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1/31/17

Netherlands- Border Controls: Netherlands Freezes Border Control Negotiations with US

"We ain't scared of big barking US bullies"
Local Dutch news reports that the Netherlands has frozen negotiations with the US on cooperation between the two nations’ border control authorities, which were aimed at allowing people traveling to the US from the Netherlands International Schiphol Airport to pass through US-authorized border control at that Airport to avoid waiting in lines once they arrive in the US.

The Dutch government said it did not see the possibility for continuing talks in light of the travel ban imposed on seven predominantly Muslim countries by the Trump administration – a policy which the Netherlands Government considers discriminatory.

EU-Digest

USA: A futuristic Outlook: How Donald Trump Could Build an Autocracy in the U.S. -

t’s 2021, and President Donald Trump will shortly be sworn in for his second term. The 45th president has visibly aged over the past four years. He rests heavily on his daughter Ivanka’s arm during his infrequent public appearances.

Fortunately for him, he did not need to campaign hard for reelection. His has been a popular presidency: Big tax cuts, big spending, and big deficits have worked their familiar expansive magic.

Wages have grown strongly in the Trump years, especially for men without a college degree, even if rising inflation is beginning to bite into the gains. The president’s supporters credit his restrictive immigration policies and his TrumpWorks infrastructure program.

The president’s critics, meanwhile, have found little hearing for their protests and complaints. A Senate investigation of Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential campaign sputtered into inconclusive partisan wrangling. Concerns about Trump’s purported conflicts of interest excited debate in Washington but never drew much attention from the wider American public.

Allegations of fraud and self-dealing in the TrumpWorks program, and elsewhere, have likewise been shrugged off. The president regularly tweets out news of factory openings and big hiring announcements: “I’m bringing back your jobs,” he has said over and over. Voters seem to have believed him—and are grateful.

ost Americans intuit that their president and his relatives have become vastly wealthier over the past four years. But rumors of graft are easy to dismiss. Because Trump has never released his tax returns, no one really knows.

Anyway, doesn’t everybody do it? On the eve of the 2018 congressional elections, WikiLeaks released years of investment statements by prominent congressional Democrats indicating that they had long earned above-market returns. As the air filled with allegations of insider trading and crony capitalism, the public subsided into weary cynicism. The Republicans held both houses of Congress that November, and Trump loyalists shouldered aside the pre-Trump leadership.

The business community learned its lesson early. “You work for me, you don’t criticize me,” the president was reported to have told one major federal contractor, after knocking billions off his company’s stock-market valuation with an angry tweet. Wise business leaders take care to credit Trump’s personal leadership for any good news, and to avoid saying anything that might displease the president or his family.

The media have grown noticeably more friendly to Trump as well. The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner was delayed for more than a year, during which Time Warner’s CNN unit worked ever harder to meet Trump’s definition of fairness. Under the agreement that settled the Department of Justice’s antitrust complaint against Amazon, the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has divested himself of The Washington Post. The paper’s new owner—an investor group based in Slovakia—has closed the printed edition and refocused the paper on municipal politics and lifestyle coverage.

Meanwhile, social media circulate ever-wilder rumors. Some people believe them; others don’t. It’s hard work to ascertain what is true.

Nobody’s repealed the First Amendment, of course, and Americans remain as free to speak their minds as ever—provided they can stomach seeing their timelines fill up with obscene abuse and angry threats from the pro-Trump troll armies that police Facebook and Twitter. Rather than deal with digital thugs, young people increasingly drift to less political media like Snapchat and Instagram.

Trump-critical media do continue to find elite audiences. Their investigations still win Pulitzer Prizes; their reporters accept invitations to anxious conferences about corruption, digital-journalism standards, the end of nato, and the rise of populist authoritarianism. Yet somehow all of this earnest effort feels less and less relevant to American politics. President Trump communicates with the people directly via his Twitter account, ushering his supporters toward favorable information at Fox News or Breitbart.

Read more: How Donald Trump Could Build an Autocracy in the U.S. - The Atlantic

Britain: More than a million sign petition for Trump state visit to be cancelled

A royal invitation for Donald Trump to pay a state visit to Britain must be withdrawn says a petition on parliament’s website that has gathered well over a million signatures.

The grassroots backlash against the US President was at the heart of stormy exchanges in the House of Commons on Monday.

Theresa May’s Conservative government insists the visit will go ahead despite Trump’s immigration crackdown.

“This is of course a highly controversial policy which has caused unease and I repeat this is not an approach that this government would take,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs.

“But let me conclude by reminding the house of the vital importance of this country’s alliance with the United States.”

Read more: UK: More than a million sign petition for Trump state visit to be cancelled | Euronews

USA -"The Trump Goebels": Meet Steve Bannon, Trump’s front man to fight all wars

Steve Bannon
Furor and global protests over an executive order curbing immigration? Just some whiners who can’t get over the fact that Donald Trump is president. News media complaining about access and fake news? They should keep their mouth shut and “just listen for a while”. No mentioning of Jews in a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day? No regrets.

The reactions emanating from the White House to the latest public controversies bear the fingerprints of a man who is emerging as the most important power centre inside Trump’s inner circle (with the possible exception of son-in-law Jared Kushner): Steve Bannon, top political advisor and former chairman of Breitbart News, an outlet that spreads white supremacist views and peddles racist and misogynist conspiracy theories.

Like pre-November Trump, Bannon has never been elected to office or gained governing experience. Before moving into Trump’s orbit he had been a naval officer, investment banker, minor Hollywood player, and political impresario whom Bloomberg Politics back in 2015 called “the most dangerous political operative in America”.

In the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, Bannon was instrumental in bringing down Jeb Bush and later Hillary Clinton by feeding information of alleged financial shenanigans to mainstream news media which gave those stories an aura of reliability – and contributed to constant negative headlines about the Clinton Foundation, for example.

After the election, Bannon’s appointment as a key Trump advisor and strategist with office space in the White House caused an uproar among Democrats and in the media. Countless Breitbart articles were quoted as proof that Bannon is anti-Semitic, anti-minority or anti-women. Bannon and Trump could not care less.

Last Friday, another outcry: Trump, reorganising the National Security Council, the top inter-agency group advising the president on national security, elevated his chief political strategist by making him a permanent NSC member.

At the same time, the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will now attend meetings only when “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed”, according to the presidential memorandum issued Saturday.

“It is a startling elevation of a political advisor”, wrote the New York Times, “to a status alongside the secretaries of state and defense, and over the president’s top military and intelligence advisors”.

In theory, the move puts Bannon on the same level as Michael Flynn, the national security advisor, a former Pentagon intelligence chief who was Trump’s top advisor on national security issues before a series of missteps reduced his influence.

But Bannon’s elevation does not merely reflect his growing influence on national security. “It is emblematic of Trump’s trust on a range of political and ideological issues. During the campaign, the sly and provocative Bannon played a paradoxical role — calming the easily agitated candidate during his frequent rough patches and egging him on when he felt Trump needed to fire up the white working-class base,” wrote the Times.

Trump respects Bannon because he is independently wealthy and therefore does not need the job, and both men ascribe to a shoot-the-prisoners credo when put on the defensive, according to the former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Trump and Bannon share the same version of “America First,” something former labour secretary Robert Reich calls outright “dangerous”. “Such a vision would only alienate America from the rest of the world, destroying our nation’s moral authority abroad and risking everything we love about our country,” Reich, who is an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, writes on his blog.

“Unsupervised by people who know what they’re doing, Trump and Bannon could also bring the world closer to a nuclear holocaust,” Reich concludes.

Reich’s assessment might be seen by many as over the top. Yet Bannon believes that the West is already at war with a “new barbarity” of Islamic terrorism that threatens to wipe out centuries of progress.

“We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it. We’re at the very beginning stages of a global conflict, and if we do not bind together as partners with others in other countries, then this conflict is only going to metastasize,” Bannon said at a conference in Rome in 2014.

