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

6 - 12 February 2017

by Bjinse Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:24:44 PM EST

Your take on today's news media

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by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:25:09 PM EST
Fillon blunders on...
The French rightwing presidential candidate François Fillon has apologised for hiring his wife as a parliamentary assistant, admitting he made an "error" but refusing to quit the race.

Marvellous. He apologises, while claiming it was all regular and above-board, and hammers the press for... doing their job.

Claims that Penny worked very hard for him... but secretly, it seems. She herself seems to have been unaware of her job.

What more could the left ask for?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 05:34:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the hits keep on coming:

In tomorrow's edition, Le Canard reports that Penelope Fillon received a €45000 severance allowance from the National Assembly, € 16000 in August 2002 and again € 29000 in November 2013.

Yes, this is above and beyond all the dough already uncovered in the past two weeks.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 07:33:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Fillon maintains his candidature

(Journalist:) - You're happy that your candidate is still standing?
 - Ah no! We're supporting Macron!

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 10:47:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does he believe there is a French version of the American IOKIARDI ("It's OK if a Republican does it.") Rule?
by rifek on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 02:07:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh there is, there is. The right has at least 5 times as many scandals as PS, and yet when they get caught it's usually "they all do it" whereas if the left gets caught well...
For instance, Cahuzac received a jail sentence. The Balkanys are still running. Chirac was able to claim senility and wriggle out. Sarkozy is still escaping...

But it may be that this one looks too silly. Hopefully it will help Hamon in the end. In any case, Fillon not winning would be an improved outcome.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 05:05:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Three of the candidates opened their official campaigns in Lyon over the weekend (I was in Italy at the time, nothing first-hand to report) :

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 06:32:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frexit: LePen to seek euro exit in six-month negotiation plan

France's far-right presidential candidate Marine le Pen will look to take the country out of the single currency area in six months, setting out a radical economic vision for the eurozone's second largest economy should she be elected in May.

ean Messiha, an adviser to Ms Le Pen, has fleshed out the eurosceptic party's promises to pursue a "Frexit", claiming the French state would redenominate its more than €2tn outstanding debt into a new franc and "guarantee" companies will still have access to the debt markets to help smooth the transition out of the euro.

Ms Le Pen has long promised to restore monetary sovereignty to France, railing against the EU's debt rules and prohibitions on government spending. Her advisor's comments flesh out the FN's plans which could include holding a referendum on eurozone membership and central-bank financed government spending.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 02:52:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France's Macron laughs off gay rumors

Paris (AFP) - Addressing malicious online comments and gossiping among journalists, French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has made fun of rumours that he is gay.

Macron's candid comments that he was neither cheating on his wife nor having a gay affair with a media boss appeared to be an attempt to put an end to speculation about his private life.

The 39-year-old independent is married to his high school teacher Brigitte Trogneux who is 24 years older than him -- an unconventional relationship often featured in the country's celebrity and lifestyle magazines.

"Those who want to spread the idea that I am a fake, that I have hidden lives or something else, first of all, it's unpleasant for Brigitte," Macron told supporters late on Monday.

by Zwackus on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 06:00:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Poland invades Belarus! In Trump's "senior aides" world of "alternate facts", that is:

On foreign policy, Trump still speaking campaign language - AP

According to one U.S. official, national security aides have sought information about Polish incursions in Belarus, an eyebrow-raising request because little evidence of such activities appears to exist. Poland is among the Eastern European nations worried about Trump's friendlier tone on Russia.
by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 07:32:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"little? Not "no"? Really?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 07:35:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There do seem to be some border problems between Russia and Belarus right now, so I don't understand why a Russian agent would suddenly start supporting Belarus.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 07:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1. He doesn't know the difference.  2. Poland is part of the zone he's attacking; Byeolrussia is part of the sphere Putin is trying to reestablish.  If Poland wants to protect itself, it needs to acquire a Trump hotel, quickly.
by rifek on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 02:15:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hopes for a thaw as Poland's Kaczynski meets Merkel

By Justyna Pawlak and Andreas Rinke

WARSAW/BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Warsaw on Tuesday amid signs its conservative rulers are keen to repair the co-operation essential for European Union (EU) attempts to handle economic and political problems ahead.

Merkel needs the backing of Poland's government, wary of any increased powers for Brussels, to agree reforms in March, on the 60th anniversary of the founding Rome Treaty. The anniversary falls in the same month Britain plans to give notice of leaving.

Merkel will hold a rare meeting with Law and Justice party (PiS) leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who holds no government posts but is widely seen as the country's main decision-maker.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 02:41:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How sincere is the Polish government's desire for rapprochement? That would depend on whether they think they can play the US against the EU, as they did in the early 2000s.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 08:07:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Catalan trial: Artur Mas independence vote case draws crowds

Thousands of supporters filled the streets outside a court in Barcelona on Monday as the former Catalan president Artur Mas went on trial.

