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10/31/15

Egypt: Russian plane disappeared at 31,000 feet

The Egyptian Civil Aviation agency has said that a Russian commercial jet carrying 224 people, which crashed in the Sinai Peninsula early Saturday, was last seen at 31,000 feet before disappearing off radar 23 minutes after taking off from Sharm el Sheikh airport headed for St Petersburg.

The Airbus A-321 operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia (also known as Siberia-based Metrojet) was carrying 217 passengers – 17 of whom were children – and 7 crew members. Egyptian authorities said all on board were Russians.

Egyptian media said that the country’s fighter jets flying reconnaissance located a debris site in Al-Hassana in central Sinai.

There were unconfirmed reports in some local media that the plane had been split in two.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, who earlier formed a task force in cooperation with Russian authorities to investigate the cause of the crash, canceled a plan trip to the city of Ismailiyah and met with his cabinet in emergency session early Saturday.

Egyptian media reported that he was headed to the crash site at Al-Hassana, 300km north of the popular Sharm el Sheikh resort frequented by Russian tourists.

Ismail said that 54 ambulance and relief vehicles had arrived at the crash site. Some Egyptian media reported that bodies were now being recovered.

Read moreEgypt: Russian plane disappeared at 31,000 feet | The BRICS Post

10/30/15

Elections: Turkey’s Erdogan Should Listen to the Voters

Not so long ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey from 2003 until 2014 and president since, was hailed as a model leader of an emerging economy with an admirably moderate Islamist bent.

At the helm of the Justice and Development Party (A.K.P.) he had created, Mr. Erdogan oversaw an economic recovery and introduced democratic reforms (part of an effort to win admission to the European Union), achieved a truce with Kurdish nationalists and curbed the power of an ambitious military. 

Yet today, on the eve of a second national election within five months, which Mr. Erdogan engineered after being battered in the first, many of those achievements have been undermined, in no small part because of Mr. Erdogan’s relentless drive to win and consolidate power.

The Turkish military is again bombing Kurdish separatists; opposition parties have trouble holding rallies or getting airtime; rivals are branded as terrorists; opposition media is intimidated or muzzled. The economy, which grew an impressive 9.2 percent in 2010, is now expected to grow by 3 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Read more: Turkey’s Erdogan Should Listen to the Voters - The New York Times

South China Sea: China confirms test of new hypersonic strike vehicle 'Wu-14'

The Chinese Defense Ministry confirmed the fourth test of a hypersonic nuclear delivery vehicle, which the US called an “extreme maneuver,” amid rising tensions between the two powers in the South China Sea.

The test of the hypersonic glide vehicle, which the US has dubbed the “WU-14”, was carried out on June 7 and is the missile’s fourth test in 18 months.

"The scheduled scientific research and experiments in our territory is normal, and those tests are not targeted at any country and specific goals," the ministry said in response to a report published on Thursday by the Free Beacon.

The strategic strike weapon is extremely advanced and can travel at 10 times the speed of sound, or 12,231.01kph.

US missile defenses can only counter ballistic missiles and warheads that have predictable trajectories. The Wu-14 is capable of maneuvering during flight while travelling at the edge of space, and so is extremely difficult to shoot down.

Read more: China confirms test of new hypersonic strike vehicle 'Wu-14' — RT News

South China Sea: China's Supersonic Ship Killer Is Making U.S. Navy's Job Harder - by David Tweed

Increased interactions between the the Chinese and U.S. navy in the contested South China Sea risk becoming more complicated by the increasingly sophisticated missiles being carried by submarines.

A new report to the U.S. Congress assessing a Chinese submarine-launched missile known as the YJ-18 highlights the danger, noting the missile accelerates to supersonic speed just before hitting its target, making it harder for a crew to defend their ship.

Defense chiefs from several countries in Southeast Asia have warned in recent months of the danger of undersea “clutter” as countries build up submarine fleets and the U.S. challenges China over its claim to a large swath of the South China Sea. This week’s U.S. patrol inside the 12-nautical mile zone that China claims around its man-made islands in the waters saw the USS Lassen shadowed by two Chinese naval vessels.

The YJ-18 missile can cruise at about 600 miles an hour, or just under the speed of sound, only a few meters above the surface of the sea and then, about 20 nautical miles from its target, accelerate to as much as three times the speed of sound, according to an Oct. 28 report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

“The supersonic speed makes it harder to hit with on-board guns,” according to Larry Wortzel, a member of the commission. “It also makes it a faster target for radars.”

Read more: China's Supersonic Ship Killer Is Making U.S. Navy's Job Harder - Bloomberg Business

10/29/15

Syrian Crises: Arch-rivals Saudi Arabia, Iran to discuss Syria face-to-face for first time - by Angus McDowall and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin


Arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran announced they would attend international talks in Vienna on Friday on the Syrian conflict, in what will be their first meeting to discuss the four-year-long war.

Saudi Arabia said it aimed to gauge during the talks the willingness of Iran and Russia, the main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, for a peace deal, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Wednesday.

"The view of our partners ... was that we should test the intentions of the Iranians and the Russians in arriving at a political solution in Syria, which we all prefer," al-Jubeir told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and three of his deputies will travel to Vienna, Iranian state news agencies said. It will be the first time that Tehran has been represented in international discussions on the Syrian crisis.

Iran says it supports a political solution in Syria, but says Assad should be part of the process. Opposition groups, and their regional backers including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, say Assad must leave power as a precondition for peace.


Read more: Arch-rivals Saudi Arabia, Iran to discuss Syria face-to-face for first time | Reuters

US Pharmaceutical Industry: President Obama nominates Robert Califf-“the ultimate industry insider"-as the new FDA chief

Americans pay the highest prices for prescription drugs of anywhere in the world – and the cost is going up, 12% on average in the last year and in some cases nearly 1,000%.

The problem is bigger than profit vultures like former hedge fund “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. Giant pharmaceutical companies spend millions on lobbyists to defend their monopolies and benefit from trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Instead of fighting for lower prices, Congress and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) routinely side with Big Pharma.

President Obama has recently nominated Robert Califf, a doctor described as “the ultimate industry insider.  Sen. Bernie Sanders recently also made waves by announcing he would oppose Califf’s nomination,

According to the New York Times, Dr. Califf “has deeper ties to the pharmaceutical industry than any F.D.A. commissioner in recent memory.”

 He has an extensive record of close collaboration with pharmaceutical giants, and recently described regulation as a “barrier,” not a safeguard for public health. While he donates his Big Pharma speaking and consulting fees to charity, his lucrative salary at Duke University is directly supported by companies like Merck, Novartis, and Eli Lilly.

In fact, in the conflict of interest section of one recent article, Califf admitted to receiving financial support from more than 20 companies. No matter how good a doctor he is or how fair he attempts to be, Califf is simply too connected to industry.

If he becomes the next head of the FDA, his former sponsors and friends in the pharmaceutical industry will have a friendly ear in a major position of power, threatening our financial well-being and physical health.

This is exactly how big corporations go about capturing control. It’s no wonder that Sen. Sanders declared that Califf simply wasn’t someone who is “prepared to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies and work to substantially lower drug prices.”7 But reports indicate that President Obama nominated Califf deliberately to avoid a fight with Republicans in the Senate, and that Senate Democrats have yet to line up to oppose him.

