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USA: Why not Medicare for everyone. ?

An article written back in 2009 says it all. No need to reinvent the wheel for the US in designing a new national health-care program 

Instead put every citizen on Medicare. And if one asks: How would it be paid for. It probably would cost less than what it costs today to pay for Obama Care and in case additional funds are needed to finance the program, use some from the huge military budget.

No need for the US to be spending taxpayers money on a military budget which is larger than those of the largest 7 countries military budgets on the list put together. Get real not richer my dear Republican friends.. 

EU: Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum - by Eszter Zalan

The EU 27 leaders recommitted their vows to European integration in Rome on Saturday (25 March) amid warnings that the bloc's unity remains fragile.

The heads of state and government met in the same Renaissance-era palace where the six founding countries signed the Treaty of Rome on 25 March, 1957, to establish the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

Read more: Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum

USA- Illegal Immigrants: Trump supporter thought president would only deport ‘bad hombres.’ Instead, her husband is being deported. - by Peter Holley

When Helen Beristain told her husband she was voting for Donald Trump last year, he warned her that the Republican nominee planned to “get rid of the Mexicans.”

Defending her vote, Helen quoted Trump directly, noting that the tough-talking Republican said he would only kick the “bad hombres” out of the country, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Months later, Roberto Beristain — a successful businessman, respected member of his Indiana town and father of three American-born children — languishes in a detention facility with hardened criminals as he awaits his deportation back to Mexico, the country he left in 1998 when he entered the United States illegally

“I wish I didn’t vote at all,” Helen Beristain told the Tribune. “I did it for the economy. We needed a change.”

Note EU-Digest: the reasons Roberto Beristan was arrested and will be reurned back to Mexico are not too clear in this Washington Post article.

Read more: Trump supporter thought president would only deport ‘bad hombres.’ Instead, her husband is being deported. - The Washington Post


USA: Trump's obsession with 'all things big' could be dangerous: by Rosemary Westwood

Some questions, you’d think, shouldn’t need to be asked.

For instance, “Is America’s military big enough?”

And yet, the New York Times this week dutifully asked the question, since the president of the United States not only considered it — or perhaps, overheard it on conservative talk radio — and answered yes.

As it is, the U.S.’s $596 billion military budget is greater than the next seven countries combined, more than double China’s and roughly nine times Russia’s. Past presidents have beefed up military spending for actual wars. Donald Trump appears happy to beef up spending for imagined ones, or for posturing, or, perhaps, just to make the military bigger.

Enter his recently released “skinny” budget, which is, you understand, an old Washington term related to a lack of detail, and not, you understand, a reference to its lack of muscle. It’s very robust. Extra tough. Super strong(™).

The New Yorker dubbed it his “Voldemort” budget. Budget director Mick Mulvaney deemed it “compassionate.” And it would, among other things, defund Meals on Wheels, cut support for affordable housing in cities, shrink the Education Department’s budget, throw pretty much every federal arts program out the Air Force One window, and thrust an extra $54 billion towards military spending.

In the same breath, the White House is hoping to “compassionately” relieve 24 million Americans of their health care coverage under its proposed American Health Care Act.

Trump is not, it turns out, simply “doing everything he promised,” because that included making life better for many of his devoted voters, and, at one point, promising a health care plan that would cover every single American.

Instead, with now trademark-inconsistency, he’s coated a dovish American-First rhetoric around the exact opposite: a hyper-militarized vision of the country, complete with walls, and no doubt, if it was en vogue, a giant snaking moat.

Under Trump’s leadership, “Is America’s military big enough?” becomes a rhetorical question of the Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor variety, with the same mindless worship of size.

Trump is nothing if not obsessed with all things big.

He’s lied about the number of floors in Trump buildings, so they appear taller. He exaggerated the size of his electoral win, and then exaggerated his inauguration day crowd. “Big league” is a favourite phrase. His 2008 book was called “Think Big.” The London terror attack was “Big news” and the day before his health care bill faced a vote in the house of congress was a “Big day.”

He even wants to appear, physically, big. Since Trump took office, many have missed not only Barack Obama the man, but also his taste in suits, compared to Trump’s ‘80’s era shoulder pads tailoring reminiscent of a tent.

