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10/31/16

NATO has outlived it's purpose and it's present anti-Russian rhetoric and moves are dangerous

Provocative statements and  moves by NATO
 could lead to Nuclear war
Alan Kuperman, a Harvard academic, argued some time ago that NATO intervention in Libya extended the war by a factor of 6 and increased the death toll 7 to 10 times; given that Libya is now a failed state, torn apart by warlords, we can safely say that these estimates were too conservative.

President Obama has privately called the situation in Libya a “shit show”. Only last month a report from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament found that the humanitarian justification was an insufficient pretext and based on falsehoods, the supposedly limited intervention led “ineluctably” to regime change, and that the (British) government, and by implication other participating Western powers, did not seriously consider diplomatic alternatives to military action.

Twenty-seven years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO is back flexing its muscles as if nothing had changed since the days of the Soviet Union. Defense ministers from the enlarged, 28-member organization agreed recently to strengthen the alliance’s “forward presence” in Eastern Europe. If their new policy is endorsed at a summit in Poland this summer, NATO will begin deploying thousands of troops in Poland and the Baltic states, right up against Russia’s borders.

In other words, the Western alliance will redouble its military commitment to a Polish government whose right-wing, anti-Russian, and autocratic policies are so egregious that even the stanchly neo-conservative editorial page of the Washington Post saw fit to condemn the new leaders’ encroachments on democracy and the rule of law.

Most Americans are unaware that NATO’s policies, reaffirmed by the Obama administration, view nuclear weapons as a “core component” of the alliance’s capacity to repel even a conventional attack on one of its member states.

An accidental clash of forces, perhaps triggered by military exercises gone awry, could potentially lead NATO to use its nuclear weapons against Russian troops on Poland’s borders. Or, just as catastrophically, it could prompt Russian forces to attack NATO’s nuclear stockpiles preemptively.
Either scenario could trigger a much wider nuclear war.

The British television channel BBC Two explored such a scenario, involving Latvia, in a chilling “war game” film that aired earlier this month.

European countries, including, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Britain and France all have US stockpiles of Atomic bombs (totalling more than 200 bombs)  and would probably face immediate nuclear destruction  if a war broke out.

The EU Commission and Parliament don't seem to be aware, or at least do not openly comment about it, that this NATO sable rattling against Russia which has been initiated by the US and supported by most, if not all, Eastern European countries is not the appropriate way to carry out a productive dialog  with Russia.

It is not only bad policy, but worse, it could lead to nuclear war.

EU-Digest    

Nuclear Weapons ban: UN vote to negotiate a global nuclear weapons ban - by Rebecca Johnson

Over 71 years after atomic weapons flattened the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, leading to the development of over 50,000 nuclear weapons by ten nations, a majority of 123 UN Member states have voted to convene a multilateral UN conference in 2017 "to negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination."

Led by a broad cross section of nuclear free countries, including South Africa which eliminated its nuclear arsenal in 1991, their objective is to create a nuclear weapons prohibition regime under International Humanitarian Law.

Their intention is to accelerate the abolition of today's nuclear arsenals of over 15,000 weapons, reduce the proliferation-driving value attached to these weapons of mass destruction, prevent nuclear detonations and deter further modernization and proliferation.

Building on the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the new multilateral treaty will for the first time provide a comprehensive approach to prohibiting activities such as the use, deployment, production, transporting, stockpiling and financing of nuclear weapons.

It will also extend the NPT's nuclear disarmament obligation by creating a clear, unequivocal legal obligation to eliminate existing arsenals that will apply to non-NPT as well as all NPT states.

The UK was among 38 states that voted against negotiating such a treaty, though diplomats privately acknowledged that they were in a weak position to stop negotiations from going ahead. A further 16 governments decided to abstain.

Read more: Historic UN vote to negotiate a global nuclear weapons ban - The Ecologist

Middle East - Syria: Will a No-Fly Zone Help the People of Aleppo?

Media coverage has recently been saturated with distressing scenes showing the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, where aerial bombardment has led to a heavy loss of civilian life. The severity of the crisis instinctively makes us want to help – scores of protesters gathered outside the seat of the British prime minister on Saturday holding signs calling on the government to “Save Aleppo” and impose a “No-Bomb Zone Now”. While the anger is understandable, the way it is being channeled reflects a circumscribed policy debate – there are other options than a No-Fly Zone, which should be avoided as it would harm rather than help efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrian civilians.

In any area of policy, the mainstream debate revolves around policy alternatives that reflect establishment divisions. For example, in economics, ‘there is no alternative’ to neoliberalism, at least there wasn’t until Keynesianism was rediscovered by some elites after the 2008 crisis. The debate over what is to be done over Syria revolves around two policy alternatives: the hawks, including likely next U.S. president, Hillary Clinton, advocate a NFZ and the doves, including the current U.S. administration, maintain that the sanctions regime should be increased. This effectively reflects a division within the establishment on how to proceed. Serious policy alternatives are not discussed. In particular, discussion of increasing aid and support to refugees, surely the most obvious way of directly helping civilians in Syria, and what the UN has called on industrialized countries to do, is curious by its absence.

This circumscribed debate does not logically follow from its supposed pretext – stopping civilian loss of life. In fact, a NFZ is a policy that would unavoidably lead to civilians dying. Enforcing a NFZ means destroying air defenses, which are located to defend cities – i.e. they are located in areas where there are many civilians. Even the flagbearer for the hawks, Hillary Clinton, has admitted privately that with a No-Fly Zone “you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians”; such intervention will “take a lot of civilians”. This realization would seem inconsistent with the often-used humanitarian pretext, but it makes sense given Hillary Clinton’s recent admission that her top priority in Syria is removing Syrian President Assad.

There is a clear parallel with the imposition of a NFZ in Libya, which prolonged the conflict and worsened the situation for civilians. NATO bombing directly led to scores of civilian deaths and facilitated the overthrow of the regime by rebel militias that have killed, and are continuing to kill, thousands. Particularly repugnant was the ethnic cleansing of black people, including through public lynching. In a 2013 paper, Alan Kuperman, a Harvard academic, argued that NATO intervention extended the war by a factor of 6 and increased the death toll 7 to 10 times; given that Libya is now a failed state, torn apart by warlords, we can safely say that these estimates were too conservative. President Obama privately calls the situation in Libya a “shit show”. Only last month a report from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament found that the humanitarian justification was an insufficient pretext and based on falsehoods, the supposedly limited intervention led “ineluctably” to regime change, and that the (British) government, and by implication other participating Western powers, did not seriously consider diplomatic alternatives to military action.

Regardless, the mantra of Western foreign policy is “it will be different this time” – unlike all recent Western military interventions this one will be limited, successful and won’t leave a worse humanitarian situation in its wake. Although, if the dire humanitarian situation in Aleppo necessitates immediate action, then why are there not equally loud calls for action for civilians facing similar situations? U.S. bombing in Manbij and Kobane in Syria and Ramadi and Fallujah in Iraq has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and flattened entire neighbourhoods; more than a third of US and UK backed Saudi airstrikes in Yemen have hit civilian sites, including schools, hospitals, weddings and funerals.

The U.S. and its allies want to remove Syria from Russia’s orbit, so therefore the dictator there must go, but airstrikes to support the dictator in Yemen are fine, because the dictator there is a friend of close U.S. ally Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Will a No-Fly Zone Help the People of Aleppo?

