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

EU Michel Barnier: Brexit Deal Possible This Week!!

by Oui Tue Oct 15th, 2019 at 07:06:28 AM EST

[Update-1]

Boris Johnson 'on brink of Brexit deal' after border concessions | The Guardian |

UK and EU closing in on a deal, as negotiating teams work on legal text | Telegraph |

[End update]

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says a deal with Britain is still possible this week | AP |

Brexit deal 'still possible this week', says EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier | Sky News |

The EU's chief negotiator believes a Brexit deal is "still possible this week" as he returned to "intense" discussions with UK officials.

Speaking on his arrival at a gathering of EU ministers in Luxembourg, where Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will also be present, EU negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters: "Our team are working hard."

More to follow ...

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A climate of tyranny in the UK

by IdiotSavant Tue Oct 15th, 2019 at 01:47:13 AM EST

For the past week, Extinction Rebellion has been peacefully protesting in London to demand action on climate change. The British government's response? Ban their protests:

Police have banned Extinction Rebellion protests from continuing anywhere in London, as they moved in almost without warning to clear protesters who remained at the movement's camp in Trafalgar Square.

The Metropolitan police issued a revised section 14 order on Monday night that said "any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion `Autumn Uprising' ... must now cease their protests within London (MPS and City of London Police Areas)" by 9pm.

Almost immediately, officers moved into Trafalgar Square and demanded that protesters remove their tents. Most XR activists staying at the site had already decamped to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, south of the river, and only a few dozen tents, along with gazebos and other infrastructure, remained on the square.

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Middle East: Russia Is Back With Vengeance

by Oui Mon Oct 14th, 2019 at 07:21:08 PM EST

Leading in "diplomacy" ... the Russian designed S-400 missile system.

Nearly half of Turks favor purchase of S-400 missiles: Survey | Hürriyet News |

Failure to reign in Idlib jihadists makes trouble for Turkey

Kurds announce deal with Damascus on troop deployment to confront Turkish offensive | Middle East Eye |

In the Middle East, Russia is back | Gulf News |

Among the presidents, prime ministers, kings and princes who have visited Moscow over the past year to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin are some of the United States' closest allies, who once might have been expected to devote their travel time to Washington.

There's a new power rising in the Middle East, and it needs to be wooed.

Continued below the fold ...

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Spain is not a democracy

by IdiotSavant Mon Oct 14th, 2019 at 09:49:49 AM EST

Two years ago Catalans braved police batons and rubber bullets to vote overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum. Today, Spain jailed nine politicians who organised and supported that referendum process for a combined total of a hundred years for "sedition", after a trial that was little more than a judicial lynching. Protests against the verdicts are already breaking out across Catalonia, but Spain has invaded with 1500 riot police to "keep order". So we'll probably see more scenes of peaceful protesters being beaten, gassed and shot for daring to express the view that a democratic society should resolve questions democratically.

Because that, fundamentally, is what this is about. While Catalans are divided on independence, there has always been overwhelming support for the idea that as a democratic society they should be allowed to vote on it. Spain has responded to that idea with violence and brutality. It has treated Catalonia like a colonial possession, whose people must be kept in line by force, rather than as citizens of a democratic state. It has not behaved like a democracy, but like the fascist dictatorship it supposedly ended 40 years ago.

That treatment has unsurprisingly strengthened the desire for independence, as people seek to leave the country which mistreats them. When this mess began, Spain could have allowed a vote, and probably won it, and that result would have been accepted for a decade or more. Now, there's really only one outcome: independence. The question is how long it takes, and how many people Spain murders trying to stop it.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Comments >> (7 comments)

Is the tide turning in Hungary?

by IdiotSavant Mon Oct 14th, 2019 at 02:04:13 AM EST

Over the past decade, Hungary has become an increasingly authoritarian "illiberal democracy", as Prime Minister Victor Orbán has used his political dominance to stifle opposition. But they had local body elections today, and the tide may be turning:

The candidate backed by several opposition parties has been elected mayor of Budapest, in a blow to nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party.

With 74% of the votes counted in Budapest, Gergely Karacsony was leading Istvan Tarlos by 50.1% to 44.8%. Shortly after, Tarlos, the ruling party incumbent, conceded defeat on Sunday night.

"On the national level the result is nice but in Budapest, there is thinking to be done," Tarlos told a news conference flanked by Orbán, the prime minister. "Budapest made the decision to elect Gergely Karacsony today."

