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10/18/17

NATO: "Berlin, we recommend you: Grab the Nato bull by its horns!".

NATO
Germany has to show a “determined leadership” of Nato and lead this military alliance of the “West” towards adopting a new strategic concept. This is what the advisers to the German Government and experts in foreign policy are asking for. The context? The reorientation of Germany’s global policy which, following Russia’s recapturing of Crimea, no longer aims exclusively at military interventions throughout the whole world to guarantee strategic or economic interests, but also at fighting “competing conceptual models” of international policy. It is in the pursuit of this latter objective that the Federal Republic is playing a leading role in establishing Nato’s presence in Eastern Europe— against Russia. In particular, Berlin has the lead role in creating multinational divisions, which are destined to complete the Nato troops stationed in the Baltic States and Poland and aims at being the “spear head” of the Alliance. As the Stiftung für Wissenschaft und Politik (the “Foundation for Science and Politics” referred to herein as SWP) stresses, these can also be sent by the EU at any time and participate in these operations. It is for this reason that the SWP considers that their “importance and scope stretches beyond the Alliance”.

And how did this request for a stronger German leadership of Nato come about? It was after Russia recaptured Crimea, a move that led Berlin to a strategic reorientation of its global policy. Till then, what the federal government had in mind in terms of military operations, especially in wars in distant lands – were the following:

- interventions to install or stabilize pro-Western governments (for example, in Afghanistan or in Mali); and
- measures aimed at “maintaining free trade and access, with no strings attached, to markets and raw materials all over the world”.

The government had already articulated its thinking in its 1992 Guidelines for the Defense Policy [1]. However, post-1992, the situation changed. As states like China and Russia “experienced an increasing influence on the economic, political and military plane”, a “multipolar world” is now in its gestation period. According to a recent White Book of the Bundeswehr (the German Unified Armed Forces), in this new world “competing conceptions of how the international political order should be structured” could emerge.

Thus, Russia “is presenting itself as an independent sphere with its own “pull factor” and a global vision”. [2] German strategists consider that this fact manifests itself clearly and unambiguously when Russia reseized Crimea. When Moscow insists on operating “independently” in terms of foreign policy, the White Book indicates that this is a “challenge for the security of our continent”.

But the multinational divisions that are emerging are not limited to Nato interventions. SWP reaffirms that formally “only the armed forces of Nato members” participate and these forces can freely decide on their stationing. We consider that these forces would give priority to participating in Nato interventions; but “in theory”, combat formations could also be used “in EU operations” [10]. “Faced with the shocks that took place in the transatlantic relation”, multinational divisions “have an importance that stretches beyond the Alliance”.

 On this premise, continuing on this trajectory, the Bundeswehr would become “one of the most important armies on the continent”. The SWP writers conclude: “now it seems even more urgent that the debate on the growth of Germany’s importance in Nato and in Europe, offers a bigger place to Berlin”.

Finally, the extremely ambitious project for constructing multinational divisions requires a “determined leadership” - and “by Germany”.

Read complete report: Berlin, we recommend you: Grab the Nato bull by its horns!, by German Foreign Policy

France: President Macron:"we must not repeat the mistakes of the Middle Ages to demonize Islam as we did to Protestants"

French President Emmanuel Macron
A fascinating debate is bubbling along among intellectuals in France following M Macron’s election as President of France, concerning something the French political system is supposed to be completely free from: religion. In 1905 a law of laïcité formally separated Church and state.

Most French people are notionally Catholic, and a significant proportion appear to be observant. The Protestant church in France estimates a following of just over a million people, or 2% of the population.

President Macron grew up in a secular household, and he has several times expressed his commitment to the idea of laïcité: but when he was 12 years old, feeling, as he has put it, the need for some “spirituality”, he asked to be baptised as a Catholic.

It is worth parsing Mr Macron’s ideas about religion because he has a particular interest in the subject.

He was baptized into the Catholic faith at his own request at the age of 12, and schooled by Jesuits, brainy Catholics who often live on the border between their own religion and other faiths and cultures.

Mr Macron has in his speeches likened the internal problems of the European Union and its monetary system to a religious conflict. The Protestant north had a rigid and moralistic attitude towards debt while the Catholic south, with its culture of confession and absolution, took a more happy-go-lucky view, he once said.

On the subject of Islam, some of what Mr Macron says is broadly what you would expect from a centrist politician in France.