EU-Digest

Middle East: Saudi Arabia: Saudi-blogger Raif Badawi awarded 2015 Sakharov Prize

The European Union's top human rights prize was awarded Thursday to a persecuted 31-year-old Saudi blogger arrested more than three years ago for his criticism of the oil-rich Gulf Arab kingdom.

The announcement was received with a standing ovation at the European Parliament assembly in Strasbourg, France.

"I urge the king of Saudi Arabia to free him, so he can accept the prize," European Parliament President Martin Schulz said. "Relations depend on human rights being respected by our partners ... they are not only not being respected but are being trod underfoot."

Badawi co-founded the Saudi Liberal Network. He was arrested in June 2012 under cybercrime provisions, and a judge ordered the website shut down after it criticized Saudi Arabia's religious police.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam; he received 50 public lashes in January before the punishment was suspended on health grounds.

Read more: Saudi-blogger Raif Badawi awarded 2015 Sakharov Prize | News | DW.COM | 29.10.2015

European Aircraft Industry: China, Germany sign deal for A330 Airbus jets

China and Germany signed a deal on Thursday that will see Chinese airlines buy 30 A330 aeroplanes manufactured by Airbus Group.

The order, valued at 17 billion euros ($18.57 billion), was announced after Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel met China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

Airbus is battling Boeing Co for dominance of the Chinese market, where Boeing estimates demand for new planes to reach $1 trillion over the next two decades.

China, Germany sign deal for A330 Airbus jets

Islamic Banking: Suriname takes lead in Islamic banking within CARICOM

In an effort to expand its economic partners, Suriname has forged strong ties with the Islamic world by accelerating its engagement with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over the past five years. Paramaribo has now positioned itself as the leader in Islamic banking in the region in and is looking to exploit this lucrative industry that has gone global.

Experts on Islamic banking, Mohammed Mannai, Dr Said Bouheraoua, Dr Ibrahim Al Saywed and Louai Khojali, sent by the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) of the Islamic Development Bank Group, are this week in Suriname conducting classes on Islamic banking at the request of Paramaribo.

They will also visit neighbouring Guyana, whose ties with the OIC have always been shaky. Guyana rarely attended OIC meetings and knows little about the OIC and its organs. The previous government failed to capitalize on OIC funds. The four-member delegation will hold talk with the new government of Guyana on Islamic banking this week in Georgetown.

Jim Rassam a businessman, who holds a majority share in the Trust Bank of Suriname, has been in the vanguard of initiating the Islamic financing (Sukuk) industry. The Trust Bank has been certified as the first Islamic financial institution in Suriname and the Caribbean. The staff of the bank is currently being trained to take up their positions soon.

Suriname's deputy governor to the Islamic Bank, Dr Anwar Lall Mohamed, said the bank is "good for farmers and small entrepreneurs. It is industrial and production friendly." He added that his government is happy of the growing collaboration with the bank that "leads to the economic development of Suriname."

Read more: Suriname takes lead in Islamic banking within CARICOM | Caribbean News Now

10/28/15

Turkish Elections: Turkish police storm opposition Bugun TV during live broadcast

Is Erdogan holding on to power with brute force?
Police in the Turkish city of Istanbul stormed the offices of opposition television station Bugun TV during a live broadcast on Wednesday (October 28), just days before a general election.

The raid is part of a crackdown on companies linked to a preacher who is an arch enemy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Footage showed police spraying water cannnon at people in front of Koza Ipek outlet Bugun TV, which is owned by cleric Fethullah Gulen who is accused of plotting to overthrow the president.

Authorities on Tuesday took over 22 companies owned by Koza Ipek in an investigation of alleged financial irregularities, including whether it funded Gulen. The company denies wrongdoing.

Erdogan has clamped down on commercial interests belonging to once-influential followers of Gulen, his former ally, after police and prosecutors considered sympathetic to the cleric opened a corruption investigation of Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013.

For the complete report: Turkish Elections: Turkish police storm opposition Bugun TV during live broadcast

Turkey - Elections: Guarding the Turkish election - by Julia Hahn and Christian Roman

Terrorism, corruption, vote-rigging - heading into Sunday's elections, the climate in Turkey is one of mistrust. Thousands have volunteered to ensure there's no electoral fraud.

Read more: Guarding the Turkish election | Europe | DW.COM | 27.10.2015

10/27/15

The Energy Business: End Of The European Refining Boom Or Just A Pause? - by MichaelMcDonald

I t’s been a painful year for energy investors with most oil-related stocks down significantly. One of the few exceptions to this rule of thumb is the refining sector as many refining companies have seen substantial benefits from the fall in the price of oil.

As crude prices have collapsed, gasoline and other derivative product prices have been coming down much more slowly. As a result, spread margins have widened considerably and refiners have seen profits boom. Companies like Valero and other big name refiners have seen their stock prices leap higher as the glut of crude has led many oil producers to rush to sell their production.

What the markets gives, the markets take away though, and as oil prices have rebounded a bit over the last few weeks, many analysts now see refining margins shrinking back closer to pre-collapse levels.

For European refiners in particular this may be a major problem going forward. U.S. refiners are still benefiting from the export ban on most U.S. produced crude which in turn distorts the price for U.S. crude, holding it down and inflating refiner margins. European refiners have no similar advantage.

European investment managers appear to be getting nervous and some are taking profits and reducing their bets on the refinery sector. European refiners Saras S.p.A, Neste Oyj, Hellenic Petroleum, and other independent refiners have posted returns averaging 28 percent year-to-date, surpassing all other groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

But margins appear set to eventually shrink by around 65 percent from $8.85 per barrel to around $3.10 a barrel according to Wood Mackenzie Ltd. The firm is looking for refiners to return to historical norms, and while the timing on that return may be up in the air, the stocks are unlikely to keep moving higher in the medium term, Wood Mackenzie analysts say. The firm expects refinery margins to shrink by 50 percent in 2016 vs. 2015.

Read more:The End Of The European Refining Boom Or Just A Pause? | OilPrice.com

EU votes to end roaming charges

The EU has voted to agree on revised rules on the telecoms market which will end unpopular roaming surcharges for mobile phone calls and data use.

Spanish MEP Vera del Castillo, of the European People's Party and rapporteur of the telecoms report, said today's vote brings about an end to roaming charges.

"We have eliminated a type of tax on people who live in the EU and we have eliminated a barrier to small companies and institutions accessing the single market."

Read more: EU votes to end roaming charges - RTÉ News

Investment Brokers: The Brokerage World Is Changing, Who Will Survive? - by Andre Cappon and Stephan Mignot,

Once upon a time, being a stockbroker was comfortable, genteel and lucrative.

In the “old world,” brokers, as members and owners, controlled the exchanges. Exchanges were run as quasi-non-profit clubs or utilities to support their members. Exchanges had monopoly on liquidity and brokers controlled access. By providing investors access to markets, brokers earned commissions and also received trading fee rebates from the exchange. A long time ago, brokerage commissions were even fixed (remember).

Brokers thus competed on the basis of service and relationships, rather than price.

The introduction of negotiated commissions in the U.S. in 1975 (eventually followed by most other markets in the world) marked the beginning of constantly increasing competition and challenges for brokers. In the last 10-15 years, this process accelerated.

Capital markets experienced a revolution driven by technology and radical change in market structure.

Electronic trading dramatically increased trading volumes and liquidity and slashed the cost of intermediation and broadened access to markets. Exchange demutualization led to a dilution of the status of exchange member.