Accused of serious civil disobedience over Catalonia's unofficial 2014 independence vote, Mr Mas said he took full responsibility for the "political initiative".

The vote went ahead despite an order from Spain's constitutional court.

Prosecutors are calling for him to be disqualified from office for 10 years.

Mr Mas, his deputy Joana Ortega, and Catalan former education minister Irene Rigau face accusations ranging from disobedience and perverting the course of justice to misuse of public funds.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 02:43:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interview: Opperman's refugee stance not SPD's official position

DW: Mr. Bozkurt, your party colleague and Social Democrats (SPD) boss Thomas Oppermann wants refugees who are pulled out of the Mediterranean returned to North Africa as a way of stopping trafficking. What is wrong with this plan?

Aziz Bozkurt: This is, at the very least, legally questionable. It is a fundamental principal of international law not to send back those whose lives and freedom are in danger. Under international law, you can't pull people out of the Mediterranean and then return them to unstable countries. What Oppermann is suggesting is neither realistic nor doable, same as other Social Democrats have said. It has been suggested before and, like spoiled milk, the idea does not get better with time.

Oppermann said that refugees should receive "initial care in North Africa." That sounds like asylum requests can be reviewed there.

It is fine to find legal paths. However, we have to see which countries we're dealing with. Libya, for example, is more than unstable, as Foreign Minister [Sigmar] Gabriel said again today. Then there are countries like Morocco or Tunisia. Conditions there are basic, yet even there we cannot guarantee legal procedures will be carried out to our standards.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 05:28:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Länder stop sending migrants back to Afghanistan
An investigation by the Berliner Morgenpost revealed that authorities in Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate have largely stopped sending people back to Afghanistan.

Civilian deaths are running at the highest rate for fifteen years, yet the Interior Ministry classifies it as "safe".

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 05:26:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's nothing. Under Blair, Home Secretary Jack Straw would regularly deport Iraqis seeking asylum saying that Iraq had a fair system of government and a court system. So....nothing to see here folks, move along, move along

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 05:35:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany's Merkel, Seehofer emphasize unity in light of SPD poll success

Bavarian state Premier Horst Seehofer played down differences between his Christian Social Union (CSU) and Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) as the two met in Munich on Sunday.

"Victory always comes where unity prevails," Seehofer said ahead of what German media billed as "peace talks" between the two conservative, center-right parties' leaders.

Merkel also stressed that there is much more that unites the two so-called "Union" parties than divides them. Both party leaders appeared to downplay disagreement over migrant policy - but the issue has not entirely fallen off the radar.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 05:30:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some news items that Corbyn intends to whip for A50 even though all amendments fell through. Can someone explain the internet to them? Because the least you could do is submit your suicide notes directly.
by generic on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 01:10:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This has some general relevance I think:
LENIN'S TOMB: Brexit, Labour voters and the working class. -

Leaving aside the practical conclusion for a moment, the analysis should be rejected. We should stop putting up with outdated social grading systems, developed purely for the non-social scientific purpose of flogging stuff to people, as proxies for class. Most C1 voters are not middle class professionals. When I worked in market research, the list of occupations ranked as C1 were mostly menial, low-skill, low-level, low-wage, but considered 'white collar' because you didn't have to get your hands dirty. Call centre workers, the epitome of the exploited, precarious worker in this day and age, are C1. Most of the so-called middle class professionals in the Labour base who backed Remain will just be workers. And that means that the working class was split -- a split that was partly right-left and partly regional.

This isn't just a wonkish detail: polling results and their representation play a critical part in the cultural battles of our age, which attempts to reduce the working class to one of its sectors (those workers stuck in the most declining, provincial, isolated parts of the country, and those who tend to skew to the political right), while overstating the size and relative progressiveness of the middle class. This leads to the kinds of toxic politics wherein some middle class progressives, with a tragedian sniff, accept the need to go along with racist, anti-immigrant politics to keep the poor white workers on board.

by generic on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 03:07:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tbh I think that, as far as Labour's future is concerned, its stance on brexit is neither here nor there. After all, the tories have a rock solid majority and however Labour votes, ukip will get their way.

What will make a difference for Labour is actually standing for something. I just don't mean having a policy on this that or the other, but a clear narrative view of how they see Britain organised.

Right now there's nothing. It was quite muddled under Brown, fairly muddled under Miliband and has become utterly invisible under Corbyn. As I said a few weeks ago, I never expected Corbyn to be a good leader or even a potential Prime minister. But I did expect him to take the reins and steer Labour in a clear progressive left direction that would set up his successor to take over a party that knew what it was about and understood that the betrayal of the working classes under Blairite neoliberalism should not be re-visited.

