Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Soaring Charges

by Frank Schnittger Sat Nov 26th, 2022 at 09:00:33 AM EST

Electric cars - charging ahead? Destroying the incentive, Sat Nov 26 2022


A chara, - They say one should never waste a good crisis and the ESB [Irish state owned Electricity Supply Board] seems intent on not doing so by adding an up to 67 per cent price increase on top of a previous 47 per cent price increase last May at public electric vehicle charge points.

This is despite a 37 per cent decrease in wholesale electricity prices since last September and a 52 per cent decrease since September 2022 and brings the cost of electricity up to a level comparable to diesel ("Electric vehicle charging to match cost of diesel after 67 per cent further hike", News, November 24th).

With electric car prices still far beyond the reach of most car buyers, this destroys the one incentive we had to go electric, the reduced cost of running one, which could offset the increased repayments required to finance the purchase.

With the purchase of electric vehicles already far below the Government targets required to achieve our greenhouse gas emissions reductions, this latest increase seems designed to sabotage any chance we ever had of meeting those targets.

Buying an electric vehicle now only makes sense if you have a private charge point and large solar panel installation, which excludes the vast majority of the population.

Once again, the Green Party seems to be asleep at the wheel with the Minister for Energy already having allowed swingeing increases in road tolls at a time of booming revenues for toll operators due to increased traffic volumes.

What planet does Eamon Ryan live on? - Is mise,

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Unionism's learned helplessness

by Frank Schnittger Fri Nov 25th, 2022 at 11:14:31 AM EST

Letter to the Editor, Irish Times Fri Nov 25 2022.

A chara, - Newton Emerson is to be congratulated on his forensic analysis of taoiseach-in-waiting Leo Varadkar's speech to the Fine Gael ardfheis ("What Varadkar didn't say about the North in his ardfheis speech was revealing", Opinion & Analysis, November 24th).


But his analysis, written from a unionist perspective, also highlights some flaws of his own.

Apparently, it is the incoming taoiseach's responsibility to fix the protocol, complete the Narrow Water bridge project, and build a motorway through Northern Ireland to service the northwest.

All of these aspirations and projects are laudable, and should indeed be completed, but nowhere in his analysis does your columnist mention any contribution unionists might make to their realisation.

It is this sense of learned helplessness which characterises much of what passes for political debate in Northern Ireland.

It is always someone else's responsibility to resolve their problems, whether that someone else be based in London, Brussels or Dublin.

Perhaps help from these quarters would be more forthcoming and effective if unionists and others in Northern Ireland were to become more proactive in resolving their own problems?

It often seems that any help given now will only be used to prolong internal conflicts and antagonisms with almost no recognition given to the bone fide efforts of others to be of assistance. - Is mise,

Goodbye Mr. Musk

by Frank Schnittger Mon Nov 7th, 2022 at 06:31:02 PM EST

I have just deactivated my Twitter account. I wish I could delete it completely. I don't want to be part of the Musk rat shit show.  Perhaps I will join Mastodon or similar platform, but for the moment I don't feel a pressing need to do so. I hope I don't have to leave Facebook as well. It all depends on how they treat their employees. Firing 50% of your employees, including entire human rights and content curation teams, is not a good look. Doing so by email and shutting off employees' access to their accounts and desks overnight should just be plain illegal. I will not be part of such abusive behaviour. Goodbye Elon. I won't be buying a Tesla either!

Comments >> (81 comments)

Reinventing Collapse

by gmoke Sun Oct 16th, 2022 at 03:47:36 AM EST

Reinventing Collapse:  The Soviet Example and American Prospects by Dmitry Orlov

Gabriola Island, BC, Canada:  New Society Publishers, 2008
ISBN:  978-0-86571-606-3

(page 5)  Wars take resources;  when resources are already scarce, fighting wars over resources becomes a lethal exercise in futility.  Those with more resources would be expected to win.  I am not arguing that wars over resources will not occur.  I am suggesting that they will be futile, and that victory in these conflicts will be barely distinguishable from defeat.

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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A Tale of two Budgets

by Frank Schnittger Mon Oct 3rd, 2022 at 09:54:58 AM EST

The contrast between how the recent budgets in the UK and Ireland have been received by the markets and the general public couldn't be greater and tells us much about where the respective economies are currently at. (Let us ignore the distinction that the UK budget was officially dubbed a "Fiscal Event" rather than a formal budget. That euphemism has uncomfortable resonance with the Russian "Special Operation" rather than invasion of Ukraine).

In Britain £45 Billion in unfunded tax cuts and 120 Billion in energy price cap expenditures was greeted with dismay by the markets, who lost trust in the UK's debt expansion trajectory. The Pound slumped, shares crashed, and, most crucially, pension funds were at risk of becoming insolvent as their holdings in government debt - normally the safest of investments - went underwater.  The Bank of England was forced to intervene with an emergency programme of buying up £65 Billion in government debt from private investors now unwilling to hold it.

