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

PM Theresa May: Stirred not Shaken

by Oui Thu Nov 15th, 2018 at 09:39:56 AM EST

Utter failure in the negotiations with Michel Barnier and the EU in Brussels. Raab was left with the short straw, relay of bad news to the NI DUP leadership. Raab RESIGNS!!

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Deal done?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Nov 14th, 2018 at 02:10:14 PM EST

The EU and UK negotiating teams have finally come to a deal just in time for a November EU Summit and a pre-Christmas rush to have "a meaningful vote" on the deal in the House of Commons. There is no telling what mood conservative law makers will be in after they have been exposed to the Tory faithful back in their constituencies over the Christmas period. So the UK government strategy seems to be to get this over with as quickly as possible.

Initial reaction in the UK has been almost universally hostile even before the precise text of the deal has become known. This is where various Brexiteer delusions meet the harsh winds of reality: Boris Johnson is not altogether wrong when he claims that the deal is "vassal state stuff" with the UK continuing to be subject to some of the rules of the Single Market without having a direct say in their development over the years.

Ostensibly that has all come about because of a shared EU UK commitment to avoid a "hard" customs border within Ireland. Had it not been for Ireland's continued membership of the EU, the fate of the Irish border would not have merited a moments thought on the part of Brexiteers, and indeed it it did not occupy any media or mind space during the referendum campaign, despite the Irish government's frantic efforts to raise the alarm.

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Jordan Peterson, Social Media and Rise of Alt-right

by Oui Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 02:01:56 PM EST

I'll have to agree with generic on this one.

"psychological background"

No, Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor. From what I have read, that is where his professional knowledge and experience lies. The podcasts and crowdfunding in recent years deliver quite a few bucks to keep the envelop moving forward.

From personal experience over more than a decade I have seen too many professional psychologists and psychiatrists in the profession due to damage from early youth or in the family genealogy. Some persons use the study to help find oneself or explain major issues from their youth.

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Salman Offered Candidate Trump Assassination Program on Iran

by Oui Tue Nov 13th, 2018 at 09:46:15 AM EST

I have written regularly about this angle on Trump's impossible victory in the 2016 presidential U.S. Election. While the Hillary Democrats and the US intelligence community went after decoy Putin and Russia. Nice play Bibi Netanyahu.

[Links in article below are mine - Oui]

Saudis Close to Crown Prince Discussed Killing Other Enemies a Year Before Khashoggi's Death | NY Times |

Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

The Saudis inquired at a time when Prince Mohammed, then the deputy crown prince and defense minister, was consolidating power and directing his advisers to escalate military and intelligence operations outside the kingdom. Their discussions, more than a year before the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, indicate that top Saudi officials have considered assassinations since the beginning of Prince Mohammed's ascent.

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#MeToo - Former AG Schneiderman Won't Face Criminal Charges

by Oui Fri Nov 9th, 2018 at 06:59:35 PM EST

Ex-NY AG Eric Schneiderman won't face criminal charges for abusing women | JPost |

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, the special prosecutor overseeing the investigation said that the women fully cooperated with the investigation.

Eric Schneiderman told CNN in a statement released by a spokeswoman that he accepts full responsibility for his actions.

"I recognize that District Attorney Singas' decision not to prosecute does not mean I have done nothing wrong," the statement said. "I accept full responsibility for my conduct in my relationships with my accusers, and for the impact it had on them.

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The Confederacy, American Civil Rights and Southern Baptists

by Oui Wed Nov 7th, 2018 at 02:59:13 PM EST

Added two updates below ...

The American civil war didn't end. And Trump is a Confederate president | The Guardian Opinion by Rebecca Solnit

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Our Land - Brexit and a Separation Agreement

by Oui Wed Nov 7th, 2018 at 02:32:54 PM EST

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by ARGeezer Wed Nov 7th, 2018 at 04:58:42 AM EST

The Democrats have decisively retaken the House of Representatives, but the 'Blue Wave' was met with a cancelling 'Red Wave'. So Trump and Trumpism was not as well repudiated, as might have been hoped. But the position of the Democratic Party has greatly improved.

