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

Defending Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Sep 19th, 2019 at 12:36:35 PM EST

I am not a complete pacifist, but I generally struggle to find problems where brute military force is the solution. At most I am prepared to concede that every country has a right to defend itself, and must make appropriate provision to create forces with the capability to see off likely threats. But more often than not the resort to war has only come about because of a failure of politics and diplomacy at many levels. The best defence is always to ensure that international relationships never deteriorate to that level in the first place.

In the case of a small country like Ireland, developing a capability to deal with likely threats does not include the capability to ward off an invasion by a major power. Not only is in unclear why any major power might want to invade us, but it is certain we would lose such a battle if it where fought on their terms. Our best bet is the maintain good relations with neighbouring powers and rely on economic integration and mutual self-interest to do the rest.

So, in general, I am quite happy with the fact that Ireland has a very small defence force, run on a shoestring budget, which does little more than fisheries protection; air and sea rescue; peacekeeping, crisis management and humanitarian relief operations in support of the United Nations; and providing armed support to a largely unarmed police force when dealing with major violent crime or terrorist threats. Quite apart from anything else, it means there is no macho political culture of violent responses to people or countries with which we might disagree.

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A Democratic Backstop

by Frank Schnittger Thu Sep 19th, 2019 at 10:43:19 AM EST

You know you are in serious trouble when Stormont is being touted as the solution to your problem...

Stormont lock is fig leaf for likely DUP climbdown

An air of absurdity and exhaustion hangs over the idea that Stormont is the solution to Brexit. The northern institutions have collapsed, the British government is collapsing and London's sincerity in seeking a deal remains in question. These are shaky grounds on which to place the contention and complexity of Stormont input into the backstop, or some backstop-like arrangement. A new layer of accountability can be imagined and Northern Ireland is hardly a stranger to arcane government systems. But where would the energy come from to make this work, when only the DUP wants it and most nationalists would see Stormont administering Brexit as adding insult to injury?

It is not as if the DUP's need is fundamental - it merely wants a fig leaf to cover its retreat. When then British prime minister Theresa May unveiled the so-called Stormont lock in January this year, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds dismissed it as "cosmetic and meaningless".

May's proposals were stronger than anything now likely to be agreed.

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NI-Only: Boris As Escape Artist

by Oui Thu Sep 19th, 2019 at 04:59:49 AM EST

Humiliated in Luxembourg by a PM of the tiniest nation ...

Boris Johnson given two-week EU deadline for Irish backstop plan

With his back against an EU wall, limited in options by the House of Commons, threat of another blow by the UK's Supreme Court, Boris route to safety lies in making a deal and NI leadership and Ireland's Varadkar must get their act together. There is no more deadline extension in the offing from the EU. Even German industry leaders voice their concern for another delay, uncertainty and further costs. Just get it over with ... we're fed up with political deadlock.

DUP appears to soften stance on accepting EU regulations to make a NI-only backstop possible and a last-minute Brexit withdrawal with a deal.

More elow the fold ...

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Money, Drugs, Guns, Liquidation - Love A'dam

by Oui Wed Sep 18th, 2019 at 12:37:45 PM EST

No words can express our grief when our democratic system is confronted with such a brutal murder.

Live blog @AD.nl

Killing of crown witness's lawyer Derk Wiersum shocks Amsterdam | Al Jazeera |

Derk Wiersum was the lawyer for Nabil Bakkali, a crown witness in a case against 16 men accused of five murders.

The killing of Wiersum, a father and long-time criminal lawyer in Amsterdam, has sent shockwaves through the city and its justice system.

Continued below the fold ...

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The end of the Tories

by Frank Schnittger Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 09:57:16 PM EST

The dog that didn't bark

As the UK drifts ever closer to B-day, you would expect there would be a flurry of activity - tense overnight negotiations, crunch summits of key leaders, emotional parliamentary debates and cliff-hanging votes on difficult compromises. The reality is that nothing much is happening, and probably won't be happening for another month or so.

Parliament is prorogued, all the media focus will be on the annual party conference season, no serious detailed technical negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement are taking place and Boris, having seen Juncker for the first time in his two months of premiership, decided he could afford to alienate the Prime Minister of a small EU member state - Xavier Bettell.

