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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: 16,881

About Me

A Brit many years in Spain, Catalunya, Baleares, Canarias. Cooperative member. Geography. Ecology. Cartography. Software. Sound Recording. Music Production. Languages & Literature. History.

Journal Archives

Important. Alternative .pk link here:


... On May 23, after Mr. Modi’s re-election, I congratulated him and hoped we could work for “peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.” In June, I sent another letter to Mr. Modi offering dialogue to work toward peace. Again, India chose not to respond. And we found out that while I was making peace overtures, India had been lobbying to get Pakistan placed on the “blacklist” at the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, which could lead to severe economic sanctions and push us toward bankruptcy. Evidently Mr. Modi had mistaken our desire for peace in a nuclear neighborhood as appeasement. We were not simply up against a hostile government. We were up against a “New India,” which is governed by leaders and a party that are the products of the Hindu supremacist mother ship, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the R.S.S...

... I had hoped that being elected prime minister might lead Mr. Modi to cast aside his old ways as the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, when he gained global notoriety for the 2002 pogrom against local Muslims on his watch and was denied a visa to travel to the United States under its International Religious Freedom Act — a list of visa denials that included associates of Slobodan Milosevic. Mr. Modi’s first term as prime minister had been marked by lynching of Muslims, Christians and Dalits by extremist Hindu mobs. In Indian-occupied Kashmir, we have witnessed increased state violence against defiant Kashmiris. Pellet-firing shotguns were introduced and aimed at the eyes of young Kashmiri protesters, blinding hundreds.

On Aug. 5, in its most brazen and egregious move, Mr. Modi’s government altered the status of Indian-occupied Kashmir through the revocation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. The move is illegal under the Constitution of India, but more important, it is a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan.

And Mr. Modi’s “New India” chose to do this by imposing a military curfew in Kashmir, imprisoning its population in their homes and cutting off their phone, internet and television connections, rendering them without news of the world or their loved ones. The siege was followed by a purge: Thousands of Kashmiris have been arrested and thrown into prisons across India. A blood bath is feared in Kashmir when the curfew is lifted. Already, Kashmiris coming out in defiance of the curfew are being shot and killed.

If the world does nothing to stop the Indian assault on Kashmir and its people, there will be consequences for the whole world as two nuclear-armed states get ever closer to a direct military confrontation...


(UK) Murky powers and revolutions (and other archaic peculiarities)

(Hey, if the USA can be the exceptional nation, at least let no-deal England be the peculiar one!)


... The use of these prerogative powers, once exercised by a monarch to “get around” the tiresome practices of a democratic practice, have never been effectively repealed. They lurk behind the scenes until such an occasion as this and now reside in the hands of the executive. However, monarchs were enjoined to understand that they were used, even in the past, with extreme caution. When they were not, they could inspire dramatic and revolutionary reactions.

In March 1629, Charles I grew tired of a parliament which would not support financially, or otherwise, his disastrous and expensive foreign policy errors and ordered the dissolution of parliament. The MPs were so incensed when speaker John Finch announced the closure of the session, they promptly left their seats and sat on him. Holding him in the chair meant that he could not rise from his seat, and thus close the house. While he writhed under at least five members, the MPs passed a series of motions condemning the king’s policies. It may well be that this should be considered a valid response to Johnson’s actions. On the other hand, as the current speaker, John Bercow, has called Johnson’s decision a “constitutional outrage” it seems unlikely that he will need sitting on. The closure of parliament in 1629 led to ten years of extra-parliamentary rule in England and Wales – known variously as Charles I’s Personal Rule or the 11 Years’ Tyranny.

The Scots rejected the king’s use of executive power in November 1638 when he tried to close down Scottish assemblies as well. No one was sat upon: this time his representative, the Marquis of Hamilton, tried to close the assembly by leaving the chamber. The door was locked against him: the key hidden. This time the meeting did not end: the king’s powers were severely dented. When the Westminster parliament again met in 1640, it was because the Scottish crisis had led to two wars, both of which Charles I’s extra-parliamentary government lost and bankrupted. Despite again using his prerogative powers to close the first parliament of 1640 after just three weeks, it got worse. The second parliament called that year passed two acts intended to secure its position in the constitution. The Triennial Act of February 1641 ended a monarch’s right to summon parliaments: a later act prevented one from closing or proroguing a parliament without its consent. Were this still the case, Johnson would not be able to get a majority to back prorogation.

