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drive-by planet: Massive turnout in Crimea: 96.77 vote for integration with Russia: jubilant crowds capture the mood

There was a massive turnout in the Crimea referendum, with 81.3 percent of eligible voters participating. When the final tally was in 96.77 percent voted “yes” to integration with the Russian Federation. The way it breaks down in terms of numbers is 1,233,002 votes for integration out of a total of 1,274,096 ballots cast.

The head of the monitors’ commission, Polish MP Mateusz Piskorski, told RT: “The referendum has been organized professionally, considering there was very little time for all the institutions to prepare, all the staff for polling stations, for electoral commission… So when it comes (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Crimea votes: ‘CrossTalk’ discussion with George Galloway, Michael Hughes and Dmitry Babich

drive-by planet: Leaked phone-call links US-backed coalition in Kiev with deadly sniper attacks

A leaked phone call between Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Paet, and EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, surfaced last week. It includes the suggestion that some party connected with the opposition – the current coalition in power in Kiev – was behind the lethal sniper attacks in Independence Square that killed scores of people.

Paet refers to a doctor who worked with those who had been shot by snipers in Independence Square… “Olga” by name. Russian media has identified her as Olga Bogomolets, chief coordinator of medical aid at the earlier main protest camp in Independence Square.

Paet to Ashton: (Read more…)

Writings of J. Todd Ring: Nukes, world war, Dr. Strangelove and global showdown – Where’s Slim Pickins when you need him?

So the end-game plan for the US/NATO/EU alliance and the Western oligarchs and plutocratic elite who control it, in their bid to consolidate their present and highly precarious global dominance, seems to be, after encircling Russia and China with military bases and nuclear missiles, to eliminate Russia’s first strike response capability – which means, in […]

drive-by planet: U.S. hypocrisy on Russian involvement in Crimea

This week US president Obama raised concerns about Russian involvement in Crimea.  He said he is “deeply disturbed” by the Russian move and that “Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing.” He made reference to “costs” facing Russia for its “military intervention” – adding to warnings coming from other quarters.

It’s unsettling to listen as Obama piously evokes “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity” given the American hand in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

The US is in a class of its own when it comes riding roughshod over other nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity… US (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Ukraine’s fascist ‘heroes’ and a bleak new dawn

 Beneath: Banner of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera hangs in Kiev City Hall /  Yulia Tymoshenko

The forcible removal of Victor Yanukovych’s regime in what has been likened to a “fascist putsch” has led to an unstable and potentially dangerous situation in the Ukraine. Terms such as “democratic revolution” used by MSM to describe what has gone down in Kiev is both naive and misleading. It isn’t unlike the rose-tinted heralding of a democratic revolution in Egypt… even as general SiSi was waiting in the wings to bring down the hammer and female journalists were being subjected to sexual assault by (Read more…)

drive-by planet: ‘Into the Fire’ video: targeting of immigrants in Greece by the authorities and Golden Dawn fascists

Into the Fire sends a powerful message about the xenophobia and violence faced by immigrants in Greece struggling to survive against steep odds. A large percentage were driven to seek asylum not as a matter of choice but because of war and other problems in their countries of origin. Many have been forced to live on the street with no legal papers. Too often they are targets of harassment and physical assault, not only by fascist thugs linked to the anti-immigrant Golden Dawn but even in some cases by police who have been filmed either actively participating in attacks on (Read more…)

Things Are Good: EU Bans Cosmetics Tested on Animals

The European Union has banned the selling of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. This will make the lives of many animals better and may encourage innovations in cosmetic testing .

The ban applies to all new cosmetics and their ingredients sold in the EU, regardless of where in the world testing on animals was carried out.

The 27 EU countries have had a ban on such tests in place since 2009. But the EU Commission is now asking the EU’s trading partners to do the same.

Read more at the BBC.

CuriosityCat: Chancellor Merkel plumps for the domino theory over the ballast theory

Merkel and dominoes …

One of the fascinating things about high level crises like the eurozone one, is the role played by the men and women who have the power or lack the power to influence events. And the key person in the past five years or so is a woman some nicknamed The Iron Lady – Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Der Spiegel has a fascinating article describing her practical approach to the eurozine crisis, which includes this:

For months, Merkel wavered over whether or not Greece should remain in the euro zone. As recently as summer, she couldn’t decide

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Chancellor Merkel plumps for the domino theory over the ballast theory

CuriosityCat: Europe takes another big step towards the United States of Europe

United States of Europe?

