Advertise On EU-Digest

Anual Advertising Rates

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

USA- Illegal Immigrants: Trump supporter thought president would only deport ‘bad hombres.’ Instead, her husband is being deported. - by Peter Holley

When Helen Beristain told her husband she was voting for Donald Trump last year, he warned her that the Republican nominee planned to “get rid of the Mexicans.”

Defending her vote, Helen quoted Trump directly, noting that the tough-talking Republican said he would only kick the “bad hombres” out of the country, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Months later, Roberto Beristain — a successful businessman, respected member of his Indiana town and father of three American-born children — languishes in a detention facility with hardened criminals as he awaits his deportation back to Mexico, the country he left in 1998 when he entered the United States illegally

“I wish I didn’t vote at all,” Helen Beristain told the Tribune. “I did it for the economy. We needed a change.”

Note EU-Digest: the reasons Roberto Beristan was arrested and will be reurned back to Mexico are not too clear in this Washington Post article.

Read more: Trump supporter thought president would only deport ‘bad hombres.’ Instead, her husband is being deported. - The Washington Post

3/24/17

USA: Trump's obsession with 'all things big' could be dangerous: by Rosemary Westwood

Some questions, you’d think, shouldn’t need to be asked.

For instance, “Is America’s military big enough?”

And yet, the New York Times this week dutifully asked the question, since the president of the United States not only considered it — or perhaps, overheard it on conservative talk radio — and answered yes.

As it is, the U.S.’s $596 billion military budget is greater than the next seven countries combined, more than double China’s and roughly nine times Russia’s. Past presidents have beefed up military spending for actual wars. Donald Trump appears happy to beef up spending for imagined ones, or for posturing, or, perhaps, just to make the military bigger.

Enter his recently released “skinny” budget, which is, you understand, an old Washington term related to a lack of detail, and not, you understand, a reference to its lack of muscle. It’s very robust. Extra tough. Super strong(™).

The New Yorker dubbed it his “Voldemort” budget. Budget director Mick Mulvaney deemed it “compassionate.” And it would, among other things, defund Meals on Wheels, cut support for affordable housing in cities, shrink the Education Department’s budget, throw pretty much every federal arts program out the Air Force One window, and thrust an extra $54 billion towards military spending.

In the same breath, the White House is hoping to “compassionately” relieve 24 million Americans of their health care coverage under its proposed American Health Care Act.

Trump is not, it turns out, simply “doing everything he promised,” because that included making life better for many of his devoted voters, and, at one point, promising a health care plan that would cover every single American.

Instead, with now trademark-inconsistency, he’s coated a dovish American-First rhetoric around the exact opposite: a hyper-militarized vision of the country, complete with walls, and no doubt, if it was en vogue, a giant snaking moat.

Under Trump’s leadership, “Is America’s military big enough?” becomes a rhetorical question of the Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor variety, with the same mindless worship of size.

Trump is nothing if not obsessed with all things big.

He’s lied about the number of floors in Trump buildings, so they appear taller. He exaggerated the size of his electoral win, and then exaggerated his inauguration day crowd. “Big league” is a favourite phrase. His 2008 book was called “Think Big.” The London terror attack was “Big news” and the day before his health care bill faced a vote in the house of congress was a “Big day.”

He even wants to appear, physically, big. Since Trump took office, many have missed not only Barack Obama the man, but also his taste in suits, compared to Trump’s ‘80’s era shoulder pads tailoring reminiscent of a tent.

Perhaps Trump, as man, is so devoid of elegance because he has no concept of proportion (in suits, hairstyles, or otherwise). Slinging around outlandishly vulgar insults, stalking his election opponent Hillary Clinton around the debate stage, responding to critical media coverage by calling it “fake news,” and reportedly suing a San Francisco teenager for creating a website where you can make kittens punch Trump in the face: This is not a man well-acquainted with the concept of degree. And that is very bad news for America.

If Trump gets his way, and there are big cuts to health, education, arts, and programs supporting the elderly, disabled and poor, and a big old boost to military spending, something else is bound to be big: the damage.

Read more: Trump's obsession with 'all things big' could be dangerous: Westwood | Metro News

USA - Trump: a president for the elites - by Wendy Kaminer

Trump Followers : The Porsche Turbo Elies
Of all the mistaken or cynically disingenuous characterizations of Donald Trump (and there are many from which to choose) ‘anti-elitist’ is perhaps the most obviously untrue.