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Sweden falls to the Nazis

by IdiotSavant Thu Sep 15th, 2022 at 12:59:25 AM EST

Swedes went to the polls over the weekend, and after a tight count, appear to have elected a Nazi-coalition government. The right-bloc has a three-seat majority, and the neo-Nazi Sweden Democrats are the largest party within that bloc. And to gain power of course the "moderate" centre-right parties are willing to snuggle up with them to form a government. Oh, they won't have them in Cabinet - that would be going too far (for the moment) - but they're willing to rely on their support, and pay whatever policy price is required to get it. Which means Sweden is going to become a lot more racist, to keep the rich rich.

Frontpaged - Bernard

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Brexit has killed the peace process

by Frank Schnittger Fri Sep 2nd, 2022 at 01:07:55 PM EST

The Irish News (second letter down)

Brexit has killed the peace process

The DUP are boycotting Stormont because of their opposition to the Protocol which was actually agreed to by the UK government, parliament and people as part of Boris Johnson's fantastic oven-ready deal.

Only Westminster has the power to renegotiate the Protocol with the EU, so should the DUP not be boycotting Westminster instead? Why hold the people of Northern Ireland hostage over a Protocol to a treaty they had no hand, act or part in devising or agreeing?

The cynic might suggest the DUP's real motivation is trying to avoid having to serve with a Sinn Féin First Minister.

Their failure to do so also gives cover to the UK government's claim that their Northern Ireland Protocol Bill is necessary to protect the peace process, when in reality it is little more than a ransom payment to reward those who have kidnapped the peace process.

The truth is the hostage is now dead. Brexit has killed the peace process and loyalists are mobilising to protect the union with Britain against an emerging majority for re-unification, as shown in the recent LucidTalk poll.

The internal devolved solution to providing democratic legitimacy to Northern Ireland has failed and we are back to the bad old days of armed resistance.

Loyalist organisations have been associated with recent riots, bus burnings and a bomb threat against [Irish Foreign Minister] Simon Coveney. Recent Tory governments have a lot to answer for.

Comments >> (11 comments)

The IRA war was a failure (Extended Edition)

by Frank Schnittger Mon Aug 22nd, 2022 at 08:50:27 PM EST

[I have added a few paragraphs towards the end discussing what political gains "the War" did achieve, even if they didn't achieve their central war aim, and what the implications are for Loyalist violence now. This post is due to be published on Slugger O'Toole tomorrow, 26/08.]

Various posts on Slugger O'Toole by founding editor, Mick Fealty and many others, most recently by Brian Walker in "Leave futile arguments about equivalence aside. We all need to come clean about why the Troubles lasted so unforgivably long" have asked us to re-examine culpability for the Troubles and the need to let the healing process proceed through a truth recovery process.

Despite their best efforts, the ensuing conversations have always descended into a welter of "whataboutery" and the sins of the other side. The attribution of relative fault and guilt between the various actors in that drama is always going to be a fraught exercise. Any historical narrative will always have to weave a complex web of action and reaction which is always open to challenge.

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Five ways to scrap the protocol

by Frank Schnittger Sat Aug 20th, 2022 at 07:50:51 AM EST

The UK has refused to engage with extensive proposals from the EU to introduce an "Express Lane" for goods intended only for consumption in N. Ireland, and to radically reduce the amount of paperwork associated with phytosanitary controls. The Joint EU UK committee to oversee the workings of the protocol hasn't even met since last February.

Instead, the UK has gone for a "maximalist" position passing legislation in the Commons to give Ministers the power to disapply large parts of an international Treaty, remove the oversight of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and strip the N. Ireland Assembly of the power to vote on the continuance of the operation of the protocol on a regular basis.

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"Fixing" the N. Ireland Protocol

by Frank Schnittger Fri Aug 12th, 2022 at 11:15:41 PM EST

 
Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionist party, has recently had two articles published here and here on Slugger O'Toole, the leading independent political blog in N. Ireland. In them he makes all the right noises about having the courage the make the right decisions, rather than the popular ones, and working together for the betterment of all living and working in Northern Ireland.

But his articles are also a policy free zone, making no specific proposals for moving the current impasse over the protocol forward, and blaming the DUP and Sinn Fein for the current dysfunctionality of N. Ireland politics. He is in danger of getting a reputation for talking the talk, while making no positive contribution to the lives of ordinary people whatsoever.

So I have taken it upon myself to suggest to him one positive action he could take which might also restore some credibility and relevance to the Ulster Unionist Party he leads. I am not waiting with baited breath to see him action my proposal, but at least it has the merit of calling his bluff.

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Planning for a United Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Mon Aug 1st, 2022 at 01:45:13 PM EST

I had the pleasure of attending the John Hewitt summer school in Armagh last week. It is named after a deceased radical protestant poet in N. Ireland and hosts talks on the arts, culture and politics. One contributor was Andy Pollak, and you can read an account of his talk entitled "The South is not ready for unification" here, where it is getting a fairly ferocious response.

I felt that Andy was at least half right in his analysis, and deserving of a more balanced critique. I thus felt inspired to write the response below:

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Farewell, ARGeezer

by Migeru Sun Jul 3rd, 2022 at 01:17:09 PM EST

Three weeks ago, ET old-timer (in more ways than one: he had been around for nearly 15 years, and he considered himself an old man already then) ARGeezer passed away.

