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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: 15,463

About Me

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

Journal Archives

Austria election: Far-right contender and rival to hold rallies

Source: BBC

Austria's far-right Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer and his rival, Green-backed Alexander Van der Bellen, are to hold final rallies ahead of a run-off vote.

Mr Hofer, 45, won last month's first round, but failed to avoid the run-off. If he wins on Sunday, Mr Hofer could become the EU's first far-right head of state, although Austria's president plays a largely ceremonial role... In the first round of voting, Mr Hofer secured 35% of the votes, while Mr Van der Bellen, polled 21%.

For the first time since World War Two, the candidates from Austria's two main parties - the Social Democrats and the People's Party - did not make it to the run-off. Both parties have governed Austria for decades - either alone or in coalition.

This is a big shake-up in Austrian politics, as the country has had a president from the centre-left or centre-right since 1945...

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36339063

Let me tell you. I know a lot about flying. I'm probably the greatest guy

alive with his own nice big (wink wink) plane with my name in big letters down the side.A lot of my friends have enjoyed rides on my plane.

This is a tragedy, at least for the non-Muslims, and if I can do anything about it once I am President, I will. But let me tell you, I think, and I know that my thinking is some of the best in the world, I think Muslims shouldn't be allowed to fly in planes at all. And I would ban carpets too. I will be a great, the greatest American President while running a great business empire at the same time and I will fix this, If I can, I will.

(With my apologies to the bereaved and others shocked, grieving).

Clapper: Campaigns are being hacked

The United States sees evidence that hackers, possibly working for foreign governments, are snooping on the presidential candidates, the nation’s intelligence chief said on Wednesday. Government officials are working with the campaigns to tighten security as the race for the White House intensifies.

The activity follows a pattern set in the last two presidential elections. Hacking was rampant in 2008, according to US intelligence officials, and both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were targets of Chinese cyber-attacks four years later. Despite that history, cyber experts say neither Donald Trump’s nor Hillary Clinton’s campaign networks are secure enough to eliminate the risk.

“We’ve already had some indications” of hacking, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said Wednesday at a cybersecurity event at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He said the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were helping educate the campaigns...

... Brian P Hale, Clapper’s director of public affairs, later attempted to clarify the remarks, saying: “We’re aware that campaigns and related organizations and individuals are targeted by actors with a variety of motivations – from philosophical differences to espionage – and capabilities – from defacements to intrusions. We defer to FBI for specific incidents.” ...


Superblocks to the rescue: Barcelona’s plan to give streets back to residents

... Barcelona’s new plan consists of creating big superilles through a series of gradual interventions that will repurpose existing infrastructure, starting with traffic management through to changing road signs and bus routes. Superblocks will be smaller than neighbourhoods, but bigger than actual blocks. This will first be applied to Eixample neighbourhood and others like Sant Martí, which largely follows the same grid pattern.

In Eixample, a superblock will consist of nine existing blocks of the grid. Car, scooter, lorry and bus traffic will then be restricted to just the roads in the superblock perimeters, and they will only be allowed in the streets in between if they are residents or providing local businesses, and at a greatly reduced speed of 10km/h (typically the speed limit across the city is 50km/h, and 30km/h in specific areas).

The objectives are ambitious; by implementing these strategies at once, the city wants to reduce car use by 21% over the next two years and increase mobility by foot, bike and public transport. Superblocks will be complemented by the introduction of 300km of new cycling lanes (there are currently around 100km), as well as an orthogonal bus network that has already been put in place, whereby buses only navigate a series of main thoroughfares. This will ensure, says Salvador Rueda, director of the city’s urban ecology agency and one of the drivers of the superblocks idea, that “anyone will be less than 300 metres from a bus stop at any time – and average waiting times will be of five minutes anywhere in the city ”. In addition, “it would be an equitable network in which one could go from any point A to point B with just one transfer in 95% of the cases. Like in a game of Battleship”...

... Private vehicles account for just 20% of total movements in the city today and yet they occupy 60% of roads. “We need to win the street back,” says Janet Sanz, city councillor for ecology, urbanism and mobility, who emphasised the need to encourage social cohesion, coexistence and human exchanges. Recently, she remembered the spirit of Jane Jacobs and her activism for the right to the city on the 100th anniversary of the writer and urbanist’s birth: “She proposed giving the street back to the neighbours. Today we work for that objective.”...

