politicians, and the tapes were leaked on Tuesday; and, of course, Brexit.

Read more... (67 comments, 345 words in story)

Reversing Brexit?

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jun 25th, 2016 at 12:42:05 PM EST

With signs of buyer's remorse already becoming widespread, Simon Wren-Lewis tries to think through how the result of the Brexit referendum might be reversed:
mainly macro: Just how bad will Brexit be, and can it be undone?

But a second referendum would not be necessary if, as a result of Cameron's resignation, the UK fought a general election where the winning side explicitly campaigned not to invoke Article 50. This general election would become the second referendum.
For this to happen three rather difficult but not impossible things have to happen. The first is that the Labour leadership need to stop talking about `respecting the will of the people' and focus on how the Leave side are already owning up to their lies and false promises. The second, and perhaps most difficult, is that Labour need to form a united front on the basis of a Remain ticket, involving the LibDems, Greens and SNP. This is the only way the Conservatives and most of the tabloid press will be defeated. Third, the new Conservative leader has to be forced to hold a general election before Article 50 is invoked.

I have responded with the following comment (awaiting moderation and not yet published):

Read more... (107 comments, 610 words in story)

Brexit Open Thread - the count continues...

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 01:37:21 AM EST

Please use this open thread to discuss the referendum results. The Guardian live results are here.

At the time of writing, 3.30am CET, the leave camp appears to be building up a slight overall lead, with large leads in areas of England outside London, and with central London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voting decisively to remain.

Sterling has just had its largest fall since the 2008 financial crisis, and the bookies have switched their odds from predicting a remain victory to backing a leave victory. The turnout appears to have been quite high, about 70%, and that is with over a million new voters registering to vote since the general election.

Will this result in new referenda in Scotland and Northern Ireland? Is Cameron toast? Let the games begin...

Comments >> (72 comments)
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News and Views

 24 - 30 October 2016

by Bjinse - Oct 24, 13 comments

Your take on today's news media

 17 - 23 October 2016

by Bjinse - Oct 18, 31 comments

Your take on today's news media

 Open Thread 24 - 31 October

by Bjinse - Oct 24, 12 comments

A thread expands in size the more you love

 Open Thread 17-23 October

by Bjinse - Oct 18, 5 comments

Keep your friends close, but your threads closer

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