Understanding Thierry Breton: A “Club Med” Coup in Brussels?

Posted in Europe at 8:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Understanding Thierry Breton

Epilogue will follow.

Macron Club Med
Macron flanked by his “Club Med” allies, Spanish and Portuguese PMs, Sanchez and Costa, preparing for the EU version of “Game of Thrones” in June 2019

Summary: Macron must have known that Goulard’s indictment was in the pipeline, so why would he have nominated such a “ticking time-bomb” for a key EU position unless he was certain that she would never make it through the parliamentary gauntlet?

In July 2017, Reuters reported that Macron was planning a “Jupiterian” presidency – as “a remote, dignified figure, like the Roman god of gods, who weighs his rare pronouncements carefully…”

The newly-elected President’s delusions of Olympian grandeur earned him the nickname “Manupiter” in the French press. But the honeymoon period with the French electorate was brief.

Liberation on Macron
By Jove! The French press pokes fun at Macron’s delusions of Olympian grandeur

Before long the shine started to come off his would-be “Jupiterian” presidency as he was faced with increasing levels of public disaffection accompanied by their serious civil unrest of the “yellow vests” movement, a populist grassroots movement for economic justice that began in France in October 2018.

Notwithstanding the problems which have beset him on the domestic front, Macron hasn’t been deterred from pursuing his political machinations on the wider international stage, in particular at EU level in Brussels.

This series was initially inspired by the manner in which he parachuted Atos CEO, Thierry Breton, into the position of EU Commissioner for the Internal Market in the autumn of 2019.

“This series was initially inspired by the manner in which he parachuted Atos CEO, Thierry Breton, into the position of EU Commissioner for the Internal Market in the autumn of 2019.”But Breton’s appointment wasn’t Macron’s first successful “coup” at EU level.

Earlier in the year, during the summer of 2019, Macron was already playing a leading role in the political lobbying and horse-trading which led to the appointment of Christine Lagarde and Ursula von der Leyen to other top EU jobs.

The EU deal brokered by Macron in July 2019 also included the nomination of Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister and a Macron ally, for the European Council presidency and Josep Borrell, Spain’s Francophone foreign minister, to be the EU’s next High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

EU dream team
EU dream-team with “a clear French imprimatur” (from left to right): Christine Lagarde, Josep Borell, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel

The EU’s version of the “Game of Thrones” kicked off in May 2019 when European Council President Donald Tusk announced that he wanted to have the distribution of the bloc’s top jobs decided in June. It was agreed among the heads of the EU’s member states that an “emergency summit” should be held as soon as possible after the EU elections on 28 May 2019 to deal with the matter.

During the lead-up to the EU summit in June, Macron met with the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Paris. One of the main reasons for this meeting seems to have been to prepare a common “Club Med” policy on the carve-up of top jobs in Brussels.

Macron, Berlin
Political street theatre in Berlin depicting Macron and Sanchez warming up for the EU “Game of Thrones”

As reported by the Financial Times on 29 May 2019, the main objective of the common front between the “centrist” Macron and the “socialist” Sanchez was to prevent the German conservative Manfred Weber from succeeding Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission.

At the time in question, Weber was the favoured candidate of the conservative and liberal-conservative EPP bloc in the European Parliament and he seemed like the leading contender for the job.

“It was agreed among the heads of the EU’s member states that an “emergency summit” should be held as soon as possible after the EU elections on 28 May 2019 to deal with the matter.”However, with a British departure from the EU looming on the horizon, Macron’s main concern at European level was to position France in a dominant role in the post-Brexit EU.

Macron’s goal in this regard is entirely consistent with a long line of French political thought abut Europe going back to Charles de Gaulle, the “grandfather” of the Fifth Republic (and undoubtedly tinged with a degree of historical nostalgia for the Napoleonic era).

According to de Gaulle, the EU — in those days the European Economic Community (EEC) — is to be understood as a horse and carriage: Germany is the horse and France is the coachman.

As far as “Manupiter” was concerned, The EPP candidate for head of the EU Commission, Manfred Weber was a potential obstacle to his plans on the European stage.

“According to de Gaulle, the EU — in those days the European Economic Community (EEC) — is to be understood as a horse and carriage: Germany is the horse and France is the coachman.”If Weber succeeded Juncker at the head of the Commission, then it would be difficult to get Germany to dance to the Gaulliste-inspired “mélodie” which he hoped to play in Brussels.

Macron’s strategy for derailing Weber relied on outmanoeuvring the EPP by forging a cross-party “Club Med” dominated alliance between his own “centrist” Renew Europe bloc and Social-Democrats and Greens.

Along with Sanchez, the Portuguese Prime Minster António Costa was also drafted into the “Club Med” alliance and he appeared for photo-ops with Macron and Sanchez on the margins of the EU summit in Brussels on 20 to 21 June 2019.

Following the June summit, it became clear that Macron’s “Club Med” lobbying had paid off and that Weber was unlikely to get the position that he had been angling for.

The meeting on 20-21 June 2019 confirmed that Weber did not have sufficient cross-party support to enable his bid to succeed but it failed to produce a positive outcome. And so a continuation summit was scheduled to take place on 30 June to 2 July 2019.

However, Macron’s efforts to nobble Weber were causing friction with the German Prime Minister, Angela Merkel, who supported Weber’s bid to succeed Juncker.

“As far as “Manupiter” was concerned, The EPP candidate for head of the EU Commission, Manfred Weber was a potential obstacle to his plans on the European stage.”In an attempt to smooth things out with Merkel, Macron started dropping her name in public as a possible replacement candidate for Weber. For example, in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS on 12 June 2019, he said that while he could not speak for her, he would support her in any bid to become president of the EU’s executive branch of the European Union.

It seems that Merkel had no ambitions to take over the reins from Juncker and effectively ruled herself out as a candidate. But in the end, the ever-resourceful Macron came up with an ingenious proposal that would keep everybody happy — apart from Manfred Weber.

As the “Game of Thrones” in Brussels entered a further and increasingly fractious round during the summit on 30 June to 2 July 2019, Macron came up with a package which included the proposal that the beleaguered German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen should inherit Juncker’s mantle.

As already explained in the preceding part of the series, von der Leyen’s nomination suited Macron because it offered him the prospect of a Francophile ally who was open to French ideas on EU reform, particular in the areas of defence and economic integration.

“…von der Leyen’s nomination suited Macron because it offered him the prospect of a Francophile ally who was open to French ideas on EU reform, particular in the areas of defence and economic integration.”It also suited von der Leyen herself because her political future on her home ground in Germany was beginning to look increasingly uncertain.

And last but not least, the proposal suited Angela Merkel. Despite the fact that she had to drop her preferred candidate, Weber, the new candidate was also a German so she could use this in an attempt to sell the compromise to the general public back home as a “win” for Germany. And because von der Leyen, like Weber, was a member of the CDU, she could also hope to save face with her own party.

The only dissatisfied customer was the unsuccessful candidate Manfred Weber who openly expressed disappointment at his defeat and accused Macron of collaborating with the controversial Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán in a manner which “damage[ed] democratic Europe” and left the EU institutions “in a shambles”.

It seems that Macron successfully exploited tensions between the EPP and Orbán’s Fidesz party which although nominally aligned to the EPP had been suspended from the centre-right bloc in March 2019 due to alleged breaches of its values.

When Macron put his proposal on the table on the third day of tortuous political arm-wrestling it broke the deadlock and permitted the relatively amicable closure of an intense and fractious summit marked by discordant negotiations that at times looked close to collapse.

“And last but not least, the proposal suited Angela Merkel. Despite the fact that she had to drop her preferred candidate, Weber, the new candidate was also a German so she could use this in an attempt to sell the compromise to the general public back home as a “win” for Germany.”The outcome of the marathon political horse-trading session was acclaimed in the French press as a major international triumph for Macron: “Game, set and match” as the headline in the French daily Libération put it.

According to Politico, the French President had much to smile about because the deal resulted in three Francophones in the top jobs, including not only a French president of the European Central Bank but also a European Commission president who owed her job to Macron and was largely sympathetic to his ideas about EU reform.

The Economist hailed the deal as “a victory for France” and reported that Macron was having “a good summer”.

The Independent reported that Macron had emerged “victorious” and described him as “Europe’s new king- or queen-maker”.

In a similar vein, the Financial Times described Macron as the “winner of the week” after the acceptance of the deal which bore “a clear French imprimatur”. Macron had succeeded in installing Mr Michel, one of his closest allies, in the European Council and he could count on Lagarde at the ECB to do whatever it took to defend the Eurozone. “No wonder he was exultant”, the FT concluded.

Macron’s success in brokering a deal for a line-up with “a distinctly French flavor” was seen by Reuters as a sign that he was likely to wield greater influence at EU level in coming years.

According to an EU diplomat cited by Reuters: “He was the force behind getting Von der Leyen into the Commission, his liberal ally Michel got the Council and he lined up Lagarde nicely for the ECB, while Borrell and von der Leyen also speak fluent French.”

“When Macron put his proposal on the table on the third day of tortuous political arm-wrestling it broke the deadlock and permitted the relatively amicable closure of an intense and fractious summit marked by discordant negotiations that at times looked close to collapse.”Reuters concluded that Macron’s “coup” at the EU Summit in July 2019 meant that he had staked his claim to the mantle of de facto EU leader as Angela Merkel’s political career was entering its twilight phase.

But Macron’s torpedoing of the EPP candidate Weber came back to haunt him later in the year when he got a slap in the face from the EPP bloc which successfully mobilised a parliamentary majority in October 2019 to reject Sylvie Goulard’s nomination as EU Commissioner.

Thierry Breton, the next candidate proposed by Macron, had better luck and managed to scrape through the parliamentary hearing despite receiving an intense grilling from Social Democratic and Green MEPs.

Given that Macron knew that the EPP was itching to pay him back for nobbling Weber, Breton’s success raises the following $100 billion question:

Is it possible that Breton was really Macron’s preferred choice as Commissioner?

In other words, could it be that Goulard was only a pawn in Macron’s game, an unsuspecting sacrificial lamb to be thrown to the EPP wolves in the hope that their thirst for vengeance would be satisfied after they had managed to savage her to (political) death?

