U.S. oil company Chevron has suspended exploration for shale gas in northeastern Romania after hundreds of anti-fracking protesters tore down fences.
Chevron won approval to drill exploratory wells in the town of Pungesti, but halted work for a second time Saturday after residents blocked access to the site.
Hundreds of riot police couldn’t prevent residents from demolishing fences and breaking into the site. Dozens were detained and 14 were charged with destruction of property and carrying knives.
Chevron said it had suspended work “as a result of unsafe conditions” and informed police of destruction to its property.
Thousands of people have rallied across Romania in recent months to protest against government support for shale gas exploration. Chevron had resumed work at the site on Dec. 2.
British warplanes and other military assets will be handed over to European Union countries under sweeping plans to create what Conservative MPs believe will become a “Euro Army”.
David Cameron is under pressure to block the EU’s growing military ambitions, which Tories say pose a threat to Nato and could undermine Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States.
In what Conservatives fear could be an irreversible step, the Prime Minister is preparing to commit Britain to deeper military cooperation across the EU at a summit in Brussels later this month.
The deal would pave the way for developing a new fleet of unmanned drones, promoting the deployment of EU rapid response “battlegroups”, and drawing up new cyber warfare and maritime security strategies next year.
The warning from the world’s most powerful investment bank comes as political pressure for Britain to leave the EU mounts.
David Cameron has committed to holding a referendum on Britain’s membership if the Conservatives win the next election and some Tory MPs have been agitating for an early vote on the matter.
Michael Sherwood, co-chief executive of Goldman Sachs International, said: “In all likelihood we would transfer a substantial part of our European business from London to a eurozone location – the most obvious contenders being Paris and Frankfurt.”
Austerity measures imposed by international creditors on member states are eroding the social and economic rights of people, says human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.
“The crisis is both a context and a constraint on government policy but some responses to the crisis have created much collateral damage to human rights,” Nils Muiznieks, the commissioner for human rights at the Strasbourg-based watchdog, told reporters on Tuesday (3 December).
Muiznieks, who presented a report on safeguarding human rights in times of economic crisis, said cuts in public expenditure and selective tax hikes aimed a curbing public deficits have not achieved their stated aims.
Instead, the rights to decent work and adequate standards of living have rolled back, contributing to deepening poverty in Europe.
The report notes civil and political rights have also eroded as some governments exclude people on having any say in austerity proposals, provoking large-scale demonstrations.
Ukrainian riot police used batons and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of pro-Europe protesters early on Saturday after President Viktor Yanukovich opted not to sign a pact with the European Union.
Helmeted police bearing white shields, stormed an encampment of protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square, as they sang songs and warmed themselves by campfires, the opposition said.
Tension had been building since Friday, when Yanukovich declined to sign the pact with EU leaders at a summit in Lithuania, going back on a pledge to work toward integrating his ex-Soviet republic into the European mainstream.
The European Union backed down on Wednesday from threats to suspend agreements granting the United States access to European data, rejecting calls for a tougher stance over alleged U.S. spying.
The move marks an abrupt about-turn for the European Commission, the EU executive, after warnings it issued in July to U.S. officials following revelations that Washington had spied on European citizens and EU institutions.
Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU’s commissioner for home affairs, said she had found no proof of U.S. wrongdoing, either in the sharing of flight passenger records or in the tracking of international payments.
The crisis facing the younger generation across the Eurozone worsened last month as youth unemployment hit a new record high of 24.4% with under-25s in Spain, Italy and Portugal finding it harder to get jobs.
Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said on Friday that weakening growth prospects showed the country would struggle to improve its financial stability and generate new jobs.
A powerful cross-party alliance including former Tory foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is calling for an urgent fightback against spiralling anti-European sentiment as a new four-nation poll suggests the UK could be heading out of the EU.
The landmark survey of more than 5,000 voters in the UK, Germany, France and Poland finds British people far more hostile to the EU and its policies than those in the other EU states, and strikingly low support for British membership among people on the continent.
At the same time, the total numbers of people in Germany and France who support giving Britain a special deal on membership to satisfy British opinion are heavily outnumbered by those who oppose doing so, which suggests that David Cameron may struggle to achieve his hoped-for tailor-made arrangement for the UK.
Testing cultural opinions, the poll finds very few British people choose to describe themselves as European. In other EU nations, enthusiasm for the concept of Europeanism is far higher.
