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12/31/15

Syria: More than 55,000 killed in Syria in 2015: monitor

More than 55,000 people were killed in Syria in 2015, the country's fifth year of war, including over 2,500 children, a monitor said Thursday.

The total number of dead since the beginning of the conflict had reached more than 260,000, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, though the number of those killed in 2015 was lower than the 76,021 people who died in 2014.

In 2015 alone, the monitor documented the deaths of 55,219 people, including 13,249 civilians. Among them were 2,574 children, it said.

As in previous years the dead were mostly combatants, including 7,798 rebels and more than 16,000 jihadists from the Islamic State group, Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and associated organisations.

The group also documented the deaths of 17,686 regime forces, among them over 8,800 army troops, more than 7,000 Syrian pro-regime militiamen, and 378 members of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

A total of 1,214 foreign fighters from other countries, including Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, died fighting for the regime, the Observatory said.

Read more: Flash - More than 55,000 killed in Syria in 2015: monitor - France 24

12/30/15

Global Warming: 10 moments in 2015 that changed our environment

VW "Dieselgate"
1. It’s all about money: A new climate movement stirs up the climate fight
2. The pope joins the climate fight
3. The Netherlands is sued for lack of climate action 
4. A dead lion shakes up social media 
5. Dieselgate: VW jeopardizes Germany's role model image
6. UN agrees on new goals
7. Brazil drowns in toxic mud
8. Obama stops disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline
9. The planet got its first universal climate treaty in Paris, EU
10. 2015: Each day set records

In general, one could say, each day of 2015 set records - but not necessarily positive ones. Glaciers never melted quicker than in 2015, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was higher than ever before, and it was the hottest year ever recorded.

In conclusion, there is plenty of work left for 2016 and the years to come.
    
Read more: 10 moments in 2015 that changed our environment | Environment | DW.COM | 30.12.2015

12/29/15

USA: To understand Donald Trump, look to Europe - by Dan McLaughlin

If you want to understand Trump, look across the ocean. In an American context, Trump's politics are incoherent. In a European context, Trump would fit more comfortably.

Many countries on the European continent pursue a “consensus” politics of the center-left and center-right. The moderates in power support a generous social-welfare state and more business regulation than Americans would accept, marginalize religious social-issue conservatives, and ignore crime and immigration.

By shunting so many issues beyond the pale of the mainstream, the elite fuel right-wing populist parties.

Leaders like Geert Wilders in Holland, Marine Le Pen in France and their counterparts in Poland, Sweden, Belgium and Hungary give vent to the anxieties that establishment politicians would rather pretend did not exist. Accordingly, like conservatives in the United States, they stress security, including border security. But reflecting their working-class constituencies, European right-wing parties are often more anti-business, anti-trade and pro-social-welfare than American Democrats, let alone American Republicans.

There are historical and demographic reasons for the vast differences between the European and American right. Europe has denser populations, physically smaller nations that don't share our ideas about state and local government, less vigorous Christian churches (especially evangelical Protestant churches), and less tradition of immigration, gun ownership and frontier self-reliance. T

The European right wing traces its heritage in part to the old monarchists. Yet its populist leaders also echo mid-20th century dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler, who were simultaneously violent nationalists and self-proclaimed socialists who disdained individual rights and sought domination over private business and Christian churches.

Read more: To understand Donald Trump, look to Europe - LA Times

E#nergy and the Environment: Environmentalists Sound Alarm On Proposed Drilling Near Florida Everglades - by Greg Allen

Florida's Everglades has an ecosystem known for its sawgrass, cypress trees, alligators — and perhaps soon, oil wells.

Oil drilling isn't allowed in the 1.5 million-acre Everglades National Park, but the ecosystem extends far beyond the park's boundaries — and drilling is allowed in Big Cypress National Preserve, an adjacent protected area about half the size of the park.

Environmental groups are concerned that the testing may harm endangered plants and animals, and that it may open sensitive areas to drilling and fracking.

Betty Osceola, a member of the Miccosukee tribe, has lived her whole life in the Everglades. During the Seminole Wars of the 19th century, her ancestors hid from federal troops in the Everglades swamps and cypress forests.

"This land, the Everglades, they protected us in our time of need — she provided us shelter, she provided us food, she provided us water," Osceola says. "As indigenous people, it's our turn to take up and speak for her."

Osceola is part of a group protesting plans for seismic testing on 70,000 acres in a key part of the ecosystem inside Big Cypress National Preserve.

Don Hargrove, the preserve's minerals management specialist, says there's nothing new about the efforts to drill there.

"Oil drilling and oil fields were here when Big Cypress was created; as a condition of the establishment of the preserve, oil and gas was to continue," he says.

Read more: Environmentalists Sound Alarm On Proposed Drilling Near Florida Everglades : NPR

USA: Voters Give Thumbs Down to GOP-Led Congress

 Voters including members of their own party aren’t pleased with the Republicans’ control of both chambers of Congress this past year.

Just 10% of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress’ performance is better now that both the House of Representatives and the Senate are run by the GOP. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% think congressional performance is worse, while 37% rate it as about the same as it has been in the past. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

It’s understandable that 70% of Democrats think Congress is doing a worse job, but 22% of Republicans and a plurality (46%) of voters not affiliated with either major party agree. Only 19% of GOP voters think the Republican-controlled Congress is doing a better job than when Democrats controlled at least one of the chambers.

Read more: Voters Give Thumbs Down to GOP-Led Congress - Rasmussen Reports™

Spanish PM’s coalition bid receives latest blow from Podemos

Spain’s left-wing Podemos party leader has told Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that he will not offer any support for a new government formed by Rajoy’s centre right Partido Popular (PP). It won the most votes in the 20th December national election but failed to win a parliamentary majority.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said: “The candidate of Popular Party (referring to Rajoy) is fully aware that we will not facilitate a government formed either by him—either actively or passively—nor by any other PP candidate.

We have not reached the Spanish parliament to play the game of [musical] chairs, or to make the traditional political compromises, and everyone must know this. If there are to be new elections, we will face up to that, and I do not think I need to say it but it is very possible that we will win.”

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Rajoy’s options are limited; the main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) led by Pedro Sanchez, who went to meet Rajoy a few days ago, has also ruled out helping him.
Spain has never had a ‘grand coalition’ with power shared by the PP and PSOE parties.

Read more: Spanish PM’s coalition bid receives latest blow from Podemos | euronews, world news

12/27/15

Weapons Industry: ISIS weapons sourced from Russia, China, US and EU

Weapons and arms from dozens of countries including Russia, China and the US have fallen into the hands of Islamic State militants who in turn have used them to kill, terrorise and attack.

A damning report by human rights group Amnesty International has found Islamic State atrocities have been fuelled by decades of reckless arms trading — and it’s partly the west’s fault.

In its report released today, Taking Stock: The arming of Islamic State, Amnesty reveal lax controls and decades of a poorly regulated arms trade are to blame for the terror group acquiring a huge and deadly arsenal of weapons.

Amnesty said widespread corruption within successive Iraqi governments had also given Islamic State unprecedented access to firepower.

The terror group have used these weapons to commit gross war crimes in both Syria and Iraq and also to take control over areas across Syria and Iraq.

The report draws on expert analysis of thousands of verified videos and images and details how IS fighters are using arms, mainly looted from Iraqi military stocks, which were manufactured and designed in more than two dozen countries, including EU states.

Other weapons have been acquired during battle, through illicit trade as well as through defection of fighters across Syria and Iraq.