“A skilled operator like Macron would surely have understood that it was not politically feasible for the EPP interest to repeatedly reject any and every candidate which he proposed as this would give the impression that the group was driven solely by vindictive bloody-mindedness.”It’s worth recalling that before Goulard’s rejection, an accidentally leaked tweet from the EPP — which was quickly deleted — revealed the intensity of the group’s ill-will towards Macron’s nominee: “Guys we are going to kill her in the vote later but do not say.”

A skilled operator like Macron would surely have understood that it was not politically feasible for the EPP interest to repeatedly reject any and every candidate which he proposed as this would give the impression that the group was driven solely by vindictive bloody-mindedness.

Even to the most casual observer, it was a no-brainer that the EPP would be more likely to let a second nominee get through after having had the opportunity to exact revenge on the first one.

There’s no way of knowing for sure whether or not the hypothesis is correct but if it is, then it would mean that Breton really was Macron’s number one choice for the EU Commissioner job.

“Macron must have known that Goulard’s indictment was in the pipeline, so why would he have nominated such a “ticking time-bomb” for a key EU position unless he was certain that she would never make it through the parliamentary gauntlet?”That wouldn’t be surprising. As a matter of fact, Goulard seems to have been nothing more than a token “gender balance” candidate put forward by Macron in order to keep on the right side of von der Leyen. Macron himself claimed to have expressed doubts to von der Leyen about Goulard’s chances of getting through the nomination process.

Indeed, shortly after Breton’s nomination had been confirmed at the end of November 2019, the French media reported that Goulard, had been formally indicted by the Court of Paris for embezzlement of funds in the employment of EU parliamentary assistants.

Macron must have known that Goulard’s indictment was in the pipeline, so why would he have nominated such a “ticking time-bomb” for a key EU position unless he was certain that she would never make it through the parliamentary gauntlet?

If Goulard’s nomination had been accepted by the EU Parliament, the fallout from her subsequent indictment in Paris could have been fatal to Macron. How likely is it that a professional Machiavellian like Macron would have taken such a risk?

“It’s a fair bet that Macron would prefer to have his old Rothschild buddy Thierry — rather than Sylvie — as his dining partner on those taxpayer-funded outings to expensive restaurants in Brussels.”The closer one looks at Goulard’s nomination, the more it seems that she was nothing more than a sacrificial pawn in Macron’s “Game of Thrones” in Brussels.

And last but not least, let’s not forget that it was Breton — not Goulard — who featured on the guest list for the state banquet hosted at the White House by Trump in Macron’s honour in April 2018.

It’s a fair bet that Macron would prefer to have his old Rothschild buddy Thierry — rather than Sylvie — as his dining partner on those taxpayer-funded outings to expensive restaurants in Brussels.

And as that exclusive nosh-up in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has come up once again, it’s time to turn our attention to another of the star guests at the “$132 billion dinner”, the LVMH Group CEO, Bernard Arnault, reportedly the richest man in Europe and third richest in the world.

Arnault's 100 billion

We previously looked at the connections, both professional and personal, between Thierry Breton and France’s Lord of Luxury. In the next part of the series, we will examine the links between the LVMH CEO and Breton’s current political patron, Emmanuel Macron.

Links 21/12/2019: Catfish 1.4.11, Sailfish OS Nuuksio

Posted in News Roundup at 12:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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                xwm: debug _XWAYLAND_ALLOW_COMMITS
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      • Programming/Development

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          We work with MSVC 2019 on Windows and all worked fine with LLVM 9.x, but with master, close to all my tests did now segfault in aligned_free.

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        • Object-Oriented Programming Concepts

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        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Testing your Bash script

            In the first article in this series, you created your first, very small, one-line Bash script and explored the reasons for creating shell scripts. In the second article, you began creating a fairly simple template that can be a starting point for other Bash programs and began testing it.


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            Done? Great! Let’s now look at some good practices when using variables.

      • Standards/Consortia

        • How to Get Around Matrix and Riot with a Screen Reader

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    • The forgotten guardian Sergey Sotnikov maintained an abandoned runway for free in northern Russia. Then, a malfunctioning passenger jet appeared overhead.

      Sergey Sotnikov was, until his retirement this October, the manager of a helicopter landing pad in Izhma, a small town in the north of Russia’s Komi Republic. For 12 years after the airport where the helipad was located shut down, Sotnikov maintained its only runway nonetheless — all on his own initiative and without pay. In 2010, a malfunctioning Tupolev Tu-154 jet was forced to make a crash landing near Izhma, and the runway Sotnikov had kept intact and clear of debris saved the lives of the passengers and crew. Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev traveled to Izhma to ask Sotnikov about his life and his regrets since then.

    • A Tempestuous Noise

      I first became aware of William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest in Junior High. Our English class was reading Romeo and Juliet and each student was assigned to read another Shakespeare work of our own choosing. I chose King Lear, mostly because I felt an affinity with Lear’s youngest daughter Cordelia. Later in my life I would also find an affinity with Falstaff—at least his preference for certain beverages. A girl who sat next to me in English class chose The Tempest. The general perception in our class was that this play was a fairy tale complete with a king, a prince, a princess, a whimsical spirit and a bad guy. The year was 1967. Little did we know that in the world outside our suburban classroom all of those characters and the play itself were being reconsidered and radically redefined.


      This reevaluation reflected the changes wrought by capitalism, its advances and its intrusions. To put it simply (perhaps too simply), the African Caliban, whose origins as the illegitimate son of a Black witch had so often cast him as villain, was recast as a revolutionary representative of the colonized—the people sold into slavery, forced to work their stolen homeland and die like so many insects. Prospero, the banished king whose magic allowed him to regain his throne and ensure his daughter’s future was newly perceived as the colonizer and enslaver of not only Caliban, but of the spirit Ariel, too. All that was once right-side up was now upside down. In other interpretations more favorable to capitalism, it is Prospero—whose power is based in his book-learning and knowledge—that is the revolutionary.


      Ms. Scott has written a fascinating and lively take on a fascinating drama that involves history, revolution and reaction. An approachable text even for those not versed in Shakespeare, Scott’s argues that The Tempest is a work which both reveals and in retrospect critiques capitalism: its revolutionary changes to human existence and its counterrevolutionary actions against those who would move humanity beyond it. She truly knows her subject, having read, viewed, analyzed and considered multiple renditions of Shakespeare’s tale. As a result, Shakespeare’s Tempest and Capitalism is considerably more than a history of the play, as performed, rewritten, critiqued and referred to. It is also a history of British, and ultimately Western capitalism, colonialism and imperialism and the resistance to its predation and degradations.

    • Sesame Street Saved My Young Mind-Now We May Need to Save It

      When I grew up in the 1970s, my father often sat in an alcoholic or drug-induced stupor.

    • Ovid: a Netflix for the Left

      After reading the reviews below, you’d likely agree that Ovid is an invaluable resource for the left. Launched on March 22, it aggregates films from eight different cutting edge film distributors, including some whose documentaries and narrative films I have reviewed over the years: First Run, Bullfrog, and Icarus. These are the kinds of films that show up in art houses like the Cinema Village in NY or the Laemmle in Los Angeles but generally for a week or less. They may show up on Amazon or iTunes, but you will never get a head’s up as you would if you were an Ovid subscriber. The main benefit of subscribing for $6.99 per month (a real pittance) is the convenience of having an intelligently organized website that categorizes films geared to its intended audience. While Netflix groups film by genres such as horror or crime, Ovid groups them, for example, by “Don’t Mourn, Organize.” In that category, you can find “No Gods, No Masters: A History of Anarchism,” “Eugene V. Debs: American Socialist,” and the 1967 groundbreaking documentary “Far From Vietnam.” In addition to such radical documentaries, you will find avant-garde narrative films from Chantal Akerman, Claire Denis, and Marcel Ophüls. So, don’t hesitate. Ovid is the Netflix the left has always needed, supporting evidence from the reviews beneath…

    • Straw Men, False Analogies, and Other Crimes Against Sound Reasoning

      One of the most pervasive informal fallacies, I explain to my students, is the “straw man” argument. A straw man argument, a version of a larger class of fallacies known as ignoratio elenchi, “occurs when an opponent’s point of view is distorted in order to make it easier to refute” (“Fallacies,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) Sometimes this is done deliberately. Progressive political programs, for example, are caricatured as “everyone gets a pony.”

    • Humanizing Christmas

      Peace in our world—and in any would-be inclusive community—greatly depends on un-deifying the “Prince of Peace.” Christians need to un-wrap the supernatural signs surrounding the baby in the manger and see in him the humanity that is within every human being. That is a great challenge for many Christians who find their identity—and superiority—in the New Testament’s heavenly signs heralding the prophesized birth of a “Prince of Peace.” (See Isaiah 9: 6)

    • The Other Christmas Oratorio

      Amidst the avalanche of Amazon boxes and the mountains of plastic junk, it might seem irrelevant to point out that the most lasting symbols of the Christmas season are of German origins—from St. Nicholas’s long white flowing beard to the evergreen tree hung with ornaments and hymned with O Tannenbaum.

    • Science

    • Education

      • The Education Department is Ripping Off Defrauded Students

        Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is back in the news on a topic close to my heart: student loans.

      • Schools Aren’t Supposed to Forcibly Restrain Children as Punishment. In Illinois, It Happened Repeatedly.

        The adults gathered in a hotel ballroom in Peoria — school employees, caregivers, health care workers — fell silent as their instructor, a muscled and tattooed mixed martial arts fighter, stared at them to demand attention.

        Over five days of training, the participants would learn how to physically control children who pose a danger to themselves or others. But first, Zac Barry focused on what he views as the most important lesson.

      • How We Reported This Story

        Before the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois published “The Quiet Rooms,” an investigation into the practice of isolating students in seclusion spaces, the state of Illinois did not collect any data on how often public schools seclude or physically restrain students, including why they did it or what types of restraint they used.

        Though state rules required schools to document each incident in detail, these records were not submitted for review to the Illinois State Board of Education or any other state agency.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Google, Apple, and Amazon Work Together to Develop Open-Source Smart Home Standard [Ed: This is openwashing -- this isn't what Free software or even "open source" means]

              If you follow this website, you know how many different smart home devices there are as well as how many different protocols for them. That’s where it can get confusing: this device works with Alexa and Google Assistant. So does this device, but it also works with Apple HomeKit. This device only works with Alexa. This device works with all of them as well as IFTTT. And each of those devices has different capabilities outside of the voice assistants and IFTTT. It can lead to confusion and lead to you buying many different hubs just to get everything working together.

