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

6 - 12 March 2017

by Bjinse Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:03:37 PM EST

Your take on this week's news

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by Bjinse on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:04:37 PM EST
Fillon France election: 'No one can stop me' says candidate

Beleaguered French politician Francois Fillon has declared "no one can stop" his bid for the presidency after a mass rally attended by thousands in Paris.

The centre-right candidate insisted he would not be standing down during an interview on French television, despite growing calls for him to quit the race.

He faces a criminal investigation over payments made to family members.

Meanwhile, Alain Juppe, who is widely tipped to replace him, has announced he will be making a statement on Monday.

Mr Fillon had earlier told tens of thousands of supporters, many waving tricolour flags, he would be cleared over allegations he had paid his family for work they did not do.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:14:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Juppé says  count me out
The man seen as a possible saviour of France's centre-right has disappointed supporters by announcing he will not stand in next month's presidential election, as the scandal-hit François Fillon called on supporters to unite around his candidacy.

Former prime minister Alain Juppé, who lost Les Républicains' primary election last November to Fillon, said it was too late for him to save the party, which is riven with political scandal and the prospect of defeat.

"I confirm, once and for all, that I will not be a candidate in the election for the presidency of the republic," Juppé told journalists in Bordeaux, where he is mayor.

In a brief declaration tinged with bitterness, he described the deeply divided situation in which his party finds itself as "a waste".

My favourite bit of his speech was when he noted that the electorate was calling for renewal and exemplarity, and he did not correspond to those criteria : referring to his conviction in 2004 for fictitious employment (which served to finance his political party), he pointedly noted that he had been cleared of any personal enrichment.

But it's true, renewal is the order of the day. With Juppé out of the picture, there only remains Macron as the continuity candidate.

OIn other news :  The central committee of Les Républicains their unanimous support for Fillon -- having no choice, as he's made it clear that no-one can make him step down.

Jonestown comes to mind.

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

by eurogreen on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 08:37:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the LR platform has officially entered the contest for the longest suicide note in history.
by Bernard on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 10:30:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The electorate calling for exemplarity is hard to reconcile with Le Pen, with so many obvious cases of fraud, being in the lead in the first round.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 10:35:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France's Macron vows to end nepotism as scandal engulfs rival Fillon

Macron, vowed Thursday to end nepotism in government, as it was announced his rival Francois Fillon would be charged over a fake jobs scandal.

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist and former economy minister, who has been criticised for being too vague on policy, laid out his agenda for Le Parisien newspaper.

"We will forbid parliamentarians from employing their family members, to put an end to nepotism," Macron told the paper, adding that he also aimed to reduce conflicts of interest by prohibiting deputies from carrying out advisory activities.

Profile: Emmanuel Macron

Macron's agenda comes as a poll showed that only one in four French people thought embattled rightwing candidate Fillon, once considered a favourite, should carry on his presidential bid.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:17:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Counter-protests drown out 'Merkel must go' rally in Berlin

Up to 1,000 demonstrators gathered in Berlin on Saturday to protest a rally by the far-right group Hooligans against Salafists (Hogesa).

Berlin police said "several hundred" people participated in the counter-protests organized by "Berlin against Nazis" and Germany's Left Party.

At one point, the protesters held a "noise" competition to drown out the far-right demonstrators, who gathered under the banner "Merkel must go."

Participants held posters with statements such as "No Nazi march in Berlin" and "No to AfD," a reference to the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Third German town cancels Turkish referendum rally amid Yucel spat

German police confirmed on Friday that a Turkish referendum rally, due to take place on Sunday in Frechen, on the outskirts of Cologne, would be scrapped as "the contract between the owner of the event hall and the organizer excludes political events."

Turkish Minister for Economic Affairs, Nihat Zeybekci, was set to lead the rally where he hoped to garner the support of German-Turks  ahead of a controversial referendum taking place on April 16.

A "yes" vote would expand Erdogan's powers as president, with critics warning that the new presidential system would cement one-man rule in the country. Of the more than 3 million people of Turkish descent living in Germany, some 1.4 million are eligible to vote next month.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:23:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Turkey-Germany Relations At New Low After Erdogan Makes Nazi Comparison
Erdogan railed against the cancellation on Sunday, saying the practices are "no different than the Nazi ones of the past," according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

He also appeared to threaten Germany if it tried to stop him from speaking in the country at some point in the future. "If you don't let me in, or if you don't let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up," he said, according to Deutsche Welle.

by das monde on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 09:07:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German conservatives edge ahead of Social Democrats in Emnid poll

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives took a one point lead over the Social Democrats (SPD) in the latest poll conducted by Emnid for the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, with nearly seven months to go before federal elections.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its CSU Bavarian sister party gained one percentage point to reach 33 percent support, compared with an unchanged 32 percent for the SPD in a poll of 1,403 people taken from Feb. 23 to March 1.

The anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gained one percentage point in the poll to reach 10 percent, while the ratings for the Left party and pro-environment Green party were unchanged at 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

The Free Democratic Party lost one percentage point compared to the last poll to reach 6 percent, just above the 5 percent threshold needed to take seats in parliament.

