Sun Jun 16th, 2019 at 06:48:12 PM EST
○ Colombia stun dominant Argentina at 2019 Copa America
The big blackout across South America ...
I'm not sure whether to blame Messi - Putin - Israel - or US Cyber Command! Perhaps the Hand of God. Diego?
Apagón masivo: se cortó la luz en todo el país
El país entero amaneció en penumbras por un apagón masivo que también dejó sin servicio eléctrico a Uruguay, Brasil y Chile. Se estima que el corte afecta a unas 48 millones de personas en el conosur. De acuerdo a las distribuidoras Edenor y Edesur, se trata de una "falla masiva en el sistema de interconexión eléctrica", aunque no dieron más detalles. El secretario de Energía, Gustavo Lopetegui, brindará una conferencia de prensa a las 15 hs en el Palacio de Hacienda.
More below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Thu Jun 13th, 2019 at 02:49:06 PM EST
The Tory Leadership election is all but decided after the first round of voting. Although Boris Johnson is some way short of a majority of the parliamentary party votes after the first round of voting, it is very hard to see anyone else overtaking him, and he only needs 105 votes to make it into the top two and go forward to the vote of all party members in any case. He also leads all opinion polling of conservative party members and so we can more or less take his election for granted at this stage, barring some spectacular snafu, which, given this is Boris, cannot be entirely discounted. To avert this possibility, his handlers have been keeping him on a tight rein, limiting his public appearances, and even giving him a slightly tidier haircut...
[Update]: Soft Brexiteer Rory Stewart gained the most votes (+14), and hard Brexiteer Dominic Raab has been eliminated following the second round of voting. [Update2] In the third round Sajid Javid leapfrogs Rory Stewart to stay in the Tory leadership race for one more round, but it looks like it's between Gove and Hunt for the second spot on the membership ballot. Boris Johnson is closing in on an overall majority of the votes of the Parliamentary party as careerists overcome their scruples to secure ministerial positions]:
[Update 3]: It's Boris vs. Hunt. No contest really, given the make-up of the electorate. But when will the British people get to have their say? Boris is on the record of proclaiming that Gordon Brown's premiership was illegitimate because it was Tony Blair the people had elected. Now of course; waffle waffle, crisis, waffle waffle, because, waffle waffle he's perfectly ok with that. After all he was only speaking as a journalist beforehand, and what do they know?
Rumours abound that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson's campaign (to give him his full title) "lent" votes to Rory Stewart to ensure the early elimination of Dominic Raab, and then to Hunt, to ensure Gove was eliminated. There is therefore no one who voted for Brexit left in the campaign to claim Brexiteer legitimacy from Johnson. Hunt will seem to most Tory party members as a reheated version of Theresa May, and they have had their fill of that.
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jun 10th, 2019 at 01:13:28 AM EST
Theresa May has stepped down as Tory party leader with an approval rating of -49% and to the regret of almost no one. She had outstayed her welcome, and even that welcome had come mostly from the Tory faithful. She was admired by some for her perseverance and staying power in the face of almost insurmountable odds, although for many it was just a manifestation of her stubbornness and crass insensitivity to all but her own views.
In the end, even those who had felt some sympathy for her because they felt she was being treated more shabbily because she was a women, had been handed a poisoned chalice by her predecessor, and was no worse than her Tory colleagues, found it difficult to justify her policy positions. Her last days as leader were spent having to endure listening to Donald Trump telling her who should run the UK and how.
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Jun 7th, 2019 at 10:26:49 PM EST
Unlike the low key, almost private, visit of Donald Trump to Ireland this week, Dutch King Willem-Alexander is being afforded the full formalities of a state visit next week. Accompanied by the Dutch foreign and trade ministers and a trade delegation, the subtext is the preparations both countries are making for Brexit.
Mark Paul has produced an excellent preview for the Irish Times
A few years ago, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, who occasionally used to moonlight for fun as a pilot for the Dutch airline KLM, bumped into the Ryanair chief executive, Michael O'Leary, at a conference.
O'Leary was characteristically bombastic and facetiously invited the royal to work for Ryanair instead. It isn't hard to imagine O'Leary smirking in self-admiration at his temerity in wiping the eye of a monarch in a slagging match.