Patrick Wilcken, Researcher on Arms Control, Security Trade and Human Rights at Amnesty International said the vast and varied weaponry being used by militants was “a textbook case of how reckless arms trading fuels atrocities on a massive scale.”

Note EU-Digest: the solution is simple: but the implementation is nearly impossible. National governments in cooperation with the UN must register all local and international arms dealers and trace their sales and whenever possible prosecute them.The least National Governments can do is to make the life of weapons dealers more difficult.  It proves once again, given the actual facts, how hypocritical governments are when it comes to curbing their profitable weapons industry.

Read more: ISIS weapons sourced from Russia, China, US and EU

Britain - Actor Baron Cohen and wife give $1m for Syrian refugees

ritish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife are donating $1 million (900,000 euros) to help Syrian refugees, the charities receiving the money announced Sunday.

The "Borat" star and actress wife Isla Fisher are giving $500,000 to Save the Children to pay for measles vaccinations for children in northern Syria.

They are also donating the same amount to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to help refugees in Syria and neighbouring countries, particularly women and children, with health care, shelter and sanitation.

Read More:  Flash - Actor Baron Cohen and wife give $1m for Syrian refugees - France 24

Toward Global Disaster: Chaos and Intervention in the Middle East - by Richard Falk

here are many disturbing signs that the West is creating conditions in the Middle East and Asia that could produce a wider war, most likely a new Cold War, containing, as well, menacing risks of World War III. The reckless confrontation with Russia along its borders, reinforced by provocative weapons deployments in several NATO countries and the promotion of governing regimes hostile to Russia in such countries as Ukraine and Georgia seems to exhibit Cold War nostalgia, and is certainly not the way to preserve peace.
Add to this the increasingly belligerent approach recently taken by the United States naval officers and defense officials to China with respect to island disputes and navigational rights in the South China Seas. Such posturing has all the ingredients needed for intensifying international conflict, giving a militarist signature to Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia.’
These developments are happening during the supposedly conflict averse Obama presidency. Looking ahead to new leadership, even the most optimistic scenario that brings Hilary Clinton to the White House is sure to make these pre-war drum beats even louder. From a more detached perspective it is fair to observe that Obama seems rather peace-oriented only because American political leaders and the Beltway/media mainstream have become so accustomed to relying on military solutions whether successful or not, whether dangerous and wasteful or not, that is, only by comparison with more hawkish alternatives.
The current paranoid political atmosphere in the United States is a further relevant concern, calling for police state governmental authority at home, increased weapons budgets, and the continuing militarization of policing and law enforcement. Such moves encourage an even more militaristic approach to foreign challenges that seem aimed at American and Israeli interests by ISIS, Iran, and China. Where this kind of war-mongering will lead is unknowable, but what is frighteningly clear is that this dangerous geopolitical bravado is likely to become even more strident as the 2016 campaign unfolds to choose the next American president. Already Donald Trump, the clear Republican frontrunner, has seemed to commit the United States to a struggle against all of Islam by his foolish effort to insist that every Muslim is terrorist suspect Islam as a potential terrorist who should be so treated. Even Samuel Huntington were he still alive might not welcome such an advocate of ‘the clash of civilizations’!
- See more at: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/56296-toward-global-disaster.html#sthash.SZ6YWySZ.dpuf
here are many disturbing signs that the West is creating conditions in the Middle East and Asia that could produce a wider war, most likely a new Cold War, containing, as well, menacing risks of World War III. The reckless confrontation with Russia along its borders, reinforced by provocative weapons deployments in several NATO countries and the promotion of governing regimes hostile to Russia in such countries as Ukraine and Georgia seems to exhibit Cold War nostalgia, and is certainly not the way to preserve peace.
Add to this the increasingly belligerent approach recently taken by the United States naval officers and defense officials to China with respect to island disputes and navigational rights in the South China Seas. Such posturing has all the ingredients needed for intensifying international conflict, giving a militarist signature to Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia.’
These developments are happening during the supposedly conflict averse Obama presidency. Looking ahead to new leadership, even the most optimistic scenario that brings Hilary Clinton to the White House is sure to make these pre-war drum beats even louder. From a more detached perspective it is fair to observe that Obama seems rather peace-oriented only because American political leaders and the Beltway/media mainstream have become so accustomed to relying on military solutions whether successful or not, whether dangerous and wasteful or not, that is, only by comparison with more hawkish alternatives.
The current paranoid political atmosphere in the United States is a further relevant concern, calling for police state governmental authority at home, increased weapons budgets, and the continuing militarization of policing and law enforcement. Such moves encourage an even more militaristic approach to foreign challenges that seem aimed at American and Israeli interests by ISIS, Iran, and China. Where this kind of war-mongering will lead is unknowable, but what is frighteningly clear is that this dangerous geopolitical bravado is likely to become even more strident as the 2016 campaign unfolds to choose the next American president. Already Donald Trump, the clear Republican frontrunner, has seemed to commit the United States to a struggle against all of Islam by his foolish effort to insist that every Muslim is terrorist suspect Islam as a potential terrorist who should be so treated. Even Samuel Huntington were he still alive might not welcome such an advocate of ‘the clash of civilizations’!
- See more at: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/56296-toward-global-disaster.html#sthash.SZ6YWySZ.dpuf
here are many disturbing signs that the West is creating conditions in the Middle East and Asia that could produce a wider war, most likely a new Cold War, containing, as well, menacing risks of World War III. The reckless confrontation with Russia along its borders, reinforced by provocative weapons deployments in several NATO countries and the promotion of governing regimes hostile to Russia in such countries as Ukraine and Georgia seems to exhibit Cold War nostalgia, and is certainly not the way to preserve peace.
Add to this the increasingly belligerent approach recently taken by the United States naval officers and defense officials to China with respect to island disputes and navigational rights in the South China Seas. Such posturing has all the ingredients needed for intensifying international conflict, giving a militarist signature to Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia.’
These developments are happening during the supposedly conflict averse Obama presidency. Looking ahead to new leadership, even the most optimistic scenario that brings Hilary Clinton to the White House is sure to make these pre-war drum beats even louder. From a more detached perspective it is fair to observe that Obama seems rather peace-oriented only because American political leaders and the Beltway/media mainstream have become so accustomed to relying on military solutions whether successful or not, whether dangerous and wasteful or not, that is, only by comparison with more hawkish alternatives.
The current paranoid political atmosphere in the United States is a further relevant concern, calling for police state governmental authority at home, increased weapons budgets, and the continuing militarization of policing and law enforcement. Such moves encourage an even more militaristic approach to foreign challenges that seem aimed at American and Israeli interests by ISIS, Iran, and China. Where this kind of war-mongering will lead is unknowable, but what is frighteningly clear is that this dangerous geopolitical bravado is likely to become even more strident as the 2016 campaign unfolds to choose the next American president. Already Donald Trump, the clear Republican frontrunner, has seemed to commit the United States to a struggle against all of Islam by his foolish effort to insist that every Muslim is terrorist suspect Islam as a potential terrorist who should be so treated. Even Samuel Huntington were he still alive might not welcome such an advocate of ‘the clash of civilizations’!
- See more at: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/56296-toward-global-disaster.html#sthash.SZ6YWySZ.dpuf
There are many disturbing signs that the West is creating conditions in the Middle East and Asia that could produce a wider war, most likely a new Cold War, containing, as well, menacing risks of World War III. The reckless confrontation with Russia along its borders, reinforced by provocative weapons deployments in several NATO countries and the promotion of governing regimes hostile to Russia in such countries as Ukraine and Georgia seems to exhibit Cold War nostalgia, and is certainly not the way to preserve peace.