Despite Tarlos's reference to the national picture, opposition parties were also projected to win mayoral races in around 10 of the country's 23 largest cities in nationwide local elections. In 2014, they won just three of those races.

Local body elections aren't the same as national ones, but it suggests Hungarian voters are finally sick of Orbán. Hopefully they'll get a proper chance to throw him out in 2022.

Comments >> (4 comments)

Ukraine: President Zelenskiy A Servant of Trump

by Oui Fri Oct 11th, 2019 at 11:24:08 AM EST

Two Giuliani fixers face charges in US court | Kyiv Post | [Limited free articles]

In January 2019, Parnas and Fruman then introduced Guiliani to two highly controversial former Ukrainian prosecutors -- former General Prosecutor of Ukraine Viktor Shokin and his successor, Yuriy Lutsenko.

During these meetings, Lutsenko and Shokin alleged that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections on Hillary Clinton's behalf and that the U. S. Embassy in Ukraine, under the direction of U. S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch at the time, was secretly assisting.

[...]

Giuliani was forced to reveal supplied notes of the Jan. 25-26 conversations with Lutsenko to the U. S. State Department, which turned them over to Congress. The notes also included an account of a Jan. 23 phone call with Shokin.

These meetings were organized by Parnas and Fruman and as stated in the notes they were present during these conversations.


Donald Trump Jr., Tommy Hicks Jr., Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. (Credit: The Campaign Legal Center via AP)

Continued below the fold ...

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First arrests in Trump Impeachment Saga

by ARGeezer Fri Oct 11th, 2019 at 12:54:08 AM EST

2 Giuliani Associates Tied to Ukraine Scandal Arrested on Campaign Finance Charges  NYT

WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutors unsealed charges on Thursday against two men who have aided President Trump's efforts to gather damaging information in Ukraine about his political opponents, a criminal case that signaled growing legal exposure for the president's allies as Mr. Trump tries to blunt an impeachment inquiry in Congress.

The indictment of the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, sketched a complex scheme to violate campaign finance laws and did not accuse Mr. Trump of wrongdoing. But it revealed new details about the push to pressure Ukraine: a campaign encouraged by Mr. Trump, led by his private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and assisted by obscure figures like Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman.

Mr. Trump continues to defend the effort, which is the focus of the impeachment inquiry that House Democrats opened last month. The new indictment, however, suggests the first criminal implications of the shadow foreign policy that Mr. Giuliani pushed on behalf of the president.


The whole saga just came to a rolling boil. The two men were arrested at Dulles International Airport with one way tickets to Vienna. Coincedently Rudy Guiliani was also scheduled to fly to Vienna.

Unlike Watergate this scandal STARTED with a confession by Donald Trump in the summary of his infamous telephone call with Ukranian PM Zelenski. Now we are starting to fill in the details.

Mr. Giuliani has been public about his hunt for damaging information about Democrats, and the indictment gives a more complete picture about how he seems to have subcontracted part of the work to Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, two of his longtime associates.

(The indictment directly connected the two men to a key element of the pressure campaign, an effort to recall the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, after she became a focus of criticism from many of Mr. Trump's allies. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman donated money and pledged to raise additional funds in 2018 -- some violating legal limits -- for a congressman who was then enlisted in the campaign to oust her, court papers showed.


Ms. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who appears tho have been removed from her post because she wouldn't 'play ball', is due to be deposed tomorrow by a House Committee.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is having a telephone conference tomorrow with House Democrats to get a sense of their positions on the impeachment investigation.

This story has long legs.

Comments >> (11 comments)

Does anyone care?

by Frank Schnittger Thu Oct 10th, 2019 at 01:27:35 PM EST


DUP defensive cunning misses big picture of being laughed out of court

In 2015, towards the end of a previous Stormont crisis, then Democratic Unionist Party leader and first minister Peter Robinson found himself in a corner. He had threatened to bring down power-sharing if devolution was not suspended over an IRA murder. However, the British government had called his bluff. So the DUP commenced an arcane series of rolling resignations, with ministers standing down for a week, resuming their posts just in time to avoid triggering an election, then standing down again.


It was a classic DUP solution under Robinson's tenure, stretching laws and promises to the limit to construct an elaborate face-saving mechanism. But the DUP leader had misjudged Northern Ireland's sense of the absurd. The resignations were promptly christened "the hokey cokey" and became a joke from which Robinson's authority never recovered. He announced his retirement from politics two months later.

