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9/23/17

EU: Tax on Internet ads among Europe’s proposals to plug digital tax gap - by Natasha Lomas

Europe’s executive body has revealed more of its thinking on reforming taxation rules to reflect how digital businesses operate, issuing details of proposals it’s considering ahead of another meeting of EU ministers next week.

Options on the table for EU countries to discuss are a turnover tax, a levy on Internet ads or withholding money on Internet transactions, the EC said today.

Last week a group of European Union finance ministers, led by France, called for a turnover tax on tech giants — aka what’s also referred to as an “equalization tax” — which would seek to avoid the problem of multinationals shifting profits to lower tax economies by taxing them on the revenue generated in each nation.

At the time the EC said it welcomed the Member State’s interest in the issue, noting it has been working towards tax reform proposals for “a number of years”.

Read more; Tax on Internet ads among Europe’s proposals to plug digital tax gap | TechCrunch

German Elections: For the German election, no fake news is good news - by Shara Tibken

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stands amid several young women dressed in white in a photo that's made the rounds on social media. They're Muslim child brides, a post claims. 

"Merkel wünscht den kinderbräuten alles gute," it says in German. "Merkel wishes the child brides all the best."

Except those aren't child brides. And the photo isn't new. It's from April 2016 when Merkel visited a refugee camp in Turkey. She was greeted by young women dressed in their best outfits, not wedding dresses. But try telling that to the thousands of people who shared it online.

That's exactly what Correctiv, First Draft and other groups are attempting to do. These organizations, along with help from tech companies like Google and Facebook, are investigating stories that gain traction in Germany and could impact the country's national election on Sunday. They want to make sure the sort of viral rumors that spread in the US don't happen here.

Read more: For the German election, no fake news is good news - CNET

Nuclear Test North Korea? Earthquake in North Korea a 'suspected explosion': China

China's earthquake administration said on Saturday it had detected a magnitude 3.4 earthquake in North Korea that was a "suspected explosion", raising fears the isolated state had conducted another nuclear bomb test weeks after its last one.

An official at South Korea's meteorological agency said they were analysing the tremor, which they put at magnitude 3.0, but the initial view was that it was a natural quake.

Read more: Earthquake in North Korea a 'suspected explosion': China

Trump: ‘I have decided’ on Iran deal — but won’t share yet – by Louis Nelson

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he had made up his mind as to whether or not the U.S. will remain party to the Iran nuclear deal — but won’t say just yet what that decision is.

“I have decided” Trump repeated three times in response to shouted questions from reporters on whether he has made up his mind on the U.S. remaining in the Iran nuclear deal. Asked what his decision was, Trump smiled and said only that “I’ll let you know what the decision is.”

While the president has yet to make good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Iran deal, which extracted concessions from the Islamic republic on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of international sanctions, he has continued to rail against it.

Read more: Trump: ‘I have decided’ on Iran deal — but won’t share yet – POLITICO

9/22/17

EU energy and climate policies: EU to aim for 100% emission cuts in new ‘mid-century roadmap’ - by Frédéric Simon

With the 2019 European elections approaching, the Juncker Commission is stepping up preparatory work to lay down its legacy for the next EU executive.

Less than a year after it tabled a landmark package of clean energy laws, which is still making its way through the EU institutions, officials are now busy preparing the next document that will shape the bloc’s energy and climate policies for the years to come.

“Meeting the Paris goal of keeping climate change well below 2°C – and aiming for no more than 1.5°C – requires bold action, including reaching climate neutrality this century,” said a source involved in the update of the EU’s 2050 low-carbon economy roadmap.

“This is about much more than meeting quantitative targets,” the source told EURACTIV on condition of anonymity. “Achieving our long-term goals means putting in place today the enabling conditions for the transformation to a low-carbon society and avoiding a lock-in to the status quo.”

Several energy industry sources who met in recent weeks with Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Commissioner for climate action and energy, confirmed that the EU executive was preparing to launch a public consultation with a view to updating its low-carbon economy roadmap in 2018.

Jill Duggan, Director of The Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group, said: “News that the EU is setting its sights on achieving zero emissions by 2050 is very welcome. The science tells us this is necessary and it’s imperative that politicians respond by putting policies in place that give businesses the certainty they need to invest and adapt.”

First published in 2011, the 2050 low-carbon economy roadmap laid the foundations for the EU’s climate and energy policy in the years ahead, charting a path towards a reduction of at least 80% in the bloc’s emissions by mid-century, in line with international commitments.

The roadmap does not impose legally-binding objectives on EU member states. But it did set the direction when the time eventually came to adopt hard legislation.

For instance, it translated into an EU-wide target of cutting domestic emissions by at least 40% by 2030, an objective endorsed by EU heads of states and governments ahead of the UN conference on climate change in Paris. The objective has since been cast in stone as part of the EU’s nationally determined contribution to the Paris Agreement.

Read more: EU to aim for 100% emission cuts in new ‘mid-century roadmap’ – EURACTIV.com

USA: Guns kill nearly 1,300 US children each year, study says

 A US study based on data from 2012 to 2014 suggests that, on average, 5,790 children in the United States receive medical treatment in an emergency room each year for a gun-related injury. About 21% of those injuries are unintentional.