Add to this the increasingly belligerent approach recently taken by the United States naval officers and defense officials to China with respect to island disputes and navigational rights in the South China Seas. Such posturing has all the ingredients needed for intensifying international conflict, giving a militarist signature to Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia.’

These developments are happening during the supposedly conflict averse Obama presidency. Looking ahead to new leadership, even the most optimistic scenario that brings Hilary Clinton to the White House is sure to make these pre-war drum beats even louder. From a more detached perspective it is fair to observe that Obama seems rather peace-oriented only because American political leaders and the Beltway/media mainstream have become so accustomed to relying on military solutions whether successful or not, whether dangerous and wasteful or not, that is, only by comparison with more hawkish alternatives.

The current paranoid political atmosphere in the United States is a further relevant concern, calling for police state governmental authority at home, increased weapons budgets, and the continuing militarization of policing and law enforcement. Such moves encourage an even more militaristic approach to foreign challenges that seem aimed at American and Israeli interests by ISIS, Iran, and China. Where this kind of war-mongering will lead is unknowable, but what is frighteningly clear is that this dangerous geopolitical bravado is likely to become even more strident as the 2016 campaign unfolds to choose the next American president.

Already Donald Trump, the clear Republican frontrunner, has seemed to commit the United States to a struggle against all of Islam by his foolish effort to insist that every Muslim is terrorist suspect Islam as a potential terrorist who should be so treated. Even Samuel Huntington were he still alive might not welcome such an advocate of ‘the clash of civilizations’!

Read more: Toward Global Disaster: Chaos and Intervention in the Middle East

Kurds - 15,000 in Dusseldorf march protesting Turkey's crackdown on Kurds

Around 15,000 people marched in Dusseldorf on Saturday to protest against Turkey's military crackdown against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels, local police said.

The marchers, demonstrating on behalf of Germany's federation of Kurdish groups, Nav-Dem, also slammed the European Union for striking a refugee "deal" with Ankara, promising three billion euros in return for holding back refugee flows.

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A police spokesman said the turnout at the protest was far higher than the 7,000 people expected by the organisers.
 
After a ceasefire for more than two years, fighting resumed last summer between Turkish security forces and the PKK, dashing hopes of ending a conflict that has left more than 40,000 people dead since 1984.

Turkish security forces are currently imposing curfews in several towns in the Kurdish-dominated southeast in a bid to root out PKK rebels from urban centres.

Read more: Flash - 15,000 in Dusseldorf march protesting Turkey's crackdown on Kurds - France 24

Terrorists - IS deluted leader urges uprising in Saudi, attacks in Israel

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the secretive leader of the Islamic State group, called for an uprising in Saudi Arabia and pledged to attack Israel, in an audio recording released Saturday and attributed to him.

The 24-minute recording would be Baghdadi's first in seven months, during which IS has been dealt several blows in Iraq and Syria.

There was no way for AFP to authenticate that it was Baghdadi speaking, but the voice appeared to match previous recordings of him.

And it was not clear when the recording was made, but it referred to a 34-nation anti-IS coalition announced by Saudi Arabia on December 15.

"They announced lately a coalition... falsely called 'Islamic,' and announced its goal is to fight the caliphate," said the speaker in the recording circulating among pro-IS Twitter us
Read more: Flash - IS leader urges uprising in Saudi, attacks in Israel: recording - France 24

12/26/15

Spain: Another Election in Early 2016? - Holger Schmieding

Do Spaniards want more reforms – or do they want to reverse some of the reforms that have helped to put the Spanish economy back on track? At the national election on Sunday, Spanish voters gave no clear answer.

Instead, uncertainty now reigns supreme in Madrid. Forming a new government will be tricky, finding a coalition that could last a full four-year term could be quite difficult indeed.

While much is at stake for Spain, the risk that any new government in Madrid could adopt policies that would jeopardize Spain’s place in the euro still looks small.

Roughly in line with the most recent opinion polls, Prime Minister Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (around 29%) and the opposition Socialists (22%) lost as many votes as expected.

After a harsh adjustment crisis and allegations of sleaze against these two traditional parties that had dominated Spain for the last few decades, many voters turned to two upstart protest parties.

Read more: Spain: Another Election in Early 2016? - The Globalist

12/25/15

US Politcs:Will the GOP Break Up? - by Robert J. Shapiro

It’s time for a serious talk about what’s driving the race for the GOP nomination. Despite the emergence of Donald Trump, it’s not just about personality.

The strong resonance with which the party’s base has responded to the extreme attacks on immigrants, Muslims, the mainstream rights of women, climate science and even the very idea of government, raises questions about where the Republican Party is headed.

Donald Trump has spear-headed those attacks, but most of the other candidates have followed suit.
As is often the case, one reason these messages resonate so powerfully among GOP voters lies in the economy, especially what’s happened to their incomes.

As documented in my report for the Brookings Institution, the recent persistent income losses as people aged are unprecedented in modern America.

Households headed by people aged 35 to 39 in 1981 and without college degrees saw income gains averaging 2.3% per year under Ronald Reagan. The median incomes of comparable households in the 1990s increased 2.8% per-year under Bill Clinton.
Read more: Will the GOP Break Up? - The Globalist

12/24/15

Christmas: celebrating the birthday of my hero - Jesus Christ - by RM

Bethlehem
This morning as I was waking up I remembered a program the other night which focused on people which have influenced history over the years gone by.. 

I  can't remember them all by name as I write this,  but it was quite a long list. Some they mentioned had stuck to my mind, and I arranged them randomly:  Cleopatra, Wolf Messing, Saud bin Abdul Aziz, Napoleon, Nero, Jeanne d'Arc, Ben Gurion, Hitler, Gandhi, Buddha, Ben Laden, Churchill,  Ataturk, Socrates, Mandela, Saladin, Mother Teresa, Djamila Bouhired, Attila the Hun, Yassar Arafat,  Simon Bolivar, Mao, Samora Machel, etc., etc. 

The makers of this TV program, in order not to step on any sensitive religious toes, however, left out most of the  key "religious figures", who have profoundly impacted history and are even doing so today. 

Among those left out, I really only have one favorite - Jesus Christ, whose birthday we are celebrating every year on this day.. 

He is my hero for several reason. First because I don't consider him "religious" in the sense how we humans qualify religion as such .

Jesus is unique in the sense that his message was only about love -" love your neighbor as yourself" and he never encouraged violence or revenge. Even when he was nailed to the cross by the Romans and Jews he cried out: "God forgive them because they don't know what they are doing".  A message of love which still resonates all around the world.

Yes indeed, among all these people listed , or not, during that TV presentation,  Jesus Christ is on the top of my list.

Merry Christmas and may Peace on Earth become a reality and part of daily life around the globe - also for you in 2016.


Islam and the West: An Irreconcilable Conflict? - by Pat Buchanan

"I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, is sending a message to Muslims here ... and ... around the world, that there is a 'clash of civilizations.'"

So said Hillary Clinton in Saturday night's New Hampshire debate.

Yet, that phrase was not popularized by Donald Trump, but by Harvard's famed Samuel Huntington. His "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" has been described by Zbigniew Brzezinski as providing "quintessential insights necessary for a broad understanding of world affairs in our time."

That Clinton is unaware of the thesis, or dismisses it, does not speak well of the depth of her understanding of our world.