Put aside his unusually wealthy cabinet of billionaires and multimillionaires. Put aside his appointment of Goldman Sachs veterans to high-ranking posts, including treasury secretary, after promising to ‘drain the swamp’ of corporatists, like Hillary Clinton and her Goldman connections. You can even put aside, for the moment, his own personal and familial profiteering from the global business he continues to own. Focus simply on his policies.

First consider Trump’s opposition to consumer-friendly financial regulations enacted after the 2008 crash, particularly his effort to revoke an Obama administration rule requiring brokers to act in the best interests of their customers. Trump apparently wants financial advisers to have the freedom to serve their own interests, even at the expense of unsophisticated clients.

Then, consider his proposed budget. ‘If you’re a poor person in America, President Trump’s budget proposal is not for you’, the Washington Post correctly observes. His budget would not just cut deeply into a wide range of social-welfare programmes. It would also deny lower-income people access to justice by eliminating the Legal Services Corporation, which provides lawyers for poor people in civil cases, enabling them to vindicate their rights. Adding insult to industry, the Trump budget would ‘fall hardest on the rural and small-town communities that Trump won’, the Post reports. It ‘would slash or abolish programmes that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherising homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, (as well as) obtaining legal counsel in civil matters’.

?It’s only fair to note that this budget would hurt affluent as well as lower-income Americans. It’s a threat to anyone who expects to become sick or disabled – in other words, everyone who expects to age. The National Institute of Health, which funds research into diseases that no one wants to suffer but many or most will, is slated to lose a fifth of its funding. Remember Trump’s inaugural promise to ‘free the Earth from the miseries of disease’? He, it seems, does not.

At least relatively wealthy people will be able to afford medical treatment. The unemployed and working poor are likely to lose health insurance and access to care if the House Republican plan to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare is passed without major revisions. As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined, some 14million people would lose health insurance under this plan by 2018 and 24million would lose it by 2026, while wealthy people enjoyed a substantial tax cut. (Multimillionaires and billionaires – America’s elites – would also enjoy substantial cuts under Trump’s proposed tax plan.)

Like the Trump budget, Trumpcare would hurt his base of lower-income voters, as he belatedly acknowledged on Fox News. The president briefly distanced himself from the plan he’d initially approved (apparently seeking to pass the buck to House speaker Paul Ryan). But then he began lobbying hard for it, warning congressional Republicans they risked losing their seats if they failed to pass it. So far, members of the hard right House Freedom Caucus are demanding additional cuts to insurance coverage that would be required by law, complicating efforts by the White House and Speaker Ryan to secure the votes of Republican moderates. As I write this, on the evening of 23 March, Republicans are still negotiating, having postponed a scheduled vote on the bill. If the House eventually approves some version of Trumpcare, it will then confront the Senate, where Republicans are similarly divided and Senate rules limit the scope of legislation that can be enacted by a simple majority, without facing a filibuster.

Trump had promised his supporters he’d replace Obamacare with ‘something terrific’, but that was before he learned healthcare was ‘complicated’. Who knew? ‘Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated’, Trump explained last month, universalising his ignorance.

The politics of healthcare are also complicated, with Democrats expected to oppose efforts to repeal Obamacare, instead of mending it, and Republicans divided into factions that consider the current plan too generous to lower-income Americans and factions that consider it not generous enough. Meanwhile, the public seems increasingly wary, with polls showing majority opposition to the Republican plan. Prospects for it are most uncertain. So are prospects for the Trump budget, which some Republicans, as well as most if not all Democrats, will oppose. Trump and congressional Republicans are now grappling with the difference between posing as an anti-elitist and governing as one.

Reasd more: Trump: a president for the elites | US Election 2016 | USA | spiked

France Presidential Election: 'We’re not trying to influence events', Putin tells Le Pen

In an unprecedented move, the Russian president has met with a candidate for the French presidency in Moscow.

The meeting between the leader of the far-right eurosceptic FN party Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin has reignited fears of Russian support for far-right groups in Europe.

Putin told Le Pen he had no intention of influencing the French elections.

“We are trying to maintain relations with the ruling authorities and opposition representatives too. We don’t want to influence in any way the events underway.”

Le Pen said, if elected, she would consider what she had to do to swiftly lift EU sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

“For a long time I’ve called for France and Russia to resume cultural, economic, and strategic relations, especially now when we are facing a major terrorist threat,” Le Pen told Putin.

