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Catalonia’s independence process must be “slowed down” according to deposed President Puigdemont

Catalonia’s leaders have effectively given up on becoming fully independent for the time being.

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Deposed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is a man some would refer to as the President of the new Catalan Republic. However, speaking in Brussels at a hastily organised press conference with his colleagues, Puigdemont appeared to be more of a deposed man on a mission to score a moral victory, rather than a fearless leader out to ‘liberate’ his newly proclaimed state.

The major themes of the press conference included harsh criticisms for Spain’s heavy handed, anti-dialogue approach to the Catalan issue. The police violence which marred the 1 October Catalan independence referendum was also a frequent refrain.

However, in running away from Catalonia, Puigdemont and his colleagues have also run away from any serious attempts to establish the independent republic they strove for. Catalonia is now being ruled directly from Madrid and while many Catalans have openly expressed their disappointment, there has been no organised resistance to Madrid’s imposition of direct rule. In any case, Puigdemont told his supporters to shy away from violence and adopt a so-called ‘Gandhian’ approach. It would appear that most Catalans have taken it a step further and have just gone about their daily lives, at least for now.

One of Puigdemont’s deputies explained that they did not run away from a crisis, but instead fled the spectre of an unfair trail where Catalan leaders could be jailed for 30 years on “rebellion” charges.

The wider world however sees Catalan independence leaders who at no time caused any violence, but at the same time, were not able to peacefully mobilise their population against Spain. They chose an escape route over resistance, leading many to believe that while Carles Puigdemont and his government wanted independence, they didn’t want it badly enough to take any risks that could have impacted their personal futures in a negative way.

Spain’s Constitutional Court has formally nullified the Catalan Declaration of Independence and with pro-independence parties set to participate in the 21 December Catalan elections organised by Madrid, the wind is certainly out of the sails of the independence movement for the time being.

Spain has effectively ignored the events in Catalonia as much as possible and this has had the effect of leading to a fizzling out of passions in Barcelona. While some of the ultra-supporters of independence are both outraged and dismayed, this hasn’t translated into a wider feeling in Catalonia.

I recently wrote about five possibilities of post-independence declaration relations between Barcelona and Madrid. The following option appear to have been taken by Spain and generally accepted by the deposed Catalan leadership:

Madrid ignores the implementation of the declaration of independence 

In many ways, it seems counter-intuitive to list this as the ‘most peaceful short term option’, not least because there is ostensibly no bigger insult to a peoples than to simply ignore their declaration of independence. This is ironically, not necessarily the case with Catalonia.

The very reason that Catalan independence was not declared on the 2nd of October is because the Catalan leadership are very moderate in their approach to the issue. Forgetting whether one finds the Catalan leaders inspiring or incipient, the fact of the matter is that they did not so much say “give me liberty or give me death” as they said “give me European values and give me those values on my terms at the soonest possible date after a period of polite discussions”.

Because Catalonia has shown the propensity to wait for a good faith negotiation partner during a very trying month and because furthermore, many Catalan politicians have insisted that they seek peace and cooperation whenever possible, the onus therefore is now very much on Madrid to de-escalate the situation.

Madrid could still go through with the technical firing of the Catalan government in order to administer the humdrum business of daily life in Catalonia for an interim period on their terms, but if Madrid were to officially adopt a position of ignoring the formal independence vote, it could still negotiate with independence leaders in another capacity.

The west, including Spain, continually speaks of ‘moderate rebels’ in places throughout the world, notably Syria, in spite of the fact that they are acting violently, using terrorism as their de-facto means of ‘political expression’, are mostly foreign proxies and are violating not only national but international law. With the exception of Catalonia violating Spanish law, included the much hated 1978 Spanish constitution, which many see as overtly Francoist in nature, none of this applies to Catalonia.

No one can reasonably say that Catalan independence supporters or their leaders are terrorists or post a direct threat to world peace as al-Qaeda, the FSA, Kurdish ethno-nationalists and ISIS do in places like Syria or Iraq. Furthermore, unlike Middle Eastern Kurds who are something of Israel’s de-facto regional puppets, Catalan independence movements have been part of Iberian history going back centuries. The Catalan struggle, in other-words, predates the creation of the dastardly Israeli colonial state, the birth of George Soros, the idea of the New World Order and the advent of neo-liberal economics.  To therefore say that Catalan independence is about any of these things, as many have, fails to realise the long historical basis which underlies recent events in Catalonia.