The increase for Merkel's conservatives came after a surge in support for the SPD that followed its nomination of former European Parliament President Martin Schulz as its candidate to challenge Merkel in the Sept. 24 national election.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:25:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Foreign Policy has an oddity up on its site, a "the world of the future" article which portrays leftists winning in Germany and the UK, killing NATO, and allowing Russian to take over the Baltics again. Oh, and the evil SYRIZA launch a coup after they seem to be losing the election. And Trump defeats Warren in 2020 - probably the most likely prediction of the lot, far more than Corbyn winning in 2020, renationalizing industry, and indicting Blair for war crimes.
by Zwackus on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 07:03:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mockingbird-ish predictions. Always project your schemes on the opposition -- ingenious.
by das monde on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 08:56:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At last! Finally, Italians will be able to buy overpriced coffee as in civilised countries. Finally, you'll be able to order a coffee and be asked "espresso?" as only happened until now in Venice. Milano Today
Entro la fine del prossimo anno, Milano avrà il suo primo Starbucks. E che Starbucks.

Il colosso del frappuccino, infatti, ha finalmente ufficializzato la location del proprio primo, storico, locale italiano, che sorgerà nel palazzo delle Poste di piazza Cordusio, dove è stato svelato un enorme telone con la frase - firmata dall'ad di Starbucks, Howard Schultz - "il mio sogno si sta avverando".

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 04:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't speak for the European context, as I do not and have never lived there.

However, for much of American suburbia, and all of Japan, Starbucks is just about the only place that serves decent black coffee. I don't give a damn about their milkshakes and whatnot, but their basic coffee is not bad, and occasionally its good. It's actually the best coffee I am regularly able to drink, by a mile, because beans of any quality are painfully expensive here. Furthermore, it is quite often the only place around that has a relaxed seating environment, with chairs that almost fit me.

For a plebe such as myself, who can afford neither a nice place to live, reasonable furniture, or anything other than the worst plong ground coffee, it is nice to occasionally be able to go out and drink some decent coffee and sit on a vaguely comfortable chair in a semi-social setting. I have read many a book at Starbucks. It will always have a place in my heart.

by Zwackus on Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 12:20:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Today, March 8
L'8 marzo 2017, per la festa della donna, con la Speciale 2x1 viaggi in due pagando un solo biglietto a prezzo Base!

L'offerta è valida su tutti i treni nazionali nei livelli di servizio Business, Premium e Standard e in 1^ in 2^ classe.  Dalla 2X1 sono esclusi i treni regionali, il livello di servizio Executive e i servizi cuccette, VL ed Excelsior.

FS Italiane: sciopero del personale mercoledì 8 marzo

Sciopero nazionale del personale del Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane mercoledì 8 marzo 2017

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 07:17:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another one for Andela Merkel's humanitarian halo:

Flüchtlingskrise: Fast hätte Angela Merkel die Grenze geschlossen - WELT -

In dieser Telefonkonferenz vereinbarten sie nicht nur, am Folgetag um 18.00 Uhr Grenzkontrollen einzuführen. Vielmehr einigten sich die Spitzenpolitiker ebenfalls darauf, dass Flüchtlinge an der Grenze zurückgewiesen werden sollen.


Bei der konkreten Einsatzplanung im Innenministerium am Sonntag, dem 13. September, äußerten Beamte allerdings rechtliche Bedenken. Daraufhin verließ Innenminister de Maizière die Beratungen und rief Angela Merkel an. Die Kanzlerin traf keine Entscheidung, sondern verlangte von ihrem Minister Zusagen, dass die Grenzschließung vor Gerichten Bestand haben würde und es außerdem keine öffentlich schwer vermittelbaren Bilder vom Einsatz der Bundeswehr gegen Flüchtlinge gebe.

According to a new book: The government had already decided to close the borders and send refugees back to Austria. The orders were already written up. However once the practical planning started civil servants in the interior ministry started to ask how that would be legal.
Then Merkel demanded a guarantee that the order would hold under a court of law and that there wouldn't be "hard to justify pictures".

by generic on Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 10:50:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where did the money go? How Greece fumbled the refugee crisis - Guardian

Exactly how much money has been spent in Greece by the European Union is much reported but little understood. The online media project Refugees Deeply has calculated that $803m has come into Greece since 2015, which includes all the funds actually allocated or spent, all significant bilateral funding and major private donations.

The biggest pots of money are controlled by the European Commission (EC), the EU's executive body, which oversees the Asylum Migration Integration Fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security Fund (ISF) which collectively dedicated $541m to fund Greece's costs related to border control, asylum and refugee protection. However, since it did not complete the extensive strategic planning required, the Greek government did not receive significant amounts of these funds, necessitating emergency assistance from the commission, channelled through other means. Confusion over the true extent of European spending has been exacerbated by inflated statements from the European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, who has regularly cited figures in excess of €1bn, although this amount apparently refers to all available and theoretical funds, not what has actually been allocated or spent.

