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Are We Really Free? Maybe It’s Time for a Personal Declaration of Independence

Are We Really Free? Maybe It’s Time for a Personal Declaration of Independence

Some time between throwing some burgers on the grill and shooting off fireworks with a beer in one hand and a lighter in the other, ask yourself this question:

How free and independent are you?

How independent are any of us, really? We like to think we live in the “free-est” nation in the world, but do we really?  Think about it.

  • You never own your home outright, even when the mortgage is paid off. Every year, you must make your extortion payment to the city or trust me, you won’t be living in that house for long.
  • The same thing with your car. If you don’t pay your annual extortion payment on your vehicle and pay a hundred bucks for a tiny sticker that gives you permission to drive it, it will be promptly towed away by the city with the government’s blessing. Then, like a hostage negotiation gone wrong, you’ll have to pay even more money to cover their theft and storage of YOUR vehicle.
  • On a regular basis, you must pay a fee and ask the government for permission to do any number of things, such as driving a car, traveling outside the country, running a business, adding another bathroom to your home, or even catching a fish for dinner.
  • Permits and licenses are big revenue generators from start to finish – and if you proceed without asking permission, they will extort more money from you in the form of fines. If you refuse to pay the fines (or if you can’t) they’ll kidnap you and lock you in a cage, where you’ll be forced to perform manual labor for 10 cents an hour for whatever length of time the legal authorities feel is sufficient to teach you a lesson.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Enemy Of The People

Enemy Of The People

There has never been a time when normal people did not know the media was biased and biased in a predictable direction. For every non-liberal in the media, there were at least ten liberals. The ratio was probably higher, but then, as now, some lefties liked to pretend they were independents or some third option. The media used to invest a lot of time denying they had a bias and an agenda, but the only people who believed them were on the Left, which had the odd effect of confirming they had a bias and an agenda.

The thing is though, the media seemed like it was biased in a predictable way. In the 1980’s, for example, the newspapers featured stories about the so-called homeless crisis on a weekly basis. That’s when we went from calling them bums to pretending their only problem was a lack of shelter. Once Clinton assumed power, the homeless stories disappeared. It was a running joke for a long time, because it was so obvious, but also because it was so predictable. Everyone got the joke, except Lefty.

As many have observed, the mask began to drop during the Clinton years when so many media members quit their jobs and went to work in the administration. It’s hard to maintain the illusion of independence when there is a revolving door between the media and left-wing political operations. That’s when CNN became known as the Clinton News Network, because they were so hilariously in the tank for them. Some tried to maintain the ruse, but any pretense of objectivity ended in the 1990’s.

Again, there was still a sense that it was just bias and that it was predictable and therefore you could adjust for it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Seven Acres and Independence

Seven Acres and Independence

 

Debt is a Determining Factor in History

Debt is a Determining Factor in History

Photo by airpix | CC BY 2.0

Sovereign debt has been a crucial factor in a series of major historical events. From the early 19th century, in Latin American countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Argentina, struggling for independence,as well as Greece when seeking funds for its war of independence, these nascent countries borrowed from London bankers under leonine conditions which finally subjugated them into a new cycle of subordination.

Other states lost their sovereignty quite officially. Tunisia enjoyed some amount of autonomy in the Ottoman Empire, but was indebted to Parisian bankers. France used the ruse of debt to justify its tutelage over Tunisia and its colonization. Ten years later, in 1882, Egypt similarly lost its independence. In the pursuit of recovering debts owed to the English banks, Great Britain launched a military occupation of the country and then colonized it (http://www.cadtm.org/Debt-as-an-ins… ).

Debt “assures” the domination of one country over another

The Great Powers were quick to realise that the interest from a country’s external debt would be massive enough to justify a military intervention and a tutelage, at a time when it was considered acceptable to wage wars for debt recovery.

