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8/31/16

Turkey: rumblings in cabinet

Turkish Unterior minister resigns in surprise move http://f24.my/2bVZWhB

Spain: Political crises

Spanish parliament rejects acting PM's bid to form govt http://f24.my/2bSOTGy

Brazil: Right-wing consiracy or Government corruption?

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff impeached by Senate - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-37237513

TAX EVATION: The Apple fine by EU for tax evation is a watershed moment for the EU - US relations

http://europe.newsweek.com/europes-eu13bn-bite-out-apple-watershed-moment-494564?utm_source=email&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_content=read_more&spMailingID=721372&spUserID=MTI0NzM2NDgxNDcS1&spJobID=610351318&spReportId=NjEwMzUxMzE4S0

8/30/16

TURKEY: Free press non - existent today

Stop the press: Turkey's crackdown on its media goes into overdrive http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/29/stop-the-press-turkey-crackdown-journalists-overdrive-since-coup?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Tax evasion: Apple ordered to repay €13 billion

Apple ordered to repay Ireland record €13 billion over undue tax benefits EU antitrust regulators ordered Apple on Tuesday to pay up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in taxes plus interest to the Irish government after ruling that a special scheme to route profits through Ireland was illegal state aid. http://f24.my/2bOyVNF

Corporate Power: Secret corporate takeover of government around the globe

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-secret-corporate-takeover-by-joseph-e--stiglitz-2015-05?barrier=true

TTIP: details show it would rather harm than benefit consumers

France to call for end to talks on EU-US trade deal: minister http://f24.my/2bO4Spl

Corporate tax dodging-Apple on the EU chopping block.

Apple set to face record tax penalty from EU The European Commission is set to give its final decision on Apple's tax arrangements in Ireland. The investigation is expected to say that the Irish authorities gave the technology giant illegal state aid in the way its tax affairs were organised. According to reports, the amount Apple will have to repay will be the biggest ever in a EU probe of this kind. Also today, a sweet deal in the confectionary industry that turned sour. http://f24.my/2bSvt3N

8/29/16

Turkey and US clash on Kurds

Turkish Syrian operation forces US to make hard choice http://f24.my/2bRtrAX

Brexit: should Britain have another Referendum?

https://www.socialeurope.eu/2016/08/must-second-brexit-referendum/

8/28/16

Germany: Right- Wing extremism on the rise in Germany

Right-wing activists scale Berlin's Brandenburg Gate http://dw.com/p/1Jr7I

EU - US TTIP talks failed

EU-US free trade talks have 'failed', says German minister Germany's vice chancellor and economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said Sunday that negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States were effectively dead in the water. http://f24.my/2bPcKX6

Turkey goes after Kurds in Syria

Turkey claims killing 25 "terrorists" following reports of 40 deaths in air strikes and shelling in northern Syria. http://aje.io/ym4m

8/27/16

EU Data Regulations: Five Things to Know About the New EU General Data Protection Regulation - by Don Aplin

 The European Union has finally gotten around to updating its seriously old and outdated framework privacy regime. The old EU Data Protection Directive has been around since 1995—when Clinton was president … the dude, not his wife—the lady who might be living in the White House next year.

The new EU Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is designed to bring things into the digital world and comes into effect in May 2018.

But you don’t have to read all of the 261-page regulation. In a recent video segment, Bloomberg BNA Privacy & Security News Managing Editor Don Aplin points to five things you should know about the GDPR.

First, it sets up one privacy and data security law for the EU rather than separate laws in the 28 EU member states—27 if the U.K. follows through on its Brexit divorce from the bloc.

Second, the GDPR has a right to be forgotten provision to allow individuals in the EU to ask search engines like Google to remove search links to stuff where privacy outweighs the public’s right to know.

Third, if a company gets busted for violating the GDPR they may face really big fines of up to 4 percent of their worldwide revenue.

Fourth, the two year delay until the GDPR takes effect gives companies a chance to get their privacy policies and practices into line before facing any risk of those mega-fines.

Fifth, even though the EU is moving to a one major privacy law regime, there will still be lots of room for interpretation. So privacy and data security attorneys will definitely be busy for the foreseeable future.

Read more: Five Things to Know About the New EU General Data Protection Regulation | Bloomberg BNA

Middle East: Saudi Arabia: Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-Conservatism - by James M Dorsey

Image result for Picture of Saudi FlagThe Saudi export and global support for religiously driven groups goes far beyond Wahhabism. It is not simply a product of the Faustian bargain that the Al Sauds made with the Wahhabis.

For the Saudi government, support of puritan, intolerant, non-pluralistic and discriminatory forms of ultra-conservatism – primarily Wahhabism, Salafism in its various stripes, as well as Deobandism in South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora – is about soft power.

To create soft power, Saudi Arabia has wage the single largest dedicated public diplomacy campaign in post-World War Two history. It is actually bigger than anything that the Soviet Union or the United States attempted.

The campaign is designed to a large extent to counter Iran in what is an existential battle for the Al Sauds, rather than a case of mere religious proselytization.

Note EU-Digest: Unfortunately many European Nations and the US are selling this totally ruthless and undemocratic fiefdom any kind of weapons and aircraft money can buy. When will this hypocracy end?

Read more: : Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-Conservatism - The Globalist

8/26/16

US Foreign Policy Choices: Rethinking America's Global Role - by Christopher A. Preble

 The end of the Cold War ushered in a unipolar world, cementing U.S. dominance over a generally liberal international order. Yet where once it seemed that U.S. foreign policy would be simpler and easier to manage as a result, the events of the past 15 years — the 9/11 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Arab Spring, and Russia’s invasions of Georgia and Ukraine — strongly suggest otherwise.

Instead, policymakers and political candidates generally embrace the status quo. Bipartisan support exists for extensive alliance commitments, frequent military intervention, and higher defense spending. Though this orthodoxy is unsurprising since many candidates receive advice from a limited number of sources, it is deeply concerning. Debates tend to focus on which specific actions the United States should take, only rarely asking whether the United States should be involved, militarily or otherwise, in various global crises.

Even President Barack Obama, elected in large part thanks to his repudiation of the Bush administration’s conduct of foreign policy, has failed to alter the underlying bipartisan consensus that America remains the “indispensable nation” whose leadership is required in perpetuity. It is easy to see why this idea persists: America’s invaluable and outsized role in protecting the liberal international order during the Cold War was followed by two decades of unipoThe world today is certainly safer for Americans than it was under the existential threat posed by the Soviet Union. But the world is undoubtedly more complex, as nonstate actors, shifting alliances, and diverse domestic political factors complicate U.S. foreign policy formation and implementation. A robust debate on America’s foreign policy choices is urgently needed.

Read more: Our Foreign Policy Choices: Rethinking America's Global Role | Cato Institute

France Religion: French court suspends ban on burkini

France’s Council of State has suspended a controversial ban on Muslim women’s full-body swimsuit, known as burkini, which has stirred anger among Muslims and split government officials.

Read more: PressTV-French court suspends ban on burkini

NATO is an Institutional Dinosaur - by Ted Galen Carpenter

The US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has managed to gain unprecedented attention for stating in his usual flamboyant fashion something that many respected foreign policy analysts have maintained for years: that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an obsolete security arrangement created in a vastly different era to meet an entirely different security situation. Yet NATO partisans typically act as though the date on the calendar reads 1950 instead of 2016. They see Russia as nearly identical to the Soviet Union at the zenith of its military power and global ideological influence and regard democratic Europe as a helpless protectorate.

Today, however, Russia is little more than a regional actor with limited ability to project power. And far from helpless, Europe’s democratic nations have robust economies. As long as they continue to rely on America’s military and its security guarantees, they will not divert financial resources from their preferred domestic welfare priorities to national defense.

