Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever. The frenzy is growing!

(Previous thread)


  1. says

    Guardian – “Lebanon’s mass revolt against corruption and poverty continues”:

    The largest protests in Lebanon in 14 years are set to shut down the country for a fifth day on Monday, as a revolt against a weak government, ailing services and a looming economic collapse continues to gain momentum.

    Demonstrators took to the streets of most urban centres on Sunday to rail against officials who they say are preventing badly needed reforms that would cut into the pockets of the ruling class, and are instead trying to recoup state revenues by taxing the poor.

    Dissent erupted on Thursday after new taxes were announced including a $6 per month levy on the messaging application WhatsApp, which was instrumental in sending protesters on to the streets. Anger boiled over on Friday, leading to the ransacking of high-end shops in Beirut and the death of one man in the northern city of Tripoli.

    Since then, the protests have settled into large peaceful gatherings that have crossed sectarian and social lines and continued to grow in size and energy as Lebanese leaders struggled to formulate a response….

  2. KG says

    I went down to London on Saturday for the anti-Brexit demo, which was huge – I can’t say if it was a million as claimed, but for once the police have not contradicted the organisers’ figure. There was great rejoicing when the result of the Letwin amendment was announced. However, I’m not optimistic that Johnson’s deal can be stopped, even if the Speaker prevents it being voted on today, as seems likely. The ERG are backing it, ditching the “D”UP because the deal gives them what they really wanted – the chance to smash the social and environmental protections which the EU, with all its faults, guarantees. They will also keep pressing for the government to renege on the deal at the end of 2020 and of the transition period if, as expected, Johnson wins the almost-certainly-coming election. All or almost all the “Tory rebels” seem to be in favour of the deal – they backed the amendment to prevent Johnson arranging a no-deal crash-out by getting his deal accepted in principle, then withdrawing the (insincere) request for an extension, then failing to get the necessary legislation passed. (Why might Johnson do that? Because any deal leaves him vulnerable to being outflanked by Farage in the election.) There seem to be enough Labour traitors to just get the deal approved, despite “D”UP opposition. And Corbyn won’t make clear that they would lose the Labour whip and so be unable to stand as party candidates – he’ll be getting what many suspect he’s wanted all along – Brexit, without the repsponsibility for it.

  3. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog. (KG’s analyses help keep my optimism in check.)

    Also today in the Guardian, “‘The EU is running scared from fascism’ – Kosovo’s likely new PM”:

    The leftwinger set to become Kosovo’s surprise new prime minister has condemned the EU’s decision to halt further Balkans enlargement, saying it showed western leaders had forgotten the lessons of two world wars and instead were in retreat in the face of fascism and populism [sic].

    Albin Kurti said the stance could damage the chances of Kovoso reaching a deal with Serbia, which has refused to recognise it as independent since the end of the 1998-99 war, as Belgrade has less incentive to act without the prospect of EU membership.

    France caused dismay in the region at an EU summit last week by blocking Northern Macedonia and Albania from starting accession talks, so destroying Serbia’s chances of reaching the EU in the foreseeable future. French president Emmanuel Macron insisted that Europe needed to focus on its internal reforms.

    “The EU was formed as a response to fascism, but is now running scared in the face of populists and fascism,” Kurti told the Guardian.

    Criticising Macron, he said: “You cannot say first we need internal reform in the EU and then external enlargement – they go hand in hand. Europe is such an important historical project that no one man can be its author, directing or leading it. We have always seen that when [the outgoing EU Commission president] Jean-Claude Juncker said there would be no further expansion in the next five years, the situation in the Balkans got much worse.

    “Yes, the EU is important for the Balkans, but the Balkans is very important for the EU. Berlin and Paris should know this well, and it is really sad, for all of us, that they forget this. In a couple of decades, historians will write there were not two world wars, but just one world war with two episodes, and it all started in Sarajevo.”

    Kurti’s leftist Albanian nationalist movement Vetëvendosje (Self-determination) emerged as the strongest party following snap elections last month. Imprisoned for 18 months by Serbian police during the height of its military conflict with Kosovo in 1999, Kurti, 44, finds himself on the verge of power, promising to end Kosovo’s two decades of neoliberalism.

    He is currently in talks with the centre-right party LDK, which came second, on forming an administration, in which a minimum of 30% will be women. Kurti predicted an agreement within a month and says his priority is jobs and justice, not reaching a deal with Serbia.

    After years of failed prosecutions against corruption, he promised to end what he considered the judiciary’s capture by the state….