 Access to liquidity was “democratized”.  Liquidity became fragmented among exchanges, alternative trading platforms, lit and dark pools and so on. Exchange “specialists” (market-makers) disappeared.

In many ways, brokers and exchanges now compete with each other: brokers may internalize order execution, they may use alternative exchanges or dark pools; established exchanges offer “direct market access” (DMA) and are occupying increasing space in the investment process, both pre-trade and post-trade.

The US and UK markets – New York, Chicago, London – are pretty much the “laboratory” for the securities industry worldwide. We shall draw on their experience to illustrate the evolution of the securities industry and extrapolate to other geographies.

The “sell-side” securities industry (i.e. the brokers), has been experiencing deteriorating economics, due to   pricing pressures, increasingly stringent regulation, and changes in market structure.

Life has become very tough for brokers.

Read more: The Brokerage World Is Changing, Who Will Survive? - Forbes

Syria: Russia’s peace efforts acquire gravitas - by M.K. Bhadrakumar

The sudden visit by the US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with King Salman at his ranch outside Riyadh can be seen as a swift follow-up on the phone conversation he held with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov the previous day.

Lavrov had initiated the phone call to Kerry, which followed their meeting in Vienna on Friday together with their Turkish and Saudi counterparts. Lavorv also held telephonic conversations on Saturday with his Iranian and Egyptian counterparts.

Evidently, Lavrov and Kerry are engaged in what increasingly seems a combined mutually reinforcing effort to flesh out a peace plan that finds acceptance with the external players who are aligned with them while also not entirely in sync with them as well as with the Syrian parties concerned. The brainpower could be Lavrov’s, but Moscow’s priority is to work with Washington to the extent the latter is willing – the common ground is steadily expanding – rather than indulge in one-upmanship.

In bits and pieces, the contours of a peace plan could be emerging out of these hectic consultations. Consider the following statements made by President Vladimir Putin last Thursday in Sochi (on the eve of the meeting between Lavrov and Kerry in Vienna):
  • I am sure that the Russian military operations [in Syria] will have the necessary positive effect on the situation, helping Syrian authorities to create the conditions for subsequent actions in reaching a political settlement.
  • Here is what we believe we must do to support long-term settlement… First of all, free Syria and Iraq’s territories from terrorists… And to do that, we must join all forces – the Iraqi ad Syrian armies, Kurdish militia, various opposition groups that have actually made a real contribution to fighting terrorists – and coordinate the actions of countries within and outside of the region against terrorism.
  • Second, a military victory over the militants alone will… create conditions for the main thing, namely, the beginning of a political process with the participation of all healthy patriotic forces of the Syrian society… The collapse of Syrian government will only mobilize the terrorists. Right now, instead of undermining the Syrian authorities, we must strengthen them, revive them, by strengthening state institutions in the conflict zone.
  • Of course, the Syrian leadership must establish working contacts with those opposition forces, which are ready for dialogue. As far as I understood from the meeting with President Assad [on Tuesday]…, he is ready for such dialogue”.
Putin was speaking in Sochi at the annual conference of the Valdai Club, an elite forum associated with the Kremlin, but in reality he was addressing President Barack Obama, making an impassioned appeal for Russian-American cooperation and coordination over the Syrian crisis.

From the shift of the tectonic plates since then, it appears Obama is veering round to favoring US-Russian coordination at the diplomatic level in tackling the Syrian problem.

Read more: Syria: Russia’s peace efforts acquire gravitas | Asia Times

What's Next for Assad? - by Pavel Aptekar

The sudden announcement that Syrian President Bashar Assad is ready to hold early elections obviously comes at Moscow's urging. Assad broke the news in Damascus to a visiting delegation of Russian parliamentarians just three days after the Syrian leader returned from his meeting in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin. Bloomberg quoted an unidentified senior Moscow politician as saying that the Kremlin insisted on this scenario.

Russia has long used early elections as a cover for reappointing public officials, especially governors. As applied to Assad, Moscow might have either one of two nearly opposite goals in mind.

First, the Kremlin might want to use early elections to "renew the mandate" of Syria's standing president, the man whom Moscow insists is the "legitimate leader" despite the incredulity of the West.

Of course, it is theoretically possible to hold early elections in a country seized by civil war and then proclaim the winner the legitimate president, but what good would it do?

A truce is first necessary for elections to have any legitimacy at all, and a truce can only occur once the Islamic State is routed from the country or a major portion of Syrian territory is cleared of militants. Clearly, victory over the Islamic State is a long-term goal, even with the help of Russian aviation and the Iranian military.

According to Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Center, if Russia supports Assad's participation in those elections, it will mean that Moscow has abandoned its earlier commitment to help create a transitional government to facilitate Assad's departure and plans to once again get behind the current leadership so as not to betray "its own guy" in the Middle East.

If that happens, the Syrian opposition, Turkey, the West and the Arab states will refuse to recognize the results of the elections and the war will inevitably continue.

Read more: What's Next for Assad? | Opinion | The Moscow Times

10/26/15

EU Migration Control Agreement: Juncker’s migration summit leads to 17-point plan - by Dan Alexe

After an exhausting leaders’ meeting on Sunday, just after midnight, Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the leaders agreed in Brussels on a 17-point plan of operational measures.

These start with a permanent exchange of information, including submitting joint needs assessments for EU support within 24 hours, going to increasing Greece’s reception capacity to 30,000 places by the end of the year, and to support UNHCR to provide rent subsidies and host family programmes for at least 20,000 more – a pre-condition to make the emergency relocation scheme work; Financial support for Greece and UNHCR is expected.

Attending the leaders’ meeting were the Heads of State or Government of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

The approved plan asks that Balkan and eastern European countries should stop allowing asylum seekers to pass through to other neighbouring countries without first securing agreement from those neighbours.

Countries should thus be asked to stop waving through migrants without the agreement of their neighbours. The question is how this could be done ensured on the ground, beyond the political declarations of good will and solidarity.

Some participants were very pessimistic. The EU will “start falling apart” if it fails to take concrete action to tackle the refugee crisis within the next few weeks, the Slovenian prime minister, Miro Cerar, warned. Slovenia, a country of 2 million people, has seen the arrival of more than 60,000 refugees in recent days.

At the press conference following the meeting, Jean-Claude Juncker and Angela Merkel did not give details how the transition, the flow of people, will be managed, and how will migrants be spread and divided among the EU member states “with dignity” and in a “humane manner”
.
The final statement also reconfirmed the principle “that a country may refuse entry to third-country nationals who, when presenting themselves at border crossing points, do not confirm a wish to apply for international protection” — meaning that those who do not declare the intention to apply for the status of a refugee could be refused entry immediately at the border.

The EU has already dedicated four summits to migration since the summer but many member states are lagging behind on their promises.

Only around 80 asylum seekers from Italy out of a target total of 160,000 have so far been relocated. Greece has yet to dispatch any.

The President of the European Council, the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees also took part.

Read more: Juncker’s migration summit leads to 17-point plan

Turkey: The ISIS War Inside Turkey Is Escalating

Heavily armed police in eastern Turkey have clashed with members of the so-called Islamic State in a fierce gun battle that lasted several hours and killed nine people, the deadliest encounter between security forces of the NATO ally and the jihadists so far.

