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9/30/16

Germany: 8 Years After US Banking Collapse, Implosion of Megabank Poised to Decimate the Global Economy - by Jay Syrmopoulos

Deutsche Bank shares have fallen sharply on the news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel won’t bail-out the struggling bank, with shares falling by as much as six percent in early Monday trading, making it the worst performance since 1992. Since January, the bank’s shares have lost over 52 percent of their value.

Merkel also refused to provide financial assistance to Deutsche Bank in its legal battle with the U.S. Department of Justice. The chancellor made her position clear during talks with Deutsche CEO John Cryan, according to Focus magazine. The German-based lender may be fined up to $14 billion over its mortgage-backed securities business before the 2008 global crisis.

The German Chancellor also noted that Deutsche Bank will not be getting a bailout from the European Central Bank – the lender of last resort for European banks.

So could Germany be considering a bail-in instead of a bailout?

According to Investopedia:

    A bail-in is rescuing a financial institution on the brink of failure by making its creditors and depositors take a loss on their holdings. A bail-in is the opposite of a bail-out, which involves the rescue of a financial institution by external parties, typically governments using taxpayers money. Typically, bail-outs have been far more common than bail-ins, but in recent years after massive bail-outs some governements now require the investors and depositors in the bank to take a loss before taxpayers.

So the question becomes; are millions of Germans about to see their savings stolen by the government to prop up Deutsche Bank?

It’s not at all beyond the realm of possibility, as it has happened before in very recent history. To keep the bank solvent, the Bank of Cyprus took almost 40% of depositor’s funds – leaving customers with essentially nothing they could do about having their money stolen. Assets were frozen and ATM machines were not refilled.

Perhaps this explains why in mid-August Germans were told by their government to stockpile 10 days worth of water, and 5 days worth of food in case of a “national emergency” hitting the country.

Deutsche Bank’s unbelievably risky portfolio and it’s exposure to the derivative markets, which stands at over $40 trillion dollars, would undoubtedly cause exponentially more damage than the Lehman Brothers collapse did back in 2008, which precipitated the Great Recession of 2008.

Read more: 8 Years After US Banking Collapse, Implosion of Megabank Poised to Decimate the Global Economy

The Age of Normalized Ignorance: Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance - by Henry Giroux

What happens to a society when thinking is eviscerated and is disdained in favor of raw emotion? [1] What happens when political discourse functions as a bunker rather than a bridge? What happens when the spheres of morality and spirituality give way to the naked instrumentalism of a savage market rationality? What happens when time becomes a burden for most people and surviving becomes more crucial than trying to lead a life with dignity? What happens when domestic terrorism, disposability, and social death become the new signposts and defining features of a society? What happens to a social order ruled by an “economics of contempt” that blames the poor for their condition and wallows in a culture of shaming?[2] What happens when loneliness and isolation become the preferred modes of society? What happens to a polity when it retreats into private silos and is no longer able to connect personal suffering with larger social issues? What happens to thinking when a society is addicted to speed and over-stimulation? What happens to a country when the presiding principles of a society are violence and ignorance? What happens is that democracy withers not just as an ideal but also as a reality, and individual and social agency become weaponized as part of the larger spectacle and matrix of violence?[3]

The forces normalizing and contributing to such violence are too expansive to cite, but surely they would include: the absurdity of celebrity culture; the blight of rampant consumerism; state-legitimated pedagogies of repression that kill the imagination of students; a culture of immediacy in which accelerated time leaves no room for reflection; the reduction of education to training; the transformation of mainstream media into a mix of advertisements, propaganda, and entertainment; the emergence of an economic system which argues that only the market can provide remedies for the endless problems it produces, extending from massive poverty and unemployment to decaying schools and a war on poor minority youth; the expanding use of state secrecy and the fear-producing surveillance state; and a Hollywood fluff machine that rarely relies on anything but an endless spectacle of mind-numbing violence. Historical memory has been reduced to the likes of a Disney theme park and a culture of instant gratification has a lock on producing new levels of social amnesia.

Read more: Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance

Middle East - Syria: 30 FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS (ISRAELI, US, TURKISH) KILLED IN MISSILE ATTACK IN ALEPPO

Reports have been appearing in various pro-government media outlets since September 20 that some Russian warships, deployed in Syria’s coastal waters, hit with missiles a foreign-led military operations room near Aleppo city, killing 30 Israeli, US, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari and British officers.

The military operations room was allegedly located in the western part of Aleppo province in the middle of Sam’an mountain. It was set up by foreign intelligence services in order to coordinate operations of various militant group against the Syrian government forces in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib.

While there are no doubts that various ‘opposition’ and terrorist groups in Syria are trained, supplied and managed by foreign intelligence services (mostly US, Turkish and Saudi), the pro-government sources have not provided video or photo evidences in order to confirm this report. The Russian Ministry of Defense has not commented on the issue.

Read more: 30 FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS (ISRAELI, US, TURKISH) KILLED IN MISSILE ATTACK IN ALEPPO | The Millennium Report

9/29/16

The US Political Establishment: The American system mobilises to save itself - again - by Geoffrey Aronson

For the second time in less than a decade the American establishment - the political, economic, and social titans of the United States' economic and political life - is mobilising to protect a system in crisis, one that could be said without exaggeration to be in danger of collapse.

Just as they did during the Great Recession, Democrats and Republicans alike are uniting with Wall Street and Main Street in the aggressive defence to rehabilitate the US' battered economic and political status quo.

Bipartisan support for Hilary Clinton's candidacy is the focus of this effort - engaging a broad coalition that includes "wise men" of the diplomatic and national security establishment, prominent Republicans, and most of the "respectable" press.

The stakes of this battle are extraordinary - no less than the system of wealth and political life that have come to define a century of American progress and international leadership is at stake.
No wonder then that the traditional shades of partisan political and economic difference pale before the pressing task of keeping the system afloat and repelling the challenge now being mounted by Donald Trump.

The economic crisis that exploded on September 15, 2008, threatened no less than the destruction of American capitalism.

The first unavoidable signs of this danger appeared with the collapse of the investment firm Lehman Brothers. The unprecedented bankruptcy of this firm - a scion of Wall Street - soon cascaded into the Great Recession.

The commanding heights of the US economy, along with Americans from all walks of life - were on the ropes.

The insolvency of the venerable anchor of the American dream - General Motors - of which it was once said "What is good for GM is good for America" - was a poignant and once unimaginable demonstration of the brutal shortcomings of the modern US economy - and the price to be paid by all for its failure.

The Great Recession was in the first instance economic to be sure, but the failure of the US institutions exposed by the financial collapse was far broader.

Not only were the banks and investment houses tainted by failure, so too were the government regulators meant to police them, the financial watchdogs paid to evaluate their credit worthiness and investment soundness, and above all a ruling political establishment - Democrat and Republican alike - that failed to create and regulate an economic system that served the public good.

Little wonder then that all of these forces, not without difficulty, put aside partisan differences and mobilised to rescue the system - and themselves.

Some of the legislative and economic measures taken to re-float the economy may have been radical but their objective was decidedly conservative - to rescue and reform a system in order to prevent a more radical restructuring of American economic life.

The breach in the system opened by the Great Recession is now convulsing the US politics. The folly of assuming that the economic crisis was a discrete and limited event has been smashed by the unlikely candidacy of Trump.

Read moreThe American system mobilises to save itself - again - Al Jazeera English

Turkey and the Kurds: Violence Is Not the Answer - by Alon Ben-Meir

Turkey’s President Erdogan has claimed that military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will continue until “the very last rebel is killed.”

What is puzzling about this statement is that after more than 30 years of violence that has claimed the lives of over 40,000 Turks and Kurds, Erdogan still believes he can solve the conflict through brutal force.

However, he is fundamentally mistaken. The Kurds’ long historical struggle is not only embedded in their psyche, but also provides the momentum for their quest for semi-autonomy. That mindset will endure until a mutually accepted solution is found through peaceful negotiations.

Read more: Turkey and the Kurds: Violence Is Not the Answer - The Globalist

Saudi Arabia: US Congress 9/11 vote raises heat on Saudi Arabia — by Geoff Dyer and Simeon Kerr

The US Congress voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to override a presidential veto on a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, handing the first such rebuke to the Obama White House.

The legislation is part of a potential sea change in the kingdom’s relationships with the west over its alleged connection to religious extremism and its conduct of the war in Yemen.

Despite fierce last-minute lobbying by the administration and the Saudi embassy in Washington, the Senate voted 97-1 to support the bill, which President Barack Obama vetoed last week. Later in the day, the House of Representatives voted 348-77 to override the same veto.
In response to the bipartisan admonition from Congress, Mr Obama told CNN that the move was a “mistake”.

