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6/22/17

USA: There are Trump's claims about jobs. And then there are the numbers - by Chris Isidore

"We've ended the war on clean beautiful coal. And we're putting our miners back to work," he said. "Last week a brand new coal mine just opened in the state of Pennsylvania. First time in decades. Decades. We've reversed it. And 33,000 mining jobs have been added since my inauguration."
"We've ended the war on clean beautiful coal. And we're putting our miners back to work," he said. "Last week a brand new coal mine just opened in the state of Pennsylvania. First time in decades. Decades. We've reversed it. And 33,000 mining jobs have been added since my inauguration."
"We've ended the war on clean beautiful coal. And we're putting our miners back to work," he said. "Last week a brand new coal mine just opened in the state of Pennsylvania. First time in decades. Decades. We've reversed it. And 33,000 mining jobs have been added since my inauguration."
"We've ended the war on clean beautiful coal. And we're putting our miners back to work," he said. "Last week a brand new coal mine just opened in the state of Pennsylvania. First time in decades. Decades. We've reversed it. And 33,000 mining jobs have been added since my inauguration."

Trump has regularly claimed that the United States has added more jobs during his tenure than it actually has.

On June 1 he claimed that there had been "more than 1 million private sector jobs" created since he took office. His chief economic adviser Gary Cohn explained he was using an estimate from payroll service ADP, which said 1.2 million jobs were added from January through May.

But that figure is questionable for a couple of reasons. First, it includes January, when President Obama was in office for most of the month. Without January the number of jobs added slips to under 1 million.

Read more: There are Trump's claims about jobs. And then there are the numbers - Jun. 22, 2017

German Bundestag Election 2017: Angela Merkel v Martin Schulz – latest poll tracker puts Merkel 11% ahead - by Reiss Smithl

Angela Merkel
The latest INSA poll gives Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) an 11.5 per cent lead over Mr Schulz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The survey puts the CDU and it sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) on 36.5 per cent, ahead of the SPD on 25 per cent.

Read more: German election 2017 polls: Angela Merkel v Martin Schulz – latest poll tracker | World |News | Express.co.uk

Brexit: Theresa May promises to let 3 million EU citizens stay in UK - by Joe Watts

British PM Theresa May and EU President Donald Tusk
Theresa May has played her opening gambit of Brexit negotiations, telling European leaders she will offer some three million EU citizens a new ‘settled status’ allowing them to stay in Britain if they have lived here five years.

People gaining it would secure rights on healthcare, education and benefits broadly similar to those enjoyed by EU citizens in the UK now.

But in a move giving Ms May leverage as talks begin, she refused to reveal the exact date after which new arrivals are no longer guaranteed the status - leaving a group of people uncertain of their UK residency.

European Council President Donald Tusk has quoted lyrics from John Lennon's Imagine to suggest the door remains open to the UK staying in the EU.

Ahead of a Brussels summit he said of that prospect: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

Theresa May, who has said the UK will honour the referendum vote to leave, was due to outline her plans for the issue of expats' rights to EU leaders.

Speaking at the summit she hailed the "constructive" start to Brexit talks.

Read more: Brexit: Theresa May promises to let 3 million EU citizens stay in UK | The Independent

USA Illegal Immigrants: Voters Say It's Easier to Stay in U.S. Illegally Than Other Countries

Voters think it's easier to enter the United States illegally and stay here illegally than it is in most other countries around the globe.              
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters think it’s easier to stay in the United States once a person has entered the country illegally compared to most other nations in the world. Twelve percent (12%) believe it’s harder to stay in the United States illegally, while 24% feel the level of difficulty compared to other nations is about the same. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here).
Voters think it's easier to enter the United States illegally and stay here illegally than it is in most other countries around the globe.              
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters think it’s easier to stay in the United States once a person has entered the country illegally compared to most other nations in the world. Twelve percent (12%) believe it’s harder to stay in the United States illegally, while 24% feel the level of difficulty compared to other nations is about the same. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here).
US voters think it's easier to enter the United States illegally and stay here illegally than it is in most other countries around the globe.             

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters think it’s easier to stay in the United States once a person has entered the country illegally compared to most other nations in the world. Twelve percent (12%) believe it’s harder to stay in the United States illegally, while 24% feel the level of difficulty compared to other nations is about the same. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here). 