But there has been nothing. It's not brexit that's killing Labour, it's the inactivity, the almost complete absence of ideas or ideloogy. I gave him the benefit of the doubt during the coup, but no. Nothing.

I'm afraid that some people rise to challenges and some are found wanting. Corbyn's passive aggressive stance is not enough. No, we don't want Owen smith or any of the other 3 little piggies who stood in 2015. But Corbyn has failed to demonstrate even understanding the necessity of leadership, let alone the fundamentals of grasping the reins.

Until then, all the statistical analysis in the world isn't going to help

Until Labour

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 04:55:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where I disagree is that earlier Labour leaders had anything like a plan. What they had was better PR and some friendly press. And newspaper friendliness is mostly based on personal relationships between editors and politicians. So all the friendlies went with the PLP.

The reason I think this Brexit vote is hugely damaging even though it has no real world effects is twofold: First it takes ownership of a bad policy. An opposition party rarely gets credit for working with the government.
More importantly and correct me if I'm wrong but the new entries into the party that Corbyn drew in skew mostly young. So it's pretty likely they mostly hate Brexit. And as you know I consider keeping those people involved and talking to each other a lot more important than whatever Corbyn himself does.

by generic on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 07:20:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit rebellion avoided after 'meaningful vote' offer

The government has seen off an attempt to add conditions to its Brexit bill as a Conservative rebellion was avoided.

MPs rejected a bid by Labour's Chris Leslie to force the government to consult Parliament on the deal struck with the EU before it is finalised.

It came after ministers pledged that a "meaningful" vote would be offered.

Labour and some Tories had pushed for MPs to have a decisive say on the final terms, but the 326 to 293 vote meant the bill remained unchanged.

Seven Conservatives rebelled, while six Labour MPs voted with the government.

by Zwackus on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 01:05:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note, the vote that May has promised at the end of negotiations is not "agree to the package or stay in the EU", but "agree to the package or exit without a deal". Nuance...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 08:19:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why Dutch populist Geert Wilders is scenting victory

When Dutch populist Geert Wilders promises to stop Islam and make the Netherlands great again, his message finds a ready audience in the country's newest city of Almere.

"It's too easy for people to come here," says Joost, a 60-year-old market trader. "Too many guys from Turkey and Morocco, economic migrants. I have three small children, what kind of world will they grow up in?"

Dutch voters go to the polls on 15 March and Mr Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) may win most seats.

Almere means "all lake", which it was until the 1960s. Then it became a concrete conurbation with affordable homes for people leaving Amsterdam. For several years it has been Geert Wilders territory.

Immigrants now make up about 30% of the population and that ethnic diversity is reflected at the market, where you can find steaming bowls of spicy Surinamese brown beans and headscarves displayed in rainbow fashion.

by Zwackus on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 01:08:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not in dispute that Wilders is polling consistently as the largest party. However, two observations to consider: I've made a habit of pointing out that there has been no election where the high support in the polls has translated into similar amount of votes for Wilders: he's polling high amongst voters that are notoriously hard to get to the voting booth. It's practically guaranteed the Wilders party will see a large boost - but we'll see how much.

Secondly, particularly English press is often presenting a rather skewed picture of what a Wilders victory would mean, because in Dutch politics the winner does not need to take all. It has occurred already several times that the biggest party did not become part of a coalition government. And since all major parties have rejected Wilders' plans (which largely come down on flushing the constitution down the toilet), there is a de facto cordon sanitaire. Small chance that politicians are going to break that after March. Plus, on the personal level, Rutte (polling second) and Wilders have fallen out completely after 2012.

NB: Left parties are polling particularly poor, especially Labour, the minor partner of the current government. However, a massive majority of the electorate remains undecided. Best bet for generating a resurge on the left: the new, hip and brash leader of GroenLinks (Greens) who's running a positive Obama-like change campaign, and whose support has been creeping up in the polls.

In the days of yore, I would provide an overview of the Dutch electoral landscape. There are 28 registered parties to take part, including a wide swath of opportunistic splinter-parties and bloating egos, so this is not a service I could easily repeat...

(PN: The origin of the world Almere is contested. It also has been pointed out that it is a reference to the German word for 'great lake' or even 'eel lake', which could make it a reference to the large stocks of eel that used to visit.)

by Bjinse on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 09:18:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for that! I don't have the context to interpret most of what I post on these, so I am always glad to hear informed commentary.
by Zwackus on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 11:51:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Holyrood votes against triggering Brexit

The Scottish Parliament has voted by 90 to 34 to oppose the UK government starting the Brexit process.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that there was no legal need for Holyrood to give its consent to the triggering of Article 50.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would let MSPs have a say, despite it being largely symbolic.

