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Ghost Dog

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 14,839

About Me

Brit gone native. Cooperative member. Ecology. Cartography. Programming. Music production.

Journal Archives

Tony Blair: the former PM for hire (Guardian)

Emails show oil firm questioned complex structure of Blair’s company, and reveal his closeness to Chinese leadership

Revealed: Blair courted Chinese leaders for Saudi prince’s oil firm

Randeep Ramesh
Thursday 28 April 2016 22.00 BST


When Jonathan Powell, the gatekeeper to the corporate empire of Tony Blair, sat down to lunch with the former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Faisal Al Turki in June 2010 he could not have known how lucrative it would turn out to be for the former British prime minister.

As the high-profile mediator of the stuttering peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Blair had to be careful not to mix business with pleasure. However, one of those lunching with Powell at the annual “global mediator’s retreat”, organised by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was looking to make a deal.

Nawaf Obaid, a security analyst who accompanied Prince Faisal, emailed Powell a week later, according to documents seen by the Guardian, with a suggestion to work with his brother Tarek’s company, PetroSaudi, which he “co-founded and co-owns with Prince Turki bin Abdullah, son of King Abdullah”.

“They have several projects that are working and I think it would a very interesting perspective to see if we could establish a strategic partnership with former PM Tony Blair and yourself,” he wrote...

... Blair’s team sold the former prime minister as someone who could help “unlock situations which might otherwise be blocked by political factors” in places such as China and Africa. PetroSaudi was interested in Beijing’s appetite for oil and how Blair’s firm could help...


Could Italy be the unlikely saviour of Project Europe?

... Italy is resuming its historic role as a source of Europe’s best ideas and leadership in politics, and also, most surprisingly, in economics. Draghi’s transformation of the ECB into the world’s most creative and proactive central bank is the clearest example of this. The enormous programme of quantitative easing that Draghi pushed through, against German opposition, has saved the euro by circumventing the Maastricht Treaty’s rules against monetising or mutualising government debts.

Last month, Draghi became the first central banker to take seriously the idea of helicopter money – the direct distribution of newly created money from the central bank to eurozone residents. Germany’s leaders have reacted furiously and are now subjecting Draghi to nationalistic personal attacks. Less visibly, Italy has also led a quiet rebellion against the pre-Keynesian economics of the German government and the European commission. In EU councilsand again at this month’s International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington, DC, Pier Carlo Padoan, Italy’s finance minister, presented the case for fiscal stimulus more strongly and coherently than any other EU leader.

More important, Padoan has started to implement fiscal stimulus by cutting taxes and maintaining public spending plans, in defiance of German and EU commission demands to tighten his budget. As a result, consumer and business confidence in Italy have rebounded to the highest level in 15 years, credit conditions have improved, and Italy is the only G7 country expected by the IMF to grow faster in 2016 than 2015 (albeit still at an inadequate 1% rate).

Padoan has more recently created an imaginative public-private partnership to finance a desperately needed recapitalization of Italy’s banks. And he has launched his initiative without waiting for approval from ECB and EU officials, who blocked an earlier “bad bank” plan under German pressure. Financial markets immediately rewarded Italy for its defiance, with the share price of the country’s biggest bank, Unicredit, jumping by 25% in three days.

Italy’s increasingly assertive resistance to German economic dogmas may not be surprising: The country has suffered from almost continuous recession since joining the euro. Moreover, Padoan, who was formerly the OECD’s chief economist, is the only G-7 finance minister with professional economics training. He understands better than anyone that misguided fiscal and monetary policies have been the underlying cause of Europe’s economic underperformance, and are largely responsible for the political tensions threatening to destroy the EU...


Free after six years, what now for Basque separatist leader Arnaldo Otegi?

... Otegi, who joined Eta as a teenager and was later imprisoned for kidnapping, is credited with playing a pivotal role in persuading the group to lay down its weapons and pursue independence by peaceful means. Among those who had called for his release were Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former Uruguayan president José Mujica and the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, to whom Otegi has been compared for his peacebuilding efforts. He joined Adams in Dublin last weekend for the party’s annual conference and to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising...

... “It seems to me that for many years, Eta’s violence provided a way for the Spanish state to cover up all the country’s problems,” he said. “I am convinced that there are certain sectors within the Spanish state that wouldn’t mind some low-level violence that would allow them to find an enemy and cover up all the problems: them and us.”

Had Eta not renounced the armed struggle in 2011, he said, the political landscape might have looked very different now. Many of the corruption scandals currently squeezing the PP might never have come to light and the collapse of the traditional two-party model that has brought Spain to an enduring political impasse might never have occurred, he said...

... Today, Otegi recognises that he and others may have been better off adopting a more Catalan approach to independence. “They have a far more advanced independence process. I would say it’s a matter of political culture and cultural DNA. I don’t know if we Basques are more impulsive, more passionate or whether maybe our country has suffered so much that we’ve sometimes been driven by passion rather than reason...”