With the first round of elections just a month away, opinion polls show Le Pen making it through to the second round of the election on May 7, but then losing to centrist candidate Macron.

Read more: 'We’re not trying to influence events', Putin tells Le Pen | Euronews

Air Travel: US electronics ban for Middle East flights draws doubts

Aviation experts are divided on the effectiveness of a US ban on large electronic items in hand luggage on flights inbound from a number of Middle Eastern states.

The US Department of Homeland Security announced the measure on Tuesday, citing the downing of an airliner in Egypt in 2015 and an attempt on a Somali passenger jet in 2016 using explosives smuggled on board.

A list of banned devices includes tablets, laptops, e-book readers and cameras, but not medical equipment and mobile phones.

The indefinite ban targets 10 airports in the Middle East and nine airlines, including Turkish Airlines and the major Gulf carriers: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

"We have reason to be concerned about attempts by terrorist groups to circumvent aviation security and terrorist groups continue to target aviation interests," US officials said in a statement.

However, aviation experts have cast doubt on that explanation and warned of the new dangers the measure could pose.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at the aviation consultancy StrategicAero Research, told Al Jazeera the announcement "flies in the face" of US Federal Aviation Authority rules on the carrying of lithium batteries in a plane's cargo hold.

"[The rule] was put in place after the 2010 crash of a UPS 747 freighter in Dubai that caught fire while carrying such cargo," he said, before describing the immediate inconvenience the ban would cause for passengers.

"Airlines will of course comply, but delays will be seen at airports for customers not aware of the rule changes.

"Compliance will cause delays and add costs - it might even force passengers to drop plans to fly to the US or instead look for an alternative transit point through Europe so that their devices can be taken in the cabin as normal."

Read more: US electronics ban for Middle East flights draws doubts | News | Al Jazee


The Russian Connection? Exclusive: Tillerson plans to skip NATO meeting, visit Russia in April - by Arshad Mohammed and John Walcott

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip a meeting with NATO foreign ministers next month in order to stay home for a visit by China's president and will go to Russia later in April, U.S. officials said on Monday, disclosing an itinerary that allies may see as giving Moscow priority over them.

Tillerson intends to miss what would have been his first meeting of the 28 NATO allies on April 5-6 in Brussels so that he can attend President Donald Trump's expected April 6-7 talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, four current and former U.S. officials said.

Skipping the NATO meeting and visiting Moscow could risk feeding a perception that Trump may be putting U.S. dealings with big powers first, while leaving waiting those smaller nations that depend on Washington for security, two former U.S. officials said.

Trump has often praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Tillerson worked with Russia's government for years as a top executive at Exxon Mobil Corp, and has questioned the wisdom of sanctions against Russia that he said could harm U.S. businesses.

A State Department spokeswoman said Tillerson met today with foreign ministers from 26 of the 27 other NATO countries -- all but Croatia -- at 


Read more: Exclusive: Tillerson plans to skip NATO meeting, visit Russia in April - sources | Reuters

3/23/17

EU -Turkish Relations: Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU

Erdogan: The abusive Turkish dictator
It has been one year since Turkey and the European Union signed a migrant deal on Syrian refugees.

The controversial agreement has been effective in reducing the flow of Syrian and other refugees through Turkey, who aim to reach Europe.

However, this particular deal has come at an incredibly huge political price for the EU and its member states, notably Germany.

From the agreement's inception, Turkey has been trying to use it as a card to exert political pressure against the EU, and has more than once threatened to call it off if it did not get visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in return.

However, this goes beyond the visa-free aspect.

In fact, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, feeling in a strong position, has been engaging in increasingly harsh rhetoric towards the EU and its member states.

In contrast, the EU and national officials from its member states have largely refrained from engaging in a verbal confrontation with Erdogan.

While European leaders do their utmost to save the migrant deal, the European public has increasingly come to perceive the deal as a lost case.

It is the inability of the EU institutions and European leaders to develop a workable alternative that has aggravated the public and has reduced the chances of the re-election of the current ruling governments.

In Germany and France, where elections will be held soon, far-right anti-EU parties have emerged - posing a serious threat to the political establishment.

With strong anti-EU agendas, the success of these parties is tied to the very future of the European Union.

French and German establishment parties may find at least two strong reasons to risk such confrontations with Turkey.

