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6/30/16

Saudi-Arabia: Are we the persecutors?- by David Curry

Just two weeks ago, the Saudi government announced that in September it will hit the international bond markets with a Dollar denominated issue. In the Kingdom’s history, this is the first foreign debt issue. Incredible though it may appear, the sheiks, holders of the world’s largest oil reserves, appear cash-starved.

The Saudi monarchy that in 2011 was achieving an astounding fiscal surplus of 20% of GDP with zero public debt and sitting on over $700 billion of foreign reserves, has markedly seen its fortunes go into reverse since the oil price collapse in mid-2014. In 2015 the surplus morphed into a nasty deficit of up to 16% of GDP, public debt climbed to 10% while the currency reserves declined to below $ 600 billion. The Kingdom enacted even a few cuts in public expenditures, a measure unheard-of in the land of a guaranteed lifetime employment in the government sector.

In well-informed circles, the theory has been that the sudden decline in oil price was a deliberate strategy orchestrated by the Saudis, to kick the “shale oil” producers out of the market. Since the US producers rely heavily on debt and operate at loss when the oil price slips under $60 a barrel, such a plan could have worked. But it did not happen: with the Fed nailing interest rates around zero, the banks and the investment funds have continued to finance the drillers, who in turn have reduced production and cut costs.

The result is that few drillers have effectively been pushed out of the market.
Now the Saudi strategy is backfiring and the big sharks of financial speculation are sharpening their teeth. The target is the fixed exchange rate between the Dollar and the Riyal (the Saudi currency). This monetary agreement between the two governments has lasted more than 30 years. The US economy and the Saudi elites have benefited immensely from it, with the latter accumulating sheer amounts of financial wealth.

The “Petrodollar” system worked in this way: US importers settled oil purchases only in Dollars at a stable, favorable exchange rate (by 1986 fixed at 0.26$ for 1 Riyal). In its turn, the Saudi Kingdom was committed to reinvest the profits in the US economy through the purchase of Treasuries, with the not negligible benefit of the guarantee of a continuous US military umbrella. All trades have been kept confidential for over 40 years till May 2016: neither the US nor the Kingdom has ever released detailed information about the involvement of the Saudis in the refinancing of US public debt.

In recent years, cracks have begun to surface in the apparently rock-solid deal. Thanks to the shale oil boom and the increasing market share of Iraqi and Iranian oil, the US is less dependent on the Saudis.

The confidentiality shield has been lifted and finally the US Treasury revealed the amount of debt in the hands of the Kingdom: $120 billion, and it’s reasonable to believe that at least a further $ 100 billion are discreetly held offshore. In the meantime, the US Senate has allowed the victims of 9/11 to sue the Saudi Kingdom for its eventual responsibility for the attacks.

All these moves can be interpreted as a progressive cooling in the US-Saudi political relationship.

Read more: Are we the persecutors?

US Presidential Elections - Poll : White House Watch - Trump takes lead over Hillary

The tables have turned in this week’s White House Watch. After trailing Hillary Clinton by five points for the prior two weeks, Donald Trump has now taken a four-point lead.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds Trump with 43% of the vote, while Clinton earns 39%. Twelve percent (12%) still like another candidate, and five percent (5%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Last week at this time, it was Clinton 44%, Trump 39%. This is Trump’s highest level of support in Rasmussen Reports’ matchups with Clinton since last October. His support has been hovering around the 40% mark since April, but it remains to be seen whether he’s just having a good week or this actually represents a real move forward among voters.

Trump now earns 75% support among his fellow Republicans and picks up 14% of the Democratic vote. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Democrats like Clinton, as do 10% of GOP voters. Both candidates face a sizable number of potential defections because of unhappiness with them in their own parties.

Read more: White House Watch - Rasmussen Reports™

Suriname president acts to again avoid trial in 1982 deaths - by Pieter Van Mael

Bouterse, Suriname's President stops his own murder trial
President Desi Bouterse sought again Wednesday to prevent authorities from putting him back on trial for the abduction and summary execution of 15 political opponents when he was the military dictator of this South American nation.

Bouterse instructed Suriname's attorney general to immediately halt proceedings against him, invoking an article of the constitution that allows the president to issue such an order in the interests of national security.

The action follows a June court ruling that invalidated an amnesty law pushed through parliament by Bouterse's supporters after he was elected president. The court ordered the resumption of the trial against him and 24 co-defendants.

Since then, the political mood has been tense amid expectations that the president would seek to prevent the case from moving forward. Bouterse had said the trial poses a danger to the internal security of the country, which is struggling through a recession because of the sharp drop in commodity prices.

Justice Minister Jennifer Van Dijk-Silos confirmed that the government had invoked Article 148 of Suriname's constitution in the matter but declined to discuss the decision.

Bouterse said little as he entered and left a closed session of parliament. "Every decision has its advantages and disadvantages," he said, without providing details.

A court session in the case was scheduled for Thursday but it was not immediately clear how the judges would react to the government's action.

"We are shocked, not only because of the president's decision, but also because it was unanimously backed by the entire government," said Eddy Wijngaarde, whose brother, Frank, was among those killed by the regime. "We had hoped at least some ministers would have refused to back the president's latest attempt to make the trial impossible."

Bouterse and 24 allies from his time as a military dictator in the 1980s avoided trial until November 2007 on charges stemming from the execution of the 15 prominent political opponents, an event known locally as the "December killings" that stunned the lightly populated nation on the northern tip of South America.

The former strongman returned to power in 2010 when he was elected president by parliament. Two years later, lawmakers passed an amnesty law and court proceedings were put on hold in a decision that outraged human rights activists.

Bouterse, who was re-elected by parliament last year, has accepted what he calls "political responsibility" for the military's killing of the 15 well-known journalists, lawyers and union leaders but said he was not present when the executions took place. Witnesses in the trial have disputed that claim.President Desi Bouterse sought again Wednesday to prevent authorities from putting him back on trial for the abduction and summary execution of 15 political opponents when he was the military dictator of this South American nation.

Bouterse instructed Suriname's attorney general to immediately halt proceedings against him, invoking an article of the constitution that allows the president to issue such an order in the interests of national security.

The action follows a June court ruling that invalidated an amnesty law pushed through parliament by Bouterse's supporters after he was elected president. The court ordered the resumption of the trial against him and 24 co-defendants.

Since then, the political mood has been tense amid expectations that the president would seek to prevent the case from moving forward. Bouterse had said the trial poses a danger to the internal security of the country, which is struggling through a recession because of the sharp drop in commodity prices.

Justice Minister Jennifer Van Dijk-Silos confirmed that the government had invoked Article 148 of Suriname's constitution in the matter but declined to discuss the decision.

Bouterse said little as he entered and left a closed session of parliament. "Every decision has its advantages and disadvantages," he said, without providing details.

A court session in the case was scheduled for Thursday but it was not immediately clear how the judges would react to the government's action.

"We are shocked, not only because of the president's decision, but also because it was unanimously backed by the entire government," said Eddy Wijngaarde, whose brother, Frank, was among those killed by the regime. "We had hoped at least some ministers would have refused to back the president's latest attempt to make the trial impossible."

Bouterse and 24 allies from his time as a military dictator in the 1980s avoided trial until November 2007 on charges stemming from the execution of the 15 prominent political opponents, an event known locally as the "December killings" that stunned the lightly populated nation on the northern tip of South America.

The former strongman returned to power in 2010 when he was elected president by parliament. Two years later, lawmakers passed an amnesty law and court proceedings were put on hold in a decision that outraged human rights activists.

Bouterse, who was re-elected by parliament last year, has accepted what he calls "political responsibility" for the military's killing of the 15 well-known journalists, lawyers and union leaders but said he was not present when the executions took place. Witnesses in the trial have disputed that claim.