A striking feature of analysts who echo former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s contention that the United States is the “indispensable nation” is the bland assumption that America must take primary (and often exclusive) responsibility for the defense of other regions. One popular proposal is to reverse the post–Cold War drawdown of U.S. forces stationed in Europe. Advocates also typically want to pre-position large quantities of sophisticated weaponry in the Baltic republics and along other points on Russia’s western frontier so that the American military can ride to the rescue if Moscow engages in threatening behavior.

The notion of the United States as the indispensable nation is a manifestation of national narcissism that is especially pernicious with respect to Europe. The European Union now has both a population and an economy larger than the United States. Equally pertinent, the European Union has three times the population and a gross domestic product (GDP) some ten times that of Russia — the principal security concern of those countries.

Even post-Brexit, that impressive strength will be diminished just modestly. Clearly, the European Union is capable of building whatever defenses might be necessary to deter Russian aggression — even granting the questionable assumption that Moscow harbors large-scale expansionist ambitions instead of just seeking to preserve a limited security zone along its borders. The European nations have not done more to counter Russia because it has been easier for them to free-ride on America’s security efforts.

Read more: NATO is an Institutional Dinosaur | Cato Institute

EU Military: Visegrad countries urge EU to build a common army

Hungary's Prime Minister Victor Orban has proposed an EU-wide force to secure its borders. Orban is meeting German Chancellor Merkel and leaders of Visegrad countries Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in Warsaw. 

Read more: Visegrad countries urge EU to build a common army | News | DW.COM | 26.08.2016

8/25/16

Realpolitik: Turkey and US unite to oust Isis and curb Kurds

Turkish tanks have moved rapidly through the Syrian town of Jarablus on Wednesday, ousting Islamic State from one of its last border strongholds – but the most important outcome in Ankara’s eyes was beating the US-backed Kurdish fighters in a race to seize the surrounding area.

In a pointed concession to Turkey, the US vice president Joe Biden demanded that Kurdish forces, who had been a central US proxy in the battle against the terrorist group, “move back across the Euphrates river”, to the east of Jarablus. He also said that the Kurds, who have won a series of recent battles against Isis, would be abandoned if they advanced. US jets gave cover to the Turkish push, one of the first times in the war that the two allies have conducted a joint operation.

“They cannot, will not, under any circumstance get American support if they do not keep that commitment,” Biden said in Ankara during a visit to reset ties with Turkey, which had been strained since the failed coup attempt in July.

Joe Biden reassured Ankara, but it is unclear how Washington’s Kurdish proxies will react to his demand that they step back

Read more: Turkey and US unite to oust Isis and curb Kurds | World news | The Guardian

EU Taxation Policies: US warns EU over Apple’s tax case

Is Apple cutting corners when paying taxes?
The US government has threatened the European Commission (EC) with retaliation if the body decides to proceed with its plan to demand millions of dollars in unpaid taxes from technology giant Apple.

The US Treasury Department issued a rare warning on Wednesday, August 24, accusing the Brussels-based body of becoming a “supranational tax authority” that poses a threat to international agreements concerning tax reform.

“The US Treasury Department continues to consider potential responses should the Commission continue its present course,” the Treasury said in its strongest language to date.

“A strongly preferred and mutually beneficial outcome would be a return to the system and practice of international tax cooperation that has long fostered cross-border investment between the United States and EU member states,” the warning added.

The European Union (EU) has been investigating a series of tax deals between Apple and Ireland which allow the iPhone maker to pay little or no tax on income earned across Europe.

The EC is expected to rule on the case next month. This is the biggest corporate tax avoidance investigation ever undertaken by the commission.

The EC is the executive body of the EU, responsible for implementing decisions, proposing legislation, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the bloc.

According to investment bank JP Morgan, if Apple is forced to retroactively pay the Irish corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent on its pre-tax profits, the company might need to cash out as much as $19 billion.

A 2013 report by US Senate confirmed that Apple has paid little to no taxes on at least $74 billion of the profit it earned by exploiting Irish and American tax laws.

Tim Cook, who became Apple’s CEO after the death of its founder Steve Jobs five years ago, has denounced the case as “political crap.”

“There is no truth behind it,” he said. “Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.”

The EU estimates that tax avoidance by multinational corporations costs member states anywhere between $50 million to $78 billion a year in lost taxes.

In addition to Apple, other American companies like Amazon and Starbucks are also suspected of tax evasion.

Note EU-Digest: Hopefully the EU Commission does not cave-in for these US misguided threats and intimidations and tells the US Treasury Department where to shove this warning, which is protective of US corporate tax evaders.   

Read more: PressTV-US warns EU over Apple’s tax case

Israel-Gaza: When Boats Brought Hope to Gaza – by Ann Wright

For years, Israel has blocked international ships from reaching the isolated people of Gaza, thus denying the 1.8 million embattled Palestinians maritime contact with the rest of the world and the hope that comes from knowing that they have the support of many people across the globe.

With all of the tragedy that surrounds Gaza, including the 50 Israeli military strikes on the Palestinian territory last weekend, we need to remember the exhilaration of the people of Gaza one day in August 2008 when two small international boats arrived to show that the Gazans were not forgotten.

After that, four other shipments reached Gaza along with European land caravans, called “Viva Palestina” that travelled into Gaza through the border with Egypt. However, after Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 war on Gaza, Israel forcefully intercepted ships headed for Gaza.

On May 31, 2010, Israel reacted to a flotilla of ships challenging the blockade by launching a military attack on the six boats that killed nine activists on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara. Since then, other challenges to the naval blockade have been prevented from taking to sea (Greece 2011) or stopped illegally in international waters, the passengers kidnapped and the boats taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod and the passengers to prison on charges of entering Israel illegally and eventually deported.

The latest challenge to the Israeli blockade of Gaza will be the Women’s Boats to Gaza that will sail in mid-September to again demonstrate that we do care about the people of Gaza.

Greta Berlin, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, reminds us of the joy of the people of Gaza when the first international boats in 40 years arrived in the Gaza City port in August 2008 by providing the words of Gamaal Al Attar, who wrote:

The sun was shining on August 23, 2008, and everyone in Gaza was waking up in order to get ready for the D Day. It is the day everyone in Gaza has been waiting for a long time; a day we will feel like there some people in the world who care for our suffering. A day we will feel that we belong to the human race, and our brothers and sisters in humanity care for our daily struggles. Scouts from different scout groups had signed up to be in the welcoming committee on the fishing boats. So, we headed directly to the main port of Gaza at 08:00, and, together with policemen who are there to secure the crowds, we boarded the boats and started the trip to the open sea.

After that, four other shipments reached Gaza along with European land caravans, called “Viva Palestina” that travelled into Gaza through the border with Egypt. However, after Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 war on Gaza, Israel forcefully intercepted ships headed for Gaza.

On May 31, 2010, Israel reacted to a flotilla of ships challenging the blockade by launching a military attack on the six boats that killed nine activists on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara. Since then, other challenges to the naval blockade have been prevented from taking to sea (Greece 2011) or stopped illegally in international waters, the passengers kidnapped and the boats taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod and the passengers to prison on charges of entering Israel illegally and eventually deported.

The latest challenge to the Israeli blockade of Gaza will be the Women’s Boats to Gaza that will sail in mid-September to again demonstrate that we do care about the people of Gaza.

Greta Berlin, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, reminds us of the joy of the people of Gaza when the first international boats in 40 years arrived in the Gaza City port in August 2008 by providing the words of Gamaal Al Attar, who wrote:

The sun was shining on August 23, 2008, and everyone in Gaza was waking up in order to get ready for the D Day. It is the day everyone in Gaza has been waiting for a long time; a day we will feel like there some people in the world who care for our suffering. A day we will feel that we belong to the human race, and our brothers and sisters in humanity care for our daily struggles. Scouts from different scout groups had signed up to be in the welcoming committee on the fishing boats. So, we headed directly to the main port of Gaza at 08:00, and, together with policemen who are there to secure the crowds, we boarded the boats and started the trip to the open sea.

