sábado, 23 de março de 2019

The Brexit March on Saturday 23-3-2019

Why I am marching against Brexit today
Andrew Adonis
As Britain’s institutions buckle at the prospect of Brexit, its people are finding their voices at precisely the right time
Sat 23 Mar 2019 06.00 GMT Last modified on Sat 23 Mar 2019 09.22 GMT

The tide is turning and today is the day that we the people reclaim our democracy. On the streets of London, hundreds of thousands of us will be marching on parliament in support of parliament. We reject the prime minister’s assertion that she is the tribune of the people – uniquely able to divine our interests, divinely entitled to rule. We reject her deal, which leaves us poorer and more isolated. We reject her government, which has humiliated us on the international stage and enfeebled us at home. Instead we say to MPs that now is the time to assert themselves, to reject her threats and her jibes and to give back to the people the final say on Brexit.

Remember why we are where we are. When I resigned from the National Infrastructure Commission to campaign against Brexit and for a referendum – just short of 18 months ago – it felt as though Brexit was a done deal. Everywhere I went I met people who – however they had voted in 2016 – were dismayed by the reality of Brexit but convinced there was no alternative. It was soft Brexit versus hard Brexit – not “no Brexit”, which is in truth the only alternative.

“I wish it wasn’t happening but we can’t stop it” was the refrain. This fatalism is now behind us. In October we saw the biggest political march on the streets of London in a decade. Up and down the country the European Movement has grown from a smattering of small associations to more than 150 branches, with tens of thousands of members. And as I write, more than three million people have signed a petition calling on the government to revoke article 50 (the up-to-date figure is here).

Theresa May is singularly unsuited for high office and lacks political talent. Her late-night rant from No 10 on Wednesday may be remembered as the worst broadcast ever from Downing Street.

But, in truth, it is Brexit that has defeated Brexit, not May. Brexit has always been an impossible project, except at the price of massive self-harm. The hard, populist right sold the myth of “taking back control” because they knew that no one would buy the reality: workers’ rights slashed, welfare broken, Ireland betrayed and Britain turned into a giant tax haven. Theresa May has much to answer for, but it is not her fault that she couldn’t square the circle of the Brexiteers’ lies: nobody could.

I expect today to be the biggest political march in living memory. It will be defined not just by its size but by its diversity. Young and old, of all ethnicities, from every corner of our country, speaking up and speaking out. Refusing to let our prime minister rule as a self-appointed monarch. Rejecting the narrowness, insularity and the extremism of Brexit. Demanding a democratic solution.

In years to come, historians will write approvingly of the British people’s passionate, peaceful and successful fight against Brexit. They will say that as our institutions buckled under the strain, Britain found its voice. And you will be able to say to your children and grandchildren: “I was there. I stood up for my country, I faced down the extremists, I protected your future.” So come today. Join us. Let’s get our country back.

• Andrew Adonis is a Labour peer

The EU knows it, so do our own MPs – Theresa May is finished
Rafael Behr
Rafael Behr
European leaders have known for some time that the prime minister wasn’t up to the Brexit job. This week she’s proved it

Fri 22 Mar 2019 09.32 GMT Last modified on Fri 22 Mar 2019 16.19 GMT

The EU has no time for Theresa May, which doesn’t mean there is no flexibility in the Brexit timetable. Continental leaders have granted an article 50 extension, but not the one requested by the prime minister. She had pitched for a new departure date of 30 June. She was given 39 days fewer, until 22 May. And that date only stands if parliament ratifies the deal.

If May flunks another meaningful vote, the extension gets shorter – 12 April is the new cliff-edge that comes into view. That date marks the point at which Britain would have to start organising European parliament elections, should it want another even longer extension. A national change of heart on the whole Brexit business would still be welcome in Brussels but it is not expected, and the priority is to escort a troublesome ex-member off the premises with a minimum of disruption before those MEP ballots get under way.

Does May like this plan? It doesn’t matter. She wasn’t in the room where it happened. The summit conclusions were handed down to the petitioning nation as it paced around an antechamber. This is the power relationship between a “third country” and the EU. Britain had better get used to it.

The terms of the extension are not drafted for the prime minister’s benefit. They contain a message from the EU direct to the House of Commons. In crude terms: piss or get off the pot. If you want to leave with a deal, vote for the damned deal. If you are foolish enough to leave without a deal, do not blame us. Have a couple more weeks to think about it. But if you want something else, a referendum or a softer Brexit, work it out soon. And then send someone who isn’t Theresa May to talk to us about it.

EU leaders cannot say explicitly that they no longer want to deal with the current prime minister. Urging regime change is beyond the pale of normal diplomacy among democratic states. But there is no effort to conceal the frustration in May or the evacuation of confidence in her as a negotiating partner. The one thing everyone in Brussels, Berlin and Paris had most wanted to avoid from an article 50 extension was giving May a licence to carry on behaving as she has done for what feels like an eternity. They could no longer tolerate the hollow shell of a prime minister shuttling back and forth between Tory hardliners demanding fantasy Brexits and Brussels negotiators who trade in realities.

There is a difference between patience with the prime minister and readiness to help her country navigate through its current crisis. There are still stores of goodwill available for Britain in Brussels, but they cannot be unlocked by May.

The bankruptcy of May’s overseas enterprise has been coming since the day she set up shop in No 10. The squandering of credibility started almost at once, with the appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in 2016. Only someone with a tin ear for European sensibilities would have given the top diplomat job to a man known on the continent as a rogue peddler of anti-Brussels propaganda.

Then there was the early negotiating period, during which EU leaders thought May’s robotic, inscrutable manner concealed a deep, strategic intelligence. They came to realise that there was no mask. The inanity – the reciting of “Brexit means Brexit” even in private meetings – was not the cover story for a secret plan. It was the plan.

The point of no return was the summit in Salzburg last September. May was invited to make the case for what was left of her “Chequers plan” to European heads of government. It was late. They were tired. There were other difficult matters to attend to. And instead of speaking candidly, persuasively, passionately or even just coherently, the British prime minister read mechanically from a text that was, in substance, no different from an op-ed article already published under her name in a German newspaper that morning. It was embarrassing and insulting. Many European diplomats say that was the moment when Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and others realised they were dealing with someone out of her depth, unable to perform at the level required for the job that needed doing.

A similar story is emerging from last night’s summit. May was asked about backup plans in the event that parliament rejects her deal a third time. She had nothing. She restated her determination that the deal should pass. This infuriating obtuseness is grimly familiar on this side of the Channel. Cabinet ministers recognise the experience of being desperate for some glimpse of the prime minister’s calculations. People who want to support her have needed some window into the workings of her political brain, maybe just a peek at her soul. They get nothing. It is hard to build trust with someone so closed and hard to stay loyal.

There was a Salzburg-style moment for pro-European Tories on Wednesday night, when the prime minister went on television to berate MPs for obstructing her deal. The spirit was demagogic, even if the style was typically charmless. Here was a besieged leader, emerging from her bunker, presenting herself as the champion of her people against a rotten parliament. This did not go down well with MPs of any stripe. But it was most counterproductive with moderate Conservatives who have voted for May’s deal twice already and both times seen her respond to defeat by borrowing ideas and rhetoric from the hardliners who have given her nothing but humiliation. She rewards enemies of compromise by becoming ever less compromising.

Wednesday night’s performance exposed something that many of May’s colleagues find uncomfortable to acknowledge: the prime minister’s failure at overseas diplomacy and her failure at domestic politics express a single fatal flaw. She is unable to communicate with others because she has lost the ability to be honest with herself. She has no outward-facing powers of persuasion but she also lacks the introspection necessary to take responsibility for the mess made by her obstinacy. She has crossed a line from stubbornness into megalomania.

That leads to a conclusion that Britain’s continental neighbours reached long ago. Even if the UK ends up leaving the EU on the terms outlined in the prime minister’s deal, her part in the story will very soon be over. She is finished. The problems with Brexit are much bigger than Theresa May’s failings as a leader. But those failings disqualify her from being part of a viable solution.

• Rafael Behr is a Guardian columnist

sexta-feira, 22 de março de 2019

Tusk reveals EU has agreed two week Brexit deal under conditions

BASTA !! Este é o sentimento que domina a UE no confronto com o labirinto do Brexit e a impotência patética de May.
Tanto mais que, por exemplo, o importante debate sobre uma posição estratégica conjunta da UE perante a expansão comercial da China que estava planeado para o jantar, não pode tomar lugar, pois o mesmo jantar foi dominado pelo tema de Brexit que mantém a Europa refém e impede que a mesma dedique a sua atençào a outras questões urgentes.

