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(EUobserver) Swiss likely to reject EU deal, warns president

(EUobserver) Swiss president Ueli Maurer on Sunday urged the European Union to renegotiate a deal governing future ties between the two sides, telling Swiss TV station Tele Zuri that Swiss voters would not agree to the proposed version if it comes to a referendum. “As things stand today, the framework agreement would not be accepted. So we would still have to make substantial renegotiations,” he said.

(JN) A mensagem que falta – Nuno Melo

(JN) Na mensagem de Ano Novo, o presidente da República pediu “credibilidade e transparência às instituições políticas”, atenção ao esforço “custoso para pôr de pé uma democracia” fácil de destruir e “exigência” nas escolhas a fazer nas próximas eleições europeias, regionais da Madeira e legislativas.

Terá razão. Ainda assim, de pouco servirá apelar à renúncia de “arrogâncias intoleráveis, promessas impossíveis, radicalismos temerários e riscos indesejáveis”, se forem omitidos os motivos da tentação por respostas assim erradas.

As reações extremistas e nacionalistas não nascem de gestação espontânea. Há causas profundas que há décadas vêm minando os alicerces dos regimes democráticos. E as pessoas estão cansadas.

Cansadas da corrupção indecente e às claras, praticada por tantos responsáveis políticos de partidos que se dizem moderados e à custa de rótulos acumulam votos e se alternam no poder, mas depois se apropriam ilicitamente de parcelas do erário público e do património alheio.

Cansadas de declarações públicas e peregrinações em defesa dos piores exemplos da política, em vez do repúdio cristalino da má conduta daqueles que os tribunais mostraram incapazes das funções públicas para que foram escolhidos. E não, não somos todos iguais.

Cansadas dos ataques à Justiça, em vez de melhores meios para quem a encarna. Nenhum regime é democrático, onde a criminalidade prevaleça incólume.

Cansadas da colonização forçada com socialismo, de parcelas do Estado, onde só poderia haver isenção, escolas e universidades, a começar.

Cansadas de dois pesos e duas medidas. De alarmes – justificados -, em relação ao crescimento da extrema-direita, enquanto se faz silêncio e aprecia o crescimento dramático da extrema-esquerda, amiga de ditaduras implacáveis. A propósito, o PCP e o BE, que em Portugal exercem o poder como contrapartida da manutenção no poder do PS derrotado nas urnas, defensores da loucura venezuelana, críticos do projeto europeu, saudosos da União Soviética e da experiência albanesa de Enver Hoxha, representam 20 % da Assembleia da República. Mas claro, tudo bem.

Cansadas de dogmas artificiais de género e de “ditaduras” de minorias.

Cansadas de um “politicamente” correto que vergasta e insulta quem quer que se atreva a não reproduzir fielmente as “narrativas” ideológicas criadas pelos círculos clássicos de comunicação.

Cansadas de dívidas irresponsáveis, medidas por impostos absurdos e pelo Estado que falha onde não poderia faltar.

Cansadas da simples falta de senso.

Em relação a tudo isto, 2019 trará muitas e boas diferenças. À direita e em democracia.

Deputado europeu

(OBS) O Brexit é péssimo, mas não haver Brexit será pior – Rui Ramos

(OBS) A União Europeia não se pode deixar caricaturar como “uma prisão de povos”, onde não importa como os cidadãos votam. Por isso, o Reino Unido deve sair da UE.

O Brexit é uma tragédia? É. Para o Reino Unido, porque abdica da sua influência na União Europeia. Para a União Europeia, porque se vê diminuída de uma das suas maiores economias e de um Estado que foi sempre fundamental para os equilíbrios no continente e para a projecção da Europa no mundo. Todos perderão com um Reino Unido mais insular e uma Europa mais franco-alemã e, portanto, mais paroquial.

O Brexit é ainda uma tragédia porque podia ter sido evitado. É verdade: a relação do Reino Unido com os seus parceiros europeus nunca foi fácil. Mas se o primeiro-ministro David Cameron não tivesse receado tanto o UKIP nas eleições de 2015, não teria talvez havido referendo; e se o referendo não tivesse ocorrido em 2016, na sombra da crise migratória provocada por Angela Merkel no ano anterior, teria tido talvez outro resultado.

