Category Archives: European Union

German Intelligence: Pro-Russian Rebels Downed MH17 With BUK Missile Stolen From Ukrainian Military Base

Spiegel reports:

‘After completing a detailed analysis, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has concluded that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 19 in eastern Ukraine while on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

In an Oct. 8 presentation given to members of the parliamentary control committee, the Bundestag body responsible for monitoring the work of German intelligence, BND President Gerhard Schindler provided ample evidence to back up his case, including satellite images and diverse photo evidence. The BND has intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a BUK air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on July 17 that exploded in direct proximity to the Malaysian aircraft, which had been carrying 298 people.’

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AP reporter asks Admiral Kirby: Has NATO expanded to Russia, or Russia moved towards NATO?

Editor’s Note: The U.S./NATO never see their actions as aggressive or confrontational. Actions are always taken in the name of “defence” because they’re the “good guys”. Either they’re so wrapped up in their own moral crusade to “bring democracy to the world” (which is quite clearly bullshit when you look at history), or they wilfully refuse to see how the other side might perceive their actions because it’s to their advantage not to. 

Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, New Zealand and Spain win U.N. Security Council seats, Turkey bid fails

Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau report for Reuters:

‘Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, New Zealand and Spain won seats on the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for two years from Jan. 1, 2015. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela with 181 votes, Malaysia with 187 votes, Angola with 190 votes.

All three countries campaigned unopposed for their seats after being chosen as the candidates for their respective regional groups, but still needed to win the votes of two-thirds of the General Assembly to secure their spots.

The only contest was between New Zealand, Spain and Turkey for two seats given to the Western European and others group. New Zealand won a seat during the first round of voting with 145 votes. Spain beat Turkey in a third round of run-off voting.’

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Dutch and German biker gangs join the Kurds in the battle against ISIS

David Charter reports for The Australian:

Biker gangs join the fight against ISIS‘It is not just air strikes that the jihadists of Islamic State have to watch out for. Kurdish forces have received a boost from an unlikely source — Dutch and German Hell’s Angels.

Western governments avoided putting boots on the ground but that has not deterred Ron from the Netherlands, one of several members of the No Surrender biker gang who have joined the anti-Isis struggle.

A group has reportedly also travelled to the region from the Cologne-based Median Empire biker gang, made up of Kurdish Germans.’

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Romania president says PM was an undercover spy

Luiza Ilie reports for Reuters:

‘Romania’s outgoing President Traian Basescu has accused his bitter rival and likely successor, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, of serving as an undercover intelligence officer between 1997 and 2001.

Ponta dismissed the charge as “all lies”.

The latest row between the two leaders has flared in the midst of a presidential election campaign, which Ponta is expected to win. Basescu, who has served two consecutive terms, cannot run again and has thrown his weight behind a right-wing ally.’

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Serbia to salute Putin but sees future with Europe

Matt Robinson reports for Reuters:

‘Russian President Vladimir Putin is guest of honor at a military parade in Belgrade on Thursday to mark 70 years since the city’s liberation by the Red Army, a visit loaded with symbolism as Serbia walks a tightrope between the Europe it wants to join and a big-power ally it cannot leave behind.

The United States and European Union are unlikely to welcome the sight of Putin taking the salute at a parade of more than 3,000 Serbian soldiers while NATO says Russian troops are fighting on the side of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The East-West split over Ukraine, recalling the Cold War, has exposed the balancing act Serbia faces, politically indebted to Russia over the breakaway region of Kosovo but seeing its economic future inside the EU.’

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Europe urged to end plight of 600,000 ghost people

Emma Batha reports for Reuters:

‘European countries must end the plight of an estimated 600,000 stateless people by giving them similar protection to refugees, campaigners said on Tuesday as they launched a day of action to highlight the predicament of the continent’s “legal ghosts”.

Stateless people, who are not recognized as nationals of any country, are denied basic rights that most people take for granted. They cannot work, access healthcare or even get married. They often end up destitute or in detention and are highly vulnerable to exploitation.’

