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20 - 26 March 2017

by Bjinse Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:13:18 AM EST

Your take on this week's news

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by Bjinse on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:13:44 AM EST
The notification of triggering Article 50 of a key EU treaty will come in the form of a letter delivered to Tusk -- though it was unclear whether it would come through an actual [SIC] letter or an electronic missive [SIC].

Britain to Formally Trigger Process to Leave EU March 29

Perhaps blood stain on card stock would be a more appropriate delivery system for the message.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
French literary boy wonder Édouard Louis on saving the working class from Marine Le Pen | Books | The Guardian -

"In the lower classes, politics has always been a matter of life and death. My parents were desperate at the idea of losing some badly needed social benefit, which might make the difference between whether we could go to the dentist. I was 15 when my father went to the dentist for the first time because the government created a new health benefit.


Louis is equally angry about what he sees as the "global fascination with the extreme right" that has hijacked the news agenda and made everyone a prisoner of the far-right discourse. "Even the most ridiculous thing said by Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage makes headlines, while anyone who is young, who is trying to invent a new discourse, is ignored. It's a shrinking democracy: the right speaks to the right, the left speaks to the right, where is the left's discourse? What's even more dramatic is that the whole world is speaking the language of the extreme right; Marine Le Pen is imposing the language, the subjects we talk about.

by generic on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 04:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dijsselbloem under fire after saying eurozone countries wasted money on `alcohol and women'
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the eurozone's finance ministers, has come under attack after refusing to apologise for saying southern European countries had wasted money on "drinks and women" in the run upto the continent's debt crisis.

At a parliamentary hearing in Brussels on Tuesday, the Dutch policy chief - whose Labour party suffered a punishing defeat in national elections last week - was dubbed "insulting" and "vulgar" by MEPs for remarks made in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Mr Dijsselbloem said he would "not apologise" after coming under pressure to distance himself from remarks perceived as an attack on the bloc's southern countries including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.

In comments reported in the Spanish press, Mr Dijsselbloem told FAZ:

During the crisis of the euro, the countries of the North have shown solidarity with the countries affected by the crisis.

    As a Social Democrat, I attribute exceptional importance to solidarity. [But] you also have obligations. You can not spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 09:25:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sophisticated analysts have concluded that this is a campaign by Dijsselbloem to save his Eurogroup job. Yes, he got it because he's a member of the EG ex officio, as minister of finance of his government. Despite having taken a thorough thrashing in the Dutch elections and thus having no democratic legitimacy left, and the near certainty of not keeping his finance gig in the Netherlands, he's apparently convinced he can stay on in the EG job because, well, why not?

The thing about Eurogroup elections is that there is only one person whose vote counts, apparently.

This is therefore not a bad time to postulate the idea of a government of the Eurozone with some actual accountability. Benoit Hamon's visit to Brussels made a bit of noise, and now Thomas Piketty has had a look at what a Eurozone parliamentary assembly would look like.

And, a bit surprisingly, it would currently have a majority of the left.


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

by eurogreen on Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 10:52:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So Dijsselbloem either says so because it's his opinion, or he thinks it's the opinion the German finance minister wants to hear. Either way, a frightening look into elite opinion.

Nine years, countless theoretical and practical refutations of their worldwiev and policy, a far-right on the rise and a union that is splitting apart, and they still have learned nothing.

by fjallstrom on Fri Mar 24th, 2017 at 10:07:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU leaders, minus UK, declare 'Europe is our common future'  - DW
EU leaders gathered in Rome on Saturday to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding treaties against the backdrop of a series of crises that have challenged European unity.

Leaders from 27 member states declared "Europe is our common future" in a final declaration signed at the Campidoglio palace, where on March 25, 1957, six founding states signed the Treaty of Rome paving the way for today's EU.

Noticeably absent was British Prime Minister Theresa May, who on Wednesday is set to officially start a two-year Brexit process for the bloc's second-biggest economy.

by Bernard on Sun Mar 26th, 2017 at 10:20:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel's Christian Democrats win in Saarland state election - DW
Germany's "super election year" kicked off on Sunday, with some 800,000 eligible voters casting ballots for the state parliament in Saarland. Sunday's vote marked the first in a series of key state elections leading up to the federal parliamentary elections slated for September.

Preliminary official figures place German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) ahead of the competition with 40.7 percent of the vote, up from 35.2 percent in the 2012 elections.

