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Middle East - Syria: US opposes Western reconstruction of Syria, blames Russia - by Nikolaj Nielsen

The United States has said it will ensure no one contributes to reconstructing war-torn Syria - aside from those who helped destroy it.

"We are not going to put it back together and we are going to do everything we can, and believe me that is a lot, to ensure nobody else does," US state department official on Syria, James F Jeffrey, told reporters in Brussels and on Tuesday (30 October).

Note EU-Digest: What a ridiculous inhumane declaration by the US. State Department, since they and all their NATO partners, in addition to Russia, Israel and Iran,  have participated in ground and air-force operations on and above Syrian territory. This has caused not only enormous damage to the Syrian infrastructure, but also caused close to half a million civilian death.

Read More: US opposes Western reconstruction of Syria, blames Russia

EU: Economy - Annual Inflation up to 2.2 % with energy cost rising to 10.6%

EU Annual Inflation rate rising.  Looking  at  the  main  components of  euro  area inflation, energy expected to have the highest annual  rate in October (10.6%)compared to 9.5% in September.

Read more  at: 2-31102018-AP-EN.pdf

EU: Migrants stimulate the economy - hope you and your right-wing populist followers are reading this Donald Trump

Migrants from EU boosting the German economy study shows

Peru: Lima number one gourmet capital in Latin America for exceptional food

Migrants - perception and where Donald Trump and other Right-Wing populists get it wrong

Via euronews: What populists get wrong about migrants and terrorism |


European social democracies are much better off than the United States - by Cody Fenwick

 Apropos of absolutely nothing, the White House released a new report this week decrying the dangers of "socialism" — and was roundly mocked for wasting government time on producing such a patently unnecessary and brazenly partisan document.

But Paul Krugman noted that one part of the report's findings is worth taking note of: Its criticism of European social democracies such as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

"The report points out that real gross domestic product per capita in these economies is lower than in the U.S., and argues that this shows the costs of an expansive welfare state," he writes. "But is a negative assessment of the Nordic economies really right? That’s not at all clear. "

While he doesn't question the numbers themselves — the Nordic countries really do have lower GDP per capita than the United States — he argued that these figures can be deeply misleading.

GDP is supposed to reflect all the things of value produced in a given economy, and this is sometimes taken to be a measure of societal welfare. But there are a lot of key factors that the metric leaves out.

"First, by any measure people in the lower part of the income distribution are much better off in Nordic societies than their U.S. counterparts. That is, there is a lot less misery in Scandinavia — and because everyone has some chance of falling into low income, this reduces the risk of misery for a much larger share of the population," he explained.

"Second, much of the gap in real G.D.P. represents a choice, not a cost," Krugman continued. "Nordic workers have much more vacation, much more time for family and leisure, than their counterparts in our 'no vacation nation.'"

He argued that while the rich in the United States are richer than the rich in Nordic countries, the poor in Nordic countries are richer than the poor in the United States. And since anyone can be at risk of falling into the lower-income segment of the population through misfortune or injustice, the fact that Nordic people don't have as far too fall financially makes them all better off.

But it's not just that incomes are higher for lower-income people, Krugman contended. Since social services, like health care and education, are much more generous and valuable in these countries, poorer people are better served and more prosperous than their counterparts of equal income in the United States.

As for the rich themselves, Krugman argued that the requirements for ample vacation time create a much better atmosphere for work-life balance, providing intangible benefits that can't be measured. In this way, even the higher-income people in Scandinavian economies are likely better off and their richer American brethren.

"The bottom line is that real G.D.P. per capita isn’t everything, and you shouldn’t uncritically use that measure to judge how social democracy is working in Scandinavia," Krugman concluded.

Read more: European social democracies are much better off than the United States |

EU Saudi Relations: Calls for Saudi arms embargo pit EU values against interests

Pressure is growing for the European Union to consider an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia after Germany, Austria and the European Parliament called for an end to weapons sales over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In the space of a few hours that highlighted tensions over the matter, Germany's Angela Merkel reaffirmed last Friday (Oct 26) that her country would not deliver any arms to Saudi Arabia until Mr Khashoggi's death was explained, while French President Emmanuel Macron said such moves smacked of populist "demagoguery".

EU ambassadors may formally discuss the issue after a rare request to do so by governments, two diplomats said last Friday, and the Netherlands is lobbying for a new EU regime to sanction human rights abuses, regardless of where they happen.

But the debate in Brussels and in EU capitals is also reviving familiar splits in the bloc's foreign policy, with Europe's main powers following their own economic and political interests that tend to undermine any forceful EU foreign policy that aims to be guided by democracy and human rights.