  4. says

    Newsweek article on the videos @ #s 3, 4, and 6 above – “Syrian Protesters Picket Retreating U.S. Troops: ‘Tell Your Children That the Children of the Kurds Were Killed by the Turks'”:

    Syrian protesters have been picketing U.S. soldiers leaving their positions in the northeast of the country, warning that their departure is leaving the Kurdish population there at the mercy of the invading Turkish military and their proxies.

    Multiple videos and images have emerged showing local residents lining the roads as American military vehicles passed south away from the Turkish border region, where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been fighting a defensive action since October 9.

    A video shared on Twitter by regional analyst Mutlu Civiroglu on Sunday showed a small protesters at an undisclosed location in Syria, accusing passing Americans of abandoning residents there.

    At least three people held up large signs as the Americans passed, briefly standing in front of each vehicle to deliver their messages before stepping aside and allowing the convoy to continue.

    One man’s sign read, “To the U.S. Army who are leaving northeast Syria now. Tell your children that the children of the Kurds were killed by the Turks and we did nothing to protect them.”

    Civiroglu called the video “heartbreaking” and noted that the U.S. forces had been ordered “to leave N. Syria leaving behind defenseless Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Yezidis.”

    There have been numerous protests against the U.S. withdrawal in the northeastern Syria since President Donald Trump abruptly announced the decision earlier this month. Several took place in and near border towns that have now been occupied by Turkey and its Islamist Syrian proxies, such as Ras al-Ayn….

  5. says

    Julia Davis: “Russia’s state TV program hosted by notorious propagandist Vladimir Soloviev—who is close to Putin and has special access to the Kremlin—spends 30 minutes extolling Tulsi Gabbard, arguing she should be ‘the face of the Democratic party’ and obsessively bashing Hillary Clinton.”

  6. says

    FT – “Russian cyberattack unit ‘masqueraded’ as Iranian hackers, UK says”:

    A Russian cyber espionage unit has hacked Iranian hackers to lead attacks in more than 35 countries, a joint UK and US investigation has revealed.

    The so-called Turla group, which has been linked with Russian intelligence, allegedly hijacked the tools of Oilrig, a group widely linked to the Iranian government, according to a two-year probe by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre in collaboration with the US’ National Security Agency. The NCSC is part of GCHQ, the digital intelligence agency.

    The Iranian group is most likely unaware that its hacking methods have been hacked and deployed by another cyber espionage team, security officials involved in the investigation said. Victims include military establishments, government departments, scientific organisations and universities across the world, mainly in the Middle East.

    Paul Chichester, NCSC director of operations, said Turla’s activity represented “a real change in the modus operandi of cyber actors” which he said “added to the sense of confusion” over which state-backed cyber groups had been responsible for successful attacks.

    Mr Chichester described how Turla began “piggybacking” on Oilrig’s attacks by monitoring an Iranian hack closely enough to use the same backdoor route into an organisation or to gain access to the resulting intelligence. Turla is also known as Waterbug or Venomous Bear.

    But the Russian group then progressed to initiating their own attacks using Oilrig’s command-and-control infrastructure and software. Organisations in approximately 20 countries were successfully hacked in this way….

  7. says

    CNN – “Justice Department distances itself from Giuliani”:

    Weeks before Rudy Giuliani publicly became a figure to avoid in Washington, he managed to get a meeting with the top official in the Justice Department’s criminal division on behalf of a client.

    The Justice Department now says that official, Brian Benczkowski, and other fraud prosecutors at Justice headquarters wouldn’t have taken that meeting with Giuliani earlier this summer had they known about a Manhattan US attorney probe of two Giuliani associates who were indicted this month. It is striking that the Justice Department is having to distance itself from the President’s own personal attorney.

    A Justice spokesman issued an unusual statement seeking to remove the department further from Giuliani, who has drawn scrutiny recently for his business activities in Ukraine and elsewhere seeming to bank on his close ties to President Donald Trump.

    “When Mr. Benczkowski and fraud section lawyers met with Mr. Giuliani, they were not aware of any investigation of Mr. Giuliani’s associates in the Southern District of New York and would not have met with him had they know,” Peter Carr, a department spokesman, told The New York Times on Sunday, which first reported the meeting….

  8. says

    Ian Dunt:

    Simply incredible to hear Tory MPs say they should speed up the legislation because they have to ‘make a decision’. It’s precisely so MPs can make informed decisions that the bill should be done to a sensible timetable.

    [Stewart Wood]: “The #Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay just confirmed to me in his @LordsEUCom evidence that, under the Govt’s proposals, Northern Irish businesses sending goods to Great Britain will have to complete export declaration forms.”

