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Whistling in the wind...

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jul 17th, 2017 at 11:41:15 PM EST

Participating, as I do, in various discussion forums outside of the European tribune, I am always struck by how hostile Brexiteers are to the EU project as a whole, and then, in the next breath, still seem to expect the EU to cut them a generous deal in the Brexit talks.

As a general rule, if you are hoping to get a good deal from a negotiating adversary, it is not a good idea to keep telling them how much you hate them and wish them ill. Yet Theresa May has recently promoted a Minister who said that the EU has failed on its own terms and should be "torn down".

Increasingly, it seems, Brexiteers are also seeking to use Ireland as a Trojan horse with which to divide the EU and weaken the EU negotiating position. On the one hand you have Nigel Farage arguing that Ireland would be far better off throwing it's lot in with the UK and leaving the EU, and on the other hand the UK appears to be hoping to use Ireland's dependency on UK trade as a means to force the EU to concede generous free trade terms to the UK post Brexit.

So what is it the UK wants? Ireland leaving the EU with the UK to reinforce Brexit, or Ireland within the EU to weaken the EU's resolve to drive a hard bargain? Either way, the Irish Government has shown no sign of deviating from the common EU27 negotiating position.

Boris Johnson recently told the Commons that the EU can "go whistle" if it thought the UK were going to pay what he considered an extortionate exit payment - to which Michel Barnier replied that he could hear no whistling, merely the sound of a clock ticking...

Meanwhile normally reticent and discreet Irish Ministers express increasing frustration at the lack of a coherent plan for Brexit coming from UK Ministers, making planning for Brexit almost impossible.

This soap opera is going to run and run, and we're only into season 1!

Comments >> (94 comments)

PM Shinzo Abe Sees Opportunities in OBOR

by Oui Fri Jul 14th, 2017 at 06:15:17 PM EST

Started as a reply to ATinNM's post in my previous diary ...

A US withdrawal from the western Pacific frees China to look north to the biggest region of untapped natural resources on the planet.

Japan commits to China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative | DW |

During talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the fringes of the recent G20 summit in Hamburg, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed Tokyo's intention to participate in Beijing's ambitious "One Belt, One Road" economic plan, a significant concession from a government that had previously distanced itself from Chinese economic and development initiatives.

Analysts say that while the Japanese leader is hoping for a windfall for domestic companies, he also recognizes that Japan simply cannot afford to be left out of a growing international project without any say in its future direction. Yet another motivation is to pressure President Donald Trump's administration to re-engage with its longstanding allies in the Asia-Pacific region instead of permitting China to seize the initiative.

 « click for more info »
Foreign Direct Investment in the United States 2016 Report - link to chart

The grand One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project is a combination of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and is designed to promote connectivity and cooperation among Eurasian nations via land and sea. The project demonstrates China's quest to play a larger role in global affairs and coordinate manufacturing throughout the region.  

Abe's Belt and Road pivot signals push to improve bilateral ties | Asian Review - June 6, 2017 |
PM Abe willing to join the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

A Gordian Knot: IC-Gate

by Oui Thu Jul 13th, 2017 at 05:18:39 PM EST

Cross-posted from BooMan Tribune

British citizen Rob Goldstone in key role

Rob Goldstone is an agent for Emin Agalarov who was married to Leyla Aliyeva -- social activist and elder daughter of the Azerbaijani President.

The Russian lawyer/lobbyist Natalia Veselnitskaya is not well known and has an obscure office in a southern suburb Ul. Lazareva Admirala of Moscow. She made headlines when she was hired by Denis Katsyv to lead his defence in Manhattan trial for money laundering of Prevezon Holdings Ltd. linked to the Magnitsky case. On May 12, 2017, US Attorney Joon Kim settled out of court, a 'sweet' deal some would say:

    The U.S. agreed to take $5.9 million to settle a money-laundering lawsuit tied to a $230 million Russian tax fraud, avoiding a trial that was set to begin mid May.

Veselnitskaya hired Fusion to do investigative work and Fusion shared her lobbying effort in the States to get rid of the sanctions enforced on Katsyv by the Magnitsky Act of Congress.

Continued below the fold ...

Read more... (3 comments, 955 words in story)

First Daughter at G20 Table

by Oui Sun Jul 9th, 2017 at 10:44:17 AM EST

President's daughter Ivanka 'fills in for him at G20 world leaders meeting' | The Independent |

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka has apparently filled in for the US President at a round-table meeting with world leaders at the G20. Ms Trump accompanied Mr Trump to a session at the Hamburg summit and later sat in his seat next to Theresa May, Angela Merkel and other world leaders, according to a photograph.