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EU-UK Relations: Trading Blows

by Oui Tue Oct 8th, 2019 at 01:42:37 PM EST

Merkel: EU agreement on Brexit deal 'overwhelmingly unlikely' | DW |

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the likelihood of the European Union ratifying UK Prime Minister Johnson's Brexit deal as "overwhelmingly unlikely" in a call between the two leaders on Tuesday morning, according to a Downing Street source.

Continued below the fold ...

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The Blame Game

by Frank Schnittger Tue Oct 8th, 2019 at 12:26:14 PM EST

Well that didn't last long...

Johnson allies admit deal hopes are effectively dead

British prime minister Boris Johnson's allies admitted on Tuesday that hopes of a Brexit deal at next week's EU summit were effectively dead after Mr Johnson held a bruising phone conversation with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Sterling fell on the news, as Number 10 began a "blame game" strategy amid dark warnings that Britain would retaliate against EU member states and that talk of "sincere co-operation" with the EU was now "in the toilet".

Elsewhere, EU Council president Donald Tusk accused Mr Johnson of playing a `stupid blame game' in his dealings with the bloc. "What's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people," Mr Tusk wrote on Twitter. "You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke," the Council President added, before asking "quo vadis?" the Latin for "where are you going?"

After days of gathering gloom over the possibility of a Brexit breakthrough, unnamed Number 10 sources on Tuesday prepared the ground for failure, claiming that Dr Merkel and other EU leaders had not moved "a centimetre". Although Downing Street has so far declined to comment on the telephone call with Dr Merkel, Mr Johnson's allies accused the German chancellor of vetoing Britain's Brexit plan, which would see Northern Ireland leave the EU customs union.

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Ukraine Caught Between East and West, Red and Blue

by Oui Thu Oct 3rd, 2019 at 07:13:23 PM EST

A long history of a divided state, caught up in collapse of West-European and Eastern Empires and the Rise and Fall of Communism in the 20th Century. The oligarchs run the nation ...

Zelensky unchained: What Ukraine's new political order means for its future | ECFR |

Viktor Pinchuk, Trump's Lonely Friend In Ukraine

In the first google search the organization "Yes" appeared ... a long history to join the EU and reset the relations with Russia.

[A number of links added are mine in article below - Oui]

Who are Donald Trump's friends in Ukraine? | DW |

US President Donald Trump has never been to Ukraine and has shown little interest in the country. In the past, he has accused the former Soviet Republic of attempting to sabotage his 2016 election campaign. At the time, information from Kyiv led to the resignation of his campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who earlier had advised a pro-Russian party in Ukraine and was later sentenced to prison for charges relating to his foreign lobbying work.

Continued below the fold ...

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Scamming the peace

by Frank Schnittger Wed Oct 2nd, 2019 at 11:51:32 AM EST


Boris Brexit plan a `scam', says Good Friday agreement negotiator

Ability to feel Irish or British or both `will be destroyed' , says Jonathan Powell.

Former Labour Party adviser Jonathan Powell, one of the chief negotiators of the Good Friday agreement, described Boris Johnson's Brexit deal proposal as a "scam" .


He told BBC's Newsnight: They are "trying to avoid a deal in order to get to no deal as they were always going to do. This is the final confirmation that's their aim."

Powell also said the ability to feel Irish or British or both - a key part of the Good Friday agreement - "will be destroyed" if a customs border is put in. "The point of this is not how long it takes a lorry to cross the border in Northern Ireland. The issue is identity."

The main ingredients of Johnson's plan, to be outlined on Wednesday in his Tory party conference speech, are a proposal for "two borders for four years" and a "Stormont Lock". After the transition period comes to an end, Northern Ireland would stay in the single market for four years but, crucially, not in the customs union.

That would mean that there would be a single market for the whole of Ireland for agri-food and manufactured goods until 2025. It would also mean other goods originating from the North would be subject to customs checks once they crossed the border into the EU.


Read more... (23 comments, 1814 words in story)

AG Barr On Foreign Tour Soliciting Intelligence

by Oui Wed Oct 2nd, 2019 at 10:48:22 AM EST

A never ending tale of Red vs Blue ...

William Barr's 4-country effort to discredit the Trump-Russia inquiry, explained | Vox |

News reports this week have clarified that Attorney General William Barr's promised investigation into the origins of the FBI investigation of links between Russia and the Trump campaign is very real, and has involved high-level talks and meetings with the governments of four countries -- Ukraine, Italy, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

That's a motley assortment of nations whose links and relevance may not be obvious to someone who gets their news from mainstream sources.

