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3/31/17

NATO: Germany pushes back on Trump’s NATO demands - by.D.M. Herszenhorn and G. Paravicini

With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visiting NATO for the first time, Germany pushed back Friday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s repeated demands that allies increase their military spending.

Tillerson is the third Trump emissary to visit NATO headquarters in recent weeks and insist that allies show his boss the money by devising specific plans to reach a previously agreed target of spending 2 percent of annual GDP on defense.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence brought the same message on separate visits in February.

But exasperation has been rising in Germany, especially after Trump marked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Washington by tweeting that Berlin “owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

German officials, including Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, rejected that assertion and fired back that Trump did not understand how NATO’s finances actually work.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who like Tillerson was attending his first NATO ministerial gathering, told journalists in Brussels that the U.S. was wrongly interpreting a 2014 declaration by NATO leaders in Wales to step up efforts to reach the 2 percent goal. He said that while Germany was working to increase military spending, the target was not mandatory.

Read more: Germany pushes back on Trump’s NATO demands – POLITICO

Freedom of the Press: Should RT A major Russian Media Propaganda tool be banned from operating in the US or in the EU ?

Accuracy in Media recently reported that one of the more newsworthy aspects of the Democratic Party’s turnabout on Russia has been the introduction by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) of a bill to investigate Russian propaganda outlet RT (Russia Today) as a foreign agent. In fact, broadcaster Jerry Kenney had filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice back in 2011 alleging that RT and Al Jazeera were both violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by not disclosing in their propaganda broadcasts that they are agents of foreign powers.

However, former President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice, which supervises FARA, took no action.

Kenney told us, “Shaheen’s sudden concern about foreign influence operations rings a little hollow to me. Her bill seems more like a political prop to keep alive the fake news story of a Russia-Trump unholy alliance. It is a fake bill to perpetuate fake news.” He added, “As far as I know, the Department of Justice has all the tools it needs to enforce FARA. What it hasn’t had, at least under Obama, was the will to enforce it.”

Accuracy in Media has noted that RT hosts Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz are not Trump supporters or conservatives, but in fact are progressives connected to the Democratic Party. Schultz used to work for MSNBC.

In a brief interview I had with Hartmann, he refused to say how much the Kremlin paid him for his show on RT, “The Big Picture.” He then grabbed my camera.

In a January 19 article, we noted that AIM has published literally dozens of stories over the years about RT’s service to the Moscow regime. We asked, “So why didn’t the Obama Justice Department act on TV producer Jerry Kenney’s complaint that RT should register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and be labeled as foreign propaganda? That’s what the law requires.”

The answer is that RT didn’t become a problem for the liberals and the Democrats until they perceived that Moscow’s agents had deserted their cause, and that the Russian angle could be used for partisan political purposes against Republicans.

In that AIM article, I also noted that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) dismissed my well-documented 2012 complaint about RT’s open support for libertarian Ron Paul in the 2012 Republican presidential primary. We cited evidence that RT was funded by the Kremlin and prohibited under law from intervening in U.S. elections. The FEC dismissed the complaint, saying RT was a legitimate press entity and a U.S. corporation with First Amendment rights.

Where was the outrage over that ruling?

The stated purpose of the Shaheen bill, the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act (S.625), is “to preserve the integrity of American elections by providing the Attorney General with investigative tools” to crack down on foreign agents who unlawfully influence our political process.

“We have good reason to believe that RT News is coordinating with the Russian government to spread misinformation and undermine our democratic process,” said Shaheen. “The American public has a right to know if this is the case.”

The American public who have been reading AIM already know. Plus, RT once aired its own video showing Vladimir Putin reviewing its broadcast operations in Moscow.

Note EU-Digest: Most European TV network providers have RT as part of their package of local and International TV stations from all over the world, leaving it up to the discretion of the viewer of what he or she wants to watch ( Freedom of Choice). Most, if not all, EU member states consider freedom of the Press and expression, from whatever angle it might come, as a sacred pillar of democracy, in which censorship has no place - unless it promotes violence or other acts of misconduct which can cause harm to the population. 

In the US  Freedom of the press is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment is generally understood to prevent the government from interfering with the distribution of information and opinions. 

So the answer to the question in the headline of this report  is NO .

EU-Digest

WTO: Germany urges EU to file WTO complaint against U.S. in steel row - by Michael Nienaber

Germany urged the European Union on Friday to consider filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the United States over its plan to impose duties on imports of steel plate from five EU member states.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders on Friday aimed at identifying abuses causing huge U.S. trade deficits. He is also preparing to meet Chinese President Xi next week in Florida, with contentious trade issues likely to be high on the agenda.

Global steel prices have slumped as Chinese producers, who account for about half of the worldwide steel supply, have flooded the export markets, leading to protests and anti-dumping complaints by the United States, the European Union and others.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a final finding that European and Asian producers dumped certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate in the U.S. market, allowing it to impose duties ranging from 3.62 percent to 148 percent.

Among the affected companies are firms in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France and Italy.
Gabriel said the U.S. government seemed prepared to give U.S. firms an "unfair competitive advantage" over European producers even though this violated international trade law.

"We Europeans cannot accept this. The EU must now examine whether it also files a complaint at the WTO. I strongly support this," Gabriel said. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, is in charge of trade matters in the 28-member bloc.

"The WTO rules are the backbone of the international trade order. To deliberately violate them is a dangerous step," he said. "It is the first time that the U.S. in such a case resorts to distorting practices that do not comply with the WTO rules."

In Brussels, a spokesman for the European Commission said it regretted the U.S. move to impose anti-dumping measures, adding that the duties were "artificially inflated".

Gabriel also said Germany had to stand up to the U.S. and fight "accounting tricks" that put Germany's internationally competitive steel industry at a disadvantage.

"If the U.S. got through with unfair competition, other industries would also be subject to the same threat," Gabriel warned.

Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries said Germany would, along with the European Commission, continue to campaign for Washington to stick to WTO rules.

"The signals the U.S. is sending in the steel sector really worry us," Zypries said, adding that she would raise the issue when she visits the United States in May.

Read more: Germany urges EU to file WTO complaint against U.S. in steel row | News | KFGO-790

World Soccer: The Netherlands isn't very good at soccer anymore — and for now, that's OK - by Leander Schaerlaeckens

If you had assumed that the Netherlands would just always be good at soccer, this was an understandable leap in logic to make. After all, the Dutch had been good for so long – pretty much continuously since the early 1970s – that it seemed a given, in spite of sourcing their national team from a population that only recently reached 17 million.

