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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.

Read more... (10 comments, 244 words in story)

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.

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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... (7 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... (59 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... (84 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)

The UK and the EU democratic deficit

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jun 23rd, 2016 at 12:43:24 PM EST

The Leave campaign in the Brexit referendum have employed two main arguments in their campaign: The fear of uncontrolled immigration into the UK and the need to take back control from "faceless bureaucrats in Brussels". Little matter that 60% of foreign born residents of the UK are not from the EU and that the total foreign born population comes in at 13% of the total -- the same as US and Germany -- and lower than both Norway and Switzerland, which are not in the EU.

But it is to the second meme that I want to turn my attention, one conceded by many on both left and right of the Remain side: the alleged domination by faceless bureaucrats in Brussels.  Let us leave aside, for the moment, the oddity that the charges of a lack of democratic accountability are coming from the only major EU member with an entirely unelected upper chamber of parliament.

Is it true that nations joining the EU have to shed a lot of democracy in the process? A lot is made, for instance, of the three occasions on which a referendum on essentially the same Treaty was run twice "until the electorate gave the right answer"... as if this somehow undermined the democratic legitimacy of the EU. However the UK also voted, in a Referendum in 1975, on the question of EU membership.  So why is the current referendum any more legitimate?  

In fact the EU membership is the only question on which voters have been given a direct say by way of  a UK wide referendum:  all other questions having been decided by way of the "Sovereign" Westminster Parliament including the unelected House of Lords. It seems to me that membership of the EU has more democratic accountability than any other decisions made by the UK.

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Should I vote for Brexit?

by tyronen Wed Jun 22nd, 2016 at 03:49:02 PM EST

Last year I vowed to vote in favour of Brexit. I just could not stomach the EU anymore, and still can't.

Now find myself getting cold feet. There was the death of Jo Cox. And other issues. This article from Jacobin magazine offers a powerful left-wing case for Remain:

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (38 comments, 627 words in story)

François Hollande, Dead Man Walking

by John Redmond Fri Jun 17th, 2016 at 09:04:33 AM EST

As astute political observers have noted over the past three decades, an increasing divorce has installed itself between the French people and its political elites. There are many debates about the origin of the Gallic malaise, which despite the elite conventional wisdom has virtually nothing to do with its supposedly hidebound labor laws. And, it is true that Gallic Malaise is a common theme in French polity, dating as far back as the aftermath of the revolutionary period itself. Invocations of this malaise have often carried a revanchist tint, the supposedly terminal French decline certainly not being confirmed by a healthy demography and, until recently, a strong economy. But, it is a powerful meme, one which one sees in public discourse and in punditry, especially on the right.

It is nonetheless a meme which is quite powerful today, and is consuming the Presidency of François Hollande, whose days appear more numbered than ever, if one is to believe a recent poll indicating that only 4% of the French electorate think he should even run for re-election. Indeed, according to some polls, were he to run, he could even find himself relegated to 5th place in the first round, behind Marine Le Pen, who is in first place in most polling, Nicolas Sarkozy (if he wins the LR primary on the right), centrist candidate François Bayrou (who has indicated he will run if Nicolas Sarkozy is the candidate for LR) and Jean-Luc Mélanchon on the left. Why? Because Mr Hollande is arguably the most tone-deaf President the French elite have ever produced, once famously opining that voters are not to be trusted, as they don't really know what they want.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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The Killing of Jo Cox

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jun 17th, 2016 at 07:04:40 AM EST


Nigel Farage gesticulates in front of an anti-immigration poster entitled Breaking Point. Well, Thomas Mair broke all right. The question is, was he incited?

Jo Cox: an attack on humanity, idealism and democracy

The slide from civilisation to barbarism is shorter than we might like to imagine. Every violent crime taints the ideal of an orderly society, but when that crime is committed against the people who are peacefully selected to write the rules, then the affront is that much more profound.


The killing, by stabbing and repeated shooting in the street, of Jo Cox is, in the first instance, an exceptionally heinous villainy. She was the mother of two very young children, who will now have to grow up without her. It is also, however, in a very real sense, an attack on democracy.

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Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be

by gmoke Wed Jun 15th, 2016 at 12:03:26 AM EST

Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be by Simone Signoret
NY: Penguin Books, 1978
ISBN 0-14-00.5181-3

(31)  At about that time [1933-34], she noticed one day that a toothbrush she had just bought herself said "made in Japan."  We returned to the store and there faced the owner, who wore a Basque beret and was probably a Croix de Feu militant [French neo-fascist movement].  Very politely, my mother said, "I would like to exchange this toothbrush.  You see, it's made in Japan."  "So?"  "Well, you see, monsieur, the Japanese have just signed an agreement with the Germans and Italians so any Japanese merchandise, even a little toothbrush, becomes armaments for Japan, Italy, and Germany.  Fascist countries."  I wished the ground would open and swallow me up.  The man replied, "So you want a French toothbrush, is that it?"  "No, I'm not a chauvinist.  No, all I want is a toothbrush that is not German, Italian or Japanese.'  We went home with a toothbrush that was made in England.  My mother considered her day to have been well spent, and today I agree with her.  But at twelve or thirteen one gets terribly embarrassed.