Because of this, Madrid  has nothing to lose, yet much to gain from engaging in negotiations with the leaders of the independence movement. Had Madrid negotiated directly with the leaders in Barcelona, the entire independence movement may have fizzled-out over time, in the same way that Brexit appears to be doing in another EU state, or otherwise, Madrid could have agreed to a situation whereby Catalonia settles on an Andorra like solution whereby Catalonia becomes a state formally protected by Spain (as Andorra is technically protected by France), while technically enjoying the desired benefits of EU membership which logically derive from the ‘protector’ state. Because of Catalonia’s size vis-a-vis Andorra, some sort of financial agreement could be agreed upon on a per annum basis.

Such a solution would require creativity, but crucially it requires no blood and could be arranged to create face-saving and money saving measures that cover both sides in terms of economic, political and even ego driven requirements and desires. It is still not too late to achieve this as the “slowly-slowly” attitude in Barcelona has not dramatically changed, in spite of recent dramatic events. In this sense, yesterday’s vote was more of a sign that Barcelona is not bluffing, that it is a sign that Madrid is now an automatic enemy of the largely unrecognised new Catalan Republic”.

5 possible consequences of Catalan independence

The caveat to this is that with Carles Puigdemont saying that the drive for independence must “slow down”, future discussions between a the pro-independence parties in Barcelona and Madrid will now involve a settlement that will almost certain exclude full independence.

Instead, when the smoke clears, Catalan parties participating in the December elections will likely argue for a special status for Catalonia that will involve increased levels of autonomy while also arguing for clemency for Puigdemont and his colleagues, so that they could return to Barcelona without having to worry about being tried as rebels.

Spain has emerged bruised but legally united. Barcelona has emerged with a small moral victory in the eyes of many of its supporters, but one which largely failed to realise its goal. While this may seem like a lose-lose situation, in a strange way it may amount to a poor man’s win-win.

Madrid never cared about taking the high road, never cared about exorcising the ghosts of the Francoist past and never cared to allow Catalans to participate in a referendum without making a very large and violent fuss. Madrid only cared about asserting its authority and in this sense, it is mission accomplished for Mariano Rajoy and his allies.

For the independence movement in Catalonia, many joined for historical and emotional reasons, rather than because of an unquenchable political desire to separate from Spain. Catalonia very much feels like a small nation with a unique culture. It is a place that has historically had disputes with Madrid and never surrendered its unique identity in spite of ferocious Spanish regimes.

That being said, many Catalans simply wanted to state this loudly and clearly. For many Catalans, the process of uniting behind the Catalan flag was a matter of pride rather than of politics and in this sense, many of these people have achieved what they wanted. The world has seen Catalonia to be a unique culture where people peacefully engaged in a democratic process in spite of the heavy hand of a regressive state slapping them down as best as it could.

However, the more complex issues of post-independence economic settlement and the issue of Catalonia-EU relations have now been effectively put on hold for the foreseeable future and this will come as a relief for many.

Of course, this does not go for everyone in Catalonia. Some will be genuinely crushed by the end of the full dream of independence. These people can and should blame a leadership in Barcelona that were ultimately more willing to be compromised than they were willing to fight until the end.

Looking beyond the immediate term, while some will say that the issue is settled for a generation, this may not be the case. Spain was hit particularly hard by the 2007/2008 financial crisis. Should such a crisis hit again (and many say that the next big European financial crisis is not long off), the issue of Spain’s most prosperous region fighting for its independence will once again be very much back on the table.

This is the real danger that both leaders in Madrid and Barcelona will soon have to face.

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French opposition rejects Macron’s concessions to Yellow Vests, some demand ‘citizen revolution’

Mélenchon: “I believe that Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country will be a moment of great mobilization.”

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Macron’s concessions to the Yellow Vests has failed to appease protesters and opposition politicians, such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who called for “citizen’s revolution” to continue until a fair distribution of wealth is achieved.

Immediately after French President Macron declared a “social and economic state of emergency” in response to large-scale protests by members of the Yellow Vest movement, promising a range of concessions to address their grievances, left-wing opposition politician Mélenchon called on the grassroots campaign to continue their revolution next Saturday.

I believe that Act 5 of the citizen revolution in our country will be a moment of great mobilization.