Read more: Voters Say It's Easier to Stay in U.S. Illegally Than Other Countries - Rasmussen Reports™

Britain: Peoples Power - Trump's state visit to Britain put on hold - by Patrick Wintour

Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming
.
The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

The call was made in recent weeks, according to a Downing Street adviser who was in the room. The statement surprised May, according to those present.

The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.

Read more: Trump's state visit to Britain put on hold | US news | The Guardian

6/21/17

War and Peace: Why Does U.S. Consider Iran the Greatest Threat to Peace, When Rest of World Agrees It's the U.S.?

Over the first 75 days of the Trump administration, the White House has taken multiple steps to escalate the possibility of a U.S. war with Iran. Trump included Iran on both his first and second Muslim travel bans. As a candidate, Trump also threatened to dismantle the landmark Iran nuclear agreement. For more on U.S.-Iranian relations, we speak with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you another question that came in, from Melbourne, Australia, Aaron Bryla. He said, "Defense Secretary James Mattis this week described Iran as the greatest threat to the United States. My question: Why does the U.S. insist on setting the potential grounds for war with Iran?"

NOAM CHOMSKY: That’s been going on for years. Right through the Obama years, Iran was regarded as the greatest threat to world peace. And that’s repeated over and over. "All options are open," Obama’s phrase, meaning, if we want to use nuclear weapons, we can, because of this terrible danger to peace.

Actually, we have—there’s a few interesting comments that should be made about this. One is, there also is something called world opinion. What does the world think is the greatest threat to world peace? Well, we know that, from U.S.-run polls, Gallup polls: United States. Nobody even close, far ahead of any other threat. Pakistan, second, much lower. Iran, hardly mentioned.

Why is Iran regarded here as the greatest threat to world peace? Well, we have an authoritative answer to that from the intelligence community, which provides regular assessments to Congress on the global strategic situation. And a couple of years ago, their report—of course, they always discuss Iran. And the reports are pretty consistent. They say Iran has very low military spending, even by the standards of the region, much lower than Saudi Arabia, Israel, others. Its strategy is defensive. They want to deter attacks long enough for diplomacy to be entertained. The conclusion, intelligence conclusion—this is a couple years ago—is: If they are developing nuclear weapons, which we don’t know, but if they are, it would be part of their deterrent strategy. Now, why is the United States and Israel even more so concerned about a deterrent? Who’s concerned about a deterrent? Those who want to use force. Those who want to be free to use force are deeply concerned about a potential deterrent. So, yes, Iran is the greatest threat to world peace, might deter our use of force.

Read more: Why Does U.S. Consider Iran the Greatest Threat to Peace, When Rest of World Agrees It's the U.S.? | Democracy Now!

Middle East - Syria: Trump Is on a Collision Course With Iran - by Dennis Ross

Rarely has the Middle East been more baffling. The United States sells fighter jets to Qatar, a country the American president accuses of sponsoring terrorism. In Syria, the U.S. is relying on Kurdish fighters that Turkey, a NATO country closely aligned with Qatar, says are terrorists, supporting their mission to take Raqqa, the Islamic State’s capital, with airstrikes launched from a giant U.S. base outside of Doha. The U.S. accuses Russia of complicity in the Syrian government’s chemical attacks on its own people, and hits Syrian forces, but hopes to collaborate with Moscow to fight ISIS.

Got all that? Amid this confusion, Iran is pressing ahead to strengthen its grip on Syria, even as Trump goes after ISIS. Iran’s intervention to save President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has involved sending not just elite Iranian military advisers but also bringing in Lebanese Hezbollah and other Shia militias from as far away as Afghanistan. While estimates vary on the size of these forces, the numbers are in the tens of thousands. Iran’s sectarian shock troops are being used to extend the regime’s writ, especially as the Syrian regime’s deployable military manpower has shrunk to about 20,000 forces.

Regrettably, if the Trump administration cannot do more to counter Iran’s actions in Syria, it is not likely to be able to “demolish” ISIS and prevent its return. Iran is using its Shia proxy militias both to fight ISIS and to challenge U.S. efforts to train local forces in southeastern Syria. Last week, an Iranian-made drone fired on al-Tanf, an area along the Damascus-Baghdad highway and the Syrian border with Jordan where U.S. Special Forces have been conducting the training. The U.S.-led coalition destroyed the drone. The White House statement after the attack pointed out that the United States has maintained a presence at Tanf for the past year and that this location was part of the de-confliction understanding with the Russians—and yet Iranian-backed Shia militias in Syria moved against this area and fired on the U.S. presence anyway.

