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Religion: Indonesian president invokes 'Pancasila' to counter rising Islamism

 Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, a moderate Muslim who enjoys widespread support from the country’s minority religious communities, is resurrecting the country’s founding secular ideology, known as “Pancasila,” as he aims to counter the growing forces of Islamism in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Pancasila, a term from old Javanese that roughly translates as “five precepts,” is a set of principles including “belief in the the One and Only God” and has historically been thought to demand respect for the country’s formally recognized religions – Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Promising a unified Indonesia and social justice for all citizens, it has been considered a key to Indonesia’s relative stability since it gained independence from the Netherlands 73 years ago.

It’s also why, many say, Indonesia has never had an expressly Islamic government.

Read more: Indonesian president invokes 'Pancasila' to counter rising Islamism - Religion News Service

Sweden - Cash-Free: Ikea to test cash-free store in Sweden

Swedish furniture giant Ikea is going to use its Gävle location to test out whether it can go completely cash-free nationwide.

Ikea said that customers in Gävle, an eastern city best known for its giant straw Christmas goat, were strongly in favour of abandoning cash.

“In our surveys, the vast majority of customers have said that cash payments are no longer important.

Today we use a fair amount of resources on handling cash but we’d prefer to use them on something else,” Patric Burstein, the head of customer relations at the Gävle store, told Dagens Nyheter.

Ikea said that its cashless test would begin in Gävle on October 1st. If all goes well, the company plans to eliminate cash payments in all of its Swedish locations.

Department store Åhléns is also testing the idea of going cashless, with three of its locations currently not accepting cash payments.

Swedes use their debit cards three times as frequently as most Europeans and with the popularity of smartphone payment apps like Swish, it has been predicted that Sweden will be completely cash-free by 2030

Read more: Ikea to test cash-free store in Sweden - The Local

Middle East - Syria: Lavrov says terrorists’ use of Idlib for attacks on Russian, Syrian troops unacceptable

The situation when terrorists are using Syria’s Idlib province as a staging ground for attacks on the positions of Syrian troops and Russia’s Hmeimim air base is unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem.
"It is unacceptable when terrorists who are gathered there, first and foremost, members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terror group [outlawed in Russia - TASS], try to use this de-escalation zone to carry out attacks on the positions of the Syrian Army and target Russia’s Hmeimim air base with drones," Lavrov said.


The situation when terrorists are using Syria’s Idlib province as a staging ground for attacks on the positions of Syrian troops and Russia’s Hmeimim air base is unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem.

"It is unacceptable when terrorists who are gathered there, first and foremost, members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terror group [outlawed in Russia - TASS], try to use this de-escalation zone to carry out attacks on the positions of the Syrian Army and target Russia’s Hmeimim air base with drones," Lavrov said.

Moscow has sent a clear and strong warning to the West against playing with fire in the Syrian province of Idlib, Lavrov said.

"It is no secret that not everyone is happy with progress in resolving the Syrian issue, fighting against terrorism and creating conditions for the return of refugees," Lavrov said. "Attempts are being made to impede these processes and use various provocateurs, including extremists and well-known provocateurs calling themselves the White Helmets, who are famous for staging chemical weapons attacks and blaming them on the Syrian government, in order to provide the western countries with an excuse to carry out attacks on Syria," the Russian top diplomat pointed out.

"Another provocation is being prepared in order to impede plans to carry out an anti-terrorist operation in Idlib," he said. "Our Defense and Foreign Ministries presented facts to send a clear and strong warning to our western counterparts against playing with fire," Lavrov added.

Read more: TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy - Lavrov says terrorists’ use of Idlib for attacks on Russian, Syrian troops unacceptable

Greece - West Nile Virus Spreading: Medical association calls for West Nile virus action plan

With the death toll from the spread of the West Nile virus in Greece rising this week to 17, the Athens Medical Association (ISA) is urging authorities to draft an emergency action plan to deal with what it describes as a growing threat to public health.

Expressing concern over the number of reported cases (133), the ISA called on the Health Ministry and the Attica Regional Authority to work with experts and local authorities to deal with the virus’s spread which, it said, is having a financial cost, as it is also impacting the tourism industry.

ISA said the country has been left “defenseless” and that health authorities must launch a campaign to raise public awareness and promote individual protection measures.

ISA chairman Giorgos Patoulis took a swipe at state authorities for being slow off the mark in tackling the problem.

“Unfortunately, once again, the competent authorities have not risen to the occasion and are now being urged to take belated measures to address the consequences of their inability to draft a credible national public health policy,” he said.

He added that Greece has “paid the the price of this incompetence with the loss of human lives.”

Read More: Medical association calls for West Nile virus action plan | News |

Turkey: Vision versus Suppression, "What a difference a day makes", as Turkey Celebrates its "Victory Day" over invading Allied Troops 96 years ago

Turkey's visionary leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Turkey commemorated the 96th anniversary of the War of Independence today Aug. 30 Victory Day with celebrations, as politicians marked the day’s importance and stressed their determination in protecting Turkey’s independence.

Throughout his presidency, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk diligently implemented his visions of a modern nation.

For over 600 years, Turks had only known Sultans as absolute monarchic rulers, a system to be obeyed.

But to bring his nation into a new era, Atatürk knew he needed to expedite Turkey’s social, political, and technological standards to those of Europe. He also understood that encouragement was needed for the citizens who were war-shocked, exhausted, near poverty, and confused about this new way of governing.

He was also quite aware that progress meant a struggle with those who advocated the return of ancient traditions and the religious Ottoman Sultanate dynasty.

Atatürk scrapped the archaic, convoluted Ottoman form of government and replaced it with policies and principles based on Swiss and other European laws. More than just trading one system for another, Atatürk dedicated himself to his people, believed in them, and knew that they would value the reformations as deeply as he did. As a result, Turkey was transformed into a secular nation with westernized legal, economic, social, educational, and cultural programs.