Nevertheless, the $803m total represents the most expensive humanitarian response in history. On the basis that the money was spent on responding to the needs of all 1.03 million people who have entered Greece since 2015, the cost per beneficiary would be $780 per refugee. However, the bulk of these funds was used to address the needs of at least 57,000 people stranded in Greece after the closure of the borders on 9 March 2016, and on this basis the cost per beneficiary is $14,088.

by Bjinse on Thu Mar 9th, 2017 at 09:57:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dutch far-right's election donors are almost exclusively American -- Quartz
While Europe has been busy fretting about Russian meddling in its politics, a few Americans have been quietly doing their part to boost the continent's far right.

Wealthy American conservatives have poured large sums into the electoral campaign of far-right leader Geert Wilders of the Netherlands' Dutch Freedom Party, in support of his anti-Islam, anti-EU views.

Three American donors gave €141,668 ($150,430) to Dutch political parties between 2015 and 2017, according to campaign finance documents released this week by the Dutch interior ministry. Two of these donors funded the far-right Dutch Freedom Party.

I followed the liks and donations of more then 4,500 euros are disclosed. Unless "J.A. de Keizer" in Dordrecht is a Russian agent, the foreign donors of PVV are all from the US.

by fjallstrom on Mon Mar 13th, 2017 at 11:49:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Wed Mar 15th, 2017 at 10:29:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish people will be given a choice whether to follow the UK into a "hard Brexit" or become an independent country between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

The Scottish first minister said she was firing the starting gun on a second independence referendum because the British government had failed to move "even an inch" towards compromise over EU negotiations.

A spokesman for Theresa May responded by saying a second referendum would be "divisive and cause huge economic uncertainty at the worst possible time".

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Mar 13th, 2017 at 01:54:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:04:39 PM EST
I cannot recall the last time that I found in any US newspaper (print or digital) the S or HR bill number tied to the salacious, bi-partisan story of the day. The rule of thumb for the "media consumer", of course, is to use one's imagination to embellish the talking-points, the unnamed sources, vaguely dated events, alphanumeric aliases of recipients of federal bail-outs, &tc.

Similarly, this past week offers contrasting standards of "transparency" and "privacy" demanded by citizens in the developed world.

In Norway, everyone's tax info is just a click away
Returns from 19 tax preparers blocked by Maryland comptroller"

These CPAs' licenses have been effectively suspended just before the national filing deadline. Note that the reporter has failed the non-trivial function of the press to issue public notice identifying the sanctioned firms by name much less refer readers to the the state comptroller's address which lists the sanctioned firms. Here it is.

Comptroller Franchot Stops Processing Returns from More Private Tax Preparers

Americans want both and get neither.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:26:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Titans of oil meet in Houston after two-year price war

By Ernest Scheyder | HOUSTON

The biggest names in the oil world come together this week for the largest industry gathering since the end of a two-year price war that pitted Middle East exporters against the firms that drove the shale energy revolution in the United States.

When OPEC in November joined with several non-OPEC producers to agree to a historic cut in output, the group called time on a fight for market share that drove oil prices to a 12-year low and many shale producers to the wall.

Oil prices are about 70 percent higher than they were the last time oil ministers and the chief executives of Big Oil met in Houston a year ago at CERAWeek, the largest annual industry meet in the Americas.

by Zwackus on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 06:48:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China overtakes eurozone as world's biggest bank system

China's banking system has surpassed that of the eurozone to become the world's largest by assets, a sign both of the country's increased influence in world finance and its reliance on debt to drive growth since the global financial crisis.

While China's gross domestic product surpassed the EU's economic bloc in 2011 at market exchange rates, its banking system did not take over the top spot until the end of 2016, Financial Times analysis shows.

The lag reflects Beijing's increased "financial deepening" -- the term for the growth of a country's financial system relative to gross domestic product. This has been fuelled by an extraordinary increase in bank lending since 2008, when the government unleashed aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus to buffer the impact of the global crisis.

by Zwackus on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 07:00:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 11:46:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:04:41 PM EST
Trump wire-tap claim denied by ex-intelligence chief Clapper

The director of national intelligence at the time of the US election has denied there was any wire-tapping of Donald Trump or his campaign.

James Clapper also told NBC that he knew of no court order to allow monitoring of Trump Tower in New York.

Mr Trump had accused President Barack Obama of ordering the wire-tap but offered no evidence.

The White House has asked Congress to examine whether the Obama administration abused its powers.

Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted senior officials as saying that FBI director James Comey had asked the justice department to publicly dismiss Mr Trump's allegation this weekend.

Clearly, if the Justice department dismisses those claims, than it will be time for new personnel at Justice. The most important characteristic of any government employee must be their unswavering loyalty to God Emperor Trump! Hail to the Chief!

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:07:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a pretty funny denial, coming from a proven perjurer. You will remember his testimony to the US Congress regarding the scope of NSA wiretapping.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:33:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rex Tillerson's human-rights report no-show: A sign of indifference?

Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida tweeted his disapproval of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's decision not to attend the rolling-out of the State Department's annual human rights report, considered the department's crown-jewel analysis of conditions in most of the world's countries.

"For 1st time in a long time @StateDept #humanrights report will not be presented by Secretary of State. I hope they reconsider," wrote Senator Rubio on Thursday evening.

The senator's remarks reflected some State Department employees and human rights activists' concerns after hearing, ahead of time, of Mr. Tillerson's absence. Instead, the report's Friday release, normally treated by secretaries of State as an occasion to exalt the Department's work, involved little more than a phone briefing with reporters, rather than the standard press event. The secretary of State did write a brief preface to the report itself, calling the promotion of human rights and democracy "a core element of U.S. foreign policy."

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 04:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Over this last weekend you can't help but notice a certain weariness creeping in about Trump from News Organisations. They're not even attempting to justify his tweets, they're not viewed as news, merely as further proof that Trump is unfit to be President.

He just lies and lies and lies. Even chuck Todd has attempted actual inquiry on Meet the Press, which is probably a first for him.

But there's no longer a frisson about it, there's no "is he/isn't he fit to be President?". It's a given.

The GOP are still clinging on cos with their majorities there is no reason for them to alter course. Ryan himself has admitted that the only part of Trump he's interested in is his signature on a load of Republican wet-dream legislation that will probably be rammed through in the next 6 months.

Then they might cast him aside so that memories can fade and he won't damage the mid-terms.

But I think it's already too late. The GOP are over.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 05:43:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the GOP are not over. This is American government for the indefinite future, a spiteful empty suit rubber-stamping legislation cobbled together by paid shills and ideologs, paying back their masters for 50 years of continuous investment, and insulated from democracy by corrupted electoral mechanisms.
by Zwackus on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 01:06:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If they find ways of massively increasing disenfranchisment, then I'd agree with you.

However, there has been a massive upsurge in voter engagement since Trump was elected and I think there could be a massive change in the political complexion of the US in the next 6 years.

An article about US women's political engagement in the Guardian yesterday;-

"all of these women now believe they can make a difference ... Maybe if she (Hillary) had won, people would have said: `Yes, if she can do it, I can do it too,' but let's put it this way, there wouldn't have been 500 women in a room on 22 January learning about how they could run for office."
In other words, there is an urgency now,"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 01:34:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but on the other hand I've read Trump meltdown articles from the Guardian  since long before he was elected. And the democrats are doing everything they can to avoid capturing the popular mood.
by generic on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 01:51:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
KremlinGate Just Put the White House in a Precarious Place - Observer

In perhaps the most bizarre public statements from any American president, Trump claimed that Obama had violated the law, "This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!" then added for good measure the accusation of "McCarthyism" perpetrated by his predecessor. The irony of Donald Trump--whose mentor was Roy Cohn, the notorious attorney who served as McCarthyism's public face in the 1950s--making such a claim was not lost on many observers.


According to the New York Times, Comey was so incensed that he asked the Department of Justice to intervene and issue a public denial that any wiretapping against Team Trump occurred. DoJ has not yet done so, which may have something to do with the fact that it's headed by Jeff Sessions, who's caught up in KremlinGate too, but the unprecedented situation where an FBI director feels compelled to ask for a public retraction of the president's accusation indicates how off the rails the new administration has gone in just six weeks.


Let's be perfectly clear here: The scenario painted by President Trump of his predecessor tasking the IC with wiretapping Trump Tower simply could not have happened without a far-reaching and highly illegal conspiracy involving the White House and several of our spy agencies, above all the National Security Agency. My friends still at NSA, where I served as the technical director of the Agency's biggest operational division, have told me without exception that Trump's accusation is wholly false, a kooky fantasy.

Having worked with a lot of FISA collection during my time in the spy business, I can state without reservation that President Trump's accusations are so inherently implausible as to render them an absurdity. He needs to offer hard evidence for such incendiary claims or back down publicly, preferably with an apology to his predecessor, whom he has maligned without cause.

That said, given the now-known contacts between Team Trump and high-ranking Russians last year, it's very plausible that NSA and other spy agencies intercepted Kremlin communications which might have incidentally involved associates of our current president. But neither Donald Trump nor his surrogates were being spied on as themselves. If they didn't realize their shady Russian friends might be considered foreign intelligence targets by NSA and other Western intelligence services, that's on them.

by Bjinse on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 08:55:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if this is supposed to deflect from the latest Maddow revelations

It's 22 minutes long but the time will fly by. It's quite simply a staggering revelation

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 09:14:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He needs to offer hard evidence for such incendiary claims or back down publicly, preferably with an apology to his predecessor, whom he has maligned without cause.


by Bernard on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 06:47:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To be fair, that's Hell, Michigan -- which freezes over EVERY year. So, maybe it's Trump's own personal Hell.
by Zwackus on Sun Mar 12th, 2017 at 09:49:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This, on the other hand, is not at all the sort of thing one would expect to find on Foreign Policy.