Another attack on Trump, more veiled, came Monday in an "open letter" in The Washington Post where four dozen religious leaders, led by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, charge "some politicians, candidates and commentators" with failing to follow Thomas Jefferson's dictum:

"I never will, by any word or act ... admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others."   
Intending no disrespect to Jefferson, if you do not inquire "into the religious opinions of others" in this world, it can get you killed.
   
"We love our Muslim siblings in humanity," said the signers of Cardinal McCarrick's letter, "they serve our communities as doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, journalists, first responders, and as members of the U.S. Armed forces and Congress."

Undeniably true. But, unfortunately, that is not the end of the matter.

Did the worst attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor, 9/11, have nothing to do with the Islamic faith?    
Did Fort Hood and the San Bernardino massacres, the London subway bombings and the killings at Charlie Hebdo, as well as the slaughter at the Bataclan in Paris, have nothing to do with Islam?
   
Does the lengthening list of atrocities by terrorist cells of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaida, al-Shabaab and the Nusra Front have nothing to do with Islam? Is it really illiberal to inquire "into the religious opinions" of those who perpetrate these atrocities? Or is it suicidal not to?

There has arisen a legitimate question as to whether Islamism can coexist peacefully with, or within, a post-Christian secular West.

For, as the Poet of the Empire, Rudyard Kipling, wrote: "Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat."

As of 1960, the Great Wave of immigration into the United States from Southern and Eastern Europe had been halted for 35 years. And the children of these millions had been largely assimilated and Americanized.
  
Yet, 50 years after the Turkish gastarbeiters were brought in the millions into Germany, and Algerians and other North Africans were brought into France, no such wholesale assimilation had taken place.

Why not? Why are there still large, indigestible communities in France where French citizens do not venture and French police are ever on alert?

What inhibits the assimilation that swiftly followed the entry of millions of Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews into the United States from 1890 to 1920? Might it have something to do with Islam and its inherent resistance to a diversity of faiths?

Set aside faith-based terrorism and Islamist terrorism, and consider the nations and regimes of the Middle and Near East.

Iran holds presidential elections every four years, but is a Shiite theocracy where the Ayatollah is a virtual dictator. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni kingdom and home to Wahhabism, a Sunni form of puritanism.   
Those ruling regimes are rooted in Islam.
  
And while secular America embraces expressions of religious pluralism and sexual freedom, homosexuality and apostasy are often viewed as capital crimes in Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.    
Where Islam is the ruling faith, the Quran is secular law.
   
Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc saw our future on its way, even before World War II: "[I]n the contrast between our religious chaos and the religious certitude still strong throughout the Mohammedan world ... lies our peril."

Historically, Christianity came to dominate the Roman Empire through preaching, teaching, example and martyrdom. Islam used the sword to conquer the Middle and Near East, North Africa and Spain in a single century, until stopped at Poitiers by Charles Martel.

And this is today's crucial distinction: Islam is not simply a religion of 1.6 billion people, it is also a political ideology for ruling nations and, one day, the world.

To the True Believer, Islam is ultimately to be imposed on all of mankind, which is to be ruled by the prescriptions of the Quran. And where Muslims achieve a majority, Christianity is, at best, tolerated.

Nor is this position illogical. For, if there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet, all other religions are false and none can lead to salvation. Why should false, heretical and ruinous faiths not be suppressed?

Behind the reluctance of Trump and other Americans to send another U.S. army into a region that has seen wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan leave us with ashes in our mouths, lies a wisdom born of painful experience.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority." To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

From: Islam and the West: An Irreconcilable Conflict? - Rasmussen Reports™

12/23/15

Health: Study shows: Cancer is not just down to 'bad luck' - by Holly Ellyatt


Cancer is mostly a result of external, environmental risk factors rather than down to "bad luck," according to a new study published in Nature magazine, which challenges prominent research into the causes of cancer.

Research into the causes of the disease have prompted clashes between scientists in recent months, with one study published in the journal Science earlier this year suggesting that two thirds of cancers were caused by chance – just plain old "bad luck," the study said -- rather than environmental factors or inherited predispositions.

The study was controversial as it implied that cancer, put down to the malignant transformation of cells that multiply within the body, was largely unavoidable and that it came down to the number of times a cell divides (giving rise to the "bad luck" conclusion).

The latest study on cancer development in Nature challenged the "bad luck" hypothesis, however, concluding that cancer risk is "heavily influenced by extrinsic factors" with only 10-30 percent of cancers down to intrinsic risk factors such as mutations.

The study was conducted by a team of doctors, including Song Wu, Scott Powers, Wei Zhu and led by Yusuf Hannun, at Stony Brook University in New York.


They found that there was a "substantial contribution of external risk factors to cancer development" including environmental factors like ultraviolet (UV) radiation and carcinogens, such as smoking.

Summarizing their findings, they said the results were important for "strategizing cancer prevention, research and public health."

Both studies come at a time of increased spending on cancer treatments by national health bodies and drug research by pharmaceutical companies.

Total global spending on cancer medications reached the $100 billion threshold in 2014, according to a report by the U.S.-based IMS Institute for healthcare informatics released in May.

Growth in global spending on cancer drugs – measured using ex-manufacturer prices and not reflecting off-invoice discounts, rebates or patient access programs – increased at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5 percent on a constant-dollar basis during the past five years," the institute said in the report.

Spending on oncology - the study and treatment of cancers and tumors - remains concentrated among the U.S. and five largest European countries, which together account for 66 percent of the total market, it added.
Pharmaceutical companies are keen not to miss out on increased spending. U.K. pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced on Thursday that it was to bolster its blood cancer treatment portfolio by buying a 55 percent stake in Acerta Pharma in a deal valued at $4 billion dollars.
Read more: Cancer is not just down to 'bad luck': Study

Global Economy: Will There Be a Global Recession in 2016? - by Brad Hoppmann

The Fed’s first interest rate hike in nearly a decade is now official. That means the central-bank domination of the financial markets is behind us — at least for the very short term.

Two of the reasons cited by Janet Yellen & Co. for finally engaging in rate "lift-off" were an improving U.S. economy, and an improvement in the labor market.

Still, the Fed was cautious. Members argued that they expect economic conditions to evolve in a manner that will warrant only "gradual" increases in the Fed Funds rate.

The U.S. economy is generally regarded as being in decent shape. But at least one analyst says it is not in good enough health to fend off continued weakness in the global economy.

e argues in a Barron’s interview that those who are bullish on the U.S. economy are widely underestimating the potential threat of a downturn in the emerging markets due to the economic linkage between the two regions.

Levy actually thinks that 2016 could be the year of a global recession, and that this would precipitate a plunge in bond yields.

Two years ago, Levy was concerned about China’s slowing and how that would affect emerging markets. Now, he seems to be more concerned about the bursting of the emerging market bubble.
 … this time around, it’s the emerging market expansion bubble that’s starting to break down. Even by the start of 2015, there were a few countries in recession. In other countries, such as Taiwan, there’s clearly a general decline in the strength of the expansions. By the time we get third-quarter data, I expect to see that more of those countries are in — or very close to — recession.
Read more: Will There Be a Global Recession in 2016?

Apocalypse?: Mammoth Asteroid Will Waltz Past Earth on Christmas Eve - by Paula Mejia

Astronomers recently said Earthlings should prepare for a holiday gift in the sky—and, no, they weren’t referring to a Santa sighting.

On Christmas Eve, a gargantuan asteroid is on track to be visible from our planet via telescope.

But not to worry: There’s no danger of a Christmas Day apocalypse. The 3-kilometer-long asteroid (named 163899, or 2003 SD220) will be sailing by at a safe distance of 6.7 million miles.