“It’s going global in scale, and today’s technology, today’s media, today’s access to weapons of mass destruction, it’s going to lead to a global conflict that I believe has to be confronted today. Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is, and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it, will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act.”

Read more: Meet Steve Bannon, Trump’s front man to fight all wars | Euronews

Anti - Trump Resistance growing: Peru, Colombia vow to stand with Mexico against Trump

Peru and Colombia vowed to stand with Mexico as the country faces an uncertain economic future and grapples with a crisis with the United States just days into U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said members of the Latin American trade bloc the Pacific Alliance must double down on efforts to open markets and strengthen ties as they navigate the “turbulent waters” of protectionist rhetoric.

Peru, Colombia, Chile and Mexico formed the Pacific Alliance in 2011 to remove obstacles to trade and orient their markets to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.

“Right now one of us is facing serious difficulties that are not of its own making,” Kuczynski said in reference to Mexico as he sat beside his Colombian counterpart on an official visit. “We have to stand together on our ideals, on global trade which has done us so much good.”

Though Kuczynski did not mention Trump by name, his comments were some of the first rumblings of displeasure with the Trump administration from traditional U.S. allies in Latin America.

Read more: Peru, Colombia vow to stand with Mexico against Trump | New York Post

1/30/17

Canada Terrorism: Trump Silent As Quebec Mosque Terrorist Is White Christian Pro-Trump Fanatic - by Colin Taylor

Canadian police have just identified the lone gunman who attacked a Quebec mosque during prayers last night, killing five praying Muslims and injuring eight. Alexandre Bissonnettte, a Quebec native, has been taken into police custody.

Not surprisingly, Bissonnette’s Facebook page  (since taken down) shows that he “likes” Donald Trump and far-right, Islamophobic French politician Marine Le Pen. He also likes the Christian site Reasonable Faith. Here’s a screenshot from Bassinet’s Facebook page, taken before it was deleted, according to Heavy.com:

Bissonnettte is ardently pro-Trump and anti-Islam, according to a former classmate of his from Université Laval, who told Heavy.com that Bissonnettte “has right-wing political ideas, pro-Israel, anti-immigration. I had many debates with him about Trump. He was obviously pro-Trump.

Furthermore, a Facebook group called “Welcome to Refugees – Quebec City” posted that it was familiar with Bissonnettte, and that he is “unfortunately known to several activists in Quebec City for his pro-Le Pen and anti-feminist identity positions at Université Laval and on social networks.” Le Pen is an ardent anti-Muslim French politician who has been closely linked to Trump in the past.

So let’s recap: one day after Donald Trump bans Muslims from several countries because, he claims, they pose a threat to the West, one of HIS deranged followers shoots up a crowd of Muslims whose only crime was peacefully practicing their faith.

Obviously, religions do not create terrorism, only terrorists do. But will Donald Trump now ban Canadian Christians from entering the United States? This tragic incident perfectly illustrates why blaming entire religions for violence is not only hateful and bigoted, but stupid and counterproductive.

Donald Trump’s Twitter has been uncharacteristically silent since the identity of the gunman was revealed. Hypocrisy, thy name is Donald Trump!
 
Read more: Trump Silent As Quebec Mosque Terrorist Is White Christian Pro-Trump Fanatic

USA: Don't Call Trump a Liar—He Doesn't Even Care About the Truth - by Lauren Griffin

If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past week or so, you know that last weekend America was introduced to the concept of “alternative facts.” After Trump administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer rebuked the media for accurately reporting the relatively small crowds at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Spicer wasn’t lying; he was simply using “alternative facts.”

Read more: Don't Call Trump a Liar—He Doesn't Even Care About the Truth

EU versus Trump: European Leaders Reject Trump’s Refugee Ban as Violating Principles - by Alison Smale

Reflecting mounting European anger and astonishment at President Trump, several countries on Sunday rejected — sometimes in blunt terms — his ban on all refugees and the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries entering the United States.

Read more: European Leaders Reject Trump’s Refugee Ban as Violating Principles - The New York Times

Terrorism and Refugees: Records show that no refugees carried out in the United States

Trump’s executive order bans travel from seven countries — Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Iran — but it does not ban travel from residents of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. In addition, the K-1 fiancee program remains in place.

New York and New Jersey explosions

Ahmad Khan Rahimi faces an array of bombing, weapons and attempted murder charges in two on September 17, 2016, incidents. He is accused of detonating bombs in New Jersey and in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. The explosion in Chelsea injured 29 people.

Rahimi was born in Afghanistan and first came to the United States in 1995, following several years after his father arrived seeking asylum. Rahimi became a naturalized US citizen in 2011. He had recently spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.

Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan is on Trump’s list of banned countries.

Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting

Omar Mateen, the man who shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, was an American citizen living in Fort Pierce, Florida. He was born in New York, and his parents were from Afghanistan.

His widow, Noor Salman, was arrested earlier this month on charges of obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting her husband’s material support to ISIS. She grew up in Rodeo, California, and her parents immigrated to the United States from the West Bank in 1985, according to The New York Times.

Neither Afghanistan nor the West Bank is included on the list of banned countries.

Boston Marathon bombings

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, were born in Kyrgyzstan to parents originally from war-torn Chechnya.

The Tsarnaev family arrived in the United States when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was 8 years old, and they applied for and were granted political asylum. The process for applying for political asylum is different from the process of arriving as a refugee.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother, became a naturalized citizen in September 2012.

Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan are not included on the list of banned countries.

World Trade Center, September 11, 2001

Read more: How many terror attacks have refugees carried out in the United States? | fox13now.com

USA: Trump's executive order: Amateur hour at the White House? - by Anthony Zurcher

 For those who don't remember, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, President George W Bush publicly praised his emergency management head, Michael Brown, for doing a "heckuva job" with recovery efforts.

That comment was hung around the president's neck like an anvil, as flood waters swamped parts of New Orleans and the city descended into chaos. It started a public approval downward spiral that led to sweeping Democratic victories in the 2006 mid-term elections.

History will judge the long-term impact of Mr Trump's Friday afternoon immigration order, but his early praise for its implementation will not easily be forgotten.

"It's working out very nicely," Mr Trump said in a brief response to a question on Saturday afternoon. "You see it in the airports, you see it all over. It's working out very nicely, and we are going to have a very, very strict ban, and we are going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years."

On the ground at major US airports, things weren't going quite so nicely, however. Immigration officials were having a difficult time implementing Mr Trump's order after receiving conflicting instructions on who to bar from entry into the US - and what to do with them once they were held. And as the day progressed, and word spread of the detentions, crowds of protesters at international terminals grew from dozens to hundreds to thousands.

While on the campaign trail, it was easy for Mr Trump to roundly decry the US immigration system as broken and make a general call for bans and moratoriums. As president, however, his team has had to fill in the details - and it seems they faced some difficulty translating his pre-election rhetoric into policy.

Mr Trump's Friday afternoon executive order reportedly was crafted without consulting legal aides and enacted over the objection of homeland security officials, who balked at including permanent US residents in the ban.

Read more: Trump's executive order: Amateur hour at the White House? - BBC News

1/29/17

EU-USA Relations: Is this tiny snail the reason Donald Trump hates the EU?

IDonald Trump has made no secret of his dislike for the European Union. He has praised the UK’s decision to leave the bloc repeatedly, characteristically describing it as a “wonderful thing”.

The man widely tipped to be the new US ambassador to Europe, Ted Malloch, put it this way in an interview with Buzzfeed : “He doesn’t like an organisation that is supranational, that is unelected, where the bureaucrats run amok, and is not frankly a proper democracy.”

But Trump himself, who avowedly relies on his personal experiences to shape his decision-making, offered this insight during an press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May:
“I had a very bad experience, I have — I had something when I was in my other world, I have something in another country and getting the approvals from Europe was very, very tough. Getting the approvals from the country was fast, easy and efficient. Getting the approvals from the group — I call them the consortium — was very, very tough.”

