by Frank Schnittger
Fri Mar 22nd, 2019 at 01:00:27 PM EST
The Daily Mail, formerly the chief cheerleader for Brexit and mouthpiece for "ordinary conservatives," and latterly (after a change of editor) chief cheer leader for Theresa May:
Theresa May was humiliated last night after EU leaders took control of Brexit and gave her a fortnight 'flextension' to get MPs to vote for her deal after calling her make-or-break summit display 'evasive' and 'confused'.
Britain will not leave the EU until at least next month after a late-night deal in Brussels where European leaders rejected Mrs May's appeal for an extension until June 30 after her plea for a three-month delay fell flat.
Instead they offered to extend Article 50 until May 22 - only if the Prime Minister gets her deal through Parliament next week.
But they warned her that if the deal was not passed she must make a decision by April 12 - just three weeks' time - amid growing rumours Mrs May could have quit by then.
Today Theresa May texted EU leaders and told them she would miss day two of the Brussels summit to return to London 'to work on getting the withdrawal deal passed'.
But slamming her approach Tory backbencher Michael Fabricant appeared to compared Theresa May to Neville Chamberlain, who signed a disastrous appeasement deal with Hitler, and said: 'At this difficult time we need a Churchill, not a Chamberlain'.
Insiders said EU leaders were visibly bemused during last night's Brexit debate described as '90 minutes of nothing' where Mrs May appeared 'evasive, had no plan and even seemed confused' when asked what she will do if her deal is voted down again.
One prime minister told aides afterwards: 'The only thing that came through with clarity was her lack of a plan' and one EU aide said afterwards: 'She didn't have a plan, so they needed to come up with one for her'.
Mrs May was ejected from the dinner and forced to eat alone as the talks continued to overcome the split and EU leaders then rejected her June 30 extension.
One senior EU official told Politico that after the PM left the room French President Emmanuel Macron said loudly that he believed Mrs May's deal had a 10 per cent chance of getting through the Commons but added: 'After listening to her, I now think five per cent' before Donald Tusk grimaced and chipped in that this 'sounded too optimistic'.
Thu Mar 21st, 2019 at 07:54:28 PM EST
Stupidity cannot just be claimed by Trump voters or the British in support of ideas propagated by ERG extremists in the Brexit campaign ...
Yesterday the Dutch voters gave a majority in the senate to newcomer Thierry Baudet ... where did this shooting star originate from?
Forum for Democracy | Wikipedia |
Forum for Democracy was established as a think tank; its main feat was campaigning for the 2016 Dutch Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement referendum. In September 2016, it converted itself into a political party and announced its intention to take part in the 2017 Dutch general election. In joining the democratic system, they hope to change the system.
Thierry Baudet founder and leader of the party FvD (2016)
In the 2017 general election, the FvD ended up with 1.8% of the vote and 2 seats, entering parliament for the first time.
In January 2019 the FvD had approximately 30,000 members  .. The bulk of the Forum's parliamental candidates did not have prior active experience in other political parties. In February 2018 the party suffered from internal issues with a number of prominent members leaving the party, because they felt the party had a lack of internal democracy.
In the 2018 municipal elections, the FvD won 3 seats at the Amsterdam city council.
During the 2019 provincial elections, Forum for Democracy won 86 seats spread across the 12 provinces of the Netherlands. In South Holland, North Holland and Flevoland, FvD became the largest party, winning 11, 9 and 8 seats respectively. In all other provinces, the party captured either the second or third spot in terms of the popular vote.
You British people recognize him?
More below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Mar 20th, 2019 at 10:16:12 PM EST
The UK government has requested an extension of the A.50 notification period until June 30th. This creates the awkward situation whereby the UK is still a member of the EU on the 23rd. May, when all members are legally obliged to hold European Parliament elections. It also created problems for EU leaders as the letter requesting the delay came too late for many EU leaders to consult with their parliaments - as they would normally do - before taking a position on it at the EU Council.
