by Frank Schnittger
Thu Dec 31st, 2020 at 01:59:44 PM EST
Denis McShane (born Josef Denis Matyjaszek, 21 May 1948) is a British former politician, author and commentator who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Rotherham from 1994 to his resignation in 2012. A former member of the Labour Party, he was Minister of State for Europe from 2002 until 2005. He was convicted in 2012 of submitting false invoices for expenses and was sentenced to 6 Months in Prison. He was a supporter of the Iraq war and has been accused of dishonest behaviour on a number of other occasions.
Without noting this background, the Irish Times has given him space to expound his views on how British Irish relations should develop post Brexit, He is the latest in a long line of columnists in Irish papers warning Ireland to stay close to mother England in case those perfidious continentals should take advantage of us. Apparently he has detected a rise in Schadenfreude and Anglo-phobia amongst his Irish friends. I have responded in a draft letter to the Editor below and [Update] an edited version has been published here:
Thu Dec 31st, 2020 at 07:04:24 AM EST
After long years of Brexit negotiations, four years of American intransigence under Donald Trump, sanctions imposed on NATO allies, ambassadors with a political agenda w/o experience in diplomacy from the School of Pompeo, flaunting International Law, choice for MAGA and ending policy of multilateralism ... even the election of Democrat Joe Biden will be insufficient to believe American ways will change bound by a destructive U.S. Congress.
After the recent trade deal with Japan, the EU again sets a priority in Asia with this EU-China deal. The lame duck president is AWOL spending most of his time on the Mar-a-lago golfcourse. His Twitter feed is filled with election fraud garbage.
Mon Dec 28th, 2020 at 12:17:14 PM EST
I wondered why the FBI refrained from calling the Christmas bombing in Nashville an Act of Domestic Terror ...
During four years of the Trump presidency, his powerbase was energized by fringe rightwing groups and outright white supremacists across the nation. In addition, Trump and his GOP gang in US Congress embraced the Confederacy as a clarion call for revolt. Turning back the clock to the days of Abraham Lincoln and the election of 1860. The Long Winter Transition fueled rapid secessions from the Union and the bloody Civil War: brothers killing brothers.
Fewer than four in 10 Americans voted for Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 -- he wasn't even on the ballot in nine Southern states -- but it was enough to win. Lincoln carried eighteen of thirty-three states, sweeping Northern population centers, and won 180 of the 303 electoral votes. His election outraged the South and triggered the Secession Winter.
Will the U.S. Constitution stand strong in the onslaught by the GOP and Donald Trump and will the traces of democracy survive in America? What will the role be of the US Supreme Court during the Biden presidency. And will US foreign policy continue on a Quid Pro Quo basis instead of a leadership role based on fundamental, liberal rights gained in the aftermath of the French Revolution: separation of Church and State. Liberté, égalité, fraternité.
In recent years the domestic terror groups did not have priority by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies. The 1st and 2nd Amendments dominated ...
Mon Dec 28th, 2020 at 03:46:45 AM EST
"Second + Delaware is the largest Passive House building in the world, which means that it uses 80-90% less energy than conventional buildings"
Opening in October in Kansas City, Missouri
A blog about living in a self-designed shipping container tiny house which is completely self-sufficient in Australia
40 hectare "regenerative city" plan for Bergen, Norway
How Oslo plans to become a zero emissions city by 2030
Net Zero energy McDonald's
Snøhetta's Powerhouse Telemark will use 70% less energy than a conventional building of similar size and will produce more energy than it will require over its entire lifespan, including the energy used in construction and even during its eventual demolition in decades to come
In January, 2019 this list included
Trondheim, Norway's net energy positive building, Powerhouse Brattørkaia, "will generate more energy in its operational phase than it consumes through the production of buiding materials, construction, operation, and disposal of the building" or Snøhetta strikes again
Editorial Comment: Snøhetta is the standard for zero net energy, net zero energy design and construction, at least in my opinion.
