by Frank Schnittger
Tue Oct 17th, 2017 at 06:49:41 PM EST
Helen and others have expressed scepticism as to whether a "no deal" Brexit could actually happen in reality. Surely the leaders of the UK and EU couldn't be so incompetent or irresponsible? I have been gaming out the possible outcomes in my mind for quite some time now. The most plausible "no deal" scenario runs something like this:
The Brexit negotiations plod on for almost two years sometimes making progress and sometimes getting stuck. Some specific areas are almost put to bed, but as always, "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". The negotiators home in on the outstanding areas of disagreement where the gap between the two sides seems bridgeable. Other areas, where the gap appears impossible to resolve are abandoned altogether. The ambition to craft a deal covering all areas of major mutual interest is ditched in favour of agreeing on what we can, while we can. "Nice to haves" are abandoned in favour of focusing on the absolute "must haves" of any deal.
Keeping some form of "Blue skies" agreement in operation is vital if planes are to be able to fly between the UK and EU. Mutual recognition of regulations and their enforcement is vital if non-tariff barriers are not going to stymie efforts to keep trade and just-in-time multi-national production processes flowing.
Deadlines are set and pass without full agreement.
The EU27 leaders are called in to knock negotiators heads together. Everyone gets nervous as Brexit day end March 2019 approaches. The window of opportunity to ratify any deal done before Brexit gets narrower and narrower. Negotiators are keenly aware that a Brexit deal requires weighted majority support on the EU Council. They can afford to upset one major and a few smaller EU members, but any more than that and a "blocking minority" on the Council can stymie any agreement.
But worse than that, if no deal is agreed by March 2019, unanimity between the EU27 is required to agree an extension of the A50 deadline or any deal thereafter. Some EU27 members have already signalled their unhappiness with aspects of the deal that is emerging. Whatever chance there is of winning a weighted majority vote on the Council, the chances of gaining unanimous support are slim to non-existent. Huge pressure is exerted on the UK to agree something - anything - before the March deadline if any sort of deal is to be reached.
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Oct 16th, 2017 at 10:26:38 AM EST
Many here at the European Tribune have been predicting a hard Brexit almost from day one, convinced that the UK government was being almost totally unrealistic in what it expected to achieve out of the negotiations. Ministers seemed to be negotiating with themselves and each other as to what they really wanted, with any consideration of why the EU might actually want to concede such things barely an afterthought, if that.
Conscious that the Brexit negotiations were going to be difficult and complex, Theresa May quickly came up with another cliche to rival her famous "Brexit means Brexit" mantra. Now it was "No deal is better than a bad deal" in an effort to put the wind up the EU negotiators and force concessions. Apparently Germany was supposed to act as the adult in the room and bring both sides to their senses and force a deal at the denouement.
But the gradual hardening of the UK negotiating position has had the opposite effect to what was perhaps intended. Instead of softening their position the EU side has looked on with increasing incredulity at the shifting sands across the Dover straits. Could the UK really be serious? Trade talks before a financial settlement is reached? An invisible Irish border despite the UK leaving the Single Market and Customs Union? EU citizens in the UK being used as bargaining chips and threatened with deportation despite their importance to the UK economy? A Transition deal with no quid pro quo?
But what perhaps no-one has anticipated was that a hard Brexit might actually become the UK policy objective. Political commentators have moved slowly from an initial position where a deal was seen as inevitable to one where the risks of a 'no deal' Brexit were seen to increase, if only because of the incompetence of the negotiators. Now Chris Johns in the Irish Times has come to the conclusion that far from being a result of a negotiating failure, a "Cliff Edge" Brexit is becoming the desired outcome for many on the UK side. Far from falling off a cliff, the UK may be getting ready to jump.
by Frank Schnittger
Thu Oct 12th, 2017 at 03:53:20 PM EST
When focusing on the political and economic aspects of Brexit, it is easy to forget the human drama it represents for many people. Here is an extract from an Irish UK immigrant's story:
What's it like observing an entire country having a nervous breakdown? Those of us living in the now utterly divided UK know the answer. It's like being a lodger in a house with a couple who have decided to get divorced but can't afford to separate. It's lying awake at night listening to bickering in the next room. It's sitting opposite both parties at the breakfast table, smiling sympathetically at the eye-rolls each are throwing behind the other's back. And it's all the while silently knowing that any expression of one's own discomfort will be dismissed with the words "Well, if you hate it here so much, why don't you just leave?". Totes awks.