Ms Sturgeon predicted the vote would be one of the most significant in the Scottish Parliament since devolution.

by Zwackus on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 01:19:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Former French FM Villepin: 'We should try to find common ground with Russia'

Dominique de Villepin became famous as French foreign minister for refusing to support the US-led war in Iraq in 2003. He gives us his point of view on how Europe should deal with Donald Trump, Russia and the migrant crisis.

Faced with the unpredictability of US President Donald Trump, the former French foreign minister believes "it's important to be united as Europeans and to take the lead". Villepin adds that the election of Trump is "both a challenge and an opportunity" to "show that Europe is useful".

Villepin argues that sanctions on Russia have not worked and says Europe should now aim for dialogue with Moscow. "We should try to find common ground with Russia", he told FRANCE 24.

Villepin also takes aim at the EU, criticising the decision to encourage Libya to limit the number of migrants leaving its shores for Europe. He says the EU should step up security at its own borders instead of "trying to rely on other countries to take responsibility for us", which he calls "crazy".

The internet continues to get worse. More and more of the best-looking stuff is video only, no transcript. UGH! I refuse to watch internet video. I hate this trend so much.

by Zwackus on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 01:22:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Deutsche Welle
A Hamburg court has delivered its verdict on German comedian and television presenter Jan Böhmermann on Friday, nearly a year after his satirical poem criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan upset the leader in Ankara and led to a diplomatic row. A ban on the re-publication of the most offensive passages will remain in place.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 10:37:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French police conclude 'anal rape' of suspect with cop's truncheon was an accident

An initial French police investigation has found insufficient evidence to support allegations that a 22-year-old man was anally raped with a police truncheon, a police source said Thursday, suggesting they believe the officer's baton slipped up the man's anus by accident. ...

A video of the scene shows a policeman "applying a truncheon blow horizontally across the buttocks with a truncheon" and Theo's trousers "slipped down on their own", a police source said.

Investigators said they had taken into account "the questioning of the victim and the (police officers), eyewitness accounts and CCTV recordings" and had concluded that "there are insufficient elements to show that this was a rape".

However, an investigating magistrate has charged one of the police officers with rape and is still examining the case.

Police said Wednesday night was quieter after several nights of car burnings in Aulnay-sous-Bois where the February 2 incident involving Theo took place, but 28 people were detained in neighbouring Parisian suburbs for "throwing objects, lighting fires and violence". ...

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 01:41:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Podemos Decides | Jacobin -
Since its historic success in December 2015's general election the party has had to deal with growing internal tensions, with leader Pablo Iglesias and his deputy Íñigo Errejón clashing over the party's future direction.

For months these differences have played out in the national media but this weekend they will take party-political form at Podemos's second national congress. The stakes are high: members will not only vote for a new national executive but also between competing strategy documents and on a new organizational model. Adding to this is Iglesias's promise to resign as leader if his electoral list loses.

At the core of this dispute between the Pablistas and Errejonistas is the question of how Podemos, a party that traces its origins back to the indignados movement, should approach its new role as a force in the country's political institutions. The divisions are particularly pointed on the subject of relations with the center-left Socialist Party (PSOE).

Errejón prioritizes "constructive" engagement in the hope of reaching out to a wider range of voters than their young, urban base. He views the party's failure to achieve a sorpasso of PSOE in the second elections last June as proof that the idea of Podemos as an "iconoclastic party," railing against the establishment, has reached its limit.

by generic on Sat Feb 11th, 2017 at 12:36:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From a tennis match in Hawaii.

The German winners sing the third verse, while some unidentified (American?) singer sings the first verse. The Americans subsequently apologized for this "mistake"

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Feb 12th, 2017 at 11:13:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:25:29 PM EST
ECB's Draghi lambasts Trump's banking deregulation

European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi said on Monday that financial regulations implemented since the 2007-08 global financial crisis have underpinned stability, and any effort to relax the rules was "very worrisome."

Speaking before the European Parliament's Committee on Economic Affairs in Brussels, Draghi called President Trump's plan to review and likely unwind US banking regulation as "the last thing we need."

"The fact that we are not seeing the development of significant financial stability risk is the reward of the action that legislators and regulators and supervisors have been undertaking since the crisis erupted," Draghi noted.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 05:33:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Income share for the bottom 50% of Americans is `collapsing,' new Piketty research finds - MarketWatch -
A new research paper from economists including Thomas Piketty finds that the bottom 50%'s share of income in the United States is "collapsing."

The paper, written by Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, studies global inequality dynamics. And while there are rising top income and wealth shares in nearly all countries, the magnitude varies substantially.

