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

Goodbye Arlene Foster

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 01:49:02 PM EST

Such has been the DUP's reputation for incompetence under leader Arlene Foster that many might make the mistake of seeing her departure as a positive development. However what finally broke the back of her support within the party is not the many scandals under her tenure - the collapse of Northern Ireland's power sharing executive in 2017, the loss of the unionist majority at Stormont, or the intense scrutiny of a judicial inquiry into her stewardship of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. It was her decision to abstain rather than vote against a Stormont motion condemning "gay conversion" therapies that ensured her demise.

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Why Fear Deficits?

by ARGeezer Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 03:21:10 AM EST

Depressions usually start with a contraction of the money supply. In 1929 that contraction occurred in the fall, just when money needed to come out of the stock market so it could be used to transport crops to market. But the stock market was in a speculative bubble and this demand to sell stocks for cash caused the bubble to collapse.

 In 2008 there was a massive bubble in securities backed by real estate. When it was discovered that the assets backing most of these securities was only worth 60% of their face value, and that most banks and financial institutions had lots of these securities on their books all confidence in the financial system collapsed. Banks would not lend to other banks. Money Market funds 'broke the buck', letters of credit needed  for the export market ceased to be honored and the entire payment clearance system in the USA and the world froze.  

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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Hiding behind a sofa: European hypocrisy

by Bernard Mon Apr 19th, 2021 at 06:26:45 PM EST

Coming back to the infamous "sofagate" incident after two weeks, there are still a couple of points that look important and are worth pointing out.

First, cui bono? There are good arguments that the snub wasn't deliberate because (1) Erdogan had nothing to gain from humiliating VDL and the EU, and (2) Turkey wanted to cool down the relations that had gone quite tense with EU countries like Greece or Cyprus (or even France), and discuss more concrete things like customs union, which is very important for Turkey. The former Turkey ambassador to the EU blames the faux-pas on "on inexperience and a lack of institutional memory on both sides."

Then again, the opposite view is that Erdogan did humiliate the EU because he could and would never do that to, say, Merkel. In any case, there could have been a mixture of both, actually.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Time for Unionists to grow up

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 15th, 2021 at 03:17:03 PM EST

Peter Cardwell is an author and journalist and former special adviser to two Conservative secretaries of state for Northern Ireland. He lost his job as special adviser to the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor at the Ministry of Justice in a Boris Johnson cabinet reshuffle last year, and was previously special adviser to then Tory NI secretary of state James Brokenshire between 2016 and 2018.

The Irish Times has given him space to pen his view that "Unionism [is] not emotionally ready for conversation about united Ireland" in the latest of a long series of opinion pieces it has published from British and unionist sources, most of which have received a scathing reception from the Irish Times commentariat. I have written a long letter to the editor in response:

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EU must decide if it wants to be taken seriously

by Frank Schnittger Sat Apr 10th, 2021 at 09:37:01 PM EST

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The Future of the GOP

by ARGeezer Sun Apr 4th, 2021 at 11:08:32 AM EST

One of my thoughtful conservative FB friends thinks the election results in 2020 are a bit of a fluke and that the Republicans will come back strong in '22 and '24. I beg to differ.

The problem for the GOP is that their base remains loyal to Trump, while four years of Trump soured enough voters to cost the GOP the presidency. Under Trump the GOP SHRUNK its base. Meanwhile Trump keeps being Trump and his core support, older white voters, predominantly male,   remains strong. That base will deliver him victories in most of the states of the old confederacy along with the plains states from Oklahoma to N. Dakota. Not enough to win the Electoral College.

Worse, Georgia can no longer be counted as solid Republican and Texas is coming into play, both for the Presidency and the House and Senate. If Beto O'Rourke runs against Gregg Abbot for Governor of Texas in '22 he could well win after Abbot's conduct during the blizzard, and Texas could vote Democratic in '24. If that happens and O'Rourke carries at least one house of the legislature with him, and Texas turns blue, not just purple, it is much more likely that Texas would vote for the Democrat for President in '24 and it is game over for the GOP as a national party.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Looking for a scapegoat

by Frank Schnittger Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 10:42:55 AM EST

The vaccine roll-out has been a bit of a disaster for the EU, so obviously somebody has to be at fault. In the infantile world of much modern politics it's all about finding a scapegoat and it looks like the Irish government has decided that Ursula Von Der Leyen would be a good candidate for the role. Former UK Conservative party Leader and Brexiteer, William Hague, has described Ursula von der Leyen's time as president of the European Commission as "among the most dismal in its existence" and he clearly has the EU's best interests at heart. I have drafted a letter to the editor as follows:

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How Green is Ireland's Farming?