French Muslims must be encouraged to develop their own, enlightened reading of the faith, fully compatible with the laws of the republic. They must be helped to wean themselves off dubious sources of foreign funding. They must be part of the struggle against terrorism. Although the state can facilitate all these developments, the main responsibility must be borne by Muslims themselves.

Most of these sentiments have been expressed by other French office-holders, and they are worthy if difficult to put into practice. But in that Montpellier speech, Mr Macron said one thing which was highly contentious for Muslims and non-Muslims alike:
"Our mission…it will be difficult, it will take time, it will be demanding for all men and women…will be to act in such a way that French people of the Muslim faith are always more proud of being French than of being Muslim…"
Is that actually conceivable? Being a citizen of the French republic, with all its rights, obligations and ideological axioms, is a demanding business. For its most fervent adherents, French republicanism is supposed to supersede all previous loyalties, be they Catholic, Protestant or Jewish.

But being a Muslim, a member of the umma, the global community of believers, is pretty demanding too. In practice, people do find ways of negotiating their political and religious loyalties.

Traditional Islam does not urge its followers to disobey the laws of well-organized states: on the contrary, it encourages a cautious and conservative way of life. But for many Muslims, asking them to be “less proud” of their faith than their passport will still be asking too much.

For all his cerebral intensity, Mr Macron was not giving a history lesson for its own sake. His aim was to warn his compatriots not to repeat the mistakes of the Middle Ages. Just as it was wrong and inexpedient for medieval France to demonize the Protestants, so too it would be wrong for today's politicians to demonize Islam or its followers.

EU-Digest

Denmark: Copenhagen unions call for 30-hour week for municipal workers

The Copenhagen Waterfront
Eight of the unions representing Copenhagen Municipality employees want a pilot project set up to try out a 30-hour working week.

The unions claim this would prevent many employees developing stress, cut absences due to sickness, and help people balance their work and family lives better, reports DR Nyheder.

“We know from a trial in Sweden that a 30-hour week helped both employees and the institutions to cope better with the pressure of work,” said Henriette Brockdorff, the head of BUPL, the union representing pedagogues in Copenhagen.

As well as the pedagogues, the eight unions represent health and social assistants, social workers, teachers, office personnel, kitchen employees and cleaners.

Brockdorff agrees that the present 37-hour week is already rather short by international standards, but contends that the pressure on workers these days is extreme due to overly-high productivity demands.

As well as a shorter working week, the unions also want workers to be compensated salary-wise. That would mean an increase in costs of around 20 percent, so the unions would like to see Copenhagen Municipality setting aside 12 million kroner for the project.

However, the group chair for Socialdemokratiet at Copenhagen Municipality, Lars Weiss, rejects this idea.

“We have a ‘Danish model’ through which agreements are made on salaries and employment conditions every second year, and I’m not going to start negotiating on these matters in the run-up to a local election.”

Weiss also said that calculations made by the municipality’s finance department suggest that a 30-hour working week would cost 3.6 billion kroner per annum.

“This would severely impact our service levels. We would see higher numbers in school classes and kindergartens, and that would put even more pressure on the employees.”

Note EU-Digest: Is this for real? Municipal workers having too much stress in Denmark and now want to work 30 hrs per week?   As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark".

Read more: Copenhagen unions call for 30-hour week for municipal workers – The Post

Britain thinks Germans care about Brexit — they don’t

Brexit is not a political issue in Germany. No election will be won or lost because of it. Angela Merkel’s position — to walk in lock-step with France and the Commission — is not controversial, it is consensus across the political landscape.

For Berlin, Brexit is less of a negotiation than a punchline. Germans officials like to joke that Brits are quickly becoming the largest refugee group in Berlin.

They are bemused at how the British have become more literate in the minutiae of EU rules than at any time during their unlucky four decades as members of the bloc.

Few in Berlin are following the finer points of the U.K. debate, however. Boris Johnson’s recent pronouncements on clearing out “the dead bodies” in Libya and his recitation of Rudyard Kipling in Myanmar got more notice than Theresa May’s Florence speech, for example.

Read more: Britain thinks Germans care about Brexit — they don’t – POLITICO

10/17/17

The European Union is blind to the military strategy of the United States - by Thierry Meyssan

The political leaders of the European Union are entirely wrong about the Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe and the migration to the Union of people fleeing the war zones. Thierry Meyssan demonstrates here that these are not simply the accidental consequences of conflict in the wider Middle East and Africa, but a strategic objective of the United States.

