Ghost Dog's Journal
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Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 15,319
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 15,319
Brit gone native. Cooperative member. Ecology. Cartography. Programming. Music production.
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15 November 2012 Last updated at 17:49 GMT (BBC)
Foreign and defence ministers from five EU states have backed a proposed European mission to train Malian forces struggling against Islamist fighters. Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and France issued a statement in Paris endorsing the plan for Mali.
West African states intend to send a force to recapture northern Mali from al-Qaeda-linked Islamist groups... The proposal for the intervention is due to go before the UN Security Council for approval before the end of the year. The African Union has already backed the plan to send 3,300 troops under the banner of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas)...
... Nigeria's military chief Admiral Ola Ibrahim told the BBC that once the UN Security Council gives the green light for military intervention, Nigerian troops would be on the ground within one or two weeks. There would be fewer than 1,000 Nigerian soldiers in the Ecowas force, he said.
"What we agreed to is a situation where Malian forces will do most of the job securing their country," he said...
For background from the Malian/African point of view see: http://www.afrik-news.com/mali
AU wants UN approval for intervention force to fight insurgents in Mali
by Elissa Jobson, noviembre 16 2012, 09:45
ADDIS ABABA — THE African Union (AU) this week urgently sought the United Nations (UN) Security Council’s full support for a proposed intervention force to fight Islamist insurgents occupying northern Mali. The AU submitted a plan for military intervention in Mali to the UN secretary-general on Tuesday evening, well in advance of the 45-day deadline set by the UN on October 12. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said he hoped to see a Security Council resolution before the end of the year...
... The plan covers a six-month period, with a preparatory phase for training and the establishment of bases in Mali’s south, followed by combat operations in the north, Malian army sources said. The plan — developed by military experts from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the AU, UN, European Union and other partners — requires UN approval before it can be implemented...
... The AU has urged the Security Council to give its full support to the proposal and has called for the authorisation of an initial one-year mandate for the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (Afisma), the new name for the proposed military intervention force.
There is some disagreement as to when troops from Afisma would be ready to be deployed. Ecowas commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told reporters on Tuesday at a conference in Paris: "The force is quite ready. When the UN gives the green light, the deployment will begin immediately."
But UN special envoy Romano Prodi said that Afisma would not be deployed immediately, saying, "You need a long time to prepare a military operation." Security experts and observers agree with Mr Prodi’s assessment, saying that it may take months before a force is ready to retake the north...
Diplomats Hint At European Union Military Intervention In Mali
BY Jacey Fortin | November 15 2012 10:23 PM
The European Union is warming up to the idea of sending its own troops to Mali, a West African country where Islamist insurgents have taken over a swath of land the size of France...
... “We encourage our partners to enhance efforts for a political solution to the Malian crisis, as well as to contribute to a possible training mission to support the Malian armed forces, in line with the Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions of the 15th of October,” said the statement. That Oct. 15 council report requested that “work on planning a possible CSDP (Common Security and Defense Policy) military operation be pursued and extended as a matter of urgency, in particular by developing a crisis management concept relating to the reorganization and training of the Malian defense forces.”
In other words, five powerful EU nations have just given a vague sign of approval to a tentative proposal to send troops to combat the insurgency in Mali.
This seems to contradict statements from France, Mali's former colonial master and a European leader on Africa policy. As recently as Tuesday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that French or European direct military intervention was out of the question. As for air support, neither Europe nor France will intervene militarily," he said then, according to the AP. "When we say no troops on the ground, that means `troops in the air' too ... But bringing in information, intelligence is another thing."
Le Drian may be drawing a distinction between trainers and combat troops; the former may be still on the table while the latter are not. The details remain murky, as no particular plan has been approved. That will be discussed further at a Nov. 19 conference of European foreign and defense ministers...