Financial integration is one major step along the road towards eventual political integration into one massive new federal state, the USE (United States of Europe), and yesterday a significant move was made in this direction: Europe’s finance ministers have taken another major step towards closer integration, with a significant transfer of authority from national governments to the ECB, he says.

The EU had already agreed that the ECB would act as chief supervisor of eurozone banks. But the deal gives the ECB powers to close down eurozone banks that do not follow the rules. It also . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Europe takes another big step towards the United States of Europe

OpenMedia.ca: European Parliament Opposes Restrictive Measures in Both CETA and ITU

According to Internet freedom group European Digital Rights, provisions that would criminalize our Internet use may be dropped from the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA)! While the battle isn’t… . . . → Read More: OpenMedia.ca: European Parliament Opposes Restrictive Measures in Both CETA and ITU

CuriosityCat: Anglo-Franco-German ménage à trois: A Federal Europe or a confederation of Nation States?

The European Union

A struggle for the future of Europe is being waged right now by the politicians of the EU. 

Most of the fighting is being done by the leaders of France, Germany and Britain (the Big Three of Europe), with the other medium sized states putting the boot in every now and then but largely shouting encouragement from the sidelines. The big battle that is shaping up is over the contours of the future Europe. Germany: A tighter Union or Else: And the issue has been framed as a choice between two stark contracts: a move towards . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Anglo-Franco-German ménage à trois: A Federal Europe or a confederation of Nation States?

Trashy's World: Friday miscellany…

First, I am sorrow-filled for yet another young person who has taken their own life because of bullying. The message that bullying is not acceptable and can have disastrous impacts – well, it’s not getting through. Not well enough, anyhow. As a Dad, this is becoming increasingly difficult to watch. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… So the City of [...]

Impolitical: The German view of the Harper-Merkel bunfest

Despite all the hype in much of the Canadian media about this Harper-Merkel meeting featuring Canada-EU trade talks, the Germans are playing it right down: Mr. Jürgens said he doesn’t expect Mr. Harper and Ms. Merkel to have much detailed discussion about the ongoing trade talks between Canada and the European Union. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was briefly touched upon, but it definitely is a thing that belongs to a multilateral arena and is not of main interest if you have bilateral talks,” he said. “We cannot talk for 26 other countries, that’s kind of the mandate

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: The German view of the Harper-Merkel bunfest

CuriosityCat: President Hollande of France leads the way with a Tobin tax

At last we see a serious move in Europe to start the much needed process of reining in the many useless financial transactions that are part of the unregulated morass that landed us in the 2008 financial meltdown. James Tobin

Hollande’s first budget is introducing a Tobin tax on trading and swap transactions:

The 0.2 percent tax, loosely modeled on the ideas of the U.S. economist James Tobin, will be applied to the purchase of shares in 109 French companies with market capitalizations of more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion). A similar levy will be . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: President Hollande of France leads the way with a Tobin tax

Politics, Re-Spun: Blaming the People

Whenever social and economic crises develop, those in power always try to blame somebody else. For example, what caused the recession in the U.S. in 2008? Simple, it was the selfish poor who had the gall to think that they could afford to own their own homes. (And don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain, aka Wall Street).

It’s the same kind of lie told about Greece today. Supposedly, the problem is that Greeks are lazy and spoiled by an elaborate and unaffordable welfare system. (The tone is sometimes close to racist.) The solution, therefore,

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Blaming the People

The Scott Ross: Europe’s Export of Political Integration

From democracy to banking, Europe has launched institutions that have shaped the world; with its recent financial crisis, Europe might be about to do it again.

The European financial crisis is only giving further legitimacy and urgency to greater European political integration. It is argued that with many economies dependent on each other, with a shared currency and shared markets, political decisions regarding spending and financial regulations need to be centralized or at least centrally moderated.

