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Star Over Bethlehem

by Oui Tue Dec 25th, 2018 at 09:49:34 AM EST


In the media some attention given to Apollo 8 travel to the moon and the spectacular Earthrise photo taken by man ...

Christmas 1968 - A Reflection On Fragility

Planet Earth's sliver of sustainability - the fragile atmosphere measuring infinitesimally small in size.

The Apollo 8 voyage 50 years on: reflecting on our common humanity and fragility

Despite everything in 1968, the Earth was good, and the astronauts closed by wishing everyone: "good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you -- all of you on the good Earth". Good, and fragile, and it required keeping, far better than had been done with war or racial discrimination or environmental pollution. A small planet, insignificant in size compared to the galaxy, but still our home and one perfectly suited for life, with water and air and soil and a sun nearby to give warmth.

(Credit NASA)

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Emperor Trump Names Icarus as Interim

by Oui Sun Dec 23rd, 2018 at 07:29:46 PM EST

The Myth of Rome, Athens and Trump

Enlightened by a Israeli news article about Trump in comparison with Roman emperor Caligula, I thought to frame Trump newest careless endeavor to get rid of Mattis and assign the Pentagon job to his man from Boeing - well a winged type anyway.

    Mr Trump also claimed he had given Gen Mattis a "second chance" after the ex-defence secretary was "ingloriously fired" as head of US Central Command by Mr Obama in 2013.

    "Some thought I shouldn't, I thought I should," Mr Trump said.

Trump taps Boeing executive Pat Shanahan for deputy secretary of defense | Seattle Times |

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The Generals v the Commander-In-Chief

by Oui Fri Dec 21st, 2018 at 11:30:39 AM EST

More below the fold ...

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The Charge of the Light Brexit Brigade

by Luis de Sousa Thu Dec 20th, 2018 at 03:10:15 PM EST

Into the valley of death
Rode May's two hundred
Europhobe to the right of them
Opposition to the left of them
Country in front of them
Volleyed and thundered

The Charge of the Light Brigade
by Caton Woodville
An old story

The year is 1854, Britain is fighting the Crimean War in alliance with France and the remnants of the Ottoman empire, and against the rising Russian superpower. On the 25th of October the British are acting in the valley of Balaclava with a large number of forces. With Russian forces retreating from their redoubts in the southern side of the valley, General George Bingham, in command of the British army, orders the Light Brigade of the Cavalry to prevent the enemy from withdrawing with them the artillery pieces stationed in those redouts. What followed became known as the "Charge of the Light Brigade", a largely mindless and unexplained massacre of British troops.

frontpaged with minor edit - Bjinse

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Easing Cliff Edge - EU Announces Measures by No-deal

by Oui Thu Dec 20th, 2018 at 09:59:43 AM EST

As the World Turns ...

BoE warns EU that £41tn of derivatives at risk after Brexit | FT - Oct. 9, 2018 |

Europe makes contingency plans for clearing-houses after Brexit | The Economist - Nov. 29, 2018 |

AS THEY PREPARE for Brexit, many of London's financial firms have begun to move some staff, or operations, to the continent. But financial contracts, notably derivatives, are difficult to uproot. London's clearing-houses, which ensure that a contract is honoured even if one side goes bust, are globally important. As fears of an acrimonious Brexit have risen, so too have those of havoc. Now European Union regulators have unveiled contingency plans.

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Brexit Stop: 48 Letters Trigger No Confidence Vote

by Oui Wed Dec 12th, 2018 at 08:04:33 AM EST

UK Government with PM Theresa May in shutdown due to hurdle brought by her own Tory party members.

No PMQ today in Parliament, no Minister's meeting to discuss her escape to the EU for one day and no meeting with DUP's Arlene Foster. UK and the EU heading for a no deal to be decided by the Tory party members tonight whether Theresa May survives or is set aside. Great dissatisfaction may trump the nation's interest and push May out!

Brexit in chaos as Tory MPs trigger vote of no confidence in May | The Guardian |

Conservative MPs have triggered a vote of no confidence in Theresa May, plunging the Brexit process into chaos as Tory colleagues indicated they no longer had faith in the prime minister to deliver the deal.

Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, has received at least 48 letters from Conservative MPs calling for a vote of no confidence in May. Under party rules, a contest is triggered if 15% of Conservative MPs write to the chair of the committee of Tory backbenchers.

A ballot will be held on Wednesday evening between 6pm and 8pm, Brady said, with votes counted "immediately afterwards and an announcement will be made as soon as possible".

In a press release, he said: "The threshold of 15% of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative party has been exceeded."  

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RIP: Finbarr Flood 1938-2016

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jan 2nd, 2019 at 11:07:25 AM EST

Finbarr Flood was one of my first bosses in Guinness and taught me much of what I have learned about surviving in big business. He had joined the company as a messenger boy aged 14 and also played semi-professional soccer as a goal-keeper in both Ireland and Scotland. Having risen through the ranks to become Managing Director, he left to pursue a further career as Chairman of the Irish Labour Court, Chairman of Shelbourne Football Club, and Chair of a number of city rejuvenation projects.  Having left school at 14 he was extremely chuffed to receive an honorary Doctorate from the Dublin Institute of Technology and to become an adjunct Professor to Trinity College Dublin.

a retrospective story for the season that's in it...Originally published Jul 26th, 2016.

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The fog of war

by Frank Schnittger Sat Dec 15th, 2018 at 02:01:53 PM EST

I haven't the foggiest notion what the difference between foggy and nebulous is in the context of the confrontation between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker which occurred on camera at the European Council summit. She accused him of calling her nebulous and he responded that he had been referring to the debate in the House of Commons, not her, and that the word he had used was "nebuleux" in French which had been miss-translated as nebulous whereas he had meant foggy.

Both mean vague, ill-defined or unclear, and that is precisely the accusation leveled at Theresa May by several heads of government after her one hour presentation which is said to have alienated and annoyed many on the Council. She told them to trust her judgement, when that is precisely what they no longer trust. You don't wrap up a legally binding deal after a long and complex negotiation only to come back looking for more changes a couple of weeks later and hope to keep your credibility intact.

EU Heads of government were quite clear that any concessions they make now - without cast iron guarantees they will enable the passage of all required legislation through parliament - will simply be "banked" by UK Brexiteers before they come back looking for more.

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by aDoorIntoSummer Fri Dec 14th, 2018 at 06:36:31 PM EST

Hundreds of thousands, probably millions of French citizens have flooded the streets. They demand being heard, i.e. actual democracy.  They have been impoverished, and cannot bear the hike on fossil fuel price, the major fraction of which are taxes. It is possible that they might even want a reduction on taxation in general.
    French government justifies this particular taxation as a means to lower carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. In fact, a reduction in the consumption of petroleum, if not carbon in general.

    Perhaps a direct answer, as below, is best to reveal the depth of the deception. There are ideologies, both old and new, which may lead our societies to its decomposition.
    Memory is the primary resource of intelligent entities in order to predict the future. We must not forget the past:

    Tax on fuel consumption is an example of flat taxation. And even if you may chose to drive or not a car or motorcycle, many people do not have a viable option.
    In contrast, in the good old times, both in Europe and the United States, the richest of people and corporations had to return the vast majority of their revenues as taxes. They were however safer, more admired and appreciated then today. Those taxes paid for high quality, low-cost - if not free -, public services in Europe, and kept the American budget afloat, i.e. its economical independence.

    Under usual circumstances, concentration of CO2 is the limiting factor to photosynthesis, i.e. biomass production; in other terms, biological wealth. You should also know that CO2 concentration has been many times above current levels practically ever since plants and animals arrived to dry land, and they have had a great time.
    Drinking a ridiculous amount of water can kill you, but it doesn't make it a poison,  especially when you are thirsty.

    Most recently, rise in CO2 levels has allowed a rise in leaf cover throughout the world, which is apparently warming up polar and boreal areas, and slightly chilling warm areas. Plants and birds, farmers, animal lovers and long-term investors should be happier now.
    On the other hand, whatever is based on scarcity, such as frozen deserts, ecologists who secretly do not care for life, and carbon tax financial products, will perform poorly.