The 19th century Greek debt crisis resembles the current crisis

The problems flaring up in London in December 1825, ensued from the first major international banking crisis. When banks feel threatened, they no longer want to lend, as could be seen after the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008. Emerging states, such as Greece, had borrowed under such obnoxious conditions, and the sum in hand was so little compared to the actual loan, that fresh borrowing became necessary to repay their existing debt. When the banks stopped lending, Greece was no longer able to refinance its debt and so suspended repayments in 1827.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Spanish Government Blames Russian “Dezinformatsiya” Campaign For Catalan Uprising

Spanish Government Blames Russian “Dezinformatsiya” Campaign For Catalan Uprising

No, not The Onion…

In what is perhaps the least surprising tactic from the Spanish establishment, a government-backed research institute in Madrid has stated that Spain’s struggle to quash separatism in its Catalonia region was disrupted by Russian hackers agitating for a break-up, in a hallmark propaganda effort to fracture Europe.

As Bloomberg reports, the unidentified Russians spread both true and false messages on Facebook and Twitter during the illegal separatist referendum on Oct. 1, according to Mira Milosevich, a senior analyst at the Elcano Royal Institute.

The “dezinformatsiya” campaign deployed trolls, bots and fake accounts, and was backed by intense coverage from Russia’s state-supported television, she said.

“Russia has a nationalist agenda, and it supports nationalist, populist movements in Europe because that serves to divide Europe,” Milosevich said Wednesday in an interview.

The researcher had just published an article building on a Sept. 25 El Pais newspaper report that linked fake news on Catalonia with allegations of Russian influence in the Brexit campaign.

Elcano is part-funded by the Spanish government and its board’s honorary chairman is King Felipe VI.

Milosevich further claims that the most significant comments spread on Twitter and Facebook came from WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and government-secrets leaker Edward Snowden, Milosevich said, particularly that the “banana republic” of Spain used violence to suffocate a democratic vote.

For his Twitter profile photo, Assange is using a shot of Spanish riot police, clad in black protective gear, with one of them swinging his baton.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Price of Chaos Rises in Spain

The Price of Chaos Rises in Spain

The longer the toxic process between Catalonia and Spain drags on, the wider the gulf grows.

During a visit yesterday to Barcelona, the organizers of the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile event, warned the City Council that unless the political situation stabilizes in Catalonia, they will be looking for an alternative venue after 2018. Barcelona has hosted the annual event every year since 2006 and it brings in billions of euros to the city each year, much of which ends up in the pockets of local taxi drivers, hoteliers, owners of bars, restaurants and brothels, Airbnb hosts and, last but not least, the thousands of professional pickpockets that flock to the city for the four day event.

John Hoffman, the chief executive of GSMA, the association that organizes the Mobile World Congress (MWC), could not have chosen a worst day to visit Barcelona. As part of a general strike to protest the incarceration of pro-independence ministers and leaders and the imposition of direct rule from Madrid, thousands of picketers had blocked dozens of roads across the region including the main freeway connecting Spain with France, causing massive traffic jams.

High-speed train links between Barcelona and France and Barcelona and Madrid were also put out of action after hundreds of protesters moved onto platforms and railway lines in Barcelona and Girona chanting ‘Freedom, Freedom.”

At midday thousands of protesters occupied Barcelona’s Sant Jaume square in front of the city’s town hall, a traditional assembly point for Catalonia’s separatist movement. The chant “Squatters, get out” rang out in allusion to the take-over by central government authorities of Catalonia’s regional government.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Direct Rule: the Latest Weapon for Crumbling Governments

Direct Rule: the Latest Weapon for Crumbling Governments

Direct Rule: the Latest Weapon for Crumbling Government

The recent imposition of direct rule by the Spanish government on the autonomous region of Catalonia is having a ripple effect across Europe and around the world. Spain’s neo-fascist prime minister, Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party – the ideological heirs of Caudillo Francisco Franco’s Falangist Movement – plunged a dagger into the cause of democracy in Catalonia by suspending the region’s pro-independence government and imprisoning eight members of the Catalonian “Generalitat” government.

The imposition of direct rule on Catalonia was a longtime goal of the Madrid regime for years. Catalonia sought the same autonomous powers afforded to Spain’s Basque region, most notably, the power of taxation. However, Castilians of Madrid and other “taker” regions that rely on Spain’s national budget for their benefits, have grown comfortable with the fact that Catalonia provides much of Spain’s budget. Catalonia’s wish to keep more of its tax money in the region and not have it distributed to “taker” regions of Spain, led the Rajoy regime and Spain’s Supreme Court to reject expanded autonomy powers for Catalonia. Catalonia’s independence referendum grew directly out of Madrid’s rejection of a negotiated agreement with the Barcelona government.