Read more: When Boats Brought Hope to Gaza – Consortiumnews

Britain: UK dug herself a deep hole with Brexit as the pound starts to reach par with the euro or even lower

Globalist “Brexit means Brexit” – is the slogan of the new British Prime Minister, Theresa May. She returns from a holiday of walking in the Swiss Alps to face the policy nightmare bequeathed to her by her predecessor David Cameron.

If the new British leader bothered to change any money at Zurich’s Kloten Airport, she would have found that the British Pound is on track to have the same value as the euro.

That is how far and how fast the English currency has lost value since the Brexit vote.

Meanwhile, the other principal woman leader in Europe, Angela Merkel, has set off on a sequence of meetings with EU leaders ahead of a full gathering of all EU heads of government – minus Britain’s Mrs. May – in Bratislava on September 16th.

Mrs. Merkel has acknowledged that she considers the outcome of the Brexit vote “irrevocable.”

That statement, certainly made out of respect for British democracy, should not mean that nothing could change in the interpretation of the vote over the next months and years.

What Merkel and other EU leaders should avoid at any cost is to create a self-fulfilling inevitability that is not justified.

When Mrs. Merkel and her fellow EU leaders meet, they have a crucial decision to make. Do they hurry to push Britain out of the UK on the assumption that the plebiscite vote, in which 63% of the British electorate did not vote for Brexit, was and is the last word?

Or do they leave some time for the British to realize that the successful Brexit campaign was built on a bunch of demagogue-ish 1930s type of populist lies — like the claim that 75 million Turks were about to join the EU and would arrive in England?

Or the lie that the UK could keep access to the EU Single Market and that Brits would be able to live and work freely in Europe, even as London introduced controls to stop Europeans living and working in Britain.

No question, those lies, perpetrated by Boris Johnson and others, did win the plebiscite. But it is also fair to say that most English voters that were pro-Brexit have not yet had a chance to comprehend fully the economic consequences of losing unfettered access to the EU’s single market of 500 million middle class consumers.

here are two stages to Britain fully leaving the EU. Under the EU Treaty’s Article 50, a member state that wants to leave has to announce its intention.

After the announcement has been made, there are two years of technical talks on such details as to who pays the pensions of the British officials who will be dismissed and what happens to the European Medicines Agency or the European Banking Authority — both located in London.

The next stage commences once Article 50 talks are over. Jean-Claude Piris, the EU’s former chief lawyer reckoned it will take at least eight years to iron out any kind of satisfactory UK-EU deal on trade access and the rights of British citizens living in Europe.

Pascal Lamy, the former WTO director general and EU Commissioner also dismissed the idea that a final EU-UK trade deal is achievable without years of negotiation.

It has taken the EU and Canada eight years to agree to a relatively modest trade deal that now has to be ratified by all 28 EU national parliaments.

Bit by bit, the extent of the Brexit lies is now coming home to the British public. This does not invalidate the plebiscite but robs it of any moral authority to be the unchangeable voice of the nation".

Note EU-Digest: Now the British Public has seen what disasters Brexit is causing they might want to call for a second referendum?

EU-Digest

8/24/16

Brexit: The Lesson From Brexit Is That Too Much Market And Too Little State Invites A Backlash - by Kevin H O’Rourke

It has recently become commonplace to argue that globalisation can leave people behind, and that this can have severe political consequences. Since 23 June, this has even become conventional wisdom. While I welcome this belated acceptance of the blindingly obvious, I can’t but help feeling a little frustrated, since this has been self-evident for many years now. What we are seeing, in part, is what happens to conventional wisdom when, all of a sudden, it finds that it can no longer dismiss as irrelevant something that had been staring it in the face for a long time.

The main point of my 1999 book with Jeff Williamson, Globalization and History, was that globalisation produces both winners and losers, and that this can lead to an anti-globalisation backlash. We argued this based on late-19th century evidence. Then, the main losers from trade were European landowners, who found themselves competing with an elastic supply of cheap New World land. The result was that in Germany and France, Italy and Sweden, the move towards ever-freer trade that had been ongoing for several years was halted, and replaced by a shift towards protection that benefited not only agricultural interests, but industrial ones as well. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, immigration restrictions were gradually tightened, as workers found themselves competing with European migrants coming from ever-poorer source countries.

While Jeff and I were firmly focused on economic history, we were writing with half an eye on the ‘trade and wages’ debate that was raging during the 1990s. There was an obvious potential parallel between 19th-century European landowners, newly exposed to competition with elastic supplies of New World land, and late 20th-century OECD unskilled workers, newly exposed to competition with elastic supplies of Asian, and especially Chinese, labour. In our concluding chapter, we wrote that:

A focus of this book has been the political implications of globalization, and the lessons are sobering. Politicians, journalists, and market analysts have a tendency to extrapolate the immediate past into the indefinite future, and such thinking suggests that the world is irreversibly headed toward ever greater levels of economic integration. The historical record suggests the contrary… unless politicians worry about who gains and who loses, they may be forced by the electorate to stop efforts to strengthen global economy links, and perhaps even to dismantle them…The globalization experience of the Atlantic economy prior to the Great War speaks directly and eloquently to globalization debates today. Economists who base their views of globalization, convergence, inequality, and policy solely on the years since 1970 are making a great mistake. We hope that this book will help them to avoid that mistake— or remedy it.

Read more: The Lesson From Brexit Is That Too Much Market And Too Little State Invites A Backlash

8/23/16

Turkey: US confirms Gulen extradition request, but says no link with Turkey coup

The United States confirmed Tuesday that Turkey had made a "formal" request for the extradition of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for last month's coup attempt, but specified the request was not linked to the failed putsch.

Gulen, who has lived in self-exile in the United States since 1999, strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

"We can confirm now that Turkey has requested the extradition of Mr Gulen. But I wouldn't characterize the request as relating to the coup attempt," deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

"We have received a formal extradition request, just not one pertaining to the coup attempt," said Toner, who did not offer further details on the dossier submitted by Ankara.

For weeks, Turkey has said that it requested Gulen's extradition to face trial in his home country. It has even accused him of running a "parallel state" in Turkey.

Despite constant pressure from Ankara, Washington appeared to be dragging its feet on the issue, saying it had not received a "formal" request and was looking for "evidence" of Gulen's involvement in the failed putsch.

The latest State Department comments come as diplomats and officials from the US Justice Department were due to meet with Turkish authorities about the Gulen case.

Vice President Joe Biden is also expected in Turkey on Wednesday. He will be the highest-ranking US official to visit the NATO ally since the coup attempt.

Read more: Flash - US confirms Gulen extradition request, but says no link with Turkey coup - France 24

America’s great mistakes: Has everyone forgotten that the Vietnam and Iraq wars were unnecessary, stupid and destructive? - by David Masciotra

tt is always equally nauseating and amusing to see America, an individualistic country, get in touch with its inner Marx and transform into a nation of collectivists whenever discussion of war rises to the level of unavoidable noise pollution. “The pursuit of happiness” mutates into “give your life for your country” with little scrutiny of the nobility or necessity of the military misadventure at hand.

Ever since Donald Trump, in an act of stupidity and indecency now becoming characteristic, spoke ill of the Khan family, whose son died in the Army during the Iraq War, the entire country has communicated a pro-military mindset that papers over the truth regarding America’s foolish and lethal wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

It is basic courtesy and kindness to express sympathy for anyone who has to bury a child, and to demonstrate respect for anyone who suffers injury or dies in war, but in an understandable and natural urge to honor the grief of the Khans, the Democratic Party, major media figures and Republicans desperately trying to distance themselves from the traveling disaster of Donald Trump have dragged out the big, rancid words “service” and “sacrifice.” These words act as censors against honest evaluation of American foreign policy. Throughout the rush to give the Khan family the regard they deserve and that Trump could not offer, it is disturbing to see almost no acknowledgement of the reality that their son, along with 4,485 other Americans, died in a war that should have never taken place. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis also died, and many more sustained life-altering wounds and trauma, but Americans are never much for counting the casualties their country creates, rather than endures.