Ryanair subsequently became embroiled in a damaging industrial relations war with many of its pilots, leading to strikes in some countries before a peace deal was struck last year. Its difficulties were compounded at one stage by a staff scheduling crisis that forced Ryanair to cancel thousands of flights.
For a time, O'Leary's well-won reputation as an aviation genius lay in tatters. Sensing an opportunity to get his own back, the Dutch king sat down at his computer and composed an email to O'Leary, asking him if he was still looking for pilots. By some accounts, the Ryanair boss struggled to see the funny side.
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Jun 5th, 2019 at 10:25:29 AM EST
I have a policy on not writing on stuff I have already seen better portrayed elsewhere, which makes Kathy Sheridan's piece on Trump's visit to England a hard act to follow... Coming from a small country well used to humiliations by the greater powers around us, there is not a small amount of schadenfreude associated with seeing the UK similarly abused. One wonders where exactly "taking back control" morphed into becoming a Trump vassal state, with Buckingham Palace used as a helipad for the US embassy and venue for a Trump family Downton Abbey themed holiday adventure.
The policy content of the visit seems to have been confined to telling the Brits who should become their next Prime Minister (Boris Johnson), who should lead their next Brexit negotiations (Nigel Farage), insulting his host, London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, as a "stone cold loser", and telling the British that the promised terrific trade deal with the US would require opening up the NHS to US private venture capital takeover, and the UK food chain to US chlorinated chickens. Can you imagine the Brexiteer outrage had Juncker even hinted at such things?
Even Sky's Promo for the visit (20 seconds) depicts an alien spaceship as a hostile invader casting a dark shadow over Britain, even over the Queen, and then turns out to be nothing more than Trump's blimp. Someone in Murdoch's empire is sure to get sacked. The Brits are very good at laughing at themselves but many won't know whether to laugh or cry at what Brexit Britain has become. Still, with Trump also due to visit Ireland, they may be laughing at others soon enough. Apparently Leo Varadker refused to meet Trump at his Doonbeg golf resort where a dinner in Trump's honour was held last night attended by the Irish Ambassador to the US, Dan Mulhall, and the government's special envoy to the US, Fine Gael back bench TD John Deasy.
A State Banquet it was not. President Michael D. Higgins was otherwise engaged criticising Trump's "regressive and pernicious decision to leave the global Paris Agreement" and stating that those at risk of exclusion from society were "being abandoned to become the prey of xenophobes, homophobes and racists." Could there have been a message for Trump in there somewhere?
Mon Jun 3rd, 2019 at 12:13:45 PM EST
[Update] Frank’s fp story - Trump's triumphant trolloping tirades
Inviting the U.S. potentate on a State Visit ... all along on a path of a no-deal Brexit. Let Nigel Farage do the talking in Brussels. WTF
Mon Jun 3rd, 2019 at 02:18:15 AM EST
Scientists tell us that
we have about a decade to do something
to reduce climate calamity.
Let's schedule out the next 10 years
for climate action
month by month
week by week
day by day
to do what is
to restore the atmosphere to
270 ppm CO2
This is a reworking of the end of My Approach to Climate Change (http://solarray.blogspot.com/2018/12/my-approach-to-climate-change.html) which I was reminded of by reading a paper on "German Energiewende: Power System" I received at the NE - Germany Energy Transition Forum (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-england-germany-energy-transition-forum-tickets-59674085797), at Harvard Law school on May 16, 2019. In it I saw goal figures for greenhouse gas reductions (ghgs) and renewable power increases for both Germany and the EU.
My daily reminder climate catastrophe calendar would have these kinds of things on each page:
Climate goals for the EU:
80-95% reduction greenhouse gases (ghg) by 2050
(compared to 1990 levels, the agreed upon standard it seems)
32% renewables by 2030
32.5% increase in efficiency by 2030
Climate goals for Germany:
55% reduction in ghgs by 2030
80-95% by 2050
30.8% reductions from 1990 levels of ghgs now
65% renewable electricity by 2030
80% by 2050
37.8% renewable electricity now, already above the 2020 goal of 35%
(Renewables are the dominant source of electricity in Germany for the second year in a row and renewables have tripled since 2000)
40-45% renewables by 2025
nuclear phase out by 2022
coal phase out by 2038
I know another date to add to the calendar could be Costa Rica's goal of being carbon neutral by 2021.
