Wed Aug 2nd, 2017 at 12:57:26 PM EST
Poplar is near the centre of the old East End of London. Located just north of the Isle of Dogs, that long lazy loop that the Thames takes as it begins its meander from London to the sea. There lie the East India docks, the most famous of the large docks of London.
Now shadowed by the towers of the Docklands financial district, you only have to cross the East India Dock Road, still one of the major arteries east of London, to enter into a timeless world of people who have always existed in the margins of society. They've been left behind by the fast flowing currents of global finance, but once the people of this area provided the numerous and anonymous labour for the shipping trade that powered the British Empire.
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jul 29th, 2017 at 10:33:12 AM EST
Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney once famously characterised the polite Irish society approach to difficult or awkward topics as "whatever you say, say nothing" and Irish politicians have, in the main, practised that down to a fine art. Even sports coaches and players are quick to praise their opponents, lest any derogatory comments be pinned on the opposing dressing-room walls as motivational material for the battle ahead. "They think you're shite" the opposition coach would say: "Just look at what they said about you", pointing to the offending article pinned to the wall. "Now prove them wrong!".
One of the reasons Leo Varadkar stood out from a pack of fairly mediocre ministers to win the Fine Gael leadership and prime ministership was his willingness to buck the trend and come out with the occasional, usually well calibrated and orchestrated "outspoken comment" to demonstrate a fresh and open approach to politics. He would only be saying, of course, what many had been saying quietly for quite some time, but couldn't quite bring themselves to say publicly, for fear of causing offence...
Now he's gone done it again with Brexit: Defiant Varadkar tells British: we won't design Brexit border for you. Taoiseach says `if anyone should be angry, it's us.'
"What we're not going to do is to design a border for the Brexiteers because they're the ones who want a border. It's up to them to say what it is, say how it would work and first of all convince their own people, their own voters that this is actually a good idea," Mr Varadkar said.
Mr Varadkar said there was a political border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, but not an economic one.
"As far as this Government is concerned there shouldn't be an economic border. We don't want one," he said.
"It's the UK, it's Britain that has decided to leave and if they want to put forward smart solutions, technological solutions for borders of the future and all of that that's up to them.
"We're not going to be doing that work for them because we don't think there should be an economic border at all. That is our position. It is our position in negotiations with the British Government and it's the very clear position that we have when we engage with the task force that is negotiating on our behalf with the UK."
Mr Varadkar said an economic border would not be in the interests of the Republic, Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom, "and we're not going to be helping them to design some sort of border that we don't believe should exist in the first place".
Meanwhile, asked if he was frustrated with the British approach to Brexit talks, Mr Varadkar said: "If anyone should be angry, it's us, quite frankly."
"We have an agreement. We signed up to the single European Act. We joined the EC alongside the United Kingdom. We have a Good Friday Agreement and part of the Good Friday Agreement...talks about working together and continuing to do so within the context of the EU."
Wed Jul 26th, 2017 at 10:49:45 AM EST
For decades a strong Ukrainian-American diaspora has been exploited by NGOs and U.S. government agencies (USAID) to intervene in the Ukraine. The Orange Revolution of 2004 has been well covered. Due to established corruption, all US supported candidates proved to be just as corrupt as their predecessors. Under the Obama administration the U.S. in collusion with the EU and NATO succeeded to overtrhow a democratically elected president.
The Ukraine Affair has been used by anti-Russian forces in right-wing conservative groups and political parties in the U.K. and the U.S. to force an economic separation with Russia. Ukraine to be used as a crowbar to push the EU and NATO to the border with the Kremlin and in the end to accomplish regime change in Russia. A "united" Europe has been split with Rumsfeld's New Europe of the Visegrád group of nations.
In 2016 both Ukraine and Russia were active to intervene in the U.S. presidential election. Conveniently the efforts by the Ukraine got no attention in the West. Nevertheless, the acts by the corrupt state of Ukraine effects the stability of Europe and its security. The intervention in the Ukraine is and will become a matter of war or peace in Europe. Fortunately with Brexit, the British shot themselves in the foot and will become more isolationist quite similar for the U.S. with Trump in the White House. Both events are tied together by underlying right-wing conservative forces. It amazes me that the Democratic party is moving towards the right on foreign policy and further from progressive values of non-military intervention and abiding by International Law.
Quite likely now that the U.S. House of Representatives has moved the goal posts on sanctions on Russia by an overwhelming majority - read with no opposition whatsover by a dictatorial vote of 419 for and 3 against.
Voting against the measure were three House Republicans known to break with the majority: Reps. Thomas Massie, Justin Amash and John J. Duncan Jr.
