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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: 15,469

About Me

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

Journal Archives

Spanish model for new politics UK needs (Owen Jones)

There are three philosophies at play right now. The first blames migrants and people fleeing violence and poverty for the multiple problems afflicting European society, from the lack of secure jobs and houses to stagnating living standards to public services ravaged by cuts. The second seeks to build a Europe with shrivelled social protections, run ever more in the interest of major corporations, as exemplified by the notorious but embattled Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership. These two visions are far from mutually exclusive; they are frequently allied, or feed off each other. The third vision challenges them both: holding the powerful interests responsible for Europe’s crisis to account, and aspiring to a democratised Europe that puts people before the needs of profit.

I left Britain’s poisonous referendum campaign for a few days to travel across northern Spain with Unidos Podemos. It didn’t feel so much like entering another country as passing into a parallel universe. Spain shows there is nothing inevitable about people blaming migrants, rather than the people in charge, for their problems. And when it comes to problems, Spain is not lacking. A fifth of its workforce is unemployed, and nearly half of its young people are without work. Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have been evicted from their homes. Child poverty has risen. Public services have been slashed. Yet in the working-class town of Torrelavega a crowd roared with approval when told the problems facing Europeans are caused not by foreigners but by bankers, tax-dodgers and poverty-paying bosses.

There is no mass anti-immigration party contesting Spain’s elections. Mainstream parties are not trying to outdo each other with anti-immigration vitriol. It is not as though there is a lack of people entering the country: Spain experienced a sixfold increase in migrants in the 2000s. Immigration is simply not the prism through which people understand their problems...

... Europe has now endured years of cuts, regressive tax hikes and stagnating or falling living standards. The xenophobic right has feasted on the despair and grievances that have resulted. The antidote is movements such as Podemos: those that redirect anger at the correct targets, and propose an alternative Europe that doesn’t breed insecurity...
Our own government has led the attempts to drive the EU ever more down the road of servility to the interests of the market – by vetoing EU action to prevent Chinese steel-dumping, for example, and being the biggest cheerleader for TTIP. That direction of travel makes the work of movements such as Podemos even more vital...


Spain Unites to Attack ‘Irresponsible’ Brexit Ballot

Spanish politicians from across the political spectrum condemned David Cameron’s decision to jeopardize Britain’s membership of the European Union with a referendum they said was engineered to address internal problems in the governing Conservative Party...

... Spaniards vote three days after the U.K. referendum with party leaders trying to find a way out of the political impasse that followed December’s inconclusive ballot. The rising force ahead of the election is anti-establishment party Podemos, which is set to displace the Socialists in second place by appealing to voters shut out of the labor market by the economic crisis or angered by an epidemic of corruption.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, who’s filmed a video urging British Labour supporters living in Spain to vote for “Remain,” and Albert Rivera, the head of liberal party Ciudadanos, both joined Guindos in criticizing Cameron.

“The European right, and in particular the British right, is responsible for getting us into this referendum,” Sanchez said in an interview with state-owned radio RNE. “They could have resolved it with an internal debate and a vote, without going to the national level. The consequences of this could be global in scale.”...


... As Spain’s political class tries to navigate the shift from an old regime that generated mass unemployment and widespread corruption, the 61-year-old premier is increasingly seen as an obstacle. Officials from Ciudadanos have floated a list of alternative candidates from the PP they could support, while party chief Albert Rivera, 36, and his Socialist counterpart Pedro Sanchez both say that Rajoy’s failure to clear up allegations about personal corruption disqualify him from leading the renewal Spain needs...

... The advance of Podemos is the major shift since December and that’s pushing the other three parties together.

Whatever the differences of emphasis between the mainstream parties’ proposals, they are outweighed by their concerns about Podemos’s plans to hike taxes on those earning over 60,000 euros ($68,000), unleash a wave of public investment to put Spaniards back to work and hand Catalans a vote on independence.

The other three parties share similar views on how to clean up the political system, fix the flaws in the economy and hold the line against Catalan separatists. Indeed, the Socialists and Ciudadanos signed a joint policy program in February as they tried to form a majority after the last election...