If you had assumed that the Netherlands would just always be good at soccer, this was an understandable leap in logic to make. After all, the Dutch had been good for so long – pretty much continuously since the early 1970s – that it seemed a given, in spite of sourcing their national team from a population that only recently reached 17 million.

But as the noted analytics maven Michael Caley points out, what’s actually noteworthy isn’t that the Dutch are now no longer good. What’s remarkable is that they didn’t turn bad sooner.

And for the record, they are now bad. While Oranje reached the semifinals of the World Cup for a second time in a row in 2014 – placing third in Brazil, four years after coming second in South Africa – things have spiraled hopelessly out of control since. Manager Louis van Gaal, the architect of the World Cup success with a tactical scheme that masked the issues of a lopsided team – brilliant in the attack; full of liabilities in defense – left for Manchester United and was succeeded by Guus Hiddink, an inspirational coach but famously a tactical lightweight.

Under Hiddink, the Dutch made a halting 3-2-1 (W-L-T) start to Euro 2016 qualifying before the veteran manager was fired. His successor, Danny Blind, has somehow had a 12-year run as either head coach or assistant manager of his old club and the national team, without ever demonstrating any particular aptitude for it. The Netherlands missed the Euros under him – even though it was expanded from 16 to 24 teams — coming fourth in a six-team group, behind Iceland, the Czech Republic and Turkey, respectively.

Blind was allowed to stay on, for some reason, and the side kept on stumbling, getting off to a 2-2-1 start to World Cup qualifying. The Dutch again sit in fourth place, below France, Sweden and Bulgaria – who comfortably won 2-0 at home against the three-time World Cup runners-up on Friday. Blind was fired on Sunday.

But while there are five more qualifiers to play, it already feels like it’s too late to recover and make it to Russia next summer. The play has been so poor that it simply seems unrealistic to climb above Sweden and even Bulgaria – which hasn’t been to a World Cup since 1998 – a sentiment only confirmed by the sad display in Tuesday’s 2-1 friendly loss to Italy, which isn’t exactly a world superpower at the moment either.

Just as problematically, there is no apparently good choice to replace Blind – who was appointed not just to assist Hiddink in 2014, but to succeed him after the Euros, a succession plan that looks ridiculously premature and hubristic in retrospect. The two best Dutch managers currently out there aren’t interested. Ronald Koeman wanted the job in 2014 but was only offered Blind’s assistant-successor arrangement. He turned it down and has since thrived with Southampton and Everton in the Premier League. Frank de Boer wants to make amends on the club level after flaming out with Inter Milan, following a wildly successful spell at Ajax.

Louis van Gaal has demurred on a return – he’d rather run the entire federation instead. Which leaves the 69-year-old Dick Advocaat as the least uninspired of the Dutch options, although neither of his two previous spells as Holland manager lived up to expectations – a quarterfinal finish at the ’94 World Cup and a semifinal berth at Euro ’04, when more was expected.

Alternatively, the country that once consistently produced some of the best managers in the sport would have to go with a foreigner – in itself an indictment on the state of the Dutch game.

Either way, the material at the new boss’s disposal is limited in every line. And this is the crux of the problem. The golden generation that played from Euro ’96 through the 2006 World Cup was succeeded by the foursome of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart, whose transcendent attacking talents compensated for the dearth of decent defenders.

The Netherlands isn't very good at soccer anymore — and for now, that's OK

The US Political Scene: Ideological purity comes back to bite the GOP - by Linda Killian

Amid the postmortem over everything that went wrong with the Republican health reform effort, we shouldn’t overlook the role of the system that elects members of Congress. It not only contributed to the massive failure, it is also predictive of what we will see from the Republican Congress moving forward.

Only about 15% of all congressional districts (about 50) are truly competitive. Most representatives come from heavily gerrymandered districts drawn to favor one party over the other by politicians interested in self-preservation and party dominance.

Partisan gerrymandering is largely responsible for the election of the House Freedom Caucus and its outsize influence on Republican health reform legislation. These hard-line conservatives revel in bucking House leadership and are in line with Tea Party ideology.Because of the lopsided tilt of their districts, they need only appeal to a narrow group of voters to get elected — a reality which has pulled Congress and the Republican Party far to the right, out of step with a majority of Americans.

Until recently President Trump seemed to be governing the same way, appealing only to the voters he considers his base.  At his February news conference, he dismissed citizens who defended the Affordable Care Act at Republican town halls this way: “They’re not the Republican people that the representatives are representing.”

As the White House and House Speaker Paul Ryan made ever more concessions on health care to try to win the votes of recalcitrant Freedom Caucus members, they wound up losing more centrist members who represent more diverse constituencies and are interested in actually governing rather than simply saying no.

One moderate who opposed the GOP plan was Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent. On NBC's Meet the Press last weekend, Dent confirmed a New York Times report that during a White House meeting on health reform, Trump angrily told Dent he was “destroying the Republican Party” and “was going to take down tax reform.”

You can certainly argue over which of the two men is destroying the GOP, but Trump was referring to Medicaid cuts that would produce savings to finance tax cuts Republicans plan for the wealthy. This reverse Robin Hood act doesn’t sit well with GOP centrists like Dent or with the voters who elected him.

Read more: Ideological purity comes back to bite the GOP: Column

3/30/17

US Foreign Policy: Making Russia, Turkey and China great again - by Markos Kounalakis

 Greatness. It was candidate Donald Trump’s central promise: He would Make America Great Again, or #MAGA for short.

But how does a nation achieve greatness? The expansion of territory, influence and power is a good historic measure of a nation’s drive toward greatness.

In the early 21st century, there are many nations actively seeking to achieve greatness. America, however, may be taking a breather.

Today, large and powerful countries are striving to achieve a greatness that was previously unattainable. Once the United States began to retrench, however, and norms governing world order, borders and sovereignty were no longer respected, the rules of the global game changed.

In this relatively new global environment, the world is witnessing a series of earthshaking moves that enable force and power to rewrite acceptable international law and permit the rise of a Greater Russia, Greater Turkey and Greater China. Even a few minor nations are engaged in the assertive growth game and trying to take advantage of a potential power reshuffle – imagined places like Greater Hungary.

These nations are challenging the global status quo and seeking to grow their territorial influence and regional power in a manner that is further destabilizing the world order. Each of these countries is looking around its immediate neighborhood, claiming and coveting more land, people and resources that they want to possess.