Edit: Note on the EU's CSDP:
The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), formerly known as the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), is a major element of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union (EU) and is the domain of EU policy covering defence and military aspects. The ESDP was the successor of the European Security and Defence Identity under NATO, but differs in that it falls under the jurisdiction of the European Union itself, including countries with no ties to NATO.
Formally, the Common Security and Defence Policy is the domain of the European Council, which is an EU institution, whereby the heads of member states meet. Nonetheless, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, also plays a significant role. In her position as Chairman of the external relations configuration of the Council, she prepares and examines decisions to be made before they are brought to the Council... - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Security_and_Defence_Policy
See also CSDP web: - http://www.consilium.europa.eu/eeas/security-defence?lang=en
Posted by Ghost Dog | Fri Nov 16, 2012, 05:57 AM (0 replies)
Posted by Ghost Dog | Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:35 AM (0 replies)
Large scale trade union mobilisation for jobs and solidarity and against austerity
In response to an appeal by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), a large-scale mobilisation will be held across Europe on 14 November. The aim of this European day of action and solidarity is to call upon Europe’s leaders to demonstrate their determination to really get to grips with the deterioration in employment and to respond to the growing social anxiety felt by Europe’s citizens. Austerity is a total dead end, and must be abandoned. Social protection and wages can no longer be sacrificed. This is a social emergency, and it is time to listen to what the citizens and workers have to say, and to change course.
The day of action on 14 November will take various forms: for example, there will be strikes in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. For the first time in its history, an ETUC day of action will include simultaneous strikes in four countries. Strikes are not the only type of action involved. Demonstrations will be held in France and in some Eastern countries (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Romania).
This 14 November is also a day of solidarity. Many countries will be holding actions to show their solidarity with the countries which are facing the brutality of the austerity measures and their consequences (Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands etc.)...
... Approximately 40 trade union organisations from 23 countries will be involved in the European day of action and solidarity.
“By sowing austerity, we are reaping recession, rising poverty and social anxiety”, argues Bernadette Ségol, ETUC General Secretary. “In some countries, people’s exasperation is reaching a peak. We need urgent solutions to get the economy back on track, not stifle it with austerity. Europe’s leaders are wrong not to listen to the anger of the people who are taking to the streets. The Troika can no longer behave so arrogantly and brutally towards the countries which are in difficulty. They must urgently address the issues of jobs and social fiscal justice and they must stop their attacks on wages, social protection and public services. The ETUC is calling for a social compact for Europe with a proper social dialogue, an economic policy that fosters quality jobs, and economic solidarity among the countries of Europe. We urgently need to change course”.
14 November 2012 - 07H30 AFP - Protesters bristling over austerity cuts launch a Europe-wide string of rallies and strikes Wednesday, pouring into streets, refusing to work and grounding more than 700 flights. General strikes in Spain and Portugal will spearhead the day of action called by European unions and joined by activists as anger over governments' tight-fisted policies boils over...
... The impact of strike may be undermined by legislation requiring a minimum service in both Spain and Portugal, but airlines have nevertheless warned of a large number of cancellations. Iberia, Iberia Express, Air Nostrum, Vueling, Air Europa and easyJet cut more than 600 flights including some 250 international routes. Ryanair said no flights had been scrapped yet. Portugal's TAP said it was grounding more than 160 flights, most of them international...
... Short of taking full strike action, unions and activists in other European countries say they, too, plan to support the "Day of Action and Solidarity" against austerity and in favour of jobs. Union-led rallies are being called across France, Belgium and in Poland, where workers decry "social and wage-dumping" in their country.
High-speed Thalys rail services between Belgium and Germany have also been cancelled for the day...
El País Madrid 13 NOV 2012 - 19:54 CET - Spain was readying itself Tuesday for its second national strike against the government’s austerity drive in less than a year, as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he would stick by his policies...
... Rajoy said the country faced further reforms and “many battles” with a view to restoring the economy. “The Spanish economy will grow again in 2014,” he said. In a speech delivered in Valencia, Rajoy made no direct reference to the stoppage, but said: “There is no room for easy remedies, miraculous measures and useless short cuts.”...