Mas uma vez que o referendo aconteceu e o seu resultado foi o que foi, há neste momento uma perspectiva pior para a Europa: é não haver Brexit nenhum. Dir-me-ão: pior, como? Não seria preferível regressar ao que era antes? No Reino Unido e na Europa, há quem espere que um fracasso das negociações e o medo de uma saída sem acordo propiciem um segundo referendo que inverta o resultado do primeiro. Não é impossível. Bruxelas não facilitou a vida a Theresa May, tal como já não tinha facilitado a vida a David Cameron, com medo de estabelecer precedentes para uma Europa “à la carte”. No Reino Unido, as negociações com Bruxelas criaram a ideia de que, em vez de um acordo, o país tinha sido confrontado com um ultimato à medida de um Estado-vassalo.  Theresa May diz que não, e há quem argumente que as negociações deram aos eleitores britânicos precisamente o que desejavam (o “mercado livre sem livre circulação de pessoas“). Mas muitos “Remainers” e “Brexiteers” estão, por várias razões, unidos contra o acordo (o Partido Trabalhista, por exemplo, porque quer eleições antecipadas).

A Europa e o Reino Unido encontram-se a meio da ponte nietzschiana em que é perigoso parar, é perigoso avançar, e é igualmente perigoso voltar para trás. O acordo será uma fonte de tensões e de incertezas. Uma saída sem acordo é um salto no escuro. Mas uma reversão do Brexit não é menos arriscada: confirmaria a ideia de que, na Europa, as populações são obrigadas a votar até acertar no resultado certo, como nos célebres referendos irlandeses de 2001-2002 e 2008-2009. A UE não é, não tem de ser, nem pode ser uma democracia. É uma comunidade de democracias nacionais. A legitimidade democrática da UE assenta nessas democracias. Seria muito pouco saudável para estes regimes, e portanto para a própria UE, se opções fundamentais passassem a ser concebidas como o resultado, não de consensos nacionais, mas de meras imposições diplomáticas. Por cá, o PCP já aproveitou o acordo do Brexit para identificar a liberdade económica como uma simples obrigação externa.

Este seria o contexto ideal para populismos e radicalismos tentarem levantar as nações contra a “Europa de Bruxelas”, como os revolucionários de 1848 as levantaram contra a Europa das dinastias. Na Grécia, Tsipras não foi longe. Mas até onde irá Salvini em Itália? Ou alguém que consiga dirigir os “coletes amarelos” em França?

A UE não se pode deixar caricaturar como “uma prisão de povos”, onde não importa como os cidadãos votam, porque as elites europeístas arranjam sempre maneira de prevalecer. Isso serviria para deslegitimar, não apenas a UE, mas as democracias nacionais e os seus valores. Por isso, e por mais desacertada que uma votação possa parecer, convém que tenha consequências. Em 2015, depois do seu referendo, a Grécia deveria ter saído do euro. Agora, é urgente que o Reino Unido saia da UE — por causa do Reino Unido, da União Europeia e da democracia na Europa.

(Algemeiner) ‘Palestine Was the Biggest Victim of World War I’

(Algemeiner)

An aerial view of the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The first sentence of this article in Al Madenah News by Dr. Mustafa Yousef Alddawi, marking the centennial of the end of World War I, is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever read in Arabic media. And that’s saying a lot.

“There is no doubt that Palestine was the greatest victim of the First World War,” it begins.

During World War I, Palestine had a population of 800,000. The number of people killed during the war was between 15 to 19 million.

The Ottoman Empire, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, and Austria each lost more people than the entire population of Palestine.

Obviously Alddawi is claiming that the division of the Arab world by the victors of the war, which included allowing Jews to return to a sliver of land where they are the indigenous people, is the most catastrophic thing to ever happen to anyone ever.

Many Palestinians are the masters of making everything about them. They are the biggest victims of the Holocaust, they are the biggest victims of both world wars, they are the biggest victims of “colonialism,” they are the world’s biggest victims, period.

The article ends with a threat against the world:

The Palestinian cause will be the cause of future wars, the effects of which may be no less than the world wars. … It has been a hundred years since the founding of the Palestinian cause, and it is still burning and burning, and it will remain so until the Palestinians regain their rights and return to their homes.

Yes, this Palestinian writer is saying that unless the world gives the Palestinians what they demand — the destruction of Israel — we can expect a World War III that could dwarf the others.

I’ve seen lots of mob-style threats from Palestinians, but this one takes the cake.

Elder of Ziyon has been blogging about Israel and the Arab world for a really long time now. He also controls the world, but deep down, you already knew that.

(AP) Portugal spending plan offers better times ahead of election

(APPortugal spending plan offers better times ahead of election

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — With a general election on the horizon, Portugal’s government is promising a financial windfall after years of austerity.

The center-left Socialist government’s 2019 budget proposal unveiled Tuesday offered lower taxes, higher pay for government workers, pension increases, more jobs, and lower energy and public transport prices.

Finance Minister Mario Centeno said those measures are possible due to healthy economic growth, higher tax revenue, more efficient spending and savings on interest rates.