I wonder whether people would actually buy a Climate Change Daily Reminder Calendar. I'm guessing the German Network Development Plan 2019-2030 which outlines the planned grid development to accomodate 65% renewables by 2030 has something like it though.
May somebody somewhere be working on a 100% by 2030 calendar for their country and the world -- just as a thought experiment. Perhaps those who are interested can work on it every Friday while the schoolchildren are striking for climate.
by Frank Schnittger
Wed May 29th, 2019 at 11:57:40 PM EST
Counting in the Irish European Elections has been completed although there is a re-count in Ireland South where only 327 votes separate the final two candidates with almost 100,000 votes apiece (scroll right to view all the count totals up to count 18). Overall the election is a triumph for the Greens and Fine Gael (EPP) who increased their share of the first preference vote at the expense of Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail (ALDE).
In Northern Ireland a surge in the centrist and non-sectarian Alliance Party vote meant that they gained a seat at the expense of the Official Unionist Party. Ireland doesn't seem to be following the European trend towards fragmentation of the party system and a growth (in some countries) of the far right.
Wed May 29th, 2019 at 11:37:38 PM EST
Twelve Catalan politicians are currently on trial in Madrid on charges of "sedition" and "rebellion" over Catalonia's 2017 independence referendum. Many of them have been held without bail since their arrest almost two years ago. But now, a UN working group has concluded that their detention is arbitrary:
by Frank Schnittger
Mon May 27th, 2019 at 12:58:55 PM EST
Despite furious attempts to portray the vote as an endorsement of a hard no deal Brexit, the results actually support the thesis that there has been a significant shift to Remain.
The Brexit party's gain of 31.6% of the vote does not make up for the combined losses of other Leave parties of 50.3% of the vote, made up of UKIP (-24.2%), Conservatives (-14.8%), and Labour (- 11.3%); a total loss of 50.3% of the vote and a net loss for Leave of 18.7% of the vote. Even if you leave Labour out of the equation, unambiguously Leave supporting parties lost a net 7.4% of the vote.
Remain parties, on the other hand, gained a total of +22.4% of the vote, made up of Lib Dems (+13.4%), Greens (+4.2%), SNP (+1.1%) Plaid Cymru (+0.3%) and Change UK (+3.4%).
Translated into seats, this means that the Brexit party gained 29 seats, whereas UKIP (- 24), Conservatives (-15) and Labour (-10) lost a combined 49 seats for a net loss for Leave of 20 seats. Remain Parties, on the other hand, gained 20 seats: Lib Dems (+15) Greens (+4) and SNP (+1).
And that is before you consider the virtually certain gain of a seat by the Remain supporting Alliance Party in N. Ireland at the expense of the Ulster Unionists.
Disgracefully the BBC declared the Remain/Leave contest within the election a draw. But then their Polling expert psephologist Professor John Curtice was awarded a knighthood by Theresa May.
Mon May 27th, 2019 at 09:41:19 AM EST
Is Scunthorpe the British version of Ohio's Youngstown?
Mix private equity, Brexit mania, state incompetence and what do you get? Scunthorpe | The Guardian Opinion |
Last week, as British Steel went into receivership, Scunthorpe was set to join them. Two thirds of its citizens voted for Brexit three years ago, and so unintentionally helped accelerate the insolvency and potential closure that duplicitous Leave politicians - including our expected next prime minister, Boris "fuck business" Johnson - said that Brexit would avert. Or it would, they argued, be only transitional pain before the sunlit uplands of immigrant-free, global free trade brought riches back to these threatened communities.
British Steel works, at Scunthorpe, England. The four foundries visible in this photo are named after four queens of England: Anne, Bess, Victoria and Mary.
In particular, what broke British Steel was £2.6bn of revenue it expected to receive under the EU's carbon trading scheme, now frozen because of a threatened Brexit.
More below the fold ...
by Frank Schnittger
Sat May 25th, 2019 at 12:10:10 PM EST
Counting has begun in the Irish Local and European elections. Some exit polling data is also in. A constitutional amendment to liberalize further Ireland's divorce laws looks set to be carried by an overwhelming 87% to 12% if the exit polling data is to be believed.