Note: this text was conceived originally as a bilingual manifest. Not sure where or when to place the french translation counterpart. Maybe in a week as near end comment.

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Juncker: Tory Attack Is Getting Personal

by Oui Fri Dec 14th, 2018 at 12:17:49 PM EST

I listened to and watched the brief press conference late last night of Tusk and Juncker. There were some words of annoyance, a personal grievance. I estimate Juncker was irritated by UK media and Tory criticism of his person. In addition, I do think PM Theresa May has never understood the internal workings of the Brexit negotiations and the EU. Last summer May went around Michel Barnier to talk to heads of state. On het way to Brussels, May talked to Dutch PM Rutte and German chancellor Angela Merkel. In the UK negotiation tactics, Theresa May changed her team leader as often as a FA Club releases a manager. These are not good signs of a well thought out process to get to a clearly defined goal. At this late stage, the EU 27 are really fed up with the shenanigans of UK politics at Westminster. Time has run out. The no-deal contingency plans are rolled out in a manner there will be no possibility to get the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons in time. May has not delivered. What she promised in her cabinet and in Parliament were no-go proposals for the EU. She should have known.

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The Primacy of EU Law and its implications

by Frank Schnittger Mon Dec 10th, 2018 at 12:52:12 PM EST

The European Court of Justice has found, in a clear and lucid judgement, that a sovereign state which has issued a notification (under Article 50) of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, retains the sovereign right to withdraw that notification "in accordance with its own constitutional requirements" until such time as it takes full effect.

Unlike the Advocate General's earlier advisory opinion, it does so solely in accordance with European Law as established by the treaties, without relying on "custom and practice" in international law, or the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), which has not been ratified by the EU or France and Romania, although it notes that the VCLT "corroborates" this view.

The main arguments it uses to come to this view include the following:

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After Brexit, Europe at a Crossroad

by Oui Sat Dec 8th, 2018 at 02:31:03 PM EST

"It took 15 years for the UK to be admitted because the French saw it was the English intention to compromise that plan."

[Comment by oldremainmer48]

To be specific, it were French president Charles de Gaulle and Dutch FM Joseph Luns (1956-1971) who kept the British out. They envisioned the British as troublemakers for the European Economic Community. Joseph Luns became NATO SG from 1971-1984.

    With authority and a keen sense of humour, Luns chaired Council meetings rather informally compared to his predecessors. He called Ambassadors by their first name and put on slippers during lengthy Council discussions. However, Luns could become rather confrontational with those he felt were not supportive of the American view. High-minded yet visionary, he made it clear that staunch Atlanticism and a united Europe were complementary and expected others to get on board.

1967: De Gaulle pulls France out of NATO's integrated military structure

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It's still no deal

by Migeru Fri Dec 7th, 2018 at 09:25:59 PM EST

The European Court of Justice will rule Monday on whether the UK can stop Brexit by unilaterally taking back its article 50 notification. This is one day before Theresa May's withdrawal agreement goes to a vote in the Commons. If the ECJ goes along with its advocate general's opinion last week and rules that unilateral revocation is indeed possible, MPs will vote on the withdrawal agreement knowing that there is definitely an avenue open to stop Brexit. This may motivate remainers more strongly to vote down May's deal, though by the same token it may move hardline leavers to support it. Still, the expectation is that May's deal is doomed anyway. The following is a scenario for Brexit revocation, with the caveat that I don't think it is likely because Labour is not actually for Remain.

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Rise of Populism Based on Terror and Islamophobia

by Oui Fri Dec 7th, 2018 at 09:24:42 PM EST

Currente headlines in news media and blogs expressing opinions and analysis I have done for many years.

Thanks to US billionaires supporting rightwing political causes in the Republican party and fusing with Israel's crime family headed by PM Netanyahu. In the meantime the Democrats were defeated by a common cause: the next war on Iran.

Just a few short headlines, for some this will make sense ... where to start?