Kerry was a major proponent of the New START treaty with Russia, which the Senate ratified after a long debate in December 2010. As secretary of state, he has supported negotiating a follow-on treaty with Russia that could place further limits on the two countries’ stockpiles of strategic and tactical deployed nuclear weapons.
But Kerry knew last year that Russia was in violation of the INF Treaty. That pact, signed by President Reagan, bars development, testing, or deployment of missiles or delivery systems with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
[...] The exact manner of the Russian cheating remains unclear and highly classified, although there have been several reports that Russia has tested and plans to continue testing two missiles in ways that could violate the terms of the treaty: the SS-25 road mobile intercontinental ballistic missile and the newer RS-26 ICBM, which Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has called “the missile defense killer,” a reference to U.S. plans to expand ballistic missile defense in Europe.
The State Department declined to confirm or deny that it believes Russia is in violation of the treaty and declined to comment on the 2012 briefing with Kerry.
Citizens of three former Soviet countries — Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan — can work legally on the territory of one another’s countries.
And in a glass-and-steel skyscraper in Moscow, hundreds of officials at a new international organization have quietly taken over trade policy for these three governments.
After years of fits and starts, a Russian-backed idea to form a free-trade zone on the territory of much of the former Soviet Union is closer to fruition today than ever before.
Adding to the momentum was the decision last week by the Ukrainian government to hold talks on aligning with this group, called the Customs Union, rather than with the European Union. Two other former Soviet states, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, have also committed to joining this group, a sort of Nafta of Eurasia.
- EU summit shows no sign of reviving Ukraine deal
- More Than 100,000 March In Protest In Ukraine
- Ukraine’s Yanukovich defends policy, Tymoshenko declares hunger strike
France promised Tuesday to send 1,000 troops to Central African Republic amid warnings about the potential for genocide in the near-anarchic former French colony.
Whether the French forces will save lives largely depends on how far the foreign soldiers venture outside the capital, Bangui, to the lawless provinces where mostly Muslim rebels have been attacking Christian villages, and Christian militias have recently launched retaliatory attacks.
The French move comes less than a week after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned “the country is on the verge of genocide” and marks the second time this year that France has sent troops to a former colony in Africa.
With Italy’s unemployment at an all-time high of 12.5% and youth unemployment at a dismal 40.4%, young Italians might well think that now would be a good time to go back to school.
They might well be wrong.
A college or advanced degree may actually put young Italians at a higher risk of unemployment, according to economic data gathered by the European Union’s statistical agency, Eurostat.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano will not grant Silvio Berlusconi a pardon, the office of the head of state said Sunday, three days before a Senate vote on the former prime minister’s expulsion.
Italy’s upper chamber is expected to kick out Berlusconi, because of a law that excludes convicted members from Parliament. The conservative leader has been found guilty of tax fraud and is due to serve one year of community service.
Napolitano’s press office told the ANSA news agency that “conditions have not arisen” to grant Berlusconi a pardon. It also criticized the scandal-prone politician’s inflammatory remarks from a day earlier.
What they recommend is shocking to some, and ringing alarm bells around the finance world.
Sovereign nations are facing shortages of tax revenues, and public finance is in shambles. Multi-national corporations have offshored their assets to avoid paying taxes. The IMF report addresses ideas of how to tax the dodgers that are hurting public finance.
European Union Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said Friday a $317 million aid package to Turkey would help it with key reform efforts.
“These past weeks have seen positive developments in EU-Turkey relations, and I hope this renewed support will help foster further reforms that will contribute to the progress in the accession process,” he said in a statement.
The European Commission said Friday the funding would help Turkey build an “independent, impartial and efficient” judicial system and strengthen the efficiency of law enforcement institutions.
Turkey aspires to a closer relationship with the EU. The latest phase of accession talks — Chapter 22, dealing with regional policy — began Nov 5.
- EU official slams Erdogan for his “authoritarian leadership” over Turkey
- Turkish PM: EU’s double standards towards Turkey reduce faith in membership
- German parties say EU may not be able to let Turkey join
- Luxembourg backs Turkey’s EU bid
- President Gül: EU must credit Turkey’s energy role
- Minister: Turkey ’will probably never be EU member’
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the EU of “blackmail” in its efforts to get Ukraine to sign a major trade deal at a summit next week, hours after Kiev dramatically suspended talks on the pact.
Mr Putin accused the EU of helping to organise demonstrations that broke out in Kiev against the Ukrainian government’s move on Thursday to freeze the European deal and instead reopen talks on closer ties with Russia. More protests are planned this weekend, including by Ukrainians in foreign capitals.