The leaders of the European Union are suddenly being confronted with unexpected situations. On the one hand, terrorist attacks or attempted attacks perpetrated or prepared by individuals who do not belong to any identified political groups; and on the other, an influx of refugees who cross the Mediterranean, several thousands of whom die along their coasts.

In the absence of any strategic analysis, these two events are considered a priori as being unconnected, and are treated by different administrations. The former are handled by the Intelligence services and the police, the latter by Customs and Defence. However, they both share the same common origin – the political instability that reigns in the Levant and in Africa.

If the military academies of the European Union had done their job, they would have been studying the doctrine of its « big brother », the United States, for the last fifteen years. Indeed, for many long years, the Pentagon has been publishing all sorts of documents on the « Chaos Theory» borrowed from the philosopher Leo Strauss. Only a few moths ago, an official who should have retired more than 25 years ago, Andrew Marshall, disposed of a budget of 10 million dollars annually to research this subject [1]. But no military academy of the Union has seriously studied this doctrine and its consequences. Partly because this is a barbaric form of warfare, and partly because it was conceived by one of the intellectual gurus of the US Jewish elite. And as everybody knows,the United-States-who-saved-us-all from-Nazism can not advocate such atrocities

If the political personnel of the European Union had travelled a little, not only to Iraq, Syria, Libya, the horn of Africa, to Nigeria and Mali, but also to Ukraine, they would have seen with their own eyes the application of this strategic doctrine. Instead, the contented themselves with speeches delivered from a building in the Green Zone of Bagdhad, from a podium in Tripoli or on Maïdan Square in Kiev. They have no idea what these populations are really experiencing, and at the request of their « big brother », have often closed their embassies, thereby depriving themselves of eyes and ears on the ground. Even better, still at the request of their « big brother », they have participated in embargos, thus ensuring that no European businessmen will travel to these areas and see what is happening there.

Contrary to what President François Hollande has declared, the Libyan migration is not the consequence of a « lack of follow-through » of operation « Unified Protector », but the desired result of this operation, in which his country has played a leading role. Chaos did not evolve because the « Libyan revolutionaries » were unable to agree after the « fall » of Mouammar el-Kadhafi, it was the strategic goal of the United States, and they succeeded. There never was a « democratic revolution » in Libya, but a secession of Cyrenaïca. There never was an application of the UNO mandate aimed at « protecting the population », but the massacre of 160,000 Libyans, three quarters of whom were civilians, under the bombardments of the Alliance (numbers from the International Red Cross).

Chaos is not an accident, it’s the goal....

Read more: The European Union is blind to the military strategy of the United States , by Thierry Meyssan

Czech Job Market: Czech ministry mulls massive recruitment of foreign workers to fill jobs

Beautiful and historic Prague, capital of the Czech Republic
A proposal to take 200,000 foreign workers into the country to fill vacant jobs in the Czech Republic was tabled by the Ministry of Finance for the rest of the government last Wednesday, just over a week ahead of elections to the lower house of parliament on October 20 and 21.

The ministry says the document was presented by ANO’s finance minister Ivan Pilný for the information of other Cabinet ministers with the idea of starting a debate, especially with the ministries most directly concerned such as the foreign ministry, interior ministry, and industry ministry. A spokesman said that the target is to deal with all aspects of the issue of recruiting foreign workers and come up a comprehensive policy. The document was not made public.

Where the workers could come from; what is the time frame for the recruitment; whether new procedures would be adopted; and whether priority would be given to workers qualified for certain sectors are all questions which the ministry does not want to discuss at the moment. The finance ministry spokesman described suggestions that the Czech Republic would once again seek workers from traditional sources of supply, such as Ukraine and Vietnam, as "speculation."

The Czech daily Právo reported that the finance ministry document warns that many Czech companies are losing orders because they can’t find the required workers and that some could even go bust if the situation continues.

Social Democrat election leader and foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek referred on his Twitter account to a separate interview with the Právo newspaper in which he claimed that the finance ministry report was submitted without the normal prior consultation with other ministries.

Zaorálek added that some of the companies seeking to recruit foreign workers are offering monthly wages of around 13,500 crowns. The Czech minimum wage from the start of 2018 should rise to 12,200 crowns.

September’s Czech unemployment fell to 3.8 percent with almost 285,000 unemployed and 200,000 vacancies at labour offices.