The Belgian region of Wallonia, which owns firearms manufacturer FN Herstal, has said it will examine future requests for arms export licences to its top weapons client with "the greatest circumspection", following Mr Khashoggi's murder.

Austria, which holds the EU's six-month presidency, wants a halt to arms sales, and Germany will stop approving weapons exports until Mr Khashoggi's murder is cleared up. France ignored such calls.

Read more: Calls for Saudi arms embargo pit EU values against interests, Europe News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

USA: Midterms 2018: The battle between Democrats and Republicans for Congress explained in graphs - by Chris Riotta

With one week left until the crucial midterm elections, millions of Americans have already cast their ballots during early voting as others prepare to flock to the polls on Election Day.

November could see the highest turnout across the United States in recent midterm history, with battleground states seeing an unprecedented surge in voter registration and early voting.

Democrats have sought to flip dozens of House and US Senate seats currently held by the Republican majority as a “blue wave” of first-time, minority and female candidates threaten the GOP’s control of Congress.

Check out what that battle looks like, along with some of the most important races and issues nationwide, with the help of The Independent’s midterms infographics Click on link below.

Read more: Midterms 2018: The battle between Democrats and Republicans for Congress explained in graphs | The Independent


USA - Migrants not welcome: Trump sending 5,200 active duty troops to the border

The Trump administration will deploy 5,200 soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the newly launched Operation Secure Line initiative to prepare for thousands of Central American migrants headed north, Pentagon and Homeland Security officials announced Monday afternoon.

Eight hundred of those troops have already been deployed from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, according to U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command General Terrence John O'Shaughnessy.

The Department of Homeland Security last week deployed additional military personnel to the border as a caravan of people coming from Central America heads north.

The new wave of personnel will supplement the 2,100 National Guard troops already deployed to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Trump asked for the Guard's help in March when a 1,000-person caravan coming from Central America was reported.

Note EU=Digest: the Donald Trump Administration, it seems, has done away with the right for people to request asylum.

Read more: Trump sending 5,200 active duty troops to the border


USA: Jewish leaders tell Trump he's not welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism - by Morgan Gstalter

A group of Jewish leaders told President Trump that he is no longer welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism following the shooting at a synagogue there over the weekend.

Eleven members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice penned a letter to Trump following the Saturday shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

"Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted," the group wrote. "You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday's massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country."

Trump was fiercely criticized after he failed to condemn white supremacy and asserted that there is "blame on both sides" after last year's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
The group also said Trump is not welcome in the city until he also stops targeting minorities, immigrants and refugees.

The president has "spread lies and sowed fear about migrant families in Central America," the group wrote.

"The Torah teaches that every human being is made b'tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. This means all of us," the leaders wrote. "In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God."

Read more: Jewish leaders tell Trump he's not welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism

Brazil: Another Populist Rightwinger joins the ever increasing club of Ultra-Right Global Leaders - by E. Londono and S.Barlington

The Netherlands: A tourist's guide to EU-funded Amsterdam - by Peter Teffer

As you approach the northern part of Amsterdam, you will see a large white building, which some say looks like a frog. "The Eye" film institute's new building, opened in 2012, cost around €38m. It received €1.5m of EU funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The ERDF has distributed more cash in 'Amsterdam Noord' - an area which because of its watery separation from the rest of Amsterdam was for a long time seen as not truly belonging to the city.

But several big industrial players departed the waterfront, leaving it open for new development. Housing cooperative Open Haard received €2.7m to modernise an area of mostly abandoned company buildings.

According to Bart Bozelie the project – which also received €10m in private investment – has helped put the northern district on the map. "The ERDF subsidy definitively contributed to that," he told EUobserver in an emailed statement. He said that the project would have gone ahead anyway without the ERDF subsidy, but then it would have had "a lower ambition level".

During the current funding period (ie 2014-2020), Amsterdam's Noord district is also benefiting from a €33m co-financing to develop economic activity in a city park.

The money will be used to renovate pavilions and two former gas stations. One former gas station, recently painted yellow, was already defaced with graffiti. The building is now used for neighbourhood activities like yoga, and as one passer-by told EUobserver, bicycle classes.

Biking is of course quintessentially Dutch, and you can also do it on EU-funded bike paths.

Read more: A tourist's guide to EU-funded Amsterdam

USA - anti Semitism: Pittsburgh synagogue rampage spotlights rising anti-Semitism in America - by Aamer Madhani and Ryan W. Miller and Elizabeth Weise

The horrific killing of 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue has taken a festering problem out of the shadows and put it in the spotlight: anti-Semitism is on the rise in America.

