by Frank Schnittger
Tue Aug 30th, 2016 at 08:25:39 PM EST
The European Commission has made a ruling charging Ireland with giving illegal state aid to Apple and ordering Ireland to collect 13 Billion in back taxes due - a figure that represents c. 6% of Ireland's total national debt. Apple has a market valuation of $571bn, a cash pile of $230bn, and an expected $53 billion in free cash flow this year, making the ruling material but hardly terminal from a corporate point of view. Apple shares are down less than 1% on the day.
Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan is recommending that the Irish government appeal the finding to the European Court. Yes, you read that right. The Irish Finance Minister doesn't want the money. Apparently collecting the money would damage Ireland's ability to attract multi-nationals like Apple to Ireland in the first place. Noonan is also concerned that the ruling might be seen to imply wrong-doing by Irish tax officials and that it represents an encroachment by the Commission of Ireland's sovereign right to determine its own tax policies.
Wed Aug 24th, 2016 at 02:29:58 PM EST
Cross-posted on The Court Astrologer.
In his satire Candide, published in 1759, Voltaire pokes fun at the way the Portuguese Inquisition persecuted jews who had falsely converted to Catholicism:
After the earthquake had destroyed three-fourths of Lisbon, the sages of that country could think of no means more effectual to prevent utter ruin than to give the people a beautiful auto-da-fe; for it had been decided by the University of Coimbra, that the burning of a few people alive by a slow fire, and with great ceremony, is an infallible secret to hinder the earth from quaking.
In consequence hereof, they had seized on a Biscayner, convicted of having married his godmother, and on two Portuguese, for rejecting the bacon which larded a chicken they were eating; after dinner, they came and secured Dr. Pangloss, and his disciple Candide, the one for speaking his mind, the other for having listened with an air of approbation.
Fast-forward to 2016, and Sarkozy's extremism is indistinguishable from Voltaire's satire.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Tue Aug 23rd, 2016 at 02:45:51 PM EST
Joseph Stiglitz just published an interesting analysis of Europe's economic and political situation: Reform or Divorce in Europe.
He points to four kinds of explanations for the current dire situation Europe is facing:
Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger
- blame the victim (public debt, welfare state and labour-market protections)
- bad leaders and policies (insufficent economic skills, austerity, structural reforms...)
- blame European bureaucracy and regulations
- an ill-designed euro
by Frank Schnittger
Thu Aug 18th, 2016 at 02:04:41 PM EST
Luis de Sousa raises an important point. Will a Brexit agreement require ratification by 28 Member states, or can it simply be agreed, by majority vote of the EU Council as provided for in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty? He quotes legal opinion to the effect that all 27 remaining member states would have to ratify any trading agreement post Brexit: EU Law Analysis: Article 50 TEU: The uses and abuses of the process of withdrawing from the EU
In this context, it should be noted that (contrary to what is sometimes asserted), there's no legal obligation for the remaining EU to sign a free trade agreement with the UK. The words `future relationship' assume that there would be some treaties between the UK and the EU post-Brexit, but do not specify what their content would be.
This point is politically significant because while the withdrawal arrangement would be negotiated by a qualified majority, most of the EU's free trade agreements are in practice `mixed agreements', i.e. requiring the consent of the EU institutions and ratification by all of the Member States. That's because those agreements usually contain rules going outside the scope of the EU's trade policy. While it seems likely that in practice the remaining EU would be willing to enter into a trade agreement with the UK (see, for instance, the `gaming' exercise conducted by Open Europe), the unanimity requirement would complicate this.
In short, this legal opinion considers a Brexit agreement to consist of mainly transitional measures to facilitate the departure of the UK from the EU, which may or may not include special arrangements for ongoing free trade. I think we are in danger of confusing the process by which an exit agreement between the UK and EU might be reached, and the content of what it might contain.
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Aug 6th, 2016 at 11:49:22 AM EST
In a long an spirited discussion over The Brexit Negotiation Process, Colman made a point which has not been adequately addressed:
Brexit without article 50 is also possible.
So is some sort of face-saving operation for the UK (which would, if it was anti-immigrant, fit nicely into the agenda of a lot of EU leaders).
Is this really the case?
A few preliminary points need to be made:
Fri Aug 5th, 2016 at 09:52:46 PM EST
I'm noticing a cross-over now between zero net energy building and city agriculture, two subjects I follow and publish links lists on. The archive of the city agriculture links list is at cityag.blogspot.com
Net Zero Plus
The NetZero Plus Electric Training Institute (NZP-ETI), opened recently in Los Angeles, and is the largest net-zero plus commercial building retrofit in USA which "will function as a living laboratory, educational facility and demonstration center for advanced and emerging clean energy technologies."