Note EU-Digest: If the Czech Republic requires 200,000 foreign workers to fill vacant positions, they better ease-up on immigration laws and start accepting more refugees based on the established EU quota levels

Read more: Czech ministry mulls massive recruitment of foreign workers to fill jobs | Radio Prague

Malta: Murder of Malta’s top investigative journalist provokes shock and outrage – by Georgi Gotev

Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s top investigative journalist, was killed on Monday (16 October) when the car she was driving exploded shortly after she left her home.

Caruana Galizia was a top gun when it came to exposing corruption in Malta and EURACTIV repeatedly quoted her articles and was in touch with her. Her blog, Running Commentary, was considered by many colleagues as the best source of information about her country.

The force of the blast that killed her reduced the car she was in to pieces and catapulted the journalist’s body into a nearby field, witnesses said. She leaves behind a husband and three sons. Local media say one of her sons heard the blast and rushed outside.

She was killed minutes after posting her last blogpost, following up on her investigations based on the Panama Papers.

Note EU-Digest: Our condolences to the family and what we hope will be a speedy arrest of the conspirators who planned and carried out this hideous crime.

Read more: Murder of Malta’s top investigative journalist provokes shock and outrage – EURACTIV.com

Austria's election: Europe reacts to Sebastian Kurz victory

Sebastian Kurz Austria's new political leader 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Sebastian Kurz on his victory and the "energetic" modernization of his party, which is aligned with her Christian Democrats.

She declined to comment on which coalition arrangement she wanted to see, but said the Freedom Party's strength would be a "major challenge" for its Austrian rivals.

Merkel said the challenge posed by the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany was "manageable" compared with the FPÖ's strength. She hoped for close cooperation with Kurz at the European level.

Hungary's foreign minister Peter Szijjarto was full of praise for his Austrian counterpart and "friend" Kurz, who at 31 is expected to become Europe's youngest national leader following an election victory on Sunday.

"He's hijacked neither by hypocrisy nor by political correctness. He's always honest, he's always very direct and I think it's very necessary currently, that European leaders speak directly," Szijjarto told reporters in Brussels.

Szijjarto welcomed Kurz's stance on migration as close to that of Budapest and expected Austria to work more closely with anti-immigration eastern and central European states including Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. East-West divides over migration policy have strained unity in the bloc.

Note EU-Digest: 
It is sad to see that some of the Governments of the EU's Eastern and Central European States, occupied by the Nazi's in the second world war, " indirectly" seem to have copied some of the policies and laws of their former Nazi occupiers, particularly in relation to some of their present immigration policies.  

These laws were implemented in Nazi Germany and their occupied territories (1933–45) based on a specific racist and religious doctrine, asserting the superiority of the Aryan race, which claimed scientific legitimacy.  

The Nazi laws qualified Muslims, Africans and other minorities as "Untermenschen (sub-humans)" . It is important for the EU Parliament and EU Commission to make clear, that laws by EU member states, which ban immigrants from entering into the EU, based on their ethnicity or religion, in any way or form, should not be allowed to see the light of day.. 


Read more: Austria election: Europe reacts to Sebastian Kurz victory | News | DW | 16.10.2017

Canada: What you need to know about Quebec's religious neutrality legislation - by Angelica Montgomery

A bill that requires people in Quebec who give or receive any public service to uncover their faces is expected to become law as early as today.

Many important details still need to be crafted, and its implications may be decided by the courts.

Here's a closer look at Bill 62 and what comes next.

It does not specifically mention the niqab or burqa, two styles of traditional garments that cover the face, worn by some Muslim women.

Initially, the bill was only to apply to provincial public-sector services and provincially funded institutions, including universities and schools.

In August, Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée proposed amendments that see the legislation apply to municipalities, metropolitan communities and public transit organizations.

That means, according to the justice minister, anyone who rides a bus or the Metro must be unveiled.

Read more: What you need to know about Quebec's religious neutrality legislation - Montreal - CBC News

10/16/17

USA: Opinion: America First. America Alone - by Carsten von Nahmen

Donald Trump's decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal is a slap in the face for America's allies. The president risks isolating the US for the sake of his own fans — and his own ego, writes DW's Carsten von Nahmen.

The protector of Americans against the big, bad world: that's how the president sees himself. And also how many of his supporters view him, and precisely why they voted for him. It was these supporters, more than anyone else, that Trump's speech was aimed at on Friday. It doesn't matter what the others think. America First. America Alone.