The government has indicated that it will use this Constitutional Amendment liberalization to legislate for the automatic recognition of foreign divorces and the reduction of the waiting period for a divorce application to succeed from four years to two years of separation.
The early indications are for a surge in the Green Party vote, a near humiliation for the anti-emigration candidate, Peter Casey, in the European elections, and a disappointing performance for Leo Varadker's ruling Fine Gael Party (relative to earlier opinion polls). More left wing candidates and parties have generally performed well - though not the establishment Labour Party.
Overall, therefore, it looks like Ireland is continuing its liberalizing trend, in sharp contrast to the right wing nationalist trends in the UK and in some other parts of Europe. I will update this story as more results and hard data comes in...
by Frank Schnittger
Fri May 24th, 2019 at 09:17:51 PM EST
Back in September 2018 I wrote in Theresa May: Dead Women Walking?:
Nothing undermines a leader more than having important members of their own side align themselves with the opposition: First Donald Trump rather pointedly remarked that Boris Johnson would make a great Prime Minister. Then Boris Johnson chips in that Theresa May's Chequers proposals represent the white flag of surrender. Now Rees-Mogg praises Barnier for his charm and remarked that Barnier and Brexiteers are agreed that Theresa May's Chequers proposals are "absolute rubbish."
How is the poor woman supposed to conduct a negotiation when her own side give such aid and comfort to the enemy? In a normal democracy, Johnson and Rees-Mogg would be excoriated for betraying their own side. But it seems anything goes when it comes to attacking Theresa May. She is the fall girl for a negotiation they are determined to see fail.
Thu May 23rd, 2019 at 07:51:17 PM EST
Complete surprise result in Dutch exit poll - LABOUR WINS - PvdA
>> See Update Dutch results below in posted comment. <<
The loss of three seats for PVV - Geert Wilders - go to new rightwing party Forum for Democracy - Thierry Baudet.
The last poll was completely off target – here.
More below the fold …
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
Thu May 23rd, 2019 at 08:56:34 AM EST
The offspring in name of Theresa May - Tories - and rightwing Donald Trump, the personification of American Capitalism ...
Amber Rudd to lodge complaint over UN's austerity report | The Guardian |
Rudd will argue that Alston is politically biased and did not do enough research. The minister is seeking guidance from the Foreign Office on the best way to respond after Alston compared her department's welfare policies to the creation of Victorian workhouses.
Alston quoted the 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes to warn that unless austerity was ended and welfare cuts were reversed, millions of poorer Britons faced lives that would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".
More below the fold ...
Thu May 23rd, 2019 at 01:32:41 AM EST
he seems to be fundamentally against the EU but not quite willing to say it and say what he'd like to do.
Or maybe he knows what an unusual -and multiply nuanced- situation he is in.
I imagine his desire to reform the EU is tempered by the realisation that he would not get much/enough support to have a hope in hell of actually doing so, in the present rightward-drifting climate.
The Gilets Jaunes are probably close to being on the same page, yet they do not bother to form a party to try and channel that street unrest into a political force instead of (so far) just social counter-force. Who wants his head poking up like that?
With Macron wearing the colours of the Centre-Left while legislating away his people's rights and favouring his bestbuds at GS, a genuine leftie like JC would see what a flock of ignorant sheep he would have to persuade in France to vote for more EU workers' rights, or better hospitals. Ditto in Germany, Austria and most of the EU.
After decades of his own party being bent backwards and out of shape by Blairism he can see the signs in Europe of an ideologically hollowed-out Centre-Left in the PD in Italy, Podemos in Spain, along with the right's resurgence everywhere.
There's not enough of a political swell to ride and guide with even the best-placed rhetoric and judicious of policies.
Unless the balance of power shifted tectonically, Europe is too far gone into the neoliberal weeds to recover, barring some unforeseen upheaval nowhere to be seen.
The parties against the further Soros-isation of Europe, the Salvinis, Le Pens are tacky, loud and wrong about everything except the marriage of high finance and crooked crony politics, (thanks to decades of misleadership on the level of Barroso and Jungcker,) a paradise for the Amazons and Apples, playground for the rich to come make and spend billions taxfree, while it's austerity for Muggins and and everyone else down the totem pole.