Now imagine that one of the reasons for the divorce is that the couple could not agree on whether to take in lodgers in the future. Naturally, in that situation your mere presence becomes an acute reminder of their failure to agree. It becomes impossible for them to see you beyond the uncomfortable feelings you bring. All you are is a lower lip, quivering as you warble, "Is this is about that time I got you out of bed at 2am to let me in? Because if it is that won't happen again. I can change, I swear."
This is what being a migrant in Brexit Britain is like. Surrounded by wounded divorcée landlords, hoping you don't say the wrong thing to the wrong person. You find yourself appraising everyone you meet to discern which camp they fall into and thus the ground on which you can safely tread.
The Brexiteer is the party in the dispute who admits that the income from lodgers is required to cover the mortgage on the house but who wants to be able to apply more quality control to the kind of lodgers they allow in. They also have a strong suspicion that one of the lodgers has been helping themselves to their jar of Marmite and won't be taken for a fool.
The Remainers are the ones drilling you at length about the profile of the UK in the outside world. To fully understand their position one must remember that the British are the people who invented manners and etiquette, and so in their eyes to treat a guest badly is unforgivable. One cannot underestimate how utterly wretched they feel at the poor impression this whole debacle must be giving those looking on. I've had a very positive experience of the country, but I still have to reach to find enough good things to say that will quell their fear that they are now regarded internationally as complete dumbasses.
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 at 10:46:09 AM EST
When the 1916 rising against British rule in Ireland took place, many of the defeated insurgents were booed on the streets of Dublin as they were being led to imprisonment: Such was the popular anger at the damage their ill-planned adventure had caused to many lives and the city's infrastructure.
And then the British started to execute some of the leaders, and the tide of public opinion turned.
It is doubtful whether Catalonian independence had the support of a majority of Catalonians prior to the referendum on the First of October 2017. But the sight of peaceful citizens seeking to vote being baton charged, beaten and shot with rubber bullets by riot police will change all of that.
Despite deploying 15,000 police mostly from outside Catalonia and injuring over 800 people, the Spanish state managed to close only about 300 out of 2,300 polling stations and could not prevent 2.3 Million people from casting their vote - a 42% turnout - despite confiscating many ballot boxes. Many Irish referenda have been passed with less.
90% voted for independence, a resounding response to the violence.
In one ill-considered act the Spanish state has ensured its own disintegration. Catalonia will now declare independence. If the Rajoy government seizes control and organises new elections, they will be won by separatists. In the words of W.B. Yeats all is "changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born."
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Sep 30th, 2017 at 10:38:06 AM EST
As the Catalonia referendum crisis reaches it's apotheosis the Irish Government has proposed to hold no fewer than seven referendums in the next couple of years which has even friendly commentators questioning their necessity. More hostile commentators regard the plan as nothing more than a stunt pulled by a weak minority Government trying to prove it has vision and durability.
But some of the proposed referenda are very important and likely to prove extremely controversial and difficult to pass. The proposal to remove or amend the Eight Amendment to the Constitution which prohibits abortion in almost all circumstances is one such issue. There is a broad consensus that access to abortion in Ireland needs to be liberalised, but little consensus on precisely to what degree.
The Eight Amendment was originally passed in 1983 (with a 54% turnout) at the height of the Catholic Church's powers and guaranteed "the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child". It has proved controversial then and ever since, but conservative forces will not give up without a fight.
Fri Sep 29th, 2017 at 12:29:37 PM EST
In the absence of a thread from someone more knowledgeable about Spain, an open thread to collect links and impressions.
First out, Eurointelligence from this morning:
Things are coming to a head in Catalonia
The Spanish government has disrupted the Catalan referendum, but is likely not to be able to stop millions of Catalans from casting votes anyway despite a massive police deployment;
this undermines the authority of the state and still leaves the initiative with the Catalan regional government and parliament, which will decide on Tuesday whether to declare independence;
Víctor Lapuente argues that the credibility of a democratic state depends on the predictablity of its enforcement actions, which has been absent in Spain, while Guillem Martínez writes that "Leviathan" and "midget Leviathan" are both unpredictable and so unsettling;
Andrés Boix i Palop reviews in Verfassungsblog the increasingly widespread opinion among Spanish legal experts that the Spanish government is violating the constitution in order to protect it;
Front paged - Frank Schnittger
by Frank Schnittger
Tue Sep 26th, 2017 at 01:26:24 PM EST
Ireland is competing with France and South Africa for the right to host the 2023 Rugby World cup. It's an important issue for Ireland because the economic benefit could be as much as 1.5 Billion, and it provides an opportunity for North South cooperation post Brexit. Rugby is one of the few major activities that are organised on an all island basis with very little of the sectarian or Governmental divisions seen in other areas.