Read more: US Congress 9/11 vote raises heat on Saudi Arabia — FT.com

EUROZONE-ITALY: Why Issuing Fiscal Money Could Help Exit The Italian Crisis - by Enrico Grazzini

Fiscal Money is the most suitable instrument – and perhaps the only one – to overcome Italy’s serious and enduring crisis. The Fiscal Money project can be implemented both in Italy and other Eurozone countries to exit the liquidity trap by increasing aggregate demand. It can also help tackle the weakness of the Italian banking system which is stuck with a large amount of Non-Performing Loans (of around € 360 billion gross).

But first of all: what is Fiscal Money? This is not legal tender or a parallel currency but a financial instrument. By Fiscal Money we mean a euro-denominated bond issued by the state or a public (or semi-public) institution, covered by its fiscal value (i.e. valid for tax discount), maturing more than one year from issuance, but immediately negotiable on financial markets and so immediately convertible into legal currency. Fiscal Money is a bond fully guaranteed by the state as a tax rebate, even if non-refundable in euro by the state: in this way it does not increase public debt.

This bond is valid “to pay taxes ” only after a reasonable period of time, certainly more than one year from issuance. In fact, if the Fiscal Money were immediately used, then it would be like to a simple tax cut, but that would cause an immediate public deficit. Instead, thanks to its extended maturity of 2-3 years, Fiscal Money can be immediately monetized and can quickly increase spending power. Fiscal Money, as a matter of fact, advances the value of future tax revenues. So it becomes the oxygen required to exit the liquidity trap, to increase income and create new wealth thanks to the Keynesian multiplier.

There are several versions of Fiscal Money. The following are the two most important versions.

    Tax Discount Certificates (TDCs) are bonds for tax credit issued by the state and allocated for free to households and businesses; they are also used by government administrations as a means of payment. Their issue would have a huge economic and political impact. The issuance of these free government bonds would be comparable to a kind of helicopter money (see Milton Friedman, J. M. Keynes, Ben Bernanke). In fact, thanks to the issuance of this bond, the state can immediately increase the spending power of families, businesses and public administrations. It can increase demand and restart the economy, unchaining it from the liquidity trap. In order to increase consumption, this “free money” would be distributed to families in inverse proportion to income; and it would be allocated to firms in proportion to the number of employees so as to reduce the cost of labor and increase business competitiveness. In order to increase employment (and also private investments), the state can use TDCs to pay for new public works. A Mediobanca Securities report asserts that, thanks to TDCs, Italian GDP would grow twice as fast, while preserving the level of the public balance and the balance of trade. The TDCs will be sold by those (businesses and households) who need cash and will be purchased by those (businesses and households) which want to get tax discounts. The TDCs would be converted into euros and quickly spent: so the economy would enjoy new air. Thanks to economic growth, the debt/GDP ratio would decline. The state could increase cash in circulation in the real economy, boost consumption, counter the credit crunch, boost investments and jobs. The challenge is that the Keynesian multiplier will increase GDP insofar as the future fiscal revenues will offset the tax deficit that ceteris paribus will be generated by the issuance of the TDCs (see here).TDCs are not refundable in euro by the state: so, they do not constitute a financial liability for the public purse according to Eurostat criteria. Moreover, we foresee that TDCs will impact the economy in a very positive way, assuming that the fiscal multiplier exceeds one when (as currently in Italy and in the Eurozone) capital and labor resources are greatly underutilized.

    Bonds issued by the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti with the option to be converted into tax rebates. The Italian Cassa Depositi e Prestiti – which is a non-state company from a legal point of view, even if it is 80+ percent owned by the state – could get new resources to develop the Italian economy without increasing government debt. This version of Fiscal Money provides that CDP signs an agreement with the fiscal authorities and issues bonds maturing in the long term (eg. 10-20 years) with the option that in certain time slots they can be converted into tax rebates at their nominal value. The CDP bonds would not worsen the public budget because CDP sits outside the scope of government accounts. The bondholders would be fully guaranteed by the tax value of the CDP bonds, while the state would get credit from CDP for the bonds converted into tax rebates, and thus would not worsen its deficit. Thanks to these convertible bonds, CDP could collect some billion (or some tens of billion) in the financial market at low cost. CDP could use these new resources to implement industrial policies and to backstop the banking system. For instance, CDP could provide guarantees on non-performing loans. Similarly, the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations in France and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau in Germany, with an ownership structure similar to that of the CDP, and other national development banks could issue this type of Fiscal Money to give a boost to the overall domestic economy.

Read more: Why Issuing Fiscal Money Could Help Exit The Italian Crisis

EU refugee policy marks progress, not success - by John Psaropoulos

More than six months since the EU-Turkey Deal to control refugee flows across the Aegean was signed, the European Commission is congratulating itself on a “steady delivery of results”.

According to its third report on the implementation of the deal released on Wednesday, daily arrivals of refugees and migrants on Greek islands have averaged 81 since June, compared with 2,900 daily arrivals during the same period a year ago.

The progress, according to the Commission, demonstrates that “the business model of smugglers can be broken".

But the drop in arrivals comes hand-in-hand with significant problems.

Under the Statement, Turkey agreed to take back all those who don’t qualify for asylum in Europe. So far, though, only 578 people have been returned. This means that the islands of the east Aegean are gradually turning into vast internment camps because the agreement confines newly arriving refugees to Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos.

They are no longer allowed to travel to mainland Greece, from where they might more easily smuggle themselves deeper into Europe.

“When the EU-Turkey deal went into effect, there was no infrastructure that could support the sequestration of people on the islands,” says Chios Mayor Manolis Vournous. 

Read more: EU refugee policy marks progress, not success - Al Jazeera English

9/28/16

EDF: EU plan to beef up military prompts battle of words over Nato - by Rob Camer

Britain remains firmly opposed to any move towards creating an EU army, Sir Michael Fallon said, as it would simply undermine Nato.

And yet it wasn't on the agenda when EU defence ministers met in Slovakia and barely anyone is talking about the idea. There are no plans for legions of Eurotroops decked out in helmets emblazoned with yellow stars on a blue background.

It's difficult, indeed pointless, to oppose something that doesn't exist and isn't being suggested. But that's the problem with the argument over the EU's future military capabilities; for now it's a battle of semantics, a war of words.

Instead the official agenda here in Bratislava spoke of "the EU Global Strategy and its synergies and sequencing with the Commission-led EDAP".

France and Germany presented proposals that would include joint development of military hardware such as helicopters and drones, expanding the EU's peace-keeping missions and, most contentiously of all, establishing a permanent joint European military HQ.

Germany insists that the idea has nothing to do with a European army.

"It is not aimed against Nato," said Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen. "On the contrary, we need a strong Europe and whatever strengthens Europe in defence also strengthens Nato."

And those words were underlined by Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who told reporters at the meeting that there was "no contradiction between strong European defence and a strong Nato". The importance lay in avoiding duplication, he said.

Yet when he stepped out of the meeting, the UK defence secretary said that 12 countries had spoken and half were against the EU military headquarters, including Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. The BBC couldn't immediately verify that.

But for Sir Michael Fallon there's already much to dislike.

Note EU-Digest: In all this one should ask what business it is of Britain, after BREXIT, to question  anything the EU contemplates or plans to do.  Hopefully the EU political leadership will make it clear to Britain they can't have their cake and eat it also.


Read more: EU plan to beef up military prompts battle of words over Nato - BBC News

US: Corruption Unchained - by Frank Vogl

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it will not seek a new trial of the former Governor of the state of Virginia, Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell on charges of corruption.

A jury had found them both guilty in 2014 for receiving gifts of over $175,000 from a businessman. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions in a June 2016 ruling.

Government prosecutors, who could have decided to try the case again, announced on September 7th:

“After carefully considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision and the principles of federal prosecution, we have made the decision not to pursue the case further.”

As a result, prosecuting corruption by U.S. public officials has just become far more difficult.

Lobbyists and politicians can feel more confident that their myriad exchanges and relationships are less likely to lead to corruption prosecutions.

The United States, once an admirable leader on combatting political corruption, has now fallen into line with the lax standards of business-political relationships that pervade many other countries.

While left-wing Democratic politicians, notably Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, rail against corruption in U.S. politics, the mainstream Democratic Party officials at the helm of the Justice Department have accepted an increasingly narrow definition of political corruption.

The Supreme Court concluded that the McDonnells did nothing criminally wrong when Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams, Sr., gave them a gold Rolex watch, a Ferrari, $50,000 in financial aid for their beach house and a significant portion of the costs of their daughter’s wedding.

