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Hungary and the EU

by Frank Schnittger Wed Apr 6th, 2022 at 11:38:39 PM EST

The Irish Times: Hungary and the EU

A chara, - Hungary and Serbia have just elected Putin allies into government. That is their democratic right, even if the elections weren't conducted by fully democratic means. However, there is no reason why the EU should tolerate a state of affairs whereby EU money is funnelled to the cronies of oligarchic leaders who give aid and comfort to our enemies. Any discussions about Serbia joining the EU should now end.


The EU should also invite Viktor Orban to trigger Article 50 and leave the EU. Failing that, the EU should trigger the enhanced cooperation mechanisms for fully supportive and democratic EU member states. A bit like the Euro Group, which only includes euro zone members, these mechanisms enable further cooperation between willing states over and beyond what countries like Hungary are willing to support.

Any incremental EU spend should only be directed through this "new enhanced cooperation" EU. Gradually, as the "new" EU develops, it can shed the "old" EU, Hungary included, as so much dead skin. The current EU budget could be the last, with all new shared funding being directed through the new EU. The new EU should also have greater enforcement powers for European Court of Justice decisions, and more use of weighted majority voting, to prevent one or two members holding the rest to ransom.

It's time we stopped faffing around with would-be dictators who undermine the democratic freedoms of EU citizens. When it comes to an existential crisis like Ukraine, we need to be clear on who is for and against the development of a greater and more democratic EU. It is clear that Putin (who supported Brexit) and his supporters are now our enemies. It's time the whole structure and membership of the EU reflected that. - Is mise,

Discuss...

Comments >> (12 comments)

Russian war aims in Ukraine

by Frank Schnittger Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 06:23:45 PM EST

As the Ukraine war progresses there has been much confusion over what Russia's real war aims are especially as these appear to have changed as the realities of fierce fighting on the ground have caused them to re-group. Yesterday RIA Novosti, a Russian state media outlet, published a lengthy piece by Timofey Sergeytsev entitled What should Russia do with Ukraine outlining their war aims. (h/t - Andy Thornton). What follows below  are some of the highlights in an English translation of the full article.

Read more... (61 comments, 402 words in story)

Hungarian elections: Putin's man in Europe survives

by IdiotSavant Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 04:53:45 AM EST

Hungary went to the polls today in parliamentary elections, in which would-be dictator Viktor Orbán - Putin's man in Europe - was facing a unified opposition for the first time since taking power in 2010. Unfortunately, it didn't go well:

Frontpaged - Bernard

Read more... (12 comments, 330 words in story)

Chronicle of a Foretold Election

by Bernard Sat Apr 2nd, 2022 at 08:47:16 PM EST

The title of this diary is, of course, totally stolen from a well known Colombian novelist, Nobel prize in literature.

This April, there will be elections in several European countries, starting Sunday, April 3, with general elections in both Serbia and Hungary. Also, parliamentary elections in Slovenia will take place on April 24 - Polls often take place on Sundays on the European continent.

Since I don't know much about the Hungarian, Serbian or Slovenian politics, I will focus on the upcoming French presidential elections instead:

  • First round is scheduled for Sunday April 10: there are twelve candidates, including the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron.
  • Second round is scheduled for Sunday April 24: the two candidates with the most votes at the end of the first round, will enter a run-off second round.

Read more... (45 comments, 1200 words in story)

A new phase in the Ukraine war?

by eurogreen Tue Mar 29th, 2022 at 04:26:30 PM EST

Over the past few days, the positions of the belligerants seem to have become largely fixed : the Russians are no longer advancing; the many simultaneous sieges of Ukrainian cities seem to make little progress; the Ukrainian army even seems to be advancing in certain regions. Movement of Russian troops indicate consolidation or even retreat.

Serious negotiations are in progress in Turkey, and this afternoon :

Russia's deputy defence minister, Alexander Fomin, said Moscow had decided to "radically reduce military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv" in order to "increase mutual trust" and create the right conditions to sign a peace deal with Ukraine.