The following highlights the most prominent aspects of Atatürk’s reforms:
  • Abolished the Ottoman Sultanate (late 1922).
  • Declared the Turkish Republic (29 October 1923).
  • Formed the office of Prime Minister, President, and a democratically-elected National Assembly (1923).
  • Adopted a new constitution (1924).
  • Abolished the Caliphate (leadership of the Muslim religion) and restricted its theocratic institutions (early 1924).
  • Replaced the religious education system with a national education system (1924).
  • Adopted the Gregorian calendar and western time zone system, including defining the workweek as Monday to Friday (1925).
  • Prohibited the veil and other religious-based clothing but only encouraged western-style clothing for women. Atatürk believed that women would follow fashions according to their free will.
  • Enacted a revised legal system, including the Civil Code, Penal Statute Law, and Trade Law, based on Swiss and Italian civil law (1924-1937).
  • Replaced the Arabic script with the Latin alphabet, which was mandated to be taught in schools (1928). Atatürk believed that the Latin alphabet would be easier to teach to a largely (90%) illiterate population, easier to learn, and therefore would immediately impact the literacy rate.
  • Promoted construction of thousands of new schools, made literacy reform a priority, and made primary education compulsory and free.
  • Accelerated Turkey’s post-war economic development by establishing state-owned factories for textile and agricultural industries.
  • Supported construction of the national Turkish State Railways (1927).
  • Modernized state banking systems.
  • Promoted advancement in the fields of science, health and medicine, law, and education.
  • Adopted the international numeric system (1928).
  • Supported Turkey’s culture by establishing a Turkish Historical Society (1931), a Turkish Language Association (1932).
  • Adopted the International System of Units to standardize national measurements (1933)
  • Changed the tax code to reduce the tax burden on peasants.
  • Enacted women’s suffrage rights (1934).
  • Legalized gender equality and women’s emancipation rights (1926-1934). 
  • Passed a law to require that everyone have a surname instead of surnames based on titles of honor (1934).
  • Developed foreign policies of neutrality and cultivated friendly international relationships.
  • Replaced a provincial legal system (called millet) that allowed every minority community to govern themselves with a unified, secular constitution.
  • Established the Directorate for Religious Affairs, which affirmed the new Republic of Turkey’s protection and equality of all religions, including Islam.
  • Encouraged reform of the Turkish language by establishing a Language Commission that replaced foreign words with Turkish ones with standardized spelling and phonetics.
  • Declared that “Culture is the foundation of the Turkish Republic.” Strongly supported the arts, such as opera, theatre, literature, and music; opened museums; encouraged interest in Turkey’s indigenous Anatolian heritage, eg, naming the state-owned banks Sümerbank after the Sumerians and Etibank after the Hittites; and encouraged the importance of Turkish folk Art.
Today on August 30, 96 years later, Turkish present President,  Recep Tayip Erdogan, wrote in the guest book at Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, without mentioning Turkey's greatest leader Ataturk by name, the following comment.
“Increasing threats, violations and attacks against our country’s independence will not withhold us from our ideals and aims. The Turkish nation is defending its independence as it did 96 years ago with the inspiration from its thousands of years of historic values,” 

Parliamentary Speaker Binali Yıldırım, Vice President Fuat Oktay, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, high judicial authorities, ministers and top soldiers were among guests who visited Anıtkabir as a part of official celebrations.

So far, President Recep Tayip Erdogan,  now the sole ruler of Turkey, major claim to success has been the elimination of all opposition forces against his regime, which included: 

1) Some 160,000 people were detained for questioning, of which over 77,000 were formally arrested for alleged links to terror organizations, including Gulen’s network and outlawed Kurdish rebels. Those arrested include military personnel, police, journalists, lawmakers, judges and prosecutors.

2) According to Justice Ministry figures, close to 35,000 people put on trial for links to Gulen’s network have been convicted so far. Around 14,000 others were acquitted.

3) More than 130,000 people have been purged from the public service through emergency government decrees. Those dismissed include tens of thousands of teachers and close to 6,000 academics. Around 1,300 people were re-instated to jobs by a commission that was set up to review cases but 18,000 other appeals were rejected.

4) Some 170 generals and around 7,000 other senior military officers were arrested as part of the crackdown. At least 58 generals and 629 senior officers have been convicted to life terms in prison so far in trials against military officers, according to Justice Ministry figures. Eight generals were acquitted.

5) At least 143 journalists or media workers are currently behind bars, most accused of links to Gulen or Kurdish rebels, according to the Turkish Journalists Syndicate. Using emergency decrees, the government closed down around 200 media organizations, including newspapers, periodicals, radio stations and television channels.

6) Ten legislators from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish political party, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, are in prison on terror charges for alleged links to Kurdish militants. Enis Berberoglu, a legislator from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, is in prison convicted of espionage for giving an opposition newspaper images allegedly showing Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.

7) Human rights activist and businessman Osman Kavala is in jail pending trial, accused of seeking to overthrow the government and having alleged links to Gulen. Eleven prominent activists were arrested last year at their hotel on an island off of Istanbul while on training. They were eventually released from jail pending the outcome of their trial for supporting terror groups. Among them was Taner Kilic, Amnesty International’s former Turkey chairman, who was released earlier this month.

“Authenticity is the language of visionaries" wrote  Andrena Sawyer - Unfortunately Turkey today lacks that vision, so brilliantly carried out by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and is turning back the clock towards pre-Atatürk days. 

A  report from the Canadian AP  Global News  
and EU-Digest

EU: Can Europe learn to stop worrying and love power? - by Zaki Laidi

US President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker may have averted a trade war last month, but the challenges confronting the European Union are far from resolved.

In today’s increasingly Hobbesian global environment, the EU can survive only by increasing its capacity to project power – no easy feat for an entity that was formed precisely as a repudiation of power politics.

With the 1957 Treaty of Rome, Europe shed what remained of its militaristic impulses and focused on building a sprawling and peaceful single market. From then on, Europe’s only means of projecting power would be its trade policy.

Read more: Can Europe learn to stop worrying and love power? | Asia Times


Brexit: Germany and EU tell UK: No Brexit cherry-picking | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 29.08.2018

Berlin and Brussels showed a united front on Wednesday delivering a single message to London: There will be no cherry-picking when it comes to the single market.

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier came to the German capital for talks with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, after which they appeared before a handful of cameras and reporters to offer similar statements.

"In the end, it will come down to the fact that we will resist the so-called cherry-picking," said Maas, following familiar declarations of sorrow that Britain had chosen to part ways, and that Germany, like all the other 27 remaining EU member states, wanted a close relationship with the UK in future.

However, both men remained optimistic that an agreement could be reached – that there would be no "disorganized Brexit." Barnier said a deal had been reached on a majority of the issues, while Maas professed that the "last big hurdle" was the question of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"We are firmly convinced that the exit agreement must guarantee that Brexit must not lead to a hard border in Northern Ireland," said Maas. "It is important that this guarantee must be valid regardless of how the EU and Britain will shape its new relationship."

Echoing British Prime Minister Theresa May's soundbite that "Brexit means Brexit," Barnier switched to English to deliver his own quip in retort: "single market means single market." This organization of trade within the EU, he said, remained "non-negotiable."

Once again, Maas' position was identical: "Of course the door remains open for London," he said. "Britain can take part in the single market just as it is, but we will not wind the single market back, or deconstruct it, or create special regulations."