As much as Trump should apologize to the Khan family for his rude and thoughtless remarks, shouldn’t the architects and administrators of the war that killed Humayun Khan also apologize?

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the lack of any operative connection between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, and the creation of a terrorist playground in place of a once stable, albeit oppressive and miserable, country has led the overwhelming majority of Americans to view the war as a “mistake” and “not worth it.” The Iraq War, like the Vietnam War before it, was unnecessary, stupid and destructive. A rational observer who just awoke from a coma the week before the Democratic Convention would have little awareness of the blunder and crime of the Bush administration, given that for the past week, the entire country has spoken about the optional failure of policy as if it was World War II.

When the words “serve” and “sacrifice” populate political dialogue, it becomes crucial to ask, serve what and sacrifice for what?

Read more: America’s great mistakes: Has everyone forgotten that the Vietnam and Iraq wars were unnecessary, stupid and destructive? - Salon.com

8/22/16

Middle East: Syria ‘US, Russia reaching end of Syria talks’

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that he would “likely” meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to talk about Syria, noting they might reach the end of the ongoing discussions on the war-torn country.

Kerry made the remarks in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday more than one month after he and Lavrov met in Moscow and discussed steps to restore peace in Syria.

"We are indeed engaged currently in ongoing conversations that have been going on now for several weeks and it is my hope that we are reaching the end of those discussions one way or the other," Kerry told reporters.

"In the next days, our teams will meet, this week, and depending on where those discussions go, it is very possible, even likely, that Foreign Minister Lavrov and I would meet," he said.

Read more: PressTV-‘US, Russia reaching end of Syria talks’

8/21/16

Helicopter Money: Why Some Economists Are Talking About Dropping Money From the Sky - by Neil Erwin

For years, central banks have been doing everything they can think of to try to get higher inflation and stronger growth. The next step just may be a metaphorical helicopter, high above Tokyo. The Bank of Japan met Friday to decide on the next steps in its long battle against deflation, or falling prices, and analysts had thought it might pursue some coordinated effort with the Japanese government using an idea with a long historical lineage.

“Helicopter money” is the term economists and market-watchers use for an aggressive form of monetary stimulus — the government’s power to print money — to try to spur growth and get inflation higher. There had been buzz that the Bank of Japan could move in that direction, but it elected to take only a smaller action. The bank did say it would do a “comprehensive review” of policy in the months to come that could presage more coordination between the bank and the Japanese government.

It is an idea based on a metaphor used by the renowned economist Milton Friedman nearly five decades ago and given new life in this century by Ben Bernanke. It is also a policy that has echoes of some of the great catastrophes of economic history. And regardless of what, if anything, the Japanese central bank does this fall, if the global economy’s deflationary doldrums continue, expect the discussion around these metaphorical helicopters to get louder. They say desperate times demand desperate measures. Helicopter money is what monetary policy desperation looks like.

Read complete report  - click hrtr Helicopter Money: Why Some Economists Are Talking About Dropping Money From the Sky - The New York Times

Turkey: Lunatic Phycho Wedding Suicide Bomber 'was child aged 12-14' says Erdogan

Mr Erdogan said the so-called Islamic State (IS) was behind the Kurdish wedding party attack, which targeted a Kurdish wedding party. Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, is known to have several IS cells.

The bomb wounded 69 people, Mr Erdogan added, 17 of them seriously.

The bomber targeted the wedding guests as they danced in the street.

The BBC's Seref Isler, who is from Gaziantep, says the city of 1.5 million was already on edge because of events in Syria, where IS has been battling Syrian Kurdish forces.

Note EU-Digest: When will the press stop giving ISES the light of day, and call Daesh/ISES what they really are.. Mentally sick killers form an Imaginary Lunatic Psycho Filled Caliphate.
 
Turkey wedding suicide bomber 'was child aged 12-14' - BBC News

8/20/16

Global Economy: The $555 Trillion Derivatives Debt Implosion Is About to Begin

The BREXIT or British exit from the EU is this crisis’ Bear Stearns: an unexpected situation that Central Banks will go all out to sweep under the rug.

Whether or not they will succeed remains to be seen. But what has started cannot be undone.

For seven years, the Central Banks have maintained the illusion that all is well. Meanwhile, global leverage has exploded to record highs, with the bond bubble now a staggering $100 trillion in size.

To top it off, over $10 trillion of this is sporting negative yields in nominal terms. Indeed, globally bond yields are at levels not seen since the BRONZE AGE.

The Brexit is just the first jolt to this house of cards. It won’t be the last. Spain, Italy and other EU problem countries will soon be lining up to renegotiate their debt levels with the EU.

This is why EVERY move the Central Banks have made post-2009 has been aimed at avoiding debt restructuring or defaults in the bond markets. Why does Greece, a country that represents less than 2% of EU GDP, continue to receive bailouts instead of just defaulting?

Now that the BREXIT has happened, the restructurings will begin. Previously, the EU could always threaten the perceived financial Armageddon of leaving the EU to problem countries that wanted debt forgiveness.

Not anymore. Britain left the EU and Armageddon didn’t hit. So Spain, Italy and other nations will start threatening to leave if they don’t get debt forgiveness or a restructuring.

The derivatives markets smell this. This is why Deutsche Bank (DB) which sits on the largest derivatives book in the world, is on the verge of taking out a 20 year Head and Shoulders pattern.

This is also why financials in general (the firms sitting on large derivatives books), have taken out their post-2009 bull market trendline.

EU-Digest

8/19/16

EU: Key European Union leaders to gather on Mediterranean island to plan a future without Britain - by Will Worley

The most powerful leaders of the remaining European Union states are to meet on a small Mediterranean island to discuss how to deal with the myriad issues the EU faces.

But Britain will not be attending.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will dine in Naples before flying to the island of Ventotene.

The meeting, to be held on 22 August, will be primarily dealing with how the EU should progress in light of the recent loss of the UK from the bloc, following the country’s vote to leave on 23 June. It will serve as an opportunity for the remaining leaders to establish a common set of goals before an informal Bratislava summit on 16 September.

With the exception of Britain, representatives of all EU member states will be in Bratislava for the event, which will aim to plot a course for the bloc after Brexit.

Besides losing one of their most powerful and wealthy members, the EU must also deal with a grinding refugee crisis, terrorism, and relations with their unpredictable neighbours, Turkey and Russia.

Note EU-Digest: Now that Britain, considered the EU's most obstructive and vocal member and also closest US ally is not part of the equation anymore, it would serve the EU well to do a total review of its foreign policy, Specifically its alignment with the US foreign policy, to avoid being dragged by the US into foreign military adventures, which so far have had disastrous consequences for Europe. 


Read more: Key European Union leaders to gather on Mediterranean island to plan a future without the UK | Europe | News | The Independent

Syria: There is no method to this tragic madness as the global political establishment "implodes"- by RM

Aleppo, Syria
On 23 April 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria put out an estimate of 470,000 that had died in the war.  

These cold numbers are the first thing that hit you about Syria. Figures telling of a human catastrophe on a scale hard to compute. Suffering on a level to which any rational response seems inadequate – 470,000 people killed, according to the latest estimates; 11.5 percent of the population injured; 45 percent of a country of 22 million made homeless; 4 million refugees and 6.36 million internally displaced persons. Life expectancy is down from 70.5 years in 2010 to an estimated 55.4 years in 2015. Welcome to the Syrian civil war. 