The meeting, which took place on Saturday morning, was on the subject of Africa, health and migration.

Ms Trump, who works as an advisor to her father at the White House, was photographed sitting in his seat by a Russian G20 official who shared the picture on social media. The official claimed Mr Trump had left his daughter in his place while he attended bilateral meetings with other world leaders.

In Hamburg this morning the "first daughter" also launched a World Bank event promoting the organisation's Women's Entrepreneurship Facility Initiative.

 « click for more info »

    "If she weren't my daughter it would be so much easier for her.
    That might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth."

That candid aside came as Mr Trump spoke at the launch of the new women's entrepreneurship fund.

Mr Trump met Russian president Vladimir Putin for the first time at the summit, and held bilateral talks with Ms May on Saturday morning

At the #G20 launch of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative

Ivanka Trump under fire after taking seat among world leaders at G20 | The Guardian |

The G20 Meeting must have done some good ... just read who got very disturbed today:

Read more... (32 comments, 440 words in story)

Putin Ahead of G20 Meeting In Hamburg

by Oui Fri Jul 7th, 2017 at 04:37:48 PM EST

WATCH: President Trump Meets Putin and Gets Ready for G20 Summit Meeting in Germany, Hamburg 2017

<< WATCH VIDEO >>

According to US broadcaster NBC, citing pool reports, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are still talking:

    "President Trump and President Putin are still
    talking 90 minutes into meeting, per pool.
    They had originally been scheduled for 30 minutes."

More below the fold ...

Read more... (14 comments, 401 words in story)

Trump's Revival of anti-EU Sentiment in Warsaw

by Oui Thu Jul 6th, 2017 at 09:00:20 AM EST

Ahead of the G20 in Germany's Hamburg, Trump is expected to give a major policy speech. His White House team has made a judgment this will take place in Poland, a nation that suffered greatly under the boots of Nazi's and equally when the Red Army crossed borders and occupied the state during the 20th century.

Today's Poland is run by a fascist leadership with similar appeals to its citizens as Trump has in America: nationalist and anti-immigration rhetoric or rather against asylum-seekers from outside of the EU. Poland has welcomed a flow of migrants from neighbouring Ukraine which is suffering from economic woes and corruption.

    The Polish Prime Minister, in a speech in the European Parliament, claimed that Poland did not have the capacity to accept any Syrian refugees, as it has already accepted one million Ukrainian refugees (Chapman 2016). However, while the migration flow has indeed increased, neither the purported volume, nor the declared character of migration has been reflected by the official data. The vast majority of Ukrainians coming to Poland seek gainful employment and are not a burden on the Polish taxpayer, but rather contribute to the country's economic growth.

Poland is at the heart of criticism for EU capital Brussels and the role of giant economic power Germany.

Poland is also the point nation for neocon's New Europe and a special role in rekindling the Cold War 2.0 from president George Bush,  Defence minister Rumsfeld, NATO's General Breedlove to Obama's State Department with HRC and Victoria Nuland - Cheney's right hand on foreign policy vs. Russia.

More below the fold ...

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

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Appointing Judges in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jul 1st, 2017 at 08:23:12 PM EST

Both the Irish Independent and the Irish Times (scroll down the page) have published my letter criticising the hypocrisy of Judges criticising elected politicians for commenting on the suitability of Judges on the grounds of the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government, and then in almost the same breath seeking to influence the legislature in its deliberations:

Sir, - Chief Justice Susan Denham saw fit to rebuke Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over his Dáil comments about former attorney general Máire Whelan and reminded us of the separation of powers between the branches of government and the necessity to maintain some distance between them.

Just days later, Mr Justice Peter Kelly is reported ("Leading judge says Government moves to reform judicial appointments `ill advised'", June 24th) as criticising Shane Ross's proposals for reforming the judicial appointments process as "ill conceived" and "ill advised", and the way in which they were being rushed through the Dáil when (in his view) other matters before the courts warranted a higher priority from legislators.

Could it be that our esteemed learned friends are trying to have it both ways, telling legislators how and when to do their jobs whilst being extremely sensitive about any comments directed towards them by our parliamentarians?

Whatever the merits of Shane Ross's proposals, surely it is right and proper that the process of appointing judges should be debated and decided by our democratically elected representatives at a time of their choosing, and not by those who are the primary beneficiaries of the process? - Yours, etc,

FRANK SCHNITTGER,

Read more... (33 comments, 1841 words in story)

LQD: Brexodus has begun

by Gag Halfrunt Sat Jul 1st, 2017 at 07:09:54 PM EST

I don't suppose this will surprise any regular readers.