"It cannot be that Britain on its side just picks out all the positive points for itself," the German minister added, leaving the impression that "leaving the European Union entails no disadvantage at all."

The current plan is for both sides to finish negotiations by October when the two sides will present the final deal at an EU summit. This will only leave a few months for all the various parliaments in the EU to ratify an exit contract; the official date set for Brexit is March 29, 2019.

Germany and EU tell UK: No Brexit cherry-picking | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 29.08.2018

EU Economy: US withdrawal from Iran deal is good for Europe - by Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata

Under the Trump administration the US has, to say the least, been acting erratically on the world stage. The current uncertainty over trade relations between Europe and the US, as well as Trump’s posturing on NATO, have left many questioning the Atlantic alliance, and whether the interests of the US and Europe have now truly diverged.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the EU can no longer rely on the US for its security, and must pursue its own security policy to protect its interests.

One area, however, where Trump’s new policies have been aligned with European interests is in his policy on Iran. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, promises to do more to protect the security of Europe than almost any decision made by Europe’s own political leaders this year.

Saying that the US’s withdrawal from the deal is in Europe’s best interest may seem strange considering how it has been reported in the media and the negative reaction of many of the EU’s political leaders. Trump’s decision was presented as reckless and highly risky, an impulsive move which jeopardises relations with Iran and increases the risks of the regime deciding to pursue a nuclear agenda.

The deal has clearly benefited private commercial interests within Europe: companies such as Airbus, Allianz and Total were quick to take advantage of the economic opportunities provided by the opening up of the Iranian market. It is not at all clear, however, how much European citizens have benefited economically from the deal, and it is impossible to see any benefit which compensates them for the security risk they have to shoulder.

The second justification, that the deal will in some way ‘Westernise’ Iran, is completely wrong-headed, and is based on a now outdated view of geopolitics. Autocratic regimes around the globe have demonstrated that it is possible to import Western goods and profit from Western trade without importing Western values. European goods can be bought in the absence of European democracy.

The narrative that the Iran deal is in the interests of Europe and that reimposing sanctions will be harmful seems only therefore to serve the interests of private companies looking to expand their business dealings in the country.

The companies who have profited from the deal, and who were well aware of the risks of doing business in Iran when they entered the market, are now crying out for protection and further economic benefit from Europe. As if profiting at the cost of European security was not enough, these companies now want the EU to foot the bill for their misadventures in the country.

Giving in to these demands is not the right course of action for Europe. The prospect of a nuclear Iran is Europe’s problem first and foremost. Three years after the JCPOA was signed, we can see that this was not the right way to deal with this problem. A new arrangement, one which places the security of European citizens as its top priority, should be the top priority for European leaders like Macron who believe that Europe should take more responsibility for its own security.

Read more: US withdrawal from Iran deal is good for Europe | View | Euronews

EU-France: Macron Wants to Create a European Army—But First He's Reviving French Military Might - by David Brennan

French President Emmanuel Macron has long wished for greater European military cooperation. This week, he continued the drive, suggesting the bloc can no longer rely on American military support to protect members against outside threats.

In a speech to relaunch his political agenda Monday, the president explained, “It is up to us to guarantee European security” and said he would “launch an exhaustive review” of security relations with “all Europe's partners, which includes Russia.”

After decades of underinvestment, Macron is spearheading a push to revamp France’s military, returning it to its historical position as one of the most well-funded and potent forces in the world.

With Europe facing an emboldened Russia and the Western allies battling Islamist threats across Africa and the Middle East, France needs its bite back.

President Donald Trump’s residency in the White House has presented a challenge for European nations. For decades, NATO stood united and firm against the threat of the Soviet Union and later the new Russia.

In recent years, Russian foreign policy has become more bellicose, and relations have deteriorated as Moscow's military tendrils reached into countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, to name but a few.

But Trump’s disdain for nearly every multinational alliance or agreement apparently includes NATO. The president incorrectly believes that European nations are not paying their fair share toward the shared military budget, and reportedly threatened to pull the U.S. out of the bloc unless its allies took on a greater part of the burden.

Read more: Macron Wants to Create a European Army—But First He's Reviving French Military Might


Turkey: No question, Erdogan is a ruthless dictator, who has bled his country's economy dry, and the EU must not look the other way - by Ahmet Ardani

Turkey: If this is not a dictatorship, what is it?
One publication in the EU recently noted in a report about Turkey's Erdogan: "The man in the big palace is not only a crook. but also a full fledged dictator ".

This should also reinforce the doubts that every intelligent person had about whether it was a real coup attempt at all two years ago in Turkey, or just a staged one. There are plenty of people who thought it was put on by the government of Erdogan, for the sake of purging and jailing its opponents.

We need not do more than to listen to Erdogan’s own declarations. He openly called that “coup” an opportunity for purging his enemies, and just as soon as he defeated the alleged coup attempt, he had a very long list of thousands of enemies to eliminate.

His forces moved immediately to arrest these folks. For most of them, their only failing was that they don’t blindly follow Erdogan.

Ruling in an ever more totalitarian fashion, Erdogan has taken control over all public institutions – the media and the schools, the courts and the police, the civil bureaucracy and the armed forces.

At least 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 purged. His Islamist party, AKP, has used these methods to consolidate control in practically all of the structures of Turkish life.

There’s even a detailed report of the Stockholm Center for Freedom, which found evidence from four days before the ostensible coup that a plan was circulated, with Erdogan’s approval, in the Armed Forces to make it look like there was a coup attempt.

It’s sad that most of the EU press, eager-to-please their governments have become quite lazy about this. They have developed a habit of calling it a “coup attempt,” when they do not in fact know that it was any such thing.

It’s high time to stop being complicit in playing Erdogan´s PR game and start being honest to the public. From all we know for sure, it’s just an alleged coup attempt.

The Erdogan regime, however, is profiting from it enormously, to pseudo-legitimize its totalitarian turn and to conduct purges from top to bottom.

We need not do more than to listen to Erdogan’s own declarations. He openly called that “coup” an opportunity for purging his enemies. Just as soon as he defeated the alleged coup attempt, he had a very long list of thousands of enemies ready to arrest.

His forces moved immediately to arrest these folks. For most of them, their only failing it is that they don’t blindly follow Erdogan.

Erdogan was also immediately ready to organize a mass mobilization against the alleged coup, and to synchronize the mosques for this. These are steps that required lots of advanced preparation.

This has even gone on at an accelerated pace after he won his recent Presidential "bogus" snap election 

Ruling in an ever more totalitarian fashion, Erdogan has taken control over all public institutions – the media and the schools, the courts and the police, the civil bureaucracy and the armed forces.