The Syrian conflict has become worse than a nightmare, because after a nightmare you usually wake-up to some kind of normality, instead this is an ongoing nightmare, from which you never wake up.

In the meantime, the global political establishment, our political leaders, representing different so-called "power blocks", blame everything and everyone, except themselves, as they fuel this war with weapons from their weapons industry and that from around the world. 

Worse still, is that these weapons purchases are financed with money from mostly ignorant and misinformed taxpayers. 

Taxpayers usually are more interested in using an App on their smartphone, or in finding out on social media, like Facebook,what a friend is doing, or even why his or her dog prefers a certain type of dog food above another. Being concerned about whatever does not directly affect him or her is the last thing on the agenda. 

In Europe the war in Syria hardly ever is looked at as a human tragedy, or has anyone ask who the real culprits are of this tragedy, but sadly equated to what kind of impact the large number of refugees will have on European living standards.

Former US President Dwight Eisenhouwer once said about the weapons industry: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron ".   

Yes indeed, arms dealers and their government cabinet-level cronies always profit from a war.

On top of that there is now also a perverse logic that pervades restrictions. Military aid and arms sales by the US, but certainly not restricted to them alone, are now approved to formerly off-limits regimes.

Of the 67 countries which have received or are set to receive U.S. military aid, 32 were  previously identified by the State Department as having "poor" or worse human rights records.

Obviously, the central question is: does this make the world a safer place for anyone but arms manufacturers and the politicians who love and have them funded ?

Every academic in the world will tell you, Syria today is the most awful humanitarian catastrophic drama to hit the Levant since World War II. Do politicians realize that and make an effort to remedy it? No, not at all.

Whole families with small children ‒ some people terribly wounded by the bombings ‒ living in  olive groves under the elements, with neither shelter nor provisions.

And the drama continues. Russia used its Security Council veto at the UN to prevent any concerted action against the regime. Moscow also keeps the weapons and bombs coming.

Turkey, a NATO member, whose leader has his own aspirations for the area, supports whoever can help him diminish the Kurdish influence in the area, even ISIS. 

The Iranians use their expertise in crowd control to help Assad control the demonstrations against his regime, and the Americans are funding and supplying a Kurdish proxy army and different rebel groups to fight Assad forces, in addition to also bombing so-called "enemy targets".

Our global political establishment has had chance after chance to remedy the situation, but greed and hypocricy within a defunct political world order has made that impossible.

Syria and the surrounding region is now the epicenter of what is still to come - it is the beginning of cataclysmic developments around the world that will clarify to the world at large, "who was", "who is", and "who will come".

© this report can be copied only if its source is mentioned

EU-Digest 

8/18/16

Climate change - alternative energy: Netherlands on brink of banning sale of petrol-fuelled cars - by J. Staufenberg


Europe appears poised to continue its move towards cutting fossil fuel use as the Netherlands joins a host of nations looking to pass innovative green energy laws.

The Dutch government has set a date for parliament to host a roundtable discussion that could see the sale of petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars banned by 2025.

If the measures proposed by the Labour Party in March are finally passed, it would join Norway and Denmark in making a concerted move to develop its electric car industry.

It comes after Germany saw all of its power supplied by renewable energies such as solar and wind power on one day in May as the economic powerhouse continues to phase out nuclear energy and fossil fuels.

And outside Europe, both India and China have demanded that citizens use their cars on alternate days only to reduce the exhaust fume production which is causing serious health problems for the populations of both nations.

The consensus-oriented parties of the Netherlands are set to consider a total ban on petrol and diesel cars in a debate on 13 October.

Richard Smokers, principle adviser in sustainable transport at the Dutch renewable technology company TNO, said the Dutch government was committed to meeting the Paris climate change agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions to 80 per cent less than the 1990 level. The plan requires the majority of passenger cars to be run on CO2-free energy by 2050.

"Dutch cities still have some problems to meet existing EU air quality standards and have formulated ambitions to improve air quality beyond these standards," he told The Independent, adding that the government had at the same time been reluctant to implement strict policies on the environment.

"The current government embraces long term targets and strives at meeting EU requirements, but is hesistant about proposing 'strong' policy measures.

"Instead it prefers to facilitate and stimulate initiatives from stakeholders in society."

If the law to ban the sale of new fossil-fuel cars by 2025 passes, a significant move will have been made towards phasing out all petrol and diesel cars by 2035, added Dr Smokers.

Read more: Climate change: Netherlands on brink of banning sale of petrol-fuelled cars | Climate Change | Environment | The Independent

EU: Brussels lacks stomach for a fight -=

The turbulence created by the vote for Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump has left many craving a bit of predictability. And while Russian President’s Vladimir Putin’s military maneuvers may be familiar, they’re hardly reassuring.

So there is something comforting about the European Union choosing not to punish Portugal or Spain for breaching its rules on budgetary discipline.

A decision to give the two countries more time to bring their deficits down was waved through by the Council of Ministers last week, on a proposal from the European Commission.

In refraining from punishment, the EU treads a familiar path. Most famously and formatively, France and Germany were spared penalties in 2003, in the early years of the Stability and Growth Pact. Since then, the Commission has occasionally threatened retribution, but the Council has routinely supplied mercy.

The treatment meted out to Spain and Portugal amounts, at least on the surface, to a return to normalcy — in the European context, a détente between the EU institutions in Brussels and national governments.

Broadly speaking, the most serious clashes between the EU and the national governments that make up its membership take one of two forms. A country can find itself outvoted when legislation is being created. Or it can be punished for failing to comply after the legislation has been passed.

Read more: Brussels lacks stomach for a fight – POLITICO

US Pres. elections: Trump Is Self-Sabotaging His Campaign Because He Never Really Wanted The Job In The First Place

Michael Moore who a few weeks back said he was sure Trump would win the PresidentIal elections now is saying something different again.

Donald Trump never actually wanted to be president of the United States. I know this for a fact. I’m not going to say how I know it. I’m not saying that Trump and I shared the same agent or lawyer or stylist or, if we did, that that would have anything to do with anything.

And I’m certainly not saying that I ever overheard anything at those agencies or in the hallways of NBC or anywhere else. But there are certain people reading this right now, they know who they are, and they know that every word in the following paragraphs actually happened.

Trump was unhappy with his deal as host and star of his hit NBC show, “The Apprentice” (and “The Celebrity Apprentice”). Simply put, he wanted more money. He had floated the idea before of possibly running for president in the hopes that the attention from that would make his negotiating position stronger. But he knew, as the self-proclaimed king of the dealmakers, that saying you’re going to do something is bupkus — DOING it is what makes the bastards sit up and pay attention.

Trump had begun talking to other networks about moving his show. This was another way to get leverage — the fear of losing him to someone else — and when he “quietly” met with the head of one of those networks, and word got around, his hand was strengthened. He knew then that it was time to play his Big Card.

Read more: Trump Is Self-Sabotaging His Campaign Because He Never Really Wanted The Job In The First Place

Palestine Media: Europe turns blind eye to hatred- by Jeff Robbins

When Itamar Marcus, the head of Palestinian Media Watch, replays the official Palestinian television programs teaching Palestinian toddlers to "Stab! Stab! Stab!" Israelis to death, European officials cluck sympathetically, and allow as how it is, of course, a shame. Marcus, who 20 years ago founded the media watchdog that monitors Palestinian media, has many hours of this stuff, and his collection of it grows every day.

Palestinian television features children's programming instructing kids that Jews are "Satans," "enemies of God," "the most evil of creations," "barbaric apes" and "wretched pigs," among other things. One children's poem recited on Palestinian television goes this way: "As long as my heart is my Koran ... my [suicide] belt is around my waist and my rifle is on my shoulder."