Centeno, who chairs meetings of the 19-nation eurozone’s finance ministers, said that successfully keeping a lid on public spending in recent years will bring a budget deficit next year of 0.2 percent — the lowest in more than 40 years — down from an expected 0.7 percent this year.

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Portugal needed a 78-billion euro ($90 billion) bailout in 2011, after recording a deficit of more than 11 percent the previous year, amid the European debt crisis.

“This is the result of a long road which the Portuguese, with great merit, completed,” the budget proposal said of the forecast deficit.

The government predicts growth of 2.2 percent next year, down from an expected 2.8 percent this year. The International Monetary Fund forecasts 1.8 percent growth for Portugal in 2019.

Public debt is seen dropping to a still-high 118.5 percent, from around 122 percent in 2018. The government forecasts the jobless rate falling to 6.3 percent from the current 6.8 percent.

It is also pledging to add 9,000 staff to the public health service and more than 6,500 teachers at schools.

Labor groups noted the government has made similar pledges in the past and later reneged on them.

The main opposition Social Democratic Party accused the government of chasing votes.

The minority government’s spending proposal requires the approval of parliament and the country’s president. The Socialists have the backing in parliament of the Portuguese Communist Party and the radical left Bloc, giving it enough votes to pass legislation.

A general election is due in a year’s time.

(EUobserver) Le Pen refuses court order to undergo psychiatric tests

(EUobserver) French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has been ordered by a French court to undergo a psychiatric test for tweeting pictures of atrocities committed by the Islamic State group in 2015. Le Pen published the court order, dated 11 September, on Twitter on Thursday and said she would refuse to undergo such tests. “I’d like to see how the judge would try and force me do it,” she said.

(BBC) Wiesbaden in Germany removes gold statue of Turkey’s President Erdogan

(BBC)

Bystanders look at a gold statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the city of Wiesbaden's Square of German UnityImage copyrightEPA
Image captionA golden statue of Turkey’s president received a mixed reception in the German city of Wiesbaden

The German city of Wiesbaden has removed a 4m (13ft) golden statue of Turkey’s president after it was defaced with the words “Turkish Hitler”.

The statue of Recep Tayyip Erdogan was installed in a square as part of Wiesbaden’s Biennale arts festival.

Organisers said they had hoped it would spark discussions linked to this year’s theme – “bad news”.

Instead, it prompted conflict between Mr Erdogan’s supporters and critics. Firefighters moved it on Tuesday night.

City councillor Oliver Franz told the Wiesbadener Kurier newspaper that angry words had escalated into physical scuffles, and “bladed weapons were spotted”.

“In agreement with state police, Mayor Sven Gerich decided to have the statue removed as security could no longer be guaranteed,” the city’s government tweeted.

Firefighters lift the golden statue using a crane under cover of darknessImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionFirefighters moved the statue under cover of darkness

Germany has a significant Turkish minority, whose varied attitudes to Mr Erdogan reflect those in Turkey itself. Some back his nationalist politics, while others accuse him of authoritarian tendencies.

Relations between Germany and Turkey have been frosty in recent years – not least in March 2017, when Mr Erdogan compared German officials to Nazis.

The insult came after German authorities cancelled rallies he had hoped would woo ethnic Turkish voters in Germany, ahead of a key referendum.

Media captionPresident Erdogan makes Nazi Germany taunt

In August the same year, a month before Germany’s general election, Mr Erdogan called the country’s ruling politicians “enemies of Turkey” who deserved to be rejected by voters. His remarks were sternly condemned by German ministers.

The artists behind the statue said they had only meant to spark a public debate.

“In a democracy, we have to put up with all kinds of opinions,” observed Wiesbaden city theatre chief Eric Laufenberg.

Mr Erdogan is scheduled to make a state visit to Berlin in late September.

(Economist) Anti-immigration, like pro-immigration, is a legitimate political position

(Economist) A book excerpt from “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari

An historian by training, Yuval Noah Harari rose to prominence with two best-selling books. Sapiens looked at humanity’s past and Homo Deus at its future. His latest book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, considers the here-and-now, spanning subjects from technology and terrorism to populism and religion.

In the excerpt that follows, he considers the underlying premise of immigration and what migrants and societies might “owe” each other, to conclude: “It would be wrong to tar all anti-immigrationists as ‘fascists’, just as it would be wrong to depict all pro-immigrationists as committed to ‘cultural suicide’. […] It is a discussion between two legitimate political positions, which should be decided through standard democratic procedures.”

