Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
<< Previous 20 Next 20 >>

Last Ditch Attempt - Proposal for a Customs Union

by Oui Mon Feb 11th, 2019 at 09:56:17 PM EST

A fatal last straw that will just anger her Brexiteers as all ideas slowly evaporate as in a mirage ...

(Image credit Financial Times)

Theresa May's Brexit overture to Labour is a high-risk move | Sky News |

    With exit day looming, and the prospect of negotiating changes to the backstop still elusive, Theresa May has made an overture to Jeremy Corbyn.

    In a conciliatory letter, the prime minister offered fresh talks, alongside concessions on workers' rights, the environment and even financial support for deprived communities, all designed to win over wavering Labour MPs to support her deal.

    Depending on which newspaper you read, it is being interpreted either as Mrs May opening the door to a soft Brexit - at the risk of a cabinet split - or as a rejection of Jeremy Corbyn's proposals for a permanent customs union.

Brexit: EU's Barnier says customs union idea 'interesting' | DW |

The European Union's chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday appeared to welcome the idea of a customs union arrangement with Britain.

In a letter to May, UK opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested a "permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union" with the EU.

Corbyn's suggestion appears to envisage Britain being part of a separate customs union, rather than part of the EU Customs Union (EUCU) itself. How this would be established or agreed upon in a matter of weeks is not clear.

The Labour leader envisages common external tariffs on goods from the rest of the world.

Continued below the fold ...

Read more... (21 comments, 644 words in story)

Brexit Debacle: Labour Party to Split Today

by Oui Mon Feb 18th, 2019 at 10:14:12 AM EST

A Breaking News story ...

Several Labour MPs about to resign, say party sources | BBC News - 14 min ago |

A small group of MPs look set to announce their resignations from Labour, senior party sources have said.

At least four backbenchers who disagree with the Labour leadership over its handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism are thought likely to break away.

They are expected to announce their departure at an event later on Monday morning.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson urged those thinking of quitting to "stay and fight their corner".  

A move towards right-wing, conservative politics in the UK ...

More to follow!

Comments >> (32 comments)

Globalization Right-wing Agenda Destroyed Liberal Thought

by Oui Sun Feb 17th, 2019 at 07:23:46 AM EST

The crisis and distrust in politics grew into discontent due to the financial crisis in 2008/9 and started a counterrevolution. As the West spurned the Arab uprising of 2011 by pushing for regime change through military means, it was the last nail in the coffin and downfall of Western Europe as a liberal society. In the end the Syrian civil war spurned as an offshoot created two years of war refugees that led to European states refuting human rights. By closing borders it was not a show of strength, it revealed just how devoid of empathy, care for our fellow men we have become as a society. Trump trumps it all - America is a decade ahead of Europe. The clock is ticking, but it's two minutes before midnight.

More below the fold ...

Read more... (9 comments, 1044 words in story)

A Special Place in Hell

by Frank Schnittger Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 01:50:19 PM EST

I have been engaged in other projects recently and have not kept quite up to speed with the latest Brexit happenings and so perhaps you guys can help me out: Has anything of any real significance happened recently?  The main points I have gleaned for a cursory perusal of news sites are that:

1. The EU has lost patience with UK

Donald Tusk wasn't having a senior moment. His wondering "what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely" wasn't a temperamental outburst. It signaled the EU had reached the end of the road in its attempts to accommodate UK demands.

2. Theresa May is running down the clock

Having been rebuffed by the House of Commons, the EU, the Irish government, the DUP and her own hard liners, Theresa May has decided the only way forward is to run down the clock and see if the imminence of a hard no deal Brexit will concentrate minds and force acceptance of her deal as the only alternative available.

3. Jeremy Corbyn has decided to get in on the game

Smarting from poor opinion poll ratings and unease among his own supporters, Corbyn has decided to engage with Theresa May so that he can say "well at least we tried" if the whole thing ends up being an almighty clusterfuck. For Theresa May talks with Labour can help run down the clock and light a fire under hard core Brexiteers and the DUP that she might, just, go down another road entirely if they don't come on board with her deal.