Donald Tusk, speaking on behalf of the European Council says "he believes a short extension to A.50 will be possible", but only on condition of the House of Commons voting in favour of the draft Withdrawal Agreement. It is available to enable the required legislation to be passed, but not to engage in further procrastination or discussions on the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
Theresa May, for her part, has spoken directly to the UK People in a TV broadcast over the heads of MPs saying it is time for MPs to stop squabbling and engaging in arcane procedural wrangling. MPs have not responded well, branding her talk pointless, insulting, and arrogant. Dominic Grieve, a leading Conservative Remainer and former Attorney General says "he has never been more ashamed to be a member of the Conservative party" and that he will oppose the Prime Minister unless the Withdrawal Agreement is put to the people in a public vote.
Tue Mar 19th, 2019 at 03:29:24 AM EST
John Todd, author of Healing Earth: An Ecologist's Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2019 ISBN 9781623172985) (https:/www.northatlanticbooks.com/shop/healing-earth), has spent his professional life building living technologies, eco-machines and eco-restorers, biological systems which "contain representative species from all the kingdoms of life ranging from bacteria and viruses at the lower end of the size scale to fungi, animals, and woody plants at the macro scale. Working together as a biological team, these assemblages of organisms help us transform polluted water into clean water. In return, we provide them with extra air and water circulation as well as appropriate substrates to live on or in." He works on the basis of "that which has been damaged can be healed" and "do good things in bad places," showing that the field of applied ecology is practical and can solve problems, exploring the myriad ways that informed stewardship can help heal and transform the Earth.
He started with a greenhouse full of transparent water tanks for the treatment of septage in Harwich, MA in the 1980s and, "more by accident than design," included representative species of all the kingdoms of life in the system. Over years of experimentation, he learned "that a diversity of organisms from a variety of parent ecosystems could produce systems with a meta-intelligence that had a highly specific ability to self-organize, self-design, and self-replicate. They were capable, in fact, of surviving through long periods of times, possibly centuries, with minimal human support."
His installations are ecologically engineered, "they are designed with the attributes of natural ecosystems like marshes, ponds, and streams," borrowing their designs, life forms, and progressions from natural ecosystems. For John Todd "natural history is not an old-fashioned form of knowing; it comprises the narratives of living entities that provide the alphabet of the design vocabulary."
In this book, he provides a pattern language, the human grammar for that design vocabulary, a baker's dozen of design principles for constructing living technologies and eco-machines based upon his decades of experience with projects that treat sewage, septage, petroleum wastes and other toxics, producing improved water quality at both household and community scales.
Todd considers such individual projects as First Order Ecological Design, techniques and technologies applied to the landscape. Second Order Design is the linking together of processes and practices into new associations and entities, industrial ecologies and agricultural eco-parks for example. Third Order Ecological Design addresses larger economic and social structures and their evolution over time. He writes, "It is my belief that durable and sustainable economies, in an age of resource limits and information richness, can replace the extractive and environmentally destructive technologies and infrastructures of today." For an example of a Third Order Ecological Design see John Todd's ecological plan for Appalachia, the winner of the first Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award at https:/www.bfi.org/ideaindex/projects/2008/challenge-appalachia
In Healing Earth, John Todd has given us practical, working examples of how to think like nature itself, in ever expanding systems which repair the damage we homo sap sap (the sap) have already done. We must learn to live in our ecological niche or risk extinction. John Todd's report of his lifetime of observation and experimentation teaches us not only how to live within that niche but expand it.
Projects from Todd Ecological
Providence, RI living machine treating sewage and septage with ecological systems design and without chemicals (1990)
Canal Restorer to River Restorer (2013)
Gaian Design of Ecological Alchemy: notes from A Safe, Sustainable World (2005)
Mon Mar 18th, 2019 at 06:31:52 PM EST
Throw away May's blue print - back to the drawing board ...