The combination of a more assertive Russia, Turkey and China and a more isolationist and passive America is bad news for the world.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and China’s Xi Jinping are all looking to reclaim a historic greatness – or achieve a new greatness – for their nations by expanding borders, refining their concept of national identity, and enlarging the definition of their strategic and sovereign interests.

President Donald Trump, on the other hand, is seeking to draw fixed lines and solid walls around the U.S. and shrink its global footprint.

Already during the Trump administration, Estonian fears of a diminishing American commitment to NATO and Putin’s growing appetite could make it the next course on Russia’s enlargement menu.

Turkey’s Erdoğan looks to the nation’s Ottoman past for inspiration and expansion as his troops continue to occupy Cyprus and regularly incur into Iraq and Syria. He recently challenged the historic treaty that defined his modern nation’s borders, and he boldly propagates the making of new maps of greater Turkey.

In China, greatness means bringing Taiwan into the fold, firming up Hong Kong’s fealty, and suppressing Tibetan and Uighur separatist movements. It also means expanding its territory by creating islands and defining sovereign strategic zones like the “nine-dash line” that turns the South China Sea into China’s exclusive waters, changing international maritime access and mineral rights in the process. A greater China is becoming bolder, bigger and badder.

Chess pieces are moving everywhere around the world but America. Statehood for Hawaii and Alaska marked the end of American territorial expansion in the 1950s. Hopes for Puerto Rico as the 51st state are dormant. American greatness will not mirror other nations’ active absorption of new territory.

Instead, America will continue to depend on the attraction of her system and the secure global world and alliances she built and defended over recent decades. America must rely on the power of her principles and ideas and, as in the past, on the virulence of her values and ideals.

They include a centuries-old constitution and functioning judicial system, a tuned and regulated free market, a tradition of fair elections and peaceful political transitions, a generationally steady movement toward maximizing individual freedom and the codified ideal of protecting minority rights. These ideas make up the greatest export America manufactures – a universal aspiration for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

All these things have lately been under greater assault, however. Justices are accused of racial bias or of being “so-called” judges. The Supreme Court is running on eight cylinders rather than the nine it needs to keep the Constitution humming along.

The list goes on and is growing. Previous administrations failed to act sufficiently in Georgia and Syria. Elections are contested and now meddled with by foreign powers colluding with Americans. The current president’s family and friends are swimming in corrupting seas of forgiven loans, sweetheart deals and, potentially, outright bribes. As a result, the export market for credible American leadership and partnership is rapidly drying up.

A great America is defined not merely by her territory and geography but by the strength of the economy, governing institutions, military power, population growth, the global alliance system, trade relations, and the multinational institutions she developed and nurtured.

They were great. They are still good.  With Donald Trump in the White House, however, everything is up for grabs.  

What is unclear is if those things can survive the recent inattention, dysfunction and structural corruption to be made great again. In the meantime, the whole world is watching.

Read more: Making Russia, Turkey and China great again - by Markos Kounalakis


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article141592439.html#storylink=cpy
Making Russia, Turkey and China great again - by Markos Kounalakis

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article141592439.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article141592439.html#stor


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article141592439.html#storylink=cpy
Today, large and powerful countries are striving to achieve a greatness that was previously unattainable. Once the United States began to retrench, however, and norms governing world order, borders and sovereignty were no longer respected, the rules of the global game changed.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article141592439.html#storylink=

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article141592439.html#storylink=cpyRead more: Making Russia, Turkey and China great again | The Sacrament

European Economic Outlook: 7 Reasons To Be Bullish On Emerging Europe-by Frank Holmes

For the month of March, the preliminary purchasing manager’s index (PMI) for the eurozone reached 56.7, its highest reading since April 2011. Significant gains were made in new work and backlogs of work, employment and service sector job creation.

For the month of February, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI)—which measures industrial confidence, services confidence, consumer confidence, construction confidence and retail trade confidence—posted a score of 108, safely above its 26-year average of 100.

When Western Europe is performing well, Eastern Europe typically benefits by proxy, as the latter exports to the West. With a thriving manufacturing industry that’s attracted top international corporations such as Mercedes-Benz, GM, Audi, Bosch, Lego and Nestlé, just to name a few, Hungary led all others in February, posting a PMI of 59.5.

Mediterranean sea arrivals into Europe have fallen to 2,731 a month, from a high of 220,000 in October 2015. This is important because concerns of immigration and terrorism have largely driven recent secessionist and anti-European Union sentiment, most notably among far-right hopefuls such as the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders and France’s Marie Le Pen.

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 To read the complete report click here: 7 Reasons To Be Bullish On Emerging Europe

The Netherlands: What to Expect from Right-Green Coalition in Netherlands – by Nick Ottens

The Green party in the Netherlands has agreed to start negotiations to form a government with the center-right
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Coalition talks could take months. The four prospective ruling parties have many differences to bridge.

The Greens want to raise taxes on pollution; Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberals want to build more roads. The Greens want to shrink the income gap; the liberals want to cut high taxes and social insurance costs.

The Christian Democrats and liberal Democrats are close in terms of economic policy but miles apart on cultural issues. The former have called for a mandatory national service; the latter want to legalize certain drugs and expand euthanasia rights.

Nevertheless, there may be enough common ground for an accord.

The national broadcaster NOS compared the election manifestos of the four parties and found that they all favor comprehensive tax reform, including lower income tax rates.

They all want to invest in security. The Greens would prefer to spend more on developmental aid than defense, but, after decades of cuts and in light of (unfortunately) American pressure, higher military spending seems inevitable.

All four parties also want to spend more on elderly care and lower the health insurance deductible.

Read more: Nick Ottens What to Expect from Right-Green Coalition in Netherlands – Atlantic Sentinel

USA: Rasmussen Poll shows Donald Trump to confrontational as a leader.

A recent Rasmussen poll finds 57% Say Trump Too Confrontational.

38% of all Likely U.S. Voters rate the president’s performance as a leader as good or excellent. Forty-eight percent (48%) consider his leadership poor. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Read more: Rating President Trump As A Leader - Rasmussen Reports™

3/29/17

Trump Administration Is Threat To EU Survival-"The Man Who Has Ear Of US Presiden Wants EU To Fail"-by M. Crowley

Trump and Bannon: A major threat to the EU
Europeans are starting to worry that Steve Bannon has the EU in his cross hairs. - and they should be. Here’s how the White House could pull it apart.