US Presidential Elections: FBI gets search warrant to review e-mails belonging to Hillary Clinton aide’s Huma Abedin -- by Eric Tucker

The FBI has obtained a warrant to begin reviewing newly discovered e-mails that may be relevant to the Hillary Clinton e-mail server investigation, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Sunday.

FBI investigators want to review e-mails of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin that were found on a device seized during an unrelated sexting investigation of Anthony Weiner, a former New York congressman and Abedin’s estranged husband.

The official, who has knowledge of the examination, would not say when investigators might complete the review of Abedin’s e-mails but said they would move expeditiously.

The Clinton e-mail inquiry, which closed without charges in July, resurfaced on Friday when FBI Director James Comey alerted members of Congress to the existence of e-mails that he said could be pertinent to that investigation.

The FBI wants to review the e-mails to see if they contain classified information and were handled properly, the focus of the earlier Clinton inquiry.

Separately Sunday, another law enforcement official said FBI investigators in the Weiner sexting probe knew for weeks about the existence of the e-mails potentially related to the probe of Clinton’s server. A third law enforcement official also said the FBI was aware for a period of time about the e-mails before Comey was briefed, but wasn’t more specific.

In his letter that roiled the White House race, Comey said he’d been briefed on Thursday about the Abedin e-mails and had agreed that investigators should take steps to review them.

It was not immediately clear Sunday what steps investigators took once the e-mails were first found to fully advise FBI leaders that additional and potentially relevant messages had been discovered.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The timing of Comey’s letter less than two weeks before Election Day drew criticism from Democrats and some Republicans who cast it as unprecedented and as potentially tipping the scales in the presidential race in favor of Republican Donald Trump.

Energized by the news, the GOP presidential nominee has rallied his supporters, calling the latest developments worse than Watergate and arguing that his candidacy has the momentum in the final days of the race.

Read more: FBI gets search warrant to review e-mails belonging to Hillary Clinton aide’s Huma Abedin - The Boston Globe

10/30/16

Canada-EU Trade Deal: Trudeau says work is 'just beginning' on Canada-EU free trade deal - by Mike Blanchfield,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revelled in a long-awaited moment Sunday -- signing Canada's free trade deal with the European Union, but not before recognizing the challenges ahead to bring it fully into force.

Trudeau expressed hope that the so-called provisional application of the deal -- approval only by the Canadian and European parliaments but not Europe's 28 states and myriad regional governments -- might happen within months.

That, said Trudeau, would result in 98 per cent of the deal coming into force. That's much higher than the 90-per cent estimate that most European and Canadian officials have said would accompany provisional application of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement,

Trudeau had initially expected to sign the deal in Brussels days ago, but the restive Belgian region of Wallonia nearly killed it because its opposition to the pact's investor-state dispute settlement mechanism gave it a veto under Belgium's complicated constitution.

After seven arduous years of negotiation, Trudeau joined presidents of the European Council and European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, and signed the massive 1,600-page pact and its accompanying strategic partnership agreement.

The road to full ratification remains long. After Trudeau and his EU counterparts took a moment Sunday to revel in the milestone, the prime minister was willing to acknowledge it would take more than ceremony to fully ratify the deal.

"The work is only just beginning right now," Trudeau said.

"It's not just signing the accords, as difficult and important as that is. It's about the followup, that we continue to demonstrate and give tools to small and medium sized businesses."

Read moreL Trudeau says work is 'just beginning' on Canada-EU free trade deal | CTV News

The Netherlands: Dutch 'JFK' aims to thwart far-right's election hopes

Jesse. F.Klaver a bright and rising Dutch politician
Some refer to him as the Justin Trudeau of Dutch politics, to others there are echoes of a young John F Kennedy.

But Green party leader Jesse Klaver is on a mission to put his own stamp on the Dutch political landscape as an antidote to rising right-wing xenophobia ahead of next year's elections.

As the only child of an absentee father of Moroccan descent and a Dutch-Indonesian mother, Mr Klaver, 30, knows what it's like to grow up in The Netherlands as an outsider.

The Dutch parliament's youngest ever party leader, Mr Klaver was raised mainly by his grandparents in social housing, in a sprawling flatlands suburb of the southern city of Roosendaal.

Unlike "what certain politicians will lead you to believe, The Netherlands is an immigrant country," Mr Klaver told AFP referring to his political arch-foe, Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders.

"I am a product of that immigration," added the curly-haired, olive-skinned Klaver, who took over the party helm last year.

His campaign for the March 2017 polls will focus on stopping what Mr Klaver calls "the right-wing wind that's blowing through all of Europe".

Immigration is just one of the many topics on which he and Wilders - his adversary with the blonde-bouffant hair - frequently cross swords in the parliament's lower house in The Hague.

Next week, Mr Wilders goes on trial on charges of hate speech and discrimination for having said at a campaign rally a few years ago that he wants "fewer Moroccans" in the country.

So it's no surprise perhaps that Mr Klaver says: "I am completely, and on all aspects, in disagreement with Geert Wilders".

Mr Klaver first rose to prominence in 2009 when he was elected at only 23 to become the youngest-ever member of the influential Social and Economical Council of The Netherlands, which advises government and parliament on key policy.

Six years later, he was elected unopposed as the leader of GroenLinks (the Green-Left party), which has been haemorrhaging voters since a disastrous 2012 campaign in the previous elections.

From garnering only four seats in that vote, the latest opinion polls from the Dutch Peilingwijzer website show the party could now capture between 11 and 15 seats.

"The 'new kid on the block' has given the party new energy," the NRC Handelsblad daily wrote recently.

With Wilders's Freedom Party (PVV) and the Liberals (VVD) of Prime Minister Mark Rutte running neck-and-neck in the polls at around 25-29 seats, the young Klaver could well emerge in a "kingmaker" role in next year's elections.

He has already called for closer cooperation between Dutch leftwing parties like Labour, the progressive D66 and the Socialist Party, seeking to form a powerful bloc against any potential government led by Mr Rutte's Liberals, who will need a majority coalition to reign in the 150-seat house.

"I want my country back," says Mr Klaver.

Often compared to Canada's liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to whom Mr Klaver bears a striking resemblance, the young Dutch politician himself names John F Kennedy as his biggest inspiration.

Even his full name, "Jesse Feras Klaver" echoes the initials of the famous US president, who was shot dead in Dallas in 1963.

Kennedy "was a man who said you should stand by your norms and principles," said Mr Klaver, who has several pictures of a youthful Kennedy on his walls alongside those of his own wife and two young sons.

He subscribes to many of the ideas of celebrated French economist Thomas Piketty - the author of an unlikely bestseller on capitalism - including that globalisation has created an unequal society and an unequal concentration of wealth. And he was behind an invitation to Piketty to address the Dutch parliament in 2014.

"We need to make Europe work for everybody, not just for a small group of rich people who have been lucky and are just getting richer," Mr Klaver said.

And he is reminded every morning of his mission as he clasps his coffee mug, engraved with JFK's words: "One person can make a difference, and everyone should try".

Read more: Dutch 'JFK' aims to thwart far-right's election hopes, Government & Economy - THE BUSINESS TIMES

Turkey fires thousands more civil servants, shuts media outlets

Crackdown or Erdogan dictatorship?
Turkey said it had dismissed a further 10,000 civil servants and closed 15 more media outlets over suspected links with terrorist organisations and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed coup in July.

