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1/22/18

Economic Disparity: The 1% grabbed 82% of all global wealth created in 2017

For every $10 worth of wealth created last year, the world's richest 1 percent grabbed $8, according to a new report from Oxfam International.

"The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system," said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International.

The report also estimated the bottom 50 percent of the world's population saw no increase in wealth.

Note EU-Digest: This disparity problem could easily be given some relief through the reduction of military budgets around the world, and funneling these funds to less fortunate countries. Looking at the Military Industry world-wide - the US spends $ 611.2 billion  per year on their military complex. This is double the amount of what China and Russia are spending together. Another remarkable fact is that the autocratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's military budget of $ 89.9 billion is more than that of Russia, which is $65.6 billion. And really, if we think about it,what has all that global military hardware brought us? Even more human misery and disparity. 

Read more: The 1% grabbed 82% of all wealth created in 2017 | SBJ

USA: Green Card Holders Beware: ICE detains a Polish doctor and green-card holder who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 40 years

Niec received a temporary green card and, in 1989, became a lawful permanent resident. He grew up in Michigan, went to medical school, became a doctor, and raised a daughter and stepdaughter.

Niec, now 43, never fathomed that his legal status in the United States would become an issue. With a renewed green card, and nearly 40 years in the country, his Polish nationality was an afterthought for Niec, his sister told The Washington Post. He doesn’t even speak Polish.

But on Tuesday morning, immigration authorities arrested Niec at his home, just after he had sent his 12-year-old stepdaughter off to school. Niec, a physician specializing in internal medicine at Bronson Healthcare Group in Kalamazoo, Mich., has been detained in a county jail ever since, awaiting a bond hearing and possible deportation.

“It’s shocking,” said his sister, a corporate lawyer named Iwona Niec Villaire. “No one can really understand what happened here.”
According to his “notice to appear” from the Department of Homeland Security, Niec’s detention stems from two misdemeanor convictions from 26 years ago. In January 1992, Niec was convicted of malicious destruction of property under $100. In April of that year, he was convicted of receiving and concealing stolen property over $100 and a financial transaction device.

Because Niec was convicted of two crimes involving “moral turpitude,” stemming from two separate incidents, he is subject to removal, immigration authorities wrote in the notice to appear, citing the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Both of the offenses took place when he was a teenager.He associated himself “with some bad people” his sister said. The first of the incidents involved an altercation with a driver after a car crash, Niec’s sister said. He was one of multiple teenagers in the car at the time.

The second of those convictions was eventually expunged from his criminal record, his sister said, as part of a guilty plea through Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, a program intended to help young offenders avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction.

But even though the crime was scrubbed off his public record, it can still be used against him for removal from the country, his sister said.

 Read more: ICE detains a Polish doctor and green-card holder who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 40 years

1/21/18

USA: An anthropologist explains what happened to the American Empire - by Maximilian C. Forte

Has anything out of the ordinary happened to the US as an imperialist power since the ascent of Trump to office? While the continuities between Trump and his predecessors are considerable, have there been any significant discontinuities that mark the first year of this presidency? Is there any reason to think that the rise of Trump could still become a historical turning point in the fortunes of the US empire, one that accelerates its continuing decline?

Before proceeding any further I want to assure the reader that none of what follows is meant to validate those who lament Trump because they think he is not imperialist enough, not sufficiently sanguine about maintaining a US-dominated “world order,” because for them these are essentially positive values worth maintaining. It is neither my intention to donate free labour to provide confirmation bias for any activist cause, nor to caress any of the prevailing political sentiments of the moment.

For reasons that differ from the imperial advocates of the legendary “liberal international order,” one can still make the case that Trump — added to an array of other actors and forces, both national and international — is far from an ideal figure for empire, and one can make that case without having to praise the virtues of empire. Similarly, it would be irresponsible to reduce analysis to one single actor, one single ideology, divorced from the web of social and global relations that always move together, even (especially) when at odds, in reshaping if not undermining empire.

For the complete report click here : A anthropologist explains what happened to the American Empire

Turkey invades Syria to stop formation of a PKK supported Kurdish state on their borders - with ground forces entering Syria′s Kurdish-held Afrin district

Turkish forces crossed the border into Syria's Afrin district on Sunday, January 21, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said.

At a news conference in Istanbul, he said Turkey's military aimed to create a security zone some 30 kilometers (18 miles) inside the war-ravaged country.

The state-run Anadolu news agency also reported the arrival of Turkish forces in the enclave as part of an operation codenamed Olive Branch, adding that airstrikes and artillery shelling that targeted the area, which began on Saturday, were continuing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped the offensive would be completed in "a very short time."

Read more: Turkey′s ground forces enter Syria′s Kurdish-held Afrin: State media | News | DW | 21.01.2018

Germany formation of new government: German SPD votes for coalition talks with Merkel's CDU

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) voted on Sunday, January 21,  to begin formal coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, moving Europe’s economic powerhouse one step closer to a stable government after months of political deadlock.

SPD delegates voted by 362 to 279, with one abstention, to press ahead with negotiations. The center-left party’s leaders had agreed a preliminary coalition blueprint with Merkel’s conservative bloc earlier this month.

A recount was held after an initial show of hands was too close for the SPD official in charge of the count to call.

Just before delegates voted, SPD leader Martin Schulz made an impassioned plea for a ‘yes’, telling them their decision was being watched across Germany and Europe.

