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9/30/14

China - Hong Kong: With peace and love: Hong Kong rises - by Lily Ho

Western media outlets have described Hong Kong’s wave of unrest as predominantly led by students. It has a much wider base. Months of steady canvassing and campaigning, and promotion of emotive symbolism over violence, have garnered enormous sympathy for the Occupy movement.

Read more: openDemocracy

EU-US Trade Negotiations: European Activists Say They Don't Want Any U.S. 'Chlorine Chicken' :by Susanna Capelouto

Mute Schimpf doesn't want to eat American chicken. That's because most U.S. poultry is chilled in antimicrobial baths that can include chlorine to keep salmonella and other bacteria in check. In Europe, chlorine treatment was banned in the 1990s out of fear that it could cause cancer.


"In Europe there is definitely a disgust about chlorinated chicken," says Schimpf, a food activist with Friends of the Earth Europe, an environmental group.

The chlorine vs. no chlorine debate has come up a lot recently in the context of a massive trans-Atlantic trade agreement. This week, negotiators from Europe and the U.S. are meeting in Washington for a seventh round of talks aimed at creating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.

 Read more: European Activists Say They Don't Want Any U.S. 'Chlorine Chicken' : The Salt : NPR

9/29/14

Catalonia: Spain higher court suspends Catalonia vote

Spain's Constitutional Court has temporarily halted an independence referendum called by the rich northeastern region of Catalonia, a decision which the region's leaders vowed to ignore despite warnings by the central government.

The court's unanimous decision to hear the government's case automatically suspended the November 9 non-binding referendum from going forward until the court hears arguments and makes a decision, a process that could take months or years, a court spokeswoman said.

She spoke on condition of anonymity because of court rules preventing her from being named.
The court acted hours after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the referendum decree represents ``a grave attack on the rights of all Spaniards.''

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the vote is "a grave attack on the rights of all Spaniards," and a breach to the constitution, that "was based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish state".

Buoyed by mass street demonstrations, regional leader Artur Mas has pushed ahead for a vote in defiance of Rajoy's warnings.

Read more: Spain higher court suspends Catalonia vote - Europe - Al Jazeera English

European Airline Industry: Air France pilots end 14-day strike

Despite no deal in sight, Air France' s main pilots union on Sunday unilaterally ended a 14-day strike that grounded roughly half of the airline's flights, stranded passengers worldwide, cost tens of millions of dollars and led France's prime minister to decry a "selfish" walkout.

The pilots union said it didn't oppose those plans to build the new business, but rejected the labour conditions that management had planned. They started the strike two weeks ago out of concerns that management was looking for a way to outsource their jobs to countries with lower taxes and labour costs.

In a tactical retreat, the carrier's management offered Wednesday to scrap a central part of the plan to shift most of its European operations to Transavia. But the pilots remained unsatisfied, saying the contracts sought for the low-cost carrier's operations in France alone were insufficient.

Air France, in its statement, "confirmed its decision to continue its accelerated development of Transavia in France, without delay" — which suggested that issues remain unresolved. The carrier said it is sticking to plans to create 1,000 jobs in France through Transavia carrier, including 250 pilot positions.
 
Read more: Air France pilots end 14-day strike - World - CBC News

Golf: U.S. Ryder Cup Team : “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result”

In the wake of Europe’s victory, its eighth in the past 10 meetings, it has been suggested that the competition’s format or frequency be changed to restore competitive balance. There is no need to do anything radical, like broaden the biennial competition so it is the Americas versus Europe, though Argentina’s Ángel Cabrera versus Phil Mickelson in a team room table tennis match would be a sight to behold.

Read more: U.S. Ryder Cup Team Needs to Adapt to the Times - NYTimes.com

China: Hong Kong police use tear gas to disperse thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators - financial sector shuts down

A video of a young girl desperately calling on the world to help Hong Kong has emerged, ssued a low-level travel warning to its citizens traveling in Hong Kong, warning of “significant disruption to traffic and public transport services.”
 
The video titled ‘Hong Kongese: Please help Hong Kong’ has had more than 400,000 views on YouTube alone, and features Glacier Kwong, a Hong Kong University student, looking straight into the camera as she called on the world to help her country.

“As a Hongkonger standing here in Wan Chai, I ask all of you from all over the world: please help us,” she said.

“You are born with democracy choices and have free election rights, but we don’t. Please help us. Please spread the news all over the world.”

“We are just innocent people like you. We are just trying to protect the people in government house. We don’t want to see any tragedy performing on once safest city on the planet, like those happened in Syria, Ukraine and China. Maybe all of you are born in democracy States, you are born with democratic election, you have free election right, but we don’t.

“We need genuine democracy. We need a popvote on the constitution reform only, nothing more.”


Read more: Hong Kong police use tear gas to disperse thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators

Golf: Europe Wins The Ryder Cup Behind A Star And A Rookie

The tone was set by Rory McIlroy, the best player in the world. The winning shot came from Jamie Donaldson, a Ryder Cup rookie.

Europe added another layer to its Ryder Cup dominance on Sunday by leaving no doubt who had the best team, if not the best players. Behind two early comebacks that showed its resolve, Europe clinched the cup with four matches still on the course.

With a 16½-11½ victory, Europe kept that gold trophy for the eighth time in the last 10 tries.

McIlroy played some of his best golf this year - even for a guy who won the last two majors - by trouncing Rickie Fowler to put the first point on the board. Donaldson finished off the Americans with a 9-iron that settled 18 inches from the cup on the 15th hole at Gleneagles and set off the celebration.

Read more: Europe Wins The Ryder Cup Behind A Star And A Rookie : NPR

9/28/14

The Evil Alliance: ISIS reconciles with al-Qaida group as Syria air strikes continue - by Martin Chulov

The Evil Alliance: ISIS and al-Qaida
Air strikes continued to target Islamic State (Isis) positions near the Kurdish town of Kobani and hubs across north-east Syria on Sunday, as the terror group moved towards a new alliance with Syria’s largest al-Qaida group that could help offset the threat from the air.

Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been at odds with Isis for much of the past year, vowed retaliation for the US-led strikes, the first wave of which a week ago killed scores of its members. Many al-Nusra units in northern Syria appeared to have reconciled with the group, with which it had fought bitterly early this year.

A senior source confirmed that al-Nusra and Isis leaders were now holding war planning meetings. While no deal has yet been formalized, the addition of at least some al-Nusra numbers to Isis would strengthen the group’s ranks and extend its reach at a time when air strikes are crippling its funding sources and slowing its advances in both Syria and Iraq.

Al-Nusra, which has direct ties to al-Qaida’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called the attacks a “war on Islam” in an audio statement posted over the weekend. A senior al-Nusra figure told the Guardian that 73 members had defected to Isis last Friday alone and that scores more were planning to do so in coming days.

“We are in a long war,” al-Nusra’s spokesman, Abu Firas al-Suri, said on social media platforms. “This war will not end in months nor years, this war could last for decades.”

Read more: Isis reconciles with al-Qaida group as Syria air strikes continue | World news | The Guardian

The Canada-EU trade deal: Signed, not sealed

In October last year, Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, flew to Brussels to sign a trade-and-investment deal in principle between Canada and the EU. On September 26th, the two sides announced the close of negotiations. But despite the back-slapping there may still be work to be done. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s economy minister, objected strenuously this week to a clause in the deal that would allow companies to sue governments if they felt their rights had been infringed.

The clause is common in bilateral investment deals and initially attracted little attention in the Canada-EU negotiations. But it has become a flashpoint in another set of trade negotiations, between the EU and the United States. The European Parliament, a range of environmental and civil-society groups, and certain German politicians oppose it because they feel it gives multinational firms too much power in their dealings with government.

During a debate in Germany’s Bundestag about the two sets of EU talks, Mr Gabriel said “it’s completely clear we reject these investment-protection agreements” and that the debate was not over yet. In Ottawa, Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, questioned whether Mr Gabriel was speaking for the German government, saying that all official communications he had received from Germany were “absolutely in favor of this agreement”.

The text of the trade deal must go through a legal review and translation before being presented to the Canadian and European parliaments for ratification. Reopening it now would kill the agreement, according to Karel De Gucht, the European trade commissioner.