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Second Circuit Says Warrantless Backdoor Searches Of NSA Collections Might Violate The Fourth Amendment

              The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has suggested — not exactly ruled — that backdoor searches of Section 702 collections targeting Americans (citizens and permanent residents) is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

            • Federal Study on Racial Biases in Facial Recognition Technology Confirms Warnings of Civil Liberties Groups

              African American and Asian American men were misidentified 100 times as often as white men.

            • Victory: Brookline Votes to Ban Face Surveillance

              With the passage of Article 25 on December 11, the town of Brookline, Massachusetts, became the fifth municipality in the nation to ban its government agencies from using face surveillance. 

              Brookline joins nearby Somerville as the two Massachusetts municipalities to have banned face surveillance. The two Metro-Boston area municipalities have chosen to protect their residents now, rather than wait for the passage of state-level protections. Massachusetts is poised to become the first state in the nation to enact a state-level moratorium on all use of the technology. Brookline’s State Senator Cynthia Stone Creem sponsored a bill (S.1385) that would impose a moratorium on government use of the technology throughout the commonwealth. That moratorium would remain in place until state lawmakers enact an authorizing statute that clearly outlines what agencies are permitted to use the technology, requires audits, protects civil liberties, and establishes minimum accuracy rates to prevent disparate impact against women, people with darker skin, and young people. Polling from the ACLU of Massachusetts has indicated high levels of support for the statewide moratorium, with 79 percent of likely Massachusetts voters voting in favor.

            • San Francisco Amends Facial Recognition Ban After Realizing City Employees Could No Longer Use Smartphones

              In May, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to ban facial recognition tech by city agencies. Being on the cutting edge has its drawbacks, as the city has now found out several months later. Tom Simonite and Gregory Barber of Wired report the city’s legislation inadvertently nuked many of its employees’ devices.

            • Using Trump As A Prop, The Myth Of ‘Anonymized’ Cell Data Is Finally Exposed

              As companies and governments increasingly hoover up our personal data, a common refrain to keep people from worrying is the claim that nothing can go wrong because the data itself is “anonymized”–or stripped of personal detail. But time and time again, studies have shown how this really is cold comfort; given it takes only a little effort to pretty quickly identify a person based on access to other data sets. Yet most companies, policy folk, and government officials still act as if “anonymizing” your data means something. It’s simply not true.

            • NY Times Shows The Scope Of The Cell Location Data Scandal Nobody’s Doing Anything About

              First there was the Securus and LocationSmart scandal, which showcased how cellular carriers and data brokers buy and sell your daily movement data with only a fleeting effort to ensure all of the subsequent buyers and sellers of that data adhere to basic privacy and security standards. Then there was the blockbuster report by Motherboard showing how this data routinely ends up in the hands of everyone from bail bondsman to stalkers, again, with only a fleeting effort made to ensure the data itself is used ethically and responsibly.

            • Top EU Court’s Adviser Says Personal Data Can Be Transferred Using ‘Standard Contractual Clauses’ — But Also Suggests That Privacy Shield Should Be Ruled Invalid

              As is usual for cases being considered by the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), before the main ruling a senior legal adviser offers a preliminary opinion. Although the view by the Advocate General is not binding on the court, it often gives a good idea of how things will go. That makes some of the issues raised in a new opinion by Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe (pdf) concerning the EU’s GDPR privacy regulation particularly interesting. The case is yet another one triggered by a complaint from the privacy activist Max Schrems as a result of Snowden’s revelations. The background is summed up well by the press release on the Advocate General’s opinion (pdf):

            • New low cost traffic analysis attacks and mitigations

              Practical website traffic fingerprinting attacks against the live Tor network have been limited by the sheer quantity and variety of all kinds (and combinations) of traffic that the Tor network carries. The paper reviews some of these practical difficulties in sections 2.4 and 7.3.

              However, if specific types of traffic can be isolated, such as through onion service circuit setup fingerprinting, the attack seems more practical. This is why we recently deployed cover traffic to obscure client side onion service circuit setup.

            • Facebook stops using phone numbers to make friend suggestions

              Facebook Inc. will no longer feed user phone numbers provided to it for two-factor authentication into its “people you may know” feature, as part of a wide-ranging overhaul of its privacy practices, the company told Reuters.

              Revelations last year that Facebook was using personal data obtained for two-factor authentication to serve advertisements enraged privacy advocates, who called the practice deceptive and said it eroded trust in an essential digital security tool.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Chronicle of a Coup Foretold

        Will the US left work to normalize the impending coup attempt in Mexico the way it did for Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil and Nicaragua?

      • Gladio: the Story of a Conspiracy
      • Two feds dead Here’s what we know about Moscow’s shootout, a day later

        On the evening of December 19, Russia’s Federal Security Service building in downtown Moscow was attacked. In a chaotic exchange of gunfire, two federal agents were killed and another four people were injured (one of whom is still in critical condition). One of the less severely wounded victims is a civilian. The assailant, who was also killed, reportedly carried a backpack filled with grenades and an explosive device, which a robot later defused. Federal investigators have confirmed that the man responsible for the attack was Evgeny Manyurov. His photograph is now circulating online. Meduza reviews what we know so far about this deadly incident.

      • We analyzed videos from Moscow’s FSB headquarters shooting. One of the injuries was likely caused by security agents after the shooter was dead.

        Meduza has analyzed eyewitness videos from the December 19 shooting at Moscow’s Lubyanka Square. In the attack, 39-year-old Yevgeny Manyurov targeted the headquarters of Moscow’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and two FSB employees died. Their names are not yet known. Manyurov himself was shot by special forces. However, combining several videos of the shooting demonstrates that shots likely continued to be fired even after Manyurov was killed. This means at least one of the victims may have been shot by security officials because the various agencies on site did not coordinate their actions, multiple sources told Meduza.

      • The Real Lesson of Afghanistan Is That Regime Change Does Not Work

        The trove of U.S. “Lessons Learned” documents on Afghanistan published by the Washington Post portrays, in excruciating detail, the anatomy of a failed policy, scandalously hidden from the public for 18 years. The “Lessons Learned” papers, however, are based on the premise that the U.S. and its allies will keep intervening militarily in other countries, and that they must therefore learn the lessons of Afghanistan to avoid making the same mistakes in future military occupations.

      • ‘I Was Wrong’: Bernie Sanders Admits Barbara Lee Only Member of Congress in 2001 Who Had it Right on Afghan War

        “Politicians never ever ever say that. Ever.”

      • Across the Balkans: Assassination in Sarajevo
      • Militarism: The Delusion Lives

        The annual defense budget, passed recently by both the House (377-48) and Senate (82-8), came in at $738 billion for 2020, up from last year a sweet $22 billion.

      • ICC to Probe Alleged War Crimes in Palestine

        The court’s chief prosecutor says “there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”

      • How We Reconstructed the Flawed Navigation Controls Behind the Navy’s Worst Maritime Accident in 40 Years

        In the deadly 2017 crash of the USS John S. McCain, sailors needed to figure out the ship’s computerized navigation system to avert disaster, working through their confusion and fear to find solutions. They ultimately could not, and 10 sailors died.

        Investigations done by the Navy and the National Transportation Safety Board produced thousands of pages of information and analysis, and the shared conclusion that the complex navigation system installed on the McCain a year before the crash had played a critical role in the fatal accident in the Pacific.

      • Senate GOP Sabotaged Effort to Keep White Nationalists Out of Military

        Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said Republicans in Congress quietly removed the term “white nationalist” from a defense bill amendment aimed at keeping white nationalists out of the military.

      • US: Extend Temporary Protected Status for Yemen

        The United States government should ensure that the approximately 1,250 Yemenis currently living in the US are not deported to their war-torn country, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen, which expires on March 3, 2020.

        The US has contributed to the dire situation in Yemen by continuing to supply weapons to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition responsible for numerous violations of the laws of war in Yemen.

      • Lebanon: Excessive Force Against Protesters
      • Foreign fighter stripped of Danish citizenship sues immigration minister

        In this case, the man was also a Turkish citizen, had already been summoned by the Danish police for terrorism, and there was an arrest warrant out for him.

        The new law allows Danes with dual citizenships who have exhibited behaviour contrary to Denmark’s vital interests, including fighting for Islamic State, to be stripped of their Danish citizenship.

      • Major internet disruption registered across Iran

        Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm disruptions to multiple fixed-line and mobile providers in Iran on the morning of Thursday, 19 December. The outage had partial but severe impact for just over two hours and corresponded with lesser internet disruptions in nearby countries.

      • Optical fiber cables are cut at multiple locations around the world at the same time, and the Internet is blocked in Eastern Europe, Iran, Turkey, etc.

        Fiber optic cables that support the Internet in Eastern Europe, Iran, Turkey, etc. were physically cut on Thursday, December 19, 2019, and it was found that Internet access was blocked for about two hours. A situation where multiple cables are disconnected at the same time is usually not considered possible.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • How photos that allegedly showed France shipping weapons to terrorists in Mali… turned out to be fake

        Photos purporting to show the seizure of a large cache of weapons have been making the rounds in WhatsApp groups run by Malians and Nigerians. While the posts aren’t in agreement over where the seizure took place, most all of them agree that the containers packed with weapons were shipped from France and were bound for Kidal, in northern Mali, which is home to several armed groups. Turns out, however, that is not even close to the real story behind these photos.

    • Environment

      • Bernie Sanders: Spend Money on the Climate Instead of Weapons

        Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has a suggestion: stop spending so much money on the military and global warfare, and instead put it toward fighting climate change.

        He made the argument during Thursday night’s Democratic Party debate, The Hill reports. Sanders, who’s previously introduced legislation to declare a state of emergency to mobilize against the existential threat that climate change poses, argued that the money to fund climate programs exists — but it’s being spent in the wrong places.

      • Marine climate impacts are intensifying

        Fish catches are falling in the Gulf of Maine, Baltic cod are getting smaller. Sharks suffer acid waters’ effects as marine climate impacts grow.