Support for the Social Democrats (SPD) slipped, with the center-left party garnering 29.6 percent, down from 30.6 percent in 2012. SPD party leader Martin Schulz explained his party's failure to boost support in Saarland by saying: "Receiving a goal does not mean the match it is over."

by Bernard on Mon Mar 27th, 2017 at 07:07:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:14:08 AM EST
One for the ages: Fits any current event.
Burger King is Run by Children

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:14:28 AM EST
NYT has shot from the gate with spurious headlines such as"Comey Confirms F.B.I. Inquiry on Russia; Sees No Evidence of Wiretapping" (By MATTHEW ROSENBERG, EMMARIE HUETTEMAN and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT[!].

Audiences of C-SPAN coverage may take that to address plausible deniability of the matter as Mr Comey's testimony most frequently repeated, "I can't answer that." He was quite insistant that he'd rather not confirm press reportage or inter-agency "leaks" for fear of compromising legitimate counter-intelligence operations.

< wipes tears >

Moreover, Comey, Rogers (Clapper in absentia) confirmed: "No evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russian government."

Your guide down the US national security rabbit hole.
House Select Intelligence Committee hearing | 05:19:27

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:10:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trump won't allow you to use iPads or laptops on certain airlines. Here's why. - The Washington Post -

It may not be about security. Three of the airlines that have been targeted for these measures -- Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways -- have long been accused by their U.S. competitors of receiving massive effective subsidies from their governments. These airlines have been quietly worried for months that President Trump was going to retaliate. This may be the retaliation.

These three airlines, as well as the other airlines targeted in the order, are likely to lose a major amount of business from their most lucrative customers -- people who travel in business class and first class. Business travelers are disproportionately likely to want to work on the plane -- the reason they are prepared to pay business-class or first-class fares is because it allows them to work in comfort. These travelers are unlikely to appreciate having to do all their work on smartphones, or not being able to work at all. The likely result is that many of them will stop flying on Gulf airlines, and start traveling on U.S. airlines instead.

by generic on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 03:46:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or fly to Europe and take a connecting flight (though not to the UK - they've copied Trump)
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 04:02:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian
Travelers have been told that they will have to pack such devices in baggage to be checked into the plane's hold.

But filling the hold of a commercial airliner with the lithium-ion batteries used to power most consumer electronics would create a hazard all its own, according to Robert W Mann Jr, president of the airline industry analysts RW Mann & Company.

Rechargeable batteries are often recalled because they pose a risk of fire - and the kind of fire started by an overheating battery is much harder to extinguish by conventional means.


In an age of exploding tablets, safe battery storage deeply concerns experts. "On an aircraft, how many [now-prohibited] devices are carried by, let's say, 300 customers? How many spare batteries? How many batteries charged by unapproved chargers are in the hold?" Mann asked. "It would be harder to detect that and harder to fight an in-flight fire in the hold than it would if a fire occurred in the cabin. Most cabins have fire blankets and extinguishers that are useful against metal fires.

A few Gulf airline planes catching fire, and you've got another reason to take a US carrier.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 06:43:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just don't think the US wants people to visit. I'm happy to oblige.

I'm just disappointed that, despite the madness and corruption of the White House becoming daily more obvious, the UK government have decided that they have no options other than to slavishly follow each and every idiocy he offers up.

We. Are. So. Doomed.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 09:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We. Are. So. Doomed.


They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 10:07:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a clear example of how Donald plans to make America grate again. Trade wars.

Sure, the Gulf airlines are buying market share by getting subsidised by their governments. So the US is going to hit them with arbitrary counter-measures. Which will probably be struck down by the WTO in due course, but there will be others.  

Just wait till the EU starts claiming back taxes from McDonalds, Amazon and Coca Cola. Perfectly legitimate, and on the agenda for the next couple of years. The timing is right for a perfect trade storm. It's going to be popcorn time for the next few years.

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

by eurogreen on Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 at 10:59:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been rumblings from within the administration of the God-Emperor that they really don't feel bound to follow WTO rulings anyway.
by Zwackus on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 05:36:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But couldn't these countries respond by introducing their own security measures, applying the US rules to US flights as well?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 09:03:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US reporters praise German journalists for questioning Trump - DW
US President Donald Trump claimed that German news agency reporter Kristina Dunz was interested in "fake news" when she asked him about isolationist policies. In her report, Dunz later wrote, "It is no longer a custom in the White House that hard, uncomfortable questions receive factual answers."