by Frank Schnittger Sun Mar 21st, 2021 at 09:45:16 PM EST

In 2019 the Irish Government announced the formation of a "stakeholder committee" to develop Ireland's Agri-Food Strategy to 2030. This included the great and the good in the agribusiness community plus some public service agency heads and representatives of the Farmers and Fishermen's associations. Representatives of the "environmental and food safety perspectives" were only appointed afterwards and their contributions studiously ignored to the point where the environmental representative felt obliged to resign.  Hence my letter to the editor below:

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Irish economy disengages from Britain

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 08:16:58 PM EST


Annualised GDP growth per Quarter

Despite Brexit and the Pandemic, the Irish economy is predicted to record the highest growth rate in the world in 2020 thanks to a heavy concentration of pharma and medtech companies in the economy. Current projections for 2021 and 2022 are for continued growth in the 3-4% range. Gross GDP figures are, of course, hugely inflated by the activities of global corporations in the economy, but these % growth rates are on a like for like basis.

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Will Rutte's Falsehoods Catch Up With Him?

by Oui Tue Mar 16th, 2021 at 02:10:21 PM EST

[Update-1]

Unexpectedly, not to my surprise, the BIG lie caught up with caretaker PM Mark Rutte ...

The End of Mark Rutte? | April 1, 2021 |

Trust eroded badly from pre-election 54% to 25% today 😡

END OF UPDATE

In recent weeks the Liberal Freedom Party VVD lost the equivalent of 10 seats in polling from a record high of 43 seats. Mark Rutte back on Earth.

Conservative Dutch leader has a long list of mismanagement in government during his tenure of 10 years.

The most serious for me is the obfuscation, his secrecy in decision making and withholding crucial information from Parliament - de Tweede Kamer. This deficit has been named the Rutte Doctrine.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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British Empire and Silencing Dissent

by Oui Sun Mar 14th, 2021 at 09:26:44 AM EST

In the week of Women's Rights ...

#ClaphamCommon #ReclaimTheseStreets

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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The British Empire and Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 01:31:14 AM EST


The British Empire and Ireland

A chara, - Professor Nigel Biggar writes: "If colonialists can `other' the natives, essentialising them into contemptible stereotypes, nationalists, too, can `other' the imperialists." This is a classic case of "both sides do it" as if there is an equivalence between the actions of the oppressor and the oppressed. The slave is not equally guilty of slavery as the slaver, even if he has reconciled himself to his fate, and ends up working for his enslaver.


The Irish literary and language revival was an act of opposition to colonial rule, not an expression of it, as Prof Biggar seems to imply. The fact that there were many outstanding individuals, some earning their living as servants of the empire, who did not subscribe to the "imperial project" and indeed ameliorated its worst effects, does not alter the fact that the main thrust of UK government imperial policy was one of domination and suppression.

History is complex, with many interwoven narratives, but to try to obscure its main thrust with anecdotes about those few people who swam against the tide is hardly an "ethical remembering". It demeans the achievements of those who stood out against the worst aspects of imperialism and uses them to justify or mitigate the acts of its worst perpetrators. Far from constituting a balanced historiography, it is a shocking washing of hands by a professor of moral theology. - Is mise,

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Fool me once, shame on you...

by Frank Schnittger Sat Mar 6th, 2021 at 02:08:59 AM EST

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The UK government had already threatened to break international law with its Internal Markets Bill and was dissuaded from doing so only by the signing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Now the UK government is trying the same trick with the Northern Ireland Protocol - announcing unilateral changes without going through the joint committee set up to oversee its operation. Apparently Lord Frost, ex UK Brexit negotiator and recently promoted to Boris Johnson's cabinet, has decided that the way to deal with the EU is to play hardball, and the EU will fold. That worked so well for him last time!

Paul Johnson, UK ambassador to Ireland, had a letter published in the Irish Times yesterday arguing that the UK approach was perfectly legal and indeed was required to deal with the "problems being experienced in the everyday life of communities" and to "ensure cross-community support."

The response of Irish Times letter writers has been to laugh him out of court, although I have tried to address the argument point by point in my letter published today:

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Protect Democracy, join the Fediverse!

by Luis de Sousa Sun Feb 28th, 2021 at 06:04:05 PM EST

The ruse between the two most powerful people in the world, Mark Zuckerberg and Rupert Murdoch, recently got a bit out of hand. Perhaps it was just a choreography mishap, but Zuckerberg became upset with the preference shown by the Australia government towards its countryman media mogul. The parry was nothing short of spectacular, for almost a week Facebook blocked all news websites in Australia and many of the government's pages, including those from health authorities publishing information on the COVID pandemic.

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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Those whom the gods wish to destroy...

by Frank Schnittger Tue Feb 23rd, 2021 at 11:24:58 AM EST

"Those whom the gods wish to destroy...they first make mad" is an apt description of N. Ireland unionists theses days. David Trimble, Arlene Foster and a rake of DUP luminaries are going all out to try and bring down the N. Ireland protocol - having welcomed it when Boris first announced his deal last year. Legal actions are threatened together with dark mutterings of loyalist unrest. It doesn't seem to have dawned on them that it is part of an international treaty which cannot be unilaterally abrogated, although, sadly, the European Commission may have given them that idea. The Irish Times has published my letter on the subject... (fourth letter down and see below).