At least 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 purged. His Islamist party, AKP, has used these methods to consolidate control in practically all of the structures of Turkish life.

Previously, Gülen was Erdogan´s most important domestic ally. He led the Islamist religious movement, while Erdogan led the Islamist political party.

Very much with the support of Erdogan’s party, Gülen had built up a state within the state. But then Erdogan decided that, to consolidate his power, the imprint that Gülen left on public life in Turkey needed to be removed completely.

Let´s also remember that the real reason for the fallout between the two was that Gülen´s forces, strongly represented in the body of public prosecutors, were closing in on the massive acts of corruption that Erdogan and his immediate family systematically organized.

It was also only logical that Erdogan demanded the extradition of Gülen and Gülenists from the US, because he is familiar with all of Erdogan's plans and corrupt swindles that have bled the country dry.

Not that the Gülenists are anything but squeaky clean. But Germany, Britain, the United States and many others have all found that Erdogan had produced no convincing evidence to justify his extradition demands.

They want no part of Erdogan´s witch hunt, to the contrary. He is considered vindictive and untrustworthy.

Erdogan responded to this refusal with demagogic attacks on Western countries. Even calling some European countries Nazis, when they were not wiling to have his "disciples" speak to Turkish immigrants in Europe, during his "bogus" referendum campaign, on a new Turkish Constitution.

The EU must definitely not cozy up to the Erdogan regime, just because of Donald Trump's tirades against him, who has been trying to get his Evangelical Pastor back to the US, so he can win the Mid-Term US election.

It has nothing to do about Trump in this particular case, but all about Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Trump and Erdogan might have similar characters, but their issues with the EU are different

Europe must start calling a spade a spade - and make the long term survival extremely difficult for Erdogan, who is not only a ruthless dictator who can not be trusted, but also a danger to the European Union's democracy and security.


The Environment: A US court reinstates the Obama Wotus Rule clean water act which had been abolished by Trump


Earth is the warmest it's been in 120,000 years

Read more at:


Scientists Warn the UN of Capitalism's Imminent Demise

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THE MEXICO US TRADE DEAL: More accurate details about the Trade Deal from Canadian Resources

5 new rules the U.S.-Mexico trade deal would set

Read more detailsshared via the CBC News Android App at: 

Mexico - US trade deal: Another Trump BS

Trump announces US-Mexico trade deal, setting stage for Nafta overhaul

Read more: 


EU - Trade wars: what are the EU's trade defence instruments?

The EU seeks to make the most out of  globalisation and  its economy thrives because of  free trade. However, sometimes it can be undermined by countries imposing unfair tariffs on its products or selling their goods at abnormally low prices.  There is also the risk of conflicts over trade escalating into a trade war, which is when both parties keep on increasing tariffs or create other barriers, which can make products more expensive and complicate things for companies. The EU can use a variety of trade defence instruments in these situations. Read on to find out how and to discover examples of recent trade conflicts.

The EU and its member states are among the 164 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which exists to guarantee a rule-based international trading system. It has the power to rule on trade disputes and enforce decisions. In the past this has helped to prevent trade disputes escalating.

On the basis of pre-defined rules, any WTO member can lodge a complaint over breaches of WTO rules and seek reparations.

Being a member of the WTO does not stop the EU from  drawing up legislation to counter products that have dumped for abnormally low prices in Europe, harming local producers. This could be because of a lack of competition in the country where the product was made, heavy state interference in the production process or even because the company in question disregarded international labour and environmental standards.

Since the WTO’s creation in 1995, the EU has been involved in 181 cases: 97 as a complainant and 84 as a defendant.

The EU can respond by imposing  anti-dumping duties as a trade defence instrument. In 2017 MEPs voted in favour of updating the rules that regulate when and how those duties can be imposed. MEPs approved additional rules allowing the EU to impose higher tariffs on dumped or subsidised imports in May 2018.

US President Donald Trump recently announced he was going to impose additional import duties on steel and aluminium imports. MEPs called the move unacceptable and incompatible with WTO rules. MEPs debated the EU’s response with EU trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström during the plenary session in Strasbourg on 14 March. Check out the press release on the debate.

MEPs are also concerned about US  customs duties on Spanish olives, imposed in January after the US deemed they  were being imported at below market price. Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade, was questioned about it on Wednesday 14 March.

The US and the EU have clashed over trade before, for example over duties on bananas, which made it easier for some countries in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific to export to the EU at the expense of Latin American countries.

The EU has also been at odds with the US and Canada over beef treated with hormones, which it considered a potential health hazard. This was only resolved in 2012 when the EU agreed to increase imports of hormone-free beef from the two countries.

Read more: Trade wars: what are the EU's trade defence instruments? | News | European Parli

The Netherlands: Dutch churches for sale as congregations dwindle

Research by Herman Wesselink indicates that nearly 1,000 churches will be left without congregations by 2030 mainly because of population movement. Wesselink states that the Dutch public have distanced themselves from the church over the last 50 years, and that congregations are becoming a thing of the past.

In 1968, 2.7 million Dutch Catholics attended church on a weekly basis. In 2016, this figure plummeted to 173,000. It is expected that in 2030, a mere 63,000 Dutch Catholics will be weekly church goers.

As a result, Wesselink believes that few churches will remain open in big Dutch cities while many will be shut down and sold off in smaller towns.

Note EU-Digest: Sign of the times, or the result of the fact that many of today's Pastors and Priests are unable to properly articulate, or be a living example of the revolutionary message, and the extraordinary transformation available to People, Jesus preached about?

Read more: Dutch churches for sale as congregations dwindle


USA: Vice President Pence Faces Heightened Scrutiny Over His Relationship with Paul Manafort - by Gwendolyn Smith

The "American Nightmare" has become a reality
Pence has remained largely in the background of the Trump presidency, often working behind the scenes on policy and other issues while Trump takes center stage. As Trump's fortunes have waned, however, those in his orbit are being reexamined.

The line of succession would call for Mike Pence to replace Donald Trump should he be removed from office. Many have feared what a Pence presidency would look like, given his actions as the Governor of Indiana against the LGBTQ community, women, and others.

Amongst the bad news for Trump last week was the indictment of Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Manafort was found guilty last week on eight counts of financial crimes in his fraud trial.

It was Paul Manafort who chose Mike Pence as Donald Trump's vice president, with the president reportedly preferring Chris Christie for the role.

The link between Manafort and Pence is leading to additional scrutiny for the vice president, as people ask just what Pence knew about Manafort and his connections.