More than 100,000 people had already been sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested since the failed coup, in an unprecedented crackdown the government says is necessary to root out all supporters of Gulen from the state apparatus.

Thousands more academics, teachers, health workers, prison guards and forensics experts were among the latest to be removed from their posts through two new executive decrees published on the Official Gazette late on Saturday.

Opposition parties described the move as a coup in itself. The continued crackdown has also raised concerns over the functioning of state.

Read more: Turkey fires thousands more civil servants, shuts media outlets - France 24

10/29/16

Middle East: Obama’s Syria Policy: The Illusion of US Power in the Middle East - by Gareth Porter

US Middle East Policies influenced by Qatar, Saudi-Arabia and Turkey


The cost of letting US policy be determined primarily by the ambitions of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, unfortunately, has been total disaster and led to a great loss of lives of innocent people in the Middle East in addition to an exodus of refugees direction EU.

The United States has also been complicit in the Sunni project of using the jihadists and salafists to maximise the pressure for the overthrow of the Syrian regime.

Not a shred of evidence has ever surfaced suggesting that the US has done anything to pressure its allies to cut off the channels of arms that were strengthening the al-Qaeda-linked militant group, al-Nusra Front.

For almost a year, the Obama Administration relied on cooperation with the Russians as its primary political-diplomatic strategy for managing the conflict, producing two ceasefires that ultimately failed.

The fate of those two ceasefires has revealed more fully the illusory nature of the "great power" role the US has pretended to play this past year.

Kerry committed the United States to two ceasefire agreements based on the premise that the United States could separate the armed groups that the CIA had armed and trained from the Nusra Front-led military command.

The reality was that the United States had no real power over those groups because they were more heavily dependent on their jihadist allies than on the United States for their continued viability.

But underlying that failure is a much larger reality. It is that the Obama administration has allowed its policy in Syria to be determined primarily by the ambitions of its Sunni allies to overthrow Assad.

The administration has claimed that it never favored the destruction of Syrian institutions, but that claim is contradicted by its acquiescence in the Sunni allies’ support of Nusra Front.

The United States complicity in the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Syrian War, and now in the massive civilian casualties in the Russian bombing of Aleppo, does not just consist in its refusal to go to war in Syria.

Rather, it is because the US provided the political-diplomatic cover for the buildup of the al-Nusra Front and its larger interlocking system of military commands.

A U.S. administration that played a true superpower role would have told its allies not to start a war in Syria by arming jihadists, using the fundamentals of the alliance as the leverage.

But that would have meant threatening to end the alliance itself if necessary – something no U.S. administration is willing to do.

Hence the paradox of U.S. power in the Middle East: In order to play the role of hegemon in the region, with all those military bases, the United States must allow itself to be manipulated by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, its weaker completely undemocratic allies.

This, unfortunately, is a recipe for disaster, and will certainly lead to the demise of the US status as a responsible and respected super power. 

Note EU-Digest: In the same breath, the European NATO partners of the US have also shown to have very little backbone by continuing to support, without question, this totally failed US Middle East Policy. A policy which in all reality already was started with the Richard Nixon Administration and followed through by all other US Presidents.  

Read full report: Obama’s Syria Policy: The Illusion of US Power in the Middle East - The Globalist

Syria: Massacre continues - Aleppo hospitals deal with patient surge after offensive

 Hospitals in Western Aleppo are dealing with a surge in patients caught up in a rebel attack on government forces, who have the east of the city under siege.

Activists say at least 15 civilians have been killled and more than 100 wounded by rebel shelling.

State media say seven people died.

Syrian rebels launched a counter-attack on government forces and their allies in western Aleppo on Friday.

The aim was to break a weeks-long siege on the eastern Syrian city.

The assault was mainly focused on the city’s western edge by rebels based in the countryside outside Aleppo.

Photographs seem to show insurgents approaching Aleppo in tanks, armoured vehicles, bulldozers, pick-up trucks and on motorcycles.

A large column of smoke can also be seen.

Read full report: Aleppo hospitals deal with patient surge after offensive

ISDS: Corporations Overpowering Governments and Democracy? - by Steven Hill

After Wallonia’s recent stand on the Canadian-European Trade Agreement highlighted the issue of investor-state dispute resolution provisions in the context of developed markets – and with TPP and TTIP still on the horizon, bearing similar plans – it is worth taking a closer look at them.

Corporate-friendly ISDS provisions feed into a public fear that the biggest corporations are themselves becoming sovereign governments that are unrestrained by democratic accountability. That is actually a reasonable fear in light of recent history.

Read more: ISDS: Corporations Overpowering Governments and Democracy? - The Globalist

10/28/16

Weapons Industry: “War is Good For Business”: Is the EU About to Grant a 3.5 Billion Euro Subsidy to Weapons Companies? - by Andrew Smith

Recently the European Parliament will be debating the general EU budget for 2017/18. The main focus of the debate is likely to be the knock-on impacts of Brexit and the falling pound, infrastructure, migration and the many other major challenges facing the continent.

Understandably, a lot of significant items are likely to be overlooked, including a crucial point, that could see the EU taking steps towards adopting an institutional military-industrial strategy. Buried within the budget is the EU’s first proposed Preparatory Action for defence research.

If the budget is agreed, this would effectively be a trial-run that would see the European Parliament subsidising military research for the first time. It would represent an important precedent. At present, the European Commission finances exclusively civilian or dual-use R&D through its €80 billion Horizon 2020 programme.

The proposal, would cover the period of 2017-2020 at the estimated cost of€50-100 million – paving the way for a full research programme that the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), which made the proposal in the first place, estimates would cost at least €3.5 billion between 2021-2027.

Right from the start, the process has been influenced by those with a vested interest. The group that put the EUISS report together included high level representation from some of the biggest arms companies in the world. In fact, the majority of those on the Group of Personalities that the EUISS appointed to develop proposals are from the arms trade, so the pro-military conclusion is not particularly surprising.

In effect the arms industry has been brought in to advise the EU on military strategy and reached the conclusion that what is needed is more military spending.

Needless to say, arms companies already benefit from huge amount of public money. A lot of arms company R&D is already funded by member states. Supporters of the change have made clear that they do not foresee any parallel reduction of national budgets for military research, with manyn Member States still bound by their NATO commitments.

There is no question that security is a major challenge and that the EU has a critical role to play in addressing it. However, threats to security are multi-faceted and the solutions that the EU proposes to address them must be clearly based on the Treaties and core values of the EU.

The EU was envisaged as a peace project. The European Parliament stood up for those values this February, when it voted to support an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia due to its devastating bombardment of Yemen. Many of the weapons being used in the destruction are made in Europe, with many being manufactured by the same companies that would benefit from the proposed subsidy.

The EU should be investing in jobs and research projects that promote sustainable industries and contribute to the prevention of conflicts. This proposal could mean taking funds from other projects for something that would only benefit those that profit from war and conflict.

In a busy news agenda, the change may not be generating the headlines that the precedent deserves, but it is getting grass-roots opposition, with over 62,000 people having signed a European Network Against Arms Trade petition to oppose the spending.

Underpinning the opposition is the broader question of what kind of Europe we want. Do we want a social Europe that invests in people and peace, or do we want one that focuses on arms, militarism and war?