The Democrats have also greatly improved their position in state houses. A significant majority of US residents will now live in states with Democratic governors. This will be decisive for election supervision in 2020 and for the redistricting that will follow. Given that the Democrats only have the House, that leaves them still in the position of being the opposition until 2020, which I believe will also be a good year for Democrats.

With the House comes the chairmanship of powerful investigative committees. The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee can, by law, directly request the tax returns of President Trump. The IRS, under Trump, might refuse, but the law is clear. Adam Schiff will become chair of the House Intelligence Committee and Elijah Cummings will become Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. These are all very intelligent and capable men. It will be an interesting two years.  

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

Comments >> (67 comments)

Glimmers of hope?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Nov 2nd, 2018 at 12:54:12 PM EST

Theresa May has survived numerous threats to her leadership to fight another day after a reasonably well received Tory party conference speech and UK Budget. The mood music on both sides of the Brexit negotiations appears to be that a deal can still be done in late November or early December at the latest. The adults have entered the negotiating room and remaining differences are being chipped away. A formula of words will be found to paper over the cracks and arrive at some sort of an agreement.

The markets will breath a sigh of relief and Sterling will rise. Much of he media will hype the achievement of a deal almost regardless of the content. Dire warnings of the consequences of "no deal" have had their effect of dampening expectations and only the churlish will point out how far short the deal falls from the Brexiteer claims of "the easiest deal in history" achieved because "they need us more than we need them".

My skepticism over the prospects of a substantial deal has always centered on May's ability to get any such deal through parliament. Have expectations been reduced enough to make the deal palatable? Are Brexiteers sufficiently desperate to agree any deal so long as it gets the UK out of the EU? Will Remainers vote for a deal so obviously worse than full membership because it avoids the nightmare "no deal" scenario? Can the DUP ever be appeased?

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Trump On the Ropes - Last Minute Attack Ad with LIES

by Oui Thu Nov 1st, 2018 at 03:12:26 PM EST

See also my previous diary - Digital Media and the Rise of Populist Right-Wing.

After getting a ferocious beating in the corner where it hurts, Trump and his PAC of dogs are intent on using the principle to quickly change the news headlines. Managing his own Twitter account, DT once again pushes the fear for immigrants narrative ... quite sickening and will white America fall for his bull shit in the election box for the mid-terms ... "Promises Kept". Even Wall Street has taken a beating this month with the expectation the monetary policy to keep the economy afloat before the high corporate debt and higher interest rates starts to bite next year and leads to a downturn and major recession in 2020. DT and his Republican henchmen buying time ... the mid-term election are just in time! Democrats GO - GOTV.

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Digital Media and the Rise of Populist Right-Wing

by Oui Wed Oct 31st, 2018 at 04:25:04 PM EST

Journalism and the Mainstream Media has defaulted on integrity, given rise to paid-for articles and trying to catch up to daily headlines initiated by social media and live reporting by citizens. In addition the Obama administration allowed government propaganda to creep into the news by undressing the Smith-Mundt Act.

[links added in next article are mine  - Oui]

Digital media and the rise of right-wing populism | JStor |

Studies of the internet and politics often focus on progressive politics - on the internet as a democratizing influence or on movements such as Occupy Wall Street in the United States. The other main area is the deviant internet hackers and mischief-makers like trolls. What gets far less attention are the retrogressive mainstream political forces such as right-wing populism, which, I will argue, have been the single most important political change in at least three of the countries examined here (in China they are the most important). To make the argument, this chapter compares four right-wing populist movements: Donald Trump, in America, Narendra Modi in India, the Sweden Democrats and Chinese nationalists. Digital media have been a necessary precondition for the success of all four, but in quite different ways, depending on the media system, including digital media, in each country. Common to all four, however, is the fact that digital media have bypassed traditional media gatekeepers.