EU-Digest

6/29/16

Global Economy: Better look at this if you think markets are over Brexit - Patti Domm

Stocks are sailing higher as Brexit worries fade, but the global bond market is signaling that there's plenty to fear.

Bonds have been on fire globally, as investors rush to snap up safety, particularly at the long end, and that is sending yields to new lows — and some yields even into the black hole of negative rates. The U.S. 30-year Treasury bond is closing in on its all-time low yield of 2.223 percent.

"I think people are hunkering down and buying bonds because of the uncertainty in the world. They want to be able to sleep at night," and Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at National Alliance. Brenner said in the U.S., 20-year corporates and 30-year Treasurys were the hot spots in Wednesday's market.

While investors may be frustrated by the low yields, consumers are the winners, with mortgages and a whole host of loans heading lower.

Bond yields move inversely to prices, and that market was trading at rich levels well before the Brexit vote. Investors globally have been responding to yields driven lower by central bank buying and easy policies, such as the negative rates set by central banks in Europe and Japan.

At the same time, investors worry about the strength of the global economy and the fact that central bank easing has been unable to jump-start growth. But the U.K. vote to leave the European Union has driven a new belief that global interest rates will now stay lower for much longer than was previously expected.             

Read more: Better look at this if you think markets are over Brexit

Russia closes 'crisis chapter' with Turkey

Moscow is lifting travel restrictions on Russian tourists visiting Turkey after a period of diplomatic tension with plans to resume "mutually advantageous" trade relations.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he asked his government to begin "the process of normalising general trade and economic ties with Turkey", fixing badly strained relations since Ankara shot down a Russian warplane taking part in Moscow's military campaign in Syria last year.

"I want to start with the question of tourism ... we are lifting the administrative restrictions in this area," Putin told government ministers in televised comments.

Russian tourism to Turkey last month was down more than 90 percent year on year, according to figures by Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Overall tourism in Turkey was down about 35 percent last month compared with the same period last year, the ministry said.

The development came days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed regret for the downing of the Russian jet in a letter this week to Putin.

The Russian leader said the letter created conditions to close "this crisis chapter" in bilateral relations.

On Wednesday, Putin and Erdogan held a "constructive" telephone conversation, according to the Kremlin.

Putin told Erdogan he hoped that a criminal case launched against a Turkish citizen accused of killing the Russian pilot of the downed warplane would be an objective one.

The development came days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed regret for the downing of the Russian jet in a letter this week to Putin.

The Russian leader said the letter created conditions to close "this crisis chapter" in bilateral relations.

On Wednesday, Putin and Erdogan held a "constructive" telephone conversation, according to the Kremlin.

Putin told Erdogan he hoped that a criminal case launched against a Turkish citizen accused of killing the Russian pilot of the downed warplane would be an objective one.

Read more: Russia closes 'crisis chapter' with Turkey - News from Al Jazeera

Brexit: EU says no compromise on freedom of movement

European Union leaders have warned that the UK must honour the principle of free movement of people if it wants to retain access to the single market after it leaves the bloc. 

European Council President Donald Tusk said the UK could not pick and choose.

The French and German leaders also made clear that the freedom of movement of EU citizens was non-negotiable.

Immigration to the UK, particularly from poorer EU countries, was a key issue in the referendum campaign.

Some campaigners for Leave sent a clear message that the vote was about controlling immigration levels.

Read more: Brexit: EU says no compromise on freedom of movement - BBC News

Global Economy: Brexit and Terrorism no match for Wall Street Casino bouncing back after two-day Brexit rout

Wall Street bounced back on Tuesday, recouping some recent losses, as investors sought cheap assets after a two-day equities rout sparked by Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

U.S. indexes joined stock markets around the world in the rebound after global equity markets had shed $3 trillion in value in the two days following Britain's shock vote, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Investors also pointed to solid U.S. economic data as helping to stabilize stocks.

Financials .SPSY and tech stocks .SPLRCT, hit hard in the wake of the referendum, were among the top gaining sectors on Tuesday.

"People are starting to say maybe this is going to take longer than they thought and maybe the impacts on the U.S. market won’t be nearly as great as feared," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey. "So I think you’ve seen a bit of bargain-hunting."

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 269.48 points, or 1.57 percent, to 17,409.72, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 35.55 points, or 1.78 percent, to 2,036.09 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 97.42 points, or 2.12 percent, to 4,691.87.

All 10 S&P sectors finished higher. Energy shares .SPNY gained 2.6 percent, leading all groups, supported by higher oil prices.

Major U.S. indexes had posted their worst two-day decline in 10 months following the British referendum.

Investors are still bracing for volatility in the coming weeks amid uncertainty about how Britain will pursue its EU exit, with some pointing to more possible downside. The S&P 500 was within 17 points of its May 2015 record high last Thursday.

Still, the CBOE Volatility Index .VIX, the favored gauge of investor anxiety, fell about 21 percent to trade close to where it was before the Brexit vote. It was its largest one-day percentage decline since August 2011. 

All this seems curious and questionable when putting it into perspective.

Read more: Wall Street bounces back after two-day Brexit rout | Reuters

6/28/16

Turkey: At least 28 innocent people killed, 60 injured by "derelicts" as blasts rock Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport

Istanbul: Daesh Deranged Murderers Killing Innocent People
 At least 28 people have been killed and 60 more injured in two blasts that rocked Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, according to Turkish officials. The explosions were reportedly suicide bomb attacks.

The blasts occurred in the airport’s International Arrivals Terminal. 

A Turkish official confirmed to Reuters that two explosions have hit the airport. According to some Turkish media, the blasts were terrorist attacks targeting two separate locations in the airport.

Twenty-eight people have lost their lives in the blasts that hit the airport, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said, Turkey’s NTV channel reported.

More than 60 people have been injured, six of them seriously, in explosions at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, according to the Turkish state Anadolu news agency.

Many people caught in the blasts and near the airport posted photos and videos from the scene, showing the destruction caused by the explosions as well as people hiding in various places in search of safety.

Gunfire was heard from the car park near the airport, CNN Turk reports, citing the witnesses. Four armed men were reportedly seen running away from the terminal building after the explosions, according to Turkey’s NTV channel.

Note EU-Digest: Whoever eventually gets  blamed for this cruel act can only be regarded as totally deranged murderers.

Read more: Over 20 killed, 60 injured as blasts rock Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport — RT News

Turkey: Realpolitik ? What's behind Turkey's rapprochement moves towards Israel and Russia? - by David Barchard

Realpolitik or "Axis of Evil?
Turkey and Israel have agreed to bury their differences after a bitter dispute froze their relations for six years and have normal diplomatic relations, including ambassadors in each other’s capitals.

Given the long-standing public distaste of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Israel, and Turkish support for the people of Gaza, the news marks a massive policy turnaround. But it has been in the making for a while.

To soften any shock, news of the deal – some pro-government papers are even using the word "reconciliation" – between Turkey and Israel was signalled well in advance of its announcement on Sunday evening. President Erdogan also phoned the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Sunday to give him advance news of the agreement.

News of negotiations between Turkey and Israel has in fact been emerging steadily since late last year, with reports that despite their differences, they had discovered that they needed each other as both regional and energy partners.

Unfinished business from the recent past is being finally got out of the way. Israel will pay Turkey $20 million as compensation to the families of 10 Turkish citizens who died in May 2010 when the Israeli army stormed an unarmed humanitarian convoy carrying relief supplies to Gaza. It has renewed its apology, first issued in 2013, for the attack. The payment of compensation, withheld until now, makes the apology substantial. It will also allow a 10,000-tonne shipload of humanitarian supplies from Turkey to unload at Gaza on Friday this week.

Both sides are portraying the agreement – which will be signed on Tuesday this week – as a victory of sorts. Turkey’s Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, says that Turkey has secured the easing (though not the complete lifting) of the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Turkey is building homes and engaging in other projects to help the people of Gaza. Hamas officials will continue to operate from offices in Turkey.