This act made it impossible for the king to use his prerogative power to prorogue or close parliament. Not surprisingly, the Edinburgh parliament had already done the same thing. With the breakdown in trust between parliament and the executive across the British Isles, revolution followed and the monarchy fell a few years later...

What followed was the English Civil War.

... The outcome of the war was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I (1649); the exile of his son, Charles II (1651); and the replacement of English monarchy with, at first, the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653) and then the Protectorate under the personal rule of Oliver Cromwell (1653–1658) and briefly his son Richard (1658–1659). In England, the monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship was ended, while in Ireland the victors consolidated the established Protestant Ascendancy. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament's consent, although the idea of Parliamentary sovereignty was only legally established as part of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.[2]

Boris Johnson just restarted the English Civil War. It will not end well

Do we really want to go back to the 17th century, asks Fleet Street Fox

... We are about to get a crash course in the English Civil War, with the exciting possibility that some of us will learn what living in the 17th century was really like. Then, Cavaliers and Roundheads spent 9 bloody years slaughtering a tenth of the population in a row about whether or not the King was in charge. After another 40-odd years of bitter argument, not helped by the fact a king was rendered 8 inches shorter than nature intended, we had a Glorious Revolution and laws for a constitutional monarchy, under which we have been united ever since.

But Ireland was destroyed. The Army stopped MPs entering Parliament. Millions suffered with starvation and disease as a small nubbin of zealots on both sides battled it out with sword, cannon and proto-propaganda. It is worth noting that the opponents each claimed to be on the side of "the people". And journalists may wish to note that pro-Royalist and pro-Roundhead publications were used to spread fake news - both sides declared victory at the Battle of Naseby in 1645. Throw forward to pro-Brexit papers proclaiming a "new deal" with the EU, while others say it's the same one we've voted down three times already.

Now that Boris Johnson has announced a longer-than-usual closure of Parliament we can expect a fervently Brexity MP to start quoting Oliver Cromwell when he dismissed the Rump Parliament of 1653. "It is high time for me to put an end your sitting in this place... ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government... You who were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance," he thundered. "Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!"

He'd have a point, if he were to see what Parliament has done with Brexit. It has voted to leave, voted down a deal, voted down not having a deal, voted down not leaving. In future, it will be known as the Plughole Parliament, because it has gone around in ever-decreasing circles...

The CIA's Dark Prince Doesn't Want War With Iran

By Simon Watkins - Aug 28, 2019, 6:00 PM CDT

... “Iran’s view is now that the U.S. will not launch the full-scale military attack that was previously expected, that the U.S. is increasingly isolated in its actions against Iran among its allies in Europe and even in the U.K.,” a senior source who works closely with Iran’s Petroleum Ministry told OilPrice.com last week. “At the same time, Iran believes it can lever the U.S. back into a newly renegotiated nuclear deal involving the removal of all sanctions,” he added.

Up until a couple of months or so ago, the U.S. was actively considering a full-scale military operation against Iran and was “98 per cent ready” for such an all-out attack, according to senior political sources in Washington and London spoken to by OilPrice.com last week. “The remaining two percent involved the final movement of men and materiel into attack positions and finalising the technology and software involved,” said one. “At that point, [John] Bolton [U.S. National Security Advisor] was the dominant voice in [U.S. President Donald] Trump’s ear, and this meant moving at least 120,000 troops into position to augment the [U.S.S Abraham Lincoln aircraft] carrier group that was already in place. At about the same point, though, some of the President’s very close longstanding personal advisers and very senior CIA figures persuaded him that it would be an utter disaster, both militarily and economically, given the scale of the Iranian military and the terrain involved, its ability to launch guerrilla warfare anywhere in the world through its military proxies Hezbollah and Hamas and others, and its ability to disrupt the Strait of Hormuz,” one of the sources added. “In short, it was put to him that such a [full scale] military attack on Iran would lead to consequences potentially of a least the same length as the Afghanistan conflict and of at least the severity of Islamic State’s peak power,” he added...

--- Opposing Bolton and the other hawks in the U.S. are some of the most senior figures in the U.S. intelligence community. One of these, Dan Coats, left his position as Director of National Intelligence U.S. National Intelligence – purportedly over differences with others in the Trump administration over Russia and North Korea – but also shortly after even he testified to a Senate Committee prior to the withdrawal of the U.S from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal that there was no indication that Iran was attempting to develop a nuclear weapon and that Tehran remained in compliance with the deal.

