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8 - 14 May 2017

by Bjinse Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:37:17 PM EST

Your take on this week's news

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by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:51:48 PM EST
French conservative Estrosi says turns down Macron ministerial post

NICE, France (Reuters) - Senior French conservative Christian Estrosi, who was rumored to possibly join president-elect Emmanuel Macron's movement, said on Monday he had turned down a cabinet post in the new government.

Estrosi, a close ally of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, told reporters, he had also decided to resign as president of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, for which he has been in post since December 2015.

"I refused to exercise any government responsibilities," Estrosi told his supporters.

by Zwackus on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 01:22:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Far right a fixture in France despite LePen defeat

Paris (AFP) - Despite Marine Le Pen's drubbing in the French presidential election, her far-right National Front party expanded its footprint in the political landscape -- and confirmed its move into the mainstream.

Her anti-immigrant, anti-Europe stance won a record 34 percent of ballots cast on Sunday, which translates into the support of nearly 10.6 million voters.

The score is nearly double that of her father Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 2002 presidential run-off, which conservative Jacques Chirac won by a landslide.

"We can no longer believe that the FN is a flash in the pan and that it is going to end," Virginie Martin, a political analyst at Kedge Business School told AFP.

In an era of unemployment hovering at 10 percent, a string of large-scale terror attacks and scandals clouding the major parties, the FN's France-first nationalist message has proven seductive in parts of the country.

So, fascism forever. Yay. My heart overflows with optimism for what the 21st century brings.

by Zwackus on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 01:25:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hungarian MEP decries EU 'double standards'

Deutsche Welle: Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, is often lumped together with Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Poland's de facto ruler, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and even sometimes with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as a new proponent of illiberalism. How do you answer such accusations, for example that the ruling party, Fidesz, is undermining democracy, limiting a free press and attacking academic freedoms in Hungary?

Gyorgy Schöpflin: Undermining democracy' is very much a question of what one means by 'democracy' - is it rule by the consent of the governed or domination by the values of the liberal elite, regardless of consent?

Contrary to the widespread liberal narrative of 'democratic backsliding' in Central Europe, the institutional order in Hungary works well. The Constitutional Court regularly quashes draft laws passed by parliament and the EU's Justice Scoreboard places Hungary in the top third of EU member states.

The narrative is incorrect, because liberalism is dissolving everwhere, not just in central Europe.

by Zwackus on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 01:29:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From Le Pelerin:

Interactive chart

Le Pen does best among atheists and non-practising Catholics. Fillon among practicing Catholics. Mélenchon and Hamon do best among Muslims. Dupont-Aignan (who?) and Macron best among Protestants. (No data on Jews)

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 11:04:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan found abandoned on a motorway layby, chained to a barrier, with some water and a cheque to cover his campaign expenses.
(He, the alleged "true gaullist", just missed 5% of the vote. Which means he didn't get reimbursed by the state. Le Pen announced last week that she was taking him as Prime Minister. Strong rumours that this was in order to get his debts paid)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 06:19:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 12:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the media coverage has become so ridiculousy pro-tory/anti-corbyn that you keep expecting people to start questioning it. But they don't, it's just the normal

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 04:36:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Thu May 11th, 2017 at 02:37:10 AM EST
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it's to much for the Mail which wants us to go bac to the 30s and the days of the Blackshirts

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 11th, 2017 at 06:39:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Links 5/12/17 | naked capitalism -

Can someone explain to me how Jeremy Corbyn is rated so poorly on a personal level, while Labor's policies are so popular?

Contrast with Bernie Sanders, who's by far and away the most popular politician in the USA.

What is Bernie doing that Corbyn isn't? Or vice-versa?

Interesting discussion on naked capitalism on why Sanders is popular and Corbyn isn't. (Link goes to thread)

by generic on Sat May 13th, 2017 at 04:04:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a theory about this - not just about Corbyn but about the drift to the right in the UK.

I'll try to write it up sometime this week.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 13th, 2017 at 06:09:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll quote the conclusion too:

Links 5/12/17 | naked capitalism -

I'll put my thoughts below:

1) generic also pointed out that Corbyn won and Sanders didn't.
I think this is right that it makes him more of a lightning rod for the establishment. Corbyn grabbed(or maybe was handed) control of a major political party. That means the establishment smells danger. For Corbyn, himself, I get the feeling he didn't really have a plan he was prepared to implement as he's spent so much time as an activist and protest candidate. The same might have happened to Sanders, had he triumphed.