The sanctions come in response to reports of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections and Russia's actions in Ukraine, Crimea and Syria, Hoyer said. The bill also imposes new sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile program.
It has become clear the sanctions have become part of U.S. monopolizing the energy market and demanding their share of exports to Europe. Thus, whether it was the Persian coup d'état of 1953, the Iraq War of 2003 or the regime overthrow in Libya and Syria in 2011, the value of fossil fuel is an important argument of U.S. and Western foreign policy.
○ Refreshing European Energy Security Policy: How the U.S. Can Help | Brookings Inst. - March 2014 |
○ Nord Stream 2's opponents look for legal ammunition | Politico EU - Dec. 30, 2015 |
Continued below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jul 17th, 2017 at 11:41:15 PM EST
Participating, as I do, in various discussion forums outside of the European tribune, I am always struck by how hostile Brexiteers are to the EU project as a whole, and then, in the next breath, still seem to expect the EU to cut them a generous deal in the Brexit talks.
As a general rule, if you are hoping to get a good deal from a negotiating adversary, it is not a good idea to keep telling them how much you hate them and wish them ill. Yet Theresa May has recently promoted a Minister who said that the EU has failed on its own terms and should be "torn down".
Increasingly, it seems, Brexiteers are also seeking to use Ireland as a Trojan horse with which to divide the EU and weaken the EU negotiating position. On the one hand you have Nigel Farage arguing that Ireland would be far better off throwing it's lot in with the UK and leaving the EU, and on the other hand the UK appears to be hoping to use Ireland's dependency on UK trade as a means to force the EU to concede generous free trade terms to the UK post Brexit.
So what is it the UK wants? Ireland leaving the EU with the UK to reinforce Brexit, or Ireland within the EU to weaken the EU's resolve to drive a hard bargain? Either way, the Irish Government has shown no sign of deviating from the common EU27 negotiating position.
Boris Johnson recently told the Commons that the EU can "go whistle" if it thought the UK were going to pay what he considered an extortionate exit payment - to which Michel Barnier replied that he could hear no whistling, merely the sound of a clock ticking...
Meanwhile normally reticent and discreet Irish Ministers express increasing frustration at the lack of a coherent plan for Brexit coming from UK Ministers, making planning for Brexit almost impossible.
This soap opera is going to run and run, and we're only into season 1!
Fri Jul 14th, 2017 at 06:15:17 PM EST
Started as a reply to ATinNM's post in my previous diary ...
A US withdrawal from the western Pacific frees China to look north to the biggest region of untapped natural resources on the planet.
Japan commits to China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative | DW |
During talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the fringes of the recent G20 summit in Hamburg, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed Tokyo's intention to participate in Beijing's ambitious "One Belt, One Road" economic plan, a significant concession from a government that had previously distanced itself from Chinese economic and development initiatives.
Analysts say that while the Japanese leader is hoping for a windfall for domestic companies, he also recognizes that Japan simply cannot afford to be left out of a growing international project without any say in its future direction. Yet another motivation is to pressure President Donald Trump's administration to re-engage with its longstanding allies in the Asia-Pacific region instead of permitting China to seize the initiative.
« click for more info »
Foreign Direct Investment in the United States 2016 Report - link to chart
The grand One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project is a combination of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and is designed to promote connectivity and cooperation among Eurasian nations via land and sea. The project demonstrates China's quest to play a larger role in global affairs and coordinate manufacturing throughout the region.
○ Abe's Belt and Road pivot signals push to improve bilateral ties | Asian Review - June 6, 2017 |
○ PM Abe willing to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Thu Jul 13th, 2017 at 05:18:39 PM EST
Cross-posted from BooMan Tribune
British citizen Rob Goldstone in key role
Rob Goldstone is an agent for Emin Agalarov who was married to Leyla Aliyeva -- social activist and elder daughter of the Azerbaijani President.
The Russian lawyer/lobbyist Natalia Veselnitskaya is not well known and has an obscure office in a southern suburb Ul. Lazareva Admirala of Moscow. She made headlines when she was hired by Denis Katsyv to lead his defence in Manhattan trial for money laundering of Prevezon Holdings Ltd. linked to the Magnitsky case. On May 12, 2017, US Attorney Joon Kim settled out of court, a 'sweet' deal some would say:
The U.S. agreed to take $5.9 million to settle a money-laundering lawsuit tied to a $230 million Russian tax fraud, avoiding a trial that was set to begin mid May.
