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USA: US has regressed to developing nation status, MIT economist warns - by Peter Termin

America is regressing to have the economic and political structure of a developing nation, an MIT economist has warned.

Peter Temin says the world's’ largest economy has roads and bridges that look more like those in Thailand and Venezuela than those in parts of Europe.

US Big Pharma: What makes US Drug prices the highest in the world

The environment: prayer, rain and ecosystems

Austria - Far-right parties under scrutiny in Austria and Britain

The Europe Report: Far-right parties under scrutiny in Austria, UK A political earthquake has shaken Austria, just one week before the EU elections. We update you on the resignation of Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the now ex-leader of the far-right Freedom Party. Strache quit after a secretly-filmed videotape emerged showing him proposing various illicit deals in return for shady investments by a woman posing as a Russian oligarch's niece.

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Indonesia: The incumbent moderate President wins second term election Commission decides

Indonesia's incumbent president wins 2nd term, election commission says

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Middle East-Israel: why Israel eyes the EU with distrust

Why Israel eyes the EU with distrust.

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EU Elections: Opponents of nationalism rally before EU vote

Tens of thousands of people opposed to right-wing populism and nationalism have taken to the streets in European cities ahead of the European Parliament elections from May 23.

Demonstrations were held on Sunday in more than 50 cities in 13 countries, including Germany and France.

In Berlin, organizers say more than 20,000 people took part in the rally and marched on the streets for about two hours.

They oppose intolerance against refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. They are also against nationalists who prioritize their countries' interests and claim that they should restore sovereignty from the EU.

One demonstrator told NHK that Europe should not be governed by ultra-right political parties that could try to destroy democracy.

Another participant said European countries should be united to solve the problems they are facing.

Note EU-Digest: During this past Sunday's demonstrations throughout Europe against the extreme right-wing populist parties and their leaders, including Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet in the Netherlands, Jorg Meuthen in Germany, Nigel Farage in England, etc., it might be good, again, to remind voters participating in the upcoming European elections, that all these populists are Donald Trump 's buddies, who spend a lot of time talking nonsense, like he does, but have never achieved anything concrete in heir lives. 

They are however masters in promising castles in the sky. Hopefully you the voter will not be seduced by these deceitful populists? Europe belongs to us all. Nationalism has never worked in Europe and has no place in the EU.

Read more at: Opponents of nationalism rally before EU vote - News - NHK WORLD - English

Austria-Right wing populist corruption scandal: Populist Austria heading for September election after far-right video scandal

Austria's president on Sunday recommended a new election be held in early September, saying he wanted to restore trust in the government after a video scandal led to the resignation of the vice-chancellor.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pulled the plug on the coalition and called for a snap election on Saturday after his deputy, Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party, quit over a video showed him discussing fixing state contracts in return for favours from a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch.

Kurz accepted that the video was "catastrophic," although he denied breaking the law or following through on discussions.Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says he sees the snap elections as the only way to solve the crisis involving a video that appears to show the country's vice-chancellor discussing government contracts with an alleged Russian investor.
Read more at: Austria heading for September election after far-right video scandal | CBC News

EU - Germany: Merkel calls for Europe to stand up against far-right parties - by Andreas Rinke

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Saturday for Europe to push back against far-right parties, saying populist movements wanted to destroy core European values such as fighting corruption and protecting minorities.

Merkel made the remarks when asked about a scandal engulfing Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, whose leader Heinz-Christian Strache quit on Saturday as government vice-chancellor after he was videoed offering state contracts in exchange for political support.

Read more at: Merkel calls for Europe to stand up against far-right parties - Reuters

USA: Judge rules against Trump in records dispute with Congress

A federal judge in Washington has ruled against President Donald Trump in a financial records dispute with Congress.

Judge Amit Mehta's ruling says Trump cannot block the House subpoena of financial records.

The decision comes amid a widespread effort by the White House and the president's lawyers to refuse to cooperate with congressional requests for information and records.

Trump and his business organization had sued to block the subpoena issued in April to Mazars USA, an accountant for the president and Trump Organization.

 Read more at: Judge rules against Trump in records dispute with Congress


Euro Song Contest: Duncan Laurence from The Netherlands wins the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest

Duncan Laurence from The Netherlands wins the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest - YouTube

Watch  and hear  the song  lick here

Britain - Rage, rapture and empty promises on the road with Nigel Farage

USA: Anti-money laundering staff of Deutsche Bank flagged Trump and Kushner Transactions

Anti-money laundering staff at Deutsche Bank flagged Trump, Kushner transactions: NYT

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IRAN: Trump threatens Iran with annihilation.

Tweet from Trump: 'If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran'

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Switzerland: vote in favoring tightening gun laws

Swiss voters favor tightening gun laws ...... When will US politicians have the courage to do the same?

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Germany: Europe must unite to be able to stand up against China, Russia and the US says Angela Merkel

Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world?

European Elections: Understanding the far-right populists: focus on their political message - ocus on their political message by Daphne Halikiopoulou

 Conventional wisdom is that the rise of the far-right populists is down to a popular cultural backlash. What’s really happened is they have broadened their support through a civic-nationalist narrative.