Perhaps Trump, as man, is so devoid of elegance because he has no concept of proportion (in suits, hairstyles, or otherwise). Slinging around outlandishly vulgar insults, stalking his election opponent Hillary Clinton around the debate stage, responding to critical media coverage by calling it “fake news,” and reportedly suing a San Francisco teenager for creating a website where you can make kittens punch Trump in the face: This is not a man well-acquainted with the concept of degree. And that is very bad news for America.

If Trump gets his way, and there are big cuts to health, education, arts, and programs supporting the elderly, disabled and poor, and a big old boost to military spending, something else is bound to be big: the damage.

Read more: Trump's obsession with 'all things big' could be dangerous: Westwood | Metro News

USA - Trump: a president for the elites - by Wendy Kaminer

Trump Followers : The Porsche Turbo Elies
Of all the mistaken or cynically disingenuous characterizations of Donald Trump (and there are many from which to choose) ‘anti-elitist’ is perhaps the most obviously untrue.

Put aside his unusually wealthy cabinet of billionaires and multimillionaires. Put aside his appointment of Goldman Sachs veterans to high-ranking posts, including treasury secretary, after promising to ‘drain the swamp’ of corporatists, like Hillary Clinton and her Goldman connections. You can even put aside, for the moment, his own personal and familial profiteering from the global business he continues to own. Focus simply on his policies.

First consider Trump’s opposition to consumer-friendly financial regulations enacted after the 2008 crash, particularly his effort to revoke an Obama administration rule requiring brokers to act in the best interests of their customers. Trump apparently wants financial advisers to have the freedom to serve their own interests, even at the expense of unsophisticated clients.

Then, consider his proposed budget. ‘If you’re a poor person in America, President Trump’s budget proposal is not for you’, the Washington Post correctly observes. His budget would not just cut deeply into a wide range of social-welfare programmes. It would also deny lower-income people access to justice by eliminating the Legal Services Corporation, which provides lawyers for poor people in civil cases, enabling them to vindicate their rights. Adding insult to industry, the Trump budget would ‘fall hardest on the rural and small-town communities that Trump won’, the Post reports. It ‘would slash or abolish programmes that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherising homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, (as well as) obtaining legal counsel in civil matters’.

?It’s only fair to note that this budget would hurt affluent as well as lower-income Americans. It’s a threat to anyone who expects to become sick or disabled – in other words, everyone who expects to age. The National Institute of Health, which funds research into diseases that no one wants to suffer but many or most will, is slated to lose a fifth of its funding. Remember Trump’s inaugural promise to ‘free the Earth from the miseries of disease’? He, it seems, does not.

At least relatively wealthy people will be able to afford medical treatment. The unemployed and working poor are likely to lose health insurance and access to care if the House Republican plan to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare is passed without major revisions. As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined, some 14million people would lose health insurance under this plan by 2018 and 24million would lose it by 2026, while wealthy people enjoyed a substantial tax cut. (Multimillionaires and billionaires – America’s elites – would also enjoy substantial cuts under Trump’s proposed tax plan.)

Like the Trump budget, Trumpcare would hurt his base of lower-income voters, as he belatedly acknowledged on Fox News. The president briefly distanced himself from the plan he’d initially approved (apparently seeking to pass the buck to House speaker Paul Ryan). But then he began lobbying hard for it, warning congressional Republicans they risked losing their seats if they failed to pass it. So far, members of the hard right House Freedom Caucus are demanding additional cuts to insurance coverage that would be required by law, complicating efforts by the White House and Speaker Ryan to secure the votes of Republican moderates. As I write this, on the evening of 23 March, Republicans are still negotiating, having postponed a scheduled vote on the bill. If the House eventually approves some version of Trumpcare, it will then confront the Senate, where Republicans are similarly divided and Senate rules limit the scope of legislation that can be enacted by a simple majority, without facing a filibuster.

Trump had promised his supporters he’d replace Obamacare with ‘something terrific’, but that was before he learned healthcare was ‘complicated’. Who knew? ‘Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated’, Trump explained last month, universalising his ignorance.