4. But what, precisely, is the substantive difference between Corbyn and May?

Read more... (45 comments, 661 words in story)

Democracy on trial

by IdiotSavant Thu Feb 14th, 2019 at 12:41:14 AM EST

Twelve Catalan political leaders went on trial in Madrid yesterday. Their crime? Advocating peacefully for an independent Catalonia and organising a referendum on the issue. The Spanish government calls this "sedition" and "rebellion". But what it really is is democracy. In a democratic state with freedom of expression, people can and should be allowed to advocate for independence. And in a democratic state, when people peacefully demand independence, it is entirely right and proper for them to vote on it. Spain attempted to crush that vote with brute force - and failed. Now they are attempting to crush its advocates. But in a democratic state, democracy should not be a crime. If Spain thinks it is, then it shows that that country is not a democracy, and not a fit member of the civilised world. Democratic countries should condemn this political trial, and demand that Catalans get what they have demanded all along: a free, fair and binding referendum on their independence.

Comments >> (25 comments)

UK Neocolonialism: Super Wealth and Stealth Power

by Oui Sun Feb 10th, 2019 at 11:48:14 PM EST

Conservatives of the British ruling party roaming the globe to exert influence and extort the truth ...

Tory strategist's pitch detailed how CTF Partners would spread negative stories and press Fifa to 'restart bidding process'

Revealed: Lynton Crosby's £5.5m offer to undermine 2022 Qatar World Cup | The Guardian |

The detailed pitch document - "a proposal for a campaign to expose the truth of the Qatar regime and bring about the termination of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar" - was written in April last year and personally signed by Sir Lynton Crosby.

He said that if engaged, his lobbying firm, CTF Partners, would require £300,000 a month for 18 months to focus on efforts to delegitimise the Qatari government and put pressure on Fifa to "restart the bidding process" and award the World Cup to another country.

Continued below the fold ...

Read more... (672 words in story)

Media War: Trump's Pecker v Hillary's Bezos

by Oui Fri Feb 8th, 2019 at 09:22:46 AM EST

The salicious edits in this warfare will be covered elsewhere in the media, I want to look beyond  when and where it all started.

The salicious parts are well covered by The Guardian and the content produced by Jeff Bezos in the last 24 hours ...

AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called "Catch and Kill" process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign. Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they've taken on behalf of the Saudi Government.

And sometimes Mr. Pecker mixes it all together:

    "After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker's loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions..."

More below the fold ...

Read more... (12 comments, 914 words in story)

Ingeniería Una Revolución

by Oui Thu Feb 7th, 2019 at 07:52:03 PM EST

From Cuban exiles in Florida and Marco Rubio to the leading elites from Venezuala lobbying U.S. Congress and the White House. Undoubtedly a plot engineered in CIA HQ and the Pentagon's Southern Command. Many countries have succumbed under the onslaught of right-wing politicians and the deep pockets with money from oligarchs. The announcement in January took me by surtrise, I was aghast as a dozen or so nations immediately recognized Juan Guaidó as new interim president. EU countries followed suit after a ridiculous condition placed on Maduro to immediately hold new presidential elections, or else.

Leopoldo López led the opposition's challenge to Maduro from house arrest but could his protege thwart his own ambitions?

Under cover of the "shutdown" and bickering between Republicans and Democrats about building the Trump Grand Wall on the border with Mexico ...

More below the fold ...

Read more... (17 comments, 913 words in story)

Black-Ops Mercenaries On the Internet

by Oui Thu Jan 31st, 2019 at 06:32:53 PM EST

Using tools denied by Western adversaries ... Russia, China, India and Korea trying to level the playing field.

Black Cube Targets Cyber-Security NGO at Behest of Leading Israeli Malware Maker | Tikun Olam |

The Israeli TV news magazine, Uvdah and the NY Times have collaborated on, and amplified a major story originally published by AP. It documents an elaborate, and ultimately unsuccessful sting operation on the Canadian cyber-security NGO, Citizen Lab (CL).  The latter is the key organization which has exposed a series of malware attacks by various hacking outfits whose government, police, and intelligence clients, use the surveillance products to spy on citizen activists.  Citizen Lab has documented the use of the Israeli dirty ops company, NSO Group's Pegasus malware by Mexican and Gulf (and many other) government agents to spy on, and even kill dissidents who seek to expose official corruption and who seek the reform their political systems.

Continued below the fold ...