I've built a version of this for myself and it seems to work although mine is just a small test model
All terrain off the grid survival vehicle
New home construction moving towards net zero
Retrofit home in Whatcom County, Washington produces twice the energy it now consumes (in an area with solar insolation of 3.5 - 3.0 kWh/square meter/day)
Virginia Beach,VA 10,500-square-foot Brock Environmental Center turns rainwater into drinking water, produces 83% more energy than it uses
Net Zero Energy Vermont - blog focusing on making Vermont the first zero energy state
Net zero energy feasibility study for Vermont buildings (and beyond)
Net zero downtown Montpelier design competition
Siemens new Munich headquarters, using 90% less electricity and 75% less water than the building it replaced
Los Angeles net zero solar powered 20 unit apartment building: Hanover Olympic
Nanjing China zero net energy Green Light House
Net Zero community in Salt Lake City
Telus Gardens in Vancouver, LEED Platinum with indoor gardens
LIAR Living Architecture
"This project will develop blocks able to extract resources from sunlight, waste water and air. The bricks are able to fit together and create `bioreactor walls' which could then be incorporated in housing, public buildings and office spaces."
Floating House - 100 sqm residential unit, 12 m in diameter and 4 m high, made entirely of recycled laminated timber on a recycled aluminium hull.
Fri Aug 5th, 2016 at 02:53:40 AM EST
It is not often that we get such frank discussions of the practicalities of recent realpolitik diplomacy as in this e-mail that Sidney Blumenthal sent to Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State: (via Wikileaks)
For: Hillary From: Sid
Re: France's client & Qaddafi's gold
1. A high ranking official on the National Libyan Council states that factions have developed within it. In part this reflects the cultivation by France in particular of clients among the rebels. General Abdelfateh Younis is the leading figure closest to the French, who are believed to have made payments of an unknown amount to him. Younis has told others on the NLC that the French have promised they will provide military trainers and arms. So far the men and materiel have not made an appearance. Instead, a few "risk assessment analysts" wielding clipboards have come and gone. Jabril, Jalil and others are impatient. It is understood that France has clear economic interests at stake. Sarkozy's occasional emissary, the intellectual self-promoter Bernard Henri-Levy, is considered by those in the NLC who have dealt with him as a semi-useful, semi joke figure. 2. Rumors swept the NLC upper echelon this week that Qaddafi may be dead or maybe not. 3. Qaddafi has nearly bottomless financial resources to continue indefinitely, according to the latest report we have received:
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Aug 3rd, 2016 at 03:13:21 PM EST
The Brexit vote has already had an effect on consumer confidence and investor sentiment in the UK with the Governor of the Bank of England warning of the likelihood of at least a technical recession in the near term. A prolonged period of uncertainty is unlikely to improve that outlook in the medium term, but at least the UK can use Sterling devaluation, monetary policy easing, and reduced rates of corporate tax to mitigate its worst effects in the short term. That is, however, of no comfort to Irish exporters to the UK who are heavily dependent on the UK market - especially the small and medium sized indigenous sectors of the economy.
Indeed the whole Irish economy is heavily integrated with the UK economy although that dependency has reduced markedly since entry into the EU. Exports to the UK currently amount to c. 14% of total exports with the USA, Belgium and Germany accounting for 20%, 13% and 8% respectively. An official report for the Irish Government has estimated that Brexit could result in an average 20% reduction in trade flows between Ireland and the UK and the OECD has estimated that Ireland's GDP will be reduced by 1.2% as a result.
That official report is also pessimistic that Ireland can make up the difference by increasing its share of FDI that would otherwise have gone to the UK. Despite the proclamations of popular economists like David McWilliams that "Brand Britain is ours for the taking", it estimates that the ability of Dublin to attract business from London will be limited by Sterling devaluation, reduced UK corporate tax rates, and a shortage of suitable office space, housing and schools in the greater Dublin area. Nevertheless, the shape of the Irish government and corporate response to the Brexit crisis (or opportunity) is now becoming clear:
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
Fri Jul 29th, 2016 at 03:20:13 AM EST
I like direct action, positive protest that has immediate, practical, social and economic use.