Brexodus has begun. We EU nationals know staying on is too big a gamble | Joris Luyendijk | The Guardian | 30/06/2017

It will not happen in spectacular ways, so do not expect TV footage of hordes of well-heeled EU nationals making for Heathrow airport or the Channel tunnel. Rather it will be a steady, inexorable drip-feed. It has already started and as the true implications of Brexit sink in the number will swell. Call it the Brexodus: well-educated EU nationals with the global job market at their feet turning their back on a country they had thought of as a good and safe place to make their homes.

A Deloitte study, published this week, reveals that nearly half of all highly skilled EU workers could leave the UK within five years. This may have been news to many Britons, but not to the 3 million EU nationals in this country. Some of us have already left and others are actively making plans. Many know at least one EU national or family who have left already. Everybody is considering their options - and for good reason.

One thing I hadn't realised is that some EU nationals might have to sacrifice their original citizenships to get British citizenship because of their own countries' rules.
Highly educated EU nationals know that they have highly sought-after skills - many of us are not in British jobs taken by Europeans but in European jobs done in Britain. Why not take that job with us back to the EU? And why risk investing in a country that could turn on you at any moment? This question is even more urgent for those from Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Estonia or Lithuania: countries that make it very difficult for their citizens to acquire a second nationality.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

Comments >> (33 comments)

Frank's Story Index

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jun 21st, 2017 at 06:14:47 PM EST

The 401 articles I have posted on the European Tribune since Wed Nov 28th. 2007 are grouped somewhat arbitrarily under the 13 headings below with the latest listed first.

1. Human Rights (30)
2. Energy, Climate Change, Transport and the Environment (14)
3. Irish Economy (31)
4. Irish Politics (68)
5. Irish European Referenda and Elections (43)
6. Brexit(41)
7. The EU and the Eurozone (46)
8. US Politics (62)
9. Global economics, politics, foreign policy and war. (15)
10. Sport (13)
11. Personal Topics (20)
12. The European Tribune, Blogging and the Internet (13)
13. Just having a laugh (5)

Stories are listed only once even though many could have been listed under several headings. For direct access to a story please click on the titles in blue below.

Read more... (14 comments, 5538 words in story)

Some self-reflections on Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jun 21st, 2017 at 06:04:01 PM EST

Sometimes you have to examine your motives for writing stridently on a particular topic: what is it that provokes you to turn to print? I have now written over 400 articles for the European Tribune, and 40 of them have been on Brexit in the last year alone.

On the one hand, it is hardly surprising that a European community blog should focus on a topic like Brexit, and ever since I was made an editor I have felt a responsibility to try to keep the front page ticking over on at least some of the core issues effecting Europe.

But there have been many other reasons why I think Brexit is one of the seminal issues of our time and why I am so militantly opposed to it and everything which gave it birth.

I feel I owe you an explanation.

Read more... (23 comments, 1711 words in story)

Towards the 6th French Republic?

by Migeru Sat Jun 17th, 2017 at 09:38:55 AM EST

The political realignment taking place in France is nothing short of extraordinary. Before Emmanuel Macron won the presidential election last month it was assumed that, lacking a party, he would not be able to beat the Republicans, or even the Socialists, at the legislative elections, and a cohabitation would ensue. But at the first round last week the vote share of Macron's party La République En Marche was a historic high, with participation at a historic low. As a result, Macron's party is expected to win a blowout victory at the second round tomorrow. His majority could be large enough to allow him to reform the Constitution without the support of the other political parties. We could be looking at the 6th French Republic.

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LQD - Channelling Fintan O'Toole

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jun 17th, 2017 at 09:26:07 AM EST

Fintan O'Toole has long been one of Ireland's best writers and recently won the George Orwell prize for journalism and a European press award for his commentaries on Brexit. His latest piece parodies the DUP's love affair with the Conservative party and all things British...

DUP's crush on Britain will end badly

It is one thing to be infatuated with someone who just ignores you. The unfulfilled love retains its bittersweet purity, its dreamy half-life of pure possibility. But the true tragedy occurs when your love is apparently consummated at last and you find that the loved one really despises you. The DUP has long dreamed of being wrapped fully in the warm embrace of the Tory world with which it strives so hard to identify. And now, miraculously, its moment has come. But the loved one is thinking of England, sneaking glances at her watch and praying "Oh god! When will this be over?"