From 2012 to 2014, on average, 1,297 children died annually from a gun-related injury in the US, according to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

The study also revealed which states in the US saw most of those deaths among children and which children may be most at risk for a gun-related injury.

“When you start putting numbers like that to real lives, real people every day who are injured by firearms … it confirms a statistic we already know a lot about,” said Weiser, who was not involved in the study.

Doctors also emphasize that there are methods available to safely secure and store firearms, away from children, and they recommend that parents employ those methods when keeping guns in the home.

Note EU-Digest: Guns are cheaper to buy in the US than medical services or some pharmaceutical drugs.

Read more: Guns kill nearly 1,300 US children each year, study says | WQAD.com

Global Politics: Editorial The world needs more Europe and less Donald Trump - by Max Hofmann.

Can someone please find a distraction for the American president? Dangle a shiny object in front of him? Maybe show him a funny YouTube video, or get him to give a rally speech in some small American town.

Do anything to keep him busy in the US because when it comes to foreign policy and dealing with countries like North Korea or Iran, Donald Trump horrifies his partners, especially those in Europe.

After years of laying down the groundwork, the negotiating partners struggled for yet another 20 months over the Iran nuclear deal. The European Union had a seat at the negotiation table and ended up scoring a success for the bloc. Ultimately, Europeans were able to use their favorite crisis-resolution skill: classic diplomacy.

Ever since the Iran nuclear deal was concluded, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has checked eight times to see whether Iran has met the requirements. Every time, the answer was "Yes!"

The results have been so convincing that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed to use the agreement as a blueprint for further action in North Korea.

Now along comes Donald Trump, who threatens to destroy the greatest international diplomatic feat of recent years. For what? Merely to fulfill a crazy election promise. He mentions North Korea and Iran in the same breath and makes it sound as though both nations must be treated with equal severity. Europeans would never lump these two countries together. Those in Europe know the devastating effects the termination of the Iran deal would have at their own doorstep: the destabilization of the Middle East, Iran's move towards China and Russia, and the strengthening of radical anti-Western forces.

What can the European Union do? It will probably — as already announced by the EU's top diplomat Federica Mogherini – adhere to the agreement, regardless of whether the US pulls out or not. In practice, this could mean that Americans would impose sanctions on Iran again while the Europeans would not, putting the transatlantic entities on a confrontational course with each other. Everyone knows how the US president will react to this. At the same time, the West would lose all credibility as a moral and political entity and would be permanently weakened. If the US and the EU can no longer act together, no one will take them seriously.

The EU has no choice but to continue using whatever influence it still wields over Trump's government. The Europeans must try to keep the US in the agreement. Its success in the past few years should speak for itself, but facts no longer count in the White House. Merkel and company have tried prievously to make Trump come to his senses, as was seen with the Paris climate agreement, but to no avail. In the case of Iran, however, it is a matter of a new cold war — or even a hot war in a highly volatile region. The situation could escalate very quickly.

The prospect for North Korea is even gloomier than for Iran. Europeans have very little influence there. The EU cannot — and does not want to — keep up with Donald Trump's and Kim Jong Un's nuclear swagger. The bloc's demand to focus strictly on politics and diplomacy may seem like it's failing to handle the situation with the seriousness it deserves. However, it is the right way to move ahead and the only way forward for the EU. Here, too, one can see the gapping gulf between Europe and the US in sensitive diplomatic issues.

But Donald Trump will have to follow the European example, at least a little bit, if he really wants to maintain world peace, as he declared to the UN General Assembly. His threats, both to Iran and North Korea, have the potential to lead the world to destruction. Europe's diplomatic approach may at times seem somewhat feeble, but it is the only method that has really worked in recent years. The Americans have tried to use military force in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, sometimes with disastrous results. That is why Trump's saber rattling and his demand to renegotiate the Iran deal strike Europeans as threatening and hollow. Everyone believes that the president is capable of a blind military attack. The angry man in the White House lacks the experts, the patience, and the competence required to conduct well-balanced and complex negotiations. Europe has all this

Read more: Opinion: The world needs more Europe and less Donald Trump | Opinion | DW | 22.09.2017

EU says US, others see no Iran nuke deal breach

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says all parties to the Iran nuclear deal agree that the accord is being implemented as planned and U.S. complaints about other Iranian behavior should be discussed outside the context of the agreement.

Speaking at the conclusion of a meeting of the parties to the 2015 deal, Mogherini told reporters Wednesday the deal “is working and is delivering for its purpose.” She says the deal’s preservation is important at a critical time in the world.

She could not say whether the U.S. would remain in the deal, but stresses that the European Union is committed to preserving it. Her comments followed a meeting at the United Nations that was also attended by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Note EU-Digest: If Trump gets the US out of the  Iran Nuke deal like he did with the Global Environmental Agreement, the rest of the world should just leave the US in the cold and continue without the US.  Honestly enough is enough and who does Mr. Trump believe he is?