First of all, in light of the widespread public displeasure in Europe over Erdogan’s rhetoric, any diplomatic row and subsequent steps by Turkey to end the migrant deal will be easily defendable.

Secondly, should Turkey decide to end the deal, the EU has established physical barriers and has put mechanisms in place that would prevent another mass flow of refugees similar to that of 2015.

With the Dutch elections still fresh in mind, establishment parties in France and Germany may very well be tempted to copy the example of Rutte’s and, in doing so, may win the battle against the anti-EU parties.

If they manage to play their cards right - the end of the migrant deal may very well be the saviour of the European Union.

Note EU-Digest:   It is high time the EU tells Erdogan to go to hell and stuff the migrant/immigrant deal where it belongs ...... No more chantage and abusive insults from this power hungry dictator can, or must be accepted. As a point of interest for those who might not know - the Turkish government has been giving Syrian refugees, who request it, instant Turkish citizenship - no questions asked . The  reason being that the Erdogan government knows these new citizens will be voting yes in the April 16 Turkish Referendum to give Erdogan absolute power.  Also, please take note dear Turkish European citizens and obviously also every Dutch immigrants from wherever you might have come, that if this upsets you - "nothing stops you to go and live in Turkey or in your country of origin, and voice whatever negative opinion you might have of the Netherlands or any other EU nation. All we can say is "good riddance ! "

Read more: Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save t

Is the new World order dead? The Geopolitics Of Chaos - by Javier López

The new world disorder is under way while speculation about what President Trump would do has given way to a spate of executive orders. The cocktail of reactionary withdrawal from previous commitments (Trump + Brexit is imposing a change of guard on international relationships, leaving the northern hemisphere turned upside down.
 
The neoliberal economic and geostrategic consensus has broken down and left in its wake an ocean of uncertainty. The Trump administration has shown itself hostile to European integration and has moved close to Putin. Xi Jinping “saved” the Davos forum and has become the standard-bearer of globalization. A wave of protectionist nativism could lead to trade wars with serious consequences. 2017 is the year with the greatest political risk since the end of World War II (Ian Bremmer).

The USA is starting a new era with shades of isolation and unilateralism. This compromises the Atlantic Alliance, the centre of gravity of the twentieth century. A new “special relationship” with post-Brexit Great Britain is sought while fantasizing over the end of the Euro and calling the EU a “vehicle” for Germany. It looks down on supranational organizations, the safeguards of multilateralism, while at the same time escalating tensions with China that may end in triggering the greatest danger the world now faces.

The USA is starting a new era with shades of isolation and unilateralism. This compromises the Atlantic Alliance, the centre of gravity of the twentieth century. A new “special relationship” with post-Brexit Great Britain is sought while fantasizing over the end of the Euro and calling the EU a “vehicle” for Germany. It looks down on supranational organizations, the safeguards of multilateralism, while at the same time escalating tensions with China that may end in triggering the greatest danger the world now faces.

Internally, its democracy is beginning a new chapter based on Schmitt’s Dezisionismus. A sovereign power that does not respond to legal norms or rational discussion. Without checks and balances, without judges or press. In the field of economics, trade barriers are foreseen. Care must be taken as, what do these targets (Mexico, Germany and China) of the new President all have in common? They are great exporting powers. The hostility of the White House is a reflection of one of its greatest weaknesses: its current account deficit. And also one of the greatest global macroeconomic imbalances. Once again, economy and international relations are intertwined.

Putin’s Russia feels strong and has reason to do so. After a gradual loss of domination over the strategic ‘rimland’ (Spykman), Russia has shown that is prepared to do anything, even cyberattacks, to maintain its position. All of its latest moves in the Caucasus, Ukraine or Syria have led to an increase in its influence. Putin’s authoritarianism has masked its economic problems and it seems that the electoral results in the Western world are a fortune smiling in his favour.

And Putin also now hopes that, with an American administration that is more than favourable, trade sanctions will be eased or even lifted. Trump and Putin speak the same language and their connections are more than evident. But be careful, the USA may be using the Kremlin against the Asian giant, just as Kissinger did in the opposite direction during the Cold War. A new anchor to hold down, in this case, the Chinese ascent. Trump is a dangerous character – folkloric and ridiculous, yet it would be wise not to dismiss everything he does as stupid.