That's why I say, Solar IS Civil Defense - light, phone, battery can be supplied by a few square inches of solar electric panel. The solar bike lights on my backpack over the last decade have proven the concept to my satisfaction (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/6/30/352476/-).
Light, phone, battery are also entry level electricity for the 1.4 billion or so of us around the world who don't yet have access to reliable electric power. Emergency preparedness at home, entry level solar power to the people who've never had it is essentially the same thing.
Bare minimum solar electricity for all, as long as the sun shines and the batteries hold out, is technically and practically feasible now.
It is rapidly becoming affordable too.
I know of one company that is reaching the price point of $1 per unit production costs for solar rechargeable lights (http://www.thriveenergy.co.in) and believe that there are others that are doing the same or better. That's $1.4 in production costs (or less, given economies of scale) to supply everyone among the presently powerless or $200 million if we start with one solar lighting system per family at a global average of 7 people per family.
How much more for delivery and setting up the infrastructure? The Dominican Light Project (http://www.esencialessrl.com) is beginning to provide solar lights for every family in the Dominican Republic at a proposed cost of $5 each to the customer's door. They raised some of their money through crowdfunding (https:/www.indiegogo.com/projects/dominican-light-project-by-esenciales-j-s-srl--2#)
Bare minimum solar electricity for all, as long as the sun shines and the batteries hold out, is not only technically feasible but also affordable and practical now.
in 2015, the world's military forces spent $1,676.0 billion or $4.59 billion per day
2016 USA Presidential election spending to July 22, 2016:
Amount raised by candidates: $904 million
Amount raised by Super PACS supporting them: $492
Just for reference.
Conceivably, there could be an ad hoc popular movement for crowd funding the end of electrical energy poverty within the next 3 to 5 years. A day of what we spend on warfare or a US Presidential campaign could give everybody who needed a light, light.
This is solar electric power to the people.
Now, add a bicycle or a hand-crank and you have two reliable sources of electricity day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.
Fri Jul 29th, 2016 at 02:32:17 AM EST
IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro, apologises for the immolation of Greece Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The International Monetary Fund's top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory. This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF's top watchdog on the Fund's tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.
It describes a "culture of complacency", prone to "superficial and mechanistic" analysis, and traces a shocking break-down in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation. The report by the IMF's Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) goes above the head of the managing director, Christine Lagarde. It answers solely to the board of executive directors, and those from Asia and Latin America are clearly incensed at the way EU insiders used the Fund to rescue their own rich currency union and banking system.
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.
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].
- 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.
- 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]
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?
Thu Jul 28th, 2016 at 03:22:51 AM EST
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
NY: The Library of America, 1990
Sherman went to West Point in 1836 and graduated in 1840, 4th in his class academically. He served in Florida, South Carolina, and California, and was at Sutter's Mill as the Gold Rush began. He resigned his commission in 1853 and became a banker in San Francisco and later a lawyer in St Louis before teaching engineering at the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy in 1860, from which he resigned in January 1861 to accept a commission in the US Army in May.
After his memoirs were first published, he included a long appendix in the second edition consisting of letters from interested parties correcting mistakes and offering different recollections of the events he covered.
The first time he was in battle was the first Bull Run and he remembered
"...the whole scene of the affair at Blackburn's Ford, when for the first time in my life I saw cannonballs strike men and crash through the trees and saplings above and around us, and realized the always sickening confusion as one approaches a fight from the rear; then the night-march from Centreville, on the Warrenton road, standing for hours wondering what was meant; the deployment along the edge of the field that sloped down to Bull Run, and waiting for Hunter's approach on the other side from the direction of Sudley Springs, away off to our right; the terrible scare of a poor negro who was caught between our lines; the crossing of Bull Run, and the fear lest we shoudl be fired on by our own men; the killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty, which occurred in plain sight; and the first scenes of a field strewed with dead men and horses."
General Sherman knew that "Generally war is destruction and nothing else."
His letter to the mayor of Atlanta is remarkable and may be read at
Along with all my other notes from the book.
by Democrats Ramshield
Tue Jul 26th, 2016 at 01:16:02 AM EST
(Written by an American expat living in Germany)
So yes millions of Bernie supporters out there today given your endorsement of Hillary Clinton feel betrayed by you. They feel you burned them and yes, it gives new meaning to the old phrase 'Feel the Bern'.
Bernie 'Bernedict Arnold' was richly booed for approximately 5 minutes earlier at the DNC today for his betrayal in the matter of his endorsement of Hillary Clinton and I predict it will happen again. As such this is an open letter to Bernie.