Bannon emerged into the national spotlight as CEO of Donald Trump’s struggling presidential campaign. Bannon was an executive at Breitbart News, an activist-editor-gadfly known mostly on the far right, and the “Brexit” campaign was something of a pet project. He hitched onto the Tea Party movement early in Barack Obama’s presidency and noticed a similar right-populist wave rising across the Atlantic, where fed-up rural, white Britons were anxious about immigration and resentful of EU bureaucrats.

 The cause touched on some of Bannon’s deepest beliefs, including nationalism, Judeo-Christian identity and the evils of Big Government. In early 2014, Bannon launched a London outpost of Breitbart, opening what he called a new front “in our current cultural and political war.” The site promptly began pointing its knives at the EU, with headlines like “The EU Is Dead, It Just Refuses to Lie Down”; “The European Union’s Response to Terrorism Is a Massive Privacy Power Grab”; “Pressure on Member States to Embrace Trans Ideology.” One 2014 article invited readers to vote in a poll among “the most annoying European Union rules.”

Bannon’s site quickly became tightly entangled with the United Kingdom Independence Party, a fringe movement with the then-outlandish goal of Britain’s exit from the EU. In October 2014, UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage, poached a Breitbart London editor to work for him. That September, Bannon hosted a dinner for Farage at his Capitol Hill townhouse. Standing under a large oil painting by the fireplace, Farage delivered a speech that left the dozens of conservative leaders in attendance “blown away,” as Bannon later recalled.

On June 23 of last year, Britons defied the pleas of Europe’s political elites and narrowly voted for Brexit. Many observers called it the most traumatic event in the history of a union whose origins date to the 1950s. Suddenly the future of all Europe, whose unity America had spent the decades since World War II cultivating, lay in doubt. It was the next day that Bannon hosted Farage for a triumphal edition of his daily radio show.

“The European Union project has failed,” Farage declared. “It is doomed, I’m pleased to say.”

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Bannon said. “Congratulations.”

Bannon now works in the West Wing as President Donald Trump’s top political adviser. He is, by all accounts, the brains of Trump’s operation—a history-obsessed global thinker whose vision extends far beyond Trump’s domestic agenda and Rust Belt base. Bannon co-wrote Trump’s “America First” inauguration speech, which hinted at a new world order, and will join the president’s National Security Council—apparently the first political adviser to get a permanent seat in the president’s Situation Room. And while commentators are focusing on Bannon’s views about nationalism here in the United States, his public comments and interviews with several people who know him make clear that, even as he helps Trump “make America great again,” he has his sights set on a bigger target across the Atlantic Ocean. IT IS THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EU HIS SIGHT IS SET ON

Donald Trump’s transition team denied scheduling the French nationalist Marine Le Pen’s visit to the Trump Tower café in January. But she met Guido Lombardi, an informal liaison between Trump and the European far-right, who claims Bannon gave his blessing.

Breitbart often sets Frauke Petry, the leader of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party, as a foil to Angela Merkel. “The achievements of the Reformation and Enlightenment are endangered,” Petry told Breitbart, arguing that defending immigrants has become a new religion in Europe—and echoing Bannon’s own defense of the Judeo-Christian West.

Geert Wilders—the leader of the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom, which increased his seats in the last Dutch parliamentary elections, has contributed articles to Breitbart—such as “Britain Is The Brexit Pioneer and Others Will Follow” and “Muslims, Leave Islam, Opt for Freedom!” He was also the keynote speaker at Breitbart’s “Gays for Trump” party at the Republican National Convention in July.

Breitbart has covered Italy’s Beppe Grillo and his nationalist movement with articles like “After Brexit and Trump, Italy’s Five-Star-Movement May Be The Next Surprise.” Grillo called Trump’s victory an “extraordinary turning point” for global populism, and he expects Italy will follow.

In 2012, Nigel Farage accepted Bannon’s invitation to meet in Washington, where Bannon introduced the U.K. Independence Party leader to like-minded individuals. Farage became a regular on Bannon’s radio show, and defended critics who called Bannon anti-Semitic, telling Breitbart that the attacks amounted to “demonization.”


“Bannon hates the EU,” says Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart writer who split with Bannon last year but who shares the sentiment. “He figures it’s mainly an instrument for globalism—as opposed to an instrument for the bettering of Western civilization.”

“What we understand from Bannon is that the EU is abhorrent,” one Western European government official told me.

The idea that one man could threaten the European project might sound extreme. And it would be an exaggeration to say that even the full-throated support of Breitbart London was what tipped the scales toward Brexit. But having the ear of the president of the United States is different—and the question of just what Bannon plans to do with his influence has become a huge preoccupation of diplomats, European government officials and experts on the venerable trans-Atlantic relationship. In more than a dozen interviews, they recounted a creeping sense of dread about the very specific ways Bannon could use American power like a crowbar to pull the EU apart.

“The European Union is under serious threat,” Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and now a senior EU official, told a London audience in late January. Its enemies, he said, now include Trump—thanks in large part to “the enormous influence of his chief political adviser, Mr. Bannon.”

Since the election, European officials have been combing the internet, including Breitbart’s archives, for clues to Bannon’s worldview and how he might counsel Trump. And what they’re finding is stoking their deepest anxieties. “They have a deep well of psychological reliance on the American-led order,” says Jeremy Shapiro, a Hillary Clinton State Department official now at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London. Now they’re bracing for an American assault on that order.

Europe as we know it has never been more vulnerable to such an assault. Economic malaise and high debt are testing the EU’s financial structures and pitting its members against one another. So is the historic influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Nationalist parties and candidates hostile to the Union are ascendant in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands—all of which are set to hold elections this year. Russia, which may stand to gain the most from a disunited Europe, is gleefully aiding the process by disrupting Europe’s domestic politics with propaganda and hacking meant to discredit the pro-EU establishment.


The EU better be on high alert to this threat  and be prepared to react immediately when needed  

Read more:The Man Who Wants to Unmake the West: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the EU - POLITICO Magazine

France: Why the French presidential election is both so scary and so important - by Brunello Rosa,

On the threshold of a populist revolution?
Following the first presidential debate on March 20, the race for the French presidency is now in full swing. My research firm MacroGeo is following these elections very closely.

At the end of last year we published a travel journal from Paris where we noted the risk of underestimating Marine Le Pen's chances of winning, and more recently our friend Pascal Gauchon, editor-in-chief of the French geopolitical magazine "Conflits," declared that the French are experiencing their most bizarre election campaign since 1848.