Gerry Thornley has a piece up in the Irish Times looking at the voting blocs and how they might vote in deciding who gets the next Rugby World Cup. Update [2017-9-30 19:22:51 by Frank Schnittger]: He has now also added a piece on the Pros and Cons of the three bids
If the IRFU have done their homework and lobbied all the right people, then Ireland should be capable of attracting 22 votes and an overall majority even on the first round ballot. However that assumes Ireland wins the recommendation of the technical committee and that our competitors haven't bribed the relevant officials and Unions in some of the swing vote members (as routinely happens with the Olympics and FIFA World Cup).
Sun Sep 24th, 2017 at 03:18:56 AM EST
Solar lights and cell phone chargers are now $1or less production costs and selling around the world for $5 or less retail. Add bicycle generators and you have independent indigenous emergency power now, day or night. AA battery to car battery and better microgrids.
It is conceivable that we could crowd fund a basic emergency electrical system (lights, cell phones or radio, computers) for Puerto Rico (as well as the other islands destroyed by the recent hurricanes) within less time than the established grid can come back on line.
There are examples of islands which are planning and working toward 100% renewable power:
El Hierro, 7,000 people, one of the Spanish Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, uses wind and pumped hydro energy storage to supply 50% of its power
Kodiak Island, 15,000 people, in Alaska has been running its grid with wind and hydro power since 2012
Samsø, 4,000 people, in Denmark has spent over the last decade moving towards zero carbon with wind, solar, and biomass
Bornholm, 14,000 people, also in Denmark, is working towards a CO2-neutral society based on renewable and sustainable energy by 2025 and was the site of the EU's Grid 2.0 project
and Hawaii, 1,400,000 people, has the goal of using renewables like wind, sun, ocean, geothermal, and bioenergy to supply 70 percent or more of Hawaii's energy needs by 2030en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Hawaii#Hawaii_Clean_Energy_Initiative
How about an ad hoc global online design charette and hackathon to rebuild Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin / St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos, Dominica... ?
That might be a good thought experiment. Perhaps we could run it through the Small Island and Developing States UN organization /en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Island_Developing_States
Sat Sep 23rd, 2017 at 05:47:25 AM EST
Spending a fortnight in the Emirates ... always interesting to learn a people and nation from inside out. Amazing hoe Dubai is orienented on the Saudi kingdom and its oil exploration beneficiares the British with BP and Yanks with Standard Oil and Aramco of old.
Agressive PR about the soldiers of fortune fighting the war in Yemen against the imaginary foe Iran. Of course the US goods of war fully on display with Apache fighting machines and fighter planes. Sheikh ... whatever Needs You. Same old US influence on local culture or thereof. Television news casts CNN - Fox - Sky News - BBC and the Gulf States' broadcasts.
Modern life mixing with the conservatieve Islamic culture ... amazing. Dubai Mall displays the top brands for the extreme wealthy next to 100% trash goods from Japan, China and Taiwan ... just unreal. Desert temperatures outside pushing 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Strictly a male society with with all inequalities of gender and minorities. Display of care quite similor to the American way of life ... big, bigger, biggest. Adolescent behavior with most expensive cars reminding me of my teenage years of the 50s and 60s. Rolls Royce, Ferraris, Porches and the largest of Asian brands. No midsized cars or European standard cars. See little goods from mainland Europe.
Just had celebration of Islamic New Year, holidays and the Friday day of prayer. Just the first impressions of a tourist on a mission. Am aware UAE is a full security state with Sharia als basic law.
It's weekend so I bought the local issues of the Gulf News and National newspapers. Picked up the October issue of the National Geographic with an article on Dubai - Can the Desert Metropolis Go Green. Always gains my intention. Noticed some smudges on the pages. A little study proofed these blackened out a single term in the article on Dubai. Persian Gulf was censured by the local authority. Let's make war, not love. The Hallmark of the propaganda Hollywood style mixed with the military industrial complex. Where did these Arab tribes gain so much wealth during the Bush years, Iraq War and the sky rocketing oil price.
Thanking Uncle Sam ... more to come soon, not The End yet. ;-)
More to follow ... crossposted from Booman Tribune.
by Luis de Sousa
Fri Sep 22nd, 2017 at 04:07:00 PM EST
Much confusion - or outright misinformation - continues to circulate in the UK media regarding the exit of the country from the EU. Particularly affected is the difference and relationship between the EU, the political union, presently governed by the Lisbon Treaty, and the European Economic Area (EEA), the trade union, ruled by the EEA Agreement.