It’s possible that Trump was alluding to an attempt to build a sea wall around a golf course he owned in Ireland. Environmentalists opposed the move on the grounds that it threatened coastal dunes and the habitat of the narrow-mouthed whorl snail. Both are protected by EU legislation and Trump’s company ultimately backed down on the ground approval was taking too long..

In addition to a well-known passion for walls , the US president has proven sceptical towards environmental protections

However, his animosity towards the EU clearly goes much deeper: he has predicted that other countries will follow the UK in dropping their membership; threatened European businesses with import tariffs; and strongly criticised the bloc’s immigration policy .

Read more: Is this tiny snail the reason Donald Trump hates the EU? | Euronews

Russia-USA Relations: Trump and Putin’s New "Oligarchic International" - by Alexei Bayer

Ever since Donald Trump began running for President of the United States, he has managed to heap abuse on pretty much everyone.

His targets range from the Mexicans to the Chinese and include plenty of Americans, from actress Meryl Streep to Rep. John Lewis.

The one man who can do no wrong by Trump is Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

It may seem like a strange affinity between a fat cat real estate developer and an ex-KGB colonel who devoted the first half of his life to the cause of burying capitalism.

There have been claims that Putin holds “kompromat” on Trump – damaging materials such as sex tapes – forcing the new U.S. president to sing to Putin’s tune.

While such kompromat material may exist, there is a less conspiratorial explanation why the two are bromancing together — and what kind of world order they are starting to build jointly.

“The working men have no country,” Marx and Engels declared in their Communist Manifesto back in 1848. They famously called for the proletariat of the world to unite because they regarded nationality was a fake distinction. What truly mattered, they said, was class solidarity.

The first Socialist International was founded in London in 1864 and “The Internationale” became its anthem.

The global super-rich class emerged nearly four decades ago. Its members hail from different countries and different walks of life. They have different professional backgrounds and earn their money in a variety of legal, semi-legal and criminal ways.

They ranged from the heirs of the Rothschilds to wildly successful tech entrepreneurs and the investors who backed them.

The class includes financial speculators, bankers, heads of publicly traded companies, with their huge bonuses and golden parachutes, sports and entertainment superstars and so on.
And, of course, let’s not forget the kleptocrats, the oil sheiks and the drug barons.

Each in his own way, Trump and Putin are extreme exemplars of this group. Putin is probably the world’s richest – and most shameless – kleptocrat. He has turned Russia into the world’s first nuclear armed mafia state.

His policy of destabilizing the United States and the European Union and whipping up nationalism at home has been designed with one purpose in mind – to keep himself and his super-rich cronies in power.

Putin claims to be a Russian patriot, but he is bleeding Russia dry and shamelessly, but effectively corrupting all of its institutions.

Trump is not just a billionaire himself (even though no one knows for sure whether he is, because he tends to exaggerate his net worth). His business model also directly caters to them, since his buildings attract the super-wealthy.

Contrary to his sloganeering, Trump doesn’t give a damn about America (and “making it great again.”) Short of finally triggering an American Revolution – an event for which the world is still waiting — America can hardly be any “greater” for him and his ilk than it is right now.

n fact, Trump seems to hate the United States, to judge from how viciously he attacks other Americans and how he is now debasing a proud American institution, the Presidency. Needless to say, like any true oligarch, he has paid no taxes for years.

Trump may wear a stars ‘n’ stripes lapel pin, but his loyalty lies elsewhere — with the nation of the super-rich. He and Putin are countrymen.

It has been asserted that once he assumes the presidency, Trump will sacrifice American interests in favor of Russian ones. It is a mistake to make that assumption.

Putin cares as little about Russia as Trump does about America. The two only care about making the world safe for themselves and all the other super-rich. They might was well adopt a common slogan: Oligarchs of the World Unite!

Read more: Trump and Putin’s New "Oligarchic International" - The Globalist

1/28/17

Muslim Immigrants and Refugees: Trump’s Order Blocks Immigrants at Airports, Stoking Fear Around Globe

President Trump’s executive order on immigration quickly reverberated through the United States and across the globe on Saturday, slamming the border shut for an Iranian scientist headed to a lab in Boston, an Iraqi who had worked as an interpreter for the United States Army, and a Syrian refugee family headed to a new life in Ohio, among countless others.

Around the nation, security officers at major international gateways had new rules to follow. Humanitarian organizations scrambled to cancel long-planned programs, delivering the bad news to families who were about to travel. Refugees who were airborne on flights when the order was signed were detained at airports.

Reports rapidly surfaced Saturday morning of students attending American universities who were blocked from getting back into the United States from visits abroad. One student said in a Twitter post that he would be unable to study at Yale. Another who attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was refused permission to board a plane. Stanford University was reportedly working to help a Sudanese student return to California.

Human rights groups reported that legal permanent residents of the United States who hold green cards were being stopped in foreign airports as they sought to return from funerals, vacations or study abroad — a clear indication that Mr. Trump’s directive is being applied broadly.

President Trump’s executive order on immigration quickly reverberated through the United States and across the globe on Saturday, slamming the border shut for an Iranian scientist headed to a lab in Boston, an Iraqi who had worked as an interpreter for the United States Army, and a Syrian refugee family headed to a new life in Ohio, among countless others.

Around the nation, security officers at major international gateways had new rules to follow. Humanitarian organizations scrambled to cancel long-planned programs, delivering the bad news to families who were about to travel. Refugees who were airborne on flights when the order was signed were detained at airports.

Reports rapidly surfaced Saturday morning of students attending American universities who were blocked from getting back into the United States from visits abroad. One student said in a Twitter post that he would be unable to study at Yale. Another who attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was refused permission to board a plane. Stanford University was reportedly working to help a Sudanese student return to California.

Human rights groups reported that legal permanent residents of the United States who hold green cards were being stopped in foreign airports as they sought to return from funerals, vacations or study abroad — a clear indication that Mr. Trump’s directive is being applied broadly.

Read more: Trump’s Order Blocks Immigrants at Airports, Stoking Fear Around Globe - The New York Times

EU-US Relations: The EU is urged to "stand firm against Trump"


Europe is being urged to stand firm in the face of rhetoric coming from the new US president.

The French President says EU member states should remain steadfast whenever Donald Trump urges them to follow the UK’s decision to split with Brussels.

This, Francois Hollande says, is Trump trying to undermine the integrity of the EU.

“Whenever there are statements coming from the president of the United States on Europe and whenever he talks of Brexit as a model for other countries, I believe we should respond,” Hollande said on the sidelines of a summit in Portugal.

Note EU-Digest: Of course Europe must respond - specially following remarks by an ego-maniac like Trump

Read more: The EU is urged to "stand firm against Trump" | Euronews

1/27/17

EU-Digest and Almere-Digest Poll resuls show skepticism in Europe about Trump election

The combined results of the EU-Digest and Almere-Digest Poll on the question : Is the election of Donald Trump good for the EU  which ran from the day Donald Trump was declared the winner of the US Presidential Election was closed on January 27 showed skepticism in Europe about Donald Trumps election as it relates to the EU..

Only 2 % of those polled considered his election favorable for the EU, while 78 % polled considered it unfavorable,. 10 % had no opinion either way and another 10% had a variety of opinions ranging from extremely critical to neutral -"wait and see".

EU-Digest
 

Britain-US Relations: Theresa May flies into a storm as state visit is overshadowed by Donald Trump's extreme policy announcements

Theresa May’s historic visit to America was mired in controversy tonight as Donald Trump’s presidency was rocked by a wave of fresh scandals.

As the Prime Minister touched down in Philadelphia she indicated that the UK could stop sharing intelligence with the CIA after Mr Trump gave his backing to waterboarding in tackling Isis
.
Asked about British rules stating that British spies cannot work with nations that use torture, Ms May said: “We condemn torture and my view on that won't change – whether I’m talking to you or talking to the President.”