From Mother Jones to Middlebury: The Problem and Promise of Political Violence in Trump's America

I am reminded, over and over, that in a free society we shut down bad ideas with debate, not riots. We peacefully assemble. We call our representatives. We don't smash the windows of a Bank of America. When we do that, are we any better than the illiberal forces we're protesting? No, the answers come.

Perhaps this is the virtuous answer, but it does not escape my notice that those who are most eager to give it are not subject to the dilemma in bodily terms. "There were two `Reigns of Terror,'" Mark Twain wrote of the French Revolution. "The one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the `horrors' of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror."

Again, it is interesting to see this as the lead article on Foreign Policy.

by Zwackus on Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 02:57:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Taibbi: Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media - Rolling Stone -
We have to remember that the unpopularity of the press was a key to Trump's election. Journalists helped solve the billionaire's accessibility problem by being a more hated group than the arrogant rich. Trump has people believing he shares a common enemy with them: the news media. When we do badly, he does well.

Trump calls us "enemies of the people" who purvey "fake news." Together with what vile ex-CNN turncoat Lou Dobbs calls the "global corporatists" who own the major media companies, we are said to comprise the "opposition party."

We can't afford to bolster these accusations of establishment bias and overreach by using the techniques of conspiracy theorists to push this Russia story. Unfortunately, that is happening.

by generic on Thu Mar 9th, 2017 at 08:06:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yea, but no but yea. I hate quoting Peter Mandelson, but in this he is right when he suggested that, in politics, it's not whether bad things were done, merely the appearance of bad things is fatal.

The idea that Trump is damaged goods with something Russian to hide has entered the US mainstream. that's now the conventional wisdom, to argue otherwise takes too much time, requires an explanation that's too long for the TV to show. Clapper's comments will be forgotten tomorrow as Rachel Maddow announces a new revelation. She may or may not be on to something with all her revelations, but simply chipping away at it convinces people that there's something there. All that smoke, all those diversions, it stands to reason.

Trump and the GOP are their own worst enemies in this. The secrecy and habitual contempt for the electorate create a perfect storm. People see the appointments, they see the behaviour. They ask themselves, "If he ain't a crook, why would he do that?"

So, yes. It's entirely possible that there's nothing there, or that, at least, they're barking up the wrong tree. But it doesn't matter anymore cos there will never be the evidence to demonstrate innocence. So, this goes on, Trump's numbers will continue to go south and the GOP watch the contagion on their own polls and wonder when to allow him to be impeached.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 12:54:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My working hypothesis is that Putin finds it immensely advantageous domestically to be seen to be not only aggressively opposed to everything that the US and the EU want, but to be messing with them internally. I bet the Russian populace is immensely proud of their patriotic hacker community. And yeah, given the nature of the actors involved, it's extremely plausible that colossal amounts of money changed hands.

  However I find it much less plausible that Putin actually wanted Trump to win. He's a statesman, in his way - I doubt that he really wanted to make the world so much more dangerous. I think he may be having a Michael Caine moment :

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

by eurogreen on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 01:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I've heard other Russia-watchers suggest that it's probable that Putin never expected/wanted Trump to win, but that certain moves within his campaign were specifically designed to undermine Clinton's grounds for hawkishness.

tbh, I think he is probably annoyed at how decades of careful planning are being undermined as news organisations focus in on all the business ties, both in the US and across Europe.

This is not helped by the behaviour of the people Putin has groomed. People like Assange, Le Pen and Farage were selected for their greed and opportunism. But given some of their behaviour lately I suspect that he never realised the extent to which stupidity is a liability

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 12th, 2017 at 11:18:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not helped by the behaviour of the people Putin has groomed. People like Assange, Le Pen and Farage were selected for their greed and opportunism.

Is there any evidence for an Assange - Putin connection from before the DNC hack story? Or afterwards? Releasing CIA docs is what they are for after all.
by generic on Sun Mar 12th, 2017 at 05:00:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually disagree with both your assertions.
Russia has big flashy nationalist statements like the annexation of Crimea and open Great Power prestige projects like RT. What additional benefit would transparent meddling convey? Nationalists aren't usually known for their appreciation for subtle trolling. Also the idea that Russian government hackers registered their software in the name of the founder of the Cheka so it could be found and they could act all smug about it reminds me of the post Iraq story about Saddam really wanting everyone to believe he had WMDs in its plausibility.
As to would Putin prefer Trump over Clinton? Well, why not? It's no secret that Clinton was hostile toward Russia while Trump was not. If you had to choose between a moderately competent opponent who probably wants to destroy everything you are trying to build and an idiot who might be friendly what would you do?
by generic on Sun Mar 12th, 2017 at 03:51:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As you no doubt are aware I don't think there is all that much behind the Russia story or we would have seen something substantial by now. Is the attribution of the DNC hack still based on timezones and the name on which their office version was registered? And that is the most solid evidenced part of the whole construct.