... The unions acknowledged adhesion to the strike could be less than hoped for because of the tough financial situation of many families whose members are still in work, but expected a massive turnout to protests organized for later in the day.
The Interior Ministry said it had ordered police to move against incidents of “violent picketing.”...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:16 AM (1 replies)
Chinese leaders ended a key closed-door conclave on Sunday with a decision to formally expel disgraced politician Bo Xilai from the Communist Party, in a meeting which also promoted two senior military men and approved the party constitution's amendment.
The secretive four-day meeting of 365 senior party officials ratified an earlier decision to expel Bo, former Chongqing party boss, as well as Liu Zhijun, one-time railway minister, sacked last year for "serious disciplinary violations", state news agency Xinhua said.
Bo and Liu can now be expected to face criminal charges and a trial.
The party plenum comes just days before the opening of a congress in Beijing on November 8 that will usher in a generational leadership change, which has been overshadowed by a scandal with Bo, who had once been a contender for top office himself...
... Bo's ouster has exposed deep rifts in the party between his leftist backers, who are nostalgic for the revolutionary era of Mao Zedong, and reformers, who advocate for faster political and economic reforms.
The letter, carried on the far-left Chinese-language website "Red China" and addressed to the parliament's standing committee, says the party is fuelling doubts about the accusations against Bo by refusing to discuss them publicly.
"What is the reason provided for expelling Bo Xilai? Please investigate the facts and the evidence," says the letter. "Please announce to the people evidence that Bo Xilai will be able to defend himself in accordance with the law."
Parliament and its members are there to provide oversight and make laws, not to "act as a rubber stamp" for attacks on people for personal reasons by political factions, it added.
Since Bo was ousted in March, he has not been seen in public and has not been allowed to answer the accusations against him. At a news conference days before his removal, Bo rejected as "filth" and "nonsense" the then unspecified allegations against him and his family...
China's insecurities laid bare
... Specifically, Chinese citizens are increasingly troubled by inequality and corruption they view as endemic in their country. Pew notes, "... the side effects of rapid economic growth, including the gap between rich and poor, rising prices, pollution, and the loss of traditional culture are major concerns, and there are also increasing worries about political corruption."
Given the events of the past month, concerns over corruption seem entirely reasonable - allegations that Chinese Premier Wen Jiaboa and family have squirreled away almost US$2.7 billion in assets became public came hard on a Bloomberg account of vast wealth linked to the family of president-to-be Xi Jinping...
... The Communist Party knows its history: one of the many compelling reasons it originally came to power over the Kuomintang was the latter's wide spread corruption, a burden born by rural Chinese in particular. Today's leaders in China know that they can ill afford to turn a blind eye forever on corruption; it took down their predecessors, and it could also curtail their leadership.
Income inequality remains a major source of insecurity. The Pew report notes "... there is a general consensus in China that the economic gains of recent years have not benefited everyone equally." In what is coming to be a common refrain not only in China, but in the United States as well, Pew found "81% agree with the statement the 'rich just get richer while the poor get poorer,' and 45% completely agree." (emphasis original) This has obvious implications to the future of economic reform in China.
If the next group of China's leadership is not able to illustrate how additional capitalist reforms empower the individual and set in motion greater economic equality, it will be difficult for the trajectory of China's anticipated reform to match what the West has long hoped to see. Among the many insecurities touched on by the Chongqing Model and its emphasis on revisiting older tried and true Socialist policies and mantras was the nostalgia Chinese feel for a day when they felt more secure and, while still poor, felt more equal with one another. Pew found that "While 45% agree with the statement 'most people can succeed if they are willing to work hard,' one-in-three disagrees." ...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sun Nov 4, 2012, 12:31 PM (1 replies)
...(O)ur mystification of the secret ballot is one of the strange ways in which we treat our nation's voting system with truly weird magical thinking – much like the magical thinking (about which I have written here) that often attends global warming: a defiant, seven-year-old's refusal to connect point A and point B. By now, reams of solid reporting have documented the aberrations, high jinks, missing hard drives, voting machines that weirdly revert to one candidate, voting machines owned by friends of the candidate of one party, and other aspects of systematic corruption that attend America's voting.