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said ‘the World is over-armed and peace is under-funded.’ The EU could play a big role in changing this, but right now it risks doing the exact opposite

There is an international dimension to it too. The ADS, a trade body for arms companies, is clear about its motivations for supporting the proposal, which it says is focused on trying to “maintain and improve long-term competitiveness in the European Defence Industry.”

No explanation is provided for where the money would come from. Would it mean cutting 3.5bn EUR from other budgets? What would be cut in order to fund it? There is also very little explanation of how it will be spent or what checks-and-balances will be in place to stop it from becoming a blank-cheque for arms companies.

Do we want a social Europe that invests in people and peace, or do we want one that focuses on arms, militarism and war?

Read more:  Is the EU About to Grant a 3.5 Billion Euro Subsidy to Weapons Companies?

Ukraine-Netherlands:Time running out on Ukraine referendum - by Janene Pieters

The Dutch government is running out of time for finding a solution on what to do about ratifying the associatioin agreement between the European Union and Ukraine.

The deadline is November 1st. And it doesn't seem likely that a decision will be made on Friday, NU.nl reports.

"Today and in the coming days we are considerably going to talk about it", Minsiter Bert Koenders said, according to NU. "We still have a few days. We'll try to find a solution to the last moment."

Prime Minister Mark Rutte failed to find support among the opposition parties for a compromise. The compromise entails still ratifying the treaty, but also addressing the concerns of the voter majority that voted against the treaty in the Ukraine referendum in April.

The government wants a binding amendment added to the treaty which explicitly states that the treaty is not a prelude to EU membership for the Ukraine, that the Netherlands has the right to refrain from military cooperation and that extra money will not be transferred to the east European country. 

Note Almere Digest: The military component of this treaty is what most people who voted against it in the referendum are bothered by. The reason is simple: The majority of Dutch citizens don't want to continue to be part of US military adventures like the one the Netherlands is presently involved in the Middle East. A cruel and never ending war in Syria or Iraq, which is not only a total failure, but also costing the Dutch taxpayers millions of Euros, and the result of a massive flow of millions of refugees into  the EU.  

Read more: Time running out on Ukraine referendum | NL Times

Pollution: Rich Countries Are Still Pushing Dirty Energy on Poor Ones

Sundarbans. The word means “beautiful forest” in Bengali, and it’s an accurate description of the 540 square miles of lush jungle, meandering waterways, and abundant wildlife straddling the southern end of the Bangladesh-India border. The world’s largest mangrove forest, a swath of dense verdant green bifurcated by thousands of rivers and streams, occupies the mouth of the river system that supports more people than any other on Earth, giving life to millions who inhabit the fertile alluvial lands surrounding it.

Intense population pressure—Bangladesh’s 160 million people make their home in an area slightly smaller than Iowa—has caused the forests to shrink, but they are still vital in feeding this huge population: The Sundarbans Reserve Forest and India’s Sundarbans National Park protect the land that provides three annual harvests of rice from the severe cyclonic storms that strike the region an average of three times a year. An enigmatic sentry, the Bengal tiger, patrols the barrier. The national animal of both Bangladesh and neighboring India can navigate the waterways and disappear amid the otherworldly vegetation; it’s one of the reasons the Sundarbans region was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. But despite nominal protections, it is—like the forests—endangered.

One reason is that Bangladesh and India plan to build the 1,320-megawatt Rampal coal power plant about 10 miles from the Sundarbans Reserve Forest; activists say part of the project falls within an exclusion zone that bars nearby development.

The plant’s emissions will include 7.9 million tons of carbon dioxide per year and large amounts of mercury. Coal ash from the plant has a “high risk of containing various toxic metals…all of which may cause serious damage to humans and the environment,” according to a report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Report on the Mission to the Sundarbans World Heritage Site, Bangladesh, from 22 to 28 March 2016, released last week. “Mercury contamination is of particular concern,” the report states, as “current projected control mechanisms and technology are not sufficient to prevent contamination” of surrounding areas.

The IUCN report is only the latest in a catalog of serious concerns that scientists have brought about the project. All have been summarily dismissed by Bangladesh’s government, which conducted the environmental impact assessment on its own project. The IUCN report notes that the EIA “was conducted with limited stakeholder consultation, uses a process that is inconsistent with globally accepted EIA practices, does not address effects of the plant on the [outstanding universal value] of the [UNESCO World Heritage–listed portions of the forest] and does not seem to reflect key concerns raised by national and international experts and scientists.” The report continues: “Air and water pollution have a high likelihood to irreversibly damage the OUV of the world heritage property. The possible threats arising from the power plant on the OUV of the property are not addressed adequately …and the plant itself is not applying the best available technology or the highest international standards for preventing damage commensurate with its location.” As a result, the IUCN scientists recommend “that the Rampal power plant project is cancelled and relocated to a more suitable location, where it would not impact negatively on the Sundarbans Reserve Forest.”

Read more: Rich Countries Are Still Pushing Dirty Energy on Poor Ones | TakePart

TTIP deal EU-US: Magnette after CETA: “It is clear that TTIP has died”

Having reached an intra-Belgian agreement on CETA on Thursday, the relay goes from the so-called “conciliation committee” – doing the brokering – to Parliament, doing the voting. By Friday midnight, the process should be completed.

“An agreement was reached in the conciliation committee, which was charged with finding a common position at the federal and federated entities on CETA, announced the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Thursday.

“The text of the agreement was sent directly to the Committee of Permanent Representatives to the EU,” Michel added.

Indeed, the text was taken to the EU Council. Ambassadors had an overview at the draft at an extraordinary COREPER II meeting at 16:30 on Thursday afternoon.

From that point onwards, the ball is in the court of the European Council; once all member states give the green light, the Council needs to formally adopt the three agreements: a) the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); b) the interpretive declaration that failed to be validated at last week’s meeting; and c) the Belgian declaration that was finalized on Thursday morning.

The major stumbling block has been removed. According to an EU official, Belgium’s has secured it will be able to sideline the envisioned arbitration mechanism and resort to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

“It was very important, not only for Wallonia, and if we took some time, and I’m sorry for our partners Europeans and Canadians – it’s because what we could get here is important for the Walloons and for all Europeans,” he underscored.

The members of the Conciliation Committee will ensure there is a vote in each regional parliament by midnight Friday, authorizing the Belgian government to proceed.

The Brussels Regional Parliament to vote first; the Federal Parliament of Wallonia-Brussels will follow at 18:30. The Minister-President of the Federal government Rudy Demotte will present the compromise reached to the MPs; a vote will follow in the evening.

The Parliament of Wallonia convened at 11.00. Walloon Minister-President Paul Magnette’s Parliament of Wallonia is presenting the amendments introduced to the agreement and will address questions in in a Plenary session. A vote will follow later this afternoon. The Socialist leader stressed that “Wallonia is extremely pleased that our requests have been heard.”

“We have always fought for treaties that enhance social and environmental standards and protect public services, so that there is no private-offs but there are entirely public courts only,” Magnette said. He underscored that that decision substantially imporved the deal both for the Walloons but also for all EU citizens.

“It was very important, not only for Wallonia, and if we took some time, and I’m sorry for our partners Europeans and Canadians – it’s because what we could get here is important for the Walloons and for all Europeans,” he underscored.