One in four Europeans votes populist, according to the Guardian. Though we might have expected Europe’s economic crisis—with its resulting mounting inequalities—to lead more plausibly to the rise of left-wing populist parties, pledging to cater for voters’ material concerns, it has been far-right populists, with their promise to restore ‘national sovereignty’ in the name of ‘the people’, which have capitalised more effectively on social insecurities. The French Rassemblement National (RN) (formerly Front National), the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), the Austrian Party for Freedom (FPÖ), the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Italian Lega have all mobilised voters across the political spectrum through their populist-nationalist platforms.

Far-right populists have fared particularly well in recent electoral contests within their domestic arenas and are projected to gain about a third of the seats in the new European Parliament. Depending on who joins, Matteo Salvini’s initiative to create a successful far-right populist family, the European Alliance of People’s and Nations, threatens to make this one of the largest groupings in the European Parliament, challenging the European project at its core.

Read more: Understanding the far-right populists: focus on their political message • Social Europe


WhatsApp; discovers targeted attacks against the system

WhatsApp discovers 'targeted' surveillance attack against the system.

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EU: Spotlight on the EU parliamentary electons

Spotlight on EU elections: 400 million people and 28 countries prepare to vote for Parliament 

With more than 400 million Europeans heading to the polls next week in all 28 EU countries, FRANCE 24 crunches the numbers and dissects the facts behind what are actually more than two dozen strikingly different elections for the European Parliament.

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Middle East Iran: US has started psycholological war wih Iran

Iran's Revolutionary Guard: US has started 'psychological war'

USA: Subpoenas issued for Trumps Tax returms

Subpoenas issued for six years of Donald Trump tax returns.

Canada: Human trafficking on the increase

'I have to get out of here': Human trafficking survivor recalls her escape

USA: How Donald Trump lied his way into the Forbes 400 richest list

How Donald Trump lied his way onto the Forbes 400 richest people list

US BIG PHARMA: Forty US States file lawsuit against big Pharma for inflating costs

US states file lawsuit accusing drugs firms of inflating costs

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Saudi - Arabia: Saudi ship which was supposed to load weapons for Saudi-Arabia in France was forced to leave without weapons by Rights Group

Saudi vessel leaves French coast without arms shipment A Saudi vessel that had been due to load weapons at a northern French port on Friday set sail without them and headed for Spain, a day after a rights group tried to block the cargo on humanitarian grounds.

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Islam: Ramadan unites Christians and Muslims in Egypt

Ramadan unites Christians and Muslims in Egypt

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Iran-USA relations: Trumps foolish diplomatic posture can make war with Iran only more likely

Britain: Chances of Britain staying in the EU about 30%

USA: China deal, total failure of the so called "Master of the Deal"

What happened to the so called "master of the deal"? North Korea is a disaster in the making, China deal is now also in jeopardy, while with Iran it is not only a nailbiter, but also very dangerous, as it could very well turn into a major global conflict.

USA-China Relations: Trump Increases China Tariffs as Trade Deal Hangs in the Balance and Trump plays "Hard Ball" with the Chinese- by Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport

President Trump escalated his trade war with China on Friday morning, raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and taking steps to tax nearly all of China’s imports as punishment for what he said was Beijing’s attempt to “renegotiate” a trade deal.

Mr. Trump’s decision to proceed with the tariff increase came after a pivotal round of trade talks in Washington on Thursday night failed to produce an agreement to forestall the higher levies. The White House said talks would resume again on Friday but it remains uncertain whether the two sides can bridge the differences that have arisen over the past week.

In his comments at the White House on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Trump vacillated between threatening China and suggesting a deal could still happen. The president said he had received a “beautiful letter” from President Xi Jinping of China and would probably speak to him by phone, but said he was more than happy to keep hitting Beijing with tariffs.

Read more at: Trump Increases China Tariffs as Trade Deal Hangs in the Balance - The New York Times


IRAN; the Trump pressure on Iran is causing self inflicted damage to the US

Trump's 'maximum pressure' on Iran is causing U.S. some self-inflicted damage

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GERMANY; Merkel gets compliments for German immigration policies

Germany passes refugee migration 'stress test': expert report

EU: Proposal to spend 25% of EU budget on climate change

Proposal to spend 25% of EU budget on climate change

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IRAN-US Relations: It looks like US (Trump) and Israël (Netanyahu) preparing a war with Iran

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes surprise trip to Iraq. War with Iran?

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Turkey: Turkish opposition vows to defeat crooked Erdogan's AKP again in Istanbul poll rerun

'We will emerge victorious': Turkish opposition vows to defeat Erdogan in poll re-run

Iran: Partial withdrawal from nuclear deal by Iran

Iran to announce partial withdrawal from nuclear deal


Canada - US relations: US cold schoulders Canada as supporters aquare of over Artic riches

U.S. cold-shoulders Canada as superpowers square off over Arctic riches

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European Union: Antidote to poisonous populism is a new Pact for a fair, resilient and a sustainable Europe – by Luca Jahier

In a little less than a month, more than 400 million Europeans, the second largest electorate in the world, will go to the polls to elect 751 members of parliament in an election that is probably the most decisive for the future of Europe since 1979, the first time we voted for a transnational parliament.