As the Madrid regime was hauling members of the Catalonian government before kangaroo courts in Madrid, the British government was moving to impose direct rule on autonomous Northern Ireland. The reason for London’s actions was officially stated as providing Northern Ireland with a Westminster-dictated budget. However, the move by London essentially stripped the Stormont Assembly in Belfast of all financial powers, a move that reversed the devolution of powers to Northern Ireland’s coalition government of the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the mainly Catholic Sinn Fein party.

The reversal of devolution of powers in Northern Ireland and the de facto imposition of direct rule by London served as a backdrop to calls for more Northern Ireland sovereignty with Britain’s exit from the European Union.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

100+ Respected Academics Slam EU in Letter to Juncker Citing “Rule of Law”

On Thursday, over 100 well-respected academics slammed the EU in a letter sent a letter to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk. The academics cited the rule of law.

The open letter , signed by highly-respected academics and members of the European Parliament, cited Spain’s “undisputable abuse of power”.

We are deeply concerned that the EU’s governing bodies are condoning the systematic violation of the Rule of Law in Spain, in particular regarding the Spanish central authorities’ approach to the 1 October referendum on Catalan independence. We do not take political sides on the substance of the dispute on territorial sovereignty and we are cognizant of procedural deficiencies in the organization of the referendum. Our concern is with the Rule of Law as practised by an EU Member State.

The Spanish government has justified its actions on grounds of upholding or restoring the constitutional order.

  1. The Tribunal has violated Constitutional provisions on freedom of peaceful assembly and of speech – the two principles which are embodied by referendums and parliamentary deliberations irrespective of their subject matter. Without interfering in Spanish constitutional disputes or in Spain’s penal code, we note that it is a travesty of justice to enforce one constitutional provision by violating fundamental rights. Thus, the Tribunal’s judgments and the Spanish government’s actions for which these judgments provided a legal basis violate both the spirit and letter of the Rule of Law.
  2. In the days preceding the referendum, the Spanish authorities undertook a series of repressive actions against civil servants, MPS, mayors, media, companies and citizens. The shutdown of Internet and other telecom networks during and after the referendum campaign had severe consequences on exercising freedom of expression.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Spain Just Lit a Fuse Under Catalonia — its Richest Region

Spain Just Lit a Fuse Under Catalonia — its Richest Region

Acute uncertainty is like sand in the gears of the local economy. 

It’s amazing how fast the wheels of the Spanish justice system go round when the establishment wants them to, and how slowly they revolve when it doesn’t, which is usually when members of the same establishment — senior politicians and civil servants, bankers, business owners, or even royalty — are in the dock, which is happening with disturbing regularity these days.

On Thursday we saw Spanish justice at its fastest. In the dock was the recently sacked vice president of Catalonia’s separatist government, Oriol Junqueras, and seven other elected representatives of the breakaway region who stand accused of a litany of charges, including rebellion, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment.

The counsel for the defence had less than 24 hours to prepare the case. After just a few hours of hearing preliminary evidence, the National Court Judge sent half of Catalonia’s suspended government to jail without bail. On Friday,the same judge issued an international arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the disputed Catalan president who fled to Brussels on Monday, as well as four other former ministers who did not show up to court on Thursday.

Catalonia’s separatist politicians are paying a very high price for overplaying their hand. As we warned months ago, many in the Catalan government had hoped that threatening to declare independence unilaterally, or even following through on the threats (which it kind of did on Friday), might be enough to push the Spanish government into having to compromise. It was a massive bluff, and it’s hugely backfired.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eight Catalonia Ministers Jailed, Madrid Seeks European Arrest Warrant for Catalan Leader 

Spain, a country that supports a two-state solution in Palestine, detained eight Catalan ministers on trumped up charges of sedition. Prosecutors also seek an arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

We all knew it would come down to this: Sacked Catalonia Ministers Held by Madrid Court.

Eight sacked Catalan ministers have been remanded in custody by a Spanish high court judge over the region’s push for independence. Prosecutors had asked the judge to detain eight of the nine former regional government members who turned up for questioning in Madrid.