Her rebuke to Mr Trump came as his fledgling presidency was hit by a series of new controversies, including:
  • The Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, cancelled a meeting with Mr Trump in Washington next week a day after Mr Trump unveiled his plan to build a wall between the US and MexicoHuman rights groups expressed alarm over Mr Trump’s decision to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants in the US, saying the “shocking” and “xenophobic” move will “terrorise communities across the US”.
  • The entire senior level of management officials at the US State Department resigned – hours after a visit from new incoming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
  • The President was due to sign an executive order launching an investigation into voter fraud during the US election, despite Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan saying he had seen “no evidence” of problems.
  • Human rights groups expressed alarm over Mr Trump’s decision to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants in the US, saying the “shocking” and “xenophobic” move will “terrorise communities across the US”.
Read more: Theresa May flies into a storm as state visit is overshadowed by Donald Trump's extreme policy announcements | The Independent

EU-US Relations: Eurozone closes ranks after US attacks on the euro

Eurozone finance ministers closed ranks to defend the euro after the man tipped to be the US ambassador to the EU, Ted Malloch, said the currency “could collapse” within 18 months. 

Read more: Eurozone closes ranks after US attacks on the euro | Euronews

Britain: Ending The UK's Free Trade Fantasies - by Mark Manger

Theresa May’s highly anticipated speech on 17 January showed that slowly but surely, the UK government is realising the constraints of global trade rules. At last, the aims regarding future relations with the EU are becoming clear: Britain will leave the single market, end the free movement of EU citizens to the UK, set its own tariffs, but also seek a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU.

Negotiating a free trade agreement according to Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and Article 5 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) has considerable advantages over the nebulous plans ministers have floated before, not least that it is a coherent strategy. It is also an obvious position that best serves the UK’s interests, and that many observers, including myself, hoped the UK government would assume once one of the best British qualities – being able to keep a cool head under fire – reasserted itself.

In principle, such an agreement could come very close to genuine free trade, especially because in these unprecedented negotiations, the partners start without tariffs on bilateral trade. Any duties resulting from the negotiations must fall between zero and the current EU tariffs on imports from WTO members who do not receive any preferential treatment. The EU cannot legally charge higher tariffs than the latter. And fortunately, the EU’s external tariffs are among the world’s lowest everywhere except in agriculture. Nonetheless, with the UK being much more dependent on the EU’s market than vice versa, the situation remains highly asymmetrical.

The UK’s best alternative to a negotiated agreement is often referred to as the ‘WTO option.’ That is also true for the EU. Research on bargaining suggests that in this case, the UK will offer almost tariff-free access for EU exports, while the EU will grant marginally better access than it currently offers to WTO members. On services, the EU will likely roll back access considerably. In fact, that is the pattern of most free trade agreements the EU has negotiated so far.

The general parameters of an EU-UK free trade agreement can therefore be predicted. Clearly, this policy choice comes with a significant economic cost in terms of market access, but the government appears willing to make such a trade-off. In principle, such an agreement should not even take long to negotiate. That it took months for the government to sort out its position and understand basic principles of global trade rules, however, suggests that it is still not listening to Whitehall enough. Or perhaps, as feared by many, that the government still lacks an understanding of essential trade policy principles. Building up such capacity now is imperative if the UK is to be able to secure a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU in a reasonable time frame.

Read more: Ending The UK's Free Trade Fantasies

1/26/17

PRIVACY RIGHTS EU CITIZENS IN JEOPARDY: Trump order strips privacy rights from non-U.S. citizens, could nix EU-US data flows | TechCrunch

An Executive Order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump in his first few days in office could jeopardize a six-month-old data transfer framework that enables EU citizens’ personal data to flow to the U.S. for processing — with the promise of ‘essentially equivalent’ privacy protection once it gets there.

Close to 1,500 companies have signed up to the framework so far, which only got up and running in August, following a multi-year negotiation process.

MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on data protection regulation, tweeted earlier today suggesting that Trump’s presidential order, signed yesterday, might invalidate Privacy Shield.

A member of the EU parliament reacted as follows: "If this is true the EU Commission must immediately suspend the Privacy Shield agreement it has with the US"

Read more: Trump order strips privacy rights from non-U.S. citizens, could nix EU-US data flows | TechCrunch

Mexico-US Relations: Mexican president cancels meeting with Trump (after being insulted) - by David Jackson

President Trump's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico drove a diplomatic divide between the two countries Thursday, as Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a scheduled meeting with the new American president.

Trump, speaking to a congressional Republican retreat in Philadelphia, said he and Peña Nieto "agreed" to the cancellation; the president said he has made it clear to Mexico that it will finance the proposed wall and that the U.S. will seek changes to trade agreement with its southern neighbor.

“Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route," Trump said. "We have no choice.”

Read more: Mexican president cancels meeting with Trump

The Have and Have's not: Bill Gates could become world’s first trillionaire

Microsoft founder Bill Gates could become the first dollar trillionaire in 25 years, according to Oxfam, an international network of organizations collectively working to tackle global poverty.

Given the exponential growth of his wealth Gates would have earned his first $1 trillion by the time he is 86 in 2042.

When Bill Gates left Microsoft in 2006, his was worth $50 billion. In the next decade his wealth has increased to $75 billion, "despite his commendable attempts to give it away through his Foundation," the report said, as quoted by CNBC.


Read more: Bill Gates could become world’s first trillionaire — RT Business

Refugees - USA:- EU: Trump Blocks Syrian Refugees and Orders Mexican Border Wall to Be Built- by J.H. Davis

President Trump on Wednesday began a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigration, ordering the immediate construction of a border wall with Mexico and aggressive efforts to find and deport unauthorized immigrants. He planned additional actions to cut back on legal immigration, including barring Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

At the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Trump signed a pair of executive orders that paved the way for a border wall and called for a newly expanded force to sweep up immigrants who are in the country illegally. He revived programs that allow the federal government to work with local and state law enforcement agencies to arrest and detain unauthorized immigrants with criminal records and to share information to help track and deport them.

He also planned to clamp down on legal immigration in another action expected as early as Thursday. An eight-page draft of that executive order, obtained by The New York Times, would indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

Also bar all refugees from the rest of the world for at least 120 days.

When the refugee program resumes, it would be much smaller, with the total number of refugees resettled in the United States this year more than halved, to 50,000 from 110,000.

t would also suspend any immigration for at least 30 days from a number of predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — while the government toughened its already stringent screening procedures to weed out potential terrorists.

White House officials declined to comment on the coming plan, but in a wide-ranging interview that aired Wednesday on ABC, Mr. Trump acknowledged that it aimed to erect formidable barriers for those seeking refuge in the United States.

He also said his administration would “absolutely do safe zones in Syria” to discourage refugees from seeking safety in other countries, and chided Europe and Germany in particular for accepting millions of immigrants. “It’s a disaster, what’s happening there,” Mr. Trump said.

Taken together, the moves would turn the full weight of the federal government to fortifying the United States border, rounding up some of the 11 million people who are in the country illegally and targeting refugees, who are often among the world’s most vulnerable people. It is an aggressive use of presidential power that follows through on the nationalistic vision Mr. Trump presented during his presidential campaign.

“A nation without borders is not a nation,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday at the Department of Homeland Security, where he signed the orders alongside the newly sworn-in secretary, John F. Kelly. “Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders.”

The plans are a sharp break with former President Barack Obama’s approach and what was once a bipartisan consensus to devise a path to citizenship for some of the nation’s illegal immigrants. Mr. Obama, however, angered many immigrant groups by deporting millions of unauthorized workers, largely during his first term.

“It’s going to be very hard to come in,” Mr. Trump said. “Right now, it’s very easy to come in.”

Note E-Digest:  Since Mr. Trump brought up his thoughts on refugees and immigrants entering the US it might also be appropriate, in that same context, to bring up Europe's refugee problems. 

So here we go again in bringing the Refugee Crises in Europe and its causes to the attention of the Public at Large, the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, EU member states government, and last but not least President Trump, who even admitted during his presidential campaign that the US. should never have started the war against Iraq, because it did so under under a false pretext. 