It would also be a blow to Mr Harper. The deal goes well beyond the traditional fare of lower tariffs and higher farm quotas. It also makes it easier for companies in both areas to compete for large government contracts, closes gaps in intellectual-property rules, and allows for mutual recognition of some professional certifications.

Note EU-Digest:  any clause in the deal that would allow companies to sue governments if they felt their rights had been infringed must not be accepted by the EU parliament in any way, shape or form.

Read more: The Canada-EU trade deal: Signed, not sealed | The Economist

Britain dodging EU laws and UK taxpayers now face huge bill from EU jobless - by Alison Little

European Union rules require a member state where a foreign worker has paid National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to reimburse the person’s home country for certain benefits, mostly Jobseeker’s Allowance, paid when they return.

Britain insists it will hand over the cash only where the person has paid NICs here for long enough to qualify for the benefits had they stayed in the UK and been unemployed.

But a group of Eastern European countries has signalled they will work together to step up pressure on the UK to bow to a non-legally binding recommendation from an EU committee that states should reimburse each other regardless of their own rules.

The Czech Republic said it was working with Hungary, Slovakia and Poland who all claim Britain owes them millions.

Czech Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Michaela Marksova yesterday  said her country had received just £800,000 from Britain in payments for unemployed returning Czechs when it was owed an estimated £3 million.

In a radio interview she accused UK authorities of dragging their heels and dodging their EU responsibilities.

Read more: UK taxpayers face huge bill from EU jobless who go home | UK | News | Daily Express

Ukraine: Is there a new crack in the West’s sanctions regime against Russia? by William E. Pomeranz

President Barack Obama’s speech at the United Nations Wednesday offered to roll back the U.S. sanctions if Russia takes the “path of diplomacy and peace.” This overture comes on the heels of an emerging ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine and continuing discussions in Minsk to find a political solution to the turmoil in eastern Ukraine.

Obama’s U.N. speech, however, opens up the possibility of creating some daylight between the United States and the EU sanction programs. The European Union remains openly divided over the current sanctions — and far more economically bruised than the United States.

So even though Obama continues to talk tough on Ukraine, his offer of yet another “off ramp” runs the risk of being seized not just by Russian President Vladimir Putin but also by the EU.

What are the actual prospects for removing U.S. and EU sanctions? This question remains central to the international business community and to the broader resolution of the Ukrainian crisis.

Read more: Is there a new crack in the West’s sanctions regime against Russia? | The Great Debate

China - EU: Chinese FM, EU foreign policy chief meet on closer strategic partnership - by Ren Zhongxi

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met here Friday with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on the sidelines of the annual high-level debate of the UN General Assembly.

During their talks, Wang said that the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, which has laid a solid foundation and opened a bright prospect for the development of bilateral ties, ushers in a second decade this year.

During a trip to Europe in March this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping and European leaders decided to deepen their partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilization, which has charted the course for the future development of China-EU ties, said Wang.

China and the EU need to accumulate mutual trust and strengthen cooperation on the basis of mutual respect so as to further advance their comprehensive strategic partnership, said the Chinese foreign minister.

For her part, Ashton said that the EU-China relationship, which has made rapid progress over the past 10 years, enjoys great potential for further development.

Read more: Chinese FM, EU foreign policy chief meet on closer strategic partnership - CCTV News - CCTV.com English

9/27/14

Internet: The Debate Over Net Neutrality Has Its Roots in the Fight Over Radio Freedom

t’s almost hard to remember now, but the early years of the Internet were a carnival of crazy, chaotic amateurs.

When the web first went mainstream in the mid-’90s, the early sites weren’t big, glossy ones created by corporations. They were strange, offbeat ones crafted by individuals: diarists posting diaries, video-game fans creating encyclopedias of old arcade titles and discussion boards teeming with “X-Files” arguments.

Indeed, commercial activity was suspect, and anyone trying to make a buck online was shunned. When the lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel spammed newsgroups with a text-only ad for their green-card services, the outcry was so loud their Internet provider canceled their connection. The Internet, aficionados proclaimed, would always be a Wild West—amateur and proudly uncommercial.

This was naive, of course. By the early 2000s, commercial activity and huge firms boomed, as retailers like Amazon exploded in size and “netizens” began streaming video from services like YouTube and eventually Netflix and Hulu.

Today, it’s the little guy who looks to be in danger. The Internet service providers—like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T—have long pushed to create “speed lanes” online. If you run a website and want to make sure your connection moves swiftly to the end user, you’d need to pay these companies an extra fee.

If you don’t pay? Your signal might not move as fast as you’d like. The Federal Communications Commission this spring drafted rules that would allow for fast and slow lanes. If they take effect, it would be the end of “net neutrality,” and critics worry it would spell doom for amateurs online. Sure, established sites like YouTube or Facebook could pay those fees. But quirky little upstart websites—or even nonprofits like Wikipedia—couldn’t.

If amateurs really do get squeezed out, it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen this happen. Precisely the same thing happened a century ago to the original “people’s medium”: radio.

The idea of transmitting sound waves through the air caught on especially after the experiments of the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi in the late 19th century. The technology wasn’t complicated, and by the first decade of the 20th century, American tinkerers began building their own sets to transmit and receive radio signals. With relatively small amounts of power, someone at home could broadcast for dozens of miles.

Magazines printed schematics. “Any boy can own a real wireless station, if he really wants to,” urged The Book of Wireless.

Stations popped up everywhere—run in churches, fire departments and even businesses, when the owner bought a transmitter and started talking into the ether. Much like the first bloggers, early radio adopters were thrilled that they could reach a distant audience. They needed a new word for this; as Columbia law professor Tim Wu notes, they settled on “broadcasting,” which originally meant casting seeds in a field. “This was the first time in the history of mankind that people in different places heard the same thing at the same time,” notes Anthony Rudel, author of Hello, Everybody! The Dawn of American Radio.
Read more: The Debate Over Net Neutrality Has Its Roots in the Fight Over Radio Freedom | Innovation | Smithsonian

EU brainstorm ways of bringing billions of euro into its ailing economy

he European Union tried to find ways on Saturday to bring billions of euro into its slow economy without falling deeper into debt. Possible options include the creation of a pan-European capital market and a joint EU fund worth €700 billion.

The EU’s economy is still struggling to recover from the worst financial crisis in a generation. The EU economy grew by just 0.1% last year and around 25 million EU citizens are unemployed, almost double as many as in the United States.

EU finance ministers have asked the European Commission, the EU executive, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to come up with a range of projects that would create growth.

“We have given a mandate to the Commission and the EIB to swiftly present an initial report on practical measures that can be taken, on profitable investment projects,” Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said.

European ministers are expected to discuss the projects and possible ways of financing them during a meeting in Luxembourg in October.

There are as yet no details on the actual projects. However, finance ministers discussed four proposals as to how to finance them.

Italy proposed a ‘pan-European market’ which will allow smaller companies to raise capital. This would be part of a new EU capital-marking union, expanding on the eurozone banking union.

Poland proposed creating a joint EU fund worth €700 billion that would be able to finance through leveraging its own capital. The fund would be under the umbrella of the European Investment Bank, the bank owned by European governments.

A French-German paper proposed boosting private investments, while incoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for a  €300 billion investment program.

Read more: EU brainstorm ways of bringing billions of euro into its ailing economy - MaltaToday.com.mt

Ukraine: Russian foreign minister slams U.S., NATO; blames Ukraine crisis on Western-backed coup - by Steven R. Hurst

The Russian foreign minister issued a blistering attack on the West and NATO on Saturday, accusing them of being unable to change their Cold War “genetic code” and saying the United States must abandon its claims to “eternal uniqueness.”

Sergey Lavrov’s assault appeared to be an extension of the increasingly anti-Western stance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is riding a wave of popularity at home with his neo-nationalist rhetoric and policies

Read more: Russian foreign minister slams U.S., NATO; blames Ukraine crisis on Western-backed coup - The Globe and Mail

Middle East- ISIS : Arab nations join Syria strikes as Nusra front threatens retaliation

As British jets took off from Cyprus to carry out strikes on Islamic State (Isis) targets in Iraq on Saturday, and US-led strikes continued in Syria and Iraq, President Barack Obama used his weekly address to say American leadership was “the one constant in an uncertain world”.