Macron’s promise of a €100 minimum wage increase, tax-free overtime pay and end-of-year bonuses, Mélenchon argued, will not affect any “considerable part” of the French population. Yet the leader of La France Insoumise stressed that the “decision” to rise up rests with “those who are in action.”

“We expect a real redistribution of wealth,” Benoît Hamon, a former presidential candidate and the founder of the Mouvement Génération, told BFM TV, accusing Macron’s package of measures that benefit the rich.

The Socialist Party’s first secretary, Olivier Faure, also slammed Macron’s financial concessions to struggling workers, noting that his general “course has not changed.”

Although welcoming certain tax measures, Marine Le Pen, president of the National Rally (previously National Front), accused the president’s “model” of governance based on “wild globalization, financialization of the economy, unfair competition,” of failing to address the social and cultural consequences of the Yellow Vest movement.

Macron’s speech was a “great comedy,”according to Debout la France chairman, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who accused the French President of “hypocrisy.”

Yet many found Melanchon’s calls to rise up against the government unreasonable, accusing the 67-year-old opposition politician of being an “opportunist” and “populist,” who is trying to hijack the social protest movement for his own gain.

Furthermore, some 54 percent of French believe the Yellow Vests achieved their goals and want rallies to stop, OpinionWay survey showed. While half of the survey respondents considered Macron’s anti-crisis measures unconvincing, another 49 percent found the president to be successful in addressing the demands of the protesters. Some 68 percent of those polled following Macron’s speech on Monday especially welcomed the increase in the minimum wage, while 78 percent favored tax cuts.

The Yellow Vest protests against pension cuts and fuel tax hikes last month were organized and kept strong via social media, without help from France’s powerful labor unions or official political parties. Some noted that such a mass mobilization of all levels of society managed to achieve unprecedented concessions from the government, which the unions failed to negotiate over the last three decades.

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Soros Mimics Hitler’s Bankers: Will Burden Europeans With Debt To ‘Save’ Them

George Soros is dissatisfied with the current EU refugee policy because it is still based on quotas.

The Duran

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Via GEFIRA:


After the Second World War, many economists racked their brains to answer the question of how Hitler managed to finance his armament, boost the economy and reduce unemployment.

Today his trick is well known. The economic miracle of Führer’s time became possible thanks to the so-called Mefo promissory notes.

The notes were the idea of the then President of the Reichsbank, Hjalmar Schacht, and served not only to finance the armament of the Wehrmacht for the Second World War, but also to create state jobs, which would otherwise not have been possible through the normal use of the money and capital markets, i.e. the annual increase in savings in Germany.

The Reich thus financed the armaments industry by accepting notes issued by the dummy company Metallurgische Forschungsgesellschaft GmbH (hence the name Mefo) rather than paying them in cash. The creation of money was in full swing from 1934 to 1938 – the total amount of notes issued at that time was 12 billion marks. The Reichsbank declared to the German banks that it was prepared to rediscount the Mefo notes, thus enabling the banks to discount them.

Because of their five-year term, the redemption of notes had to begin in 1939 at the latest. This threatened with enormous inflation. Since Schacht saw this as a threat to the Reichsmark, he expressed his doubts about the Reich Minister of Finance. But it did not help, and Schacht was quickly replaced by Economics Minister Walther Funk, who declared that the Reich would not redeem the Mefo notes, but would give Reich bonds to the Reichsbank in exchange. At the time of Funk, the autonomous Reichsbank statute was abolished, the Reichsbank was nationalized, and inflation exploded in such a way that Mefo notes with a circulation of 60 billion Reichsmark burdened the budget in post-war Germany.

George Soros also proposes such a money flurry in the style of Schacht and Funk.

Soros is dissatisfied with the current EU refugee policy because it is still based on quotas. He calls on the EU heads of state and governments to effectively deal with the migrant crisis through money flooding, which he calls “surge funding”.

“This would help to keep the influx of refugees at a level that Europe can absorb.”

Can absorb? Soros would be satisfied with the reception of 300,000 to 500,000 migrants per year. However, he is aware that the costs of his ethnic exchange plan are not financially feasible. In addition to the already enormous costs caused by migrants already in Europe, such a large number of new arrivals would add billions each year.

