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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: 15,429

About Me

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

Journal Archives

After the EU vote, it's time for some clear thinking on trade (Joseph Stiglitz)

...The benefits of trade and economic integration between the UK and EU are mutual, and if the EU took seriously its belief that closer economic integration is better, its leaders would seek to ensure the closest ties possible under the circumstances. But Jean-Claude Juncker, the architect of Luxembourg’s massive corporate tax avoidance schemes and now president of the European commission, is taking a hard line: “Out means out.”

That kneejerk reaction is perhaps understandable, given that Juncker may be remembered as the person who presided over the EU’s initial stage of dissolution. He argues that, to deter other countries from leaving, the EU must be uncompromising, offering the UK little more than what it is guaranteed under World Trade Organization agreements.

In other words, Europe is not to be held together by its benefits, which far exceed the costs. Economic prosperity, the sense of solidarity, and the pride of being a European are not enough, according to Juncker. No, Europe is to be held together by threats, intimidation, and fear.

That position ignores a lesson seen in both the Brexit vote and America’s Republican party primary: large portions of the population have not been doing well. The neoliberal agenda of the last four decades may have been good for the top 1%, but not for the rest. I had long predicted that this stagnation would eventually have political consequences. That day is now upon us...


Well, duh. Blair illegally invaded Iraq because... Special Relationship

... Once more, this answer asks us to accept that a leader can change utterly, a metamorphosis that psychiatrists would struggle to explain(*). Here was a pragmatic leader who had always navigated a third way around challenges, who had built up a broad base of support and consistently reminded his party that nothing could be done without winning elections. Was he willing to blow everything on the basis of a suddenly acquired passion for Iraq and the Middle East? This also makes no sense.

The answer to the mystery is rooted in a political context, one ignored by previous investigations and one that will almost certainly be underplayed by Chilcot. The first part of the answer is to ask the right question. It is not the one that misleadingly opens this column. Blair never had to answer the question: should the UK invade Iraq? He had to answer a different one: should I support President Bush who has decided he wants to remove Saddam Hussein?

Given Blair’s political past and character there was always only going to be one answer to that question. Blair had been brought up politically in the 1980s when Labour lost elections partly because it was seen as “soft” on defence and anti-US. When Blair came to power in 1997 his words outside No 10 were as much about a rejection of his party’s 1980s past as they were about the future. “We were elected as New Labour. We will govern as New Labour,” he declared revealingly and defensively.

US presidents did not approve of 1980s Labour. New Labour would be close to US presidents. At the start of his second term in 2001, before the attacks on September 11, Blair told visitors to No 10 that one of his second-term objectives was to prove that a Labour prime minister could work with a Republican president of the US. Brought up on defeat he was neurotically worried that the Conservatives were forming close ties with Republicans in Washington. In his conviction that New Labour must be different he moved towards his doom...


(*) I can explain it: if not already psychopathic, power tends to corrupt the holder and/or drive them mad.

UK's proposed corporation tax cut will be blow to Northern Ireland (& the Republic)

The UK is set to dramatically slash corporation tax rates to woo businesses deterred by Brexit — just as Northern Ireland is preparing to cut its own rate.

While the move places the UK in direct competition with the Republic for vital foreign direct investment, it will scupper Northern Ireland’s chances of attracting investment after the rate here falls.

Chancellor George Osborne has revealed plans to aggressively cut the tax to less than 15% as he outlined his plan to galvanise the British economy.

This would take Great Britain close to the 12.5% corporation tax rate which has been a cornerstone of the Republic’s economy and helped attract major employers including Apple, Pfizer and Google...


The ICC is prevented by the USA from applying International Criminal Law

to cases of Illegal Invasion, although this is very much the ICC's jurisdiction.

See this DU thread.

Surely, a UK High Court can put this, um, presumed right honourable gentleman on trial for this, the Supreme Crime, as the Nuremberg Trials so put it, if the evidence so merits?

Chilcot inquiry must restore trust in government, says top lawyer

In DU Foreign Affairs.

UK Chilcot inquiry must restore trust in government, says top lawyer

... “Has it fairly and accurately summarised the exchanges between Mr Blair and President Bush and the meetings that took place between them?” Sands asked. “That gives us an insight into whether or not the material has been fairly and accurately interpreted by the Chilcot inquiry.”

Sands said he would look closely at the inquiry’s account of what happened at a meeting between Bush and Blair on 31 January 2003. “At that meeting Blair had in his pocket advice from Lord Goldsmith saying ‘You need a second resolution’. We know he then left the meeting with Bush and gave a public statement in which he said nothing had been agreed and spoke in parliament a few days later and basically said ‘Nothing has been agreed’. But I know from the note of the meeting prepared by David Manning , which is in my book, that recorded at that meeting Bush saying the bombing would begin in March and Blair saying: ‘I am solidly with you, Mr President.’”

