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

I don't like lawyers

by Frank Schnittger Mon Nov 30th, 2020 at 11:41:14 AM EST

Well, really I do, except I have to admit that none of my best friends are lawyers. My problems with the legal profession in Ireland are four fold:

  1. They are incentivised by the reward structure to mythologise, over-complicate and drag out any work they are given to do, because they are essentially private contractors paid by the hour for the amount of work they claim to have done, and much of what they do is not strictly legal work, or work for which a legal qualification should be required.

  2. They are an almost entirely self-regulated profession, resisting all attempts at public accountability, have a near monopoly of professional legal training, and are often nepotistic in character, with legal practices handed down through family members and dependent on networks of contacts rather than any extraordinary expertise in a particular field.

  3. Despite having many members of the utmost integrity and probity, I would also argue the profession is structurally corrupt, with many civil cases settled out of court for fear of ruinous legal fees, beyond the means of most litigants or defendants, who are therefore forced to settle for an agreement with little reference to the facts or the merits of a case. The lawyers in such cases are essentially acting as deal brokers, not lawyers, and virtually always extract a hefty proportion of any financial settlement for themselves.

  4. The "legal industry" as I call it, has a vested interest in self-enrichment through frivolous or exaggerated litigation, with the judges who decide cases from the same tight social circle as the lawyers representing both sides, who are incentivised to maximise the damages (for one side) and prolong the litigation and the fees accruing to both. Why throw out a case your best buddy and golfing partner stands to make a lot of money from?

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Transition In America

by Oui Thu Nov 26th, 2020 at 09:36:59 AM EST

Cultural exchange inside America 🇺🇸 ... let youth from Blue states and Red states meet!  

Healing a dysfunctional society and political system ... where to start when conversation has been replaced by guns, more guns and violence.

THANKSGIVING USA 2020

Serving 50 million Americans today 😢

More to come ... use this as an open thread analyzing Trump’s four years legacy and damage done to a flawed World Leadership.

Comments >> (54 comments)

The economic realities of a united Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Mon Nov 23rd, 2020 at 03:38:24 AM EST

Newton Emerson is perhaps the leading unionist commentator in Ireland, and has a regular column in the Irish Times, regrettably generally behind a paywall. He provides a valuable insight into unionist thinking in Northern Ireland, which can often be startlingly different from nationalist, liberal or progressive perspectives.

Nevertheless he is no fundamentalist bible thumping bigot, and his political allegiance would lie closer to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) rather than the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) founded by Ian Paisley.

While appreciating his articulation of often legitimate unionist concerns, I have sometimes taken issue with his conclusions, and in fairness to the Irish Times, they have often published my critiques in response. The letter below is one such critique where I challenge his arguments that a recent Sinn Féin paper misrepresents and underestimates the true costs of re-unifying Ireland:

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Raising public morale

by Frank Schnittger Fri Nov 20th, 2020 at 12:39:22 AM EST

In Ireland, as elsewhere, debate about the most appropriate public response to the pandemic is becoming increasingly fractious. A minority of expert opinion is still advocating for a zero Covid policy while government and various businesses and interest groups are arguing for a "more balanced" approach which seeks to minimise the economic and social damage caused by lockdown measures.

The success of any lock-down is dependent, very largely, on voluntary compliance rather than enforcement measures, and so it is easy for many people to become disheartened in the face of mixed messages and grim infection and death statistics. I have sought to lighten the mood and paint a more hopeful picture in my letter to the editor published by the Irish Times (scroll down the page) and below the fold:

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Europe under Covid-19

by epochepoque Mon Nov 16th, 2020 at 02:50:15 PM EST

As we are living through the massive second wave of Covid in the darker months of the year, it's time to wonder what has gone wrong with the response to the plague in Europe.

Back at the beginning the of the year countries in Europe were simply unprepared. Most countries in the world that have managed better had been burned by SARS in 2003. Pain is a powerful teacher and fear can reliably chase away complacency. Therefore Taiwan (No. 1!), Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand, etc. acted decisively and quickly. Measures included strict quarantine, contract tracing (the thorough kind), border control, mask wearing, sometimes lockdowns, all of which the population bought into. It's not just Asia. West Africa (burned by Ebola) is doing so much better than Europe with daily case counts we can only dream of.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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The Human Trouble According to James Baldwin

by gmoke Sun Nov 15th, 2020 at 10:15:00 PM EST

"Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have."
from The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

"Chapter & Verse: The Gospel of James Baldwin is a 21st century ritual tool kit for justice. A call for revolution. A gift during turbulent times" created by Meshell Ndegeocello and Charlotte Brathwaite
https:/meshell.com/see

My notes to Baldwin's Collected Essays
https:
/hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2019/01/james-baldwin-collected-essays.html

Notes to The Fire Next Time and Nothing Personal, Balwin's collaboration with his DeWitt Clinton HS schoolmate, the photographer Richard Avedon

http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2018/07/james-baldwin-fire-next-time-and.html

Perhaps Baldwin's "human trouble" can become John Lewis' "Make good trouble."