For the past two years, EU and national leaders as well as civil society representatives have been working relentlessly to define a joint vision for Europe. Several scenarios were outlined by the European Commission. Discussions and consultations were organised, plans sketched, solutions formulated. Never before there has been such a vivid, open and frank debate on the Europe we want and the one we want to leave to the next generations.

Yet, much of this discourse on the future of Europe has been hijacked by eurosceptics and marred by growing destructive populism.  Under the mantle of patriotism, populists promised to defend the interests of the majority against immigrant minorities and “out-of-touch elites”.

 Our values were questioned, the right to do good as the core reason behind of our political action was abandoned and ignored by many.  Nationalism is an ideological poison, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said. This poison risks posing a serious health risk to our democracy, as populism attacks not merely real and imagined elites and the establishment but also the very fundamental idea of political pluralism.

This is why European leaders meeting in Sibiu on the 9 May—Europe day—must quickly inject the antidote, ahead of the European elections on 23-26 May. Many politicians have been at a loss when it comes to countering populism. Increasingly, they have adopted a stance that some call destruction through imitation, meaning outflanking far-right competitors with tough talk on refugees and immigration in order to regain consensus. That narrative has done serious damage to European democracy in recent months, pushing people to vote for even more extremist movements. Instead, democrats should present value choices that can tackle inequality.

Read more at: Antidote to poisonous populism is a new Pact for a fair, resilient and a sustainable Europe –

Britain: Meghan Markle Gives Birth to a Baby Boy With Prince Harry

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's royal baby has arrived!

Buckingham Palace announced that the Duchess of Sussex gave birth to a baby boy on Monday, May 6. "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex safely delivered of a son," read that statement. "The Duke of Sussex was present for the birth."

The statement continues, "The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news.

The Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, who is overjoyed by the arrival of her first grandchild, is with Their Royal Highnesses at Frogmore Cottage. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well."

The new parents also shared the news on Instagram. Name of the baby boy will be announced soon.

Read more at: Meghan Markle Gives Birth to a Baby Boy With Prince Harry | Entertainment Tonight


Turkey municipal elections: Erdogan shows he is not only a sore looser but also a typical dictator as Istanbul election is declared annulled and new election called

Recep Tayip Erdogan a sore looser
Note EU-Digest: with several smaller parties dropping out of the race and urging their supporters to support the CHP, the AKP might now even suffer a bigger defeat


CHINA - US relations: China warns US after warships sail into disputed South China Sea

China warns US after warships sail in disputed South China Sea

China US Trade: Trump freaks out Wall Street by playing hardball with China


Iran-US relations: US deploying carrier bombers to the Middle East in a warning to Iran says Bolton

"U.S. deploying carrier, bombers to Middle East in warning to Iran: Bolton" -

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Venezuela: Russia urges US to abandon irresponsible plan to topple Maduro

Venezuela: Russia urges US to abandon ‘irresponsible’ plan to topple Maduro.

Note EU-Digest; Everyone is wondering if Trump  and Putin discussed Venezuela during their one hour telephone "conversation" ?

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USA: Gene editing ethics, Trump politics and the future of America, as see by Dan Rather.

Dan Rather weighs in on gene editing ethics, Donald Trump's politics, and the future of America itself.

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EU : More than 450 EU candidates pledge to protect animals

More than 450 EU candidates pledge to protect animals

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Russis: Aerofot plane faire, emergency landing at least 41 died

Russia Aeroflot plane fire: Death toll rises to 41, investigators tell Russian news agency

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Sweden: Youth politician defends anti-Zionist chant

ISRAEL- TURKEY relations: ISRAEL bombs Turkish offices of News Agency in Gaza

Israel hits offices of Turkish state news agency in Gaza

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USA recycling: Why is the US so bad at recycling

Why is the US so bad at recycling?

USA - GDP : Trump's double-false claim about GDP

President Donald Trump told Fox Business Network the country reached a rate of growth last quarter that hadn't been seen in 14 years. That's false in two ways and correct in none.

TRUMP: "We just did 3.2 ... 3.2 is a number that they haven't hit in 14 years." — interview broadcast Wednesday.

THE FACTS: It's nowhere close to the best in 14 years, by any measure. The rise in the first quarter of 3.2% in the gross national product was only the best since last year. It was surpassed in the second and third quarters with rates of 4.2% and 3.4% respectively.

Perhaps he meant to say it was the best first-quarter growth in 14 years. But that's not right, either. It's the best in four years.

The economy grew by 3.3% in the first quarter of 2015. So President Barack Obama has a better first-quarter record than Trump to date

Read  more at: AP FACT CHECK: Trump's double-false claim about GDP


US Hungary Relations: Birds of one feather flock together as Donald Trump invites Viktor Orban to Washington

Note EU-Digest: If this does not make alarm bells go off  in Brussels it would be beyond understanding.