Read more EU says US, others see no Iran nuke deal breach | New York Post

Muslims in the EU: Feeling at home despite discrimination

A new study shows that while Muslim immigrants integrate well in their countries of residence in the EU, they still experience a lot of discrimination. However, the numbers vary dramatically from country to country.

Only around 2 percent of all participants reported not feeling attached at all. Second-generation immigrants report slightly higher levels of attachment – they feel at home in the country where they were born.

Read more: Muslims in the EU: Feeling at home despite discrimination | Europe | DW | 21.09.2017

9/21/17

USA: Donald Trump Took $107 Million Promised to Charities... And Kept It - by Mark Sumner

Occupying the White House has proven lucrative for Donald Trump. He’s been able to charge the Secret Service hundreds of thousands for rental space and golf carts. He’s been able to turn his Washington Hotel into a place where the emoluments clause is put to constant test. But the AP reports that no other cash-in matches the one Trump took on day one.
President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million for a ceremony that officials promised would be “workmanlike,” and the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity.
The $107 million is a massive amount for even the most lavish inauguration. It’s almost twice what Barack Obama took in for a celebration that was much more widely attended and which included many more events. Trump even cut back on the number of inaugural balls to only two, compared to the ten balls that the Obamas attended in 2009. With twice the money and one fourth the events, all but a handful of the $107 million gifted to Trump for the inauguration should be available for charitable giving.

It’s been eight months. How much has been given out? None. None at all.
Nothing has yet gone to charity.
What is left from the massive fundraising is a mystery, clouded by messy and, at times, budget-busting management of a private fund that requires little public disclosure. 
Donald Trump wants attention for giving $1 million to those affected by recent hurricanes—donations that so far haven’t actually happened. But he’s still sitting on a massive heap of cash from January which, despite promises, hasn’t gone to help anyone but Trump.

Read more: Donald Trump Took $107 Million Promised to Charities... And Kept It | Alternet

Spain-Catalonia: 'The door is open for dialogue with Madrid,' says Carles Puigdemont


Carles Puigdemont is president of Spain’s Catalonia region. As national authorities crack down on the region’s preparations for an October 1 independence referendum that Madrid says is illegal, Puigdemont has accused the national government of adopting a “totalitarian attitude”.

Puigdemont spoke with FRANCE 24’s Caroline de Camaret and RFI’s Sophie Malibeaux about the political crisis with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government and the potential consequences independence would have on Catalonia’s relationship with the European Union.

Asked why he won’t bow to pressure and call off the referendum, the Catalan leader told FRANCE 24 that regional elections provided the mandate to hold this vote. “This is not something we can cancel. We cannot say no to what has already been approved by the citizens. They decided on this through the ballot box,” Puigdemont said from Barcelona.

Read more: 'The door is open for dialogue with Madrid,' says Carles Puigdemont - France 24

North Korea: South Korea approves aid to North Korea, North calls Trump 'barking dog' - by Christine Kim

South Korea approved a plan on Thursday to send $8 million worth of aid to North Korea, as China warned the crisis on the Korean peninsula was getting more serious by the day and the war of words between Pyongyang and Washington continued.

North Korea’s foreign minister likened U.S. President Donald Trump to a “barking dog” on Thursday, after Trump warned he would “totally destroy” the North if it threatened the United States and its allies. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the situation on the Korean peninsula was getting more serious by the day and could not be allowed to spin out of control. 

“We call on all parties to be calmer than calm and not let the situation escalate out of control,” Wang said, according to a report from the state-run China News Service on Thursday.

Read more: South Korea approves aid to North Korea, North calls Trump 'barking dog'

Middle East: Kurdistan: "Explained": Kurdistan’s controversial independence referendum

Kurdistan, an autonomous region in northern Iraq, will hold a referendum on Monday, September 25, calling for full independence from Baghdad.

Experts say the electorate is likely to give the thumbs up to independence and, with lots of neighbouring countries opposing it, this could lead to more instability in a region already plagued by volatility.

Kurds, who have never obtained a permanent nation state, come from a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

They were given hope around the time of the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 when provision was made for a Kurdish state in the aftermath of World War One. But it was never implemented and Kurds have been waiting ever since. 

Read more: Explained: Kurdistan’s controversial independence referendum | Euronews

North Korea: Chancellor Angela Merkel: ′There is a clear disagreement with Trump on North Korea′

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was highly critical of US President Donald Trump's speech at the United Nations. In the speech, Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea.

"I am against threats of this kind. And speaking for myself and the government I must say that we consider any type of military solution absolutely inappropriate and we are counting on diplomatic efforts," Merkel said in an interview with DW.

"This must be vigorously implemented. In my opinion, sanctions and enforcing these sanctions are the right answer. But anything else with regard to North Korea I think is wrong. And that is why we clearly disagree with the US president."

She said she explained the German position to the US president in a phone call before his speech at the UN.
 
Read More: Chancellor Angela Merkel: ′There is a clear disagreement with Trump on North Korea′ | Germany | DW | 20.09.2017