Newspaper readers may be forgiven for believing this is the kind of political corruption found in Third World or former Soviet countries – but it is perfectly legal in the United States today.

Read more: US: Corruption Unchained - The Globalist

Israel: Shimon Peres of Israel Dies at 93; Built Up Defense and Sought Peace - by Marilyn Berger

Shimon Peres, one of the last surviving pillars of Israel’s founding generation, who did more than anyone to build up his country’s formidable military might, then worked as hard to establish a lasting peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors, died on Wednesday in a Tel Aviv area hospital. He was 93.

His death was announced by his son Nehemya Peres, who is known as Chemi, and his personal physician and son-in-law Dr. Rafi Walden, outside the Sheba Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized for the last two weeks.

Mr. Peres died just over two weeks after suffering a stroke. Doctors kept him largely unconscious and on a breathing tube since then in hopes that it would give his brain a chance to heal. But he deteriorated as the nation he once led watched his last battle play out publicly and leaders from around the world sent wishes for his recovery.

As prime minister (twice); as minister of defense, foreign affairs, finance and transportation; and, until 2014, as president, Mr. Peres never left the public stage during Israel’s seven decades.

He led the creation of Israel’s defense industry, negotiated key arms deals with France and Germany and was the prime mover behind the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons. But he was consistent in his search for an accommodation with the Arab world, a search that in recent years left him orphaned as Israeli society lost interest, especially after the upheavals of the 2011 Arab Spring led to tumult on its borders.

Note EU-Digest: Shimon Peres once said: Optimists and Pessimists both have to die. I rather die as an Optimist"". A great statesman who saw peace between Palestine and Israel as the only solution  to creating a stable Middle East.

Read more Shimon Peres of Israel Dies at 93; Built Up Defense and Sought Peace - The New York Times

Terrorists: At your service: cyber criminals for hire to militants, EU says - by by Alastair Macdonald

Cybercriminals offering contract services for hire offer militant groups the means to attack Europe but such groups have yet to employ such techniques in major attacks, EU police agency Europol said on Wednesday.

"There is currently little evidence to suggest that their cyber-attack capability extends beyond common website defacement," it said in its annual cybercrime threat assessment in a year marked by Islamic State violence in Europe.

But the internet's criminal shadow the Darknet had potential to be exploited by militants taking advantage of computer experts offering "crime as a service", Europol added: "The availability of cybercrime tools and services, and illicit commodities (including firearms) on the Darknet, provide ample opportunities for this situation to change."

Overall, the report found, existing trends in cybercrime continued to grow, with some of the European Union's member states reporting more cyber crimes than the traditional variety.

"Europol is concerned about how an expanding cybercriminal community has been able to further exploit our increasing dependence on technology and the internet," its director, Rob Wainwright, said in a statement. "We have also seen a marked shift in cyber-facilitated activities relating to trafficking in human beings, terrorism and other threats."

"Ransomware" - programs which break into databases and demand payment for unlocking codes via virtual currencies such as Bitcoin - continued to expand as a problem, as did highly targeted "phishing" attacks to extract security data from senior figures - "CEO fraud" - and video streaming of child abuse.

Attacks on bank cash-machine networks were also increasing, the report found, as were frauds exploiting new contactless payment card transactions, while traditional scams involving the physical presence of a card had been successfully reduced.

Read more: At your service: cyber criminals for hire to militants, EU says

9/27/16

Gun Control USA: 3% of Americans own half the country's 265 million guns

 Despite steep declines in violent crimes, an estimated 70 million firearms were added to American arsenals the past two decades, according to a new landmark study on gun ownership.

Overall, Americans own an estimated 265 million guns – more than one gun for every American adult, according to the study by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern universities. Half of those guns – 133 million – were in the hands of just 3% of American adults, so-called “super owners” who possessed an average of 17 guns each, it showed.

The survey, the most authoritative since a 1994 study posed similar questions to gun owners, is under peer-review for publication in a trade journal. Summaries of the study were released this week to the Guardian and The Trace news outlets.

Read more: 3% of Americans own half the country's 265 million guns

US Presidential Debate Poll: Voters Expect Taxes, Spending To Rise Under Clinton, Less Sure About Trump

Voters think taxes and government spending will increase under a Hillary Clinton presidency but are less certain what will happen if Donald Trump is elected. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Read more: Voters Expect Taxes, Spending To Rise Under Clinton, Less Sure About Trump - Rasmussen Reports™

Global Competitiveness: 'The Netherlands rises again in global competitiveness ranking'

The Netherlands is the most competitive country within the European Union, the NRC said on Tuesday, quoting the latest Global Competitiveness Index by the World Economic Forum.

The ranking puts the Netherlands in fourth place behind Switzerland, the US and Singapore, a rise of one place over last year’s ranking, the NRC said.

The ranking is not yet available on the forum’s website. Germany was in fourth place last year.

The Netherlands thanks its high ranking to its healthcare, education system, efficient infrastructure, and focus on innovation and technology, the paper quotes the report as saying.

Read more: 'The Netherlands rises again in global competitiveness ranking' - DutchNews.nl

France: Former French General Says its time for Europe to Liquidate NATO & Create Anti-Terror Alliance With Russia

NATO's present format and the alliance's continuing expansion eastward is beneficial only to the United States, which seeks to keep Russia and Europe at odds, says retired French Army General Jean-Bernard Pinatel.

Accordingly, he suggests the alliance be liquidated or 'Europeanized', and the creation of a European-Russian alliance against terror.

Interviewed by Le Figaro, Pinatel, a retired officer who now works as an expert in geopolitics and economic intelligence, recalled that if Russia and the European countries had succeeded in forming an alliance in the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, they would have been able to effectively challenge US pretentions to global hegemony.

Now, the retired general emphasized, the threat of radical Islamist terrorism has once against opened a discussion on global leadership, and whether the US truly deserves its hegemonic position in Europe. According to Pinatel, the spate of attacks in Europe has clearly demonstrated to the French, and to other NATO members, that the US-led alliance is helpless in the struggle against the terrorist threat.

Ultimately, "the US desire to return the atmosphere of the Cold War to Europe is being carried out through NATO, and serves the interests of the Americans, as well as incompetent and corrupt European  leaders," not those of the European people, Pinatel concluded

EU-Digest

Geo-Politics: How the west might soon be lost - by Martin Wof

Sometimes history jumps. Think of the first world war, the Bolshevik revolution, the Great Depression, the election of Adolf Hitler, the second world war, the beginning of the cold war, the collapse of the European empires, Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up” of China, the demise of the Soviet Union, and the financial crisis of 2007-09 and subsequent “great recession”.

We may be on the brink of an event as transformative as many of these: the election of Donald Trump as US president. This would mark the end of a US-led west as the central force in global affairs. The result would not be a new order. It would be perilous disorder.

The fact that Mr Trump can be a credible contender for the presidency is astounding. In business, he is a serial defaulter and litigator turned reality TV star. He is a peddler of falsehoods and conspiracy theories. He utters racist calumnies. He attacks the independence of the judiciary. He refuses to reveal his taxes. He has no experience of political office and incoherent policies. He glories in ignorance. He even hints at a federal default. He undermines confidence in the US-created trade order, by threatening to tear up past agreements. He undermines confidence in US democracy by claiming the election will be rigged. He supports torture and the deliberate killing of the families of alleged terrorists. He admires the former KGB agent who runs Russia.

Evidently, a huge number of US voters have lost confidence in the country’s political and economic systems. This is so to an extent not seen even in the 1930s, when voters turned towards an established politician. Yet, for all its challenges, the US is not in such terrible shape. It is the richest large country in the history of the world. Growth is slow, but unemployment is low. If voters were to choose Mr Trump — despite his failings, displayed again in the first presidential debate — this would tell us grim things about the health of the US.

It is the world’s leading power, so this is not just a domestic US concern. What might a Trump presidency mean? Forecasting the policies of someone so unpredictable is impossible. But a few things seem at least reasonably clear.

The US and its allies remain immensely powerful. But their economic dominance is in slow decline.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the share of the high-income countries (essentially, the US and its chief allies) will fall from 64 per cent of global output (measured at purchasing power) in 1990 to 39 per cent in 2020, while the US share will fall from 22 per cent to 15 per cent over this period.

While the US military might is still huge, two caveats must be made. One is that winning a conventional war is quite a different matter from achieving one’s aims on the ground, as the Viet­nam and Iraq wars showed. Furthermore, China’s rapidly rising defence spending could create serious military difficulties for the US in the Asia-Pacific region.