However according to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Gaza blockade will continue, while Israel will now be able to strike an agreement with Turkey for the export of its newly discovered natural gas reserves to Europe via a pipeline. The two prime ministers issued details of the agreement simultaneously, perhaps in order to lessen domestic criticism in both countries.

For this is an agreement dictated on both sides not by sentiment but by realpolitik – national self-interest. With memories of the events of 2010 and afterwards still fresh, it looks very vulnerable to any possible fresh flare up in Gaza. But for the countries making it, the agreement is solidly underpinned by practical advantages on both sides.

Turkey has been looking for potential alternative suppliers of natural gas to take the place of the Russians, since relations were frozen following the downing of a Russian air force jet on the Syrian border on 24 November. Israeli gas would be a logical alternative, at least for some years.
However there are signs that Russia’s diplomatic and economic freeze against Turkey could also be about to lift, with a statement of "regret" about the jet incident from Erdogan on Monday.
Though Russia seemed to have set its face firmly against future relations with Turkey – and banned all agricultural imports – there have been signs in the last few weeks that Moscow was responding slowly to indications from Turkey that it wanted to normalise relations. 

The freeze in Turkish-Russian relations has not only hit Turkish food producers hard. Hotel bookings are said to be nearly 98 percent down and there has been uncertainty about future energy cooperation, including the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power-plant at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean. Turkey’s media has continued to criticise Russian operations in Syria, but President Erdogan and Prime Minister Yildirim both made it clear that they wanted the restoration of relations.

The sticking point was a formal apology from President Erdogan for the shooting down of the Russian jet and the death of one of its pilots. According to Russian media sources, later confirmed by Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesperson for the Turkish president, it seems that Erdogan used a form of words in a private letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking relatives of the dead pilot to "excuse us". President Putin regards this as a sufficient apology - so normal relations look like being resumed.

If that does happen, one of Moscow's main moves is likely to be a continued guarantee of Russian natural gas supplies to Turkey - which in any case have so far not been interrupted. How far this would undermine a potential Turkish deal with Israel (by removing the need to buy additional gas) is unclear, but having come so far towards a deal with Israel neither Turkey nor the Israelis look likely to turn back easily.

 Read more: What's behind Turkey's rapprochement moves towards Israel and Russia? | Middle East Eye

The Netherlands: Samsom, Pechtold dismiss 'Nexit' referendum as reckless move

Party leaders Diederik Samsom and Alexander Pechtold will oppose any plans to hold a UK-style ‘Nexit’ referendum on EU membership after next year’s Parliamentary elections.

 Labour leader Samsom warned that a vote to leave would trigger a period of economic uncertainty, while Pechtold dismissed the idea as a ‘Wilders referendum’: a protest vote with no proposed alternative to being in the EU. In the wake of the Brexit vote,

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders vowed to put a Nexit vote on the agenda in next year’s elections to Parliament, which are expected to be held in March.

Party leaders Diederik Samsom and Alexander Pechtold will oppose any plans to hold a UK-style ‘Nexit’ referendum on EU membership after next year’s Parliamentary elections. Labour leader Samsom warned that a vote to leave would trigger a period of economic uncertainty, while Pechtold dismissed the idea as a ‘Wilders referendum’: a protest vote with no proposed alternative to being in the EU. In the wake of the Brexit vote, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders vowed to put a Nexit vote on the agenda in next year’s elections to Parliament, which are expected to be held in March.

Read more at DutchNews.nl: Samsom, Pechtold dismiss ‘Nexit’ referendum as reckless move http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2016/06/samsom-pechtold-dismiss-nexit-referendum/
Read more: Samsom, Pechtold dismiss 'Nexit' referendum as reckless move - DutchNews.nl

Britain: Germany says UK will not be allowed to ‘cherry pick’ over Brexit deal

Angela Merkel has firmly quashed claims from Boris Johnson and other prominent British politicians that the UK will be able to retain access to the single market if it leaves the EU.

The German Chancellor told her parliament free access – considered vital to British jobs and the economy – is only open to countries accepting the so-called four freedoms: free movement of people; capital; goods and services.

“We will make sure that the negotiations will not follow the principle of cherry-picking. There has to be and there will be a clear distinction over whether a country wants to be a part of the EU family or not.
“Whoever decides to leave that family cannot expect all obligations to be omitted while keeping its privileges,” said Merkel.

A matter of hours later, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said he would not want to see the UK leave the single market.

Deal or no deal, Germany has joined the EU in wanting matters to press on quickly. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry has said a prolonged stalemate would be costly.

Read more: Germany says UK will not be allowed to ‘cherry pick’ over Brexit deal | euronews, world news

6/27/16

European Union: Post-Brexit: EU Still a Superpower - by Steven Hill

If you type the words “European Union” and “crisis” into the Google search engine, you instantly receive 115 million hits. When I did that back in 2009, before the eurozone crisis, “only” 58 million hits popped up. Is the EU really in that much worse shape today?

Apparently yes, according to the daily headlines. Recall that even before the Brexit vote, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared that Europe could “fall apart within months.”

But this is not the first time that political leaders and media outlets have declared the end of Europe.
Prior to the economic crisis of 2008, the European economy was written off by most analysts as suffering from “Eurosclerosis” and condemned to decline.

Here’s a small sample of brassy headlines from leading media outlets over the last decade, trumpeting imminent collapse:

“The End of Europe”, “Europe Isn’t Working”, “Will Europe Ever Work?”, “What’s Wrong with Europe”, “Is Europe Dying?”, “The Decline and Fall of Europe”, “Why America Outpaces Europe”, and many more.

In the 1990s, The Economist dubbed Germany the new “sick man of Europe,” and other media doomsayers warned of a future of rising unemployment, crime, and taxes to “a level not seen since the Weimar Republic.” Yet now a prospering Germany has become a global player.

Yes, the EU is juggling a number of daunting situations, but that’s what superpowers do. They deal with one crisis after another, year after year, some of them domestic and others international.

A superpower by definition occupies a big corner of the world, in which messes happen and things have a tendency to fall apart.

That rationale, always applied to the United States of America, also has its place when analyzing the EU.
But does the EU really qualify for that lofty status? Emphatically yes. First, the EU is powered by one of the world’s great economic engines.

Even with the eurozone crisis, what I call the EU-Plus (EU28 + Norway and Switzerland) still has the largest economy in the world (post-Brexit, the UK would still be part of the EU-Plus, due to the deep integration of the UK and EU economies). These nations produce a quarter of the world’s GDP.

Indeed, according to World Bank figures, the EU-Plus economy is larger than that of the United States and India combined.

Read more: Post-Brexit: EU Still a Superpower - The Globalist

6/26/16

Britain: First, the Brexit. Now the United Kingdom is falling apart - by Ben Wellings

Britain: Playtime is over
Britain’s decision to leave the EU is a major moment in post-War European history. This is like the collapse of communism, but with the West on the losing side. It is the first defeat for the British Establishment for centuries.

It is hard to believe in the wash-up of the referendum campaign but this was meant to be cathartic. It was supposed to heal divisions within the Conservatives by giving the people of the United Kingdom a say on membership of the European Union. But it has only entrenched and exacerbated divisions rather than healed them.

Referendums are not compulsory in the UK. Any decision to hold one is essentially political. Usually, you only initiate referendums that you are certain to win; Brexit has altered the rulebook.

What was proposed as a catharsis has induced trauma: trauma that the process and politics of Brexit will do little to repair. The referendum campaign laid bare deep divisions within the United Kingdom.

Other divisions were evident: between young and old; city and country; men and women. The biggest division that this exposed was between the so-called ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of globalization and European integration: those who have done well out of these political structures and those who have not.

The disbelief amongst the ‘winners’ that Brexit might have been a realistic and attractive prospect was matched amongst the ‘losers’ by anger directed at the prosperous and secure classes.