During a late night appearance on Belgian TV on Thursday, Magnette argued that the concessions Walloons secured in CETA will set a precedent for all future international treaties and, therefore, “it is clear that the TTIP is dead.”

“We put two latches: the first says we never ratify the agreement if these conditions are not met; the second lock allows the Walloon Parliament to annually review the implementation of the agreement against socio economic and environmental criteria. If the evaluation is negative, the Parliament may request the suspension of the treaty.”

On agriculture, Magnette noted that “it was especially important for us to preserve our agriculture, by putting safeguards to prevent unfair competition.”

Wallonia did not get everything it wanted, but progress was made. “I wanted to have a good agreement. What we have achieved today will be important tomorrow,” concludes Magnette.

Read more: Magnette after CETA: “It is clear that TTIP has died

Russia: Putin Claims Russia Does Not Have ‘Propaganda Machine’ Like the West - by Damien Sharkov

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he “regrets” that his country does not have a propaganda machine, but alleged that the West does, Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reports.

Putin, whose three terms as president since 1999 have seen a large state takeover of Russian media, used a speech at the annual Valdai Club summit in Sochi on Thursday to address allegations that the Kremlin has tried to influence western electorates to vote in ways favorable to Russia. Most recently the U.S.

Democratic Party has accused Putin of attempting to influence the presidential election there, suggesting he would prefer they elect the Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

Read more: Putin Claims Russia Does Not Have ‘Propaganda Machine’ Like the West

10/27/16

Israel: 'Burial slab' of Jesus found in Jerusalem church - by Mary Bowerman

Stone burial slabJesus of Nazareth Discovered
Researchers recently uncovered a stone burial slab which many believe Jesus Christ's body may have been laid on following his death.

The original surface of the tomb was uncovered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem during restoration work and has been covered by marble cladding since at least 1555 A.D., National Geographic reports.

The marble cover was pulled back, and researchers were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath the covering, Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, and a researcher on the restoration project, told National Geographic.

“It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid,” Hiebert told National Geographic.

National Geographic is filming the restoration process for the Explorer series, which will air in November.

According to the Bible, the body of Jesus Christ was laid on a burial bed, or slab of limestone following his crucifixion.

John 19:38-42: 38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[a] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there

Christians believe that Christ was resurrected following his death, and women who came to anoint his body three days after the burial reported that Jesus’ remains had vanished

Read more: Burial slab' of Jesus found in Jerusalem church

10/26/16

Banking Industry: Beware the Banksters: Three Banking Syndicates Want to Enslave You


"are you safe from the Banking Industry ?"
If you have been following our articles, you know that we call criminal bankers by this name. They are the modern-day version of gangsters, robber barons, bank robbers, and carpetbaggers. They wear suits, not bandit masks; drive Mercedes and BMWs, instead of riding horses; and use fiat currency and fancy financial instruments, not guns, to hold you up.
 
Previously, we have lumped them all into one moniker, but the time has come for us to examine just who these thieves and robbers are so that you will know who your enemy is. Just as we showed you in our article War of the Titans: Globalism v Nationalism, WWIII has been ongoing for many years, whether we knew it or not. We, regular folks, just living our lives in law-abiding ways, didn’t know we had an enemy or that there was a war going on that had the goal of stealing our country and shredding our constitution. 

The globalists were very cagey in hiding their war against us over the last one hundred years. They set up a system so that we thought our disputes were between Republicans and Democrats, one country against another, or any number of factions that they manufactured for us to keep us from seeing behind their masks. But these were just distractions, like battle camouflage, to keep us from knowing and naming our enemy.

The globalist is our enemy. Thanks to everyone in alternative and social media, we have created our own intel system and the globalist can no longer hide behind their media sycophants. They are reporters, media moguls, politicians, professors and educators, Hollywood distractors, bureaucrats, and anyone who wants to put international agendas ahead of national sovereignty. 

Banksters are Globalists
 
Near the apex of their global pyramid structure, is a group of banker interests that want to gobble up the world and create a 21st Century version of feudalism. We the People will be their serfs and servants. Once locked into this feudal system at a global scale, there will be no place that we or our children can go to escape their control. Ever.  

So let’s get busy and learn who these groups are so that, like globalism, we can call them out and get ground control of this battle. At the end of the article, we have some marching instructions (suggestions) that can actually undo the banksters’ plans for taking control of We the People.

Equally important is to provide you information so that your family’s savings and investments are not stolen by these bandits and thugs. 

For the complete report click here: Beware the Banksters: Three Banking Syndicates Want to Enslave You | The Millennium Report

The Ideal Nation State: Free Universal Health Care, Free Quality Education and a Fair Share Tax System-does it exist?

Sounds too far fetched - not at all.

When we look at Unversal Health care there are thirty-two of the thirty-three developed nations have universal health care, with the United States being the lone exception . The following list, compiled from WHO sources where possible, shows the start date and type of  system used to implement universal health care in each developed country .

Note that universal health care does not imply government-only health care, as many countries implementing a universal health care plan continue to have both public and private insurance and medical providers.

If we look at Free Quality education and live in a country where it is not free but costly, like in the US, or if you fail to qualify for fully-funded university scholarships, consider enrolling in universities that are tuition free or universities that charge low tuition fees. Countries like Finland, Austria, Norway, Germany, and Sweden offer different types of free/low tuition schemes for international students.

scholars4dev.com has compiled information and provided links to tuition-free Colleges and Universities in these countries.

According to studyinfinland.fi: There are currently no tuition fees charged in Finland, regardless of the level of studies and the nationality of the student however tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students will be introduced from autumn 2017 onwards for English-taught Bachelor’s or Master’s programmes. Doctoral level studies will remain free of tuition fees.

Updates concerning the forthcoming non-EU tuition fees and related new scholarships options can be found at www.studyinfinland.fi/tuitionfees2017.

Remember that even when there are no tuition fees, you still need to plan your finances – you are expected to independently cover all your everyday living expenses during your studies in Finland.

At the moment, scholarships there are mainly available only for Doctoral level studies and research.

There are now a number of Universities also offering online degrees/courses for free.  The first such University is University of the People which is a tuition-free, non-profit, accredited online university dedicated to opening access to higher education globally.  University of the People offers online Associates and Bachelors Degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science.

This was followed by an initiative of MIT and Harvard called edX which is a learning platform that gives students from any country the opportunity to take free online courses offered by three premier Universities in the US – Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley and about 50+ Universities and institutions.

Following this trend, Coursera was introduced which is an online learning platform that partners with the top universities in the world to offer online courses in many fields of study for anyone to take, for free.

Last but not least: which countries have a Fare Share Tax System? For the US one place to turn for factual information on who pays how much percent of the total in income taxes is a report posted on the American Spectator’s blog on May 6, 2015. The data come from 2014, and are reported by the Tax Policy Center, which is the creation of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, two entities not known for right-wing sentiments. According to the IRS, in 2014 the top 1% of all income earners paid 45.7% of all federal income taxes, but earned 17.1% of all income in the U.S. The top 20% paid 83.9% of all federal income taxes, after earning 51.9% of all income in America. The middle 20% of income earners – who the American Spectator claims are the true middle class in America – paid 5.9% of all federal income taxes, but earned 14.8% of all income.