It follows that the ability of the US to shape the world to its liking will rest increasingly on its influence over the global economic and political systems. Indeed, this is not new. It has been a feature of US hegemony since the 1940s. But this is even more important today. The alliances the US creates, the institutions it supports and the prestige it possesses are truly invaluable assets. All such strategic assets would be in grave peril if Mr Trump were to be president.

The biggest contrast between the US and China is that the former has so many powerful allies. Even Vladimir Putin is not a reliable ally for China. America’s allies support the US largely because they trust it. That trust is based on its perceived commitment to predictable, values-based behaviour. Its alliances have not been problem-free, far from it. But they have worked. Mr Trump’s cherished unpredictability and transactional approach to partnerships would damage the alliances irreparably.

A vital feature of the US-led global order has been the role of multilateral institutions, such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. In binding itself by the rules of an open economic system, the US has encouraged others to do the same. The result has been extraordinary growth in prosperity: between 1950 and 2015, average global real output per head rose sixfold. Mr Trump does not understand this system. The results of repudiation could be calamitous for all.

The Iraq war has damaged trust in US wisdom and competence. But the global financial crisis has been even more destructive. Many have long suspected US motives. But they thought it knew how to manage a capitalist system. The crisis devastated that confidence.

After all this damage, election of a man as unqualified as Mr Trump would call into question something even more fundamental: belief in the capacity of the US to choose reasonably well-informed and competent leaders. Under a President Trump, the democratic system would lose much of its credibility as a model for the organisation of a civilised political life. Mr Putin and other actual or would-be despots would cheer. Their belief that talk of western values is just hypocrisy would be vindicated. But those who see the US as a bastion of democracy would despair.

If Mr Trump were to win, it would be a regime change for the world. It would, for example, end efforts to manage the threat of climate change, possibly forever. But even his candidacy suggests that the US role in the global order risks undergoing a transformation. That role depended not only on American economic and military prowess, but also on the values it represented. For all its mistakes, the ideal of a law-governed democratic republic remained visible. Hillary Clinton is an imperfect candidate. Mr Trump is something else altogether. Far from making America great, his presidency might unravel the world.

Read more: How the west might soon be lost — FT.com

9/26/16

USA: The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War - by Robert Crawford

To start with a quick overview of our present situation. Most of you are familiar with this recent history; yet, it bears repeating. For 15 years now, since 2001, the US has been at war.

The longest single battlefield has been the war in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan Tribal Areas. It has spanned two administrations. The Taliban remains undefeated and is gaining ground and war lords pursue their own political and military agendas.

The 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, now almost universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest military mistakes in recent times, has virtually destroyed a country that had been created by the imperial powers during WWI. Warfare between a Shia dominated Iraqi government and the Sunnis—now mostly controlled by ISIS—has become a struggle for territory and cities. This war has been internationalized.

The Syrian civil war, which has become another international war, continues its rising death toll and propels the greatest refugee crisis since WWII.

The U.S., British and French air war on Gadhafi’s Libya in 2011 has resulted in another failed state, ongoing civil war, and more U.S. and allied bombing.

Insurgencies in Yemen, Somalia, northern Nigeria, along with military attempts to suppress them continue to cause huge numbers of civilian casualties and further displacement. These conflicts have also been internationalized.

Since 2006, the Israeli siege of Gaza and the essentially one-sided warfare against Hamas, culminating in the brutal assault of 2014, has caused extraordinary suffering. The government-backed settler land grab in the West Bank makes the prospects of a just peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians more remote. In all these wars, civilians are the primary victims.

As you know, the US is neck deep in this descent into perpetual and proliferating warfare. Historian Andrew Bacevich calls it America’s WWIV. Despite repeated military failures and negative unanticipated consequences, the US still pursues the illusion that it can shape the contemporary Middle East through a combination of drone warfare, bombing, Special Operations and other covert actions. It continues to invest heavily in the militaries of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and other U.S. allies.

American military dominance (which must be distinguished from effectiveness) is the most fundamental fact of today’s international order. The U.S., after all, maintains a projection of global power with hundreds of thousands troops stationed abroad” who occupy or use “some 761 ‘sites’ in 39 countries”—what critic Chalmers Johnson called “an empire of bases.”

Anyone with eyes wide open must come to this topic with more questions than answers—to say nothing about the burden of grief and even despair that many of us carry. I continue to struggle with both the questions and the difficult emotions.

For those of us hoping for a more peaceful world and a more peaceful American foreign policy, the core political question—what is to be done?—is perplexing. As long as American soldiers are not dying in significant numbers, Americans, for the most part, seem uninterested—and certainly uniformed—about US wars and their consequences. The corporate controlled media are no help; instead, they do everything possible to hinder understanding and serious debate. Historical amnesia is a particularly American affliction. Each of these obstacles are serious problems we need to confront.

My topic, here, is the political rhetoric of the 2016 presidential election. Even though it is a small part of the puzzle, the rhetoric of the presidential candidates reveals a great deal about the historical moment and the larger forces that shape this nation’s perpetual wars.

My first contention is that there is an ideology of militarism that dominates our political culture and it is being perpetuated by both the Democratic and Republican nominees for president, despite their significant differences.

We know or should know how militarist ideology exploits our fears of terrorism, and perpetuates the illusion that our safety depends on the worldwide projection and use of military power.

We know or should know that this ideology was developed and honed throughout the Cold War and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the national security establishment had to find a new enemy to justify its continued rule.

We know or should know that militarism is an ideology that denies its own contributions to the continual escalation of violence in the Middle East and to terrorist attacks in the West.

Note EU-Digest: What is probably most amazing, reading the above report, is that the EU member states don't need to be geniuses to figure out that something in the equation related to their US servitude, when it comes to US foreign and military policies, has not only been a complete failure, but also a financial drain on their budgets. Europe, and specially the EU needs to seriously start thinking about developing its own more independent foreign policy and stop supporting US military adventures whereever they may occur.  

Read more: The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War

The US Presidential Debates: America's number one reality show for 2016

The presidential election race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton features plenty of B.S., renowned philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt tells DW in an interview. That it has become so commonplace in political discourse is a bad sign.

All politicians are in the business of manipulating opinions and attitudes. Hence, all politicians characteristically submit to the temptation to B.S. This applies both to Trump and to Clinton. However, Trump and Clinton differ in the degrees to which they indulge in B.S. Trump engages in B.S. far more often than does Clinton. When he is not engaged in bull…….., moreover, he is quite commonly lying.

Clinton also lies, but not so much. Moreover, she is not indifferent to the fact that she is lying, as Trump most often is. When she is caught in a lie, she is generally embarrassed, or she tries to explain that it is not exactly a lie. When Trump is caught either in B.S. or in a lie, he is not at all embarrassed. He merely repeats the same B.S. or the same lie.

Read more: Expert: On B.S. Donald Trump bests Hillary Clinton | News | DW.COM | 26.09.2016

Spain: No change in Spain as regional polls fail to break political deadlock

The Basque Nationalist Party lead by Íñigo Urkullu came out on top as predicted in one of two regional polls held in Spain on Sunday with seats and results
.
The PNV is set to keep its majority in the regional government but will as before need to form a coalition to run the fiercely independent region.

It had been hoped that the elections would signal a clear path to avoid a third nationwide election in December, but it seems little has changed.

In Galicia the conservative People’s party retained its absolute majority, lead by regional president Alberto Núñez Feijóo.

In both ballots the Socialists lost seats ceding votes to anti-austerity newcomer Podemos.

With no obvious sign of movement in the regions Spain which has been in the hands of a caretaker national government since last December, looks headed for an unprecedented third general election in just over a year.

Read more: No change in Spain as regional polls fail to break political deadlock

EU Economy: Eurozone resilient despite Brexit vote says ECB's Draghi

The eurozone economy is coping well with global uncertainty – including Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – according to the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi.
So far, he said, it “has been resilient”.

He also told the European Parliament in Brussels that the UK should only be given access to the EU single-market if it follows EU rules over the free movement of labour, capital, goods, and services:

“Regardless of the type of relationship that emerges between the European Union and the United Kingdom, it is of utmost importance that the integrity of the single market is respected. Any outcome should ensure that all participants are subject to the same rules.”

Read more: Eurozone resilient despite Brexit vote says ECB's Draghi

9/25/16

Polish population reject right wing governmemt

Tens of thousands march against right-wing government in Poland Tens of thousands of protesters hit the streets of the Polish capital Warsaw Saturday to rally against moves by the rightwing Law and Justice government that they say undermine the rule of law.

For additional Info click here 

Corruption: A Worldwide disease

Unfortunately we keep voting in the same political crooks over and over .