The president also used a question from "Die Welt" journalist Ansgar Graw about his statements on Twitter to joke that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel "had something in common, perhaps," in that their phones were tapped. The president did not mention that proof of the National Security Agency listening in on Merkel's phone existed. Trump also failed to provide evidence backing up his bombshell claim that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped his communications.

Those were two of the tough questions Trump faced during a press conference Friday with Merkel that led US journalists who cover the White House to praise the tenacity of their German colleagues.

by Bernard on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 07:34:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm, yes, well, let us recall Der Spiegel is the only organization that "produced plausible information that Merkel's mobile was targeted by the US eavesdropping agency". Germany's top prosecutor started an investigation to corroborate the proof, then dropped it. And, finally, in 2015, Germany Closes Probe Into Alleged U.S. Hacking Of Merkel's Phone

The White House never outright denied spying on Merkel, but it did say that it was not currently spying on her phone calls and would not do so in the future.

So. Here we are wondering, idly, Wwhen the NYT will publish the Flynn Tapes? And why a US Rep on the House Intelligence committee relies on anonymously "hacked" Paul Manafort's daughter's text messages to prosecute the patriotism of the POTUS?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Mar 27th, 2017 at 01:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a bit brown. But in America I'm white. Not for much longer - Guardian
We live in a weird time for whiteness. But, before I get into that, a small disclaimer. You may look at my name and worry that I am unqualified to speak about whiteness; I would like to set these doubts to rest and assure you that I myself am a white person. It's true that, technically speaking, I'm a bit brown but, when it comes to my legal standing, I'm all white. Well, I'm white in America anyway. The US Census Bureau, you see, defines "white" as "a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa". Being half-Palestinian and half-English I fall squarely into that box.

But I may not be able to hang out in that box much longer. There are plans afoot to add a new "Middle East/North Africa" category to the US census. After 70-plus years of having to tick "white" or "other" on administrative documents, people originating from the Middle East and North Africa may soon have their own category.

I understand that US right-wingers don't consider Jews as white either.

by Bernard on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 07:37:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if you go by Genesis 12, they come from Iraq, so they have a point. But if you go by mtDNA analysis, they may well come from Italy, which makes them white. That is, until US right-wingers go back to regarding italians (and Irish) as not being really white either.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 09:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Palmer Report - Bill Palmer - Thanks to Devin Nunes, the Republican Party has begun throwing Donald Trump under the Russia bus

Even before Devin Nunes staged his bizarre, counterproductive, and likely illegal Trump-Russia meltdown today, it was already clear that he was in over his head. Now that he's either leaked real classified information or invented phony classified information in a panicked effort to protect Donald Trump from his Russia scandal, it appears Nunes has unwittingly forced his own Republican Party to throw Trump under the bus. And that shift is beginning already, in real time.

Devin Nunes made the surreal decision today to publicly make the assertion that Donald Trump's transition team was indeed being wiretapped, for what he insisted were non-Russia reasons. He did so without saying who or where he got the information from, and he did so without running it past any of the Republicans or Democrats who sit on the House Intelligence Committee which he chairs.

This seemed a deliberate attempt at ensuring that his claim went public before anyone on his committee could see that his claim was nonsense. But what it really accomplished was that it merely pissed off everyone involved, and backed his fellow Republicans into a corner. Whether Nunes invented this idiotic plan himself or Trump instructed him to run interference today, it's already prompting members of both parties to draw the line.

that said, if US investigating committees are anything like their UK counterparts, they exist to prevent conclusions and revelations rather than provide them. But it is still a step forward.

I still think that Trump is safe until his signature has been put on several items of GOP wet dream legislation. Once they're secure, he's toast.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 08:38:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 07:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Evidently the espionage involved in handbag designing has taken an interesting turn of late

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 09:13:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'The Bill Is Over' House GOP Pulls Health Care Bill Before Sure Defeat - TPM
Late Friday afternoon, minutes before they were supposed to fulfill eight years of promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans choked and pulled their bill amid resistance from both the party's conservative and moderate wings and fears a floor vote would go down in flames.

President Donald Trump, after demanding a Friday vote less than 24 hours previously, agreed with House Speaker Paul Ryan that the bill be pulled.

"This bill is done," Energy and Commerce Chair Greg Walden (R-OR), whose committee had jurisdiction over the legislation, told reporters.