(94)  So that was the end of that. It has taken a long time to tell it all, 1940-44.  It seemed like twenty years.

That was the end of it for us.  But it wasn't finished for those who were in the camps.  And it wasn't finished for the soldiers.  And it was just beginning for the collaborators.  And it had been finished a long time for those who had died.

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The consequences of Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 09:30:42 PM EST

The Pollster average of polls has just put the Brexit side ahead for the first time, which given the trend those polls have been taking, means we now have to talk about the probability of the Brexit process starting in 10 days time. In To Brexit or not to Brexit: That is the question I examined the ramification of Brexit for the UK, and in A Tale of Two States I looked at the implications for Northern Ireland in particular.  In this piece I will embark on a speculative journey envisaging how a post Brexit Europe might evolve.

First of all, I am working off the assumption that the result will be tight, with Scotland and N. Ireland voting to remain in the EU but being swamped by the Brexit vote in England.  There is therefore a strong probability that Scottish nationalists will seek a new referendum on Scottish independence in order to remain within the EU, and Sinn Fein will call for a new referendum on a united Ireland to enable N. Ireland to remain within the EU.

Whether either referendum will be carried is open to conjecture, and much will depend on the timing and circumstances of the vote, but there is no doubt that the UK itself will be destabilized as a result. (The position of Wales is more ambiguous with many blaming the EU for the failure to support the Tata steel works in Port Talbot, as if any Tory led Government outside the EU would have done any different...)

Read more... (62 comments, 1952 words in story)

Long tunnels

by DoDo Sun Jun 12th, 2016 at 06:40:15 PM EST

A decade ago, I wrote a diary about long railway tunnels. The opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel is a good occasion for an update.

When I was a child, there were about a dozen tunnels longer than 10 km. By the 21st century, they became so numerous that a decade ago, I restricted myself to 20+ km tunnels. This time, even that would be too much, so I'll write about the 11 rail tunnels in service, in construction or in serious planning longer than 30 km (excluding subway tunnels). About the existing ones, too, because there have been interesting developments for all of them.

Inaugural train carrying dignitaries exits the northern portal of the Gotthard Base Tunnel on 1 June 2016. Photo by Keystone / Laurent Gilleron from Neue Luzerner Zeitung

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger - a great exemplar of the train blogging genre!

Read more... (30 comments, 2268 words in story)

Obama sells out Sanders

by Democrats Ramshield Fri Jun 10th, 2016 at 09:12:04 AM EST

Of course now we are confronted with the case of Elizabeth Warren selling out to crooked Hillary, whose positions are against everything that Warren said she stands for. To which it’s reasonable to ask when the Bernie Sanders campaign was fighting for us in Elizabeth Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, where was her endorsement of the Sander’s campaign? What did Warren do when crooked Hillary stole the election in Massachusetts through voter suppression, where the hell was she when the Sander’s campaign needed her help? I’ll tell you where she was she was waiting for this day to endorse Hillary Clinton, so she could cash in to receive consideration as her VP and therewith get into the history books. To which I say Warren in typical style of the lawyer, she's sold us out. The fix is in, even though crooked Hillary is into Wall Street money and everything Warren tells us that she stood against. The truth is Warren has also sold us out. She will say anything and everything at every turn to try to confuse us into supporting her in the belief that she is not a sell out. Soon this will be all over the news and when it is just remember you heard it here first. The fix is in and they’re all in it to win it for themselves, not us. That’s the truth.

So sport fans, boys and girls, it's game over and the fix is in. Elizabeth Warren burnt us. She didn't stand up in the face of massive election fraud in California, who were disenfranchised and had their votes stolen in a rigged election. She didn't ask for any recounts or for any investigation, but let me tell you what she did do. She called up crooked Hillary and congratulated her (because she's such a nice lady) for her stealing yet another election from you and I, and this is the truth about what has happened and nothing else. No Department of Justice investigation into voter fraud, or voter suppression in California was ever asked for. What a disappointment. We feel betrayed and abandoned. The mainstream press won't tell you this, so I just did.

Now I'm going to tell you something else. Elizabeth Warren had a responsibility to us, to take seriously the fact that Hillary is under FBI investigation, but she was too polite for that. By the time you get to the end of this article you'll see why.

Warren is in it (alright) to win it, but not for you or I, but rather to win it for herself. To which I say, dear Elizabeth if you're not going to fight for us, you're going to quit. If you're going to betray us, is there any chance we can get our money back? Can we at least do that? Or will your betrayal in this regard also be complete, meaning that you'll keep the money forever to make sure you can stay in the United States Senate until you're well pass the age of 100 with the money that we've given you to win the presidency will now be used to fund your re-election campaigns to the Senate forever?