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Alarm at Hungarian Leader’s Power Tactics

Pablo Gorondi reports for The Associated Press:

‘[...] To the conservative leader’s opponents, the recent moves against the rights groups, including police raids, are attempts to silence some of the last critical voices left against his increasingly authoritarian rule. He had already concentrated power for his Fidesz party over many other institutions in Hungary, including the media, the courts and the central bank.

Fidesz was the clear winner in Sunday’s nationwide municipal elections, with the left-wing opposition making only some gains in Budapest and candidates from the far-right Jobbik party winning in several rural cities. With no other balloting scheduled until 2018, Orban can continue his transformation of the country.’

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The Return of Nicolas Sarkozy

Philippe Marlière writes for CounterPunch:

‘Midway through his presidency, François Hollande is on the ropes: He is the most unpopular president of the Fifth Republic, and his brand of pro-business and austerity policies is almost universally rejected by the French people.

The right should be in a position to mount a challenge to the weak socialist president, but that is not the case. The Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the main conservative party, is profoundly weakened by constant infighting and its leaders are also unpopular. A string of scandals and corruption cases is now threatening to engulf the party and is jeopardizing Nicolas Sarkozy’s desperate return to frontline politics.’

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Stephen Cohen: Everything in Ukraine Hinges on the Parliamentary Elections This Month

From The Nation:

Petro Poroshenko‘Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, has now formed his own political party, but whether or not he will control a majority of Parliament is now in doubt. As Stephen Cohen explained on The John Batchelor Show, “For Poroshenko everything, everything—the war, the political future of Ukraine, his own future, and the billions of dollars that the West is promising Ukraine to build and restructure—hinges to some degree on these parliamentary elections and whether he can build in Kiev a workable majority. He certainly doesn’t have it now.”’

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Union berates Bono for supporting tax breaks for multinational corporations

Henry McDonald reports for The Guardian:

‘Bono’s statement that Ireland’s “tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known” will be regarded with derision by Irish people suffering deprivation and poverty, one of the Republic’s largest unions has said.

Unite, which represents 100,000 workers on the island of Ireland, launched a blistering attack on the U2 singer for remarks in the Observer defending the 12.5% tax rate on corporations enjoyed by multinational companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.

“We are a tiny little country, we don’t have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known,” Bono said.’

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Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs in China, Germany and South Korea

Peter Maass and Laura Poitras report for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs in China and Germany‘The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use “physical subversion” to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents, leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also indicate that the agency has used “under cover” operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and that these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms. The documents describe a range of clandestine field activities that are among the agency’s “core secrets” when it comes to computer network attacks, details of which are apparently shared with only a small number of officials outside the NSA.’

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After 13 Years, President Obama, ‘Time to End Our Endless War in Afghanistan’

Sarah Lazare writes for Common Dreams:

(Photo: Win Without War)‘As the U.S. expands its air bombardment of Iraq and Syria, Tuesday marks another milestone for a nation at war: the 13th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, the longest officially recognized war in U.S. history.

“One of the dangers around the ongoing war in Afghanistan is that people have wanted it to end for years, so it’s as though we wished it away some time ago,” Peter Lems, Program Officer at the American Friends Service Committee, told Common Dreams. “Yet it hasn’t gone away. I think the real challenge is to acknowledge the true cost of this war.”

[...] The anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion comes just a week after the U.S. and Afghanistan signed the Bilateral Security Agreement, which paves the way for at least another decade of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. The provisions of the pact include: ongoing U.S. training, funding, and arming of the Afghan military; an extension of immunity to U.S. service members under Afghan law, and a green-light to keep thousands of U.S. troops beyond what President Obama calls the “end of the U.S. combat mission” at the conclusion of 2014. Furthermore, NATO’s status of forces agreement, also signed last month, grants similar privileges to thousands of foreign troops now slated to remain in Afghanistan past the end of this year.’