9/24/16

Brexit: Britain in limbo about Brexit Article 50

Anti-Brexit group challenges UK government over Article 50 disclosure http://flip.it/TMMY_Q

Britain: Labour party re-elects Corbyn

Re-elected head of Britain's Labour Party, Corbyn calls for unity http://flip.it/gzlLlj

9/20/16

US Corporate Giants : EU must stop US Multi-Nationals exploiting European Taxation rules

Google and Apple should have limits, too, says Europe’s competition enforcer, Margrethe Vestager http://flip.it/NKCbJr

Real Estate: Need cash Sell Off Share in your home

The Company That’s Encouraging Americans to Sell Off Shares of Their Houses http://flip.it/_wDxb-

USA: Not too welcoming to refugees anymore

When America Was More Welcoming for Refugees http://flip.it/Z4jkCn

Hungary: They want the benefits of the EU but not the obligations

Hungary takes the hypocritical approach in their relationship with the EU. Take all, give nothing !

https://www.socialeurope.eu/2016/09/folk-devils-moral-panic-hungarys-referendum-mandatory-eu-migrant-quotas/

Red Cross: in dire need of accountability

Red Cross financial reporting not adding up.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7511080

9/18/16

Terrorists: There is no Islamic State and ISES has nothing to do with Islam

The Press, controlled mainly by Corporate and Jewish interests keeps refering to an Islamic State or ISIS, as they like to call these derelict group of ruthless murderers and killers.

The last thing, however, they are, is  a state or Islamic.

Why not call them what they really are?

They are mentally deranged killers, who are just plain "crepules" as the French call them.

EU-Digest

Middle East: Syrian Peace deal in jeopardy after US bombs Syrian Army

Moscow slams US for bombing Syrian army http://dw.com/p/1K4R3

GERMANY: Socialists SPD win big in Berlin

Social Democrats receive most votes in Berlin election, populist AfD enters state assembly http://dw.com/p/1K4W5

9/17/16

Germany: Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest opens to heightened security http://dw.com/p/1K42Y

9/15/16

US-Israeli military arms deal provides 15-20 percent of Israels Military budget

The United States military aid to Israel amounts to a whopping 15 - 20 percent of Israel's annual military budget. Despite US largesse, a powerful political lobby in Washington enables Israeli intransigence.

Israel is procuring all kinds of arms from the United States, but most important for Israel has been the advanced combat aircraft, the F-15 and the F-16. And also very important now, the new F-35, the most advanced combat aircraft the US is willing to export to anyone. That is really significant for Israel because those weapons are often equipped with subsystems coming from the Israeli arms industry itself, such as the bombs and missiles. Those platforms are used to reach deep into the territory of an enemy. That is part of the core of Israeli military potential.

The Obama administration’s announcement that the US and Israel have agreed on a record new package of at least $38 billion in US military aid over a 10 year period is an effort to appease the US arms industry, according to an American writer and researcher who is based in Washington, DC.

Walt Peretto made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday, a day after the Reuters news agency reported that the 10-year pact between Washington and Tel Aviv is expected to be signed within days.

The deal will represent the biggest pledge of US military assistance ever made to any foreign party, American and Israeli officials told Reuters.

EU-Digest

9/14/16

TTIP:EU-US Trade Negotiations - "EU beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing” - Why the Rush? - by Stephan Richter

Long before the term “transatlantic” became fashionable on the global stage, from 1984 onward I started and chaired the TransAtlantic Futures Forum, a Washington-based discussion forum that convened well over 150 times.

And yet, it is precisely my more than three decades’ worth of living and working experience in the U.S. capital that tells me that Europe should resist the rush-cum-charm-offensive currently laid on by the Obama Administration.

Against ever longer odds, it still wants to get a deal over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) done over the next few months.

As a European, I have the distinct feeling that I have seen this movie before. Remember the disastrous Iraq invasion which supposedly could not wait for another day?

The German and the French governments at the time were very smart and courageous to counsel against the headlong rush into what everybody now recognizes has indeed turned out to be a mega-calamity.

Therefore, a good rule of thumb is this: Whenever the U.S. government is keen to rush the political calendar, be extra careful.

What about the argument raised by TTIP advocates that the world economy is very brittle – and urgently needs a boost? And that such a boost can be delivered via the TTIP?

That certainly sounds very compelling – until you look at the actual numbers. The presumed benefits resulting from a deal, measured in terms of their contribution to U.S., European or global GDP, are much smaller than often advertised.

Moreover, the impression the public is deliberately left with is that the deal would produce economic growth of the stated GDP range each year upon taking effect.

In reality, the projected growth impact would materialize, like a trickle, only over time, and even then probably not for at least another decade.

This is no real surprise. After more than six decades of ever more intense cooperation, the transatlantic trade and investment relationship is already very deep. Any further progress, by definition, must be quite marginal.

As the current legal troubles of two of today’s foremost U.S. corporate icons underscore, U.S. corporations have very little appreciation of the customs of the European market and of European societies.

All these titans of American business actually care about is to take the money they can milk out of European consumers – and run.

Forget all the silly recitations about chickens etc. with which TTIP’s faithful boosters try to belittle European citizens’ very legitimate concerns. The ruthless and callously selfish stance of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon speak clear enough a language.

In the United States, the privacy rights of citizens, despite all the advertising and grand speechifying on that subject matter, count for very little.

The opposite is the case in Europe, largely due to the twin experiences of Nazism and Communism. Privacy matters a great deal there.

When Mark Zuckerberg wants it to be known that he truly, deeply cares about human relationships, you know you are in deep trouble. Let’s not forget that he founded Facebook because he couldn’t get a date.

These are not companies that care about Europe. What they care about is to carry a big stick – and swing it against anybody who dares to stand in their way.

That is hardly an enticement for any clear-headed European to make common cause with a corporatist democracy à la the United States where corporations, due to the inner workings of the campaign finance system, have the upper hand on all political matters.

Simply put, it is not credible for Europeans to sign a far-reaching transatlantic trade deal until these corporate issues are ironed out.

At this stage, and with the quite sad and disappointing track record the dominant U.S. corporations of our time have built up in Europe, it is a matter of confidence building, not of trusting.

Getting that confidence rebuilt will take a lot of effort – and hence time.

In short, Europeans would be well-advised to take certain actions when true goodwill has been established and when the evidence is in, but not before.

Read more: TTIP: Why the Rush? - The Globali

Global Corporate Takeover: 10 biggest corporations make more money than most countries in the world combined

 69 of top 100 economic entities are corporations not countries

Walmart, Apple, Shell richer than Russia, Belgium, Sweden, and the Netherlands

British government told: stop supporting your corporations, support your people

Corporations have increased their wealth vis-à-vis countries according to new figures released by Global Justice Now.

The campaign group found that 69 of the world’s top economic entities are corporations rather than countries in 2015*. They also discovered that the world’s top 10 corporations – a list that includes Walmart, Shell and Apple – have a combined revenue of more than the 180 ‘poorest’ countries combined in the list which include Ireland, Indonesia, Israel, Colombia, Greece, South Africa, Iraq and Vietnam.  

The figures are worse than last year, when 63 of the top economic entities were corporations. When looking at the top 200 economic entities, the figures are even more extreme, with 153 being corporations.

Global Justice Now released the figures in order to increase pressure on the British government ahead of a UN working group, led by Ecuador, established to draw up a binding treaty to ensure transnational corporations abide by the full range of human rights responsibilities. Campaigners are calling for the treaty to be legally enforceable at a national and global level. Britain doesn’t support the process, and has repeatedly vetoed and opposed such proposal in the past.  

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:

“The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world’s problems – like inequality and climate change. The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. These figures show the problem is getting worse.

“The UK government has facilitated this rise in corporate power – through tax structures, trade deals and even aid programmes that help big business. Their wholehearted support for the US-EU trade deal TTIP, is just the latest example of government help to big business. Disgracefully it also routinely opposes the call of developing countries to hold corporations to account for their human rights impacts at the UN. That’s why today we’re joining campaigns from across the world to tell the British government to stop blocking this international demand for justice.”

Read more: 10 biggest corporations make more money than most countries in the world combined | Global Justice Now

Britain: Also a NATION of have-nots - by Sofia Lotto Persio

The  richest 1 per cent of Britain’s population owns almost more than 20 times the total wealth of the poorest fifth, according to a shocking new report by Oxfam.

The charity’s findings show that around 634,000 of the wealthiest people are worth 20 times as much as the poorest 13 million — making Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

It also revealed that over half of the country’s wealth is concentrated in the richest 10 per cent of the population, while the poorest 20 per cent shares barely 0.8 per cent of Britain’s wealth between them.

Oxfam UK programme head Rachael Orr said: “The UK is one of the richest countries in the world, but it’s a nation divided into the haves and have-nots. While executive pay soars, one in five people live below the poverty line and struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table.”