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Developments in Austria

by generic Wed Jun 8th, 2016 at 10:07:22 AM EST

Austria's new chancellor Christian Kern, former manager of the Austrian state railways gave an interview. (behind paywall and German). The only remarkable thing about it is that I actually read this one.
Some points with my comments in brackets:

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (1 comment, 476 words in story)

The arsonist party

by fjallstrom Wed Jun 8th, 2016 at 05:49:50 AM EST

I recently came across this map of attacks, threats and arsons against migrants and the migrant authority. Both refugees and beggars - mostly romani with Rumanian citizenship - are included. Yellow are attacks, threats and arsons against minors. Red are attacks, threats and arsons against adults (also include families with children).

The Sweden Democrat inofficial facebook groups was shown last autumn to contain lots of encouragment for arson and other terror actions directed against refugees and romani. Hence the coloraion on the map with darker brown for more SD support in the last election.

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The tragedy of Hillary

by DoDo Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 05:47:29 PM EST

On Tuesday, the last major battle for the Democratic Party nomination for this year's US Presidential elections will be fought in New Jersey and California, so I'm rushing out this less well researched commentary on the race. These are diverse thoughts from the past few weeks which I now have time to put down in writing.

As somebody well to the left of Senator Bernie Sanders, obviously I rooted for him. However, my views of former Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are ambivalent and nuanced in a way that's out of tune with the die-hard views on both sides.

Read more... (47 comments, 765 words in story)

A Dialogue on Party Disipline

by ARGeezer Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 02:21:18 PM EST

I recently has a discussion with a FB friend about 'kicking out' members of the Labor Party such as Blair. I wondered if that were possible. The same question arises in other counties. In the USA I am certain that the leaders of the Republican Party and the RNC would have kicked Donald Trump out of the party had they been able.

It seems to me that parties are not able and should not be able to prevent people from registering to vote as members of their party. That would infringe on their right to vote. Exclude from leadership - unequivocally yes. But no matter how odious or notorious an individual might be and regardless of the possibility of their only wanting to join a party to discredit it by their very presence can they still join?

Comments >> (17 comments)

What 9/11 liberals ignore

by DoDo Sun Jun 5th, 2016 at 11:41:43 AM EST

There is a group of liberal atheists in the Anglosphere – people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Bill Maher – whose reaction to 9/11 was to view Islam (in general) as the problem, and religion as the elephant in the bathroom in mainstream discussions about the cause of terrorism. Their views were not all the same – for example, while some became liberal hawks, strange bedfellows with would-be Crusaders in supporting the so-called War on Terror, others remained thoroughly critical of Bush –, but there is enough affinity to speak of a group. I took the "9/11 liberals" moniker from Bill Maher (in a video I saw recently which made me write this diary).

I am an atheist whose view of the net effect of religion on society is barely less negative than that of Richard Dawkins (especially when it comes to child indoctrination). Even in matters where I don't think religion is the original source of problems, I think it tends to make things worse. Yet, I think 9/11 liberals are missing some quite basic facts, and only contribute to Islamophobia.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (68 comments, 1639 words in story)

Yves Smith On Voting For Hillary

by ARGeezer Thu Jun 2nd, 2016 at 02:43:40 PM EST

Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump over Hillary   Yves Smith in Politico Magazine

Why do progressives reject Hillary Clinton? The highly educated, high-income, finance-literate readers of my website, Naked Capitalism, don't just overwhelmingly favor Bernie Sanders. They also say "Hell no!" to Hillary Clinton to the degree that many say they would even vote for Donald Trump over her.

And they don't come by these views casually. Their conclusions are the result of careful study of her record and her policy proposals. They believe the country can no longer endure the status quo that Clinton represents--one of crushing inequality, and an economy that is literally killing off the less fortunate--and any change will be better. One reader writes:


"If Clinton is the nominee 9 out of 10 friends I polled will [do one of three things]:

A. Not vote for president in November.
B. Vote for Trump.
C. Write in Bernie as a protest vote.

"We are all fifty-somethings with money and college educations. Oh, and we are all registered Democrats."

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (70 comments, 509 words in story)
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News and Views

 13 - 19 June 2016

by Bjinse - Jun 13, 47 comments

Your take on today's news media

 04 - 12 June 2016

by Bjinse - Jun 4, 83 comments

Your take on today's news media

 Open Thread 13 - 19 June

by Bjinse - Jun 13, 51 comments

Go ahead, make my thread

 Open Thread 4 - 12 June

by Bjinse - Jun 4, 23 comments

Here's looking at you, thread

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Top Diaries

Spain votes again

by Migeru - Jun 26
59 comments

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Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

by rifek - Jun 27
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Should I vote for Brexit?

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