Soros calculates it at 30 billion euros a year, but argues that it would be worth it because “there is a real threat that the refugee crisis could cause the collapse of Europe’s Schengen system of open internal borders among twenty-six European states,” which would cost the EU between 47 and 100 billion euros in GDP losses.

Soros thus sees the financing of migrants and also of non-European countries that primarily receive migrants (which he also advocates) as a win-win relationship. He calls for the introduction of a new tax for the refugee crisis in the member states, including a financial transaction tax, an increase in VAT and the establishment of refugee funds. Soros knows, however, that such measures would not be accepted in the EU countries, so he proposes a different solution, which does not require a vote in the sovereign countries.

The new EU debt should be made by the EU taking advantage of its largely unused AAA credit status and issuing long-term bonds, which would boost the European economy. The funds could come from the European Stability Mechanism and the EU balance of payments support institution.

 “Both also have very similar institutional structures, and they are both backed entirely by the EU budget—and therefore do not require national guarantees or national parliamentary approval.“

In this way, the ESM and the BoPA (Balance of Payments Assistance Facility) would become the new Mefo’s that could issue bills of exchange, perhaps even cheques for Turks, Soros NGOs. Soros calculates that both institutions have a credit capacity of 60 billion, which should only increase as Portugal, Ireland and Greece repay each year the loans they received during the euro crisis. According to Soros, the old debts should be used to finance the new ones in such a way that it officially does not burden the budget in any of the EU Member States. The financial institutions that are to carry out this debt fraud must extend (indeed – cancel) their status, as the leader of the refugees expressed such a wish in his speech.

That Soros is striving to replace the indigenous European population with new arrivals from Africa and Asia is clear to anyone who observes its activities in Europe. The question is: what does he want to do this for and who is the real ruler, behind him, the real leader?

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The French People Feel Screwed

For the first time in his presidency, Macron is in trouble and Europe and America are looking on.

The Duran

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Authored by David Brown via The Gatestone Institute:


On December 4, French Prime Minister Édouard Phillipe told deputies of the ruling party, “La République en Marche”, that a proposed fuel tax rise, which had led to the largest protests France has seen in decades, would be suspended.

The protesters, called Gilets-Jaunes — “Yellow Vests,” because of the vests drivers are obliged by the government to carry in their vehicles in the event of a roadside breakdown — say that the fuel tax was the last straw from a president who took office with a promise to help the economically left-behind but instead has favoured the rich.

Even by French standards, the protests of the “Yellow Vests” during the weekend of December 1 were startling. Burning cars and vast plumes of grey smoke seemed to engulf the Arc De Triomphe as if Paris were at war. Comparisons were drawn with the Bread Wars of the 17th Century and the spirit of the Revolution of the 18th Century.

For more than two weeks, the “Yellow Vests” disrupted France. They paralyzed highways and forced roads to close — causing shortages across the country – and blocked fuel stations from Lille in the North to Marseilles in the South.

During protests in France’s capital, Paris, the “Yellow Vests” were soon joined by a more violent element, who began torching cars, smashing windows and looting stores. 133 were injured, 412 were arrested and more than 10,000 tear gas and stun grenades were fired.

One elderly lady was killed when she was struck by a stray grenade as she tried to shutter her windows against the melee.

There was talk of imposing a State of Emergency.

The “Yellow Vests” present the most significant opposition French President Emmanuel Macron has faced since coming to office in May 2017. Unlike previous protests in France, which have divided public opinion, these have widespread support – 72% according to a Harris Interactive Poll published December 1st.

Fuel tax rises — announced in November before being retracted on December — were intended to help bring down France’s carbon emissions by curbing the use of cars. Macron makes no secret of his wish to be seen as a global leader for environmental reform.

He forgets that back at home, among the people who elected him, fuel prices really matter to those outside big cities, where four-fifths of commuters drive to work and a third of them cover more than 30km each week.

The increases have incensed people in smaller communities, where they have already seen speed limits reduced to please the Greens and cuts to the local transport services.

These additional costs-of-living increases come at an extremely bad time for ordinary French people working outside of Paris. Lower-middle class families are not poor enough to receive welfare benefits but have seen their income flat-line whilst cost-of-living and taxes have risen.