Add your news, interpretations, predictions, opinions. Is there finally an end in sight? And what will the post_war world look like?

Frontpaged - Bernard

Comments >> (49 comments)

The determinants of N. Ireland's political future

by Frank Schnittger Tue Mar 22nd, 2022 at 05:12:15 PM EST

Debate about the constitutional future of N. Ireland tends to revolve around internal factors like demographic trends, relative economic advantage, and the dysfunctional state of current political arrangements. But N. Ireland doesn't exist in a vacuum and may also be subject to the influence of trends in global, European, British and Irish politics and economics more generally. In this discussion I want to focus on these external factors, and their influence on N. Ireland, rather than on the economic, social and political changes that are taking place within N. Ireland itself.

These external factors may be broadly summarised as follows:

1.    Economic and political globalisation
2.    The growing heft and influence of Ireland and the Irish diaspora.
3.    Economic integration and "Ever closer union" within the EU
4.    The rise of English, Scottish and Welsh nationalism
5.    A return to "the sick man of Europe" for the post Brexit UK economy?

Read more... (10 comments, 3805 words in story)

NUCLEAR THREAT M.A.D.

by Oui Mon Mar 14th, 2022 at 11:57:39 AM EST

So we are now reading more articles how the West can survive a limited nuclear war in Ukraine. Human Kind cannot stoop any lower. The paid jobs in so-called "Think-Tanks" apparently are just for war hawks and fascist element in society today. Have been warning for such a development for over a decade now. It's a tragedy to see the worst case scenarios evolve into reality.

Research by RIVM for health effects of a nuclear bomb exploding over the Ukraine ☹

Detonation of a Nuclear Bomb on Ukraine, The Netherlands Will Hardly Notice Any Effect

Has it come to this? - Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (105 comments, 2255 words in story)

A "Cleary Defensive" Deployment

by Frank Schnittger Tue Mar 1st, 2022 at 01:00:59 AM EST

War in Europe - Russia's assault on Ukraine (Seventh letter down)

A chara, - We are indebted to our MEPs Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Luke "Ming" Flanagan, and Sinn Féin's Chris MacManus for voting against a European Parliament motion condemning the Russian build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border, a vote which was passed by 548 to 69. Mick Wallace and Clare Daly justified their vote on the basis that the Russian troop deployment was "clearly defensive". Perhaps Mick Wallace and Clare Daly could treat us to another one of their famous taxpayer-funded "fact-finding" missions to Kiev to see how Russia's self-defence deployment there is going. No doubt Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will greet them with open arms and show them at first-hand what a Russian defensive deployment looks like. - Is mise,

Read more... (120 comments, 511 words in story)

Russia attacks Ukraine - Open thread

by fjallstrom Thu Feb 24th, 2022 at 08:47:47 AM EST

After months of US claiming that Russia was going to invade Ukraine, it appears to have happened tonight. There are reports of explosions and troops landing in many parts of Ukraine, including the capital.

This is an open thread, add your news and views.

Frontpaged - Bernard

Comments >> (209 comments)

The Benefits of Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Sun Feb 6th, 2022 at 03:09:53 PM EST

The `benefits' of Brexit

On the same day that Boris Johnson was dismissing multiple calls on him to resign after Sue Gray's "Partygate" synopsis, the UK's cabinet office quietly slipped out a 105 page document called "The Benefits of Brexit". It was almost as if it didn't want anyone to read how exactly Britain was "capitalising" on its exit from the EU. So which dividends was it trumpeting?

Read more... (12 comments, 1043 words in story)

Clever devices

by Frank Schnittger Fri Feb 4th, 2022 at 01:46:14 PM EST

Published in the Irish News as its lead letter:

‘Clever devices' may not be the sole preserve of Donaldson's DUP

Writing in the Irish Times, Newton Emerson notes that Jeffrey Donaldson has brought in [former DUP leader] Peter Robinson as an adviser, as he is allegedly good at coming up with "clever devices". (When will the DUP level with the public? Opinion & Analysis, 27th. January). The new strategy apparently involves the DUP collapsing the institutions after the May assembly election if they don't get their way on the Protocol. However, clever devices may not be the sole preserve of the DUP. /cont.