Fact is that the large number of Refugees we are dealing with in the EU and Turkey today, are the direct result of the US invasion of Iraq some 14 years ago. 

This war had a 'snowball' effect  on the Middle East and North Africa and turned the whole area  into a war-zone.  The result of all this today, millions of refugees fleeing to the EU and Turkey..

Hopefully Mr. Trump  will not only apologize to the victims of thye war crimes committed by his fellow Republican President  George Bush, but also compensate the EU for the costs they are incurring as a result of the large inflow of refugees from the Middle East into the EU. 

As the saying goes "if you do the crime you have to do the time." or in this case - please pay up for those costs incurred by the EU on behalf of your country's failed Middle East policies Mr. Trump..  

 Read mor4e: Trump Blocks Syrian Refugees and Orders Mexican Border Wall to Be Built - The New York Times

1/25/17

EU Economy: Germany and EU urged to take advantage of US protectionism

Germany is looking to take advantage of trade opportunities in Asia and South America from the United States turning protectionist.

After President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Trump is shutting doors which can open for other countries.

Gabriel, addressing an energy industry summit in Berlin on Tuesday, said: “Of course, if the US president starts a trade conflict – I don’t want to call it ‘trade war’ – with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and with China. Of course, we in Europe should tell the ASEAN states and also China and India: ‘We have no interest in a trade conflict, we want to be fair partners’ – and we have to ask China to reciprocate – but we should take advantage of the opportunities that open up.”

Of Trump he said: “He will run a protectionist and nationalist programme, and we cannot respond in the same way. We need to act by becoming more competitive, investing in our infrastructure, in digitalisation, in education, we simply need to get better. And we need to look for partners who want to achieve those things with us and I believe they exist. When someone shuts doors – and he is shutting doors – others open somewhere else, that I am sure of.”

Earlier in an interview with the Handelsblatt newspaper, Gabriel pointed out that just 10 percent of German exports go to the US, while 60 percent go to other countries in Europe which shows where its economic interests lie.

“Germany should act with self-confidence and not be fearful or servile,” he said, given that it is a “highly successful, technologically advanced export nation with many hard-working people and smart companies.”

"US Trade barriers “doomed to fail”

The European Union’s partners have thrown more energy into trade talks with the bloc since Donald Trump’s election, the EU’s trade chief said on Tuesday, warning that those backing trade barriers were “doomed to fail”.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said EU-US trade negotiations were “firmly in the freezer” and that, while the United States was the EU’s most important partner, there was a long list of countries wanting to deal with the 28-nation bloc.

“If anything, since November, we have seen many of our partners throw more energy and more resources at their negotiations with the EU,” she told a conference at the Bruegel economic think tank in Brussels.

Trade was essential for employment – with some 31 million European jobs dependent on exports – and was a way to spread good values and standards across the globe and to lift people in developing countries out of poverty, Malmstrom said.

Most countries, she said, still shared the same vision, believing in the benefits of open trade and investments.

“Those who, in the 21st century, think that we can become great again by rebuilding borders, reimposing trade barriers, restricting people’s freedom to move, are doomed to fail,” she said in what also appeared to be a dig at Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. 

China could potentially also replace the US as the EU's major trading partner.

Read more: Germany and EU urged to take advantage of US protectionism | Euronews

Turkey: Walking on Eggshells in Turkey – BY Philipp Mattheis

The Trump Towers in Istanbul’s business district of Sisli are a symbol of Turkey’s economic upswing. The 155 and 145 meter-high (476 ft) towers were constructed in 2010. They were financed by 80-year-old billionaire Aydin Dogan, founder of the eponymous holding, which also owns the daily government-critical newspaper Hürriyet.

Last week, police stormed the building and arrested the former head of the holding and its legal department chief, making them the most prominent victims in the latest series of crackdowns. The recent wave of arrests included 380 business people accused of having ties to the organization of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Turkey’s government accuses of being the mastermind behind last year’s failed coup.

Such crackdowns, along with judicial despotism and a series of terror attacks, are straining the economic climate in Turkey, leaving companies to suffer from the downturn. Increasingly, also German companies feel the pinch.

The country appears to be on the path to a dictatorship. The governing conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to reform the constitution and turn Turkey into a presidential system with all powers concentrated in the hands of the president. The parliament would then have little say.

So far, German business people have not come into the vengeance-seeking president’s line of fire. But these days, just the suspicion of having contact to the Gülen movement is enough to draw the ire of the commander-in-chief. And no company is able to protect itself against the attacks.

“Turkey was once a good country to live in,” said a German businessman, who runs a medium-sized company. “That’s no longer the case. The living space is becoming increasingly more restricted,” he added, declining to provide his name for fear of reprisal.

In modern day Turkey it is no longer advisable to put one’s head above the parapet. Business people only dare to voice their criticism in private for fear of becoming the next victim of Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly unpredictable sanctions. “A widespread uncertainty prevails,” another German business owner told WirtschaftsWoche, a Handelsblatt sister publication.

Last summer, one of the few business owners to still venture an opinion was Dirk Rossmann, the head of the German eponymous, family-run drugstore chain, which operates some 3,500 stores across Europe.

“An awful lot reminds me of the days of Hitler,” 70-year-old Mr. Rossmann said in August last year, commenting on the mass arrests that followed the attempted July coup.

He would likely refrain from repeating such words today. His two sons, who co-run the company with Rossmann senior, had criticized him internally and reminded him of the fact that he also bore responsibility for the employees stationed in Turkey, Mr. Rossmann said in an interview.

Mr. Rossmann was a pioneer when he ventured onto the Turkish market in 2010 and his company now operates a chain of 66 drug stores there. So far, there has been no fallout as a result of his Nazi comparison. Nevertheless, the group is putting the brakes on its expansion in Turkey for the time being.

But some of the first companies are even leaving the country. Shortly before Christmas, Europe’s largest shopping mall operator, Germany’s ECE, ended its management contract for the Modern East shopping center in Istanbul. The complex was only opened in the spring of 2016, but the center’s former owners were suspected of having links to the Gülen movement, a connection which saw their assets confiscated. The Modern East is now run by a fiduciary, but with ECE being dependent on an active landlord to sign store leases, the German firm was forced to give up the location.

Other German companies, such as Vorwerk, are not even entering the country. The house appliance maker, known for its Thermomix food processor and its vacuum cleaners, has for now postponed its planned market entrance due to the unstable situation, Reiner Strecker, one of Vorwerk’s managing partners, said.

The repercussions of the political crisis already make their presence felt. With a trading volume of €37 billion ($39.25 billion), Turkey is one of Germany’s 20 most important trading partners. 6,500 German companies, more than from any other country in the world, operate in Turkey. But foreign trade is shrinking, with the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce expecting a 5 percent drop this year.

Mechanical engineering, car production and chemicals account for roughly 60 percent of German exports and it is these groups that feel the squeeze most.

“We have noticed since November that it has become increasingly difficult to sell in Turkey,” said Friedrich Wagner, the foreign trade expert of VDMA, Germany’s Mechanical Engineering Industry Association. The rate of new orders is dropping by double-digits, Mr. Wagner said.

“The weak lire is making Turkish products more expensive, rising interest rates are making financing more expensive and prospects for the political situation remain unclear,” the VDMA expert said. “Most Turkish customers are just sitting on the fence for now.”

Adding to the mix of political uncertainty is the fear over further terror attacks. In 2016, hardly three months went by without a bomb exploding in Istanbul. On New Year’s Eve, a terrorist killed 39 people in Reina, an upmarket entertainment and dance venue popular among foreigners, in an attack claimed by Islamic State (IS). Attacks also killed and injured dozens of people in other Turkish cities, such as Ankara, Gaziantep, Izmir and Antalya. Each attack exacerbates concerns at company headquarters over whether Turkey is still a safe location for factories, offices and staff.