Later on Saturday an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria, the Nusra Front, vowed to retaliate against countries taking part in the air strikes.

Obama said “America is leading the world in the fight to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group” known as Isis, and aded: “I made it clear that America would act as part of a broad coalition, and we were joined in this action by friends and partners, including Arab nations.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Department of Defence released a statement regarding the participants in and targets of the latest strikes, which said Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates had participated in strikes on Syria.

The statement said: “US and partner nation military forces continued to attack Isis terrorists in Syria Friday and today, using fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes. Separately, US military forces used attack aircraft to conduct three airstrikes against Isis in Iraq.”

Note EU-Digest: compliments to President Barack Obama for including Arab States in the assault on ISIS.

Read more: Arab nations join Syria strikes as Nusra front threatens retaliation | World news | theguardian.com

9/26/14

ISIS: German Weapons Arrive in Erbil, With Minister in Tow

A cargo plane carrying the first delivery of high-tech German weapons arrived in Erbil today, ready to boost Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Islamic State militants.

"We assure you that we are beside you to tackle this crisis," German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani at a press conference.

“It is clear that a lot of support has arrived but more is needed,” she added.

The minister landed in Erbil shortly after a plane full of German-made military goods, a second tranche that is designed to outfit a 4,000 soldier brigade. The first delivery of non-lethal goods arrived earlier this month.

The plane's cargo includes 520 G3 assault rifles, 20 heavy machine guns, 50 anti-tank rockets, protective eyewear, and medical equipment. Subsequent deliveries are expected in October, with the total value estimated at $89 million.

The weapons are part of an international effort to equip and train an under-armed Peshmerga force which found itself outgunned by Islamic State (IS or ISIS) forces, particularly before the United States intervened in the conflict with airstrikes that began last month.

Read more: German Weapons Arrive in Erbil, With Minister in Tow

US warning tourists proves Turkey's ISIS concerns

As Turkish foreign experts stress that Turkey's involvement in the armed coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) may put the country under the risk of possible attacks by ISIS insurgents, the U.S. yesterday warned its citizens in Turkey to be extra vigilant over the risk of attacks by militants after it launched airstrikes against ISIS fighters in neighboring Syria.

Experts have continuously emphasized that among all countries taking part in the anti-ISIS coalition, Turkey is the only one living with the reality of the ISIS threat in terms of its geographical position and foreign policy in the Middle East.

Read more: US warning tourists proves Turkey's ISIS concerns | Politics | Daily Sabah

Soccer UEFA: Iceland v Netherlands background

Iceland will try to follow up the 3-0 win over Turkey in their qualifying Group A opener with another famous victory when the Netherlands visit Reykjavik on 13 October

Read more: Iceland v Netherlands background - UEFA EURO - News - UEFA.com

9/25/14

Why Turkey is reluctant to join U.S-led coalition against ISIS

The launch of airstrikes in Syria by a U.S.-led coalition as part of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has placed Turkey in a delicate position of needing to thwart the militant group's growing threat while not wanting to raise its ire and face retribution.

"It`s obviously very careful on how it handles ISIS," said Didem Ackyel Collinsworth, the International Crisis Group's senior analyst for Turkey. "In terms of signing on to the coalition and taking part in airstrikes and so on, [it] would be very cautious about that."

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was considering expanding support for Western and Arab operations against the Islamic State group to include everything, "both military and political."

The remarks signalled a possible shift by Erdogan, who has so far not committed to a U.S.-led coalition to take on the militants.

"Nations like Turkey have their own clear, vested personal interest in confronting the threat that's posed by ISIL,"

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said recently, referring to the Islamic State by one of its many acronyms. "All of the mayhem and havoc that ISIL is wreaking in Iraq and in Syria is right on Turkey's doorstep. And it's certainly not in their interest for all that instability and violence to be occurring so close to their border."

Read more: Why Turkey is reluctant to join U.S-led coalition against ISIS - World - CBC News

Netherlands: Dutch troops told don't wear uniform on bus, train

The Dutch Defense Ministry is advising military personnel not to wear their uniforms on public transport, as fears mount that the country could be targeted by radical Muslims.

Spokeswoman Marloes Visser said Thursday the decision was taken Wednesday evening — around the time that the government announced it will send six F-16 fighter jets to launch air strikes on the Islamic State terror group.

Announcing the deployment, Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher acknowledged that the Dutch role in the fight against Islamic State brings risks.

Asscher said: "The Netherlands will gain a higher profile among jihadis. We are ready."

The terror threat level in the Netherlands is currently "substantial," the second highest of four levels used by the country's anti-terror coordinator.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/09/25/3393293/dutch-troops-told-dont-wear-uniform.html?sp=/99/1640/#storylink=cpy

EU-Digest

Air Strikes Against Islamic State Involve Dance With Assad- by Melissa Block NPR

As U.S. airstrikes continue against the so-called Islamic State in Syria, one question is will those strikes end up helping the regime of Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad - the regime that for several years now the Obama administration has said must go. To talk about that, I'm joined by Andrew Tabler. He specializes in Syria at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Andrew, welcome back to the program.

For complete report click here: Air Strikes Against Islamic State Involve Dance With Assad : NPR

EU: Poll shows 70% polled want citizenship of European ISIS sympathizers revoked

In a recent EU-Digest Poll 70 % of those polled want citizenship of European ISIS sympathizers revoked, while 20% want it revoked following legal extradition procedure, while 10% wanted to do nothing.

In our new poll the following question is asked : "Which country in your opinion is presently the principal conduit for ISIS supplies and finances recognizing that ISIS is a direct result of earlier Western efforts to bring down the Assad Regime in Syria, whereby not only exiled opposition but also Jihadist and splinter terrorist organizations were provided with weapons and financing ? "

1) Iran
2) Saudi Arabia
3) Turkey
4) Qatar


EU-Digest

ISIS: Britain, Belgium and Netherlands to debate in Parliament joining airstrikes on Iraq

The British, Dutch and Belgian parliaments are to consider proposals to join the US-led coalition’s airstrikes on Iraq, according to reports.

Sources in the British prime minister’s office said the UK’s parliament would be recalled from its summer recess on Friday in order to vote on the issue, the BBC reported.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi is expected to issue a formal request for British assistance while at the UN on Wednesday.

In an interview with the American NBC News earlier this week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was one “you cannot opt out of.”

“It has oil, it has money, it has territory, it has weapons and there’s no doubt in my mind it has already undertaken and is planning further plots in Europe and elsewhere,” he added.

Although Cameron has previously hinted that he does not consider the Syrian government “legitimate,” the BBC also reported that any parliamentary vote would be authorizing military action in Iraq but not Syria, because of fears about the legality of such a move and opposition from the Labour Party.

A parliamentary motion to approve military action against the Syrian government failed last year amid opposition from Labour—the official opposition—and from within Cameron’s own Conservative Party.

A US-led coalition encompassing Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan carried out airstrikes against ISIS targets on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In Iraq, American jets have been bombing ISIS targets since August, and were recently joined by French warplanes.

In addition to France, the Australian government recently announced it was sending warplanes to the UAE in preparation for joining the US in strikes against ISIS in Iraq.

Also on Wednesday, the Dutch and Belgian governments said they would consider sending air force jets to assist in the US strikes in Iraq.

The Dutch news agency ANP announced on Wednesday that the government of the Netherlands is to consider sending a small number of combat jets to the region to join in the campaign against ISIS.

The same day, the Belgian Ministry of Defense confirmed it had received a request for assistance from the US, and would prepare a plan to send six F-16 fighters to join US efforts. The move would need approval from the Belgian parliament and is expected to be granted later this week.

Read more: Britain, Belgium and Netherlands to debate joining airstrikes on Iraq « ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

9/24/14

Aircraft Industry: Airbus Sees $4.6 Trillion Jet Market as China Tops U.S. - by Christopher Jasper and Andrea Rothman

Airbus A380
Airbus Group NV predicted airlines will buy planes worth $4.6 trillion at list prices over the next 20 years, with Chinese domestic travel surpassing the U.S. as the largest single aviation market within a decade.
Airlines will need 31,400 new jetliners and freighters during the period -- 2,180 or 7 percent more than suggested in Airbus’s previous 20-year forecast a year ago -- with passenger growth remaining at 4.7 percent annually, the company estimates.