The old continent can see these changing international relations as a party to which it has not been invited. Fragmented, terrified and left without the Atlantic umbrella, suffering the worst hangover after the Great Recession, and all in a year of electoral heart-attack. The biggest risk is that a great Troika made up of Washington, Moscow and Beijing will find a new international balance ignoring Europe.

At the same time, as Europeans, we have the opportunity to occupy an enormous hole in a world looking for reference and left by a retreating USA. We could take on the role of defending Enlightenment values: rule of law, democracy, tolerance and open societies. These continue to be attractive and enlightening values, but even the best ideas need to be defended. That is why the EU must restore its undermined social model, equipping it with a shield in terms of security and defense.

We need to activate a flexible Europe, through enhanced cooperation, to unblock the process of integration and end the paralyzing tug of war between capitals.

It is more vital than ever to look for allies who share our vision of the world: laws, dialogue and multilateralism. Our relations with Latin America and Canada take on a new significance. It would suit us to find a new equilibrium with Russia and strengthen ties with China. We will also need to pay special attention to the candidacy for German Chancellor of the social democrat and pro-European Martin Schulz. His victory would have a huge impact on the hegemonic power of the continent.

Read more: The Geopolitics Of Chaos

The Netherlands: Dijsselbloem will not step down, regrets it if one is offended by "Dutch directnes"

Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem answers to many through a statement sent to New Europe, on his remarks from Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung interview that were “misunderstood” by Spanish press and MEPs.

“I regret that my message was misunderstood and I regret that it was emerged as north against south,” adds Dijjselbloem on Wednesday’s statement. “I don’t experience a north-south division myself, also not in the Eurogroup. The understanding is that everyone has the responsibility to stick to our rules and to make an effort to stay within the EU agreements. Everyone must make an effort to keep the European Monetary Union (EMU) together.”

Dijsselbloem blames his Dutch heritage for the “direct” remark: “I regret it if one is offended by the remark. It was direct, and can be explained from strict Dutch, Calvinistic culture, with Dutch directness. I understand that this is not always well understood and appreciated, elsewhere in Europe. That is another lesson I take on board.:

“My style is direct and again if people take offence in that I am sorry of course.”On Eurogroup and the EMU’s future, Dijsselbloem adds that all should do their best and respect the rules, otherwise it will be hard. “This applies not just for a few, but to all of us.”

Read more: Dijsselbloem will not step down, regrets it if one is offended by “Dutch directness”

3/22/17

Russia: How a Bank’s Collapse Sparked Russia’s Least Likely Street Protests - by Eva Hartog

A woman holds a sign reading "Mr Trump, Save Our Tatfondbank" as she takes part in a protest in Petrov Park. Yegor Aleyev / TASS

“Remember how hard you worked to earn this money! Surely you're not prepared to just give it away?”

In the days after Tatarstan's second largest bank collapsed, Alexandra Yumanova's post on the Russian social media site Vkontakte became a battle cry for thousands who lost billions of rubles in savings.

The March 3 collapse of Tatfondbank — one of Russia's 50 largest banks — has plunged the oil-rich Tatarstan republic into a protracted political crisis embroiling its highest-ranking politicians and President Vladimir Putin himself.

Angry borrowers, who are demanding their money back, have stormed local government offices chanting “ Shame on you!” and “Resign!” in a string of protests sparked by the bank’s closure.

More than seven thousand have signed a petition calling for the republic’s prime minister, who was also chairman of the bank, to resign. Emotions are also running high on online, where users are holding the highest echelons of Russia’s government responsible.

“It must be tough being a president,” someone called Oxana wrote. “Everyone around you is thieving, but you can't lock anyone up because they're all your own.”
Too Murky to Fail

In recent years, Russia’s Central Bank has closed down around three hundred banks in an effort to clean up the country's infamously murky financial sector — a holdover of the 90s when regulation was minimal.

But the closure of Tatfondbank has demanded the country’s attention both because of its size and its close ties to local government, which owned a 45-percent share in the bank and held positions on its board.

“This is unprecedented,” the head of the news site Banki, Natalya Romanova, said of the bank’s collapse. “It's the first time in Russia's recent history that the license of a quasi-governmental bank has been revoked, let alone that of a region's second biggest largest bank.”

Rumors that Tatfondbank was on the brink of bankruptcy had been circulating for months before the end finally came. In December last year, it came under the temporary administration of the Central Bank regulator which suspended the bank’s operations.