The four countries link together as part of a counternarrative popular on the right that holds that the real scandal of the Trump-Russia affair is not anything Trump (or the Russians) did but a "deep state" plot by intelligence agencies to swing the election against Hillary Clinton.

Taking the narrative, add a lot of falsehoods and one creates multiple-conspiracies for news headlines and plenty of content.

More below the fold ...

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Indonesia RKUHP: Not Just Sex

by Oui Tue Oct 1st, 2019 at 09:43:52 AM EST

The media outlet of the New York Times? Poor choice for a source on many matters relating to foreign affairs, especially the Middle East and the Islamic nations. Indonesia, the nation with the largest Muslim population, needs to get in line and enforce Sharia Law if it wants to play along with the wealth of fossil fuel states: Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Brunei and its neighbors Malaysia and Singapore.

Saudi Arabia's influence in Southeast Asia - too embedded to be disrupted?  

h/t post by ARGeezer

More below the fold ...

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Impeachment: Key Witness Envoy Kurt Volker Resigns

by Oui Sat Sep 28th, 2019 at 05:42:38 AM EST

Diary will be updated later ... more to come!

McCain Institute head Kurt Volker steps down as US diplomat | The State Press |

Executive Director of the McCain Institute Kurt Volker resigned from his position as the U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine Friday, following reports he collaborated with Ukraine and President Donald Trump.

An ASU official confirmed Volker's resignation Friday, and said the University could not speak about his future at ASU because the University does not comment on personnel matters.

Volker met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Friday to announce he would be resigning, the official said.

Continued below the fold ...

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John Major's Encore

by ARGeezer Fri Sep 27th, 2019 at 03:59:44 AM EST

Boris Johnson could bypass key law blocking no-deal Brexit by issuing order to suspend it, John Major warns Independent

Boris Johnson may be planning to bypass a law blocking a no-deal Brexit by issuing an order to suspend it until after the scheduled date of Britain's EU withdrawal on 31 October, former prime minister Sir John Major has warned.

The order could be passed by ministers acting in the Privy Council without the involvement of parliament or the Queen, said Sir John, who denounced the tactic as "a piece of political chicanery that no one should ever forgive or forget".

In a speech to the Centre for European Reform, the former PM said he suspects that Mr Johnson is eager for an early election because he has seen the unedited version of government impact assessments and wants the vote out of the way before the public is aware of the full scale of the damage no deal will do to the country.

Never underestimate the ingenuity of a sociopathic maniac.

Read more... (29 comments, 394 words in story)

What To Do After the Climate Strike

by gmoke Thu Sep 26th, 2019 at 04:45:01 PM EST

Fridays for the Future (https:/www.fridaysforfuture.org) - the Friday Climate Strikes continue
October 2 there will be a Global Solar Yatra (https:
www.ggsy.in) with 1 million students in over 70 countries building their own solar lights for studying
October 7 Extinction Rebellion (https:
xrmass.org/action/nyc-kickoff-global-rebellion) will be doing actions around the world
Sunrise Movement (https:/www.sunrisemovement.org) is planning actions in support of the Green New Deal up to and after the Inauguration of the next President in January 2020

September 20 was a great show of strength but what are we going to do tomorrow and the day after that?  Is there a daily climate practice that can do what we need to get done in the time available?  I know someone who used to write a letter to the editor to some publication around the world on climate issues every day.  Now he does stand outs most mornings during rush hour traffic with his climate signs.  Another is standing up in the train to talk about climate on the commute home.  ("How did Solidarity start?" someone once asked Lech Walesa who answered, "By speaking loud at the bus stops.")  I have a solar swadeshi myself: http://solarray.blogspot.com/2005/05/solar-swadeshi-hand-made-electricity.html
and have been practicing Solar IS Civil Defense for 20 years:
https:
www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/8/1697177-Is-It-Time-to-Talk-About-Solar-Civil-Defense
https:/www.dailykos.com/stories/2007/3/30/317777-

If the children can devote one day a week to climate issues, the adults should too.  Climate strikes can evolve into climate teach-ins, brainstorms, hackathons, and barnraisings, especially if we have a daily climate action plan on international, national, regional, state, county, municipal, neighborhood, family, and individual scales with benchmarks and targets.