I like to think I make my way through life getting into good human trouble.

But I could always be wrong.

Brexit and Northern Ireland's food supply

by Frank Schnittger Fri Nov 13th, 2020 at 12:34:03 AM EST

Brexit and Northern Ireland's food supply

A chara, - I nearly choked on my Tesco cornflakes while reading Newton Emerson's eloquent plea for Northern Ireland's dominant supermarket chains to be granted a special exemption from EU single market and customs union rules (""EU reveals indifference as it takes its threat to North's food supply to the wire" (behind paywall), Opinion & Analysis, November 12th).

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The powers of the President of the USA

by Frank Schnittger Mon Nov 9th, 2020 at 02:16:28 PM EST

Fintan O'Toole has his usual eloquent take (subscriber only) on the limitations of Joe Biden's Presidential victory. However in one respect, Fintan's take is as delusional as the President-elect he criticises. Fintan appears to believe that Joe Biden has the power to change the system if he merely highlights its most notable defects. That is, sadly, far beyond the President's powers, and is not going to change much any time soon. The minority's power and privilege depends on there being no significant change and to imagine they will give that up without a fight is delusional.

What follows is a draft letter to the Editor which I very much doubt will be published, so I submit it here for your edification and elucidation...

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Georgia on my mind

by Frank Schnittger Thu Nov 5th, 2020 at 01:40:11 PM EST

With the vote count slowing to a trickle, it is looking increasingly likely that Biden will win Arizona and Nevada, and probably even Pennsylvania and Georgia when all the early mail in votes are tabulated, although he doesn't have to win the latter two to win election.

This is in sharp contrast to Democrats most likely failing to win the Senate, and actually losing seats in the House. With Republicans controlling the SCOTUS and the Senate, it seems unlikely any Biden administration could achieve much of their centrist agenda, never mind progressive legislation.

With the two Georgia Senate elections likely proceeding to a run-off on January 5th., Democrats may get a second bite at that cherry. Trump's reaction to his defeat could still have ramifications for the shape of the next administration. Who would have thought that Georgia would represent the Democrats' best hopes of winning the election?

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US Elections Live Blog

by Frank Schnittger Tue Nov 3rd, 2020 at 01:44:19 AM EST

Election day is finally upon us and soon we will know the result - by this evening, if President Trump has his way! 98 Million people have already cast an early ballot - 71% of the total 2016 turnout - and a record turnout is expected. Michael McDonald, a Professor at the University of Florida is predicting a total turnout of about 160 Million - up 16% from 138 Million in 2016.

This is despite increasingly desperate attempts by the Republican party to suppress the vote - culminating in yesterdays court proceedings to invalidate 127,000 votes  in Texas because they were cast at temporary drive in centres housed in tents, rather than in a building "structure". President Trump has also said he will send in the lawyers to stop the counting this evening if he is ahead at that stage - as if there is some constitutional requirement to count only as many votes as can be counted within a few hours of polls closing.

It is difficult to envisage a more desperate and defeatist message to send to the electorate than seeking to disenfranchise millions of voters who have cast their ballots in good faith. Democracy be damned. But it also sends a clear message to an electorate which may be less than fully enthused to vote for Joe Biden. A vote now represents an act of defiance against those who would seek to deprive you of that right. It's democracy or fascism, your choice.

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Poland protests

by IdiotSavant Sat Oct 31st, 2020 at 02:49:20 AM EST

The Polsih government's latest attempt to ban abortion (using a stacked supreme court, in a pandemic) is being rejected by the street, just like last time:

About one hundred thousand protesters took to the streets of the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Friday, in the largest demonstration of popular anger directed against Poland's ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) since it assumed office in 2015.

Protests have been held across the country since Poland's constitutional tribunal declared earlier this month that abortions in instances where a foetus is diagnosed with a serious and irreversible birth defect were unconstitutional. Such procedures constitute about 96% of legal abortions in Poland, which already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.

On Wednesday, pro-choice activists called a "women's strike" that attracted over 400,000 people to protests in over 400 towns and cities across the central European nation.