EU delays Brexit, gives UK new deadlines
Lack of clarity from Theresa May and leaders’ disagreements over strategy set off tortured debate.

By           DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, JACOPO BARIGAZZI AND MAÏA DE LA BAUME               3/21/19, 11:49 PM CET Updated 3/22/19, 3:55 AM CET

With a no-deal Brexit imminent, May had little choice but to agree to EU leaders' plan | Stéphanie Lecocq/EPA
EU leaders agreed to postpone Brexit day, imposing two new dates — April 12 and May 22 — that will determine the course of the U.K.'s departure.

Leaders devised the new plan at a summit in Brussels on Thursday after quickly rejecting U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's request for an extension of the Article 50 negotiating period to June 30.

Fierce disagreements among the EU27 over how best to respond to May's extension request forced the leaders to upend their summit agenda and put off a planned dinner discussion about China and the EU’s place in the world. Instead, they took a break, and resumed the Brexit discussion over dinner — a demonstration that despite their best efforts, Brexit to a large degree has hijacked the EU’s more substantive policy agenda.

Both new dates in the EU plan come with conditions, but in either event the original March 29 deadline — the so-called cliff-edge by which Britain would leave the bloc with or without a divorce agreement — was put off, if only for two weeks.

EU27 leaders said that if the U.K. parliament ratifies the Brexit deal before the March 29 deadline, Britain will have until May 22 to complete any technical steps, exit and begin a transition period. That is a day before the European Parliament election begins.

“The U.K. Government will still have a choice of a deal, no-deal, a long extension or revoking Article 50” — Donald Tusk

If the House of Commons fails to vote, or votes to reject the deal for a third time — the outcomes leaders view as far more likely given continuing political chaos in London, according to officials — the U.K. would have until April 12 "to indicate a way forward."

European Council President Donald Tusk left the leaders' meeting and presented the plan to May, who agreed — though with a potentially disastrous no-deal Brexit imminent, she had little choice.

At a news conference shortly before midnight, Tusk said the EU's plan left all options open to the U.K. — including a reversal of Brexit altogether.

"The European Council agrees to an extension until the 12th of April, while expecting the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward," Tusk said. "What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff-edge date will be delayed. The U.K. government will still have a choice of a deal, no-deal, a long extension or revoking Article 50."

Tusk's initial proposal — to focus on a delay until May 22 in the event of a positive vote in London — was deemed too optimistic by other EU leaders | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Too optimistic
A senior official said that Tusk's initial proposal — to focus on a delay until May 22 in the event of a positive vote in London — was deemed too optimistic by other EU leaders. They engaged May in an hour and 45-minute question and answer session where they found her replies insufficient, and concluded that her failure to win ratification of the Brexit deal would leave them under crushing pressure of the original deadline.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, appearing with Tusk at the news conference, noted that EU leaders on Thursday had also formally adopted additional reassurances regarding the backstop provision on Northern Ireland that he had agreed with May in Strasbourg earlier this month. Those reassurances were not enough to stop the U.K. Parliament from rejecting the deal a second time.

"We have worked tirelessly to negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement; we have done everything we could to get it over the finishing line," Juncker said. "This closes and completes the full package. There is no more that we can have."

Juncker also nodded at the frustration of EU leaders who have had to focus so much energy on the U.K.'s departure.

“The clock is ticking not just on Brexit, the clock is also ticking in other areas,” he said.

The leaders' decision came after hours of agonizing, at times angry, debate. That came after May's appearance left colleagues frustrated by her lack of clarity and inability to steer the Brexit process.

EU officials said they had little confidence in May, but hoped that their plan would leave enough room for the U.K. to chart a path forward, including if Parliament seeks to seize control of the process as some officials have said could happen next week.  More importantly, they said, the pressure would now be in London to choose a course of action before April 12, rather than having EU leaders back in Brussels next week with the decision on their shoulders.

If the U.K. does not pass the Brexit deal, the onus would be on London to come forward with an alternative plan.

"The European Council agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week," the leaders wrote in the formal conclusion of their deliberations. "If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council."

In fact, although the formal conclusions demand approval of the deal by next week, officials acknowledged that endorsement of it before April 12 would be sufficient to activate the May 22 deadline. The April 12 date was chosen because it reflects the last point at which the U.K., by law, must state if it will participate in the European Parliament election.

If the U.K. does not pass the Brexit deal, the onus would be on London to come forward with an alternative plan. If Britain refused at that point to take part in the European Parliament election, it would face a no-deal Brexit as soon as April 12. The exit date could potentially be delayed to May 22 or even June 30 but not any later, a senior EU official said.

May OK
U.K. officials said May was satisfied with the outcome. She forestalled the immediate crash-out scenario and won a further window of opportunity to save her Brexit deal and her job.

But one senior EU official said May’s answers were “not always crystal clear” in her exchange with her fellow leaders. Another said: “This discussion did not add much in terms of substance. For the leaders, they didn’t get anything that they didn’t know.”

According to a senior official, at one point, French President Emmanuel Macron told leaders that he had thought May had a 10 percent chance of getting the deal through, but after listening to her, he had dropped the number to 5 percent. Tusk told Macron he was being generous.

Other exchanges were heated, officials said.

Macron pushed to bring the proposed May 22 deadline forward to May 7, and he also took a hard line in suggesting that the EU might need to simply eject the U.K. without any agreement — a move that could prove economically disastrous not just to Britain but to the EU, especially for countries whose economies are closely linked to the U.K. such as Ireland and the Netherlands.

Macron clashed with Tusk who had urged the May 22 date, with an eye toward pressing Britain either to ratify the existing deal or potentially request a far longer extension of up to a year or more. May, however, expressed no interest in a long delay, and she even suggested she might prefer a no-deal outcome — defying the House of Commons which voted last week to prevent that scenario.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel intervened, diplomats and officials said, in order to push back on Macron about the no-deal result, which she argued was irresponsible and must be avoided. But she also rebuked Tusk over the chaotic and divisive debate, which the chancellor apparently felt showed a lack of preparedness by European Council officials.

An EU diplomat said the French "were quite hard, especially between Macron and May — he was hard on her and asked her: Are you prepared for a no deal?"

The upcoming European Parliament election was a chief factor in when to set the new deadlines. EU leaders fear that the bloc will face an institutional crisis if somehow the U.K. remained a member state but refused to participate in the election and send representatives to Brussels as required under the EU treaties.

Lili Bayer, Charlie Cooper, Florian Eder and Zia Weise contributed reporting.

Theresa May says she blamed MPs out of ‘frustration’
Prime minister acknowledges MPs ‘have difficult jobs to do.’

By           CHARLIE COOPER            3/22/19, 2:14 AM CET Updated 3/22/19, 2:22 AM CET

Theresa May sought to limit the damage caused by her controversial Downing Street statement blaming MPs for the Brexit impasse, admitting that she had been venting "frustration."

Speaking at a midnight press conference in Brussels after agreeing an extension to the Brexit deadline with the EU27, the U.K. prime minister appeared to express a degree of contrition for the statement in which she said she shared public impatience with "political games" in Westminster.

"I know MPs on all sides of the debate have passionate views, and I respect those different positions," she said. "Last night I expressed my frustration. I know that MPs are frustrated too. They have difficult jobs to do."

A number of MPs condemned the statement, which they said risked heightening anger with MPs and exacerbating a febrile political atmosphere in the U.K.

May said she would return to London on Friday to continue attempting to persuade MPs to back her deal in a vote next week.

At the summit, the EU27 rejected her suggestion of an extension until June 30 if the deal passes, instead shortening the timetable to May 22. If the deal falls — currently the more likely scenario — the U.K. will have until April 12 to present an alternative plan or leave without a deal. If the alternative plan requires a further extension, the U.K. must take part in the European Parliament election in May.

May said she was still believed firmly that it would be "wrong" to make U.K. voters participate in the election, three years after voting to leave the EU. However, she said that if her deal was rejected, the government would "need to work with the House [of Commons] to decide how we proceed."

Earlier in the day May had refused to rule out taking the U.K. out of the EU without a deal if MPs rejected her agreement again. But she appeared to strike a softer tone in her late-night press conference.

"If Parliament does not agree a deal next week, the EU Council will extend Article 50 until 12 April. At this point we would either leave with no deal, or put forward an alternative plan," she said.

May returns to Westminster facing opposition on all sides, with the Labour party seeking to build a majority for an alternative Brexit plan focused on changes to the Political Declaration on the future relationship with the EU, to mandate a softer Brexit, with the U.K. remaining in a customs union and close to the single market.