Another notable exception to the pro-attack view, OilPrice.com understands, is the CIA’s Head of Iran Mission Center, Michael D’Andrea. Known as ‘the Dark Prince’ for his work in the U.S.’s sharp-end counter-terrorism operations after the ‘9/11’ attacks, and even the key figure in organising the elimination of one of Hezbollah’s leaders, Imad Mougniyeh, in Damascus, in 2008 – when D’Andrea was Head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (from 2006) – he has voiced concerns over such an overt military strategy...


It's Boris Johnson or Caroline Lucas

I agree with this analysis and propose Caroline Lucas for interim PM.


... There is only one way Johnson can be stopped: by the Commons placing its confidence in another one of its members, the effect of which will be to oblige the Queen to ask him or her to form a new government. This candidate will have to be backed by the main opposition party, Labour. Obviously, it would be the Labour leader himself if these were normal times. As they are not, the Liberal Democrats think Ken Clarke, a Tory survivor from the Pleistocene epoch, is the man to take the country into a safe harbour, aided perhaps by the ‘Mother of the House’ Harriet Harman.

Even if this unlikely job-share took off it could not fly with any success for very good non-party reasons. An interim administration elected simply to extend Article 50 and call an election and/or hold a referendum is not merely interim. Stopgap it may be, but what kind of stopgap it is will decide whether it is publicly acceptable. The Lib Dems seek a restoration of the days before the referendum. They have selected Harman and Clarke not because they are wise but because they are safe.

Safety at a moment like this is regressive. You cannot stand still in a hurricane. We need boldness and daring that is bolder and more daring than Johnson. Johnson claims to represent the future, or at least a future. It may be a bleak intensification of Thatcherism, yet it appears modern in spirit and positive in its claims. As an electoral showdown is looming whatever happens, Johnson and his boosterism must be opposed by a person and a set of arguments that make a better, more credible, higher-energy claim on the future, to mobilise the forces against him in a way that is appealing and not just polarising or, worst of all, reasonable in a Harman and Clarke kind of way.

The only way to stop Johnson, therefore, is with the widest possible alliance of forces who oppose a dangerous rupture with the EU, led by an MP who is backed by Labour. If Corbyn can command such a majority the job should be his. But his very qualities of unbending integrity count against him as an alliance-builder. And his claims to lead the country against a Johnson Brexit have been undermined by the catastrophic error of regarding relations with the EU as a secondary issue that can be weaponised to lever Labour into office, rather than a fundamental call about the nature and direction of the country. I don't know the House of Commons, but everyone seems to agree that Corbyn cannot command the widest possible alliance. In which case he has to ask someone else who can. Someone who can do it for all of us.

There is only one MP who is so qualified: Caroline Lucas. She personifies the commitment to democracy, the desire to unite people and an outstanding record on the environment, and is not tainted by participating in the old regime. She also has the advantage of her weakness: she does not represent a party threat to any of those calculating their own benefit...


Government Set To Fall. Monarchy Beware:

Ex-Ambassador Craig Murray, who yesterday pointed out that:

... Johnson has been able to take over without facing the electorate because of the polite constitutional fiction that it is the same Conservative government continuing and nothing has changed. Yet he justifies the prorogation of parliament by the argument that it is a new government and a new Queen’s Speech is thus needed. Johnson is of course famously in favour of having cake and eating it, but the chutzpah of this is breathtaking...


Today writes:

... The monarch appoints the UK Prime Minister. The convention is that this must be the person who can command the support of the majority in the House of Commons. That does not necessarily have to be from a single party, it can be via a coalition or pact with other parties, but the essential point, established since Hanoverian times, is that the individual must have a majority in the Commons.

The very appointment of Boris Johnson by Elizabeth Saxe Coburg Gotha was a constitutional outrage. Johnson may have been selected by Conservative Party members, but that is not the qualification to be PM. Johnson very plainly did not command a majority in the House of Commons, proven by the fact that still at no stage has he demonstrated that he does...

... The monarchy will always be an extremely useful institution in promoting the political aims of the upper classes, not least because of the ludicrous media promulgation of its infallibility. When you have former Prime Minister John Major, senior Tories like Philip Hammond and Michael Heseltine, and the Speaker of the House of Commons himself all talking of “consitutional outrage”, it is plainly preposterous to insist that the monarchy cannot, by definition, have done anything wrong.