For complete report click here: Walking on Eggshells in Turkey – Handelsblatt Global

US Oil Industry: Trump to advance Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines: by R.S Nair and C.Ngai

U.S. President Donald Trump signed two executive actions on Tuesday to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, an administration official told Reuters.

The move comes after months-long protests by environmentalists and Native American groups in North Dakota against Energy Transfer Partners LP's $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which would bring crude oil from the state's Bakken oil patch through the Midwest and into the U.S. Gulf Coast.

A company spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Under former president Barack Obama, Transcanada Corp's Keystone XL oil pipeline was rejected in 2015 after environmentalists campaigned against the project for more than seven years. Transcanada declined to comment.

Trump's action, which comes in his fourth full day in office, is a boon for oil producers concerned about limited pipeline capacity bringing oil to market.

Read mor4e: Trump to advance Keystone, Dakota Access pipelines: administration official

1/24/17

USA: It was always 'America First,' President Trump. What's new?

As if it has ever been anything but America First!

Either President Trump lacks the intelligence and the education needed to appreciate the dynamics of the modern world or he has cynical contempt for the intelligence and education of his voters.

In either case, the inaugural address of America’s 45th president trumpeted an obtuse self-interest, whose only moral compass is the conviction that might is right, a self-interest so near-sighted as to be self-defeating, one that panders to ill-informed prejudice at home and promises to cede more elbow room to rising powers hitherto hemmed in by overarching American presence. Hide that smirk, President Xi!

Politicians who come to power feeding and feeding off a majority’s imagined sense of victimhood have to genuflect, once in a while, to the bogey they rode but would, if they have sense, concentrate their energiesBSE 9.03 %, having assumed power, on building up an alternative, real agenda — say, development .

Some do not.

Hitler chose to persist with the Jews, pursuing their extermination to the Holocaust and associated politics by other means across the globe. Trump told Americans they were the victims of elite selfishness and grandiose altruism that saw America sacrifice its own security and prosperity for the benefit of others.

His inaugural speech promises to reverse that selfishness and altruism, to bring back to America jobs, prosperity, greatness, and, implicitly, a way of life in which men were men, brought home the bacon for the wife to cook, cheerfully looking up recipes from Good Housekeeping and other such trusted guides of the homemaker.

Lying is not a term that should be used to describe the exalted office Trump occupies. So, let us say Trump’s commitment to liberty extends to snapping the the restraining bonds of truth and mere facts.

The reality is that American policy has always put, surprise, America first

True, America funded the Marshall plan, to rebuild Europe. But that, too, furthered American prosperity and security. American entrepreneurs thrived, American factories hummed and gave Baby Boomers their day jobs as America supplied the wherewithal for rebuilding a bombed out Europe.

European nations rebuilt themselves as loyal members of the anti-Soviet alliance led by the US. Keeping the communist menace at bay was not just a virtue in itself but also a handy excuse for toppling the liberal democratic government of Iran, supporting the authoritarian governments in Arab lands, including in Israel, and imposing American hegemony over the most plentiful source of oil of those times.

True, China runs up a huge trade surplus with the US. But the bulk of the value added in the production of iPhones shipped from China to the US accrues to Apple and its investors.
  
His inaugural speech promises to reverse that selfishness and altruism, to bring back to America jobs, prosperity, greatness, and, implicitly, a way of life in which men were men, brought home the bacon for the wife to cook, cheerfully looking up recipes from Good Housekeeping and other such trusted guides of the homemaker.

Lying is not a term that should be used to describe the exalted office Trump occupies. So, let us say Trump’s commitment to liberty extends to snapping the restr ..
America championed free trade, not because it would kill American jobs but because it would give American firms the run of foreign markets. At a later stage of globalisation, the same free trade rubric allowed big American banks and other financial firms, and their cousins from Europe, to gain hegemony over global finance.

1/23/17

EU-US Relations: – Will Trump matter for the EU’s policy priorities?

In Europe, as in much of the rest of the world including large parts of the United States, Donald Trump’s election conjured up a plethora of doomsday scenarios. It was quickly assumed, for example, that the US would pull out of the COP21 Paris Agreement. Bolstering EU defence capabilities was suddenly proclaimed an urgent priority in light of the uncertain continued commitment the new US administration could be expected to show towards NATO. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was also declared dead and parallels with Brexit were drawn. And finally there were fears that the migration crisis would be exacerbated by Trump’s pledge to block Syrian (Muslim) refugees from entering the US, including from Europe.

Now, two months after Trump’s election, it is time for Europe to recover from its initial state of shock and assess the possible implications of a Trump presidency on EU policy priorities. Trump’s election might have profound effects on the US, and indeed the world, but it is not likely to dramatically alter the EU’s international priorities (and may even, as recently argued by Daniel Gros, have a positive impact on the European Monetary Union). Looking at areas such as trade, climate change, the refugee crisis, Brexit and defence, the fact of the matter is that, at least as things now appear to stand, Trump’s election should have only a marginal impact on the EU’s policy priorities. To demonstrate why, we consider in turn each of these five important policy areas.

TTIP - Climate policy - Refugee crisis - Brexit- Security and defense 

Given the role that the EU plays on the international scene, no US presidential election will leave the EU, and indeed the world, unaffected. However, the fundamental international challenges Europe faces and thus the priorities of the EU in the areas we have analysed predated his election – and are likely to only be marginally influenced by his administration. Many of these challenges, such as climate change, trade, the refugee crisis and security, are likely to remain after his departure. 

For complete details click here: EUROPP – Will Trump matter for the EU’s policy priorities?

US White House Comedy Center: Sean Spicer at press briefing: ‘Our intention is never to lie to you’ - by Jenna Johnson

White House press secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged Monday that there were some problems with the explanation he gave over the weekend for why he considers President Trump's inauguration audience the largest ever, but he continued to stand by the assertion.

Spicer said figures he provided Saturday about the number of trips taken on Metro during the inauguration were at odds with numbers provided by the Metro system itself. He said the numbers he used were not made up but were given to him by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which received them from an “outside agency.”

Beyond the number of people at the ceremony in Washington on Friday, Spicer clarified that his definition of a viewing audience does not just include those standing on the Mall or watching on television but also the “tens of millions” who watched online.

Read more: Sean Spicer at press briefing: ‘Our intention is never to lie to you’ - The Washington Post

Europe’s new “Indispensable Nations”- by Joschka Fischer

After the shock of the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States in 2016, this will be a decisive year for Europe. Upcoming parliamentary elections in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and possibly Italy will decide whether the European Union will hold together, or whether it will disintegrate under the neo-nationalist wave sweeping the West.

Meanwhile, the Brexit negotiations will begin in earnest, providing a glimpse of the future of the EU-UK relationship. And Trump’s inauguration on January 20 may someday be remembered as a watershed moment for Europe.

Judging by Trump’s past statements about Europe and its relationship with the US, the EU should be preparing for some profound shocks. The incoming US president, an exponent of the new nationalism, does not believe in European integration.

Here he has an ally in Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has long tried to destabilize the EU by supporting nationalist forces and movements in its member states. If the Trump administration supports or turns a blind eye to those efforts, the EU – sandwiched between Russian trolls and Breitbart News – will have to brace itself for challenging times indeed.

The consequences for the EU will be even more serious if, in addition to setting the US relationship with Russia on a new foundation, Trump continues to call into question America’s security guarantee for Europe. Such a move would be at the expense of NATO, which has institutionalized the US security umbrella for more than six decades. Europeans would suddenly find themselves standing alone against a Russia that has increasingly employed military means to challenge borders, such as in Ukraine, and to reassert its influence – or even hegemony – over Eastern Europe.

We will soon know what comes next for NATO, but much harm has already been done. Security guarantees are not just a matter of military hardware. The guarantor also must project a credible message that it is willing to defend its allies whenever necessary. Thus, such arrangements depend largely on psychology, and on a country’s trustworthiness vis-à-vis friends and foes alike. When that credibility is damaged, there is a growing risk of provocation – and, with it, the threat of escalation into larger crises, or even armed conflict.