The Russian leader’s comments prompted bitter mirth from EU officials – who believe it was “blackmail” from Moscow, including blocks on Ukrainian products and other threats, that persuaded Kiev to freeze the EU deal.
[...] Ukraine’s apparent U-turn… was a stinging blow for European officials after six years of talks. They saw the EU deal as a way of “anchoring” 46m-strong Ukraine in the west and implanting European democratic values.
Instead, Ukraine may be set to receive financial help from Moscow, which could ultimately lure it into a Russian-led “Eurasian Economic Union” of ex-Soviet states that some western officials call a “club” of authoritarian leaders.
‘No’ to closer ties with the European Union
That was the message from at least 15,000 Moldovans answering the call of the country’s opposition Communists to protest in the capital Chisinau.
Some elderly participants held religious icons aloft, to decry an association deal with the EU due to be concluded at a summit in Lithuania next week.
Accusing the pro-European government of telling lies to the people, Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin said: “They do not ask anyone, they ignore parliament and public opinion and they are intending to sign a secret document at Vilnius.”
He added that Moldova could receive cheaper energy from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan
within a rival customs union led by Moscow.
A much larger rally in favour of EU-integration was held in Moldova earlier this month.
According to opinion polls, just over half the population of the ex-Soviet republic supports an increasingly close relationship with Brussels.
For decades, the community of five allied states – the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom – has shared intelligence and at the same time pledged not to spy on each other. According to US congressmen Tim Ryan and Charles Dent, Germany should join the exclusive Five Eyes club as the sixth eye.
In a letter to President Barack Obama dated November 6, the Republicans requested that the president “essentially enters into negotiations to strike an agreement extending the Five Eyes Intelligence Pact and include Germany,” Dent, who represents Pennsylvania’s 15th district, told DW.
Should the president respond favorably and offer Germany membership in the pact, it would be a great show of friendship, the Pennsylvania politician added. “Things like surveilling or spying on leaders of each other’s countries would not be allowed,” Dent stated, adding there are probably other agreements that are not public. “But it would just further extend an already strong relationship.”
Defending their pensions from the threat of ever-deepening austerity cuts, as many as ten thousand off-duty police officers and state security agents in Portugal found themselves on the other side of the barricades Thursday night as they faced down their on-duty colleagues in riot control gear.
With a march through Lisbon that ended at the steps of parliament, the angry police and security union members broke through security fences, and even briefly occupied the entrance to Parliament before the night was over.
The proposed cuts in public pensions are being demanded by the nation’s creditors in exchange for a government bailout package received in 2011.
Europe’s unemployment crisis, now in its sixth year, has had a profound impact on young people across the Continent, and has become among the biggest economic, political and social challenges facing European leaders. Joblessness among young people is at historic highs, forcing many of them to leave their families and countries in search of jobs abroad, to accept temporary and underpaid work that often has little to do with their education and skills, and to readjust their expectations for their future. There is some evidence that Europe’s economies are starting to recover, but there is also growing concern that members of this generation may never recapture the opportunities they have lost. Their stories are about hardship, but also about creative adaptation and in some cases unexpected opportunity.
The New York Times asked young people in Europe to share their stories about how the crisis has affected them. Here is a selection of their responses; they have been edited and condensed.
Since the global banking crisis in 2007, commentators across the political spectrum have confidently predicted not only the imminent collapse of the euro, but sooner or later an unavoidable implosion of the European Union itself. None of this has come to pass. But the European project, launched after the devastation of the second world war, faces the most serious threat in its history. That threat was chillingly prefigured this week by the launch of a pan-European alliance of far-right parties, led by the French National Front and the Dutch Freedom party headed by Geert Wilders, vowing to slay “the monster in Brussels”.
Of course, the growth in support for far-right, anti-European, anti-immigrant parties has been fed by the worst world recession since at least the 1930s – mass unemployment and falling living standards, made worse by the self-defeating austerity obsession of European leaders. Parties that skulked in the shadows, playingdown their sympathies with fascism and Nazism are re-emerging, having given themselves a PR facelift. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French NF, plays down the antisemitic record of her party. The Dutch far-right leader has ploughed a slightly different furrow, mobilising fear and hostility not against Jews but Muslim immigrants. Like Le Pen, Wilders focuses on the alleged cosmopolitan threat to national identity from the European Union. It is a chorus echoed in other countries by the Danish People’s party, the Finns party and the Flemish Vlaams Belang, among others.
