Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Big Brother at Work

There have  been a number of interesting government 'interventions' in otherwise 'small potatoes' over the past wee while.  Some of them are worth a look

Anti-Israel boycotts.  A number of western governments have recently enacted legislation to 'outlaw' any 'boycott Israel' activities in organizations or institutions that receive government funding.  Canada passed such a law after a McGill University Student group moved to boycott Israel. Obama signed similar legislation in the USA. Similar laws have been passed in Britain, France and Germany.  All to stop support for Palestinians and the boycott of goods manufactured in Israeli West Bank 'settlements',  but imported as 'Products of Israel'.

The boycott was instituted to have such products labelled accurately.  One of the most notorious products was a soft-drink flavoring system (Soda Stream) manufactured in the Jewish West Bank using 'Palestinian labour'.  The company has now gone out of business completely, after  relocating to the Sinai area of Israel and hiring 'bedouin tribesmen'.

It remains to be seen what penalties will be incurred for failing to adhere to the laws.

The Brexit - Brexception:  Prime Minister Cameron campaigned his last election on the notion that Britain could do better outside the EU and should have a better deal inside it.  He has recently concluded a round of trade negotiations that, he claims, make 'staying in'  in Britain's best interests. Some commentators liken it to the Munich agreement that gained a breathing space before the inevitable bad times to come.  In Cameron's mind there will be no 'Brexit' from the EU - and so all the other is bumpff.  What nobody has noticed, yet, is that Britain has gained no special dispensation from EU control over its economy, or other important affairs of state. Britain is as 'tied' to  the EU this week, as it was a month ago, and will be in the future. Cameron got little more for his troubles than he already had.  And, should he win the up-coming referendum,  Britain will be more tightly attached to Europe than it has ever been. All this does is 'shut-up' the vocal rump who've been complaining since last the lion roared. And that isn't the British banks and financial system - which let its mind be known by devaluing the pound - citing the 'upset'.

Ukraine - on going:  The EU was had 'Ukraine Week' at the Parliament a few weeks back (shows how long I've been procrastinating)  - celebrating all things Ukrainian with socializing and canapes. The purpose was to 'keep Ukraine high on the EU agenda' - as if Ukraine and its sad state could be ignored. The Dutch were preparing to 'ratify' their EU agreement with Ukraine (they didn't- but this is 'no longer important') - something that had been bruited to fail when put to the Dutch, even after a government plan to 'manage' the dissonance was revealed last week. Ukrainian ministers were doing their world tours of western capitals, 'selling' the struggle against Russia for the 'defense of civilization'.  Western governments bought it, at least insofar as maintaining, or as in the case of the US, extending,  the sanctions program against Russia.

In the meantime,  the imminent collapse of Russia is postponed, again, while Ukraine 'gears-up' for the only option to doing nothing, trying to 'provoke' the rebels into the 'attack' that would justify one more, hopefully successful,  "tooth-breaking offensive" to regain 'the east.'  There was a minor dust-up related to this when somebody in the EU parliament  noticed the 'nazi' tattoos on the portraits of some wounded Ukrainian servicemen displayed for the edification of the Euros.  The photos were hastily removed from display but also appeared  on an AV presentation.  (So have any references to this minor fiasco.  But I shall keep on looking - they were there - video and all - on Ukrainian government sites.)

The east China Sea continues to focus the lights of the great defender of most things, as the Chinese continue to tun reefs into desert islands from which they can 'threaten' international shipping or something like that.  One would think that building a landing strip in the middle of a sea would be a good idea.  Ir's a pretty virtual certainty that international, indeed any kind of shipping, which might have avoided a submerged reef, would certainly avoid an emerged islet built on top of it.  But the Chinese building anything, without somebody's say-so,  not inside China,  is a threat to American interest somewhere, somehow.

Syria continues as Syria has continued since 'the US led coalition' showed up to fight the ISIS thing the  Saudis and Gulf States  created for them.  Correct that: things actually started to change after the Russians showed-up. Things are still changing, how is not yet clear.

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