Read more... (10 comments, 451 words in story)

City Agriculture - June 13, 2017

by gmoke Tue Jun 13th, 2017 at 07:32:16 PM EST

InFarm for supermarkets who want to grow their own food
https:/www.fastcompany.com/3058155/at-this-supermarket-the-produce-section-grows-its-own-produce
Editorial Comment:  This may be my favorite of the shipping container farms now as they seem to be thinking most seriously about reducing energy and water requirements

Forest cities to fight air pollution in China
https:
www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/17/forest-cities-radical-plan-china-air-pollution-stefan o-boeri

Greenhouse for the Moon and Mars
http://inhabitat.com/nasa-unveils-inflatable-greenhouse-for-sustainable-farming-on-mars/
https:
cals.arizona.edu/lunargreenhouse/PhaseII.htm

World's largest vertical garden in Bogata, Colombia
http://inhabitat.com/the-worlds-largest-vertical-garden-blooms-with-85000-plants-in-the-heart-of-bog ota

Hong Kong'a rooftop farms
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170517-an-inside-view-of-hong-kongs-hidden-rooftop-farms

Plenty - an indoor vertical growing system aiming for high efficiency in both input and output
https:/www.fastcompany.com/40420610/has-this-silicon-valley-startup-finally-nailed-the-indoor-farmi ng-model

Seoul's Skygarden - urban overpass to greenspace transformation
https:
www.mvrdv.nl/en/projects/seoul-skygarden
http://www.archdaily.com/871754/mvrdvs-skygarden-a-transformed-983-meter-former-highway-opens-in-seo ul
https:
www.dezeen.com/2017/05/22/mvrdv-seoullo-7017-conversion-overpass-highway-road-park-garden-hi gh-line-seoul-south-korea
Editorial Comment:  Seoul has also resurrected a formerly buried river: https:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheonggyecheon

Texas supermarket chain to grow its own produce in shipping "Growtainers"
http://www.andnowuknow.com/quick-dish/h-e-b-owned-central-market-partners-cea-advisors-and-growtaine r-store/jordan-okumura/53774#
http://inhabitat.com/this-texas-supermarket-is-growing-its-own-veggies-in-a-shipping-container-farm/

Chinese plant factories to grow clean food in dirty cities
https:
www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-05-25-plant-factories-churn-out-clean-food-in-china-s- dirty-cities
hat tip Fred Hapgood

Taipei "Forest Bus," with turf-lined seats,hanging orchids and ferns that continued to run as a mode of transport from florist Alfie Lin and designer Xiao Qing-Yang
http://inhabitat.com/city-bus-transformed-into-an-enchanting-forest-reconnects-commuters-to-nature/
https:/www.facebook.com/1973lin

See through garden house in Ho Chi Minh City
http://www.archdaily.com/872113/less-house-ha
http://inhabitat.com/glowing-see-through-garden-house-lets-plants-soak-up-the-sun/
Editorial Comment:  Vietnamese architects and designers are doing some very good work on urban agriculture.

Google's million square foot "Landscraper" for London - rooftop gardens over multiple storeys with "plateau," "gardens," and "fields" planted with strawberries, gooseberries and sage
https:/www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/01/google-submits-plans-million-sq-ft-london-hq-cons truction-kings-cross

200 square meters, 3500 kg per year production in Gaza hydroponic urban farm
https:
vimeo.com/192703220

Terrill:  solar weeding robot, Roomba for your garden
https:
/www.kickstarter.com/projects/rorymackean/tertill-the-solar-powered-weeding-robot-for-home-g? ref=5j5256
hat tip Michel Selva
Editorial Comment:  I, for one, welcome our new robot gardening overlords

Also archived at http://cityag.blogspot.com/2017/06/city-agriculture-june.html where you can find all my City Agriculture links list posts.

Brexit Mania

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jun 11th, 2017 at 07:03:01 PM EST

For some strange reason I am vaguely encouraged by the outcome of the British general election, and it is not because the numbers turned out to be broadly as I expected they would be. Theresa May must be one of the worst leaders that even the Tories have ever produced, and no amount of repetition of the mindless "Strong and Stable" mantra could hide that fact.

Equally, the DUP did more or less exactly as I expected they would do in Northern Ireland, and they too have, in Arlene Foster, a leader who is pretty much the worst of a dire lot of predecessors, including Ian Paisley, the party founder, himself. But it is not really the choice of leaders which has me basically equanimous at the election outcome.

It could have been better, it could have been worse, but the outcome of the first post-Brexit election was always going to be something truly awful. The level of delusion, lies and deceit Brexit has introduced into the mainstream of the UK body politic was always going to produce a uniquely toxic stew, and now we can put a name on it: Brexit Mania.

