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7/18/19

Spain: Taxes on US Tech Giants

Your face is worth money: Viral App FaceApp Now Owns Access To More Than 150 Million People's Faces And Names - by John Koetsier

Viral app FaceApp has been giving people the power to change their facial expressions, looks, and now age for several years. But at the same time, people have been giving FaceApp the power to use their pictures — and names — for any purpose it wishes, for as long as it desires.

That’s the burning question about FaceApp, a program that takes photos of people and “ages” them using artificial intelligence
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Soon after it shot to the top of the Apple and Google store charts this week, privacy advocates began waving warning flags about the Russian-made app’s vague legalese.

And we thought we learned a lesson from Cambridge Analytica.

More than 100,000 million people have downloaded the app from Google Play. And FaceApp is now the top-ranked app on the iOS App Store in 121 countries, according to App Annie.

While according to FaceApp's terms of service people still own their own "user content" (read: face), the company owns a never-ending and irrevocable royalty-free license to do anything they want with it ... in front of whoever they wish:

Read more at: Viral App FaceApp Now Owns Access To More Than 150 Million People's Faces And Names.

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7/17/19

Global Economy: Central Bankers Are Sick of Rescuing the World Economy Alone - by William Horobin and Simon Kennedy

Global central bankers are again in the driving seat when it comes to propping up the world economy, but many are demanding governments join them in the rescue effort.

Amid slowing global growth, the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and perhaps even the Bank of Japan are all set to ease monetary policy in coming months. But with less room to act than in the past, their leaders are telling politicians they will need to assist if a downturn takes hold.

The pressure could be applied in person on Wednesday when central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations meet for talks north of Paris. They convene at a hazardous juncture for the global economy, as an unpredictable trade war risks precipitating a deeper downturn, and some bond markets hint at a growing possibility of a recession.

G-7 host nation France may even offer a reason to take note. President Emmanuel Macron’s 17 billion euros ($19.2 billion) of support for consumers in response to the Yellow Vests protests may have been contrary to his deficit-reduction mantra, but is proving fortuitous amid a global slowdown. French growth in 2019 is expected to outpace the euro-area average for the first time in six years.

“We are seeing political risks rising everywhere, so addressing the lack of growth that benefits all is quite urgent,” said Laurence Boone, chief economist at the OECD. “That cannot be achieved only through monetary policy.”
 
France’s GDP is expected to be more resilient than peers this year

While Powell has warned the U.S. fiscal position is unsustainable in the long-run, he said last week it’s “not a good thing to have monetary policy being the main game in town.” 

The U.S. got a boost in 2018 from President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, but that effect is fading.

Read more at: Central Bankers Are Sick of Rescuing the World Economy Alone - Bloomberg

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The EU’s east-west divide - by Eszter Kováts and Katerina Smejkalova

The west’s economic exploitation and moral arrogance are fuelling right-wing populism in east-central Europe.

We must now fight for the idea of Europe or see it perish beneath the waves of populism.‘

This was the prevalent message before the European elections in May 2019.

The quote itself comes from a manifesto published by  30 well-known and respected intellectuals at the end of January. The signatories, such as Milan Kundera, Adam Michnik, Ágnes Heller and Salman Rushdie, called for a ‘fight for Europe’ and ‘against the … populists’.

They wanted to send a clear signal before the European Parliament elections and recalled Europe’s dark times. They referred to the omnipresent dichotomy of ‘Europe v the populists’.

But repeating abstract European values and using the sledgehammer argument of the Holocaust comes across as aloof and alien in the face of many people’s everyday worries and struggles. The last few years have shown that this often just creates a bigger divide.

Read more at: The EU’s east-west divide • Social Europe

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USA: US house ot representatives reprimand Trump for racist remarks

US House condemns Trump over racist comments against congresswomen The US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to condemn President Donald Trump for "racist comments" against four minority Democratic congresswomen, a symbolic vote aimed at shaming Trump and his fellow Republicans who stood by him.


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ESA: EU space chief outlines plans for moon village

Moon-landing 50th anniversary: Europe's space chief outlines plans for 'moon village'


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7/16/19

Israel: Nethanyahu turning Israel into a Banana Republic

EU Commission Presidency: MEP'S narrowly back Ursula von der Leyen as next Europen Commission President

MEPs narrowly back Ursula von der Leyen as next European Commission president

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Israel: Netanyahu: "Europe might ignore Iran threat until nuclear missiles hit"

Netanyahu: 'Europe might ignore Iran threat until nuclear missiles hit'

Read more at:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-49001946

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US Presidential Elections: Trump's xenophobic targeting of progressive Democrats could signal what's to come in 2020

Trump's xenophobic targeting of progressive Democrats could signal what's to come in 2020

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Turkey: Erdogan has lost his way - but look who is "calling the kettle black" - by Osama Yamani

Erdogan is living in a state of delusion imagining the revival of the Ottoman Empire. As a result of this delusion, he has built a 1150-room presidential palace with large gardens, a conference center and an operations room with satellite connections, military telecommunications systems and fortifications that can resist biological, nuclear and chemical weapons.