/... http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/29/free-after-six-years-but-what-now-for-arnaldo-otegi

Obama's Legacy

I'd like to get some forward-looking discussion on the parts of President Obama's foreign and security policy legacy listed here and implications for future policy.

Since rhe source is a reader's comment on the Economist article on Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia there shouldn't be a copyright issue.


Connect The Dots
Apr 21st, 20:21


-Opened up Iran to normalized diplomatic relations and trade. And avoided war entanglement and another Mideast War in Iran.
-Denuclearized Iran.
-De-fanged the Syrian Regime in the Axis of Evil. They are literally on the ropes.
-The three of the four original nations of the Axis of Evil: Iran, Iraq, and Syria have been pacified against causing free range world terror. North Korea remains the exception. But all are in throes of destruction or bankrupted with curtailed international activities.
-Eased the Muslim Brotherhood from power after stealing the Egyptian Revolution.
-Withdraw from Iraq.
-Withdraw from Afghanistan.
-Light involvement with Air War in Libya with easy disengagement.
-Kept American troops out of Mali.
-Stayed away from the Syrian Civil War Catastrophe.
-Enabled Fracking Technology that has allowed America to disengage from Arab Oil and Arab Politics.
-By Energy Exports and saving on military deployments, Obama has balanced the budget deficit and increased trade exports.
-NSA surveillance has prevented Jihad Terror attacks on American Soil successfully since 9/11.
-Decreased World Terror from better intelligence. All terrorists are more interested in Syria anyway.
-Capped up Somali Pirates with collaborative multilateral Naval action.
-Has allowed the Arabs self determination and independence. And forced them to face hard reality. It is a mess, but it is an Arab mess, owned by the Arabs.
-Made weapons grade radioactive isotopes more secure and nearly impossible to obtain by rogue terror groups. Made nuclear disarmament a glamorous top Head of State Issue as the Washington Nuclear Security Council with 130 world leaders demonstrate. Proof: Jihadists have never succeeded in unleashing an atomic bomb despite thousands of civilian bombs detonated.
-Removed "America as a Scapegoat" for all the World's Problems. Syria is a wake up call.
-Take away the Muslim World, and the World has never seen such a Period of Peace and Prosperity. There is record Low Conflict, low historical violence. Outside of the Islamic world it has never been safer. And commerce has never been more global and integrated.
It is a New Global Renaissance.
And Obama has been a major change agent.


Is the U.S. Backing A Coup In Brazil (Democracy Now)?

In DU Latin America Grouo.

Roy Cohn, the lawyer who.influenced Donald Trump to turn the tabloids into a soapbox

Donald Trump is a man who likes to think he has few equals. But once upon a time, he had a mentor: Roy Cohn, a notoriously harsh lawyer who rose to prominence in the mid-1950s alongside the communist-baiting senator Joseph McCarthy. His tactics would often land him in the papers, but Cohn was unafraid of being slimed by the press – he used it to his advantage. A devil-may-care-as-long-as-it-gets-a-headline attitude was Cohn’s trademark in life. Trump, in our time, has made it his.

His careful manipulation of negative attention is something that Trump noticed immediately when the two met in 1973. Trump and his father had just been sued for allegedly discriminating against black people in Trump’s built-and-managed houses in Brooklyn, and sought out Cohn’s counsel. Among other things, Cohn advised that Trump should “tell them to go to hell”. Cohn was hired, and one of his first acts as Trump’s new lawyer was to file a $100m countersuit that was quickly dismissed by the court. But it made the papers.

This was the beginning of a long and close relationship. Trump relied on Cohn for most of the legal matters during a particularly tricky decade. Cohn drew up the pre-nuptial contract between Donald and Ivana when they married in 1977 – a famously stingy contract that only gave Ivana $20,000 a year...

/... http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/20/roy-cohn-donald-trump-joseph-mccarthy-rosenberg-trial

There are surely many of all sexes,

but probably mostly, some of whom hold, perhaps with good reason, resentful feelings towards men, all men, women, who support Ms. Clinton for viscerally sexist reasons, boston bean.

Democratic socialism works well

in a well-regulated open market economy because it fosters the long-term interests of the majority of the people (including social, cultural & environmental interests), enabling them to supply to and make purchases in that market.

Corporate socialism disables people and exponentially consumes everything.

Damn right. Eg., no nuclear power station operator is, according to the accounts, insured

properly to cover possible cost consequences of serious cockups. Nor is the waste product safe storage &/recycle phase properly costed.

... Not to mention the Security bill...