The director of Northern Ireland’s Armagh Observatory, Mark Bailey, told AFP that while it’s not necessarily an “Earth-grazer,” it’s near enough that “you could expect several such encounters with objects of that sort of size every year—so maybe every couple of months you would get one coming that close, and of the same size.” He also noted that large-body collisions with Earth are rare, only occurring about once every 100,000 years.

If you miss this asteroid’s celestial dance this time around, you can catch it again in 2018, and again in December, according to a NASA report. Popular Science notes that the data researchers gather from the holiday asteroid is critical, as preliminary plans are in place to land aircraft on asteroids in the near future.

However, the next time an asteroid is expected to get somewhat uncomfortably close to Earth is 14 years from now, in April 2029, when the asteroid Aphophis is scheduled to pass about as close as the Moon and to be visible sans telescope.

Read more: Mammoth Asteroid Will Waltz Past Earth on Christmas Eve

12/22/15

2015 Business Year Review: tracking the global recovery

Seven years after the crisis began, the global economy has taken decisive steps out of the dark. Just as the collapse hit countries in different ways, the way out has not been the same for everyone. Some countries have made it in high gear, others have been slowly working up through low ones.

But the process is well underway and in this programme we track the recovery with our own correspondents to see how connected the global economy is, and what to expect in 2016.

We start in the country that is now leading the recovery – the United States. The world’s largest economy made its way through the crisis and is now in a period of growth that is hopefully solid enough to stand the higher interest rates recently announced by the Federal Reserve.

That’s not the case in Europe yet. The recovery here is way behind. Eurozone countries don’t always share their advances, but they do share the problems.

We look at the economic fairy-tale in Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy, that’s been damaged by the country’s leading company. We check out the situation in Spain – one of the fastest growing in the block, where the data always look way better in the summer – and examine Greece, where the holiday season was really hot, though not relaxing.

After Europe, we go to Asia, where China became a ticking bomb when Beijing tried to slow down growth.

And finally we analyse parts of the Arab world where the recovery has been hit not only by lower oil prices, but also by terrorism that has taken a high toll on tourism and the wider economy.
 
Read more: Business Year Review: tracking the global recovery | euronews, world news

Is Greece really on the road to recovery?- by Jonty Bloom

"Certainly the Greeks have had one great success - we are not all talking about how it will be broke by this time next week.

Despite a narrow majority in parliament and endless opposition from many groups the government is making a start in introducing the reforms that were the the condition of that bailout.

Just this month, the left-wing government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to a set of reforms, including allowing Greek banks to sell bad business loans onto foreign buyers.

This will free up capital for the banks and was a condition for the release of the next €1bn (£727bn; $1.08bn) of the bailout."

Read more: Is Greece really on the road to recovery? - BBC News

12/21/15

Turkey: A Blind Eye Toward Turkey’s Crimes | Global Research - by Robert Parry

Theoretically, it would be a great story for the American press: an autocrat so obsessed with overthrowing the leader of a neighboring country that he authorizes his intelligence services to collaborate with terrorists in staging a lethal sarin attack to be blamed on his enemy and thus trick major powers to launch punishing bombing raids against the enemy’s military.

And, after that scheme failed to achieve the desired intervention, the autocrat continues to have his intelligence services aid terrorists inside the neighboring country by providing weapons and safe transit for truck convoys carrying the terrorists’ oil to market. The story gets juicier because the autocrat’s son allegedly shares in the oil profits.

To make the story even more compelling, an opposition leader braves the wrath of the autocrat by seeking to expose these intelligence schemes, including the cover-up of key evidence. The autocrat’s government then seeks to prosecute the critic for “treason.”

But the problem with this story, as far as the American government and press are concerned, is that the autocratic leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in charge of Turkey, a NATO ally and his hated neighbor is the much demonized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Major U.S. news outlets and political leaders also bought into the sarin deception and simply can’t afford to admit that they once again misled the American people on a matter of war.

The Official Story of the sarin attack – as presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, Human Rights Watch and other “respectable” sources – firmly laid the blame for the Aug. 21, 2013 atrocity killing hundreds of civilians outside Damascus on Assad. That became a powerful “group think” across Official Washington.

Though a few independent media outlets, including Consortiumnews.com, challenged the rush to judgment and noted the lack of evidence regarding Assad’s guilt, those doubts were brushed aside. (In an article on Aug. 30, 2013, I described the administration’s “Government Assessment” blaming Assad as a “dodgy dossier,” which offered not a single piece of verifiable proof.)

However, as with the “certainty” about Iraq’s WMD a decade earlier, Every Important Person shared the Assad-did-it “group think.” That meant — as far as Official Washington was concerned — that Assad had crossed President Barack Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons. A massive U.S. retaliatory bombing strike was considered just days away.

But Obama – at the last minute – veered away from launching those military attacks, with Official Washington concluding that Obama had shown “weakness” by not following through. What was virtually unreported was that U.S. intelligence analysts had doubts about Assad’s guilt and suspected a trap being laid by extremists.

Despite those internal questions, the U.S. government and the compliant mainstream media publicly continued to push the Assad-did-it propaganda line. In a formal address to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013, Obama declared, “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

Later, a senior State Department official tried to steer me toward the Assad-is-guilty assessment of a Britisblogger then known as Moses Brown, a pseudonym for Eliot Higgins, who now runs an outfit called Bellingcat which follows an effective business model by reinforcing whatever the U.S. propaganda machine is churning out on a topic, except having greater credibility by posing as a “citizen blogger.”

Read more: A Blind Eye Toward Turkey’s Crimes | Global Research - Centre for Research on Globalization

US Political Environment: Will the Republican Party Survive the 2016 Election? - by David Frum

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America aren’t the hipster protesters who flitted in and out of Occupy Wall Street.

They aren’t the hashtavists of #BlackLivesMatter. They aren’t the remnants of the American labor movement or the savvy young dreamers who confront politicians with their American accents and un-American legal status.

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description.

You can measure their pessimism in polls that ask about their expectations for their lives—and for those of their children. On both counts, whites without a

Read more: Will the Republican Party Survive the 2016 Election? - The Atlantic

Sweden: Ericsson and Apple sign patent deal

Swedish mobile telecom gear maker Ericsson said it had signed a patent licence deal with Apple over technology that helps smartphones and tablets connect to mobile networks.

The deal ends a year-long dispute with Apple, one of the biggest legal battles in mobile technology.

Ericson said it would pave the way for cooperation between the companies on future technologies.

Read: Ericsson and Apple sign patent deal - RTÉ News

Turkey: The Fallacies of Treating Turkey as Europe’s Gatekeeper - by Emiliano Alessandri,

Frightened by the social, political, and potential security implications of the aggravating refugee crisis, the EU has decided to endow Turkey with the role of Europe’s “gatekeeper.”

This is problematic not least because the country is one of the EU’s most vulnerable neighbors, but also one that is deeply implicated in the Syrian proxy war and beset by disputes with countries all around it.\

What is more, the EU is pursuing this at a critical time for Turkey. Authoritarian tendencies are no longer limited following the resounding victory of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in November – its fifth consecutive success since 2002 – which resolved the hung parliament following the June election impasse.

Read more: The Fallacies of Treating Turkey as Europe’s Gatekeeper - The Globalist

Gay Community: Slovenians reject same-sex marriage in referendum

Slovenians rejected a same-sex marriage law by a large margin in a referendum on Sunday, according to preliminary referendum results.