The palace has tight security measures that prevent the eavesdropping on telephone conversations. The palace guards wear the uniforms of the Ottoman Guard. All of the construction costs and post-construction costs including the maintenance and operation of this palace were enormous in order to satisfy Erdogan’s dream of reviving the Empire.

That dream has caused Turkey to lose its European and American allies, as well as neighbors and countries of the region due to its expansionist ambitions and policies of meddling in the affairs of others.

Read more at: Erdogan has lost his way - Saudi Gazette

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7/15/19

The Netherlands: Dutch PM Rutte to visit Trump for talks on trade. As to US Defense requests : "NO WAY JOSE" - by Mike Corder

"No way Jose"
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is visiting U.S. President Donald Trump next week, but said Friday he can't yet give the president a response to American requests for assistance in Syria and the Strait of Hormuz.
Rutte will meet Trump at the White House next Thursday to discuss bilateral relations, international trade and defense and security cooperation, the Dutch government announced.
But Rutte said the visit comes too soon for him to say whether the Netherlands will agree to U.S. requests for assistance in Syria and the Gulf, because his government is still discussing them.

"I can't have a conversation with the American president about it if the procedures in the Netherlands have not been completed," Rutte said. "So that is not a point we are putting on the agenda."

He said that if Trump raises the issue, "I will tell him we are carefully evaluating it."

Last month, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said after a meeting in Brussels that NATO allies gave him no firm commitments that they will participate in a global effort to secure international waterways against threats from Iran.

Since then, Dutch media, citing unnamed sources, have reported that the government in The Hague is considering sending a frigate to the Gulf. Rutte declined to give details of possible Dutch involvement, saying no decision has been made.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, said Tuesday that Washington will move ahead with plans to build a coalition of nations to monitor and deter Iranian threats against commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf area and in a busy waterway between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

Note EU-Digest: Donald Trump created the problem with Iran, which has stirred up unrest within the Middle East, after the US stepped out of the Iran Nuclear Treaty. Hopefully PM Rutte of the Netherlands will tell Trump during his visit to the White House, that as to Trump's request for Dutch troops in Syria, or Dutch Navy support in the Persian Gulf, the answer is " NO WAY JOSE".   

Read more: Dutch leader to visit Trump for talks on trade, defense - San Antonio Express-News

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The Netherlands: Female Executives: Dutch group of investors only to invest in companies with female executives - by Mina Solanki

 That’s right, an important group of Dutch investors has decided to only invest in companies where at least 35 percent of executives are female. The goal for achieving this is set at three years.

There are 25 investors involved in this initiative, and together, they manage around 1,1 billion euros. That is a quarter of the total assets managed by Dutch venture investors. The plan to introduce a quota came about after research into the funding of female-run start-ups, by the investors Eva Mol and Janneke Niessen, revealed that investors almost exclusively funded start-ups run by men. In fact, only 1,6 percent of the businesses invested in was under the direction of a woman.

Read more: Dutch group of investors only to invest in companies with female executives

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USA: Trump Tells Democratic Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to the Countries They Came From - by Katie Rogers and Nicholas Fandos

 President Trump said on Sunday that a group of four minority congresswomen feuding with Speaker Nancy Pelosi should “go back” to the countries they came from rather than “loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States” how to run the government.

Wrapped inside that insult, which was widely established as a racist trope, was a factually inaccurate claim: Only one of the lawmakers was born outside the country.

Even though Mr. Trump has repeatedly refused to back down from stoking racial divisions, his willingness to deploy a lowest-rung slur — one commonly and crudely used to single out the perceived foreignness of nonwhite, non-Christian people — was largely regarded as beyond the pale.

Read more: Trump Tells Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to the Countries They Came From - The New York Times

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Middle East - Iran: Britaim sees small window to save Iran Nuclear deal

Britain sees 'small window' to save Iran nuclear deal


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7/14/19

Brexit: Britain needs an anti-Brexit alliance – by Vince Cable

Britain's next prime minister is in the process of being chosen by around 160,000 Conservative Party members — a self-selecting "selectorate" that is predominantly over 55, relatively wealthy, and, needless to say, not representative of the country.

When their chosen leader drags himself out of that toxic sludge, he’s in for a shock.

Not only will he face a Conservative Party irrevocably divided at the grassroots level and a country poised to wreak revenge for the Brexit shambles at the first opportunity, but he will also face an anti-Brexit front more united than ever before.

Parties such as the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Plaid Cymru are starting to work together for the greater good. We're putting aside our differences and focusing on doing everything collectively to stop a no-deal Brexit — and, indeed, to stop Brexit altogether.