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Astra Zeneca UK contract signed day after EU

by Frank Schnittger Sat Feb 20th, 2021 at 04:52:24 PM EST

CNN is reporting that the contracts signed by Astra Zeneca with the UK and the EU are essentially the same, and both contain the "best efforts" clause Astra Zeneca has used in an attempt to weasel out of its contractual commitments to the EU. But the real bombshell is that it appears that the UK contract was signed the day after the EU contract, and not 3 months before, as AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot has claimed.

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National Myths [Updated]

by Frank Schnittger Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 02:43:12 PM EST

Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland, is an old time socialist, university lecturer, sociologist, and poet from the left wing of the Labour Party. The role of President is largely a ceremonial one but he is following a relatively distinguished line of succession from Mary Robinson to Mary McAleese in taking an activist approach to the office and promoting gender and civil liberty issues. What these Presidents have in common is a rejection of simplistic nationalist myths and an abhorrence of violence for achieving political goals.

He has recently written an an op-ed in the Guardian in which he invited UK readers to share in his project of re-examining the myths of nationalism and imperialism and how they still shape our lives today. His piece provoked a vituperative anti-Irish response in the Daily Telegraph "The Irish president has a cheek lecturing Britons about history" and a chiding by Irish Times Columnist, Finn McRedmond, "Are we really entitled to lecture Britain about remembering?".

[Update]:The Irish Times has published an edited version of my letter in response under the headline Lecturing Britain about remembering?

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Submission on Irish Unification

by Frank Schnittger Sun Feb 14th, 2021 at 02:49:33 PM EST

The Constitution Unit at University College London has set up a working group comprised of 12 experts based at universities in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, and the United States, to examine how any future referendums on whether Northern Ireland should stay in the United Kingdom or become part of a united Ireland would best be designed and conducted. They have issued an interim report and executive summary here.

Their starting point is the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which states that:

it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement is light on the detail of how such referendums should be organised, and the interim report seeks to explore the options in this regard. I have submitted a response to the interim report as follows:

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Europhilia does not equal Anglophobia

by Frank Schnittger Fri Feb 5th, 2021 at 02:09:04 AM EST

Brexiteers generally have been puzzled and annoyed at Ireland's failure to follow the UK out of the EU. They have been especially irritated at the problems the "Irish border" has created for them getting the clean break from the EU that they wanted. That problem would have disappeared had Ireland, too, decided to leave the EU. Nigel Farage even came to Ireland to campaign for "Irexit", and his ex-communications director, Hermann Kelly, got all of 2,441 votes or 0.67% of the total in the Dublin Constituency in the European Elections in 2019.

But it isn't just Brexiteers who find Ireland's apparent Europhilia irritating and annoying. Newton Emerson, a Northern Ireland unionist and Irish Times columnist who voted Remain has just written a column entitled Unionism to squander opportunity presented by EU blunder in which he conflates Irish Europhilia with Anglophobia. Apparently it is inconceivable for even a moderate unionist to think of Irish people who support EU membership as doing so for any reason other than hatred of Britain.

Naturally I felt compelled to set him straight in a letter published in the Irish Times:(fourth letter down)

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Learning from a Pandemic

by Frank Schnittger Thu Feb 4th, 2021 at 01:14:00 AM EST

The Irish Times: EU and vaccination

A chara,- A sub-committee of the European Commission makes a rushed decision in the middle of a crisis to try and ensure that vaccines are not being exported out of the EU in breach of the pharmaceutical companies' contractual commitments to its own vaccination programme.


When the serious implications of one aspect of the proposal are pointed out to it, it admits its mistake, and changes the decision. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the commission, takes full responsibility for the mistake and commits to ensuring it doesn't happen again. What more can we expect of our leaders? If only it were always so.

Healthcare provision is generally a national competency within the EU, and this is the first time the commission has taken the lead role in EU-wide vaccine procurement. In doing so it has helped us to avoid the kind of toxic vaccine nationalism which has broken out between the UK and the EU also breaking out between member states of the EU.

If that had happened, you can be sure that Ireland, as a smaller member state without our own vaccine manufacturing capability, would have been paying top-dollar prices at the back of the queue.

We have all learned a lot about managing a pandemic, and still have a lot to learn. Making mistakes is part of that process. It's how you recover from a mistake that matters. - Yours, etc,

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News and Views

 May 2021

by Bernard - May 2, 27 comments

Your take on this month's news

 April 2021

by Bernard - Apr 4, 126 comments

Your take on this month's news

 May-June Open Thread

by Bernard - May 2, 5 comments

No one is safe until everyone is safe.

 March-April Open Thread

by Bernard - Mar 14, 26 comments

Waiting for spring... and for vaccines.

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