In Europe The EU Commission suggests that tax policy should be geared towards meeting more general EU policy goals. Tax policy must contribute to achieving the goal established at the Lisbon European Council of March 2000 and confirmed at the Stockholm European Council in March of this year of making the Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. This means that efforts must be made to achieve a durable reduction in the overall tax burden in the EU, by ensuring a balance between cutting taxes, investing in public services and sustaining fiscal consolidation. At the same time, tax policy must be fully consistent with other EU policies such economic, employment, health and consumer protection, innovation, environmental and energy policies. But in particular tax systems must allow individuals and businesses to benefit fully from the Internal Market. This implies a need to focus on eliminating the inefficiencies due to the co-existence of 15 different tax systems within the EU and on making those tax systems simpler and more comprehensible to taxpayers.\

At the recent European Commission’s “Debate on the Future of Europe” event in Luxembourg there was a comment from the audience arguing that corruption and tax evasion in some European countries was one of the root causes of the economic crisis in Europe, and it should be up to individual member states to solve their own problems:

One thing the people can do to promote changes on any of the issues listed above is to use their voting power and their brains to vote in gthose politicians who are in favor of Free Unversal Health Care, Free Quality Education and a Fair Tax System, and vote out those who do nothing else than give you promises and more promises.

It is high time for voters around the world to clean-up those political systems which have brought us non of the above, but instead, constant warfare, environmental disasters, while they empowered corporate entities to infiltrate and manipulate prevalent political systems. 

© EU-Digest  

10/25/16

Iraq: The Human Cost of Retaking Mosul - a new refugee exodus looms on the horizon for Turkey and EU

Iraqi and Kurdish forces will very likely prevail in their battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, but their victory will come at a high political and humanitarian cost. In ousting the militant group, the operation in Mosul could raise Iraq's civilian casualty rate — the third-highest in the world behind those of Syria and Yemen — because of the large number of civilians who remain in the city. At the same time, the civilian presence will slow the advance of the coalition fighting to reclaim Mosul, which hopes to minimize collateral damage.

Though many of Mosul's roughly 750,000 residents will remain trapped in the city, where the Islamic State will use the civilian presence as a shield to discourage airstrikes, hundreds of thousands of others will seek refuge elsewhere. But in a region already overwhelmed with displaced people from an array of conflicts, refuge will be hard to find.

The United Nations considers the potential flow of displaced persons from Mosul, the largest city in which a campaign to oust the Islamic State has been undertaken, the year's "most complex humanitarian operation." Aid agencies have warned that the offensive to retake the city will further degrade the humanitarian situation in northern Iraq. Since the campaign began Oct. 17, families have been fleeing by the hundreds, adding to the 4 million Iraqis displaced by the Islamic State since January 2014. An estimated 200,000 people are expected to be displaced from Mosul and its environs by Oct. 28, and by the end of the battle, that number will be closer to 1 million. (Even before the offensive began, 3.3 million Iraqis remained internally displaced, while another 238,500 had fled to neighboring countries in the region.) Of these displaced persons, as well as the 1.2 million-1.5 million civilians who will be otherwise affected by the Mosul offensive, an estimated 700,000 people will need daily assistance.

Anticipating the humanitarian fallout of the Mosul operation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is leading several international aid efforts to coordinate aid response. Nonetheless, the sheer number of people leaving Mosul could overwhelm Iraq's camps, some of which are already experiencing supply problems. To tend to the needs of the displaced population, essential transportation arteries must be kept open and passable so that trucks can bring in clean water for drinking and bathing.

Food aid requires help from outside agencies, such as the World Food Program, which is already struggling to maintain its support to the 1.5 million people it currently supplies. Security concerns are also complicating the process of resettling civilians into camps, since Islamic State militants have been caught trying to hide among them. Authorities have intensified screening procedures in light of the Mosul offensive, further slowing the process.

Read More in Stratfor Analysis

Turkey: Syrian child refugees making British clothes in Turkey

Syrian refugee children have been working in factories in Turkey making clothes for British high street retailer Marks & Spencer and online store ASOS, an investigation by BBC Panorama has found.

The investigation, broadcast on Monday evening, found Syrian refugees as young as 15 working long hours for little pay, making and ironing clothes to be shipped off to Britain.

BBC journalists took photographs of Marks & Spencer labels in the factories. Some Syrian refugees worked 12-hour days in a factory distressing jeans for fashion brands Mango and Zara, using chemicals with inadequate protection, the BBC said.

An M&S spokesperson said: "We had previously found no evidence of Syrian workers employed in factories that supply us, so we were very disappointed by these findings, which are extremely serious and are unacceptable to M&S."

M&S said it was working with the Turkish supplier to offer permanent legal employment to any Syrian daily workers employed in the factory.

"Mango has zero tolerance towards the practices described in the 'Panorama' program," a Mango spokeswoman said.

The company said it had instructed an urgent and unannounced audit of the concerned facilities after the BBC's notification. "Under no circumstances was the use of child labor of Syrian workers detected," she said.

An ASOS spokeswoman on Monday said: "It’s a subject we take incredibly seriously. But it would be wrong for us to comment on reporting we haven’t seen." 

Read more: Syrian child refugees making British clothes in Turkey: BBC investigation | Reuters

10/24/16

Middle East: Operation in Mosul to lead to Iran-Saudis conflict

Operation on liberation of the Iraqi city of Mosul from the IS fighters may turn into a catastrophe in the Middle East.

'The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster. We gave them months of notice. U.S. is looking so dumb. Vote Trump and win again!' the US presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed. What did he mean?

What is going on around Mosul? Isn't the American operation there not only a fight against ISIS, but also a plan to deploy more terrorists in Syria given latest reports that the number of refugees in Syria has drastically increased?

You can say that again. The main thing in arrangement of this attack is demonstration of the US principal intentions and those of the coalition troops to combat international terrorism.

The area which is under control of the Bashar al-Assad's army has increased four times at least. In this regard, the Americans have nothing to boast of.

Thus, during the last months of Obama's being in power they decided to organize such a political play on the US adherence to fight against terrorism.

What may come out? The worst I'm expecting is a new clash between the Sunni and Shia. That is the worst problem.

In case massacre is started, and it can't be excluded, there will be hell to pay. Because both Iran and Saudi Arabia will not stand aside. It's a pity that the US practical Oriental studies have a few people who think about consequences of interreligious clashes.

Read more: Operation in Mosul to lead to Iran-Saudis conflict - PravdaReport

TTIP: Signing EU-US TTIP Free Trade Deal Impossible Without EU-Canada CETA

The EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free-trade deal can only be signed, if the European Union and Canada seal their Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a source in the EU Parliament told RIA Novosti Monday.

The European Council failed to approve CETA due to Wallonia, a region in Belgium, not giving the country its approval to sign the agreement. The Walloon government voted against the trade deal for fear it would water down EU labor, consumer and environmental protections, and give too much power to multinationals.

Read moreL Signing EU-US TTIP Free Trade Deal Impossible Without EU-Canada CETA

The Environment: CO2 levels mark 'new era' in the world's changing climate

Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have surged past an important threshold and may not dip below it for "many generations".

The 400 parts per million benchmark was broken globally for the first time in recorded history in 2015.

But according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2016 will likely be the first full year to exceed the mark.

The high levels can be partly attributed to a strong El Niño event.

 Read more: CO2 levels mark 'new era' in the world's changing climate - BBC News

Mega Media Data Control: AT&T Time Warner could be a costly disaster for US consumers

How is that even possible, you might ask? After all, AOL’s $164-billion takeover of Time Warner still stands as one of the worst deals of all time and for good reason.