Now that game has been recognised by enough voters for what it was, but... there's still no solution to chum up with except a shinier, more streamlined version served up by Macron with himself leading a new Europe even more tasty to the rich and bitter for everyone else, a two-speed Europe, just like good old days of yore when gilded elites trod on the great unwashed with impunity for centuries.
What dent could Corbyn have made in that corporate-friendly wave, all on his tod?
After hearing politicians beating their chests about how they will rattle Europe's cage and tell 'em what's what, from Cameron to Renzi and come up with bupkis, bounced off the smug rubber wall of complacent entitlement, I am glad JC doesn't waste energy posturing.
I wish he had more pizzazz to put forward his policies so they could break through the calculated interference run by the MSM and reach more people, maybe he just has to wait until the others all come completely unhinged as would happen with Bojo as PM, Mr Jolly Japes himself abroad would help Farage ensure whatever small vestige of shredded international respect for Britain's ability to even politically stand up without doing a John Cleese silly walk, would vapourise.
The harder they come, the funnier they fall...
--And Britain came SO hard when she was at her peak, by Golly-gosh-willikins, damn those Guards looked dashing as they suicided in 1000s charging cannons with glorified kitchen knives.--
What could Corbyn do about that, a country prisoner of such demented self-aggrandisement?
A lot, actually!
(Pity the giant distraction of the Brexo-drama got in the way, achieving less than zero benefit for anyone else but the 1% and their (9%) lieutenants and sucking years into a political black hole during which the Tories continued to ransack and betray the society whose very claim to exist they smugly deny).
Like Bernie Sanders in the US he expertly corralled and harnessed the popular backlash to these grim times, but like Bernie could not translate into enough Momentum to seriously, not symbolically breach the portcullis of the Establishment, slay the dragons and release the princess and the treasure from the grotty dungeons and return them to a deserving, expectant people to live happily ever after, (or until climate chaos definitively did them in.)
A younger man with his popularity might have gambled one one or the other with a 50% chance of success, but by JC's age one becomes too cagey for such possibly rash gambles.
I think he knows a no-deal, hardest-of-hard Brexit will happen, and if pushed would admit he doesn't see much or any point in fighting it, as the UK is just a frying pan in the EU's fire, and he has a better chance of helping the lives of his electorate in the smaller fishbowl of the UK, even though his head is above the parapet and the bullets are dinging his helmet. Until the No Deal Crashout happens in October, Britain wakes up the next day and lo and behold the NHS is just a memory, and there is Bojo sweating in a pink linen summer suit, bulging wattles as he snows the next-gen maroons, so virtualised at this point they cannot see anything extraneous to a pop culture narrative and would only know reality if they fell in a hole in the pavement while texting.
If the Tories implode, Ree-smogg is unmasked as the archvillain cantral casting sent here to embody, Teresa May is gently helped offstage by those nice chaps in their white coats, Bojo takes up powergliding past Westminster Bridge in a sudden hurricane, the wind of 10000 bums all pointed at him, unless Britain is really ready to surrender its self-referential mythologising, Corbyn is powerless really.
His neo-Keynesian, Neo-Bennite vision of England would need an electoral majority of 99% to pull off, and for that you'd need the survivors living on dandelion hootch and hedgehog pie, huddled together in sports stadiums for warmth.
Then, only then, would JC's vision of egalitarian democracy ring and resonate in enough voters' hearts, (if democracy itself is permitted to last that long.)
So he has to content himself with trying to torment Teresa M into revealing even more who she is than Greenfell fire did, and lob more earnestly biting remarks into the Tory trenches, for the record.
A man who favours equality between Israel and Palestine, higher taxation for the rich, who doesn't tug his forelock when asked, stand up for the National Propaganda Dirge, blather, repeat, support Ireland's right to independence, the guys a pariah!
He will not be permitted to have any agency in the Tory Titanic's experiment in iceberg-crunching, nor is any needed, eh Mr. Speaker?
No need to throw these drowning bullies an anvil, the stolen gold in their fat jingling pockets will help propel them down to Davy Jones by itself.