The shootout Monday in Diyarbakir, one of Turkey’s biggest cities, came two weeks after suspected ISIS members killed 102 people in a twin suicide attack in the capital, Ankara, it could mark a turning point in relations between Turkey and the Islamist militia.

On the campaign trail ahead of parliamentary elections this Sunday, the opposition is accusing the government of being too lenient towards—or even cooperating with—the self-styled “caliphate” of the jihadists in neighboring Syria. The government denies the accusations.

Read more: The ISIS War Inside Turkey Is Escalating - The Daily Beast

US politics: Gallup poll: Support of Tea Party at new low

Support for the conservative Tea Party movement has dropped to its lowest level, with 17 percent of Americans now backing it, a poll released Monday indicates.

About 42 percent of conservative Republicans support the movement, a Gallup poll revealed, a 21 percentpoint drop from the 63 percent who supported the party in 2010.

Read more: Gallup poll: Support of Tea Party at new low - UPI.com

Post Capitalism: The Economy Of The Future? - by Paul Mason

Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone continual change – economic cycles that lurch from boom to bust – and has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history, journalist and Channel 4 economics news editor Paul Mason wonders whether this time capitalism itself has reached its limits and is changing into something wholly new.

At the heart of this change is information technology: a revolution that has the potential to reshape utterly our familiar notions of work, production and value; and to destroy an economy based on markets and private ownership.

Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swathes of economic life are changing. Goods and services that no longer respond to the dictates of neoliberalism are appearing, from parallel currencies and time banks, to cooperatives and self-managed online spaces.

Vast numbers of people are changing their behaviour, discovering new forms of ownership, lending and doing business that are distinct from, and contrary to, the current system of state-backed corporate capitalism.

Watch the video presentation: Post Capitalism: The Economy Of The Future?

Britain: British Billionaire Bankers Backing Brexit Bandwagon

Billionaire hedge fund are behind an anti-EU campaign aimed at taking the UK out of the European Union following a referendum promised by British Prime Minister David Cameron that would allow them to make millions by avoiding Brussels regulators.

As part of the reforms, three European supervisory bodies were set up to help co-ordinate the work of national regulators. 

These comprised the European Banking Authority (EBA), which deals with bank supervision, including the supervision of the recapitalization of banks; the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), which deals with the supervision of capital markets and carries out direct supervision with regard to credit rating agencies and trade repositories; and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), which deals with insurance supervision.

10/25/15

The Syrian Refugee Crises can only be solved through bi-lateral negotiations to include the Assad Government

The refugee crises Europe and other countries are facing can be directly attributed to the incapability and unwillingness of the major political powers to go sit around the table without any preset conditions.  

The Russian Foreign Minister called for full-scale negotiations between al-Assad and the "full spectrum" of the opposition, "both domestic and external, and with the active support of outside players."

Russian analysts see the talks as a measure of progress towards finding a solution for the Syrian crisis.

"It was clear that solutions will not be found during one meeting, but the differences are so great that even the fact that a meeting was held is a step forward,” says Yelena Suponina, head of the Center for Asia and Middle East at the Russian Strategic Studies Institute. “International players are indeed testing the waters for a prototype of a possible international coalition."

One of the main sticking points is still the political fate of the Syrian president.The most realistic option is to leave this topic out of the equation and focus on the fight against terrorism, Suponina says, adding that political will is required to solve “the problem of al-Asaad.”

Whether U.S. President Barack Obama has the political will or not, is a big question, especially since the United States has now entered the pre-election season, she added.

EU-Digest

10/24/15

Football: Netherlands to play England, France in friendlies

England will warm up for the European Championship in a friendly against the Netherlands, which failed to qualify for the tournament in France.

The Dutch football association announced Friday that Danny Blind’s team will take on England at Wembley on March 29. Four days earlier, the Dutch have a home friendly against France - a team they have been drawn with in a tough World Cup qualification group.

On Thursday, the Dutch announced friendlies next month against world champion Germany and Wales, both teams that are heading to Euro 2016.

The strong lineup of friendly opponents gives Blind an opportunity to start rebuilding and giving experience to his team that mixes many young players with veterans like Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.

Read more: Netherlands to play England, France in friendlies - Washington Times

Clocks go back tonight in the EU - Countdown to GMT

The time changes this weekend, on October 25 at 2:00 am which means you'll have an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning. To remember which way to set your watch, there's a useful (albeit slightly American) mnemonic: “spring forward, fall back”. 

Read more: When do the clocks go back? Countdown to GMT - October 2015 - Telegraph

Canary Isleands: 800-foot megatsunami happened 73000 years ago! Can it happen again?

Researchers at Columbia University have unearthed evidence of a massive 800-foot megatsunami, which they say occurred due to sudden collapse of Fogo volcano. The volcano is one of the world’s largest and most active island volcanoes. Current it towers 2,829 meters (9,300 feet) above sea level, and erupts about every 20 years, most recently last fall.

Researchers claim that the scale of the waves generated by this tsunami were above anything that has been ever witnessed or recorded in human history and their findings shed light on what lies in store for us if there are similar catastrophic collapse in the oceans.

In a 2011 study, French researchers looked at the Fogo collapse, suggesting that it took place somewhere between 124,000-65,000 years ago; but that study says it involved more than one landslide. The French researchers estimate that the resulting multiple waves would have reached only 45 feet–even at that, enough to do plenty of harm today.

The new study adds a new possible example; it says the estimated 160 cubic kilometers (40 cubic miles) of rock that Fogo lost during the collapse was dropped all at once, resulting in the 800-foot wave. Santiago Island lies 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Fogo.

In the early 2000s, other researchers started publishing evidence that the Cape Verdes could generate large tsunamis. Others have argued that Spain’s Canary Islands have already done so. Simon Day, a senior researcher at University College London has sparked repeated controversy by warning that any future eruption of the Canary Islands’ active Cumbre Vieja volcano could set off a flank collapse that might form an initial wave 3,000 feet high. This, he says, could erase more than nearby islands.

Such a wave might still be 300 feet high when it reached west Africa an hour or so later he says, and would still be 150 feet high along the coasts of North and South America. So far, such studies have raised mainly tsunamis of publicity, and vigorous objections from other scientists that such events are improbable. A 2013 study of deep-sea sediments by the United Kingdom’s National Oceanography Centre suggests that the Canaries have probably mostly seen gradual collapses.

Part of the controversy hangs not only on the physics of the collapses themselves, but on how efficiently resulting waves could travel. In 1792, part of Japan’s Mount Unzen collapsed, hitting a series of nearby bays with waves as high as 300 feet, and killing some 15,000 people. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake shook 90 million tons of rock into Alaska’s isolated Lituya Bay; this created an astounding 1,724-foot-high wave, the largest ever recorded. Two fishermen who happened to be in their boat that day were carried clear over a nearby forest; miraculously, they survived.

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killed 230,000 people in 14 countries; the 2011 Tohoku event killed nearly 20,000 in Japan, and has caused a long-term nuclear disaster.

When Fogo erupted last year, Ramalho and other geologists rushed in to observe. Lava flows (since calmed down) displaced some 1,200 people, and destroyed buildings including a new volcano visitors’ center. “Right now, people in Cape Verde have a lot more to worry about, like rebuilding their livelihoods after the last eruption,” said Ramalho. “But Fogo may collapse again one day, so we need to be vigilant.”