John Leahy, Airbus’s sales chief, said in an interview that the company could contemplate lifting production of its single-aisle A320 series to 50 aircraft a month or higher, though no decision will be taken until 2015. The new forecast assumes that the A380 superjumbo will win more than half the market for very large aircraft, where it competes with Boeing Co. (BA)’s latest 747, and that production can continue at 30 a year, he added.

“While mature aviation regions such as Europe and North America will continue to grow, Asia will stand out along with emerging markets for dynamic development,” said Leahy, who is also Airbus’s chief commercial officer. Demand will be especially strong for twin-engine wide-bodies, especially in 2017 through 2022, and the company is studying increased output of the new A350 and a faster ramp-up to full production of the re-engined A330neo, with decisions likely next year, he said.

Read more: Airbus Sees $4.6 Trillion Jet Market as China Tops U.S. - Bloomberg

The EU’s GDP Is Bigger Than Thought — But Hold the Bubbly - by Gabriele Steinhauser

On Oct. 17, the European Union will get some good news: That day, the bloc’s statistics office will announce that the EU economy is actually around 2.5% bigger than previously thought.

But don’t break out the bubbly just yet. The expected boost in gross domestic product — based on early estimates from Eurostat — is the result of changes to the way the EU calculates national accounts, rather than an actual uptick in economic activity. Eurostat says the new accounting system, known as ESA 2010, will give a more accurate picture of what gets produced, spent and invested within the 28-country bloc.

The most significant change under ESA 2010 is that spending on research and development — whether by companies or the government — will be counted as an investment that creates value, or assets, for the future, just like spending on new machinery or infrastructure. Previously, this was recorded as “intermediate consumption” meaning it was deemed to be consumed at the end of each year or quarter.

Eurostat says the new treatment of R&D alone will lift EU GDP by around 1.9% and the changes vary widely from country to country. Finland, for instance, has said that the capitalization of R&D spending would increase its 2011 GDP by 3.7%, while countries such as Poland and Hungary expect little change.

Another boost to GDP figures will come from a similar change in the treatment of military expenditure, which will also be viewed as an investment for the future. “Military vessels are not ‘consumed’ at the end of their first year (except if sunk at war!). These types of weapon systems can be used over many years,” explains Eurostat. Military investment is expected to increase EU GDP by about 0.1%.

Along with the implementation of ESA 2010, many EU states are also updating the way they calculate contributions to GDP from illicit activities — ranging from drug sales, to prostitution, to the plumber paid under the table. The U.K. has said its 2009 GDP would have been £10 billion higher had those activities been included, although Eurostat insists that in most countries these changes won’t make much of an impact.

Read more: The EU’s GDP Is Bigger Than Thought — But Hold the Bubbly - Real Time Brussels - WSJ

Syria - ISIS: US officials believe Terrorist Muhsin al-Fadhli died in Syria airstrikes - by John Hall

Airstrikes in northern Syria killed the 'world's most wanted terrorist' before his band of Islamist militants were able to carry out deadly 'toothpaste tube bomb attacks' on the U.S. and Europe, American officials believe.

Muhsin al-Fadhl, 33, was identified as the leader of the Al Qaeda-affiliated Khorasan Group - a radical terror collective specializing in intercepting Western jihadists on their arrival in Syria, and training them to carry out deadly bomb attacks on targets in their home nations.

As well as an American and Arab coalition hitting targets relating to ISIS militants in Syria yesterday, the U.S. air force also independently struck Khorasan as intelligence suggested the group were nearing ‘the execution phase’ of a terror atrocity against a Western target that could have rivalled 9/11.

Details of the alleged death of al-Fadhl emerged this afternoon from a U.S. military official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Despite his relatively young age, the Kuwait-born militant was an Al Qaeda veteran; joining the terror group as a teenager and becoming so close to its leadership that he was among a select few with prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks in America, despite having only just turned 20 at the time.

News of Muhsin al-Fadhl's alleged death comes as a fresh wave of airstrikes hit ISIS-held territory close to Syria's border with Turkey overnight.

Read more: US officials believe Muhsin al-Fadhli died in Syria airstrikes | Daily Mail Online

9/23/14

Germany: Opening Weekend of Oktoberfest 2014 - by Alan Taylor

Oktoberfest
One million steins of beer were consumed over the weekend, organizers say, as tourists and locals kicked off the 181st Oktoberfest.

The Bavarian beer festival, held on Munich's Theresienwiese, lasts 16 days and will welcome more than six million visitors from around the world.

This year, the average price of a mug of beer at any of the tents this year comes to €10.67 ($13.70 U.S.). Gathered here are some of the scenes from the opening weekend of Oktoberfest 2014.

Read more: Opening Weekend of Oktoberfest 2014 - In Focus - The Atlantic

The Netherlands: Google Goes Dutch With $770M Data Center

has announced plans to build a new data centre in Europe, this time in Eemshaven, a seaport in the Netherlands.

The internet giant says it has put aside €600 million ($772 million) to build the new data centre, and will be its fourth location in Europe after Finland, Belgium and Ireland. Google currently has more than 10 data centres across the Americas, Europe and Asia. Indeed, its first two Asian data centres opened just last year, in Taiwan and Singapore.

Google says the new facility will create more than 1,000 jobs, with a view towards starting “initial opertions” in the first half of 2016 before becoming fully operational by the latter part of 2017.

Google actually already uses a rented data centre in Eemshaven, which it says will continue to operate after the launch of its new incarnation.

Read more: Google Goes Dutch With $770M Data Centre

USA: The Reluctant Loner President Builds a Coalition and Goes After Terrorists Across Syria - by Jeffry Goldberg

So, the reluctant, hesitant, wan, diffident loner US president somehow managed to pull together a potent Arab coalition and launch an air war against extremists of the Islamic State terror group on their home turf. Very surprising, given his reputation.

Defying expectations is one thing; winning a war in which victory has not yet been adequately defined is another. And yet, President Obama has taken the first, significant steps to at least slow, and possibly reverse, ISIS's expansion.

Four quick, early morning observations (to be followed by more, I hope):

1. The Arabs of the Gulf (Arabian Gulf, Persian Gulf, take your pick) have overcome their fear of Obama's irresolution and joined him publicly in this campaign. This has happened for two reasons: One, Obama made a convincing case to U.S. allies that he's in the ISIS fight for the long-term. The Gulf Arabs are exposed, almost existentially so, to the ISIS threat, so they obviously feel that the U.S. is not pivoting away from them (to borrow a term). The second reason is embedded in the first reason: the president was pushing on an open door. Precisely because the Arab states fear ISIS so much, they needed to take a bit of a leap of faith with a man they haven't trusted since the "red line" crisis of last year. That said, Obama's critics will attempt to downplay his achievement in building this coalition. They shouldn't. Getting this set of countries to act in their own defense has never been an easy task.

2. It is true that there exists no strategy for victory, and no definition of victory. The advantage of launching strikes against ISIS positions early in this fight is that its commanders now have to spend extraordinary amounts of time, energy, and resources merely digging in, and protecting their human and materiel assets, rather than pushing on toward Baghdad, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. A terrorist preoccupied with his own survival has less bandwidth to threaten yours. But these strikes will not bring about the end of ISIS. Like other terror groups, it can "win" this current round of fighting by surviving, and maximizing civilian casualties on its own side.

3. This struggle is now owned by the United States. President Obama has spread around the risk, but make no mistake, this is an American fight. If President Obama wasn't convinced that the U.S. is—and should be—the world's sole remaining superpower, he is now. Our reluctant president came to the conclusion that it would be insane for the civilized world to allow the barbarians of ISIS to overspread the Middle East. He looked around, and realized that the only country that could lead the anti-ISIS campaign was his. He's right, alas, and this leadership has a cost. ISIS was mainly interested, for the moment, at least, in securing its own borders, and building the infrastructure of a state. I have a feeling its long-term planners woke up this morning newly interested in finding ways to hurt Americans.

4. This American-led campaign isn't unalloyed good news for Bashar al-Assad. ISIS has been, in practical terms, his best friend this past year. The threat of ISIS caused numerous anti-Assad parties to think twice about calling for his removal. And ISIS did a great job on Assad's behalf of eliminating the more moderate Syrian opposition. Nevertheless, American bombs are falling in Syria, and they're not falling on Assad. Very few people a year ago could have predicted this.