The European discussion about immigration often degenerates into a shouting match in which neither side hears the other. To clarify matters, it would perhaps be helpful to view immigration as a deal with three basic conditions or terms:

Term 1: The host country allows the immigrants in.

Term 2: In return, the immigrants must embrace at least the core norms and values of the host country, even if that means giving up some of their traditional norms and values.

Term 3: If the immigrants assimilate to a sufficient degree, over time they become equal and full members of the host country. ‘They’ become ‘us’.

These three terms give rise to three distinct debates about the exact meaning of each term:

Debate 1: The first clause of the immigration deal says simply that the host country allows immigrants in. But should this be understood as a duty or a favour? Is the host country obliged to open its gates to everybody, or does it have the right to pick and choose, and even to halt immigration altogether? Pro-immigrationists seem to think that countries have a moral duty to accept not just refugees, but also people from poverty-stricken lands who seek jobs and a better future. Especially in a globalised world, all humans have moral obligations towards all other humans, and those shirking these obligations are egoists or even racists.

Anti-immigrationists reply that except perhaps in the case of refugees fleeing brutal persecution in a neighbouring country, you are never obliged to open your door. Turkey may have a moral duty to allow desperate Syrian refugees to cross its border. But if these refugees then try to move on to Sweden, the Swedes are not bound to accept them. As for migrants who seek jobs and welfare, it is totally up to the host country whether it wants them in or not, and under what conditions.

Anti-immigrationists stress that one of the most basic rights of every human collective is to defend itself against invasion, whether in the form of armies or migrants. The Swedes have worked very hard and made numerous sacrifices in order to build a prosperous liberal democracy, and if the Syrians have failed to do the same, this is not the Swedes’ fault. If Swedish voters don’t want more Syrian immigrants in—for whatever reason—it is their right to refuse them entry. And if they do accept some immigrants, it should be absolutely clear that this is a favour Sweden extends rather than an obligation it fulfils. Which means that immigrants who are allowed into Sweden should feel extremely grateful for whatever they get, instead of coming with a list of demands as if they own the place.

Moreover, say the anti-immigrationists, a country can have whatever immigration policy it wants, screening immigrants not just for their criminal records or professional talents, but even for things like religion. If a country like Israel wants to allow in only Jews, and a country like Poland agrees to absorb Middle Eastern refugees on condition that they are Christians, this may seem distasteful, but it is perfectly within the rights of the Israeli or Polish voters.

What complicates matters is that in many cases people want to have their cake and eat it. Numerous countries turn a blind eye to illegal immigration, or even accept foreign workers on a temporary basis, because they want to benefit from the foreigners’ energy, talents and cheap labour. However, the countries then refuse to legalise the status of these people, saying that they don’t want immigration. In the long run, this could create hierarchical societies in which an upper class of full citizens exploits an underclass of powerless foreigners, as happens today in Qatar and several other Gulf States.

As long as this debate isn’t settled, it is extremely difficult to answer all subsequent questions about immigration. Since pro-immigrationists think that people have a right to immigrate to another land if they so wish, and host countries have a duty to absorb them, they react with moral outrage when people’s right to immigrate is violated, and when countries fail to perform their duty of absorption. Anti-immigrationists are astounded by such views. They see immigration as a privilege, and absorption as a favour. Why accuse people of being racists or fascists just because they refuse entry into their own country?

Of course, even if allowing immigrants in constitutes a favour rather than a duty, once the immigrants settle down the host country gradually incurs numerous duties towards them and their descendants. Thus you cannot justify anti-Semitism in the USA today by arguing that ‘we did your great-grandmother a favour by letting her into this country in 1910, so we can now treat you any way we like’.

Debate 2: The second clause of the immigration deal says that if they are allowed in, the immigrants have an obligation to assimilate into the local culture. But how far should assimilation go? If immigrants move from a patriarchal society to a liberal society, must they become feminist? If they come from a deeply religious society, need they adopt a secular world view? Should they abandon their traditional dress codes and food taboos? Anti-immigrationists tend to place the bar high, whereas pro-immigrationists place it much lower.

Pro-immigrationists argue that Europe itself is extremely diverse, and its native populations have a wide spectrum of opinions, habits and values. This is exactly what makes Europe vibrant and strong. Why should immigrants be forced to adhere to some imaginary European identity that few Europeans actually live up to? Do you want to force Muslim immigrants to the UK to become Christian, when many British citizens hardly go to church? If Europe has any real core values, then these are the liberal values of tolerance and freedom, which imply that Europeans should show tolerance towards the immigrants too, and allow them as much freedom as possible to follow their own traditions, provided these do not harm the freedoms and rights of other people.