The House of Commons will have the chance to hold votes on Monday on a government motion, with one plan already put forward which would allow MPs to seize control of the parliamentary timetable from the government.

Within her own ministerial ranks, May also faces the risk of revolt from one or other faction if she steers the U.K. either toward or decisively away from a no deal Brexit. One Cabinet minister, Liz Truss, told the Sun newspaper she would far prefer no deal to a long extension, involving participation in the European election.

Meanwhile ITV reported that the Conservative Chief Whip, Julian Smith, the lead enforcer of May's authority within the parliamentary party, was angered by her Wednesday statement blaming MPs for the impasse.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.

We are an international laughing stock at the moment.

Brexit is not the cause of Britain’s political breakdown. It’s a symptom
Gary Younge
We are an international laughing stock at the moment. But something like this has been coming for decades

Thu 21 Mar 2019 15.26 GMT Last modified on Thu 21 Mar 2019 18.50 GMT

The French EU minister, Nathalie Loiseau, has called her new cat Brexit. “He wakes me up every morning meowing to death because he wants to go out,” she says. “And then when I open the door he stays put, undecided, and then glares at me when I put him out.” The Dutch prime minister has compared Theresa May to the knight in Monty Python who has all his limbs lopped off and insists “It’s just a flesh wound” and calls it a draw. “She’s incredible,” says Mark Rutte. “She goes on and on. At the same time, I do not blame her but British politics.” Italian friends tell me Brexit now comes on at the end of the news, in that wacky slot just before the sport and weather.

Everybody is laughing at us. Why wouldn’t they? We look ridiculous. If we weren’t so busy feeling betrayed, bored, enraged or bewildered, we’d be laughing at ourselves. Brexit, according to many of its advocates, would give us the chance to stand tall and independent again: to fulfil the potential, as May put it two years ago, to become “a great, global trading nation that is respected around the world and strong, confident and united at home”. Instead we look like a cross between a beggar and basket case. Yesterday, May pleaded for more time, and the EU said: only if you can get parliament to agree to your deal. May, displaying all the skills of brinkmanship and diplomacy that has got us to this point, then went and insulted parliamentarians, making them more hostile and fearful for themselves than ever.

Two crises have been revealed by these events. The first relates exclusively to Brexit. With eight days to go, we have a deal few want and a timetable that can’t be changed without agreeing to it. The EU may soften its terms; MPs may change their minds. We have just over a week to either find a unicorn or convince ourselves that the donkey we got for Christmas was a unicorn all along. This awful game of chicken was May’s plan all along – waste time until the “choice” was between her deal and no deal. This would be a breathtaking gamble in the hands of the most gifted or charismatic politician. She has proven herself to be neither of those things.

The second crisis is more enduring. It can be seen in the complete breakdown in Tory party discipline, with cabinet ministers voting against the government and backbenchers in uproar. It is evident in the disintegration of party loyalty. Conservative MP Nick Boles quit his local association while remaining a party member, claiming the people who selected him have “values and views … at odds with [his] own”. Eight Labour MPs left the party to form the Independent Group. Both parliamentary parties stand terrified of their membership. Many Tory MPs are saying they will resign the whip if Boris is elected leader; it has taken three and half years, a failed coup and a successful election campaign for the parliamentary Labour party to come to terms with Jeremy Corbyn, and the threat of further mutinies still lurks. We have a hung parliament in which it is difficult to find a majority for anything, in which the Speaker had to invoke a four-century-old precedent to stop the prime minister bringing the same question to the house until she got a different answer. That breakthrough lasted all of one day.

This is a crisis in our polity – the norms of our political and electoral culture that has parties at its centre. It is now approaching full-scale collapse. Conventional wisdom has it that Brexit has precipitated this crisis. The crude question of remain or leave was always going to create divisions, embolden renegades and undermine moderates. Depending on your prejudice, once the country opted to leave by a narrow margin, it presented the political class either with the challenge of committing an irresponsible act responsibly or fulfilling the will of the people. Either way, our politics has proved inadequate to the task. Brexit has broken us.

But by ignoring what was going on in the country before June 2016, and trends beyond our shores, this gives too much credit to the Brexit vote. That didn’t create this dysfunction and dislocation, it all too powerfully illustrated it. Up until that point, the two most persistent trends in postwar electoral politics were the decline in turnout and waning support for the two major parties. Between 1945 and 1997, turnout never went below 70%; since 2001, it has never reached 70%. Meanwhile the two-party landscape that once dominated our first-past-the-post system has frayed. Fewer people want to vote and even fewer wanted to back the two main parties (these trends have reversed slightly since 2001 but are nowhere near where they were). In 1950, Winston Churchill won 38% of eligible voters and still lost. The year before the referendum, the Tories got a majority with just 24% of the eligible vote.

This is how we got to a place where all the mainstream parties, the unions and business representatives could back remain and the country could vote leave. It’s not Brexit that’s caused the crisis in our politics; it’s the crisis in our politics that’s made Brexit possible.

That crisis is by no means unique to Britain. Since the 2008 economic crash, most countries across the west have seen electoral fracture, the demise of mainstream parties, a rise in nativism and bigotry, a marked increase in public protest, and general political dysfunction. The gilets jaunes are still out every Saturday in Paris; the European parliament has concluded that Hungary poses a “systematic threat” to democracy and the rule of law, and the conservative bloc has expelled Hungary’s ruling party; Estonia’s ruling party is contemplating inviting the far right into government; Italian humanitarians are being threatened with jail for saving drowning refugees and bringing them home when the government wouldn’t; antisemitism is on the rise across Europe with a 60% rise in the number of violent attacks in Germany; protesters in Serbia stormed national TV calling for media freedom. All of this before we mention the preening authoritarianism of Presidents Donald Trump of the US and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.

The broad narrative arc in most places is similar, and in some cases even more pronounced, than the one that brought us Brexit. The key difference is that Brexit comes complete with a timetable, a deadline, and an entity – the EU – that has thus far escaped these trends because it is subject to the diplomatic pressure of governments rather than the popular pressure of voters.

It is difficult to imagine a scenario where Britain does not continue looking ridiculous for some time to come. We deserve to be laughed at. But those who laugh hardest should beware they do not choke on their own hubris. This virus that made this madness possible is highly contagious. We may, as yet, be the worst affected. But we will not be the last.

• Gary Younge is a Guardian columnist

May’s attack on MPs is the dangerous act of a desperate politician
Polly Toynbee
The prime minister’s angry refusal to countenance any Brexit plan but her own has left her looking petulant, defiant and doomed

Thu 21 Mar 2019 09.38 GMT Last modified on Thu 21 Mar 2019 13.36 GMT

‘Attempting to turn voters’ anger against parliament is the dangerous and despicable act of a prime minister thrashing around in her terminal desperation.’ Photograph: CHRIS J RATCLIFFE//EPA
Attempting to turn voters’ anger against parliament is the dangerous and despicable act of a prime minister thrashing around in her terminal desperation. Tantamount to calling for insurrection against democracy, the only saving grace of her extraordinary late-night eruption of bad temper was its futility. Unlikely to gain traction with the people, she lost yet more respect from her own MPs.

During the wait for her delayed speech, rumours grew wild. What would she do? Resign unless her deal passes? Call a general election? Call a referendum? Press the revoke button, her nuclear option? But no, none of those. Instead, she gave us just another ill-judged diatribe against parliament, achingly lacking in remorse or self-awareness.

Listening to her outburst, you heard the mood music of an angry farewell, a croaky swan song. As she nails her dead parrot of a plan to the perch again next week for yet another vote, she surely knows that battering on with her way or no way, petulantly obdurate to the last, she will be rejected yet again. Appealing over the heads of parliament to her imaginary friends among the people was sadly delusional. “I’m on your side,” she pleaded, but they are not on hers. A new poll reports that 90% see her handling of Brexit as “a national humiliation”. Successive polls have long shown that only around 12% of voters support her plan.

On her kamikaze mission, with we the people strapped on board, Donald Tusk helped propel her on her way: if parliament refuses to vote for her deal next week, that’s it, curtains, the end. Was it orchestrated? He offers a short extension but only if the Commons submits. Later, between the lines, some suggested that just possibly, if the Commons balks at this bullying, Tusk was not ruling out a long extension. Who knows? With “patience and goodwill”, as ever the Europeans are embarrassingly courteous in the face of boorish British insults: they have more urgent anxieties at gathering clouds of populism threatening upcoming elections.