Bomb threats, menacing messages on social  media and assaults on Jewish Americans have become increasingly common in recent years, according to researchers and federal data.

Even before the attack – believed to be the deadliest in U.S. history targeting American Jews – violence and harassment of Jewish people and institutions was rising sharply, coinciding with a moment when American politics has become sharply divided.

Read more: Pittsburgh synagogue rampage spotlights rising anti-Semitism in America

The Christmas Holidays: Cool Products: 23 Insanely Cool Products You Haven't Heard Of

Click below for a list of the 23 coolest, most unique and most original gadgets on the market. (Many of which are under $60)

Gadgets are great! But with new products emerging every day, it can be hard to keep up with the latest gizmos and technology.

We test and review dozens of products every year and this is a list of our top 23! This list is loaded with ingenious gadgets that you have probably never heard of, because they're only available online

 If you wanted to, you could do all your holiday shopping just from tis list!
(We’ve highlighted our favorite features and any special promotions available for each product. )


Middle East: Syria summit: What Germany wants, and how it might help

Turkish, Russian, French and German leaders are gathering in Istanbul to discuss the future of Syria at the weekend. Germany has clear objectives — and perhaps more to offer than you might think.

Read more: Syria summit: What Germany wants, and how it might help | In Depth | DW | 26.10.2018

Russia- US Relations: Mikhail Gorbachev: A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun - "or is something "rotten in Denmark" and are Trump and Putin trying to break up the EU?" - by Michael Gorbachev

Over 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan and I signed in Washington the United States-Soviet Treaty on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. For the first time in history, two classes of nuclear weapons were to be eliminated and destroyed.

This was a first step. It was followed in 1991 by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which the Soviet Union signed with President George H.W. Bush, our agreement on radical cuts in tactical nuclear arms, and the New Start Treaty, signed by the presidents of Russia and the United States in 2010.

There are still too many nuclear weapons in the world, but the American and Russian arsenals are now a fraction of what they were during the Cold War. At the Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference in 2015, Russia and the United States reported to the international community that 85 percent of those arsenals had been decommissioned and, for the most part, destroyed.

Today, this tremendous accomplishment, of which our two nations can be rightfully proud, is in jeopardy. President Trump announced last week the United States’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and his country’s intention to build up nuclear arms.

Note EU-Digest: Yes indeed Mr. Gorbachev is right when he writes in his op-ed for the NY-Times, that " he is convinced that those who hope to benefit from a global free-for-all are deeply mistaken. There will be no winner in a “war of all against all” — particularly if it ends in a nuclear war. And that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out. An unrelenting arms race, international tensions, hostility and universal mistrust will only increase the risk", 

But doesn't this statement, made by the US President, that he is planning to get out of the United States-Soviet Treaty on the elimination of intermediate-and shorter-range missiles, includes more than just what meets the naked eye? 

Couldn't it also be an indication for Europe, that the US, by giving up this treaty, which mainly concerns intermediate and shorter-range missiles, also means an immediate danger to the EU, and that it once again shows the Trump Administration's total disdain with, and disrespect for the EU?

The EU Commission, EU Parliament and EU Member States better wake up to the fact that there is something "Rotten in Denmark", when it comes to this recent announcement by Donald Trump

It  could very well be that during the two hour Helsinki meeting between Putin and Trump, earlier in the year, a scenario and strategy was also discussed to dismantle the EU. After all, there were no details given about the topics discussed, following the meeting of the two world leaders.

The announcement by the Trump Administration to get out of the United States-Soviet Treaty on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles, could therefore, possibly, also be seen as the implementation of a strategy discussed at the Helsinki meeting between the Russian and US leaders. 

Bottom-line - the EU better adhere to the saying:  "Forewarned is fore armed" , and not fall asleep on this issue. 

Read more: Opinion | Mikhail Gorbachev: A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun - The New York Times


Chemical Industry - weed killer - a small amount of poison won't harm, say manufacturers : Lists of Cereals, Breakfast Snacks Where Weed Killer Was Allegedly Found - by Maria Perez

A controversial herbicide has been found in more than two dozen popular breakfast cereals, snack bars and oats, according to a report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on Wednesday.

Glyphosate was found in 26 out of the 28 products EWG tested, with levels “higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health,” according to the report. Glyphosate is known as the most widely used herbicide in the world, according to the report. More than 250 million pounds of glyphosate is sprayed on American crops, according to EWG.

