Mike Vickers' Blog

September 9, 2019

The Assassination of the Mother of Parliaments

Filed under: Boris, Brexit, Britis Empire, Europe, Ireland, UK Parliament, USA, Westminster — derryvickers @ 8:43 am

The Conservative Cabinet assassinates The Mother of Parliaments and welcomes becoming a vassal of the USA.

The Guardian Editorial says it all.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/08/the-guardian-view-on-the-world-and-brexit-rue-britannia

I need to repeat in full below.

The Guardian view on the world and Brexit: rue Britannia

The case for Brexit rested largely upon two misapprehensions – or, to put it less kindly, lies. The first was the belief that engaging in a deep and broad partnership, with the necessary compromises and disadvantages that brings alongside all its benefits, was an act of treacherous self-sabotage. The second was a wholly unrealistic assessment of Britain’s international status and heft, rooted in a vague, nostalgic vision of its imperial past. A third myth sprang from these two: that a post-Brexit Britannia would emerge triumphant, a beacon of democracy, parliamentary sovereignty and prosperity, shining across the waves.

The last three years have left such ideas in tatters; the last week has ripped the remaining shreds away. Its events have left Britain appearing not only backwards-looking, irrational and divided, but fanatical, bitter, frivolous, chaotic and heedless of any legal or customary impediment to the executive. Boris Johnson promised a stroll to sunlit meadows; now he offers a grim, hellish march towards no deal, and his troops have had enough.

The most damning attacks come from within: from his MPs, and now his ministers. Amber Rudd ditched her opposition to no deal as Mr Johnson ascended the throne; now she has quit the cabinet and the Conservative whip, accusing him of an assault on “decency and democracy” for his purge of Tory veterans. In interviews she pressed home her attack, noting that legal advice on prorogation had not been given to the cabinet despite repeated requests and that there is no evidence that the government is seeking a deal, since it is devoting 80% to 90% of its time to planning for no deal.

Days before, Jo Johnson quit, citing a conflict between family loyalty and the national interest. Kenneth Clarke, ejected from the Tory benches after almost half a century, warned that a no-deal Brexit could be far more damaging to Britain’s economy than a Corbyn government. As briefings from Downing Street grew wilder, the lord chancellor felt obliged to announce that he would abide by the rule of law and had spoken to the prime minister about its importance.

Consider now the external view. The EU diplomats with whom we will have to work, with or without a deal, are ever more frustrated by the game-playing and have accused the prime minister of reneging on pledges to uphold the Good Friday agreement. (The taoiseach, who will on Monday meet Mr Johnson, has already warned that he does not expect any breakthroughs.)

But other parties are just as scathing. In his Radio 4 series As Others See Us, Neil MacGregor noted that respect for Britain’s parliamentary democracy and steady pragmatism are much diminished, and that the world sees an unsettled nation cut adrift from its moorings. One American columnist dubbed this week Britain’s stupidest hour, while Canada’s Globe and Mail, describing the appetite for national self-destruction, observed that the Tories had transformed themselves into a protest party “even while continuing to govern a Group of Seven nation with a permanent seat on the United Nations security council”. Implicit in that statement was a question: how long, in these circumstances, can we maintain this standing and hang on to these levers?

That the Trump administration cheers Britain towards the exit, as Vice-President Mike Pence did again in London this week, is a cause for concern, not reassurance. It wants to speed our course not from its deep amity towards the UK, but its deep hostility towards the EU. Any opportunity to undermine European cohesion, weakening it in global trade and diplomacy (notably vis-a-vis Iran), is welcome. A trade deal with Britain, inevitably on terms highly favourable to America, will merely be the glaze on the chlorinated chicken.

With friends like these, who needs to make more enemies? To say that Britain’s hard power has long been in decline is merely an expression of the obvious, not of doomsaying. Now the Brexiters who dreamed of restoring glory are daily eroding the soft power it amassed as its empire shrank. Those who doubted our goodwill and good intentions after the 2016 vote increasingly doubt our good sense too.

 

 

August 30, 2019

Greta Thunberg – On her way

Filed under: economics, Greta Thunberg, USA — derryvickers @ 7:48 am

I like the poster

Greta surrounded by plastic rubbish

From

https://www.theguardian.com/global/commentisfree/2019/aug/29/us-greta-thunberg-climate?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0Jlc3RPZkd1YXJkaWFuT3BpbmlvblVTLTE5MDgyOQ%3D%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=BestOfGuardianOpinionUS&CMP=opinionus_email

Let’s hope that someone in the US spends time to listen

August 28, 2019

Johnson – our new Dictator

Filed under: Boris, Brexit, Europe, USA, Westminster — derryvickers @ 5:34 pm

UK Democracy died Today. Johnson is our new dictator; just as Trump is in the US

One can only hope that, like Charles 1, he loses his head

From the Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/28/boris-johnson-election-prorogue-parliament-populist-majority

The real secret of populists, from Donald Trump to Matteo Salvini to Johnson, is the conflation of transgression with truthfulness. The willingness to engage in bigotry and violate hard-won social norms against racist, homophobic or misogynistic language convinces people that these politicians “speak their mind” and “say what they think”. Paradoxically, their lack of virtue confirms their veracity.’