Read more: 800-foot megatsunami happened 73000 years ago! Can it happen again? - Techie News

USA : Controversial study claims 99.9 percent chance of major Los Angeles earthquake in 3 years

Angelenos live under constant threat of a major earthquake, but a controversial new study from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory puts a number on that threat. The scientific paper claims there is a 99.9 percent chance of an earthquake between magnitude 5 and 6.3 in less than three years.

The study was published earlier this month by the American Geophysical Union's Earth and Space Science journal. The bold claim has taken many in the seismic community by surprise.

Lead author, Andrea Donnellan of JPL, said this study used GPS and airborne radar data to look at land deformation caused by last year's 5.1 La Habra earthquake. Her team determined that, based on the surface changes, there is still a fair amount of pent-up seismic energy in the region that needs to be released.

“It’s almost like using the surface of the Earth as an instrument to understand what is going on deeper," she explained.
That energy could spawn shaking associated with a magnitude 5 or 6 temblor, she added, but that energy could crop up on any number of faults within a 100-kilometer range of last year's quake.

This sort of prediction is quite common. What isn't common is claiming a 99.9 percent chance of such a quake in a window of time as small as three years.

Read more: Controversial study claims 99.9 percent chance of major Los Angeles earthquake in 3 years | 89.3 KPCC

10/23/15

Are America's Best Days still to come?

Belief among voters that America’s best days are still to come now hovers near its lowest level this year.

Only twenty-four percent (24%) of Likely U.S. Voters now think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey for the week ending October 15.

Read more: America's Best Days - Rasmussen Reports™

10/22/15

Historians, politicians slam Benjamin Netanyahu 'distortion of history' - by Ahiya Raved

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday at the 37th Zionist Congress that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler did not initially plan to exterminate the Jews and was convinced by the grand mufti of Jerusalem – but renowned historians said definitively on Wednesday Oct.21 that this was not the case.

Professor Dan Michman, a world-renowned expert who is the head of the Institute of Holocaust Research at Bar-Ilan University and Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem said Hitler did indeed meet the mufti – but this only occurred after the Final Solution began.

The German government said regarding Netanyahu's remarks that responsibility for the Holocaust lay with the Germans.

"All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust," Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said when asked about Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks.

"This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own."


Read more: Historians, politicians slam PM's 'distortion of history' - Israel News, Ynetnews

World Solar Challenge: Dutch university Delft wins race in Australia

A team from Delft University in the Netherlands has won a solar car race in the Australian outback.

The university's Nuon Solar Team was the first to arrive at the finish line in Adelaide and the 3,000km (1,800 mile) race took four days to complete.

In second place was a team from the University of Twente, also from the Netherlands; while Japan's Tokai University came in third.

The race, which happens once every two years, started on Sunday in Darwin.

Nearly 50 teams from universities and schools around the world took part. Delft University had also won the last challenge in 2013.

The World Solar Challenge is aimed at promoting research on solar-powered cars which could become a consumer product one day.

World Solar Challenge: Dutch university Delft wins race in Australia - BBC News

Conscious Technology: Ray Kurzweil Prediction: Nanobots Will Plug Our Brains Into the Web by the 2030s - by Peter Diamandis

Two weeks ago, Ray and I held an hour-long webinar with my Abundance 360 CEOs about predicting the future. During our session, there was one of Ray's specific predictions that really blew my mind.
"In the 2030s," said Ray, "we are going to send nano-robots into the brain (via capillaries) that will provide full immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system and will connect our neocortex to the cloud. Just like how we can wirelessly expand the power of our smartphones 10,000-fold in the cloud today, we'll be able to expand our neocortex in the cloud."
Let's digest that for a moment.   2030 is only 15 years away…

Directly plugging your brain into the internet? Upgrading your intelligence and memory capacity by orders of magnitude?

The implications of a connected neocortex are quite literally unfathomable. As such, any list I can come up with will pale in comparison to reality.

Read more: Ray Kurzweil's Wildest Prediction: Nanobots Will Plug Our Brains Into the Web by the 2030s - Singularity HUB

EU Refugee Crises: Five Suggestions to Fix Europe’s Migration Mess - by Matteo Garavoglia

Europeans are struggling with migrant flows of a magnitude unseen since the end of World War II. Once the fire fighting will be over, they will have to think about long-term solutions.

Click on link below to see 5 suggestions the EU might keep in mind as they look beyond the emergency.

Read more: Five Suggestions to Fix Europe’s Migration Mess - The Globalist

Israel: Germany tells Netanyahu: We are responsible for the Holocaust

Germany has insisted it was responsible for the Holocaust, after Israel's prime minister claimed a Palestinian leader told the Nazis to kill Europe's Jews.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germans were "very clear in our minds" that the Nazis were responsible.
Benjamin Netanyahu had said Hitler had only wanted to expel Jews from Europe, but that Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini told him: "Burn them."

His remarks have been condemned by Israeli historians and politicians.
Speaking alongside Mrs Merkel in Berlin, Mr Netanyahu said "no-one should deny that Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust".

Read more: Germany tells Netanyahu: We are responsible for the Holocaust - BBC News

10/21/15

Middle East: Canada to end airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, new prime minister Trudeau says

Canadian Liberal prime minister designate Justin Trudeau has confirmed that Canada will withdraw its fighter jets from the US-led mission against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In his first news conference following the sweeping majority Liberal victory in Canada’s federal election, the visibly fatigued leader said he had spoken with US president Barack Obama in a phone call during which he discussed his intention to pull Canada’s fighter jets out of the anti-Isis campaign.

“I committed that we would continue to engage in a responsible way that understands how important Canada’s role is to play in the fight against Isil, but he understands the commitments I’ve made about ending the combat mission,” Trudeau said. 

He did not set out a timeline for the withdrawal. Canada currently has six CF-18 fighter jets taking part in the US-led bombing campaign. They were due to remain in the region until March 2016.
Canada has also deployed around 70 special forces troops to train Kurds in northern Iraq, although Trudeau has previously indicated that this mission would continue.

Read more: Canada to end airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, new prime minister Trudeau says | World news | The Guardian

10/20/15

Canada has a new prime minister — and he won by a long shot

Justin Trudeau, new PM of Canada
Justin Trudeau will become prime minister of Canada.
It's official: Canada has a new prime minister.

Canadians went to the polls on Monday to decide who would be their next leader, and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau came out a clear winner.

By late Monday evening, it looked as though Trudeau's Liberals would form a majority government.

As the numbers rolled in, incumbent Stephen Harper resigned as leader of the Conservative Party.

This is the first time in 9 1/2 years that Canada has had a new leader.

Read more: Canada has a new prime minister — and he won by a long shot - Yahoo Finance

10/19/15

Terrorism: U.K. Extends Passport Powers To Block Teenagers Joining Terrorist Groups - by Jack Moore

British parents will be able to request the cancellation of the passports of their older teenage children if they have fears that they are being radicalized and might travel abroad to join a terrorist group, Prime Minister David Cameron will announce on Monday.

Parents already have had the ability to request the cancellation of the passports of their children aged under 16—a measure that Cameron's office said has been used a number of times, according to the BBC—and new proposals extend the measure to children aged 17 and under.

The aim of the extension of the power is to prevent teenagers traveling to join terrorist groups, particularly in Iraq and Syria, such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda-linked groups such as the Nusra Front.