“How many bowls of cereal and oatmeal have American kids have eaten that came with a dose of weed killer? That’s a question only General Mills, PepsiCo and other food companies can answer,” said EWG President Ken Cook in the report. “But if those companies would just switch to oats that aren’t sprayed with glyphosate, parents wouldn’t have to wonder if their kids’ breakfasts contained a chemical linked to cancer."

Quaker and General Mills have said their products are safe for consumption. In a statement to CNN, General Mills said the levels of glyphosate in the products are “extremely low.”

"The extremely low levels of pesticide residue cited in recent news reports is a tiny fraction of the amount the government allows," the company said in a statement to CNN. "Consumers are regularly bombarded with alarming headlines, but rarely have the time to weigh the information for themselves. We feel this is an important context that consumers should be aware of when considering this topic." 

Note EU-Digest: When you read this statement it is if these companies are saying: "Don't worry a little poison can't be bad for you" ? 

Here is a list of products that were tested and reportedly have Glyphosate in them: 

Instant Oats:
  • Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey & Almonds Instant Oats
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal Cinnamon & Spice Instant Oats
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oats  
Overnight Oats:
  • Quaker Real Medleys Super Grains Banana Walnut Overnight oats
  • Quaker Overnight Oats Raisin Walnut & Honey Heaven
  • Quaker Overnight Oats Unsweetened with Chia Seeds
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar Oat 
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares Honey Nut Oat 
  • Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
  • Very Berry Cheerios
  • Chocolate Cheerios
  • Frosted Cheerios
  • Fruity Cheerios
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Cheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon

Snack Bars:
  • Quaker Chewy S’mores
  • Quaker Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  • Quaker Breakfast Squares Soft Baked Bars Peanut Butter
  • Quaker Breakfast Flats Crispy Snack Bars Cranberry Almond

Key manufacturers of this "herbicide" include Anhui Huaxing Chemical Industry Company, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Jiangsu Good Harvest-Weien Agrochemical Company, Monsanto, Nantong Jiangshan Agrochemical & Chemicals Co., Nufarm Limited, SinoHarvest, Syngenta, and Zhejiang Xinan Chemical Industrial Group Company.
Read more: Lists of Cereals, Breakfast Snacks Where Weed Killer Was Allegedly Found

EU-US relations: Trump slams EU handling of migrants

Via euronews: ‘A total mess!’: Trump slams Europe’s handling of migrant crisis


Saudi Arabia Cover-Up: CIA director listens to audio of journalist’s alleged murder - John Hudson, Souad Mekhennet, Shane Harris

CIA Director Gina Haspel listened to audio purportedly capturing the interrogation and killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, giving a key member of President Trump’s Cabinet access to the evidence used by Turkey to accuse Saudi Arabia of premeditated murder.

On Tuesday, Trump said Saudi officials had engaged in the “worst coverup ever” and that those behind the killing “should be in big trouble.”

A person familiar with the audio said it was “compelling” and could put more pressure on the United States to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the death of Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.

Note EU-Digest: the question remains - when will the US and other nations announce a complete UN endorsed ban, on all weapon amd other specific sales to this Saudi  "rogue regime", which does not respect human rights.

 Read More:  CIA director listens to audio of journalist’s alleged murder

Poland: Pro-EU opposition party defeats ruling conservatives in local elections in Warsaw

Poland’s State Electoral Commission has said a pro-European Union opposition party has defeated the ruling conservatives in local elections in Warsaw.

Sunday’s nationwide elections were a popularity test for the conservatives, whose policies have drawn street protests and prompted clashes with EU leaders, AP reported.

The electoral officials said Wednesday that in Warsaw, the opposition Civic Platform’s Rafal Trzaskowski obtained almost 57 percent of votes, defeating the ruling party’s candidate and winning the capital city’s presidency in the first round. November 4 runoffs are expected in other big cities such as Krakow and Gdansk.

The Civic Platform also maintained control in the Warsaw province assembly.

Read more: Pro-EU opposition party defeats ruling conservatives in local elections in Warsaw — RT Newsline

Brexit:EU raises spectre of post-Brexit UK visa regime - by Andrew Rettman

UK nationals may need to buy visas to enter the EU after Brexit, if that is what the European Commission proposes next month.

The visa regime, to be discussed at a commission meeting on 13 November, could see UK adults forced to pay €60 each, fill in a three-page form, and wait up to six weeks before they get permission to enter the EU's so-called 'Schengen' travel area.

That is what would happen if the EU took the first option in its deliberation on whether to "place the United Kingdom on either the 'visa required' list of third countries or the 'visa free' list", due to be adopted by the end of the year, according to a new commission "work programme" that was published on Tuesday (23 October).