The politics of healthcare are also complicated, with Democrats expected to oppose efforts to repeal Obamacare, instead of mending it, and Republicans divided into factions that consider the current plan too generous to lower-income Americans and factions that consider it not generous enough. Meanwhile, the public seems increasingly wary, with polls showing majority opposition to the Republican plan. Prospects for it are most uncertain. So are prospects for the Trump budget, which some Republicans, as well as most if not all Democrats, will oppose. Trump and congressional Republicans are now grappling with the difference between posing as an anti-elitist and governing as one.

Reasd more: Trump: a president for the elites | US Election 2016 | USA | spiked

France Presidential Election: 'We’re not trying to influence events', Putin tells Le Pen

In an unprecedented move, the Russian president has met with a candidate for the French presidency in Moscow.

The meeting between the leader of the far-right eurosceptic FN party Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin has reignited fears of Russian support for far-right groups in Europe.

Putin told Le Pen he had no intention of influencing the French elections.

“We are trying to maintain relations with the ruling authorities and opposition representatives too. We don’t want to influence in any way the events underway.”

Le Pen said, if elected, she would consider what she had to do to swiftly lift EU sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

“For a long time I’ve called for France and Russia to resume cultural, economic, and strategic relations, especially now when we are facing a major terrorist threat,” Le Pen told Putin.

With the first round of elections just a month away, opinion polls show Le Pen making it through to the second round of the election on May 7, but then losing to centrist candidate Macron.

Read more: 'We’re not trying to influence events', Putin tells Le Pen | Euronews

Air Travel: US electronics ban for Middle East flights draws doubts

Aviation experts are divided on the effectiveness of a US ban on large electronic items in hand luggage on flights inbound from a number of Middle Eastern states.

The US Department of Homeland Security announced the measure on Tuesday, citing the downing of an airliner in Egypt in 2015 and an attempt on a Somali passenger jet in 2016 using explosives smuggled on board.

A list of banned devices includes tablets, laptops, e-book readers and cameras, but not medical equipment and mobile phones.

The indefinite ban targets 10 airports in the Middle East and nine airlines, including Turkish Airlines and the major Gulf carriers: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

"We have reason to be concerned about attempts by terrorist groups to circumvent aviation security and terrorist groups continue to target aviation interests," US officials said in a statement.

However, aviation experts have cast doubt on that explanation and warned of the new dangers the measure could pose.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at the aviation consultancy StrategicAero Research, told Al Jazeera the announcement "flies in the face" of US Federal Aviation Authority rules on the carrying of lithium batteries in a plane's cargo hold.

"[The rule] was put in place after the 2010 crash of a UPS 747 freighter in Dubai that caught fire while carrying such cargo," he said, before describing the immediate inconvenience the ban would cause for passengers.

"Airlines will of course comply, but delays will be seen at airports for customers not aware of the rule changes.

"Compliance will cause delays and add costs - it might even force passengers to drop plans to fly to the US or instead look for an alternative transit point through Europe so that their devices can be taken in the cabin as normal."

Read more: US electronics ban for Middle East flights draws doubts | News | Al Jazee

The Russian Connection? Exclusive: Tillerson plans to skip NATO meeting, visit Russia in April - by Arshad Mohammed and John Walcott

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip a meeting with NATO foreign ministers next month in order to stay home for a visit by China's president and will go to Russia later in April, U.S. officials said on Monday, disclosing an itinerary that allies may see as giving Moscow priority over them.

Tillerson intends to miss what would have been his first meeting of the 28 NATO allies on April 5-6 in Brussels so that he can attend President Donald Trump's expected April 6-7 talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, four current and former U.S. officials said.

Skipping the NATO meeting and visiting Moscow could risk feeding a perception that Trump may be putting U.S. dealings with big powers first, while leaving waiting those smaller nations that depend on Washington for security, two former U.S. officials said.

Trump has often praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Tillerson worked with Russia's government for years as a top executive at Exxon Mobil Corp, and has questioned the wisdom of sanctions against Russia that he said could harm U.S. businesses.