Read more... (14 comments, 1403 words in story)


by Frank Schnittger Thu Jan 31st, 2019 at 12:52:12 PM EST

FT: The EU cannot rescue Britain from Brexit chaos

May's government has shown it can no longer be counted as a trusted partner

I had intended to address a slightly sheepish plea to Britain's European partners. Even at this late hour, the EU27 should show forbearance with the Brexit shenanigans at Westminster. The prize of an amicable parting of the ways -- or, in the best case, a change of heart in a second referendum -- was worth it. My shaky resolve collapsed after Theresa May's latest swerve. The EU could now be forgiven for simply throwing Britain overboard.

The prime minister's embrace of her party's hardline Brexiters was breathtaking in its cynicism. Only weeks ago she was immovable about the arrangements in the EU withdrawal agreement for the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Now she promises to try to rewrite them to suit the prejudices of her party. What of the Belfast Agreement, the treaty underpinning peace on the island of Ireland? It ranks second, it seems, to appeasement of Brexiters such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The mandate the prime minister claims to have secured to rewrite the Irish "backstop" is worthless and incredible. Worthless because all the other options for the Irish border have been exhaustively explored, and discarded, during the Article 50 negotiations. Incredible because the hardliners who backed her this week do not want an agreement. Supporting Mrs May now was a diversion. The real strategy is to run down the clock all the way to a no-deal Brexit.

Read more... (53 comments, 1115 words in story)

A Free Public Transport system for Dublin

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jan 30th, 2019 at 12:39:46 PM EST

The Irish Times has published two letters of mine on successive days, which is a record! I would be interested in your views on it.

Free public transport - could it work for Dublin? Published 30/1/2019.

A chara, - I read with interest Lara Marlowe's article on the almost exponential growth of free urban public transport systems throughout the world ("Free public transport - could it work for Dublin?", Weekend, January 26th).

The Irish Times published a letter of mine proposing such a system for Dublin in 1980. In it I argued that such a system could massively reduce traffic congestion, reduce car imports, reduce fuel imports, and increase employment in the city.

In the meantime, we have seen a massive increase in traffic congestion, urban sprawl, commuting times, population density, and proposed and actual new public transportation systems such as the Luas and Metro causing massive disruption during the building phase and costing many billions of euro.

Tripling the size of Dublin's bus fleet would probably be required to meet the latent demand for an efficient and free public transport service, but the capital cost would be minuscule compared to the cost of the aforementioned projects.

Instead of requiring exorbitant new infrastructure, existing and underused bus lanes would be more fully utilised, and journey times improved as car traffic diminished. Valuable space currently required for car parking could be repurposed for social housing or public amenities.

Such an expansion of the public bus system would massively improve the convenience of the existing bus services by increasing the frequency, range, and scope of current routes.

Instead of wasting time, burning fuel, polluting the atmosphere, and contributing to global warming, commuters could work on the bus, engage with social media and, horror of horrors, actually talk to one another, thereby recreating a more convivial and socially egalitarian city.

If the buses were primarily electric, they could further reduce our carbon footprint, and reduce the fines we will soon become liable to pay for failing to reach our carbon reduction targets.

As we have little oil and no car manufacturing industries, such a system would also improve our balance of trade and employment levels.

As a nation, we think nothing of spending billions on (partially) free education, healthcare, roads and public facilities. But an efficient public transport system is every bit as vital to the functioning of a modern economy. How much time is wasted driving cars on congested roads which could otherwise be devoted to more productive work or social activities? How many lives could be saved by less tired (and sometimes intoxicated) driving?

It is an idea whose time has come. - Yours, etc,

Co. Wicklow.

Comments >> (14 comments)

The Butcher of Christians and Shiites Speaks Out

by Oui Tue Jan 29th, 2019 at 07:28:23 AM EST

Of course on a platform given to Prince Bandar by the Jerusalem Post. Israel, a new and reliable ally of an autocratic Saudi Arabia. What a bs in the Israeli media. Gets me pretty mad his morning ...

Top Saudi official: Barack Obama lied, set Middle East back 20 years | JPost |

    Obama, Bandar Bin Sultan said, "would promise something and do the opposite." He spoke critically of the Iran nuclear deal and how the former president spoke about curbing Iran but failed.

Former US president Barack Obama lied to Saudi Arabia when violating the redlines he famously declared regarding Syria's use of chemical weapons and then not acting when they were used, a former senior Saudi official said in an interview with Independent Arabia.