What’s going on? Iran is actively trying to create a land corridor through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. To that end, Iran is pushing from within Iraq and Syria, using its Shia militia proxies on both sides of the border. On the Iraqi side, the Shia militias have now largely cleared ISIS from border crossings. Within Syria, Iran has sent significant Hezbollah forces eastward to Deir ez-Zour, a major Syrian city along the Euphrates River. With the U.S.-supported effort to liberate Raqqa under way, Iran wants to prevent any U.S.-backed groups from establishing themselves in eastern Syria—something that could preclude the Iranian aim of controlling Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan. (With Hezbollah also now active in the area of Deraa, a southern Syrian city close to the Golan Heights, the Iranians have their eye on the Syrian-Israeli border as well.)

Note EU-Digest Editor: the details on Iran in the above report by the usually very accurate Politico this time seem to be leaning towards "conspiracy theories". First of all, who cares if Iran takes over the job of cleaning up ISIS from the US, which, lets face the facts, is a US creation as a result of the Bush Iraq war in the first place. 

The other question one must ask: what is the position of Saudi-Arabia in all this and why is that country kept out of the story?  Iran, at least, has an elected government, which we certainly can not say about Saudi-Arabia.  So, if the US and Russia can be in Syria, why can't Iran.  All of these countries have their own objectives for fighting these proxy wars, which, let's face it, certainly have nothing to do with democracy. 

Come on Politico - even though we should pray this does not happen, our prediction - and all signs are pointing in that direction - is that the US in close cooperation with  Israel will soon bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, for the sake of "peace in the Middle East". Unfortunately if that happens, we have the sneaky suspicion it will not end well.

Read more: Trump Is on a Collision Course With Iran - POLITICO Magazine

Middle East - Syria: Are US and Russia inching toward confrontation in Syria?

When a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Russian-made Syrian SU-22 warplane after it reportedly attacked US-supported fighters near the embattled city of Raqqa, it did not take long for Moscow to respond to what it viewed as an "aggression" against Syrian government forces, which the Kremlin backs.

Russian officials not only suspended the so-called deconfliction channel with the United States that was set up to avoid potential military incidents between the two countries, but also said the military would shoot down any foreign aircraft west of the Euphrates River, which they consider the Kremlin's area of operations.

Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Middle East Center, said the key question about the latest incident was why Syria's government would even deploy a fighter jet over Raqqa, which it has not done for years.

"My assessment is that the Assad regime is testing and probing the US 'red lines' there and in the badia - i.e., the southeast desert areas - and the US is simply asserting that red line, no more," Sayigh wrote in an email.

The incident put a spotlight on the intensifying proxy war in Syria between forces backed by Russia and those supported by the United States, a conflict that has the potential to increasingly pit the two countries directly against each other in the battle over the future of Syria.

"The risks of escalation and of direct confrontation and more direct conflict between the United States and Russia have increased, and some might even say there are fait accompli since the number of incidents has increased," saidJonathan Stevenson, a former National Security Council director for political-military affairs, Middle East and North Africa, in the Obama White House.

"It's a very dangerous situation," said Iwan Morgan, professor of US studies at University College London. "The chances of confrontation have risen significantly."

Read more: Are US and Russia inching toward confrontation in Syria? | In Depth | DW | 20.06.2017

Structure of EU Debt shows debt mainly held by non - residents in half of the EU Member States

In order to analyze the debt structure in European countries, Eurostat collects additionally results from an annual survey containing Member States' information on government gross debt by sector of debt holder, by instrument, by initial and remaining maturity and by currency of issuance.

The survey also contains information on (one-off) guarantees granted by the general government to non-government units as well as the market value of the Maastricht debt instruments and the apparent cost of government debt. One-off guarantees are contingent liabilities which are not included in general government gross debt.

For the complete report on the EU debt structure click here

Global Economy: Back to the Global Vertical -a politically dangerous development - by Andres Ortega

There are horizontal periods – indeed some people, Thomas Friedman among them, believed some years ago that the world was definitively flat. And then there are periods in which verticality imposes itself again.

In many ways, we are once again moving from the horizontal to the vertical dimension of global affairs.

This “verticality” is making itself especially felt in social terms. Social classes are back on the agenda, although not in the traditional Marxist sense of class struggle.

Rather, we are now coping with the decline of the middle classes and the emergence of a broader “precariat.”

The social escalator is not working as in previous eras, despite renewed growth in many economies following the crisis. Benefits that were taken for granted, such as full-time jobs with social security protections, are disappearing in significant numbers.