2) PlutoniumKun is right about personal differences.
He might be onto something with the point about Corbyn talking about nuclear arms giving the vibe that he's a bit out of touch. Sanders is clearly a grandmaster of kitchen table issues. He's been incredible with his ability to maintain focus on what he sees as the important stuff like higher wages, publicly funded higher education and healthcare. Without Sanders, the news would be all palace politics about Russia investigations and inside baseball in congress and in Trump's team (of course, it still is, but Sanders just keeps hammering away). I actually think Sanders repeated disappointment on foreign policy issues partially comes from his incredible focus on the stuff that he's confident in.

I also think Sanders is more of a deal-maker who sits on the periphery, but is still influential and knows how to score understated, but important victories (like on ACA). Sanders immediately found himself in a very comfortable position after the election. He was still on the periphery, but much less so and now had more of a brand and a bigger megaphone. He clearly observed that what he was doing in 2016 was working and decided that he needed to do more of it. It's still working.

3) Societal context.
I think the skimpier welfare state in the USA, especially the massive student debt problem creates circumstances where someone like Sanders finds a more receptive audience.

4) The Trump factor creates fractured opposition whereas Corbyn is up against the entire British establishment.
I think this is working to Sanders' advantage here. Trump derangement syndrome is clearly a real thing and is deeply corroding the brain power of coastal media elites that cheer for team blue. They still haven't come to grips with the reality that they lost to Trump and are obsessed with the idea of impeachment as a way of cutting short this ongoing ego-bruising they're having to endure. It's like Dems are okay with losing to another Bush or even an unelected Pence, but losing to Trump is an insult and an affront that they still can't handle. This makes the Dem elite look more foolish to the public and reinforces the notion that they're out of touch. To counteract this, they need to keep Sanders no more than arm's length away because they quietly, reluctantly have to admit to themselves that they need Sanders' voters to win elections, at least while they continue their long term project of lusting after wealthy suburban republican voters. Whenever it looks like Sanders is getting the better of the elites of team Dem, the knives come out for Sanders again. However, it doesn't seem to be denting the popularity of Sanders.

Corbyn is in a much tougher set of circumstances. Blairites in the Labor Party are, for the moment, happy to sabotage their own party as they focus on regaining control. They seem perfectly comfortable with May as PM and don't mind waiting their turn. It's too early to say Corbyn is failing. We'll get a better read after the election, but facing a united British establishment is a much more difficult task.

by generic on Sun May 14th, 2017 at 04:16:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eternal sunshine of a spotless centre | Salvage -
This was and remains hugely ambitious, an incredibly long shot: to address the crisis of social democracy from the Left, for the first time, requires overcoming such entrenched and hostile institutional forces that it was always difficult to see how he would gain the breathing space necessary for this task. Ironically, the only kind of leadership that could possibly see it through would be a leadership willing, as the Labour Right manifestly are, to risk everything and even - as the Right have done twice before - split the party. But Corbyn has been a loyally dissenting member of the Labour Party and an MP for decades, and has spent most of those years in the political wilderness.

Understandably, given the paucity of alternatives, he and his allies stuck with Labour, even as they dwindled and faced the prospect of being wiped out. His commitment to a version of `broad church' Labourism, the idea that Labour is the sole political vehicle through which a broad alliance of popular forces can be constituted to challenge power, may explain - as much as the weakness of his position, and the marginal position from which he was propelled - his caution in negotiating with hostile forces, his policy concessions, his broad first cabinet, and his counsel of caution to more militant sections of his supporters who want to pursue deselections and radical constitutional reform of the party. Certainly, he was unwilling to be morally blackmailed out of office by a cynical coup, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't accept backbench perdition again rather than risk the party. Labour MPs who conflate their entitlement to rule with the interests of the party are not well placed to take this point.