The charity has put forward a four-point plan to shake-up corporate culture and stamp out inequality, including giving employees greater representation on company boards and ending tax avoidance and closing British-linked tax havens.

It has also suggested that the most highly paid person at a firm earn no more than 20 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker to help narrow the wage gap.

“Addressing the practices of unscrupulous business needs to be a central part of the government’s plans to even up the economy,” said Ms Orr.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady welcomed the report recommendations.

“There’s widespread support now for elected worker seats on company boards, including from the Prime Minister,” she said.

“It would make sure boardrooms focus on long-term success, which would encourage companies to invest in their staff and help working people to get fairer pay deals. It’s the right thing to do, so let’s make it happen.”Corporations’ role in amassing vast amounts of wealth was highlighted in a Global Justice Now study released yesterday, showing that corporations make up 69 per cent of the world’s 100 richest entities. US transnational retailer Walmart is worth more than Spain, Australia and the Netherlands.

Three Chinese state-owned companies — State Grid, China Petroleum and Sinopec Group — are bigger than the economy of South Korea.

In 2000, corporations already represented 51 per cent of the world’s top economic entities and this trend has increased relentlessly throughout the years.

Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said the British government has facilitated the rise in corporate power through tax structures, trade deals and even aid programmes that help big business.
“The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world’s problems,” he said.

“The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. These figures show the problem is getting worse.”

Read more: Morning Star :: Britain: a NATION of have-nots | The Peoples Daily

Corporate Power: Corporations Running the World Used To Be Science Fiction - Now It's a Reality. - by Aisha Dodwell

Imagine a world in which all of the main functions of society are run for-profit by private companies. Schools are run by multinationals. Private security firms have replaced police forces. And most big infrastructure lies in the hands of a tiny plutocratic elite. Justice, such as it is, is meted out by shady corporate tribunals only accessible to the rich, who can easily escape the reach of limited national judicial systems. The poor, on the other hand, have almost no recourse against the mighty will of the remote corporate elite as they are chased off their land and forced into further penury.

This sounds like a piece of dystopian science fiction. But it’s not. It’s very close to the reality in which we live. The power of corporations has reached a level never before seen in human history, often dwarfing the power of states.

"The problem of unrestrained corporate power is massive, and it requires a massive solution."

Today, of the 100 wealthiest economic entities in the world, 69 are now corporations and only 31 countries*. This is up from 63 to 37 a year ago. At this rate, within a generation we will be living in a world entirely dominated by giant corporations.As multinationals increasingly dominate areas traditionally considered the primary domain of the state, we should be afraid. While they privatise everything from education and health to border controls and prisons, they stash their profits away in secret offshore accounts. And while they have unrivalled access to decision makers they avoid democratic processes by setting up secret courts enabling them to bypass all judicial systems applicable to people. Meanwhile their raison d’etre of perpetual growth in a finite world is causing environmental destruction and driving climate change. From Sports Direct’s slave-like working conditions to BP’s oil spill devastating people’s homes, stories of corporations violating rights are all too often seen in our daily papers.    

Yet the power of corporations is so great within our society that they have undermined the idea that there is any other way to run society. We are all too familiar with hearing about the threat of ‘losing corporate investment’ or companies ‘taking their business somewhere else’ as if the government’s number one task is to attract corporate investment.

It is this corporate agenda that permeates the governing institutions of the global economy, like the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund, whose policies and operations have given more importance to the ‘rights’ of big business than the rights and needs of people and the environment.

The problem of unrestrained corporate power is massive, and it requires a massive solution. That is why today Global Justice Now is launching a petition to the UK government demanding that it backs the new UN initiative for a legally binding global treaty on transnational corporations and human rights.

This UN treaty is the result of campaigning by countries from across the global south for international laws to regulate the activities of TNCs. In June 2014 they successfully got a resolution passed in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) establishing the need for such a treaty.

A working group of member states has been set up to take the treaty forward, chaired by Ecuador, they have met once already in 2015, and have the next meeting scheduled for October 2016 to discuss the scope and content of the treaty. Meanwhile, civil society groups from across the world have come together and formed the Treaty Alliance movement which aims to make sure the treaty comes in to being with truly meaningful content.

Although it may sound like a boring technical process, this treaty is something we should be excited about because it provides a huge opportunity in the fight to restrain corporate power. It has massive potential to withdraw the privileges that corporations have gained over recent decades and force them to comply with international human rights law, international labour law and international environmental standards. It would oblige governments to take the power of corporations seriously, and hold them to account for the power they wield. This would standardise how different governments relate to multinationals which means that rather than allowing them to play countries off against one another in a race to the bottom, it would force minimum standards.

But the UK government, well known for its cosy relationship with corporations, has so far refused to take part in this UN treaty. And the UK are not alone, most other EU countries are also opposed to the treaty.

We need to make sure our government doesn’t pass up on this rare opportunity to provide genuine protection for the victims of human rights abuses committed by multinational corporations and place binding obligations on all governments to hold their corporations to account for their impacts on people and the planet.

That’s why groups across the continent are joining forces to make sure their leaders participate in the Geneva talks this October. The petition launched today, urging governments across Europe to participate in the Geneva talks will be delivered to national and EU leaders on October 12th.

Of course, the battle against corporate power has many fronts and the UN treaty is only one part of it. At the same time, we need to continue to develop alternative ways to produce and distribute the goods and services we need. We need to undermine the notion that only massive corporations can make the economy and society ‘work’. Food sovereignty and energy democracy are just two examples of how it is possible to build an economy without corporations. But as long as corporations do play a role in our economy, we need to find ways to control their activity and prevent abuses. This is why we need to fight for this UN treaty.

The alternative is that we continue to rush towards the dystopian vision of unchallenged corporate power. We cannot allow this to happen. We must fight back.                

Read more: Corporations Running the World Used To Be Science Fiction - Now It's a Reality. | Common Dreams | Breaking News

9/13/16

European Economy: The Euro: Why Joseph Stiglitz Is Wrong - by Hermance Triay

Joseph Stiglitz, American economist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, has come out with a new book, The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe. In recent weeks Stiglitz has appeared in several features in the press, advocating «a smooth exit» from the euro. Still, he expects «the end of the single currency does not mean the end of the European project.» That position, however, betrays a deep misapprehension of the realities of Europe.

Like most American economists, who hold strongly to the theory of «optimum currency areas», Joseph Stiglitz has been sharply critical of the single currency project from the outset, back in the 1990s. The idea of optimum currency areas was first explored in the early 1960s by Canadian Robert Mundell, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1999 for his studies. For an area to have an interest in adopting a single currency, Mundell wrote, it had to meet a number of preconditions: high mobility of factors of production (capital and labour), predominance of symmetric shocks (concordance of business cycles among countries), significant fiscal transfers, and homogenous collective preferences among the citizens of that area.

In many ways, the future eurozone did not meet these requirements. But, as often happens with theoretical approaches, no area will probably ever meet all of such criteria: an «optimum currency area» can, in practice, hardly ever be anything other than an area that has already had a single currency for several decades.

Robert Mundell himself, incidentally, has never considered that his theories actually implied that a single European currency is impossible or undesirable. He has actively supported the single currency project, with which he has been regularly associated since the 1970s, although he has also often cricitised the positions defended by German politicians in the pursuit of it.

Joseph Stiglitz, American economist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, has come out with a new book, The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe. In recent weeks Stiglitz has appeared in several features in the press, advocating «a smooth exit» from the euro. Still, he expects «the end of the single currency does not mean the end of the European project.» That position, however, betrays a deep misapprehension of the realities of Europe.

Like most American economists, who hold strongly to the theory of «optimum currency areas», Joseph Stiglitz has been sharply critical of the single currency project from the outset, back in the 1990s. The idea of optimum currency areas was first explored in the early 1960s by Canadian Robert Mundell, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1999 for his studies. For an area to have an interest in adopting a single currency, Mundell wrote, it had to meet a number of preconditions: high mobility of factors of production (capital and labour), predominance of symmetric shocks (concordance of business cycles among countries), significant fiscal transfers, and homogenous collective preferences among the citizens of that area.

In many ways, the future eurozone did not meet these requirements. But, as often happens with theoretical approaches, no area will probably ever meet all of such criteria: an «optimum currency area» can, in practice, hardly ever be anything other than an area that has already had a single currency for several decades.

Robert Mundell himself, incidentally, has never considered that his theories actually implied that a single European currency is impossible or undesirable. He has actively supported the single currency project, with which he has been regularly associated since the 1970s, although he has also often cricitised the positions defended by German politicians in the pursuit of it.