[France will hold its first round election on April 23. The two candidates with the most votes will then face off for the presidency on May 7. The five candidates still in the race are Emmanuel Macron (Onward!, centrist), Marine Le Pen (Nationalist Front, far right), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Unsubmissive France, far left), François Fillon (The Republicans, right), and Benoît Hamon (Socialist Party, left).]

There are many reasons why the stage was set for the farce that is now playing out.

Hamon and Fillon have been overtaken by Emmanuel Macron, of his independent centrist movement Onward!, and Marine Le Pen, of the far right National Front party. Jean-Luc Mélanchon of the far-left Unsubmissive France movement will likely place third.

 The Republican and Socialist parties are the only ones with candidates still in the race that held primaries. And in both cases, party members did not choose the most moderate candidate with the highest chance of winning, but the candidate who was speaking to the most radical elements of his party's base [without being as radical as the outsider candidates].

It is no coincidence that the candidates who will qualify for the second ballot on May 7 will probably be those who did not take part in the primaries.

If either Macron or Le Pen win, it is unlikely they would enjoy a parliamentary majority that would allow them to implement the reforms they have in mind.

 The battle between Macron and Le Pen is a clash between an open and European France and an inward-looking country.

The two candidate's electoral campaigns are diametrically opposed. While Macron is openly pro-European, Le Pen wants France to leave the European Union and abandon the euro.

Le Pen is still underestimated and Macron is overestimated.

Due to the manner in which polls are conducted and because of the reference sample, it is probable that Macron is currently receive a higher approval rating than the ballots will show.

And Le Pen will probably be able to attract voters who are not included in surveys, as well as those who do not publicly endorse her due to the stigma still attached to National Front.

The class struggle has only just begun and will continue regardless of who wins.  

Read more: Why the French presidential election is both so scary and so important - Business Insider

U.S. academic achievement lags that of many other countries

How do U.S. students compare with their peers around the world? Recently released data from international math and science assessments indicate that U.S. students continue to rank around the middle of the pack, and behind many other advanced industrial nations.

One of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.

Younger American students fare somewhat better on a similar cross-national assessment, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. That study, known as TIMSS, has tested students in grades four and eight every four years since 1995. In the most recent tests, from 2015, 10 countries (out of 48 total) had statistically higher average fourth-grade math scores than the U.S., while seven countries had higher average science scores. In the eighth-grade tests, seven out of 37 countries had statistically higher average math scores than the U.S., and seven had higher science scores.

For the complete report: U.S. academic achievement lags that of many other countries | Pew Research Center

Brexit : Britain between a rock and a hard place: First EU response to article 50 takes tough line on transitional deal - by Daniel Boffey

"Brexit and the Mouse that roare": sorry to see you go Britain
Britain will not be given a free trade deal by the EU in the next two years, and a transition arrangement to cushion the UK’s exit after 2019 can last no longer than three years, a European parliament resolution has vowed, in the first official response by the EU institutions to the triggering of article 50 by Theresa May.

A leaked copy of the resolution, on which the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has been a close conspirator, lays bare the tough path ahead for Britain as the historic process of withdrawing from the trade bloc begins.

Across 11 pages of clauses, May is warned that the EU will stridently protect its political, financial and social interests, and that the position for the UK even during the transition period will not be as positive as it is today.

A withdrawal agreement, covering financial liabilities, citizens’ rights and the border in Ireland, will need to be accepted by a qualified majority of 72% of the EU’s remaining 27 member states, representing 65% of the population. The agreement would then need to be approved by the European parliament, voting by a simple majority.

Barnier has said that any free trade deal, to be struck after the UK leaves, would be a “mixed agreement” requiring ratification by the national parliaments of the 27 states, plus consent by the European parliament.

Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s permanent representative to the EU, delivered a letter to the European council president, Donald Tusk, at 12.30pm notifying the EU of Britain’s intention to leave, as May stood up in the House of Commons to make a statement to MPs.

Addressing a press conference half an hour later, Tusk said: “There is no need to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels or in London. After all most Europeans, including almost half the British voters, wish that we would stay together not drift apart.”

Tusk said that Brexit would bind the remaining 27 member states together, and that the council and the European commission had a strong mandate to protect the EU’s interests. But he added: “As for me I will not pretend I am happy…”

One positive development following Brexit. It brought the other 27 member states  of the EU with a population of close to half a billion people closer together with no one of its present leaders ready to call a referendum or announce they would be leaving the EU 

EU-Digest

Migrants and Immigrants: Who Builds Higher Walls? – Comparing EU and US Restrictive Migration Policies

It's not their problem they are at the border - it is ours
Two months into Donald Trump’s presidency, Washington has unleashed radical measures to prevent migrants and refugees from entering the United States. He temporarily banned citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from travelling to the US, suspended the US refugee resettlement program for Syrian refugees and the arrival of all refugees. He also ordered to build his long-promised wall on the US-Mexican border purportedly designed to stem the flow of irregular migrants from the south.

The European Union was very quick to condemn the measures while also forgetting that some of its own members had also resorted to illiberal and restrictive measures to control immigration and the influx of migrants. In Europe, just as in the United States, rightist populist groups are scapegoating migrants and refugees for every problem in the society. The continent is already mired in populism and hate speech against migrants, and particularly against the Muslims. The toxic climate and attacks are on the rise. If the current trend goes on, Europe may actually easily end up following Washington’s anti-immigration line.

Yet, the United States, unlike most of the European Union, has a long tradition in migration and immigration policy. While these moves of the White House might be just an aberration in the world’s most successful immigration society, which is actually better positioned to control who comes in, in Europe, xenophobia and Islamophobia pose a greater risk.

Many Europeans do see immigration from predominantly Muslim countries as particularly problematic. According to a recent Chatham House research study conducted in ten EU countries, about 55 percent of respondents agreed that all such immigration should be stopped, 20 percent disagreed, and 25 percent were undecided. Therefore, Islamophobia and xenophobia could easily destabilize societies that already have large, insufficiently integrated minority communities. They could also easily hamper efforts to stabilize Europe’s turbulent neighborhood.

European leaders need to acknowledge that unlike the United States or Canada, European societies do not have much experience and thus are not naturally inclined to facilitate immigration. To make it a success will require a lot more active governmental involvement, in particular massive investment in education. It will also mean revising long-established practices designed to protect the interests of existing stakeholders and implementing structural reforms that are indispensable for successfully integrating large numbers of of immigrants.
Note EU-Digest Migrants and Immigrants have been streaming into the EU not because they wanted to, but because we destroyed their homes, after we were dragged into military adventures in Afghanistan and the Middle East by our American "friends", which cost EU member states heaps of money and can not be called successful

The EU needs a fresh new independent foreign policy,and its own military defense Force. 


