by Frank Schnittger
Sat Mar 6th, 2021 at 02:08:59 AM EST
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The UK government had already threatened to break international law with its Internal Markets Bill and was dissuaded from doing so only by the signing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Now the UK government is trying the same trick with the Northern Ireland Protocol - announcing unilateral changes without going through the joint committee set up to oversee its operation. Apparently Lord Frost, ex UK Brexit negotiator and recently promoted to Boris Johnson's cabinet, has decided that the way to deal with the EU is to play hardball, and the EU will fold. That worked so well for him last time!
Paul Johnson, UK ambassador to Ireland, had a letter published in the Irish Times yesterday arguing that the UK approach was perfectly legal and indeed was required to deal with the "problems being experienced in the everyday life of communities" and to "ensure cross-community support."
The response of Irish Times letter writers has been to laugh him out of court, although I have tried to address the argument point by point in my letter published today:
Thu Mar 4th, 2021 at 07:38:01 PM EST
A three day pilgrimage made under difficult circumstances to be amongst the suffering as a sign of hope. Pope Francis wil meet with the respected Shia leader Sistani. The travel to fulfill a promise is more important than the risk for his personal safety.
Mon Mar 1st, 2021 at 09:23:51 PM EST
Top Holocaust scholar Lipstadt: CPAC Nazi-symbol stage was 'a very big oops'
This week, the acclaimed Emory University professor is keeping an eye on the CPAC gathering in Orlando, where the shape of the stage has been compared to a symbol worn by leading SS officers.
Lipstadt is also an expert witness in the federal lawsuit filed against organizers of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was retained by the plaintiffs in Sines v. Kessler, a lawsuit backed by Integrity First for America against neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Also demonstrated by Lipstadt, the anti-Black and anti-Semitic motifs broadcast by organizers were heavily intertwined. Although the defendants are often referred to as "white supremacists," their hatred of Jews and Blacks is indistinguishable, said Amy Spitalnick, the head of the nonpartisan, nonprofit group Integrity First for America.
Mon Mar 1st, 2021 at 04:11:21 AM EST
20 minute summary about the pedagogy and use of social media Howard Rheingold developed over 10 years teaching at Stanford and Berkeley
Howard Rheingold wrote The Virtual Community back in 1993 and has continued studying and working with communications technology up till tomorrow. My notes to his 2012 book, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, are available at
There's a lot of considered experience here for all of us who are learning the Internet.
I've known Howard since the days when he was the editor of the Whole Earth Review. We've met only a couple of times face to face but have corresponded by mail and email, blog, and twitter for decades. He knows whereof he speaks.
Sun Feb 28th, 2021 at 10:47:59 PM EST
Since the pandemic began, the UK government has restricted protests in an effort to contain the plague. But of course, they're plotting to make these restrictions permanent:
Concern over the government's limitation of the right to protest during lockdown continues to mount after it emerged that the home secretary, Priti Patel, is eager to grant police greater powers to control demonstrations once the Covid restrictions are lifted.
In a letter to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) Patel wrote that although she appreciates protest is "a cornerstone of our democracy" she wanted to know how the Home Office could help police ensure protests in the future do not impact on "the rights of others to go about their daily business".
The point of protest is to tell people something they don't want to hear. Naturally, the targets feel inconvenienced by this. But that is part of living in a free society. Unfortunately, it is now crystal clear that the British establishment (and the Tories in particular) do not want to live in such a society anymore. But if they'd like to live in a society like Hong Kong, maybe they should just move there instead?
by Luis de Sousa
Sun Feb 28th, 2021 at 06:04:05 PM EST
The ruse between the two most powerful people in the world, Mark Zuckerberg and Rupert Murdoch, recently got a bit out of hand. Perhaps it was just a choreography mishap, but Zuckerberg became upset with the preference shown by the Australia government towards its countryman media mogul. The parry was nothing short of spectacular, for almost a week Facebook blocked all news websites in Australia and many of the government's pages, including those from health authorities publishing information on the COVID pandemic.
Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger
Sun Feb 28th, 2021 at 03:15:03 PM EST
After a slow news cycle of a few days, the under Bahamas flagged ship has all of a sudden become an Israeli cargo vessel. The owner of the ship is 74 years old Rami Unger (or Ungar) with a deceptive career with Mossad contact Yossi Cohen and links with the anti-Iran movement UANI that's was prominent in the news in 2015. The UANI was a joint America-Israeli effort to sabotage the JCPOA negotiations of the Obama/Biden administration with UN Security Council partners and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
See my diary @BooMan on Aug. 1, 2014 ...