○ Constitutional chaos after third vote on Brexit deal blocked | The Guardian |
More below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 12:30:37 PM EST
It was Karl Marx who observed that "history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce". Clearly we are reaching the farcical stages of the Brexit Greek tragedy.
Just yesterday the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, gave the official closing oration urging the House to support a government motion and saying it was in the national interest, and then voted against it. The Government's Chief Whip, Julian Smith, charged with whipping it's members to support the motion, abstained. Eight cabinet ministers voted against the government, and still did not resign or face dismissal.
A government motion seeking support for May's deal is defeated by 149 votes - the fourth largest margin of defeat for a government in history - and yet the government proposes to bring the same motion before the house again next week. The House of Commons votes decisively against a "no deal" Brexit and for a delay in Brexit itself, and yet has no idea what it will do with that extra time.
Those voting in favour of a "no deal" Brexit claim they are doing so to put pressure on the EU in the negotiations, seemingly unaware that those negotiations are over. There hasn't been a serious negotiation since November and even all attempts at "clarifications" in accompanying documents are at an end.
The Attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, no doubt having examined the contents of his codpiece, seeks to add three paragraphs to his earlier, decisive, legal advice claiming that under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties the UK could cancel the Irish Backstop if "unforeseen circumstances arise" and drawing derision and scorn from experts in the field. How can you trust a country as a negotiating counterparty if they are proposing breaking a deal before the ink has even dried on their signature?
And yet all the while EU leaders are unfailingly courteous and helpful: would you like more time? How much more time would you like? Is there anything else we can help you with? Barnier greets Theresa May with a kiss and warm hug. Juncker doesn't even pinch her bottom. It must be bloody infuriating to be a Brexiteer at times. Just when you need a good bogeyman, he refuses to turn up.
But could it be a case of the spider welcoming a fly into its web?
Fri Mar 15th, 2019 at 05:55:32 AM EST
[Update-1] Death toll now at 49 with many still in critical condition in hospitals. One person arrested and will be charged with murder. Two IEDs found on a single vehicle. There was no warning bij our security agencies. One person arrested was born in Australia.
< END OF UPDATE >
A sophisticated multiple terror attack was send out live-streaming via an Australian Facebook account ... up to 27 fatalities ... due to late arrival for Friday prayers, just saved the Bangladesh cricket team ... not a safe world we live in ...
Mushfiqur Rahim also tweeted about the attack and said the team was "extremely lucky" to be safe.
"Alhamdulillah Allah [saved] us today [during] shooting in Christchurch in the mosque... we are extremely lucky... never want to see this things happen again (sic)... pray for us," he said.
More below the fold ...
Thu Mar 14th, 2019 at 12:21:15 PM EST
On 30 January 1972, British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians in Derry in Northern Ireland, killing thirteen people. The usual official whitewash followed, and the leader of the murderers was awarded an OBE for his services. But a second inquiry in the 2000's called the crime what it was: murder. The Police Service of Northern Ireland finally began a murder investigation, and now one former soldier has been charged with murder. But only one. As for the rest, the men who pumped bullets into a crowd, shot those trying to flee, and murdered those trying to help the wounded, they all get away with it. But it gets worse - because the reaction of the British government to this was not an acknowledgement of its past crimes and a desire that a prosecution might finally bring some justice, however imperfect, to its victims, but this:
Responding to the PPS decisions, the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: "We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland. The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today's decision. This includes funding all his legal costs and providing welfare support.
"The Ministry of Defence is working across government to drive through a new package of safeguards to ensure our armed forces are not unfairly treated.
"And the government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution."
No, Cthulhu forbid murderers living in fear that they might finally face justice! Won't someone think of the poor, oppressed killers?
In case anyone needs reminding, the dead of Bloody Sunday were UK citizens, killed by their own government for daring to demand human rights. They deserve justice. But they will never get it from Britain.
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Mar 13th, 2019 at 12:45:11 AM EST
Letter published by the Irish Times.