Days ago The Independent newspaper published an enigmatic article in which it is claimed, among other oddities, that article 127 of the EEA Agreement can stop the current process of exit from the EU. Reproduced below is a short note I sent the editors of The Independent clarifying some of the misunderstandings in the article.
Front paged - Frank Schnittger
Tue Sep 19th, 2017 at 04:35:45 PM EST
Always useful to start with A Guide to Crap Detection Resources
Then to look at what just happened. The Shorenstein Center at Harvard's Kennedy School tracked the 2016 election and published what they found.
Media Coverage of the 2016 Election
Combatting Fake News: An Agenda for Research and Action
Exploring the Role of Algorithms in Online Harmful Speech
Another academic report from Harvard comes from the Berkman Klein Center at the Law School
Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative housed at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), is studying how foreign state and other actors are undermining democracy around the world and developing tools to cope.
Thu Sep 14th, 2017 at 10:00:12 PM EST
Now, I will relate how I came upon the Democratic Party's faux accompli. US press rarely or never cites the bill number of legislation which they are paid to promote. If it did, people might read the actual text.
Enemy of the People has been atwitter since Wednesday about Mr Sander's bold action, popularity, and political acumen despite partisan rivalry in repealing or reforming the PPACA. He promised in a NYT OpEd to introduce Wednesday, 13 September 2017.
On Wednesday I will introduce the Medicare for All Act in the Senate with 15 co-sponsors and support from dozens of grass-roots organizations. Under this legislation, every family in America would receive comprehensive coverage, and middle-class families would save thousands of dollars a year by eliminating their private insurance costs as we move to a publicly funded program.
So. I went looking for the text of Mr Sander's "Medicare-for-All" bill.
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Sep 10th, 2017 at 07:39:10 PM EST
Nobody had really expected Brexit to have quite the consequences it eventually had. For some it was simply an expression of a latent English nationalism that had been triumphant in the Second World War, and which had been overwhelmed by the peace which followed. Somehow the EU didn't quite give adequate expression to the enormity of British success in that war, or compensate adequately for the loss of empire which followed.
For others it was simply a domestic response to a domestic problem. Immigration was changing the shape of English life. Whole towns and cities were becoming dominated by an immigrant culture that might have had many merits, but it simply wasn't English. Ethnically Indian and Pakistani immigrants might speak with posh English accents and play cricket. Footballers and athletes of African origin might dominate the Premier League and bring Olympic success. But it wasn't quite the same thing as having Ethel or Timothy next door make it to the big time.
For still others Brexit was a rebellion against an establishment which had delivered years of austerity; at declining public services and rising prices for privatised public utilities. A protest at the bankers and financiers of London who grew wealthy while every other region of the United Kingdom declined. A rejection of the globalisation which seemed to benefit the third world more than the first. A resentment that so many decisions seemed to be made by faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels. A sense of powerlessness in the face of a world being moved by foreign forces, beyond English control.
Thu Sep 7th, 2017 at 05:19:10 PM EST
Tropical Depressions Sam Kriss, Ellie Mae O'Hagan The Baffler
On a wretched December afternoon in 2015, as raindrops pattered a planetary threnody on grayed-out streets, five thousand activists gathered around Paris's Arc de Triomphe, hoping to force world leaders to do something, anything, that would save the future. Ellie was there. But what she remembers most from that afternoon during the UN's Climate Change Conference wasn't what happened in the open, in front of cameras and under the sky. As they took the Metro together, activists commiserated, briefly, before the moment of struggle and the need to be brave, over just how hopeless it could sometimes feel. People talked about bafflement, rage, despair; the sense of having discovered a huge government conspiracy to wipe out the human race--but one that everybody knows about and nobody seems willing to stop.
Twenty meters beneath the Paris streets, the Metro became a cocoon, tight and terrified, in which a brief moment of honest release was possible. Eventually someone expressed the psychic toll in words that have stuck with Ellie since. It was a chance remark: "I don't know how to be human any more."
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Sep 2nd, 2017 at 09:56:33 AM EST
Newton Emerson asks us to remember the Third Tribe of Ulster - one that is largely of Scottish descent, Presbyterian beliefs, and prone to dreaming of an Independent Ulster rather than one tied to either England or Ireland. Politically it is represented by the Paisleyite Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), rather than the previously dominant and anglophile Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and holds the English (perfidious Albion) in almost as much suspicion as do Irish Nationalists, formerly represented mostly by the Social Democrat and Labour Party (SDLP) and now by Sinn Fein.