Read more... (25 comments, 1724 words in story)

Leo Varadker to become Irish Prime Minister

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 5th, 2017 at 10:42:27 AM EST

Leo Varadker, the son of an immigrant Indian Doctor and an Irish mother, has won the Fine Gael Leadership election and is set to become Taoiseach in the next week or so. To do so he needs to secure the agreement of Fianna Fail to a continuation of their "Confidence and Supply Arrangement" to abstain from votes of No Confidence in order to allow the minority Fine Gael government to remain in office. Several Independent ministers will also have to renew their agreement to support the Government.

Read more... (4 comments, 1010 words in story)

The Trmp Conspiracies: A Few Political Fantasies

by gmoke Mon May 29th, 2017 at 09:48:31 PM EST

In my political fantasy life (no resemblance to persons living or dead), I like to play with the idea of deep conspiracies wondering, "What if?" from different directions, a variation of umpteeump dimensional chess. I don't believe any of it but just like to consider the possibilities.

What if Ivana Zelníčková Trmp was the original Russian/Soviet/espionage honeypot?
What if the Trmp's are actually "The Americans," deep cover sleeper agents like the ones in that show?
What if Ivanka and her siblings are the second generation of the operation? (Hello, Jared.)

That's one thread.

What if Fred Kch, father of the Kch Bros, who made his first millions with Stalin back in the 1930s, cooked up a long-term Fifth Column operation from the Right at some desk in the Kremlin back in those bad old days?  What if the Jhn Brch Socity was funded to destabilize American democracy (such as it is) as much as the Communist Party USA, a Rightwing/Leftwing combination?

Fact of the matter is, with the 2016 Rpblcn Party, the "Eisenhower is a Commie" and "Impeach Earl Warren" Jhn Brch Socity of the 1950s won. It is the Rpblcn Party today, with a healthy helping of Christianist Dominionism added, all those preaching theocrats who are happy to ignore President Trmp's public behavior. This religious strain (take that any way you want) hearkens back and forward to Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here and Robert Heinlein's Revolt in 2100 as well as Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.

And that's a whole nother group of conspiracies to play. Lotsa conspiracies and dystopias to go around.

Read more... (23 comments, 756 words in story)

British Election Update

by Zwackus Sun May 28th, 2017 at 02:18:09 AM EST

It seems that yet another election campaign built on inevitability is sputtering and gasping in the home stretch. Just a few weeks ago, pundits were wondering whether Labour would lose as badly as it did in 1983 ... or worse. The polls around then suggested that Labour would be lucky to do as well as in that epic defeat. Oh, what a difference a few weeks can make.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (109 comments, 1029 words in story)

Match Report: Pro12 Semi-final

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 20th, 2017 at 11:27:25 AM EST

Leinster 15 Scarlets 27

Those of us who have ever played competitive sport have been there: You start off confident, perhaps even complacent, because everyone tells you you are the overwhelming favourite.

Read more... (3 comments, 440 words in story)

The problem of German hegemony

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 20th, 2017 at 09:17:29 AM EST

One of the impacts of Brexit on the EU will be to remove one of three most powerful and influential members of the bloc. That can only have the effect of increasing German hegemony unless the other EU and Eurozone members take concerted action to prevent this from happening. So far they have shown little sign of doing so. German led austerity policies remain in the ascendant, particularly in Greece, although economic trends have been improving elsewhere. But politically, German conservatism, inertia, complacency and a sense of entitlement appears to rule the roost.

So why do the other EU member states not take more concerted action to ensure the EU and Eurozone are managed more in their collective interests?

Read more... (14 comments, 791 words in story)

Leo Varadkar early favourite to succeed Enda Kenny

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 19th, 2017 at 03:54:56 PM EST


Simon Coveney and Leo Varadker, chief rivals to replace Enda Kenny.

Enda Kenny has finally resigned as leader of Fine Gael some months after it became clear his days in office were numbered following Fine Gael's disastrous performance in the 2016 General Election. Leo Varadkar has become the early favourite to succeed him as Leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach or Prime Minister of Ireland.

Read more... (5 comments, 1105 words in story)
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News and Views

 Rest of July 2017

by Bjinse - Jul 22, 8 comments

Your take on this week's news

 26 June - 2 July 2017

by Bjinse - Jun 26, 74 comments

Your take on this week's news

 July Open Thread

by Bjinse - Jul 22, 1 comment

Summer threading

 Open Thread 26 June

by Bjinse - Jun 26, 62 comments

When we are threading, we are alive

Occasional Series
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