Throughout the 2016 election campaign, Trump described the 2015 nuclear deal that his predecessor Barack Obama had reached with Iran alongside European, Chinese and Russian partners as a mistake and the "worst deal ever." This campaign cry has followed him to this day, as has his promise to end the deal as president.

And still. Trump didn't go that far on Friday. Not yet. His most important foreign policy and security advisers, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, had strongly advised Trump against such a step, as Iran's nuclear armament ambitions could not be controlled at all without the deal.

Strictly speaking, there is no reason to terminate the deal. The Iranian government is meeting the obligations that the treaty imposed upon it. European allies, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and even Trump's generals have confirmed this.

And so the president pulled an old trick out of the bag, one that he had so gladly used in his previous life as a businessman and reality TV star. He simply redefined the rules of the game, according to his own terms. The determining factor is not whether Iran is meeting the conditions of the nuclear deal, but whether Iran is living up to the "spirit" of the deal. And if it is, Trump said, it's also whether the Iranian government behaves itself otherwise.

All those who, perhaps, at the beginning of Trump's time in office had hoped that the populist would grow into his office and take his responsibility for his country and the world seriously are now disappointed.

Sad!

Read more: USA-Opinion: America First. America Alone. | Opinion | DW | 14.10.2017

Spain-Catalonia: Puigdemont fails to clarify Catalan independence confusion

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has not given a clear answer on whether he has declared independence for the Spanish region.

The Catalan government has tweeted an English version of Puigdemont’s letter to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

Puigdemont offers to meet him as soon as possible to discuss the controversy, but fails to give a yes or no response on independence. He calls for an end to the “repression” of the Catalan people and their government, citing charges against Catalan demonstrators and the chief of the Catalan police.

He also calls for a meeeting with Rajoy “as soon as possible” to find a solution.

Madrid has responded, the Spanish premier “deeply” regretting Puigdemont’s failure to clarify his stance.

Spain’s central government had set a deadline of 10am on Monday for Puigdemont to give a “yes” or “no” answer – and until Thursday to change his mind should the reply be affirmative. Madrid has threatened to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, if independence is declared.

In addition to the letter, Carles Puigdemont is said to have included documents including a copy of the breakaway Referendum Law that his minority government rammed through the regional parliament with help from its far-left ally CUP.

The move bypassed ordinary parliamentary procedure, prompting an opposition walkout.

Read more:Puigdemont fails to clarify Catalan independence confusion | Euronews

Individual Economic Success: 10 golden rules which can make you a millionaire

Thomas C. Corley of Business Insider has spent years studying the habits of wealthy people.

He completed a "Rich Habits Study" in which he interviewed 233 people each worth more than $3.2 million, 75 percent of whom were self-made millionaires.

He compiled the 10 qualities that stood out to him as most common among—and most important to—those ultra-successful individuals. Firstly, innovation, because your million-dollar idea must be just that.

It needs to have some valuable quality that sets it apart from ideas that have come before. Here's how one designer used her innovation skills to create an invention that helps fight Parkinson's.

1)  Have an Edge: It's not just your idea that needs to stand out—it's you. Whatever your strong suit is, it needs to be strong enough to help you rise above the rest of the pack.

2) Be an Expert: You need to make sure you are constantly up-to-date on everything there is to know about the field you want to succeed in.

3) Skill Set: Learning on the job is great and all, but you need to make sure you have valuable skills that you accumulate over many years.

4) Work Ethic:This one's a no-brainer. If you want to be successful, you've got to be willing to work incredibly hard and devote lots of time and energy to your goal.

5) Focus UP: Once you're set on an idea, you need to be able to focus on making it a reality. If you're working on a million-dollar project, it requires your full attention, no matter how long the project takes.

6) Connections, Connections and more connections: You can never have too many connections. Seek out the people who can help you and don't be shy.

7) Don't work alone: It'll be hard to get anywhere without people supporting you.Get people to work with you who believe in you and support your ideas and are not scared to be critical of some of your proposals.

8) Never get discouraged and give up: Persistence, of course, is extremely important. Failure happens and can only help you to start over again with new fresh ideas.

9) Have faith in your ability to succeed:  Luck is not what makes things really happen. Vision, a good plan and focused hard work is the only path  to success.

10) Blow your own horn: make sure that after you have produced your product or service, people hear about it via a variety of publicity vehicles readily available to you. 

EU-Digest