Read more:Who Builds Higher Walls? – Comparing EU and US Restrictive Migration Policies | EuBulletin.Com

3/28/17

European Banking Industry: Oxfam claims Ireland is a tax haven for EU banks

A new Oxfam report claims that there is strong evidence that Ireland is facilitating "significant corporate tax avoidance" by top European banks.

The 'Opening the Vaults' study, completed in conjunction with the Fair Finance Guide International, shows that banks reporting in Ireland made over €2.3 billion in profits on €3bn of turnover in 2015.

This 76% profitability rate is four times higher than the global average – only the Cayman Island had a higher rate with 167%.

The report of Europe's 20 biggest banks stated that:

"The 16 top European banks operating in Ireland examined in the research paid an average effective tax rate in Ireland of no more than 6% – half the statutory rate of 12.5% – with three banks (Barclays, RBS and Crédit Agricole) paying no more than 2%."

It named Luxembourg and Ireland as the "most favoured tax havens" in Europe, accounting for 29% of the profits banks posted in such areas in 2015.

The 20 biggest banks posted €4.9bn of profits in Luxembourg in 2015 – more than they did in the UK, Sweden and Germany combined.

Read more: Oxfam claims Ireland is a tax haven for banks | Newstalk

US Economy:Renewable Energy Industry Creates Jobs 12 Times Faster Than Rest of US

The solar and wind industries are each creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the U.S. economy, according to a new report.

The study, published by the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) Climate Corps program, says that solar and wind jobs have grown at rates of about 20% annually in recent years, and sustainability now collectively represents four to four and a half million jobs in the U.S., up from 3.4 million in 2011.

The renewable energy sector has seen rapid growth over recent years, driven largely by significant reductions in manufacturing and installation costs. Building developers and owners have been fueled by state and local building efficiency policies and incentives, the report explains.

But, these gains are in contrast to Trump's support for fossil fuel production, his climate change denial and his belief that renewable energy is a "bad investment".

"Trump's current approach is basically ignoring an entire industry that has grown up over the last 10 years or so and is quite robust," Liz Delaney, program director at EDF Climate Corps, told Business Insider.

Note EU-Digest President Trump, however, who does not believe in scientifically proven evidence that Carbon Dioxide Emissions caused by fossil fuels and a variety of other factors are the main cause for global warming, has today signed several sweeping executive orders taking aim at a number of his predecessor's climate policies,  Thereby turning back the clock of American advantages in the alternative energy sector for many years. It will also jeopardize America's current role in international efforts to confront climate change.

Renewable Energy Industry:  Creates Jobs 12 Times Faster Than Rest of US | Fortune.com

The Environment: Trump Takes Aim At A Centerpiece Of Obama's Environmental Legacy - by Nathan Rott

President Trump will sign sweeping executive orders today Tuesday, March 28  that take aim at a number of his predecessor's climate policies.

The wide-ranging orders and accompanying memorandums will seek to undo the centerpiece of former President Obama's environmental legacy and national efforts to address climate change.

It could also jeopardize America's current role in international efforts to confront climate change.

A senior White House official says the goal is to make the U.S. energy-independent and to get the Environmental Protection Agency back to its core mission of maintaining clean air and water.
In a symbolic gesture, the president is expected to sign the documents at EPA headquarters.

 Read more: - Trump Takes Aim At A Centerpiece Of Obama's Environmental Legacy : The Two-Way : NPR

3/27/17

EU Commission: clears major agro-chemical merger between Dow Chemical and Dupont worrying environmentalists - and raising lots of other questions

Global polluters blessed by the EU Commission
The European Commission approved on Monday (27 March) the proposed $130 billion merger of Dow Chemical and Du Pont. But the decision triggered a strong reaction from environmentalists, who believe that such mergers lead to “major monopolies”.

Dow Chemical and DuPont, two of the oldest US companies, announced their tie-up in December 2015 to create the world’s biggest chemicals and materials group.

“Due to significant commitments on products and the worldwide research and development organization, the merger of Dow and Dupont can be approved,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The European Commission had been concerned that the merger of two of the biggest and oldest US chemical producers would have few incentives to produce new herbicides and pesticides in the future.

By approving this merger, however, it will not escape some that this approval shows once again the servitude of the EU Commission to US business interests. Even to those who are among the major global polluters and environmentally abusive corporations.

EU-Digest
 

EU: French and German votes 'crucial' to Putin's agenda- by Andrew Rettman

Weakening the EU by meddling in French and German elections will be a big feature of Russian foreign policy this year, Russian opposition leader and former prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, has warned.

“The main purpose of Mr Putin is to divide and weaken Europe”, he told EUobserver in an interview from Moscow, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Read more: French and German votes 'crucial' to Putin's agenda

China Is Catching Up To America As A Global Innovator – And US is To Blame by Ron Klink

Since his inauguration, President Trump has continued to bash China for it’s unfair trade practices.

He’s threatened to instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring cases against China domestically and at the World Trade Organization, to instruct the Treasury Secretary to label "China a currency manipulator, and to slap tariffs on Chinese goods.

Whether right or wrong, President Trump’s actions demonstrate that he recognizes there’s a problem and that we need to stand up to communist China. As a former member of Congress, I have come to the realization that China consistently cheats on the international stage by stealing American trade secrets, manipulating their currency, and illegally dumping subsidized products into the U.S.

However, it’s not just that China is cheating on the international stage – U.S. regulators are allowing China to play a greater role on the world stage by stifling American innovation. Changes in patent law conducted under the previous administration have made the United States a difficult place for innovators, and, thus, China is catching up to the United States as a global innovator.

Read morw; China Is Catching Up To America As A Global Innovator – And We’re To Blame | The Huffington Post

Voting starts in Europe for Turkish referendum - only a no vote can stop total Turkish dictatorship

Turkish citizens in six European countries have started to vote in a referendum, the campaign for which has caused an international dispute.

Voters are choosing whether to move Turkey from a parliamentary republic to a presidential one, boosting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

Some three million people are eligible to vote outside of Turkey, almost half of them living in Germany.

But political rallies have been blocked in several countries.

This has caused a bitter row between Turkey and its European neighbours, with President Erdogan accusing the Dutch and German authorities of acting like Nazis.