Coalition of the Willing Against Iran: US Justice Dept, Ungar, UANI and Mossad
Where is U.S. Foreign policy drafted? In think-tanks, billionaires, political friends and business alliances? WTF
The New York Times reports a blockbuster story about the anti-Iran lobby group, United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI). It's an especially perfidious group supporting regime change, though it couches its approach in terms of opposing Iran' nuclear program. Curiously, this is precisely the same way Israel's far-right government disguises its own support for the violent overthrow of the Iranian government. Knowing that such a plan is not supported by the west including the Obama administration, they believe that they can paint Iran as enough of a threat to the world through its alleged plans to create nuclear weapons, that this will get them half-way to regime change.
UANI specializes in "outing" companies which allegedly violate UN sanctions against Iran. The Times article revealed that the companies are usually approached by an Israeli "fixer" with close ties to the Mossad. He's Rami Ungar, owner of an Israeli company, Ray Shipping, who's worth $500-million.
Victor Restis v. United Against Nuclear Iran
This incident has all the hallmarks of a Navy Gulf of Tonkin incident that led to full participation of the Johnson administration in the disastrous Vietnam War against Communist North Vietnam. Peace failed in 1968 ahead of the presidential election due to sabotage of Paris talks by the Republicans with instigator Henry Kissinger.
Thu Feb 25th, 2021 at 03:15:27 PM EST
To stay in power, Bibi will exploit any event to boost electoral gain ... Shanda!
by Frank Schnittger
Tue Feb 23rd, 2021 at 11:24:58 AM EST
"Those whom the gods wish to destroy...they first make mad" is an apt description of N. Ireland unionists theses days. David Trimble, Arlene Foster and a rake of DUP luminaries are going all out to try and bring down the N. Ireland protocol - having welcomed it when Boris first announced his deal last year. Legal actions are threatened together with dark mutterings of loyalist unrest. It doesn't seem to have dawned on them that it is part of an international treaty which cannot be unilaterally abrogated, although, sadly, the European Commission may have given them that idea. The Irish Times has published my letter on the subject... (fourth letter down and see below).
Mon Feb 22nd, 2021 at 05:23:21 PM EST
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Feb 20th, 2021 at 04:52:24 PM EST
CNN is reporting that the contracts signed by Astra Zeneca with the UK and the EU are essentially the same, and both contain the "best efforts" clause Astra Zeneca has used in an attempt to weasel out of its contractual commitments to the EU. But the real bombshell is that it appears that the UK contract was signed the day after the EU contract, and not 3 months before, as AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot has claimed.
Sat Feb 20th, 2021 at 08:23:34 AM EST
The Trump - Kushner - Pompeo wrecking ball failed to level the Islamic Republic of Iran. Netanyahu has spent six years to send the UN JCPOA nuclear treaty to the waste bin of history. Trump losing the historic election was unable to push the button. Trump's dilemma was between his personal LOSS, need to stay in power on the home front, and clear the decks in order to sabotage the uneventful new presidency of "sleepy Joe". Trump failed on all fronts, except he's doing well splitting the Republic party in two from Mar-y-Lago.
Trump had to get rid of close allies who refused to play along with the president's end game. He ousted Pentagon military leadership, DHS officials and DOJ who refused to throw the election his way. Pompeo stayed on his post as a true Trump believer to do the unheard damage to the State Department instead of accepting election defeat of his boss and take part in a smooth transition.
In my analysis from afar, just as in 2012 with the Obama veto, this time it was just chance that the US and/or Israel didn't attack the Islamic Republic of Iran. The coming months will see the security leaks and be witness how near disaster Trump took America.
The Capitol Riot failed president Trump in blocking US Congress accepting the Electoral College votes. Its failure may have prevented an attack on Iran also. Pelosi alert about the nuclear football wasn't without reason. The Republican party has become treacherous to America, the Constitution and Democracy.
More below the fold ....
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 02:43:12 PM EST
Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland, is an old time socialist, university lecturer, sociologist, and poet from the left wing of the Labour Party. The role of President is largely a ceremonial one but he is following a relatively distinguished line of succession from Mary Robinson to Mary McAleese in taking an activist approach to the office and promoting gender and civil liberty issues. What these Presidents have in common is a rejection of simplistic nationalist myths and an abhorrence of violence for achieving political goals.
He has recently written an an op-ed in the Guardian in which he invited UK readers to share in his project of re-examining the myths of nationalism and imperialism and how they still shape our lives today. His piece provoked a vituperative anti-Irish response in the Daily Telegraph "The Irish president has a cheek lecturing Britons about history" and a chiding by Irish Times Columnist, Finn McRedmond, "Are we really entitled to lecture Britain about remembering?".
[Update]:The Irish Times has published an edited version of my letter in response under the headline Lecturing Britain about remembering?
Fri Feb 19th, 2021 at 09:42:27 AM EST
According to information revealed by German public media broadcasters NDR and WDR and daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, last summer the EU Commission received a strictly confidential bid from pharmaceutical manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech offering their vaccine for a price of 54.08 ($65.4) per dose, for a purchase of 500 million doses.