In the U.S., between 1978 and 2015, the income share of the bottom 50% fell to 12% from 20%. Total real income for that group fell 1% during that time period.

by generic on Sun Feb 12th, 2017 at 08:45:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:25:47 PM EST
Sad we need to do this, but apropos. Trump inhabits his own idiosyncratic universe. Even before, but especially now that he is POTUS, that universe spills into the ones most of us occupy. We need to do what we can to minimize that spillage. It is too often of the Exon Valdez magnitude, but intrinsically worse due to the nature of his position. Right wing billionaires have been financing a culture war since the end of WW II. They have stirred up enough voters that Trump could capture them and the White House in 2016. We have to act so as to make this their high water line.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 02:48:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump: militant attacks 'all over Europe,' some not reported

By Steve Holland

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday accused the news media of ignoring attacks by Islamist militants in Europe.

Trump, who has made defeating Islamic State a core goal of his presidency, did not specify which attacks were going unreported, which news media organizations were ignoring them, or offer any details to support his claims.

"All over Europe, it's happening. It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported," he told a group of about 300 U.S. troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

"And, in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that," he added, without saying what those reasons were.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 02:39:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shares in upmarket US jeweller Tiffany lost some of their lustre on Monday, after the abrupt departure of its chief executive sparked uncertainty following a disappointing holiday season.


The tepid performance during the key shopping season was driven by a 4 per cent fall in like-for-like revenues in the Americas, its biggest market. Tiffany attributed the weakness to lower consumer spending and a 14 per cent drop in sales at its flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue.

The store sits directly next to Trump Tower and was subject to intense security measures when Donald Trump used the building as his main office during his transition to the White House.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 12:01:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On Trump, Keep it Simple (In 5 Points) - TPM
After a tumultuous and chaotic two weeks of the Trump presidency, we are now seeing a new raft of counter-intuitive articles ranging from 'Does Trump Even Want to Succeed as President?' to 'How Trump Has Everyone Just Where He Wants Them and Is Kicking Ass.' We should all bear in mind that while generally unpopular, Trump has extremely high levels of approval among Republican voters and continues to maintain near lockstep allegiance from congressional Republicans. But on Trump, in trying to figure out what and how he's doing, we should keep it simple. Because at this point we know Trump quite well.
by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 05:32:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Melania Trump's Mail suit suggests desire to monetise first lady role

Melania Trump has refiled a $150m (£120m) lawsuit against the corporation that publishes the Daily Mail's website for reporting rumours that she worked as a high-end escort in the 1990s.

She certainly doesn't seem worried about getting a good press in the UK...  the Fail seemed such a good fit for the Trumps.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 05:40:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn, i don't know who I want to lose more out of those two

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 07:01:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm rooting against the Daily Mail. Mrs. Trump's worst sin is a poor taste in men, which I find much easier to forgive than lying for the Tories.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 07:54:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The joke is a year old, but has been repeated often since last week's immigration ban.

by Bernard (bernard) on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 09:12:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If this were the US, the Fail could use the Fox News Defense (which Fox actually used in a similar case): Of course we lied; it's what we do.
by rifek on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 02:50:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump stands by media terror report claim - News.au

US President Donald Trump is standing by his claim the media has failed to adequately cover some terror attacks in America and across the globe, including the Sydney Lindt Cafe siege and four other Australian incidents.

Mr Trump, speaking to reporters on Tuesday while meeting with the National Sheriffs' Association at the White House, said he understood "the total dishonesty of the media better than anybody and I let people know".

"I have to know because I am reported on possibly more than anybody in the world," Mr Trump said.

The president raised eyebrows on Monday when he told US military members at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida terror attacks were happening all over Europe and "it's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported and, in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it".

"They have their reasons and you understand that," Mr Trump said.

After Mr Trump's claim, the White House released a list of 78 terror attacks to support it, but most of the incidents - including the San Bernardino, Orlando nightclub, Paris, Brussels airport - were extensively covered by the media.

This sort of fits my thinking on the strategy by the snakepeople behind Trump to keep media occupied with the kind of nonsense Trump regularly spews. This clearly wasn't planned, they ran with it anyway. Of course, another option to entertain is that it's all bluster all the way down - and in that case media is playing along nicely.

by Bjinse on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 08:51:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The plan is for people to get their facts, their alt-truth, directly from the horse's mouth (um...) rather than from the media, who are liars, you see. Because they disagree with my facts.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 10:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Donald Trump's criticism of Nordstrom raises ethical concerns, senator says
Donald Trump should be referred to the federal ethics office for his tweet attacking department store Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's clothing line, a Democratic senator has suggested.

Bob Casey pointed the US Office of Government Ethics towards Trump's message in a tweet, which read: "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!" Trump's message was later retweeted from the official presidential account, @potus.

Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, also criticized the president. "I think it's inappropriate, but he's a totally inappropriate president, so it's totally in keeping with who he is," she said.

Trump's comments came after Nordstrom announced last week that it would stop carrying Ivanka's label due to poor sales.

by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 07:44:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 01:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Betsy DeVos Orders Immediate Flattening Of All School Globes

The Huffington Post  02/08/2017

James Schlarmann

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Upon hearing of her extremely narrow Senate confirmation, newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued an order that all globes being used in any American school are to be "flattened like God made it just 6,000 years ago."