Read more: The Reluctant Loner President Builds a Coalition and Goes After Terrorists Across Syria - The Atlantic

Syria: The 7 Countries America Has Bombed Since 9/11 - by Adam Pasick

The U.S. began airstrikes in Syria on Monday, fulfilling President Barack Obama’s vow to “degrade and destroy” the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State. The Pentagon said it deployed bombers, fighters, and cruise missiles against ISIS forces within Syria, and a U.S. defense official told ABC News that “several Arab nations” are also involved in the operation.

The military operations within Syria bring the total number of countries targeted by U.S. airstrikes since September 11, 2001—either by conventional planes and missiles, or by armed drones—to seven.

In addition to Syria they include: the long-running U.S. military campaigns in Iraq (which has now been bombed by four consecutive U.S. presidential administrations, dating back to 1991) and Afghanistan; drone attacks on Islamist militant groups in Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan; and NATO-led operations against ousted Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi.

Read more: The 7 Countries America Has Bombed Since 9/11 - The Atlantic

Scotland: The Morning After The Night Before - by Henning Meyer

So, the decision is taken! After a frantic final period of campaigning Scottish voters eventually declined the offer of independence and opted to stay part of the United Kingdom. In the end, the result was not as close as the polls leading up to yesterday’s ballot suggested.

But in terms of politics, this is certainly not the end. It might be the end of the beginning but nothing more. Without a doubt, this result has been a damning verdict on the whole Westminster political class, that is increasingly perceived as detached from the live of people on the ground – not just a problem in the UK by the way.

The Conservatives have not had much stake in Scotland in recent decades but for the Labour Party this result should lead to some serious rethinking. The majoritarian electoral system has led to Labour designing policies for the swing voters in Middle England, taking support in the North of England and Scotland for granted. Where else would voters go?

This result has clearly shown that under the surface political support has seriously eroded and disillusionment has set in. People did not believe Ed Miliband when he said that the next Labour government, if elected, would implement the kind of policies the majority of Scottish people favour. Scots felt that they did this already and Labour did not deliver. This is a major problem for Labour!

The ‘no’ campaign, in their panicked last week of campaigning, has made comprehensive promises of power transfers to Scotland that they now have to deliver on. This constitutional reform will not just change the way Scotland is governed but will also lead to major changes for Wales, Northern Ireland and England’s regions and cities.

This reform package will have to be ambitious and it is very doubtful – to say the least – that the UK government can deliver such a package in a few weeks as seems to be suggested. Constitutional issues such as the West Lothian question and the English question have not been resolved in more than a decade, so how can they now suddenly be resolved so quickly? You can watch below what David Cameron had to say about the result and constitutional reform this morning.

Read more: Scotland: The Morning After The Night Before

9/22/14

Middle East Chaos: Egyptian Pres says Qatar & Turkey Inciting Chaos In Middle East

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said two of the leading state-sponsors of the Muslim Brotherhood terror group -- Qatar and Turkey -- have unloaded millions of dollars in expenditures to incite upheaval in the Middle East.

“Qatar, Turkey and the international organization of the Brotherhood are currently establishing many companies, newspapers, and websites. They allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to spread chaos among the Arab nation, destabilizing Egypt and destroying the Egyptians,” Sisi said in a meeting with Egyptian newspaper heads.

Sisi talked about the role Egypt must have in ensuring the security of a Palestinian state. The Egyptian president has been a consistent critic of terror group Hamas -- the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood -- in its governance of the Gaza Strip.

Sisi also denied reports that his country, along with the UAE, was involved in strikes against Islamist entities in neighboring Libya. “Our forces are stationed inside our territories,” he claimed.

US officials said Tuesday that both Egypt and the UAE had secretly conducted air raids inside Libya against Islamist radicals. The officials were upset that the US had no advance notice of the air attack carried out by the two Middle East allies. Some have suspected the two states did not want to inform the US because of souring relations with the Obama administration.

The US said in a joint statement with the UK, France, Germany, and Italy: “outside interference in Libya exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition.”

Newly minted UN envoy to libya, Bernardino Leon, said in a statement, “Any kind of intervention or foreign intervention won’t help Libya get out of chaos.”

Note EU-Digest: Whatever way one looks at the Middle East today there is no apparent framework for cooperation among the Nation States in the region and the EU better develop its own contingency plans and objectives based on EU long-term policies instead of blindly following the lead of the US in this respect

Read more: Egyptian Pres says Qatar & Turkey Inciting Chaos In Middle East

Middle East Chaos: US/Israel-Created Middle East Tensions - by Norman Pollack

World power is becoming crowded at the top. And neither the military establishment nor the national-security advisers, working together in harmony (a Military-Executive aggrandizement of power), is oriented/dedicated to other than war, and quite simplistic in their respective planning for its fighting, so that the current turmoil in the Middle East should not be surprising. “Blowback” is not descriptively sufficient; US/Israel jointly have created a seething cauldron, the possible locus for WWIII, particularly because the region—despite oil reserves—is only a pawn, an immediate sphere of influence, in the main theater of confrontation.

America prioritizes Russia and China singly and together as Evil Incarnate, each to be contained, isolated, drastically weakened, Islamic militancy now and in future the sideshow, distraction, indeed pretext, for the full militarization of American society in going after bigger game. Syria and Ukraine are identified as geostrategic opportunities having sequential import, under the cover of antiterrorism placing decisive military “assets” in closer proximity to the Enemy. First, ISIS (today the New York Times announces that there are still darker forces than ISIS waiting to strike America) and, perhaps under the guise of “mission creep,” for which the public has been prepared already, then the maneuvering and jostling to set up the wider staging ground… at the risk of nuclear war.

The New York Times editorial, “The Unlikeliest of Coalitions,” (Sept. 20), credits the implosive character of the region, but—as usual—without seeking underlying causes, rather, the Editorial Board head down, plunging ahead to solidifying a coalition conducive to achieving American goals. Yet, even these goals, degrading and destroying ISIS, mean, once accomplished, a return to business-as-usual, protection of the Homeland having wider implications, the perceived Ultimate Showdown, local skirmishes giving way to head-to-head confrontation. Here the Ukraine crisis has been useful both in the demonization of Putin and Russia and the hoped for solidification of EU-NATO as “friends and allies” in the greater struggle for freedom and democracy.



Read more: US/Israel-Created Middle East Tensions » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Ukraine, rebels begin withdrawing artillery from buffer zone following agreement

Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels have begun withdrawing heavy artillery in the east of the country, Ukrainian officials said Monday, a significant step toward implementing an effective cease-fire in the region.

Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said Kiev's forces had started withdrawing from frontline positions. He said the rebels had also begun their withdrawal of heavy artillery, although it was "not as massive as we expected."

"We are seeing a trend that (the rebels) are reducing their use of heavy armed weaponry," Lysenko told journalists in Kiev. He said neither Kiev nor the rebels had completed their withdrawals, but said he hoped the rebels "will follow the example of the Ukrainian servicemen."

A cease-fire imposed Sept. 5 has been riddled by violations from the start, adding civilian casualties to the estimated 3,000 people who have been killed since the conflict began in April. On Monday, smoke rose over a neighborhood in the north of the rebel-held city of Donetsk, where fighting in recent weeks centered on a government-held airport has caught many residential areas in the crossfire.

Lysenko said two Ukrainian servicemen had been killed in the past day.

Last week, an agreement was signed to further the peace process, calling for both sides to halt advances and pull back heavy artillery, creating a buffer zone between them.

The deal was reached in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Saturday by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Moscow-backed rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Read more: Ukraine, rebels begin withdrawing artillery from buffer zone | Al Jazeera America

EU Economy: Visco Says ECB May Not Need to Add Stimulus Amid Euro - by Jana Randow Decline

The European Central Bank may not need to add stimulus measures after steps in the past three months pushed down the euro, said Governing Council member Ignazio Visco.

“Inflation expectations have to be back where they were,” Visco said Sept. 20 in an interview in Cairns, Australia, where he attended a meeting of Group of 20 finance chiefs. “This doesn’t mean that there will be a next step. We have been bold enough to reduce interest rates to a level that was unexpected to the market.”