Plan for UK's first carbon neutral "urban quarter"
The Green Gateway, a zero-emission, highly sustainable multimodal hub, is the winner for the 2020 Fentress Global Challenge (FGC), an annual global student design competition
Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota with net-zero energy design
Net energy positive hotel for Bornholm Island, Denmark
Editorial Comment: Bornholm Island was the test-bed for the EU's Grid 2.0 project to determine how to mesh renewables with the existing grid and speed the renewable transition: http://www.eu-ecogrid.net
More on Bornholm and other near net zero island projects at http://solarray.blogspot.com/2017/09/crowd-funding-emergency-solar-electric.html
Redesigning Bellinzona, Switzerland through an "'eMergetic evaluation' concept that considers the entire building lifecycle to minimize the city's carbon footprint. The proposal also includes planned energy policy objectives with zero-emission targets, renewable energy systems and environmental monitoring."
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Dec 27th, 2020 at 02:16:07 PM EST
Draft Letter to the Editor
I'm sure most people breathed a sigh of relief that an EU UK Trade agreement was finally concluded just before Christmas, and everyone appears to assume it will be approved by the EU Parliament and ratified by governments on all sides within a matter of a few days or weeks.
But will there need to be a referendum in Ireland to approve the deal?
The Irish people gave up their territorial claim to Northern Ireland when Articles 2 and 3 were removed from our constitution by a 94% vote of the people in 1998 as part of the deal to ratify the Good Friday Agreement.
The peace process has survived for so long because the Good Friday agreement guaranteed "equality of esteem" for those who aspired to Irish unity and those who aspired to union with Britain. It was conceived in the context of both Ireland and Britain being members of the EU and of national borders and differences becoming ever less significant in the context of "an ever closer union" amongst the member states of the EU. There was no Article 50 procedure for any member state to leave the EU when the GFA was signed.
Under the Good Friday Agreement, there was to be no change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without approval by a majority by referendum there. In was in that context that 56% of the people of N. Ireland voted to remain in the EU in 2016.
Instead, with Brexit, Northern Ireland is out of the EU and all its people now have is a free trade deal on goods, some regulatory alignment, and a customs union with the EU. There is no agreement on trade in services, no Fundamental Charter on Human rights, no recourse to the European Court Justice. The Erasmus programme is gone too unless N. Ireland citizens opt for Irish citizenship and apply through the Irish scheme.
As the UK and EU diverge in the future, so too will Northern Ireland and Ireland - no doubt to the satisfaction of some unionists. But this is a far cry from the "equality of esteem" promised in the Good Friday agreement. Instead, a unionist minority got the Brexit they demanded, and the overwhelming majority who voted to remain in a Union with Ireland and the EU got little more than free trade in goods.
Surely this changes the relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland in quite fundamental ways and requires that the people of Ireland have the opportunity to have their say as to whether the EU UK trade deal should be ratified and become the law of the land in this state?
If it took a referendum in this state to enact the changes required by the Good Friday Agreement, surely it will take another referendum to validate a situation where Northern Ireland is no longer part of a Union with this state and other member states of the EU?
The whole basis on which the people of this state gave up their territorial claim to Northern Ireland in 1998 has been fundamentally altered. The Government should not ratify the EU UK trade deal unless it is formally approved by a referendum of the Irish people.
Thu Dec 24th, 2020 at 04:12:03 PM EST
Looks like there will be a Brexit deal for Christmas, after all.
Brexit: EU, UK clinch trade and security deal - DW
EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference that the two sides "finally" reached a deal.
Frontpaged - Bernard
"It was a long and winding road, but we have a good deal to show for it," she said on Thursday.
She added that the UK and the EU will continue cooperating on areas of mutual interest, naming climate, energy, security, and transport.
"I believe, also, that this agreement is in the United Kingdom's interest. It will set solid foundations for a new start with a long-term friend. And it means that we can finally put Brexit behind us, and Europe is continuing to move forward," she added.
Thu Dec 24th, 2020 at 04:38:21 AM EST
Over the past couple of weeks I've run across what might be a few really useful reports on the energy transition.
The Lancet is doing an annual climate countdown report to monitor our progress. Here is this year's edition: https:/www.lancetcountdown.org/2020-report
That should give us some idea of where we are and this particular finding jumped out
"Indicator 4.2.5: net value of fossil fuel subsidies and carbon prices--headline finding: 58 of the 75 countries reviewed were operating with a net negative carbon price in 2017. The resulting net loss of revenue was, in many cases, equivalent to substantial proportions of the national health budget...
