President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly cut
short their two-day summit Thursday after they were unable to reach an
agreement to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.
collapsed unexpectedly amid a disagreement about economic sanctions,
with the two leaders and their delegations departing their meeting site
in Vietnam’s capital without sitting for a planned lunch or
participating in a scheduled signing ceremony.
President Trump spent Wednesday in Vietnam cozying up to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over grilled
sirloin and chocolate lava cake and reaching for the legacy he wants:
the great dealmaker negotiating a historic nuclear arms accord.
halfway around the globe, an entirely different legacy for Trump was
thrust to the fore by his longtime personal attorney and fixer — that of
an alleged con man, liar, racist and, ultimately, criminal.
Cohen’s explosive testimony to Congress was not only potentially
humiliating for Trump. It also portrayed the president as an unreliable
and dishonest man at the very moment he is conducting diplomacy with the
world’s most erratic and untrusting dictator. And it propelled Trump’s
presidency into greater legal and political peril.
On a day when two events of potentially lasting
importance played out simultaneously some 8,300 miles apart, the
spectacle in Washington overwhelmed the one in Hanoi.
reality came into sharp relief as Trump sat down with Kim for a
one-on-one chat before dinner here on Wednesday evening. Trump had just
boasted of his warm relationship with the North Korean dictator, whom he
called “a great leader,” when a reporter asked for his reaction to
Cohen’s testimony. Trump did not respond and simply shook his head. But
shortly thereafter, that reporter and three others were banned by the
White House from covering the dinner because of what Trump press
secretary Sarah Sanders called “sensitivities to the shouted questions.”
testimony added to the investigative morass that has consumed Trump’s
presidency and served as a reminder of its continual state of turmoil.
Although he sat in a hearing room addressing the House Committee on
Oversight and Reform,
Cohen might as well have been talking directly to
his former boss when he said:
“I have fixed things,” he said, “but I am no longer your fixer, Mr. Trump.”
The United States recently announced
its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty,
citing ongoing Russian violations. This raised alarm among arms control
experts and many European states, which see the INF as a crucial
element of European security.
there’s another problem — more than a bilateral arrangement, the treaty
also curtailed missile programs in former Soviet states, including
Ukraine. The death of the INF could unshackle Ukraine’s missile program,
too. Here’s what you need to know.
The U.S.S.R. and the United States signed the INF in 1987 to prohibit
ground-launched missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles (500
and 5,000 kilometers). By 1990, the two countries had verifiably destroyed
some 2,700 intermediate-range missiles. After the collapse of the
U.S.S.R. in 1991, Soviet obligations under the INF were multilateralized
among all its recognized successors.
Ukraine emerged with ample nuclear and missile capabilities. It
inherited the world’s third-largest arsenal of nuclear-armed
intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and strategic bombers — as
well as a formidable military-industrial complex. This included the
Yuzhnoye missile design bureau and plant in Dnipropetrovsk (now Dnipro),
one of three premier suppliers of ICBMs for the Soviet arsenal.
However, as a legal successor state of the U.S.S.R., Ukraine remained
constrained by the INF’s limitations.
Ukraine — along with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia — also became a legal successor to START,
a treaty that aimed to slash superpower strategic nuclear arsenals by
40 percent. The Soviet collapse left START unratified, with
START-accountable nuclear arms strewn across the territories of the four
states. The non-Russian successors, however, undertook the obligation to denuclearize completely and join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Egypt hit back Wednesday (27 February) at Turkish criticism of EU
leaders for meeting their Arab counterparts in the Red Sea resort of
Sharm el-Sheikh just days after Cairo executed nine people.
The foreign ministry accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of
partisanship towards the Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed Islamist
movement that Egyptian authorities have said inspired the nine men
executed last week to carry out the 2015 murder of the country’s top
His statement “clearly involves hatred and expresses its (Turkey’s)
continued embrace and support of the Muslim Brotherhood,” ministry
spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.
He accused Erdoğan of hypocrisy, citing a list of alleged human rights abuses by Ankara.
“This … illustrates the lack of credibility of what the Turkish president is promoting,” Hafez said.
Erdoğan accused the European Union of insincerity on Tuesday for
attending the joint summit hosted by his Egyptian counterpart Abdel
Fattah al-Sisi in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday and
“Can we talk about democracy in EU member countries who accepted the
invitation of Sisi, who has executed 42 people since he came to power
and nine young people last week, although capital punishment is banned
(in the EU)?” he asked.
“It is not possible to understand them. The EU is not sincere.”
Erdoğan himself has said he would approve the reinstatement of the
death penalty if parliament submits such a proposal or if the measure is
backed in a referendum.
Because union members are not immune to xenophobic and nationalist
propaganda, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and its
institute (ETUI) are even more involved than in the past in examining the reason for the growing ‘attractiveness’ of right-wing populist parties.
Notable in this month’s release of McKinsey’s Global Economics Intelligence
(GEI) report is the unemployment rate in the euro area of 7.9 percent
for November 2018, the lowest level since 2008. The seasonally adjusted
index, maintained by Eurostat, held steady in December.1
Joblessness has fallen by more than one-third sincSeptember 2013,
when the index was at 12 percent. The improvement has been slow but
steady since that time—a point regarded as the nadir of Europe’s
recession within a recession in the early 2010s. And in the wider
European Union (EU-28), which includes high-employment countries such as
Hungary, Poland, and the United Kingdom, the unemployment rate is even
lower, at 6.6 percent, the lowest EU reading since recording began in
San Francisco will get a pop of color and a taste of Dutch culture next week with the deposit of 100,000 tulips in Union Square.