On May ploughed throughout yesterday; her way or no way, the unspeakable choice. She refuses to test if parliament would coalesce around other any of the softer options she rejects. Causing an uproar, she bludgeoned them with “the House has indulged itself on the question of Europe for too long” and “must now face the consequences”.

That only spurred the Commons into the most eloquent debate in this agonising saga. It was parliament at its best. One MP after another rose in spirited indignation to demand the House hold indicative votes to find a compromise to command a majority for staying in the customs union and single market: it looks as if MPs may seize back control. She is the “roadblock”, said Ed Miliband. “Stop this madness!” said Heidi Allen. In a killer speech Dominic Grieve declared he had “never felt more ashamed to be a member of the Conservative party”. Why? Because her refusal to seek a softer option is purely to avoid splitting her cabinet and party. As Grieve said in his damning denunciation, even in crisis she still puts party before country.

You wonder why she cleaves to this abominable crew who detest and torment her: at Tuesday’s cabinet she abandoned applying for a longer extension to give time for alternatives. In caving in to the unsavoury likes of Andrea Leadsom, Liam Fox and Chris Grayling, she handed power to the deranged no-dealers. Nightly on TV the thuggish Mark Francois struts the ERG’s bully-power, holding her to ransom. ERG fantasies wafted through yesterday’s debate as the bone-head Owen Paterson claimed no-deal fears were like the millennium bug panic: there would only be “a bit of disruption”, “a hiccup”.

Her historic miscalculation has been to appease these extremist infiltrators while chasing away the decent people – Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry, Nick Boles. The likes of Dominic Grieve, Ken Clarke and others soldier on, the good people she treats as rejects while she casts her lot with the bad, who rat on her all the same. The party is irreparably split already, the upcoming leadership election will sever it further; she well deserves her fate. But what next? It’s tempting to secretly want a no-deal crash to serve them right and prove them wrong. But mercifully that won’t happen: even in extremis, she won’t take us into what Grieve called the no-deal “spiral of oblivion”. She hasn’t taken leave of her senses, so let MPs call her bluff.

Imagine if she had a sudden epiphany. She would wake up and abandon her rotten party: she owes them nothing, but she does owe the country. She could call a national conclave, find a settlement outside her party, not helped, it’s true, by Jeremy Corbyn’s frivolous stomp-out from her meeting last night.

All other options are better. Call a general election to end this paralysed parliament. Better still, seize the face-saving Kyle-Wilson amendment whereby the House would nod through her plan on condition it’s put to the public vote for confirmation. Odd how those who call “the will of the people” sacred dare not ask the people if this is what they voted for. On Saturday, expect a gigantic march to demand the voters get a hearing. As for May, her time is up. The removal van is driving towards No 10, but the terrible truth is that whoever her extreme party chooses to replace her is destined to be yet worse.

Próximas semanas serão cruciais para salvar o país da seca severa / Risco de incêndios vai aumentar nos próximos dias no continente.

"Mesmo assim Capoulas Santos acredita que, na Primavera que se aproxima, a chuva virá com a abundância necessária, como aconteceu em Abril de 2018." !!!????
A gravidade na evolução do Clima - Especialista alerta que Portugal está a ficar com um clima semelhante ao do Norte de África - pedia uma posição com muito mais seriedade e 'Gravitas' e um reconhecimento explícito do Governo para a urgência e seriedade das perspectivas .

Próximas semanas serão cruciais para salvar o país da seca severa
Especialista alerta que Portugal está a ficar com um clima semelhante ao do Norte de África
O país irá enfrentar no próximo Verão um novo ciclo de escassez de água se não chover nos próximos dois meses, mas as perspectivas de forte precipitação não são animadoras.

Carlos Dias 22 de Março de 2019, 7:15

No mês de Janeiro de 2019, as corporações de bombeiros de vários concelhos, realizaram 179 operações de abastecimento de água às populações, com maior incidência em Miranda do Douro (41), Mértola (35), Barcelos (15), Mirandela (12) e Miranda do Corvo (11). Os distritos de Bragança (68 abastecimentos), Beja (49) e Braga (17) foram os que registaram o maior número de intervenções que prosseguiram ao longo do mês de Fevereiro.

Dados do Relatório de Monitorização Agrometeorológica e Hidrológica (RMAH), publicado em Janeiro, referem que se trata de um valor que representa um aumento de 49% por comparação com o mês de Dezembro de 2018, ano em que cerca de 80% do território nacional chegou a estar em seca severa ou extrema,

Mais de metade do continente em seca moderada, 5% em seca severa

A situação poderá agravar-se e se “não chover com alguma abundância nos meses de Abril e Maio, estamos mal”, admite Filipe Duarte Santos, especialista na área das alterações climáticas e presidente do Conselho Nacional de Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável (CNADS), acrescentando que os meses de Janeiro e Fevereiro foram “muito secos”.

Na análise que faz, Filipe Duarte Santos salienta que, a curto prazo, “não há grandes perspectivas de forte precipitação” dando conta de uma realidade que se julgava associada apenas aos meses de Verão: “Há povoações em Portugal que em Janeiro e Fevereiro foram abastecidas por camiões cisterna.” E daqui parte para uma apreciação crítica: “Não sei como será o futuro mas não será muito promissor, se as pessoas continuarem centradas nas suas necessidades a curto prazo.”

“As alterações climáticas são muito claras”, analisa o presidente do CNADS exemplificando com o decréscimo de precipitação atmosférica entre 1960 e 2010. O país assistiu a uma redução média entre 30 e 40 milímetros de precipitação anual em cada década “uma tendência de descida que parece uma escada”. É um valor significativo, ou seja, 200 milímetros de chuva em meio século, que tem um peso significativo, sobretudo, no interior do Alentejo onde a precipitação média anual era, antes desta redução, de 500 milímetros. “E não há indicação que esta tendência se venha a alterar, se não cumprimos o acordo de Paris”, constatação que deve obriga-nos a encontrar “novos conceitos de prosperidade”, observa Filipe Duarte Santos.

A ciência e a tecnologia são para este investigador “cruciais” para mudar de paradigma no uso que se está a fazer dos recursos hídricos, advogando a necessidade de poupar água, defendendo até a utilização da água urbana (efluentes domésticos) depois de tratada. A este propósito socorre-se do caminho seguido em Israel onde se utilizam, para rega, cerca de 86% das águas urbanas tratadas. Em Portugal as informações que recolheu indicam-lhe que este valor será de apenas 1% ou 2% “quando já o deveríamos estar a fazer de uma maneira sistemática” frisando que Portugal é um dos países da região mediterrânica mais vulneráveis à seca, “onde os impactos são mais gravosos.”

Estas apreensões são partilhadas por Mário de Carvalho, professor e investigador na Universidade de Évora (UE). “Temos de incluir as alterações climáticas na gestão do nosso território” cujos efeitos não se combatem “gastando verbas avultadas na construção de barragens” que estarão sempre longe de suprir as necessidades agrícolas.

“Quando se fala de alterações climáticas em Portugal a solução passa por construir barragens” critica o docente da UE, lembrando que a capacidade hidrológica no norte do país “apenas sustenta 20% da sua área agrícola com base no regadio. No Alentejo, fica pelos 10%”.

Para evitar a chamada seca hidrológica as barragens “só enchem” depois de o solo estar encharcado a ponto de provocar escorrências para as linhas de águas que sustentam o caudal que aflui às albufeiras, esclarece Mário de Carvalho. Defensor dos sistemas agro-silvo-pastoris que considera fundamentais para garantir a ocupação e gestão do território, adverte para a “variabilidade do nosso clima” pelas dificuldades que impõe à “sustentabilidade dos sistemas agrícolas, que serão agravadas pelas alterações climáticas” que já se revelam incontornáveis, tanto o sul da Europa como o norte de África.

“O clima está a mudar mais no sul do país onde temos menos precipitação” analisa Filipe Duarte Santos, dando conta que as ondas de calor, secas e eventos de precipitação intensa em intervalos de tempo curtos “estão a tornar-se mais intensos e frequentes”.

Numa recente deslocação a Beja, onde se deslocou para presidir à reunião do Conselho para o Acompanhamento do Regadio de Alqueva (CAR Alqueva), o ministro da Agricultura, Florestas e Desenvolvimento Rural, Capoulas Santos, comparou a situação actual da seca com a que ocorreu há um ano atrás e concluiu que a realidade “é substancialmente melhor”.

O governante manifestou a sua preocupação por aquilo que definiu como o “espectro da seca” que continua a pairar sobretudo no sul do país. É um dado adquirido que o nível de precipitação atmosférica que atingiu 77% do que é normal para a época, coloca interrogações quanto à capacidade de algumas albufeiras poderem vir a suprir as necessidades de água para rega.