More: http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/may/17/superblocks-rescue-barcelona-spain-plan-give-streets-back-residents

Also: http://www.bcnecologia.net/

Does Donald Trump represent a step forward for climate change action?

... "My advice would be, while I’m a skeptic as well”, Trump energy honcho Kevin Cramer told ClimateWire last week, “he is a product of political populism, and political populism believes that there needs some addressing of climate change”.

Cramer, a North Dakota congressman, is as unlikely an advocate for the planet as Trump. Representing the heart of America’s shale boom – and now bust – he doesn’t stray far from the Republican line on global warming. He also rakes in handsome checks from the oil and gas industry, returning the favor by backing offshore drilling and tens of billions of dollars of investments in coal mining.

Cramer has not had a climate epiphany. He probably just looked at the data.

Nearly half of Republicans – and 72% of independents – say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who thinks climate change is a hoax. A Monmouth University poll found that two-thirds of Americans want to see their government take action on emissions. Today’s populism, it seems, includes a concern for the planet...

/... http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/16/donald-trump-energy-policy-climate-change

Crony Capitalism

... The essence of a corrupt state is “crony-capitalism”. It is the deployment of covert influence to subvert the disciplines of the market and revenue. It is bribery, tender-fixing, lobbying, tax-evading and otherwise abusing political power to secure individual or corporate gain... - http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/12/crony-capitalist-corruption-david-cameron-british-tax-havens-avoidance

Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when business cronyism and related self-serving behavior by businesses or businesspeople spills over into politics and government, or when self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals... - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crony_capitalism

UK: Fantastically crony-capitalist (Simon Jenkins)


... The essence of a corrupt state is “crony-capitalism”. It is the deployment of covert influence to subvert the disciplines of the market and revenue. It is bribery, tender-fixing, lobbying, tax-evading and otherwise abusing political power to secure individual or corporate gain. This week’s Economist carries a survey of the state of play in world crony-capitalism. It publishes a league table showing Britain’s record as appalling. It is the worst country in Europe, and 14th worst in the world – worse than France, Germany, America and Japan.

Nor does the index cover Britain’s role in oiling the wheels of crony-capitalism, through its supply of homes and tax havens to the global rich. It appears that the British establishment, Labour and Conservative, has sincerely believed that Britain is squeaky clean, as if in the same camp as Scandinavia, Germany and North America, rather than down with Switzerland, Luxembourg and Brazil.

Since the 1987 big bang, when Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson boldly smashed the old City cartels, London’s bankers, lawyers, accountants and consultants simply booked the same comfy seats on the gravy train. They gained privileged access to Westminster and Whitehall. Privatised utilities and transport oligopolies ran rings round regulators – as did BHS round the pensions police. Party financiers bought seats in the House of Lords, making Britain the only assembly anywhere whose membership is auctioned annually. There is no need to bribe the British establishment, as was once said of its press, “seeing what unbribed (it) will do”.

As with crony-capitalism so with tax avoidance and tax havens. For decades British governments have maintained offshore vehicles for rich people and corporations to evade their obligations to whatever they call society... Some $20-30 trillion is now estimated to be lurking in tax havens round the world, of which £9 trillion is from poor countries.... The loss of money from the world’s welfare states is astounding. Offshore finance is way beyond a minimal blip on the world economy. According to an Economist survey, 30% of global foreign investment is now channelled through havens, mostly British...


Drone killings: Legal case 'needs clarifying' (UK)


... Committee chairman and Labour MP Harriet Harman ... called for the UK government to lead the way internationally by defining a clear legal basis for action, and to make sure those who made decisions were held accountable.

"As the world faces the grey area between terrorism and war, there needs to be a new international consensus on when it is acceptable for a state to take a life outside of armed conflict," she said.

"Our government has said they're going to be targeting people in other parts of the world, but there's no independent scrutiny afterwards," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme...

... Clarification on drones was needed because the UK should abide by the rule of law, said Ms Harman, adding that those who killed people in strikes could later be open to a murder charge...