Many who had accounts at the bank took the Central Bank’s intervention as a positive sign that responsible authorities had taken over. Local government officials, including the republic’s head, assured concerned account holders that a deal was being worked out. Even President Vladimir Putin chimed in.

“The Central Bank is working together with the local government to find a way to support all depositors,” the Russian president said on live television late in 2016.

Read  ore: How a Bank’s Collapse Sparked Russia’s Least Likely Street Protests

Terrorism: EU anti-terror czar: ‘The threat is coming from inside Europe’ – by Frédéric Simon

A year after the Brussels attacks, Gilles de Kerchove told EURACTIV.com about the fast pace of development of EU security policy, calling for the “systematic use of biometrics” and “batch comparison” of databases in order to boost security in the Schengen area.

Gilles de Kerchove is the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator. He spoke to EURACTIV’s publisher and editor, Frédéric Simon.

On 22 March, Belgium commemorates the anniversary of the Brussels terrorist attacks. As a Belgian national, were you surprised when the attacks took place?

Surprised, no, because, for years, we were aware of the determination of Daesh to strike in Europe. We already had the attacks in Paris and we knew some of the authors were still at large, and that a strike in Brussels was among the possibilities. I was very sad that we were not able to prevent this from happening, but not surprised.

Did this happen because national intelligence agencies weren’t collaborating enough?

I really don’t want to answer that question specifically because there is a Parliamentary inquiry committee that has not finalised its conclusions. It’s probably more interesting to see what those conclusions will be.

Over the last two years, we have been working in many directions and information sharing among security services is only one aspect. It’s a set of measures on the preventive side, on the repressive side, and closer work with some neighbourhoods.

So I think it would be inaccurate to say that the attacks took place just because the security services are not sharing—they do. That’s not the issue. The problem is not necessarily a lack of data, but the ability to analyse the data properly. There is a lot of work on the issue of data collection, data sharing and data analysis. We’ve been working hard on this, but it’s not the only issue.

Did the Belgian authorities bury their heads in the sand regarding information they had about neighbourhoods like Molenbeek?

It’s up to the special inquiry committee to draw conclusions. Molenbeek is not the epicentre of terrorism in Europe. If you look at our neighbours, the French have had more than 1,000 of their citizens or legal residents who left for Syria and Iraq.

In ten to fifteen EU member states, there is indeed an issue of young Europeans who get radicalised, who were attracted by the rhetoric of Daesh, and the crisis in Syria. The fact that there was a civil war, a caliphate, added something new. We had foreign terrorist fighters in the ’90s in Afghanistan but never on that scale. Why? Because there was this much more aggressive use of the Internet, and the control of a territory, which seems to be more attractive than the Sahel.

Of course, Molenbeek in itself raises difficult questions as to the integration process of immigrants, the fight against discrimination, the fight against Islamophobia, but that begs the question about the drivers of radicalisation. To simply equal Molenbeek and terrorism is a bit too short, I think.

Read  more: EU anti-terror czar: ‘The threat is coming from inside Europe’ – EURACTIV.com

US Economy: US adds 400,000 millionaire households in 2016, setting record - by Robert Frank

 The number of millionaire households in America increased by 400,000 in 2016, reaching a record of 10.8 million, according to a new study.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the number of millionaire households has grown every year, adding a total of 4 million millionaire households, according to Spectrem Group, the wealth research firm.

The stats mean that more than one out of every 10 households in America is worth $1 million or more.

Spectrem defines millionaire households as those households with $1 million or more in investable assets, not including a primary residence.

The number of multimillionaire households has also grown. There are now 1.4 million households worth $5 million or more and 156,000 households worth $25 million or more.

 Read m,ore: US adds 400,000 millionaire households, setting record

Terrorism: UK Parliament on lockdown after shots fired

 An alleged assailant has been shot after stabbing a policeman outside the British parliament. There were also reports of a car plowing into several people on Westminster Bridge.

Parliament was suspended on Wednesday following reports of gunfire and at least a dozen injuries around Westminster Bridge.

Reporters inside the parliament were told not to leave the building as reports circulated of a stabbing incident in addition to a shooting. However, it was still unclear to those at the scene what had transpired.

Charlie Cooper, a political correspondent for Politico, said he saw police shoot a man outside the parliament building and that there were at least two casualties.