So Trump and Republicans are STILL More Popular than Clinton and Dems | Ian Welsh -

After the last month and a half, of endless brou-hah-hah and constantly "losing the media",  here are the favourability ratings according to the Suffolk poll.

Pence 47/35% +13

Trump 45/47 -2

GOP 37/48 -11

Media 37/50-13

Dem Party 36/ -16

Hillary 35/55 -20

Congress 26/52 -26

So the Russian story doesn't seem to make much inroads with his core supporters. From all accounts it is health care that has republicans flee town hall meetings.
I think there are two trends that might lead to the risk of misinterpreting current events. For one most non Fox corporate media outlets projected certainty of Clinton's win that bordered on delusional. Certainly far more than the error bars of the polls would have justified. So now that the unpleasantness of an actual election lies behind us they can go right back o their old certainty and treat the election of the orange lunatic as nothing more than a blip-
The second is that the media, far from being threatened by "Trump's war on the press" seem to get a nice boost in readership out of it. So again the Trump - press relationship seems to be one of mutual benefit.
by generic on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 02:03:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I recently read a Quinnipiac poll on what areas people trust/distrust Trump. Foreign policy he had support by 36% - essentially the same percentage as those that liked him in the exit polls. Immigration 40% support. Economic policy was 47% - essentially the same percentage as those who voted for him and the same people who still support him.

So my conclusion for now is that while the Trump-Russia-Putin drum has convinced people of a connection, it's still the economy that matters most.

Lazy link: https://www.juancole.com/2017/02/remorse-americans-everything.html

by fjallstrom on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 03:47:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From Russia, with Panic | Yasha Levine -

This latter development doesn't exactly inspire confidence. As allegations of Russian responsibility for the DNC hack flew fast and furious, we learned that the FBI never actually carried out an independent investigation of the claims. Instead, agency officials carelessly signed off on the findings of CrowdStrike, a private cybersecurity firm retained by the Democratic National Committee. Far from establishing an airtight case for Russian espionage, CrowdStrike made a point of telling its DNC clients what it already knew they wanted to hear: after a cursory probe, it pronounced the Russians the culprits. Mainstream press outlets, primed for any faint whiff of great-power scandal and poorly versed in online threat detection, likewise treated the CrowdStrike report as all but incontrovertible.

Also contains an account of the "Russian" "cyber war" in Georgia.
by generic on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 02:42:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nigel Farage visited Ecuadorian Embassy to meet Julian Assange, Ukip source says - Independent
Nigel Farage has been spotted visiting the Ecuadorian embassy in West London - where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been claiming diplomatic asylum since 2012.

A source close to Mr Farage confirmed to The Independent that the Ukip politician was at the embassy to visit Mr Assange.

Mr Farage, who reportedly stayed in the building for 40 minutes, was photographed emerging from the embassy, which is near the Harrods department store, accompanied by the producer of his LBC Radio programme, Christian Mitchell.

He initially told the BuzzFeed News website that he could not remember what he had been doing inside the building, adding: "I never discuss where I go or who I see."

by Bernard on Thu Mar 9th, 2017 at 08:54:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who Will Build The Wall? Trump's Mexico Border, Syrian Rebels May Be Funded By Same Company - IBT
A French-Swiss cement company that recently admitted to channeling funds to armed militants in Syria offered Thursday to help build the U.S.-Mexico border wall proposed by President Donald Trump, TeleSur reported. LafargeHolcim, the world's largest cement company, expressed its desire to be a partner in the wall's construction, which was officiated in an executive order signed in January by Trump.

The firm's CEO Eric Olsen said the wall, intended to stem the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico into the U.S., was "an infrastructure project where we would participate." The announcement came the same day as the company confessed to taking "unacceptable" measures to protect its plant in Syria by paying off armed militants possibly including the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, attempting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Trump Invites Bids to Build Wall, Cites Importance of `Aesthetics' - ProPublica

President Donald Trump built his campaign on the promise of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. Just a month after his inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to begin construction.

And last Friday, the department took a step to make sure it will look good.

In a little-noticed update, the department now says it wants a wall that will be "nominally 30 feet tall," and, importantly, that bids will be judged on "aesthetics," as well.

The new language, perhaps coincidental but likely not, appears to be a bureaucratic translation of Trump's oft-repeated promise to build a "beautiful" wall from 30 to 55 feet high.

by Bernard on Thu Mar 9th, 2017 at 09:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
gold coloured bricks?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 12:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't let establishment opportunists ruin the resistance movement | Thomas Frank | US news | The Guardian -
A resistance movement that imagines "America's business leaders" to be its guiding lights can probably be counted upon to do something similar. After all, Donald Trump is a singularly ridiculous person. Every comedian in the world knows how easy it is to mock him. He is the most unpopular new president since polling began, and right now that fact must be flashing the thousand-watt word "opportunity" at anyone familiar with modern marketing techniques. Standing up in pseudo-defiance against this comb-over mountebank is a perfect way to position your brand as a radical sexy youth-rebel freespirit.