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EU Commission: Commission candidates clash over EU army proposal

Commission candidates clash over EU army proposal

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Russia: Russia's anti-Kremlin troll StalinGulag breaks cover

Russia's anti-Kremlin troll StalinGulag finally breaks cover

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Germany - Neo Nazi: A dangerous old German political cancer with a new face raises alarm

Neo-Nazi march prompts German foreign minister to warn of right-wing terror

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Britain - Brexit: Theresa May under pressure to quit after local election losses


EU-US relations: EU says will respond to controversial US move against Cuba

EU says will respond to controversial US move on Cuba

Facebook and Instagram ban Alex Jones, and Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones banned from Facebook, Instagram

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EU parliamentary elections: Polls show losses for major parties

EU election poll: Waiting game as popular parties yet to align with Parliament groups

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USA: Nancy Pelosi calls Barr a liar

Speaker Nancy Pelosi accuses Attorney General Barr of lying to Congress

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EU Polish Relations: EU is not a 'cash cow', commission tells Polan - by Nikolaj Nielsen

The European Union is not a cash cow to be milked by Poland, the vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen told reporters in Warsaw on Wednesday (1 May).

"The EU is not just a money machine, a cow that you can milk. We are expecting a more substantial contribution from Poland for the future of Europe," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The criticism comes amid a wider dispute over Poland's backsliding on the rule of law after having adopted laws that erode judicial independence.

Poland joined the European Union 2004 and has since received over €100bn in EU funding, more than any other EU member state.

But its right-wing government led by the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) maintains a shaky relation with the European Union.

The country risks losing its voting rights at the EU level under the so-called article 7 procedure, launched in 2017, over the rule of law issues.

The threat appears to have done little to dissuade Warsaw from changing paths despite popular protests against the laws.

"The current situation is not good because we have had Article 7 procedure in Poland but unfortunately nothing has happened," said Katainen.

Some EU states have since grown frustrated with Poland

Read more at: EU is not a 'cash cow', commission tells Poland

USA: Trump's regime is leading America in an insurrection


BRITAIN-BREXIT: Tony Blair predicts future of Britain once they get rid of Brexit

The Netherlands: WW2 - Former Dutch Queen Wilhelmina tried to make a deal with Nazis to swap Nazis for Belgian Royals

Dutch WW2 Queen 'considered Nazi swap for Belgian royals'

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EU - Canada relations: courts rule in favour of Canada's free-trade deal with bloc

EU court rules in favour of Canada's free-trade deal with bloc

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Venezuela: Opposition leader calls for military uprising to oust Maduro - his days could be numbered

Venezuela's opposition leader calls for military uprising to oust president

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USA: What will it take for Trump to get his due?


Iran Nuclear deal: EU and Japan back Iran nuclear deal despite US

Despite the US decision to withdraw, the European Union and Japan reiterated on Thursday their support for the Iranian nuclear non-proliferation deal reached at UN-level in 2015. At a summit in Brussels, Japan's prime minister Abe and EU presidents Juncker and Tusk also committed to further develop the EU-Japan economic partnership agreement. It entered into force on 1 February bringing a third of the world's Gross Domestic Product together.

Read more: EU and Japan back Iran nuclear deal despite US

ECB - European Economy: ECB braces for more money printing

The European Central Bank is prepared to resume its money-printing programme, according to its vice-president Luis de Guindos.

Meanwhile, the euro tumbled to 22-month lows against the dollar late last week, as US growth data remains robust both in terms of capital goods investment and real wage growth.

With decelerating growth and inflation in the Eurozone, de Guindos reignited speculation about the continuation of a €2.6 trillion bond-buying programme that officially ended in December 2018. Meanwhile, the forthcoming European elections in May are weighing negatively on the Eurozone’s economy, as markets expect a surge in euro-critical movements.

“Quantitative easing is something that we can use again if needed,” de Guindos told an audience in New York, although he made clear that the resumption of bond-purchases beyond the current levels has not yet been discussed. Officially, the ECB projects a rebound in Eurozone growth during the second half of 2019, but De Guindos’ announcement consolidates the overall impression that a prolonged period of subdued growth may be ahead.

Read more: ECB braces for more money printing

Capitalism: Dare to declare capitalism dead – before it takes us all down - by George Monbiot

or most of my adult life I’ve railed against “corporate capitalism”, “consumer capitalism” and “crony capitalism”. It took me a long time to see that the problem is not the adjective but the noun. While some people have rejected capitalism gladly and swiftly, I’ve done so slowly and reluctantly. Part of the reason was that I could see no clear alternative: unlike some anti-capitalists, I have never been an enthusiast for state communism. I was also inhibited by its religious status. To say “capitalism is failing” in the 21st century is like saying “God is dead” in the 19th: it is secular blasphemy. It requires a degree of self-confidence I did not possess.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to recognise two things. First, that it is the system, rather than any variant of the system, that drives us inexorably towards disaster. Second, that you do not have to produce a definitive alternative to say that capitalism is failing. The statement stands in its own right. But it also demands another, and different, effort to develop a new system.

Capitalism’s failures arise from two of its defining elements. The first is perpetual growth. Economic growth is the aggregate effect of the quest to accumulate capital and extract profit. Capitalism collapses without growth, yet perpetual growth on a finite planet leads inexorably to environmental calamity.