But at least the combination of Time Warner’s media and cable assets with AOL’s online business was theoretically about trying to become part of the future of media and entertainment. Its influence was already waning at the time, but AOL had a foot in the emerging world of the Internet, and theoretically some knowledge about how it worked.

The collapse of that merger had more to do with a clash of cultures (something Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes was a part of) than it did any kind of inherent strategic error in the combination itself, although there’s no question that AOL was wildly overvalued.

When we look at AT&T and Time Warner, it feels like a deal that is being driven by a vision of the past, not the future. It seems like a desperation move by both, an admission that they don’t really know what else to do, except try to get larger and hope everything works out for the best. And AT&T is paying a huge price for an uncertain outcome.

EU-Digest s

10/23/16

Spain's Socialists vote to allow Rajoy minority government

The opposition Socialists in Spain have effectively voted to allow the conservatives under Mariano Rajoy to rule as a minority government.

Party leaders decided by a majority at their meeting in Madrid to abstain when Mr Rajoy puts his Popular Party (PP) government to a vote in parliament.

The country had faced the prospect of a third general election inside a year.

But the Socialists forced out their leader, Pedro Sanchez, earlier this month after he rejected abstention.

Mr Rajoy has led a caretaker administration since losing his overall majority in an election last December. A repeat election in June failed to end the impasse but strengthened his hand. 

Read more: Spain's Socialists vote to allow Rajoy minority government - BBC News

Iraq PM says 'thanks but no thanks' to Turkey on Mosul - France 24

 Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reiterated his rejection Saturday of Turkish participation in the ongoing offensive to wrest Mosul back from the Islamic State group.

Abadi insisted no Turkish involvement was wanted following a meeting with US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, who was in Baghdad Saturday to review progress in the six-day-old offensive.

"I know that the Turks want to participate... We tell them 'thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle and the Iraqis will liberate Mosul'," Abadi said.

"We don't have any problems. If we need help, we will ask for it from Turkey or from other countries in the region," he said.

Read more: Flash - Iraq PM says 'thanks but no thanks' to Turkey on Mosul - France 24

10/22/16

Spian: Spanish Socialists prepare to end political logjam - by Tobias Buck

After 10 months of political deadlock and drift in Spain, it all comes down to this: a committee of some 300 officials from the Socialist party who will meet this Sunday to decide whether the country should have a government or not.

The choice facing the members of the PSOE’s federal committee is stark, and will carry a heavy political price either way. But if party insiders and analysts are right, the Socialists are preparing the ground for a last-minute U-turn that would allow the formation of a minority conservative government.

Barring a late surprise,the committee is expected to instruct the party’s members of parliament to abstain in a crucial vote on Mariano Rajoy’s candidacy for a second term as prime minister. That would be enough to secure another mandate for the veteran centre-right leader and draw a line under Spain’s political deadlock.

Read more: Spanish Socialists prepare to end political logjam

10/21/16

Russia - Aircraft carrier to reinforce combat capabilities of Russian task force in Mediterranean

The Admiral Kuznets
Russia’s heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser The Admiral Kuznetsov will join the naval task force in the Mediterranean soon, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Wednesday.

"At the moment the Russian task force in the Eastern Mediterranean consists of no less than six combat ships and three or four logistic ships from all fleets. To build up the group’s combat capabilities we plan to reinforce it with The Admiral Kuznetsov-led group," Shoigu said a meeting of the Defense Ministry’s board.

Russia’s Navy has been permanently present in the Eastern Mediterranean since 2013, Shoigu recalled.

The Defense Ministry’s board is to consider progress in building seagoing ships capable of carrying long-range high accuracy weapons and measures to complete the testing of the lead frigate of project 22350 The Admiral Gorshkov.

Russiam Med. fleet supporting fight against ISIS
Earlier, in an interview with TASS a military-diplomatic source mentioned plans for sending The Admiral Kuznetsov to the Mediterranean. The official said that deck aircraft would be participating in strikes against militants in Syria. The Russian Navy’s deputy commander-in-chief Viktor Bursuk has confirmed to TASS that The Admiral Kuznetsov was slated to leave on a long voyage soon. The mission would last at least three months, the official said without mentioning where the ship would be on duty.

Last summer The Admiral Kuznetsov underwent overhaul and started testing the upgraded aircraft group that now consists of new deck fighter planes MiG-29K/KUB and Ka-52K helicopters.

The construction of The Admiral Gorshkov (project 22350) frigate began in 2006. It has been in the testing phase since 2014.

Read More: TASS: Military & Defense - Aircraft carrier to reinforce combat capabilities of Russian task force in Mediterranean

USA: Poll Economic Fairness shows Voters find Economy Unfair to Middle Class

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that just 35% of Likely U.S. Voters think the U.S. economy is at least somewhat fair to the middle class. Most, however, (63%) think it’s unfair.

This includes just five percent (5%) who say the economy is Very Fair to middle-class Americans and 21% who say it’s Not At All Fair. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 4-5, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. 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.

Read more: Economic Fairness - Rasmussen Reports™

10/20/16

The US Corporate Press: "The Fable Of Good and Bad Deaths in the Middle East

Note how differently The New York Times prepares the American public for civilian casualties from the new U.S.-backed Iraqi government assault on the city of Mosul to free it from the Islamic State, compared to the unrelenting condemnation of the Russian-backed Syrian government assault on neighborhoods of east Aleppo held by Al Qaeda.

In the case of Mosul, the million-plus residents are not portrayed as likely victims of American airstrikes and Iraqi government ground assaults, though surely many will die during the offensive. Instead, the civilians are said to be eagerly awaiting liberation from the Islamic State terrorists and their head-chopping brutality.

“Mosul’s residents are hoarding food and furtively scrawling resistance slogans on walls,” writes Times’ veteran war correspondent Rod Nordland about this week’s launch of the U.S.-backed government offensive. “Those forces will fight to enter a city where for weeks the harsh authoritarian rule of the Islamic State … has sought to crack down on a population eager to either escape or rebel, according to interviews with roughly three dozen people from Mosul.

The Times article continues: “Mosul residents chafed under social codes banning smoking and calling for splashing acid on body tattoos, summary executions of perceived opponents, whippings of those who missed prayers or trimmed their beards, and destroying ‘un-Islamic’ historical monuments.”

So, the message is clear: if the inevitable happens and the U.S.-backed offensive kills a number of Mosul’s civilians, including children, The New York Times’ readers have been hardened to accept this “collateral damage” as necessary to free the city from blood-thirsty extremists. The fight to crush these crazies is worth it, even if there are significant numbers of civilians killed in the “cross-fire.”

By contrast, the Times routinely portrays the battle for east Aleppo as simply a case of barbaric Russian and Syrian leaders bombing innocent neighborhoods with no regard for the human cost, operating out of an apparent lust to kill children.

Rather than focusing on Al Qaeda’s harsh rule of east Aleppo, the Times told its readers in late September how to perceive the Russian-Syrian offensive to drive out Al Qaeda and its allies. A Sept. 25 article by Anne Barnard and Somini Sengupta, entitled “Syria and Russia Appear Ready to Scorch Aleppo,” began:

“Make life intolerable and death likely. Open an escape route, or offer a deal to those who leave or surrender. Let people trickle out. Kill whoever stays. Repeat until a deserted cityscape is yours. It is a strategy that both the Syrian government and its Russian allies have long embraced to subdue Syrian rebels, largely by crushing the civilian populations that support them.