Revealed: the hidden network behind Tommy Robinson| The Guardian |

The British far-right activist Tommy Robinson is receiving financial, political and moral support from a broad array of non-British groups and individuals, including US thinktanks, rightwing Australians and Russian trolls, a Guardian investigation has discovered.

Robinson, an anti-Islam campaigner who is leading a "Brexit betrayal" march in London on Sunday, has received funding from a US tech billionaire and a thinktank based in Philadelphia.

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Sharia: No Escape From Dubai - Authoritarian Sheikh

by Oui Tue Dec 4th, 2018 at 09:59:59 PM EST

In my lifetime I envisioned the Arab peninsula to become a modern state with equal rights for women. Instead we are witness to mass failure of Emirati leaders on human rights issues. Twice an Emirati princess attempted to escape from the authoritarian rule of their father and twice the women were abducted and returned to the Emirate. The world watches and does nothing ... selling your soul for a few bucks.

Human rights on the back burner as the Arab states slaughter the opposition rebels and civilian population in Yemen.

Not just the two principal Arab partners the United Kingdom and the United States of America are guilty of support in these war crimes.

Yemen: The devastating war waged with European weapons | DW |

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The UK can unilaterally revoke its A.50 notification

by Frank Schnittger Tue Dec 4th, 2018 at 04:59:50 PM EST

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice has advised the Court that it should find that the UK can unilaterally withdraw its A.50 notification to leave the EU, subject to certain conditions. His finding is not binding on the Court, but it would be unusual for the Court to reject his finding in its final ruling, which could come in the next few weeks.

In doing so, the Advocate General has rejected the view of the EU Council and the EU Commission that any revocation of an A.50 notification should be subject to the unanimous agreement of the EU Council. He has also rejected the view of the UK government that the issue is entirely academic and hypothetical, and therefor should be considered inadmissible by the court.

Finally, and most dammingly, he has rejected my arguments to the effect that A.50 provides for no such right, and he goes on to quote the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties as providing for such a right, even while noting that the EU, France and Romania are not signatories to that Treaty. Instead he argues (para. 79) that the rules of customary international law are binding upon the Member States and the European Union and may be a source of rights and obligations in EU law.

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Back-stabbing the back stop

by Frank Schnittger Sun Dec 2nd, 2018 at 05:21:43 PM EST

There has been much speculation as to what will happen when Theresa May loses the Commons Brexit vote, as she almost certainly will, on Dec. 11th. Most observers don't expect that vote to be even close, with some estimating a margin in excess of 100 votes. Some speculate such a defeat will finally trigger a challenge to May's leadership. But if Rees-Mogg's co-conspirators couldn't even muster 48 votes the last time around, it seems hardly likely they will be able to achieve the 158 votes required to win a vote of confidence against her leadership and trigger a leadership election.

The downside for them is that the rules dictate that they won't be able to issue a renewed leadership challenge for another 12 Months if they fail. So they had better get it right the first time around. A lot will depend on how badly she still wants the job. So far she has won some grudging admiration even from her opponents for how she has stuck to her task against seemingly insurmountable odds.

The other downside is that the rules suggest a 12 week timeline for a full leadership challenge and the election of a replacement, which almost takes us outside of the Brexit timeline altogether. It's hard to see the EU Council extending the A. 50 deadline just to allow a Prime Minister Johnson settle into his job. They have fulfilled their A.50 obligation to negotiate an exit deal. He can take it or leave it. The internal machinations of the Tory party are none of their concern.

But there is an alternative scenario...

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GHW Bush Passed Away

by Oui Sat Dec 1st, 2018 at 06:02:28 AM EST

No comment - a life in service of the CIA from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. A direct link to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

More below the fod ....