The decision - part of the EU's "Brexit preparedness" planning - is to be shaped by progress on an overarching Brexit deal on the UK's withdrawal and on future relations.

That deal must be agreed by mid-November if EU states and the UK are to ratify it in time for Britain's departure in March.

The visa wall is more likely to slam down if there is no deal.

Read more: EU raises spectre of post-Brexit UK visa regime

USA: Opinion: Politically motivated violence in Trump′s America is no surprise

Let's start with an important caveat. The investigation into the potentially explosive devices – which were mailed to the homes of former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to CNN addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, and other leaders –is still unfolding. So it is not prudent to dwell at this point on the possible nature and background of what appear to be attempted terrorist attacks, which came on the heels an explosive device that was sent to liberal billionaire George Soros on Monday.

But it is both possible and necessary to say that the deeply toxic, increasingly partisan American political climate has at least provided fertile ground for anyone even contemplating such politically motivated attacks. It is also both possible and necessary to say that US President Donald Trump has been the key driving force behind the unprecedented deterioration of the political climate in this country.

He ran and won his presidential race on a campaign based on fearmongering and ad hominem attacks against political rivals and the news media, which he has repeatedly labeled as the enemy of the people. He has a long-established track record of using cavalier language and vague threats against anyone who expresses disagreement of criticism of his policies or statements. Just a few examples in Clinton's case: allowing raucous crowds to chant "lock her up," proposing the "Second Amendment people" can do something to stop her, suggesting her Secret Service personnel no longer carry guns and "let's see what happens to her." It's not a leap of logic that some die-hard Trumpers could see his statements as tolerance, if not an outright call, for politically-motivated violence.

After the death of a counterprotester at a right-wing march in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump – who just a day ago casually and without garnering huge media attention described himself as a "nationalist" at a Texas rally – initially hesitated to offer a clear condemnation of the right-wing extremist perpetrator.

At his campaign rallies, he has repeatedly insinuated violence against the media and opponents. And less than two months ago, in a closed-door meeting with evangelicals, Trump warned the group of "violence" from the left should Democrats win the midterm election.

Trump's rabble-rousing rhetoric is based on a winning-at-all-cost attitude that accepts no criticism and knows no compromise. While that is a problematic disposition in a person, it is a dangerous disposition in the president of the world's most powerful nation.

In the brief three years since his arrival onto the political scene he has single-handedly transformed the Republican Party into his own political fighting machine. And as a consequence, he has fomented and ramped up the already existing deep divisions in the country to an extent hardly deemed possible. That some of his supporters – or anyone at all, for that matter – may interpret the president's rhetoric and behavior as a call to exert violence against his political detractors should surprise no one.

Read more: Opinion: Politically motivated violence in Trump′s America is no surprise | Opinion | DW | 24.10.2018

Italy: EU rejects Italy draft budget for 2019

EU rejects Italy’s draft budget in unprecedented rebuke The European Commission has rejected Italy's proposed 2019 budget over excessive spending and asked its government to come up with a new plan within three weeks, a first in European Union history.


ESA: European Space Agency Ariane 6 rocket hits key milestone

 Via euronews: Ariane 6 rocket hits key milestone  

Read more at:

EU - US relations: Rocky but not yet on the rocks

Via euronews: EU-US relations ‘like an up-down marriage but intact’ – US ambassador

Read more at:

Vatican: Pope Francis says populism leads to Hitler

Pope Francis says populism leads to Hitler


Saudi Arabnia - the cover- up by the US continues: While Trump and Kushner Insulate Saudis, Germany Halts Arms Exports to Kingdom and Calls on EU Allies to Follow Suit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday became the first major U.S. ally to take concrete action to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, when she announced her government would halt arms sales to the kingdom and called on other countries to do the same.

Merkel's announcement came two days after the Saudi government admitted—after weeks of denials—that Khashoggi had indeed been killed by Saudi agents at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul—but that he had died in a "fist fight," despite evidence that the Washington Post columnist was tortured, brutally murdered, and possible dismembered.

Germany has sold about $460 million in arms to the Saudis this year, and exports under a current deal were recently approved, but according to the Post, that could be suspended in the coming days. For now, the country will not approve any new arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and it is pressuring other E.U. countries to make the same commitment.