Many are also curious about Pence's involvements with former adviser Mike Flynn, questioning if he lied to protect the general in January of 2017 when he declared that Flynn had not discussed, "anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia" with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Read more: Vice President Pence Faces Heightened Scrutiny Over His Relationship with Paul Manafort | Alternet


EU-Iran Relations: EU provides Iran with EUR 18m development support

The Commission adopted Thursday a first package of EUR 18 million for projects in support of sustainable economic and social development in Iran, including EUR 8m aid to the private sector.

The projects are the first of a wider package of EUR 50 million for Iran, says the EU executive, which aims to support the country to address key economic and social challenges. They are part of the renewed cooperation and engagement between the European Union and Iran following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"Since the renewal of the EU-Iran relations as a result of the Iran nuclear deal, cooperation has developed in many sectors," says the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini: "We are committed to sustain it and this new package will widen economic and sectoral relations in areas that are of direct benefit to our citizens".

Activities supporting the private sector will include support to high-potential Iranian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), the development of selected value chains, and technical assistance to Iran's Trade Promotion Organisation, says the Commission.

Read more: EU provides Iran with EUR 18m development support — | EU news, business and politics

French Guiana - Kourou - Meteorology: ESA Sends Europe's Aeolus Lidar-equipped Wind Satellite into Orbit

Vega lifts off from Europe's 
Space port in Korou, French Guiana
ESA’s Earth Explorer Aeolus satellite has been successfully launched into polar orbit on a Vega rocket.

Using revolutionary Lidar technology, Aeolus will measure winds around the globe and play a key role in the quest to better understand the workings of the atmosphere. Importantly, this novel mission will also improve weather forecasting.

Carrying the 1,360kg Aeolus satellite, the Vega rocket lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 21:20 GMT (23:20 CEST, 18:20 local time) on 22 August. Some 55 minutes later,

Vega’s upper stage delivered Aeolus into orbit and contact was established through the Troll ground station in Antarctica at 00:30 CEST on 23 August.

Named after Aeolus, who in Greek mythology was appointed ‘keeper of the winds’ by the Gods, this novel mission is the fifth in the family of Europe's ESA’s Earth Explorers, which address the most urgent Earth-science questions of our time.

Read more: ESA Sends Aeolus Lidar-equipped Wind Satellite into Orbit

EU-Russia Relations: EU unlikely to heed British call for more Russia sanctions –

The European Union is unlikely to heed London’s call for it to match the latest US sanctions against Moscow over an attack on a former Russian spy in Britain earlier this year, diplomats in Brussels said.

New British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday (21 August) will urge the United States and European countries to do more to call out Russia’s “malign behavior” and keep Vladimir Putin in check, notably by implementing tough sanctions.

But EU diplomats doubted more sanctions would be imposed. They cited the usual divisions between EU members advocating a tough line on Moscow and those arguing for more engagement.

“There is no way. Italy and Austria, even France, want to do business with Russia too much,” one EU diplomat said.

Read more: EU unlikely to heed British call for more Russia sanctions –

The Vatican - "Shame and Scandal in the family": Pope Francis knew of abuse scandal says ex-Vatican envoy

The Vatican - "shame and scandal in the family"
Archbishop Carlo Vigano has launched a fresh attack on Pope Francis, urging him to resign.

The accusation came as the pope concluded his trip to Ireland where he begged for forgiveness for decades of Catholic abuse.

A former high ranking Vatican official has called on Pope Francis to step down, accusing the pontiff of knowing about sex abuse allegations against a prominent US cardinal for five years before finally accepting his resignation last month.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano laid out his argument in an 11-page letter that was published Sunday in the National Catholic Register and another conservative site, LifeSiteNews.

The 77-year-old Vigano, an arch-conservative with strong anti-homosexual views, said he told the pope in 2013 that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had faced voluminous allegations of sexually abusing lower-ranking seminarians and priests.

Read more: Pope Francis knew of abuse scandal says ex-Vatican envoy | News | DW | 26.08.2018

EU And US: A Relationship Of Concern - by George Handlery

Much to their detriment, Americans like to ignore the world. Accordingly, they do not appreciate reminders that, like it or not, the rest of the world is out there. Worse, some of its “leading leaders” have rabies and “bite”. Aware of the provocation, Duly Noted has often indulged in its own version of “globalism”. In doing so, the European Union had received much attention.

If by your unearned luck you are an American reader, you wonder why the EU should be of concern to you. The evolvement of the Union will determine the quality of that entity and thereby its worth as a major ally. A federation might emerge that will, in a future crisis, be “neutral against the USA”. If some of this is true, the way Europe’s content will develop is of geopolitical significance.
Be reminded that Europe is a major world player.

However, by its choice, it punches well under its weight class. With 500 million inhabitants and members rated as leading economies and with three of them listed among the great powers –England, France and Germany- Europe matters. It also counts as it had generated the forces that made the modern world. The Renaissance, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, modern science, from rocketry to cybernetics is, besides some key components of democracy, Europe’s contribution to the present. At the same time, two world wars and some of destructive systems of mass murder - Fascism, National Socialism and Communism- are also European products. 

Read more: The Brussels Journal

USA: John McCain, a Last Lion of the Senate - by Carl Hulse

 John McCain was an essential element of the nation’s political conversation for half a century, an ever-present figure eager to challenge friend and foe through his singular temperament — sometimes angry, often funny, always ardent.

Now he is gone, leaving behind a storied life and a tear in America’s political fabric at a time when national unity — always a McCain theme and ultimate goal — seems especially elusive.

“We are losing someone who really, no matter who was the president, believed in the Senate’s role in checks and balances,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who was a frequent traveling companion of Mr. McCain on official overseas trips. “He truly was a giant in the Senate, a towering figure and someone who really made a difference not just on policy, but in asserting the Senate’s constitutional role.”

Read  more: John McCain, a Last Lion of the Senate - The New York Times


USA: Politics in America are Corporate, not Citizen focused - Why are guns a right in the US, meanwhile education and healthcare are not?

USA: Corporate controlled healthcare sucks
The fact that the US isn’t among the countries with universal healthcare and free college has been a topic of many heated political debates and complaints, especially among the Millennials faced with the prospect of repaying their student loans well into their adulthood. If they have a misfortune of getting hit with a major hospital bill as well, declaring a bankruptcy is often the only solution.

Universal healthcare is something that is available in a vast number of countries across the globe. While the programs offered by each government varies from nation to nation, they’re all based on the same concept – offering access to free healthcare to everyone, old or young. Most often than not, insurance is offered freely for the underaged and the elderly, while those in the working force have a small portion of their paycheck directed to the national fund sustaining this system.

Free education is something that is widely encountered across the globe, although college isn’t always included on the list. Many countries offer a number of free university seats while others subsidize them.