Note EU-Digest: Excellent move: should be adopted throughout the EU 

Read more: U.K. Extends Passport Powers To Block Teenagers Joining Terrorist Groups

Russia: MH17 – The Open Source Evidence - by Eliot Higgins

After the downing of MH17 on July 17, a number of photographs and videos were shared online claiming to show the movements of a Buk missile launcher through separatist-controlled territory. It was possible to confirm the location where each image was recorded and discover additional information that further evidenced when and where the Buk missile launcher was on July 17. The following is an approximate timeline of where the Buk was and when:
  • 10:45 am: Departed Donetsk eastbound along H21
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Passed Zuhres and Shakhtersk en route to Torez along H21
  • 12:00 pm – 12:45 pm: Entered and then passed through Torez (eastbound)
  • 1:00 pm: Entered Snizhne
  • 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm: Buk was unloaded from the Volvo low-loader truck in Snizhne; left the city (southbound)
  • 4:20 pm: MH17 shot down
Before the first reports and images of the Buk missile launcher were recorded in Donetsk, communications intercepted by the Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) provided information on the earlier movements of the Buk missile launcher. Intercepts include separatists discussing the arrival of the Buk,[1] and references to a location inside Donetsk known as the “Motel.”[2] The Motel, located in the east of Donetsk and used by separatist forces as a base, is close to locations described in social media postings by Donetsk locals who reported sightings of a Buk missile launcher being transported through the city. These sightings are also close to the location where two images showing a Buk missile launcher being transported on the back of a red low-loader were taken, later published by Paris Match[3] and Bellingcat.[4]

Read more: MH17 – The Open Source Evidence

10/18/15

Elections: Swiss People's Party on track for record seats

Switzerland's largest party, the populist rightwing Swiss People's Party, is set for record results in Sunday's parliamentary election, with media projecting it will take a third of seats in the lower house. 
 
Based on final vote counts in half of Switzerland's 26 cantons, and partial counts in 11 others, the ATS news agency projected the party would take 11 additional seats in parliament with about 29.5 percent of the vote.

That would give it 64 of the 200 seats in the lower house, beating its previous record high of 62 seats after the 2007 election.

Along with advances made by the centre-right Liberal Party, Switzerland's third largest party, SVP's gain should tip the scale in parliament from the centre-left towards a centre-right majority.

The Socialists, the country's second biggest party, appeared set to lose two of their 46 seats, while the Liberals were poised to boost their representation to 33 from 30 MPs.

The Christian Democrats, meanwhile, were expected to lose one of their 29 seats.

The biggest loser, according to projections from the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation were the Green Liberals, on track to lose six of their 12 MPs, and the Greens (ten seats, down from 15).

Read more: wiss People's Party on track for record seats - The Local

Germany: Steinmeier looks for a Syrian solution in Middle East tour

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is on a four-day trip to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, with two of those days consecrated to the Iranians.

Steinmeier is hoping to persuade the Iranians to use their influence over Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to seek a diplomatic end to the war there. It is the first official visit to Iran by a German foreign minister in more than 10 years, and coincides with the Core Group meeting of the Munich Security Conference.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is on a four-day trip to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, with two of those days consecrated to the Iranians.

Steinmeier is hoping to persuade the Iranians to use their influence over Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to seek a diplomatic end to the war there. It is the first official visit to Iran by a German foreign minister in more than 10 years, and coincides with the Core Group meeting of the Munich Security Conference.

Read more: Steinmeier looks for a Syrian solution in Middle East tour | euronews, world news

Health Care: UK end-of-life care 'best in world' - by Nick Triggle

End-of-life care in the UK has been ranked as the best in the world with a study praising the quality and availability of services.

The study of 80 countries said thanks to the NHS and hospice movement the care provided was "second to none".

Rich nations tended to perform the best - with Australia and New Zealand ranked second and third respectively.

But the report by the Economist Intelligence Unit praised progress made in some of the poorest countries.

For example Mongolia - ranked 28th - has invested in hospice facilities, while Uganda - 35th - has managed to improve access to pain control through a public-private partnership.

Read more: UK end-of-life care 'best in world' - BBC News

10/17/15

Israel: At UN, Israel declines international Al-Aqsa guards

Israel has rejected an appeal by Palestinians for an international force to protect Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. On Friday, Israel's military opened fire on protesters in Gaza, killing one and wounding dozens.

UN Ambassador Danny Danon repeated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's commitment to not allowing international peacekeepers to watch over Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and third-holiest in Islam.

"Israel will not agree to any international presence on the Temple Mount," Danon said ahead of a special meeting of the UN Security Council to address weeks of killings in east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour asked the council to deploy a force to protect worshippers. "It is the responsibility of the United Nations and the international community and Security Council to provide protection for our people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem," Mansour said on Friday.

Read more: At UN, Israel declines international Al-Aqsa guards | News | DW.COM | 16.10.2015

Development Aid: Why European countries give more aid than others

The best-known philanthropists may herald from the U.S., but the leading European nations send far more aid overseas in proportion to the size of their economies.

While the U.S. is much the biggest provider of overseas development aid (ODA) in absolute terms — sending $32.2 billion abroad in 2014 — it falls behind if its aid is considered as a proportion of gross national income (GNI) — a measure that aggregates gross domestic product (GDP) with income obtained from abroad.

"Europe has a long, if occasionally somewhat troubled, history of being strongly engaged in global affairs — aid and development is a part of this," Bond, a network of over 400 international development organizations and the U.K. Aid Network, said in a statement to CNBC this week.

Note EU-Digest: Maybe by cutting their inflated military budget and putting some of those funds into development aid the US could certainly get more "bang for their buck" than pouring it into the bottomless military budget, like they do now, with very little to show for?

Read more: Development Aid - Why European countries give more aid than others

10/16/15

Refugees: Syria and Iraq War Refugees: Very Few Allowed Into U.S.

The EU and Turkey carry the brunt of US failed Middle East Policies by successive Administrations from Reagan to Obama.

Syria and Iraq War Refugees: Very Few Allowed Into U.S. - The Globalist

Middle East: US failure in Iraq looms over Afghanistan

In late May 2014, President Barack Obama laid out his timetable for withdrawal. Nearly all American troops were scheduled to pull out of Afghanistan by the time he left the White House at the end of 2016. Fewer than 1,000 US service members would remain in the country to staff a security liaison office in Kabul.

Two weeks after Obama's announcement, Iraq nearly collapsed. The country's security forces evaporated in the face of advancing "Islamic State" (IS) militants. Washington intervened with airstrikes later that summer, halting the militants push toward Baghdad. The White House is now engaged in an open-ended air campaign in Iraq and Syria without any additional congressional authorization.

"It's generally acknowledged that it was a mistake to have invaded Iraq [in 2003]," James Dobbins, who served as the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told DW.

"But having invaded Iraq, having created a mess, having created the conditions that led to regional imbalance and increased radicalization, it was a mistake to have just walked away from it," Dobbins said. "Wars aren't over because you say they're over."

Read more: US failure in Iraq looms over Afghanistan | Middle East | DW.COM | 16.10.2015

US Presidential Election: Hillary Scores Debate Win -- Among Democrats - by Michael Barone

Going into the Democrats' first presidential debate Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton seems to have banked on one thing: that far fewer Americans would be watching than watched the Republican debates in August and September.

Hillary Clinton at the EU with former EU Foreign Secretary Ashton
That assumption proved correct.