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Government formation in Sweden

by fjallstrom Wed Oct 31st, 2018 at 12:10:38 AM EST

When last we left of, the election night, things ended inconclusive. And not much has changed.

To recap, the left bloc got 144 seats and declared themselves winners. But so did the right bloc with 143, on account of the left bloc losing more. And of course the far right Sweden Democrats with 62 seats also declared themselves winners.

Front paged - Frank Schnittger

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Every Man Dies Alone

by gmoke Tue Oct 30th, 2018 at 06:16:02 PM EST

Based upon the Gestapo files of an actual case, Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (Brooklyn, NY:  Melville House, 2009 ISBN 978-1-933633-63-3) is about a middle-aged, working class couple who resist the Nazis in 1940 Berlin.  Otto and Anna Quangel drop postcards and leaflets in mailboxes and in public places protesting Hitler's government and the war.  They know what they are doing can and probably will result in their capture, torture, and death by the Gestapo.  They also know what they are doing is a very small disturbance in the larger world;  but they must do something.  After the death of their only son in the war, they have nothing to lose.

The daily atmosphere of Nazi rule is described so you feel the constriction of the limited choices, always on the edge of violence, every person had to make, every moment of every day.  Everyone is alone in a world where everyone is an informant.

Fallada stayed in Germany throughout the war though he was blacklisted by the Nazis and institutionalized for a time.  He reportedly felt he was something of a collaborator. Every Man Dies Alone was Fallada's last book.  He died before it was published.  The book was not translated into English and released until 2009, becoming a surprise success. With the wave of authoritarian nationalism and tactical cruelty by despots washing around the world right now, it is a difficult book to read though, perhaps, a necessary one.

We are, it seems, always a few years away from extermination camps in any society and I think I could make a reasonable case that, all my life, there was and is almost always attempted genocide happening somewhere in the world.

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Saudi Murder Suspect Trained in Offensive Spying

by Oui Mon Oct 29th, 2018 at 08:04:50 PM EST

See also my previous diary - Pegasus: Saudi Tracking Software for Dissidents.

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi murder suspect had spy training | BBC News |

Turkish media identified Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb as being part of a 15-member team of suspected Saudi agents who flew into and out of Istanbul on the day of Mr Khashoggi's disappearance from the city's Saudi consulate on 2 October.

He is said to have spent two years working in London, with a source describing him as a colonel in Saudi intelligence to US news network CNN. And now BBC Arabic can reveal he was trained how to use offensive spyware technology on behalf of the Saudi state.

The European surveillance expert described how Mr Mutreb spent two weeks on a course with him in 2011, learning how to use the technology his company was providing the Saudi government so that it could carry out targeted attacks on the phones and computers of its own citizens.

"The training involved things like infecting a computer from potential targets of interest for intelligence and extracting information, so digital evidence, information about this person of interest.

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Brexit in Northern Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Oct 25th, 2018 at 03:02:06 PM EST

Letter to the Editor, Irish Times.

A Chara,

Newton Emerson's article on Leo Varadker having a "tin ear" on N. Ireland is notable chiefly for the for the quality of the comments beneath it in your on-line edition. [Leo Varadkar continues to show a tin ear to the North, Opinion, 25/10/2018]

For all his criticism of the DUP, Newton remains of the view that Brexit is somehow just politics as usual, and the usual rules of politics should apply. But to quote WB Yeats, all has been changed, changed utterly, by Brexit.

Time was when Taoisigh had to tip toe around unionist sensitivities for fear of exacerbating a very dangerous situation. Bertie Ahern's finest achievement was his contribution to the peace process. He deserves a reprieve from political purgatory for that alone.

But the DUP's adoption of a pro Brexit policy in N. Ireland, against the wishes of 56% of it's electorate, is a full frontal attack on democracy, the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement, and all that is decent in Irish politics. To imagine it can now be business as usual in the aftermath is delusional.