Bandar bin Sultan served for years as head of Saudi intelligence as well as the Saudi ambassador to the United States. In the interview, he recalled a last phone call between the late Saudi King Abdullah and Obama, during which the Saudi leader told the US president: "I did not expect that [after] this long life, I would see [the day] when an American president lies to me."

Continued below the fold ...

Read more... (8 comments, 1480 words in story)

Democracy and the UK

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jan 29th, 2019 at 12:58:17 AM EST

Letter to the Editor, Irish Times, published 29/1/19.

A chara, -

John Lloyd (Opinion & Analysis, January 25th) argues that Fintan O'Toole has got it all wrong when he argues that Brexit is caused, in part, by a nostalgia for an imperial past and a tendency to blame the EU for all ills that afflict the UK.

Instead, he argues that Brexit was motivated largely by a desire to be ruled by their own parliament and courts which the British people can better understand and control - in contrast to a fundamentally undemocratic, opaque and unaccountable EU.

Am I alone in tiring of being lectured on democracy by the only country in Europe without a clear and written constitution, with an entirely unelected upper house of parliament, an unelected head of state, and an electoral system which can lead to wildly disproportionate results and which renders many votes in "safe" constituencies pointless as they will have no influence on the overall result?

One can argue that the Brexit result was as much a protest against a UK political system which had successfully deflected all blame for its own failings onto the EU.

For once, every vote actually counted. - Yours, etc,


Comments >> (10 comments)

A new deal emerges?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jan 25th, 2019 at 01:27:28 PM EST

Faced with the possibility of Brexit being delayed, or even reversed, members of the DUP and ERG are beginning to moderate their positions and are suggesting that May's deal could be passed if only the hated Irish Backstop clause could be removed or time limited in some way.

For their part, the Irish government is coming under increasing pressure to moderate its absolute insistence that there can be no border infrastructure of any kind. Critics are pointing out that a hard customs border will be legally required from the 29th. of March if a no deal Brexit occurs.

Officially the Irish government is still insisting that this is a problem for the UK side to overcome, and that it is awaiting firm proposals from the UK side so it can respond accordingly. The problem is that no one trusts Theresa May's ability to deliver on her promises any more, so what is the point of making concessions now when there is no guarantee these will secure a deal and that the UK government won't come back again looking for more?

But the outlines of a potential deal have been visible for some time if only the political skill was there to realise it...

Read more... (58 comments, 1207 words in story)

Seychelles Back-channel Leads to Abu Dhabi

by Oui Fri Jan 25th, 2019 at 09:27:17 AM EST


Roger Stone arrested in Fort Lauderdale FL. on an indictment for witness tampering and making false statements under oath ... that’s it for now.

The leading Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee will finally focus on the REAL risk to US security and its national interest.

Trump appointee 'overruled' rejection of Jared Kushner for top security clearance | The Guardian |

Last February, the Washington Post reported that at least four countries had discussed the president's son-in-law as a possible target of manipulation given his financial straits - the paper named the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico.

More below the fold ...

Read more... (12 comments, 1210 words in story)

Mass Protests Expected in Washington DC

by Oui Thu Jan 24th, 2019 at 09:08:21 AM EST

The opposition calls by Democrats have been mounting due to the Women's Rights abuse by "dictator" Donald Trump during his presidency. On Saturday a mass rally will call for Trump to step aside and let National Assembly (House) leader Nancy Pelosi become to de facto leader of the Nation. It will be difficult to comprehend Trump to relinquish power and abdicate his Office to a woman. Trump as commander-in-chief still has the MAGA armed forces under control who expect to help him clear the streets from DemoRats and the fake call for a new president.

Anarchy two blocks from the White House: More than 200 are arrested as riot police teargas masked mob of "Trump haters" smashing stores and burning cars [footage January 2017]

More below the fold ...

Read more... (16 comments, 1062 words in story)

Israel Election: Bots and Digital Manipulation

by Oui Wed Jan 23rd, 2019 at 09:41:07 PM EST

Central Elections Committee set to scold Likud on digital manipulation | JPost |

The chairman of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, is expected to announce Thursday that he will force the Likud to sign a covenant promising to refrain from digital manipulation in the April 9 election, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Until now, every major party running - except Likud- has signed the covenant, which was drafted by Hebrew University lecturer Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, the head of the Media Reform Program at the Israel Democracy Institute.