Those who defend capitalism argue that, as consumption switches from goods to services, economic growth can be decoupled from the use of material resources. Last week a paper in the journal New Political Economy, by Jason Hickel and Giorgos Kallis, examined this premise. They found that while some relative decoupling took place in the 20th century (material resource consumption grew, but not as quickly as economic growth), in the 21st century there has been a recoupling: rising resource consumption has so far matched or exceeded the rate of economic growth. The absolute decoupling needed to avert environmental catastrophe (a reduction in material resource use) has never been achieved, and appears impossible while economic growth continues. Green growth is an illusion.

Read more: Dare to declare capitalism dead – before it takes us all down with it | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

Britain-Brexit: British Government looking at charging the EU students in Britain more if Brexit materializes


Ukraine: new president snubs Putin offer and offers Russians citizenship who want to get away from Russian oppression

Spain: Socialists win: "we will form a pro-Europen Government says Sanchez leader of the Socialists

'We will form a pro-European government': Sanchez's Socialists win in Spain 

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White Nationalism: Born in America is now a global terror threat


AVIATION industry: US pilots demand better training if Boeing wants to rebuild trust in 737 Max

U.S. pilots demand better training if Boeing wants to rebuild trust in 737 MAX

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USA - weapons industry: Long live the US weapons industry as Donald Trump withdraws from the UN Arms Treaty

Trump withdraws from UN arms treaty as NRA crowd cheers in delight

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France - weapons industry: Classified report shows France selling sophisticated weapons to Saudi Arabia used in their war against Yemen

French intelligence summons journalists after release of classified report on arms in 
Yemen Three journalists face questioning next month by France’s domestic intelligence agency after releasing a classified report detailing French weapons being used in Yemen. 

In a statement on Thursday, 37 news outlets voiced support for their colleagues.

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Italy: Tourist turning up their noses at city's decay - by Angela Giuffrida

Romans revolt as tourists turn their noses up at city’s decay. Rubbish, potholes and metro closures contribute to anger among visitors and citizens.

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France: Mixed reactions to French President Macrons €5bn  tax cuts

Mixed reactions after Emmanuel Macron promises €5bn in tax cuts

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North KOREA-RUSSIA RELATIONS: Putin meets with Kim as Kim says he will need security guarantees to give up Nukes

Putin meets with Kim, says North Korea will need security guarantees to give up nukes
Putin says he will contact Washington and discuss with his buddy Donald Trump.

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European Union: Press freedom and the EU elections - by Christophe Deloire

Almost one person in two in the world does not have access to freely reported news and information.

As Europeans, we can count ourselves lucky that we enjoy "this freedom that allows us to verify respect for all the other freedoms".

In the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), our continent is by far the one where freedom of the press is the most widely observed.
But let us not turn a blind eye on the fact that, in recent years, a dam has burst and this cornerstone of our democracy has been seriously damaged.

The murder of the Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul made us aware of the sometimes-horrifying violence inflicted by some countries on journalists.

However, Europe is not immune.

In Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered because of her investigations into a money laundering scam.

In Slovakia, Jan Kuciak was killed because he was investigating a large-scale tax evasion scheme. These murders are among the most serious attacks on press freedom. They are also the symptom of a deep-rooted problem.

Journalism in Europe has been weakened by relentless, and often hyped-up, anti-media rhetoric by some political leaders, either in power or hoping to get there.

Coverage of the 'yellow vest' protests in France has provoked a profound dislike of journalists, sometimes going as far as rape threats directed at reporters.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has used similar distrust to his advantage when he recites the "fake news" argument to justify his refusal to speak to media outlets that do not support his own party.

We cannot resign ourselves to this situation.

Read more: Press freedom and the EU elections

EU-Caribbean Relations: Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all - by Bocchit Edmond

 This month ministers and officials from across the Caribbean assembled in Jamaica to discuss the future of our collective relationship with the European Union.

This was the latest in a series of forums that have taken place in the past eighteen months, all with the aim of working toward a bolstered agreement that will further integrate our political and economic interests.

The current African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) agreement with the EU was signed in 2000 in Cotonou, Benin.

The eponymous agreement was designed to establish a comprehensive partnership, focused on three pillars: development cooperation, political cooperation, and economic and trade cooperation.

It has been successful in many areas, but the time has come to renew its purpose and for fresh engagement among our nations.

Much has changed over the past two decades for Caribbean nations as well as the EU.

While in 2000 there were only nine member states of the EU, there are now 28, which has radically changed the dynamic of the Union's influence in the world.

The global threats we share have also shifted.

Climate change, for example, which poses unmeasurable risk to the Caribbean, is a fight which is more urgent now than ever before.

Reasd Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all

EU Airline industry - Germany:Lufthansa Promotes European Elections and unity

 German flag-carrier Lufthansa is sending a special message to voters in the lead-up to this year’s European elections. It has rebranded one of its Airbus A320s, D-AIZG (c/n 4324) with the slogan “Say yes to Europe” in large letters across the upper fuselage in place of the usual Lufthansa branding. The slogan will see across the carrier’s network in the four weeks leading up to the elections, which are taking place between May 23-26. Through the initiative, Lufthansa says it’s actively promoting a higher voter turnout.