The inquiry will not offer a view on whether the war was illegal. Its main remit is to learn the lessons of what went wrong. A key issue will be the analysis of how suspect intelligence was used to justify the invasion of Iraq, chiefly the now-infamous claim that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Last year Blair apologised “for the fact the intelligence we received was wrong”. But many experts suspect the intelligence was manipulated to misrepresent Saddam’s capabilities.

In 1995 Hussein Kamel, an Iraqi official who defected, told CIA and British intelligence officers and UN inspectors that, after the 1990-91 Gulf war, Iraq had destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks. But in the build-up to the invasion, key figures in the Bush administration repeatedly cited Kamel’s testimony as evidence that Iraq possessed WMD. Blair included it in his speech to parliament ahead of the invasion. When pressed in parliament to make Kamel’s testimony public, Blair said the UK did not possess a transcript...


Murdoch press: Berlin will oust European Commission chief Juncker

Angela Merkel could move to oust Europe’s federalist chief Jean-Claude Juncker 'within the next year', a Germany government minister has said, in a sign of deepening European divisions over how to respond to Britain’s Brexit vote.

The German chancellor’s frustration with the European Commission chief came as Europe split over whether to use the Brexit negotiations as a trigger to deepen European integration or take a more pragmatic approach to Britain as it heads for the exit door.

“The pressure on him (Juncker) to resign will only become greater and Chancellor Merkel will eventually have to deal with this next year,” an unnamed German minister told The Sunday Times, adding that Berlin had been furious with Mr Juncker “gloating” over the UK referendum result...

... Even before he was appointed President of the European Commission - against the wishes of David Cameron - concerns were raised about Mr Juncker's alchohol consumption which were dismissed as a "smear campaign" by his officials...


Connect emotionally. Facts don't matter. It’s the Trump success.

In the quaint steam age of Mark Twain it was the case, as the writer allegedly noted, that: “A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes”. Owing to significant changes in the media landscape since 1900, the same lie can now circumnavigate the globe, get a million followers on Snapchat and reverse 60 years of political progress while the truth is snoozing in a Xanax-induced coma, eyeshade on, earplugs in.

Modern truth is not just outpaced by fiction, it can be bypassed altogether as part of a sound political strategy or as a central requirement of a media business plan. In an illuminating exchange with the Guardian last week, Arron Banks, the wealthy donor partly responsible for the Brexit campaign, explained leave’s media strategy thus: “The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

The Washington DC strategy company Goddard Gunster told the Brexit organisers that “the facts don’t work”, which was, somewhat ironically in this case, the truth.

Politics however is just exploiting an information ecosystem designed for the dissemination of material which gives us feelings rather than information...

More... https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/03/facebook-bubble-brexit-filter

The UN is asserting the right

to codify, then, what is customary international law, before the ICC can apply it... But some or other party there (cough) is stalling...

Wikipedia has:

A war of aggression, sometimes also war of conquest, is a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense, usually for territorial gain and subjugation. The phrase is distinctly modern and diametrically opposed to the prior legal international standard of "might makes right", under the medieval and pre-historic beliefs of right of conquest. Since the Korean War of the early 1950s, waging such a war of aggression is a crime under the customary international law...

... In the judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which followed World War II, "War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." Article 39 of the United Nations Charter provides that the UN Security Council shall determine the existence of any act of aggression and "shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security".

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court refers to the crime of aggression as one of the “most serious crimes of concern to the international community”, and provides that the crime falls within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the Rome Statute stipulates that the ICC may not exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression until such time as the states parties agree on a definition of the crime and set out the conditions under which it may be prosecuted. At the Review Conference in June 11, 2010 a total of 111 State Parties to the Court agreed by consensus to adopt a resolution accepting the definition of the crime and the conditions for the exercise of jurisdiction over this crime. The relevant amendments to the Statute, however has not been entered into force yet as of May 14, 2012.

It is weird. The Telegraph's story says:

The ICC prosecutor’s office said the ICC was looking at introducing a “crime of aggression” which would cover illegal invasions but that “has not yet crystalised and in any event, will not apply retroactively”. - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/02/outrage-as-war-crimes-prosecutors-say-tony-blair-will-not-be-inv/

Illegal invasion not a crime until the ICC says it is? Is it the purpose of this court to apply laws or to make them?
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