DeVos was confirmed in the Senate 51-50, with the deciding vote being cast by Vice President, and 2015 winner of the "Lantern-Jawed Bigot of the Year Award" from Christofascists Weekly, Mike Pence. When Pence broke the tie, it was the first time since 2008 that a Senate vote had to be broken in such a way. Perhaps most notably, this was the first time in our nation's 240-year history that a cabinet member had to be confirmed in such a way.

"Sure, I was literally dragged across the finish line by Vice President Pence," DeVos said in an email to the DOE staffers directing the globe flattening edict, "but elections have consequences. Apparently so does giving hundreds of millions of dollars to campaigns." Ms. DeVos' order says she plans on putting the "pro back in quid pro quo."

"I'm going to make sure I leverage this opportunity the right way, like a professional grifter should," DeVos' email says, "and that means I'll be putting the pro back in quid pro quo, that's for darn sure."

Flattening globes in classrooms all across the country will help in "a myriad of ways," DeVos said. "Jobs will be created, firstly," DeVos said, "when we hire the flattening teams. Also, our children will be finally seeing the world how our one, true, American Christian God -- all rights reserved, trademark Trump Presidency, Inc. -- meant it to be when he created it all, literally every single, living and non-living thing, in six days."

Previewing some other plans she has for the Department of Education, Ms. DeVos told reporters she was "extremely pleased" that the millions of dollars given to Republican candidates over the years was "money well spent."

"It's like when you go to the store and you pick out the perfect Bible," DeVos said, "and you know it'll make the best science textbook ever. That's how it feels, knowing it was money well spent giving shit loads of cash to Republicans for decades. We're extremely pleased in this family right now. We got the best government position our money could by. Just like the Constitution says it should work!"

Reached for comment, Delores Umbridge told the media that she was "quite proud" of her friend Betsy. Umbridge said that DeVos taught her everything she knows about "being a boot-licking tool of a vile, dark force" and she had every confidence DeVos would "absolutely nail it."

P.S.  It's satire.  Could you guess?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 04:38:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Federal appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump travel ban

SUDHIN THANAWALA,   Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A federal appeals court refused Thursday to reinstate President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, unanimously rejecting the administration's claim of presidential authority and questioning its motives.

The three judges of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the argument that the ban targets Muslims raised "serious allegations" and presented "significant constitutional questions," and they agreed that courts could consider statements by Trump and his advisers about wishing to enact such a ban.

Moments after the ruling, Trump tweeted, "SEE YOU IN COURT," adding that "THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!"

There you go, kids.  If The Tyrant's SCOTUS nominee gets stalled, they will try to pull off a 9/11 ... count on it!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 01:45:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's amazing how these old songs resonate so well to today's situation.


They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 05:41:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Defiant Trump rails against appeals court ruling that slapped down his travel ban - Business Insider

 President Donald Trump quickly responded to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that slapped down his controversial travel ban.

After the unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel on Thursday, Trump reemphasized accusations that the ruling was biased. "It's a political decision and we're going to see them in court ... the security of our country is at stake," he said to NBC News.

Hillary Clinton, Trump's former Democratic rival, offered a short note, tweeting "3-0," referring to the 9th Circuit judges' unanimous ruling:

by Bjinse on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 09:16:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier - CNN

For the first time, US investigators say they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent, multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials tell CNN. As CNN first reported, then-President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier prior to Trump's inauguration.

None of the newly learned information relates to the salacious allegations in the dossier. Rather it relates to conversations between foreign nationals. The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals. Sources would not confirm which specific conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of US intelligence collection programs.

But the intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier, according to the officials. CNN has not confirmed whether any content relates to then-candidate Trump.

by Bjinse on Sat Feb 11th, 2017 at 10:05:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rachel Maddow had a report about this suggesting that this has the potential to be a very big problem for Trump.

Or not. That's the problem these days, I just have no confidence in the willingness of the GOP to give a shit about any criminality or treason while they are winning. If things become desperate for the GOP, their polling craters and they need a few sacrifices to appease the godz, then Flynn might be the first on the fire.

But until that day, no scandal matters if the voters don't care.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Feb 12th, 2017 at 07:36:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump Tells Xi Jinping U.S. Will Honor `One China' Policy - The New York Times -
WASHINGTON -- President Trump told President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday evening that the United States would honor the "One China" policy, reversing his earlier expressions of doubt about the longtime diplomatic understanding and removing a major source of tension between the United States and China since shortly after he was elected.

by generic on Sat Feb 11th, 2017 at 04:06:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:26:11 PM EST
Maxine Waters (D-CA) at 1:15

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 11:47:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh dear. Well, there's her credibility down the toilet

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 12:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He does it very secretly like his manipulation of German elections:
German intel finds no proof of Russian `disinformation ops' against Berlin - govt source -- RT News -
"We have not found any smoking gun," a cabinet source told the paper.