The custom-designed aircraft is part of a larger initiative to persuade Germans to take part. Research has shown that more than half of eligible people in Germany have not exercised their right to vote in previous elections for the European Parliament. For this reason, the airline, other companies and public figures are joining forces to motivate the population to vote again.

Carsten Spohr, the airline’s CEO, remarked: “With their vote in May, the citizens of Europe will decide the future of the European community. Now more than ever, it is a question of taking a stand, taking responsibility and strengthening the idea of a united and free continent.

As a genuine European company with roots in several countries in the heart of Europe, our airlines connect the continent’s nations with each other as well as connecting Europe with the world. For this reason, Europe is very close to our hearts.”

Lufthansa has also announced the standard livery of all its aircraft will also be changing with the addition of the European flag placed next to the German flag as part of the aeroplane’s registration on the rear fuselage.

 Read more at: Lufthansa Promotes European Elections | Airliner World

US Presidential Elections 2020: Joe Biden 2020: How he could win. And why he might not - by Jonathan Tamari

 Former vice president Joe Biden joined the Democratic presidential primary campaign Thursday as the consensus frontrunner, based on early polling.

Still, history and the changing Democratic Party suggest that Biden still faces obstacles in his attempt to win the nomination. Here are three reasons why Biden might win the primary and the right to challenge President Donald Trump, and three reasons why one last campaign might fall short.

How he could win: Early lead: It helps to have eight years as vice president to a president who remains hugely popular among Democrats. After his stint alongside Barack Obama, Biden has nearly universal name recognition, giving him an immediate advantage over many of his rivals, and 75 percent of Democratic voters view him favorably, according to the latest Morning Consult poll.

How he could lose: A changing party: For all the fond memories Democrats have of the Obama years, many want to see new, younger voices, and leaders who reflect the party’s increasing reliance on women and people of color. At age 76, and with nearly five decades in public life behind him, Biden hardly represents change.

Some voters say he’s simply too old to be president, even if they like him.

Past stumbles: Biden has tried this twice before, without much success.

Read more at: Joe Biden 2020: How he could win. And why he might not.


USA -Trump's Foreign Policy: It is all about RealPolitiek and the EU better get their act together

Otto Eduard
 Leopold von Bismarck
While the US and most of the foreign Press is focused on Trumps twitters and the Mueller report, there has been a major shift in US foreign policy. 

Trump has embraced the law of the jungle, which political scientists and historians define as RealPolitik.

The term “RealPolitik” is widely used today as a synonym for “power politics” and understood as the realist approach to foreign policy, a venerable tradition that stretches from Machiavelli and Bismarck to scholar-diplomats of the postwar era such as George Kennan and Henry Kissinger.

RealPolitik can also be seen as the political approach of self-sufficiency. Decisions on public policy, when approached from a position of RealPolitik, are not afforded time for sympathy or compassion. Rather, RealPolitik is an approach of shrewd pragmatism solely on the basis of political expedience. 

Case in Point: In the Middle East the US Trump Administration has chosen three principal partners: Israel - the only nation in the Middle East with a nuclear arsenal - Saudi-Arabia, the number one oil producer in the world and Egypt , the country with the largest army in the Middle East.These countries have developed a very close relation with the US over the years and importantly to the US, do what they are told to do by the US. 

Realpolitik has played a huge role in this case, as it allowed Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu, to successfully outplay the Iranians in most encounters, as proven by the recent Israeli attacks on Iranian military bases in Syria. Moreover, it allowed Israel to develop close relationships with Arab states that were previously aggressive towards the Israeli cause, a thing that was deemed close to impossible a couple of decades ago.

In Europe, the US Trump Administration considers Russia, not the EU, as the most important power, and developed a "cloaked", but nevertheless close relationship with them.It is no secret, except it seems to the EU Commission, that the US Trump Administration would like nothing better than seeing the EU break apart.

The EU has been engulfed in a state of political instability that seems to have no end in sight. Cohesion between member states is at a historical low, populists are gaining traction at a pace never seen before and a constant state of fear and paranoia has characterized the European population ever since the migration wave has hit the continent four years ago.

At present it seems that pragmatism and self-interest is what characterizes Western Europe the most and a fracture has appeared between the underprivileged East and the heavily industrialized West.

The recent emergence of the populist parties have made this very clear and now the European continent finds itself for the very first time with countries that have elected far-right or Eurosceptic political parties, as seen in the cases of Italy, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the Czech Republic. Realpolitik dictates that the ideology doesn’t matter anymore, but what happens when the two ideas are applied at the same time?

If Britain does not come to its senses about Brexit and holds a second referendum to stay in the EU,  it is very well possible Britain could become one of the poorest nations in Europe within a period of ten years, specially if Scotland votes to become an independent nation and joins the EU.

In the Far East it is quite obvious that the US Trump Administration considers China not only as the major power in the Region, but certainly a long term dangerous rival.

Both sides have fought a trade war over the past year with damaging consequences for the global economy.

Issues around technology transfer have been key during trade talks between the world's two largest economies in recent months.

"Every country now correctly recognizes that their prosperity, their wealth, their economic security, their military security is going to be linked to keeping a technological edge," says Stephen Olson, research fellow at global trade advisory body Hinrich Foundation.

But many also say their dispute goes well beyond trade - it represents a power-struggle between two very different world views.

Unfortunately, deal or no trade deal, that rivalry is only expected to broaden and become more difficult to resolve.

"We have entered into a new normal in which US-China geopolitical competition has intensified and become more explicit," says Michael Hirson, Asia director at consultancy firm Eurasia Group.

Realpolitik is now at play also between China and the US, at the highest level possible/

The upcoming years are not only going to be very interesting in the eyes of the people that pay close attention to what is happening in the world, but also quite dangerous as the status quo that has kept the world in a state of peace is slowly disintegrating, leaving place to a wasteland of ideologies, interests and individuals at play that will do everything to get into power. 2019 is the year that marks the real return of ReaPpolitik, on a state never seen before.

This isn’t the Cold War whatsoever, this is a completely different world. One based on economic factors, international political bullying and a shock factor never seen before.

Welcome to Earth, which side are you on?


Article can be 
republished only if EU-Digest
is identified as the source 

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Liberal democracy in decline, should you be worried?

As the world looks on in awe and with huge admiration at the greatest democracy on the planet going to the polls, why should anyone be worried about the decline of liberal democracy? Shouldn’t the sight of 900 million people in India electing their politicians provide reassurance to those who believe that we stand on the precipice of an existential crisis? The unfortunate fact is that in many countries, liberal democracy is at the point of collapse and authoritarianism is appearing as a real alternative. This is an immense ideological and strategic challenge. In a bracing new book, the greatly admired former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, even warns of the revival of fascism.

Those who have benefited from the post 1945 settlement and the development of democratic institutions have become complacent about liberal democracy, losing interest in its ideals and forgetting how to defend its values. When it’s around us we take it for granted. It’s rather like the old story of two fish swimming together, when an older fish swims by and says “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” After the old fish swims away, one says to the other, “What the hell is water?”

One problem is that many don’t really know precisely what liberal democracy is. In numerous books and articles on the subject, authors seem to speak past each other or go around in circles because they are using different definitions of the terms. A common mistake is to conflate liberalism with democracy. The two subjects are not synonyms. “Democracy” is derived from a Greek word meaning “rule by the people”, while “liberal” and “liberalism” derive from the Latin word meaning “free”. Confusingly, some writers use the word “democracy” as a shorthand for “liberal democracy”, thus incorporating such features as the rule of law, freedoms of speech, assembly, religion and the press, which are more properly categorised as liberal. In short, “democracy” is an answer to the question of who rules. By contrast, “liberalism” prescribes not how rulers are chosen but what are the limits to their power once in office.

The election of Donald Trump, despite losing the popular vote by three million, has tested the limit of people’s faith in democracy. Many have asked if the result was warped by overseas interference, questionable activity as listed in the Mueller report, or by unaccountable tech companies. There is a growing consensus that American democracy is at risk; the Economist’s index even categorises the United States as a “flawed democracy”.

Following the Brexit referendum, a deeply worrying recent development in Britain is the language of autocrats, casting sceptics of the result as “enemies of the people”. The questioning of democracy is polarising politics and taking debate beyond healthy bounds. Efforts to delegitimise the referendum result are based on the premise that politicians lied and misled, leaving voters to choose on the basis of either poor or wrong information. An old joke is being resurrected: Question, “How do you know when a politician is lying?” Answer, “When his mouth is open.”

Elsewhere in Europe, democratically elected leaders are challenging liberalism. Hungary’s Prime Minister, Victor Orban, even proudly boasts of creating an “illiberal democracy”. Orban’s close friend in neighbouring Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, also panders to nationalist sentiment. They have much in common. Both are strongmen of roughly the same generation, with little interest in checks and balances, free media or even free speech. 

Both entered politics in the turbulent era of the crumbling of the communist bloc. These two men matter in Europe. Orban’s Hungary is a magnet for the far right elsewhere on the continent, while Serbia holds the key to the stability of the Balkans, a region which forms Europe’s strategic, vulnerable underbelly. Winston Churchill once described this region as “producing more history than it can consume”.

Strong men with nationalistic characteristics are a sure sign of danger to liberal democracy. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is in pole position to form a coalition with the smaller hard right-wing parties. Democracy certainly, but not liberal democracy; just ask the Israeli Arabs or the Palestinians. In Brazil, last October’s victory by Jair Bolsonaro promises illiberalism on a grand scale.

Turkey under Recep Erdogan has become a textbook example of illiberal democracy, closely followed by Honduras, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Iran. The basket cases are, of course, North Korea, China and the Gulf States, which are neither democratic nor liberal. Russia moved towards a period of democracy in the early 1990s, only to retreat from 2004 onwards. Elections remain in place in Russia but they are phony, as state control of the media is almost complete and opposition is not welcomed by President Vladimir Putin.

Why does this matter? The collapse of liberal democracy leads to autocracy and history tells us that autocracy frequently leads to war. World War I was very much a war between liberalism and authoritarianism. When President Woodrow Wilson took the United States to war in 1917 in the hope of making the world “safe for democracy”, it was to defend the “liberal” Atlantic Community against the illiberal ideology of Germany. The rise after the war of two even greater challenges to liberalism, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, marked the failure of the interwar hope. Their defeat in World War II, in which 87,000 troops from the Indian subcontinent were sacrificed, gave liberalism a new birth.
All this is now in danger. We ignore the demise of liberal democracy at our peril.


U.S. and Israel Both Decline on Press-freedom Index - U.S. Now "Problematic"

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Reporters Without Borders, the international group that compiles the World Press Freedom Index, ranked the United States 48th among 180 nations and territories it surveyed. The U.S. ranking fell three spots from 2018, continuing a downward trend that began in 2016.

The United States finished just above Senegal and just below Romania on this year’s list/ The United States finished just above Senegal and just below Romania on this year’s list. It also fell into the ranks of countries whose treatment of journalists is considered “problematic,” the first time the United States has been so classified since the organization began the index in 2002.

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Eurosceptics frequently lambast the EU by portraying it as a bureaucratic monolith that pays little attention to the concerns of ordinary citizens, as it interferes needlessly in petty affairs. However, the decisions taken in Brussels and the laws passed by the European Parliament in Strasbourg have concrete effects on Europeans’ day-to-day lives.

Here is an overview of ten such EU policies put in place over the past five years making a key difference to the lives of every citizen of its member states. :

Getting rid of plastic bags

In France, single-use plastic shopping bags have been banned since July 2016, whether they are free or paid for. Instead, bags must either be made of paper or reusable and thicker than 50 micrometres. Since the start of 2017, this ban has been extended to “fruit and vegetable bags”. Thus, only biodegradable or paper bags can now be used.

These French laws are a direct product of a 2015 EU directive that imposed new rules to limit the consumption of plastic bags and reduce the amount of packaging on goods. MEPs aim to reduce the average number of lightweight plastic bags used, from 90 per person over the course of the year in 2019 to 40 per person by 2025.

The right to be forgotten

As well as acting on environmental concerns, Brussels is also focused on the protection of personal data. In a 2014 decision, the European Court of Justice ruled that EU data protection law applies to search engines. This means that people can get companies to take down any links that violate their privacy, according to the conditions set out in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. So far Google has reviewed 91,000 removal requests, for a total of 328,000 links.

Banning roaming charges

MEPs have taken legal steps to prohibit mobile phone companies from forcing customers to pay extra when they travel from European country to another. This applies to all mobile and landline phone calls, SMS messages and the use of data services abroad.

Cheap flights and compensation for overbooking

By imposing competition laws to stop airlines from restricting fares and schedules, the EU has allowed new companies to spring up and disrupt the industry, with their “low cost” and “no frills” flights undercutting established players and forcing them to reduce prices.

Food safety

The well-known “E numbers” – preservatives, dyes, antioxidants and flavourings listed as part of food products – are subject to strict standards and tightly regulated by the EU. Before being placed on the market, any additive is rigorously scrutinised by the European Food Safety Authority to ensure that it does not present a health hazard.

In addition, the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed has been set up to take any food that constitutes a health risk off the market as quickly as possible. It responds to thousands of alerts every year to deal with immediate risks, often detected in meat and fish.

Sport broadcast free of charge

EU legislation ensures that sport matches considered to be of major importance for society must be broadcast on free TV channels.

Putting more snow on ski slopes

Seeing as it’s quite a prerequisite for skiing, it’s rather a shame that snow is not always abundant on Europe’s ski slopes. The EU’s Horizon 2020 programme is funding research on snow production that includes a new snow gun that uses 15 percent less energy to produce 8 percent more snow and is also less noisy. Brussels is also supporting a project to create a weather forecasting system for the ski industry to predict the amount of snow from a week to several months in advance.

Free wifi in public areas

There are few things more frustrating than being out and about and finding it impossible to connect to the Internet. However, the EU’s WIFI4EU programme provides support to local authorities to help them provide free wifi to people passing through open-air spaces, public buildings, libraries or hospitals.

Protecting online shoppers’ rights

The EU ensures that products can be ordered without customs duties and additional taxes from other European countries and allows customers to return any product they have purchased within 14 days, without justification.

New EU rules should also come into effect over the coming years – for example, prohibiting online vendors from automatically redirecting customers to another site (on which prices are often higher), and the reduction of sometimes hefty delivery costs.

Funding films

Half of all European films were partly financed by the European Union Media Program. In 2014, seven of the 18 films competing for awards at the Cannes Film Festival benefited from this scheme, including “Two Days, One Night” by the Dardennes brothers and Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep”, winner of the 2014 Palme d’Or.

The EU also has the Creative Europe 2014-2020 programme to support culture across the continent. With a budget of €1.5 billion, this fund will support cinema, TV, music, literature, heritage and the performing arts in 38 countries and will fund 250,000 people in the culture industry.

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