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Mali to UN: Consider a Rapid Intervention Force

Cara Anna reports for The Associated Press:

‘Mali’s foreign minister urged the United Nations on Wednesday to consider creating a rapid intervention force to fight extremist groups in the African country’s troubled north, warning that the region “once again runs the risk of becoming the destination of hordes of terrorists.”

Abdoulaye Diop spoke to the U.N. Security Council via videoconference the day after a peacekeeper with the U.N. mission in Mali was killed in a rocket attack. That follows the death of nine peacekeepers in an attack on Friday, the deadliest since the mission began last year.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has called the situation “intolerable” as French troops in northern Mali draw down, leaving peacekeepers largely on their own in the rebellious region. Ladsous told the council that the rate of attacks has increased substantially and that with the “quasi-disappearance” of Mali’s forces, “we cannot face the threat alone.”‘

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EU chastises Turkey over interference in courts, freedom of speech

Robin Emmott reports for Reuters:

‘The European Union reprimanded EU candidate Turkey on Wednesday for political meddling in the judiciary, saying a response to a government corruption scandal has harmed the independence of the judiciary and weakened civil rights.

The unusually harsh language by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive, raises questions about Turkey’s chances of EU membership almost a decade after negotiations were launched.

But in its annual report on countries seeking to join the bloc, Brussels said it still believes more talks are possible, recommending opening discussions on the judiciary and fundamental rights as a way to force Turkey to confront the issue.’

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IMF warns period of ultra-low interest rates poses fresh financial crisis threat

Larry Elliott reports for The Guardian:

‘A prolonged period of ultra-low interest rates poses the threat of a fresh financial crisis by encouraging excessive risk taking on global markets, the International Monetary Fund has said.

The Washington-based IMF said that more than half a decade in which official borrowing costs have been close to zero had encouraged speculation rather than the hoped-for pick up in investment.

In its half-yearly global financial stability report, it said the risks to stability no longer came from the traditional banks but from the so-called shadow banking system – institutions such as hedge funds, money market funds and investment banks that do not take deposits from the public.’

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Can China and Russia Squeeze Washington out of Eurasia?

Pepe Escobar writes for TomDispatch:

Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping‘A specter haunts the fast-aging “New American Century”: the possibility of a future Beijing-Moscow-Berlin strategic trade and commercial alliance. Let’s call it the BMB.

Its likelihood is being seriously discussed at the highest levels in Beijing and Moscow, and viewed with interest in Berlin, New Delhi and Tehran. But don’t mention it inside Washington’s Beltway or at NATO headquarters in Brussels. There, the star of the show today and tomorrow is the new Osama bin Laden: Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive, self-appointed beheading prophet of a new mini-state and movement that has provided an acronym feast—ISIS/ISIL/IS—for hysterics in Washington and elsewhere.

No matter how often Washington remixes its “Global War on Terror,” however, the tectonic plates of Eurasian geopolitics continue to shift, and they’re not going to stop just because American elites refuse to accept that their historically brief “unipolar moment” is on the wane. For them, the closing of the era of “full-spectrum dominance,” as the Pentagon likes to call it, is inconceivable. After all, the necessity for the indispensable nation to control all space—military, economic, cultural, cyber and outer—is little short of a religious doctrine. Exceptionalist missionaries don’t do equality. At best, they do “coalitions of the willing” like the one crammed with “over 40 countries” assembled to fight ISIS/ISIL/IS and either applauding (and plotting) from the sidelines or sending the odd plane or two toward Iraq or Syria.

NATO, which unlike some of its members won’t officially fight Jihadistan, remains a top-down outfit controlled by Washington. It’s never fully bothered to take in the European Union (EU) or considered allowing Russia to “feel” European. As for the Caliph, he’s just a minor diversion. A postmodern cynic might even contend that he was an emissary sent onto the global playing field by China and Russia to take the eye of the planet’s hyperpower off the ball.’