      • After Telling Moderator Climate Question ‘Misses the Mark,’ Sanders Says Real Issue Is Will We ‘Save the Planet for Our Children and Grandchildren’

        “Instead of spending $1.8 trillion a year on war, globally, on weapons of destruction,” said Sanders, “maybe we pool our resources and fight our common enemy which is climate change.”

      • Diversity Rules Environment, OK?

        Could some of the most talked of solutions to climate chaos have the reverse effect and make things worse? Some critics think so, and they aren’t “deniers” who think climate change isn’t real. The concept of “net zero” carbon emissions, for example, might actually help industry pollute, because one of the commonest ways to reach for it is through “carbon offsets.” This means that if a corporation is responsible for a ton of carbon dioxide emissions – which is bad – but at the same time it funds a project which “captures” (or “sequesters”) a ton of carbon – which is good – then the “net emissions” come to zero, as one is subtracted from, or “offset” against, the other.

      • Russian Fridays For Future youth climate activist jailed for six days

        Arshak Makichyan, who has held climate strikes for 40 weeks straight as part of the Fridays For Future (FFF) youth movement inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, has been sentenced to six days in jail for an October 25 protest. Greenpeace Russia coordinator Konstantin Fomin posted online about the ruling from the Meshchansky District Court. The sentence represents the first time an FFF activist has been jailed in Russia; it may be the first time an FFF member has been held for their activities for multiple days anywhere in the world.

      • Capitalism and the Limits of Greening

        The idea of a Green New Deal, including the one proposed by a group of Democrats led by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is hardly novel on the world scene, though potentially consequential for American politics. European Green parties, for example, introduced far-reaching policies in support of an ecological (sustainable) model of development as early as 1980. A few other European leftist parties later arrived at their own “greening” initiatives to mitigate climate disruption. The much-smaller U.S. Greens followed suit. Even the authoritarian Chinese government has introduced its own program to curb greenhouse emissions while theoretically reducing fossil-fuel consumption.

      • Climate Crisis Rages in Australia, With 14 of 15 Hottest Places in World and Sydney Fire-Besieged

        Australia is a major exporter of coal and other hydrocarbons, and with 0.7 percent of the world population is responsible for 5% of carbon dioxide emissions if exported fuels are counted. That is staggering.

      • ‘A Win for the Planet!’: Dutch Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling Mandating Climate Action

        The nonprofit that brought the case called it “a groundbreaking decision that confirms that individual governments must do their fair share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

      • If You See Something, Say Something

        I crossed a wooden footbridge, holding my younger grandson in my left arm. My right hand held the hand of my older grandson. Suddenly the bridge shifted. Planks broke, jutting up, down, creating gaps. Balance gone, I fell against the few planks that remained intact, managing to keep the baby close to my side, yet my other grandchild was slipping from the edge. Lightning fast, I reached, grabbing one of his ankles as I screamed for help and then abruptly woke from this dream, my heart thump, thump, thumping.


        According to this study, the US Department of Defense “is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum…the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” Yet the Senate just approved a Pentagon spending bill of nearly $740 billion. Clearly, some countries are attempting to meet climate goals, but not the one in which I reside.

        A couple of months ago, I was the only coal plant protester when our stalwart leader, Gary Richards, was out of town. I watched trucks pull in. Occasionally the person behind the wheel would look at me and nod. Most of the drivers stared ahead, ignoring. I decided to enter the building and talk with employees. Carrying my “SAY NO TO COAL” sign, I ascended stairs. I wanted to speak with employees about how they felt when they thought the plant was going to close, before University of North Carolina administrators made a decision to postpone converting to energy that won’t destroy our planet.

        The woman at reception eyed me with suspicion. I said, “I support sustainable energy but don’t want anyone to lose their job.” She said that although they were assured they’d have a job there was still concern. Then she gave me her card and wrote the name and phone number of the plant manager. Once at home, I called him, leaving a message. When he returned my call, he said the plant was in the process of converting to natural gas. Yes, this means fracking. I pictured water, pouring from faucets, igniting, and contamination of both water and soil. Pollution that causes illness—damage to our bodies and to Earth.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

      • Overpopulation

        • World’s population to hit 7.75 billion in 2019

          The same report also predicted that by the same year, more than half the world’s population would be concentrated in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States. In addition, India is expected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2027.

    • Finance

      • When it Comes to Corporate Taxes, it’s Always Christmas

        As we all know, the largest US corporations and their chief executives were the main beneficiaries of Trump’s so-called tax reform in 2017. A new report from the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), based on the records of 379 of the Fortune 500 corporations, tells us just how much they benefited.

      • Dread and Circuses: Powerful Forces Diverting Attention From Imperative Measures Through Crass Distractions

        It may be tempting to obsess over the ways that the two main parties diverge, but it might be more important to note when they agree. 

      • Good Riddance to the WTO

        The World Trade Organization (WTO) is on its last legs now that the Trump administration has blocked the appointment or reappointment of judges to the appeals court of its Dispute Settlement Mechanism — which is the central pillar of the 24-year-old multilateral body.

      • ‘Responsibility for This Crisis Belongs on the Corporations That Have Created It.’
      • My Home Is a Place That Feels Safe. For Too Many Families, That’s Not the Case.

        I’m writing this sitting in my kitchen, at a table for two my husband inherited from his grandmother. We have a small house in Murphysboro, in southern Illinois, and we have made it our own. I especially love it this time of year. Stockings hang from the fireplace mantel near the tree, which is decorated with an eclectic collection of ornaments we both brought to our marriage.

        My dog is staring at me, wondering if he can have some of my toast. I’m wearing fuzzy slippers and drinking hot tea. There’s a light dusting of snow outside, but it’s warm in here. This is my home. It’s a place that feels safe. I spend a lot of time thinking about my home and how where we live becomes part of who we are. Where we live determines the air we breathe, where children go to school and the people we are surrounded by. Whether renting or owning, where people live has a profound impact on their quality of life.

      • Social Media Made America Tired of Rich People

        Earlier this week, photos began circulating of a recent subterranean fundraising dinner starring the presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg. Held in a glittering, ambiently lit wine cave in California’s Napa Valley, the party might have been a rich wedding reception or a set piece from HBO’s plutocrat drama Succession, except for a man wearing shorts sitting near Buttigieg. From the ceiling hung a massive inverted tree—or, the party being in a cellar, maybe a root system—tipped with Swarovski crystals. During last night’s Democratic debate, the fete had its moment above ground, when Senator Elizabeth Warren said, “Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.”

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Divisiveness and Beyond

        “Narrative,” the word, is in its political heyday. Politicians need to assert their narrative before their opponent does it for them. They need to change it or find it or test it or deny it. We live in an angry jousting of competing narratives, each seeking to crush, scrunch, destroy and annihilate the other. But not by old fashioned empirical and rational methods in the sciences or direct and circumstantial evidence in the courtroom.

        Justin E.H. Smith in Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason describes the point at which our current arena of competing narratives reached after the Trump election, an election which meant “the near total disappearance of a shared space of common presuppositions from which we might argue through our differences.”

        That space which was formerly shared is now a gazillion spaces in cyberspace, some briefly colliding in social media, most totally oblivious of the existence of other spaces.

        We are all now in our own cubicles of truth and reality.

        Narratives are either engaging to scale or they’re not. Is there a Democratic candidate who will be as engaging on stage as Donald J. Trump? Are Elizabeth Warren’s many plans for many things as engaging as one thoughtless tweet of our president? Does critical reasoning influence us or do social media “Influencers” now own that space?

      • More Fascist Nonsense from a Disgraced President

        In the demented mind of the disgraced fascist oligarch Donald “Perfect Call” Trump, “the Radical Left Democrats have been trying to impeach me from Day 1.” This is nonsense on at least three levels.

      • U.K. Lawmakers OK Johnson’s Brexit Bill, Pave Way to Exit EU

        Britain took a big step towards the European Union exit door on Friday when lawmakers gave preliminary approval to Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s EU divorce bill in a decisive vote that broke years of political deadlock over Brexit.

      • Boris, Brexit and the Irish Border

        One country, two systems. Britain is leaving the European Union. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is not leaving on the same terms.

      • Boris Johnson’s Britain

        Britain is looking drenched at the moment; colours blue and yellow seem to be streaking through the country. The Scottish Nationalists have re-asserted control lost to the Conservatives in 2016. In the rest of the country, seats never touched by Tory Blue have are now occupied by the party of Boris Johnson. Yet again, British politics shows that the posh boys, when it comes to moments of crisis, can pull in the deluded, and denuded working class. This must count as the political version of Stockholm syndrome, the working class playing hostages finding affection for their Tory tormenters.

      • Trump is Leading a “Revolution” to Destroy America

        As the House of Representatives moved toward impeaching President Donald Trump this week — by what all predict will be a vote divided largely by party — it is time for reflection.

      • Trump as Jim Jones?

        Cults usually are one-man religions. A magnetic, dictatorial, dogmatic, demagogue draws throngs of followers and leads them into lala-land, sometimes dangerously.

      • The Hill Can’t Stop Spreading Misinformation About Trump’s Impeachment

        The site’s social media strategy sows confusion and spreads lies.

      • Where Tulsi Gabbard is Wrong and Where She is Correct

        Tulsi Gabbard’s non-vote regarding the impeachment of Donald Trump has made her the target of great disdain from people who identify as democrats.

      • Trial and Error: Pelosi’s Foolish Impeachment Ploy

        To the extent that the third presidential impeachment in US history is a “victory” — the public jury is still out on that question and likely to remain so for some time — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seems determined to snatch defeat from its jaws.

      • The Radical Underuse of Impeachment

        Al Capone wasn’t prosecuted for tax evasion because it’s cool or smart or strategic to prosecute murderers for lesser crimes, but because proving murder in court was going to be more difficult.

      • The Fix is In

        The impeachment and trial of Donald Trump is aimed as much at Bernie Sanders (and, to a lesser extent, Liz Warren, though she’s rapidly falling in line with the establishment) as it is at the President, if indeed it is aimed at him at all. As is often said, the Democratic Party establishment would rather lose with Trump than win with Sanders. A New Deal Democrat poses more of a bottom line threat to the corporate establishment than the fascist Trump, and the Democratic Party represents the interests of the corporate establishment no less than the Republicans and the wicked buffoon in the White House. Trump’s letter to Nancy Pelosi is chilling and politically brilliant. He is playing to his fascist base with great effect, a relatively easy thing, because the Democrats are corrupt and feckless. Nobody knows this better than Trump supporters, and nobody knows this less than “progressives.” My dear progressive friends are so obsessed with Trump that they have lost the critical distance to observe the vile machinations and total sellout (for 30 years at least) of the Democratic Party to corporate interests.