They are accused of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds. Prosecutors are also seeking a European Arrest Warrant for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

The request also covers four other dismissed Catalan ministers who did not show up in court in Madrid as requested, but have been in Belgium since Monday.

Detained

  • Former Deputy Vice President Oriol Junqueras
  • Former Interior Minister Joaquim Forn
  • Former Foreign Affairs Minister Raül Romeva
  • Former Justice Minister Carles Mundó
  • Former Labour Minister Dolors Bassa
  • Former Government Presidency Councillor Jordi Turull
  • Former Sustainable Development Minister Josep Rull
  • Former Culture Minister Meritxell Borras

In a statement broadcast on Catalan TV from an undisclosed location in Belgium, Mr. Puigdemont described the detention of the eight ex-ministers as “an act that breaks with the basic principles of democracy”.

What’s Next?

If Spain’s high court judge issues a warrant, a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) will be sent to Belgian prosecutors, who have 24 hours to decide whether the paperwork is correct. If they do, they then have 15 days to arrest Mr. Puigdemont and the four others. If one or all of them appeals against it, that process could last another 15 days.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Rising Separatist Movements in Europe-Eastern Europe

There are many in Spain who just outright disagree with any right of Catalonia to be independent. History, culture, language, nothing really matters. Some have said it is the Spanish Constitution and all of Spain should vote to let Catalonia leave or stay. All of that said if Madrid had just allowed a fair referendum then whatever the vote was should have stood.

This is all about saving the EU and not Spain. It was the oppression that probably made others vote to leave. All of Spain cannot vote against one region. London did not vote on Scotland and neither did Toronto against Quebec. California has people pushing to separate and that is not a right to be decided by me in Florida.
Separatist movements are now rising throughout Europe. We see Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the UK all have separatist movements. There is even talk in Bavaria among friends I have there and Prussia wants more autonomy. Then there is Normandy and Brittany in France. There is a long list starting with Moravia, Lombardy, Insubria, South Tyrol, Carinthis, Friule-Venezia, Hungarian minorities, Savoy, Liguria, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Rijeka Istria, Veneto, Padania, Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, Sandzak, Serbian Republic, Vojvodina, Szekely Land, Gagauzia, Transnistria, Donbass, Crimea. Latgale, Ingria, Skameland, Samogita, Bornolm, and don’t forget Northen Cyprus. Some of these are asking for full independence and other more autonomy.
It is the economic issues intermixed with the refugee crisis that is sparking these movements today.

Puigdemont Seeks Asylum In Belgium After Spain Files Charges Against Catalan Government For Rebellion

Puigdemont Seeks Asylum In Belgium After Spain Files Charges Against Catalan Government For Rebellion

Update: As we warned earlier, La Sexta has just reported that (former) Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will seek asylum in Belgium.

According to eldiario.es, Puigdemont has made the decision to travel to Brussels advised by a legal team that recommends him to remain in that country.

The movement of the former Catalan president intends to internationalize the judicial decisions and to force the Belgian justice to position itself on the possible emission of a euroorder of detention by Spain. In addition, the expresident and the exconsellers that accompany him raise the possibility of requesting political asylum in that country.

*  *  *

As we detailed earlier, Spain’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Jose Manuel Maza, made a short statement this morning as he filed a suit against former Catalonian leader, Carles Puigdemont and his colleagues, accusing them of “rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds”. In total, charges have been made against 20 people, 14 of them former members of the Catalan and six of them members of the Speaker’s Committee in the Catalan Parliament (which facilitated the declaration of independence).

Below is the front page of the document which details the charges, courtesy of the twitter account of The Spain Report.

And here is the first page of the accusation that has gone to the Supreme Cou

The Spain Report published a summary of the court against members of Speaker’s Committee. Same three crimes. pic.twitter.com/rzeR4sALpu

View image on Twitter

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Europe Will Reap What Spain Has Sown

Europe Will Reap What Spain Has Sown

Europe Will Reap What Spain Has Sown

The Spanish government decided to reach back into its history and borrow from the playbook of longtime Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco in dealing with Catalonia’s decision to declare independence from the Spanish Kingdom as the Republic of Catalonia. The Catalan government’s decision to declare independence followed an October 1 referendum in the region that resulted in a “yes” for independence.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose Popular Party is a direct political descendant of Franco’s fascist Falangist Party, wasted no time in invoking, for the first time, Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which allows the Spanish Kingdom to impose direct rule on regions not adhering to the whiplashing from Madrid. Catalonia is the first, but possible not the last victim, of Spain’s neo-fascism on display for the entire world.