 Perhaps the most pernicious division was between politicians and people. The murder of Jo Cox was not only a horrific attack on an individual striving for what she saw as the good society. It was an attack on democracy. Her example showed that not all politicians are remote fat cats in thrall to big business. Politicians still hail from the deprived areas in which they grew up, lived and worked.

Of course, direct blame cannot be laid at the door of the Brexit campaign. But in adopting UKIP’s anti-immigration language, Vote Leave’s leaders subordinated some principled critiques of the EU’s failings to a xenophobic politics of fear.

The referendum campaign deepened existing divisions within the Conservatives, from which they may not recover for years. Cameron’s position is surely untenable. BoJo is waiting in the wings.

The Labour Party under Corbyn was missing in action during this campaign, hoping that the Conservatives would hang themselves whilst Labour’s own internal divisions were overlooked. Many former Labour voters opted to leave and the party must answer questions about how its successive leaderships became so divorced from grassroots opinion.

The main beneficiary of Breixt is UKIP. Its message dominated the last three weeks of the campaign and will shape discussion about national identity, inclusiveness and tolerance in England for years to come. There are calls for it to disband having achieved its central aim. But the wind is in the sails of HMS UKIP and we should expect it to change into an established right populist party, ironically making British politics look much more ‘European’ at the very moment when it left.

The term ‘England’ is used advisedly since this was in many ways an English revolt. Outside of London it was rural England and, admittedly, Wales that dragged the UK out. Whether Scotland will abide this remains to be seen. Northern Ireland’s situation is similarity unsure.

There will always be an England; whether there will always be a United Kingdom remains far from clear.

For the first time in history the process of European integration has been reversed. The idea that Brexit will represent ‘the end of western political civilization’ as Donald Tusk claimed may have been alarmist. But Brexit is part of a wider revolt against the established political order whereby the ‘losers’ in the globalized economy are given voice by rich tribunes, be they Old Etonians, City stockbrokers or New York property magnates. This is their first major victory.

Brexit is the product of a revolt against the way that people have been governed in the past thirty years. This was its sole unifying function. It united left and right against the political ‘elite’, ushering in the first defeat for the British Establishment since the loss of the American colonies.

It is hard to be optimistic about this referendum and the politics that it unleashed. The Scottish independence referendum in 2014 was seen as a laudable exercise in democracy. In contrast the Brexit referendum revealed an angry and ugly streak in political life, especially in England.

The United Kingdom is a divided country. It may have won its independence or have made a catastrophic error, depending on your point of view. The fact that it took a xenophobic campaign to achieve this result is nothing to be proud of.

This foundational moment will be tainted with shame for decades to come.

Read more: First, the Brexit. Now the United Kingdom is falling apart - The Globe and Mail

6/25/16

Medical Research: Parkinson's Disease Breakthrough Could 'Stop The Condition In Its Tracks' - by Thomas Tamblyn

New research by scientists at the University of Leicester has provided a breakthrough in understanding the origins of Parkinson’s disease which could eventually lead to a cure.

The scientists have discovered that the area of a cell responsible for correctly assembling key proteins could play much more significant role in the disease than previously thought.

It had originally been though that Parkinson’s occurs when the power source for cells malfunctions.

It now turns out that the majority of the problem lies in another part of the cell called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).

The ER’s job is to fold vital proteins that are used by the cell, if it malfunctions the cell will halt production of these proteins and ultimately die.

Read more: Parkinson's Disease Breakthrough Could 'Stop The Condition In Its Tracks'

Brexit: More Than 2 Million Britons Are now Demanding A Second EU Referendum - by Lee Moran

Calls for the United Kingdom to hold a second referendum on its membership of the European Union are growing.

A petition demanding a rerun of Thursday’s vote which resulted in the British exit, dubbed a “Brexit,” after the “leave” campaign won 51.9 percent to Remain’s 48.1 percent, had garnered more than 2 million signatures by midday on Saturday

Readv more: More Than 2 Million Britons Are Demanding A Second EU Referendum

USA: Hillary Clinton Camp Says Trump’s ‘Brexit’ Remarks Show He’s Unfit for White House - by P. Nicholas and L. Meckler

Hillary Clinton’s campaign moved swiftly to cast Republican opponent Donald Trump’s reaction to the “Brexit” vote as evidence as he is unfit to be president.

In a conference call with reporters Friday, Mrs. Clinton’s top aides sought to draw a contrast between what they described as Mrs. Clinton’s steady leadership during such global crises and Mr. Trump’s fixation on his own business interests.

They cited the news conference Mr. Trump gave at his newly-renovated golf course in Scotland on Friday. Should the British pound fall in the wake of the Brexit vote, that would be a boon to his golf business in Turnberry, Scotland, Mr. Trump told reporters, drawing more business. (It was down to its weakest level in 30 years on Friday afternoon.)

Jake Sullivan, a senior campaign adviser to Mrs. Clinton, said that Mr. Trump is “rooting for economic turmoil” touched off by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

“He actually put his golf business ahead of the interests of working families

Read more: Hillary Clinton Camp Says Trump’s ‘Brexit’ Remarks Show He’s Unfit for White House - Washington Wire - WSJ

EU Commission: Britain's EU commissioner, finance chief Hill, resigns

The British member of the EU executive, Financial Services Commissioner Jonathan Hill, resigned on Saturday after having campaigned against Britain leaving the European Union.

Following the referendum vote for Brexit on Thursday, few expected a Briton to retain oversight of the EU banking and finance market that will be a key battleground in negotiations between London and Brussels on dissolving British membership.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was handing the portfolio to Valdis Dombrovskis, who will take it into his brief as vice president for the euro from July 16.

An EU official said the move made it clear that plans for an EU capital markets union would now focus on the euro zone after Hill had worked to ensure new EU rules would not disadvantage London's huge finance industry based outside the currency area.

"It's clear there will be a less clear division between the capital markets union and the euro zone," the official said.

London-based banks and other financial firms are concerned about access to the EU once Britain leaves the single market.

Hill said in a statement a day after British voters backed Brexit in a referendum called by Prime Minister David Cameron: "I don't believe it is right that I should carry on as the British commissioner as though nothing had happened."

Dombrovskis, who as prime minister took Latvia into the euro, and whose current role already oversees Hill's portfolio, said his priority was to maintain financial stability in markets.

Cameron, who will be replaced once his Conservative party elects a new leader, will leave it to his successor to discuss what to do with Britain's seat on the Commission, a British spokesperson said. It retains the right to a seat, along with the 27 other EU states, until it finally leaves the Union.

Read more: Britain's EU commissioner, finance chief Hill, resigns | Reuters

Donald Trump's Presidential Campaign Has A Lot In Common With Brexit And Other Nationalist Movements - by Scot Detrow

When Donald Trump arrived in Scotland Friday morning, hours after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was quick to draw parallels between the U.K.'s political earthquake, and his own campaign for president.

"People want to take their country back," Trump said, "They want to have independence, in a sense. And you see it in Europe, all over Europe."

And while Scotland itself voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, Trump is right. Right-wing nationalist movements, fueled by anger toward political elites and mistrust of immigration — and primarily backed by white voters — are gaining more and more momentum on the continent.

"This is not a unique phenomenon to the United States, and 2016 is not a short moment that will pass," says Yascha Mounk, who teaches political theory at Harvard University and has studied the rise of nationalist movements. "This is a real populist turn that has been happening for the last 15 or 20 years."

In recent decades, nationalist movements have shifted from vocal minorities to powerful parties that gained control of governments in places like Hungary, have lost national elections by the slimmest of margins in countries like Austria, and, this week, forced the United Kingdom out of the European Union.

Read more: Donald Trump's Presidential Campaign Has A Lot In Common With Brexit And Other Nationalist Movements : NPR

Brexit: Second Referendum Petition Gains More than 1 Million Signatures - by Conor Gaffey

A backlash has begun among British supporters of the U.K. remaining in the European Union, with a petition calling for a second referendum more than one million signatures.