Read more: German SPD votes for coalition talks with Merkel

The Czech Republic’s pro-Russian president is in trouble - Taking back the castle

As Democratic checks and balances buckle in Poland and Hungary, the Czech Republic has seemed to many like the next central European country in line to succumb. Andrej Babis, a billionaire businessman, became prime minister after winning October’s general election despite facing fraud charges. He now collaborates closely with his country’s pro-Russian though largely ceremonial president, Milos Zeman. Liberals fret that the pair pose a growing challenge to the rule of law and to the Czech Republic’s pro-Western orientation. But Czech voters and institutions appear to be pushing back
.
Although Mr Zeman came top in the first round of the country’s presidential election, scoring 38.6% of the vote on January 12th-13th, he fell well short of a majority. The runner-up, Professor Jiri Drahos, a soft-spoken political novice who previously led the Czech Academy of Sciences, won a larger-than-expected 26.6%, which puts him in a good position to displace the incumbent in the run-off at the end of the month. Three days later, on January 16th, parliament rejected Mr Babis’s attempt to form a minority government.

As the leader of the largest party, he was invited to try to do so by the president, though he controls just 78 of the 200 parliamentary seats, lacks a coalition partner and is accused of fraud in connection with EU subsidies for a development project. All told, the presidential second round, on January 26th-27th, is shaping up as a referendum on the direction of the country, if not the entire region.

In September MPs voted by 123 to four to strip Mr Babis of his immunity from prosecution on the fraud charges, but because parliament was then dissolved for the October election, they must now do so again. In noticeable contrast to Mr Zeman, Mr Drahos has called on Mr Babis to give up his immunity voluntarily, and prove his innocence. On January 16th Mr Babis obliged. With police and prosecutors pressing the case, the Hospodarske Noviny newspaper recently leaked a report from EU investigators accusing Mr Babis of “numerous breaches of national and EU legislation”.

Read more: The Czech Republic’s pro-Russian president is in trouble - Taking back the castle

Brexit: Britain’s tired old economy isn’t strong enough for Brexit - by Phillip Inman

Brexit, at its heart, is a recognition that Britain has become steadily weaker since it spent much of its empire wealth fighting two world wars – too feeble in the years before the 2016 referendum to sustain an exchange rate of $1.60 and €1.40, just as it was too poor to cope with $4 to the pound in the 1950s and $2 to the pound in 1992.

Manufacturers were unable to make things cheaply, reliably or efficiently enough against the headwind of a high-value currency, forcing many to give up. An economy that boasted 20% of its income coming from manufacturing in the 1980s found it was the source of barely 10% at the beginning of this decade.

Surges in GDP growth in the 70 years since the war can be attributed (and this short list makes the point crudely) to periods when there were cheap raw materials and energy costs; or a growing population; or foreign ownership and management of key industries; or the offloading of vast amounts of state and mutually owned assets; or cheap borrowing. Without these in operation to improve the UK’s performance, a lower exchange rate became inevitable.

Some Brexit campaigners made a cheaper currency their explicit aim, arguing that while Britain’s wealth and standing in the world would be diminished in the short term, the breathing space given to manufacturers would allow them to sell abroad at cheaper prices, then use the funds to invest and gain the efficiencies needed to cope with a return to a higher exchange rate sometime in the next decade.

Read more: Britain’s tired old economy isn’t strong enough for Brexit | Phillip Inman | Business | The Guardian

USA: Welcome to Trump’s whatever shutdown - by Eliana Johnson

Little of the congressional drama that precipitated the weekend’s government shutdown made its way to the White House Saturday.

Previous presidents have projected an air of crisis during shutdowns, but President Donald Trump stayed out of the public eye, sticking to his preferred mode of communication — Twitter — while expressing annoyance to aides that the disruption is keeping him away from an evening bash at Mar-a-Lago celebrating the one-year anniversary of his inauguration.

White House aides, too, say they are relatively relaxed. Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Friday that he discovered Friday that it fell to him to shut down the government — “which is kind of cool.”

Welcome to the whatever shutdown.

The attitude permeating the Trump administration reflects, to some degree, the confidence that comes from finding that the world keeps spinning every time they do something they’ve been warned would have dire consequences, like withdrawing from the Paris climate accords or announcing plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

According to a half-dozen White House officials and outside advisers, Trump is viewing the shutdown through a similar lens, a view encouraged by White House aides, including senior adviser Stephen Miller and congressional liaison Marc Short, who urged him on Friday not to give in to Democratic demands, particularly on immigration.

Read more: Welcome to Trump’s whatever shutdown – POLITICO

1/20/18

USA: One year anniversary of Trump Presidency - a disaster for the US and the world

The US is "celebrating" Trump's one year in office today, as the President of the US, with a shutdown of the Government and demonstrations going on Nation-Wide

Trump's popularity at home and abroad are the lowest of any US President. In addition official records also show he did not tell the truth during interviews and speeches 2015 times during the first year of his presidency.

On the international scene the results are just as grim. The US relationship with Mexico and many other :Latin and Caribbean states are on a downward slope. His vulgar off the cuff  statements about Haiti and African states made him and the US enemies in both areas.

The Iran Nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement are now both on shaky grounds,

Turkey's President Erdogan, whose nation is a member of the NATO, recently said he does not believe previous statements about keeping the Kurds at bay, made byTrump to him anymore, and today attacked the US Kurdish allies in Syria,

As Mr trump starts his second year in office, hopefully there still is a silver lining of hope above the dark clouds which seem to have covered the US. A nation which always was the shining light of democracy around the world.

EU-Digest