She wrote the covenant in lieu of legislation, because Israel's Election Propaganda Law was passed in 1959, and because it has only been updated once since then to include television, makes no reference to the Internet. Efforts to update the law before the election failed after they were blocked by the Likud.

"I wrote the covenant so there would be rules for the Wild West despite the lack of legislation," she said. "We went to [the] parties to sign it, but the Likud didn't want to hear about it."

Continued below the fold ...

Read more... (13 comments, 715 words in story)

Pre-BrExit Chaos Ensues

by Oui Wed Jan 23rd, 2019 at 09:21:17 AM EST

The British business community has lost its patience with the political paralysis in the City of London.

Today's headlines in the media are filled with gloom and doom. To be fair, not just in the UK but also in the port cities on the continent.

In capital letters when decisions are lacking - F  E  A  R  enters.

More below the fold ...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (26 comments, 1097 words in story)

The Faces Behind the Election Coup with Trump as Winner

by Oui Tue Jan 22nd, 2019 at 06:44:39 PM EST

Very precise the narrative I found out from mid-campaign in 2016 to the upset victory and inauguration in January 2017. A documentary I watched on Al Jazeera (Doha, Qatar), the state estranged from the Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The feud splitting the military support for Sunni rebels fighting in the Arab Uprising from 2011 forward. The feud that prohibited finding a political solution to the ethnic/civil war in Syria at the Geneva talks.

Watching a part today I found it based on facts and good analysis from experts on the Middle East from the UK, France and the US. Yet when the major part of the election cycle is reviewed the story is quite shocking indeed. And the people have gotten away with it due to the preoccupation of DNC Democrats with finger pointing at Russia's Putin. Putin's part is very minor relative to the billionaires working behind the scenes in the Trump campaign.

Paul Singer and Robert Mercer are both hedge fund billionaires, excellent mathematicians who knew how to manipulate through social media enough voters to tip the scale in Trump's favor. With 77.000 votes the Republicans "stole" three states: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. HRC won the popular vote by more than 3 million, the EC votes count for the winner.

More below the fold ...

Read more... (804 words in story)

Has the backstop back-fired on Ireland?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jan 18th, 2019 at 01:27:14 PM EST

The back-stop is that part of May's now half dead deal with the EU whereby all parties committed themselves formally to what they all claim to be committed to in practice: No hard policed customs border in Ireland. Initially the UK proposed to do this via yet to be invented new technology which would magically make any border controls invisible. When no practical solution on these lines emerged they proposed to do so by retaining Northern Ireland within the Customs Union and Single Market until such time as another solution to keeping the border open could be found.

This was absolutely unacceptable to the DUP as it would entail a customs border "down the Irish Sea" between the EU and UK and, in their terms, threaten the constitutional Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The DUP is absolutely opposed to any and all divergence between Northern Ireland and Great Britain for this reason, except when it is not: On abortion rights, marriage equality, minority language rights, transparency of political donations, animal disease controls and some agricultural product standards, for example.

Theresa May's solution to this conundrum was to propose retaining all of the UK within the Customs Union until such time as an alternative solution could be found, thus giving Ireland, North and south, the best of both worlds: unhindered access to both the EU and UK markets, and calming the fears of most of UK business about barriers to trade with the EU for the foreseeable future. This has proved to be the single most unpopular feature of May's proposed deal in the UK, and is widely blamed for it's massive defeat. But it was actually a UK proposal and a massive concession by the EU - for which it has gotten zero credit.

Read more... (69 comments, 2122 words in story)
<< Previous 20 Next 20 >>

News and Views

 18 - 24 March 2019

by Bjinse - Mar 19, 70 comments

Your take on this week's news

 4 - 10 March 2019

by Bjinse - Mar 4, 236 comments

Your take on this week's news

 March Thread

by Bjinse - Mar 4, 18 comments

Spring is the time of plans and threads

Occasional Series
Click for full list

Top Diaries

Aprčs May

by Frank Schnittger - Mar 22

The gloves are off

by Frank Schnittger - Mar 20

Brexit Fun: The John Bercow Show

by Oui - Mar 18

Healing Earth (Through the Waters)

by gmoke - Mar 19

People playing games

by Frank Schnittger - Mar 15

No justice for Bloody Sunday

by IdiotSavant - Mar 14