The inquiry was similar to the US intelligence community's efforts to attribute the notorious 2016 Democratic National Convention email leak to Russian `hacking groups.'
Read more
The logo of the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BND) © Hannibal Hanschke Berlin warns of `Russian hackers' ahead of German 2017 election

Initially, the secret services planned to release excerpts of their classified inquiry, but given the lack of evidence, the move would make Russian-German relations even more strained, according to the newspaper.

Sorry for quoting rt on Russia but it accurately reflects the German source. Though no smoking gun is probably an understatement given that they cancelled the reports publication.

by generic on Wed Feb 8th, 2017 at 12:41:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Donald Trump seeks a grand bargain with Vladimir Putin - The Economist

Going by the chatter around Mr Trump (see Briefing), the script for Russia looks something like this: America would team up with Mr Putin to destroy "radical Islamic terror"--and in particular, Islamic State (IS). At the same time Russia might agree to abandon its collaboration with Iran, an old enemy for America in the Middle East and a threat to its allies, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In Europe Russia would stop fomenting conflict in Ukraine, agree not to harass NATO members on its doorstep and, possibly, enter nuclear-arms-control talks. In the longer term, closer ties with Russia could also help curb Chinese expansion. Stephen Bannon, Mr Trump's most alarming adviser, said last year that he had "no doubt" that "we're going to war in the South China Sea in five to ten years." If so, America will need allies, and Russia is a nuclear power with a 4,200km (2,600-mile) border with China. What's not to like?

Pretty much everything. Russian hacking may have helped Mr Trump at the polls, but that does not mean he can trust Mr Putin. The Kremlin's interests and America's are worlds apart.

by Bjinse on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 09:12:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Economist has gone downhill lately.

Used to be that you could reliably trust that it was so completely, categorically wrong that you could set policy by doing the opposite of what they recommended. But that article is just the usual semi-lucid dreaming from the salmon-colored shirt squad.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 04:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that the USA and NATO have already crossed too many red lines for Russia to be able to accept long term and are, politically, unable to back away. A real 'détente' would involve accepting Russian incorporation of Crimea, encouraging Russia to incorporate the Donbas and properly care for the people at least to the standard that it provides for Russian citizens, and back away from overt support for the existing Ukrainian regime. Actually trying to roll back Russian occupation of Crimea and reincorporating the Donbas into Ukraine would likely mean all out war with Russia.

Given the above considerations I prefer having deluded idiots such as Bannon and Trump imagining they will get favorable treatment from Russia as opposed to having Cold War hawks in charge. If nothing else, it is a play for time - time for more competent leaders to emerge. It ain't over until the first nuke ignites. And let us hope that the US military has enough sense and power to resist use or provoking use of such blatant force in the South China Sea. If not it could be a VERY bad time to be in the US Navy - for starters.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 05:19:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no need for Russia to incorporate Donbas. The Minsk II agreement, if followed, appears to be enough for Russia.

In addition to the usual stuff of re-establishing normality, the important part for the future is this:

Minsk II - Wikipedia

Constitutional reform in Ukraine, with a new constitution to come into effect by the end of 2015, the key element of which is decentralisation (taking into account peculiarities of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, agreed with representatives of these districts), and also approval of permanent legislation on the special status of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in accordance with the measures spelt out in the attached footnote,[note 1] by the end of 2015.

I am not sure what is holding up the implementation of the agreement, but usually when it comes to establishing peace there are people on both sides who either profit from ongoing conflict or has lost to much to accept peace with the enemy.