A State Department spokeswoman said Tillerson met today with foreign ministers from 26 of the 27 other NATO countries -- all but Croatia -- at 

Read more: Exclusive: Tillerson plans to skip NATO meeting, visit Russia in April - sources | Reuters


EU -Turkish Relations: Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU

Erdogan: The abusive Turkish dictator
It has been one year since Turkey and the European Union signed a migrant deal on Syrian refugees.

The controversial agreement has been effective in reducing the flow of Syrian and other refugees through Turkey, who aim to reach Europe.

However, this particular deal has come at an incredibly huge political price for the EU and its member states, notably Germany.

From the agreement's inception, Turkey has been trying to use it as a card to exert political pressure against the EU, and has more than once threatened to call it off if it did not get visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in return.

However, this goes beyond the visa-free aspect.

In fact, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, feeling in a strong position, has been engaging in increasingly harsh rhetoric towards the EU and its member states.

In contrast, the EU and national officials from its member states have largely refrained from engaging in a verbal confrontation with Erdogan.

While European leaders do their utmost to save the migrant deal, the European public has increasingly come to perceive the deal as a lost case.

It is the inability of the EU institutions and European leaders to develop a workable alternative that has aggravated the public and has reduced the chances of the re-election of the current ruling governments.

In Germany and France, where elections will be held soon, far-right anti-EU parties have emerged - posing a serious threat to the political establishment.

With strong anti-EU agendas, the success of these parties is tied to the very future of the European Union.

French and German establishment parties may find at least two strong reasons to risk such confrontations with Turkey.

First of all, in light of the widespread public displeasure in Europe over Erdogan’s rhetoric, any diplomatic row and subsequent steps by Turkey to end the migrant deal will be easily defendable.

Secondly, should Turkey decide to end the deal, the EU has established physical barriers and has put mechanisms in place that would prevent another mass flow of refugees similar to that of 2015.

With the Dutch elections still fresh in mind, establishment parties in France and Germany may very well be tempted to copy the example of Rutte’s and, in doing so, may win the battle against the anti-EU parties.

If they manage to play their cards right - the end of the migrant deal may very well be the saviour of the European Union.

Note EU-Digest:   It is high time the EU tells Erdogan to go to hell and stuff the migrant/immigrant deal where it belongs ...... No more chantage and abusive insults from this power hungry dictator can, or must be accepted. As a point of interest for those who might not know - the Turkish government has been giving Syrian refugees, who request it, instant Turkish citizenship - no questions asked . The  reason being that the Erdogan government knows these new citizens will be voting yes in the April 16 Turkish Referendum to give Erdogan absolute power.  Also, please take note dear Turkish European citizens and obviously also every Dutch immigrants from wherever you might have come, that if this upsets you - "nothing stops you to go and live in Turkey or in your country of origin, and voice whatever negative opinion you might have of the Netherlands or any other EU nation. All we can say is "good riddance ! "

Read more: Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save t

Is the new World order dead? The Geopolitics Of Chaos - by Javier López

The new world disorder is under way while speculation about what President Trump would do has given way to a spate of executive orders. The cocktail of reactionary withdrawal from previous commitments (Trump + Brexit is imposing a change of guard on international relationships, leaving the northern hemisphere turned upside down.
The neoliberal economic and geostrategic consensus has broken down and left in its wake an ocean of uncertainty. The Trump administration has shown itself hostile to European integration and has moved close to Putin. Xi Jinping “saved” the Davos forum and has become the standard-bearer of globalization. A wave of protectionist nativism could lead to trade wars with serious consequences. 2017 is the year with the greatest political risk since the end of World War II (Ian Bremmer).

The USA is starting a new era with shades of isolation and unilateralism. This compromises the Atlantic Alliance, the centre of gravity of the twentieth century. A new “special relationship” with post-Brexit Great Britain is sought while fantasizing over the end of the Euro and calling the EU a “vehicle” for Germany. It looks down on supranational organizations, the safeguards of multilateralism, while at the same time escalating tensions with China that may end in triggering the greatest danger the world now faces.