      • Why Is Trump Finding More Protection Than Nixon Did?

        Richard Nixon was a crafty president, at war with his political enemies but inclined to carry out most of his battles behind the scenes. Donald Trump trumpets his grievances, using public lashings to diminish his enemies and nip at allies who anger him. Nixon began his second term in January of 1973 with support from nearly 70 percent of the American people. Mr. Trump’s public approval has never hit 50 percent, according to the Gallup poll. Nixon saw his support steadily erode as details of the Watergate scandal trickled out. Mr. Trump’s support has held steady despite a fire hose of accusations. His approval rating stood at a typical 43 percent when the House opened its impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24.

        Ultimately, Nixon resigned after losing the support of his own party, while Mr. Trump is likely to survive a Senate trial as he runs for re-election with strong backing from his party. The difference between the two embattled presidents isn’t necessarily measured best by the severity of the accusations or the solidity of the evidence against them. Instead, factors unrelated to the facts are shielding Mr. Trump to a degree that Nixon would have envied. What are they? Here’s our assessment of how the two impeachment dramas played out:

      • Amid Impeachment Furor, GOP ‘Hijacking’ of Courts Continues as McConnell Rams Through 12 More Lifetime Trump Judges

        “Trump’s hijacking of our judiciary will be his most enduring legacy, and it will continue to threaten everything progressives care about long after he leaves office.”

      • PBS Decides What Debate Watchers Need Is More Talk From Pundits

        Debates are framed by the questions the journalists who moderate them ask, and, as FAIR has shown, those questions have built-in biases. Some issues are covered more than others, some policies are subject to harsher questioning, some ideological assumptions are more likely than others to inform the questions. But at the very least, debates are one of the few opportunities most voters outside of the early voting states have to hear directly from the candidates without being filtered by journalist spin. Until now.

      • The United States of Impeachment

        How, exactly, did I get here? My political journey has somehow taken me from canvassing for Obama north of Fort Knox, KY in 2008, to voting for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary outside of West Point, NY in 2016, to – gulp! – “defending” Trump against impeachment in 2019. What a long, strange, trip it has been, as they say. Truth is, I couldn’t sleep last night and have been watching CNN’s wall-to-wall impeachment coverage since 4AM. When the clock struck a reasonable hour on East Coast time, and once I couldn’t contain the frustration any longer, I called my father.

      • Is This Goodbye to the American Republic?

        You don’t have to be a leftist or a liberal to worry that the demented fascist oligarch Donald Trump might try to negate the United States republic’s electoral process and term limits. Consider the following statement from the distinguished conservative scholar and American Enterprise Institute fellow Norm Ornstein last week…

      • Marjorie Cohn, Dorothee Benz on Impeachment

        The House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Impeachment is a big deal; if it doesn’t feel that way, it may be because the Trump administration has been such a blunt instrument that it’s hard to feel it can be contained or constrained by any deliberative procedure—and it also may be because corporate media have failed big time, presenting a critical story about asymmetrical power as a kinda boring, “both sides,” depends-who-you-believe Beltway story. And then claiming it’s the public that’s not interested.

      • Warren and Sanders Take on Buttigieg Over Big Donors: ‘Billionaires in Wine Caves Should Not Pick the Next President’

        While Warren arguably had the line of the night, the Vermont senator slammed the “real competition going on” between Biden and Buttigieg over who has the most billionaire supporters.

      • The Panarchist Solution to a World Divided

        In these days of epic collapse, with the established order rapidly disintegrating before our very eyes, mankind seems to be tearing apart at the seems and resorting to the bipolar extremes of the far-left and the far-right. And why the hell not? Poor people across the globe have grown weary of the false promises and bald-faced lies of the so-called moderates. The one thing the warring camps of extremes seem to agree on is that the mass democracy of neoliberal globalism is an epic wash. A rigged shell game that only pays out to the house, and now the house is on fire.

      • ‘Tabloids and an inferiority complex’: The business and political strategy behind the media’s biased Russia coverage

        According to a report by the news agency “Rossiya Segodnya,” almost half of the articles in the foreign press about Russia are “negative.” This recent study leans heavily on the British media (which makes up more than a third of the entire sample), where nearly 40 percent of the selected coverage is supposedly biased against Russia. Meduza learned that hundreds of the articles Rossiya Segodnya examined in the British press share the same author: a man who’s worked in Russia since 1992 and now simply rewrites blurbs he finds in Russian tabloids, selected for him by Russian staff working at his news agency.

      • Is Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” Too Sensitive for Dirty Harry Fans?

        Clint Eastwood is a great filmmaker. Unforgiven is a flawed, but still magnificent, western that deals with the tension between legend and reality. Eastwood’s latest film – Richard Jewell – is another example of tight, well-wrought filmmaking. But as good as the film is as storytelling, it emits a rotten smell. OK, it’s hardly as rotten as the classic Birth of a Nation, another well-wrought film with a dark propaganda edge; but in Richard Jewell, Eastwood isn’t shooting straight from the hip. In this Trump impeachment moment, the culture-war spin often seems crude and obvious.

      • Fiery Disagreements Erupt at Sixth Democratic Debate

        At the sixth Democratic primary debate, a smaller field displayed greater distinctions and fiery disagreements. The PBS/Politico debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, opened with questions echoing GOP talking points, such as claims about the alleged economic harm of wealth taxes (which Warren rebuffed well) but eventually ventured into real substance with challenging questions about Guantánamo Bay, Israel and Palestine, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The flash points of the evening were the debates among the candidates on money in politics, universal programs vs. means-tested ones, and what experience prepares one for the presidency.

      • DNC Should Change Its Process to Stop Shutting Out Candidates of Color
      • Twitter removes nearly 6,000 ‘state-backed’ Saudi accounts

        A Saudi “state-backed” effort saw thousands of Twitter accounts used for “aggressive” liking, retweeting, and replying to boost messages favorable to the Saudi government. Some of them were active in threads about Iran.

      • Facebook Shuts Down Network Of Accounts Linked To Georgia’s Ruling Party

        The U.S.-based company said on December 20 that it deleted 39 Facebook accounts, 344 pages, 13 groups, and 22 Instagram accounts originating in Georgia.

        Facebook said the pages posed as news organizations — such as FastNews.ge and Mypress.ge — and impersonated political parties, public figures, activist groups, and media entities.

      • Trump Should Be Removed from Office

        But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

      • Trump Blasts Christian Magazine That Called for His Removal

        President Donald Trump blasted a prominent Christian magazine on Friday, a day after it published an editorial arguing that he should be removed from office because of his “blackened moral record.”

      • Trump calls Christianity Today ‘far left magazine’ after editorial called for his removal from office

        Trump lashed out at the publication, calling it a “far left magazine” on Twitter the day after Christianity Today posted an editorial calling for him to be removed from office. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Wednesday and faces possible removal in a Senate trial next year.

      • Trump Lashes Out at Evangelical Magazine After It Calls for His Ouster

        The editorial in Christianity Today called Trump’s Twitter feed “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

      • US evangelical magazine calls for removal of ‘grossly immoral’ Trump

        “His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

      • Scathing editorial in evangelical magazine Christianity Today calls for Trump’s removal from office

        But the editorial warned evangelical leaders that their support for Mr. Trump was making them into hypocrites. Addressing the “the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record,” Galli wrote: [...]

      • London Will Never Give Independence – We Must Take It

        Yesterday the Scottish Government published “Scotland’s Right to Choose“, its long heralded paper on the path to a new Independence referendum. It is a document riven by a basic intellectual flaw. It sets out in detail, and with helpful annexes, that Scotland is a historic nation with the absolute and inalienable right of self-determination, and that sovereignty lies not in the Westminster parliament but with the Scottish people.

        It then contradicts all of this truth by affirming, at length, in detail, and entirely without reservation, that Scotland can only hold a legitimate Independence referendum if the Westminster Parliament devolves the power to do so under Section 30.

        Both propositions cannot be true. Scotland cannot be a nation with the right of self-determination, and at the same time require the permission of somebody else to exercise that self-determination.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Activist Marty Gottesfeld Silenced for Writing About Prison Corruption While Serving Time

        As I’ve recently learned from his wife, activist and prison journalist Marty Gottesfeld — recently sentenced to ten years for a denial of service attack on the website of the Boston hospital that was holding a young girl against her will and that of her family while denying her treatment for the painful condition they claimed was all in her head — has been held incommunicado from his family by the Bureau of Prisons for well over seven months.

      • Dissenter Weekly: US Censorship System Wins Against Snowden, Latest In Assange Extradition Case

        In our latest “Dissenter Weekly Update” episode, we highlight how the United States government won its lawsuit against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and may confiscate proceeds he earned from his book, Permanent Record, as well as his speeches.

        The U.S. government accused Snowden of violating secrecy agreements he signed with the NSA and CIA when classified information was published that did not go through prepublication review. The American Civil Liberties Union and Knight First Amendment Institute have challenged prepublication review, contending it undermines First Amendment rights.

      • Billionaire Sheldon Adelson Is Trying To Use An Anti-SLAPP Law To Get Out Of Paying Anti-SLAPP Damages And It Ain’t Working

        Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has been known to be a bit litigious at times. Way back in 2015, when there was an effort underway to overturn Nevada’s very good anti-SLAPP law, there was speculation that Adelson was behind the effort, due to him losing a case thanks to that law. It turns out that the remnants of that particular case are still going, despite dating all the way back to events in 2012. The issue involves the National Jewish Democratic Council posting a link concerning operations in Adelson’s Macau casinos. The case went through a variety of different courts and was dismissed under Nevada’s anti-SLAPP laws.

      • Trump’s Judaism Order Has Nothing to Do With Fighting Anti-Semitism

        The Trump administration says it’s anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. That’s the gist of a recent executive order that would treat campus calls to boycott Israel over its treatment of Palestinians as anti-Semitic discrimination on the basis of “national origin.”