Given this risk, the EU should now shore up what it has left with respect to NATO and focus on salvaging its own institutional, economic, and legal integration. But it should also look to its member states to provide a second security option.

The EU itself is based on soft power: it was not designed to guarantee European security, and it is not positioned in its current form to confront a hard-power challenge. This means that it will fall to its two largest and economically strongest countries, France and Germany, to bolster Europe’s defense. Other countries such as Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, and Poland will also have a role to play, but France and Germany are indispensable.

Of course, living in continental Europe means having Russia as a neighbor, and neighborly relations, generally speaking, should be based on peace, cooperation, and mutual respect (especially when one’s neighbor is a nuclear power). But Europeans cannot harbor any illusions about Russia’s intent. The Kremlin approaches foreign policy as a zero-sum game, which means that it will always prioritize military strength and geopolitical power over cooperative security arrangements.

Russia does not view weakness or the lack of a threat from its neighbors as a basis for peace, but rather as an invitation to extend its own sphere of influence. So, power asymmetry in Eastern Europe will lead only to instability. If Europe wants a stable, enduring peace, it first must ensure that it is taken seriously, which is clearly not the case today. Europe can credibly strengthen its security only if France and Germany work together toward the same goal, which they will have an opportunity to do after their elections this year.

EU diplomats used to murmur off the record that Germany and France would never see eye to eye on military and financial issues, owing to their different histories and cultures. But if security conditions take a turn for the worse, that may no longer be the case. Indeed, reaching a compromise on both sides of the Rhine should not be so difficult: France undoubtedly has the experience to lead on defense; and the same goes for Germany on financial matters.

If pursuing this European security option prompts the US to renew its own security guarantee, so much the better. Meanwhile, the EU should also forge a post-Brexit cooperative strategic arrangement with the UK, whose geopolitical position and security interests will remain unchanged.The old EU developed into an economic power because it was protected beneath the US security umbrella. But without this guarantee, it can address its current geopolitical realities only by developing its own capacity to project political and military power. Six decades after the Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community, history and current developments are pushing France and Germany to shape Europe’s future once again.

Read more: Europe’s new “Indispensable Nations”

1/22/17

Anti-Trump Protests: Over 1 million join anti-Trump women's marches worldwide-by Nancy Benac


Anti-Trump Demonstrations around the world
In a global exclamation of defiance and solidarity, more than 1 million people rallied at women's marches in the nation's capital and cities around the world Saturday to send President Donald Trump an emphatic message on his first full day in office that they won't let his agenda go unchallenged.

"Welcome to your first day, we will not go away!" marchers in Washington chanted

Many of the women came wearing pink, pointy-eared "pussyhats" to mock the new president. Plenty of men joined in, too, contributing to surprising numbers everywhere from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles to Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, London, Prague and Sydney.

The Washington rally alone attracted over 500,000 people according to city officials — apparently more than Trump's inauguration drew on Friday. It was easily one of the biggest demonstrations in the city's history, and as night fell, not a single arrest was reported.

The international outpouring served to underscore the degree to which Trump has unsettled people in both hemispheres.

"We march today for the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war," actress America Ferrera told the Washington crowd. "Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack, and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America. ... We are America, and we are here to stay."

Turnout in the capital was so heavy that the designated march route alongside the National Mall was impassable. Protesters were told to make their way to the Ellipse near the White House by way of other streets, triggering a chaotic scene that snarled downtown Washington. Long after the program had ended, groups of demonstrators were still marching and chanting in different parts of the city.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer had no comment on the march except to note that there were no firm numbers for turnout.

Note EU-Digest:  As one participant noted during the Washington Rally: "This is not only just a rally, this is the beginning of a revolution to end the takeover of America by a delusional  President supported by corporate interests and a corrupt political system.
Thousands of women took to the streets of European capitals to join "sister marches" in Asia against newly installed U.S. President Trump ahead of a major rally in Washington expected to draw nearly a quarter of a million people.

Waving banners with slogans like "Special relationship, just say no" and "Nasty women unite," British demonstrators gathered outside the American embassy in Grosvenor Square before heading to a rally in central Trafalgar Square.

Worldwide some 670 marches were held, according to the organizers' website which says more than two million marchers protested against Trump, who was sworn in as the 45th U.S. president on this past Friday.

Read More: Over 1 million join anti-Trump women's marches worldwide

1/21/17

US Environmental Data: Hackers downloaded US government climate data and stored it on European servers as Trump was being inaugurated

As Donald Trump was sworn into office as the new president of the US on Jan. 20, a group of around 60 programmers and scientists were gathered in the Department of Information Studies building at the University of California-Los Angeles, harvesting government data.

A spreadsheet detailed their targets: Webpages dedicated to the Department of Energy’s solar power initiative, Energy Information Administration data sets that compared fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and fuel cell research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to name a few out of hundreds.

Many of the programmers who showed up at UCLA for the event had day jobs as IT consultants or data managers at startups; others were undergrad computer science majors. The scientists in attendance, including ecologists, lab managers, and oceanographers, came from universities all over Southern California. A motley crew of data enthusiasts who assemble for projects like this is becoming something of a trend at universities across the country: Volunteer “data rescue” events in Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Michigan over the last few weeks have managed to scrape hundreds of thousands of pages off of EPA.gov, NASA.gov, DOE.gov, and whitehouse.gov, uploading them to the Internet Archive. Another is planned for early February at New York University.

Hackers, librarians, scientists, and archivists had been working around the clock, at these events and in the days between, to download as much federal climate and environment data off government websites as possible before Trump took office. But suddenly, at exactly noon on Friday as Trump was sworn in, and just as the UCLA event kicked off, some of their fears began to come true: The climate change-related pages on whitehouse.gov disappeared. It’s typical of incoming administrations to take down some of their predecessor’s pages, but scrubbing all mentions of climate change is a clear indication of the Trump administration’s position on climate science.

“We’re having a heart attack,” said Laurie Allen on Friday afternoon. Allen is the assistant director for digital scholarship in the University of Pennsylvania libraries and the technical lead on a recent data-rescuing event there. “In the last four days I think we’ve been working 22 hours a day, because we were hearing that these precise changes were going to happen.”

“I wish we had been wrong about our concerns. But this is what we internally had predicted and prepared for,” added Bethany Wiggin, the director of the environmental humanities program at Penn and another organizer of the data-rescuing event.

Over the first 100 days of the new administration, a volunteer team of programmers will be scanning government websites and comparing them to the archived, pre-Trump versions, to check for changes. “We’ll be letting people know what the changes exactly are. We hope to produce a weekly report on changes,” Wiggin says, perhaps in the form of a newsletter.

Read more: Hackers downloaded US government climate data and stored it on European servers as Trump was being inaugurated

Donald Trump: The U.S. descends into brutality as the real-life Archie Bunker is sworn in as president: - by Neil Macdonald

The 45  th President of the USA
Taken as a photo, a moment in time, what's happened on the steps of the U.S. Capitol is concussive; a palimpsest from a rougher, crueler era that was merely painted over, rather than transformed, by the progressive advances that so many people assumed would continue, inevitably, with every passing year.

But it's not a moment. The investiture of President Donald Trump is a natural development the nation has been building toward for half a century.

A friend assigns its origin to the '70s sitcom All in the Family, which, she says, made it all right — even funny — to say out loud the things that people had been shamed into murmuring quietly, in private. You know, shamed by political correctness.

Actually, Archie Bunker's open bigotry was as a liberal fantasy, orchestrated by producer Norman Lear, the ideological ancestor of Aaron Sorkin.

Yes, there were laughs every time Archie unleashed another opinion about "your fags," or "your Jews," or "your spades," but his role was that of the racist dunce, always schooled in the end by the innocent decency of his wife Edith, or an actual encounter with one of the minorities he casually belittled.

But All in the Family did, for the first time, shine a light on the deaf slanging between conservatives – Archie – and liberals, represented by Archie's educated, progressive son-in-law Michael Stivic.