The single currency has dropped about 6 percent since early June, when the ECB introduced a negative interest rate on excess reserves and presented a four-year lending program to fuel credit. Policy makers reduced borrowing costs further earlier this month and committed to buying asset-backed securities and covered bonds to boost the ECB’s balance sheet by as much as 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion).

Read more: Visco Says ECB May Not Need to Add Stimulus Amid Euro Decline - Bloomberg

Global Economy: Is Africa's rise for real this time? - by Vivienne Walt

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ7IQpDBZM3VgX4FQxp0ZGtPaMNON1QZo3-UU0ftl7JLCdX_gdtIts economics are surging, and foreign investment is exploding. The challenges—including Ebola—are immense. But the continent may finally be ready to deliver on its promise.

In the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, Irwin Barkan, a shopping-mall developer, was idling at home in rural Vermont with not a single project on his books when he fired up his computer and found an email from Morley Gordon. Gordon, his best friend’s son, whom he had known since Gordon was an infant, was traveling around Africa as a consultant for U.S. businesses. “Uncle Irwin,” Gordon wrote, “you should look at doing commercial real estate in Africa.” Barkan’s Boston-based company, I.J. Barkan Inc., had been developing shopping centers since 1984. But the deep recession had pummeled his industry and left the business Barkan ran with his wife, Lindsay, “dead in the water,” he says.

Still, Africa seemed a stretch. “I’d never been to Africa,” says Barkan, 63, over beers at an outdoor jazz club one steaming tropical night in Accra, the capital city of Ghana in West Africa. “I thought about Africa like a lot of American businessmen: like the jungle.” Africa remained unfathomable to Barkan until 2011, when—still languishing in forced retirement—he happened to read one morning that his longtime tenant Wal-Mart, whose first New England stores had opened in Barkan’s developments in the 1980s, was paying $2.4 billion for a controlling stake in Africa’s biggest retail giant, Massmart Holdings, and that the No. 1 company in the Fortune 500 was now aiming for a slice of the continent’s exploding consumer market.

It was Barkan’s eureka moment. “That was it,” he says. “I said, ‘We gotta go to Africa.’ ” He and Gordon pored over maps, looking for the best place to scout for prospects. They decided to take a two-week trip to Ghana, where the Dallas company Kosmos Energy had announced big offshore oil finds and where the economy was growing and people spoke English. To Barkan’s astonishment, they found several business possibilities within days of landing. “I’d come from four years of depression in the U.S., where everybody was worried and unhappy all the time,” he says. “I came home and knew Africa was where my future was.”

Read more: Is Africa's rise for real this time?

Shipping and the Global Economy: An economic indicator that floats - by Anne VanderMey

Containership
The economy is recovering, Right? Look at the latest government data, and it’s not entirely clear.

The Labor Department in September reported disappointing growth in employment, but other surveys for the same period said the labor market was strong. Similarly, GDP declined an alarming 2% in the first quarter, but the report was so full of statistical noise that the market mostly ignored it. In the following quarter it beat estimates, but no one’s exactly sure whether that’s because of genuine economic gains or something else—for example, the weather improved.

Economic forecasting is a fraught process. Numbers lie, signals are mixed, and even the most widely accepted measures of economic health can often be misleading. So are there any metrics out there that can float above the fray? Try shipping.

For years economists have been tracking global maritime trade for information not just on the health of the global economy but on how it’s evolving and where it’s headed. Shipping makes up the lifeblood of global markets. Nearly 90% of goods traded across borders were transported by sea during at least some part of their journey to your shopping cart.

“I see GDP growth as the surface,” says Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO, the world’s largest international shipping association. “Global trade in goods is a vital indicator for gaining insight beyond the surface.”

And what does shipping tell us about the state of the economy today? While there’s not yet overwhelming data, some nascent signals indicate that things could be looking up.

In April the World Trade Organization revised upward its earlier estimates for growth in global trade, pegging it at a 4.7% increase this year. That’s more than double the rate of last year. And in August shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk’s stock soared after releasing a standout earnings report. Because Maersk moves such a large portion of global goods, some 15% of all containerized trade, the $58 billion company is seen as a market bellwether. In the second quarter it reported an unexpectedly strong 6.6% increase in container volume.

Despite the encouraging initial signs shipping offers, Doug Mavrinac, a managing director at Jefferies, says he’s still waiting on the industry to offer concrete evidence of a comeback. In particular, he’s watching throughputs at ports for longer-lasting gains than have occurred so far. Once imports really start to pick up, he says, that will be a leading indicator, but it hasn’t happened yet. Eventually, maybe as soon as 2016, supply will come back under control too, leading to an increase in prices. And then, just maybe, the Baltic Dry Index will be worth looking at again.

Read more: An economic indicator that floats

9/21/14

NEWS REPORTS IN ENGLISH: Tired of listening and watching sensational, bias and overrated News TV Channels?

Check out Aljazeera, BBC, Euronews, France24 for objective news reporting - watch or listen to them on your tv, computer or download their Apps for your smartphone.

EU-Digest

Netherlands: Dutch ambassador to the US talks trade in visit to Portland, Maine - by Seth Koenig

More aggressive promotion of Maine tourism and lobster on an international scale can open the doors to more diverse economic activity, a top European diplomat suggested Tuesday.

Rudolph Simon Bekink, ambassador to the U.S. for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, told an audience at the Portland office of the law firm Preti Flaherty on Tuesday afternoon that Maine can still do more to capitalize on its trademark seafood and vacation offerings on the international market.

And doing so can introduce influential people to all that Maine has to offer, he suggested. After all, that’s what brought him here. Bekink began vacationing in Maine in the 1980s, and now has a second home in Scarborough, where he plans to retire next year.“It’s so beautiful here,” he said. 

“The Dutch are probably the logistics kings of the world in terms of the import and export business,” said Janine Cary, director of the Maine International Trade Center. “Even if it starts on the tourism side or the logistics side, it can expand out into more economic activity.”

Cary said the Westbrook-based IDEXX Laboratories, one of Maine’s largest employers, is one example of that. Founder David Shaw loved Maine and wanted to live here when he established his business, she said.

While Maine seeks to attract business leaders with its natural beauty, Bekink said federal, state and city officials should build up the infrastructure necessary to support their companies should those people begin thinking of relocating here permanently.

Much progress is being made through the return of container shipping out of Portland’s International Marine Terminal, where the Icelandic firm Eimskip has been operating for more than a year now.

But Cary, whose organization partnered with Preti Flaherty to hold the after-lunch talk, said more infrastructure changes must be

Read more: Dutch ambassador to the US talks trade in visit to Portland — Portland — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

EU-US Trade Negotiations: Trade deal could benefit state of Maine - by Whit Richardson

Maine could realize significant benefits from a free-trade agreement the United States is negotiating with the European Union, according to a high-ranking British diplomat who spoke in Portland on Thursday morning.

While the U.S. and EU economies are already relatively open, deals that further reduce trade barriers present real opportunities to increase Maine exports and create jobs, according to Rosalind Campion, counselor for global issues at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“It’s much easier to do business with Europe than it is in many other parts of the world,” Campion said. “But that also means relatively small changes can deliver really big gains. You reduce one tariff line and that affects a huge range of companies and a huge range of individuals who are then able to get their goods traded.”

Wood and paper products is the sector that could realize the greatest gains, boosting exports by $54 million by 2027. The study also lists projected export increases of chemicals ($40 million), transportation equipment ($32 million) and other machinery ($16 million).

Maine House Rep. Sharon Treat, a Democrat from Hallowell and member of the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission said she worries that the TTIP would threaten Maine’s sovereignty by allowing a multinational trade agreement to trump state law. That would create challenges to legislators who may want to pass laws concerning safety and product standards in Maine, such as a ban on baby products made with the chemical bisphenol A.

Negotiations on TTIP are expected to continue with the seventh summit, to be held the week of Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C.

EU-Digest

Pollution: China drives world carbon emissions to record high - by Alister Doyle

World carbon dioxide emissions will hit a record high this year, driven by China’s growth and keeping the world far off track from the deep cuts needed to limit climate change, a study said on Sunday.

More than half of proven fossil fuel reserves may have to stay in the ground if governments are serious about a promise made in 2010 to limit a rise in average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, the Global Carbon Project report by leading research institutes said.

Emissions by China alone, which overtook the United States as the number one carbon emitter in 2006 amid fast industrial growth, have soared to eclipse those of the United States and the European Union combined, it said.

The report puts 2014 world carbon emissions 65 per cent above levels in 1990, despite repeated promises of curbs and a shift to renewable energies such as wind and solar power as part of policies to avert more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels. 

Read more: China drives world carbon emissions to record high - The Globe and Mail

US Politics: The Radical Past of Charles Koch -- a Former Die-Hard John Birch Society Member - by Lisa Graves

The Progressive Inc. and the Center for Media and Democracy are publishing new information and analysis documenting that billionaire oil industrialist, Charles Koch, was an active member of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society during its active campaigns against the civil rights movement.

Many commentators have noted that the father of the controversial Koch Brothers, Fred Koch, was a leader of the John Birch Society from its founding in 1958 until his death in 1967. But, in fact, Charles Koch followed his father's footsteps into the John Birch Society for years in Wichita, Kansas, a hub city for the organization in that decade of tremendous societal unrest as civil rights activists challenged racial segregation.

Charles Koch was not simply a rank and file member of the John Birch Society in name only who paid nominal dues. He purchased and held a "lifetime membership" until he resigned in 1968. He also lent his name and his wealth to the operations of the John Birch Society in Wichita, aiding its "American Opinion" bookstore -- which was stocked with attacks on the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, and Earl Warren as elements of the communist conspiracy.

He funded the John Birch Society's promotional campaigns, bought advertising in its magazine, and supported its distribution of right-wing radio shows.

Read more: the Radical Past of Charles Koch -- a Former Die-Hard John Birch Society Member | Alternet

European Economy: Why Europe is terrified of deflation - by Paul Ames

From Putin’s hordes massing over the eastern borders of Ukraine to the army of home-grown Islamic State fanatics threatening a murderous return from the Middle East, Europe has a lot be frightened of right now.

Yet there’s another nightmare haunting Europe’s economic policy makers: a monster called deflation that’s already clawing at the continent’s financial fundaments.

“We are meeting here at the time when Europe is facing a great threat,” Polish Finance Minister Mateusz Szczurek warned in a recent speech. “We are on the verge of deflation,” he told a Sept. 4 conference in Brussels. “As Europeans we should never forget that it was depression and deflation … that brought to power the totalitarian regime that devastated our continent through the world war and unspeakable atrocities 75 years ago.”

At first glance deflation doesn’t sound so bad.
“Anybody who doubts how bad it could get should look back to the last time the US caught a serious dose of deflation. They called that the Great Depression.”
Prices go down, what’s not to like?

Yet the cold economic reality means that when prices fall people stop spending, hoping things will get even cheaper. In response, businesses cut production and lay off workers. That means even less demand, and prices drop further.

By then, your economy’s in a vicious downward spiral.

Making things worse, those falling prices bring declining wages and worsening debt burdens.

Anybody who doubts how bad it could get should look back to the last time the United States caught a serious dose of deflation, from 1929-33. They called that the Great Depression.

Why Europe is terrified of deflation - Salon.com

The Netherlands: Refreshingly Different Dutch Vocalist JO SARAH Launches "Citizens of the world"

JO SARAH
Soulful world music sung and played by a vocalist who has traveled and lived in many countries around the world.

JO SARAH is more than a vocalist; she’s a songwriter and a percussionist too. She writes songs inspired by her roots, soul, jazz and world music (Brazilian, African and Middle Eastern).

JO SARAH, a vocalist that takes you on a magical journey of ethnical sounds in the world. With her philosophical lyrics, interesting choice of harmonies and uplifting danceable rhythms, JO SARAH intrigues with her authenticity. From intimate Surinamese ballads to groovy African/Brazilian rhythms, JO SARAH will whisk you away!

Passionate and driven, she tells her story about what she’s seen and experienced in the many different cultures. With her sounds she paints a sounds cape that shows you where her roots lie; India, Ghana, Surinam and the Indian tribes of the Amazon.

After studying two years of Law JO SARAH decided to quit and fully focus on her music. She auditioned at the ArtEZ Conservatory of Zwolle and she got accepted right away.

Here she took singing lessons from Ronald Douglas, Adrienne West, Zosja El Rhazi and Izaline Calister. She partook in many master classes from artists like Gino Vanelli, Nancy Morano, Lilian Vieira, Josee Koning, David Linx, Kurt Elling and many more. During her study in Zwolle JO SARAH trained her songwriting-, piano- and percussion skills.

At the beginning of her last year at the conservatory JO SARAH decided to study at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark. Here she got many master classes from musicians all over the world (Cuba, Brasil, Papua New Guinea, Gambia, Mali, Iceland etc.)

During this time JO SARAH had a lot of time and space to think about who she is as a singer, artist and as a person. In this time of self-reflection JO SARAH wrote songs that were dear to her and close to her heart. She realized that singing her own songs makes her the happiest, especially when it’s influenced by world music, soul & jazz.

Coming back from Denmark, she quit all her bands and started her new journey.

After a few try outs JO SARAH was happy with her fresh new band: Jesse Buitenhuis(guitar), Roel van den Nieuwenhoff(keys), Jeroen van der Ley(bass), Roman Sielert(percussion) and Tuur Moens(drums).

JO SARAH is paving her way with her amazing band.

She just graduated honor fully with a 9 at the ArtEZ Conservatory in Zwolle. Currently she has plans to release her Debut EP “Citizen of the World” in November 2014.

Read more about: JO SARAH

9/20/14

USA: Why Americans Know So Much About Sports But So Little About World Affairs - by Noam Chomsky:

QUESTION: Do you think people are inhibited by expertise?

CHOMSKY: There are also experts about football, but these people don't defer to them. The people who call in talk with complete confidence. They don't care if they disagree with the coach or whoever the local expert is. They have their own opinion and they conduct intelligent discussions. I think it's an interesting phenomenon. Now I don't think that international or domestic affairs are much more complicated. And what passes for serious intellectual discourse on these matters does not reflect any deeper level of understanding or knowledge.

Read more: Noam Chomsky: Why Americans Know So Much About Sports But So Little About World Affairs | Alternet

Why Scotland's 'No' vote will relieve UK allies, make EU exit less likely - by Andrew Hammond,

The news that Scotland has rejected independence from the rest of the United Kingdom -- by a relatively close 55-45 margin -- has reassured financial markets and many governments across the world.

Not only does it secure the future (for now, at least) of one of the longest and most successful political unions in the world -- it also makes the prospect of a future British exit from the European Union less likely in coming years.

Numerous world leaders, from U.S. President Barack Obama to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, had strongly asserted that it is in the best interests of the global community for the UK to stay together. 

This reflects the fact that, while no longer a great power, Britain continues to play a significant role on the world stage with wide-ranging international interests.

Read more: Why Scotland's 'No' vote will relieve UK allies, make EU exit less likely - CNN.com

9/19/14

Britain: Morning Jolt: What’s next for Scotland? -

After Scotland voters approved staying in the United Kingdom yesterday (55 percent supported the move), what comes next? For the moment, not much will change, but British Prime Minister David Cameron promised more autonomy to Scotland.

Among his pledges were more local control over taxes and spending. How soon England delivers on those promises may be an issue.

Read more: Morning Jolt: What’s next for Scotland? - News - The Carthage Press - Carthage, MO

Russia Demands Changes to Ukraine-EU Association Deal

Russia has demanded changes to a landmark political and economic pact between the EU and Ukraine in order to meet Moscow's concerns, according to a letter seen by AFP on Friday.

The European and Ukrainian parliaments on Tuesday simultaneously ratified the association agreement, the rejection of which last year triggered the political crisis in the former Soviet state.

The EU has firmly ruled out making any changes to the agreement, although a week ago it delayed the implementation of the pact's trade elements from this November until December 2015 under pressure from Moscow.

Read more: Russia Demands Changes to Ukraine-EU Association Deal

Sanctions - Fishing Insustry: : Alaska Fish Factor: $60 million Alaskan Seafood Exports to be Halted by Russian Ban

Seafood is by far Alaska’s top export and as it heads overseas, global politics play a big role in making sales sink or swim. That dynamic took center stage last week when Russia banned imports of foods for one year from the US, Canada, Europe, Norway and Australia in retaliation for sanctions imposed due to its aggressive actions in Ukraine.

It is a direct hit to Alaska, which last year exported nearly 20 million pounds of seafood to Russia, valued at more than $60 million. The primary product it hurts is pink and chum salmon roe; Russia is also a growing market for Alaska pollock surimi.

“After Japan, Russia is our largest market for salmon roe,” explained Alexa Tonkovich, International Program Director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). “Japan takes about $125 million worth of salmon roe and Russian takes about $46 million (over seven million pounds). The next closest market is China at $20 million. And if you don’t have diversified markets for a product, you’re in a less powerful negotiating position and that impacts pricing.”

Also in play - the ban on Norwegian salmon means thousands of tons fish destined for Russia is displaced and has to find a home somewhere.

“And that is either the EU, the US, or possibly China or Brazil,” Tonkovich said, “and that impacts pricing for salmon overall.”

Russia is Norway’s third biggest salmon buyer - exports of farmed Atlantics in 2013 approached 300,000 tons, valued at $1.1 billion.

Russia’s ban also takes a bite out of Alaska pollock surimi exports, valued at over $8 million in 2013. But that market is much more diversified than Alaska’s salmon roe.

“There are good markets in Japan and Europe, and we see potential in Brazil for surimi products. So that may be a bit easier to absorb. The salmon roe is a pretty significant volume so I see a greater impact for salmon than for pollock.” Tonkovich said.

Frozen pink salmon also will be affected, said John Sackton. “In 2013, virtually no frozen pinks were sold to Russia, but in 2014 that jumped from less than $250,000 to $3.3 million,” Sackton said.
Seafood is by far Alaska’s top export and as it heads overseas, global politics play a big role in making sales sink or swim. That dynamic took center stage last week when Russia banned imports of foods for one year from the US, Canada, Europe, Norway and Australia in retaliation for sanctions imposed due to its aggressive actions in Ukraine.
It is a direct hit to Alaska, which last year exported nearly 20 million pounds of seafood to Russia, valued at more than $60 million. The primary product it hurts is pink and chum salmon roe; Russia is also a growing market for Alaska pollock surimi.
“After Japan, Russia is our largest market for salmon roe,” explained Alexa Tonkovich, International Program Director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). “Japan takes about $125 million worth of salmon roe and Russian takes about $46 million (over seven million pounds). The next closest market is China at $20 million. And if you don’t have diversified markets for a product, you’re in a less powerful negotiating position and that impacts pricing.”
Also in play - the ban on Norwegian salmon means thousands of tons fish destined for Russia is displaced and has to find a home somewhere.
“And that is either the EU, the US, or possibly China or Brazil,” Tonkovich said, “and that impacts pricing for salmon overall.”
Russia is Norway’s third biggest salmon buyer - exports of farmed Atlantics in 2013 approached 300,000 tons, valued at $1.1 billion.
Russia’s ban also takes a bite out of Alaska pollock surimi exports, valued at over $8 million in 2013. But that market is much more diversified than Alaska’s salmon roe.
“There are good markets in Japan and Europe, and we see potential in Brazil for surimi products. So that may be a bit easier to absorb. The salmon roe is a pretty significant volume so I see a greater impact for salmon than for pollock.” Tonkovich said.
Frozen pink salmon also will be affected, said John Sackton. “In 2013, virtually no frozen pinks were sold to Russia, but in 2014 that jumped from less than $250,000 to $3.3 million,” Sackton said.
Even before the ban, the troubled political climate had ASMI’s international team planning new and expanding market opportunities for Alaska seafood. At this point, Tonkovich said uncertainty rules the day.
“There is a bit of stress in the seafood industry right now,” she said. “Things are in limbo and it is hard to know how it will play out over time.”
- See more at: http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/23874/alaska-fish-factor-60-million-alaskan-seafood-exports-to-be-halted-by-russian-ban#sthash.nNV2L9JQ.dpuf
Seafood is by far Alaska’s top export and as it heads overseas, global politics play a big role in making sales sink or swim. That dynamic took center stage last week when Russia banned imports of foods for one year from the US, Canada, Europe, Norway and Australia in retaliation for sanctions imposed due to its aggressive actions in Ukraine.
It is a direct hit to Alaska, which last year exported nearly 20 million pounds of seafood to Russia, valued at more than $60 million. The primary product it hurts is pink and chum salmon roe; Russia is also a growing market for Alaska pollock surimi.
“After Japan, Russia is our largest market for salmon roe,” explained Alexa Tonkovich, International Program Director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). “Japan takes about $125 million worth of salmon roe and Russian takes about $46 million (over seven million pounds). The next closest market is China at $20 million. And if you don’t have diversified markets for a product, you’re in a less powerful negotiating position and that impacts pricing.”
Also in play - the ban on Norwegian salmon means thousands of tons fish destined for Russia is displaced and has to find a home somewhere.
“And that is either the EU, the US, or possibly China or Brazil,” Tonkovich said, “and that impacts pricing for salmon overall.”
Russia is Norway’s third biggest salmon buyer - exports of farmed Atlantics in 2013 approached 300,000 tons, valued at $1.1 billion.
Russia’s ban also takes a bite out of Alaska pollock surimi exports, valued at over $8 million in 2013. But that market is much more diversified than Alaska’s salmon roe.
- See more at: http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/23874/alaska-fish-factor-60-million-alaskan-seafood-exports-to-be-halted-by-russian-ban#sthash.nNV2L9JQ.dpuf

Read more: Alaska Fish Factor: $60 million Alaskan Seafood Exports to be Halted by Russian Ban - The Fish Site

EU Economy: Ireland's economy fastest growing in European Union - by Phillip Inman

 Ireland's economy has surged 7.7% in a year, according to official figures that appear to show the former Tiger economy has rediscovered its vigour.

A 1.5% increase in gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter pushed the annual growth rate to the highest in the EU after a strong rise in business investment and exports. The government immediately upgraded its growth forecasts for the year – for the second time in a week.

The finance minister, Michael Noonan, said: "When you're in the catchup phase of an economy after a recession you'll get very high growth figures in the early stages, but as it settles I would hope we will have growth of around 3% for the next five years."

Dublin said the news showed that the sacrifices of the Irish people, and policies designed to increase exports, had borne fruit. Ministers are already debating how to spend higher-than-forecast tax revenues, less than a year after the country finished its three-year EU-International Monetary Fund bailout programme.

With the budget deficit predicted to fall to 4% of GDP or below this year – well ahead of target – the government has said it will ease up significantly on further austerity measures in next month's budget. Ireland still has huge debts following the bailout of its banking sector, and thousands of families remain in negative equity despite a resurgence in house prices that has seen values in Dublin jump 23% in the past year.
GDP grew 2.8% in the first three months of this year.

The rise in the second quarter was driven by a 13% increase in exports and 1.8% rise in household spending, the largest annual rise in almost four years.

Read more: Ireland's economy fastest growing in European Union | World news | The Guardian

9/18/14

Scotland Will Continue To Be a Part of Britain - Yes 46 %, No 54%

A final poll tonight suggests Scotland has rejected  independence by 54 % against 46%

With no exit polls conducted during the historic ballot, the survey by polling company YouGov was the only pointer for people eager for an early clue.

The result from the final count is expected to be announced around breakfast-time.

YouGov based its prediction on the responses of 1,828 people after they voted today, as well as 800 people who had already cast their ballots by post.

All respondents had previously taken part in a voting intention survey earlier this week, allowing the company to assess any last-minute shifts in views.

On a more humorous note -  a CNN poll predicted the yes vort to win with 58% over the no with 52% ,- resulting in an "amazing" 110% voter turnout.

EU-Digest


Internet Security: 4.93 million Gmail passwords leaked by hackers

Russian hackers have leaked the email IDs and passwords of as many as 4.93 million Google accounts. The same Google account password is used across all Google products, such as Gmail, Drive, Plus, YouTube, Maps etc.
 
The account details have been posted on bitcoin forum btcsec.com by a user named Tvskit. On the forum, Tvskit has said that approximately 60% of the passwords are still active.
 Gmail accounts are safe http://goo.gl/2pbw6z  but it’s always good to take a minute & check your security settings at g.co/accountcheckup 

For more info click here