Marcus shows the Europeans the endless Palestinian sports tournaments and schools named after those who have stabbed or shot Israelis to death. The Palestinian Ministry of Education has named 25 schools after Dalal Mughrabi alone, the woman who led the bloodiest attack on civilians in Israel's history. Twelve children and 25 adults were killed, and 70 more wounded.

This is the proportional equivalent of about 1,600 Americans killed and 3,100 wounded, and the Palestinian government is naming schools after the person responsible.

"This, tragically, is not an aberration but reflects the messaging of the Palestinian leadership to its people," Marcus says. "We do not yet have a peace partner."

When they are done assuring him that they agree that incitement to murder is never a good thing, Marcus asks the European officials if in that case they wouldn't mind actually saying something about it. "Oh, we do," reply the Europeans. "When we meet with Palestinian leaders, we mention it to them."

The stray private reference to Palestinian incitement, even if actually made, is meaningless, and everyone knows it. European politicians lack the desire, let alone the guts, to publicly criticize the Palestinians lest they face retribution by the militantly anti-Israel European street. And if the issue of Palestinian incitement is occasionally mentioned privately, Palestinian leaders could not care less. They know that no one will ever pressure them to change, and that they will remain free to do as they have done for years: incite Palestinians to murder Israelis, praise those who do the killing, blame the Israelis and continue pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars annually from American and European taxpayers. "There is little international cost — either financial or political — for Palestinian hate and terror promotion," says Marcus. "They can bring their children up to hate and support terror and claim victimhood — and world leaders [will] attack Israel."

One senior Israeli official acidly notes the undeviating hypocrisy that has characterized Europe's treatment of Israel for decades. The French and the Belgians virtually declared martial law when Islamic terrorists struck Paris and Brussels, he observes drily. "When we so much as place a cement slab on an East Jerusalem street to try to thwart a terrorist attack, the Europeans condemn it."

Comedian Bill Maher is more direct. "I wonder now that Europe has been attacked four times in a little over a year [whether] Europe will have a little more sympathy for what Israel goes through," Maher said.

The embrace of killing is not merely a case of a fish rotting from the head down. True, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has denounced the "filthy feet" of Jews. "Every martyr will reach heaven and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah," he has said. But with polls consistently showing that Palestinians overwhelmingly support the stabbing of Israelis, it is difficult to tell whether the incitement to murder is "top-down" or just Palestinian leadership keeping pace with Palestinian society.

Petrodollar-dependent, intimidated by constituencies that are rabid and unembarrassed by double standards, Europe can be counted upon to say nothing and do nothing. And?so, the Palestinian incitement continues.

Read more: Robbins: Europe turns blind eye to hatred | Boston Herald

Syria: : Russia says ready for Aleppo ceasefire

Russia says it is ready to support a proposal by the United Nations for weekly 48-hour ceasefires in Aleppo in a bid to allow humanitarian aid deliveries to the contested northwestern Syrian city.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov announced Moscow’s position in a statement released on Thursday.
“We are ready to implement the first 48-hour 'humanitarian pause' to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo residents as a 'pilot project' already next week in order to ensure safe cargo deliveries to the city's civilians," Konashenkov said.
He added that specific dates could be determined after coordination with the UN and receiving guarantees of safe passage of the aid convoys from the US.
Humanitarian aid could be sent from Turkey’s Gaziantep to the eastern parts of Aleppo or from Syria’s Handarat to western Aleppo, both via the Castello road, the Russian official said.

Read more: PressTV-Russia says ready for Aleppo ceasefire

TURKEY TO U.S.: “Give Turkey Your Nuclear Weapons at Incirlik Air Base or Turkey will Take Them!”

The leading Islamic newspaper in Turkey – and official government mouthpiece – has Tweeted the announcement that the United States must give Turkey its NUCLEAR WEAPONS at Incirlik air base or Turkey will take them.

This is CONFIRMED By the Washington Point and other news media through their reporters Tweeting.

This could be the single most important news story of all our lifetimes and it is developing very fast.

] If Turkey tries to proceed, it means immediate war with the United States and NATO.  Check back for further details.

İncirlik”teki nükleer silahlar Türkiye’ye devredilmeli. Ya da Türkiye, bu silahları kendi denetimine almalı.

Read more: TURKEY TO U.S.: “Give Turkey Your Nuclear Weapons at Incirlik Air Base or Turkey will Take Them!” | The Millennium Report

8/17/16

USA: NSA hacking tools revealed online - By Ellen Nakashim

Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days, a development that could threaten the security of government and corporate computers.

A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection, and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate.

The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations.

‘‘Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,’’ said one former employee of the hacking division, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal operations. ‘‘The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.’’

Said a second former hacker in the division who saw the file: ‘‘From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.’’

The file contained 300 megabytes of information, including several ‘‘exploits,’’ or tools for taking control of firewalls in order to control a network, and a number of implants that might, for instance, exfiltrate or modify information.

Read More: NSA hacking tools revealed online - The Boston Globe

Middle EastL China ‘to upgrade Syria military ties’

Guan Youfei, the Chinese military official charged with overseeing international cooperation, announced the development on Tuesday.

The official, who visited Syria for talks with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij, said Beijing was seeking closer military ties with Damascus.

“The Chinese and Syrian militaries traditionally have a friendly relationship, and the Chinese military is willing to keep strengthening exchanges and cooperation with the Syrian military,” he said.

Youfei also said the two sides had “reached a consensus” on the Chinese military providing humanitarian aid to Syrians, without elaborating.

The Chinese official and al-Freij also discussed the enhancement of training for Syrian soldiers by the Chinese military.

The visit marks a new precedence, given China’s refusal in the past to proactively concern itself with the Syrian conflict.

China has, meanwhile, been vocally backing Russia’s anti-terrorism efforts in Syria, which has seen Moscow carrying out large-scale bombings of Takfiri militants there.

Read more: PressTV-China ‘to upgrade Syria military ties’

Journalism Journalistic Hypocrites - by Robert Parry

Over the past few decades, the U.S. mainstream media has failed the American people in a historic fashion by spinning false or misleading narratives on virtually every important global issue, continuing to this day to guide the nation into destructive and unnecessary conflicts.

To me, a major turning point came with the failure of the major news organizations to get anywhere near the bottom of the Iran-Contra scandal, including its origins in illicit contacts between Republicans and Iranians during the 1980 campaign and the Reagan administration’s collaboration with drug traffickers to support the Contra war in Nicaragua. (Instead, the major U.S. media disparaged reporting on these very real scandals.)

f these unsavory stories had been fully explained to the American people, their impression of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush would be far less favorable and the rise of Reagan’s neocon underlings might well have been halted. Instead the neocons consolidated their dominance over Official Washington’s foreign policy establishment and Bush’s inept son was allowed to take the White House in 2001.

Then, one might have thought that the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 – justified by a legion of lies – would have finally doomed the neocons but, by then, they had deeply penetrated the national news media and major think tanks, with their influence reaching not only across the Republican Party but deeply into the Democratic Party as well.

So, despite the Iraq catastrophe, almost nothing changed. The neocons and their liberal interventionist chums continued to fabricate narratives that have led the United States into one mess after another, seeking more and more “regime change” and brushing aside recommendations for peaceful resolution of international crises.

For the complete report click here

USA: Even More Voters Now See America As A Divided Nation says Poll

Voters don’t share President Obama’s upbeat assessment of the nation and strongly believe the United States is coming apart. Even the majority of his fellow Democrats share that gloomy assessment.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 72% of Likely U.S. Voters believe America is a more divided nation than it was four years ago. Clearly voters think things are getting worse because that’s up 11 points from the 61% who felt that way just before Election Day two years ago.