The Queen has appointed a Prime Minister who does not have the support of the House of Commons and then has conspired to prevent the House of Commons from obstructing her Prime Minister. That is not the action of a politically neutral monarchy. The institution should have been abolished decades ago. I do hope that all those who recognise the constitutional outrage, will acknowledge the role of the monarchy and that the institution needs to be swiftly abolished...


‘Treacherous situations’

Labour MP says the monarchy could be abolished after Queen approves PM's plan to suspend Parliament

Kate Osamor, Labour MP for Edmonton ... wrote: “The Queen should look at what happened to her cousin Tino ex King of Greece when you enable a right wing coup! Monarchy abolished!” ... Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he "protested in the strongest possible terms on behalf of my party" in a letter to the Queen and called for a meeting alongside other opposition members of the Privy Council... Senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper said he was "trying to use the Queen to concentrate power in his own hands" while fellow ex-cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw said the move would "drag the monarch into an unprecedented constitutional crisis”...

--- The Queen may face more "treacherous situations" in the weeks ahead after being drawn into the "contentious and divisive" Brexit issue, an expert has said.

Mike Gordon, professor of constitutional law at the University of Liverpool, said if MPs launch a successful no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson, to challenge his proroguing of parliament, the monarch could be in a difficult position if the Tory leader refuses to resign. While, if the opposition parties manage to get legislation through parliament to stop a no-deal Brexit, the government could advise the Queen not to give it royal assent and so become law, against accepted convention...


Collapse us if you can, government dares Brexit opponents

Source: Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government on Thursday challenged opponents of Brexit in parliament to collapse the government or change the law if they wanted to thwart Britain’s exit from the European Union...

... Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit supporter who is in charge of managing government business in parliament, dared opponents to do their worst.

“All these people who are wailing and gnashing of teeth know that there are two ways of doing what they want to do,” Rees-Mogg told the BBC. “One, is to change the government and the other is to change the law. If they do either of those that will then have an effect. If they don’t have either the courage or the gumption to do either of those then we will leave on the 31st of October in accordance with the referendum result.” ...

Read more: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu/collapse-us-if-you-can-government-dares-brexit-opponents-idUKKCN1VJ0JT?il=0

Political opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament is crystalizing, with protests around Britain and a petition to block the move gaining more than 1 million signatures.

Johnson’s maneuver gives his political opponents even less time to prevent a chaotic no-deal Brexit before the Oct. 31 withdrawal deadline. But the decision outraged critics and is serving as a unifying force for the disparate opposition...


Controversial Iranian VLCC enters Turkish waters (and hesitates...)

August 29th, 2019

The Iranian VLCC Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as Grace 1, entered Turkish territorial waters this morning and appears to be on course for the port of Mersin...

... The fully laden ship must offload part of its cargo in order to transit the Suez Canal.

Meanwhile, the Stena Impero, which has been detained in Iranian waters since July 19, likely in retaliation for the capturing of the Iranian VLCC earlier, could be freed soon.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif promised today to “expedite” the legal affairs with regards to the UK-flagged tanker.


China buying Iranian oil: Trump's two biggest foreign policy headaches converge

... “I think the two issues have been converging for a while,” Ali Vaez, an Iran analyst with the thinktank Crisis Group said.. . “The main reason that China initially complied with the US … policy and significantly reduced oil imports from Iran was because it hoped it could be a card that bore some dividends in the trade negotiations. As soon as those talks ran into dead lock, China turned around and resumed oil imports from Iran.” Efforts to evade the sanctions have so far been limited, Vaez and other analysts watching the issue closely say the messaging is clear: China “can make or break the US maximum pressure policy”.

China’s change of tack in turn prompted fresh US sanctions in July targeting the Chinese crude oil importer Zhuhai Zhenrong, which accounts for more than 60% of China’s trade with Iran, for “violating US law by accepting crude oil”. Vaez notes, however, that access to Iranian oil is not simply a question of leverage for China, but reflects its long-term strategic aim not to be complicit in US moves it fears may lead to regime change in Iran. “China has a complex calculation regarding Iran. It is the only oil-rich country where the US does not have a foothold. From the point of view of China’s energy needs, Iran is very important,” he said. “But on the other hand China has bigger fish to fry with the US with trade negotiations and it needs to balance relations with other oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia.”