But if that argument has force, it stands to reason that a world financial crisis could justify a similar system of political integration, only

. . . → Read More: The Scott Ross: Europe’s Export of Political Integration

CuriosityCat: The New Roadmap to The United States of Europe (USE)

It’s an ill wind that blows no-one any good, and the eurozone euro crisis is not such a wind, it seems. Having taken major steps in past decades to set up the European Union, including the euro and eurozone, the European states are now being asked to take a giant leap forward. European authorities have unveiled their vision for the future, which gives them much greater powers. It includes the creation of a European treasury, which would have powers over national budgets… The 10-year plan is designed to strengthen the eurozone and prevent future crises, but critics say it will . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: The New Roadmap to The United States of Europe (USE)

Impolitical: Mulcair on the euro crisis

This is audio from an interview Mulcair did with Michael Enright on CBC radio this weekend where the eurozone financial crisis came up:

That is a brief excerpt but I think it might indicate that the Conservative p.r. effort on Europe against the NDP may have worked. Mulcair mocks the Conservatives as having made the question of contributing to the IMF funds into a domestic partisan political game, rightly so. But he nevertheless refuses to take a position on it by stating it’s not about a “bailout,” it’s about being at the table. A central question though, of the

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: Mulcair on the euro crisis

Impolitical: You go, Paul Martin

Yeah they did: “Tories made a ‘major mistake’ in their approach to the euro crisis, Paul Martin says.” “The major mistake that the government has made is the way that it’s characterized this,” Mr. Martin said.

“The role of the G20 is to strengthen the financial institutions and the other global institutions that exist. And so, for Canada to turn its back on the IMF when the IMF is saying ‘we want more money, not simply for Europe, we want to be able to deal with the huge imbalances that exist around the world,’ I think that was a

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: You go, Paul Martin

Impolitical: More Europe bashing from the Harper crew

From the “Today’s Must Reads” on the Globe’s Politics page, an op-ed from Conservative Senator and former Harper campaign chair Doug Finley with a familiar refrain: “Europe needs to take responsibility for its own mistakes.” This is what we’ve been hearing from the PM, from Jim Flaherty and various other government supporters. It is interesting that they feel the need to keep saying it.

So what does Senator Finley have to add to the conversation? Well, not unexpectedly, he punches back at European Commissioner José Manuel Barroso who got a lot of attention in Canadian media this week when

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: More Europe bashing from the Harper crew

Impolitical: The world ponies up to the IMF

The IMF released this table at the end of the G20 yesterday showing pledges received over the past few months by countries around the world to increase IMF resources:

That’s quite a list. 37 countries including 15 of the G20 have now contributed to the IMF fund seeking to build resources at a time of great Eurozone financial uncertainty. A bunch of nations made their contributions at this G20 meeting. As we know, Canada has not contributed and that position was not widely followed among the leading nations of the world.

We also know that the Harper government has made

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: The world ponies up to the IMF

Impolitical: Statesman at work

Well this seems to have gone well, what with the takeaway platitudes of agreement between Hollande and Harper about the need for growth and for there to be stability in order to have growth.

But wait! “After Harper meets socialist president, Tories take ‘sumptuous’ Europe to task.” Well, I’m sure the French ambassador to Canada wouldn’t have taken offence to the good cop-bad cop two step thing the Conservatives had going on yesterday. Do these ambassador types ever notice such things anyway? Then relay such comments back to the mother ship?

Let’s ask the German one. Ouf.

Onwards with

Impolitical: The Harper interview

A few thoughts on the big interview last night between Harper and Peter Mansbridge on the National…

This interview seemed to have two parts to it. The primary focus was Europe, as it rightly should be. This took up more than half the interview. The European situation is a reflection of the years we’re living in. We’re in post-2008/2009 recession times that, as Harper notes, are turning toward recession once more. What happens in Europe in the near future could shock the world economies again. There’s a good analysis in the New York Times today on what could happen in

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: The Harper interview

DeSmogBlog: Dirty Energy Lobby Wins In EU – Shale Gas Now Considered “Green Energy”

lobbyist-payoff1.jpg

In a headline that would appear to be ripped off the pages of The Onion, The Guardian UK this week reported “Gas rebranded as green energy by EU.”

After billions of dollars spent in lobbying efforts over the years, the dirty energy industry in the European Union has managed to convince leaders that natural gas – produced from both traditional extraction and from fracking – is a green, clean, renewable resource, no different than solar or wind power.

From The Guardian:  

Energy from gas power stations has been rebranded as a green, low-carbon source

. . . → Read More: DeSmogBlog: Dirty Energy Lobby Wins In EU – Shale Gas Now Considered “Green Energy”