by generic on Wed May 17th, 2017 at 10:52:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eternal sunshine of a spotless centre | Salvage -
This may also partly explain Corbyn's reticence on the national question which continually grows more decisive. His default Unionism will prove unavailing as Labour fails to regain lost ground in Scotland, and becomes more of a regional party in England and Wales. But reviving Labourism means renewing its claimed monopoly on all left-of-centre electoral forces, rather than making the best of a fractured political landscape by cooperating pragmatically with the SNP and the Greens. Even if Corbyn didn't believe in such a monopoly, his leadership of the Labour Party commits him to it. But this also means trying to elide and neutralise difficult questions like Brexit which, though he rightly opposed it in the circumstances (since no `Lexit' was possible), has left him struggling to form a distinctive, coherent position. Instead, waving through Article 50 with a three-line-whip, and waving the subject away for the election, he seems to hope that the troubling national question will dissipate and give way to the `real' class issues he was elected to address. Unfortunately, the breakdown of the Union and the related crises of the EU have ensured that class questions are being worked out in large part through the containers of contending nationalisms.
by generic on Wed May 17th, 2017 at 10:53:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Sun May 14th, 2017 at 09:48:37 AM EST
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Wait until Germany gets a chancellor younger than 44....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun May 14th, 2017 at 02:26:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:51:51 PM EST
by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:51:54 PM EST
Trump in-laws promote thorny visa-for-sale program in China

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Plenty can go wrong foreign when money mixes with immigration green cards, real estate deals and political connections.

Revelations that the sister of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, promoted a program offering a path to U.S. citizenship to Chinese backers in a Kushner family project bring new scrutiny to a foreign investor visa program. The Kushner Companies apologized Monday, saying it had not meant to lure investors by using Jared Kushner's name at an investment promotion event held Saturday at a Ritz Carlton in Beijing. Marketing materials for the event promoted Nicole Kushner Meyer as Jared's sister, and cited the Kushner family's "celebrity" status.

The project promoted by Meyer in Beijing is a 79-story apartment building called Kushner 1. The company is seeking 300 aspiring U.S. residents to invest a total of $150 million, and it follows other Kushner family projects using the investment program known as EB-5, including a nearby Trump-licensed building promoted as "Trump Bay Street."

by Zwackus on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 01:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 01:15:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that is interesting. If one takes the Cambridge Analytica article from the Guardian seriously, the whole Trump-Putin thing looks like a power struggle between factions of the surveillance state. I'm not sure where Comey fitted, with his last minute torpedo against Clinton, and now he is out.
by fjallstrom on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 06:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But he just got another job offer.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 12:44:41 PM EST
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by generic on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 01:14:33 PM EST
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Ah, we can only wish that was a real account

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 03:26:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cooking up an economic policy - The Economist

Trumponomics, despite some tasty ingredients, is guilty of worse than incoherence. It also suggests a dismal lack of attention to the real causes of the economic disruption imposing itself on Mr Trump's unhappy supporters. Automation has cost many more manufacturing jobs than competition with China. The winds of change blowing through retailing will remove far more relatively low-skilled jobs than threats aimed at Mexico could ever bring back (see article).

Mr Trump never mentions the retraining that millions of mid-career Americans will soon need. He appears to have given no thought to which new industries might replace those lost jobs. Nowhere in his programme is there consideration of the changes to welfare that a more fitfully employed workforce may require. Eyeing the past, not the future, he fetishises manufacturing jobs, which employ only 8.5% of American workers, and coal mining, though the solar industry employs two-and-a-half times as many people. Growth is good; but Trumponomics is otherwise a threadbare, retrograde and unbalanced response to America's economic needs.

Where is this heading? The S&P500 has gained 12% since Mr Trump's election, suggesting that investors believe his promises of growth and discount his crazier rhetoric. In recent weeks he has seemed to vindicate that confidence, preferring to moderate his views than pay a price for them. He was persuaded not to withdraw from NAFTA after his agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, presented him with a map showing that many of the resultant job losses would be in states that voted for him. Where once he railed against legal, as well as illegal, immigration, he appears to have been persuaded of the economic damage restricting the influx would do. Asked whether he still meant to curb legal immigration, he protested: "No, no, no, no!...I want people to come in legally...We also want farm workers to be able to come in...We like those people a lot."

by Bjinse on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 10:39:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that those Calexit clowns are gone, things might get bad enough for the sane folks of California that they might muster the brains and the balls to tell the rest of the U.S. mongoloids to go fuck themselves. At least I can hope.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 03:53:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:51:56 PM EST
Taliban announce start of spring offensive

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban have announced they will launch their spring offensive on Sunday, signaling plans to step up attacks as the weather warms across Afghanistan, making both travel and fighting easier.

The statement comes toward the end of a month that already has been the deadliest of the year.

The militant group's leadership vowed on Saturday that "every possible tactic will be utilized in order to detain or inflict heavy casualties on the foreign transgressors," including suicide attacks on military bases and diplomatic areas.

by Zwackus on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 01:15:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Latest: South Korean Elections

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The Latest on the presidential election in South Korea (all times local):

9:20 a.m.