In total, BioNTech-Pfizer wanted 27 billion to supply enough jabs to inoculate almost half of the EU's population.
But at 54.08 a dose, the BioNTech vaccine would have cost more than 20 times as much as doses of AstraZeneca, which was developed jointly with Oxford University.
At the time, BioNTech-Pfizer said the price already included "the highest percentage discount" offered to any industrialized country in the world.
"I think the price is dubious," said Wolf Dieter Ludwig, chairman of the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association.
"I see in it a profit motive that is in no way justified in the current pandemic situation."
Thu Feb 18th, 2021 at 06:10:12 AM EST
"The EU is on a land-grab," says Sam Lowe, of the Centre for European Reform.
Beyond Brexit - Michel Barnier
European Business Summit: Exclusive interview with Brexit Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and Bloomberg Reporter Maria Tadeo
Competition between BoJo's Britain First! and Von Der Leyen's EU-27 Interests all that matters. A state of permanent alert to prevent tactics to circumvent EU rules and regulations. Singapore On The Thames.
More below the fold ...
Wed Feb 17th, 2021 at 11:34:28 AM EST
Middle East policy back on the drawing table ... Trump's envoy Jared Kushner close friendship with MBS and family friend Bibi Netanyahu will be recalibrated ... in no diplomatic terms, the Biden team sanctions MBS on human rights issues.
Tue Feb 16th, 2021 at 02:18:51 PM EST
Just wondering what number of signatories will speak out for Palestinian human rights ... won't hold my breath 😅
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Feb 15th, 2021 at 09:40:18 PM EST
Annualised GDP growth per Quarter
Despite Brexit and the Pandemic, the Irish economy is predicted to record the highest growth rate in the world in 2020 thanks to a heavy concentration of pharma and medtech companies in the economy. Current projections for 2021 and 2022 are for continued growth in the 3-4% range. Gross GDP figures are, of course, hugely inflated by the activities of global corporations in the economy, but these % growth rates are on a like for like basis.
Sun Feb 14th, 2021 at 11:33:16 PM EST
After the Obama Presidency, Gina McCarthy, the former Administrator of the EPA, landed at Harvard as a Fellow of the Institute of Politics and ran a Tuesday afternoon study group, as IOP Fellows do. Since I have way too much time on my hands, an interest in the environment, and a great deal of respect for Ms McCarthy, I attended her study group. One day, she said something about her experience in the Obama administration that struck me as important, something I'd not heard before.
What excited my interest was that McCarthy said she had never seen the kind of cooperation between different government departments that she saw in the Obama administration. This cooperation was not only on the top levels of appointed positions like Secretary and Under-Secretary but went deep down throughout the bureaucracy. McCarthy has worked for 25 years in public administration in Conneticut and Massachusetts and the Federal government. That this level of cooperation (and the implied lack of turf wars) between departments was remarkable to her is most remarkable to me.
I asked her to think about what the reasons for such cooperation might be and to write about it as I believe this to be important. My own guess is that the election of Barrack Obama gave people an opportunity to work together on a clear and beneficial common purpose. My readings on motivation have convinced me that what gives people satisfaction at work are a clear common purpose, a certain amount of autonomy, and a chance for mastery. It may be that the Obama adminstration consciously or unconsciously provided at least one of those three and, possibly, all of them.
Obama, in my reading, has had a reputation for conciliation and cooperation from his student days through his terms in the Illinois State Senate, the US Senate, and the Presidency. That "No Drama" Obama attitude may also have penetrated throughout his administration by osmosis or practice. President Biden has a similar reputation, especially in regards to bipartisanship or working with Republicans.
McCarthy was Obama's second term EPA administrator and served from 2013 to 2017. This unusual level of inter-departmental cooperation was built and sustained over two terms, eight years, and probably well worth studying. What were the mechanisms that allowed this to happen and can they be replicated?
After the Trmp administration whose hallmarks were chaos, petty cruelty as policy, and tactical incompetence to muddy their tracks and avoid responsibility, we might want to know how to generate increased inter-departmental cooperation now that the Trmp presidency* is over. We're probably gonna need all the help we can get and it seems to me that Biden, McCarthy, now the White House climate person, and the many veterans of the Obama era have the experience and the smarts to replicate that cooperation in depth that Gina McCarthy talked about on a Tuesday afternoon in a Kennedy School seminar room back in 2017.
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Feb 14th, 2021 at 02:49:33 PM EST
The Constitution Unit at University College London has set up a working group comprised of 12 experts based at universities in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, and the United States, to examine how any future referendums on whether Northern Ireland should stay in the United Kingdom or become part of a united Ireland would best be designed and conducted. They have issued an interim report and executive summary here.
Their starting point is the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which states that:
it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement is light on the detail of how such referendums should be organised, and the interim report seeks to explore the options in this regard. I have submitted a response to the interim report as follows: