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7/31/15

US Presidential Elections: GOP climate change skeptics reap rewards in primary, but face risks in general election - by Matt Viser

 Rick Santorum calls climate change “a beautifully concocted scheme.” Senator Ted Cruz contends no climate change has been recorded in the last 15 years, bluntly declaring, “It hasn’t happened.”

Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon, has said, “We may be warming. We may be cooling.” Former Florida governor Jeb Bush grants that climate change is real, but he’s unwilling to say it is caused by humans.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, sees a conspiracy: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing noncompetitive.”

Most of the 17 Republicans running for president are skeptical about climate change caused by humans, a stance that appears to line up with conservative voters who hold sway in the GOP primary contest.
But it jeopardizes their chances with the broader swath of voters who will determine the winner of the general election — and Democrats are ready to take advantage of that opportunity.

Most of the 17 Republicans running for president are skeptical about climate change caused by humans.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, is moving rapidly to exploit the Republican opposition by making climate change a central issue in her campaign. This week, she outlined a new proposal to install enough solar panels to power every home in the country. Clinton knocked Republican candidates who punt on the issue by claiming a lack of expertise.

“Those people on the other side, they will answer any question about climate change by saying, ‘I’m not a scientist,’” she said Sunday in Iowa. “Well, I’m not a scientist either. I’m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain.”

Read more: GOP climate change skeptics reap rewards in primary, but face risks in general election - Politics - The Boston Globe

Turkey - Erdogan'sTurkish prosecuters launch investigation into leader of pro-Kurdish opposition

The leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, Selahattin Demirtas, is under investigation by a Turkish prosecutor over allegations that he “provoked and armed” protesters during demonstrations in the country last year.

Demirtas has accused Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan of launching air strikes in Syria and Iraq to prevent Kurdish territorial and political gains.

Demirtas said: “Erdogan is doing this to create a false perception among the general population. His main objective is not to disarm the PKK but instead make sure the People’s Democratic Party pays the price for PKK violence. He doesn’t care about peace,” he added. “Erdogan wants to take revenge out on the People’s Democratic Party for their results in the elections.”

The investigation comes as Ankara carries out air strikes against the PKK in Iraq, a move that has brought years of peace efforts close to collapse.

Read more: ErdoganTurkish prosecuters launch investigation into leader of pro-Kurdish opposition | euronews, world news

China: Winter Olympics: Beijing Wins Bid to Host 2022 Games - by Cassandra Vinograd

Beijing won its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics on Friday, making it the first city to be awarded both a summer and winter games.

Beijing narrowly beat out Almaty, earning 44 votes compared to the city in Kazakhstan's 40. Oslo was initially named a finalist, but its Olympic bid was withdrawn after the Norwegian government voted against financially supporting it.

In winning its bid to host the winter games, Beijing managed to overcome questions over a potential lack of natural snow and concerns over the distance between proposed venues. The 2022 competitions will be spread across three clusters over 100 miles.

Ahead of the IOC vote, both the Almaty and Bejing bids had drawn criticism from human-rights groups. 

Human Rights Watch has cited violence and discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face in Kazakhstan, according to the AP, while activists say China's human-rights record worsened rather than improved after the 2008 Olympics.
 
Read More: Winter Olympics: Beijing Wins Bid to Host 2022 Games - NBC News

Refugees: Britain calls emergency meeting on Calais migrants

British Prime Minister David Cameron is due to chair an emergency meeting on the situation in Calais, where thousands of people have tried to stowaway to the UK. Cameron has come under fire for calling them a "swarm."

The meeting of the UK government's COBRA emergency committee was due to be held Friday, following another night in which hundreds of people attempted to reach the Channel Tunnel which links the French port of Calais - and mainland Europe - with Britain.

Prime Minister David Cameron's office posted on its official Twitter channel that the meeting would be about how the government would "tackle" the problem.

Note EU-Digest: It's amazing to see with what incompetence this problem is handled by the EU, France and Britain.

Read more: Britain calls emergency meeting on Calais migrants | News | DW.COM | 31.07.2015

Wikileaks: US 'spied on Japan government and companies'

he US has been spying on Japanese cabinet officials, banks and companies, including the Mitsubishi conglomerate, whistleblowing website Wikileaks says.

Documents released by Wikileaks list 35 telephone numbers targeted for interception by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

The surveillance extends back at least eight years, Wikileaks said.

Wikileaks has previously released files showing the US spied on Germany, France and Brazil - like Japan, all allies.

Read more: Wikileaks: US 'spied on Japan government and companies' - BBC News

7/30/15

The Trans-Pacific Partnership / EU-US Trade negotiations : the Totalitarian End-game of the Global Elite

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a global corporate noose around U.S. local, state, and national sovereignty – narrowly passed a major procedural hurdle in the Congress by gaining “fast track” status. … “fast track” is a euphemism for your members of Congress … handcuffing themselves, so as to prevent any amendments or adequate debate before the final vote … TPP is another euphemism that is used to avoid the word “treaty”, which would require ratification by two-thirds of the Senate.

The corporate-indentured politicians keep calling this gigantic treaty with thirty chapters, of which only five relate to traditional trade issues…. The other twenty-five chapters, if passed as they are, will have serious impacts on peoples livelihoods as workers and consumers, as well as your air, water, food, and medicines.

"Only corporations … are entitled to sue the U.S. and other governments for any alleged harm to their profits from health, safety or other regulations in secret tribunals that operate as offshore kangaroo courts, not in open courts. Ralph Nader"

Read more: The Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Totalitarian End-game of the Global Elite | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

US Economy: Alan Greenspan: This is 'extremely dangerous'

While markets hone in on the Federal Reserve's monetary policy hints, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan sees a bigger economic irritant—government spending.

On Wednesday July 29, Greenspan decried a rise in entitlement costs, which he contended have pressured the U.S. economy.

"To me the discussion today shouldn't even be on monetary policy it should be on how do we constrain this extraordinary rise in entitlements," he said in a CNBC "Closing Bell" interview, calling the trend "extremely dangerous."

Read more: Alan Greenspan: This is 'extremely dangerous'

Oil Price: Shell plans for 'prolonged downturn' in oil prices (will layoff 6,500 workers) - by Holly Ellyatt

Royal Dutch Shell warned on Thursday that lower oil prices could continue for several years, and said it was planning for a prolonged downturn.

It comes as the Anglo–Dutch multinational reported that earnings in the second quarter, on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis, came in at $3.4 billion - down from $5.1 billion for the same quarter a year ago. CCS is a way of reporting income that takes into account changes in expenses over the period.

hell also revealed plans to further reduce 2015 capital expenditure (capex) to $30 billion, down by 20 percent from a year ago on the back of a downturn in oil prices, and said it planned to cut 6,500 jobs over the year.

CEO Ben van Beurden said that the company was successfully "reducing our capital spending and operating costs, and delivering a competitive performance in today's oil market downturn."

"We have to be resilient in a world where oil prices remain low for some time, whilst keeping an eye on recovery.

Note EU-Digest : Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday that its profit fell sharply in the second quarter as a strong performance in marketing and refining failed to offset the brunt of lower oil and gas prices.

The oil giant also said it would cut its capital investment and eliminate 6,500 jobs as the drop in oil and gas prices squeezes its vast global exploration and production operations.

The company, based in The Hague, said earnings adjusted for inventory changes and excluding one-time items were $3.8 billion, compared with $6.1 billion in the same period in 2014.

Ben van Beurden, the company’s chief executive, justified Shell’s plans for exploratory drilling in Arctic waters off Alaska this summer, despite strong opposition from environmental groups, citing the potential to catapult company reserves. 

He said that the oil field “has the potential to be multiple times larger than the largest prospects in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, so it’s huge.”

Read more: Shell plans for 'prolonged downturn' in oil prices

US Politics: Is the GOP on the Brink of Civil War? - by Fran Coombs

Senator Ted Cruz voiced the unhappiness of many Republican conservatives when he took to the floor of the Senate last Friday and in a rare intraparty broadside accused GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell of lying. Veteran Republican senators quickly rallied to McConnell’s defense.

Was it the shot fired at Fort Sumter that signals the real start of a GOP civil war?

Cruz said McConnell had told Republican conservatives in the Senate that there was no behind-the-scenes deal to revive the controversial Export-Import Bank. Conservatives view the bank as corporate welfare, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and pro-business Republicans are big supporters of it. But rather than let the bank stand or fall on a separate vote, McConnell announced at the last minute that a measure allowing reauthorization of the bank would be attached to much more popular legislation for funding highways. This maneuver guaranteed the bank’s reauthorization.

Conservative senators hit the ceiling. “The American people elected a Republican majority believing that a Republican majority would be somehow different from a Democratic majority in the United States Senate,” Cruz said, comparing McConnell to his predecessor as Senate majority leader, Democrat Harry Reid. “Unfortunately, the way the current Senate operates, there is one party, the Washington party.”

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republican voters agreed with Cruz recently when he responded to Jeb Bush’s comment about the need for Americans to work harder by saying: “The problem is not that Americans aren't working hard enough. It is that the Washington cartel of career politicians, special interests and lobbyists have rigged the game against them.” [Just 38% of Republicans agreed with Bush.]

Most Republican voters have long felt this way, saying in surveys for years that their congressional representatives are out of touch with the party’s base. Only 24% of Likely GOP Voters now believe Republicans in Congress have done a good job representing their party’s values. Democrats, by contrast, are much happier with their representation in Washington, D.C. 

Read more: Is the GOP on the Brink of Civil War? - Rasmussen Reports™

Turkey - USA: Selling Out the Kurds - Stephan Richter and Bill Humphrey

U.S. policy on Iraq, Syria and the surrounding countries seems to have been left solely in the hands of amateurs in the White House. That is not a partisan statement, for it applies to both the current and previous occupants. The next occupant, regardless of party, seems likely to muck it up as well.

The latest foolhardy decision seems to have been a deal long sought by the United States to move the “strategy” against ISIS forward. It is worth recalling that the terrorist organization is de facto an American creation resulting from the completely ill advised Iraq policy under George W. Bush.

In the blinding desire to destroy ISIS, Mr. Obama and his team were so keen on getting rights to use Turkish air bases that they completely forgot about the dark side of Mr. Erdogan.

No sooner had the agreement on bases been reached than Turkey’s own aircraft began pounding Kurdish militant targets in northern Syria and Iraq.

The government, which still lacks a governing mandate after no party won a majority in the recent elections, has officially put the anti-ISIS PKK fighters on the same threat level as ISIS. In reality, Kurdish fighters appear to be a much bigger target of the Turkish Air Force than the ISIS fighters.

The point of all this maneuvering is that Erdogan hopes to leverage wartime fervor into a favorable nationalist coalition or a new election with a better outcome for himself.

Read more: Selling Out the Kurds - The Globalist

Belgium Tomorrowland Music Festival Rocks Belgium This Weekend

Don’t confuse it with the Disney movie or theme park attraction: this Tomorrowland is all about music. Specifically, Belgium’s Tomorrowland festival is the world’s biggest electronic dance music festival, held during the last weekend of July in the appropriately named Boom, Belgium.

Running since 2005, Tomorrowland brings together musicians from all over the globe in a massive celebration of electronic music, dance, and spectacle. Its attendance has skyrocketed over the years, with last year’s Tomorrowland clocking in at 360,000 attendees coming in from 200 different countries.

This year, attendance is expected to top 400,000, with the official site touting dozens of acts sure to appeal to electronic music fans.

Billboard has already started delivering a blow-by-blow account of the acts taking the stage at Tomorrowland 2015, detailing everything from surprise performances and remixes to the variety of visuals executed during the various acts
.
Attendees of this year’s Tomorrowland are already flooding social media with photos of the spectacular stages built for the guests’ various performances.

Read more: Tomorrowland Music Festival Rocks Belgium This Weeken

7/29/15

US Banking Industry: 'Too Big to Fail' Is Still a Problem. Here's How D.C. Wants to End It. - by Eric Garcia

The scariest thing about addressing "too-big-to-fail" banks is that there's no dress rehearsal. For all the plans, simulations, and preparations, the only way to know that the problem of banks being excessively interconnected in the wider economy has been solved is when one of these banks fails—but doesn't take the rest of the economy with it. Until that happens, elected officials and regulators are left to look back at the 2008 debacle and argue about whether they've put the pieces in place to keep it from happening again.

But in the midst of that argument, this much is clear: These banks are as big, or bigger, than they ever have been.

"They have a potential to have a catastrophic effect," says Thomas Hoenig, vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. "They are larger than they were at the last crisis."

That does not mean that there haven't been attempts to mitigate the problem of banks being so large that they require a bailout. In the five years since Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, regulators have implemented a suite of measures aimed at ensuring that the nation's largest banks are sound and that, should they wobble, the economy won't go with them. The question of how to handle Wall Street, and what to do about Dodd-Frank, quickly is becoming a prime point of contention early in the 2016 presidential campaign.

To put it mildly, there's no consensus on whether Dodd-Frank has adequately addressed the too-big-to-fail question, or even if regulation is headed in the right direction.

Read more: Too Big to Fail' Is Still a Problem. Here's How D.C. Wants to End It. - NationalJournal.com

Turkish attacks on Kurds muddle Obama's Islamic State fight - by Josh Lederman

President Barack Obama's stepped-up partnership with Turkey in fighting the Islamic State may come at the cost of alienating another key group he's counting on for help in the same conflict: the Kurds.

"Knowingly or not, the U.S. is going to end up having to choose between the Turks and the Kurds," said Blaise Misztal, national security director at the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center.

While defending Turkey publicly, the U.S. has been urging Turkey to be "judicious" in its retaliation against the PKK, senior U.S. officials said. But Turkey's air campaign shows few signs of letting up.

Turkish jets hit Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq overnight and the government said strikes would continue until the rebels lay down their arms. White House spokesman Eric Schultz called Wednesday for "a return to the peaceful solution process," but Turkey's prime minister shot down that prospect until the PKK withdraws its armed fighters from Turkey.
 
Reqad more: Turkish attacks on Kurds muddle Obama's Islamic State fight

EU - A Euro Visionary at the IMF - by Leonid Bershidsky

Maurice Obstfeld, who's just been appointed chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, has followed the common European currency project for decades -- since it was a relatively loose association -- and warned early on about the problems the euro faces today.

 Perhaps if European politicians listen to him now, they will argue less about how to make the currency union work
.
Obstfeld, a macroeconomist who has co-authored textbooks with both Kenneth Rogoff and Paul Krugman -- economists on opposite sides of a bitter debate over austerity, government debt and economic growth -- is clearly capable of finding a middle ground. In that sense alone, he's a wise choice for the IMF job. His policy recommendations for Europe, however, have been clear and consistent: If the monetary union is to work, the euro zone needs more integration.

"Europe's Gamble" is what Obstfeld called the union in 1997, not long before the introduction of the euro, in a 300-page paper. This includes a highly readable history of the union, beginning with the European Coal and Steel Community that was formed in 1951 to bind Germany closer to the countries it had invaded, notably France. Obstfeld provides plenty of juicy, long-forgotten tidbits about countries scrambling to meet the common currency criteria: a fiscal deficit as close as possible to 3 percent of gross domestic product, inflation close to that of the member nations with the slowest-rising prices, a debt-to-GDP ratio of 60 percent (or at least strong evidence that it was headed that way).

Profligate Germany, for example, tried and failed to revalue its central bank's gold reserves to book the difference as revenue for its budget and cut the deficit -- even as it tried to keep out shakier Italy, Spain and Portugal for fear they would make the new currency much "softer" than the Deutsche mark.

The paper also contains paragraphs that now read as striking predictions:

Because monetary policy will be geared toward price stabilit
Read more: A Euro Visionary at the IMF - Bloomberg View

7/28/15

Failed US Middle East Policies Bearing Fruit - 2,000 migrants tried to enter Eurotunnel overnight

Security crackdowns in the port of Calais have prompted more migrants to attempt the crossing underground through the Eurotunnel. The massive waves of migrants trying to get through has worried the British government.

In a desperate bid to reach England from the French port of Calais, around 2,000 migrants tried to enter the Eurotunnel overnight, according to a statement from a company spokesman on Tuesday. "Between midnight and 6:00 am," the spokesman said, the waves of migrants, many living in despair at a better future after months of living in tents at the French port, attempted the sometimes fatal bid to reach Britain through the tunnel.

"It was the biggest incursion effort in the past month and a half," said the Eurotunnel spokesman, adding that "all our security personnel, that is nearly 200 people, as well as police were called in."

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed the numbers to news agency AFP, saying "there were some arrests and it all passed off without a fuss." Local authorities, however, disputed the amount, with police saying that despite "regular incursion attempts" it was incorrect to "say that there were 2,000 migrants at the same time."

Calais officials were unable to say if anyone had been injured in their attempts to access the tunnel.
The incident did cause serious disruptions to train service in the Eurotunnel for much of Tuesday, which passengers held up for around an hour on the British side and half an hour on the French side.

Read more: 2,000 migrants tried to enter Eurotunnel overnight | News | DW.COM | 28.07.2015

Artificial Intelligence: genuine concern, or fearmongering?

Dozens of prominent scientists have put their names to an open letter warning the public about the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI). They are, specifically, worried about potential developments in autonomous weapons, made possible by the progress of robotics and AI.

Among those endorsing the letter are Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky and Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X fame.

In the letter, the signatories claim “the deployment of such systems is – practically if not legally – feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.”They highlight a large list of possible drawbacks to consider, should such weapons become reality.

For example, the signatories argue that they are relatively cheap to mass-produce, which could lower the boundaries for going to war, since fewer (if any) human lives would be lost.
The ‘human factor’ is also listed as one of few advantages of autonomous weapons, however, it is followed by:

“There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.”

Mass-production could mean the weapons would easily end up on the black market or in the hands of terrorists wishing to destabilise nations, or war lords “wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc.”

They write: “the key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting.”

Their response: “A military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity.”

Read more: Artificial Intelligence: genuine concern, or fearmongering? | euronews, world news

Migration: Europeans head to Latin America to escape the economic crisis

As many well-educated people can't find jobs in crisis-stricken Europe, they turn south. More migrants are moving from Europe to Latin America and the Caribbean than the other way round. Jane Chambers reports from Chile.

Originally hailing from Seville in southern Spain, Magdalena Martín Sevilla decided to make Chile her new home after she couldn't find any work for months. In 2012, she packed her bags and left Spain.

"The economic situation has been terrible since 2008," she said. "It's impossible to find work in your area. People just end up doing low-paid jobs that they don't want to do."

Before the crisis hit, Sevilla, who's in her late 20s, studied with the goal of helping low-income families. After she graduated, she spent five months looking for work in Spain. When a foundation in Chile offered her a job, she didn't think twice about taking it. She moved to Chile's capital Santiago to fight poverty in Latin America.

Moving to Chile and fitting in was easy for her since Spanish is her mother tongue, but she says she still struggles as she misses her family and friends. And she feels people in Spain know how to enjoy life a little bit more.

Read more: Europeans head to Latin America to escape the economic crisis | Americas | DW.COM | 28.07.2015

7/27/15

Digital Revolution: What Impact Does The Digital Revolution Have On Work And Inequality? - by Michael A Osborne

The link below will take you to a transcript of a Social Europe podcast in which Social Europe Editor-in-Chief Henning Meyer discusses the impact of the Digital Revolution on the nature of work and inequality with Michael A. Osborne, Associate Professor in Machine Learning and Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment at the University of Oxford.

Read more: What Impact Does The Digital Revolution Have On Work And Inequality? » Social Europe

Middle East: Turkey denies targeting Syrian Kurdish group

The Syrian Kurdish YPG group on Monday accused Turkey of targeting its positions inside Syria, a charge Ankara denied amid growing tensions between Turkey and Kurdish groups in the region.

In a statement released Monday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG (Kurdish People's Protection Units) said the Turkish army targeted one of the group’s vehicles in the border village of Til Findire, east of the border town of Kobane, where the Kurds handed a major defeat to the Islamic State (IS) group earlier this year.

The YPG, a Syrian group affiliated with the banned Turkish PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), has been one of the most effective groups battling Islamic State militants in Syria, but Turkey fears they could revive an insurgency against Ankara in pursuit of an independent state.

Read more: france 24 - Turkey denies targeting Syrian Kurdish group - France 24

China: What's fueling the frenzy in China stocks? - by Dhara Ranasinghe

China's benchmark stock market slid 8.5 percent on Monday, suffering its biggest daily loss since 2007, indicating that there is seemingly no reprieve to the violent selling rocking the country's equities.

A sharp fall in commodity prices, weak Chinese economic data and concerns that Beijing may be reluctant to dole out further measures to support beaten-up shares all contributed to the sell-off, analysts said.

Data released earlier on Monday showed China's industrial profits declined 0.3 percent year-on-year in June, compared with a 0.6 percent rise in May.

Read more: What's fueling the frenzy in China stocks?

7/26/15

Turkey calls for NATO meeting to discuss security threats - by Suzan Fraser

Turkey on Sunday called for a meeting of its NATO allies to discuss threats to its security and its airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants in Syria and Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

The move came as Turkey's state-run media reported that Turkish F-16 jets again took off from the country's southeastern Diyarbakir air base to hit Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK targets across the border in northern Iraq.

There was no immediate confirmation of the report by TRT television, which came hours after authorities said PKK militants detonated a car-bomb near Diyarbakir, killing two soldiers and wounding four others.

NATO announced that its decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, will convene Tuesday after Ankara invoked the alliance's Article 4, which allows member states to request a meeting if they feel their territorial integrity or security is under threat.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Turkey would inform allies about the airstrikes which followed an IS suicide bombing near Turkey's border with Syria that left 32 people dead, and an IS attack on Turkish forces, which killed a soldier.

Turkey requested the meeting, which includes ambassadors of all 28 member countries, "in view of the seriousness of the situation after the heinous terrorist attacks in recent days," NATO said.

NATO itself is not involved in operations against the Islamic State group, although many of its members are. As an alliance, however, NATO is committed to helping defend Turkey.

Read more: Turkey calls for NATO meeting to discuss security threats - US News

EU: On the Road to a Tallinn Treaty? - by Stuart Parkinson

ou’ve probably never heard of the “Tallinn Treaty,” have you? There’s a good reason for it, though, which is that it doesn’t actually exist yet.

But if I’m right, the Tallinn Treaty of 2018 will be the successor to the Lisbon Treaty, and it will solve just about all of the European Union’s current panoply of problems, including Greece.

Ten years ago, in 2005, the European Union was in disarray, coming to terms as it was by the recent referendum defeats in both France and the Netherlands on the question of the ratification of the draft EU Constitution.

Back in those days, (i.e. in contrast to the recent Greek referendum), it took relatively more time for policy-makers to ignore the will of their people.

Indeed it wasn’t until two years later, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the original Treaty of Rome, that the so-called Berlin Declaration resolved to seek a “renewed common basis” for the European Union in time for the European Parliamentary elections that were scheduled for 2009.

It was called the Berlin Declaration because, as fate would have it, it was issued during Germany’s turn in the rotating EU Presidency. By the time its Presidency was wrapping up in June 2007, the main parameters of the next Treaty change were all but agreed, and an Intergovernmental Conference was launched.
By December, the work of the Conference was done.

Germany may have done the heavy lifting, but it was Portugal’s turn as President by then, and so the final treaty would be known as the Lisbon Treaty.

Wrapping things up in March 2018, EU leaders will gather in Estonia to sign the Tallinn Treaty, the Lisbon’s Treaty successor.

There will be something in it for everyone. It’s actually more or less the only positive way forward for Europe, if you think about it.

Read more: EU: On the Road to a Tallin Treaty? - The Globalist

BREXIT: Opinion: On UK ′Brexit,′ Obama is thinking US - not EU

The UK has to stay in the EU, Barack Obama says. Only then will it be able to continue to play a role on the international stage. More than anything, he has US interests in mind, Gero Schliess writes in Washington.

Some observers may have rubbed their eyes in disbelief: For the longest time, the Americans had gone out of their way to avoid EU matters. Yet, suddenly US President Barack Obama (right in photo) is concerned about the unity of Europe, urgently advising the British that they should not turn their backs on the "Group of 28."

 It remains to be seen whether Obama has done himself any favors with his unusually public plea. Euroskeptics in Britain have already said they will not tolerate his meddling.

The president has repeatedly stated that he cannot imagine a European Union without Britain. However, he has never expressed himself so directly in public. Has Obama become a convinced European? Has he come to appreciate a strong and unified Europe in light of the increasing gravity of global crises? That is only part of the truth.

The rest is that he is concerned with US interests.

Read more: Opinion: On UK ′Brexit,′ Obama is thinking US - not EU | Europe | DW.COM | 25.07.2015

US Presidential #Elections: Bernie Sanders: Racism, Economic Inequality are 'Parallel Problems' - by Carrie Dann

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said recently that economic inequality and institutional racism are "parallel problems" that both must be addressed at the same time.

"We have to end institutional racism, but we have to deal with the reality that 50 percent of young black kids are unemployed, that we have massive poverty in America, that we have an unsustainable level of income and wealth inequality," he said on NBC's Meet the Press.

"We have to address both," he added, referencing the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. to combat poverty in America.

Sanders was lambasted by some black activists last weekend at progressive conference Netroots Nation, where critics accused him of focusing on economic issues over racial inequality.

"My view is that we have got to deal with the fact that the middle class in this country is disappearing, that we have millions of people working for wages that are much too low impacts everybody, impacts the African American community even more," he said on Sunday. "Those are issues that do have to be dealt with, and just at the same time as we deal with institutional racism."

Read more: Bernie Sanders: Racism, Economic Inequality are 'Parallel Problems' - NBC News

Mobile Phone Security: The top 10 countries with the most phone voyeurs

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re being peeped?

If you live in one of the following countries then your intuition might be right, as there are dozens of snoopers around you!

Cheetah Mobile recently conducted a survey of 10 million phone users all over the world to find out which countries had the biggest phone voyeur problem. The top 10 are Brazil, Mexico, US, Russia, Turkey, Columbia, India, Korea, Italy and Germany!

According to the survey, about 25% of Brazilian users have had problems with people snooping on their phones. Mexica follows with 22%, US 21% and Russia 18%. The average figure among all countries is roughly 13%, which means that wherever you live, your phone privacy is at risk!

Read more: The top 10 countries with the most phone voyeurs - The world’s leading mobile tools provider

7/25/15

America the beautiful? - Gun violence is much worse in the US than in any other advanced nation in the world

In an interview with the BBC,US President, Mr Obama said it was "distressing" for him not to have made progress on the issueof gun control "even in the face of repeated mass killings".

He vowed to keep trying, but the BBC's North America editor Jon Sopel said the president did not sound very confident.

Hours after the interview, a gunman opened fire at a cinema in the US state of Louisiana, killing two people and injuring several others before shooting himself.

President Obama said that America should be "ashamed" of the "off the charts" amount of gun violence in the country and chastised lawmakers who are not willing to take on the gun lobby

."My biggest frustration so far is that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps" to curb gun violence, Obama said during a question-and-answer Tuesday. All queries were submitted through the social network Tumblr.

Obama said the country needs to "do some soul searching" about a culture where mass shootings have become pervasive."We're the only developed country on Earth where this happens," Obama said. "And it happens now once a week. And it's a one-day story. There's no place else like this."

Figures show that more people in America are killed yearly by gun violence than by terrorism around the world.

EU-Digest

7/24/15

Communications - Geo-Blocking: EU opens antitrust case against 6 major US movie studios - by Raf Casert

The European Union on Thursday launched an antitrust case against six major U.S. movie studios and British satellite broadcaster Sky UK, in a move that could profoundly shake up the highly lucrative pay-television market in Europe.

The EU's executive Commission has sent a so-called statement of objections to the companies regarding what it says are "contractual restrictions" preventing EU consumers outside Britain and Ireland from accessing the services of Sky UK.

"European consumers want to watch the pay-TV channels of their choice regardless of where they live or travel in the EU," EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said. "Our investigation shows that they cannot do this today."

The companies involved are all household names and produce some of the most popular — and profitable — movies around.

In addition to Sky, which has cornered a large chunk of the British pay-TV market through its acquisition of sports and movie rights, the Commission sent its objections to NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Disney and Warner Bros.

In a statement, the Commission said it found clauses requiring Sky to block access to films through its online or satellite pay-TV services to consumers outside Britain and Ireland — so-called "geo-blocking."

Note EU-Digest: Good action by EU Commission. Private sector should keep hands-off prohibiting free-choice of consumers in every area, including cultural expressions and presentations. 

Read more: EU opens antitrust case against 6 major US movie studios - The Denver Post

7/23/15

CUBA -USA - White House in 'final stages' of plan to close Guantanamo prison

The White House is in the "final stages" of a plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, spokesman

Josh Earnest said Wednesday. President Barack Obama made the closure of the controversial offshore prison a priority when he took office in 2009, but the plan has faced numerous setbacks, including Congress blocking the transfer of detainees to US prisons.

"The administration is in fact in the final stages of drafting a plan to safely and responsibly (close) the prison at Guantanamo Bay and to present that to Congress," Earnest said.

"That has been something that our national security officials have been working on for quite some time, primarily because it is a priority of the president."

The operation of the center in Cuba is not an effective use of government resources, Earnest told reporters.
"This is complicated work, but we have made a lot of important progress," he added.

Note EU-Digest: Good initial move Obama Administration  - next step - return Guantanamo to Cuba.

Read more: Americas - White House in 'final stages' of plan to close Guantanamo prison - France 24

Middle East - Palestinians to EU: Suspend trade agreements with Israel to protest demolition of homes

Residents of the Palestinian village of Sussiya on Sunday called on the European Union to suspend its trade agreements with Israel  to protest the pending demolition of unauthorized homes in their herding community in the South Hebron Hills region of the West Bank.

European support for Sussiya must be backed with action, the community spokesman Nasser Muhammed Nawajah wrote in a letter he sent to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

“Until today European support of the Israeli economy is expressed in the preferential conditions that Israel receives under its Trade and Association Agreements with Europe. The association agreement stipulates that ‘relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions of the agreement itself shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles’ and that this ‘constitutes an essential element of this agreement,’” he wrote

“In our opinion Sussiya is one example of how Israel continues to violate these principles and therefore we urge you to suspend Europe’s trade agreement with Israel as well as end trade with companies operating in settlements on occupied territories until Israel fulfills its obligation under international law,” he wrote.

A copy of the letter was posted on the twitter site of the NGO, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination committee.
The US on Thursday warned Israel against the pending demolition of structures both in Sussiya and nearby Wadi Jahish.

“Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes would be harmful and provocative,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington on Thursday, as he focused his public comments on Sussiya.

Read more: Palestinians to EU: Suspend trade agreements with Israel to protest demolition of homes - Arab-Israeli Conflict - Jerusalem Post

Spain raises marrying age from 14 to 16

Spain has raised the minimum age for marriage from 14 to 16, having had the lowest marrying age in Europe.

Before the age was raised, boys and girls could marry at the age of 14 with the permission of a judge. It is now level with most European countries.

The change comes only months after the government raised the age of consent from 13 to 16.
The government announced its intention to alter the law in April 2013, but it came into force only on Thursday.

The move was welcomed by officials from Unicef and children's rights groups in Spain.
According to El Pais (in Spanish), only 365 marriages involving under-16s took place in Spain between 2000 and 2014 - with only five in 2014.

In the 1990s, however, there were 2,678 marriages involving at least one under-16 - and 12,867 in the 1980s.

Read more: Spain raises marrying age from 14 to 16 - BBC News

Greece faces recession warning as bailout talks set to open

Greece's most influential think tank warned on Thursday of a sharp drop back into recession in a report that came hours after parliament approved a second package of reform measures aimed at securing a new bailout from international lenders.

In its quarterly report, the IOBE institute said that capital controls imposed last month to stop a bank run pushing the financial system into collapse would exact a heavy toll across the economy.

Reversing a forecast for growth this year of 1 percent made as recently as April, it said the economy would contract by as much as 2.0-2.5 percent after growing 0.7 percent in 2014 and would remain in recession next year as well.

Read more: Greece faces recession warning as bailout talks set to open

7/22/15

US Presidential Elections: - Trump details fabulous riches in White House bid

US mogul Donald Trump has laid bare the details of his purported $10 billion riches in a 92-page disclosure listing 515 job titles, several golf courses, real estate and a Hollywood pension.

The Federal Election Commission released the document on Wednesday, a week after Trump filed the form claiming the staggering net worth that critics believe he has exaggerated.

His financial disclosure form, which all White House candidates have to file to qualify, lists a whopping 515 different positions and 168 different assets and sources of income.

It lists 23 separate assets valued at more than $50 million each, including real estate in Chicago and New York, golf clubs in Scotland and the US, a Florida holiday resort and aircraft.

Many items required that he check the box marked "$50 million or more" -- such as in the case of a building perhaps worth $1.5 billion, it said.

It says the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump owns, is worth between $5 and $25 million.

The form says he earned more than $1.7 million from speaking engagements last year, including $450,000 each on three separate occasions in February, May and June in 2014.

It even lists a Screen Actors Guild pension giving him an income of more than $110,000.

Note EU-Digest: among all the Republican Presidential  candidates Donald Trump is probably the only one who could possibly beat Hillary Clinton.

Read more: Flash - Trump details fabulous riches in White House bid - France 24

Netherlands Company Introduces Plastic Roads That Are More Durable, Climate Friendly Than Asphalt - by Katie Valentine

The Netherlands is already home to the world’s first solar road (or bike lane, technically). Now, the country could soon be the first to use recycled plastic as pavement.

The idea for plastic roads comes from VolkerWessels, a Netherlands-based construction firm. According to the company, plastic roads would be a “virtually maintenance free product” that’s “unaffected by corrosion and the weather.” The roads could handle temperatures as low as -40°F and as high as 176°F.

The company says that this hardiness will make the roads’ lifespans three times as long as typical asphalt roads.

According to the company, any type of recycled plastic can be used. The main goal, the company says, is to keep plastic out of the oceans.

The idea for plastic roads came after the company took a look at all the different road-related problems cities face, said Simon Jorritsma from InfraLinq, a subdivision of VolkerWessels and KWS Infra that works specifically with asphalt. Those problems included a future where oil — the main component of asphalt — is less available, as well as more immediate problems like flooding and road maintenance.

“For contractors, asphalt is a great and sound product to build roads,” Jorritsma said in an email to ThinkProgress. “However, contractors have to meet more and more demands concerning noise reduction, water permeability, and flatness. These questions and conditions were the inspiration which have led to the idea of the PlasticRoad.”

Read more: Netherlands Company Introduces Plastic Roads That Are More Durable, Climate Friendly Than Asphalt | ThinkProgress

Italy: The (In)Consequential Beppe Grillo - Stephan Richter

Beppe Grillo, Italy’s comedian-turned-politician and the leader of the Five-Star Movement, has the world figured out. Except he hasn’t.

In a recent interview, Grillo had this to say about Italy’s joining the eurozone in 1999: “We entered monetary union from one day to the next, and they said it was for our own good. Since then, all our economic, social and financial indicators have got worse.”

As an objective description, that may not even be far off. The question is why things have turned out this way. Notably, the suggestion implied in Grillo’s analysis is that the mere act of joining the euro, like some magic wand, would take care of most of Italy’s problems.

Alas, crucial economic reforms can’t be had if they are put on autopilot. In fact, there’s a major contradiction in Grillo’s thinking: On the one hand, he wants nations to remain sovereign in their decision-making. On the other hand, he expects Brussels, in effect, to take care of the problems that lie in Italy’s way.

Read more: Italy: The (In)Consequential Beppe Grillo - The Globalist

Eurozone: The battle over the eurozone's future - by Duncan Weldon

While a Grexit has been avoided in the short term, the medium- to longer-term risk remains.

But in many ways the last few weeks in Greece have been the start of a bigger battle, a battle on what the eurozone of the future will look like.

Few now doubt that the institutional architecture of the zone is flawed. A currency union without a fiscal union was always vulnerable to these sort of shocks. And, perhaps more crucially, a currency union in which the banking system is still predominantly national, rather than European, was always likely to run into problems.

In a more ideal world - in a situation in which Greek banks were constrained and unable to extent credit - French, German and other lenders would have stepped into the breach.

It's hard to avoid the thought that the politics of European integration ran ahead of the economics of the underlying reality.

The last few weeks have exposed a sharp Franco-German divide. On one level, this is ideological. For France the euro is irreversible, the culmination of decades of integration. But the German view differs. They see the single currency as an agreed set of rules and behaviours and, if someone "breaks" the rules, they can be thrown out.

Their analysis of the underlying economics of the crisis differs, too. The Germans believe the tough fiscal rules agreed in 2012 are the answer to the crisis: legislate that states should be running sound public finances and these sorts of crises won't appear.

In a more ideal world - in a situation in which Greek banks were constrained and unable to extent credit - French, German and other lenders would have stepped into the breach.

It's hard to avoid the thought that the politics of European integration ran ahead of the economics of the underlying reality.

The last few weeks have exposed a sharp Franco-German divide. On one level, this is ideological.

For France the euro is irreversible, the culmination of decades of integration. But the German view differs.

They see the single currency as an agreed set of rules and behaviours and, if someone "breaks" the rules, they can be thrown out.

Their analysis of the underlying economics of the crisis differs, too.

The Germans believe the tough fiscal rules agreed in 2012 are the answer to the crisis: legislate that states should be running sound public finances and these sorts of crises won't appear.

Read more: The battle over the eurozone's future - BBC N

Islam: 'Oldest' Koran fragments found in Birmingham University - by Sean Coughlan

What may be the world's oldest fragments of the Koran have been found by the University of Birmingham.

Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.

The pages of the Muslim holy text had remained unrecognised in the university library for almost a century.

The British Library's expert on such manuscripts, Dr Muhammad Isa Waley, said this "exciting discovery" would make Muslims "rejoice".

The manuscript had been kept with a collection of other Middle Eastern books and documents, without being identified as one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the world

Read more: 'Oldest' Koran fragments found in Birmingham University - BBC News

7/21/15

Europe Backs Iran Deal, Hopes To Send A Signal To U.S. Congress - by Robin Emmott

The European Union approved the Iran nuclear deal with world powers on Monday, a first step towards lifting Europe's economic sanctions against Tehran that the bloc hopes will send a signal that the U.S. Congress will follow.

In a message mainly aimed at skeptical voices in the U.S. Congress and strong resistance from Israel, EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels stressed that there was no better option available.
"It is a balanced deal that means Iran won't get an atomic bomb," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "It is a major political deal."

Ministers waited until the U.N. Security Council also voted to endorse the July 14 accord and then issued a nine-point text formally committing to a gradual lifting of sanctions along with the United States and the United Nations.

Ministers agreed that: "the lifting of economic and financial sanctions would come into effect once the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified that Iran has implemented its nuclear-related commitments."

They also urged the deal's full implementation and said the agreement could transform the Middle East.
"Iran is back in the international community," said Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign minister whose country holds the rotating six-month EU presidency. Asselborn stressed the need for a dialog between Shi'ite Muslim Iran and its Sunni rival Saudi Arabia for the sake of stabilizing the Middle East.

Following the deal in Vienna, Iran has agreed to long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West suspected was aimed at creating an atomic bomb, but which Tehran says is peaceful.
The EU will retain its ban on the supply of ballistic missile technology and sanctions related to human rights, EU diplomats said.

Note EU-Digest: the historic relationship this century between Iran and the US has not been marked  by US respect for Iran's independence or its political integrety. Probably culminating in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected premier of Iran  in a 1953 US-British coup after which the ruthless Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi Shah was installed, by the Anglo US led secret services

Mossadegh, was toppled by the Anglo coalition after he nationalized the nation's foreign controlled oil industry.

Read more: Europe Backs Iran Deal, Hopes To Send A Signal To U.S. Congress

7/20/15

Greece: Krugman slams Greece, Germany slams Krugman - by Matt Clinch

Renowned economist, and a fervent critic of austerity, Paul Krugman has slammed the Greek government for accepting harsh tax and reform measures. On the very same weekend, German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, openly questioned the Nobel Prize-winner's knowledge of Europe's monetary union.

Krugman had been calling for Greece's government to reject the proposals that creditors have demanded in exchange for unlocking much-needed cash. He had dubbed the demands as "madness" and a "complete destruction of national sovereignty."

With the reforms having been given the green light, Krugman told CNN Sunday that he may have "overestimated the competence of the Greek government."

"(The Greek government) thought they could simply demand better terms without having any backup plan," he told the news channel in an interview. "So, certainly this is a shock."

The radical-left Syriza Party was elected this year with a mandate to reject tough austerity measures from creditors but last week agreed to a deal despite Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stating that he did not believe in it. Tsipras has since tried to weather a storm within his own party and experts suggest that another election could come later this year.

Krugman - a noted Keynesian - has been a very vocal critic of the austerity that has been placed on Greece from euro zone lawmakers, which include those in Berlin. Schaeuble used an opportunity to respond to Krugman when asked about the economist in an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel.

"Krugman is a prominent economist who won a Nobel Prize for his trade theory," he said in an interview on Saturday.

"But he has no idea about the architecture and foundation of the European currency union. In contrast to the United States, there is no central government in Europe and all 19 members of the euro zone must come to an agreement. It appears Mr. Krugman is unaware of that."

Read more: Krugman slams Greece, Germany slams Krugman

Iran nuclear deal: UN Security Council endorses Iran nuclear deal- by Sarah Joanne Taylor

The United Nations Security Council has endorsed the Iran nuclear deal, although the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander has deemed the agreement “unacceptable.”

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency quoted Commander Mohammed Ali Jafari:
“Some parts of the draft have clearly crossed the Islamic republic’s red lines, especially in Iran’s military capabilities,” he reportedly said ahead of the resolution being passed in New York. 

The fifteen-member body unanimously agreed to adopt the resolution, which will curb Iran’s nuclear programme for the long term in return for the lifting of sanctions.

As the deal was agreed, the Security Council warned sanctions can be reimposed if Tehran breaches the agreement within the next decade.

Read more: UN Security Council endorses Iran nuclear deal | euronews, world news

Germany Undoes 70 Years Of European Policy - by David Gow

When I was a correspondent in Germany two decades ago, in the run-up to unification and thereafter, interviews with Helmut Kohl, Hans-Dietrich Genscher and other senior politicians – such as Wolfgang Schäuble, who negotiated the two Germanys into one – would always end with the mantra: “We want a European Germany, not a German Europe.” It was true then but it is not true now.

Almost 25 years on from that October night in 1990 when I wrote the Guardian splash with the headline “A New Colossus is born in Europe” the Greek crisis has laid bare Germany’s transformation from “political dwarf, economic giant” into a “political and economic bully” that provokes fear and loathing among its victims and anxiety among its friends.

For Germanophiles such as me the country won huge admiration for its at times savage, even exaggerated honesty in dealing with its terrible past. There were setbacks: the murderous arson attacks on asylum centres or on Turkish homes; Kohl’s execrable use of “sympathy tourism” to explain away his absence from such scenes; the odd march by a bunch of lumpen skinhead Nazis – all grotesquely over-played in the foreign media as if the “brown flood” was on its way back. In 2006, in the World Cup, we watched and celebrated a New Germany: young, relaxed, at ease with itself (and its national flag) – and open to the world.

Read more: Germany Undoes 70 Years Of European Policy

7/19/15

Middle East: Lebanese Christians face political crisis - by Juliane Metzker

Dozens of cars, full of young men and women waving bright orange flags, are in a traffic jam in the government district of Beirut on a hot Thursday morning. They are all supporters of the Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), and they are gathering for a protest.

"We are here to protect the rights of Christians in Lebanon," says the 23-year-old student Joel. Together with a girlfriend, she is holding up a large poster of FPM party leader Michel Aoun. "The people up there cannot keep making decisions over our heads," adds Anton as he joins the girls. Those "up there" are the members of the Lebanese cabinet, which is meeting less than 100 meters (110 yards) away, in the Grand Serail, the headquarters of the Lebanese prime minister. Demonstrators are demanding that Lebanon finally get a new president, but not just any president - they want their president, and they are screaming at the top of their lungs: "God, Lebanon and Aoun; we don't need more than that!"

Lebanon is ruled under a so-called consociational democracy in which cabinet positions are allocated according to religious affiliation. Thus, the head of state is a Maronite Christian, as the Maronites make up the largest Christian community in Lebanon, alongside Orthodox Christians and Catholics.

Read more: Lebanese Christians face political crisis | Middle East | DW.COM | 19.07.2015

7/18/15

NSA Spying: Some German officials now use disposable phones over eavesdropping fears

The so-called "burner" phones have been used not only in countries such as Russia and China, which continue to be at loggerheads with the West over a number of issues, including the Ukraine conflict - but also during visits to close allies such as the Britain and the United States, "Der Spiegel" news magazine reported on Saturday.

The magazine said politicians had been advised by Germany's Federal Office for Information Security to use disposable phones and only download essential data on it.

"There are clear signals that people are getting more sensible," the report quoted one security source as saying.

For years, security agencies have warned their leaders of the dangers of mobile phones and eavesdropping. During their visits abroad, officials run a particularly high risk when leaving phones unattended in order to hold secret talks as this opens a window of opportunity for spy agencies to manipulate the phones or even upload surveillance programs.

Following a year of revelations that the US National Security Agency had allegedly been listening on phones belonging to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other key German politicians, these fears have become a reality for Germany. A WikiLeaks report published last week suggested that NSA spying had gone on for much longer than previously thought.

Despite the advice from Germany's security authorities the "burners" have not been introduced universally across the cabinet. Both Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel reportedly went on their recent respective trips to Cuba and China with their normal phones.

 Read more: German officials use disposable phones over eavesdropping fears | News | DW.COM | 18.07.2015

Is sun shining on Spain’s ‘Golden Visa’ regime?

Spain’s ‘Golden Visa’ scheme has been helping to bolster a recovery in parts of the country’s luxury property market.

Launched in 2013, the scheme grants Spanish residency to investors who spend at least 500,000 euros on property in the country.

It is one of several such schemes across Europe to encourage foreign investment. The UK, Ireland, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus have implemented similar programs.

“We have helped anyone who wants to come and invest in Spain, to invest capital, to boost job creation in Spain – and we definitely want that,” explained Spain’s Secretary General for Immigration and Emigration, Marine del Corral Tellez.

House prices in Spain fell by more than 25 percent between 2007 and 2013 according to the country’s statistics bureau.

In some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods – such as Madrid’s Salamanca and Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona – residential property has already recovered more than 20 percent in lost value, primarily driven for foreign demand.

Read more: Is sun shining on Spain’s ‘Golden Visa’ regime? | euronews, economy

Netherlands considers benefit freeze for citizens who join militants - by Yoruk Bahceli


The Dutch government proposed on Wednesday freezing social security and student benefits for citizens who join militant groups such as Islamic State, in a bid to stem the numbers of young people leaving for conflict zones.

The move was the latest in a flurry of measures - including a partial burqa ban - in a country where polls have shown a hardening attitude towards immigrants.

Governments across Europe have said they are worried about the risk of citizens returning radicalized to launch attacks at home.

"Anyone who leaves to support ISIS (Islamic State), or to marry a jihadi fighter, will be confronted with the freezing of their government financing," the government said in a statement.

Europe's police organization, Europol, said in January as many as 5,000 Europeans had joined fighting in Syria - though Foreign Minister Bert Koenders last month said only 190 Dutch citizens had left.

"It's symbolic politics," said Simon Otjes, a researcher at the University of Groningen, comparing the measure to the burqa ban which was imposed in May even though very few women in the Netherlands wear the garment.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte caused a storm in March when he said he would prefer to see Dutch citizens who left for Iraq or Syria "fall in battle" than return to the Netherlands.

Note EU-Digest: Whoever votes against this proposal in the Dutch parliament should be questioned about their sanity. Even this ban is far too light. Any Dutch or European citizen who joins militant groups such as Islamic State should be stripped of their nationality - no ifs or buts.



Read more: Netherlands considers benefit freeze for citizens who join militants | Reuters

7/17/15

Greece - German Parliament approves new Greek bailout plan

German lawmakers on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new bailout plan for Greece after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Greece would face chaos without a deal.

The bailout of Greece took several big strides forward Friday after German lawmakers overwhelmingly gave their backing to another financial rescue and the European Union confirmed it would get Athens enough money to avoid an imminent debt default.

The developments, which capped a week in which Greece has cleared a string of hurdles, prompted a positive assessment from Europe's bailout fund. In a statement, the European Stability Mechanism said its board of governors approved a "decision to grant, in principle, stability support to Greece in the form of a loan program."

Though the broad outlines of the Greek bailout were agreed Monday by the eurozone's 19 leaders, the ESM's decision formally kick-starts the process by which Greece negotiates the nitty-gritty of its bailout program.

The discussions, which are expected to last four weeks, will include economic targets and reforms deemed necessary in return for an anticipated 85 billion euros ($93 billion) over three years.

Read more: Europe - German Parliament approves new Greek bailout plan - France 24

European Automobile Industry: European car sales show a tentative recovery - by Holly Ellyatt

European car sales bounced back in the first half of the year and rose almost 15 percent in June alone – even in Greece, according to new car sales data, signalling a tentative rise in consumer confidence over the regions' economic recovery.

New car sales in the European Union (EU) rose 8.2 percent in the first half of the year, according to data published by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association on Thursday, surpassing 7 million units (7,169,984).

All major markets posted growth, contributing to the overall upturn of the EU market over the period, the EAMA said.

In June alone, new passenger car registrations in the region rose 14.6 percent from the same month a year ago, continuing an upward trend that started 22 months ago "and marking the largest over-the-month increase since December 2009," the association added.

Read more: European car sales show a tentative recovery

Computer Industry: Berlin start-up scene: Europe′s ′Silicon Valley′? - by Daniela Späth

Berlin is not just a popular tourist destination - it's also home to ever more start-ups.

Berlin has established a reputation as Germany's entrepreneurs' capital. It's seen the highest number of start-ups in the country, ahead of Hamburg, since 2011, according to data from the Bonn Institute for the Study of Small and Mid-size Firms (IfM).

Berlin is well-suited to becoming a leading start-up metropolis in Europe. It's already Europe's number two investment destination after London, according to consultants EY.

Niko Woischnik has been organizing "Tech Open Air," a start-up conference, for four years. He says more and more foreigners attend the conference, which attracts around 5,000 visitors. And he isn't surprised.

"The cost of living and the rents are relatively low, compared to other European cities," he told DW, adding that Berlin's central location and the fact that English is now the lingua franca also work in the German capital's favor.

Read more: Berlin start-up scene: Europe′s ′Silicon Valley′? | Business | DW.COM | 17.07.2015

Greece PM Tsipras reshuffles government after rebellion

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has made changes to his government, removing ministers who voted against reforms necessary for a rescue deal. Nine changes were made overall.

The reshuffle on Friday came two days after a rebellion in Tsipras' left-wing Syriza party forced him to rely on opposition votes to pass a reform package in return for talks on a third international bailout for his debt-stricken country.

Tsipras replaced Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, one of the rebels, with former Labor Minister Panos Skourletis, whose position will be taken by George Katrougalos, formerly Administrative Reforms Minister.
Skourletis is a close ally of Tsipras.

The deputy minister of defense, who was close to Lafazanis, was also removed from the post, to be replaced by Christoforos Vernardakis, an academic.

The prime minister also named Trifon Alexiadis deputy finance minister, replacing Nadia Valavani, who stepped down ahead of the vote earlier this week.

The crucial portfolio of finance minister will be kept by Euclid Tsakalotos, who took over the position on July 6 after the former holder, Yanis Varoufakis, resigned.

The new members of the cabinet are scheduled to be sworn in on Saturday.

 Read more: Greece PM Tsipras reshuffles government after rebellion | News | DW.COM | 17.07.2015

UKRAINE: Victims’ families mark MH17 crash one year anniversary

Families of the victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, which crashed over eastern Ukraine a year ago, are marking the anniversary amid calls for a UN-backed tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the downing. Memorial services are being held in several countries, including the Netherlands (196 dead) and Australia, home to many of the 298 victims of Flight MH17, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down.

On Friday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott unveiled a permanent memorial to the Australian victims in the nation's capital, Canberra. The memorial, which features a plaque inscribed with the names of Australians who were killed, is set in soil that a police officer brought back from Ukraine.

"He knew that the place where MH17 came to rest was sacred and that a piece of it should come back to Australia," Abbott said. "It was a humane and decent thing for him to know and do. It was a contrast to the savagery that brought down the plane."

Abbott and his wife then laid a wreath at the base of the plaque. Dozens of family members of the victims followed, many in tears, as they laid flowers alongside the wreath in honour of their loved ones.

In the Ukrainian village where the airliner was downed, residents carrying flowers gathered in the church in the center of Hrabove at the start of a procession to the crash site in nearby fields.

Friday's ceremony will include the dedication of a small stone with a plaque. The commemoration has been organized by local leaders and the Russia-backed separatist rebels who control the area.

Memorial services are being held in several countries, including the Netherlands and Australia, home to many of the 298 victims of Flight MH17, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down.


Read more: Asia-pacific - Victims’ families mark MH17 crash anniversary - France 24

7/16/15

Greece: German lawmakers back Greek bailout

Lawmakers from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Greek bailout agreement ahead of a parliamentary ballot Friday.

At a meeting that lasted 5 hours, 48 lawmakers dissented, while some 250 backed the deal.

Members of the Social Democrats, Merkel's coalition partner, also strongly supported the agreement at their own meeting, meaning it will likely pass Friday.

Read more: The Latest: German lawmakers back Greek bailout - Yahoo News

Greek parliament approves tough reforms demanded by Brussels with large majority

Greece’s parliament has approved tough new austerity reforms by a large majority.

The result was 229 votes to 64 in the 300 seat chamber. There were 6 abstentions and one absentee.

The passing of the bill was set as a condition by Brussels for an 86 billion euro bailout over the next three years.

The vote came after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had been facing a revolt by his own Syriza party, made an emotional speech to get them on board.

Even though he had declared his dislike for the terms agreed with Greece’s creditors he said he had done his best for the country
 .
In the end one-in-four Syriza party members did not back the bill.

Read more: Greek parliament approves tough reforms demanded by Brussels | euronews, world news

Chinese tech giant prepares biggest-ever US takeover bid

In what could be the biggest-ever Chinese takeover of a US firm, Tsinghua Unigroup is preparing a bid for memory chip maker Micron, according to people close to the matter.

The tech giant is reportedly set to offer 21 dollars per share for Micron, an almost 20 percent premium to the stock’s close on Monday.

Sources close to the Chinese firm say the bid could be put in as soon as Wednesday.

Any such takeover of Micron would likely have to pass a review by the US Committee on Foreign Investment, which looks at the national security implications of such deals.

Read more:Chinese tech giant prepares biggest-ever US takeover bid – reports | euronews, economy

Iran Nuclear Treaty: Unfreezing Iran’s economy could benefit everyone

Their economy gasping for air, Iranians expect a new crossdraft from the release of their frozen assets, part of the breakthrough deal trimming their country’s nuclear ambitions.

How those assets will bounce back, and how quickly, is far from fully predictable. De-toxifying the international regulatory atmosphere will be complex, but meanwhile, President Rouhani is keeping the message to his people simple.

Rouhani said: “Today is a new beginning, the beginning of a better future for our young people, and the beginning for our beloved Iran to accelerate its development.”

Major companies want to accelerate back into this market of some 80 million consumers. The general figure being floated is of some $100 billion in Iranian assets set to be unfrozen, personal or governmental assets, which by right means the assets of the Iranian people.

In response to his president’s promise, one Tehran store owner said: “Sure, it can be a new start. Our oil production will change, and in the end the economy. As far as I know, European countries are ready to invest in Iran and to have Iran invest there.”

Another retailer said: “No one would negotiate without a purpose. Sure, they’ll profit from our country, but it will be really good for us.”

Read more: Unfreezing Iran’s economy could benefit everyone | euronews, world news

7/15/15

Greece Passes Austerity Laws In Critical Vote

Greek MPs have passed a series of painful new austerity measures into law aimed at saving the country's economy from collapse.

The reforms, including tax hikes and pensions, were overwhelmingly backed, but some figures inside the prime minister's left-wing Syriza party opposed the deal.

The bill had to pass in order for Greece to start negotiations with creditors on a third bailout worth €86bn (£61bn) over three years.

But the reforms will condemn the Greek people to more years of economic hardship.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said it was the best possible deal he could get from the creditors to prevent Greece being forced out of the euro.

Read more: Greece Passes Austerity Laws In Critical Vote

European Aircraft Industry: Airbus electric plane makes history by flying over English Channel

AP Photo
The E-fan electric plane of European planemaker Airbus has made history by being the first battery-operated electric plane to fly over the English Channel.

Flying from Lydd, England, to Calais, France, recently, the environmentally-friendly plane which operates on batteries only, uses no oil or water. Thanks to that feature the 20-foot long, 1300-pound jet releases absolutely no emissions.

Several companies in different countries are trying to develop electric planes in hopes of offering a fuel-free and emissions-free flight alternative for the future.

Earlier, pilot Hugues Duval flew from Dover, England, to Calais on a two-engine, one-seat Cricri plane, which weighs about 100 kilograms (220 pounds). He said reached 150 kilometers (90 miles) an hour on his 52-kilometer (31-mile) journey.

Duval told The Associated Press that his successful flight was a "relief" and an "important moment" after years of developing the plane and flying it over land.

Airbus' E-fan took its maiden voyage in March 2014, and has taken off 100 times since, its latest at Paris's International Air Show last month. Airbus aims to put the two-seater on the market in 2017, targeting sales at training facilities for entry-level pilots.

Read more: Airbus electric plane makes history by flying over English Channel - Daily Sabah

Railroad Industry - Macedonia: China's first bullet train exported to Europe rolls off line

The first bullet train to be exported to Europe rolled off the production line at Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co., Ltd,a subsidiary company of CRRC Corp, on Tuesday, according to China News Service on July 7.

The train was made in accordance with the national standard of Macedonia and meets the TSI (Technical Specification for Interoperability) standard. It boasts more complicated technology compared to the previous products exported to Europe, which include electric locomotives, subways and light rail trains, says the report.

The train is equipped with the advanced collision energy absorption system and it can ensure the safety of passengers and drivers when two trains collide. Safety is ensured running up to a speed of 36 km per hour, or a train running with a speed of 36 km per hour hits a 80-ton truck, and or a train running with a speed of 50 km bumps a 15-ton deformable barrier.

The train will run from north to south and travel through the capital of Macedonia. It will undertake 80 percent of the country's rail capacity, with a total length of 215 km. It is an important part of the 10th corridor of the Pan-European railway.

Macedonia's Minister of Transport and Communications Mile Janakieski thinks the cooperation helps Macedonia's dream: a long-planned bullet train project coming to fruition and has laid a solid foundation to further deepen bilateral cooperation in politics, economy and culture.

Read more: China's first bullet train exported to Europe rolls off line - People's Daily Online

China - Robotics: First unmanned factory takes shape in Dongguan City

The first unmanned factory in Dongguan, a city of southeastern China's Guangdong province, lays out a vision of future manufacturing: all the processes are operated by computer-controlled robots, computer numerical control machining equipment, unmanned transport trucks and automated warehouse equipment.

The technical staff just sits at the computer and monitors through a central control system.

At the workshop of Changying Precision Technology Company in Dongguan, known as the "world factory", which manufactures cell phone modules, 60 robot arms at 10 production lines are polishing the modules day and night. Each line has an automatic belt and three workers who are just responsible for checking lines and monitoring.

A few months ago, it required 650 workers to finish this process. A robot arm can replace six to eight workers, now there are 60 workers and the number will be reduced to 20 in the future, according to Luo Weiqiang, general manager of the company.

This is the first step of the "robot replace human" program. In the next two years the number of robots will be increased to 1,000 and 80 percent process will be conducted by robots, said Chen Qixing, president of the company.

Compared with many skilled workers, these robots are new hands. But they made far more and better products than well-trained workers and experts. Data shows that since the robots came to the factory, the defect rate of products has dropped from over 25 percent to less than 5 percent and the production capacity from more than 8,000 pieces per person per month increased to 21,000 pieces.

This company is only a microcosm of Dongguan, one of the manufacturing hubs in China. The City plans to finish 1,000 to 1,500 "robot replace human" programs by 2016.

With the implementation of "Made in China 2025" strategy, a growing number of "unmanned workshops or factories" will come out.

Read more: First unmanned factory takes shape in Dongguan City - People's Daily Online

European parliament pushes commission to close the loop on circular economy - by Ariadna Rodrigo

After the European commission controversially shelved its flagship piece of waste and resource legislation – the circular economy package – last year, first vice-president Frans Timmermans promised to re-table it in a "more ambitious" form.

Recently, the European parliament laid down a marker on what such an ambition should look like - and all eyes will now be on the commission to make sure it pays attention.

MEPs voted 394 to 197 in favour of a report formalising their expectations for the revised package, calling for legally-binding targets on a broad array of waste, recycling and resource use issues.

Ahead of the vote, the worry had been that the package would be watered down and stripped of much of its legally-binding language, or even rejected outright by the centre-right EPP bloc.

Given the well-known challenges ahead, the transition to a circular economy is crucial. The EU is highly dependent on the import of raw materials and a significant number of natural resources face rapid depletion.

In addition, every EU citizen produces five tonnes of waste per year on average, of which only one third is recycled. This underlines the urgent need to use the strategic stock of resources in a more sustainable and efficient way.



Flanders,an EU parliamentarian said; "the nation I represent in the European parliament, has a strong track record on waste management. 65 per cent of our household waste is recycled, making us the top performer in Europe.

Flanders also has some successful pioneers in the broader field of circular economy. Building on that expertise, I have engaged constructively in the ongoing discussions to make real progress. My contribution has centred around economics, scientific data and subsidiarity.

Apart from the important intrinsic environmental benefits, making our economy more circular essentially boils down to economics and competitiveness. It concerns access to - or the sustainable availability of - raw materials, the re-industrialisation and further digitalisation of Europe, the creation of new jobs and challenges linked to climate, energy and scarce resources.

I still consider this to be the most powerful argument to convince non-believers. If we want the circular economy to work in practice, we need competitive businesses which act as a driving force towards systemic change.

I am convinced that there is now a genuine window of opportunity to achieve this, but we need smart policy which reduces burdens and barriers, stimulates innovation as well as new business models which create long-term legal certainty.

Furthermore, effective policies should always be underpinned by sound and scientifically-founded data. The feasibility of new proposals should be subject to comprehensive impact assessments. A circular economy requires a mix of instruments, at various policy levels taking full account of subsidiarity.

The report adopted in parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee explicitly refers to subsidiarity, but I remain cautious. I fully support the key messages of the resolution adopted in its recent strategic report, and three of these stand out to me.

We must have the means to effectively measure and reduce the overall use of resources, we require a well thought-out product policy, and we must incentivise smarter waste management.

However, I believe that parliament could send out an even stronger signal if it focused on the important political messages and avoid the detail and prescription that risk overshadowing these essential points.

Given what is at stake, we must be ambitious. At the same time, if we want to ensure substantial progress in the real world - rather than just on paper - we need to reconcile ambition with realism.

Our proposals need to work and be achievable. I represent a top-performing nation, therefore my level of ambition is high. But something European environment agency Hans Bruyninckx said often crosses my mind:

"if you think you are leading, but nobody is following, you are just taking a walk".

Reconciling ambition with realism does not equal lowering our level of ambition. On the contrary, it is a strong commitment to make the circular economy happen in practice.

EU-Digest