The petition, created on Friday, has already gained far more than the 100,000 signatures required for it to be considered by the U.K. parliament for a debate and has caused the parliament website to crash several times due to high demand.

Read more: Brexit: Second Referendum Petition Gains More than 1 Million Signatures

6/24/16

Britain: EU bosses order Britain to "Pack your bags and get out now"

As the Britanic Sails Away
EU bosses ordered Britain: “Pack your bags and get out now.”

The strongly worded message in the wake of Thursday’s Leave vote was designed to stop a domino effect of EU exits and calm the ­frenzied money markets.

Far-right groups in France and Holland seized on the result to demand their own exit referendums.

In Brussels, EU chiefs said they “regret but respect” our decision and that the UK must remain “a close partner”.

But in a clear sign of the battles ahead, a statement from bosses including European Council boss Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker called on the UK to start Brexit ­immediately. It said: “We now expect the government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be.

“Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty.”

There are around 1.2 million British born people living in EU countries without visas, according to figures provided by the UN. Around 800,000 are workers and their dependants.

The European Commission, presently employs 1,000 U.K. nationals as civil servants across its various departments.

Also for the soon to become redundant former British EU citizens Brexit now means an uncertain future of either getting visas,work permits, going home, or worse case scenario, becoming a refugee themselves requesting asylum in the EU? 

EU-Digest

Sctland seeks independence: Nicola Sturgeon: second Scottish independence poll highly likely - by Severin Carrell Libby Brooksand

Scotland is on the brink of staging a fresh referendum on independence after Nicola Sturgeon requested talks with the EU on separate membership after the UK’s vote to leave.

The first minister said she believed a second referendum on independence was highly likely after Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU, but was unable to prevent the leave campaign winning by 52% to 48% across the UK as a whole.

Sturgeon said that was a “democratic outrage” and constituted the clear, material change in Scotland’s circumstances referred to in the Scottish National party’s carefully worded manifesto commitment in May to hold a second independence vote if needed.

“It is a significant material change in circumstances. It’s a statement of the obvious that the option of a second independence referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table,” she said.

Sturgeon announced that she was instructing Scottish government officials to draft fresh referendum legislation for Holyrood, only two years after her party lost the first independence vote in 2014, to ensure it could be held quickly if enough Scottish voters backed it.

UK government sources said David Cameron, who quit as prime minister after the referendum defeat, was anxious that his successor make sure the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland government were closely involved in the UK’s Brexit negotiations to avoid increasing Scottish grievances and fuelling the case for independence.

Sturgeon’s cabinet will meet in emergency session on Saturday morning at her official residence Bute House, and is expected to agree plans to put forward referendum legislation in September’s programme for government.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon: second Scottish independence poll highly likely | Politics | The Guardian

Brexit: A pyrrhic victory? Boris Johnson wakes up to the costs of Brexit - by Gaby Hinsliff

Party is over Britain: you are on your own
“If we are victorious in one more battle … we shall be utterly ruined.”

Like the good intellectual that he’s vigorously pretended not to be of late, Boris Johnson will probably know that line. It’s from the Greek historian Plutarch’s account of the battle that gave us the phrase “pyrrhic victory”, the kind of victory won at such cost that you almost wish you’d lost.

In theory, Johnson woke up on Friday morning having won the war. After David Cameron’s announcement that he would step down come October, Johnson is now the heir presumptive – albeit at this stage very presumptive – to the Tory leadership, perhaps only four months away from running the country.

He has everything he ever wanted. It’s just that somehow, as he fought his way through booing crowds on his Islington doorstep before holding an uncharacteristically subdued press conference on Friday morning, it didn’t really look that way.

One group of Tory remainers watching the speech on TV jeered out loud when a rather pale Johnson said leaving Europe needn’t mean pulling up the drawbridge; that this epic victory for Nigel Farage could somehow “take the wind out of the sails” of anyone playing politics with immigration. Too late for all that now, one said.

he scariest possibility, however, is that he actually meant it. That like most of Westminster, Johnson always imagined we’d grudgingly vote to stay in the end. That he too missed the anger bubbling beneath the surface, and is now as shocked as anyone else by what has happened.

“People talk about reluctant remainers, but I think there have been a lot of reluctant Brexiters around, people who voted leave thinking it wouldn’t happen but they’d be able to vent and to tell all their friends at dinner parties they’d done it,” said one Tory minister.

“He thought what all those reluctant Brexiters thought: it would be a vote for remain, he would be seen as having stood up for a principle.” After which leave’s newest martyr could simply have bided his time for a year or so before being triumphantly installed in Downing Street.

It’s perfectly possible, of course, that the Tories on both sides who suspect Johnson was never an outer in his bones are plain wrong, that the anonymous Labour MP who hotly accused him on Friday of jeopardising thousands of ordinary people’s jobs just to secure one for himself was doing him a terrible injustice.

Perhaps Johnson really did have a last-minute epiphany, declaring for leave in the sober realisation that this was always how it might end – Scotland demanding independence, Northern Ireland’s fragile political settlement at risk, Marine Le Pen jubilant, the Bank of England stumping up £250bn to stabilise the market. Perhaps he’s still convinced all will be fine eventually.

And let’s hope to God he’s right. Any remainer who doesn’t pray to be proved wrong about Brexit is callous, wishing disaster on people who are unable to afford it. But right now, what scorched earth Johnson stands to inherit – a nation febrile and divided, teetering on the brink of economic and constitutional crisis. It’s all over for David Cameron now. But it feels, too, like the end of a broader modernising movement to which both he and Johnson belonged.

Johnson is far from a buffoon. He’s an agile thinker, gifted communicator and natural opportunist who made a reasonable fist of governing London after recruiting some reliable deputies (enter Michael Gove). He’s smart enough to have learned from the recent Labour leadership campaign – in which managerially competent candidates were slaughtered for being on the wrong side of a visceral grassroots argument – that elites only survive in this febrile climate by pleasing the masses. Perhaps somehow it will all come together.

It’s just that on Friday morning Johnson didn’t look like a man with a plan that’s all working perfectly. He looked more like a king unable to take more such victories.

Note EU-Digest: Following Brexit the EU must make sure not to sign any agreement with Britain which gives them preferential treatment.on Trade,Visa,Tax excemptions and immediately treat their Government and Citizens exactly as they would any other non EU country. 

In doing so it will also send a clear message not only to Britain but also to other EU nations that if you are a member of the EU you can't have your cake and eat it also.

Read more: A pyrrhic victory? Boris Johnson wakes up to the costs of Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

6/23/16

Britain: Latest EU referendum poll of polls: Brexit just one point behind Remain on final day of campaigning

Leaders of the Leave and Remain sides have been crossing the country all day in a frenetic final push for the winning line.

YouGov's latest EU referendum poll of polls has Leave on 44 per cent, Remain on 45 per cent and Don't Know on 11 per cent, suggesting last-minute campaigning could yet be crucial.

The bookmakers disagree, however, with most of the major gambling outlets offering odds of 3/1 on Brexit and 1/4 on Remain.

Read more: Latest EU referendum poll of polls: Brexit just one point behind Remain on final day of campaigning « Express

6/22/16

Spain’s PM Rajoy warns of possible Podemos victory in Sunday’s elections

Spain’s acting conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has warned that the far-left Unidos Podemos (“United We Can”) alliance could win this weekend’s general elections that may well shake up the country’s political system.

The anti-austerity group has boosted its support by striking a deal with the United Left, once part of the communist party.

According to opinion polls Podemos is consolidating its position as the country’s second biggest political force, just three points behind the ruling conservatives.

“We are very close to defeating the Popular Party in the elections. We are very close. And they are very worried about it for what it means,” Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias told a gathering of supporters.