Countering North-South mistrust
A chara, - Una Mullally writes that "North-South dialogue and cohesion must avoid unionist vs nationalist binaries" ("Southern patriotic grandstanding must stop if we want a united Ireland", Opinion & Analysis, March 11th).
My late wife, Muriel Boothman, was chairwoman of the Blessington Women's Group, then the largest rural local women's group in Ireland. Some 30 years ago they were organising family exchanges where Protestant women from the North stayed with Catholic families in the South and vice versa. For many it was a daunting and then a transformative experience because most had never been across the Border before and had visions of being hunted with pitchforks! They came to realise that our similarities far exceed our differences, and even our differences didn't amount to much more than cultural anachronisms.
In my youth, I did some youth work in the north inner city of Dublin, and there were many teenagers who hadn't been west of Capel Street, south of the Liffey, or north of Fairview. Similarly in Lurgan, where the denizens of some sectarian ghettoes had hardly ever been in the houses and estates of their opposite numbers. So, yes, there is lot of cross-community work which needs to be done, both within and between North and south, which no formal referendum or inter-governmental agreement can achieve.
This doesn't need to be a highfalutin philosophical debate. Playing Gaelic, soccer or rugby together, sharing educational systems and cultural events, economic links and social campaigns can all play their part.
But this is why Brexit is such a tragedy and keeping the Border open so important. Anything which reignites tensions could set us back a generation, and those who stoke those tensions should rightly be shunned. Some in the North may be more comfortable with "the good old days" where you knew whose side you were on, and who to hate and fight. Others in the South who have done well out of recent economic growth may wonder why they should take on the financial, social and political risks and costs of reunification.
It's much more difficult to be open and accepting of differences and creating relationships across boundaries. But it can be done and I am hopeful that the younger generation coming through to power will achieve it. Opinion polls of social attitudes show younger people identifying less and less with simple Catholic versus Protestant and nationalist versus unionist binaries.
True unity will come, if at all, not when nationalists outnumber unionists, but when the vast majority cease to care about the distinctions, or at least recognise them for what they are: minor differences compared to the greater humanity that unites us. The success of the Derry Girls comedy series among all demographics should remind us of that fact. - Yours, etc,
Blessington, Co Wicklow.
Tue Mar 12th, 2019 at 09:06:44 PM EST
So, having rejected Theresa May's shit Brexit deal, UK MP's were told to vote until they got it right - and rejected it again. Which means that the UK is now just 16 days from Brexit and has no plan whatsoever.
Tomorrow the UK parliament will vote on whether to leave the EU without a deal. They will reject that (again). The day after they will vote on asking the EU for an extension, so they can flail around and fail to make up their minds some more. But with no prospect of any change to the deadlock, there is little point to an extension. The EU may grant it, simply to give the UK every possible chance, but ultimately the deal they have offered is the only deal on the table, and the UK can take it or leave it.
The real problem here is the dysfunction and delusion of the UK political class. Faced with the biggest political crisis in a century, they are unable to agree on anything, unable to even accept their negotiating position. So we have delusional absurdities like the EU just giving them whatever they want if they whine loudly enough, or that they can ignore their binding international legal commitments to the Irish peace agreement because they're Britain and they Rule The Waves. Or their imperialist delusions that Ireland would leave the EU and "re"-join their colonial oppressors for the convenience of the latter - or that threatening them with food shortages would change their minds (I guess they don't teach about the potato famine at Eton or Oxford...)
Given this utter failure, there is really only one solution: parliament can't make up its mind, so kick it back to the people in a second referendum. But that would involve the UK political class admitting its failures and yielding a smidgen of power (not to mention the risk that the people might then want to address the fundamental causes of an unfair electoral system and an intellectually inbred elite which produced this clusterfuck), so it will never happen. So instead they'll just continue the cannibalistic orgy all the way to the bottom of the cliff.
Mon Mar 11th, 2019 at 11:56:29 PM EST
WTF caught me blindsided ... a complete surprise.