Only seven percent (7%) say the country is less divided than it was four years ago, while 19% think the level of division is about the same. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Read moreEven More Voters Now See America As A Divided Nation - Rasmussen Reports™

Turkey: Absolute Power: Erdogan’s Self-Made Trap - by Stephan Richter

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would do well, for his own sake, to consider Lord Acton’s famous dictum. The 19th century English historian and politician is famous for his insight, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Mr. Erdogan is certainly succeeding with his effort to remove the few remaining obstacles to his near-totalitarian rule. The irony of it all is that the more he succeeds, the worse it becomes for his country — and, eventually, for himself.

Ultimately, Erdogan has but one ambition – a nation in total subservience to its fatherly leader. For that to become reality, he must root out any public display of Atatürk, the country’s predominant leader in its entire 20th century history. If Erdogan had his druthers, he would even eliminate the memory of him.

In a nutshell, Mr. Erdogan wants to be the new Atatürk, albeit in complete reverse. Erdogan stands against everything that Atatürk stood for.

Read more: Absolute Power: Erdogan’s Self-Made Trap - The Globalist

Britain: Brexit damage to economy will outweigh modest wage gains, says study - by Anushka Asthana and Larry Elliott

Damage to the British economy caused by Brexit will more than offset the modest wage gains for British-born workers in low-paid jobs caused by cutting net migration to the tens of thousands a year, a study has found.

A report by the Resolution Foundation thinktank said there would be a small pay increase to native-born employees in sectors such as security and cleaning if there was a big cut in the number of workers arriving in Britain from overseas.

But it estimated that these benefits would fail to compensate for the reduction in real incomes caused in the short term by the higher inflation triggered by a falling pound, and in the long term by a slowdown in the economy’s growth rate.

The Resolution Foundation also warned that achieving the government’s target of cutting annual net migration from more than 300,000 to the tens of thousands would present serious challenges for companies that rely on low-paid migrant workers – and could force some of them out of business.

Immigration was a significant factor in the referendum campaign, with a sizeable number of those who voted to leave the EU citing it as reason for supporting Brexit. Early last month, Theresa May, then home secretary, said the government had received a clear message from the electorate and needed to control the numbers of people coming into the UK from the EU.

Read more: Brexit damage to economy will outweigh modest wage gains, says study | UK news | The Guardian

8/16/16

Terrorism: ISIS Orders Its Franchises to Kill Christians

The so-called Islamic State has different strategies in different parts of the world, but in Africa and in Europe, certainly, its core objective is becoming clear: to kill Christians. Its long-term goal: to provoke a new Crusade, reviving the holy wars of many hundreds of years ago in the belief that this time around Islam will win.

In practical terms, this focus on a single pervasive, easily targeted enemy is useful to a “caliphate” under pressure that is trying to keep its troops in line.

The way ISIS has handled its Nigerian disciples in the terror organization called Boko Haram, best known for kidnapping girls and using women and children as suicide bombers, is a perfect case in point.

Earlier this month, a man named Abu Musab al-Barnawi announced that he had taken over the infamous Boko Haram organization. And his first message as Boko Haram’s leader was as clear as it was concise—on his watch, the group’s main focus will be killing Christians.

According to an interview published this month by the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (ISIS), al-Barnawi threatened to bomb churches and kill Christians, but will no longer attack places used by Muslims.

The man described as the new wali, or governor, of ISIS West Africa Province (as Boko Haram wants to be known), said there is a plot by the Western nations to Christianize the region and also claimed that charity organizations are being used to achieve this, according to an interview published in the Islamic State newspaper al-Nabaa and translated by SITE Intelligence Group.

"They strongly seek to Christianize the society,” he said of these charities. “They exploit the condition of those who are displaced under the raging war, providing them with food and shelter and then Christianizing their children.”

The man who now runs Boko Haram said the group will deal with Christians by “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those who we find from the citizens of the cross.”

Not only were al-Barnawi’s intentions clear, his agenda for Boko Haram also appears to be a clear script written by ISIS, to whom he answers. The new leader will be expected to deliver results that his predecessor, Abubakar Shekau, failed to achieve.

When Boko Haram under Shekau’s leadership pledged allegiance to ISIS last year, it looked like the group would adopt ISIS modus operandi and embrace its ultimate goal to lead Muslims toward an apocalyptic battle against “infidels,” and eventually create a unified, Muslim territory where it would enforce its extremist beliefs. But that didn’t turn out to be the case.

While ISIS, with a precise goal of gaining and inspiring its followers, developed strategies of achieving its aim, including citing the Quran in shaping its vision, and referencing the words of the Prophet in its statements, most of which it released on its well packaged online magazine, Dabiq, Boko Haram on the other hand showed it was a loosely organized group with militants lacking in strategy and erratic in behavior as it began to focus its attacks on the same Muslims it needed to inspire and recruit.

In recent months, rumors began to fly that Shekau had run into problems with the leadership of ISIS for his failure to obey its guidance.

In June, U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the nominee to lead the U.S. military's Africa Command, told a congressional hearing that Boko Haram have fractured internally, with a big group splitting away from Shekau over his failure to heed to instructions from ISIS, including ignoring calls to stop using children as suicide bombers.

"He's been told by ISIL to stop doing that,” Waldhauser said, using the U.S. government’s preferred acronym for Islamic State at his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “But he has not done so. And that's one of the reasons why this splinter group has broken off.”

"What concerns me is the breakoff group of Boko Haram who wants to be more ISIL-like,” said Waldhauser, “and consequently buy into the ISIL-brand of attacking Western interests.”

Note EU-Digest: as one Christian pastor in Nigeria commented after hearing the above report said: " for every Christian Boka Haram kills 25 Muslims will voluntarily convert to Christianity.

Read more: ISIS Orders Its Franchises to Kill Christians - The Daily Beast

US Intelligence Services: Republicans and Democrats Agree: CENTCOM Cooked ISIS War Intelligence

Senior officials at U.S. Central Command manipulated intelligence reports, press statements, and congressional testimony to present a more positive outlook on the war against the so-called Islamic State, a House Republican task force concluded in a damning report released Thursday.

The report, written by the members of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees and the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, confirmed more than a year of reporting by The Daily Beast about problems with CENTCOM analysis of the war against ISIS.

House Democrats, who conducted their own separate investigation, reached a similar conclusion as their Republican colleagues, finding that CENTCOM “insufficiently accommodated dissenting views,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

The altering of intelligence reports, which included information that made its way into briefings to President Obama, was systematic, lawmakers found.

“There was a consistent trend that across four specific campaigns against [ISIS] in Iraq throughout 2014 and 2015, assessments approved by the J2 [CENTCOM’s Joint Intelligence Center] or leadership were consistently more positive than those presented by the [intelligence community],” the report found.

The lawmakers noted, for instance, that the CIA publicly portrayed ISIS as a more resilient and powerful organization than CENTCOM’s analysis—which was not publicly shared—suggested.

Read more: Republicans and Democrats Agree: CENTCOM Cooked ISIS War Intel - The Daily Beast

Britain:- Terrorism: Anjem Choudary: Islamic Hate preacher finally jailed for Isis-related terror offences

Britain's most notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary is finally behind bars after being convicted of inviting his followers to support Islamic State terrorists.

The 49-year-old lawyer turned radical cleric has for two decades been the spiritual guide for UK extremists including Lee Rigby killer Michael Adebolajo, Isis executioner Siddhartha Dhar, and hate preacher Abu Hamza.

Through his organisations, Muslim4UK and Al-Muhajiroun (ALM), Choudary has been a constant thorn in the side of British authorities, defending terrorist atrocities while promoting an ideology of hate.

Choudary has played a "significant" role in recruiting Muslims to the extremist cause, police say, inspiring many of the 850 Brits who have headed to Syria since the establishment of the so-called Islamic State.

Read more: Anjem Choudary: Hate preacher jailed for Isis-related terror offences | Crime | News | London Evening Standard

Syrian conflict: Russian bombers use Iran base for air strikes - BBC News

Russia's defence ministry says it has used a base in western Iran to carry out air strikes in Syria.