Oddly while Salvini wants to remain in the EU and change it, Johnson wants to leave; perhaps to Dictate on his own.

July 25, 2019

Trump and Turbines

Filed under: Land Ownership, Shetland, Trump, USA — derryvickers @ 4:21 pm

Leaving Aberdeen for the Shetlands

Donald Trump’s Aberdeenshire estate is in the distance beyond the turbines.

Why does he complain?

Turbines off Aberdeen

Turbines off the Trump Estate

June 1, 2019

McCain v Trump

Filed under: John McCain, Trump, USA — derryvickers @ 7:38 pm

Scathing but Correct – The Scotsman Editorial Saturday 1st June 2019

‘During this time, Trump avoided conscription several times because he was a student and once because of a “bone spur” in his foot. However, in 2015, Trump had the temerity to say McCain was “not a war hero” because he was captured, saying “I like people who weren’t captured”. …In contrast, at a 2008 presidential election rally, McCain defended Barack Obama after one of his own supporters claimed the Democrat was untrustworthy and an “Arab”. “No ma’am … he’s a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as President,” McCain said as the crowd voiced their surprise.’

‘In a parallel universe, The Scotsman would have been pleased to welcome President John McCain and it is his ethos, not Trump’s, that our politicians should embrace’

https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/welcome-donald-trump-we-d-much-rather-it-was-president-john-mccain-scotsman-leader-comment-1-4939347?utm_campaign=The%20Scotsman%20-%20Daily%20RSS&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=73265722&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–AHTBcavXFUO46nzlsF-oTsHD_PIImdb2WpGvNlNvpEc-cqPI47JlanN7awxyrunHL9cScnsq4l1YvEvxrk23OVZsYTA&_hsmi=73265722

 

April 24, 2019

Nancy Pelosi on Brexit: why Irish-US diplomacy is a powerful force in border talks – Liam Kennedy

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Ireland, Politics, USA — derryvickers @ 6:00 pm

Nancy Pelosi on Brexit: why Irish-US diplomacy is a powerful force in border talks – Liam Kennedy

““Let me be clear, if the Brexit deal undermines the Good Friday Accord, there will be no chance of a US-UK trade agreement.”

For the full article

https://flipboard.com/topic/nancypelosi/nancy-pelosi-on-brexit%3A-why-irish-us-diplomacy-is-a-powerful-force-in-border-tal/a-w_Ey6CIET_CQgimrtlY0Vw%3Aa%3A2815871887-ff4a09e83f/scotsman.com

April 15, 2019

The Strange Case of Julian Assange

Filed under: Assange, Europe, Jeremy Corbyn, Patrick Cockburn, Politics, Social, USA — derryvickers @ 2:15 pm

Assange had pleaded political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last seven years.

He was eventually expelled last Thursday and arrested by the Met.

Since then many have come to his defence and an equal number have attacked him because

Julian Assange is wanted on two counts:

  1. Hacking and Leaking US military information principally on its war in Iraq
  2. Accused of rape in Sweden

You can read more about Hacking and Leaking in

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/julian-assange-wikileaks-chelsea-manning-war-democracy-a8867816.html

Cockburn believes that leaking / whistleblowing is essential in this increasingly authoritarian world and finishes his article with:

Assange is likely to pay a higher price than Ellsberg for his exposure of government secrets. The Pentagon Papers were published when the media was becoming freer across the world while now it is on the retreat as authoritarian governments replace democratic ones and democratic governments become more authoritarian.

The fate of Assange will be a good guide as to how far we are going down this road and the degree to which freedom of expression is threatened in Britain at a time of deepening political crisis.’

In his and Jeremy Corbyn’s view the UK Government should reject any US request to expatriate Assange to the US.

But to the Rape Charge, so far one case has been closed but the other is still open and the Swedish Government has yet to request expatriation. If the Swedish Government does ask for Assange to be repatriated to stand trial then the UK Government would find it difficult to refused, we are currently still part of the EU with Sweden.

Dani Garavelli in the Scotsman on Sunday:

https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/dani-garavelli-assange-apologists-make-light-rape-case-1-4906997

‘Labour backbenchers, including Diana Johnson, Stephen Kinnock, Stephanie Peacock and Stella Creasy, signed an open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid seeking assurances that every assistance would be offered to Sweden should it make an extradition request.

Garavelli noted that:

‘In the end though, as so often, it was Emily Thornberry who nailed it. “Why weren’t the Swedish authorities told in advance of Assange’s ejection from the Ecuadorian Embassy as the US clearly was? Our priority should be the alleged two victims of sexual violence in Sweden and not a ruse to get him extradited to the US as a whistleblower,” she wrote.