"The Freedom Caucus wins. They get Obamacare forever," quipped Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) who chairs the subcommittee on Health under Energy and Commerce.

"I think the Democrats are celebrating big time," grumbled Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL). "This is a major victory for them."

by Bernard on Fri Mar 24th, 2017 at 09:09:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard on Fri Mar 24th, 2017 at 09:15:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As Rachel Maddow noted, with all the details about the Russian connections, that Flynn and Manafort seem to be willing to testify and plea bargain their way out of trouble, the fact that their easy win legislation failed isn't even remotely their biggest problem right now

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 27th, 2017 at 01:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Medium.com - From Russia, With Oil  
In the past week, there have been several startling revelations about the investigations into Donald Trump, his closest allies, and their ties to Russia. Not only has the existence of two investigations, one by the FBI and one by the House Intelligence Committee, been confirmed, but there is increasing information as to just what is being investigated: an alleged deal for Trump to advance Russian interests as President in exchange for 19% of the Russian state oil company Rosneft and Russian intelligence assistance in winning the election.

This news has been spread over a tremendous number of articles and even Twitter threads, rather than in a single big headline. So today I would like to pull together all of these reports, and make it clear what things are known for certain, what things have been reported and sourced but not confirmed, and what things are still speculation.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 27th, 2017 at 01:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A three weeks old roundup from Josh Marshall, focusing only on the confirmed - Occam Razor style - facts. (part 2)
by Bernard on Mon Mar 27th, 2017 at 07:14:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, didn't see that here, posted it in OT as well

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 27th, 2017 at 01:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:14:52 AM EST
Figures released by the Russian Federal Treasury have confirmed that Russia's defence budget has been cut by 25.5% for 2017, falling from RUB3.8 trillion (USD65.4 billion) to RUB2.8 trillion.

The reduction represents the largest cut to military expenditure in the country since the early 1990s.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 05:22:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this the real explanation of Operation Trump?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 08:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember that when the USSR collapsed in 89 that many attributed it to the Soviets feeling obliged to mirror Ronnie Reagan's military build up through the 80s, which caused the USSR's economy to collapse.

Maybe Putin has learned the lesson. He's reining military spend in Russia in while getting his patsies in DC to ramp up. Seems the USSR's revenge will be the same dish served cold.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 08:32:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Putin is playing Trump like a fine violin. There will be tears in our eyes by the finale.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 09:15:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Either that, or the finale will consist of all our eyes melting during the thermonuclear apotheosis.
by Bjinse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 09:32:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a violinist, I find disturbing to see Trump compared to a "fine" violin.
Putin may be like a virtuoso playing a clunker of a violin, but a mere open string of my Bernard Salin sounds better than any Trump speech!

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Mar 24th, 2017 at 07:01:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Point taken. My apologies for muffing the analogy.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Fri Mar 24th, 2017 at 01:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You only indulged in a time honored cliche.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2017 at 02:55:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The invasion of the Baltic states must have become significantly cheaper.
by fjallstrom on Fri Mar 24th, 2017 at 12:27:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:15:21 AM EST
by Bjinse on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:19:15 AM EST
Eurovision 2017: Ukraine bars Russian singer Samoilova from contest
Julia Samoilova was banned from Ukraine for three years because she had entered Crimea "illegally" - entering directly from Russia, not via Ukraine.

Samoilova, 27, has confirmed that she sang in Crimea in 2015. Ukraine is due to host Eurovision in Kiev, in May.

Ironically, last year's winner and her "non-political" song were related to Crimea.
by das monde on Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 at 02:41:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:19:32 AM EST
British Prime Minister David Lloyd George will move a parliamentary motion of congratulations to the Russian Duma for the new revolutionary government,
The PRIME MINISTER:They are confident that these events, marking as they do an epoch in the world and the first great triumph of the principle for which we entered the War, will result, not in any confusion or slackening in the conduct of the War, but in the even closer and more effective co-operation between the Russian people and its Allies in the cause of human freedom. I may say that the Government propose to put a Motion down on the subject.
Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL: Has the Russian counterpart of Irish misgovernment fallen to the ground?
which was formed, he says, "for the express purpose of carrying on the War with increased vigour." He is heckled throughout by Irish MPs.

Today -100: March 20, 1917: Any American citizen who is now pro-German is a traitor to this country

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 09:52:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
@ 00:35:00
"incidental collection"
"US person"
"masked US person"

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 01:12:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bjinse on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:19:49 AM EST

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