Early Nielsen ratings indicate that 13 million viewers tuned in. That's more than the previous Democratic record of 11 million. But it's not much more than half the 23 and 24 million who watched the Republican debates.

Clinton, in what National Journal's Ron Fournier called "a performance that was as dishonest as it was impressive," clearly spoke persuasively to that heavily Democratic audience. With a timely assist, it should be added, from the one rival with poll numbers high enough to have qualified him for prime time if were a Republican: Bernie Sanders.

"The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails," Sanders said. "Me, too! Me, too!" Clinton replied. The highly partisan crowd roared and the two candidates shook hands. The "damn emails" still trouble all Republicans and most Independents, but Democrats don't like dissent and relished Clinton's repeated attacks on Republicans.

Clinton was careful also not to leave much room between her 2008 vanquisher and 2009-2013 boss, Barack Obama. On foreign policy, she noted that "he valued my judgment and I spent a lot of time with him in the Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues." Not much room left for Joe Biden, reportedly watching the debate from the Vice President's house.

Note EU-Digest:  A Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup still looks like it may be in the cards.
 
The latest Rasmussen Reports Trump Change national telephone survey finds that 58% of Likely Republican Voters again this week think Trump is likely to be the GOP’s presidential candidate next year, with 22% who say it’s Very Likely. These findings have held steady for three weeks now

Hillary Clinton didn’t get a bump from Tuesday night’s debate but still holds a two-to-one lead over her closest rival.  

READ MORE: Hillary Scores Debate Win -- Among Democrats - Rasmussen Reports™

Turkey - Migrant crisis: EU backs Turkey action plan

EU states have backed an action plan with Turkey, which it is hoped will ease the flow of migrants to Europe.

Nearly 600,000 migrants have reached the EU by sea so far this year, many of them travelling from Turkey.

The leaders agreed to speed up visa liberalisation talks for Turks if Turkey stems the influx and to "re-energise" talks on it joining the EU.

However, the Turkish foreign minister said the deal was still a draft and had not been agreed upon.
Feridun Sinirlioglu called the financial measures proposed by the EU "unacceptable", according to AFP news agency.

Meanwhile a migrant thought to be Afghan was shot dead by a Bulgarian border guard after entering the country from Turkey late on Thursday.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov left the Brussels talks on hearing the news.

Also on Friday, Hungary announced it was going to seal its border with Croatia at midnight (22:00 GMT) following a similar move last month to close its border with Serbia.

Read more: Migrant crisis: EU backs Turkey action plan - BBC News

Global Economy: Half of world's wealth now in hands of 1% of population – by Jill Treanor

Global inequality is growing, with half the world’s wealth now in the hands of just 1% of the population, according to a new report.

The middle classes have been squeezed at the expense of the very rich, according to research by Credit Suisse, which also finds that for the first time, there are more individuals in the middle classes in China – 109m – than the 92m in the US.

Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of Credit Suisse, said: “Middle class wealth has grown at a slower pace than wealth at the top end. This has reversed the pre-crisis trend which saw the share of middle-class wealth remaining fairly stable over time.”

The report shows that a person needs only $3,210 (£2,100) to be in the wealthiest 50% of world citizens.

About $68,800 secures a place in the top 10%, while the top 1% have more than $759,900. The report defines wealth as the value of assets including property and stock market investments, but excludes debt.
About 3.4 bn people – just over 70% of the global adult population – have wealth of less than $10,000. A further 1bn – a fifth of the world’s population – are in the $10,000-$100,000 range.

Each of the remaining 383m adults – 8% of the population – has wealth of more than $100,000. This number includes about 34m US dollar millionaires. About 123,800 individuals of these have more than $50m, and nearly 45,000 have more than $100m. The UK has the third-highest number of these “ultra-high net worth” individuals.

Read more: Half of world's wealth now in hands of 1% of population – report | Money | The Guardian

Britain: The "Keep Britain in Europe" Campaign Starts - by Denis MacShane

“Britain Stronger in Europe,” the mainstream campaign to stop Brexit from happening, has now been launched.

Lord Stuart Rose, former boss of Marks and Spencer, once the UK’s most popular High Street store, launched the #StrongerIn movement with a scripted speech that is long on economics, short on politics and indifferent to the visionary lines of Winston Churchill’s still vivid appeal for a “United States of Europe” made exactly 70 years ago in Zürich.

Rose’s address started off what clearly is going to be a campaign based on Europe being good for British business.

Read more: The "Keep Britain in Europe" Campaign Starts - The Globalist

10/15/15

EU Social Dimenson: Reviving The EU Social Dimension: A Political Choice

The social dimension of the EU is on the verge of becoming insignificant. At practically all levels there has been a systematic weakening of Social Europe: aims, programmes and instruments have been reduced in the areas of employment policy, labour law and labour relations.

The Community is rolling back previous achievements. Workers and trade unions are losing out. This is particularly evident in three areas.

First, in the euro crisis the European Employment Strategy and the Open Method of Coordination were systematically subordinated to economic-policy aims. In the European Semester – the annual process of co-ordinating EU Member States’ economic policies – the economic and finance ministers have their hands firmly on the tiller. Half of all labour market and social policy recommendations for the Member States are based on legal provisions in the Stability and Growth Pact or the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure. Thus, they come within the competence of finance ministers.

Labour and social affairs ministers are marginalised when it comes to their proper concerns. The upshot of all this is recommendations to deregulate national labour markets, decentralise wage systems and restructure social insurance in line with budgetary criteria. The social partners, generally speaking, have weak consultation rights. Trade unions are bypassed.

The EU’s labour market and social policy measures have long amounted to a comprehensive “labour market strategy”. Acknowledging this reality would be a first step for social policy actors towards a stronger say. Instead of continuing to put up with the thematic constriction of the European Employment Strategy the relevant ministers should insist on equal footing with finance ministers. In an era of European inter-governmentalism, a Eurogroup of social and labour ministers is their best bet.

Read more: Reviving The EU Social Dimension: A Political Choice

10/14/15

Turkey: Grief-stricken Turks bury Ankara victims, venting anger at Erdogan

Grieving loved ones on Monday laid to rest some of the victims of the double suicide bombings in Ankara that left 97 dead, denouncing the government in the first funerals from modern Turkey's worst attack.

The bombings targeted a peace rally Saturday organised by trade union, leftist and Kurdish groups that had mobilised activists from across the country.

After being identified at the Ankara morgue, the victims' bodies were sent to their home regions for burial.
Funerals were held Monday in Ankara and Istanbul as well as in cities in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast.

The leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas attended several funerals in Istanbul where many coffins were draped in the yellow and red colours of the Kurdish flag.

Demirtas stood stony-faced and was seen solemnly embracing relatives. Two HDP members who were running in the upcoming November 1 parliamentary elections were killed in the twin blasts.

Note EU-Digest: the Kurds who deserve a lot of sympathy following the Ankara murderous explosions and their efforts in helping the allied forces combating ISIS on the ground would get even more support from the non-Kurdish Turkish population and international community, if they would be waving also Turkish flags next to the Kurdish flag at their demonstrations, instead of mainly the Kurdish flag. Many people still associate the Kurdish flag with the outlawed terrorist PKK organization. This might only be a matter of perception, but it would certainly be good PR for the HDP if they want to get more Turkish voters to cast their vote for them in the upcoming Turkish election, and to eventually join a new Turkish coalition Government after Erdogan is ousted.