"This indicator calculates net, economy- wide average carbon prices and associated net carbon revenue to government. The calculations are based on the value of overall fossil fuel subsidies, the revenue from carbon pricing mechanisms, and the total CO2 emissions of the economy. Data on fossil fuel subsidies are calculated on the basis of analysis from the IEA and OECD. Together, these sources cover 75 countries and account for around 92% of global CO2 emissions. Carbon prices and revenues are derived from data in the World Bank Carbon Pricing Dashboard (https:/carbonpricingdashboard.worldbank.org) [Corporate Carbon Accounting Market https:/cleantechnica.com/2020/11/30/the-corporate-carbon-accounting-market may also be useful here]
"Of the 75 countries, 61 (81%) countries in 2016 and 58 (77%) countries in 2017 had net negative carbon prices, and only 14 (19%) countries in 2016 and 17 (23%) countries in 2017 had a price higher than zero, a result of substantial subsidies for fossil fuel production and consumption (figure 25). The median net carbon revenue was negative, a pay-out of $0·66 billion (IQR -0·04 to -3·48), with some countries providing net fossil fuel subsidies in the tens of billions of dollars each year. In many cases, these subsidies were equivalent to substantial proportions of the national health budget--more than 100% in eight of the 75 countries in 2017. Of the 38 countries that had formal carbon pricing mechanisms in place in 2017, 21 still had net negative carbon prices."
An historical perspective is available with an interactive diagram of the Energy Transitions in U.S. History, 1800-2019 (https:/us-sankey.rcc.uchicago.edu), extremely fine work which maps the transitions from biomass to coal to oil to gas to nuclear to renewables. The supporting paper is at https:static1.squarespace.com/static/54dcfad0e4b0eaff5e0068bf/t/5fbeba6ffa04221c71019ccc/160633509
McKinsey has just released a report on How the EU Could Achieve Zero Emissions at Net Zero Cost (https:www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/how-the-european-union-could
-achieve-net-zero-emissions-at-net-zero-cost#) and there are two new studies for the USA:
Net-Zero America: Potential Pathways, Infrastructure, and Impacts
and two US renewable energy policy scenaria, administrative action alone doubling renewables by 2030 and 50% renewables by 2030, from Wood Mackenzie (https:www.woodmac.com/our-expertise/focus/Power--Renewables/us-renewable-energy-policy-scenario-an
The Sierra Club also has a paper on how they are approaching "Climate Resilience, Carbon Dioxide Removal, and Geoengineering Policy"
Wed Dec 23rd, 2020 at 06:25:55 PM EST
Gossip from journalists in Brussels ... there will be a deal today ... negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord Frost are finalizing deal which will be presented in a call between Johnson and Von der Leyen this evening.
Thu Nov 26th, 2020 at 09:36:59 AM EST
Cultural exchange inside America 🇺🇸 ... let youth from Blue states and Red states meet!
Healing a dysfunctional society and political system ... where to start when conversation has been replaced by guns, more guns and violence.
THANKSGIVING USA 2020
Serving 50 million Americans today 😢
More to come ... use this as an open thread analyzing Trumpís four years legacy and damage done to a flawed World Leadership.
by Frank Schnittger
Mon Dec 21st, 2020 at 03:01:38 PM EST
Covid-19 is still creating chaos on the island of Ireland with a third wave gathering momentum and the death rate in Northern Ireland particularly severe. Hospitals there are full to capacity and patients have had to be treated in ambulances as they queue outside hospitals.
Meanwhile the Republic, in common with some other European countries, has instituted a travel ban with the UK, as concern rises about an even more infectious strain of Covid-19 spreading in south east England. The land-bridge through Britain is closed with France no longer accepting goods traffic from Britain, so plans for increased direct sea routes from Ireland to mainland Europe have been fast-tracked.
In some ways the situation now is so severe that if a no-deal Brexit were to happen on January 1st. people would hardly notice. So where is the good news, I hear you ask?
Sat Dec 19th, 2020 at 10:17:23 AM EST
Meanwhile inside the White House, candles are burning late ...
by Frank Schnittger
Thu Dec 17th, 2020 at 03:56:51 PM EST
Pantomimes are best enjoyed after some celebratory cheer and in the presence of children who will uncover whole levels of meaning that can pass mere adults by. In the participatory tradition of Pantomime, and in the spirit of Christmas I thought we could compose our own socially distanced Pantomime with a cast of characters drawn from that other Pantomime known as Brexit. Villains abound, and heroes may be hard to find but large dollops of pixy dust and magical thinking can make even the most surreal scenarios believable. Please include your favourite Brexit quotes and characters is the comments below.