by fjallstrom on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 10:36:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine would most likely prefer to ethnically cleanse the Donbas were they to get it and it cannot afford to provide properly for its own citizens at present. I do not know how viable it would be in any status that might be conferred by the Minsk agreement, which focused more on just stopping the fighting and killing. I am thinking of the welfare of the residents, which, for most by now would be much better were they citizens of Russia, IMO. Russia doesn't really want to pick up that burden but might be encouraged to do so. It would eventually be a win for both the Donbas and Russia, IMO. Most former business activities not directly tied to mining were in the Soviet and then the Russian Federation's network and could possibly be reintegrated. Of course, if the goal is to cripple Russia's defense industry... But I am more concerned with the people just now. Make that a part of a larger regional peace agreement.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 06:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ukraine would most likely prefer to ethnically cleanse the Donbas were they to get it
Why? It's not that I doubt the general mendacity of the Kiev clique, but there's nothing in Donbass that's worth that kind of effort. If there were, the Russians would have rolled over the Ukrainian army and split it off as a protectorate, like they did in Ossetia. Crimea I could understand; Crimea is nice. But Crimea is a place Russia is willing to break out the nukes over, so that's not gonna happen.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 07:23:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I suspect the main problem the Ukraine leadership has with a federal constitution or Donbass going independent is that then all the neofascist militias they had to organize and arm, because the regular army was useless and the riot police was on the other side, would come home.
by generic on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 08:18:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 10:06:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except it would mainly happen to the residents of Kiev.
by generic on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 10:12:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poor bastards.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 10:49:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why? For the good of the population of the Donbas - not that anyone involved except those in the Donbas gives a damn. Else they are just going to continue on in an unstable, largely incapable fashion. Being a part of Russia would end uncertainty, and, if it was supported by the 'West' Russia could claim a victory. This is contingent on my understanding that not too many who have mainly Ukrainian sympathies remain and those who do would be aided in repatriation.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 10:11:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, one thing to remember is that most peace treaties in history have been negotiated between absolutely awful people. So I wouldn't discount the possibility of a lasting peace in one state.
by generic on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 10:17:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if Minsk is implemented well, the Ukraine will have to do something with the militias. How many of the militias are residents of Kiev? Any idea? And could the remainder be demobilized back to their home districts?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 10:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:27:35 PM EST
Vattenfall's vehicle fleet to go green

Vattenfall's vehicle fleet to go green

Swedish utility Vattenfall has announced it will replace all its vehicles by electric cars over the next five years. The company noted the measure was required to become "climate-neutral" by 2050.
Vattenfall Brunsbüttel logo (picture-alliance/dpa)   

Vattenfall said Monday it aimed to make its entire vehicle fleet electric by replacing 3,500 passenger and light commercial cars over the next five years.

The company said it would be an important step toward its ambition to be climate-neutral by 2050.

"We already help our customers drive electric by supplying charging points," the firm said in a statement on its website. "With the decision to switch our own fleet, we do not only contribute to reducing CO2 emissions in Europe, but we also want to set an example for other companies."


Starting in January 2017, Vattenfall will gradually switch its fleet, with 1,700 cars in Sweden, 1,100 cars in Germany and 750 vehicles in the Netherlands to be replaced. The types of vehicle vary from passenger cars to technical support vehicles and maintenance vans.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 7th, 2017 at 05:34:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:27:38 PM EST
I don't know if this is new, but I just came across it.

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn't listening | Mosaic

State funding was increased for organised sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance, where more than a third of the country's population lives, a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona (£250) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.

Crucially, the surveys have continued. Each year, almost every child in Iceland completes one. This means up-to-date, reliable data is always available.

Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who reported often or almost always spending time with their parents on weekdays doubled - from 23 per cent to 46 per cent - and the percentage who participated in organised sports at least four times a week increased from 24 per cent to 42 per cent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use in this age group plummeted.

If you read the whole article, I think the most interesting thing is the continous measuring and adaptation to increase resuts. It is also interesting how they have exported the model on a local authority to local authority level, largely bypassing the states.

by fjallstrom on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 12:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
which only goes to show that, in the major countries, drug criminalisation isn't about the drugs.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 10th, 2017 at 01:50:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:27:40 PM EST
by Bjinse on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 12:27:45 PM EST
Boris Johnson among record number to renounce US citizenship in 2016
Boris Johnson has renounced his US citizenship, ending years of ambiguous loyalties and probably ridding himself of a hefty tax bill.

A list released by the US Treasury department showed the UK foreign secretary was one of 5,411 individuals to renounce his American citizenship in 2016.

Johnson was born in New York when his parents worked there, but has not lived there since he was five years old. His decision does not appear to be an attempt to distance himself from the politics of Donald Trump, but may instead be a move to ensure he is out of reach of America's Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

In 2014 he publicly said that the US was trying to hit him for tax on the sale of his home in Islington, north London, something he said he regarded as "absolutely outrageous", although he later reportedly paid the demand. The US tax authorities have been mounting a campaign to crack down on the earnings of dual nationals.

by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 07:47:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Johnston mostly got rid of his dual nationality in preparation for his bid to become Prime Minister. fortunately that campaign ended in laughable failure, and the US is probably well shot of him too

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 12:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why? Winston Churchill became Prime Minister despite his American citizenship (that is, he was American from birth, but only after the law was changed retroactively in 1994)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 01:31:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but Winston's loyalty to Britain and the Crown were unimpeachable wheras Johnston's loyalties have always been to himself.

I think it would have been quite a hard sell. The moment he'd respond to the challenge with "but Winston had dual citizenship", the answer of "you, sir, are no Winston Churchill" would have come from everybody. While Johnston may be brighter than Dan Quayle, but there's still no coming back from that one.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 9th, 2017 at 02:44:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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