The USA is starting a new era with shades of isolation and unilateralism. This compromises the Atlantic Alliance, the centre of gravity of the twentieth century. A new “special relationship” with post-Brexit Great Britain is sought while fantasizing over the end of the Euro and calling the EU a “vehicle” for Germany. It looks down on supranational organizations, the safeguards of multilateralism, while at the same time escalating tensions with China that may end in triggering the greatest danger the world now faces.

Internally, its democracy is beginning a new chapter based on Schmitt’s Dezisionismus. A sovereign power that does not respond to legal norms or rational discussion. Without checks and balances, without judges or press. In the field of economics, trade barriers are foreseen. Care must be taken as, what do these targets (Mexico, Germany and China) of the new President all have in common? They are great exporting powers. The hostility of the White House is a reflection of one of its greatest weaknesses: its current account deficit. And also one of the greatest global macroeconomic imbalances. Once again, economy and international relations are intertwined.

Putin’s Russia feels strong and has reason to do so. After a gradual loss of domination over the strategic ‘rimland’ (Spykman), Russia has shown that is prepared to do anything, even cyberattacks, to maintain its position. All of its latest moves in the Caucasus, Ukraine or Syria have led to an increase in its influence. Putin’s authoritarianism has masked its economic problems and it seems that the electoral results in the Western world are a fortune smiling in his favour.

And Putin also now hopes that, with an American administration that is more than favourable, trade sanctions will be eased or even lifted. Trump and Putin speak the same language and their connections are more than evident. But be careful, the USA may be using the Kremlin against the Asian giant, just as Kissinger did in the opposite direction during the Cold War. A new anchor to hold down, in this case, the Chinese ascent. Trump is a dangerous character – folkloric and ridiculous, yet it would be wise not to dismiss everything he does as stupid.

The old continent can see these changing international relations as a party to which it has not been invited. Fragmented, terrified and left without the Atlantic umbrella, suffering the worst hangover after the Great Recession, and all in a year of electoral heart-attack. The biggest risk is that a great Troika made up of Washington, Moscow and Beijing will find a new international balance ignoring Europe.

At the same time, as Europeans, we have the opportunity to occupy an enormous hole in a world looking for reference and left by a retreating USA. We could take on the role of defending Enlightenment values: rule of law, democracy, tolerance and open societies. These continue to be attractive and enlightening values, but even the best ideas need to be defended. That is why the EU must restore its undermined social model, equipping it with a shield in terms of security and defense.

We need to activate a flexible Europe, through enhanced cooperation, to unblock the process of integration and end the paralyzing tug of war between capitals.

It is more vital than ever to look for allies who share our vision of the world: laws, dialogue and multilateralism. Our relations with Latin America and Canada take on a new significance. It would suit us to find a new equilibrium with Russia and strengthen ties with China. We will also need to pay special attention to the candidacy for German Chancellor of the social democrat and pro-European Martin Schulz. His victory would have a huge impact on the hegemonic power of the continent.

Read more: The Geopolitics Of Chaos

The Netherlands: Dijsselbloem will not step down, regrets it if one is offended by "Dutch directnes"

Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem answers to many through a statement sent to New Europe, on his remarks from Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung interview that were “misunderstood” by Spanish press and MEPs.

“I regret that my message was misunderstood and I regret that it was emerged as north against south,” adds Dijjselbloem on Wednesday’s statement. “I don’t experience a north-south division myself, also not in the Eurogroup. The understanding is that everyone has the responsibility to stick to our rules and to make an effort to stay within the EU agreements. Everyone must make an effort to keep the European Monetary Union (EMU) together.”

Dijsselbloem blames his Dutch heritage for the “direct” remark: “I regret it if one is offended by the remark. It was direct, and can be explained from strict Dutch, Calvinistic culture, with Dutch directness. I understand that this is not always well understood and appreciated, elsewhere in Europe. That is another lesson I take on board.:

“My style is direct and again if people take offence in that I am sorry of course.”On Eurogroup and the EMU’s future, Dijsselbloem adds that all should do their best and respect the rules, otherwise it will be hard. “This applies not just for a few, but to all of us.”

Read more: Dijsselbloem will not step down, regrets it if one is offended by “Dutch directness”