Tupolev-22M3 long-range bombers and Sukhoi-34 strike fighters took off from Hamedan on Tuesday, a statement said.

Targets were hit in Aleppo, Idlib and Deir al-Zour provinces, it added. Local groups said 27 civilians had died.

It is reportedly the first time Russia has struck targets inside Syria from a third country since it began a campaign to prop up Syria's president last year.

Iran is Bashar al-Assad's main regional ally and has provided significant military and financial support since an uprising against him erupted in 2011.

The US State Department said Russia's use of an Iranian base was "unfortunate but not surprising".

Asked about moves towards a possible agreement with Russia to co-operate in fighting so-called Islamic State (IS), a spokesman, Mark Toner, said closer Russian-Iranian ties would not necessarily preclude a deal. But he added: "We're not there yet."

Read more: Syrian conflict: Russian bombers use Iran base for air strikes - BBC News

Israel: Britain condemns new Israeli settlement units

The British government condemned Israeli proposals for additional settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem on Thursday. “The UK condemns the Israeli authorities’ decision to issue tenders for a further 323 settlement units in East Jerusalem,” said Minister of State for Middle East Affairs Tobias Ellwood in a statement. “This follows recent development of plans for 770 new units in the Jerusalem suburbs.”

Settlement activity is “counterproductive” added Ellwood. “As set out in the Quartet report, this undermines progress towards a two-state solution.”

Notably, the British MP pointed out that the Israeli announcement “comes on the back of an alarming increase in demolitions of Palestinian houses throughout 2016, including in East Jerusalem.” He added, “These steps are the latest examples of what seems to be an acceleration of a systematic policy of illegal settlement expansion and demolition of Palestinian property.”

Noting the international rejection of Israeli settlements, Ellwood concluded his statement by saying, “Along with our international partners, we call on Israel to halt all demolitions and settlement activities.”

Read more: Britain condemns new Israeli settlement units – Middle East Monitor

Spain islamic terrorism: Spanish police arrest two men in Girona accused of financing ISIS

Spanish police arrested two brothers in the northern city of Girona accused of helping to fund the so-called Islamic State's operations in Syria and Iraq, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

The two Moroccans, aged 22 and 32, and who have not been identified, diverted funds from Europe to pay for the transfer of members of the militant group into conflict zones, the ministry said.

They are charged with financing terrorism, collaboration with a terrorist group and indoctrination, sent money to Islamic State administrators operating under false identities, it added. A search of the two men’s homes was later carried out.

Interior Ministry sources said that a third brother was involved in the funding, but is believed to have died fighting in Syria. The three had used false identities provided by ISIS.

Police say the supposed false identities are part of ISIS’s international fundraising network.

The death of the one of the brothers in Syria, who had travelled to the country with his wife and children to join ISIS, did not end their fundraising activities in Spain. Authorities say they used recent legislation to tackle money laundering in order to trace the international money transfers the cell was making.

This is the first time Spanish police have been able trace remittances to ISIS, establishing that the money was put at its disposal and used primarily to fund recruiting costs.

Spain increased its anti-terrorist alert to level 4 on June 26, since when the Civil Guard has extended its investigations into suspected ISIS cells. An Interior Ministry spokesman highlighted the importance of preventing ISIS from recruiting and fundraising in Europe.

Note EU-Digest: Government officials in all EU coutries are advised to encourage anyone who believes he is aware of someone ot an organization recruiting or fundraising for Daesh, also known as ISIS to immediately report this to the palice

Read more: Spain islamic terrorism: Spanish police arrest two men in Girona accused of financing ISIS | In English | EL PAÍS

8/15/16

Middle East Christian woman testifies God's plan is working perfectly despite increasing persecution - by Lorraine Caballero

Christian Church in Mosul Iraq
On a recent Sunday, a Christian woman from the Middle East visited the MeadowBrook Baptist Church in Gadsden, Alabama to talk about her family's story of persecution and the unwavering faith of the believers in the region.

The woman, who is only referred to by the name "Maryam" for security purposes, told the churchgoers not to pray for the persecution to stop, because all the atrocities are part of God's plan.

Maryam recalled how her father was imprisoned because a Muslim who assaulted him and threatened their lives had wrongfully accused him. She also described how Muslim men physically assaulted her while she was on her way to the airport just because she did not cover her hair.

For Maryam and other Christians in the Middle East, persecution is necessary for the Church to continue growing in the region. She explained that while radical Muslims are committing crimes against Christians and other religious groups, there are also others who are starting to question their own religion. Now, there are more than a million converts in her country who come from Muslim backgrounds.

"So, I want to encourage you that, of course, you need to pray for your brothers and sisters in the Middle East who are suffering for being Christians and for their faith, but I am asking you to pray a different prayer," Maryam told the American congregants. "Don't pray for the persecution to be stopped. ... But pray for the Christians there, for their boldness, their encouragement, for their faith and that they can all be witnesses for God's work and for God."

In an exclusive interview with the Express, a priest who endured torture at the hands of his jailers in Egypt said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not the real threat to believers. Rev. Majed El Shafie said the problem lies in the Muslim extremists' ideology.

In light of the current situation, Rev. Shafie highlighted the need to focus more on education. He also urged the moderate Muslims to end their silence and finally speak up about the persecution of Christians by the extremists.

EU-Digest

Humanity: Despite what you might think, humans actually evolved to be kind - by David Held

Maybe there's hope for humanity yet. As a species, studies have shown humans to be more willing to help strangers than other types of primates, and we exhibit less conflict within our groups compared with other animals too.

That's hard to believe if you switch on the news today, but new research suggests that we actually evolved the drive to be 'kind' in order to get access to more resources - and hints that it's not impossible for humans to become more welcoming to people of different backgrounds.

To figure this out, researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the Max Planck Institute in Germany surveyed 150 farmers living in Bolivia – a particularly suitable sample for this study, seeing as they regularly need to work with others to protect their land.

"From maintaining access to territory, clean water and other natural resources – collaboration across group boundaries is crucial for many indigenous populations today," said anthropologist Michael Gurven from UCSB.

The goal of the study was to understand more about what might be driving this collaboration, and how we might be able to encourage other humans, who don't have farmland to protect, to be kinder to one another in future.

In total, 150 volunteers, taken from three different population sets of farmers, were asked to play a game where they could donate money to both 'in-group' strangers (from the same religious or ethnic background) or 'out-group' strangers (from different religious or ethnic backgrounds).

Importantly, the participants could see pictures of the people they were giving money to, and the recipients were given the names of the donors – even though this was just a game, that transparency helped reinforce the idea that these transactions could have a mutual benefit for both giver and taker.

The results showed that those who gave the most to out-group strangers were those who felt they were worst off, and who had the most to gain from new friendships.

People who had spent time living in different places and meeting a variety of people were also more generous to strangers of different ethnicities and religions.

This suggests that it's a need or desire for resources, plus positive and direct experiences with out-group people, that helps drive human generosity, trust, and tolerance.

"We have been too preoccupied with thinking about inter-group conflict," said one of the researchers, Anne Pisor. "We know less about why humans are so prone to inter-group tolerance and friendship."

"A better understanding of 'why' will hopefully allow us to better nurture friendships that transcend group boundaries – and maybe reduce the volume of conflict we see in the news."

While the researchers note that different communities are under different social and economic pressures – after all, many of us are no longer as dependent on collaboration to get what we need – the case of the 150 Bolivian farmers gives some clues as to why humans have been generous to outsiders in the past, and might be in the future.

We're more friendly to outsiders when we're more in need, but also when we understand them better – a lesson that's more important than ever in today's society.

Read more: Despite what you might think, humans actually evolved to be kind - ScienceAlert