Veselnitskaya hired Fusion to do investigative work and Fusion shared her lobbying effort in the States to get rid of the sanctions enforced on Katsyv by the Magnitsky Act of Congress.
Continued below the fold ...
Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 10:44:17 AM EST
President's daughter Ivanka 'fills in for him at G20 world leaders meeting' | The Independent |
Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka has apparently filled in for the US President at a round-table meeting with world leaders at the G20. Ms Trump accompanied Mr Trump to a session at the Hamburg summit and later sat in his seat next to Theresa May, Angela Merkel and other world leaders, according to a photograph.
The meeting, which took place on Saturday morning, was on the subject of Africa, health and migration.
Ms Trump, who works as an advisor to her father at the White House, was photographed sitting in his seat by a Russian G20 official who shared the picture on social media. The official claimed Mr Trump had left his daughter in his place while he attended bilateral meetings with other world leaders.
In Hamburg this morning the "first daughter" also launched a World Bank event promoting the organisation's Women's Entrepreneurship Facility Initiative.
« click for more info »
"If she weren't my daughter it would be so much easier for her.
That might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth."
That candid aside came as Mr Trump spoke at the launch of the new women's entrepreneurship fund.
Mr Trump met Russian president Vladimir Putin for the first time at the summit, and held bilateral talks with Ms May on Saturday morning
At the #G20 launch of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative
○ Ivanka Trump under fire after taking seat among world leaders at G20 | The Guardian |
The G20 Meeting must have done some good ... just read who got very disturbed today:
Fri Jul 7th, 2017 at 04:37:48 PM EST
WATCH: President Trump Meets Putin and Gets Ready for G20 Summit Meeting in Germany, Hamburg 2017
<< WATCH VIDEO >>
According to US broadcaster NBC, citing pool reports, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are still talking:
"President Trump and President Putin are still
talking 90 minutes into meeting, per pool.
They had originally been scheduled for 30 minutes."
More below the fold ...
Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 09:00:20 AM EST
Ahead of the G20 in Germany's Hamburg, Trump is expected to give a major policy speech. His White House team has made a judgment this will take place in Poland, a nation that suffered greatly under the boots of Nazi's and equally when the Red Army crossed borders and occupied the state during the 20th century.
Today's Poland is run by a fascist leadership with similar appeals to its citizens as Trump has in America: nationalist and anti-immigration rhetoric or rather against asylum-seekers from outside of the EU. Poland has welcomed a flow of migrants from neighbouring Ukraine which is suffering from economic woes and corruption.
The Polish Prime Minister, in a speech in the European Parliament, claimed that Poland did not have the capacity to accept any Syrian refugees, as it has already accepted one million Ukrainian refugees (Chapman 2016). However, while the migration flow has indeed increased, neither the purported volume, nor the declared character of migration has been reflected by the official data. The vast majority of Ukrainians coming to Poland seek gainful employment and are not a burden on the Polish taxpayer, but rather contribute to the country's economic growth.
Poland is at the heart of criticism for EU capital Brussels and the role of giant economic power Germany.
Poland is also the point nation for neocon's New Europe and a special role in rekindling the Cold War 2.0 from president George Bush, Defence minister Rumsfeld, NATO's General Breedlove to Obama's State Department with HRC and Victoria Nuland - Cheney's right hand on foreign policy vs. Russia.
More below the fold ...
Front paged - Frank Schnittger
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jul 1st, 2017 at 08:23:12 PM EST
Both the Irish Independent and the Irish Times (scroll down the page) have published my letter criticising the hypocrisy of Judges criticising elected politicians for commenting on the suitability of Judges on the grounds of the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government, and then in almost the same breath seeking to influence the legislature in its deliberations:
Sir, - Chief Justice Susan Denham saw fit to rebuke Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over his Dáil comments about former attorney general Máire Whelan and reminded us of the separation of powers between the branches of government and the necessity to maintain some distance between them.
Just days later, Mr Justice Peter Kelly is reported ("Leading judge says Government moves to reform judicial appointments `ill advised'", June 24th) as criticising Shane Ross's proposals for reforming the judicial appointments process as "ill conceived" and "ill advised", and the way in which they were being rushed through the Dáil when (in his view) other matters before the courts warranted a higher priority from legislators.
Could it be that our esteemed learned friends are trying to have it both ways, telling legislators how and when to do their jobs whilst being extremely sensitive about any comments directed towards them by our parliamentarians?
Whatever the merits of Shane Ross's proposals, surely it is right and proper that the process of appointing judges should be debated and decided by our democratically elected representatives at a time of their choosing, and not by those who are the primary beneficiaries of the process? - Yours, etc,
by Gag Halfrunt
Sat Jul 1st, 2017 at 07:09:54 PM EST
I don't suppose this will surprise any regular readers.