In London the Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to the legality of the lengthy proroguing of Parliament. But what difference will it make, even if it finds in favour of the plaintiffs? Parliament may end up returning earlier, but the key date - October 19th. has now been etched in stone - it is either a deal agreed by Parliament by then, or it's another extension, or at least that is what the law says.

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Agrophotovoltaics, Agriphotovoltaics, Solar Sharing

by gmoke Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 08:13:46 PM EST

Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has been doing "agrophotovoltaics" studies for the last few years, the concept of producing both crops and solar power on the same land.  Their 2018 study results are available here: https:/www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/press-media/press-releases/2019/agrophotovoltaics-hight-harvesting- yield-in-hot-summer-of-2018.html

"The results from 2017 showed a land use efficiency of 160 percent, as confirmed by the project consortium under the direction of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. The performance of the agrophotovoltaic system in the very hot summer of 2018 greatly exceeded this value."

Fraunhofer is also doing tests of solar panels over shrimp ponds in Vietnam:

https:www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/press-media/news/2019/aqua-pv-project-shrimps-combines-aquaculture- and-photovoltaics.html

They show similar results there, too, possibly even better as the solar shading is more conducive to shrimp growth.  If there are any applicable aquaculture facilities in your state, there might be some solar opportunities available there too.

What Fraunhofer calls agrophotovoltaics the Japanese call  "solar sharing" and have been doing since at least 2004:

https:www.renewableenergyworld.com/2013/10/10/japan-next-generation-farmers-cultivate-agriculture- and-solar-energy

"The concept was originally developed by Akira Nagashima in 2004, who was a retired agricultural machinery engineer who later studied biology and learned the "light saturation point." The rate of photosynthesis increases as the irradiance level is increased; however at one point, any further increase in the amount of light that strikes the plant does not cause any increase to the rate of photosynthesis....

"Based on the tests conducted at his solar testing sites in Chiba Prefecture, he recommends about 32% shading rate for a farmland space to reach adequate growth of crops. In other words, there is twice as much empty space for each PV module installed."

UMass Amherst is working on this concept as well with outreach to farmers through a state program:


Mother Jones article on this idea:

https:www.motherjones.com/food/2019/09/the-best-place-for-harvesting-solar-energy-is-not-where-i-e xpected-it-to-be

Paper from Nature Sustainability the article references


There should be no competition between active farmland and solar development.  When done correctly, solar can become a lucrative second "crop" for farmers while maintaining and, in some cases, increasing agricultural productivity.

Comments >> (1 comment)

Saudis Signal Iranian Build Cruise Missiles Used in Attack

by Oui Tue Sep 17th, 2019 at 12:08:15 PM EST

This is a diary I'm still working on as the most recent developments will be placed in a larger context of the Middle East from the Levant through all lost territories of the Western colonial powers and into the AfPak region of South Asia.

h/t Richard Silverstein @TikunOlam

More below the fold ...

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Houthi Drones Have Become Cruise Missiles

by Oui Mon Sep 16th, 2019 at 11:07:48 AM EST

Update [2019-9-17 13:51:28 by Oui]: See follow-up diary -
Saudis Signal Iranian Build Cruise Missiles Used in Attack

    "The courage and common sense
    of a minority of senators will be cold
    comfort to the millions of Yemenis
    struggling to survive without adequate
    food or health services amidst daily
    bombing and shelling."

    --Ray Offenheiser, Oxfam America

"Indifferent to Yemen's Misery," Senate Approves Massive Saudi Arms Deal | Common Dreams - Sept. 2016 |
Obama administration offered $115bn in weapons to Saudi Arabia: report | The Guardian - Sept. 2016 |

Libya - Syria - Yemen ... all in common President Barack Obama's legacy of eight years in power.

Drone Strikes Cause Fierce Blowback In Yemen by Oui @EuroTrib on Aug. 11, 2013

    "Drones don't differentiate, they kill people"

More below the fold ...