Read more: While Trump and Kushner Insulate Saudis, Germany Halts Arms Exports to Kingdom and Calls on EU Allies to Follow Suit


Arms Control Agreement: Moscow says US treaty pullout would be 'very dangerous step'

President Donald Trump says his intention to scrap a landmark arms control agreement Russia follows years of violations by Moscow in developing prohibited weapons, and "we're not going to be the only one to adhere to it." The Kremlin said the pullout "would be a very dangerous step."

Britain said it stood "absolutely resolute" with the U.S., while Germany called Trump's move "regrettable."

Heiko Maas said in a statement Sunday that the three-decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is "an important pillar of our European security architecture" and Trump's announcement "raises difficult questions for us and Europe."

The 1987 pact prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 miles to 3,400 miles.

Read more: Moscow says US treaty pullout would be 'very dangerous step'


USA: Trump says: Saudi Explanation for journalist's death is credible The US president also says he doesn't want it to impact arms sales to Saudi Arabia. 'Because it means 600,000 jobs'  - by W.G. Dunlop

US President Donald Trump said Friday he found Saudi Arabia's explanation about the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi credible and termed it an "important first step."

Trump added if the US takes action, he does not want it to impact arms sales to the kingdom, which said Khashoggi was killed in a fight at its Istanbul consulate. Turkish officials pointed to a state-sanctioned hit.

"I do, I do," Trump said when asked if he found the Saudis' explanation credible, adding: "It's early, we haven't finished our review or investigation, but... I think it's a very important first step."

"I would prefer, if there is going to be some form of sanction or what we may determine to do, if anything... that we don't use as retribution canceling $110 billion worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs," he said during a visit to Arizona, referring to a major arms deal with the kingdom.

Trump has sent mixed messages about Khashoggi for days, vowing a severe response but also saying that the United States wants to preserve its close relationship with the conservative kingdom.

Members of the US Congress were far harsher in the wake of the kingdom's admission that Khashoggi was dead.

Read More: Trump: Explanation for journalist's death is credible The president says if the U.S. did take action over Jamal Khashoggi's death, he doesn't want it to impact arms sales to Saudi Arabia. 'Means 600,000 jobs' »

Saudi Arabia Murder: Trump plays innocent - "How to Punish Saudi Arabia" - by JARRETT BLANC

Saudi Arabia has now admitted that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. The story: He was killed in a fist fight with 15 intelligence officials sent to interrogate him – a claim that is implausible and would not be exculpatory even if true.

Americans are rightfully angry and rightfully mortified by the Trump administration’s limp response, with President Trump repeating the King’s and Crown Prince’s “very strong” and total denials of foreknowledge and responsibility. On Friday night, he reportedly told reporters, “Well, I think it’s a good first step. It’s a big step. There’s a lot of people involved.” When asked if he found the Saudi explanation credible, he responded: “I do.”

Khashoggi’s murder demands a meaningful response from the United States. Washington has a responsibility to stand up for U.S. residents—Khashoggi, a longtime journalist, was living in Virginia—and an interest in standing up for the free press. But sanctions are a lazy and inadequate answer. Instead, the U.S. needs to distance itself from reckless Saudi policies. President Trump has tools to do so. If he does not use them, it’s time for Congress to step up to the plate.

The bottom line: Sanctions will not work. Here are four things the U.S. should do instead:

Stop supporting the Saudi war in Yemen. The war in Yemen is where the Saudis are most exposed to U.S. leverage. It has been a senseless catastrophe. Ten thousand people have been killed and millions displaced, and it might lead to the worst famine in a century. The U.S. has, appallingly, provided direct support to Saudi Arabia under both Presidents Trump and Obama. Washington should take the opportunity to undo this awful complicity by withdrawing logistical and intelligence support.

Step back from the Saudi-Iran regional conflict. Trump has an opportunity to rebalance his regional policy in the coming weeks. Post-nuclear deal sanctions come back in full force on November 4, but the administration has remained vague or contradictory on important details, such as whether it will grant sanctions exemptions for some oil sales or how it will work to make allowed humanitarian trade practical. By taking modestly less aggressive positions in the coming weeks, the U.S. could distance itself from another example of aggressive Saudi policy and reduce U.S. dependence on the Saudis for stabilizing oil markets as Iranian exports are reduced. A more moderate line would have ancillary benefits, as well, such as minimizing friction with European and Asian allies and reducing the harm done to Iranian civilians.

Limit military cooperation. The relationship between the U.S. and Saudi security services is important and should not be severed, but it can be cooled. Arms sales can be more carefully scrutinized. Trump’s claims that this would damage the U.S. economy are silly – the Saudis bought about $9 billion in U.S. arms from 2013-17, during which time U.S. economic output exceeded $90 trillion. Just as importantly, the U.S. should independently identify the security units responsible for the Khashoggi murder and ensure that they are subject to strict vetting in line with so-called Leahy standards, which bar assistance to foreign military units credibly implicated in gross human rights violations.