Harbingers of this approach are already visible. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has written a nonspecific but distinctly anti-Trump manifesto. Budweiser is running commercials perceived to be critical of Trumpism, as is Coca-Cola. Starbucks has made its antipathy clear. A bunch of tech companies have declared their undying hostility to Trump's immigration policies. Before long, no doubt, Nike or Reebok will be encouraging you to make a stand against fascism with a specially branded line of resistance sneakers.

by generic on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 05:30:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Koch Bro. acolyte and Tea Party darling, odious Tom Cotton, R Senator from Arkansas, boldly and opportunistically tweeted that the House bill to repeal Obamacare could not pass the Senate and needed an overhaul. He is right of course. Every dog shall have his day.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 11th, 2017 at 10:08:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:04:43 PM EST
The integrity that roils South Korea's corrupt

For the past three decades, while North Korea's dictators were building nuclear weapons, South Korea has been building something far more potent. It has steadily - if at times fitfully - restored its democracy, uniting citizens around such principles as equality before the law. In recent months, that particular principle has been on full display. The president, Park Geun-hye, has been impeached. And 30 of the nation's most powerful people have been indicted in a corruption probe, including billionaire Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of Samsung.

This ongoing sweep of South Korea's politics and its largest conglomerate would not have been possible without a public demand, reflected in candlelight vigils by protesters, for integrity in the investigations. Until last fall, however, most prosecutors were not in high standing. Last year, for example, two of them were arrested for peddling their influence. "The honor of the prosecution has ... fallen to the floor," admitted the nation's chief prosecutor, Kim Soo-nam.

But then, as allegations of corruption have grown against the president, a special prosecutor was appointed. Park Young-soo, who was respected for his past roles in putting powerful businessmen in jail, was given a three-month mandate by parliament to probe the widening scandal. He assembled a team of more than 100 professionals to "uncover the whole truth," as he put it.

by Zwackus on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 12:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NPR, favored WH press franchise, reported Thursday, 2 March 2017
"American warplanes in Yemen conducted more than 20 airstrikes overnight against the local branch of al-Qaida, the Pentagon said, in what may be the first U.S. counterterrorism operation there since a deadly special operations raid in January."

29 January 2017 to be precise: This NPR file connects the attack to the Yakla raid, although DoD officials do not.

"Rigorous Procedures
The report does not indicate whether the POTUS approved "Mad Dog" Mattis' recommendations "over dinner", over dinner with attys' advice, in the Situation Room, in the Situation Room with attys' advice, or over dinner in the Situation room without attys' advice.

The report does not indicate number of casualties. The report does not indicate phase of lunar cycle o'er Yemen 2 Mar by comparative advantage on 29 Jan. But the report does assert "American commanders coordinated the operation with the rump Yemeni government", contradicting a NYT report 7 Feb, citing U.S. officials, that "Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country."[9]

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 02:05:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One might object that the rump government explicitly only vetoed ground missions. Presumably asking the US to stop bombing your country would be as effective as yelling at a cloud.
by generic on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 at 07:41:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is atty talk! a fallacious objection! There are not and have never been any "boots on the ground" in Yemen, Syria, or Liberia ... except to train uh allied domestic forces and gather intelligence (spy) or distribute armament.

Don't you read Anglo-american news?!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 10:20:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Hill
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson referred to slaves as "immigrants" dreaming of a better life in a talk with department employees, according to Monday reports.

"That's what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity," Carson said. "There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less."

But were they illegal immigrants?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 10:46:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:05:27 PM EST
New research disproves supposed tropical 'thermostat'

New research suggests the tropics will continue to warm along with the rest of the planet, contrary to the predictions of scientists who believe the tropics possess an internal "thermostat."

Previous studies have suggested the tropics boast a thermostat of sorts -- climate patterns that keep the region's temperatures from rising above a certain threshold, even as the rest of the globe warms dramatically.

But new research suggests no such thermostat exists, and that temperatures in the tropics surpassed deadly levels some 56 million years ago.

New paleoclimate data and the latest modeling suggest the tropics warmed 3 degrees Celsius Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, a period that saw the rest of Earth warm 5 degrees -- the warmest Earth's been in the last 100 million years.

Article here (open access).

Full disclosure: I currently work for the Utrecht science group, taking care of press releases among others. The Americans entirely re-wrote the Utrecht press release, cutting out the role of Utrecht (and Nigerian) scientists - most of the hard work was done by them...