In Switzerland, a rally in support of the "no" vote was held in Bern on Sunday, drawing thousands - including Kurdish demonstrators.

Read m,ore: Voting starts in Europe for Turkish referendum - BBC N

Health Care USA: The “Dis-location” of U.S. Medicine — The Implications of Medical Outsourcing — by Robert M. Wachter, M.D.

When a patient in Altoona, Pa., needs an emergency brain scan in the middle of the night, a doctor in Bangalore, India, is asked to interpret the results.

Spurred by a shortage of U.S. radiologists and an exploding demand for more sophisticated scans to diagnose scores of ailments, doctors at Altoona Hospital and dozens of other American hospitals are finding that offshore outsourcing works even in medicine. .

Most of the doctors are U.S.-trained and licensed — although there is at least one experiment using radiologists without U.S. training.

Until recently, the need to take a patient's history and perform a physical examination, apply complex techniques or procedures, and share information quickly has made medicine a local affair.

Competition, too, has played out between crosstown medical practices and hospitals. Although there have always been patients who chose to travel for care — making pilgrimages to academic meccas for sophisticated surgery, for example — they were exceptions.

This localization was largely a product of medicine's physicality. To examine the heart, the cardiologist could be no farther from the patient than his or her stethoscope allowed, and data gathering required face-to-face discussions with patients and sifting through paper files.But as health care becomes digitized, many activities, ranging from diagnostic imaging to the manipulation of laparoscopic instruments, are rendered borderless. The offshore interpretation of radiologic studies is proof that technology and the political climate will now permit the outsourcing of medical care, a trend with profound implications for health care policy and practice.

Skyrocketing health care costs are increasingly seen as unsustainable drains on public coffers, corporate profits, and household savings. Concern about these costs has led to wide-ranging cost-cutting efforts, often accompanied by attempts to improve quality and safety.

In other areas of the economy, a similar search for cost savings and value has created a powerful impetus for outsourcing. Although corporate globalization has been controversial, when the forces of protectionism have butted up against the demand of consumers for decent products atlow prices and the desire of shareholders to maximize returns, outsourcing has usually triumphed.

Although outsourcing is often motivated by the desire for cost reduction, health care's version may offer substantial advantages for patients.

For example, many hospitals now purchase interpretation services from outside companies, whose interpreters often speak a range of languages that individual hospitals cannot match. Outsourcing could also provide patients with access to specialized care that would otherwise be unavailable. A group of mammography experts, for example, could read remotely transmitted mammograms obtained at community hospitals, replacing less specialized radiologists. Herzlinger praised the “focused factory” in the predigital era, using examples (such as the “hernia hospital”) that required the physical presence of patients. 

In a “dis-located” world, patients may benefit from some of the quality advantages of focused factories without the burdensome travel.

Outsourcing is often initially endorsed by local providers, since the off-site professionals begin by doing work the locals are happy to forgo, such as nighttime reading of radiographs. (Most of today's overseas teleradiology is designed to capitalize on time differences — Indian radiologists read films while U.S. radiologists are sleeping.) If the arrangement meets its goals (whether these are saving money, getting a late-night dictation into the chart by morning, or allowing a radiologist a full night's sleep), its scope is bound to grow, as administrators consider other candidates for outsourcing — analysis of pathology specimens or reading of echocardiograms and even colonoscopies. By severing the connection between the “assay” and its interpretation, digitization allows the assay to be performed by a lower-wage technician at the patient's bedside and the more cognitively complex interpretation to be performed by a physician who no longermneeds to be in the building — or the country.

For the completereport go to : The “Dis-location” of U.S. Medicine — The Implications of Medical Outsourcing — NEJM

3/26/17

Tourism: Travel trends for 2017: City - Sand - Sea

Dutch Beach: sometimes the beach is closer than you think
Where to go on holiday in 2017? To help potential customers decide, the travel companies have already got their catalogues out. And most agree that safety will again be a top priority among holiday-makers in 2017.

The facts and figures of the past months give the tourism industry cause for optimism: the demand for holiday offerings continues unabated - in spite of the lingering threat of terrorism. The UNWTO World Tourism barometer indicated an increase of 1.6 percent in overnight stays within Europe for the turbulent year 2016. So European tourism is still growing, even if no longer as rapidly as in previous years. And safety still ranks as the top selling point.

Spain and Portugal were last year’s most popular destinations and look set to top the list for 2017, as well. Travel companies are expanding their hotel capacities wherever they can.  Tui, the world’s largest tour operator, has acquired a good 20 percent more hotels on the Canary Islands alone. FTI has taken on 75 new hotels, and Alltours a full 100. But the beach capacity remains the same. Will vacationers find a spot to spread their towels on such overcrowded stretches of sand? In any case, they’ll have to splash out more cash for their summer vacation in Spain than in previous years. Prices are going up, as well.

Turkey registered 33-percent fewer tourists in 2016. Whether the sector has any real chance exists to recover from such a steep drop remains to be seen. The tour operators haven’t started cutting hotel capacity just yet, but they’ve slashed the prices: Tui by five percent, Thomas Cook and Neckermann by eight percent. The hotels offer the same high quality for less money. But will such a bargain be enough to counter holiday-makers’ fears in 2017? 
 
Read more: Travel trends for 2017: City - Sand - Sea | DW Travel | DW.COM | 06.01.2017

Germany: Should Germany Really Have to Spend More on Defense?

It is not on track to meet NATO commitments, but Germany argues it is paying in other ways.

In 2014, at the request of U.S. President Obama, all NATO member countries including Germany pledged to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. The Trump Administration has made more vocal requests.
2. Germany spends just 1.1% of its GDP on defense as of 2016, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
3. The Defense Ministry plans to raise that share to 1.22% in 2017, with additional commitments for marginal increases through 2020.
4. This would still be close to €25 billion short of 2% each year.
5. However, calls to increase German defense spending faster have been rejected by German foreign minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.
6. Germany’s foreign minister argues that spending on security extends to more than just military and defense, and includes development aid, climate change mitigation and spending on refugees.
7. Germany’s €19 billion in the 2017 budget for spending on refugee and asylum-seeker resettlement – many from countries of previous U.S. war operations, such as Afghanistan or Iraq – equals about 0.5% of GDP.
8. This resettlement spending thus makes up 1.75% – nearly 2% – when combined with projected direct defense spending.