Read more... (4 comments, 463 words in story)

My Bloody Sunday

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jan 30th, 2022 at 03:31:09 PM EST

I'm republishing this diary, first published in 2010, on the 50th. anniversary of Bloody Sunday, one of the worst atrocities which kick started the war in N.Ireland.

(Now also available on Booman and in Orange where a member of the family of one of those killed has commented).

Bloody Sunday was for me one of those life defining events, to be remembered a bit like the day JFK was assassinated, Nelson Mandela was freed, and I first heard Neil Young's "Harvest" and "After the Gold Rush" holed up in some Lexington, Virginia attic after some kind students had offered me a lift and a place to stay for the night as I was hitch-hiking my way down the east coast of America in 1973.

I was a student in Trinity College Dublin at the time of Bloody Sunday in 1972, not very happy with myself, my course, or the world into which I had been born. The world seemed to be a place where the powerful did more or less as they pleased, and the little people always got squashed. Paratroopers firing dum-dum bullets at unarmed civil rights marchers seemed to capture that feeling perfectly. I was enraged, and could do absolutely nothing about it.

Read more... (6 comments, 2119 words in story)

My Bloody Sunday 1972

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jan 30th, 2022 at 03:28:26 PM EST

I'm republishing this diary, first published in 2010, on the 50th. anniversary of Bloody Sunday, one of the worst atrocities which kick started the war in N.Ireland. (Now also available on Booman and in Orange where a member of the family of one of those killed has commented).

Bloody Sunday was for me one of those life defining events, to be remembered a bit like the day JFK was assassinated, Nelson Mandela was freed, and I first heard Neil Young's "Harvest" and "After the Gold Rush" holed up in some Lexington, Virginia attic after some kind students had offered me a lift and a place to stay for the night as I was hitch-hiking my way down the east coast of America in 1973.

I was a student in Trinity College Dublin at the time of Bloody Sunday in 1972, not very happy with myself, my course, or the world into which I had been born. The world seemed to be a place where the powerful did more or less as they pleased, and the little people always got squashed. Paratroopers firing dum-dum bullets at unarmed civil rights marchers seemed to capture that feeling perfectly. I was enraged, and could do absolutely nothing about it.

Read more... (25 comments, 2129 words in story)

US Ups Tension with Russia

by Oui Thu Jan 27th, 2022 at 06:38:20 AM EST

Update below with preliminary reaction from FM Lavrov … ultimate decision to President Putin after evaluation by his National Security team. ⤵️

A first thought as very little is known how the US answered the security questions of Russia put forward in mid-December.

  • Refuses to engage with points of national security concerns of Russia
  • Defers the military engagement to the NATO Command in Brussels
  • Puts the US fleet in the Mediterranean under NATO Command
  • In words offers a diplomatic way forward -- JCPOA Model perhaps a next President can refute
  • Increases lethal weapons delivery to non NATO member
  • Will impose sanctions on Germany to cut off Gazprom delivery of gas
  • Will engage to have US LNG delivery to Europe in the future

Offers Russia no off ramp as Washington gives military action a chance

No good options open to the Kremlin. The White House has handed Moscow building blocks for a new "Berlin Wall", further isolation, harsher sanctions and putting Russia in the corner of a pariah state. This would not have happened under a Trump presidency as the Ukraine was not a priority.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (189 comments, 1553 words in story)

Normal politics in N. Ireland?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jan 25th, 2022 at 05:57:51 PM EST

On Saturday a newspaper poll indicated that Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie was the most popular party leader in Northern Ireland. That evening he tweeted a joke about Edwin Poots and his wife which can at best be described as in poor taste. This drew attention to a series of derogatory tweets he had made over the past 10 years referring to women, Muslims, members of the Travelling community and people with mental health issues. He has offered to resign and if he does so, it will result in the fourth leader the UUP have had in just over 2 years, beating the record of the DUP in this regard.