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Dec 16th, 2020 at 10:32:54 PM EST
The Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA) ratification process in the Irish Senate has been delayed following a split in the Green Party on the issue. Michael McDowell is a prominent barrister, senator, former deputy prime minister, ex-leader of the now defunct Progressive Democrats party and long term advocate for neo-liberal policies in Ireland.
He has excoriated the Irish government for trying to railroad the ratification process through parliament with only 55 minutes of debating time particularly as it contains controversial clauses allowing global corporations to sue sovereign states if their policies have adverse effects on their profitability.
The Irish Times has published a letter to the editor I have written in response:
by Frank Schnittger
Sat Dec 12th, 2020 at 05:27:34 PM EST
This week-end is supposed to mark the final deadline for coming up with a post Brexit FTA between the EU and the UK. Brexiteers have always maintained they are relaxed about the prospect of no deal - if only to try and bolster their negotiating position vis a via the EU. Boris Johnson has taken to calling it the "Australia Option" - in succession to the Norway, Swiss and Canadian options - despite the fact that ex-Australian Premier, Malcolm Turnbull has warned that Australians see their trading relationship with the EU as anything but satisfactory and are busily trying to negotiate a better one.
Sat Dec 12th, 2020 at 02:45:44 AM EST
All of the newly elected Republican Members of the House of Representatives who endorsed the meretricious Texas lawsuit to throw out the results of four states who voted for Biden should be charged with sedition and barred taking their seats and from again running for Congress. This nonsense has to stop and such action would be a strong signal that it will not be tolerated.
To that end Bill Pascrell, Jr., Democrat from New Jersey tweeted the following and wrote a letter to House leadership recommending such action:
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was written after the Civil War to bar from government any traitors who would seek to destroy the Union.
Today I'm calling on House leaders to refuse to seat any Members trying to overturn the election and make donald trump an unelected dictator.
It is clearly within the power of the House to refuse to seat members for cause. Sedition should qualify as a cause. Perhaps the House could conduct an investigation to determine if sedition has occurred. If so it could at least attempt to bar them from running again. But just having to run again for their seats would be a quite considerable punishment. Pelosi strongly condemned their action. Further pressure from House Members is in order.
by Frank Schnittger
Fri Dec 11th, 2020 at 03:10:47 PM EST
Despite the likelihood of a "No Deal" in the main EU/UK trade talks, the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement will come into force on January 1st. The working party on its implementation, chaired by European Commission Vice-President Maro efčovič and the UK Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Rt Hon Michael Gove have agreed the details of its implementation, which includes a grace period to allow supermarkets to adapt to the new customs and quality controls that will apply.
While it was hoped the agreement would build some momentum towards a broader Free Trade Agreement, its more immediate effect is to provide the UK government with some cover to withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill, and not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill which were in breach of international law and threatened to de-rail relations with the incoming Biden administration in the USA.
Newton Emerson has a piece up on the Irish Times (subscriber only) discussing the DUP's confusion as to how to respond to the Protocol's creation of "a border down the Irish sea" which they had so bitterly opposed. I have drafted a letter to the Editor in response:
Thu Dec 10th, 2020 at 04:07:45 AM EST
Biomimicry Restoration: Healthy Oysters for Healthy Coasts, Oceans and Climate
Monday, December 14, 2020, from 5 - 6 p.m. EDT
Register for free at https:/wgbh.zoom.us/webinar/register/1016072887368/WN_mUknppwnTi-Qy97BCNlGbQ?blm_aid=25138
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, in partnership with the GBH Forum Network, is honored to present Marine Biologist Anamarija Frankić speaking about the role of oyster habitat restoration in creating healthy living coastlines, oceans, and humans.
Globally, oyster habitats are the most degraded habitats among coastal systems, with the loss of 99% in the last 150 years. These 350 million years old keystone species and their natural keystone habitats are at the brink of total collapse due to intensive human industrial harvesting and pollution of coastal areas. Science has acknowledged the ecological value of oyster habitats and their importance to coastal health and protection. We now know that oyster habitats used to embrace coasts of all continents, protecting them and supporting life and water quality, often growing up to 10 cm/year. How can we best work with nature and help restore species, habitats and natural systems? This presentation will address the biomimicry approach for oyster habitat restoration locally and globally in order to recover marine health and resiliency.