      • Indian government is shutting down internet access in major cities in an attempt to disrupt democracy

        Millions of Indian citizens are currently without internet access as the Indian government has taken the controversial move of shutting down internet access in major cities around the country. NDTV reports that the Special Branch of the Delhi Police, under the direction of the Indian Government’s Ministry of Home Affairs, sent a letter to internet service providers and mobile data providers in India telling them to execute the internet shutdown. Affected ISPs include Vodafone India and Airtel. The local police has instructed data providers to shutdown internet access in specific locations across cities where protests were planned to be held. It is reported that Indian citizens are protesting against a new citizenship law which some see as discriminatory towards India’s large and integral Muslim population.

      • India’s Government is Going to War Against Its Own People

        On December 13, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights released a powerful statement that criticized India’s new citizenship law. This “fundamentally discriminatory” Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 would expedite citizenship for persecuted religious minorities from India’s neighboring countries. But in the list of those minorities, it names only Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians. It does not name Muslims, despite the fact that there have been several important cases of Muslims being persecuted in Pakistan (the Ahmadis), in Afghanistan (the Hazaras), and in Myanmar (the Rohingyas). The UN said that not only does this law violate India’s obligations to conventions, treaties, and compacts that it has signed at the global level, but also that it is in violation of its own Constitution.

      • ‘Deeply Disturbing’: Indian Minister to Cancel Meeting With US Lawmakers Over Rep. Jayapal’s Kashmir Criticism

        “What are they hiding in Kashmir?”

      • Amid Citizenship Law Outcry, Indian Authorities Ban Protests

        Police banned public gatherings in parts of the Indian capital and other cities for a third day Friday and cut internet services to try to stop growing protests against a new citizenship law that have left 11 people dead and more than 4,000 others detained.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • The Revolutionary Love Movement: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

        For centuries, love has been a revolutionary force in the lives of individual human beings and societies, too. Now, there’s also something called “revolutionary love,” though you won’t find that variety on the Wikipedia page for love, which lists “conjugal love,” “free love,” “platonic love” and more. Now, there’s also a contemporary “revolutionary love movement” that’s driven in part by the recent explosions of hate that come from the alt-right and from enclaves of white power, but that are not limited to one single ethnic group, gender or social class.

      • Vatican Office Reveals Vast Caseload of Abuse

        The Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints has seen a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year, including from countries it had not heard from before — suggesting that the worst may be yet to come in a crisis that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church.

      • Israeli Naama Issachar’s Russian prison sentence for ‘smuggling’ hashish has been upheld. Here’s what happened in the courtroom.

        Naama Issachar, an Israeli citizen, was sentenced to seven and a half years in a Russian prison for allegedly attempting to smuggle 9.6 grams of cannabis into the country. She was on a layover between India and Israel when a police dog signaled at her luggage, which was not in her possession and was set to be claimed only when she arrived in Tel Aviv. Russian officials offered to exchange Issachar for Alexey Burkov, a Russian hacker who was being held in Israel pending extradition to the United States, but those negotiations were unsuccessful. On December 19, a hearing took place to determine whether Issachar’s sentence would be overturned. Kristina Safonova reported from the courtroom.

      • A Juarez Refugee Christmas

        As temperatures dip near or below freezing, scores of Mexican refugees huddle in their makeshift tents of layered plastic sheeting at the foot of the Santa Fe Bridge that connects Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, with El Paso, Texas. Many small children form part of the group. No colorfully wrapped packages wait below a Christmas tree. No heart warming lyrics from mariachi singers enliven the site, though a small figurine of the Virgin of Guadalupe watches over the people who wait and wait and wait for their chance to argue a case for political asylum in the United States.

      • Governor Orders Police at Mauna Kea to Stand Down

        The Thirty Meter Telescope will not be built atop Mauna Kea at this time. Hawai’i Governor David Ige announced in an internal memo Thursday morning that law enforcement personnel will be leaving the site.

      • Abolishing Private Prisons Is a Start, But It Will Not End Mass Incarceration

        In October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom greenlit new criminal legal legislation that has drawn considerable attention. Among its provisions, Assembly Bill 32 claims to halt contracts with private prisons, end immigration detention camps, and alleviate some of the burden associated with court, parole and probation fees. While this legislation is a small victory in its own right, the flurry of reports celebrating it deeply mislead us about the nature of incarceration, policing and justice in the United States.

      • Uzbekistan Must Now Live Up to “Country of the Year” Honor

        The year seems to be ending on a positive note for Uzbekistan.

        The Economist magazine this week declared Uzbekistan its ‘country of the year,’ arguing “no other country travelled as far” as the Central Asian nation in 2019 in terms of economic and other reforms.

      • 10 Good News Stories for Children in 2019

        Our children’s rights team at Human Rights Watch spends a lot of time focused on the abuses that children suffer around the world. But as we wrap up the year, we’d also like to recognize some of the positive things that have happened for children. Here are 10 good news stories for kids from 2019:

        Many children will benefit from these actions, though millions are still out of school and suffer exploitation and abuse. We should take a moment to celebrate the progress of 2019, but we still have a lot of work to do.

      • After Nearly a Century, 2020 May Usher in the Equal Rights Amendment

        The year 2020 could finally bring the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) — the constitutional amendment banning sex-based discrimination that was passed by Congress in 1972 but has been in limbo since 1982, the deadline by which 38 states were required to have ratified it.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The Absurdity of “Online Community”

        The first time I heard the phrase was back in the spring of 1991. I was a senior in college, and I had friends who spent lots of time in the computer lab, which in my memory was a dark room lit only by green-screen CRT monitors, although I’m sure it was brighter than that. These were the days of BBSs and IRC. My friend told me about all the people he was interacting with and he called it “online community.”

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

    • Monopolies

      • Uber ride-hailing services banned by court in Germany

        In Germany, where Uber is active in seven cities including Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich, the company exclusively works with car rental companies and their licensed drivers.

        Thursday’s verdict is effective immediately but can be appealed. “We will assess the court’s ruling and determine next steps to ensure our services in Germany continue,” an Uber spokesperson said.

        A person close to the company said that Uber will now change the way it operates in Europe’s largest economy, adding that it is also considering taking legal action against the ruling.

      • Patents

        • Seizing Products for Design Patent Owners Isn’t CBP’s Job

          Uh oh, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) have teamed up again to introduce legislation that would promote the interests of patent owners at the public’s expense. This is the same duo that earlier this year sought to dismantle the protections against patents on human genes and abstract ideas that we have thanks to Section 101 of the Patent Act, as the Supreme Court confirmed in 2014’s Alice v. CLS Bank decision. Having failed thus far to muster support for that misguided effort, Senators Coons and Tillis have apparently re-focused their attention on a new effort to service patent owners.

          There’s no reason patent owners need more tools to stop infringement at the U.S. border.

      • Copyrights

        • Elsevier now officially a “predatory” publisher

          For a number of years now, publishers who expect losing revenue in a transition to Open Access have been spreading fear about journals which claim to perform peer-review on submitted manuscripts, but then collect the publishing fee of a few hundred dollars (about 5-10% of what these legacy publishers charge) without performing any peer-review at all. Identifying such journals, however, in order to study if they have any actual detrimental effect on scholarship beyond the claims of these publishers with their commercial interests has proven difficult, as clearly defining the properties such so-called “predatory” publishers is problematic. Today, a new, consensus definition of a “predatory” publisher or journal was published:

          Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices

        • EU Court: Unauthorized Sale of Used eBooks Infringes Copyright

          Selling second-hand paper books is regular business for thousands of companies around the world, but what if those books are digital? A ruling just handed down by Europe’s highest court has determined that the unauthorized sale of second-hand copyrighted eBooks via a website constitutes a communication to the public and an infringement of the owners’ rights.

        • Mangastream Disappears After Being Targeted by Publisher

          Mangastream, one of the largest manga scanlation sites on the Internet, appears to have shut down. The site disappeared this week and its official Twitter account was removed as well. While no official statement accompanied the closure, we can confirm that the Japanese publisher Shueisha targeted the site in a US court earlier this year.

        • Cox Is Liable for Pirating Subscribers, Hit With $1 Billion Damages Verdict

          Internet provider Cox Communications is responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers, a Virginia federal jury has ruled. The ISP is contributorily and vicariously liable for the copyright infringements and must pay a group of music companies $1 billion in damages. The ISP has already announced that it will appeal.

        • Insanity (AKA Copyright Statutory Damages) Rules: Cox Hit With $1 Billion (With A B) Jury Verdict For Failing To Magically Stop Piracy

          We’ve highlighted the many problems with the various lawsuits against Cox Communications arguing that the company should be held liable for failing to wave a magic wand and stop all piracy from occurring on its service. The internet access provider was originally sued by music publisher BMG, and they got a judge who made it clear that he was not a fan of the internet, and didn’t see why it should be a problem for anyone to be kicked off the internet at all. Cox lost the case mostly because the company didn’t really follow its own internal repeat infringer policy. That ruling was upheld on appeal, leading the company to settle the case for $25 million.

        • Man Who Sold £400K of Pirate IPTV Subscriptions Handed Suspended Sentence

          A man who generated income of around £400,000 by selling pirate IPTV subscriptions has been sentenced by a court in Cornwall. The 34-year-old, who previously pleaded guilty to copyright and fraud offenses, was handed a one-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement, and was made the subject of a £10 confiscation order.

        • Romeo Santos Beats Frivolous Copyright Infringement Claim on ‘Eres Mia’

          Bucking a recent trend in the music industry, singer-songwriter Romeo Santos has succeeded in dismissing a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against him for his song “Eres Mia.”

        • Study: Hadopi Has Been Great For Big Artists And Labels, Bad For The Spread Of Culture And Smaller Or New Artists

          Hadopi, the French law built to punish copyright infringers in graduated steps, was always controversial. In addition to many in the public scoffing at the punishment ramp the law put on the public, the actual effects of the law have been murky at best. While Hadopi basically ceased to be in 2016, it is true that the French public has been trending towards less piracy and more legal practices in its wake. Always at question is exactly how direct a relationship that kind of trend has with laws like Hadopi. Studies have straddled both answers to that question, even as we all realize the truth, which is that the impact of laws like Hadopi is nuanced.