An analysis by the Institut des Politiques Publiques think-tank shows that benefits cuts and tax changes in 2018 and 2019 will leave pensioners and the bottom fifth of households worse off, while the abolition of the wealth tax means that by far the biggest gains will go to the top 1%

This is tough to swallow. Macron is seen as being out of touch with ordinary people and is unlikely to escape his new title, “the President of the Rich.”

“People have this feeling that the Paris technocrats are doing complicated things to screw them,” said Charles Wyplosz, an economics professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

It is probably not as complex as that. The French people feel screwed.

As employment and growth are slowing, Macron, for the first time in his presidency, is under serious pressure. Unemployment is at 9%; his efforts to reform Europe are stalling, and his approval rating has plummeted to just 23% according to a recent opinion poll by IFOP.

Images of Macron at the Arc De Triomphe daubed in graffiti calling for him to step down, or worse, have done little to bolster his image abroad.

So far, Macron had said he would not bow to street protests. To underline his point, in September 2017, he called protestors against French labour-market reform “slackers”.

The political U-Turn on the fuel tax is a turning point for the Macron presidency. The question is : What next, both for Macron and the “Yellow Vests”?

Macron most likely needs to plough ahead with his reform agenda, and doubtless knows he has the support of a solid majority in the National Assembly to do so. France is crippled by debt (nearly 100% of GDP) and its grossly bloated public sector. There are 5.2 million civil servants in France, and their number has increased by 36% since 1983. These represent 22% of the workforce compared to an OCDE average of 15%.

Tax-expert Jean-Philippe Delsol says France has 1.5 million too many “fonctionnaires [officials]. When you consider that public spending in France now accounts for 57 per cent of gross domestic product. Soon the system will no longer function as there will be less and less people working to support more and more people working less”.

Macron’s mistake, in addition to a seeming inclination for arrogance, is not to have made national economic reform his absolute priority right from his initial grace period after his election. Lower public expenses would have made it possible to lower taxes, hence creating what economists call a virtuous circle. Instead, he waited.

Now, at a time when he is deeply unpopular and social unrest is in full sway he is looking to make further reforms in unemployment benefits, scaling them back by reducing the payments and the length of time beneficiaries can receive the money. The “President of the Rich” strikes again.

There is talk that he may also re-introduce the wealth tax to try to placate the protestors.

Macron’s presidential term lasts until May 13, 2022. Understandably, Macron will be focused on the elections to the European Parliament expected to be held May 23-26, 2019. Headlines have signalled that Marine Le Pen and the National Rally (formally National Front) are ahead in the polls at 20%, compared to Macron’s En Marche at 19%.

The shift is understandable, given the divide between the countryside, where Le Pen has solid support, and the cities, where Macron’s centre-left prevail.

In contrast, the “Yellow Vests” have galvanised support after standing up for the “impotent ordinary”, and seem much buoyed by the solidarity they have been shown by both fire fighters and the police. There are images online of police removing their helmets and firefighters turning their backs on political authority to show their support for the protestors.

Whilst Macron’s political opposition may be fragmented, this new breed of coherent public opposition is something new. Leaderless, unstructured and organised online, the “Yellow Vests” have gained support from the left and right, yet resisted subjugation by either.

Being leaderless makes them difficult to negotiate withor to reason with in private. The “Yellow Vests” seem acutely aware of this strength, given their firm rebuttal of overtures for peace talks from the Macron government.

Enjoying huge support from the public and with reforms to the social welfare system on the horizon, the “Yellow Vests” are not going away.

For the first time in his Presidency, Macron is in trouble and Europe and America are looking on.

After Macron rebuked nationalism during his speech at the armistice ceremony, Trump was quick to remind the French President of his low approval rating and unemployment rate near 10%. A stinging broadside from Trump on twitter suggests that Macron may well be relegated to Trump’s list of global “Losers“:

“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

The “impotent ordinary” in the United Kingdom, who might feel betrayed over Brexit, and the nationalists in Germany, who have suffered under Merkel , are no doubt staring in wonder at the “Yellow Vests”, wishing for the same moxie.

The historian Thomas Carlyle, chronicler of the French Revolution, said the French were unrivaled practitioners in the “art of insurrection”, and characterised the French mob as the “liveliest phenomena of our world”.

Mobs in other countries, by comparison, he argued were “dull masses” lacking audacity and inventiveness. The blazing yellow vests of the French protest movement , however, have made Macron appear increasingly dull and weak too.

David Brown is based in the United Kingdom.

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