The dogged and deeply patriotic Mark Crispin Miller has meticulously documented masses more of these examples – notably in the last election in Ohio – in his masterful Harper's essay last month, "None Dare Call It Stolen."
But this is what is weird about the way we are asked to think about the vote: as if nothing could ever ever ever go wrong with it, and as if it is crazy to entertain the notion that it might. To even raise the issue, with solid documentation, as many reporters and citizens have found out, is to risk immediate mockery – as Miller notes, citing 2004 headlines: "Election Paranoia Surfaces: Conspiracy Theorists Call Results Rigged," chuckled the Baltimore Sun on 5 November; "Internet Buzz on Vote Fraud is Dismissed," proclaimed the Boston Globe on 10 November; "Latest Conspiracy Theory – Kerry Won – Hits the Ether," the Washington Post chortled on 11 November.
Meanwhile, solid reporting on the war on voting, and on the corruption of the voting infrastructure, continues to mount, as in the Rolling Stone piece this summer on the GOP's "war on voting". and the Huffington Post notes the eyebrows raised when a pro-Romney company buys a stake in the company that makes the machines that count our votes.
Well, as a student of closing societies, I can tell you that it is crazy to ask Americans to have pure faith that the system is incorruptible, and to ask them to just drop their votes into a black hole and trust in the Lord – or Diebold. If you look at weak democracies, the oligarchies that have taken undue control of them always seek to tamper with the vote. It is important for oligarchs to have elections to give their guy a veneer of legitimacy – and important for the vote always to turn out "their way". Indeed, something that is never reported in major news media here is that former President Carter's voting accountability organization sees America's system as relatively flawed and corrupted compared with the systems of many other nations. That is a situation that would typically bring observers from aid organizations like his to our polling places to help us count our vote. (See what happened to foreign poll observers in Miller's Harpers story who tried to watch the vote in America.)...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Nov 3, 2012, 02:59 PM (5 replies)
At the moment, we have rain bubbling up the African coast from the tropics:
Overnight steady rain over the oriental islands, the first rain this year. There was little rainfall last winter so we are in an eighteen-month long drought here.
Fuerteventura, Sept 24 2012
Rain falls on arid island
Palm trees drink, birds preen
Shoots sprout, wet petals
Posted by Ghost Dog | Mon Sep 24, 2012, 05:47 AM (0 replies)
likely heading next, if it doesn't double back towards the South-West, East or North-East towards Portugal and/or Spain as a very strong post-tropical storm.
But it could head South-East towards these islands.
At the moment, on this island, all is calm and still, very warm, humid, airless. The sea water is also very warm. It would be nice to receive at least a band of torrential rain to refresh this arid island for the first time since last winter.
It is of note, given the Arctic situation, that we do have a large persistent oscillation of the jet stream looping down this way right now.
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Sep 22, 2012, 09:08 AM (1 replies)
Video discussion: http://rt.com/programs/crosstalk/das-europa-germany-europe/
Separate well-informed commentary, eg:
... What we are witnessing is a potentially cataclysmic conjuncture of the continuing crisis of modern finance capitalism and the inherent defects of the eurozone as originally conceived.
There are many paradoxes and ironies about this crisis. The whole idea behind the European Union was to ensure that there were no more wars in Europe. Closely associated with this aim was the desire to avoid the levels of unemployment and social unrest that caused the rise of extremist rightwing political parties. (Does a day go by without a reference to Hitler in the press or on the radio?)