For now, the French and Dutch populists are carefully keeping their distance from openly neo-Nazi parties such as Golden Dawn, whose paramilitary Sturmabteilung has terrorised refugees and immigrants in Greece, and the swaggering Hungarian Jobbik, which targets the Roma minority.
According to some pollsters, the far right might win as many as a third of European parliament seats in elections next May. That would still leave the centre parties – Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Liberals – with many more members. But for the European parliament to form a credible majority, all of these parties might well be forced much closer together than is good for democracy.
Business activity in the euro zone slowed in November, a closely watched survey of purchasing managers showed, while consumer confidence fell for the first time in a year, underscoring concerns that the region’s already tepid recovery is fizzling.
Thursday’s figures, from data firm Markit, also highlighted a widening gap between Germany and France, the euro zone’s two biggest economies that account for half the bloc’s gross domestic product.
Business activity expanded in Germany at its fastest clip in 10 months, led by its export-sensitive manufacturing sector. France’s fell, fanning concerns that it could slide back into its third recession in five years.
Spain is on the verge of passing a draconian measure that threatens fundamental values of free speech. Faced with ongoing protests over economic conditions, the Spanish government is about to make insulting police officers and protesting without permission crimes punishable by fine greater than dealing drugs or prostitution. Not since Franco has the country turned so decidedly against civil liberties and free speech.
Once passed by the Spanish Parliament, citizens who dare to protest without permission will face fines up to $810,000. It would be better to sell drugs which are subject to less than five percent of that fine.
Harassment or insults can be charged with fines as high as €600,000. An insult to a police officer is now treated as a “serious offense” with fines of €30,000. Most people consider insulting the government or police to be a core exercise of free speech.
The concern is that, as economic and social tensions grow, such measures may expand throughout Europe.
- The great Spain robbery: Pensioners protest as they watch their life savings vanish into the banks’ black hole
- Moody’s says no ‘clean bill of health’ for Spain banks
- Spain’s Economy Is Main Risk for Nation’s Banks, EU Says
- Spain’s economy strengthens but gloomy mood lingers
- Caja Madrid ‘ordered staff to hide’ preferential share details from customers ‘duped’ into signing their savings away
- CAM bank former ‘top two’ jailed with 1.9-million-euro bail release
- EU bank VP probed in Spanish corruption scandal
- PM: ‘Spain is out of recession but not out of the crisis’
- Large rally opposes moves for Catalan independence
- Madrid seeks talks with Catalonia to avoid independence referendum
France has warned that the Central African Republic is “on the verge of genocide” amid escalating violence between Christians and Muslims and a humanitarian crisis.
The landlocked nation has descended into near-anarchy since the Seleka, a largely Muslim coalition of rebels, ousted President François Bozizé in March. Thousands of people have been killed, abducted or fled their homes amid the burning of villages in what some say is the worst violence CAR has ever seen.
“The country is on the verge of genocide,” the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French television station France 2. “France, CAR’s neighbours and the international community are worried. The United Nations will give permission to African forces, the African Union and France to intervene.”
His dire predictions come amid reports that CAR’s government, failing to keep a lid on its own troubles, is in talks with Joseph Kony, the fugitive warlord of the Lord’s Resistance Army, to surrender after more than two decades on the run.
Mr Fabius’s warnings echo those of the United Nations and other agencies in recent days, with the UN chief Ban Ki-moon calling for the urgent deployment of 6,000 UN peacekeepers to the diamond-rich country to bolster a force of 2,500 African soldiers that has proved largely ineffectual in curbing the violence. The UN Security Council is to vote next month on whether to dispatch UN and French troops to the strife-torn country. The US, though, has been more cautious in its assessment, terming the situation in CAR as “pre-genocidal”. It has pledged $40m (£25m) to bolster the African troops there, saying it does not yet see the need for UN peacekeepers.
Tens of thousands of Bulgarians have taken to the streets, rallying for and against the embattled Socialist-led government, underscoring the widening political divide in the country.
At least 10,000 people gathered in the capital city of Sofia on Saturday in support of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, who despite months of demonstrations calling for him to resign, pledged to stay in power and push with reforms to help the most disadvantaged and raise incomes.
Meanwhile, at a separate rally in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city, thousands of supporters of the opposition GERB party (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) demanded government’s resignation and early election, accusing the government of incompetence and graft.