And that sums up the main difference between the two potential charges: A clear court case as to whether Assange did or did not rape two ladies in contrast to the undoubted leak of US extremely dubious human rights violation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At present of course Assange is in UK custody and the UK government will have to decide whether to expedite Assange to Sweden if asked, or to the US. In my view the UK should expedite to Sweden, but I don’t know if the UK Government can successfully seek a clause in the agreement to so could prevent Assange there after being expedited to the US.

Just to finish for the time being; it looks clear that the Ecuadorian Embassy was pleased to get rid of their visitor after seven years

‘I think the first thing to say is Ecuador has been making some pretty outrageous allegations over the past few days to justify what was an unlawful and extraordinary act in allowing British police to come inside an embassy,” [Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer] said’

https://www.scotsman.com/news/assange-s-lawyer-claims-ecuador-made-smears-to-justify-arrest-1-4907277

Post Script:  I have now read a similar view to my collection above. See

https://labourlist.org/2019/04/labours-response-to-the-arrest-of-julian-assange-doesnt-cut-it/

March 3, 2019

As immigration from outside Europe rises, hucksters foment racial hatred

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Immigration, Left Politics, Nick Cohen, Personal, Politics, USA — derryvickers @ 6:31 pm

As immigration from outside Europe rises, hucksters foment racial hatred

Nick Cohen in today’s Observer

A difficult read. I had to read it twice get the gist of what Nick Cohen was saying and when I did, I found his message uncomfortable for me to accept.

And what he is saying, wakes me out of my comfort zone.

Just a few extracts:

On this reading, our leftwing inquisitors who squint through mean, little eyes as they hunt for the tiniest traces of heresy, or conservatives who scream they are on the side of “the people” as they stuff their rich sponsors’ pockets with tax cuts, are US-inspired tricksters who divert their credulous followers from what matters.

Brexit is such an affront because it is a battle in a culture war as surely and pointlessly as Trump’s wall. It solves none of our old problems, just adds new ones.”

“America is no longer an aberration. America is our future. When Tony Blair was elected in 1997, 60% of the English population was white and had left school without A-levels. When Theresa May lost her majority in 2017, that proportion had fallen to 40%. Over the same period, the share of the English population who were university graduates, members of an ethnic minority group or both went from 17 to 40%. In Britain, as in the US, progressive politics will be drawn to appeal to minorities and the educated, while rightwing politics will be drawn to appealing to “the whites”.”

“From the point of view of Chris Williamson, though, “trolling the Jews”, as the Jewish Chronicle neatly put it, could help him if he runs for Labour leader. With both main parties taking away from MPs the power to elect their leaders and giving it to activists in US-style primaries, inflaming the prejudices of hardcore party members rather than appealing to the wider electorate is the opportunist’s way ahead.”

“But [Nick Timothy] can smell out the prejudices of the right like a tomcat smelling out sex. He told Telegraph readers that when the (black) MP David Lammy attacked May as “suburban”, it was a racist “dog whistle” to rally the left against the millions of suburban whites who support her. “Because what does he mean by ‘suburban’ if not white people?”

Lammy meant nothing of the sort. But notice how easily now the hucksters from right and left palm the race card from the bottom of the deck and resolve, that if you want to live in a halfway tolerable country, our first duty is to stop them.”

The full article

As immigration from outside Europe rises, hucksters foment racial hatred | Nick Cohen https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/03/as-immigration-from-outside-europe-rises-hucksters-foment-racial-hatred?CMP=share_btn_tw

BTW I note this is my 200th Blog.  But its taken a few years to do so!

 

Automation in Space

Filed under: Space, USA — derryvickers @ 2:55 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/mar/03/spacex-crew-dragon-docks-at-international-space-station

Not a great enthusiast of manned space flight.

In orbit satellites and roving space mobiles can do a lot more for less.

Nevertheless having worked for ESA and alongside NASA I can get excited by Space X’s mission to the International Space Station where the capsule docked automatically with the International Space Station.

SpaceX has sent plenty of cargo Dragons to the space station, but Crew Dragon is a different beast.

It docked autonomously instead of relying on the station’s robot arm for berthing, which is how Behnken said it should work when he and Hurley are onboard. They may push a few buttons and will have the ability to intervene if necessary, he said.

As part of Sunday’s operation, the ISS astronauts sent commands to Dragon to retreat and move forward again before the capsule made its final approach.

The ISS astronauts offered congratulations to SpaceX as they got ready to open the hatches and collect the supplies onboard Dragon.”

March 2, 2019

Make America Great. Dvorak was there long before Trump, when the US was Great.

Filed under: Music, Trump, USA, World Class — derryvickers @ 8:01 am

The RSNO, last night, under conductor Gilbert Varga,  gave a magnificent rendering of Dvorak’s New Word Symphony No 6 at the Usher Hall.
Paul Philbert on drums and the signature tune with Amy McKean on cor anglaise.

I wonder if Trump has ever spent time to listen to the symphony. Dvorak’s music conveys an entirely different vison of the US, than Trump would understand.

For a little more see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._9_(Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k)

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