More below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Mar 8th, 2019 at 09:18:55 PM EST
After the debacle of David Davis's no show in Brussels, Dominic Raab's token appearance as a Brexiteer Brexit secretary not actually in charge of any negotiation, and Stephan Barkley's convincing impersonation of a total non-entity in the role, the UK badly needed a heavyweight negotiator to do some heavy lifting in Brussels. Enter, stage left, Geoffrey Cox, a Queen's Counsel recently appointed attorney general, to cast his legal eye over proceedings.
It is not going well. According to Bloomberg, Cox's flamboyant style is not going down well in Brussels, but at least his Commons reference to looking inside Cox's codpiece to check everything is still in full working order provided some much needed light relief. He caused consternation and incredulity in Brussels and in Ireland by his claim that the Backstop could breach human rights law and EU briefings on the progress of the talks have been uniformly dismissive and gloomy.
In what seems like utter frustration, the EU is offering to go back to their original proposal of a N. Ireland only backstop. It was Theresa May who insisted it should apply to all of the UK - at the insistence of the DUP - to avoid a border down the Irish sea. Many in the EU were actually concerned at giving such a huge concession to the UK - cost free access to the Customs Union when Norway pays dearly for the privilege of access to the Single Market. The UK were actually using the border issue as a lever to prize open continued access to the Customs Union for free - but as usual, the Brexiteers were too stupid to recognise a gift horse when they were offered it.
Sun Mar 3rd, 2019 at 09:04:27 AM EST
The Saudi Monarchy is in peril, has been for many years. Domestic forces based on ultra-conservative Wahhabism has caused more than a few headaches since the seventies, more than a half century ago. In close ties with its benefactor the US, the Saudi Kings felt quite safe from outside perils. This has all changed during the Obama presidency and the signed JCPOA nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran. [Persian acronym: BARJAM]
The Obama foreign policy team instigated military intervention at the start of the Arab Uprising early in 2011 which spread across the MENAT countries. The ensued chaos cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and further hardship in multiples for the population. In the meantime, Israel tried to provoke a military assault on Iran in 2012 ... president Obama would have none of it and blocked where he could Israel in implementing such a foolhardy action. Fortunately, the war cabinet of PM Netanyahu did their utmost to prevent such a military action. The propaganda was flying all over the Middle East from each capital. The Syrian unrest and civil war would have been an excellent décor to play out a military strike on Iran.
More below the fold ...
Sat Mar 2nd, 2019 at 06:17:07 PM EST
Post Brexit .. post-ECJ interference - post-pollution regulation - post archaic EU standards - post-ICC membership perhaps?
To protect the consumers ... delivery of chlorinated chicken and pumped-up beef ... beats "dated" EU standards anyday!
What's In A Name? Johnson ...
The EU has a 'Museum of Agriculture' approach to farming, says Woody Johnson | Politico EU |
The U.K. should ignore "smears" about U.S. farming methods and move away from the EU's "Museum of Agriculture" approach, said Woody Johnson, Washington's ambassador to the U.K.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson urges U.K. citizens to embrace a bilateral trade deal that includes a loosening of the EU's agriculture standards.
Continued below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Feb 27th, 2019 at 05:25:39 PM EST
Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage: The joke is on them
Part of the Brexiteer mythology is that the EU is made up of incompetent and unprincipled bureaucrats who can be counted on to come grovelling for a compromise even if only at the last minute. To their discomfort and horror there is still no sign of the EU27 caving in, and all of Theresa May's best efforts at divide and conquer tactics have been in vain. If there is one takeaway from this almost wholly sad Brexit saga it is that, remarkably, the EU27 have stood united behind one of their smallest members and maintained a coherent negotiating position throughout.
Sun Feb 24th, 2019 at 09:44:03 PM EST
I don't buy many books ... this one I will and will write about it in a fortnight.