    Just a little hint of the details which MPs might concievably want to be aware of before making a decision.

    This things is like a masterclass on how not to do things. System-level changes to the way a country operates, rushed through to suit the political needs of a self-interested prime minister, with emotions high, and a sustained effort to prevent parliamentarians seeing the detail.

  9. says

    NEW: The private Instagram account of Lev Parnas reveals new clues about his access to the Trump family and his close relationship with Rudy Giuliani….”

    Thread with images and more and WSJ link atl.

  10. says

    Chuck Schumer:

    Senator McConnell:

    Put the bipartisan resolution to rebuke Pres. Trump’s actions in Syria on the Senate floor.

    An identical resolution passed the House 354-60.

    It’s the best way pressure Trump to seriously address the threats his actions in Syria unleashed & keep America safe.

  11. says

    Rafael Behr:

    I understand why Lab MPs want to satisfy their constituents’ demands that a Brexit deal be ‘done’ [highly questionable – SC], but surprised any would think there is some consolation victory later available in the small print.

    Lending votes to Johnson gives his deal momentum; deposits political capital with anti-EU hardliners. There is no reward in policy or political respite available for an opposition MP enabling this project.

    Don’t need to go far back in history to see how much a Johnson promise is worth, and to see what happens to other parties who lend Tories support and think they have some kind of deal. Ask the DUP.

    Doesn’t even need to be a deal with Tories to do damage. Ask Labour moderates (non-Corbynite) how just *abstaining* in vote on Tory bill worked out for them in the months that followed.

    Could ask Lib Dems how supporting Tories 2010-15 worked out for them; whether Cameron kept his promises to Clegg in coalition agreement, eg in AV referendum.

    Could even ask SNP how supporting Thatcher in no confidence vote against Callaghan govt in 1979 worked out for them in ensuing election, and for Scotland in the 1980s.

    On balance, lesson of history for non-Tory parties is not to lend votes to Tory governments. Or if you do, to expect (1) that you will get *nothing* but political pain in return and (2) voters will remember it and hold it against you for ages.

  12. says

    More re #18 from Eleni Courea, Politico:

    Initially [Brexit Minister Stephen] Barclay said he didn’t think customs declarations would be required but that he would write to the committee clarifying.

    A few minutes later he read out a correction saying: “The exit summary declarations will be required in terms of NI to GB.”

    To clarify: Exit summary declarations are separate from customs declarations. According to @EU_Commission, they are req when goods leave the EU customs territory: “where a customs declaration or a reexport declaration is not required, an exit summary declaration has to be lodged”

    Barclay’s initial statement on exit declarations: “We’ve said in terms from NI to GB that it will be frictionless and so there wouldn’t be [declarations].”

    His correction: “The exit summary declarations will be required in terms of NI to GB.”

    Suggests trade not frictionless…

    .@StewartWood, who asked Barclay the question: “The idea that NI companies can continue to have unfettered access to Britain if this deal goes through is fanciful.”…

    Link to Politico Pro article atl. So the Brexit Minister doesn’t know what’s entailed by the agreement they wanted MPs to vote on on Saturday and will try again to jam through today/tomorrow.

  13. says

    Greg Sargent:

    Stunning new numbers from PRRI illustrating the Fox effect:

    98% of Fox-watching Republicans oppose removal

    71% of them *strongly* approve of Trump. Only 39% of non-Fox Rs strongly approve

    One of the biggest obstacles to removal? Fox News.

    WaPo link atl. Of course, the cause-and-effect relationships are more complex than this suggests.

  14. says

    David Rothkopf tweeted: “This won’t win me any friends, I suspect, but every time I read about the increase in secularization in the U.S. (or anywhere), I think that is a good thing and a sign we are moving away from superstitions and prejudices that have caused the planet untold misery. Ok. Fire away.”

    The responses suggest that his expectation that this would be greeted with hostility was mistaken.

    See also here.

  15. says

    NEW — Turkey appoints Hakan Atilla, a former banker who served prison sentence in New York for violating Iran sanctions, as general manager of Istanbul Stock Exchange.

    Atilla, a then-deputy general manager of state owned Halkbank, always denied his culpability in Iran sanctions busting scheme. His appeal process is pending.

    Turkey named the court case as a charade that is crafted by Gulenist ex-officers. A Gulenist police officer was a witness.”

    As Josh Marshall would say, sounds legit.