Historically, he certainly has a point, but there is a another more modern third tribe his analysis ignores: This third, and possibly fastest growing tribe in N. Ireland today is neither Scottish, English, nor exclusively Irish; neither Roman Catholic, Presbyterian nor Anglican. It is neither Unionist nor nationalist. It is secular, disillusioned with tribal politics, and just wants to get on with life, make a decent living, and not be bothered by all the religious and political fanatics who seek to divide and conquer.
by THE Twank
Thu Aug 31st, 2017 at 10:33:27 PM EST
The Focus Group
Recently on the news I saw a "focus group" in which a panel of Republican voters were asked questions concerning "President Trump". The usual crap you might expect ... something like, "Describe in one word a description of President Trump". My attitude: who gives a flying fuck about this shit? Let's get to the heart of the matter ... and you KNOW they would never ask these questions, but what the fuck. Here we go.
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Aug 27th, 2017 at 12:26:45 PM EST
At last the British Labour party has decided to do what oppositions are supposed to do and put clear blue water between its policy on Brexit and that of the Tories:
Labour is committing itself to continued UK membership of the EU single market and customs union during a transition period following the official Brexit date of March 2019.
In a dramatic policy shift, the party's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has announced that a Labour government would abide by "the same basic terms" of Britain's current EU membership during the transition, which some observers expect to last as long as four or five years.
And in an article for the Observer, he made clear that the party is open to the possibility of negotiating new single market and customs union terms which the UK could sign up to on a permanent basis.
At June's general election, Labour promised to seek to "retain the benefits" of the single market and customs union as part of a "jobs-first" Brexit, but leader Jeremy Corbyn has so far stopped short of committing to continued membership beyond the date of Brexit.
Tue Aug 22nd, 2017 at 11:28:10 PM EST
I did write
In the USA,the convicted person doesn't "appeal" the sentence. The convict's complaint addresses the injury (certain death) resulting from defective "due process" at trial e.g. errors in findings of fact (evidence) or findings of law (procedure) that preclude an exculpatory verdict. The remedy sought is a new trial.
Following is an example of those principles invoked by the petition, MARCELLUS WILLIAMS, Petitioner, v. STEVE LARKIN, Superintendent, Potosi Correctional Center, Respondent (pdf), reported today
Whether the governor of Missouri is or is not a lawyer is irrelevant. The same, Mr Eric Grietens, confidently stated the certainty of harm to Mr Williams commanded by sentencing. "A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment. To carry out the death penalty, the people of Missouri must have confidence in the judgment of guilt. In light of new information, I am appointing a Board of Inquiry in this case." That is to investigate findings of fact.
Tue Aug 22nd, 2017 at 06:31:45 PM EST
The United Kingdom triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017. What has happened since then on the EU side?
29 April 2017, the European Council at EU27 published European Council (Art. 50) guidelines for Brexit negotiations (HTML)
3 May 2017, the European Commission published recommendation, organizing a negotiating task force and citing establishing law, delivered to the Council.
22 May 2017, the Council published authorisation for the opening of the Article 50 negotiations with the UK and EU agenda of priorities.
19 June 2017, the first round of negotiation with the UK concluded with agreement of the parties to Terms of Reference for the Article 50 TEU Negotiations (pdf)
The United Kingdom, and the European Commission, representing the EU, share the understanding that the following, elements will guide the negotiations under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union
- Indicative dates for first sessions have been agreed as per paragraph 9 below . Each round will include discussion of each of the issues set out in Paragraph 3.
- Indicative dates are:
- Second round: w/c 17 th July
- Third round: w/c 28 th August
- Fourth round: w/c 18 th September
- Fifth round: w/c 9 th October
But you'd never know it to judge from Anglo-american press reporting on the series of non sequitors representing participation by UK gov't. agents in these A50 negotiations with the EU or their agreed, scheduled agenda.
Front paged - Frank Schnittger
by Luis de Sousa
Mon Aug 21st, 2017 at 07:50:38 AM EST
Last Friday the Sterling closed at 1.094 to the Euro. Not only is it a remarkable figure for crossing below 1.1, it is the lowest weekly close since 2009. In effect, since the common currency was introduced to currency markets in 1993, the Sterling closed against it below this level only in eleven other weeks. They all took place between December of 2008 and October of 2009, at the height of the housing crisis, when European institutions failed to address financial markets with the haste seen in grown-up economies.
This brief note puts this monetary devaluation into a broader perspective, within the context of the UK's exit from the EU. Sterling is just a visible facet of an overall economic setting deteriorating in anticipation of the UK's shift into a new - and largely unknown - economic paradigm.
Front paged - Frank Schnittger