Read more: Should Germany Really Have to Spend More on Defense? - The Globalist

Russia protests dictatorial rule: Opposition leader Navalny and hundreds others arrested

Can Anti-Putin Protests in Russia topple the "strong man" ?
Russia's main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been arrested at an anti-corruption protest he organised in the capital, Moscow.

Thousands of people joined rallies nationwide, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations.

At least 500 other protesters were detained in the capital and across the country.
Most of the marches were illegal, organised without official permission.

TV pictures showed demonstrators chanting "Down with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin!", "Russia without Putin!" and "Putin is a thief!".

Alexei Navalny: Anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has long been the most prominent face of Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

And last year he announced his intention to run for president in 2018, saying it was important to have a "clash of ideas" and a real choice.

But he may be forced to abort his plan after his conviction by a Russian court of embezzlement, which would bar him from any candidacy.

He denies the accusations, and says his legal troubles are Kremlin reprisals for his fierce criticism. 

Another issue which must be seen as extremely troubling by opposition forces in Russia and freedom of speech activists around the world are President Vladimir Putin's plans to create a major international news agency called Rossiya Segodnya, or Russia Today, is being seen as a significant move in Moscow's strategy to influence world opinion. But it has also raised concerns about further curbs on media freedom in Russia itself.

The new agency is to be headed by Dmitry Kiselev, one of Russian TV's most notorious anchors, known for his extreme anti-Western and homophobic views.

Mr Putin's decree liquidating state-owned news agency RIA Novosti and the Kremlin's international radio station, Voice of Russia, and replacing them with Russia Today came like a bolt from the blue.

Both RIA Novosti and Voice of Russia have been stalwarts of the media scene for several decades. They were founded way back in the Soviet past, in 1941 and 1929, respectively.

RIA Novosti has been a particularly valued outlet which, although state-owned, has reflected a diversity of opinion in some of its output. Its court reporting service RAPSI also recently won an award for, among other things, its live transmissions of the trial of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Pro-Kremlin commentator Sergey Markov wrote on Facebook that the agency's demise may be linked to its coverage of anti-Putin protests in 2012 and the apparent sympathy of some of its journalists for the opposition.

Rossiya Segodnya, or Russia Today seems likely, therefore, that it will complement the work of the state-funded foreign-language TV station, RT, which when it was launched in 2005 was also known as Russia Today.

The new agency will be a "huge machine for propaganda in the West", tweeted liberal website editor Roman Fedoseyev.

The most controversial aspect of Russia Today's launch was the appointment of Mr Kiselev as its director-general.

Known back in the 1990s as one of the faces of "independent journalism", Mr Kiselev has recently become notorious for his extreme and sometimes bizarre diatribes in his role as a top anchor on official channel Rossiya 1.

He has likened Kremlin opponents at home and abroad to the Nazis, used a Swedish children's TV show about toilet training to exemplify "Western values", and repeatedly demonised homosexuals.

EU-Digest

EU @ 60: Brexit having 'opposite effect'

As the European Union marks its 60th anniversary, Brexit hangs over the bloc like a black cloud on a stormy day.

But one French newspaper correspondent says the divorce is likely to be an isolated one.

“The Brexit had exactly the opposite effect of what was expected. There’s been no domino effect, the exact reverse in fact. No-one announced that they would hold a referendum, so there was no ‘Polxit,’ ‘Nexit,’ etcetera,” said Jean Quatremer, from the Liberation newspaper.

“The most Eurosceptic countries said ‘no, no, we want to stay, we won’t do like the British.’ But public opinion awakened, that is to say those were somewhat anaesthetised by the thought that now makes up euroscepticism and europhobia, have woken up because people are not stupid,” he continued.

“The fact there’s been no war in Europe for more than 70 years, that even if there are inequalities, even if there is unemployment in some countries, it is infinitely less worse than the rest of the world.

“It is an area that attracts the rest of the world, there are not many European refugees in Africa, the Middle East, or even the US. So basically, citizens are much more attached to community building than we imagined.”

Read more: EU @ 60: Brexit having 'opposite effect' | Euronews

EU′s Juncker unveils post-Brexit vision for bloc


Presenting five options to the European Parliament on Wednesday, Juncker said it was time for European Union members to once again become "pioneers" to carve out a new future for the EU at 27, referring to the bloc's 27 remaining members after the UK withdraws.

His speech comes just weeks before British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, to begin the country's official divorce proceedings from the EU.

The former Luxembourg prime minister insisted that "as painful as Brexit will be, it will not stop the EU as it moves to the future."

Juncker laid out five "pathways to unity" for EU leaders to consider at a special summit in Rome on March 25 to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding treaty.

Another option would see Brussels pull back from many areas, including regional development, health, employment and social policy. Alternatively, the bloc could maintain the status quo, Juncker said, with limited progress on strengthening the euro single currency and limited defense cooperation.

The fifth option would involve a more federalist approach, "sharing more power, resources and decision-making across the board."

During his speech, Juncker hit out at "permanent Brussels bashing" by populist politicians all over the bloc, insisting that the EU was not responsible for each country's problems.

But he conceded that Brussels had often been put on a pedestal, and had failed to keep many of its ambitious promises, for example, addressing the bloc's high unemployment rate.

Looking to the future, Juncker said: "Our task will be to say clearly what Europe can and cannot do."

He called for EU states to respond to his suggestions by the end of the year, and decide on a course of action by the European Parliament elections in June 2019.

Note EU Digest: we support a strong and independent EU, as we have always done. But we have also voiced fo, and continue to do so, for more citizen involvement in the day to day running of EU, including to having the President of the Commission being elected by popular vote for a period of 5 years. 

Read more: EU′s Juncker unveils post-Brexit vision for bloc | News | DW.COM | 01.03.2017

3/25/17

USA: Why not Medicare for everyone. ?

An article written back in 2009 says it all. No need to reinvent the wheel for the US in designing a new national health-care program 

Instead put every citizen on Medicare. And if one asks: How would it be paid for. It probably would cost less than what it costs today to pay for Obama Care and in case additional funds are needed to finance the program, use some from the huge military budget.

No need for the US to be spending taxpayers money on a military budget which is larger than those of the largest 7 countries military budgets on the list put together. Get real not richer my dear Republican friends.. 

EU: Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum - by Eszter Zalan

The EU 27 leaders recommitted their vows to European integration in Rome on Saturday (25 March) amid warnings that the bloc's unity remains fragile.

The heads of state and government met in the same Renaissance-era palace where the six founding countries signed the Treaty of Rome on 25 March, 1957, to establish the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

Read more: Rome summit tries to restart EU momentum