Read more: Spain’s PM Rajoy warns of possible Podemos victory in Sunday’s elections | euronews, world news

Brexit:“Dear parents, why you are wrong to support Brexit”

Britain’s too-close-to-call referendum on EU membership has split the country, but also divided families.

With a large generation gap around voting intentions in Thursday’s poll, two sisters’ public plea to their parents could represent a hidden trend.

Isabelle O’Carroll, 34, wrote a joint letter with her sister Emilia to try and persuade their mother and father to change their minds over wanting to quit the EU.
 Read more:“Dear parents, why you are wrong to support Brexit” | euronews, world news

Opinion: Brexit poses challenge to peace in Europe

The German government - most of its members convinced, experienced Europeans - knows this, but can't say it out loud. A bitter foretaste of what's to come for the Germans and all the other Europeans is that an issue of existential importance for all is being voted on by no one but Britain: everyone else has no say in the matter.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is especially aware of the dilemma. It knows that at least in this question, it's backed by the majority of Germans. But no matter what German ministers or the chancellor herself have to say, it's almost certain to be used against them, and against the EU, in Germanophobe Britain.

The German finance minister - who is considered a hardliner, just ask the Greeks - summarized this dilemma in one sad sentence. Asked in London in March what Germany would do if Britain left the EU, Wolfgang Schäuble said: "We would cry."

Angela Merkel has taken a public vow of silence where the Brexit is concerned. Little more is said than the repeated affirmation that of course Berlin believes Britain should be in the EU - always accompanied by the assertion that it's up to the British people to decide. When there are no microphones nearby, the chancellor takes a more concrete stance, stating that a Brexit would be "terrible."

 Tears and terror aside, the economic cost of a Brexit would be high for everyone, from London and Manchester to Paris, Berlin and Warsaw - but highest of all for Britain. Even Brexit supporters seem to suspect that leaving the EU would be economic idiocy.

So their arguments have come to target emotions instead, and the retreat to a nation of one's own - with its suggested greater self-determination and simplicity. And that's where they cross paths with their right-wing populist European brethren. Nationalists of all countries, unite - in order to separate.

But it is the political consequences of a Brexit that could truly be awful.

For all the historically illiterate talk of an EasyJet generation, the Europe that forged monetary union, and that was built upon the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Economic Community and the European Community always was, and is, a project of peace.

It was never ultimately about coal, but about cannons. This difficult trade-off is only possible if all of Europe's large states are engaged in the major everyday issues and the many small details.

Without London, the EU would find itself imbalanced. Berlin would be pushed into assuming a dominance it doesn't want and can't cope with. The German finance minister knows what that could mean - again, ask the Greeks: People no longer believe Germany is acting in Europe's interests

 In the first half of the last century, European crises resulted in war; the second half - not least thanks to the treaties of Paris, Rome and Maastricht - brought peace to an extent that in this century, it seems a given.

But it isn't. Military solutions seem acceptable once more - just look to Europe's eastern fringes. Hostile warships might one day patrol the English Channel again, not in three or five years, but perhaps 30 years from now - just because back in 2016, quite needlessly, the wrong answers were given to the wrong questions.

Yet right now, no one in the German government can say that out loud.

Brexit: UK rivals clash in heated EU referendum debate

Rival $ides in Britain's referendum on European Union membership clashed in a passionate debate to the roars of an audience of six thousand in a London concert arena.

The debate on Tuesday evening, before Thursday's referendum, was a final opportunity for the two camps to win over voters, with polls showing a razor-tight race less than 36 hours before a vote that will shape the future of Europe.

Panellists locked horns over immigration, as the pro-EU London Mayor Sadiq Khan tore into his predecessor Boris Johnson, a key campaigner on the "Leave" side.

"You're telling lies and you're scaring people," Khan declared as he brandished a "Leave" leaflet warning that Turkey could join the EU.Rival

"That's scaremongering, Boris, and you should be ashamed ... you are using the ruse of Turkey to scare people to vote Leave," Khan said to cheers from the audience.

Brexit: UK rivals clash in heated EU referendum debate - News from Al Jazeera

6/21/16

EU Refugeee Crises: World Refugee Day: which images make you stop and think?

The number of people displaced worldwide has hit a new record, with 65.3 million people forced from their home as of the end of 2015, the UN said on Monday.

"This is the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed," the UN refugee agency said.

The figures, released on World Refugee Day, underscore twin pressures fuelling an unprecedented global displacement crisis.

Read more: World Refugee Day: which images make you stop and think?

6/20/16

Brexit - latest news, breaking stories and comment -

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last night warned he would not take the “blame” if Labour supporters tipped the balance in favour of Brexit.

In an interview on Sky News Mr Corbyn, who has been accused of running a lackluster remain campaign, admitted he was “not a lover of the European Union”.

But he insisted he wanted Labour supporters to vote to stay – although if they didn’t it was not the fault of his party.

“I am not going to take blame for people’s decision,” he said.

“There will be a decision made on Thursday. I am hoping there is going to be a remain vote. There may well be a remain vote. But there may well be a leave vote. Whatever the result – that will be the result of the referendum. We have got to work with it.”

Mr Corbyn also warned that the EU must change "dramatically" even if Britain remains a member.

Facing questions from a studio audience Mr Corbyn admitted that most people “do not understand” all of the implications of this Thursday’s vote.

But despite having voted against European treaties in the past Mr Corbyn insisted that Britain was better off in the EU than outside.

Read more: Brexit - latest news, breaking stories and comment - The Independent

Russia -EU: Russia racks emerge in the European consensus on Russia

As the European Union squabbled over refugees, Greek bailouts and austerity in past ystriking unity in          another area: its resolve to punish Russia for the annexation of Crimea and support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

That consensus was possible because German Chancellor Angela Merkel was able to keep Russia-friendly members of her own government on-side and convince skeptical EU states like Slovakia, Hungary and Italy to back extensions of the bloc's economic and financial sanctions against Moscow.

Another six month extension seems likely to be agreed on Tuesday. But that cannot hide the fact that the mood in Berlin is shifting. And with that shift, the first real cracks are emerging in the European consensus on how to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In recent weeks, as NATO advanced plans to deploy battalions along Russia's western border, Russian athletes were banned from the Olympic Games over doping and Moscow was threatened with ejection from the European soccer championships because of violent fans, officials in Berlin have begun to express concern that ties with Moscow could suffer irreparable damage.

Coupled with these fears has been growing frustration with the government in Ukraine and its struggles to implement its side of the Minsk peace deal by pushing through a law that would allow elections to take place in the disputed east.

More generally, some German and European officials have begun questioning how many fronts Europe can afford to fight at a time when the bloc faces major threats like Brexit, attacks from Islamic State militants and the simmering refugee crisis.

"People are tired of confrontation with Russia. They don't like the tensions and they see that Ukraine is not delivering enough on the reform front," said Ulrich Speck, a senior fellow at the Transatlantic Academy in Washington.

"When you're confronted with ISIS, Putin doesn't look so bad. Because of this fatigue, there is a growing risk that the anti-sanctions camp grows stronger," Speck said, a view also expressed by officials in the United States, which has imposed its own sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

Over the past weeks the divide between the parties in Merkel's "grand coalition" government has widened, with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier leading the push for a more conciliatory approach towards Russia, and a step-by-step easing of sanctions.

At the weekend, he raised eyebrows by suggesting that NATO risked provoking Russia with military maneuvers in eastern Europe. "What we shouldn't do now is to inflame the situation by loud sabre-rattling and shrill war cries," he told the Bild newspaper.

There are two ways to read Steinmeier. The first is that he is playing good cop to Merkel's bad cop, and that the hardline German stance on sanctions is unlikely to change substantially.

"What has changed on Russia policy? I think nothing has changed," said one senior German diplomat. "Still, with the sanctions deadline looming, we have to show we are doing everything we can to engage with Russia."