The results released Sunday by authorities show 63 percent voted against a bill that defines marriage as a union of two adults, while 37 percent were in favor.

The results were incomplete, but were unlikely to change significantly in the final tally.

Parliament introduced marriage equality in March, but conservative groups, backed by the Catholic Church, pushed through a popular vote on the issue.

Read more: Europe - Slovenians reject same-sex marriage in referendum - France 24

12/20/15

Spanish election: PM Rajoy's party loses majority

Spain's governing conservative party has won the most seats in the general election but has lost its majority and must now try to form a coalition.

With almost all votes counted, the Popular Party (PP) had 123 seats; the Socialists 90 and the anti-austerity Podemos party 69.

The liberal Ciudadanos party was in fourth place with 40 seats.

Podemos and Ciudadanos fielded national candidates for the first time, boosted by discontent among the electorate.

The PP and the Socialists have alternated running the government for more than three decades.

A spokesman for Podemos said the results showed that two-party politics in Spain had ended.
"We are entering a new era in our country," said Inigo Errejon.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's PP needed 176 seats to form a majority. It had 186 seats in the outgoing parliament.

"I will try to form a government, a stable government," Mr Rajoy told PP supporters, after the final results were announced.

Read more: Spanish election: PM Rajoy's party loses majority - BBC News

Europe's year from hell may presage worse to come - by Paul Taylor

By any measure, it has been a year from hell for the European Union. And if Britons vote to leave the bloc, next year could be worse.

Not since 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell and communism crumbled across eastern Europe, has the continent's geopolitical kaleidoscope been shaken up so vigorously.

But unlike that year of joyous turmoil, which paved the way for a leap forward in European integration, the crises of 2015 have threatened to tear the Union apart and left it battered, bruised, despondent and littered with new barriers.

The collapse of the Iron Curtain led within two years to the agreement to create a single European currency and, over the following 15 years, to the eastward enlargement of the EU and NATO up to the borders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

That appeared to confirm founding father Jean Monnet's prediction that a united Europe would be built out of crises. 

In contrast, this year's political and economic shocks over an influx of migrants, Greek debt, Islamist violence and Russian military action have led to the return of border controls in many places, the rise of populist anti-EU political forces and recrimination among EU governments.

Jean-Claude Juncker, who describes his EU executive as the "last chance Commission", warned that the EU's open-border Schengen area of passport-free travel was in danger and the euro itself would be unlikely to survive if internal borders were shut.

Juncker resorted to gallows humor after the last of 12 EU summits this year, most devoted to last-gasp crisis management: "The crises that are with us will remain and others will come."

His gloomy tone was a reality check on the "we can do it" spirit that German Chancellor Angela Merkel - Europe's pre-eminent leader - has sought to apply to the absorption of hundreds of thousands of mostly Syrian refugees.

Merkel has received little support from her EU partners in sharing the migrant burden. Most have insisted the priority is sealing Europe's external borders rather than welcoming more than a token number of refugees in their own countries. 

This is partly due to latent resentment of German dominance of the EU and payback for its reluctance to share more financial risks in the euro zone. 

Some partners also accuse Berlin of hypocrisy over its energy ties with Russia, while friends such as France, the Netherlands and Denmark are simply petrified by the rise of right-wing anti-immigration populists at home.

One of the sharpest rebuffs to sharing more of the refugee burden came from close ally Paris. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said of Merkel's open door policy toward Syrian refugees: "It was not France that said 'Come!'."

Read more: Europe's year from hell may presage worse to come - Yahoo News

EU Migrant crisis: EU border security becomes new mantra -by Laurence Peter

It is often said that crises in the EU give an impetus for further integration - "more Europe".

There was a new example of that at this week's Brussels summit.

EU leaders agreed on the need for a new "European Border and Coast Guard", with greater powers and resources than the current Frontex border agency.

The European Commission stressed that the new force would not usurp the authority of national border staff - it would work alongside them.

Controversially, however, if a member state fails in its duty to protect the EU's external borders, during an emergency, the Commission could deploy EU guards without needing the state's permission.

And part of the guards' remit would be to send failed asylum seekers back - though currently such "returns" are handled by national forces.

 Read more: Migrant crisis: EU border security becomes new mantra - BBC News

12/19/15

Poland: Alternative energy: Polish wind farm sector faces uncertainty over new planning rules - by Agnieszka Barteczko

Windpower in Poland
Poland is considering a ban on building wind farms close to houses, a move the industry fears may block new investment in renewable energy sources and bolster coal’s role in the economy.

Under European Union rules, Poland – which generates most of its electricity from highly polluting coal – has to produce 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 compared to around 12 percent now.

Since 2005, installed wind farm capacity has risen from 83 megawatt (MW) to more than 4 gigawatt (GW), taking Poland closer to the target but more is needed to comply with the EU target.

A parliament committee asked the government earlier this week to look into how wind farms are being built in the countryside. It said new regulations were needed regarding the distance between wind farms and houses.

Scotland and Donald Trump: Wind Farms and Broken Promises: Donald Trump's Tortured History With Scotland - by David A. Graham

Donald Trump is a man without a country. The Queens neighborhood where he grew up has changed radically, and is now home to some of the Muslims he disparages. In New York, a left-leaning city and state, his presidential run is met with derision and embarrassment.

And then there’s Scotland. Trump has long sought Alban affection, only to be met—in large part—with a Caledonian cold shoulder. From the Borders to the Hebrides, Trump has sought to emphasize his ties with Scotland; in return, he’s earned loathing in Midlothian and antipathy in Ayrshire. The latest blow came this week, when the U.K. Supreme Court rejected his efforts to block the installation of wind turbines off the coast of Aberdeen, which Trump argued would sully Scotland’s pristine beauty—and the view from his golf development.

It’s the latest in a series of recent slights, including losing his status as an honorary ambassador for Scottish business and being stripped of an honorary degree from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Trump lashed out at the decision, accusing the Scottish government of a “foolish, small-minded, and parochial mentality.” But he hasn’t always felt that way, and has long courted Scots. The tale begins with Trump’s mother.

Read more: Wind Farms and Broken Promises: Donald Trump's Tortured History With Scotland - The Atlantic

Poverty USA: The bogus, self-serving notion that poverty is complicated - by Jeff Spross

Poverty is a "mysterious, unknowable, negative spiral-loop that some people find themselves in." So said New York Times philosopher-columnist David Brooks, in the keynote for the release of a Brookings and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) report on poverty solutions.

"Some problems are clock problems," Brooks continued, according to a transcript from sociologist Philip Cohen. "You can take them apart into individual pieces and fix them. Some problems are cloud problems. You can't take a cloud apart. It's a dynamic system that is always interspersed."

This same bogus idea — poverty is so mysterious and complicated! — can also be seen when House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP presidential hopefuls attribute poverty to everything from the breakdown of marriage to despair and hopelessness and the loss of "friendship, hope, and love." It's why the Brookings-AEI report is a full-court press to promote marriage, tweak the education system, and encourage work all at once.

"We have to be humble" in tackling poverty, Brooks continued, "because it's so gloomy and so complicated."

In this view, poverty is a big social ecosystem. At the individual level, it's all about personal psychology, habits, and values, and how they influence one's ability to be a good neighbor, spouse, parent, and worker. At the community level, there are the cultural values that get passed around, along with the norms and ideas of what constitutes acceptable behavior, which do the same. It's all interconnected with work and the economy in an infinitely complex way. It's a cloud problem.