Mesmo assim Capoulas Santos acredita que, na Primavera que se aproxima, a chuva virá com a abundância necessária, como aconteceu em Abril de 2018.

Segundo o Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA), mais de metade do território do continente está em seca moderada (38% em seca fraca e 5% em seca severa). O mês de Janeiro foi um dos mais secos dos últimos 19 anos. “Estamos a ficar com o clima próximo de Marrocos, da Argélia ou da Tunísia e o Algarve está na linha da frente” sintetiza o presidente do CNADS, reafirmando a sua convicção de que o clima em Portugal “está em mudança”.

Risco de incêndios vai aumentar nos próximos dias no continente
22.03.2019 às 9h11


Risco acompanha a subida das temperaturas máximas, que em algumas regiões podem chegar perto dos 30 graus Celsius
O risco de incêndio vai aumentar nos próximos dias em vários distritos de Portugal continental, acompanhando a subida das temperaturas máximas que em algumas regiões podem chegar perto dos 30 graus Celsius, segundo o IPMA.

De acordo com informação disponível no 'site' do Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA), para esta sexta-feira está previsto risco de incêndio elevado e muito elevado em seis concelhos do distrito de Faro.

No sábado o risco aumenta, prevendo-se que seja muito elevado para quatro concelhos do distrito de Faro e elevado em 11 concelhos de Faro, Beja, Santarém e Portalegre.

O IPMA prevê para domingo um risco muito elevado de incêndio para três concelhos de Portalegre e Faro e elevado em 22 concelhos de Faro, Beja, Castelo Branco, Santarém e Portalegre.

Na segunda-feira volta a subir e na terça-feira já são mais de 70 os concelhos em risco elevado de incêndio, 16 em muito elevado e um em risco máximo (Mação, no distrito de Santarém).
O risco de incêndio determinado pelo IPMA engloba cinco níveis, que podem variar entre o "reduzido" e o "máximo".

O cálculo é feito com base nos valores observados às 13h00 em cada dia relativamente à temperatura do ar, humidade relativa, velocidade do vento e quantidade de precipitação nas últimas 24 horas.

O IPMA prevê para os próximos dias um aumento dos valores da temperatura máxima em Portugal continental.

A previsão aponta para céu geralmente limpo, vento em geral fraco do quadrante leste, soprando moderado no Algarve, acentuado arrefecimento noturno e subida da temperatura máxima.

No sábado os termómetros vão chegar aos 28 graus em Setúbal e 27 em Santarém. Em Lisboa vão estar 25 graus, Faro 21 e Porto 23. Para domingo prevê-se 27 graus para Setúbal e Santarém, 26 em Leiria e Braga, em Lisboa 25, Faro 21 e no Porto 24.

A Autoridade Nacional de Proteção Civil (ANPC) registou entre 1 de janeiro e 17 de março 1.344 incêndios, que provocaram 1.608 hectares de área ardida.

Segundo a ANPC, a maior parte da área ardida provocada por estes incêndios de inverno foi em matos, 1.192 hectares, seguido de povoamentos (382) e de agricultura (34).

A Proteção Civil indica também que, até 17 de março, se registaram mais fogos nos distritos de Vila Real (201), Viseu (190) e Porto (185), mas "em qualquer um dos casos, os incêndios são maioritariamente de reduzida dimensão", não ultrapassando um hectare.

Os 1.344 incêndios que deflagram em pleno inverno foram combatidos por 13.056 operacionais e envolveram 3.873 veículos e 212 meios aéreos

Manifesto por uma floresta discriminada

Manifesto por uma floresta discriminada
Discrimine-se o que deve ser discriminado, porque as florestas não são todas iguais e porque a sociedade valoriza de forma diferente os diferentes tipos de floresta e as espécies que os constituem. Pugnemos por isso por uma floresta discriminada!

21 de Março de 2019, 6:40

Imagine o leitor uma floresta natural madura e longeva no espaço que hoje é Portugal. As árvores são, naturalmente, uma componente estrutural dominante, mas não exclusiva dessa floresta. Entre a restante vegetação há várias outras espécies, quer arbustivas quer herbáceas, e organismos mais simples como os musgos. Haverá árvores de todas as idades, mas são as árvores centenárias que dominam o ecossistema, não apenas pela sua dimensão, mas também porque, no seu longo processo de decadência e finalmente morte, abrigam todo um universo de seres vivos. Os organismos decompositores – bactérias, fungos, microinverterbrados – pululam na manta morta proveniente da folhagem que se desprende cada ano, e transformam a matéria orgânica, permitindo que os nutrientes sejam gradualmente libertados e disponibilizados às raízes das plantas vivas. Desta complexa teia dependem todos os animais da floresta, desde os microscópicos, que vivem no solo e na matéria vegetal morta, aos que dependem das folhas e dos frutos, aos roedores e aos herbívoros. Animais de tamanho e visibilidade crescente à medida que percorremos a cadeia alimentar, culminando nos predadores, mamíferos e aves, diurnos e noturnos.

O leitor deverá agora ter em conta que apenas pode imaginar uma floresta assim em Portugal, pois no nosso país as florestas primárias foram todas destruídas pelo Homem ao longo dos milénios. Sim, foram destruídas, mas outras vezes apenas alteradas na sua composição, e em situações mais raras foram apenas pouco alteradas, permitindo-nos ter um vislumbre das antigas florestas que acompanharam as diferentes civilizações que passaram pelo nosso território. Ainda existem alguns resquícios destas florestas: a Mata do Solitário na Serra da Arrábida, a de Albergaria na Serra do Gerês, a da Margaraça na Serra do Açor ou a Laurissilva da Madeira constituem uma amostra, mesmo que alterada, do que foram as florestas pristinas do passado. Devido à sua raridade e ao seu valor natural e histórico, estas florestas têm um grande valor patrimonial.

Para além do seu valor patrimonial, em geral as florestas nativas podem prestar um enorme manancial de serviços à sociedade: a regulação do regime hidrológico, suavizando os picos de cheia e fornecendo água de qualidade; a conservação do solo e a manutenção de elevados níveis de fertilidade, o armazenamento prolongado de carbono (algo muito diferente de simples fixação de carbono) necessário para contrariar o aquecimento global; a paisagem, que faz com que estes locais sejam muito visitados para recreio e lazer; ou o abrigo a animais e plantas, constituindo sistemas com elevada biodiversidade.

Num país onde os incêndios são um fenómeno recorrente, estas florestas podem ser locais muito pouco favoráveis à propagação do fogo. Em particular, as florestas maduras dominadas por espécies folhosas caducifólias como os carvalhos ou o freixo dão normalmente origem a um ambiente aprazível de sombra e de frescura durante o verão, que torna mais difícil a propagação dos incêndios, algo amplamente comprovado cientificamente. As florestas nativas são também uma excelente barreira ao avanço de espécies exóticas invasoras, como tem sido também recorrentemente demonstrado por estudos científicos.

Com todos estes benefícios, parece natural que algo seja feito pela sociedade para favorecer estas florestas, relativamente à floresta estritamente produtiva. No entanto, há a tentativa de passar a mensagem, mesmo por agentes do meio académico, que as florestas não devem ser discriminadas. Há quem chegue ao ponto de comparar a discriminação das espécies florestais a questões sociais como o racismo, numa espécie de antropomorfismo das árvores no mínimo absurdo, para não dizer ridículo. A acompanhar esta linha de raciocínio vem a afirmação de que apenas a gestão florestal faz a diferença em termos dos serviços prestados à sociedade. Esta assunção nega décadas de investigação científica que demonstram até à exaustão que as espécies são todas diferentes, e que há umas mais diferentes que outras, chama-se a isso distância filogenética. Esta distância faz, por exemplo, com que pouquíssimos animais da nossa fauna se alimentem de espécies provenientes do outro extremo do Planeta, como o eucalipto ou as acácias.

O chavão da gestão, tão recorrente no discurso sobre a floresta, parte do princípio que tudo deve ser gerido e que, portanto, cai sobre o Homem e não sobre as espécies o papel que eventualmente possam ter quanto aos serviços que prestam e sobre os problemas que possam causar. Esta atitude exageradamente antropocêntrica revela não só ignorância como também uma enorme falta de humildade e de respeito pela natureza. Revela também um enorme irrealismo, dado que é impossível gerir cada metro quadrado do território deste ou de qualquer outro país.