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Chinese investors surged into EU at height of debt crisis

Jamil Anderlini reports for the Financial Times:

‘As investors fled Europe in the worst days of its sovereign debt crisis, China-based companies moved in the other direction and surged in, with cash flowing from China into some of the hardest-hit countries of the eurozone periphery.

In 2010, the total stock of Chinese direct investment in the EU was just over €6.1bn – less than what was held by India, Iceland or Nigeria. By the end of 2012, Chinese investment stock had quadrupled, to nearly €27bn, according to figures compiled by Deutsche Bank.

The buying spree, analysts say, was nothing short of a transformation of the model of Chinese outbound investment. It is expected to increase steadily over the next decade.’

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S&P Warns of Greece Default Within 15 Months

Tyler Durden writes for Zero Hedge:

‘Remember Greece: the country that in 2010 launched Europe’s sovereign solvency crisis and the ECB’s own helpless attempts at intervention, which later was “saved”, only to default shortly thereafter (but without triggering CDS as that would end the Eurozone’s amusing monetary experiment and collapse the Deutsche Bank $100 trillion house of derivative cards), which later was again “saved” when every single global central bank made sure Greek bonds became the only yield-generating securities in the world? Well, the country which at last count was doing ok, is about to not be ok. Because according to none other than S&P, at some point over the next 15 months, Greek debt is about to be in default when the country is no longer able to cover its financing needs. In other words, back to square one.

As Bloomberg reports, citing Real News, S&P analyst Marie-France Raynaud said Greece can’t cover its own financing needs.’

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FIFA to face same scrutiny as ‘worst dictators on this planet’

Keir Radnedge reports for World Soccer:

FIFA headquarters‘Legislative changes are on their way so Swiss law enforcement agencies can keep a closer eye on senior figures in the international sports federations which have long benefited from the country’s famous – or infamous – confidentiality culture.

Roland Buchel is a one-time ISL employee who now campaigns, in his role as national council member for the Swiss people’s party, for transparency in sport. He has been scathing about the murky behaviour of some administrators as their sports grew ever richer through multi-million TV and sponsorship deals.

He told an ethics conference* in Zurich that senior FIFA figures will soon fall within anti-money-laundering legislation meaning they “will have the same status as the worst dictators on this planet.”

Buchel identified these as including world football federation president Sepp Blatter and all members of his 27-strong executive committee. Also coming within the remit will be Olympic leader Thomas Bach and heads of other major world sports federations headquartered in Switzerland.’

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Former official charged over Greek Olympic venues

The Associated Press reports:

‘Greek prosecutors have brought criminal mismanagement charges against a former official responsible for the post-Olympic use of costly venues that languished for years after the 2004 Athens Games. Constantinos Matalas, who headed the now-defunct state-run Olympic Properties SA in 2008, faces a jail term of 5 to 10 years, if convicted.

Prosecutors Sotiris Boygioukos and Eleni Siskou also asked Parliament to lift the immunity of Matalas’ successor, Dionysis Stamenitis, who is now a lawmaker with the governing conservative New Democracy party, to allow his prosecution on the same charges. Greece hosted the 2004 Games after a mad, last-minute rush to complete the venues in time. But for years thereafter most of the purpose-built installations languished unused and poorly maintained.’

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The Decline of the French Press

Serge Halimi, head of Le Monde diplomatique, writes for CounterPunch:

‘[...] Publishers now publicly adore their owners — the director of Le Point said of the Pinault family, “I wish all newspapers, all media, could have shareholders like ours” — signifying a new deterioration in the balance of power between journalists and capitalists. Print media can no longer afford to turn down the charity of any rich investors who might condescend to pay off their debts. Libération is losing €22,000 a day, nearly 16% of its revenue. Last year, only two of the 18 French dailies listed by the OJD, which vouches for the sales of the French press — Les Echos and La Gazette des courses — grew their circulations, by 1.86% and 2.6% respectively. Sales of 240 of the 301 weekly, monthly, bimonthly and quarterly publications listed fell, in some cases significantly: by 21% for Les Inrockuptibles, 19% for Marianne and 16% for Le Canard enchaîné.