I've followed Anamarija Frankić's projects in Boston Harbor for years now. She is doing the work and blazing the trail. She's also a very good teacher and researcher well worth listening to.
This event is part of the Life Saves the Planet lecture series, from Biodiversity for a Livable Climate and and GBH, the local PBS operation. Biodiversity for a Livable Climate (https:bio4climate.org) has been organizing important conferences on the many different aspects of geotherapy, using ecological systems to repair the damage homo sap sap (that sap) has done. You can access their conference proceedings at https:/bio4climate.org/conferences It is good to see that they have begun collaborating with GBH.
A foundational text on geotherapeutic principles is Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase (https:/www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429168901) which has made me believe it is possible to reduce atmospheric carbon to preindustrial levels (about 270 ppm) by the end of the century if we did everything we know how to do simply with SOIL consistently and globally with practices that work from flowerpot to thousand hectares scales.
Another is Healing Earth: An Ecologist's Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2019 ISBN 9781623172985) (https:www.northatlanticbooks.com/shop/healing-earth) in which John Todd shares the lessons he's learned over a lifetime of building, rebuilding, and repairing ecosystems, demonstrably healing portions of the Earth.
We remain alert so as not to get run down, but it turns out you only have to hop a few feet to one side and the whole huge machinery rolls by, not seeing you at all.
Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous behaviors tha will avoid extinction.
R. Buckminster Fuller
the war that matters is the war against the imagination
all other wars are subsumed in it.
Diane di Prima
by Frank Schnittger
Sun Dec 6th, 2020 at 01:27:36 PM EST
This is the story of Daisy, the Brexit Cow. She lives on a farm in Monaghan but her milk is transported for processing to Fermanagh, from where it is transported to consumers in England via the Belfast Liverpool ferry. So far she has been unaffected by any proposed Brexit changes because her produce is regarded as British and will not be subject to any tariffs or border quality checks.
However next year Daisy will have a calf which may be processed for beef in either North or south Ireland. She may be fattened for a few weeks on a farm in N. Ireland prior to slaughter, so does this make her a N. Ireland calf, and will it matter whether she is processed in the North or south of Ireland and then sold on the British market?
Northern Ireland has insufficient meat and dairy processing plants to meet the demands of the British market - or will those demands be met by beef from Brazil or Argentina instead? 50% WTO tariffs on beef mean that meat prices in the UK will go up dramatically unless they have free trade agreements with at least some meat exporting countries.
by Frank Schnittger
Thu Dec 3rd, 2020 at 03:20:56 PM EST
The United Kingdom is getting a coronavirus vaccine first because it is a "much better country" than France, Belgium and the United States, a British cabinet minister has declared.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, praised the work done by the medical regulator to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use.
Mr Williamson said the United Kingdom's status as the first country to approve a vaccine is due to its superior experts.
"I just reckon we've got the very best people in this country and we've obviously got the best medical regulator, much better than the French have, much better than the Belgians have, much better than the Americans have," he told LBC Radio.
"That doesn't surprise me at because we're a much better country than every single one of them."
by Frank Schnittger
Wed Dec 2nd, 2020 at 12:18:02 PM EST
British readying for Brexit: They never saw it coming, mate
Sometimes our vocabulary has to expand to encompass new realities. Covid, for example, has added "lockdown", "social distancing" and "flattening the curve" to our daily lexicon. Likewise, the UK's departure from the European Union has already given us words such as "Remainers", "Leavers" and "cake-ism" as well as, of course, the word "Brexit" itself. Phrases about "unicorns" and "cherry-picking" have been given a new resonance.
But Brexit, set to take full effect on January 1st, now requires the urgent invention of another word to capture the simple reality that the self-harm inflicted on the British people, across so many areas of their lives, is the direct effect of Brexit itself and of the hard version of it pursued by the Johnson government. Many people, of course, understand this well both in Britain and around Europe. But if this elementary reality has to be explained every time that British tabloids express astonishment at the latest materialisation of the bleeding obvious, we may lose the will to live.