Repare-se que a discriminação das espécies sempre foi uma evidência ao longo dos séculos, tal como aliás acontece hoje em dia. El-rei D. Dinis terá decretado que “sse non faça dano nos soueraes” de modo a travar a destruição dos sobreirais, no século XIV. A discriminação positiva do sobreiro mantem-se até aos dias de hoje, através de legislação de proteção, impedindo/dificultando a sua substituição por outras espécies e usos do solo. A legislação também discrimina, neste caso negativamente, as acácias, pelo impacto que a sua expansão pode causar nos ecossistemas nativos.

A discriminação tem sido naturalmente feita pela industria de pasta para papel ao optar por uma única espécie, o eucalipto, para abastecer as suas fábricas. Essa discriminação positiva foi também feita pelo Estado ao fomentar a procura de matéria-prima através do aumento da capacidade industrial instalada. O aumento da procura fez aumentar naturalmente a oferta de madeira através da expansão das plantações, fazendo com que o eucalipto seja atualmente a espécie dominante na paisagem florestal portuguesa, à custa de uma discriminação negativa das espécies de crescimento lento, menos interessantes economicamente.

Dado que tudo se conjuga para favorecer a floresta de produção, é fundamental que se discrimine positivamente a floresta de conservação, para que possam continuar a existir ecossistemas florestais dignos desse nome, não obstante a lógica económica tender a suprimi-los. Por isso, a dotação de recursos, quer privados quer públicos, para a criação e manutenção de florestas nativas, discriminando-as positivamente em relação às monoculturas industriais, é fundamental, e só a sociedade, refletindo e agindo acima de uma lógica imediatista, pode garanti-los. A discriminação positiva da floresta nativa tão necessária em Portugal deverá passar por um pacote de medidas a nível legal, fiscal e financeiro. Em particular continua a não existir legislação de proteção às espécies arbóreas nativas, tal como já acontece com o sobreiro, a azinheira e o azevinho. Existem muitas manchas de floresta nativa em propriedades privadas sem qualquer estatuto de proteção e existem muitas outras áreas em que, com pouco esforço, se poderiam converter matagais em florestas nativas maduras. Mas para que se possam expandir e conservar estas manchas de floresta, é necessário fazer mais do que tem sido feito até agora, dando incentivos aos proprietários e compensando-os pelo serviço que prestam à sociedade. Em alternativa, estas áreas, algumas delas sem dono conhecido, poderão ser adquiridas pelo Estado ou outras entidades públicas, corrigindo o enorme deficit de florestas públicas em comparação com todos os outros países da Europa. Ao nível do planeamento seria desejável que os Planos Regionais de Ordenamento Florestal fossem muito mais ambiciosos no fomento da floresta nativa. Enfim, discrimine-se o que deve ser discriminado, porque as florestas não são todas iguais e porque a sociedade valoriza de forma diferente os diferentes tipos de floresta e as espécies que os constituem. Pugnemos por isso por uma floresta discriminada!

Individualidades signatárias:

Ana Raquel Calapez; Carlo Bifulco; Carlos Pacheco Marques; Fernando Leão; Filipe Duarte Santos; Francisco Castro Rego; Francisco Ferreira; Francisco Moreira; Gonçalo Duarte; Helena Freitas; João Loureiro; Joaquim Sande Silva; José Gaspar; José Manuel Alho; Manuel Graça; Maria João Costa; Maria João Feio; Paulo Alexandre Estrela Lucas; Paulo Domingues; Raul Silva; Rui Cortes; Rui Lourenço; Sónia Serra; Verónica Ferreira

quinta-feira, 21 de março de 2019

Amsterdam bans red light district guided tours to beat tourist boom
Society March 20, 2019

Amsterdam is banning all organised tours from the city’s red light district and has placed a maximum of 15 participants on guided tours throughout the rest of the medieval centre. The measure is the latest in a string of plans to reduce the nuisance caused by too many tourists in the oldest part of the city, which locals say is making it impossible to live there. The ban on tours, with titles such as ‘tour the red light with mistress Lola’, will come into effect on January 1 next year and includes pub crawls and other organised guided walks. ‘We do not consider it appropriate for tourists to leer at sex workers,’ alderman Udo Kock said, announcing the plans. Research shows that more than 1,000 organised groups spend time on  Oudekerksplein in the heart of the red light district every week, with a peak of 28 an hour in the early evening. City officials have been tightening the controls on groups of tourists in the red light district for the past year. Guides now need to have proper papers, there is a limit on numbers and a ban on late night group excursions. Guides outside the red light district will now have to have permits as well, city officials say. The new measures introduced across the city centre also include a ban on free tours and touting for participants, and the introduction of a tourist tax on ticket prices. Urban jungle Amsterdam’s ombudsman made international headlines last year describing the city’s red light district as an ‘urban jungle’. And while the measures introduced so far have resulted in a drop in the nuisance experienced by local residents, two-thirds still say they are bothered by the guided visits. In addition, four in five prostitutes say that the presence of guided tours is hurting their business. Local councillors and city mayor Femke Halsema have all suggested moving the red light district to a new location as an option.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

Red light district needs long term vision says Amsterdam ombudsman
 Society January 14, 2019

Amsterdam’s ombudsman, who made international headlines last year describing the city’s red light district as an ‘urban jungle’ has published a string of recommendations to clean up the area. Arre Zuurmond, who spent some time living in the district to get to know the problems better, has spoken to more than 100 locals, police officers and council officials to draw up his final report after a three-year project. The ombudsman has identified seven key causes for concern: litter, over-tourism, public nuisance; homelessness, sex work, drugs and criminal infiltration. Amsterdam’s image is that of a city where everything is possible and the red light district is praised as a tourist attraction worldwide,’ the report states. ‘Stag and hen parties, pub crawls – the overuse of drink and drugs by this group of tourists are a primary cause of problems, but also tax the system in terms of hospital services.’ There are no simple solutions to this and efforts need to be made to develop a long-term vision for the area, Zuurmond said. In the short term, however, there are a number of steps which officials can take, the report said. Officials could ban eating and drinking in certain areas to cut down on litter and the city, as shareholder, can pressure Schiphol to reduce the number of cheap flights, the report said. There should be more camera supervision to crack down on waste dumping, government inspectors should check bars and cafes at night as well as during the day, and more must be done to limit the problems caused by too many taxis. Drugs The problem of drugs dealers – an estimated 300 tout their trade in the district – also needs to be addressed and efforts must be made to change Amsterdam’s reputation as the drugs capital of Europe. This would also lessen the exposure of Amsterdam children to drugs at a young age and help cut down on crime, the report states. Crime and criminal infiltration also need to be tackled, the report says. ‘Brothel owners often run bars, Airbnb and souvenir shops,’ the report said. ‘They have a hand in the entire chain and this leads to the circulation of lots of black money. Economic Efforts must also be made to rehouse the group of 30 to 50 homeless people who live in the red light district, who are often drunk and cause considerable problems, the ombudsman said. Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema, who said last year that moving the red light district to a new location would be an option, said the council is already taking short-term steps to improve the situation but agreed a long term view is needed. In the past the area has been regulated as an ‘economic zone’, not the cultural and historic district is is, she pointed out.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

Forum big winner in provincial elections, set to take 12 senate seats Politics / Mark Rutte to lose Senate majority after Dutch local elections

O FVD (Thierry Baudet) alcançou uma victória nas eleições Provinciais na Holanda, substituindo assim como Partido Nacional Populista o PVV, o Partido de Geert Wilders, como principal opositor das políticas de Imigração e perfilando-se como protector dos valores nacionais. O FVD é um partido totalmente negacionista no que respeita as Alterações Climáticas, negando toda a evidência cientifíca e recusando todas as políticas e mudanças imperativas e necessárias no que respeita as políticas do clima e o crescente consenso Europeu e Internacional.

Forum big winner in provincial elections, set to take 12 senate seats Politics
 March 21, 2019 / Martijn Beekman via HH

 With most of the votes counted in Wednesday’s provincial elections, Thierry Baudet’s right-wing nationalist Forum voor Democratie appears to have won most votes and will take 12 seats in the senate in May. Forum, which is pro Nexit and does not believe in climate change, campaigned on national issues and did not draw up policies for any of the 12 provinces it will now be represented in. ‘Arrogance and stupidity has been punished,’ Baudet said in his victory speech. ‘We are being ruined by the people who should be protecting us,’ he said. ‘We are being undermined by universities and journalists, by the people who design our buildings.’ The four coalition parties will now control 31 of the 75 seats in the senate and will need the support of a fifth party to pass controversial legislation. Forum, Labour and Groenlinks, which almost doubled its support, could all fulfill that role. Big losers of the night were Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV which is on target to lose four of its nine senate seats, and the Socialists which will sink from nine to four. Turnout was up sharply on the last provincial vote, with some 56% of people casting their vote. It was highest (60%) in Zeeland and Utrecht. Preliminary results VVD from 13 to12 seats Forum voor Democratie from 0 to12 seats CDA from 12 to 9 seats GroenLinks from 4 to 9 seats PvdA from 8 to 7 seats D66 from 10 to 6 seats PVV from 9 to 5 seats ChristenUnie from 3 to 4 seats SP from 9 to 4 seats Partij voor de Dieren from 2 to 3 seats 50PLUS unchanged at 2 SGP unchanged at 2 DENK none OSF (independent, local parties) none Check out the results in your area on the NOS interactive map.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

Mark Rutte to lose Senate majority after Dutch local elections
Far-right Forum for Democracy on course to be the second biggest party in upper house.