Rome elects its first female mayor

... Virginia Raggi, the Five Star Movement’s (M5S) candidate, won 67 per cent of the vote in the run-off ballot with the Democratic party’s Roberto Giachetti...

... The win by the M5S marks a direct challenge to the Democratic prime minister, Matteo Renzi, and reflects the electorate’s seething discontent with mainstream political parties...

... Battling corruption has been one of Raggi’s main campaign promises, tapping into public anger about the “mafia capitale” scandal, in which it emerged that city hall officials were involved in stealing millions from the state. Such criminality has contributed to the dire state of Rome’s public services, including rubbish collection and public transport, which are the top two complaints of residents...

... But the biggest shock came in the traditional centre-left stronghold Turin, where the incumbent Piero Fassino was trailing the M5S candidate Chiara Appendino, who had 50% to 54% of the vote...


Italy, with M5S, starting to follow a similar course to Spain, with United Podemos mayors in Madrid, Barcelona, Cadiz... and now with national government within reach.

Thanks. That's one approach. See also


Green Roof build-up systems.

NATO ‘Saber-Rattling’ Maneuvers Unhelpful, Steinmeier Tells Bild

NATO maneuvers in Poland and the Baltic states risk raising tensions with Russia at a time when more talk and cooperation are necessary to avoid fresh confrontations, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Bild newspaper in an interview...

... “What we shouldn’t do now is to add fuel to the fire with loud saber-rattling and war cries,” Steinmeier said, according to the paper. “Whoever thinks it’s helping security to have symbolic tank parades at the Eastern European border is wrong.”...

... “It would be fatal to narrowly focus on military action,” Steinmeier said. “We need to re-engage with our partners on disarmament and arms control for security in Europe.”


Finding ways to limit global warming to 1.5C

... The planet’s primary thermostat is the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Pre-industrial levels were 280 parts per million. We just hit 400 ppm with warming at one degree and some more in the pipeline, due to time lags. The IPCC, in its most recent report, estimated that to stop at 1.5C will mean holding concentrations to around 430 ppm.

Because much of our CO2 emissions stay in the atmosphere for centuries, that means bringing annual emissions to zero. Impossible? Maybe, but the good news is that greenhouse gas emissions actually fell in 2015 despite rising global economic activity, thanks to the growing use of renewable energy. If we could build on that and bring emissions to zero by 2050, then we might limit emissions from here on out to 800bn tons.

If we could somehow find ways to extract 500bn tons from the atmosphere, Rogelj concluded, we would likely be able to have our wish of CO2 concentrations of 430 ppm and warming capped at 1.5C. The fairy godmother would have delivered...

... The trick that puts a glint in the eye of some technologists and climate scientists is known by the acronym BECCS, which stands for “biomass energy, carbon capture, and storage.” The idea is to convert the world’s power stations to burning biomass, such as trees or marine algae. The industrialized production of this biomass on such a scale would accelerate the natural drawdown of CO2 by plants during photosynthesis. If the CO2 created by burning the biomass could then be captured from the stacks and buried in geological strata — the prototype technology known as carbon capture and storage — then the net effect would be a permanent extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere...


Unidos Podemos: Spain’s leftwing alliance hoping to end political impasse

... Reflecting on the collapse of Spain’s two main parties in the general election in December, Bustinduy said: “What happened was nothing short of revolutionary. Because even with an electoral system that promotes bipartisanship, we have this completely new landscape.”

After six months of stalemate and failed coalition talks following the election, Spain finds itself at a historic juncture before the rerun on 26 June. Having come a close third last year with 20% of the vote, Podemos announced an alliance last month with United Left (IU), a leftwing coalition including the PCE, the Communist party of Spain.

They will run on a joint ticket, containing the various Podemos regional franchises, as Unidos Podemos (United We Can). In polls reflecting this new formation, the radical leftwing bloc leapfrogs the formerly dominant centre-left party PSOE into second place, giving it a realistic chance of forming a government.