Read more: The Euro: Why Joseph Stiglitz Is Wrong

US Security: Confidence About America’s Safety From Terrorism Remains Low

Americans continue to question the country’s safety from terrorism and are skeptical of the government’s ability to prevent domestic terror attacks in the future.

A new Full Measure News/Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that only 27% of American Adults believe the United States is safer today than it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, down just one point from June, which was the lowest level measured in regular tracking since 2006.  Fifty-five percent (55%) do not think the country is safer today, while a sizable 18% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Forty-seven percent (47%) are at least somewhat confident that the U.S. government can protect its citizens from future domestic terrorist attacks, but 50% are not. This includes 11% who are Very Confident and 19% who are Not At All Confident.

Separate surveying finds that 52% of voters think the federal government does not focus enough on the threat of domestic Islamic terrorism.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 3-5, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports and Full Measure News. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting in June, most voters said the government won't be able to stop further terrorist attacks on the homeland.

Only 19% of Americans think the bigger threat to this country now is an attack from terrorists outside the country, while most (68%) say a domestic terrorist attack is the bigger threat.

Democrats are far more confident than Republicans and voters not affiliated with either political party are that the government can prevent domestic terrorism and that the United States is safer today than it was before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Among those who are likely to vote, 28% say the country is safer today since before the 9/11 attacks, compared to 19% who are unlikely to vote. Likely Voters also tend to be more confident in the ability of the government to prevent domestic terrorist attacks.

Adults under 40 are slightly more confident than their elders are about the government’s ability to prevent future terror attacks.

Read more: Confidence About America’s Safety From Terrorism Remains Low - Rasmussen Reports™

9/12/16

USA - boomers see the American Dream slipping away - Matt Viser

Some 965 high school graduates paraded into the high school stadium, surrounded by lush green trees and proud parents and the trill of an organ playing a celebratory theme.

For the class of 1976, the future was as bright as their golden gowns.

One speaker told them they had “almost unlimited opportunities.” Sure, it’s a cliche uttered at countless graduation speeches. But in a country celebrating its bicentennial, and in a town that seemed still in its heyday, it certainly felt that way.

People here are approaching their golden years with a sense of bitterness about the new, unforgiving economy and foreboding about what they will have to show for this life. Something their parents could count on — a comfortable retirement, debt-free and maybe in a warmer place — seems out of the question to many who say they see themselves scratching out a living until they are buried in the cemetery on the hillside near Connoquenessing Creek.

Read more: In Pa., boomers see the American Dream slipping away - The Boston Globe

9/11/16

US Economy: Big Business Is Killing Innovation in the U.S. -

Botanists define a rheophyte as an aquatic plant that thrives in swift-moving water. Coming from the Greek word rhéos, meaning a flow or stream, the term describes plants with wide roots and flexible stalks, well adapted to strong currents rather than a pond’s or pasture’s stillness. For most of the 20th century, U.S. lawmakers worked to maintain just these sorts of conditions for the U.S. economy—a dynamic system, briskly flowing, that forced firms to adapt to the unpredictable currents of the free market or be washed away.

In the past few decades, however, the economy has come to resemble something more like a stagnant pool. Entrepreneurship, as measured by the rate of new-business formation, has declined in each decade since the 1970s, and adults under 35 (a?k?a Millennials) are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation on record.

This decline in dynamism has coincided with the rise of extraordinarily large and profitable firms that look discomfortingly like the monopolies and oligopolies of the 19th century. American strip malls and yellow pages used to brim with new small businesses. But today, in a lot where several mom-and-pop shops might once have opened, Walmart spawns another superstore. In almost every sector of the economy—including manufacturing, construction, retail, and the entire service sector—the big companies are getting bigger.

In the US the share of all businesses that are new firms, meanwhile, has fallen by 50 percent since 1978. According to the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank dedicated to advancing the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, “markets are now more concentrated and less competitive than at any point since the Gilded Age.”

Read more: Big Business Is Killing Innovation in the U.S. - The Atlantic

Turkey removes 24 mayors over links to Kurdish rebels

The Turkish government has dismissed 24 local mayors over alleged ties to Kurdish militants. The crackdown comes as President Erdogan pushes ahead with a purge of opposition supporters following a failed coup. 

Read more: Turkey removes 24 mayors over links to Kurdish rebels | News | DW.COM | 11.09.2016

Earthquakes Europe: Series of quakes hit Macedonia capital causing panic

 A moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two and followed by several tremors, struck the Macedonian capital Skopje on Sunday, causing panic but only minor damage, officials said.

Skopje was almost destroyed by a powerful quake in 1963 which killed around a thousand people.

Sunday's quake hit at 3:10 pm (1310 GMT), with the epicentre in the Skopje area, seismologists said, adding some 10 weaker tremors were later registered.

"In Skopje and surroundings some damages have been reported that occurred on older buildings," the country's seismological service said in a statement.

The quake was felt throughout the Balkan country, Dragana Cernic of the seismological service said earlier citing reports on minor damage, such as cracked walls and broken furniture.

However, some 60 panicked Skopje residents sought hospital treatment, some suffering broken limbs while trying to flee.

All but three were later discharged, hospital officials said.

Parts of Skopje were without power and some mobile phone providers were down.

Many residents said they were terrified.

Read more: Flash - Series of quakes hit Macedonia capital causing panic - France 24

9/10/16

Britain: Confessions of a Brexist - by David Yearsley

It’s my first trip back to Britain—or England as I now make a point of calling this parcel of the disunited island kingdom—since 2015 and since the Brexit vote of this past June.

As the early results filtered in from Sunderland on that fateful summer day and as tremors rippled through the world’s financial markets, I was monitoring the situation from Houston. Continually I sneak-peeked at my recently inherited iPhone, although it was rude and wrong to do so. But I couldn’t help myself: I was at an organ concert introduced by a weightless astronaut on a big screen rising above the altar of gothic church made mostly of plastic. The orbital emcee was floating inside the international space station, strewing good tidings from above, even from God himself. Apparently our astronaut had no idea that God was at that moment otherwise occupied in letting his wrecking ball fall on the Tower of Babel that is—or was—the European Union.

Later that night, as the final tally became ever clearer and the cause of the “Remainers” had been declared statistically lost, I surveyed the sprawl of Houston from the infinity pool atop the downtown Hilton and tried to imagine how sweet a Texit would be. Since the days of Sam Houston there’s been a powerful separatist strain in the Lone Star state. Here’s hoping that the Brits bold example will fuel renewed secessionist impulses!

If you want to see it, the aftermath of June’s demolition job can be seen everywhere London. In the aftermath of the referendum, the failing infrastructure and dire outlook that have been endemic to post-colonial Britain can readily be chalked-up to Brexit.

On my arrival yesterday morning there was switching failure on the track for the Heathrow Express that is supposed to get you in from the airport to London’s Paddington Station in fifteen minutes. The journey took three times as long. No refunds were offered for the outrageously overpriced tickets for a service predicated on avoiding just this kind of teeth-grinding delay. Clearly a portent of the post-Brexit future.

After leaving Paddington, I made a brisk walk down the Marylebone Road towards the British Library for some off-the-plane commando-style research. My forced march was interrupted a block or two beyond Madame Tussaud’s and the Royal Academy of Music by a dark-suited, ear-pieced guy, who stopped my progress and informed me that the sidewalk was closed. He directed me around the block because panes of glass had been falling from the gleaming glass tower he motioned to above his head. Here’s betting that these flying windows were kicked out by the fleeing rats of the financial services industry—driven out and downsized by Brexit, of course!

Thus detoured, I arrived still later at the plaza leading down into the entrance of the British Library. I couldn’t help but notice that steps were worn, the no-slip safety strips peeled from the stone: Brexit! Many lockers in the basement were broken: Brexit! Inside the Music and Rare Books Reading Room the numbers in the brass panels at the back of each sumptuous, pig-skinned fitted reader’s desk no longer lights up magically when the materials you’ve ordered are ready for pick up. Now you’ve got to wait 70 minutes and inquire yourself about the status of your orders. What inefficient, inelegant indignities! Brexit, again!

And then there’s the worn carpet: not likely to get a redo any time soon, especially when it’s all those foreigners who are tramping their foreign boots on British carpetdom.

Happily, the staff remains buoyant and helpful in the face of cuts and all these post-Brexit blues. After renewing my lapsed library card—still at no cost!—I smiled gratefully at the clerk who was helping me. “I love the British Library!” I cheered. He laughed ruefully. “Gotta be wary of these overenthusiastic Americans,” I admitted. “Better than the bloody Brits,” he replied.