March 1 is American Tulip Day, a celebration of American tulips
grown from Dutch-raised bulbs. To celebrate, Dutch flower bulb trader
Royal Anthos, iBulb.org and the Consulate of General of San Francisco
are transporting thousands of multicolor tulips to the bustling tourist
Visitors are invited to pick their own bunch of tulips
to take home between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., the three-and-a-half-hour
stretch that the garden is open to the public. Access to the garden —
and the tulips — is free.
The Netherlands has a long history of tulip cultivation and exportation. Originally cultivated in the Ottoman Empire, the tulip
— Latin for "flower that looks like a turban" — arrived in Holland
during the 16th century.
Frequently depicted in the artwork and
literature of the Dutch Golden Age, the tulip went on to become one of
the most prized objects of the period. Between 1634 and 1637, a
speculative frenzy for tulips led to a period known as "tulip mania."
Prizes for bulbs skyrocketed, triggering one of the country's first
The Dutch went on to become the world's premier tulip exporters, with the U.S. its most avid customer. Each year, the Netherlands ships around 450 million tulip bulbs to the country, which are planted, grown and sold stateside.
American Tulip Day, Union Square, March 2, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., americantulipday.com.
The most senior Catholic cleric ever charged with child sex abuse has
been convicted of molesting two choirboys moments after celebrating
Mass, dealing a new blow to the Catholic hierarchy's credibility after a
year of global revelations of abuse and cover-up.
What is amazing is that most Christian denomination, from Evangelicals to Orthodox, so far, have put their head in the sand and not come out condemning these practices jointly or individually.
Just in case they have forgotten, here is a direct quote from the Bible, as to the place children take in the teachings of Jesus.
"He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And
he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever
takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” — Matthew 18:1-5
By not speaking out openly against these sexual crimes committed against minors by fellow Christian denominations, Christian denominations in general won't be taken seriously, whatever they do or say. EU-Digest
Behind the small non-descript brown door of a mansion block in Moscow lie the headquarters of the company, Orion LLC.
This mysterious entity, which has an eclectic range of specialisms -
from business consulting to heavy industrial machinery sale,
construction projects, engineering design and market research - is owned
by two key figures in the Italian political party, the League: Gianluca
Savoini, president of the Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association, and
Claudio d'Amico, a senior foreign policy adviser to the party.
Both wield significant influence.
Savoini is a former spokesperson for Italy's deputy prime minister
and League chief, Matteo Salvini, and now attends meetings alongside him
with high ranking Russian politicians.
And d'Amico is an advisor on the party's 'strategic international
activities', who failed to declare ownership of the company when he was
made city councillor of Sesto San Giovanni in 2017.
At the weekend, the Italian magazine L'Espresso published a series of cases
where senior figures in and around Lega were linked to businesses based
in Russia, and, more significantly, allegations that the party was in
talks to secure funding through an oil deal brokered by Savoini.
The League has never hidden its desire to forge close economic and ideological links with Russia.
League representatives have frequently traveled to Russia and appeared regularly on state-controlled media there.
In 2017, a formal "cooperation and collaboration" agreement was
signed between Russian president Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia
and the League, aimed at boosting business, legislative and cultural
ties between the two countries.
Key to a lot of this activity is the Lombardia-Russia Cultural
Association, which Savoini runs and in which d'Amico plays a pivotal
Set up soon after Salvini took over the League, it aims to build a
unity of mission between the two countries based on the core pillars of
"identity, sovereignty and tradition".
There has been a lot of public attention on the role the Russian
state may or may not be playing in setting political agendas abroad,
particularly on the potential spread of disinformation aimed at
undermining more established political parties, inciting division and
anger, and fragmenting the European political landscape.
These are extremely serious accusations, which potentially threaten
the very bedrock of Western democracy and it is right that they are
fully investigated, whether by legal inquiries, as is underway in the
US, or via counterintelligence operations.
But are we missing a trick by not putting these in the wider context
of Russian business interests pursued by those holding political power
As L'Espresso's coverage clearly highlights, neither Savoini nor
d'Amico are alone in having a mix of political and business interests in
In Kalmykia (a federal district of Russia), for example, a fruit
growing business, receives investment from Palmiro Zoccatelli, prominent
member of the League and a key figure within the non-profit
organisation 'Family and Civilisation', which organises pro-life events
providing platforms for Alexey Komov, a protege of the Russian oligarch,
Konstantin Malofeev and another key figure in the Lombardia-Russia
Sanctioned by the EU and US for providing financial assistance to
pro-Russian extremists in Eastern Ukraine, Malofeev has been described
as "the Russian billionaire carrying out Putin's will across Europe",
and is also widely known for running homophobic conferences in Russia,
allegedly assisting the Front National in securing loans from a Russian
investment company, and seeking to build alliances between European far
Of course, this is not a trend isolated to Italy - politicians from across Europe have sought to find benefits in the economic potential of Russia's vast lands.
At the Yalta Economic Forum held this time last year, a coterie of representatives from Europe's far right and other radical political parties gathered to discuss investment opportunities in Crimea, despite the EU sanctions regime.
These included individuals from Austria's FPO, AfD in Germany, Belgium's Vlaams Belang and the National Front (now called the National Rally) in France.
There may be nothing in any of this.
After all, Russia is a global superpower with economic and political influence that extends well beyond the reach of almost any other country.
In an uncertain and turbulent world, of course it makes sense to form global alliances that could potentially offer economic and security benefits.
But perhaps it is the blurring of lines between the business and the political that should make us uneasy.
This is not just politicians drumming up investment support or opening doors for businesses - there are examples here of direct ownership and personal investment, with allegations of more serious divergence of cash directly into the coffers of political parties.
Dig deeper behind the curtain of business interests in Russia and we find an intricate web of cultural, political and ideological ties, which make it difficult to be sure how much of the pro-Russian rhetoric deployed by some of the individuals involved is for their own personal benefit or because they genuinely believe it is in their party's interest - or their country's.
Does it matter, for example, that d'Amico, owner of the undeclared Russian company, travelled to Russia to observe the recent presidential elections there?
Or that he had previously been one of the observers to the hugely sensitive public vote on the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2016?
Is it concerning that the company's co-owner, Savoini, who is at the centre of the latest allegations related to Russian funding of the League, confirmed to the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that he has been present at meetings between Salvini and members of Russia's national security council.
Politicians' business interests have long been a matter for public scrutiny, but the systems to record these - and hold those individuals to account who vie for the power to take decisions on the future direction of their country - must now be strengthened.
That means introducing tough rules that comply with the principles set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Paris-based club of wealth nations.
These ought to include ensuring clear and comprehensive asset declaration and conflict of interest rules, regular required updates (at least annually), proper monitoring and enforcement, a sanctions regime that can lead to loss of office for a serious breach, and the easy access of this information to the public.
How can we be sure those holding public office are not acting in the interests of their business dealings if we simply do not know what these are?
A series of weak systems across the continent leaves European democracy ripe for exploitation.
And if we cannot act to protect that, we're facing a very dangerous future.
Amy Richards, who wrote this report for the EUOnserver is director of Global Witness, a London-based NGO, whose mission is 'exposing the economic networks behind conflict, corruption, and environmental abuse
Spring has come early to the Netherlands. With a sunny weekend behind
us, it looks as though the good weather won’t let up for the next few
days. Some Dutch weather records might even be broken, with forecasts predicting temperatures in the vicinity of 20C.
The southeast of the country can count on the highest temperatures these
coming few days. If temperatures do reach 20C, the weather record of
the fewest days since it was last 20C, could be broken. The record now
stands at 134 days between October 26, 2013 and March 9, 2014. It would
also be one of the few years that such high temperatures have been
measured this early on in the year. The record for the earliest date in
the year that it reached 20C belongs to 1990, when temperatures hit
20,4C in South Limburg on February 24.
Near-final results from Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Moldova
showed no party secured a majority, a result that could leave the former
Soviet republic in limbo between pro-Western and pro-Russia forces.
97 percent of the votes counted early Monday, the broadly pro-Russia
opposition Socialists had 31.5 percent, while the pro-European group
ACUM had 25.9 percent. The incumbent Democratic Party was trailing in
third place with 24.1 percent.
The election comes as the
Democratic Party’s governing alliance has lost support over rampant
corruption, falling living standards and the erosion of democracy in
Moldova, a small landlocked nation between Romania and Ukraine.
President Igor Dodon forecast another election in the coming months.
“We have a major risk of early elections,” he said after casting his
An inconclusive outcome could lead to instability, and
Dodon and pro-Europe leader Maia Sandu have warned of demonstrations if
elections are found to be marred by fraud.
If lawmakers fail to
form a governing coalition within 45 days of the election result, the
president will dissolve the legislature and call a new vote.
More than 3 million voters were eligible to choose representatives
for the next four years to the 101-seat legislature. Parties needed to
win a minimum of 6 percent of the ballots to enter Parliament.
Election authorities said voter turnout was just over 49 percent when polls closed.
ACUM party leader Maia Sandu told The Associated Press that the election was “the most undemocratic in the history of Moldova.”
gang of thieves ... has captured the state institutions” and are
“scaring ... threatening and impoverishing us,” Sandu said Sunday as she
urged Moldovans to vote.
One voter, Svetlana Druta, said she had voted to change the judicial system.
need to start from the top and then (change) elementary schools and
kindergartens, and then we need a good health” system, she said.
year, the European Parliament called Moldova “a state captured by
oligarchic interests.” The European Union also froze aid to Moldova
after a local court invalidated the 2018 Chisinau mayoral election on a
technicality, a move to thwart the apparent victory of a pro-Europe
But Vladimir Plahotniuc, the Democratic Party chief and the country’s
de facto leader, insisted Sunday that the ruling party had brought
“order and discipline” through its economic policies.
Despite that claim, an estimated 1 million Moldovans have moved abroad to find jobs, mainly in the EU and Russia.
voting system has been changed in what critics say is a ploy to help
the two main parties — the Socialists and the Democrats — carve up
About 340 international observers from 38 countries monitored the ballot.
Saudi King Salman has called for a unified international effort to
stop Iran’s support for armed militias, interference in the affairs of
other countries, and its nuclear and ballistic programs.
The King said during the first EU-Arab League summit
on Sunday being held in Egypt at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh,
that Tehran’s support for the Houthis in Yemen, and other militias in
the region, as well as its aggressive practices and blatant interference
in the affairs of other countries, require a unified international
stance to force Iran to abide by international law.
added that the Kingdom stresses the importance of a political solution
to the Yemeni crisis on the basis of the Gulf initiative, the results of
the Yemeni national dialogue, and Security Council resolution 2216.
Kingdom had made great efforts to ensure the success of the Sweden
negotiations and called for the follow-up of the implementation of what
had been agreed upon in those talks and to hold the Iranian-backed
terrorist militias responsible for the situation in Yemen,” the King
said at the summit.
The Saudi monarch also
described the Palestinian issue a priority among Arab countries and
referenced last year’s Arab League Summit in Dhahran which was renamed
the “Jerusalem Summit.”
He reiterated Saudi Arabia’s steadfast position
toward restoring all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
Salman said that Saudi Arabia, like many other countries, has suffered
from terrorism and has spearheaded many international efforts to combat
it at all levels. According to the King’s speech, this included efforts
in drying up terror groups’ financial resources and stressing the
importance of continuing joint action against terror financing and money
He also spoke on the refugee
and migrant crisis, saying that the displacement of people due to wars
and conflict remained at the top of pressing humanitarian issues.
“We hope that this summit will help to find solutions for them,” the King said.
added that Saudi Arabia has provided more than $35 bln in aid to more
than 80 countries in the humanitarian, charitable and developmental
Note EU-Digest:Unfortunately King Salman during his presentation kept silent, nor give any explanation or excuse for the brutal murder by the Kingdom of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who is leading an
international human rights inquiry into the murder, visited Turkey
between 28 January and 3 February.
The EU’s 27 ambassadors met on February 21 to assess the Brexit talks that took place in Brussels earlier in the week and are awaiting any progress in the discussions that are planned to take place in the week, EU sources confirm.
The European Union’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier,debriefed the bloc’s ambassadors about the talks between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and UK Prime Minister Theresa May on February 20, as well as a discussion Juncker had with his team on the EU side with the UK’ Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Stephen Barclay and Britain’s Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.
After assessing the meetings, the UK side has pushed forward the ‘guarantees’ that were agreed upon during the February 20 talks between Juncker and May.
“Yesterday, the Prime Minister reiterated that the simplest way to get legally binding changes to the (Irish) backstop is to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement. That remains the (UK) government’s position,” said the spokesman from the Department for Exiting the European Union, adding that the focus of the two will now be on “guarantees relating to the backstop that underline, once again, its temporary nature and give an appropriate legal assurance to both sides, as well as alternative arrangements and a political declaration, to reach a mutually acceptable agreement”.
The issue of the Irish backstop has been one of the most contentious issues that have plagued the still-unresolved negotiations between Brussels and London. The backstop is designed as an insurance policy, that, in the event that the two sides cannot reach an agreement before the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU, Northern Ireland will remain within the European Union’s regulatory and customs arrangements indefinitely to prevent the emergence of a hard border.
Barclay and Cox “held productive talks with Barnier and his team” to discuss both sides’ current talking points and to reposition their focus on what can be done to conclude a “successful” deal as soon as possible.
“There was an agreement that the talks should now continue urgently at a technical level until the teams of the chief negotiators meet again early next week. Meanwhile, the Attorney General (Cox) will explore further legal options with Barnier’s team.
The EU’s position, at this point, is clear in that the bloc’s approach to the backstop remains unchanged and the leaders of the European Union are determined not to hold a special ‘Brexit Summit’ unless it is clear that a deal has the needed support in the House of Commons to pass. Thus far, however, the sort of consensus that Brussels is looking for from their British counterparts remains elusive.
Juncker has been very vocal in expressing the sentiment of many others all of whom have grown tired of the stalled negotiations, saying, “I have something like Brexit fatigue.” Juncker still believes that a no-deal scenario for the UK is the most likely given the narrow five week timeframe that London has to pass the deal.
“This Brexit thing is deconstruction, it’s not construction. Brexit is the past, it’s not the future” Juncker said. Focusing on his efforts in the coming days, Juncker said, “we are trying to deliver our best efforts in order to have Brexit be organised in a proper and civilised way that is well-thought-out.” He later went on to lay the blame on the British parliament for its inability to pass legislation needed to complete the Brexit process.
“Every time they are voting, there is a majority against something. There is never a majority in favour of something,” said Juncker “If a no-deal happens, and I can’t exclude this, this will have terrible economic and social consequences both in Britain and on the Continent…my efforts are oriented in a way that the worst can be avoided, but I’m not very optimistic when it comes to this issue.”
President Trump is on a collision course with his own party.
A growing number of Republican senators are openly criticizing
Trump's attempt to build a border wall without congressional approval,
paving the way for an intra-party clash that could prompt the President
to issue his first-ever veto.
Ten Republican senators have publicly questioned Trump's national
emergency declaration, which the White House says frees up about $8
billion in taxpayer funds for the construction of a wall between the
U.S. and Mexico, including Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of
Alaska, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Marco Rubio of Florida.
"I'm disappointed...with the President's intention to declare an
emergency to build a wall," Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is typically
committed to Trump's agenda, said after the planned declaration was
first announced Feb. 14. "Extraconstitutional executive actions are
wrong, no matter which party does them."
Jerry Moran of Kansas,
another loyal Trump backer, raised similar concerns last week. "If it
gets used this time, what's the next instance in which it becomes used?"
Republican insiders say several more members are privately skeptical, which could prove problematic for Trump as a measure
is set to be taken up in Congress this week to block the order
"The private number is way higher, around 25 or so in
total," said longtime GOP strategist Evan Siegfried, citing private
conversations with aides and members of Congress.
A congressional source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a
couple dozen Senate Republicans remain critical of Trump's controversial
order but likely won't vote against it out of fear of political
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and her fellow House Democrats just introduced a resolution to terminate President Trump’s national emergency. In coming days, the resolution will likely pass the House, setting in motion a process
that will force a Senate vote on it. Either Senate Republicans will
side with Trump, or they’ll pass the measure, after which Trump will
This represents a small challenge to
Trump’s corruption and lies — to his corruption of our institutions and
political system with autocratic and authoritarian conduct, and to the
deep rot of bad faith at the core of his willingness to declare a
national emergency to build his wall based on false pretenses and invented metrics.
move probably won’t succeed in terminating the emergency. But it points
to something we need to see a lot more of: discussion of concrete
proposals and actions designed to fortify our institutions and democracy
against Trump’s ongoing degradations of them, and to restore confidence
in them once Trump is gone.
The EU-funded College of Europe must clarify its financial ties to
Saudi Arabia, the chair of a powerful European Parliament (EP) budgetary
committee has said.
The demand follows revelations last week by this website
that the Saudis had paid the College of Europe to meet MEPs in a
closed-door briefing at the EP as part of what the post-graduate
institute describes as an "information or training exercise".
"This is clearly a type of action, which characterises a lobbyist
organisation," said German centre-right MEP Ingeborg Graessle, who
presides over the EP's budgetary control committee, in a letter sent on
Wednesday (20 February) to College of Europe rector Jorg Monar and seen
The Saudi-EP meeting on 19 February came less than a week after the
EU parliament had passed a resolution condemning the abuse of human
rights in Saudi Arabia.
It also followed recent moves by the European Union to put the Kingdom on a terror finance blacklist,
as well as an arms embargo by Germany and several other EU states over
the Saudi regime's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October.
"Bearing in mind that the College of Europe receives funds from the
EU budget, we as the discharge authority of the EU, need to have a clear
picture of your undertakings in order to safeguard the interests of EU
taxpayers," Graessle said in her letter.
chief Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party,
subsequently announced they were joining forces in a bid to oust
Netanyahu in the April 9 elections.
Opinion polls suggest their centrist coalition, known as the Blue and
White after the colors of the Israeli flag, could triumph over
Netanyahu's Likud at the ballot box. Three major corruption cases further cloud Netanyahu's future.
The increasing sophistication and power of state-backed cyber attacks
has led some experts to fear that, sooner or later, by design or by
accident, one of these incidents will result in somebody getting killed.
It might sound far-fetched, but a former head of the UK's
intelligence agency has already warned about the physical threat posed
by cyber attacks and the potential damage they could do.
"Nation-states are getting more sophisticated and they're getting more
brazen. They're getting less worried about being caught and being named
-- and of course that's a feature of geopolitics," said Robert Hannigan,
who served as director general of GCHQ from 2014 to 2017.
"The problem is the risk of miscalculation is huge," he said, speaking at a security conference in London
last month. "If you start to tamper with industrial control systems, if
you start to tamper with health systems and networks, it feels like
it's only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt and somebody is
A delay to Brexit is 'almost inevitable', Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon tells FRANCE 24 In an interview with FRANCE 24, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon weighed in on the current Brexit impasse, saying she believes it's "almost inevitable" that the process will be delayed. The SNP leader also insisted she had a "democratic mandate" for a second referendum on Scottish independence, saying she will soon reveal when she intends to call one.
The American people are tired of this. Trump has changed the
narrative on what it means to be "presidential." It's no longer about
being a stoic leader like Abraham Lincoln or a polished statesman like
Barack Obama. All those flowery words about hope and change went out the
door with the first black president.
A survey released last week
by a Washington, D.C., polling firm of 20,000 registered voters from
both parties shows the Democrats have failed to seize on Trump's
unpopularity. About 36 percent of Democrats polled said their party
makes too many compromises. And another 20 percent who identified less
with the Democrats plan to support a presidential candidate from a
different party in 2020.
Voters, whether they lean to the right or
the left, are hungry for leaders who keep it real and will take the
gloves off in a fight. They want populists who will push radical ideas,
which is why Trump keeps fighting for his border wall. His base wants it
and it guarantees him at least 35 percent of the vote in two years.
voters want politicians willing to do the same. That's why Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez went from bar-tending to legislating on Capitol Hill.
Ocasio-Cortez won because she is not afraid to push ideas such as
proposing a 70 percent marginal tax rate for anyone making more than $10
million. Polls show a majority of Americans, including conservatives,
Note EU-Digest: It all depends on the Mueller report. If there is no direct indication there was collusion between Trump and the Russians, the scenario in the story by the Miami New Times could very well materialize. However, if Trump is accused in the Mueller report of collusion, by having had either direct links with the Russians, before, during, or after the elections, his "road to hell" will only begin in earnest.
A hacking group that is thought to be linked to Russian military
intelligence targeted the European offices of two American think tanks,
Microsoft revealed late Tuesday.
Fancy Bear, the same hacking group that is believed to be behind some of the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee,
targeted The Aspen Institute and The German Marshall Fund of the United
States, Microsoft said. The German Council on Foreign Relations was
"We've seen and continue to see efforts by
nation-states and others to influence elections in democracies around
the world including in Europe," Tom Burt, Microsoft's vice president of
customer trust and security, said in a blog post.
NPR reports that The Trump administration sought to rush the transfer of American
nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the law, a new report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee alleges.
Chairman Elijah Cummings' staff issued an "interim staff" report
Tuesday, citing "multiple whistleblowers" who raised ethical and legal
concerns about the process.
"They have warned about political
appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisers at the White
House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump
administration officials to halt their efforts," the report states.
"They have also warned of conflicts of interest among top White House
advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes."
The committee's report alleges that the major drivers behind the
effort to transfer U.S. nuclear technology were retired Gen. Michael
Flynn, who served as the president's national security adviser, and
Thomas Barrack, who chaired Trump's inauguration committee. Flynn was
fired in February 2017 for lying about conversations with the Russian
ambassador to Vice President Pence and the FBI.
For about seven
months in 2016, including during the presidential transition, Flynn
served as an adviser to IP3 International, a private company seeking to
build nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia.
The whistleblowers told the committee that Flynn continued to
advocate for IP3's plan even after he joined the White House as the
president's national security adviser in 2017.
Energy Act requires that Congress approve any transfer of nuclear
technology to a foreign country. The committee's report states that a
senior director at the National Security Council (NSC), Derek Harvey,
"reportedly ignored ... warnings and insisted that the decision to
transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia had already been made."
The NSC's lawyers realized that Flynn had a possible conflict of
interest that could violate the law, the whistleblowers said, and told
NSC staff to stop working on the nuclear technology transfer plan.
Despite Flynn's firing in February 2017, the plan appeared to continue
to progress with Trump's support.
The committee announced that it intends to launch an investigation into
this matter "to determine whether the actions being pursued by the Trump
administration are in the national security interests of the United
States, or, rather, serve those who stand to gain financially as a
result of this potential change in U.S. foreign policy."
Shortly after the release of the report, House Intelligence Committee
Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., announced that his panel would be
coordinating with Cummings' staff to explore these allegations.
disclosure of a plan to sell nuclear technology comes as the United
States considers its relationship with the Saudi government in the wake
of the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi.
Following his death, the House and Senate have both passed
resolutions to limit U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led coalition
fighting in the Yemeni civil war. The Senate also passed a resolution by voice vote
— reflecting unanimity — that was fashioned to "hold Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi."
report also comes as President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is
scheduled to travel next week for a trip to the Middle East that
includes a stop in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the committee's report.
If you are a British expat or British national living in the Netherlands, the end of the
uncertainty regarding your legal residence in the Netherlands
post-Brexit is not yet in sight. The UK parliament voted down the Brexit
Agreement and a No-Deal Brexit is closer than ever.
Brexit: If there is a deal
The right of residence for Hritish nationals living
in the Netherlands or Dutch nationals living in the UK is no longer a
topic of debate. If an agreement is reached in time, it is likely that
the section on rights of residence will be taken from the voted down
Agreement. You can find an overview of your rights in the case of an
Brexit: if there is No-Deal
The Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has made known
what the rights of British citizens and their family members in the
Netherlands are in case of a No-Deal.
During the transition period
from March 29, 2019, until July 1, 2020, British citizens and their
family members legally residing, working and / or studying in the
Netherlands before March 29, 2019, will keep these rights of residence.
the transitional period, you will need to apply for a Dutch residence
permit. You will receive an invitation from the IND to apply for this
permit. To obtain a Dutch residence permit, you need to comply with the
requirements for residence laid down in EU Law:
Employees or self-employed persons must continue to be employed or self-employed.
Economically inactive residents must have sufficient resources not
to become a burden on the social assistance system of the Netherlands
and have comprehensive health insurance coverage.
Students must be enrolled at a recognised private or public
educational institution accredited or financed by the Dutch government,
and have sufficient resources to not become a burden on the social
assistance system of the Netherlands as well as have comprehensive
health insurance coverage.
Once you have obtained a Dutch residence permit, you are not
required to comply with any integration measures and you are entitled to
work in the Netherlands without a work permit.
British students will retain their rights to statutory tuition
fees and student finance if they meet the conditions applying to EU
After 5 years of legal residency in the Netherlands, you
can apply for a Dutch permanent residence permit. If you already have a
Dutch residence permit (temporary or permanent), nothing will change
If you have an EU permanent residence permit, the IND
will automatically change your permit to a Dutch permanent residence
permit. IND will inform you as soon as your national permanent residence
permit is ready for collection.
Do you hold another
EU-nationality besides your UK nationality? You will keep your right of
residence as an EU-citizen after Brexit if you continue to meet the
requirements laid down in EU law.
According to IND, you will need to fulfill the same conditions to obtain residency as any other non-EU citizen.
However, you will be exempt from the requirement to obtain a provisional residence permit (machtiging tot voorlopigverblijf
or mvv) in order to travel to and enter the Netherlands for a potential
This means that you can first travel to the Netherlands
and submit an application for residency after arrival.
it comes to Brexit, political initiatives have been tabled to allow British
nationals living in the Netherlands to keep their UK nationality when
obtaining Dutch nationality and vice versa. However, the outcome of
these initiatives is most uncertain.
Luckily, the current Dutch Nationality Act already creates the possibility to obtain dual citizenship.
In case you have any further questions relating to Brexit or dual citizenship, you can contact the Dutch Government IND office or a legal office specializing in Dutch immigration laws.
A coalition of 16 states, including
California and New York, on Monday challenged President Trump in court
over his plan to use emergency powers to spend billions of dollars on
his border wall.
The lawsuit is part
of a constitutional confrontation that Mr. Trump set off on Friday when
he declared that he would spend billions of dollars more on border
barriers than Congress had granted him. The clash raises questions over
congressional control of spending, the scope of emergency powers granted
to the president, and how far the courts are willing to go to settle
such a dispute.
The suit, filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco, argues that
the president does not have the power to divert funds for constructing a
wall along the Mexican border because it is Congress that controls
Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, said in an interview
that the president himself had undercut his argument that there was an
emergency on the border.
lawsuit, California et al. v. Trump et al., says that the plaintiff
states are going to court to protect their residents, natural resources
and economic interests. “Contrary to the will of Congress, the president
has used the pretext of a manufactured ‘crisis’ of unlawful immigration
to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars
appropriated for drug interdiction, military construction and law
enforcement initiatives toward building a wall on the United
States-Mexico border,” the lawsuit says.
Russia could be a Cold War-type "partner" for Europe, German leader Angela Merkel has said.
But US policy on Iran was "depressing" and its claim that German cars
were a "security threat" was "scary", she added in a speech at the
Munich Security Conference, an international congress in Germany, on
Saturday (16 February).
Russia had "illegaly" annexed Crimea, "attacked" eastern Ukraine, and
"violated" a ban on short-range nuclear missiles, Merkel said.
The EU ought to consider extra sanctions on Moscow over its recent naval aggression against Ukraine, she added.
But there was hope of returning to better times via diplomacy, she also said.
"After the fall of the Berlin Wall, we certainly had the hope ... that we could come to a beter cooperation," Merkel said.
"If we got Russian gas already in the Cold War ... and the old German
Federal Republic introduced Russian gas on a large scale - then I don't
know why times today should be so much worse that we cannot say: Russia
remains a partner," Merkel said, referring to the former West Germany.
Merkel spoke amid an EU rift with US president Donald Trump on Iran and on transatlantic trade.
Trump, last May, walked out of an EU-backed nuclear arms control pact
with Iran and has threatened EU firms with sanctions if they did
He has also imposed tariffs on EU products, including German cars,
which his administration has described as posing a risk to American
"We have to be careful about this split [on Iran], which is very depressing," Merkel said.
e."Look: we are proud of our cars; and we may as well be. These cars
are also built in the United States of America. South Carolina is the
largest BMW plant - not in Bavaria, South Carolina," she added,
referring to a German region and a US state.
The chancellor mocked previous US justifications of the tariff regime.
"If these cars, which are no less threatening by the fact that they
are built in South Carolina than by being built in Bavaria, are suddenly
a threat to the national security of the United States of America, that
scares us," she said.
She made an impassioned appeal for a return to normal US ties.
"We have to fight for Europe. We have to fight for multilateralism," she said.
Her views were echoed by a senior EU official and a former US one at the Munich event.
Eroding standards of democracy and growing political polarisation are
severely hampering the implementation of sustainable reforms. This is
one of the main findings in the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) 2018 study by the Bertelsmann Foundation.
SGI is an international
monitoring tool, which sheds light on the future viability of all 41
countries in the OECD and the European Union. On the basis of 140
indicators, we assess democratic standards, the quality of governance
and reforms in the areas of economics, social affairs and the
environment. More than 100 international experts are involved in our
The most recent study highlights how waning standards of democracy and
growing political polarisation hamper sustainable reform. Governments in
countries including the United States, Hungary and Turkey are deliberately stoking social tensions rather than seeking consensus.
The report shows that the quality of democracy in many western
industrial nations is waning, with democratic standards declining in 26
of the countries surveyed, compared with similar data from four years
earlier. ‘Even within the OECD and the EU, the model of liberal
democracy is subject to growing pressure—in some countries this means
that even central democratic and constitutional standards such as media
freedoms are already severely damaged or undermined,’ it finds.
With the national debt hitting record-breaking highs, Axios chief
financial correspondent Felix Salmon had bad news for MSNBC on
Wednesday: President Donald Trump’s tax cuts would never pay for
Host Stephanie Ruhle brought up the president’s insistence that his
tax cut will generate enough economic growth to pay for itself. “We know
it takes time for that to happen,” she said. “But why aren’t we seeing
“Because it’s not going to happen,” replied Salmon as Ruhle groaned
audibly. “No one believed that when they insisted it. No one believes it
“That’s not true,” she shot back sarcastically. “Republicans did.”
“We have seen actually that national debt increasing much faster than
even the pessimists thought it would when the tax cut was passed,”
Salmon continued, pointing to “massively” slower corporate earnings.
“All of this amazing new growth we were promised from the tax cuts isn’t
happening. It’s like a single one-shot sugar high which increases the
debt in perpetuity without really giving us anything sustainable.”
Note EU-Digest :
The US national debt topped $22 trillion in February, and it's the first time the debt has ever hit that threshold.
The record follows a year in which the budget deficit was $779 billion,
the highest since 2012, and the amount of debt issued topped $1.3
trillion, the most since 2010.
A debate is growing around how much the nominal amount of government debt really matters to the economy.
Spreading out the debt over each US tax payer would put every US taxpayer in debt by $ 134, 838;000
Vice President Mike Pence was met with silence on Friday when he mentioned President Trump at a security conference in Munich.
bring greetings from the 45th president of the United States of
America, Donald Trump," Pence said, before being met with a lengthy
Pence traveled to Germany this week for the annual Munich Security
Conference along with a bipartisan delegation, including Speaker Nancy
Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Coons
(D-Del.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
In remarks on Friday, Pence knocked North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, whom he said "still need to do more."
United States expects every NATO member to put in place a credible plan
to meet the 2 percent threshold. And, by 2024, we expect all our allies
to invest 20 percent of defense spending on procurement," he said.
Pence on Friday also blasted China and Russia in front of delegations from both countries.
President Trump's leadership, the United States has also made it clear
that China must address the longstanding issues of intellectual-property
theft, forced technology transfer, and other structural issues in China
that have placed a burden on our economy and on economies around the
world," he said.
Pence later noted the U.S.'s move to withdraw
from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The decision
to withdraw has triggered questions about the potential impact on
European security and the global strategic environment amid weakened
May suffers embarrassing defeat in Brexit parliament vote Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a defeat on her Brexit strategy on Thursday that undermined her pledge to European Union leaders to get her EU divorce deal approved if they grant her concessions.
The Netherlands is trailing the rest of Europe when it comes to reaching sustainable energy targets, according to new figures from the European statistics agency Eurostat.
In 2017, just 6.6% of the energy used in the Netherlands came from sustainable sources, but the target is 14% by 2020, Eurostat says. Luxembourg, where 6.4% of energy consumption derived from biofuels, hydro or wind power, solar or geothermal energy in 2017, has a 2020 target of 11%.
The Eurostat statistics show 11 EU countries had already reached their targets two years ago. In Sweden, for example, more than half the energy is sustainable.
The EU as a whole aims to make sure 20% of gross final energy consumption comes from renewable sources by 2020
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told DW that Europe would
welcome continued military cooperation with the UK after Brexit. She
shared the Munich Security Conference podium with her British
are working on a regulation — the so-called third-state regulation —
that gives access to countries like our British friends, which we want
to have in our European Defense Union," von der Leyen said. "This is the
goal to have our British friends as close as possible."
Von der Leyen was speaking after she opened the Munich Security Conference
alongside British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson. During his speech,
Williamson urged Germany to continue military cooperation at a European
level outside of NATO and the EU.
Trade agreements are very important to the EU as they are a key driver
of economic growth. In 2015 the EU was the world's biggest exporter and
importer of goods and services, covering 32.15% of the global trade,
ahead of the US (12.01%) and China (10.68%). New trade agreements create
new business opportunities for European companies, leading to more jobs
being created, while consumers can look forward to more choice and
There are concerns that trade agreements can lead to job losses in some
sectors due to the increased competition, but these deals always create
more jobs than they destroy. Another concern is that they could lead to
high quality standards for products such as food being watered down.
However, as the EU represents such a large market, it is in a good
position to impose its standards on foreign companies. For MEPs, quality
standards are always a red line in trade agreements and any attempt to
lower them could be a reason for them to reject them. In addition EU
negotiators often include clauses regarding human rights and labour
rights in trade agreements to help improve the situation in the country
we are trading with.
US-Europe tensions over Iran overshadow Warsaw Mideast summit Foreign ministers and senior officials from 60 nations gathered in the Polish capital Warsaw Wednesday where the United States hopes to ratchet up pressure on Iran despite concerns among major European countries about heightened tensions with Tehran.
Today the narcissist US President is calling for a national emergency to build a totally unnecessary wall, even though.some 40.000 people were killed by gunfire during the past year in America. More than in all other industrialized countries in the world combined.
Isn't that worth a call for a national emergency instead of one for a border wall ?
Come on America, putting armed guards in schools is not the answer. Neither is allowing the sale of military automatic weapons, or not presenting proper legislation to stop these massacres.
Organizations like the NRA, and all those politicians who are on the take from them, should be ashamed.
They not only have the blood of those innocent human beings killed in the Parkland shooting on their hands, but also the thousands of people who die every year by gunfire in America. Scandalous, there is no excuse for this.