Mass protests during a pandemic are... not good. But clearly this is something Polish women think is worth risking death over.

Comments >> (4 comments)

The gathering storm

by Frank Schnittger Thu Oct 29th, 2020 at 09:29:21 PM EST

For a variety of reasons, I have been internet free for the past couple of days, so today has been about playing catchup in an attempt to discover what, if anything, has changed in the US election. As always, there is a danger that you get caught up in a bubble of partisan thinking, and simply don't understand some of the many changes under way.

Certainly there have been some negatives in the data from a European point of view. Biden is said to be doing less well with Latino/Hispanic voters than Clinton did. The addition of Harris to the ticket hasn't made some black voters feel any less taken for granted. Texas still feels slightly out of reach, not helped by Biden's comments about transitioning away from oil in the second Presidential debate.

But the reality is you have to dig pretty hard to find negative data about the prospects of the Democratic party and its candidates at all levels of the election. More and more Senate seats seem to be in play and polls at Congressional district level have been outpacing the national polls for quite some time. Biden's lead has stayed remarkably steady and solid in the 7-11% range for the past few months, and even "lean Republican" states like Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio seem to be trending his way.

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(Mainstream) Economists On The Run

by ARGeezer Sat Oct 24th, 2020 at 08:49:18 PM EST

Que Schadenfreund

Economists on the Run - Michael Hirsh, Foreign Policy


 Paul Krugman has never suffered fools gladly.... In a series of books and articles beginning in the 1990s, Krugman branded just about everybody who questioned the rapid pace of globalization a fool who didn't understand economics very well. "Silly" was a word Krugman used a lot to describe pundits who raised fears of economic competition from other nations, especially China. Don't worry about it, he said: Free trade will have only minor impact on your prosperity.

Frontpaged with minor edit - Bernard

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Trump looked like a loser

by Frank Schnittger Fri Oct 23rd, 2020 at 04:09:09 AM EST

The second and final presidential debate was a more "normal" debate with much less interruption and incivility. Republican supporters will breath a sigh of relief that Trump didn't implode again. However the longer the debate went on the more frustrated he became, and started to look more surly, bitter, divisive and angry, especially when Biden was speaking.

Even when invited to say how he would bring people together in his inaugural address he engaged in bitter recrimination, while Biden gave his usual bringing people together speech. When challenged about the 500 children separated from their parents - Trump just said "good".

The debate won't do much to change the trajectory of the campaign, but that must count as a defeat for Trump. He needed Biden to implode, and yet Biden probably gave his strongest performance to date, and was willing to say he would phase out the oil industry over time despite his reliance on winning Pennsylvania.

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State Legislatures and the 2020 Election

by ARGeezer Thu Oct 22nd, 2020 at 12:47:21 AM EST

The Democrats should increase their control - National Conference of State Legislatures

Control of legislative chambers is vital to influence over redistricting and other legislation. Without control of at least one chamber or the Governorship a party is out of luck and influence. State legislatures have been a stronghold for Republicans.

On average, 12 chambers change party in each general election cycle--that includes changes in both directions. Democrats need to net nine chambers to reach parity this year, or 10 to pass Republicans in chamber control. Democrats have opportunities for gains, yet it will be a steep climb, particularly given that, as previously noted, this is a year unlike any other. The GOP primarily will be playing defense, with Dems on defense in just a few states.

Dems hope to take control of either or both chambers in Arizona, the Florida Senate, the Iowa House, the Michigan House, the Minnesota Senate, either or both chambers in North Carolina and the Wisconsin Senate. Further reaches include the Michigan House, Texas House and both chambers in Pennsylvania. And yet, this being an unprecedented year, making guesses is dangerous indeed


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US Senate Elections

by ATinNM Mon Oct 19th, 2020 at 05:32:31 PM EST

Started out as a quick comment to Franks' "It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over' diary and got carried away.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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It's not over yet

by Frank Schnittger Mon Oct 19th, 2020 at 01:46:22 PM EST

It's been almost a fortnight since our last round-up on the US Elections and not a huge amount has changed. Biden got a 3% uplift from +7% to +10% in the opinion polls after the first debate and Trumps subsequent Covid-19 diagnosis, with many Americans disapproving of Trump's performance in the debate and his failure to take adequate precautions against the disease. Post debate bumps in the polls often don't last, but the continued prevalence of the pandemic has kept Trump's performance on the pandemic front and centre of the political stage.