Brexodus has begun. We EU nationals know staying on is too big a gamble | Joris Luyendijk | The Guardian | 30/06/2017
It will not happen in spectacular ways, so do not expect TV footage of hordes of well-heeled EU nationals making for Heathrow airport or the Channel tunnel. Rather it will be a steady, inexorable drip-feed. It has already started and as the true implications of Brexit sink in the number will swell. Call it the Brexodus: well-educated EU nationals with the global job market at their feet turning their back on a country they had thought of as a good and safe place to make their homes.
A Deloitte study, published this week, reveals that nearly half of all highly skilled EU workers could leave the UK within five years. This may have been news to many Britons, but not to the 3 million EU nationals in this country. Some of us have already left and others are actively making plans. Many know at least one EU national or family who have left already. Everybody is considering their options - and for good reason.
One thing I hadn't realised is that some EU nationals might have to sacrifice their original citizenships to get British citizenship because of their own countries' rules.
Highly educated EU nationals know that they have highly sought-after skills - many of us are not in British jobs taken by Europeans but in European jobs done in Britain. Why not take that job with us back to the EU? And why risk investing in a country that could turn on you at any moment? This question is even more urgent for those from Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Estonia or Lithuania: countries that make it very difficult for their citizens to acquire a second nationality.
Front paged - Frank Schnittger
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Jun 21st, 2017 at 06:14:47 PM EST
The 421 articles I have posted on the European Tribune since Wed Nov 28th. 2007 are grouped somewhat arbitrarily under the 13 headings below with the latest listed first.
1. Human Rights (30)
2. Energy, Climate Change, Transport and the Environment (14)
3. Irish Economy (31)
4. Irish Politics (71)
5. Irish European Referenda and Elections (43)
6. Brexit (53)
7. The EU and the Eurozone (48)
8. US Politics (64)
9. Global economics, politics, foreign policy and war. (15)
10. Sport (15)
11. Personal Topics (20)
12. The European Tribune, Blogging and the Internet (13)
13. Just having a laugh (5)
Stories are listed only once even though many could have been listed under several headings. For direct access to a story please click on the titles in blue below.
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Jun 21st, 2017 at 06:04:01 PM EST
Sometimes you have to examine your motives for writing stridently on a particular topic: what is it that provokes you to turn to print? I have now written over 400 articles for the European Tribune, and 40 of them have been on Brexit in the last year alone.
On the one hand, it is hardly surprising that a European community blog should focus on a topic like Brexit, and ever since I was made an editor I have felt a responsibility to try to keep the front page ticking over on at least some of the core issues effecting Europe.
But there have been many other reasons why I think Brexit is one of the seminal issues of our time and why I am so militantly opposed to it and everything which gave it birth.
I feel I owe you an explanation.
Sat Jun 17th, 2017 at 09:38:55 AM EST
The political realignment taking place in France is nothing short of extraordinary. Before Emmanuel Macron won the presidential election last month it was assumed that, lacking a party, he would not be able to beat the Republicans, or even the Socialists, at the legislative elections, and a cohabitation would ensue. But at the first round last week the vote share of Macron's party La République En Marche was a historic high, with participation at a historic low. As a result, Macron's party is expected to win a blowout victory at the second round tomorrow. His majority could be large enough to allow him to reform the Constitution without the support of the other political parties. We could be looking at the 6th French Republic.
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jun 17th, 2017 at 09:26:07 AM EST
Fintan O'Toole has long been one of Ireland's best writers and recently won the George Orwell prize for journalism and a European press award for his commentaries on Brexit. His latest piece parodies the DUP's love affair with the Conservative party and all things British...
DUP's crush on Britain will end badly
It is one thing to be infatuated with someone who just ignores you. The unfulfilled love retains its bittersweet purity, its dreamy half-life of pure possibility. But the true tragedy occurs when your love is apparently consummated at last and you find that the loved one really despises you. The DUP has long dreamed of being wrapped fully in the warm embrace of the Tory world with which it strives so hard to identify. And now, miraculously, its moment has come. But the loved one is thinking of England, sneaking glances at her watch and praying "Oh god! When will this be over?"