Mansion of Pedophilia – Part II: Dr. Stallman Defamed in the Media One Day After Request Made for King County Sheriff’s Office to Divulge Information About Pedophilia in Home of Bill Gates

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whether the timing is coincidental or not is not the key point

Bill Gates' mail

Gates animation

Summary: The media mostly stopped talking about Bill Gates using Jeffrey Epstein as his ‘mule’ (passing millions of dollars to MIT) the moment the police was contacted for all the information pertaining to pedophilia at his home; shortly afterwards Richard Stallman was ejected from MIT (forced resignation)

THE VERY MENTION of pedophiles in the ‘Mansion of Pedophilia’ may sound absurd to those who are accustomed to glamorous Gates portrayals — articles painting him as a Saint helping kids all around the world. He pays media companies all around the world to produce such puff pieces and — as we’ve shown numerous times in the past — he sometimes pay them to remove pieces critical of his deeds. Money can achieve all sorts of things. When he spends approximately $100,000,000 per year on just media companies… imagine how many journalists’ salaries are impacted. Sure, it’s being disguised as charity; this tactic for media control isn’t unique to Gates.

“This article will contain only known facts, not speculation.”In part one we presented some background. For the uninitiated, an arrest was made for pedophilia and little is known about it. We do know that Gates works hard to deflect or 'neutralise' media attention in that regard. His staff, which reportedly expressed concerns about these things, is only quoted or mentioned anonymously. So people generally know that something is wrong, but sometimes it feels like something prevents them from talking about it (maybe an NDA). For those who aren’t familiar with NDAs, the very mention of their existence is a violation of the pertinent NDA. It’s a lot like NSLs, National Security Letters. There’s a dispute over the very (il)legality of the practice, which tends to favour only the rich and the powerful — those looking to hide nefarious things or those desperate to gag potential whistleblowers.

This article will contain only known facts, not speculation. As we stated in the opening part, we’ll be careful to distinguish facts from opinions. We do know that the police has very ample record of what happened in the ‘Mansion of Pedophilia’; it’s confirmed by records we may divulge in later parts. We encourage people who are concerned (readers of this article included) to not pursue this individually/separately because there’s already an open case and it’s progressing. Making lots of requests may slow down the existing one. When it comes to situations such as these the things to pursue or the steps to try typically are:

1) contact the police, as a US citizen, demanding (using the adequate procedure) access to the police report.

Then, for this particular case:

  • i) if they disclose the report, we need to know which machine had child pornography (sexual assault; rape of kids) and whether it’s on the local network, hence accessible to others inside the mansion. We know that quite a few Bill Gates associates/affiliates were also very close to Epstein — even closer than him. The New York Times covered that a couple of months back.
  • ii) if they decline, that’s noteworthy, especially in light of the reasoning (as it might be an excuse).
  • iii) if no reply, escalate to a higher level.

2) contact the offender, to hear ‘his’ side of the story; his full name is in news reports, albeit the name is not very unique. Scapegoat tactics notwithstanding.

“Now, more than three months later, the report is still being processed for publication.”Steps (1) and (2) are complete and we’re now in (i). The police department is responsive. It’s slow, but it’s responsive. People have managed to get this investigation rolling. Now that more is known about the past of Bill Gates the motivation for discovery is a lot stronger (it started just before the media began defaming Richard Stallman, distracting from the real MIT scandal that implicated Gates). Mass- or large-scale defamation campaign of Stallman started on the 14th of September, i.e. exactly one day after a written request was made to King County Sheriff’s Office regarding the ‘Mansion of Pedophilia’. The timing may as well be a coincidence, but that’s not what’s important. Any barriers to such an investigation can be reported on as well. Now, more than three months later, the report is still being processed for publication. They redact various bits.

Stay tuned for part 3. It only gets more worrisome as we dig deeper and deeper.

The EPO Likes “Hey Hi” (AI) Only When It Lets Actual Humans Fake ‘Production’

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not yet ready to let machines overrun (flood) the whole system

Too many patents?
Too many patents? No patents yet on musical notations and singing?

Summary: The clueless and illegal policies adopted at the EPO’s higher floors (such as instructing examiners — the EPO ‘underclass’ — to grant software patents ‘dressed up’ as “HEY HI”) are taking their toll on the Office, which is coming to grips with what software really is and why it doesn’t belong in the patent system (copyrights cover code)

Like the Director of the USPTO (Trump appointee with business connections to him), Team Campinos/Battistelli promotes software patents in spite of 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the EPC, respectively. What good are patent offices that grant patents in defiance of the law or caselaw? What are we supposed to think of such offices? When they dare lecture us all on “following the law” or “respecting the law…”

This conundrum isn’t a new one. We’ve written a number of condemnations “as such” regarding Brimelow. For an office to “work around” the law like some lawyers do isn’t good “civil service”; why do these people lack integrity? Well, maybe it’s their integrity deficit that helps them climb so high the career ladder.

Be as it may, American and European patents both continue to perish in courts. We don’t have the exact number (it also depends on what one quantifies), but it’s easy to see that patent certainty has diminished in the US and in Europe. Justice isn’t cheap (court battles, appeals included), so low-quality and Invalid Patents (IPs) can still be leveraged for out-of-court settlements. Patent trolls do this as a ‘career’. The EPO welcomes this kind of behaviour and occasionally rewards the most notorious culprits. It would be unthinkable if the EPO actually had competition (it would be reputational suicide).

“Justice isn’t cheap (court battles, appeals included), so low-quality and Invalid Patents (IPs) can still be leveraged for out-of-court settlements. Patent trolls do this as a ‘career’.”The European Patent Office (EPO) has just tweeted: “The EPO has refused two European patent applications on the grounds that the designated inventor is not a human being.”

Wow. The EPO rejecting something? Let’s check why.

The EPO rejects "HEY HI" except when it’s illegal software patents being granted in Europe (then it’s OK, then it’s “innovation” the Office should not deprive).

“Here we go,” wrote Janal Kalis, a loud proponent of patents on software. “The EPO refused the 2 EP patent applications that named software as inventors.”

Gibus, a campaigner in this area (against software patents), wrote: “more than 15 years ago, we warned that EPO practice of granting software patents would lead to such issues…

“I remember Jean-Paul Smets questions about AI generated patents,” Benjamin Henrion responded. “Maybe a secret weapon to flood the system?”

We wrote about this aspect about four times in the past. The whole thing is self-discrediting (to the patent system’s maximalists, e.g. the presumption it’s always about promoting innovation).

As Patrick Lowder put it: “That is an incredibly important decision. Are patents designed to protect human arts and sciences?”

The sole response to it? “Never were.”

Alex Auerbach said: “Did the AI automatically file a complaint?”

Here’s the explanation from yesterday: (warning: epo.org link)

The EPO has refused two European patent applications in which a machine was designated as inventor. Both patent applications indicate “DABUS” as inventor, which is described as “a type of connectionist artificial intelligence”. The applicant stated that they acquired the right to the European patent from the inventor by being its successor in title.

After hearing the arguments of the applicant in non-public oral proceedings on 25 November the EPO refused EP 18 275 163 and EP 18 275 174 on the grounds that they do not meet the requirement of the EPC that an inventor designated in the application has to be a human being, not a machine. A reasoned decision may be expected in January 2020.

So suddenly the EPO pretends to value “requirement of the EPC”? Having already violated the EPC countless time and whilst operating in violation of the EPC every day? The EPO breaks many other rules and regulations, including its own. It also engaged in illegal union-busting efforts and it has just advertised in Twitter this bit about strike action (which is expected soon at the EPO as well): “Notice from the European Patent Office dated 9 December 2019 concerning postal transmission problems in Finland owing to strike action…”

The EPO speaks about it in its Official Journal for December 2019 (warning: epo.org link).

Understanding Thierry Breton: Little Miss Ladson Goes to Brussels

Posted in Europe at 4:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Understanding Thierry Breton

Epilogue will follow.

Dixie darling
Despite all the cotton-pickin’ criticism of her domestic track record in Germany, Macron’s Dixie Darling, Miss Ladson, managed to get through the EU vetting procedure with a slim majority

Summary: The story behind Ursula von der Leyen’s very unlikely rise to power in the EU

As we saw in the last part, Thierry Breton is not the only “joker” that French President Emmanuel Macron has up his sleeve for the political poker games in the backrooms of the EU Commission in Brussels.

To recap: at a three-day EU Summit which took place from 30 June to 2 July 2019, Macron played a key role in brokering a deal which amongst other things saw Christine Lagarde being “repatriated” from Washington to Europe to take up a new job at the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt.

At the same time, in a carefully planned strategic move intended to appease the German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, Macron proposed the appointment of her long-time ally Ursula “Uschi” von der Leyen (née Albrecht), then the German Defence Minister, as the next president of the European Commission.

“In this rôle he or she is instrumental in shaping policy for the world’s biggest trade bloc and its 500 million citizens.”The head of the Commission is responsible for leading the body which supervises EU states’ budgets, acts as the bloc’s competition watchdog and conducts trade negotiations with outside countries. In this rôle he or she is instrumental in shaping policy for the world’s biggest trade bloc and its 500 million citizens.

Ursula von der Leyen’s family name is Albrecht. The Albrechts are a prominent North German family many of whose members have made a name for themselves as civil servants, politicians and business people.

Uschi’s father was Ernst Albrecht, a German politician of the centre-right CDU and a former high-ranking European civil servant. Her brother Hans-Holger Albrecht who resides mainly in London is the CEO of Deezer, a French company headquartered in Paris which provides online music streaming services worldwide.

“The Albrechts are a prominent North German family many of whose members have made a name for themselves as civil servants, politicians and business people.”One of Uschi’s great-grandmothers was Mary Ladson Robertson who was born in Charleston in South Carolina, in 1883 but moved to Bremen in the early 1900s after marrying Friedrich Carl Albrecht, in 1902. Carl Albrecht as he was usually known, was the son of the wealthy cotton merchant George Alexander Albrecht (1834–1898) and Louise Dorothea Betty Knoop (1844–1889), the daughter of the major industrialist, Baron Ludwig Knoop, one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 19th century Russian Empire.