Many argue that this type of education, just like universal healthcare, isn’t actually free since it is funded by the government, who in turn gathers the cash by taxing people’s paychecks and businesses. 

Basically that is an argument used in the US which in reality does not fly, because the end result in countries which do provide this service  is offering everyone access to what they need, be it education that will provide them with a better future without having to spend half of their lives paying back the student loans or getting the healthcare they need.

Across the globe, there are quite a lot of countries that offer free healthcare, from the Americas, Asia, although the most are from Europe where this seems to be the way to go when it comes to this important issue.

Many European (EU)  countries regard free education also as an investment to the economy. There is skilled workforce available on the free labor market. The opposite solution could be for example that every industry would educate their own work force starting from day one.

Capitalism or socialism doesn’t define who must pay the education: the society, the industry or the individual.

It’s the same with the healthcare: there isn’t any rule that tells that either the society, the employer or the individual should be the one who pays for the health care. It could be also so that every industry should build their own hospitals and educate their own doctors - or so that the people, the work force, do it together. But it can also be regarded as a state’s investment in the economy so that the free work force remains available and capable on the market.

These investments by the state are comparable with other investments in the infrastructure and the functionality of the society. The state offers some base for the free economy to thrive, like roads, security and so on.

Socialism is so abused and so polymorphic concept that it’s hard to define simply. But in the basic concept of socialism is about how the economic power is divided between the capital and the labor.

It certainly has nothing to do with communism, which unfortunately many right-wing conservatives like to call socialism.
The ultimate goal is a society that has stopped the domination of capital over the labor and where the labor has taken the domination on the production. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the state should own everything.

Both of these functions can also be shared in different ways as long as it benefits the citizens and the country as a whole.

In America the concept has become totally lopsided over the years. Today about 3 % of the US population controls all the wealth in the country, with corporations basically influencing all the decision making processes of the political establishment.

If not corrected soon, it will have disastrous consequences for America.


EU-China Relations: How to make China work for Europe

China’s bet to transform the world economy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), involves strategic risks for Europe. But these are far from insurmountable. If the Continent’s policymakers can overcome their knee-jerk reaction to China’s ambitions, they can easily contain the threats to Europe’s core interests.

Despite widespread fears of Chinese competition and the security risks involved in their takeover of major infrastructure projects, China’s move to the West also offers plenty of opportunities that — if handled properly — can help Europe advance its own strategic priorities. To exploit them, the EU needs to develop a common approach that draws China closer, on European terms.

The EU must continue to work toward becoming a credible economic counterweight to Beijing, preferably together with other liberal market economies. If done right, this could draw Beijing into a mutually dependent economic relationship, help to promote sustainable development and contain threats to European unity.

To sidestep the risks involved, the EU needs to set out clear red lines to ensure governments do not support BRI projects unless they live up to recognized criteria on transparency, equal say of stakeholders and environmental and labor standards.

Read more: How to make China work for Europe – POLITICO

Global Politics: America’s Anxiety of Influence – by Stephen Walt

David Ignatius at the Washington Post recently published an interesting column ruing the decline of U.S. “influence” in the Middle East. His central theme is that U.S. “disengagement” from the region is allowing local actors to chart their own courses, and that many of them are now making bad decisions.

In his view, the prospects for positive change in the region are receding and that we will all be worse off as a result.

It’s a thoughtful column and worth reading. It’s also a revealing one, because it rests on one of those unspoken assumptions that are articles of faith in the U.S. foreign-policy community. Specifically, it suggests that U.S. influence is always a good thing and that its diminution (whether by accident or by design) is something to mourn.

But if you’ve been paying attention to the results of U.S. policy over the past quarter-century—especially in the Middle East but also in some other places—that position may not be the hill you want to die defending.

Look, it’s easy to understand why American foreign-policy elites like having lots of “influence.” To some degree it’s unavoidable. The United States is still the 800-pound gorilla in the international system and other global actors will inevitably pay close attention to whatever Uncle Sam is doing. For foreign-policy practitioners, having lots of influence and being fully engaged is also a heady experience; it means foreign governments will take your calls, treat you with deference and respect when you visit, and sometimes they follow your advice (or at least pretend to). If you’re in the foreign-policy business, it’s a helluva a lot more gratifying to represent the United States than to be out there pitching on behalf of a small or weak country whose voice does not carry.

To be clear: I understand why our foreign-policy elites worry (constantly!) about declining U.S. influence, and I can even see how that might be a bad thing in some circumstances. But we ought to recognize that “influence” is insufficient by itself and in some cases is counterproductive. Excessive U.S. influence leaves us performing missions we don’t know how to do (such as creating workable political institutions in radically different societies), allows local actors to blame us for their own failings, fuels conspiracy theories at home and abroad, and distracts U.S. officials from other problems that they might actually know how to solve. In some regions—and the Middle East would be high on my list—less U.S. influence might be more. Given all the success we’ve had trying to manage that region, maybe we’d be better off letting somebody else try. They could hardly do worse.

Moving in that direction will require a major change in the mindset of the U.S. foreign-policy elite. For too long, its members believed the United States was in fact the “indispensable nation,” and that the solution to all (or at least most) global problems had to be made in Washington. Students of management are often taught that effective leadership also requires learning how to delegate responsibility, because no single person has the power, knowledge, and wisdom to do everything. What is true for individual leaders is true for leading nations: learning how to offload problems onto others is in fact a consummate strategic skill. As long as Americans view influence as an inherent end, and as a resource to be hoarded like gold, we’re going to find ourselves overcommitted and be much less effective than we could be. As President Harry Truman supposedly said, “it’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets credit.”

Henceforth, Americans should worry rather less about the level of influence their country enjoys—and, relax, it will continue to dwarf that of most other countries—and worry a lot more about how that influence is being used. And guess what? If U.S. officials did a better job of selecting the right goals and actually achieving them, they would quickly find their influence growing; then, the number of problems they would then have deal with might shrink, instead of growing like kudzu or crabgrass in the warm summer sun.

Read the full report: America’s Anxiety of Influence – Foreign Policy

Ireland -Christianity: It’s too late. Not even Pope Francis can resurrect Catholic Ireland - by Fintan O’Toole

Note EU-Digest by the editor: Hopefully there will be protests in Ireland during the Pope's visit there, against the Catholic church hypocrisy around the world, surrounding past and ongoing sexual abuse scandals, including those against minors.

It is also remarkable, how little condemnation is coming from non-Catholic Christian denominations around the world against these deplorable acts by the Catholic Clergy.

It seems Protestants have forgotten Martin Luther's struggle, known as the Reformation, against the Catholic Church in the 1500's, which eventually led to a break with the Church in Rome. Thereby ignoring key ideas of the Reformation which were —a call to purify the church, and a belief that the Bible, not tradition, should be the sole source of spiritual authority. 

Maybe the Pope, Priests, Pastors and many of us as individual believers, should read Mathew 18-verse 10 again, to remind us how special children are, not only to us, but also to God : "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."

But were this article in the Guardian goes wrong, is to state that "it is too late for change". It is never too late to change.

Read more at It’s too late. Not even Pope Francis can resurrect Catholic Ireland | Fintan O’Toole | Opinion | The Guardian


EU-Turkish Relations: EU and Turkey on same side against US - by Bugra Susler

The Turkey-US trade spat has led to EU leaders backing Turkey against the US administration's policies.

This not only shows the extent of economic interdependence between Europe and Turkey, but also signals the development of a common stance in the face of a bullying trade partner.

When US president Donald Trump took to Twitter to celebrate the downward trajectory of the Turkish lira against the US dollar, Europe was concerned about the potential spillover of rapidly growing economic turmoil in Turkey.

In particular, Germany, Turkey's biggest trading partner, came to Turkey's defence.

At a news conference in Berlin, German chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear that "Germany would like to see an economically prosperous Turkey" and emphasised that "No one has an interest in the economic destabilisation of Turkey."

Read more: EU and Turkey on same side against US

USA: The 25th Amendment Could Doom Trump — And Mike Pence Would Play A Crucial Role - Seth Millstein

Yes indeed. Mike Pence could safe the Republican party from possible, if not certain defeat, in the mid-term elections, and also "rehabilitate" the tarnished image of the US Right-Wing Evangelical movement, by invoking the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution.

This is only feasible, if Pence is able to work a deal with his Republican party members in Congress and some Democrats to get 2/3 of the House in favor, to invoke this somewhat obscure 25th Amendment, whereby Trump would be declared mentally unfit to remain President and Pence would become President.

Read more: The 25th Amendment Could Doom Trump — And Mike Pence Would Play A Crucial Role

USA: Trump Presidency: Can Trump's Impeachment Lead to Economic Collapse? - by Alexandra Hutzler

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that if he were to be impeached that the "market would crash" and "everybody would be very poor.".

There is some, limited, validity to the president's claim.

“You could end up having a very short-term downdraft in the market,” Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at the Center For Financial Research and Analysis, told Newsweek on Thursday. “The stock market doesn’t like any uncertainty and obviously a Trump impeachment would throw uncertainty into the mix.”

But even if Democrats retake control of the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections, a likely outcome as polls predict a possible blue wave and because midterms generally see the party in power lose seats, Democrats have almost no possibility of getting the two-thirds majority in the Senate they would need to convict Trump.

In the unlikely event that Trump does leave the White House and Vice President Mike Pence assumed the presidency, the climate could even better for the economy, Stovall suggested.

Read more: Can Trump's Impeachment Lead to Economic Collapse?


USA: More dark clouds are gathering over Donald Trump's credibility as the President of the USA

Even though the US President is not openly showing much anguish over the troubles surrounding his Presidency, it is becoming very apparent that his credibility to govern the US is more and more in doubt.

Specially in light of the recent court verdicts against many of his close associates, and damaging daily press reports, including :

David Pecker, CEO of National Enquirer Publisher, Granted Immunity in Michael Cohen Case

Sessions hits back at Trump: DOJ won't be 'improperly influenced'

The only reason that Trump hasn’t been indicted is that he’s the president

Embattled Trump Startles Israel by Demanding 'Higher Price' for His Delusional Achievements on Jerusalem

Bottom-line, this is not a pleasant time in the history for the United States.  Who would have thought that after the Republican President Nixon was impeached, that another Republican President possibly faces the same fate as Richard Nixon did and,  as a consequence, had to resign on August 9, 1974.

copyright: the above report can be copied
 only if the source - EU-Digest- is mentioned.


CREATIONISM: Is creationism the ultimate conspiracy theory?

USA: Cohen and Manafort Will Only Make Trump Stronger - by Peter Roff

It was entertaining to watch the pundits on cable news start to salivate as news broke Tuesday that an Alexandria, Virginia jury had found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on eight of the 18 counts with which he’d been charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

If ever there was a day to see the media has a rooting interest in seeing Donald Trump go down, this was it. Some commentators seemed almost giddy as they reported Manafort guilty on five counts of tax fraud, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud as though, somehow, this finding was the certain first step down the road toward removing the president from office.

It’s important to note, at this juncture, that all the crimes of which Manafort was accused—including the ten in which the jury could not reach a verdict and for which federal judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial—had everything to do with his lobbying work and not a thing to do with anything related to his role as a Trump campaign official.

The president, surprisingly, seemed nonplussed by it all.

Read more: Cohen and Manafort Will Only Make Trump Stronger | Opinion


USA Military: A Financial Expenditure Disaster of $ 21 Trillion

US-Turkey Relations: Evangelicals pulling Trump’s strings in trade spat with Turkey - by ŞEYMA NAZLI GÜRBÜZ

The last few weeks have marked a feud between Turkey and the U.S., two countries that have been long-term NATO partners, due to an evangelical pastor detained in Turkey on terrorism-linked charges. Despite the strength of the relationship and the longevity of the partnership, the tension between the two countries escalated quickly and has reached a point where the U.S. levied sanctions on Turkey, causing difficulty for the Turkish economy. As the bonds between the countries are worsening day by day, experts have suggested that U.S. President Donald Trump's decisions are mainly being directed by evangelical concerns rather than the result of rational decision-making policies.

"It is clear that Trump is being affected by the interests of the evangelicals," said Şule Albayrak, an academic expert in the sociology of religion. "This approach became clearer with his decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and was seen once again in his policies against Turkey," she added. On Sep. 2016, Andrew Brunson, a pastor at the Evangelic Resurrection Church in the western city of Izmir for 20 years, was arrested in Turkey for alleged links to the PKK terrorist group and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), who orchestrated the attempted coup on July 15, 2016.

Evangelical Christians have long lobbied for Washington to exert pressure on Ankara to secure Brunson's release; however, although Brunson has been under house arrest due to health concerns, his appeals of release have been rejected three times so far, the latest of which occurred last week. He is scheduled to appear before a court in October for his third hearing and faces 35 years in jail for charges of espionage.

As a response to Turkey for not releasing the pastor, Washington levied sanctions on Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül, a move that retaliated by Turkey. Last week, the White House said Washington has more sanctions ready if Turkey refuses to release Brunson, showing the risks Trump is willing to take to avoid disappointing the evangelicals.