by Bjinse on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 12:10:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 10:22:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having observed the communication game from the receiving end of press releases, I know why it happens. Observing the game from the science communication side, I know why it happens: a disastrous combination of 1) press officers not able / caring to know the different degrees of effort put into a science paper by multiple authors and 2) PR would be absolutely nowhere without a shot of tribal flag-waving. For a temporary citizen on planet Earth first, it all feels quite silly and rather unfair, but the whole hoopla is remarkably rampant. To wit: the Austrian press release about the same paper appears to have removed the Dutch, Nigerian and American role.
by Bjinse on Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 05:37:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it shows that the equatorial sea off present day Nigeria was, effectively, a hot tub at 36C. A couple of degrees hotter then the sea would be well over normal human body temperature. I can only imagine what land temperatures might be and what storms might be like. We do know that warmer seas can produce storms that lifted car sized boulders onto the island of Bermuda, so that could be a problem for even the best of sea walls.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 08:03:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The evidence indicates that hardy unicellular life in the regional sea was dying out as a result of the high water temperatures. The authors suspect land temperatures of 40 degrees C and much higher - they also think (but can't prove) this lead to a large regional die-off of plants and other living organisms occurred at the time.
by Bjinse on Wed Mar 8th, 2017 at 10:27:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These climatic conditions well explain dinosaurs living in the Arctic area.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Mar 9th, 2017 at 04:54:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:05:30 PM EST
Slaughter at the bridge: Uncovering a colossal Bronze Age battle | Science | AAAS
About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can't be found in any history books--the written word didn't become common in these parts for another 2000 years--but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology.  

It is a good article, and they do have some foundation for those claims.

by fjallstrom on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 11:10:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
fascinating. tbh all the way through I was wondering if there were any battles noted in German or Norse sagas which might correspond.

After all, if Irish sagas cn give you clues about skirmishes between cattle raiders 3000 years back, I'd have assumed a large probably civilisation-defining battle would have made its way into song.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 01:20:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Possible. Up here, our old songs are so messed up in filtration trough re-intrepretations that it is hard to make out what they once were. But batlles, they have many.

Could be some connection - as the article notes - to the late bronze age collapse in Eastern Mediterreanean. At least it is interesting to see that warriors travelled long distances in that era. Makes it more likely that the Sea peoples were some kind of pillage federation.

When I read it, I was mostly thinking about A song of Ice and Fire (the Game of Thrones books) and its battles thousands of years ago that are not only remembered but has political significance. Yes, that is what I find most unrealistic in a story with ice deamons and dragons. :)

by fjallstrom on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 01:39:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Possible. Up here, our old songs are so messed up in filtration trough re-intrepretations that it is hard to make out what they once were. But batlles, they have many.

Could be some connection - as the article notes - to the late bronze age collapse in Eastern Mediterreanean. At least it is interesting to see that warriors travelled long distances in that era. Makes it more likely that the Sea peoples were some kind of pillage federation.

When I read it, I was mostly thinking about A song of Ice and Fire (the Game of Thrones books) and its battles thousands of years ago that are not only remembered but has political significance. Yes, that is what I find most unrealistic in a story with ice deamons and dragons. :)

by fjallstrom on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 01:39:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I started thinking.

The only war that pops up from Germanic mythology is Æsir-Vanir War

In Norse mythology, the Æsir-Vanir War was a conflict between two groups of deities that ultimately resulted in the unification of the Æsir and the Vanir into a single pantheon. The war is an important event in Norse mythology, and the implications for the potential historicity surrounding accounts of the war are a matter of scholarly debate and discourse.

But was it in the Germanic spehere at all. Tollense is on the border of what Wikipedias map describes as Germanic peoples - Wikipedia

Map of the Nordic Bronze Age culture, around 1200 BCE

Also have come across this blog post from 2015.

Old European culture: Tollense battle

I decided to investigate the whole thing. It turned out Tollense river was a site of a big battle which took place around 1200 BC. But was this battle a clash of two armies, or an attack on a caravan traveling along the ancient Amber road?

I think the size of the clash points more to battle then caravan ambush, but YMMV.

Now I really should get some work done instead.

by fjallstrom on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 at 02:38:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:05:32 PM EST
...Until recently, the White House had been saying that, while it would prefer to have Congress's consent, the president has the inherent power under the Constitution to order the Navy to put cannon (and sailors) on private commercial vessels. However, they're [sic] now discovered an 1819 law which says merchant ships may be armed but may not shoot at ships of countries with which the United States is not at war. So what were the cannon for? Pirates, of course. ...

Today -100: March 5, 1917: Of helpless and contemptible governments

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 11:25:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... The US Department of Justice has discovered a culprit to blame for high food prices: two pro-German bankers and a commission merchant who plotted to keep vegetables out of New York in order to provoke demonstrations against exporting food to Europe....

Today -100: March 4, 1917: The most important part of the plot is its conditional form

< wipes tears >

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 11:30:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Sun Mar 5th, 2017 at 09:05:35 PM EST
Florida lawyer's trousers catch fire in court arson trial - BBC
A Florida defence lawyer's trousers have reportedly caught fire in court during an arson trial.

Stephen Gutierrez was to address jurors on Wednesday when smoke began billowing from his pocket, witnesses said.

The attorney fled the court and later returned unharmed with a singed pocket, blaming a faulty battery in his e-cigarette, the Miami Herald reports.

Mr Gutierrez, who had been arguing that his client's car spontaneously caught fire, said it was not a stunt.

by Bernard on Thu Mar 9th, 2017 at 09:04:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only in Florida?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Mar 10th, 2017 at 06:21:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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