By           ELINE SCHAART 3/20/19, 11:23 PM CET Updated 3/20/19, 11:34 PM CET

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is on course to lose control of the upper house of parliament after provincial elections on Wednesday saw strong gains for Euroskeptics and Greens.

Far-right populist newcomer Forum for Democracy is set to become the second biggest party in the Senate with 10 seats, with Rutte's liberal VVD party on 12 seats, according to an exit poll published by public broadcaster NOS. The votes are counted by hand and final results will be published overnight.

The Greens were another big winner, according to the exit poll (which has a margin of error of +/- 1 percent), doubling their seats from 4 to 8. Other opposition parties, including Geert Wilders' Freedom Party and the Socialists, suffered at the polls, losing 3 and 5 seats respectively.

Rutte's coalition partners the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and centrist Democrats 66 (D66) are also set to lose seats (the CDA down from 12 to 8, with D66 down 3 to 7).

Voters were choosing new regional parliaments, which will determine the makeup of the new Senate. The ballots were held two days after a Turkish-born man was arrested following a shooting in Utrecht in which three people were killed.

Rutte’s center-right coalition — his liberal VVD, CDA, D66 and the small Christian Union — had a one-seat majority in the Senate before Wednesday's vote, but is expected to lose 7 seats overall.

Dutch right-wing populism, dominated for a decade by Wilders and his Freedom Party, has been transformed in the past two years by the rapid growth of the Forum for Democracy. Its leader, 36-year-old Thierry Baudet, shocked establishment parties this week by blaming the government's migration policy for the Utrecht attack just hours after the shooting. All other parties had suspended campaigning.

“This is a combination of an honor killing and a half-terrorist motive,” Baudet told supporters at a rally, Reuters reported. The shooter's motive is still not known.

In 2017, the Forum for Democracy won just two seats in the national parliament, but is projected to win 12 percent of the Dutch votes in the European Parliament election in May.

Campaigning for the provincial elections was largely overtaken by national politics, with party leaders attending debates, bringing national and European issues to the fore. In a debate hosted by the public broadcaster on Tuesday, the provinces were mentioned just three times, according to NRC.

The projected turnout was 54 percent, slightly higher than the last such vote four years ago, but lower than in general elections.

In order to achieve a working majority in the Senate, Rutte's coalition will have to rely on the support of one or more opposition parties. It's unlikely that Baudet's party will work with the government. The party rejects, for example, the need for climate change policies, a major issue for the government. Last week, Baudet suddenly wavered on his long-standing support for the Netherlands leaving the EU.

The election results come at a time when Rutte is gaining prominence as a voice for liberal economic policies and as EU leaders are gearing up for debate about the bloc's future, in which the Netherlands has been trying to fill the void that will be left by Britain's departure from the EU.

Far-right nationalist Forum will be biggest in Dutch senate with 13 seats
Politics March 21, 2019

Thierry Baudet during his victory speech. Photo: Leander Varekamp/HH
 Thierry Baudet’s right-wing nationalist Forum voor Democratie has emerged as the big winner in the provincial elections and will take 13 seats in the 75 seat senate in May. The four coalition parties have lost their majority and will control 31 of the senate seats, forcing them to turn to opposition parties for support to get controversial legislation through. Prime minister Mark Rutte, in Brussels to discuss Brexit, told reporters that he would work to come to a ‘sensible majority’ in the upper house. Rutte said he would not try to come up with a pact, nor would he rule out any party, whether more left or right-wing than the coalition. Has Baudet really changed the political landscape? Baudet, who before the elections said that the government would have to drop its climate plans to get his support, told voters in a Twitter message that the party does ‘feel a responsiblity to ensure real political change, not just in the provinces but also in the senate’. Nevertheless, he told reporters later, ‘we want to see a change of course from the government.’ GroenLinks, which now has nine seats in the senate after adding five to its total, would also be in a position to ensure a government majority, as would the Labour party which has seven. Amsterdam, Utrecht don’t fall for Forum Meanwhile Forum campaigned in the provinces on national issues and now faces the problem of making sure it fills the seats it has won on the 12 provincial councils. As the biggest party in both Zuid-Holland and Flevoland, Forum will be charged with putting together a working coalition in the regions, and Baudet said on Thursday he has already approached former VVD senator Hans Wiegel to work on his behalf in Rotterdam. Big losers of the night were Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration PVV which is on target to lose four of its nine senate seats, and the Socialists which will sink from nine to four. Wilders, whose support has been declining for years and has fallen 40% in the provinces, described his party’s losses as ‘limited’. ‘Six parties is not nothing,’ he said, adding that that the ‘unique PVV voice’ will continue to heard in the senate. Turnout was up sharply on the last provincial vote, with some 56% of people casting their vote. It was highest (60%) in Zeeland and Utrecht. Preliminary results VVD from 13 to 12 seats Forum voor Democratie from 0 to 13 seats CDA from 12 to 9 seats GroenLinks from 4 to 9 seats PvdA from 8 to 7 seats D66 from 10 to 6 seats PVV from 9 to 5 seats ChristenUnie from 3 to 4 seats SP from 9 to 4 seats Partij voor de Dieren from 2 to 3 seats 50PLUS unchanged at 2 SGP from 2 to 1 DENK none OSF (independent, local parties) none Check out the results in your area on the NOS interactive map.

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 Not an explosion, but a very loud noise: has Baudet really changed the landscape?
Politics March 21, 2019 - By Gordon Darroch

The headlines, inevitably, were dominated by Thierry Baudet after his remarkable success in the Dutch provincial elections on Wednesday, writes Gordon Darroch, in an analysis of what the victory really means. Three years after being founded, and two years after upsetting the odds by grabbing two seats in parliament, Baudet’s Forum for Democracy (FvD) took around 14% of the national vote. In the fragmented Dutch political landscape, the support of one in seven electors was enough to put him on top of the pile, edging out the Liberal party (VVD) headed by Mark Rutte. The FvD’s gains mean the party is set to take 12 seats in the 75-member senate when the upper house is elected by provincial deputies in May. However, expectations of a political earthquake should be tempered for a few reasons. Firstly, despite its name, the Dutch senate is very much the minor player in the legislative set-up. As a revising chamber with an indirect mandate, it assesses laws mainly on technical merit rather than political or ideological grounds. Opposition Secondly, while the four-party coalition is set to lose its narrow majority, going from 38 senators to 31, the consequences are not as bad as they seem. Opinion polls before the vote suggested that Rutte’s cabinet would need to secure the support of two opposition parties in the senate. In the event either the nine seats that will be filled by GroenLinks – Wednesday’s other big winner – or the seven held by the Labour party (PvdA) would be enough to get them over the line. Rutte made overtures to the former last week when he dropped his opposition to a carbon tax for business, a move that was enthusiastically welcomed by GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver, and the cabinet has softened its stance on migration, the issue that prompted Klaver to walk out of coalition talks two years ago. Neither will Rutte have his work cut out rekindling his relationship with Labour leader Lodewijk Asscher, the deputy prime minister in the last cabinet, if their convivial sparring in the pre-election TV debate on Tuesday is anything to go by. Vote-by-vote Given these two options, the coalition is more likely to solicit support on a vote-by-vote basis than strike a confidence and supply deal with a single partner, a strategy that backfired on Rutte in 2012 when his first cabinet was brought down by Geert Wilders. Finally, Baudet’s success reflects not so much a surge of the nationalist right as a shuffling of the pack among the populist parties. Nearly a third of his vote came from supporters of Wilders’s PVV, which is looking increasingly like a spent force. Wilders has been the standard bearer on the right for the past 15 years but now appears to have been eclipsed by a younger, more sophisticated pretender. A sizeable block also seems to have broken away from the left-wing populist Socialist Party, which has taken a more nationalist line on Europe and immigration since Lilianne Marijnissen replaced Emile Roemer as leader, only to find, like the PvdA before them, that offering a Diet Coke version of the populist right only encourages voters to seek out the real thing. Modest success Smaller numbers have defected from the coalition parties, but Baudet has had only modest success in attracting his real target audience – the influential and moneyed supporters of the VVD, most of whom have, somewhat uneasily, kept faith in Rutte. Despite fears that Tuesday’s tram shooting in Utrecht might spark a surge in populist sentiment, it appears to have had little substantial influence. The last Peilingwijzer opinion poll, from canvassing carried out before the shooting, gave Baudet and Wilders a block of 18 seats, one more than the actual outcome. As well as migration, Baudet scored in the campaign on the issue of climate change and energy transition, but so too did Green-Left, particularly in metropolitan areas such as Amsterdam, Utrecht and Groningen, where it took around a quarter of the vote. GroenLinks The polarisation on the issue reflects a gulf between voters who see tackling global warming as the number one political priority and those who resent the high personal cost. The cabinet will now have to revise its plans to meet the agreements in the Paris climate accord, but Wednesday’s results will give Jesse Klaver a much bigger say in the matter than Baudet. There is also the question of whether FvD can build on its success. Baudet will now have to find 12 senators while learning to handle more than 100 inexperienced deputies in the provincial assemblies of varying calibre. His manifesto is more comprehensive than Wilders’s pot-pourri of stock phrases, but his fondness for conspiracy theories and supremacist rhetoric is an unfortunate weakness for a self-styled intellectual. He celebrated his victory with a labyrinthine speech peppered with vague classical references that, as it went on, sounded more like the product of a storytelling workshop at a survivalist summer camp than a mature political platform. We have known for a while that Baudet is a politician in thrall to his own rhetorical skills, but he will need more than dog whistles to change the political mainstream.