The sheet music I examine from the library’s holding’s are bound volumes of Bach prints from around 1900. Now there’s the European spirit: the Brits of yore just kept on loving the great German even through two world wars fought against them. But then again the Brits have a German royal family and boasted the most vigorous Bach cult in the world from the beginning of the nineteenth century. Even Bach couldn’t haved stopped the Brexit.

Blasting out into the bright of an 80 degree September afternoon—Brexit squirts lighter fluid on the barbecue coals of Climate Change—I made my way into the outlandish Victorian-Gothic castle that is St. Pancras’s station. From the announcement speakers a litany of delays and closures of services and stations beat down on throngs heading to the various underground lines. More Brexit grit on the subway rails!

Fighting my way through this underground morass I emerged into the pergola-ed light of Victoria station. After getting my ticket—no credit cards accepted at the ticket machines, clearly another bit of Brexit wagon-circling—I stared for a long time up at the big board of departures and arrivals. I simply couldn’t find the name of my destination Pulborough in West Sussex. The announcement soon came: Industrial Action in the South of England. What with pensions halved by the referendum and worker’s rights under assault it’s no wonder that during this hot end of summer one can’t help but think of the Winter of Discontent. A recent study to be read in yesterday’s papers showed that many in Britain will have to postpone retirement till their mid-eighties if they hope to get by.

Eventually, I devised a way to get to my mother-in-law’s Sussex village. As the train exited the post-industrial, post-Brexit gloom of London and began to make its way through the countryside, the conductor came through the carriage. I asked him about the reasons for the strike. It seems that the station guards in this privatized patch of the former national rail system want to retain their duty of signaling to the driver that the train is safe to leave the station. The company—called Southern—claims that this old-fashioned practice is no longer necessary and its elimination will lead to cost-savings. Naturally, the union sees this “efficiency” as a prelude to laying-off more workers.

“It’s an odd strike,” I opined. “If there’s one thing the Brits are good at doing on their own these days, it’s shutting the door.”

Read more: Confessions of a Brexist

9/9/16

Middle East: US, Russia seal Syria cease-fire, new military partnership - by B.Kapper and J. Keaten

The United States and Russia announced early Saturday a breakthrough agreement on Syria that foresees a nationwide cease-fire starting early next week, followed by an unlikely new military partnership between the rival governments targeting the Islamic State and al-Qaida.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the plan could reduce violence in Syria and lead to a long-sought political transition, ending more than five years of bloodshed. He called the deal a potential "turning point" in a conflict that has killed as many as 500,000 people, if complied with by Syria's Russian-backed government and U.S.-supported rebel groups.

The cease-fire begins at sundown Monday, Kerry said, coinciding with the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

Kerry's negotiating partner, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, confirmed the agreement and said it could help expand the counterterrorism fight and aid deliveries to Syrian civilians. He said Syrian President Bashar Assad's government was prepared to comply.

The deal culminates months of frenetic diplomacy that included four meetings between Kerry and Lavrov since Aug. 26. The arrangement hinges on Moscow pressuring Assad's government to halt all offensive operations against Syria's armed opposition and civilian areas. Washington must persuade "moderate" rebels to break ranks with the Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syria affiliate, and other extremist groups.

Both sides have failed to deliver their ends of the bargain over several previous truces.

But the new arrangement goes further by promising a new U.S.-Russian counterterrorism alliance, only a year after President Barack Obama chastised Russia for a military intervention that U.S. officials said was mainly designed to keep Assad in power and target more moderate anti-Assad forces.

The deal includes intelligence sharing and targeting coordination, a level of U.S.-Russian interaction that has upset several leading national security officials in Washington, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper. The joint military work would only begin after several days of adherence to the new cease-fire.

Kerry appeared at the news conference after several hours of internal U.S. discussions.

At one point, Lavrov said he was considering "calling it a day" on talks, expressing frustration with what he described as an hours-long wait for a U.S. response. He then presented journalists with several boxes of pizza, saying, "This is from the U.S. delegation," and two bottles of vodka, adding, "This is from the Russian delegation."

The Geneva negotiating session, which last more than 13 hours, underscored the complexity of a conflict that includes myriad militant groups, shifting alliances and the rival interests of the U.S. and Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Turkey and the Kurds.

Note EU-Digest: Finally a step in the right direction - and coincidence or not, this military cooperation between the US and Russia in fighting terrorism was already suggested earlier this week by US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump in his "US foreign Policy Speech". 

Read more: US, Russia seal Syria cease-fire, new military partnership

9/8/16

The Netherlands: Dutch MP snubs Netanyahu, refuses to shake Israeli PM’s hand (VIDEO)

A Dutch politician has refused to shake the outstretched hand of Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on a visit to the Netherlands.

The awkward moment captured on camera shows Tunahan Kuzu standing alongside other politicians as Netanyahu approaches, before Kuzu snubs the Israeli leader.

Netanyahu is then seen shrugging in response and moving away.

Kuzu, who is a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights, has since justified his actions on Facebook, “the red carpet is rolled out” for Netanyahu while the bloodshed of Gaza had been forgotten, in reference to Israel’s war in in the Gaza Strip two years ago.

Read More: Dutch MP snubs Netanyahu, refuses to shake Israeli PM’s hand (VIDEO) — RT News

Israel: Has Israel Effectively Colonized the United States?- by Badruddin Khan

We normally think of colonizers as large countries, and the colonized as smaller and weaker nations. But this is not always the case. Colonization does not require occupation. It merely requires the subjugation of the colonized. With ambition, superior information and calculation, and the right mindset, smaller nations can (and have in the past) colonized and dominated larger and nominally more powerful countries.

India was successfully colonized by tiny Britain in the 18th century. The vehicle for colonization was the East India Company. It was only after the Indian mutiny that Britain acted directly and sent in troops to establish the British Raj. For the next 200 years India was drained of its wealth, its economy was restructured to support England’s needs and global ambitions, and its people militarized to fight and die on behalf of the British crown. The Indian leaders who remained were willing participants in this venture; those who felt otherwise were destroyed or marginalized.

In a similar vein, Israel today is in the process of colonizing the United States, which is vital to its global projection and exercise of power. The steps Israel is taking are visible to all (as was the case with British designs on India) and yet it is remarkably difficult to connect the dots while such a takeover is in process. Or, to do anything about it.

It means total control of what matters. The British were interested in Indian wealth, and a standing army of Indians willing to die for their wars. They couldn’t care less about India’s internal petty politics that did not directly or indirectly impact their mission. An effective “divide and conquer” strategy pit Indians against each other and discouraged any kind of coordinated response, or sedition. The British leveraged their “outsider advantage” to objectively collect data with which to calculate and coordinate which Indian princes to support in battles, and which to connive with. Like pieces on a chessboard, Indian leaders exhausted themselves through internal battles, and were prevailed to seek cover provided by the British. Small amounts of leverage can change outcomes (as the Israeli lobby AIPAC has shown, in its path to dominating Congress and regional/local US politics), and over the years the British were able control and align India to the British crown. Less than 10,000 English controlled colonial India, which at that time had a population of 300 million.

It is instructive to note that while there were relatively few white Englishmen, a class of local “brown sahibs” was developed, to actually run things. This elite class was educated in English ways, and rewarded monetarily and through social stature. Britain was too small a country to ultimately matter by itself, but by leveraging India the English could pursue their global ambitions. India was the “Jewel in the (British) Crown”.

Today, Israel has effective control of US policy in the Mideast, and similar goals. Much has already been written about Israel’s control of Congress. Israel is now edging towards control over the US Executive Branch, with both presidential candidates supported by billionaires whose #1 agenda is Israel (Saban and Adelson). The Supreme Court will be one-third Jewish, and justices have community ties and families. As Israel demonstrated through its successful intimidation of Judge Goldstone, jurists are human and everyone has their price.

Israel’s “occupation force” in the US has long included AIPAC as well as the dense network of community organizations at the State and local levels. Through relationships that have been developed over years and with unlimited funds at their disposal, the “Israel Lobby” ensures that votes go the right way, and that opponents are squashed when Israel demands unity. In 2003 at the onset of George Bush’s Iraq war this occupation force was multiplied through the inclusion of Christian Zionists.

Critics of the Israel Lobby are marginalized by whatever means available, including being called anti-Semitic. The Lobby has been effective in securing massive aid packages for Israel even though Israel’s per-capita GDP exceeds that of several European nations. Israeli insiders permeate the US government, and it is US policy that there be “no light” between the countries so that where Israel is concerned there is no debate. Israel’s top priorities are the top priorities of the US. There are of course instances where this does not happen (such as, Iran) but the direction points to a tighter colonial noose in the years ahead.

Read more: Has Israel Effectively Colonized the United States?