Thanks, Boss. Occupying France (& beyond...). La Vanguardia


Place de la Republique in Paris. It's half past ten p.m. March 36. The  Nuit Debout (night stand) movement was born on 31 that month and has since imposed its own calendar. There are several thousand people and the number is increasing as the days pass. In sixty cities, similar movements; horizontal, assemblarian, peaceful and markedly social have been or are being created. In some French cities there are a handful of activists; in other hundreds, thousands in Paris, but everywhere the matter is growing. The movement's hashtag has grown from 1,000 to more than 23,000 followers in a week. And two or three times a week (yesterday for the sixth time in the whole country) there are demonstrations, some very numerous, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of young people and trade unionists in two hundred cities and towns across France against the Government's labour law, cutting workers' rights on behalf of the ideology that collapsed with the bankruptcy of the casino in 2008 but which continues to prevail.

The intuition of this movement began as a buzz that circulated in the literary circles of the left. Many interview respondents expressed timidity along with the impression that French society could explode any day.

The French is a national anguish of 30 years. A cross anguish appreciated in social movements not identified, such as the bonnets rouges of Brittany - a kind of modern jacquerie - and even conservative initiatives in line with the US Tea Party such as Manif pour Tous, and also in the over-the-top vote for the Front NationalThe challenge for the left was to collect and articulate that diffuse national anguish and insert it into the French historical series: 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871, 1944 (program of the National Council of the Resistance), 1968, and so on. What in Germany (country of failed revolutions) would be completely impossible, the French social tradition makes thinkable. A certain timidity was to be observed, weighed down by the typical Parisian fear of intellectual ridicule on mistaking their desires for reality, but there it was. And in February came Merci Patron.

The social documentary about the fate of two unemployed from a company owned by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, directed by François Ruffin, a journalist from the provinces (Amiens), struck a chord. His message was a "yes we can", humorously. More than 200,000 people have seen since February this irreverent Michael Moore-style documentary, and all left the theater saying the same thing: "We have to do something." The foolish Government labour bill acted as a catalyst. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. La Nuit Debout comes from there. Since late February Ruffin and Fakir magazine (circulation 7,000 copies) spread the idea of the occupation of public spaces...


Plaza de la República de París. Son las diez y media de la noche del 36 de marzo. El movimiento Nuit Debout (noche en pie) nació el 31 de ese mes e impone desde entonces su propio calendario. Hay varios miles de personas y su número va en aumento conforme pasan los días. En una sesentena de ciudades se han creado, o se está creando, movimientos similares; horizontales, asamblearios, pacíficos ymarcadamente sociales. En algunas ciudades francesas son un puñado de activistas, en otras centenares, en París miles, pero en todas partes el asunto va a más. Suhashtag ha pasado de 1.000 a más de 23.000 seguidores en una semana. Y dos o tres veces por semana (ayer por sexta vez en el conjunto del país) hay manifestaciones, algunas muy numerosas, que movilizan a centenares de miles de jóvenes y sindicalistas, en doscientas ciudades y localidades de toda Francia,contra el proyecto de ley laboral del Gobierno, un nuevo recorte de derechos en nombre de la ideología que se hundió con la quiebra del casino de 2008 pero que continúa imponiéndose.

La intuición de este movimiento comenzó como un runrún que circulaba en los cenáculos de la izquierda. Muchos entrevistados expresaban tímidamente desde hace tiempo la impresión de que la sociedad francesa podía estallar cualquier día.

La de Francia es una angustia nacional de 30 años. Una angustia transversal que se apreciaba en movimientos sociales no identificados, como el de los bonnets rouges de Bretaña –una especie de jacquerie moderna– e incluso en iniciativas conservadoras en la línea del Tea Party de Estados Unidos como la Manif pour Tous, y también en el voto descarriado al ultraderechista Frente Nacional. El desafío de la gauche era recoger, articular, esa angustia nacional difusa e insertarla en la serie histórica francesa: 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871, 1944 (programa del Consejo Nacional de la Resistencia), 1968, etcétera. Lo que en Alemania (país de revoluciones fallidas) sería completamente imposible, la tradición social francesa lo hace pensable. La de los observadores era una impresión tímida, lastrada por ese miedo del intelectual parisino a hacer el ridículo tomando sus deseos por realidad, pero ahí estaba. Y en febrero llegó Merci Patron.

El documental social sobre el destino de dos parados de una empresa de Bernard Arnault, el hombre más rico de Francia, realizado por François Ruffin, un periodista de provincias (de Amiens), tocó fibra sensible. Su mensaje era un “sí se puede” en clave de humor. Más de 200.000 personas han visto desde febrero ese documental gamberro al estilo Michael Moore, y todas salían del cine diciendo lo mismo: “Hay que hacer algo”. El insensato proyecto de ley laboral del Gobierno sirvió de catalizador. Fue la gota que colmó el vaso. La Nuit Debout viene de ahí. Desde finales de febrero Ruffin y su revista Fakir (7.000 ejemplares de tirada) barajaban la idea de la ocupación de espacios públicos....

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