The other interpretation is that Steinmeier's comments point to a deeper split between Merkel's conservatives and his Social Democrats (SPD) which will only grow as the 2017 German election approaches. Some officials fear this split could send a signal of disunity to Berlin's partners, undermining the EU consensus.

One thing is sure: domestic German politics is playing a role in the Russia debate. Steinmeier has come under significant pressure from SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel over the past month to soften his rhetoric on Russia, officials familiar with their discussions say.

Gabriel is the presumptive challenger to Merkel in next year's election and is scrambling for issues that can lift the struggling SPD in the polls and differentiate them from the chancellor's conservatives.

Russia is a natural place for the SPD to start. For many in the party, attitudes towards Moscow were shaped by former chancellor Willy Brandt's "Ostpolitik" engagement policy in the 1970s and the crumbling Soviet Union's support for German reunification.

"We can't allow the successes of Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik to be squandered," former SPD chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a friend of Putin and former mentor to Steinmeier, cautioned in a weekend newspaper interview.

Read  more: Cracks emerge in the European consensus on Russia | Reuters

US Presidental Campaign: Trump’s starting to panic: Corey Lewandowsi fired as campaign manager amid huge staff shakeup-by Sophia Tesfaye-

Even as Donald Trump remains personally impervious to growing panic about a clear lack of any general election strategy, his campaign staff and close advisers have apparently had enough — pushing for sudden and sweeping major changes.

With the average of polls showing rival Hillary Clinton ahead six percentage points less than a month before the GOP convention in Cleveland, embattled Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been fired.

“The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican Primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” the campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future.”

According to NBC News, Trump called Lewandowski this morning to inform him of his firing after an emergency meeting with family members and top advisers to right the ship, and to plot a more serious campaign strategy.

The announcement comes hours after an explosive GQ profile of Hicks revealed disturbing incidents of alleged abuse directed at the 27-year-old national press secretary from Lewandowski.

“You made a big f***ing mistake; you’re f***ing dead to me,” Lewandowski allegedly told Hicks after she expressed interest in leaving the campaign recently, bringing her to tears, according to former Trump operative Sam Nunberg.

While Lewandowski denied GQ’s reporting, the hotheaded campaign manager, of course, first grabbed the spotlight away from his boss when he was arrested for yanking a female Breitbart writer, an act he denied happened but was caught on camera. While the charges were eventually dropped, Trump remained loyal and committed to Lewandowski even as reports emerged that Lewandowski had a history of making abusive, sexist, and sexual remarks to his female coworkers.

Read more:Trump’s starting to panic: Corey Lewandowsi fired as campaign manager amid huge staff shakeup - Salon.com

6/19/16

EU-Russia Relations, EU pledge to continue dialogue despite sanctions: Juncker

Dialog not confrontation
Russia and the EU should continue their dialogue despite sanctions, the European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker has said at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded by saying that Russia is in favor of an equal, mutually beneficial, but not selective dialogue.

"We can have no illusions about the problems weighing on our relationship today. They exist. It would be pointless, even dangerous, to ignore them. We must tackle them urgently," Juncker added."I have strong preference for pipelines that unite, rather than pipelines that divide," he added, as quoted by Reuters.

The dialogue should start with discussing the Minsk agreements, and ensuring the norms and rules of international law, Juncker said.

"Russia's actions have shaken the principles of European security. Sovereignty, sovereign equality, the non-use of force, and territorial integrity matter. They cannot be ignored," he added.

As for Ukraine, it should make its own decisions regarding relations with all states, including with Russia and the EU, or both, and the choice should be respected, Juncker said, adding that a stable Ukraine would do the Russian economy good, too.

Juncker also defended his decision to arrive in Russia for the summit, saying it was just common sense to continue the dialogue with Moscow despite any tensions, and that he knew some didn't support his step to come to St.Petersburg. He said he was expecting "frank" negotiations with President Vladimir Putin on many subjects.

Russia has never courted confrontation with the West and is always open to dialogue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

“The current crisis should help us, as well as the EU, understand how to proceed. We will neither take offense nor go into isolation,” Lavrov added.

“We have carried out an inventory of our relations with the EU, drafted it on paper, and have an extensive document. We’ll give it to our colleagues and offer to conduct an inventory together,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister also said that the EU is a most important economic partner for Moscow, and expressed his certitude that “the development of various ties in economics, politics, culture, security directly aligns with the interests of both Russia and European countries.”

The EU is Russia's main trading partner (44.8 percent of Russia's foreign trade in 2015). Russia is the fourth largest trade partner of the bloc after the US, China and Switzerland, plus the biggest natural gas supplier to the EU and one of its biggest oil suppliers.

However, due to recent tensions, trade between Moscow and Brussels sharply dropped from $417.7 billion in 2013 to $235.7 billion last year.

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is held on June 16-18, focusing on the theme ‘Capitalizing on the New Global Economic Reality’.

Read more: Russia, EU pledge to continue dialogue despite sanctions: Juncker | Russia

Suriname: China's Stake In Suriname: Why Is Beijing Interested In This Small South American Country? - by Patricia Rey Mallén

Little is known in the outside world about Suriname, a small country on the northern coast of South America. Wedged -- along with neighbors Guyana and French Guiana -- between Brazil and Venezuela, the old Dutch colony has stayed largely quiet and under the radar throughout some of the most turbulent episodes of recent Latin American history.

Desi Bouterse: Suriname's Former Dictator elected President
But it has certainly attracted the attention of natural-resource-hungry China. Suriname is blessed with bauxite (an aluminum ore), an unspoiled rain forest, which covers 80 percent of the country, and lots of available arable land. Only about half a million people live in Suriname, a territory the size of Florida. And China wants a piece of it.

The Asian giant has slowly but surely made its way into this forgotten corner of South America, with a surge of aid and low-interest loans, as reported by the New York Times. Suriname also has a sizable Chinese population -- estimated at about 10 percent of the population -- dating back to immigrants who arrived in the 19th century, as well as a number of recent arrivals, including those in the country illegally.

“Suriname is a lucky country, such [a] small population, so much land,” said the former Chinese ambassador to Suriname, Yuan Nansheng, who served in the country from 2009 to 2013. With the change of government in China in March, Yuan was replaced by Yang Zigang. But it appears new President Xi Jinping’s government will maintain its ties with the South American country -- indeed, Surinamese officials met with Xi during his visit to nearby Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday.

Suriname may actually need China. Since its erstwhile imperial paymaster, Netherlands, shuttered an aid program benefiting its former colony in 2010, China has become the top financial provider to Suriname. Figures are hard to obtain, but the Chinese embassy lists low-income housing, assistance for shrimp farming and an upgrade of the state television network as three of its principal projects in the country. Private investment has focused on transportation, with the China Dalian International Corp. (SHE:000881) providing some $6 billion to construct a deep seaport and new highways.

The website of the Chinese embassy in Suriname lists no new developments since 2009. Thus it is unclear what new investments have been made since then. The Suriname embassy in the U.S. did not reply to requests for interviews.

However, one expenditure made by China was military aid -- the Beijing government has donated $1.6 million in material and training to Paramaribo. “We want to provide convenience to the work of the Ministry of Defense and the Surinamese Army as they carry out their mission of safeguarding the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Yuan said back in 2009.

Still, the full extent and magnitude of China’s interest in this South American country is not entirely clear. Evan Ellis, a professor of national security studies at the National Defense University in Washington, argued that it is not so much that China has a particular interest in the country, but that it is just giving Suriname the same attention it has granted to the rest of natural-resource-rich South America. “It is not a matter of zeroing in [on Suriname], but just not overlooking it like the rest of the world is doing,” Ellis said.

Read full report : China's Stake In Suriname: Why Is Beijing Interested In This Small South American Country?