Sanam Vakil, a senior researcher at Chatham House, believes the subterfuges currently involved reflect a desire by both China and Iran to avoid an overt confrontation over the issue, as Tehran becomes ever more “creative” about its oil exports. For Vakil, one of the key takeaways has been the Trump administration’s inability to manage the overlapping crises it has fuelled. “It’s unfortunate for US foreign policy that it has so many interconnected crises. It’s impossible for the US government to meet all of of its objectives,” he said.

Vaez echoes the sentiment, adding that Chinese imports of Iranian oil may also have discrete support in European capitals still committed to keeping the Iran nuclear deal alive despite Washington’s unilateral withdrawal. “I’m not sure the Trump administration has the bandwidth or the strategic understanding to connect all these dots. That’s why it's been its own worst enemy. Too many of its main files, including North Korea and Iran, are dependent on how the Trump administration treats China. In practice, however, this is an administration which, when offered the opportunity to fight too many fires at same time, will jump at it.” ...


US officially launches joint maritime coalition to patrol Gulf waters

UK, Bahrain and Australia are only countries to join US-led initiative, despite global recruitment efforts

Published date: 28 August 2019 21:26 UTC

The United States launched its joint maritime security initiative in the Gulf, with the support of Australia, the United Kingdom and Bahrain... The US says the initiative is charged with protecting merchant vessels around the Strait of Hormuz - through which a third of the world’s oil passes - following Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker in the Strait last month...

... The US announced its decision to form the protective force in July, days after Iranian forces downed a US drone near the strait... The US has been trying to recruit allies for its maritime security coalition for weeks, but only the UK, Australia and Bahrain have joined. France has declined to take part, as has Germany...

... Australia has sent a warship, surveillance aircraft and an unknown number of troops to assist, while the UK has sent at least two warships. It was unclear what kind of assistance Bahrain may provide.

A civil war state of mind... (Toynbee)

... This country that self-identified so smugly as stable, tolerant and moderate, with a crown to symbolise traditions honed down the centuries, is revealed as fissile, fragile and ferociously divided. A constitution that relied on gentlemanly governments’ willingness to bow to parliament has evaporated, blown away now it’s led by a man who doesn’t give a damn for parliamentary sovereignty: taking back control is for him alone. He is ready to destroy anything that threatens his ambition.

MPs will try to stop him proroguing them. Astonishingly, this unelected prime minister has so far only spent one day in the Commons under their scrutiny, and now, after five weeks away, he will face them for just one week before banishing them for an unprecedented further five weeks. They get just one tight week to rise up and rebel, when surely they will vote in great numbers against the prorogation the Speaker calls “a constitutional outrage ... an offence against the democratic process and the rights of parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives”. Johnson’s riposte will be, “So what?” Their vote has no legal standing...

... This aggressive provocation of parliament widens the great Brexit divide into a civil war state of mind. This is the battleground Johnson seeks – himself as roguish, freewheeling representative of the people’s will, defender of the referendum versus the Westminster establishment and the elite, as represented by MPs elected to parliament. Explosive, dangerous, unresolvable, David Cameron’s reckless, Tory-pleasing referendum cut right through the constitution, and now it lies badly damaged...


When Charles I arrived in the chamber of the House of Commons in January 1642, armed guards in tow, to arrest a group of MPs for treason, it was the speaker who stood in his way. Instead of giving up the so-called traitors, speaker William Lenthall rebuked the King and reasserted the power of the Commons, telling Charles, “I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this House is pleased to direct me.”

The struggle for power between executive and legislature is not a new one. But the possibility of John Bercow taking the lead in the battle to stop Brexit offers the prospect of a modern-day stand-off, every bit as compelling as the one that took place in the months before the Civil War.

... As speaker, Bercow alone can decide what’s permitted by parliamentary precedent, and he’s shown himself willing to ignore precedent entirely and to tear up the rules when needed...

... So now will be the time for Bercow to push the nuclear button. I’m sure he will bend parliamentary procedure – or rip it up, depending on your viewpoint – to allow MPs to pass legislation requiring Johnson to seek an extension to Article 50, using a beefed-up version of the Standing Order 24 procedure, allowing for emergency debates. If there’s a prospect of revoking Article 50 before 31 October, Bercow will ensure that there is time for such a law to pass... In doing so, we would face a constitutional crisis like no other seen in modern times, with a direct stand-off between the elected government on one side, and the speaker, standing for some (but by no means all), of the House of Commons on the other...

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