Please use this as a memorial thread.

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Will Sinn Fein Bail Boris Out?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jun 15th, 2022 at 07:23:17 PM EST

The UK government, including Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Attorney General Suella Braverman have justified the anti-Protocol Bill on the grounds that it is necessary to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to pre-empt loyalist violence. It will do this, apparently, by coaxing the DUP into the assembly which was only elected weeks ago.

However, there is no suggestion it will persuade the DUP to actually allow the formation of an executive, which would entail it losing the First Minister post and another Ministry under the d'Hondt formula because of the seats it lost in the election. According to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, this is dependent on the legislation actually being passed, something which could take well over a year, assuming all intervening parliamentary hurdles can be cleared.

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jun 10th, 2022 at 10:01:48 AM EST

Boris Johnson is reported to be delaying the publication of the Bill to over-ride parts of the protocol until such time as the DUP agree to the election of a Speaker in the Assembly. The DUP is refusing to proceed until they see the contents of the Bill and ensure that it directly over-rides the Protocol and doesn't merely give the power to Ministers to do so at some stage of their choosing.

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The Teflon de Pfeffel Johnson

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 6th, 2022 at 10:00:12 PM EST


Theresa May was gone within 6 months of having won a vote of confidence by a greater margin than Boris Johnson (63% vs. 59% support). But under the Tory Party rules, he cannot now be challenged in a vote of confidence for another 12 months, regardless of how badly the Tories do in the meantime.

A large majority, c. 170 of the 211 who voted for Johnson, are on his payroll and beholden to him for their jobs. It can be remarkably difficult to persuade people of the necessity of a certain course of action when their salaries depend on their not acknowledging that necessity. And, of course, the normal rules of political accountability don't apply to Boris Johnson.

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Chronicle of a Foretold Election: A Third Round?

by Bernard Mon Jun 6th, 2022 at 09:16:03 PM EST

Last April, we've had the two rounds of French Presidential elections. It was presented as a cliffhanger between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and Extreme-Right challenger Marine Le Pen. In the end, it wasn't even close: On April 24, Macron was re-elected 58% to 42% for Marine Le Pen.

But what about that so-called "third round" I've been mentioning since my first diary on the subject?

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 12 (first round) and 19 (second round). Even within the "presidential" regime of the French Fifth Republic, the president needs a majority at the Parliament to support his Cabinet: the National Assembly can overthrow the Cabinet with a censure motion.

This is where things can get interesting: when the president fails to get or looses the majority at the National Assembly, he has no choice but to appoint a leader from the new parliamentary majority as Prime Minister - a configuration called "cohabitation".

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Irish Neutrality and military alliances

by Frank Schnittger Tue May 24th, 2022 at 01:22:29 AM EST

The Irish Times: Neutrality and military alliances

A chara, - It has often been noted that generals tend to fight the battles of today with the weapons and strategies of the last war. Russia may be finding this out to its cost in the Ukraine.


Critics of Ireland's policy of neutrality and relative lack of military capability tend to call for us to join Nato or else to expend many billions of euro on fighters, tanks and ships to develop an independent capability to defend ourselves. /cont.

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Interim French government named

by eurogreen Sun May 22nd, 2022 at 01:30:55 PM EST

After a comical period of suspense, when the annoncement of a new Prime Minister (which leaked rumours promised would be a woman and an ecologist) and of a government, were repeatedly pushed back (as various people apparently turned the job down), Macron finally nominated Elisabeth Borne, a classic technocrat, reputedly from the left because she had worked for PS ministers; reputedly ecologist because she had worked for Ségolène Royal!

In any case, as with the selection of Macron's parliamentary candidates, nobody is under any illusions as to her autonomy or personal agency. Everyone does whatever the boss thinks is a good idea at the time; that is the definition of Macronism.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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At last, a progressive Australian government?

by eurogreen Sat May 21st, 2022 at 06:15:09 PM EST

Scott Morrison has conceded, Anthony Albanese has claimed victory.

At the time of writing, it's not clear whether the Australian Labor Party has an outright majority in the lower house of Parliament, but they will certainly find one by enrolling Greens and independents.. In the Senate, there is a clear ALP/Green majority. Overall, the two-party system is clearly weakened, with Greens and, "teals" (blue/green independents) making big gains.

He will be judged on results, but new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese seems set to be the most progressive Prime Minister since... Gough Whitlam in 1972.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Time to wield the big stick

by Frank Schnittger Wed May 18th, 2022 at 10:43:24 AM EST

The Boris Johnson government has once again signalled its intention to break international law and its treaty obligations to the EU by introducing domestic legislation to over-ride parts of the protocol and to annul the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over protocol related matters. This is in addition to its current unilateral and illegal extension of grace periods on protocol implementation and its failure to honour agreements on data sharing and building facilities for goods inspections.

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News and Views

 November 2022

by Bernard - Nov 1, 234 comments

Your take on this month's news


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