But is it really? There's a strong argument that poverty is actually a clock problemLet's start with the jobs supply. Conservatives themselves point to having a job as one of the key ways individuals and communities build habits and norms and values. You can "promote" work all you want; it won't matter if there flat out aren't enough jobs. And America has done a terrible job maintaining a sufficient supply of jobs — to a degree that's really shocking, all the more so because it's treated as normal in the public discourse.

Full employment — where the supply of available workers is even with, or lower than, the supply of jobs — has been missing since the late 1970s, other than a brief burst in the late 1990s. We've always had booms and busts, but the booms have stopped reaching full employment for any sustained period. This cycle is especially damaging for the poorest Americans. Economist Lane Kenworthy found that, while the poorest 10 percent of Americans made gains during economic recoveries, recent recessions have wiped out those gains completely.
Moreover, even for people who are working, the absence of full employment means they have no bargaining power, because there's always someone more desperate waiting to take their job. Wage growth stagnates, low wages become more prevalent, and more people are demeaned and mistreated on the job — not exactly ideal, if you're looking to build habits and norms and a social fabric around employment.
The jobs supply comes relatively close to being a "clock problem." We know that a certain set of macroeconomic policies — deficit spending, and loose money from the Fed — boost the supply of available work. The government chose to use these policies to maintain full employment in the mid-century, and then it chose to stop.
Next, let's talk money. If people don't have enough of it, they can't access the necessities of life, and that's what poverty is at the most basic level. But buying necessities also means "buying goods and services." And if people in a community can't do that, then businesses there can't thrive or grow, and there won't be jobs there. On top of that, holding down a job usually requires people to have a reliable place to live, a car, gas, or access to public transit, all of which require money.
If this were a primitive agrarian economy, and someone who wasn't doing anything economically productive wanted to do so, they could just stake out a plot of unclaimed land, start growing or building something, and go. In the modern world — where land and infrastructure is governed by private property rights, where we trade money rather than goods, and where labor is highly divided and specialized — it's much different. People need access to the economic feedback loop to work for pay. They can't just conjure jobs out of thin air by dint of will or work ethic. And paradoxically, getting that access requires already having money, at both the individual and collective level.
This is one of the great under-appreciated strengths of federal spending on the welfare state and general public investment. It acts as an "aggregate demand management system," maintaining a (far too low) baseline for economic activity across America's communities, along with enabling people to buy basic food, shelter, etc.

Now, Brooks regularly claims the U.S. already spends enough on the poor to lift them out of poverty, so the flaw must be elsewhere. But this is just wrong. The U.S. welfare state is too small, too diffuse and too ill-targeted to do it's job. Other Western countries spend gobs more than we do, and get far more poverty reduction.

Heck, as Cohen noted, the very same release event Brooks spoke at held up the decline in elderly poverty as a big American success. Coincidentally, the elderly are the one group in America with a whole government program devoted to cutting them regular checks. It's called Social Security.
In other words, lack of money is even more a "clock problem" than lack of sufficient jobs. You literally just give people money!

So it's incredibly galling when Brooks declares that "surely the solution is to throw everything we think works at the problem simultaneously." Because this is exactly what he and his Brookings-AEI colleagues are not willing to do. Conservatives ferociously oppose including welfare state solutions or jobs stimulus in the list of stuff getting thrown at the wall to see what sticks. So they aren't included.

Beyond that, does anyone actually know how to encourage healthy marriages? In the deep sense? What about how to heal the social fabric, re-engineer whole cultures, or build new norms, habits, values, or whatever? This stuff gets us deep into the murky waters of the human condition. There are a lot of adjectives for trying to tackle these challenges head on, but "humble" isn't one of them.

By comparison, expanding the welfare state and having the government borrow, spend, and print money is easy as pie. That might not be sufficient to heal the social fabric. But it certainly seems necessary.

So maybe we shouldn't define "poverty" in such sweeping terms to begin with. Maybe we should just define it as not having enough money, and by extension not having a job, and try to solve that first.

From:: The bogus, self-serving notion that poverty is complicated

EU Refugee crisis: 'Economic migrants' and asylum seekers are coming to Europe for the same reasons, report says - by Lizzie Dearden

Despite the British Government's efforts to distinguish between “genuine” refugees and economic migrants, a report has found that the motivations for both groups to risk their lives in desperate attempts to reach Europe are often very similar.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) , a UK-based independent think tank urged European leaders to develop a broader understanding of what causes people to migrate in order to respond to the current crisis.

Its Why People Move report said: “The evidence reveals that the asylum-seekers and economic migrants often have similar reasons for choosing to make the dangerous journey to Europe and one person may fall into both of these categories at the same time.

Read more: Refugee crisis: 'Economic migrants' and asylum seekers are coming to Europe for the same reasons, report says | Europe | News | The Independent

12/18/15

European Unity: After Paris: Unify Fights Against Austerity/Climate Change - by Asbjørn Wahl

The Climate Summit in Paris has once again reminded us of how vulnerable we are on planet earth. However, humanity is faced with a number of deep and challenging crises: economic, social, political, over food – and, of course, over climate change, which is threatening the very existence of millions of people. These crises have many of the same root causes, going to the core of our economic system.

Strong vested interests are involved. It is thus an interest-based struggle we are facing. All over the world, people are organising and fighting against the effects of the crises. Trade unions are heavily involved in many of these struggles, and so are many other movements – single-issue as well as broader social movements.

Increasingly, our entire social model, the way we produce and consume, is under question. The way out of these crises requires a system change and this can only be achieved if we are able considerably to shift the balance of power in society. This leaves us with the challenge of unifying movements and continuing struggles – particularly to bring anti-austerity together with the struggle against climate change.

Read more: After Paris: Unify Fights Against Austerity/Climate Change

12/17/15

Africa - Libya’s rival factions sign UN-brokered unity government deal

Delegates from Libya's warring factions signed a U.N.-brokered agreement to form a national government on Thursday, a deal that Western powers hope will bring stability and help fight a growing Islamic State presence.

Read more: Africa - Libya’s rival factions sign UN-brokered unity government deal - France 24

12/16/15

North Korea - Christianity: 60-year-old pastor gets hard labour for life in North Korea

North Korea’s highest court has sentenced a South Korea-born Canadian pastor to hard labour for life for subversion, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday (December 16).

Hyeon Soo Lim, the head pastor at a Toronto church that is one of Canada’s largest, has been held by North Korea since February. Earlier this year, he had appeared on North Korean state media confessing to crimes against the state.

North Korea’s supreme court said Lim had attempted to overthrow the North Korean government and undermine its social system with “religious activities” for the past 18 years, Xinhua reported.

The court held that he fabricated anti-North Korean propaganda as part of a US and South Korean-led “human rights racket” against the country, according to Xinhua.

The court said Lim confessed to helping people defect from North Korea, and said he had met the U.S. ambassador to Mongolia regarding the plans, Xinhua reported.

Most North Korean defectors fleeing the isolated, repressive country travel to South Korea via China and Southeast Asia, although it is possible to defect via Mongolia.

Read more: 60-year-old pastor gets hard labour for life in North Korea | euronews, world news

US Presidential Elections: GOP terrorist approach dangerous says Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Just hours before the GOP presidential debate Tuesday, Hillary Clinton got out in front of the Republican contenders with a forceful speech ridiculing their approach to terrorism and warning that some of the very slogans they have been using to tout their national security plans are making Americans less safe.

At a time voter attention has shifted from the economy to personal safety and the threat of terrorist attacks, Clinton used the speech in Minnesota to cast herself as the steady, experienced hand in a presidential race otherwise dominated by what she characterized as dangerous blowhards.