As was the case in December, the election will probably produce a four-way split, with no party winning a majority. But current polling suggests that a leftwing coalition government of Podemos and PSOE could just beat Mariano Rajoy’s conservative PP – despite it finishing first – and fourth-placed Ciudadanos, with Pablo Iglesias, the secretary general of Podemos, as prime minister...


Note this alliance also includes Greens...

Fine comment at source:

... Maybe it's not a case of us leaving Europe but of us not being worthy enough anymore to be part of their club. No one here shares a European outlook of strength through unity. No one here thinks we are just as much the descendants of Plato, Charlemagne, Goethe and Voltaire as we are Boudicca and Brunel. We have bleated and whined and demanded a whole raft of exceptions while sending a cohort of racist harrumphers to institutions they don't believe should exist. We then lament that with such luminaries, things don't work well or that the adults take charge.

And now, we are all happy to let people call Turks as a menace. We let people rail against Poles and Romanians and no one bats an eyelid. The right clap along and the left tells us it's not bigotry it's just the expression of marginalization and a felling of abandonment. No one stands up and calls it out for the vicious prejudice it is. We all saw what happened tho Brown when he called Gillian Duffy a bigot just for making a bigoted comment.

The tragicomic thing of this situation is that, like all supporters of populist demagogues, the people who support them have the most to lose. If we leave they will wave the Union Jack, get pissed and sing football chants. They will celebrate trapping themselves on an island with a bunch of ruthless toffs who will start wholesale asset stripping and disenfranchising free of any constraint. And when they realise that leaving a free trade area does not miraculously make us the "great trading nation" we were when we controlled a quarter of the world by force of arms, then it will be too late.

As for the much derided middle class: Whether Hampstead socialist or Bury St-Edmunds reactionaries it won't be too bad for us. We will find loopholes. Some have second homes abroad that they can make permanent residence. Others have good friends from Erasmus years, gap years, internships or other middle class rites of passage that might be willing to accept a fake civil union so that all parties can get 2 passports.

We will be able to move abroad. Remainers will gloat and Brexiters will wail at what has become of Britain. We will all pretend to be surprised that a lethal mix of xenophobia and self inflicted economic seppuku creates a toxic political environment when only the charlatans survive. We will all say we don't understand what happened when these charlatans keep pushing that hatred button for more support. We will all feign dismay when the first episodes of violence happen...

Working-class Britons feel Brexity and betrayed

In DU Foreign Affairs...

Working-class Britons feel Brexity and betrayed

If Britain crashes out of the European Union in two weeks, it will be off the back of votes cast by discontented working-class people. When Andy Burnham warns that the remain campaign has “been far too much Hampstead and not enough Hull”, he has a point. Even Labour MPs who nervously predict remain will scrape it nationally report their own constituencies will vote for exit. Polling consistently illustrates that the lower down the social ladder you are, the more likely you are to opt for leave. Of those voters YouGov deems middle-class, 52% are voting for remain, and just 32% for leave. Among those classified as working-class, the figures are almost the reverse: 36% for remain, 50% for leave. The people Labour were founded to represent are the most likely to want Britain to abandon the European Union.

When presented with a vote on the status quo, it is no surprise that those with the least stake in it vote to abandon it. The same happened in Scotland’s independence referendum. Threats of economic Armageddon resonate little with people living in communities that feel ignored, marginalised and belittled. “Economic insecurity beckons!” people who live in perpetual economic insecurity are told. A Conservative prime minister lines up with pillars of Britain’s establishment with a message of doom – and it makes millions of people even more determined to stick their fingers up at it.

The leave campaign knows all this. It is Trumpism in full pomp: powerful vested interests whose policies would only concentrate wealth and power even further in the hands of the few, masquerading as the praetorian guard of an anti-establishment insurgency dripping in anti-immigration sentiment. It is political trickery long honed by Ukip, a party led by a privately educated ex-City broker that claims to be the voice of the little guy against a self-interested powerful clique. If Donald Trump succeeds across the Atlantic, the terrible cost of leaving millions of working-class people feeling both abandoned and slighted will be nightmarishly clear. The same goes for this referendum...

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