Perhaps we are witnessing what Dennis J. Snower calls the “great decoupling,” which he labels “dangerous,” unlike its predecessor, which was “convenient.”

When economic progress is not mirrored or is not linked to social progress, discontent is generated in those left behind. This decoupling ends up manifesting itself in politics.

This is what may be going on in many countries amid the prospect of recovery, an uneven emergence from the crisis and, before that, globalization, which is now generally acknowledged to have produced winners and losers.

The decoupling phenomenon is arising when the advanced economies, both industrial and post-industrial, are recovering from the crisis.

As Marc Fleurbaey of Princeton University argues, we must “prepare people for life and support them in life.”

Central to that is the commitment to education, particularly amid the challenge of technology and its controversial impact on employment and the concept of work.

A smart policy approach in that regard, as Ylva Johansson, the Swedish Employment Minister, points out, is not protecting specific jobs (which may be dying) as protecting workers (which need to be actively equipped and/or a guided toward a new one).

Somehow or other, although no one knows how, remedying the great decoupling will induce the vertical to become more horizontal again. Or so one hopes.

Failing to achieve this will only accentuate more verticality. And vertical moments, as we know, tend to be the more dangerous ones.

Editors note EU-Digest: but the situation is not hopeless. Change is possible. People can and will make the difference. All that is required is for responsible, well educated, socially conscious people, with new ideologies to start speaking out. The outdated, corrupt, political systems in many places of the world must be replaced before it leads to a catasthrophy

If it was possible in France, for a new party to be created within a one year time span prior to their Presidential and parliamentary elections, and for that party to win decisively, in both the Presidential and Parliamentary elections, it can also be done elsewhere. 

The old and established parties have failed the people. The political establishment on both the left and the right have become corrupted by corporate influence and greed. It is high time for change, because the status quo is not acceptable anymore.

Read more: Back to the Global Vertical

6/20/17

France: Emmanuel Macron's conquest is complete - what now? - by Hugh Schofield

A new political wind is blowing in France
So the legislatives have been won, and the final part of what future history books will record as the Macronian conquest is complete.

In truth it has all happened so quickly - little more than a year from the germ of an idea to Elysian omnipotence - that the country feels slightly dazed.

People are looking at their new leader, and many more than voted for him are honestly impressed by his calibre. But many are also wondering: so where do we go from here?

For there is an unknown aspect to the coming mandate that sets it apart from all that went before.

It is not just the newness of it all: the fact that President Macron's party didn't exist until he dreamed it up, and that half of the new parliamentarians will need lessons (literally) in how to do their jobs.

And that never before - at least not since Charles de Gaulle in 1958 - has a head of state had such a powerful majority, made up of men and women who depend on him so personally for their new careers.

And that the opposition has been reduced to a rump, thanks to the dégagiste (kick 'em out) imperative that wipes out sitting MPs in droves.

It is also that at heart Emmanuel Macron himself remains something of an enigma.

When he was 22, and already a precocious high-flier, the president spent several months as the amanuensis of one of France's then most respected philosophers, Paul Ricoeur.

The name will mean little to most people, but according to the experts, one of the key elements of Ricoeurian philosophy is the "ability to think at the same time two ideas that are apparently opposed".

For example - in a political context - that could mean supporting the freeing up of the labour market and protecting the most vulnerable. Or slimming down the state and ensuring that France's social contract remains intact.

The heart of the philosophy is a generous one: the recognition that neither side in an argument holds a monopoly of the truth, and that the best policies are ones that combine some elements of both.

Macron's adherence to this scheme of thought was most obvious in the pre-presidential debates, when his use of the phrase "au même temps" (at the same time) was much noted upon - implying as it did a constant bid to reconcile apparently contradictory ideas.

All this is very well - and his sincere desire to bring together left and right no doubt contributed greatly to his success.

But the enigma is this: when it comes to acting, rather than talking, which way will the president jump?

Read more: Emmanuel Macron's conquest is complete - what now? - BBC News

Canada: 1 in 2 Canadians will get cancer: reports Canadian Cancer Society

Almost one in every two Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and one in four Canadians will die from the disease, a new report by the Canadian Cancer Society predicts.

In 2017, an estimated 206,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer and an estimated 80,800 will succumb to their malignancy — making cancer the leading cause of death in Canada, the charitable organization said Tuesday in its annual cancer statistics report.