Read more: Evangelicals pulling Trump’s strings in trade spat with Turkey - Daily Sabah

EU Parliament: Guy Verhofstadt calls Donald Trump ‘head alligator’ of the swamp – by Paul Dallison

Related imageGuy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament and a former Belgian prime minister, said on Twitter Wednesday that Trump had promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington, “but instead he created his own one and is acting as its head alligator.”

He added that Trump’s presidency, “one in which values and integrity do not seem to count, is detrimental to people’s faith in democracy.”

Read more: Guy Verhofstadt calls Donald Trump ‘head alligator’ of the swamp – POLITICO

EU: Making plans for a new world order - by Heiko Maas

Europe's relationship with the US was changing even before Donald Trump and his provocative Tweets came along. Germany now sees the current trans-Atlantic antipathy as a historic opportunity to redefine the EU's role, writes Germany's foreign minister.

If we go it alone, we will fail in this task. The outstanding aim of our foreign policy is to build a sovereign, strong Europe. Only by joining forces with France and other European nations can a balance with the US be achieved. The European Union must become a cornerstone of the international order, a partner for all those who are committed to it. She is predestined for this, because compromise and balance lie in her DNA.

“Europe United” means this: We act with sovereignty at those points where nation-states alone cannot muster the level of power a united Europe can. We are not circling the wagons and keeping the rest of the world out. We are not demanding allegiance. Europe is building on the rule of law, respect for the weaker, and our experiences that show that international cooperation is not a zero-sum game.

A balanced partnership means that we Europeans take an equal share of the responsibility. Nowhere is the trans-Atlantic link more indispensable to us than in terms of security. Whether as a partner in NATO, or in the fight against terrorism, we need the US. We must draw the right conclusions from this.

It is in our own interest to strengthen the European part of the North Atlantic Alliance. Not because Donald Trump is always setting new percentage targets, but because we can no longer rely on Washington to the same extent. But the dialectic of the trans-Atlantic also means this: If we take on more responsibility, then Americans and Europeans can continue to rely on each other in the future.

Read more: Making plans for a new world order

USA: the "Trumpcapades" continue: Sanders says Trump has 'done nothing wrong'

The White House says President Donald Trump did nothing wrong the day after his former attorney Michael Cohen said Trump had directed him to make hush money payments to two women with the express purpose of “influencing the election.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders tells reporters that the president has “done nothing wrong” and stresses, “There are no charges against him.”

She also calls it “a ridiculous accusation” to suggest the president had lied when he said he didn’t know about the payments at the time they were made.

Cohen on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including campaign finance violations.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she’s “not aware” of conversations about a possible presidential pardon for Paul Manafort.

Manafort--President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman--was convicted Tuesday in federal court of eight financial crimes stemming from his work before he joined Trump’s campaign in 2016. A jury deadlocked on 10 other counts against Manafort.

Trump tweeted Wednesday about his respect for Manafort and called him a “brave man” for choosing to go trial over cooperating with prosecutors. Trump has also called Manafort’s situation “sad.”

Echoing the president, Sanders says Wednesday that Manafort’s case doesn’t have anything to do with the president, the president’s campaign or the White House.

She says conversations about a pardon for Manafort are “not something that’s been up for discussion.”

Read more: The Latest: Sanders says Trump has 'done nothing wrong'


Retirement: Europe’s Top 5 Affordable Retirement Havens

Imagine the smell of freshly-baked croissants wafting through the air, or the satisfying swallow of wine made from grapes grown just down the road. Perhaps you muse about living on a sun-drenched Mediterranean beach or tucked down a cobbled lane savoring the cosmopolitan delights of a history-rich city…

A retirement in Europe is a dream for many folks. And it can easily be a reality. If it’s culture, history, and variety you’re after, Europe has it all, and at a cost much lower than you may think… Here we explore the five best low-cost options for enjoying your perfect European retirement.

Here you’ll find properties to rent for less than $600 a month or to buy for under $110,000. A filling three-course meal in a local restaurant can be had for $10, while a bag of fresh produce grown locally can be got for under $6.

In all five countries you’ll find fabulous beaches, idyllic rural retreats, and cities where history is thickly layered with stunning architecture and grand museums. For each country, our experts have nominated an area they think is particularly worthy of your interest, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide what type of lifestyle you’re after.

Not surprisingly, Europe delivers strongly on healthcare; in each of our five picks, you’ll find healthcare professionals and facilities of a world-class standard. But perhaps more surprisingly, the care on offer in these countries won’t leave you counting pennies. Many of these nations benefit from universal coverage and strong public healthcare systems, and even their private healthcare can be accessed for a sliver of the cost in the U.S. Doctors’ visits, for instance, can run well under $100, and other services are similarly reasonable.

You’re guaranteed to find an ideal place for yourself in Europe. Though a small continent, it packs in so much diversity that the perfect retirement for you is bound to be hiding somewhere.

Read more: Europe’s Top 5 Affordable Retirement Havens

The Netherlands - Weather: Four years of hot summers expected in the Netherlands - by Mina Solanki

This year, the Netherlands has experienced an unusually hot summer, with a code orange being issued due to the heat and two heatwaves engulfing the country in a short period of time. Not to mention the drought that did not go unnoticed across the land.

Well, if you thought the weather was just a tad too warm, you won’t have any luck in terms of cooler summers for the next few years. According to a new statistical analysis by KNMI climate researcher Sybren Drijfhout and colleague Florian Sevellec, globally, we are in for another four years of warmer than usual weather.

From now until 2022, the earth will be in the throes of a “warm anomaly”, in addition to the slow advance of global warming due to greenhouse gasses. Although the anomaly may only contribute to temperatures worldwide by a few hundredths of a degree, it could result in heatwaves, extreme weather conditions and hot summers.

Drijfhout credits the coming warm period to a four-year hiatus, roughly between 2010 and 2014, in which the earth’s temperature hardly increased. During this period, it seems as though the extra heat was absorbed by the sea; extra heat which could still be released into the atmosphere, he says. Up until 2022, there is a 70 percent possibility of extra hot summers and higher temperatures in general the world over, the weather model currently reports.

Read more: Four years of hot summers expected in the Netherlands

British Economy: UK records biggest July budget surplus since 2000 - as it happened

t’s been a good day for UK chancellor Philip Hammond as far as the country’s public finances go, with the best July budget surplus for 18 years.

But factory growth was less impressive in August, according to the CBI.

Meanwhile the dollar has weakened after President Trump took the Federal Reserve to task for continuing to raise interest rates.

And in Greece, prime minister Alexis Tsipras has said Greece is at the beginning of a new era following its exit from its longstanding bailout programme.

Read more: UK records biggest July budget surplus since 2000 - as it happened | Business | The Guardian