Liberal candidate Moon Jae-in has expressed confidence of winning office as South Koreans vote for a new president.

He cast his vote in Seoul on Tuesday and told reporters later, "I gave all my body and soul (to the election) to the very end."

Moon was favored in opinion surveys after the huge corruption scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye's ousting complicated politics for the conservatives.

The 64-year-old Moon thanked people who stood with him to bring change. He said he and his party "invested all our efforts with a sense of desperation, but we also felt a great desire by people to build a country we can be proud of again."

Park is jailed awaiting trial later this month on bribery, extortion and other corruption charges.

by Zwackus on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 01:16:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spare a dime? Puerto Rico seeks change to help university

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The budget woes at Puerto Rico's largest public university are so bad that the U.S. territory will soon ask people for spare change to support it.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello introduced a bill Monday to have commercial businesses ask if customers want to donate part of their change to the University of Puerto Rico, which faces deep cuts after the island's decade-long economic slump.

The proposal comes as a federal control board overseeing the finances of Puerto Rico's government seeks to cut $450 million from the University of Puerto Rico's budget in upcoming years as part of overall cost-slashing measures. The school's budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 was a little over $1 billion. Rossello has proposed that the cut be reduced to $241 million, but the issue has not yet been resolved.

by Zwackus on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 01:19:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:53:49 PM EST
Largest Dutch wind farm is open, 85 kilometres off the coast - Dutch News

The Netherlands' biggest wind farm - 85 kilometres off the cost of Groningen - will be formally opened on Monday afternoon, broadcaster NOS said.

The Gemini wind farm comprises 150 wind turbines and will generate enough electricity for 785,000 households. Work on the wind farm began in 2015 and the project has cost €2.8bn to complete.

The Netherlands already has three other offshore wind farms, generating combined power of almost 360 megawatts. The Gemini project produces 600 megawatts a year.

I'm not certain, but there might have been a few (missing) ET-folks involved in realising Gemini.

by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:56:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
85 Km off Groningen puts it just a few hundred metres offshore of Scarborough doesn't it?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 01:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes buts its EU electricity not UK.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 06:21:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh then May can annex it. How many destroyers do the Dutch have anyway?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 06:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not too many.

Still, Dutch - English naval battles go a long way back. :)

by Bjinse on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 08:48:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really. The Dutch coastline near Groningen runs East-West so "off the coast" implies due north, halfway to the median line between Danish and Dutch waters.

Groningen is about 300km away from the closest point of the UK coast.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 06:58:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet, the brexit negotiations have barely started. Things can change. ;-)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 9th, 2017 at 08:12:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Gemini project produces 600 megawatts a year.

Oh boy!! I weep at the nonsense journalists write. 600MW is a (peak) power output. You don't produce it "per year".

by oldremainmer48 on Sun May 14th, 2017 at 09:29:47 PM EST
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by generic on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 02:58:04 PM EST
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Did they count correctly?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed May 10th, 2017 at 03:26:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:53:54 PM EST
Massive ransomware cyber-attack hits 74 countries around the world - Guardian
A ransomware cyber-attack that may have originated from the theft of "cyber weapons" linked to the US government has hobbled hospitals in England and spread to countries across the world.

Security researchers with Kaspersky Lab have recorded more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries, including the UK, Russia, Ukraine, India, China, Italy, and Egypt. In Spain, major companies including telecommunications firm Telefónica were infected.

The malware was made available online on 14 April through a dump by a group called Shadow Brokers, which claimed last year to have stolen a cache of "cyber weapons" from the National Security Agency (NSA). At the time, there was skepticism about whether the group was exaggerating the scale of its hack.

On Twitter, whistleblower Edward Snowden blamed the NSA.

"If @NSAGov had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened," he said.

by Bernard on Fri May 12th, 2017 at 11:01:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Snowden's logic is impeccable here. The problem is that the NSA and other government agencies prioitize extracting the last bit of utility from dangerous software for their own use rather than using that knowledge to help the ROW protect itself. There HAS to ba a better balance.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 13th, 2017 at 04:31:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently the Conservative government cut the budget for OS updates in the NHS.

by generic on Sun May 14th, 2017 at 08:43:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:53:57 PM EST
by Bjinse on Mon May 8th, 2017 at 08:54:01 PM EST

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