Read more... (7 comments, 242 words in story)

Blinken Sounding Out EU Appetite for War

by Oui Mon Jan 24th, 2022 at 12:32:23 PM EST

War is imminent ... all signs are on RED alert. War rhetoric got a boost over the weekend and the Sunday Talk Shows.  Hear all arguments from historic non-value which have been debunked. Getting the people ready for extended hostilities in New Europe ... the Bucharest Nine in the lead with anti-Russia propaganda. Most Western EU nations will swallow the war bullshit. A decade of intensifying pressure on Russia ... we'll make Russia a pariah  state. Signed the NATO states of warmongers who got a second wind after the attacks on America by the Saudi jihadists of Osama Bin Laden ... grown in the shadow of Pakistan in the 1980s in Afghanistan. The nations responsible staying in the dark: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Success to get the former Soviet Union out of the Kingdom of Afghanistan, soon to be replaced by a young, idealistic Taliban regime. We are living in a dark chapter of a declining democracy as authoritarian and totalitarian regimes win space.

Twitter account NATO SG Jens Stoltenberg has gone silent over the weekend ...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (83 comments, 2665 words in story)

World Wide Electricity Super-grid

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jan 21st, 2022 at 12:32:48 PM EST

There has been much discussion of our electricity deficit and of the need to go nuclear to address the intermittency of wind and solar energy. However, fourth generation nuclear reactors, even if they prove to be safe and viable, won't be with us for many years, so we need to start now on a more immediate solution.

Read more... (44 comments, 289 words in story)

Mandatory vaccination

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jan 17th, 2022 at 12:45:50 PM EST

My letter in the Irish Times

Not allowing the unvaccinated into crowded places where the risks of cross-infection are high is no more onerous than not allowing the intoxicated, unlicensed, or uninsured to drive. It is done to protect the general public from a greater risk of harm. Entering a pub or stadium is no more a human right than driving a car.


Compulsory vaccination is likely to be a counter-productive policy with little benefit when over 90 per cent of the eligible population are voluntarily vaccinated in any case. But placing restrictions on where the unvaccinated can go is not an impairment of their human right to bodily integrity; it is a vindication of the human rights of others to be protected from unnecessary risk of harm.

Read more... (180 comments, 1000 words in story)

Political Sectaranism in Northern Ireland today

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jan 11th, 2022 at 11:53:50 PM EST

Unionist sense of entitlement still exerted in UK politics

In 1933 Basil Brooke, later Lord Brookeborough and Prime Minister of Northern Ireland said the following: "I appreciate the great difficulty experienced by some of them [Protestants and Orangemen] in procuring suitable Protestant labour, but I would point out that the Roman Catholics are endeavouring to get in everywhere and are out with all their force and might to destroy the power and constitution of Ulster."


A few days ago, in comments later endorsed by DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, former Labour minister Baroness Hoey wrote: "There are very justified concerns that many professional vocations have become dominated by those of a nationalist persuasion, and this positioning of activists is then used to exert influence on those in power".


Read more... (18 comments, 528 words in story)

Alcoholism and drink prices

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jan 10th, 2022 at 08:31:05 PM EST

Like nearly all countries, Ireland has an addiction problem with alcohol, smoking, prescribed drugs, illicit drugs and gambling the chief offenders. Many drugs addicts are "polydrug" abusers, consuming alcohol, prescribed drugs or whatever illicit drugs come to hand fairly indiscriminately. Sometimes the addiction is as much social as physiological or neurological. Sometimes the motivation is as much self-medication or self-harm as pleasure.

The Irish government has just introduced "Minimum Pricing" for alcohol for retail outlets. This will increase the minimum price of (for example) a bottle of wine from €5 to €7.40.

Many aspects of the legislation I can agree with, such as the ban on multipack or 2 for 1 promotions designed to increase purchases beyond what the consumer originally intended to buy. However the minimum pricing itself I think a poorly thought out measure, and so I had a letter published by both the Irish Times and the Independent saying the following:

Read more... (17 comments, 922 words in story)
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News and Views

 September 2022

by Bernard - Sep 2, 249 comments

Your take on this month's news


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