In championing the exchange rate mechanism and then the eurozone, the French wanted to ensure that economic policy in Europe was not dominated by the Germans. Yet the latter continue to be more obsessed by folk memories of Weimar inflation than by the unemployment that led to extremism.
This is a battle that has certainly not been won by the French – indeed, when my friend Jean-Claude Trichet became president of the European Central Bank, he was widely accused of having "gone native".
The result of the French election shows that François Hollande is now being expected to take up the cudgels. Optimists – there are still some around – point to some apparent concessions by German policymakers on the subject of the asymmetry of eurozone economic policy. For instance, if southern members of the eurozone are ever going to narrow the gap in their price competitiveness with Germany, then the Germans should actively aim at a higher inflation rate. There is also wider recognition of the need for major infrastructure projects...
... The jabbing fingers are furiously angry ones on the streets of Athens where German flags are burnt and the newspapers dress Ms Merkel in Nazi uniform. The jabbing continues in editorials in the American press, which charges Berlin with being single-handedly responsible for taking the world economy to the brink of the abyss. The jabbing is dressed in the language of diplomacy at this weekend's G8 summit where Barack Obama, François Hollande and David Cameron have ganged up on the German chancellor.
The American Democrat, British Conservative and French Socialist may not agree on much else, but on this, at least, they are together. It is one second to midnight in the eurozone because a recalcitrant and miserly Germany has refused to step up to its historic responsibility to do what is necessary to save the single currency. If the eurozone implodes, and carries away the global economy with it, the buck will stop in Berlin.
Let us begin by acknowledging that Germany does deserve a big helping of blame for the very scary state of the eurozone. Berlin shares, principally with Paris, responsibility for the original sin. That was to construct a badly designed and over-stretched single currency area containing contradictions that would explode under stress. In the pursuit of a European ideal, Germany forgot its usual prudence when Berlin nodded and winked at the admission of countries – Greece being the most extreme example – for whom euro membership was not only inappropriate but very dangerous.
It is fair enough also to observe that Germany has repeatedly failed to offer leadership that rises to the scale of the present crisis. When Germany has led, it has not always been in a well-judged direction. The austerity programme imposed on the Greeks as the price for continued membership of the euro was too draconian to be implemented in a democracy. The voters would surely revolt and they duly have.
The European Central Bank has been denied the necessary firepower to get ahead of events because the Germans wouldn't allow it. Ms Merkel has never been a very easy partner for her peer group. One of Gordon Brown's officials who had a ringside seat during the negotiations at the London G20 describes her thus: "Incredibly stubborn. Immovable. She simply digs in." One of David Cameron's team says dealing with the German chancellor is "like trying to squeeze blood from the proverbial stone"...
... Yet financing isn’t enough. Italy and, in particular, Spain must be offered hope - an economic environment in which they have some reasonable prospect of emerging from austerity and depression. Realistically, the only way to provide such an environment would be for the central bank to drop its obsession with price stability, to accept and indeed encourage several years of 3 per cent or 4 per cent inflation in Europe (and more than that in Germany).
Both the central bankers and the Germans hate this idea, but it’s the only plausible way the euro might be saved. For the past two-and-a-half years, European leaders have responded to crisis with half-measures that buy time, yet they have made no use of that time. Now time has run out...
... And here I offer only a few (moderately phrased) English-language sources for your consideration.
Germany, or should I say German capitalists, like the mythical "1%" is growing richer and more powerful out of this situation, at the expense of the rest of us.
This is not what European Community and/or Union was intended to achieve.
BTW, and for the record, there is no sign here in Spain of anything like any "bank runs" happening now, in spite of what the very shallow, irresponsible and dishonest anglo-american media is psy-opping, and/or attempting to provoke/achieve, probably just for thrills and/or so that some so-called journalists and editors and similar hangers-on and "fellow travellers" get to keep their so-called jobs for a little while longer...
I call bullshit. Fuck us? Fuck you.
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sun May 20, 2012, 04:41 PM (47 replies)