  16. says

    Meduza – “Putin appoints Kremlin-friendly chair and gives independent professionals the boot in major Human Rights Council shakeup”:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order appointing a new chairperson to Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council. Under the order, former state TV host Valery Fadeyev will take the council’s top job, and current chair Mikhail Fedotov will be dismissed “in connection with the fact that he has reached the age of 70.” Political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann brought press attention to Putin’s order by posting a copy on Facebook.

    Another simultaneously issued presidential order alters the lineup of the Human Rights Council itself. Schulmann, who has served on the council for less than a year, will be excluded from it along with well-known human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov and two other members. Fadeyev, the council’s newly appointed chair, is broadly considered more of a Putin loyalist than his predecessor, and Putin’s second order regarding the council shifts the rest of its composition toward the Kremlin as well. One of its newly appointed members is Kirill Vyshinsky, the editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti — Ukraine who was released from a Ukrainian prison ahead of this year’s mass prisoner swap.

    The Presidential Human Rights Council is known as a potential mediator between Russia’s human rights community and the country’s government. When news of Fedotov’s potential firing first began to emerge, members of the council wrote a letter to Putin asking for their chair to be permitted to keep his post.

    This person suggests Fedotov’s removal is “over criticism of crackdown on Moscow protests, displeasure in presidential administration.”

  17. says

    Ian Dunt’s livetweeting from Parliament is something else.

    “Barry Sheerman, Lab: ‘It’s our sacred duty – not just to get on with it – to make sure that what the deal is, the quality of it, actually serves our constituents. We must take this business seriously and slowly’.”

    I mean, yeah.

    No one seems too clear on where Johnson actually is, which is odd.

  18. says

    From the G liveblog:

    The government is coming under fire this evening over confirmation by the Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, that Northern Irish businesses will have to complete exit declarations when sending goods to Great Britain under the terms of the Brexit deal.

    As reported by Politico, Barclay was correcting an answer he gave minutes earlier to the House of Lords European Union committee, when he said he did not think such forms would be required under the deal.

    He told peers: “We’ve said in terms of [trade] from NI to GB that it will be frictionless and so there wouldn’t be [declaration forms].”

    The Labour Peer, Stewart Wood, was the committee member who pressed Barclay and has been making hay on Twitter and says that Barclay’s “revelation” confirms two things

    “1. The GB-NI border inside the UK will, from a commercial point of view, feel like a real border.

    2. The Govt is trying to push through a vote on the deal before the text of the Withdrawal Bill is seen for a reason: the contents are alarming.”

  19. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 32

    “We do get along great with the Kurds. We’re trying to help them a lot. Don’t forget, that’s their territory. We have to help them. I want to help them.”

    –Donald Trump
    September 26, 2018

  20. says

    Ian Dunt:

    …Mogg making business statement. Withdrawal bill second reading tomorrow, followed by commencement of committee. Wednesday, continued proceedings. Thursday, conclusion of proceedings. Friday: House doesn’t sit.

    Trying to get a bill of this size, of such significance, in that time frame is functionally insane.

    Shadow leader of House Valerie Vaz responds.

    Wants to know when bill will be published and programme motion put forward.

    “At every stage the govt has been running scared of this House and democracy and it’s now attempting to force through a flawed Brexit bill which sells out people’s jobs, rights and our communities.”

    Mogg also confirmed that MPs would only vote on Queen’s Speech next week. That whole thing was just the most preposterous theatrical sideshow.

  21. says

    Laura Rozen: “this is the cabinet meeting. it is not that the press goes away and then they have the cabinet meeting. the cabinet are props for trump to diss this constitution you all have”

    It seems like that can’t possibly be correct, but I fear it is.

  22. says

    More from Dunt’s thread:

    …Mogg gibbering on about removing the “imperial yoke”, like some kind of lunatic historian roaming the street at night shouting at strangers.

    This really is the most extraordinary godawful cynical Jacobin shitshow. 100 pages. No impact statements. Ministers who do not even understand if Northern Ireland will have to fill out export forms to send goods within the UK. And they want to bludgeon it through in three days.

    Remember when we used to pride ourselves on being a stable country that did things properly. I mean just imagine.

    Owen Smith reminds Mogg that the Lisbon treaty was debated for 11 days, Maastricht for 23, the Treaty of Rome for 22.

    Mogg says Brexit has been well debated already. I mean, it’s such a pitiful argument it’s barely worth even shooting down, but this is a piece of legislation, not a debate over Brexit.

    The timetable is incredibly aggressive and, like almost everything this govt does, seemingly motivated more by trolling than good sense. I wonder of that might put off figures, like Ken Clarke earlier, who are tempted to vote against programme motion….

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