An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders.
Many people who have loved and supported you, many people who believed in you, now feel betrayed by you. You energized a lot of young people, drowning in student loan debt, without health insurance, priced out of the housing market, who are living in underwater mortgaged houses which belong to their parents whose basement they're living in while being drowned in student loan debt. They today, many of them feel betrayed by you. There are many people on fixed incomes, pensioners and low waged workers who in the average 27 dollar contributions they provided you with dipped into their grocery money. Some of these people are children; some of them are even homeless people; waitresses who dipped into their tip money for YOU! People who visited pawn shops and parted with their precious things to support YOU! People worked their hearts out for no pay to support YOU!
(Is there any chance any of these people can expect a refund from you or will you just keep their money so as to empower you to spend millions of their money, to keep re-electing you to the Senate forever?)
When push came to shove and you were faced with a choice of fighting for them and standing with them, you quit!? The effect of you quitting left them in a deep hole. Some of these people will never believe another politician in their lifetimes again because they feel betrayed by you, up close and personal. Even if you couldn't get the nomination, you didn't have to endorse Hillary Clinton! When you call on people to vote for her, you took the love that they feel for you and turned it to disgust and betrayal and they booed you. They will boo you again and again because those people who booed you will never trust you again. They will never believe in you again. Personally, Bernie I will always love you man, but I will never support you again. It's just too painful. We understand it would have had political consequences for you in the Senate if you did not endorse Hillary Clinton.
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.
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
Sun Jul 24th, 2016 at 12:32:56 AM EST
The McKinsey Global Institute calls for essays on economic revitalization of Europe. Anyone interested?
Fri Jul 22nd, 2016 at 06:32:29 PM EST
Why Corbyn so terrifies the Guardian Jonathan Cook
The parliamentary Labour party is in open revolt against a leader recently elected with the biggest mandate in the party's history. Most Labour MPs call Jeremy Corbyn "unelectable", even though they have worked tirelessly to undermine him from the moment he became leader, never giving him a chance to prove whether he could win over the wider British public.
Meanwhile, the Guardian, the house paper of the British left - long the preferred choice of teachers, social workers and Labour activists - has been savaging Corbyn too, all while it haemorrhages readers and sales revenue. Online, the Guardian's reports and commentaries about the Labour leader - usually little more than character assassination or the reheating of gossip and innuendo - are ridiculed below the line by its own readers. And yet it ploughs on regardless.
The Labour party ignores its members' views, just as the Guardian ignores its readers' views. What is going on?
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.
Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 09:54:31 PM EST
We have all these wars and conflicts happening now. When do we practice peace?
As the great bluesman Willy Dixon, a conscientious objector in WWII, sings
It Don't Make Sense If You Can't Make Peace
List of Ongoing Conflicts Around the World as of July 3, 2016
67 countries at war
715 groups involved
A map of current world conflict with "impact on U.S Interests" from USA Council on Foreign Relations
(29 Countries and 209 between militias-guerrillas, terrorist-separatist-anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Central African Republic (often there are armed clashes between muslims and christians), Democrati Republic of Congo (war against rebel groups), Egypt (war against islamic militants of Islamic State branch), Libya (civil war), Mali (clashes between army and rebel groups), Mozambique (clashes with RENAMO rebels) Nigeria (war against islamist militants), Somalia (war against al-Shabaab islamist militants), Sudan (war against rebel groups in Darfur), South Sudan (clashes with rebel groups)
(16 Countries and 165 between militias-guerrillas, terrorist-separatist-anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Afghanistan (war against islamist militants), Burma-Myanmar (war against rebel groups), Pakistan (war against islamist militants), Philippines (war against islamist militants), Thailand (coup d'etat by army May 2014)
(10 Countries and 80 between militias-guerrillas, separatist groups and anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Chechnya (war against islamist militants), Dagestan (war against islamist militants), Ukraine (Secession of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic), Nagorno-Karabakh (clashes between Azerbaijan army against Armenian army and Nagorno-Karabakh army)
(7 Countries and 236 between militias-guerrillas, terrorist-separatist-anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Iraq (war against Islamic State islamist militants), Israel (war against islamist militants in Gaza Strip), Syria (civil war), Yemen (war against and between islamist militants)
(5 Countries and 25 between drug cartels, terrorist-separatist-anarchic groups involved)
Hot Spots: Colombia (war against rebel groups), Mexico (war against narcotraffic groups)