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Green New Deal, Extinction Rebellion Demands, & My Approach to Climate Change

by gmoke Wed Nov 28th, 2018 at 03:15:34 AM EST

Here are Representative Ocasio-Cortez' proposed goals for a Select Committee on a Green New Deal (https:/ocasio2018.com/green-new-deal) as part of the resuscitated House Committee on Climate Change:

"The Plan for a Green New Deal (and the draft legislation) shall be developed in order to achieve the following goals, in each case in no longer than 10 years from the start of execution of the Plan:
100% of national power generation from renewable sources;
building a national, energy-efficient, "smart" grid;
upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety;
decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries;
decarbonizing, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure;
funding massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases;
making `green' technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely carbon neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal."

Here are UK's Extinction Rebellion's demands (https:rebellion.earth/demands):

"That the Government must tell the truth about how deadly our situation is, it must reverse all policies not in alignment with that position and must work alongside the media to communicate the urgency for change including what individuals, communities and businesses need to do.

"Good intentions and guidelines won't save the ice caps. The Government must enact legally-binding policies to reduce carbon emissions in the UK to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases. It must cooperate internationally so that the global economy runs on no more than half a planet's worth of resources per year.

"By necessity these demands require initiatives and mobilisation of similar size and scope to those enacted in times of war. We do not however, trust our Government to make the bold, swift and long-term changes necessary to achieve this and we do not intend to hand further power to our politicians. Instead we demand a Citizens' Assembly to oversee the changes, as we rise from the wreckage, creating a democracy fit for purpose."

My approach to climate change is
100% renewables ASAP
zero emissions economy ASAP
carbon drawdown ASAP
geotherapy (not geoengineering) ASAP

Resources: http://drawdown.org
s:/www.crcpress.com/Geotherapy-Innovative-Methods-of-Soil-Fertility-Restoration-Carbon-Sequestratio n/Goreau-Larson-Campe/p/book/9781466595392

At least as a thought experiment.

I also believe a solar civil defense is necessary NOW and could be a way to do a solar walk away or electrical utility boycott as an example of solar swadeshi, local production, and a Gandhian, non-violent economic system.

PS:  The Sunrise Movement (https:www.sunrisemovement.org) will be lobbying in Washington, DC on December 10 to demand Congress make a real plan to address climate change.
You can join this action by filling out the form at 
http://bit.ly/dcregform or 

They will also be having a Facebook event on December 9 to Tell Democrats: We Need a Green New Deal

Comments >> (3 comments)

Can the UK reverse the Brexit process?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Nov 27th, 2018 at 06:46:32 PM EST

The European Court of Justice is today hearing a case to determine whether a state has the right to unilaterally withdraw an A. 50 notification of its intention to leave the EU. (case number C-621/18). The Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland decided to refer the following question in a preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union:

`Where, in accordance with Article 50 of the TEU, a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, does EU law permit that notice to be revoked unilaterally by the notifying Member State; and, if so, subject to what conditions and with what effect relative to the Member State remaining within the EU'.

The Irony of the ECJ deciding on the UK's rights in this matter has not been lost on some observers, with some Brexiteers outraged the court is even considering the matter. A.50 provides that a member who has left the EU and wishes to rejoin must do so via the standard A.49 accession procedure. But A.50 is silent on what happens if a member issues an A. 50 notification and then changes their mind on the matter within the 2 year negotiation period before they actually leave, so some more clarity is welcome.

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News and Views

 14 - 20 January 2019

by Bjinse - Jan 14, 46 comments

Your take on this week's news

 7 - 13 January 2019

by Bjinse - Jan 9, 113 comments

Your take on this week's news

 2019 New Year Thread

by Bjinse - Dec 30, 30 comments

Threads from the threshold of the year to come,

Whispering 'it will be happier'

 December Open Thread

by Bjinse - Dec 3, 97 comments

The main reason December is so jolly is because Santa knows where all the bad threads live

Occasional Series
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Top Diaries

What happens now?

by IdiotSavant - Jan 15

A Swedish government appears

by fjallstrom - Jan 16

Too little, too late

by Frank Schnittger - Jan 12

A TITANIC success

by Frank Schnittger - Jan 7

Perils of a No Deal BrExit

by Oui - Jan 7

Review of 2018

by Frank Schnittger - Dec 26

Star Over Bethlehem

by Oui - Dec 25
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