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Rerversing the dominant submissive British Irish polarity

by Frank Schnittger Sun Sep 15th, 2019 at 02:09:41 PM EST

I normally read Fintan O'Toole's articles, but when I saw the title of his latest piece "For the first time since 1171, Ireland is more powerful than Britain," I decided to give it a miss. Fintan going over the top again, I thought. But then in an idle moment I chanced upon the article again and got drawn in. It turns out to be some of Fintan's best work.

In considering his writing we must remember he is as much an art and drama critic as a political analyst, and while his political analysis can be a bit off the deep end - as when he suggested all Sinn Fein MPs should resign and allow themselves to be replaced by nationalist candidates not bound by an abstentionist policy - his colour writing on the subtle shifts and nuances of Anglo-Irish relations is second to none.

And far from the triumphalist Irish nationalist piece of guff I was expecting with a title like that, it is actually a very perceptive piece on how Brexit has changed the whole dynamic of Anglo-Irish relations. Essentially he is arguing that the polarity of the dominant-submissive mode of the post colonial British Irish relationship has been reversed: Partially in terms of Irish government policy and presentation, but more particularly in the mind set of Brexiteers.

Crazy as it may seem, they imagine themselves to be engaged in a post-colonial struggle for liberation against an oppressive evil empire (the EU) and cannot understand how Ireland would not be an automatic and natural ally in that struggle - but instead has taken on the role of cheerleader and chief antagonist for the evil empire.

Thankfully he notes that "There is far too much at stake to take any pleasure in this bizarre political reversal." The last thing we need to do is to replace an obsequious deference to our lords and masters with an obnoxious sense of superiority.

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Stingray Catchers and Netanyahu Wrong Footed

by Oui Sat Sep 14th, 2019 at 02:29:15 AM EST

Netanyahu seeks to annex parts of West Bank 'in coordination' with U.S. | NBC News - 3 days ago |

White House Intercepts: Israel placed Stingray catchers for first hand intelligence on Trump moves ...

Israeli Intelligence Spied on Trump's Cell Phone Calls | Tikun Olam |

File this post under "well, of course they did!" Politico reports today that Israeli intelligence implanted Stingray devices near the White House and other sensitive U.S. government facilities in order to intercept the cell phone calls of Pres. Trump ...

The Israelis weren't subtle about what they did. They didn't care whether U.S. officials knew what they were doing. Politico says U.S. officials knew about the interception because Israeli officials in meetings with them, would use specific language from documents or conversations that were only known inside the White House.

Continued below the fold ...

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Reforming the UK Constitution

by Frank Schnittger Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 10:32:23 AM EST

The Brexit debacle has given rise to a lot of discussion of the UK "Constitution", unwritten as it is, and the need to reform key aspects of it to prevent the abuse of power. It would be helpful if there were a written codified version of it, so at least we could all agree on what it says. Instead we have a tangled web of precedents, conventions, "gentlemen's agreements", case law and statutory instruments giving huge scope for disagreement and uncertainty as to what is, and is not "constitutional".

A convention is only a convention until it isn't, and a precedent only a precedent until it is broken. Different judges come to different conclusions as to what is permissible, and there appear to be huge gaps in statutory law. The US experience has shown that a written Constitution is no guarantee against abuse and wilful misinterpretation - see the second amendment to the US Constitution, where reference to "a well regulated Militia" has not been allowed to restrict individuals to bear arms in their own right.

So while accepting that no constitution is ever perfect, what changes would you like to see to the current UK constitution?

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The penny has dropped

by Frank Schnittger Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 08:48:25 AM EST

Newton Emerson has been the foremost unionist commentator on political affairs in Ireland over the past few years. In common with almost all unionists he couldn't quite understand why Brexit was an existential threat to the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process and any Irish government, no matter how mild mannered or moderate its chief protagonists. Somehow Brexit was going to be a fact of life and we were all going to have to "just get on with it".

To be clear, Newton, like the 56% in N. Ireland who voted Remain (including 40% of protestants), was against Brexit, and decried what he called the DUP's "recreational anti-nationalism" which saw Brexit as an opportunity to really antagonise nationalists without serious consequences.