During the Spanish Civil War, the Catalans and Basques fought with bravery on behalf of the Spanish Second Republic against the fascist forces of Franco and his fascists. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini provided all-out support for Franco, much like the European Union, NATO, and the United States have fully backed Rajoy in his confrontation with Catalonia. Spain’s King Felipe VI October 3 speech, in which he condemned the Catalan referendum’s pro-independence results, was seen by many Catalans, as well as other groups like the Basques, Galicians, and Andalusians, as an unnecessary involvement in politics. Not only Catalans, but others across Spain, began calling for the scrapping of the Bourbon family’s monarchy and the establishment of the Spanish Third Republic. The Bourbons have little respect among the working peoples of Spain and France. After all, it was an ancestor of Felipe VI, Louis XVI of France, who lost his head to a French revolutionary guillotine after ignoring the poverty of the French people.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Devolution everywhere: Spain, Italy, Britain and the problems of complexity

Devolution everywhere: Spain, Italy, Britain and the problems of complexity

The narrative about Catalan independence is that two major cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are competing for power, and one has decided that the best path forward is to declare independence from Spain and free itself of Madrid’s dominance.

There is certainly something to this narrative. As CNN reports:

Catalonia accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain’s economy, and leads all regions in producing 25% of the country’s exports.

It contributes much more in taxes (21% of the country’s total) than it gets back from the government.

Independence supporters have seized on the imbalance, arguing that stopping transfers to Madrid would turn Catalonia’s budget deficit into a surplus.

Catalonia has a proven record of attracting investment, with nearly a third of all foreign companies in Spain choosing the regional capital of Barcelona as their base.

But the spread of independence-seeking across Europe points to something more than just sibling rivalry. In 2016 British voters shocked the world by voting narrowly to withdraw from the European Union (EU). Just this month two of Italy’s richest regions held non-binding referendums on seeking increased autonomy from the central government. More than 95 percent of those voting said yes.

The immediate effects of Britain withdrawing from the EU and of Catalonia becoming independent (if, in fact, either actually ends up happening) could be quite negative economically, cutting both off from established trade arrangements that power their economies. (The vague desire for more autonomy among the provinces of Veneto and Lombardy in Italy does not yet spell economic and political divorce.)

Given this outcome, why would the people of Britain and Catalonia seek to disconnect from central authorities? For Britain perhaps the impetus was that most of the people of Britain did not feel they were sharing in the prosperity generated by the country’s affiliation with the EU.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Catalonia and Spain Enter Dangerous Uncharted Territory

Catalonia and Spain Enter Dangerous Uncharted Territory

Emotions are running high on both sides of the divide.

Today was one of the strangest days of my life. I woke up in a constitutional monarchy called Spain and will go to bed, the same bed, in a newly proclaimed republic. Catalonia’s impossible dream has finally come true, but it could be extremely short lived, and it could have very damaging long lasting consequences.

Spain’s Senate responded to the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence this afternoon by ratifying the activation of Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, the nuclear button everyone has been waiting for. This will allow the central government to take full rein of the region’s institutions and levers of power, including parliament, the police force, the exchequer (already done), public media, the Internet, the education system, and telecommunications — at least in theory.

There is no telling just yet how Mariano Rajoy’s government intends to stamp its authority on 2.5 million of the Catalans now in open rebellion, or for how long. Given the law’s ambiguity, there are few constraints on its application, but trying to subdue a region where most of the 7.5 million-strong population are hostile to the basic notion of direct rule from Madrid is going to be a tall order, especially if the EU, which refuses to recognize Catalonia, expects Rajoy’s government to bring Catalonia back into line through “the force of argument rather than the argument of force.”

The force of argument is not exactly Rajoy’s forte. In all likelihood, his government’s first act will be to try to arrest the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, suspend his ministers, and assume direct authority over the regional government. To do that, it will probably have to take full control of Catalonia’s regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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