The Ladsons were of English descent and became one of South Carolina’s most prominent planter and merchant families during the late 17th century. They played a major role in the British colonization of the Americas and in the slave trade in British North America. The town of Ladson in South Carolina is named in honour of the family.

James Henry Ladson (1753 – 1812) was an American politician, wealthy plantation owner from Charlestown and an officer of the American Revolution.

“They played a major role in the British colonization of the Americas and in the slave trade in British North America.”His great-grandfather, John Ladson, emigrated from Northamptonshire in England to Barbados and then to Carolina as one of the first English settlers in 1679, where he built a large plantation and served in the Commons House of Assembly from 1685. James Ladson served as the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina from 1792 to 1794, and was a member of the South Carolina state Senate from 1800 to 1804.

His wife, Judith Smith (1762–1820), belonged to one of South Carolina’s wealthiest banker-merchant families and was a granddaughter of Joseph Wragg, one of the pioneers of the large-scale Atlantic slave trade in the British colonies in North America in the 18th century and the predominant British North American slave transporter and trader in the 1730s.

Their son, James H. Ladson junior, pursued a career in the rice and cotton business. His main properties were the La Grange and Fawn Hill plantations beside the North Santee River in Georgetown County which produced around 600,000 pounds of rice each year. He also maintained a town house in Charleston where he lived for much of the year together with a dozen or so slaves to attend to their every whim. Ladson owned over 200 slaves by 1850 and was an integral part of the oligarchy of planters and merchants which dominated the political and business life of Charleston during the antebellum era.

“It was the only major antebellum American city to have a majority slave population which is a reflection of its close links with the slave trade, one of the main sources of its wealth.”Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring King Charles II of England and was one of the first British settlements during the initial colonisation of the Americas. By the 1840 census, it was among the ten largest cities in the United States. It was the only major antebellum American city to have a majority slave population which is a reflection of its close links with the slave trade, one of the main sources of its wealth.

Historians estimate that “nearly half of all Africans brought to America arrived in Charleston”. Independent slave traders based in Charleston like Ladson’s maternal ancestor Joseph Wragg broke the monopoly of the Royal African Company during the colonial era, and after the War of Independence, came to dominate the slave trade in the United States.

Tucker House
“Tucker House”, the Ladsons’ town house in Charleston including room for a dozen or so slaves

Along with most other members of the South Carolina plantocracy, James H. Ladson junior, was a keen advocate of secession from the Union, a move which received the unanimous assent of the 169 delegates to the South Carolina state convention on 20 December 1860.

Von der Leyens’s American ancestors, the Ladsons, were members of the slave-owning plantocracy whose push for secession from the Union ultimately led to civil war

A couple of days later, on Christmas Eve 1860, the convention adopted a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes of Secession” which was distributed to the other slave-holding states. On the same day, Governor Francis W. Pickens proclaimed “independence, freedom, and sovereignty” for South Carolina.

“It was the only major antebellum American city to have a majority slave population which is a reflection of its close links with the slave trade, one of the main sources of its wealth.”Soon afterwards, six other plantocracy-dominated states (Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas) followed the lead of South Carolina and the seven secessionist states joined forces as the Confederate States of America.

The first shots of the Civil War were fired in Charleston Harbour on 12 April 1861 when the South Carolina Militia bombarded Fort Sumter after the Union garrison refused to vacate it.

Bombardment of Fort Sumter April 1861 – the first shots of the American Civil War

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Von der Leyen family into which Uschi married is a notable Mennonite family from the Lower Rhineland which settled in Krefeld in the 1600s and built up a major textile business there.

Von der Leyen family crest
Von der Leyen family crest

By 1763, the family employed half of Krefeld’s population of just over 6,000 in their factories and they became major players in the commercial life of Germany which was gradually industrialising under Prussian hegemony. In its heyday, the business delivered silk to most European courts and aristocratic dynasties.

“By 1763, the family employed half of Krefeld’s population of just over 6,000 in their factories and they became major players in the commercial life of German…”In 1828, the von der Leyen family had the dubious distinction of “hosting” what Karl Marx called the first workers’ uprising in German history when the silk weavers at their factories rose up in protest against wage cuts.

According to one contemporary report: “Accompanied by a drum and with flag in front, they marched through the streets in significant number, singing and making noise. There were 2000 of them. They passed by the houses of the factory owners von der Leyen, de Greiff, Scheibler, Heidweiler and others – all names that are otherwise mentioned only with deference in the history of the Silk City [Krefeld] – and smashed their windows.”

“In 1828, the von der Leyen family had the dubious distinction of “hosting” what Karl Marx called the first workers’ uprising in German history when the silk weavers at their factories…”Before the situation escalated, the 11th Hussar Regiment of the Prussian Army was called in to “restore order”. Although Marx considered the incident to be of historical significance, it’s almost impossible to find any details about it today and it seems to have been well and truly buried in the annals of local folklore in the Rhineland.

But let’s get back to Ursula von der Leyen.

“Uschi” was born in Brussels as one of eight children. Her father Ernst Albrecht was one of the first European civil servants appointed in 1958 and he served as head of the EU Directorate-General for Competition from 1967 to 1970. He later held the position of First Minister of the German state of Lower Saxony from 1976 to 1990.

When she was 13, the family moved to Germany, where Uschi studied economics at the University of Göttingen.

In 1978 she reportedly went into hiding in London after her family were informed by police that the far-left militant group, the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF) was planning to kidnap her in order to extort her father. The tip-off was taken seriously because the RAF was believed to enjoy a certain level of support among the student population of Göttingen.

“While London she lived under the pseudonym “Rose Ladson” which she adopted in a act of homage to her ancestors from the South Carolina plantocracy…”During her temporary “exile” in the home of Big Ben, Uschi studied at the London School of Economics. Not only did she use the “gap year” to polish up her English, it seems that she also availed of the opportunity get in touch with her inner “Dixie Chick”.

While London she lived under the pseudonym “Rose Ladson” which she adopted in a act of homage to her ancestors from the South Carolina plantocracy, in particular her great-grandmother Mary Ladson Robertson.

After the RAF threat had subsided, “Little Miss Ladson” returned to Germany in 1979 and switched to medical studies, eventually becoming Dr von der Leyen.

She then moved into politics on her father’s coat-tails, serving her apprenticeship at local level in Lower Saxony before moving to the federal government in 2005 where she developed into a trusted ally of the German Prime Minister, Angela Merkel.

CDU recruitment poster
Keeping it in the family – CDU recruitment poster showing Uschi and Ernst Albrecht

However, von der Leyen’s tenure as Defence Minister from 2013 onwards was marked by one PR disaster after another, amongst other things allegations of down-playing the extent of right-wing extremism and neo-Nazi sympathies in the armed forces including the elite Special Forces Command unit (KSK) and the exposure of serious deficiencies in the operational readiness of the armed forces due to decades of underfunding.

Miss Management
Von der Leyen’s track record as Defence Minister earned her the title “Miss Management”

In the autumn of 2018, a scathing internal report by Germany’s Federal Audit Office, leaked to the media, cited dozens of serious irregularities in hiring outside advisers in contracts worth hundreds of millions of euros in total.

“Von der Leyen’s track-record as Defence Minister earned her the title of “Miss Management” along with other nicknames…”In June 2019, shortly before her nomination for the EU Commission post, her Ministry hit the headlines again following a crash between two German Eurofighter jets during a military exercise which resulted in the death of one pilot. A year previously, a report published in the current affairs magazine Der Spiegel had claimed that only a handful of the German Air Force’s 128 Eurofighter jets were combat-ready due to technical problems.

Flinten Uschi
“Flinten-Uschi” – Germany’s answer to Miss Sureshot Annie Oakley?

Von der Leyen’s track-record as Defence Minister earned her the title of “Miss Management” along with other nicknames such as “Flinten-Uschi” which could be translated as “Uschi with a Gun”, suggesting a latter-day German reincarnation of the Wild West’s Annie Oakley.

Her political future on the domestic stage in Germany was beginning to look increasingly shaky, so the Brussels nomination came at an extremely opportune time for her.

“Her political future on the domestic stage in Germany was beginning to look increasingly shaky, so the Brussels nomination came at an extremely opportune time for her.”The nomination also suited her proposer Macron because it provided him with an ally who spoke fluent French from her early years in Brussels and was open to French ideas on EU reform, particular in the areas of defence and economic integration.

Although von der Leyen’s nomination was publicly endorsed by the CDU party leadership, the Financial Times reported that her selection provoked widespread bemusement in Germany even within the ranks of her own party.

“Mistrusted by her fellow Christian Democrats, pilloried by the opposition and disliked by many of the generals under her command, she cuts a lonely figure in Berlin. Few ministries have generated as many negative headlines as hers over the years. Yet she has now been named to one of the most powerful jobs in Europe.”

CDU endorsement
The CDU officially endorsed Uschi’s nomination as head of the EU Commission

The former European Parliament chairman Martin Schulz could barely conceal his disgust at the news noting that she was “the weakest minister in the [German] government” and bemoaning the fact that “such a performance suffices to become head of the [EU] commission.”

Martin Schulz
Former European Parliament chairman, Martin Schulz, was not amused

Reuters reported that the German Social Democrats circulated “a damning paper” to their political group in the European Parliament in which they called von der Leyen an “inadequate and inappropriate candidate” to lead the European Commission. This was part of an attempt to persuade the Parliament to vote against her nomination.

“The former European Parliament chairman Martin Schulz could barely conceal his disgust at the news noting that she was “the weakest minister in the [German] government” and bemoaning the fact that “such a performance suffices to become head of the [EU] commission.”However, despite trenchant criticism from the Social Democratic and Green blocs, her nomination was rubber-stamped by the European Parliament on 16 July 2019 by a slim majority: 383 out of 747 votes.

von der Leyen, James Bond
Satirical press reaction to von der Leyen’s EU appointment.
“Hi there, I’m the new arrival! My name is Uschi – Flinten-Uschi”
In the background a stag responds: “And I’m Bond – James Bond”

In the next part we will look in more detail at the background to the deal brokered by Macron at the EU summit held on 30 June to 2 July 2019 and how it involved a coordinated cross-party alliance of “Club Med” forces at EU level with some assistance from the controversial Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán.

IRC Proceedings: Friday, December 20, 2019

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:31 am by Needs Sunlight



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