Greta Thunberg at the UN mentioned that we are on track to burn through our carbon budget, the amount of greenouse gases we can put into the sky and still stay within that "magic" 1.5º F heating range, within 8 years.  That's one benchmark.  The idea that "we have a little more than a decade" to turn around climate comes from a 2017 paper from Christiana Figueres, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Gail Whiteman, Johan Rockström, Anthony Hobley & Stefan Rahmstorf.  What gets mentioned less is their six-point plan with specific targets for turning the tide of the world's carbon dioxide by 2020:  https:/www.nature.com/news/three-years-to-safeguard-our-climate-1.22201

However, China may reach its greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2022, far ahead of its 2030 schedule announced at the 2015 Paris climate meeting:
https:
www.reuters.com/article/us-china-carbon/china-co2-emissions-to-peak-in-2022-ahead-of-schedul e-government-researcher-idUSKCN1VQ1K0
and Norway, Iceland, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Paraguay are all countries which get almost all their electricity from renewable energy now: https:
www.climatecouncil.org.au/11-countries-leading-the-charge-on-renewable-energy
Costa Rica plans to be a carbon neutral nation by 2021:
https:/www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/climate/costa-rica-zero-carbon-neutral.html

Job One for Humanity (https:/www.joboneforhumanity.org/plan) has a four point plan for climate action starting from emergency preparation and working on up to mass political and social change.  Many of their ideas are not only adaptation to the weather emergencies they believe are now inevitable but also best practices which will also mitigate any more climate damage and improve individual, family, and local resilience.

Lots to do and lots we can do.  

If anyone is interested, My Approach to Climate Change is available at http://solarray.blogspot.com/2018/12/my-approach-to-climate-change.html

Litigation Lawyer Told to Buy Stab Vest

by Oui Thu Sep 26th, 2019 at 03:19:03 PM EST

Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for language

Supreme court litigant advised to buy stab vest after death threats | The Guardian |

A leading lawyer in the legal fight against Boris Johnson's prorogation of parliament has said he may need to leave the country over death threats triggered by the supreme court case that ruled the suspension "unlawful, void and of no effect".

Jolyon Maugham QC has revealed that his local police and crime commissioner was sufficiently concerned by recent threats against his life that he was advised to buy a stab vest, while a former counter-terrorism expert was ordered to install a panic button in Maugham's home. High-end security equipment is also installed outside his home.

Continued below the fold ...

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Wrightbus goes wrong

by Frank Schnittger Thu Sep 26th, 2019 at 09:16:31 AM EST


Boris Johnson at Wrightbus

Wrightbus is one of the few iconic N. Ireland industrial concerns along with Harland and Wolff shipyard (which built the Titanic) and Short Brothers aircraft manufacturing, now owned by Bombardier, which manufactures wings for the Airbus A220 aircraft, and which is considered a possible Airbus takeover target. Wrightbus is best known as the maker of the iconic London "Boris Bus"

Wrightbus is headquartered in the Antrim town of Ballymena which is also the home town of Ian Paisley, founder of the Free Presbyterian Church and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). It is at the very epicentre of hardline, fundamentalist protestant unionism. In 2017 it donated £4 Million to "Christian, evangelical and other charitable activities at a time it made a pre-tax loss of £1.7 million. It is owned by "Pastor" Jeffrey William Wright who controls almost 69 per cent of the company and the Wright Evangelical Trust.

William Wright was a key supporter of the Leave campaign in Northern Ireland, but the Brexit vote caused uncertainty in its marketplace, and the company found that some of its customers reconsidered investment plans because of the UK's changing relationship with Europe. Many of the WrightBus customers are private and State-owned transport operators, and some of these have parent companies with headquarters in Europe. Wrightbus has now gone into administration with the likely loss of 1,200 jobs and thousands more in the supply chain and supporting services.

Read more... (26 comments, 274 words in story)

AG Cox: íThis Is a Dead Parliament'

by Oui Wed Sep 25th, 2019 at 11:26:23 AM EST

[Update 1+2 added]

The Brexit-Tories on the attack ... no sign of any humiliation or shame ... the attack dogs are out!!!

The Attorney General: "This parliament is a dead parliament ... the members have no moral right to sit on these green benches."

The Conservatives follow the line of Rees-Mogg.... "this was a Constitutional Coup."

The reactions now are getting degenerational ... unworthy of the House of Commons.

More below the fold ...

Read more... (38 comments, 958 words in story)
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by Bjinse - Sep 30, 252 comments

Your take on this week's news

 5 - 11 August 2019

by Bjinse - Aug 5, 436 comments

Your take on this week's news

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by Bjinse - Sep 30, 37 comments

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