Read more: Europe - Grief-stricken Turks bury Ankara victims, venting anger at Erdogan - France 24

10/13/15

EU-Digest poll shows 78% consider total failure of US Middle East policy cause of EU refugee crises

In an EU-Digest poll held from September 14 to October 13 close to 79 % consider the total failure of  US Middle East policy as the major cause for the  EU refugee crises.

The lack of a strong EU- wides supported refugee policy is seen by 10.53% of those polled as the cause of the crises.

The fact that most Middle East governments are undemocratic and repressive is only seen by 5.26% as a potential cause for the crises. ISIS also ranks a low 5.26% as a factor influencing the EU refugee crises.

This month's EU-Digest poll looks at possible solutions for the Syria crises.

EU-Digest  

Alternative Energy: U.K. Green Investment Bank Raises 476 Million Euro's for Wind - by Alex Morales

The U.K. Green Investment Bank raised 475 million Euro's ($541 million) for its offshore-wind fund as it seeks to spur development of a technology in which Britain already leads the world.

AMF Pensionsforsakring AB and Strathclyde Pension Fund were among investors in the second round of fundraising, bringing the total cash to 818 million pounds, the GIB said Tuesday in a statement. The bank announced the fund in June 2014 and is seeking to raise 1 billion pounds from several rounds.

The fundraising “highlights the growing confidence that home-grown and international investors have in well-developed and well-managed offshore wind assets,” said Karl Smith, fund managing director at the bank. “We are in advanced discussions with other potential investors and progressing quickly towards final close and reaching our 1 billion-pound target.”

Britain already has more offshore wind power than the rest of the world put together, with 4,494 megawatts of installed capacity at the end of 2014. The GIB’s fund will buy into projects, freeing up cash for developers such as Dong Energy A/S to spend on new wind parks.

The fund also acquired the bank’s right to a 10 percent stake in RWE AG’s operating 576-megawatt Gwynt y Mor wind farm off north Wales, according to the statement. It already has a 24.95 percent stake in RWE’s 90-megawatt Rhyl Flats farm, also off north Wales, and a 20 percent interest in Statkraft AS’s 317-megawatt Sheringham Shoal farm off eastern England.

Read more: U.K. Green Investment Bank Raises 475 Million Euro's  for Wind - Bloomberg Business

Middle East: Syrian Kurds, Arab Rebels and Assyrians Form New Alliance - by Jack Moore

A U.S.-backed Syrian-Kurdish militia, a number of Arab rebel groups and an Assyrian Christian group in Syria have formed a coalition to build a democratic representation for a number of moderate parties within Syria, according to a statement seen by Reuters on Monday.

The new alliance, which is calling itself the Democratic Forces of Syria, includes the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) that beat back the Islamic State (ISIS) with the support of U.S. airstrikes in the Syrian-Kurdish border town of Kobani earlier this year. The YPG continues to battle the radical Islamist group in areas of northeastern Syria and the formation of this coalition may act as a step towards an offensive against the group.

The group also includes Syrian rebel groups such as Jaysh al-Thuwwar (Army of Rebels)—a coalition of seven groups of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army that is fighting both ISIS and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—as well as three other rebel factions.

These Arab groups fall under the umbrella of the Syrian Arab Coalition. Christian Assyrian group named the Syriac Military Council (MFS) that is fighting ISIS in northern Syria has also joined the new alliance.

Read more: Syrian Kurds, Arab Rebels and Assyrians Form New Alliance

Morality begins at home: There Is no justification for killing, terrorism, collateral damage, torture or murder in any way or form

The Bible, Koran, and the Torah all explicitly mention : THOU SHALL NOT KILL

RE:. ISLAM: "Terrorism or hirabah is forbidden in Islamic law, which groups it with brigandage, highway robbery and extortion rackets– any illicit use of fear and coercion in public spaces for money or power. The principle of forbidding the spreading of terror in the land is based on the Qur’an (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:33–34).

‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty of hirabah .

RE: JUDAISM : ” murder is "not the way of the Torah," declared Rabbi Lau in sharp condemnation of the murder, which is thought to have been an act of "revenge" for the murder of three Israeli teens Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha'ar by Hamas terrorists on June 12 this year.

RE CHRISTIANITY: "Even before the codification of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai the murder of other human beings was wrong (Genesis 4:8-12; 4:23-24; 9:4-6; Exodus 1:16-17). While on earth, Jesus spoke out against murder (Matthew 5:21-26; Mark 10:17-19).

We also see in the writings of Paul (Romans 1:18, 29-32; 13:8-10; Galatians 5:19-21), James (James 2:8-11; 4:1-3), Peter (1 Peter 4:15-16) and John (Revelation 9:20-21; 21:7-8; 22:14-15) that murder is wrong".

BOTTOM LINE:  there is no moral justification for murder, killing, terrorism, capital punishment, military "collateral damage",  or even for that matter euthanasia.

The pictures below are only a tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately man is his own worst enemy and it only seems to be getting worse.

Ryan Lanza who shot  and killed 20 elementary school children and his mother at Sandy Hook CT, USA

Palestine victims after deadly Israeli Gaza bombing:

ISIS mass executionsions 
US Airforce "collateral damage: "Drs without borders" hospital Afghanistan



Turkey, Ankara more than 130 casualties bomb explosions




 EU-Digest


10/12/15

European Insurance Industry: Financial Assessment of the European Insurance Industry

The European insurance industry is struggling with the volatile macroeconomic environment and regulatory changes while also incorporating changes in technology and business model to be at par with its global peers.

While premium growth is accelerating, pressure on profitability continues due to low investment income and the uncertain economic environment. Growth in premiums is different for different countries in Europe, but is led by emerging economies in Eastern Europe.

 The European insurance industry has remained somewhat resilient to the 2008 financial crisis, which did not have much impact on its returns statistics.

Threats of deflation are rising in Europe and can have a negative impact on this industry. Changes in the preferences and demands of the consumer; corporate and technology developments creating new areas of risk to be insured; and industry consolidation in search for better distribution network (online or physical) are some factors that are likely to drive industry growth.

Life and health (L&H), and property and casualty (P&C) insurance revenues are growing at a steady pace despite the challenging macroeconomic situation. However, as situations are expected to worsen in the near future, decreased premium growth and lower investment income are expected unless insurers use diversification as a strategy to enhance returns.

Operational costs have decreased due to investment in upgraded technology, and the cost-effective online distribution structure has led to increased profitability in the industry. Underwriting ratios have witnessed improvement but the industry is not well placed in terms of policy holders surplus to cover future claims.

Overall, the insurance industry is well positioned financially and ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.

Insure-Digest.

Syria - Russia: Putin adds diplomatic strand to bolster Syrian air strikes

Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone on the diplomatic offensive as Moscow’s jets continue to pound anti-government positions in Syria.

Putin held meetings with the Saudi defence minister as the Kremlin seeks a political solution to the violence in Syria.

The Western-backed opposition group echoed again over the weekend that Russian air raids would undermine efforts to reach a settlement.

Putin disagrees, speaking on Russian state television he said: “The active phase of our job in Syria will be limited to coincide with the offensive operations by the Syrian army. Our task is to stabilise the legal government and create the right conditions for reaching a political compromise.”

He added that Russian troops would not be deployed in Syria:“No we are not going to do that and our Syrian friends know it.”

Read more: Putin adds diplomatic strand to bolster Syrian air strikes | euronews, world news