In common with most of the British establishment, the DUP never thought the referendum would pass. They thought they could have their cake and eat it: really annoy the nationalists, and then just whistle in the air and carry on as if nothing had happened, all the while grinning at how they had outsmarted their sworn enemies.

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A few first principles

by Cat Wed Sep 11th, 2019 at 07:12:31 PM EST

Question 1. What exactly is wrong with suggestions that the PM would be breaking the law if he (as he has publicly stated he will) refused to comply with this obligation?

The presumption of innocence is no trivial issue at trial. Questions about a law merely invite interpretation of its meaning, purposes and scope. But Lord Sumption, a "public officer acting as such", abused the "public's trust" in the impartiality of the courts. Volunteering ex parte communication or public comment implicating an actual person in legal controversy is grave error. A finding of law on substance and and circumstances to which one is not a party is another. His suggestions are a meritless yet prejudicial indictment of  Johson's duties [EUWA2018] and obligations [LEX]. It admitted facts not in evidence ("...a second letter") and omitted evidence; construed misconduct from hearsay ("Johnson said...") and omits exculpatory speech; and posed speculative testimony as to personal motive ("... then try to neutralise it") excluding "without reasonable excuse or justification" under the law [CPS]. Sumption misstated the case for the first page of a dead letter to the EU Council seeking unconditional approval of parliament's new "exit date".

Question 2. Is the Act itself corrupt and incapable of withstanding scrutiny in the courts?

Strictly speaking, pronouncing EUWA2018 "corrupt," absent competence to assess model policy execution by comparison, is impolitic. Based on the assumption that the title were indicative of its purposes, the legislation obviously failed to realize its objective. While portions with regulatory elements of EU membership affirm maintenance of effort in the TEU, others such as Repeal of the ECA do not. Conversely, the obstacle to fulfillment of parliamentary obligations performed for either "social contract"--treaty or public law--is section 13.   Update [2019-9-14 20:35:4 by Cat]: copyedits

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A Glossary of Brexitology

by Frank Schnittger Wed Sep 11th, 2019 at 09:31:41 AM EST

For some years now I have spent part of the year in Spain to get away from Ireland's long winter climate, enjoy a change of scenery, indulge a childhood passion for living beside the sea, and experience Spain's many other virtues. To my shame, my acquisition of the Spanish language has been slow, to put in mildly. I learned German and French in school, and so lack a grammatical foundation.

But undoubtedly the main reason is sheer laziness. I can get by with relatively little Spanish to conduct everyday affairs, and I have chosen to spend my intellectual energies elsewhere. My excuse is that I am still learning English, which is often literally true.

Writing, as I do, for a multi-lingual community, this is often a source of embarrassment, as many here whose native language is not English, can command it just as well as I do. I console myself by thinking I may have a better grasp of English's many idiomatic idiosyncrasies, and often feel the need to explain or link to explanations of the finer nuances of particular terms.

I include below, for your delectation, a glossary of some English language terms whose precise meaning may not be immediately obvious to non native speakers. Please feel free to use the comments to add your own definitions of terms which may have caused you some puzzlement in the past. Political discourse is often as much about obfuscation as clarification, but as writers and commentators our job is at least partly to eliminate such terminological in-exactitudes where possible.

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LQD: EU27 [including France] not to say "non"

by Bernard Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 07:21:21 PM EST

The title is, of course, a tongue in cheek reference to ATinNM"s diary based on a Deutsche Welle article reporting:

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that under the current circumstances, France won't offer the UK another extension to its withdrawal from the EU.

Of course, all members of the EUCO have a right to veto an A50 extension should Boris follow the law and request it, but a "France says 'non' to Brexit delay" headline sells more copy in the English speaking world than, say "Luxembourg says 'non' to Brexit delay".

In any case, it doesn't matter: if the UK manages to ask for an extension, the EU27, including France, will grant one, however reluctantly. Here's why.

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Peace At Hand ... Bolton Is OUT!

by Oui Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 04:52:39 PM EST

Never thought a line of praise for the BIG White Man ...

After the days of Boris' humiliation in the House managed by Bercow, I truly feel more comfortable going into the month of October.

More below the fold ...