Read more: UK Parliament on lockdown after shots fired | Breaking News | DW.COM | 22.03.2017

Trump Administration Credibility: Wall Street Journal editorial examines Trump credibility 'crisis'


The words of President Donald Trump and his White House staff are, in no small way, a matter of national security and credibility, and all of those things have entered the danger zone, a Wall Street Journal editorial argued on Tuesday.

The conservative-leaning editorial board pointed to Trump's debunked claim that domestic and international entities had colluded with the Obama administration to spy on Trump's campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump and his staffers have not backed away from the allegation despite having been rebuked publicly by FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers during congressional testimony on Monday.

The Journal painted a stark image of Trump's refusal to back down: "Yet the president clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims."

An example of that came last week when White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited commentary from a Fox News commentator who claimed that US intelligence sources told him that the Obama administration had recruited Britain's Global Communications Headquarters to wiretap Trump Tower during the election.

All parties mentioned by the White House in its attempts to establish Trump's wiretapping claims have denied involvement in any such operation.

Still, Trump and his White House have persisted, and The Journal wrote that the gravity of Trump's headstrong motivations carried potentially devastating consequences.

The editorial board concluded: "If he doesn't show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he's a fake president."

Read more: Wall Street Journal editorial examines Trump credibility 'crisis' - Business Insider

3/21/17

US Market Place:Dow finally reacting to Trump disorganized confused administration and sinks more than 200 points

Stocks posted their worst day of the year Tuesday as banks faced pressure from falling yields and traders turned their eyes to a key House vote.

The Dow fell 237 points, with Goldman Sachs contributing the lion's share of the losses. The S&P 500 dropped 1.24 percent, with financials falling more than 2.5 percent to lead decliners. The indexes were also posted their first decline of at least 1 percent since October.

"We're settling back into the middle of the range in the 10-year yield. That certainly has taken the air out of financials lately," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

U.S. Treasury yields traded mixed, with the benchmark 10-year note yield holding around 2.42 percent and the short-term two-year note yield trading around 1.26 percent. Weaker yields lead to lower interest rates on loans, which hurt financial stocks, particularly banks.

Read more: Dow sinks more than 200 points as stocks post worst day of the year

Religion and acceptance: Muslims more satisfied with U.S. than any religious group, poll finds

Almost half of their children face bullying at schools. They're twice as likely to face additional screening at airports. Yet Muslims in the United States are the religious group most satisfied with the nation's trajectory, a new survey found.

The American Muslim Poll 2017 comes from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a nonprofit focused on American Muslims, found Muslims and Jews are most likely to express fear for their personal safety after the election of President Trump.

The study showed both Muslims and Jews reported higher levels of fear and anxiety than other faith groups because of the election results, with 38% of Muslims and 27% of Jews expressing fear for their safety because of white supremacist groups. One in five Muslim women said recent elections have caused them enough stress and anxiety to believe they need the help of a mental professional.

Nearly early one-fifth of Muslims even made plans to leave the country “if it becomes necessary."

However, the study found two in five Muslims report being satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. today, a higher percentage than any other major faith group or those who are not affiliated with a faith.

The survey involved interviews with 2,389 respondents in January of this year including Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic people and some who were not affiliated with a faith.

Read more: Muslims more satisfied with U.S. than any religious group, poll finds

France: French Election Polls Ahead of First Debate Show Le Pen, Macron Extending Lead- by Jason Le Miere

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron have pulled further in front in opinion polls for next month’s French presidential election ahead of the first televised debate Monday. Macron, a centrist independent, and Le Pen, the far-right leader of the National Front, have extended their advantage over Republican François Fillon, whose campaign has been dogged by an investigation into alleged fraud.

Macron and Le Pen were tied with 26 percent of the vote, with Fillon falling back to 17 percent, in a poll conducted by Kantar Sofres released Sunday. There was a setback, too, for the candidate for the governing Socialist party, Benoît Hamon, who fell back to 12 percent, level with left-wing former Socialist party member Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Current President François  Hollande announced in December that he will not seek a second term.

French voters will go to the polls for the first round of the election on April 23, with the top two candidates then going onto a second round run-off on May 7.

It would take a major swing in the final month of the campaign for the run-off not to be between Macron and Le Pen. And it would take a similar momentum switch for Macron not to ultimately emerge victorious. Polls have consistently shown Macron beating Le Pen in the second round with around two-thirds of the vote.

Read More: France: French Election Polls Ahead of First Debate Show Le Pen, Macron Extending Lead- by  Jason Le Miere