The Socialist-led cabinet took office in May after a GERB centre-right government resigned, following mass protests over high utility bills and corruption. GERB won most votes at the May poll, but failed to form a government.
To appreciate the scope and impact of a joint investigative series by the highly regarded German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and German public television station NDR on the depth of American trespasses in this country, you don’t even have to read a word of the reports, or watch the videos.
All you really have to do is take a look at the U.S. Embassy rebuttal of the series. The multi-part, multi-media series was put on line beginning Friday morning, though some parts weren’t up until evening. And others are said to be coming during the coming weeks. The U.S. Embassy in Germany press office statement came out just after 3 p.m.
Nicola Gratteri, who has battled Calabria’s shadowy ‘Ndrangheta mafia, said on Wednesday that Francis’s attempt to bring transparency to the Vatican was making the white collar mobsters who do business with corrupt prelates “nervous and agitated”.
He told the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano: “Pope Francis is dismantling centres of economic power in the Vatican.
“If the bosses could trip him up they wouldn’t hesitate. I don’t know if organised criminals are in a position to do something, but they are certainly thinking about it. They could be dangerous.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed a crucial detail Thursday about last week’s nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva that explains much more clearly than previous reports why the meeting broke up without agreement.
Lavrov said the United States circulated a draft that had been amended in response to French demands to other members of the six-power P5+1 for approval “literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.”
Lavrov’s revelation, which has thus far been ignored by major news outlets, came in a news conference in Cairo Thursday that was largely devoted to Egypt and Syria. Lavrov provided the first real details about the circumstances under which Iran left Geneva without agreeing to the draft presented by the P5+1.
- US Official: ’Quite possible’ Iran, powers can reach nuclear deal next week
- IAEA: Iran Halting Nuclear Expansion Under Rouhani
- Netanyahu ‘unimpressed’ by IAEA nuclear report on Iran
- Iranian FM: Talks doomed if ‘nuclear rights’ not recognized
- Iran tells West wants oil, banking sanctions considered up front
[...] We now know that, in addition to at least one phone call from Netanyahu, according to a report in Israel’s Channel 2 on Sunday, Fabius also was called by Meyer Habib, a Jewish member of the French Parliament representing French citizens living in southern Europe, including in Israel, and threatened a Netanyahu attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Habib, who is also deputy of the Jewish umbrella organization in France, is known as a longtime Likud Party activist and friend of Netanyahu who has been considered the Israeli prime minister’s personal representative in Paris,according to Haaretz.
“If you don’t toughen your positions, Netanyahu will attack Iran,” the report quoted Habib as telling the French foreign minister. “I know this. I know him.”
The foreign minister of an independent state normally would bristle at such open diplomatic extortion by threat of force. But the French government has had the most pro-Israel and anti-Iran policy of any European state ever since Nicolas Sarkozy replaced Jacques Chirac as president in 2007. Despite the shift from the Center-Right Union for a Popular Movement government of Sarkozy to the Socialist government of Francois Hollande in 2012, that policy has not shifted at all.
Unlike the United States, where the pro-Israeli influence is exerted through campaign contributions coordinated by AIPAC, in France the presidency has nearly complete control over foreign policy. A small group of officials has shaped policy toward Iran and Israel for the past six years. The people who are now advising Fabius on Iran are, in fact, the same ones who advised Sarkozy’s foreign ministers Bernard Kouchner and Alain Juppe. “There is, in the ministry of foreign affairs, a tightly knit team of advisers on strategic affairs and non-proliferation which has played a major role in shaping the French position on Iran over the years,” a knowledgeable French source told Truthout. The direction the group has taken French policy generally has coincided with that of the neoconservatives in the United States, according to close observers of that policy.
At the center of that tight-knit group is the former French ambassador to the United States during the George W. Bush administration, Jean-David Levitte. He was appointed diplomatic adviser to Sarkozy in 2007. Levitte, who has been called by some the “real foreign minister” of France, has family ties to Israel and Zionism. His uncle, Simon Levitt, was co-founder of the Zionist Youth Movement in France.
This was not the first time that France has played a spoiler role in international negotiations on the Iran nuclear issue. Mohamed ElBaradei, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, recalls in his memoirs how the French delegation came to the October 2009 meeting with Iran in Vienna on a “fuel swap” proposal armed with “scores of amendments to our prepared draft agreement.” In that case as well, it appeared that the French role was to ensure that there would not be any agreement.