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Revolt in the Heart of UK Democracy

by Oui Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 01:25:27 AM EST

See my earlier diary - Joy for A Day ... Boris Humiliated .

And - Plan B: A Revolt In House of Commons.

More below the fold ...

Read more... (22 comments, 416 words in story)

Boris and Leo press conference

by Frank Schnittger Mon Sep 9th, 2019 at 04:43:35 PM EST

Please scroll to 44 minutes for beginning of Press conference

Opening remarks

Leo Varadker

  1. We respect democratic and sovereign decision of the UK to leave the EU
  2. Even a no deal Brexit on 31 Oct. is simply the start of the next phase
  3. No deal= severe disruption on these islands - less so on the continent
  4. All the same issues will still have to be resolved before we can even begin to talk about the future economic relationship
  5. All issues which had been resolved in deal negotiated in good faith (note to Mike Pence) with your predecessor will still be on the table.
  6. Negotiating FTAs with both the EU and USA will be a Herculean task - and can only begin with the EU once Withdrawal Agreement ratified.
  7. Cannot replace legal guarantees with promises
  8. Must protect peace and burgeoning all Ireland economy
  9. Haven't received realistic proposals to date
  10. GFA is a good example of how previously intractable issues can be resolved

Boris Johnson

  1. 50% of all cheese & beef consumed in UK produced in Ireland
  2. Must restore Stormont power sharing Executive
  3. Must complete Brexit by 31 st. Oct
  4. Brexit is not a problem of Ireland's making
  5. Will not institute border controls
  6. Can safeguard GFA
  7. Can protect all-Ireland economy
  8. Want to find a deal - no deal very damaging and a failure of statecraft
  9. Can be done by Oct.18th.

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City Agriculture - September 8, 2019

by gmoke Sun Sep 8th, 2019 at 07:53:26 PM EST

How urban farms could solve future food problems

Tenth of an acre permaculture garden
returntonow.net/2017/12/23/urban-garden-produces-7000-pounds-food-per-year-tenth-acre-withou t-synthetic-fertilizer
Editorial Comment:  I remember that New Alchemy Institute once produced a study that showed you could grow enough vegetables for a person for a year on about a thirteenth of an acre but my memory may be faulty and it was back in the 1970s.

Floating dairy farm in the Netherlands

Utrecht's bus stops have green roofs for bees and other ecosystem services
https:/www.facebook.com/EcoWatch/videos/686362638492157/UzpfSTE1MTEyODQ5NjY6MTAyMTQzMDYxOTc0MzgwOTc /

The Coral: Home Algae Farming

Green city street furniture purifies air with moss

Artificial water purification, air freshening, and energy producing "trees" for Ho Chi Minh City park
https:/inhabitat.com/sustainable-central-park-with-energy-producing-trees-unveiled-for-ho-chi-minh- city

Charles River Floating Wetland
Editorial Comment:  John Todd's Healing Earth is a great introduction to ecology systems building:
My review of the book:  https:/solarray.blogspot.com/2019/03/healing-earth-through-waters.html

Vertical forest building for Cairo Science Center
inhabitat.com/vertical-forest-buildings-designed-by-stefano-boeri-set-to-center-new-cairo-ad ministrative-district

Aquaculture and solar production - Aqua-PV
https:/www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/press-media/news/2019/aqua-pv-project-shrimps-combines-aquaculture- and-photovoltaics.html

Paris to open world's largest rooftop urban farm
https:/www.facebook.com/EcoWatch/videos/944372802568104/UzpfSTE1MTEyODQ5NjY6MTAyMTQ2NTQ5MzUxOTYzMjM /

"A Greenhouse Large Enough to Feed the Eastern Seaboard" - or The Attack of the Giant Greenhouses!!!

Comments >> (7 comments)

LQD - France to say "non"

by ATinNM Sun Sep 8th, 2019 at 03:26:59 PM EST

France says 'non' to Brexit delay

Read more... (33 comments, 180 words in story)
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News and Views

 5 - 11 August 2019

by Bjinse - Aug 5, 404 comments

Your take on this week's news

 August Thread

by Bjinse - Aug 5, 100 comments

Summer is only the unfulfilled thread of spring

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