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Chafariz de São Sebastião da Pedreira, uma parte esquecida e degradada das Águas Livres bem no centro de Lisboa

Chafariz de São Sebastião da Pedreira, uma parte esquecida e degradada das Águas Livres bem no centro de Lisboa
Samuel Alemão
21 Março, 2019

Inaugurado em 1791, integrando o sistema de abastecimento alimentado pelo Aqueduto das Águas Livres, o projecto do arquitecto Francisco António Ferreira Cangalhas é hoje um exemplo de desleixo de preservação patrimonial. Vandalizado, graffitado, sujo, sem água corrente e poiso de cidadãos sem-abrigo, dificilmente se diria que estamos perante um elemento arquitectónico que é Monumento Nacional, parte integrante do conjunto do aqueduto. Esta semana, tanto o PEV como o CDS-PP apontaram o dedo à Câmara de Lisboa, responsabilizando-a pelo estado actual desta construção histórica. Ambas as forças pedem a sua requalificação. “Assim, como está, é inadmissível”, diz a vereadora Assunção Cristas (CDS-PP), propondo a criação de um Plano Integrado de Recuperação e Valorização dos Chafarizes de Lisboa.

Um tanque seco como consequência da longa ausência de um fio de água a sair do fontanário; paredes graffitadas e rabiscadas em profusão; lixo e detritos diversos nas escadas e no espaço em redor, bem como poças de urina amiúde; uma sala pertencente à infra-estrutura onde vive um casal de cidadãos sem-abrigo, tendo improvisadas pranchas de madeira a servir como portas. A descrição dificilmente assentaria a um Monumento Nacional, ainda para mais situado bem no centro de uma das cidades europeias que mais tem atraído as atenções do turismo pela sua beleza arquitectónica. Mas é esta a realidade do Chafariz de São Sebastião da Pedreira, inaugurado em 1791 como parte do sistema de fontanários do Aqueduto das Águas Livres, equipamento ao cuidado da Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (CML). Poucos darão, aliás, pela sua existência, na Rua de São Sebastião da Pedreira, quase escondido sob o viaduto da Rua Filipe Folque, junto à Avenida António Augusto de Aguiar. Mas CDS-PP e o Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes” (PEV) pedem agora explicações à CML.

“Este é mais um exemplo de uma Lisboa desconhecida de muita gente e ao abandono. Temos aqui uma situação incompreensível de um chafariz que faz parte do sistema do Aqueduto das Águas Livres e é, por isso, Monumento Nacional, mas está neste estado de degradação que se pode observar”, disse Assunção Cristas, vereadora e líder do CDS-PP, numa visita ao local, realizada ao final da manhã desta quarta-feira (20 de Março), para denunciar o que os centristas consideram ser o desleixo da câmara municipal da capital a cuidar do património histórico sob a sua tutela, mas também para promover o Plano Integrado de Recuperação e Valorização dos Chafarizes de Lisboa. A criação de tal instrumento será proposta pelos vereadores do partido em reunião de câmara, “muito em breve”, e com ela se pretende garantir a preservação de um conjunto 15 chafarizes monumentais, assegurando-lhes também a devida visibilidade, através da sua integração num roteiro cultural e turístico.

A principal linha de força do plano agora apresentado é a de ajudar a manter e dar o necessário relevo à arquitectura da água na capital portuguesa. Para que isso aconteça, reconhece Assunção Cristas, terá de haver uma estreita cooperação entre a Câmara de Lisboa e a EPAL. “Temos de cuidar destes chafarizes, garantindo que estão em bom estado, mas também que são iluminados, que há sempre água ornamental corrente, conferindo uma sensação de frescura bem como o seu aprazível barulho, sem esquecer também a sinalética que diga às pessoas que existem estes chafarizes e contém a sua história”, explica Cristas, criticando o actual estado “desleixado” de alguns chafarizes monumentais da cidade. “A Câmara de Lisboa não cuida, infelizmente. Assim, como está, é inadmissível”, disse a vereadora sobre o Chafariz de São Sebastião da Pedreira, sem esquecer de nomear os casos de outros equipamentos congéneres que considera esquecidos, como os chafarizes da Rua do Século e do Largo do Carmo.

Referindo-se à profusão de graffiti naquele elemento integrante de um Monumento Nacional, Cristas recorda que duas das dez propostas do plano Lisboa Limpa, apresentado pelo partido no ano passado, poderiam ajudar a resolver o problema. Uma delas passa pela sensibilização das entidades judiciais para que, no âmbito dos processos-crime por dano de vandalização por pichagem e graffitis ilegais, “sejam aplicadas medidas punitivas que envolvam a prestação de horas de serviço comunitário”. Os centristas entendem que tais sanções acessórias, juntamente com as multas em vigor, ajudariam a dissuadir os prevaricadores. A outra medida refere-se a uma maior aposta em sistemas de video-vigilância, uma solução reivindicada com insistência pelo partido como forma de promover a segurança. “Quando os espaços estão mal tratados, e não se intervém, alastra uma sensação de desmazelo e abandono. Quando estão limpos e cuidados, é o contrário”, disse a autarca, revelando que veria com bons olhos a instalação de uma esplanada junto ao Chafariz de São Sebastião da Pedreira, como forma de manter a zona fora dos roteiros do vandalismo.

A preocupação com este elemento arquitectónico originalmente pertencente ao sistema de abastecimento do Aqueduto das Águas Livres foi também demonstrada esta semana pelos deputados municipais do Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes” (PEV). Num requerimento dirigido à CML e entregue na assembleia municipal, nesta segunda-feira (18 de Março), os eleitos do PEV denunciam o que consideram ser o “abandono” e adiantado estado de degradação do equipamento histórico. Lembrando a importância cultural dos chafarizes e fontanários da cidade, os eleitos ecologistas perguntam à Câmara de Lisboa se existe algum projecto para a “recuperação integral do Chafariz de São Sebastião da Pedreira e a sua zona envolvente” e, em caso afirmativo, em que data e por que entidade. No referido requerimento do PEV, lembra-se que a Assembleia Municipal de Lisboa aprovou, em Abril de 2011, uma recomendação apresentada pelo partido que num dos pontos deliberativos mencionava que a “autarquia devia promover a reabilitação dos chafarizes e fontanários da cidade de Lisboa, contribuindo assim para a preservação, protecção e valorização do património cultural associado ao abastecimento de água potável na cidade”.

 O Corvo confrontou, ao início da tarde desta quarta-feira (20 de Março), a Câmara de Lisboa com as críticas feitas, tanto pelo CDS-PP como pelo PEV, relativamente ao estado de conservação do Chafariz de São Sebastião da Pedreira, questionando-a sobre os seus planos para garantir a reabilitação e a preservação desta infra-estrutura. Até ao momento da publicação deste artigo, porém, não recebeu resposta.