Tue Jun 13th, 2017 at 07:32:16 PM EST
InFarm for supermarkets who want to grow their own food
Editorial Comment: This may be my favorite of the shipping container farms now as they seem to be thinking most seriously about reducing energy and water requirements
Forest cities to fight air pollution in China
Greenhouse for the Moon and Mars
World's largest vertical garden in Bogata, Colombia
Hong Kong'a rooftop farms
Plenty - an indoor vertical growing system aiming for high efficiency in both input and output
Seoul's Skygarden - urban overpass to greenspace transformation
Editorial Comment: Seoul has also resurrected a formerly buried river: https:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheonggyecheon
Texas supermarket chain to grow its own produce in shipping "Growtainers"
Chinese plant factories to grow clean food in dirty cities
hat tip Fred Hapgood
Taipei "Forest Bus," with turf-lined seats,hanging orchids and ferns that continued to run as a mode of transport from florist Alfie Lin and designer Xiao Qing-Yang
See through garden house in Ho Chi Minh City
Editorial Comment: Vietnamese architects and designers are doing some very good work on urban agriculture.
Google's million square foot "Landscraper" for London - rooftop gardens over multiple storeys with "plateau," "gardens," and "fields" planted with strawberries, gooseberries and sage
200 square meters, 3500 kg per year production in Gaza hydroponic urban farm
Terrill: solar weeding robot, Roomba for your garden
hat tip Michel Selva
Editorial Comment: I, for one, welcome our new robot gardening overlords
Also archived at http://cityag.blogspot.com/2017/06/city-agriculture-june.html where you can find all my City Agriculture links list posts.
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Jun 11th, 2017 at 07:03:01 PM EST
For some strange reason I am vaguely encouraged by the outcome of the British general election, and it is not because the numbers turned out to be broadly as I expected they would be. Theresa May must be one of the worst leaders that even the Tories have ever produced, and no amount of repetition of the mindless "Strong and Stable" mantra could hide that fact.
Equally, the DUP did more or less exactly as I expected they would do in Northern Ireland, and they too have, in Arlene Foster, a leader who is pretty much the worst of a dire lot of predecessors, including Ian Paisley, the party founder, himself. But it is not really the choice of leaders which has me basically equanimous at the election outcome.
It could have been better, it could have been worse, but the outcome of the first post-Brexit election was always going to be something truly awful. The level of delusion, lies and deceit Brexit has introduced into the mainstream of the UK body politic was always going to produce a uniquely toxic stew, and now we can put a name on it: Brexit Mania.
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jun 5th, 2017 at 10:42:27 AM EST
Leo Varadker, the son of an immigrant Indian Doctor and an Irish mother, has won the Fine Gael Leadership election and is set to become Taoiseach in the next week or so. To do so he needs to secure the agreement of Fianna Fail to a continuation of their "Confidence and Supply Arrangement" to abstain from votes of No Confidence in order to allow the minority Fine Gael government to remain in office. Several Independent ministers will also have to renew their agreement to support the Government.
Mon May 29th, 2017 at 09:48:31 PM EST
In my political fantasy life (no resemblance to persons living or dead), I like to play with the idea of deep conspiracies wondering, "What if?" from different directions, a variation of umpteeump dimensional chess. I don't believe any of it but just like to consider the possibilities.
What if Ivana Zelníčková Trmp was the original Russian/Soviet/espionage honeypot?
What if the Trmp's are actually "The Americans," deep cover sleeper agents like the ones in that show?
What if Ivanka and her siblings are the second generation of the operation? (Hello, Jared.)
That's one thread.
What if Fred Kch, father of the Kch Bros, who made his first millions with Stalin back in the 1930s, cooked up a long-term Fifth Column operation from the Right at some desk in the Kremlin back in those bad old days? What if the Jhn Brch Socity was funded to destabilize American democracy (such as it is) as much as the Communist Party USA, a Rightwing/Leftwing combination?
Fact of the matter is, with the 2016 Rpblcn Party, the "Eisenhower is a Commie" and "Impeach Earl Warren" Jhn Brch Socity of the 1950s won. It is the Rpblcn Party today, with a healthy helping of Christianist Dominionism added, all those preaching theocrats who are happy to ignore President Trmp's public behavior. This religious strain (take that any way you want) hearkens back and forward to Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here and Robert Heinlein's Revolt in 2100 as well as Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.
And that's a whole nother group of conspiracies to play. Lotsa conspiracies and dystopias to go around.
Sun May 28th, 2017 at 02:18:09 AM EST
It seems that yet another election campaign built on inevitability is sputtering and gasping in the home stretch. Just a few weeks ago, pundits were wondering whether Labour would lose as badly as it did in 1983 ... or worse. The polls around then suggested that Labour would be lucky to do as well as in that epic defeat. Oh, what a difference a few weeks can make.
Front paged - Frank Schnittger