The show petered out after eight years, its novelty gone. It was surpassed by reality – a polity that just kept getting more vicious, eventually leaving its banks and flooding the U.S. with the hatred-soaked, nearly murderous discourse that buoyed Trump and floated him into the White House.
Real-life Archie

As of today, the real-life Archie is president, the most powerful man in the world, immune to shaming or schooling. He actually feeds on it.

In retrospect, it's easy to pick out events that deepened the national odium: the emergence of Fox News, the 9/11 attacks, the 2008 economic catastrophe.

"Nearly murderous," incidentally, is not meant as hyperbole. Violent conflict becomes possible when two sides begin to dehumanize each other, and it's not even controversial to suggest that has happened in the U.S.

Fake news on the internet, which used to be called conspiracy theories, is most often framed to accomplish exactly that. Falsely suggesting Barack Obama was born elsewhere (Africa) and is likely the enemy (a Muslim) was the theory pushed by so long by Trump, a clear effort to dehumanize.

In fact, Trump explicitly declared in one of his most elegant tweets from 2014 that the other side, the "haters and losers" who oppose him, are genetically inferior, or as he put it: "They cannot help the fact that they were born fucked up!"

The man from North Carolina who opened fire at Comet Ping Pong Pizza here in D.C. did so because he believed a conspiracy theory — "Pizzagate" — about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of the restaurant. He was not crazy — just stupid, armed and nurtured on a bunkered ideology.

Conservatives reading this will at this point have already stopped reading, having decided that this is just more lying by the dishonest elite media, which is in the thrall of the elite radical left.

Actually, if the media is in thrall, it's to the status quo and the establishment, and, judging by some of the fawning at his recent events, to Trump.

But it is true that urban liberals regard Trump-nation conservatives as coarse, offensive, mildly defective mouth-breathers.

In Bethesda, Md., where I once lived, I cannot remember having met a single social conservative or gun advocate. The Tea Party was regarded as aliens. Those people lived in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Bethesda, where they shun liberals in exactly the same manner, avoiding any social contact, despising from afar.

And this is their moment.

They're not just ascendant, they've beaten the living daylights out of liberals, urinated on their bruised bodies, sliced off their ears and poured sugar into their gas tanks.

They're crowding wolfishly into comments sections on news sites, proclaiming the end of political correctness, saying that minorities need to learn to live like minorities, demanding an end to "negative news" and elitist fact-checking.

They want to know why the dishonest, lying media can't get it through their heads that YOU LOST.

DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? THE ELITES LOST! YOU. LOST. AND MERYL STREEP IS OVERRATED.

Even Obama has stopped declaring that "there is no blue America and red America. There is only the United States of America." That was aspirational drivel. Inspiring, perhaps, but unmoored from reality.

Such Obama-type voices as still exist are talking rapprochement, telling liberals that they must at least listen to the people who voted Trump.

That's not going to happen. It's impossible to know how Trump and Congressional Republicans are going to govern, but what matters most to Trump nation is that the beat down continues.

Do whatever you want, just give us more tweets about losers and haters and dishonest lying liars.

Nominally, a presidential inauguration is a moment for the nation to come together and celebrate the peaceful handover of power to a democratically elected leader.

Nowadays, that's just a fantasy gurgled by unctuous television anchors. More than 60 Congressional Democrats are boycotting the ceremony.

Liberals will turn away from Trump's inaugural speech, holding onto the fact that Clinton harvested close to three million more votes than the new president, imagining a day four or eight years from now when someone like Senator Elizabeth Warren takes the oath, and payback can begin.

And as long as there is still any comity out there to pulverize, the American descent into brutality will continue.

Read more: The U.S. descends into brutality as the real-life Archie Bunker is sworn in as president: Neil Macdonald - CBC News | Opinion

1/19/17

EU Politics - the Netherlands: Geert Wilders - the Dutch Donald Trump?

In March of this year, the Netherlands will be heading to the voting booth and at the moment a far-right anti-immigrant politician is leading in the polls. He is strongly against Islam holding sway in European society, and he's been nicknamed the 'Dutch Donald Trump.' Lauren Frayer traveled to the Netherlands to meet Geert Wilders and find out more. 

Read more: Inside Europe: Geert Wilders - the Dutch Donald Trump? | All media content | DW.COM |19.01.2017

EU: "Our Love Affair With The US Is Over": European hackles - more than hopes - are up as Trump takes office

"Don't mess with the EU Mr. Trump"
Europe has spent the period between the shock election of Donald Trump and his ascension to the White House biting its nails. But the new president's recent disparagement of the future of the European Union -- basically that it may not have one at all -- has leaders finally sounding less worried and more assertive.

In the European Parliament's plenary session Wednesday, the head of the ALDE group, Guy Verhofstadt, raged against the remarks, demanding a formal EU response.  "It's insane!" he said. "We should be very conscious this will be a turning point on the 20th of January."

Verhofstadt also suggested to fellow lawmakers the "American ambassador" should be summoned to "explain Trump's statements".

The problem with that is that there is no "American ambassador" to the EU anymore. As of January 20, Anthony Gardner will no longer be in his office in Brussels as President Trump takes over his in Washington. Gardner, along with his counterparts at NATO and the EU, is among those the new president told in no uncertain terms to vacate their premises by inauguration.

It is likely to be many months before Trump-appointed ambassadors arrive in Brussels. One US diplomat explained that usually during presidential campaigns, there is a shadow administration -- with skeleton cabinets already assembled -- which can move into place the minute the keys are handed over after inauguration. The Trump campaign, this diplomat said, had no such system in place on election day.

Gardner, an unabashed EU admirer who spent his three-year tenure campaigning for the Transatlantic Free Trade and Investment Partnership [TTIP] and other forms of closer cooperation, said he'd decided he would rather go out "in a ball of flames" than be seen to acquiesce with the new administration's views on Europe.

"It's critically important," Gardner said in his last roundtable with journalists, "that while being loyal to the new team -- which is absolute right and appropriate in a democratic system -- that people speak truth to power and don't be shy in sometimes saying what [they] believe in."

Gardner said he had received no communication from incoming officials asking him for guidance on EU relations -- only a single phone call asking if he needed logistical help moving out by the deadline. He had, however, heard from EU contacts that the new  president's team had made some calls to EU leaders -- with the priority being to inquire which country was most likely to leave the bloc, he said.

Gardner made no secret of his views. "The EU, despite all of the issues that we see everyday living and being here," Gardner insisted, "is not about to fall apart!" But he confirmed that the prevailing view at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave from Friday forward appears to be that "2017 is the year" in which the EU disintegrates.

Across town at NATO headquarters, officials are equally concerned about what's to come, especially after the same interview that suggested multiple EU mutinies also reiterated the disparagement of NATO as "obsolete". One NATO diplomat said he'd been asked by a European colleague whether "obsolete" could possibly have more than one meaning in American English, but that he'd had no euphemistic alternatives to offer.

Top military officials in the alliance for the most part dismiss such characterizations, as do Trump's own cabinet nominees. Vice President-elect Mike Pence has also done his share to buff the rough edges of Trump rhetoric, saying NATO "will go on".

Note EU-Digest: We can only hope that EU member state governments finally realize that the "love affair" between Europe and the US  has come to an end. 

There always will be a Europe, but we can not be so sure about the USA, which in reality is more divided than ever under the presidency of Donald Trump.  It is high time for the EU to level the playing field and move on.

More than hopes - are up as Trump takes office | Europe | DW.COM | 19.01.2017

Britain - Brexit: IMF predicts 'pain' for UK, as banks prepare London exit- by Peter Teffer

Brexit will not be “without pain”, said the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde on Wednesday (18 January), as more reports emerged of bank relocating jobs from London.

Lagarde welcomed UK prime minister Theresa May's speech on Tuesday, telling the BBC “less uncertainty is certainly better for the UK economy and for the rest of the European Union”.