○ Bette Dam ontrafelde het leven van Talibanleider mullah Omar: 'Hij had een gesprekspartner kunnen zijn' | De Volkskrant |
[Interview: Bette Dam unraveled the life of Taliban leader mullah Omar: 'He could have been a partner of peace']
Her new book is ready and will be available in the bookstores this week ... previous articles about her work as a journalist in Afghanistan and Iraq. Chasing the truth behind Americas revenge for 9/11 ...
'The World's Most Mysterious Political Leader' | Der Spiegel - July 30, 2015 |
Dutch journalist Bette Dam, 36, spent eight years working as a journalist in Kabul. She's currently working on a biography of Mullah Omar, the reclusive Taliban leader whose death was acknowledged recently. The confirmation by the Taliban followed reports by Afghan and Pakistani authorities earlier this week that the Islamist had perished some two or three years ago. Mullah Omar had been wanted since 2001 for providing a safe haven in Afghanistan to the late terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The United States had even placed a $10-million bounty on his head.
SPIEGEL ONLINE spoke to Dam about Mullah Omar's death and the true extent of his influence within the Taliban.
Continued below the fold ...
Sun Feb 24th, 2019 at 05:22:03 AM EST
So the U.S. stops refugees from Honduras at the border with Mexico ... president Trumnp called in the military for protection?
Berta Cáceres murder trial plagued by allegations of cover-ups set to end | The Guardian |
She died in the arms of her friend Gustavo Castro, a Mexican environmentalist, who was shot by a second gunman in the attack, but survived by pretending to be dead.
Cáceres had led numerous campaigns to protect indigenous territories from environmentally destructive mega-projects, as general coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh).
Continued below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Thu Feb 21st, 2019 at 05:30:02 PM EST
So 7 Labour MPs chose to resign the party whip and set up an independent group citing dissatisfaction with Corbyn's leadership and claiming endemic anti-Semitism within the party. Hardly the most pressing issue exercising the minds of the populace just now. Perhaps it was the only issue they could find to unite around.
Then they were joined by an eighth Labour MP and three Tories. Hardly a rush to the centre.
But enough to worry Corbyn and May, and soon, perhaps, enough to ensure that the DUP and ERG aren't the only game in town. The problem is that it is not clear they have a unified and coherent plan for dealing with Brexit. Do they all support a second referendum? Will some support May's deal if the alternative is no deal? Will their whole raison d'etre be undermined if Corbyn ends up supporting a delay and then a second referendum?
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 10:35:01 PM EST
From the very first line of the foundation Treaty of Rome, "DETERMINED to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe" the EU has always thought of itself as primarily about encouraging an ever closer union between the peoples of Europe as a means of ensuring peace on the continent. Ever increasing economic integration is an important goal in itself, but also primarily a means of creating inter-dependencies which make a resort to war increasingly unthinkable.
The success of this project is self-evident. There have been no major violent conflicts within the EU since its inception despite numerous tensions and diplomatic fracas. Seen in a historical context, this represents an unprecedented 60 years of peace. Seen in a geographical context, the EU is an island of peace surrounded by wars in the Ukraine, Kosovo, Syria, Palestine and Libya.
The EU has also been instrumental in resolving or ameliorating conflicts within N. Ireland, between Russia and former Baltic states of the Soviet Union, and between states on different sides of the former "Iron Curtain". It helped ease the path to German re-unification, and may one day do so for Irish re-unification as well.
Seen in an economic context, the difficulties being experienced by the UK in extricating itself from the EU illustrate the success of the economic integration project. It wasn't meant to be easy to resurrect the ghosts of militant nationalism, and the UK will soon find there is a considerable economic price to pay for doing so.
But just as the EU was primarily a political project with strong economic and social dimensions, so too is Brexit. Many Europeans seem puzzled by the UK's hell-bent determination to pursue Brexit even after all the evidence of economic damage has become more and more apparent. So if we are to understand the EU as primarily as a political project to build peace and prosperity, how are we to understand Brexit?