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An inter-governmental executive for Northern Ireland?

by Frank Schnittger Thu Dec 29th, 2022 at 12:28:43 PM EST

Alex Kane and Newton Emerson are two of the foremost unionist commentators on Northern Ireland and are widely read throughout Ireland through their regular columns in the Irish Times and other newspapers. So it matters when Alex Kane concludes, in yesterday's column, that many in the unionist community have come to the conclusion that the (suspended) Strand 1 Good Friday Agreement institutions - the Assembly and Executive - are not worth saving.

I have responded with a letter published in the Irish Times (second letter down, just above a letter from Gerry Adams) as follows:

Read more... (13 comments, 1473 words in story)

Merkel's Explosive Interview Die Zeit

by Oui Sun Dec 25th, 2022 at 10:50:05 AM EST

"Hatten Sie gedacht, ich komme mit Pferdeschwanz?" -- Die Zeit

Angela  Merkel über ihren neuen Lebensabschnitt, mögliche Fehler ihrer Russlandpolitik, ihre Rolle in der Flüchtlingskrise und die Frage, ob mit deutschen Kanzlern ungnädig umgegangen wird.

When I first learned of the content, I could not believe to have been deceived by the Germans and Angela Merkel ... I had much trust in Merkel's leadership. If her statement about the intent of the Minsk Agreement is her attempt to revise history for her biography, she handed  the Kremlin an argument for starting the military operation and propaganda never to sign any peace or security treaty with the West or NATO allies again.

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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Comparing the Irish and UK economies

by Frank Schnittger Fri Dec 23rd, 2022 at 11:27:03 AM EST

The chart above probably does more to sum up the economic histories of Ireland and the UK in recent decades than any other. Taken from countryeconomy.com it compares Irish and UK GDP per capita growth since 1970. Of course, there is an argument that Irish GDP is somewhat inflated by the activities of global corporations located here, but what I want to focus on is the trend.

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Modern Day Europe and Energy Poverty

by Oui Mon Dec 19th, 2022 at 03:56:53 PM EST

Situation during the Covid-19 pandemic - Nov. 2021

Energy poor must not bear the cost of soaring energy prices

Rising energy prices put European households in jeopardy, particularly energy-poor and vulnerable households. While gas, electricity and carbon prices are soaring across Europe, millions of European are forced into unacceptable choices between heating or paying their rent. People on lower income living in poorly insulated homes and reliant on fossil gas for heating will suffer the most.

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (24 comments, 1116 words in story)

Energy as a Weapon of War: Russia, Ukraine, and Europe in Challenging Times

by gmoke Mon Dec 19th, 2022 at 04:00:38 AM EST

This Zoom event comes from Energy (and Other) Events Monthly (http://hubevents.blogspot.com) 12/9/22. I attended and am sharing my notes.  

Energy as a Weapon of War: Russia, Ukraine, and Europe in Challenging Times with Margarita M Balmaceda, Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University, author of Russian Energy Chains, and an Associate of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute
and
Constanze Stelzenmüller, Director and Fritz Stern Chair of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution
Moderators:  Elizabeth Wood and Carol Saivetz, both MIT
Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1DrP8wqqPs
A transcript will be available as well

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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Paschal Donohoe re-elected Eurogroup President

by Frank Schnittger Wed Dec 7th, 2022 at 03:10:26 PM EST

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Russia's SMO - a primer from an evolved military perspective

by paul spencer Tue Dec 6th, 2022 at 06:02:07 AM EST

I don't visit ET often, but I easily perceive that Oui's take on the Ukraine/Russia war is not generally accepted here. Just to set the tone for my post, I support the RF with few reservations, due to my long-held belief that the US and our closest 'allies' (I prefer the old CPC term running dogs) are by far the greatest source of trouble on Earth. There is simply no reasonable or useful comparison between US/NATO aggression and destruction vs that of any other nation or group of nations.

The most frequent - and egregiously incorrect and ahistorical - description of RF's SMO in Ukraine by the 'western' alliance is that it was "unprovoked". The following article by Chuck Spinney, a long-term Pentagon employee who has evolved from a critique of the lack of accountability and competence in the US DoD to an understanding of the political foundation of our foreign policy. He published this piece in April of this year to try to explain the SMO from a military viewpoint.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger - a useful corrective to the dominant "western" perspective - although an article written from a Ukrainian perspective might also be a useful corrective. Putin may have been provoked, but who is the greater provocateur now?

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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,

Read more... (9 comments, 452 words in story)

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

Read more... (16 comments, 265 words in story)

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 Carrie 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.

Read more... (18 comments, 379 words in story)

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.

Read more... (14 comments, 1271 words in story)
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 September 2023

by Oui - Sep 1, 199 comments

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