In the upcoming Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, Welsh party Plaid Cymru has endorsed the Liberal Democrats because we offer the clearest chance of victory for pro-European voters. The Green Party has also decided to stand aside. That means anyone wanting to elect a candidate who is committed to stopping Brexit will be voting for the Lib Dems' Jane Dodds, maximizing the chances of taking back this Welsh seat from the anti-European Tories.

It's hard to overstate the significance of this alliance. The decision is a beacon of political pragmatism and principle in the current fog of cross-party rancor and offers a roadmap for building an effective anti-Brexit front that can save Britain from lurching toward disaster.

Read more: Britain needs an anti-Brexit alliance – POLITICO

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France: Macron hails common European defence on Bastille day

Bastille Day: Macron hails common European defence in July 14 message 

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France: Bastille day showcases EU military cooperation

France: Bastille Day parade showcases European military cooperation

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7/13/19

EU signs landmark trade deal with Vietnam

The European Union has signed a landmark free-trade deal with Vietnam, the first of its kind with a developing country in Asia, paving the way for tariff cuts on almost all goods.

The EU has described the deal as “the most ambitious free trade deal ever concluded with a developing country”

The free trade agreement will eventually eliminate 99% of tariffs, with some items cut over a 10-year period and other goods, notably agricultural products, limited by quotas. It is also expected to open up the public procurement and services markets, such as for the postal, banking and maritime sectors.

The deal still needs the approval of the European parliament, which is by no means a certainty given some lawmakers’ concerns over Vietnam’s human rights record.
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The agreement was signed in Hanoi, three-and-a-half years after trade negotiations ended in December 2015.

Read more: EU signs landmark trade deal with Vietnam | World news | The Guardian

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EU-Mercosur deal: Is the agreement a threat to European agriculture? - by Sofía S.Manzanaro

Twenty years after negotiations began, the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur reached a free-trade agreement on Friday. Deemed "historic" by European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker, both sides currently trade over €88 billion in goods and €34 billion in services each year.

However, the treaty has not satisfied all member states. While French President Emmanuel Macron said it was a "good agreement" that met key French demands, other factions in France did not agree.

France is the EU's largest farming power. French farmers' groups and environmentalists have regularly raised concerns about the risk of a surge in South American agricultural exports to Europe. In addition, critics argue there are lower standards for produce in the Mercosur countries and insist that they would oppose the deal unless they see proper traceability and good livestock practices in the beef sector.

"We won't have an accord at any price. The story isn't finished," agriculture minister Didier Guillaume told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Read more at: 
EU-Mercosur deal: Is the agreement a threat to European agriculture? | Euronews

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Germany: Angela Merkel honors Hitler assassins, laments rise of far right

Merkel honors Hitler assassins, laments rise of far right

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EU: How barriers still divide Europe 30 years since fall

How barriers still divide Europe 30 years since fall of Berlin Wal


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India - Space Exploration Mission to the moon: Chandrayaan-2 launch: How to watch the first mission to the moon's south pole - by Jackson Ryan

After several delays, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is set to launch the Chandrayaan-2 mission this Sunday with plans to become the first nation to land at the lunar south pole. Fittingly, the landmark mission is set to depart a few days shy of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, humanity's first crewed lunar landing. India's mission won't feature humans, but Chandrayaan-2 is carrying three lunar exploration robots able to survey the moon from both the surface and the sky.

The launch is currently scheduled for Sunday, July 14 at 2:21 p.m. PT and will take place at India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, north of Chennai. The payload of Chandrayaan-2 consists of a lunar orbiter, a lunar lander and a lunar rover, and will be launched atop the ISRO-developed GSLV Mk-III rocket. That rocket is about half as powerful as the SpaceX Falcon 9 and will put Chandrayaan-2 into what is known as an "Earth parking orbit" before the module uses its own power to extend its orbit and eventually position itself for a lunar rendezvous.

The launch is currently scheduled for Sunday, July 14 at 2:21 p.m. PT and will take place at India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, north of Chennai. The payload of Chandrayaan-2 consists of a lunar orbiter, a lunar lander and a lunar rover, and will be launched atop the ISRO-developed GSLV Mk-III rocket. That rocket is about half as powerful as the SpaceX Falcon 9 and will put Chandrayaan-2 into what is known as an "Earth parking orbit" before the module uses its own power to extend its orbit and eventually position itself for a lunar rendezvous.

Provided Chandrayaan-2 launches on time, it is expected to reach the moon on Sept. 6, 2019. If it can achieve the difficult feat of landing on the surface, India will become just the fourth nation to complete a soft landing in history, following the US, Russia and China, which currently has the Chang'e 4 rover operating on the far side of the moon.

Read more: Chandrayaan-2 launch: How to watch the first mission to the moon's south pole - CNET

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7/12/19

EU: Germany tells the East: Speed up reform or you will lose your population – by Georgi Gotev

Germany’s minister of state for Europe delivered a blunt message to a gathering of the Eastern Partnership, organised in the Georgian Black Sea city of Batumi on Thursday (11 July): unless reforms in Eastern Europe speed up, its young people will leave to find a better life in Western Europe.