Anti-immigrationists agree that tolerance and freedom are the most important European values, and accuse many immigrant groups—especially from Muslim countries—of intolerance, misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism. Precisely because Europe cherishes tolerance, it cannot allow too many intolerant people in. While a tolerant society can manage small illiberal minorities, if the number of such extremists exceeds a certain threshold, the whole nature of society changes. If Europe allows in too many immigrants from the Middle East, it will end up looking like the Middle East.

Other anti-immigrationists go much further. They point out that a national community is far more than a collection of people who tolerate each other. Hence it is not enough that immigrants adhere to European standards of tolerance. They must also adopt many of the unique characteristics of British, German or Swedish culture, whatever these may be. By allowing them in, the local culture is taking upon itself a big risk and a huge expense. There is no reason it should destroy itself as well. It offers eventual full equality so it demands full assimilation. If the immigrants have an issue with certain quirks of British, German or Swedish culture, they are welcome to go elsewhere.

The two key issues of this debate are the disagreement about immigrant intolerance and the disagreement about European identity. If immigrants are indeed guilty of incurable intolerance, many liberal Europeans who currently favour immigration will sooner or later come round to oppose it bitterly. Conversely, if most immigrants prove to be liberal and broad-minded in their attitude to religion, gender and politics, this will disarm some of the most effective arguments against immigration.

This will still leave open, however, the question of Europe’s unique national identities. Tolerance is a universal value. Are there any unique French norms and values that should be accepted by anyone immigrating to France, and are there unique Danish norms and values that immigrants to Denmark must embrace? As long as Europeans are bitterly divided about this question, they can hardly have a clear policy about immigration. Conversely, once Europeans know who they are, 500 million Europeans should have no difficulty absorbing a few million refugees—or turning them away.

Debate 3: The third clause of the immigration deal says that if immigrants indeed make a sincere effort to assimilate—and in particular to adopt the value of tolerance—the host country is duty-bound to treat them as first-class citizens. But exactly how much time needs to pass before the immigrants become full members of society? Should first-generation immigrants from Algeria feel aggrieved if they are still not seen as fully French after twenty years in the country? How about third-generation immigrants whose grandparents came to France in the 1970s?

Pro-immigrationists tend to demand a speedy acceptance, whereas anti-immigrationists want a much longer probation period. For pro-immigrationists, if third-generation immigrants are not seen and treated as equal citizens, this means that the host country is not fulfilling its obligations, and if this results in tensions, hostility and even violence—the host country has nobody to blame but its own bigotry. For anti-immigrationists, these inflated expectations are a large part of the problem. The immigrants should be patient. If your grandparents arrived here just forty years ago, and you now riot in the streets because you think you are not treated as a native, then you have failed the test.

The root issue of this debate concerns the gap between personal timescale and collective timescale. From the viewpoint of human collectives, forty years is a short time. It is hard to expect society to fully absorb foreign groups within a few decades. Past civilisations that assimilated foreigners and made them equal citizens—such as Imperial Rome, the Muslim caliphate, the Chinese empires and the United States—all took centuries rather than decades to accomplish the transformation.

From a personal viewpoint, however, forty years can be an eternity. For a teenager born in France twenty years after her grandparents immigrated there, the journey from Algiers to Marseilles is ancient history. She was born here, all her friends have been born here, she speaks French rather than Arabic, and she has never even been to Algeria. France is the only home she has ever known. And now people say to her it’s not her home, and that she should go ‘back’ to a place she never inhabited?

As long as we don’t know whether absorption is a duty or a favour; what level of assimilation is required from immigrants; and how quickly host countries should treat them as equal citizens—we cannot judge whether the two sides are fulfilling their obligations.

An additional problem concerns accounting. When evaluating the immigration deal, both sides give far more weight to violations than to compliance. If a million immigrants are law-abiding citizens, but one hundred join terrorist groups and attack the host country, does it mean that on the whole the immigrants are complying with the terms of the deal, or violating it? If a third-generation immigrant walks down the street a thousand times without being molested, but once in a while some racist shouts abuse at her, does it mean that the native population is accepting or rejecting the immigrants?

[…]

Whatever your answers to these questions, it should at least be clear that the European debate about immigration is far from being a clear-cut battle between good and evil. It would be wrong to tar all anti-immigrationists as ‘fascists’, just as it would be wrong to depict all pro-immigrationists as committed to ‘cultural suicide’. Therefore, the debate about immigration should not be conducted as an uncompromising struggle about some non-negotiable moral imperative. It is a discussion between two legitimate political positions, which should be decided through standard democratic procedures.

_______

Excerpted from “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”. Copyright © 2018 by Yuval Noah Harari. Used with permission of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved.