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Saturday, February 17, 2018

USA Global Image: Top German diplomat: 'We no longer recognize our America' - by David Rising

Germany's foreign minister slammed the "America first" approach of President Donald Trump's administration Saturday, saying that close U.S. ties with a strong European Union are as much in Washington's interest as they are in Europe's.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told world leaders and defense officials at the Munich Security Conference that with the United States no longer the only indisputable superpower, it makes sense for Washington to count on traditional partners in Europe for help.

"Our strength in Europe is not sufficient for this. Neither the EU nor the U.S. can go it alone. We have to count on our friends and our partners," he said.

Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, met one-on-one with Gabriel after his speech. McMaster reassured the forum that the United States still is strongly committed to its traditional alliances, but emphasized that "we must all share responsibility."

"International peace and prosperity depends on all nations," McMaster said. "For this reason, President Trump has called for stronger alliances and partnerships based on shared values, shared interests, shared responsibilities and shared burdens."

No country in Europe has benefited as much from American help as Germany since World War II, Gabriel said. He said the country "eagerly learned" principles of democracy, multilateralism, international law and free trade from the relationship with the U.S.
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"Maybe this can explain why we Germans in particular are so perturbed when we look across the Atlantic — because we no longer recognize our America," he said. "Is it deeds, is it words, is it tweets we should look at to measure America?"

He urged a return to greater joint cooperation, saying now is not the time for "just pursuing individual national interests."
 
Read more: The Tribune

Friday, February 16, 2018

EU Economy: Euro area international trade in goods surplus € 2 5 . 4 bn ($31.52 bn). December 2017

The first estimate for euro area (A19) exports of goods to the rest of the world in December 2017 was €180.7 billion, an increase of 1.0% compared with December 2016 (€179.0 bn).

Imports from the rest of the world stood at €155.3 bn, a rise of 2.5% compared with December 2016 (€151.4 bn). As a result, the EURO  area recorded a €25.4 bn surplus in trade in goods with the rest of the world in December 2017, compared with +€27.6 bn in December2016.

EURO area  trade rose to €142.4 bn in December 2017, up by 2.8% compared with December 2016

EU-Digest

Thursday, February 15, 2018

USA Florida Parkland shooting: - Many US policians have blood on their hands: The NRA and gun lobby invested millions in Trump and other Republicans in 2016 and they are tied to the NRA hands and feet

At least 17 high school students are believed dead in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The suspect, a 19-year-old former student, had threatened his peers before, and collected guns at home, students told the Miami Herald.

The US’s political response to these tragic incidents has become rote—Republicans offer up “thoughts and prayers,” Democrats demands new legislation that stands no chance of passing.

America’s gun lobby has deep pockets. The National Rifle Association and its affiliates spent over $50 million in political advertisements in the last US general election, boosting Republicans who promised to support the NRA and targeting Democrats who propose stricter gun laws.

In fact, the pro-gun lobby spent over twice as much to fight Democrats ($34.5 million), as it did to support Republicans ($14.5 million). President Donald Trump, who tweeted his condolences to Parkland parents on Wednesday, was the biggest beneficiary of those ad dollars.

Separately, the NRA and affiliated pro-gun groups donated millions directly to individual politicians in Congress as well. Paul Ryan, Ryan Zinke, and Martha McSally were among the biggest recipients in 2016:

The NRA has a dedicated lobbyist, Marion Hammer, in Florida. She has helped make Florida a “laboratory for generating new types of gun protections,” as NPR host Terry Gross explained last year.

This year, Hammer is pushing for legislation that would prevent local sheriffs from testifying for gun control laws in uniform. Meanwhile, Republican politicians in the state are pushing to allow guns in elementary schools and airports.

Read more: Parkland shootng: The NRA and gun lobby invested millions in Trump and other Republicans in 2016 — Qua

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

EU Policy: Why China and Russia will be best frenemies forever - by Sijbren de Jong

On 3 and 4 July, Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Russia for a two-day state visit that included his third meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the space of a year.

Despite what these visits and the pledge to forge closer strategic and economic ties between the two nations suggest – and much to the chagrin of Vladimir Putin – Russia features awkwardly little in China’s major strategic plans for Eurasia.

Read more: Why China and Russia will be best frenemies forever

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sex Abuse: hyped by the Media is among, but not the most important issue the world is facing today

Life's experiences can make you bitter, hateful,  resentful or cynical if you let them. It's even worse if you trying to build a relationship with the opposite gender and you already had some share of disappointments in your life.

Sometimes it's good to go through all those things for some individuals, because sometimes you decide there and then that "I wouldn't never put anyone through what he or she put me through. " .

And  sometimes it's not good at all for others because they can decide that "I will never let anyone put me through this again, therefore I will hurt them before they hurt me" and they just do that. Hurt or hurting people hurts people,

But honestly isn't that what life is all about? Maybe the best way to to label that is experience.

Unfortunately, the Media, and Government, which influence the majority of the population around the world, are now all riding on the bandwagon of combating  "sexual abuse"which now mainly focuses on celebrities, the Catholic Church, and most recently NGO's like Oxfam.

Obviously, it is important to combat sexual abuse, but it certainly should not be on top of the list of all the other horrors the world is facing today, like war, poverty, the causes of mass migration, or weapons industry.

The number of people displaced from their homes due to conflict and persecution last year exceeded 60 million for the first time in the United Nations’ history, a tally greater than the combined populations of the United Kingdom, or of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, says a new report released on World Refugee Day today.

The Global Trends 2015 compiled by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) notes that 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, an increase of more than 5 million from 59.5 million a year earlier.

The tally comprises 21.3 million refugees, 3.2 million asylum seekers, and 40.8 million people internally displaced within their own countries.

Measured against the world’s population of 7.4 billion people, one in every 113 people globally is now either a refugee, an asylum-seeker or internally displaced – putting them at a level of risk for which UNHCR knows no precedent.

In the past years Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia produce half the world’s refugees, at 4.9 million, 2.7 million and 1.1 million, respectively.

Colombia in Latin America had the largest numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs), at 6.9 million, followed by Syria’s 6.6 million and Iraq’s 4.4 million.

While the spotlight last year was on Europe’s challenge to manage more than one million refugees and migrants who arrived via the Mediterranean, the report shows that the vast majority of the world’s refugees were in developing countries in the global south.

In all, 86 per cent of the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate records were in low- and middle-income countries close to situations of conflict.

Nearly 1/2 of the world's population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day. 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

Like it or not, dear feminists, you might find sexual harassment a terrible crime, so do most most of us, but there are also other crimes against humanity, which are far more dangerous and deadly.

Harvey Weinstein, one of Hollywood’s most revered moguls and influential kingpins, who has been sexually harassing and abusing women for nearly 30 years, is a terribly sad case, but in reality his case is only a drop of water on a hot plate, compared to the results of wars, proxy wars, hunger, or poverty around the world.

Unfortunately those horrific events hardly ever get the attention they deserve because those problems are usually the the result of our own governments deeds and actions and are shoved under the table.

Not one Western Government, which has taken part in the Middle East wars has ever been asked  by their Legislative Representation to justify the destruction and enormous number of casualties suffered by the local population, and the total failures of these wars. 

"We the people" are really the only ones who can do something about it. This destructive policy of wars has to stop and we should not get side-tracked by the smoke-screens our Governments and media are applying to divert our attention. 

It is high time our governments get their priorities right.

EU-Digest  

The above report can be used
 only if the source is mentioned

Monday, February 12, 2018

EU: President Juncker to propose merger of EU Commission and Council presidencies

Could the next Spitzenkandidaten process elect a single president for two jobs?

Five months after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker first proposed combining the Commission and Council presidencies as part of his State of the European Union speech and a week after the European Parliament’s vote to retain the lead candidate – or  Spitzenkandidaten – process, the Commission appears ready to seriously consider the proposal.

“Europe would function better if we were to merge the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council,” Juncker told the European Parliament during his annual address in Strasbourg last September, adding, “Europe would be easier to understand if one captain was steering the ship.”

The move would transform the EU leadership and consolidate authority around a single figure who would campaign for the post, Juncker is expected to outline the scenarios for EU institutional changes over the coming years at this week’s College readout.

What is expected this week is a draft plan that will include the option of combining the presidencies of the EU executive body and the national government leaders.

Note EU-Digest: Good idea, if it also provides for a universal European election for the Presidency  and is open to candidates from different political parties. 

 Read more: Juncker to propose merger of EU Commission and Council presidencies

Sunday, February 11, 2018

US Economy: Budget: Deficits and Debt to Become a Big Worry Under Proposed Plan-by Shawn Tully

In a year or 18 months, it’s probable that America’s top-of-mind issue will no longer be the terrific economy. Using one of Washington, D.C.’s favorite words, the public debate will most likely “pivot” to a threat so gigantic it can no longer be ignored: The looming disaster of deficits and debt.

The latest signal that our fiscal future will emerge as tomorrow’s dominant issue: The new, bi-partisan budget deal forged by the Senate. The accord not only greatly increases discretionary spending over the next two years, it lifts the baseline for future outlays by double-digits, putting deficits and debt on a far steeper trajectory. Most of all, the measure is proof positive that both Democrats and Republicans, and President Trump, are in denial mode. The parties and the White House are all joining hands to make an already grave situation even worse.

The colossal budget measure passed both the Senate and House on the morning of February 9, ending a several-hour federal government shutdown that started at 12:01 AM. While Trump and Congressional leaders congratulate themselves for reaching common ground and keeping the government funded, their bill’s real legacy will be hurrying the issue of unsustainable deficits from the wing to center stage.

It ensures that two milestones, bound to spook the public, arrive a lot sooner than expected. Deficits will probably reach $1 trillion in the current or next fiscal year, almost double what the Congressional Budget Office had projected less than a year ago for 2018.

U.S. debt is now on track to reach $30 trillion over the next decade. That’s over 100% of projected GDP, well into the danger zone where investors demand higher rates to buy government debt. And if rates do rise substantially, the U.S. will rival the likes of Italy as one of the world’s most debt-ravaged nations.

Read more: Budget: Deficits and Debt to Become a Big Worry Under Proposed Plan | Fortune