Michael Roth spoke at the Batumi International Conference, dedicated to the tenth anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, an EU initiative covering Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Some of these countries, Georgia in particular, see themselves as frontrunners and want to go beyond this framework, with a view to eventual EU accession.
Roth explained the enlargement fatigue currently felt in the EU.

“Many people in the EU are totally exhausted, confronted by so many crises: Brexit, transatlantic relations totally under pressure, migration, the rise of nationalism and populism. Many people are not really happy with enlargement,” the German minister said.

Read more at: Germany tells the East: Speed up reform or you will lose your population – EURACTIV.com

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Italy: Will Matteo Salvini wreck the euro?

HE’S ALMOST here...he’s arrived! He’s arrived!” bawls the mayoral candidate, as a sea of blue and white flags declaring Prima L’Italia, Italy First, wave in the summer evening air of the ancient Umbrian hill city of Orvieto. And as the cheers and the shouts of “Mat-te-o! Mat-te-o!” swirl around the medieval buildings, the man the crowd is really here to see walks onto the stage: Matteo Salvini in chinos and an open-neck shirt, sleeves rolled up, slightly tubby, as ordinary-looking as any of the adoring fans jammed into the little square.

They call him Il Capitano. No Italian can fail to hear an echo of Mussolini’s nickname, Il Duce. Critics see neo-fascist overtones everywhere—from the fact that Mr Salvini recently published a book using a publishing house with links to a far-right outfit, CasaPound, to the observation that he has been seen in a jacket made by a designer the CasaPounders favour. His personality cult, driven by dozens of daily tweets and Facebook posts, expertly crafted to show him as a man of the people, on the side of the little guy against the elite, comes in for similar suspicion.

Read more at: Will Matteo Salvini wreck the euro? - Il Capitano

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Italy's Salvini denies his far-right League party took funds from Russia

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini on Wednesday denied a media report that his far-right League party had sought millions of euros from Russian investors via a secret oil deal.

The U.S. website Buzzfeed said it had received an audio recording of talks in Moscow in October among three Italians including a close aide of Salvini, Gianluca Savoini, and three unidentified Russian men.

During their 75-minute meeting, the six men discussed a possible deal involving a Russian company selling oil worth some $1.5 billion at a discount to enable the League to pocket part of the difference, Buzzfeed said.

There was no evidence the transaction took place, the website reported.

Salvini had been in Moscow at the same time as the alleged meeting in a city hotel, but there was no suggestion he took part in the discussions. He denied on Wednesday that his party had received any illicit funding.

“Never taken a ruble, a euro, a dollar or a litre of vodka in financing from Russia,” Salvini said in a statement, adding that he would sue anyone who accused him of such crimes.

Italian law forbids parties from accepting donations from foreign entities, and the opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) demanded that Salvini appear in parliament to address the allegations.

“If this (deal) happened it would be of unprecedented seriousness,” PD lawmaker Emanuele Fiano said in the lower house. “We formally request that the minister answer in the chamber of the house.”

Read more at: Italy's Salvini denies his far-right League party took funds from Russia

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USA: The Conservative Activists "Comedy Show" at the Donald Trump White House labeled as a "Social Media Summit" was a total farce

As he opened an event that had brought 200 conservative social media firebrands to the White House, President Trump wanted his guests to know just how much he appreciated their work helping shape the online narrative about his presidency and a re-election fight.

“The crap you think of,” Mr. Trump said as he surveyed his Twitter kingdom, “is unbelievable.”

Mr. Trump was once an outsider political candidate who prided himself on bending rules and subverting norms, and he wants to keep that sensibility as a candidate in 2020. So on Thursday, the president went in search of outside-the-box campaign ideas from a group that also has little use for playing by the rules.

Sandwiched between a flurry of morning presidential tweets and bleeding into Mr. Trump’s early evening news conference on how his administration would collect data on citizenship, the White House Social Media Summit was dominated by activists willing to share unverified smears against Democratic presidential candidates, disseminate QAnon conspiracy theories and create memes the president might share.

“Earlier this year, the White House launched a tool to allow Americans, regardless of their political views, to share how they have been affected by bias online,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in an email explaining the origins of the event. “After receiving thousands of responses, the president wants to engage directly with these digital leaders in a discussion on the power of social media.”

A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know. 

That’s really not what happened.

Before all was said and done, the East Room event, which featured a rambling speech by Mr. Trump on everything from Federal Reserve policy to his hairstyle, devolved into a confrontation in the Rose Garden after the presidential news conference between Sebastian Gorka, the former White House official turned media personality, and a reporter. James O’Keefe, an activist who likes to capture videos under false pretenses to embarrass liberals and journalists, filmed the scene.

The reporter, Brian Karem of Playboy, said that the group was hungry for “demonic possession.” Mr. Gorka questioned his journalistic credentials and approached Mr. Karem, who suggested the two talk outside.

“Gorka! Gorka! Gorka!” his supporters chanted as Mr. Gorka called the journalist a “punk.”

The meeting turned not only in a comedy show, but also showed  that this meeting labeled by the White House as a "Social Media Summit" was a total farce. 

For the full report go to:

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7/11/19

World Population day: EU poulation increases despite more deaths being recorded than births

World Population Day: EU population increases despite more deaths being recorded than births 

USA - Radical Right Wing Social Media group to meet today at secretive right-wing social media summit at White House, hosted by US President Donald Trump

Unfortunately :"Facisme is 
alive and well in the US"
Radical right-wing media personalities will be at the White House on Thursday (7/11) for a social media summit hosted by President Donald Trump to tackle perceived anti-conservative bias on online platforms.

The attendee list is being kept secret by the White House, but a range of right-wing activists, both online and offline, have announced they will be attending.

These include Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe, who has attempted to plant fake stories in the Washington Post to undermine its credibility, and radio host Bill Mitchell who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory.

While Facebook and Twitter are reportedly still waiting for their invites, President Donald Trump has invited a cartoonist accused of creating “a blatantly anti-Semitic” illustration to  this Social Media Summit at the White House.

The Guardian a British newspaper noted in an Op-Ed : "Donald Trump borrows from the old tricks of fascism". 

Artist Ben Garrison, whose work often display alt-right themes and is a favorite of the popular pro-Trump Reddit community The_Donald, tweeted a picture Friday of his invitation to the White House for the summit the following week.

Donald Trump wrote in one of his Tweets today: "A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer. The Fake News Media will also be there, but for a limited period."

The president has previously accused Google of rigging its search results against him, giving greater prominence to negative stories about him while suppressing positive articles from conservative news organizations.

Google denied the allegation, which was not substantiated by independent research.

The media figures attending the White House summit on Thursday will be sharing stories of "how they have been affected by bias online" according to a press secretary.

One of the individuals invited to the summit, Ben Garrison, had been accused of drawing an antisemitic cartoon portraying frequent Jewish liberal philanthropist George Soros as a puppetmaster.

Read more at: Trump hosts secretive right-wing social media summit at White House | Science

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7/10/19

Turkey: Saudi embassy in Turkey issues alert to citizens regarding theft of passports - by Ismaeel Naa

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Turkey issued an alert on Monday to its citizens visiting the country regarding the safekeeping of their belongings after a spate of cases involving the theft of Saudi passports in Istanbul.

“In view after some citizens who arrived in the Republic of Turkey on tourism were stopped by authorities for not carrying their original passports, the embassy notes the necessity for citizens to hold on to their original passports with care and prevent its loss, damage or theft. Turkish security authorities request the original passport for the purpose of verifying identity, and does not accept a copy of the passport,” a statement carried by the Saudi embassy and foreign ministry on Twitter read.

Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported last week that 165 Saudi passports were stolen in three Turkish tourist areas during the past four months. According to sources who spoke to the newspaper, Saudi tourists were targeted in the neighborhoods of Taksim, Ortakoy, and Besiktas in Istanbul.

Read more: Saudi embassy in Turkey issues alert to citizens regarding theft of passports - Al Arabiya English

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Global Population: World population growth is expected to nearly stop by 2100 says Pew Research Center - by Anthony Cilluffo and Neil G. Ruiz

For the first time in modern history, the world’s population is expected to virtually stop growing by the end of this century, due in large part to falling global fertility rates, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the United Nations.

By 2100, the world’s population is projected to reach approximately 10.9 billion, with annual growth of less than 0.1% – a steep decline from the current rate. Between 1950 and today, the world’s population grew between 1% and 2% each year, with the number of people rising from 2.5 billion to more than 7.7 billion.

The world’s median age is expected to increase to 42 in 2100, up from the current 31 – and from 24 in 1950.

Between 2020 and 2100, the number of people ages 80 and older is expected to increase from 146 million to 881 million. Starting in 2073, there are projected to be more people ages 65 and older than under age 15 – the first time this will be the case. Contributing factors to the rise in the median age are the increase in life expectancy and falling fertility rates.

Read more at: World population growth is expected to nearly stop by 2100 | Pew Research Center

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Funerals: Make your final farewell a more "Eco-Friendly" one

Graveyards: A toxic pollution problem
Link TV  recently reported on how toxic graveyards really are.

Yes indeed, death is a messy business. In America alone, 1.6 million tons of cement and over 870,000 gallons of embalming fluid — commonly containing formaldehyde — are buried along with 2.5 million caskets every year.

“What you have here is a landfill … a toxic landfill,” says Glen Ayers of the Green Burial Committee as he looks around a traditional graveyard in Massachusetts.

Proponents of natural burial want to reduce the pollution and resource waste associated with funerals, which also includes burying masses of hardwood and steel.

One solution is to use eco-friendly biodegradable coffins made out of cardboard or even banana leaves. Campaigners also hope to increase the number of natural burial sites, where plots blend in with the natural surroundings.

There are currently fewer than 40 in the US.

Maybe it is time for people to start writing in their "final will and testament" that they want their "final farewell" to be a more eco-friendly one....and you will be doing a good deed for humanity, even after you have died.

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Offshore drilling: Turkey slams the EU claim that drilling for oil in Cypus territorial waters is illegal

TURKEY. Turkey slams EU claim that drilling off Cyprus is illegal Turkey said on Wednesday it rejected Greek and European Union assertions that Turkish drilling for gas and oil off Cyprus was illegitimate, saying they showed the EU could not be an impartial mediator on the Cyprus problem.


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7/9/19

EU-USA relations: The EU must wake-up to the fact that the "erraticly" acting US Trump Administration is not a friend of the EU, and must act accordingly

"I am the greatest - Trust me it's real"
It was confirmed that the British Ambassador to the US labelled President Donald Trump as "inept," "insecure" and "incompetent," a UK government official reported Saturday to CNN.

And many  diplomats stationed in Washington, although they are not openly saying it, consider the British Ambassador  hit the nail right on the head.

Mr. Trump’s order to attack Iran recently in retaliation for its downing of a spy drone, and his abrupt reversal minutes before American forces carried it out, have intensified global doubts about the president’s judgment and the power wielded by the United States.

The appearance of erratic decision-making “adds to the confusion of his allies and adversaries,” said Nigel Sheinwald, a former British ambassador to Washington who once conducted hostage negotiations with the Iranian government. But it is also part of “a continuing picture of American uncertainty about the use of power,” Mr. Sheinwald said. “It is the leitmotif that runs throughout U.S. history.”

If leaders of Britain, France and Germany — America’s main European allies — saw Mr. Trump’s aborted attack as a point of no return for his own reputation, or for the United States’ global standing, they did their best to hide it.

The public response of Western politicians has been largely cautious, sometimes confused — but only implicitly critical..

Another sore point for the EU is that the United States is also intensifying its trade fight with the European Union over aircraft subsidies, proposing new tariffs on EU goods worth $4 billion.

The tariffs, announced late Monday by the United States Trade Representative, cover 89 products including meat, cheese, pasta, fruits, coffee and whiskey.

They could be added to a list of EU exports worth $21 billion that the USTR said in April would be subject to tariffs.

The threat to target more European goods comes just days after the United States and China agreed to resume talks on a trade deal. President Donald Trump said he would hold off imposing new tariffs on China.

Washington has also been locked in a dispute with the European Union for years over two of the world's biggest airplane manufacturers — Boeing (BA) and Airbus.

It is high time the EU starts calling a spade a spade and, starts playing hard-ball with the US. They have a lot of cards they can play and should not scare away from doing so.

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Britain-Brexit: Boris Johnson is heading for a landslide victory – and then disaster - by John Rentoul

There is only one question in British politics at the moment. Can a no-deal Brexit be stopped? Yes it can, and so Boris Johnson is set to become prime minister on a false prospectus.

According to YouGov, 74 per cent of Conservative Party members intend to elect him as leader – on a pledge to leave the EU, deal or no deal, on 31 October. That is a promise he cannot guarantee to deliver.

Johnson’s blithe assertion that the world is as he wants it to be has confused people. Surely it would be hard to stop a determined prime minister from taking Britain out of the EU without a deal? So it is worth setting out, again, how parliament can prevent such an outcome.
\
It is possible, of course, that Johnson will agree some minor changes to Theresa May’s deal within nine weeks of becoming prime minister and secure the approval of the Commons for them, but it is hard to see where those extra votes would come from.

That’s why I think Johnson will win the leadership by a landslide, and then, as prime minister, collide with reality with – for him – disastrous results.

Read more at: Boris Johnson is heading for a landslide victory – and then disaster | The Independent

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Russian Weapons Sales: Turkey prepares to receive Russian missile system, as questions swirl over potential US punishment - by Hollie McKay

The shipment of Russia’s highly-anticipated S-400 air defense missile system to Turkey is expected to roll out any day now, much to the indignation of many U.S. officials.
Despite the pressure, Turkey has refused to rescind.

“Ever since the U.S. support for the Kurds in Syria and suspected U.S. support of the attempted coup against the Erdogan government, the U.S. relationship with Turkey has been on rocky ground,”

 John Wood, a military analyst and author of “Russia, the Asymmetric Threat to the United States,” told Fox News. “For its part, Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has won few friends in the Whitehouse. Putin has exploited the rift between the two countries to ensure Russia is one of the key players to any resolution of the Syrian civil war. The S-400 purchase represents rubbing salt in the wound.”

The effectiveness of the S-400 long-range, surface-to-air missile system in the theater of war remains to be seen. According to a National Interest analysis, the system boasts an impressive ability against a range of aerial targets including aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles but is yet to be tested in combat – however its use as an economic warfare tool cannot be underestimated.

Read more: Turkey prepares to receive Russian missile system, as questions swirl over potential US punishment | Fox News

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7/8/19

German - US relations: Germany rejects US demand for ground troops

Syria: Germany rejects US demand for ground troops.

It was also reported recently that the Netherlands will also not provide ground troops as requested by the US for Syria. 

Polls in Europe show that there is very little "appetite" in Europe for more, or additional military involvement in Syria or anywhere else in the Middle East, specially since the US pulled out of the multi-national nuclear agreement with Iran, and as such, created more unrest in the region.
The Netherlands will not provide ground troops for the new US mission in Syria, defence minister Ank Bijleveld told news agency ANP on Friday, following the weekly cabinet meeting.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

Read more at
https://p.dw.com/p/3LkP3

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US Politics: Democrats’ gun plans should be as ambitious as the Green New Deal - by German Lopez

The first Democratic debates crystallized how far Democrats have moved to the left on all sorts of issues over the past few years. Candidates for the presidency advocated for single-payer health care, a Green New Deal, free college, 70 percent taxes on the ultrawealthy, decriminalizing crossing the border without papers, and upholding “reproductive justice.”

But there’s one issue, even as it’s gotten more attention, where major Democratic politicians haven’t moved much: guns. When it came up in the debates, candidates raised the same ideas they’ve had for decades: universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and generally keeping guns away from dangerous people. Only Cory Booker, who brought up his gun licensing plan, and Eric Swalwell, who pointed to his assault weapons confiscation program, broke new ground on the issue — receiving little support from others on stage (although some candidates have backed licensing elsewhere).

If you want to make a serious dent in gun violence in the US, this should worry you. Just imagine a world where Democrats get everything leading candidates typically say they want on guns. Congress passes and President Elizabeth Warren signs a comprehensive bill that includes universal background checks, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and a red-flag law that lets law enforcement take away guns from dangerous people.

It would be, to be sure, a massive political and policy victory — the culmination of decades of work by gun control advocates. The media would characterize it as a sea change in gun politics. The National Rifle Association and its Republican allies would be livid.

Yet it almost certainly would not be enough. We would still likely see mass shootings on a regular basis, in addition to the incidents of suicides, urban violence, and domestic abuse that are tragically even more common.

That’s because America would still have the weakest gun laws among developed nations, and it would still have the most firearms out of any country in the world — and the research has consistently found that places with more guns have more gun deaths.

The problem is dire: The US, with its enormous civilian-owned arsenal of guns, leads the developed world in gun violence. A 2018 study in JAMA found that the US’s civilian gun death rate is nearly four times that of Switzerland, five times that of Canada, 35 times that of the United Kingdom, and 53 times that of Japan. There are, on average, more than 100 gun deaths in the US per day.

You can't control gun violence by giving people more guns as the IRA and most Republicans propose. That is like believing in Santa Claus.

Read more: Democrats’ gun plans should be as ambitious as the Green New Deal - Vox

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Britain: British Ambassador to US Kim Darroch call White House Dysfunctional

Liam Fox defends UK ambassador to US in row over leaked memos

Read more at: 

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USA - FDA - Pharmaceutical Products: Eye drops recalled by FDA from Walmart and Walgreens


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7/7/19

Greece: Conservatives win Greek election with promise to revive economy, unseating leftist Syriza

Conservatives are returning to power in Greece after defeating the leftist ruling party, which failed in its pledge to fight austerity. Now New Democracy offers more jobs and less taxes for austerity-weary Greeks.
The party of opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has claimed 39.74 percent of the vote, with Syriza trailing on 31.5 percent, the Interior Ministry said, after counting nearly 45 percent of the vote in the snap election.

If nothing changes significantly, New Democracy would claim between 155 and 167 seats in the 300-member parliament, which would enable it to form a government without political complications.

The turnout in the election was estimated at around 55 percent, which was blamed on the hot weather, as temperatures reached over 40 degrees in some parts of the country.

Syriza, which had been in the driving seat since 2015, has acknowledged its defeat, with Alexis Tsipras calling Mitsotakis to congratulate him.

“Today, with our head held high we accept the people’s verdict. To bring Greece to where it is today, we had to take difficult decisions (with) a heavy political cost,” the outgoing PM told the journalists.

Read more at: Conservatives win Greek election with promise to revive economy, unseating leftist Syriza — RT World News

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Germany: Deutsche Bank to axe 18,000 jobs

Deutsche Bank announced Sunday it would cut 18,000 jobs — about 1 in 5 employees — by 2022, as part of its new round of restructuring
.
Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Sunday that the restructuring would include "a workforce reduction" to "around 74,000 employees by 2022."

The layoffs would contribute to reducing annual costs by €6 billion ($6.7 billion) until 2022.

The bank also plans to scrap its global equities business and scale back its investment banking. It expects a €2.8 billion euro ($3.1 billion) net loss in the second quarter as a result of restructuring charges.

Deutsche Bank said the restructuring could cost it €7.4 billion ($8.31) between until the end of 2022.

Read more at: Deutsche Bank to axe 18,000 jobs | News | DW | 07.07.2019

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Britain - Brexit: Boris Johnson attacked for being 'out for himself ' after receiving £43,000 for speech backing no-deal Brexit - by Rob Merrick

Boris Johnson was paid almost £43,000 for the speech that set Britain on course for a no-deal Brexit, sparking fresh criticism of his lucrative earnings.

The likely next prime minister pocketed the sum when he delivered his vow to leave the EU on 31 October “deal or no deal”, at an economic conference in Switzerland.

The lucrative speech – made within hours of Theresa May’s tearful resignation – was a toughening of Mr Johnson’s stance, immediately seen as making a crash-out Brexit far more likely.

With the EU refusing to renegotiate the existing divorce deal, it slashed the odds on a no-deal Halloween departure if, as expected, he grabs the Tory leadership crown later this month.

Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s shadow Brexit minister, said: “If you needed any more proof that Boris Johnson is out for himself and entirely unfit to be prime minister, then here it is.

Read more at: Boris Johnson attacked for being 'out for himself ' after receiving £43,000 for speech backing no-deal Brexit | The Independent

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Women's Soccer world cup: U.S. Wins Record Fourth World Cup Title against Holland 2-0 - by Andrew Das

Tthe United States, who needed more than an hour to solve a tenacious defensive effort by the Netherlands. Rapinoe broke the dam with a penalty kick in the 61st minute, and Lavelle sealed the victory with a driving run up the center in the 69th.

It was the second straight World Cup title for a dozen of the American players, who claimed their first championship in Canada four years ago. It also cemented their status as the gold standard in women’s soccer, even as Europe — led by teams like the Netherlands — mounts a sustained assault on their crown.

The Netherlands was the only team to hold the United States off the scoreboard in the first half in France but they, like all the other teams before them — Thailand, Chile, Sweden, Spain, France and England — could not hold them off forever.

Dutch Goal Keeper Van Veenedaal, who almost singlehandedly kept the game scoreless in the first half with several diving, sprawling saves, was named the tournament’s outstanding goalkeeper. Rapinoe won the Golden Boot as the top scorer as well as the Golden Ball as the tournament’s outstanding player.

Read more at: U.S. Wins Record Fourth World Cup Title - The New York Times

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US Presidential Elections: 2020 will be the 'no, we won't' US election - by Andrew Mitrovica

Perhaps the United States' only true 20th century renaissance man, Vidal's intellect was boundless, informed by his prodigious reading, writing and intimate understanding of history, philosophy, and ancient civilizations - among so many other unfashionable disciplines these days.

A writer of such singular breadth, nuance and virtuosity, Vidal never shied away from using his pen as a tool to first expose, then eviscerate the one-party oligarchy and surveillance state the US had long ago become and the propagandists who populate it.

Of course, I couldn't help but think of what Vidal would have made of the absurd spectacle of 20 Democrats "debating" in 60-second soundbites over two nights on television last week - all vying to establish their bona fides to lead an imperial nation, rather than a mythic republic.

Vidal's acidic verdict would, necessarily, have been the first and lasting word on the cockeyed proceedings. If anyone should doubt this, they need only recall what an older, but still dynamic Vidal said instantly after watching Barack Obama's victory speech delivered in Chicago on November 4, 2008.

"I would like to think of him as completely virtuous. I suspect he is not. Why do I suspect that? Because I know how politics works," Vidal said, while other "liberals" were swooning. "It was not his jib that got them. Americans are farcical when faced with force majeure and money. Two things that they worship. You can't expect a democracy from a society like this."

Note EU-Digest:  Eugene Luther Gore Vidal born Eugene Louis Vidal, October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) was an American writer and public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing.

Read more at: 2020 will be the 'no, we won't' US election | USA | Al Jazeera

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US Presidential Elections - Corporate America be aware: The next Democratic president is coming for your monopoly - by Mike Dorning

Democratic presidential hopefuls are coming out in force against the rapid pace of corporate consolidation, a message to 2020 voters that gained volume during their first debates in Miami last week. They’re expanding their pledges to take on big tech, including Facebook and Alphabet, to other industries.

Attacking big corporations is both a political message and a policy prescription. It’s one way Democrats think they can address the concerns of voters who have fallen behind, even as the U.S. economy continues to expand. As Democrats gear up to try to take back the White House in 2020, they hope the anti-corporate tone taps into the populist passion that propelled Donald Trump in 2016.

“Whoever is elected on the Democratic side would be more aggressive on antitrust than we have seen in decades,” said Jason Furman, a former chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers who chairs a U.K. initiative on digital competition.

Read more at: The next Democratic president is coming for your monopoly

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