Distance America from Mohammed bin Salman’s excesses. The U.S. may not have a Saudi problem so much as it has a Mohammed bin Salman problem. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is said to be calling the shots in Riyadh, but he is proving to be as brutal as he is reckless. Unfortunatey, Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made limiting the problem in that way much more difficult with their gushing embrace of the crown prince this week. It is still possible, though, to marginalize him by insisting on working through the king and other officials.

Here’s the bad news: President Trump has given no indication that he’s interested in anything close to this level of accountability for Saudi Arabia.

But Congress has options. Lawmakers can use their appropriations power to restrict U.S. support to the war in Yemen, withhold permission for arms sales, and exercise their atrophied oversight muscles on other security cooperation.

Hopefully the bunch of "weaklings", from  both parties in the Congress and the Senate will act forcefully against these Saudi spineless hoodlums.

Read more: How to Punish Saudi Arabia - POLITICO Magazine


EU: Banks and investors using tax schemes and other tricks to defraud Governments of Billions of EURO's

Banks and investors using tax schemes to drain up to €55 billion from Europe's treasuries Two closely-related tax schemes have helped banks and investors avoid tax or even siphon cash directly out of European treasuries totalling billions more than previously thought, an investigation by 19 media revealed Thursday.

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US - Saudi Relations: US President Trump puts weapons sale above Human Rights in disappearance of US Resident Journalist at Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

While Trump put sanctions on Turkey, a NATO partner, for not releasing a Christian Pastor,  he has done nothing so far for the flagrant Human Rights violations by Saudi-Arabia, who captured a US Resident, Saudi Arabian Journalist, while he visited their Istanbul Consulate and possibly killed him.

When asked why he has not taken any action against Saudi Arabia, Trump said the US is selling billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia, and does not want to loose billions of sales to other countries


The Netherlands UN ICJ: Iran - US Relations- Sanctions US ordered to halt 'humanitarian' Iran sanctions in blow for Trump - by Jan HENNOP, Danny KEMP

The UN's top court ordered the United States Wednesday to suspend sanctions on "humanitarian" goods for Iran in a stunning setback for US President Donald Trump.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down the bombshell judgement after Iran asked it to halt economic measures that Trump reimposed after pulling out of a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.

Judges in The Hague unanimously ruled that the sanctions on some goods breached a 1955 "friendship treaty" between Iran and the US that predates Iran's Islamic Revolution.

"The court finds unanimously that... the United States of America... shall remove by means of its choosing any impediments arising from the measures announced on 8 May to the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities" as well as airplane parts, chief judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said.

The court said sanctions on goods "required for humanitarian needs... may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran."

Read more: US ordered to halt 'humanitarian' Iran sanctions in blow for Trump


USA - Democracy being challenged: Can U.S. Democracy Policy Survive Trump? - by Thomas Carothers

In President Donald Trump’s first year in office, U.S. policy relating to supporting democracy abroad became starkly divided. At the level of “high policy”—direct engagement and messaging by President Trump and his principal foreign policy advisers—the United States sharply downgraded its global pro-democratic posture. Trump’s praise of dictators, criticism of democratic allies, and anti-democratic actions at home recast the United States as at best an ambivalent actor on the global democratic stage. Yet at the same time, pro-democratic “low policy”—quiet but serious engagement by U.S. diplomats to counter democratic backsliding and support democratic advances overseas, and the extensive but generally low-profile domain of U.S. democracy assistance programs—largely carried on, making important contributions in many countries.

During Trump’s second year, this policy schism has only widened. He has doubled down on his embrace of dictators and spurning of democratic partners, as well as his anti-democratic actions at home. His new secretary of state and national security adviser may not share his anti-democratic impulses, but they have done little to mitigate his anti-democratic actions and have reinforced a transactional foreign policy with little apparent commitment to the idea of democracy as a universal value. Still, U.S. pro-democratic low policy carries on, as American diplomats support democracy in various countries at important moments of political change, and as democracy assistance remains at pre-Trump levels of activity. Yet the manifest lack of commitment to democracy at the top is increasingly corroding the low policy domain.

Under Trump, U.S. democracy high policy has reached its lowest ebb of at least the past forty years. If the United States continues its present course for two more years, it will end up stranded on the sidelines, or even on the wrong side, of the global democratic struggle, precisely at a time when that struggle is more acute than at any time in modern history. Nevertheless, democracy’s defenders—both inside and outside of the U.S. government—still have the opportunity to mitigate the damage.