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City Agriculture - October 15, 2020

by gmoke Thu Oct 15th, 2020 at 05:04:00 PM EST

Map of the public access fruit trees of Toronto
http://www.mapto.ca/maps/the-fruit-trees-of-toronto

Green transformation for a railway yard in St Petersburg, Russia
https:/www.orangearchitects.nl/projects/ligovsky-city
https:/inhabitat.com/former-railway-yard-to-receive-a-green-transformation-in-st-petersburg

Self-sufficient skyscraper proposed for NYC
https:/www.lissoniandpartners.com/en/architecture/competitions/americas/completed/skylines-new-york /1289
https:
inhabitat.com/self-sufficient-garden-city-skyscraper-proposed-for-nyc

Harrisburg, PA from abandoned school to urban eco-village, including indoor food production
https:/www.fastcompany.com/90535345/a-former-nfl-player-is-turning-this-abandoned-building-into-an- ecovillage
hat tip Media Diet: http://tinyurl.com/joinmediadiet

SUPERVERDE - urban greening modules
https:
inhabitat.com/stefano-boeri-proposes-superverde-urban-greening-modules

The Kitchen Farming Project - unemployed line cooks (and the public) invited to garden and build a new food future
https:/resourcedny.com/the-kitchen-farming-project

Everybody Eats - a food relief program in Brattleboro, VT leverages CARES Act funds to engage local restaurants in making to-go meals for anyone in Brattleboro, Guilford, Vernon, Dummerston, or Putney who has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis due to unemployment, underemployment, homelessness, or other challenges. Over 10,000 meals will be distributed in the month of August, with nine Brattleboro restaurants providing a total of 650 meals per day for at least four weeks.
https:
www.brattleboro.com/everyoneeats

Paris encourages all citizens to become urban gardeners
https:/popupcity.net/observations/paris-encourages-all-citizens-to-become-urban-gardeners

World's biggest rooftop greenhouse opens in Montreal
https:/phys.org/news/2020-08-world-biggest-rooftop-greenhouse-montreal.html

Asia's largest organic rooftop farm spans 236,806 square feet, can provide up to 80,000 meals (20 tons of organic food), and grows more than 40 edible species of crops, including rice, indigenous vegetables, fruit trees and herbs
https:
inhabitat.com/asias-largest-organic-rooftop-farm-can-grow-20-tons-of-food-annually

Vertical forest goes wild in Chengdu, China
https:/www.curbed.com/2020/9/18/21445069/qiyi-city-forest-garden-mosquitoes-chengdu

Resourcing an Agroecological Urbanism:  Political, Transformational and Territorial Dimensions by Chiara Tornaghi, Michiel Dehaene
https:
/www.routledge.com/Resourcing-an-Agroecological-Urbanism-Political-Transformational-and-Terri torial/Tornaghi-Dehaene/p/book/9781138359680 PS: All previous editions of City Agriculture are available at http://cityag.blogspot.com PPS: I would have a lot more respect for Extinction Rebellion, 350.org, Mothers Out Front, Fridays for the Future, Sunrise Movement... if they spent more time publicly on these kinds of activities which have immediate practical applications in reducing the effects of climate chaos, build community, and are a necessary step in speeding the transition to an ecologically logical future.

The 2021-2026 EU UK Trade war

by Frank Schnittger Sun Oct 11th, 2020 at 02:57:07 PM EST

The 2021-2026 EU UK Trade war was an unprecedented event in post WWII European relations although it did have some minor antecedents in European economic wars prior to that - such as the 1932-38 Anglo-Irish economic war. It ended only after the near collapse of the UK economy and led ultimately to Scottish Independence and Irish reunification.

Relations between the UK and EU had been deteriorating ever since the 2016 Brexit referendum culminating in the breakdown of relations in early 2021 following the UK adoption of legislation which explicitly broke the "oven ready" EU UK Withdrawal Treaty which had been ratified in January 2020 following a general election fought and won on endorsing its terms.

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Harris wins Vice Presidential Debate

by Frank Schnittger Thu Oct 8th, 2020 at 04:16:35 AM EST

The Vice Presidential debate ended with a slight win for Kamala Harris but is unlikely to change voting intentions to any significant degree. The moderator allowed Pence to constantly over-run his speaking time and interrupt Kamala Harris on hers, and made no attempt to ensure the candidates actually answered the question asked.

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News and Views

 November 2020

by Bernard - Nov 1, 214 comments

Your take on this month's news

 October Surprises 2020 Edition

by Bernard - Oct 2, 11 comments

I read the news today, oh boy ...

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