Frankly, the DUP have now been written out of the script as far as the future of Ireland is concerned. Loyalists can continue to vote for them if they wish, but no one will take them seriously. What Sammy Wilson "thinks" is good for satirical and comedy columns only.

Mr. Varadker's job is to protect the interests of the people of Ireland from the very serious economic and political implications of Brexit. If that upsets some unionist or brexiteer sensitivities, then so be it. A "tin ear" can be useful in drowning out irrelevant noise. Certainly no one will take the DUP seriously outside its heartlands of north Antrim and east Belfast.

There will be no functioning N. Ireland Assembly or Executive while the current crop of DUP "leaders" are in power, and until Brexit is done and dusted, one way or the other. Not only will the DUP be sold down the river by Theresa May, they will be the laughing stock of everyone else.  

Leo Varadker can bank a few thousand extra votes every time the DUP excoriates him. Michael Martin [Leader of the opposition and Fianna Fail] must be green with envy.

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Dutch Media In Anti-semitic Row

by Oui Wed Oct 24th, 2018 at 06:22:29 PM EST

Unbelievable ... Dutch public television NOS published an article about the influence of George Soros. In the content it paraphrases the ugly criticism spewed by Austrian sources and the alt-right aligned with the conservatives of the GOP, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. Where is the sense of a moral compass? Journalism with a very ugly face ... just unbelievable!!

I do have criticism of George Soros and his support for the Colour Revolutions during the Clinton era, George Bush and the HRC/Obama administration. I do keep it on politics and policy, never about someone's race or ethnicity. I criticize the Jewish State of Israel and its policies, not the people living in the state founded in 1948.

George Soros: 'statesman without state' with a big finger in global politics | De Volkskrant |

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Pegasus: Saudi Tracking Software for Dissidents

by Oui Sat Oct 20th, 2018 at 07:23:05 AM EST

Saudis Used Israeli Spyware to Track Khashoggi Associate, Leading Dissident | Tikun Olam |

It's well known the the  leading spyware package bought by repressive regimes, intelligence agencies, and corporate malefactors is Pegasus, which was created by the Israeli hacking company, NSO Group.  Its development has allowed NSO to thrive financially and become an attractive  target for major corporate interests.

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Saudi Investigation: Deadly Fight at Consulate

by Oui Fri Oct 19th, 2018 at 11:37:54 PM EST

[Update-1] Official Saudi statement speaks of "hand-to-hand" fight, thus not a "chokehold".

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The Good Friday Agreement for slow learners

by Frank Schnittger Wed Oct 17th, 2018 at 09:42:59 PM EST

I don't like saying "I told you so" and I have a policy of not simply replicating stuff I have read elsewhere, so where do you begin when the Brexit negotiating process is panning out precisely as you expected? It's like watching a supposed thriller where every new twist has been so well flagged in advance it all gets boringly predictable. I have avoided Hollywood movies for years because the script always seems to follow the same formula to the point where you cannot identify with any of the characters and you just don't care what happens to them. The scriptwriters are just playing with your emotions and seeking to manipulate your fears.

And so we have Theresa May continuing to play out her role as the designated fall-girl, seeking to bring home a deal you just know will be rejected by the House of Commons. You have the EU Commission and Council playing out their role as the big, inflexible, bad, pack of wolves seeking to bully and disrespect the game and pugnacious Mrs. May. You have May continuing the fight even as some of her supposed warriors fall by the wayside - only to betray her by sniping at her from the ditches.

And you have the cantankerous Irish only itching for a fight and being as awkward as possible. Why can't everybody just be reasonable and get along? My sociology lecturers used to joke that "common sense" was rarely common and almost never sensible. What is obvious to some can be very difficult for others. What works in one context can be sheer madness in another.

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Collusion US Treasury Employee with BuzzFeed

by Oui Wed Oct 17th, 2018 at 06:53:21 PM EST

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