Read more: Can U.S. Democracy Policy Survive Trump? - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Foreigners’ Views of America Dim Under Trump, Poll Shows - by Gardiner Harris

The image of the United States around the world has fallen substantially since Donald J. Trump became president, according to a poll of foreigners in 25 countries that was released on Monday.

The drop has been particularly steep in parts of Europe and Latin America, according to the survey of 26,112 respondents by the Pew Research Center, an independent survey and research group, that was conducted between May 20 and Aug. 12.

In only three countries — Russia, Kenya and Israel — have attitudes toward the United States improved since 2016, according to the poll.

The results largely mirrored the plunge in opinions toward the United States that was revealed in a similar Pew survey last year, the first of Mr. Trump’s presidency. However, America’s image has risen in Japan and Tunisia by 10 percentage points since 2017, and fallen by 15 percentage points in Russia, the poll shows.

Read more: Foreigners’ Views of America Dim Under Trump, Poll Shows - The New York Times


EU versus Facebook: Will Weber take a hammer to Facebook’s social media monopoly? – by Samuel Stolton

 Dumb fucks.” That’s how Mark Zuckerberg described users of Facebook for trusting him with their personal data back in 2004. If the last week is anything to go by, he was right.

Manfred Weber, the head of the EPP group in the European Parliament and lead candidate for Jean-Claude Juncker’s job as the next European Commission president, threw down the gauntlet on Friday (28 September), suggesting that he may support a breakup of Facebook and Whatsapp.

“I consider it necessary to ask the monopoly question,” Weber told the German newspaper Spiegel. Weber announced his candidacy for the top EU job in early September and has also received backing from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The European Commission should consider whether, for example, after the acquisition of Whatsapp and Instagram, Facebook has a dominant position. In extreme cases, a breakup should also be conceivable,” he said.

Weber also noted that Facebook will continue to be under close scrutiny from the European Parliament, and called on the internet giant to be more transparent in its advertising activities.

The EU’s Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová has put pressure on Facebook to disclose further details of the massive security breach that impacted around fifty million users last week.

In a statement on Sunday (30 September), Jourová urged Facebook to comply fully with the body in charge of investigating the breach, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, and disclose whether EU users were affected by the breach and how their personal data was impacted.

At least 50mln #Facebook users were compromised in the huge security breach. I urge Facebook to fully cooperate with @DPCIreland. We need to know if EU users were affected and what had happened to their data. Here a reminder about the obligations of biz

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission struck a similar tone on Sunday when they announced that they are still waiting for “further urgent details” of the security breach…[to]…properly assess the nature of the breach and risk to users.”

Facebook said on Friday (28 September) that hackers had discovered a security flaw allowing them to capture data belonging to up to 50 million Facebook users.

According to the New York Times, Facebook’s VP for product management, Guy Rosen, has refused to rule out the possibility that the attack may have been coordinated by a nation-state.

Rosen has stated that the hackers were targeting people’s private information, including name, gender and location.

Due to the lack of disclosure given on the specifics of the hack thus far by Facebook, it currently remains unclear as to whether more sensitive information has been accessed.

Read more: Will Weber take a hammer to Facebook’s social media monopoly? –

EU: Turkey and money dominate this week - by Nikolaj Nielsen

The European Parliament gathers in Strasbourg this week amid plans to slash €70m of aid to Turkey in a plenary vote set for Tuesday (2 October).

The funds are set to be cancelled from an overall budget used by Turkey in its frozen bid to one day join the European Union.

Read more: Turkey and money dominate this week

Canada - Mexico - USA: Trump hails ‘historic’ trade deal with Canada and Mexico - by David Lynch

President Trump on Monday hailed the major revisions he was able to extract from Canada and Mexico to the 25-year-old North American trade agreement, as business executives, labor leaders, and lawmakers began poring over details.

“Throughout the campaign I promised to renegotiate NAFTA and today we have kept that promise,” Trump said at a Rose Garden news conference.

Calling the deal “truly historic,” Trump pledged: “It will transform North America back into a manufacturing powerhouse.”

The White House, as well as leaders from Canada and Mexico, announced they had inked the deal late Sunday after Canada’s 11th hour agreement. But congressional approval is uncertain, particularly if Democrats retake control of the House in the November midterm elections.

Note EU-Digest: the BS continues, as not much is changed re: old NAFTA deal.

Read more: Trump hails ‘historic’ trade deal with Canada and Mexico