“But in the past few days, as hopes for a revived cease-fire have disintegrated at the United Nations, the Syrians and Russians seem to be mobilizing to apply this kill-all-who-resist strategy to the most ambitious target yet: the rebel-held sections of the divided metropolis of Aleppo.”

Again, note how the “rebels” are portrayed as local heroes, rather than a collection of jihadists from both inside and outside Syria fighting under the operational command of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which recently underwent a name change to the Syria Conquest Front. But the name change and the pretense about “moderate” rebels are just more deceptions.

Read more: Consortiumnews – Independent Investigative Journalism Since 1995

The Netherlands: Geert Wilders PVV drops 6 percentage points in latest election popularity political poll

The ruling VVD would be the biggest party in parliament if there was a general election tomorrow, according to a new poll from Kantar TNS, formerlly TNS Nipo.

The poll gives the right-wing Liberals 27 seats in the 150 seat parliament, or 18% of the vote. Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV, which was on target to win 29 seats in the September poll, has now slumped to 23.

In June, Nipo put support for the PVV as high as 36 seats, or 24% support. The middle ground is still held by the Liberal Democrats (D66), Socialists and Christian Democrats on 18 and 16 seats respectively.

Wilders who has alligned himself closely with Donald Trump, and even went to the Republican convention to openly endorse him can expect even more backlash from that decision if Trump looses in November

Almere-digest

Middle East: "A call for Peace, Forgiveness and Hope - Not for War but for Love"

Collateral damage
While most of us in the more affluent societies around the world are enjoying, praising, and, often also bragging (to friends, family,on social media, etc.), about the pleasures of life this corrupt consumer society has brought us, let us also not forget to pray for those who are suffering and living under unimaginable conditions of despair and hopelessness.

Often, as a result of war, created by political deceit, greed and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, all this terror of war is often also caused by not only their, but also our very own Governments.

May your prayers, however, not be one for Revenge, but for Peace, Forgiveness and Hope. Not for War. but for Love.

Check out the video: A call for Peace

Middle East: Yemen Sees U.S. Strikes as Evidence of Hidden Hand Behind Saudi Air War - by M.bMazetti, B. Hubbard and M. Rosenberg

For the United States, it was simple retaliation: Rebels in Yemen had fired missiles at an American warship twice in four days, and so the United States hit back, destroying rebel radar facilities with missiles.

But for the rebels and many others in Yemen, the predawn strikes on Thursday were just the first public evidence of what they have long believed: that the United States has been waging an extended campaign in the country, the hidden hand behind Saudi Arabia’s punishing air war.

For the Obama administration, the missile strikes also highlighted the risks of a balancing strategy it has tried to pursue in Yemen since a bitter sectarian war engulfed the country two years ago. The United States has not formally joined the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in support of Yemen’s deposed government — and has tried to push the warring factions toward a peace deal — but it has refueled coalition bombers, trained Saudi pilots and provided intelligence to the bombing campaign.

A year and a half of bombing — along with the deaths of thousands of Yemeni civilians — has stoked anger in Yemen not only toward the Saudis, but also toward their perceived patrons in Washington. This week’s attacks on the Mason, an American destroyer, and the Pentagon’s response show how rapidly the United States can go from being an uneasy supporting player to an active participant in a chaotic civil war.

“The Americans have been patronizing and directing the war from the very beginning,” said Brig. Gen. Sharaf Luqman, a spokesman for the rebel alliance.

Yemen’s conflict started in 2014, when Shiite rebels from the north, the Houthis, seized the capital, Sana, and sent the government into exile. They now control much of the country’s north and west, along with army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. An international military coalition led by Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign in March 2015 in an effort to restore the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the exiled president.

The Obama administration gave its immediate support to the campaign — despite skepticism about whether the coalition would be able to dislodge the Houthis from Sana — in part because it needed Saudi support for the nuclear deal it was negotiating with the kingdom’s archenemy, Iran.

That support has come under greater scrutiny amid reports that coalition forces have been striking residential areas, markets, medical facilities and weddings. On Saturday, an attack on a funeral reception in Sana killed more than 100 people.

The United States has also kept warships in the region to guard a sea lane through which four million barrels of oil pass each day. There, in the narrow strait at the mouth of the Red Sea, the dizzying mix of warships, cargo vessels and insurgent forces this week yielded precisely what the Obama administration had spent 18 months trying to avoid.

Read more: Yemen Sees U.S. Strikes as Evidence of Hidden Hand Behind Saudi Air War - The New York Times

10/19/16

Big Business: Americas Monopoly Problem

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. 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.”

To comprehend the scope of corporate consolidation, imagine a day in the life of a typical American and ask: How long does it take for her to interact with a market that isn’t nearly monopolized? She wakes up to browse the internet, access to which is sold through a local monopoly. She stocks up on food at a superstore such as Walmart, which owns a quarter of the grocery market. If she gets indigestion, she might go to a pharmacy, likely owned by one of three companies controlling 99 percent of that market. If she’s stressed and wants to relax outside the shadow of an oligopoly, she’ll have to stay away from ebooks, music, and beer; two companies control more than half of all sales in each of these markets. There is no escape—literally. She can try boarding an airplane, but four corporations control 80 percent of the seats on domestic flights.

Politicians from both parties publicly worship the solemn dignity of entrepreneurship and small businesses. But by the numbers, America has become the land of the big and the home of the consolidated.

Note EU-Digest: this is not only a problem limited to the US, but also a problem experienced by most of the Western world and many other major industrial countries around the globe.

Read more: Americas Monopoly Problem

Denmark: - Danish anti-immigration party hit by EU cash scandal

Denmark's anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DPP) was reeling Wednesday from a string of EU expenses scandals, including a trip to Brussels when European institutions were closed.

Morten Messerschmidt, a European lawmaker and one of the country's most ardent eurosceptics, was kicked off the populist party's top leadership late Tuesday after the DPP agreed to pay back 500,000 kroner (67,000 euros, $74,000) of EU funds.

"It's sloppiness at a very high level," party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl told public broadcaster DR.

The money had been used to cover expenses for two EU conferences that appeared to be indistinguishable from the party's regular summer meetings, as well as an educational trip to Brussels for campaign workers during a public holiday when EU institutions were closed.

Cash had also been spent on media training and an advertising campaign.
Messerschmidt told broadcaster TV 2 News that he "completely rejects that there has been a deliberate attempt to cheat."

The expenses scandal is a sharp blow to the outspoken politician, who helped the eurosceptic DPP become Denmark's largest party in the European Parliament election of 2014.

The liberal Politiken daily responded by publishing a list of DPP expense quotes, accusing the EU of wasting taxpayers' money.

"If Europeans knew the full extent of the shameless waste of money, I am convinced that there would be a revolution," Messerschmidt wrote in 2012.

The European parliament had previously asked the DPP to pay back 2.9 million kroner that it spent on political campaigning. The party repaid 1.6 million kroner in June, saying it did not administer the rest of the money.

Messerschmidt previously sat on the board of the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy, a now defunct conservative European alliance.

Last year, the DPP paid back 120,700 kroner to Brussels after using the m
Read more: Flash - Danish anti-immigration party hit by EU cash scandal - France 24