"Currently, every year we're seeing an increase in the number of cancer cases in Canada," said the society's epidemiologist, Leah Smith. "So between now and 2030, for example, we expect to continue to see a dramatic increase in the number of cancers diagnosed in Canada.

"That is a reflection of the growing and aging population," she said. "About 90 per cent of all the cancers that we expect to be diagnosed in 2017 will be among Canadians 50 years of age and older."
About 45 per cent of those cases will occur in people age 70 and older, said Smith, noting that as more people move into old age, the number of cancer cases will rise.

Despite the projection that cancer will cause the deaths of one in four Canadians, cancer mortality rates have been declining since their peak in 1988. Over the past three decades, deaths due to cancer have fallen by more than 30 per cent among men and by about 17 per cent among women.

"Declines in death rates have been largely driven by decreases in lung cancer incidence and mortality, so tobacco control in general has had a big impact on our death rates," Smith said, especially among men, who historically had higher smoking rates than their female counterparts.

Increased rates of screening for breast cancer and improved treatments have also bolstered survival among women.

Read more: 1 in 2 Canadians will get cancer: Cancer Society - Health - CBC News

Sweden: Apple is working with Ikea to bring virtual furniture to your home

Jim Cook gave a brief mention of plans for a collaboration with Ikea, with the furniture chain bringing 3D models of its various wares into Apple’s nascent augmented-reality platform,

Now, an interview in a Swedish publication has shone a little more light on what shape this partnership will take. As reported by 9to5Mac, Ikea’s digital transformation manager Michael Valdsgaard told Digital.di that the company plans for all of its beds, chairs, cabinets and so on to come in both physical and AR versions.

“This will be the first augmented-reality app that allows you to make reliable buying decision […] When we launch new products, they will come first in the AR app.”

According to Valdsgaard, users will be able to use an Apple device to look around their home, plonking virtual items of furniture on their actual carpet with “millimetre-precise” positioning. Not only with the scale of the virtual object keep in line with its real surroundings, but so will the lighting.

The idea is that you’ll be able to see an augmented-reality layout of your home, to get a better sense of, say, what shade of leather chair looks good beside your enormous stuffed moose.

9to5Mac believes the tool might initially be used in-store, although this seems to defeat the point of the AR app, which is presumably centred on bringing Ikea items (in virtual form) into your own living room. Of course, the heart of all of this is ecommerce, and Ikea is sure to have very obvious links between its 3D models and ways to buy the actual products. What? Did you think Apple and Ikea wanted to make an AR Sims game? Not that that’s completely unheard of...

Valdsgaard said that Ikea is working on a “tight deadline”, so whether or not this tool appears in times for iOS 11 remains to be seen. We wouldn’t be surprised if Apple does a showcase of the tech during its iPhone 8 launch in September

EU - Germany:Merkel reaches out to France's Macron on eurozone budget - BBC News

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she could back a eurozone finance minister and eurozone budget "if the circumstances are right".

French President Emmanuel Macron has argued strongly for both, in order to reform the eurozone.

Germany is wary of any move that might lead to a "transfer union" - a common budget used to prop up indebted governments in the 19-nation eurozone.

Many Germans resent the billions of euros spent on bailing out Greece.

The Berlin government does not want German taxpayers to have to underwrite high spending elsewhere in the EU without oversight.

Mrs Merkel said sensible changes could be introduced if they could be sure of improving the lives of European citizens, including generating work for young people. She was addressing German business leaders in Berlin.

Read more: Merkel reaches out to France's Macron on eurozone budget - BBC News

US Economy: US current account deficit expands to $116.8 billion

The U.S. deficit in the broadest measure of trade rose to the highest level in a year during the first quarter.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday the deficit in the U.S. current account rose to $116.8 billion in the January-March period, up 2.4 percent from $114 billion in the last three months of 2016. The deficit was the largest since a $119.2 billion gap a year earlier.

The deficit in goods rose to $200.3 billion from $195.1 billion in October-December 2016 as imports grew faster than exports in the first quarter. Leading the increase in imports were industrial supplies, mostly crude oil. The goods gap was partly offset by a slightly higher surplus in trade in services.

The current account is the most complete measure of trade because it includes investment flows in addition to trade in merchandise and service. A deficit means the U.S. is consuming more from overseas than it is selling abroad.

President Donald Trump has pledged to reduce the U.S. trade deficit, contending that it costs U.S. factory jobs and reflects unfair practices by America's trading partners. He has promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada to get a better deal for American manufacturers and workers.

Read more: US current account deficit expands to $116.8 billion