Indonesia / East Timor

... General Suharto and his deputies made it fairly obvious that they wanted the territory but not the people. They came horribly close to succeeding in this foul design. Ever since, there has been an argument over the precise extent of US complicity with the 1975 aggression. It was known that President Gerald Ford and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, were in Jakarta on December 6 of that year, the day before Indonesian air, land and naval forces launched the assault. Scholars and journalists have solemnly debated whether there was a "green light" from Washington.

Kissinger, who does not find room to mention East Timor even in the index of his three-volume memoir, has more than once stated that the invasion came to him as a surprise, and that he barely knew of the existence of the Timorese question. He was obviously lying. But the breathtaking extent of his mendacity has only just become fully apparent, with the declassification of a secret State Department telegram. The document, which has been made public by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, contains a verbatim record of the conversation among Suharto, Ford and Kissinger. "We want your understanding if we deem it necessary to take rapid or drastic action," Suharto opened bluntly. "We will understand and will not press you on the issue," Ford responded. "We understand the problem you have and the intentions you have." Kissinger was even more emphatic, but had an awareness of the possible "spin" problems back home. "It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly," he instructed the despot. "We would be able to influence the reaction if whatever happens, happens after we return…. If you have made plans, we will do our best to keep everyone quiet until the President returns home." Micromanaging things for Suharto, he added: "The President will be back on Monday at 2 pm Jakarta time. We understand your problem and the need to move quickly but I am only saying that it would be better if it were done after we returned." As ever, deniability supersedes accountability.

There came then the awkward question of weaponry. Indonesia’s armed forces, which had never yet lost a battle against civilians, were equipped with US-supplied matériel. But the Foreign Assistance Act forbade the use of such armaments except in self-defense. "It depends on how we construe it; whether it is in self-defense or is a foreign operation," Kissinger mused. (At a later meeting back at the State Department on December 18, the minutes of which have also been declassified, he was blunt about knowingly violating the statute. For a transcript of the minutes, see Mark Hertsgaard, "The Secret Life of Henry Kissinger," October 29, 1990.)

An even more sinister note was struck later in the conversation, when Kissinger asked Suharto if he expected "a long guerrilla war." The dictator replied that there "will probably be a small guerrilla war," while making no promise about its duration. Bear in mind that Kissinger has already urged speed and dispatch upon Suharto. Adam Malik, Indonesia’s foreign minister at the time, later conceded in public that between 50,000 and 80,000 Timorese civilians were killed in the first eighteen months of the occupation. These civilians were killed with American weapons, which Kissinger contrived to supply over Congressional protests, and their murders were covered up by American diplomacy, and the rapid rate of their murder was something that had been urged in so many words by an American Secretary of State. How is one to live with the shame of this? How is one to tolerate the continued easy and profiteering existence of such a man, who had no sooner left office than he went into business partnership with the same genocidal dictatorship he had helped arm and encourage? - http://www.thenation.com/article/kissingers-green-light-suharto/

Brazil's far right sees an opening

With less than a week until the Brazilian senate votes on the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, the question facing the nation is no longer whether the Workers’ party government will fall, but how far to the right the political pendulum will swing once it has fallen.

For Marco Feliciano – an ultra-conservative preacher-politician from the evangelical caucus – it cannot go far enough in reversing what he sees as the malign policies introduced since the left came to power in 2003. “For 13 years we have been anaesthetised. Now we will see the renaissance of hope in Brazil,” he told the Guardian. “I don’t just want the Workers’ party to go, I want it to disappear from history, to fall into extinction.”

Speaking in his parliamentary office in Brasília, the controversial Social Christian congressman said impeachment opens the door for a resurgent right – an alarming prospect for anyone on the left or in the centre who is worried about the polarisation of Brazilian politics. His comments reflect the growing influence of the “bullets, beef and Bible” (BBB) caucus, which aims to strengthen the military, expand agriculture and tighten restrictions on abortion, gay marriage and secular education. 

There is still a long way to go before that happens. In the short term, Vice-President Michel Temer is expected to form a centre-right administration for the 180 days of the senate’s deliberations on Rousseff’s impeachment. But longer term, conservatives like Feliciano feel they are well placed to expand their influence...


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