Reader disaffection has come at a time when advertising revenues are also declining — print ad revenues fell by 27% between 2009 and 2013. The captains of industry no longer invest in a newspaper in the hope of a financial return. “Serge Dassault,” said Capital magazine, “has been losing an average of €15m a year, for five years, on Le Figaro alone.Michel Lucas, head of Crédit Mutuel,has been losing an average €33m on his nine regional dailies in eastern France. Claude Perdriel was losing €5m before selling Le Nouvel Observateur. Bernard Arnault has made losses totalling €30m since buying Les Echos. François Pinault was the only exception: Le Point made a profit of €2-3m for many years but made a loss in the first half of 2014”.’

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NATO can put troops wherever it wants, says new secretary-general

Reuters reports:

‘New NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that the Western alliance could deploy its forces wherever it wants, apparently calling into question post-Cold War agreements that have been shaken by Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

[...] “Next year, at the ministerial meeting, we will take decisions regarding the so-called spearhead but, even before it is established, NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to,” Stoltenberg told the state broadcaster TVP Info.

“These capabilities already exist. We have them, and we can deploy them in individual regions. And this is only an add-on to what the alliance already has.”‘

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New NATO Chief Open to Russian Rapprochement

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The new chief, former Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg, says he believes there is no reason that NATO should consider its own strength a contradiction to a positive relationship with Russia.

How accepting the NATO hawks will be to Stoltenberg, who in his youth was an anti-NATO protester, at a time when many of them, the US in particular, are looking to ratchet up their hostility toward Russia.’

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Does NATO’s Outgoing Head Have Kurdish Skeletons in His Closet?

teleSur reports:

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a news conference in September, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)‘The secret story of how the outgoing head of the most powerful military alliance landed his job “has everything,” according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“It has the Kurds. It has the destruction of an entire TV station. Corrupt deals between intelligence agencies and the judiciary. The corruption of a Scandinavian country, Denmark. And the head of that country, the prime minister, doing a corrupt deal to get his job,” Assange told teleSUR English in an exclusive interview.

Continuing, Assange lamented the “whole thing, signed off, explicitly by Barack Obama.”

The story with “everything” is now a pending case before the European Court of Human Rights, but it begins two years ago, with the prosecution of a Kurdish language television station in Denmark.’

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Seeking Global Role, German Military Stumbles, Prompts Talk of More Defense Spending

Alison Smale reports for The New York Times:

‘In a spectacle that a leading weekly likened to a slapstick movie, Germany’s military, especially its air force, has repeatedly stumbled in recent days as it tried to ratchet up its international involvement by delivering personnel and matériel to forces battling Islamic extremists in Iraq and aid supplies to Africa to ease the Ebola crisis.

By Monday, when the latest failure of Germany’s limited air capabilities became known, politicians were demanding explanations from Ursula von der Leyen, the country’s defense minister, and pondering aloud the possible revision of what has long been a political no-go: raising the budget for defense spending.’

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France’s far-right sets sight on presidency

How Decentralized Power, Not Democracy, Will Shape the 21st Century

Parag Khanna writes for The Atlantic:

‘[...] Devolution—meaning the decentralization of power—is the geopolitical equivalent of the second law of thermodynamics: inexorable, universal entropy. Today’s nationalism and tribalism across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East represent the continued push for either greater autonomy within states or total independence from what some view as legacy colonial structures. Whether these movements are for devolution, federalism, or secession, they all to varying degrees advocate the same thing: greater self-rule.

In addition to the traditional forces of anti-colonialism and ethnic grievance, the newer realities of weak and over-populated states, struggles to control natural resources, accelerated economic competition, and even the rise of big data and climate change all point to more devolution in the future rather than less. Surprisingly, this could be a good thing, both for America and the world.’

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Spanish Independence Movements and the Recolonization of Southern Europe: Interview with Sister Teresa Forcades

Spain suspends Catalonia independence vote