Fathers Day: WWE's Titus O'Neil: Why Strong Fathers Shouldn't Be Afraid to Cry - by Titus O'Neil

As we approach Father’s Day this Sunday, I’m reminded of the honor of being named Celebrity Mega Dad of the Year in 2015. It was a surreal moment for me. My two sons were very excited, especially considering the other big star nominees Kaká, Ashton Kutcher, Vin Diesel and David Beckham.

But truth be told, every day for me is Father’s Day.  Being a father is my greatest honor and something I’m very grateful to experience every single day.  Each day I get to wake up and tell my kids I love them and hug them, or talk to them on the phone or video chat with them when I’m traveling for work with WWE. That is Father’s Day for me and I cherish every moment.

I never met my biological father—I grew up in a single parent home. The one thing that I knew at a very early age was that I would be an active and present father, simply because I didn’t want my kids to feel the emptiness that I felt as a kid, and the lack of a positive male role model in the home. My mom was a phenomenal mother, she did everything she could, but she couldn’t teach me how to be a man. We need positive male role models. Even as an adult, I have father figures in my pastor and in Charles Blalock, a man that raised me as his own son.

People often think father figures are just a biological father, but that’s not necessarily true. When there are positive male role models present, you see young people prospering. My role as a father is not just to be a provider but also to teach my sons by example how to love and respect others and their differences, how to live with character, integrity and pride in who they can be and what they can accomplish in life with the right attitude, work ethic and opportunities.

Read more: WWE's Titus O'Neil: Why Strong Fathers Shouldn't Be Afraid to Cry

6/18/16

NATO: warmongering against Russia says Germany

German minister warns Nato against 'warmongering' .

Most European observes feel he hit the nail right on the head with this remark and that NATO better take heed.

For the complete report click here 

Belgium - The Battle of Waterloo June 18 - 1815 - Defeat or Victory?

Battle of Waterloo - June 18 1815  Wellington
Each year on June 18 the great Battle of Waterloo is recalled in what is now Belgium. On that day in 1815, Napoleon’s French army was defeated by a multinational force commanded by the Duke of Wellington. Since then, the phrase “to meet your Waterloo” has come to mean “to be defeated by someone who is too strong for you or by a problem that is too difficult for you.”

When it comes to our spiritual lives, some people feel that ultimate failure is inevitable and it’s only a matter of time until each of us will “meet our Waterloo.” But John refuted that pessimistic view when he wrote to followers of Jesus: “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

John weaves this theme of spiritual victory throughout his first letter as he urges us not to love the things this world offers, which will soon fade away (2:15–17). Instead, we are to love and please God, “And this is what he promised us—eternal life”

While we may have ups and downs in life, and even some battles that feel like defeats, the ultimate victory is ours in Christ as we trust in His power..

Read more: Defeat or Victory? | Our Daily Bread

6/17/16

NATO: Bulgaria Throws Wrench In Works Of NATO Black Sea Plans

Bulgaria's prime minister has said the country will not participate in a proposed joint NATO naval fleet in the Black Sea, slowing the momentum of a project that had thus far received broad support from NATO members and partners.

The move would “turn the Black Sea into a territory of war,” Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Thursday, adding that he “wants to see cruising yachts, and tourists, rather than warships.”

“To send warships as a fleet against the Russian ships exceeds the limit of what I can allow,” Borissov told reporters in Sofia on Thursday, as quoted by Bloomberg. “To deploy destroyers, aircraft carriers near Bourgas or Varna during the tourist season is unacceptable.”

The Romanian-led proposal to create a sort of joint NATO Black Sea naval force has the support of Turkey, the United States, NATO headquarters, as well as non-NATO members Georgia and Ukraine.

Bulgaria's refusal could have several causes. For one, presidential elections are coming up and Borissov may be concerned that rival, more pro-Russia parties could use the move against him, said Dimitar Bechev, a Bulgarian political scientist and fellow at Harvard's Center for European Studies. "Most of all, I think he's concerned about domestic repurcussions," Bechev said in an interview with The Bug Pit. He added that Bulgaria could likely eventually join whatever NATO naval force emerges in an "under the radar" fashion

Bulgaria also has reasons to be skeptical of the merits of a NATO Black Sea force, added Michael Kofman, a military analyst at CNA Corporation and a fellow at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute. He noted that Bulgaria is still participating in a new multinational NATO brigade to be based in Romania, sending 400 soldiers.

And Russia maintains an overwhelming superiority in the Black Sea, including such a strong sea-denial system of land-based anti-ship weapons that they could easily destroy any enemy forces in the sea. "There's little sense in further militarizing a space in which there is no chance of coming out on top with the correlation of forces. The consequence is a net security minus for member states. A NATO fleet has little viability and is unnecessary to achieve sea denial in the Black Sea. Bulgaria simply has more common sense than some others.," Kofman said in an interview with The Bug Pit.

It remains unclear what form a joint NATO Black Sea force might take, but Bulgaria's refusal to take part is a significant blow, politically if not militarily. The plan is nevertheless on the agenda of the upcoming alliance summit in Warsaw from July 8-9.

Read more: Bulgaria Throws Wrench In Works Of NATO Black Sea Plans | EurasiaNet.org

Middle East: Iraq forces retake Fallujah, facing little resistance from Daesh = by Tim Arango

After weeks of fighting, Iraqi forces have entered central areas of Fallujah, facing little resistance by the Islamic State, as thousands of civilians fled in a new wave of displacement that has overwhelmed the ability of aid agencies to care for them.

Counter-terrorism forces raised the Iraqi flag over the main government building in central Fallujah, about 65 kilometres west of Baghdad, and they moved on to besiege the city's main hospital, which was the first target of American forces when they invaded the city in 2004, according to officers and news reports on state television.

The rapid, and unexpected, gains suggested a shift in tactics by the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State, or perhaps a sign of their weakness, as they abandoned their dug-in positions and regrouped in western neighbourhoods. That allowed thousands of civilians, which aid groups had said were being held as human shields, to flee across two bridges over the Euphrates River beginning on Thursday.

Even as the battle appeared far from over, Iraqi commanders on the ground were optimistic that the advance, which had slowed in the face of Islamic State snipers, roadside bombs and tunnel networks that allowed fighters to move around undetected, would continue.

"ISIS has lost its power to defend Fallujah," Colonel Jamal Lateef, a police commander in Anbar Province, said in an interview. "Its defensive lines have collapsed, and the battle of Fallujah will be over in no time."

Read more: Iraq forces retake Fallujah, facing little resistance from Islamic S

6/16/16

Britain - turmoil: British opposition MP Jo Cox dies after shooting

 Labour MP Jo Cox has been confirmed dead hours after being shot outside her advice surgery near the city of Leeds. Both sides in Britain's EU referendum debate have suspended campaigning following the attack.

The 41-year-old was shot close to her constituency advice surgery in Birstall, near Leeds in northern England, earlier in the day.

DCC Collins said the mother-of-two was reportedly shot in the face three times and attacked with a knife, adding that a full investigation was underway to establish a motive for the murder. Collins added that Cox died at 1.48 p.m. local time (12:48 UTC), within an hour of the attack.

The UK's Press Association news agency cited eyewitnesses who said the MP for the constituency of Batley and Spen appeared to be involved in a struggle in the street with a man, who pulled out a gun. Cox was left bleeding on the pavement and another man was also injured.

Police later said they believe the attack was a localized incident and they were not looking for anyone else than the 51-year-old man arrested earlier in the day, named locally as Tommy Mair. Weapons, including a firearm, were also recovered.

 Read more: British opposition MP Jo Cox dies after shooting | News | DW.COM | 16.06.2016

Britain: What do young people think of Brexit?

The decision over whether the UK remains inside the European Union could depend on whether young people vote in sufficient numbers on 23 June.

With only a few days to go before Britain vote on one of the most significant political decisions for a generation, euronews reporter Damon Embling met up with Dr. Darren Sharpe, a Senior Research fellow at The University of East London, to find out how young voters might affect the referendum.

Read more: What do young people think of Brexit? | euronews, world news