Zing, ding, that was close.
Wed May 22nd, 2019 at 05:49:18 PM EST
Brexit: Calls grow for Theresa May to resign in bill backlash
Several cabinet ministers have told the BBC that she cannot stay, with one saying it is "the end of the line".
Others, though, insist Theresa May should push on with her plan to put her Withdrawal Agreement Bill to a vote.
Mrs May's own MPs have been unhappy with the concessions she has set out in the bill, but she has called for "compromise on all sides".
The BBC's political editor says it appears the government is almost at breakdown.
Fri May 17th, 2019 at 07:25:01 PM EST
Singapore Airlines reinventing airplane food with produce from a vertical farm
Fraunhofer Reports Combining Farming With Solar 186% More Efficient In Summer Of 2018
Editorial Comment: The Japanese have been combining agriculture with solar electricity for a decade or two now.
The Circular Garden - a temporary pavilion made from mushrooms for Milan Design Week
University of Toronto Scarborough & Centennial College developing Canada's first net zero vertical farm
Editorial Comment: Good to see more people thinking about net zero in relation to vertical farming but Treehugger is correct to criticize the idea for using arable land instead of, say, brownfields
Online urban agriculture class from UMass begins May 20, 2019
5000 square foot garden and apiary as Staten Island apartment house amenities
"Following in the footsteps of Toronto, San Francisco, Denver, and Portland, Oregon, all new residential and commercial buildings in the city [NYC] must top roofs with either plants, solar panels, mini wind turbines--or a combination of all three."
Editorial Comment: The same act's "Dirty Building Bill" aims to slash the carbon emissions of all buildings over 25,000 square feet by 80% by 2050 through energy-saving solutions and retrofits such as installing better insulation.
NYC's eco-park PIer 35
Algae "biocurtains" from Photo.Synth.Etica absorb carbon from urban air
Engineers create plants that glow: Illumination from nanobionic plants might one day replace some electrical lighting
Growing food in the Arctic - polar permaculture
A few years worth of City Agriculture links are archived at http://cityag.blogspot.com
by Frank Schnittger
Fri May 17th, 2019 at 02:39:44 PM EST
In a kindness to all concerned, Jeremy Corbyn has finally put an end to the the Conservative Labour talks aimed at finding a common solution to the parliamentary impasse on Brexit. Everyone knew that both sides were simply playing for time, but it would have been farcical to continue after Theresa May had announced that her premiership was nearing its end.
Nevertheless his letter to her calling time on their joint efforts showed considerable more class than did her riposte. He thanked those involved in the talks for their detailed, constructive, and good faith efforts but said that the remaining differences between the parties combined with the instability of the government had made it impossible for them to succeed. For her part, May blamed divisions in Labour over a second referendum for the breakdown.
The reality is that Labour had offered her a lifeline to continue in office past the local and European elections, and if she really wanted a deal she could have had one. It would have meant compromising on her objections to a continued close relationship with the Customs Union and Single Market, and, in all probability, a second referendum to validate the deal. Without that there is no way Labour could be sure the next Tory PM would deliver on the deal.
Wed May 15th, 2019 at 11:39:01 AM EST
As I have written in my recent diary about signs of war preparation beyond the typical warmongering of the neocons in the White House and on that shining hill in Washington DC ...
○ Pompeo Cancels Berlin Visit .. Flies East Out of Moscow
The U.S. won't shun using the "tiny" nuclear bombs to impress other nations of the (al)might of the Pentagon and U.S. military prowess. Donald Trump is set out on a course to perform "better" than any previous American president in history. Carter got bogged down in the Iranian desert with a failed rescue attempt of hostages. Reagan got clobbered in Southern Lebanon and suffered great losses. Clinton was a fool who couldn't keep his zipper up. Bush and Obama made flawed decisions to expand wars beyond a theater the Pentagon and its global allies could handle. Terror has expanded a hundredfold across the globe.
The European Union was founded on a premise of peace between nations. The enemy is inside one's self, there is no reason to start a new global war on any scale. The Persian theater has been and will be a grave of innocents led into war by megalomaniacs.
More below the fold ...
Front paged - Frank Schnittger