“Promising to carpet-bomb until the desert glows doesn't make you sound strong,” Clinton said, referring to a vow made by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “It makes you sound like you are in over your head.”

She also delivered a rebuttal to some of the more incendiary remarks made by the GOP front-runner, Donald Trump.

“Bluster and bigotry are not credentials for becoming commander in chief,” Clinton said.

Clinton characterized the Republican plan for fighting Islamic State militants as having little substance. But she also seemed to be testing a slogan of her own in this new phase of the campaign, in which the issue of terrorism is overriding all others.

“We elect a president in part, in large part, to keep us safe,” Clinton said.

As she has in the past, Clinton argued that Trump — who has called to ban all foreign Muslims from entering the United States — is not an outlier in the GOP field.

“The truth is many of those candidates have also said disgraceful things about Muslims,” she said. “This kind of divisive rhetoric actually plays into the hands of terrorists.... It alienates partners and isolates moderates we need around the world.

EU-Digest





EU Sakharov Prize: Raif Badawi's wife accepts prestigious Sakharov Prize for human rights

Mrs. Badawi in Strasbourg
The Quebec wife of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi received a standing ovation at the European Parliament assembly today as she accepted a prestigious human rights award on his behalf.

Ensaf Haidar, who claimed refugee status in Quebec and lives with their three children in the Eastern Townships, accepted the European Union's prestigious Sakharov Prize at a ceremony in Strasbourg, France today.

"Raif Badawi was brave enough to raise his voice and say no to their barbarity. That is why they flogged him," Haidar she said in a speech, cited by the European Parliament's news service.

Read more: Raif Badawi's wife accepts prestigious Sakharov Prize for human rights - Montreal - CBC News

12/15/15

European Commission: A European Border and Coast Guard to protect Europe's External Borders

EU Defense Force
The European Commission is today adopting an important set of measures to manage the EU's external borders and protect our Schengen area without internal borders. Today's proposals will help to manage migration more effectively, improve the internal security of the European Union, and safeguard the principle of free movement of persons. The Commission is proposing to establish a European Border and Coast Guard to ensure a strong and shared management of the external borders.

To further increase security for Europe's citizens, the Commission is also proposing to introduce systematic checks against relevant databases for all people entering or exiting the Schengen area.
 
European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "In an area of free movement without internal borders, managing Europe’s external borders must be a shared responsibility. The crisis has exposed clear weaknesses and gaps in existing mechanisms aimed at making sure that EU standards are upheld. Therefore, it is now time to move to a truly integrated system of border management. 

The European Border and Coast Guard will bring together a reinforced Agency, with the ability to draw on a reserve pool of people and equipment, and the Member States’ authorities, who will continue to exercise day-to-day border management. 

The system we propose will allow for an identification of any weaknesses in real time so that they can be remedied quickly, also improving our collective ability to deal effectively with crisis situations where a section of the external border is placed under strong pressure."

European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos added: "The current migration and security challenges know no borders, and require a truly European approach. 

Where Frontex used to be limited to supporting Member States in managing their external borders, the new Border Agency will go beyond this. What we are creating today is more Europe: to manage our external borders, to step up returns of irregular migrants, to allow our asylum system to function properly for those in need and to strengthen checks at the external borders of the European Union. 

The Border Package we are presenting today will increase security for our citizens and ensure high standards of border management."

 Read more: European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - A European Border and Coast Guard to protect Europe's External Borders

12/14/15

Sweden jails two ISIS men for life for crimes in Syria - by Robert Hackwil

Two men have been jailed for life in Sweden for committing acts of murder in Syria. They are the first to be jailed for terrorist crimes committed in the country.

The men, both Swedish, deny the charges and at least one says he will appeal.

They are accused of beheading and cutting the throats of two men in Aleppo in 2013.

One insisted he had gone to Syria to fight against the Assad regime, but film emerged of him and his colleague enthusiastically taking part in acts of savagery.

It had been kept by the youngest of the accused on a USB key at his home in Gotenburg.

Both men lived in Sweden’s second city, which has sent over 120 people to fight in Syria, making it one of Islamic State’s main recruiting centres in Europe.

Read more: Sweden jails two men for life for crimes in Syria | euronews, world news

Politics and business: The U.S. Global Business Community Must Speak Against Trump - by Philip Bowring

As a westerner long based in Asia, I am astonished at the silence – so far as I am aware – of U.S. corporate interests overseas, collective and individual, in the face of Donald Trump’s remarks about Muslims.

There is a very simple issue here. The very suggestion that Muslims should be barred from entering the United States can only cause Muslims worldwide to ask themselves: Why should we buy goods and services from a nation which so despises us?

Why should we welcome Americans whether as investors, tourists or traders if we are to be thus treated?
It is not good enough for the U.S. business community to shrug its shoulders and imply that Trump is full of publicity-seeking rhetoric and is making proposals that can never come to pass.

It is not good enough to laugh off Trump’s statements as of scant relevance, political theater at the early stage of the Republican selection battle, let alone the campaign for the presidency itself.

Read more: The U.S. Global Business Community Must Speak Against Trump - The Globalist

France: Exit polls: Le Pen′s FN loses regional polls

A tactical call by France's socialists to their voters to block Marine Le Pen's National Front (FN) by voting for Sarkozy's Republicans and center-right allies in two regions delivered wins for the opposition conservatives on Sunday.

The leader of the anti-immigration FN, Le Pen, lost out to the right-wing opposition in the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardie region after the ruling socialist party (PS) pulled out of the race before the second round.

Early estimates showed Marine Le Pen finishing on around 42 percent compared to about 57 percent for her right-wing rival Xavier Bertrand in the economically depressed northern region.

Bertrand, a former labor minister, described the outcome as a "thunderbolt" that had stopped the "progression" of the National Front.

 Read more: Exit polls: Le Pen′s FN loses regional polls | News | DW.COM | 13.12.2015

12/13/15

Technology: Sex, love and robots: is this the end of intimacy? - by Eva Wiseman

The world is ending. The sports fields are empty, the science labs closed. No babies have been born for years. Cut to a split screen of human and robots kissing passionately. “They’re trapped!” says the narrator, voice like gravel.

“Trapped in a soft, vice-like grip of robot lips.” Words slam against the screen, a warning. “Don’t. Date. Robots.”

Except Futurama’s 2001 episode “I Dated a Robot”, with its post-apocalyptic world of silvers and blues, wildly overestimated how long it would take before this fear became flesh. It’s November 2015, and in Malaysia, where humidity is at 89% and it is almost certainly still raining, David Levy, a founder of the second annual Congress on Love and Sex with Robots, is free to talk on the phone – he is less busy than planned. “I never expected to end up here,” he says. I hear a shrug.

The Congress on Love and Sex with Robots was meant to begin on 16 November, but was deemed illegal days after Levy arrived from London. “There’s nothing scientific about sex and robots,” inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar told a press conference, explaining why. “It is an offence to have anal sex in Malaysia [let alone sex with robots].”

“I think they thought people would be having sex with robots or some strange thing like that,” Levy’s co-founder Adrian David Cheok said afterwards, explaining that they had planned a series of academic talks about humanoid robotics. But some strange thing like that, some strange thing like a human having sex with a robot, is what Levy, Cheok and others are predicting is almost our reality. They have seen the future of sex, they say, and it is teledildonic.

Sex, love and robots: is this the end of intimacy? | Technology | The Guardian