Category Archives: European Union

Jeremy Corbyn Accused of Being Russian “Collaborator” for Questioning NATO Troop Build-Up on Border

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

The leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, called for a “de-escalation” of tensions between NATO and Russia, adding in a BBC interview on Thursday: “I want to see a de-militarisation of the border between them.” Along with the U.S., the UK has been rapidly building up its military presence in the Baltic region, including states which border Russia, and is now about to send another 800 troops to Estonia, 500 of which will be permanently based.

In response, Russia has moved its own troops within its country near those borders, causing serious military tensions to rise among multiple nuclear-armed powers. Throughout 2016, the Russian and U.S. militaries have engaged in increasingly provocative and aggressive maneuvers against one another. This week, the U.S. began deploying 4,000 troops to Poland, “the biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the cold war.”

It was in this context that Corbyn said it is “unfortunate that troops have gone up to the border on both sides,” adding that “he wanted to see better relations between Russia, NATO and the EU.” The Labour leader explained that while Russia has engaged in serious human rights abuses both domestically and in Syria, there must be a “better relationships between both sides . . .  there cannot be a return to a Cold War mentality.”

The response to Corbyn’s call for better relations and de-escalation of tensions with Moscow was swift and predictable.

READ MORE…

Davos Wonders If It’s Part of the Problem

Matthew Campbell and Simon Kennedy report for Bloomberg:

Davos illustration: Alpine disconnectKenneth Rogoff can pinpoint the moment he started to grow concerned Donald Trumpwould be the next U.S. president: It was when Rogoff’s fellow attendees at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting last January said it could never happen. “A joke I’ve told 1,000 people in the months since leaving Davos is that the conventional wisdom of Davos is always wrong,” says the Harvard professor and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. “No matter how improbable, the event most likely to happen is the opposite of whatever the Davos consensus is.”

The repeated failure of business and political elites to predict what’s coming—last year, that included the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union—doesn’t strike those returning this month to the Swiss Alps as very funny. After a year in which political upsets roiled financial markets and killed off the careers of once-dominant Davos-going politicians, the concern for delegates attending this year’s meeting isn’t that their forecasts are often wrong, but that their worldview is.

In its four decades of existence, the WEF has nurtured a broad consensus in favor of globalization and open markets. At its core is the notion that capital, goods, and people should be able to move freely across borders, a principle that can deliver huge benefits to those with education and money but seems terrifying to those without either. For the 3,000 people who will convene in the small Swiss town from Jan. 17 to 20, the 2017 event could be a moment of reckoning. At speakers’ podiums, coffee bars, and the ubiquitous late-night parties, they’ll be asking themselves whether Davos has become, at best, the world’s most expensive intellectual feedback loop—and, at worst, part of the problem.

READ MORE…

Nomi Prins: My Political-Financial Road Map for 2017

Nomi Prins, former managing director at Goldman Sachs and author of All The Presidents’ Bankers, writes:

Happy New Year! May yours be peaceful, safe and impactful!

As tumultuous as last year was from a global political perspective on the back of a rocky start market-wise, 2017 will be much more so. The central bank subsidization of the financial system (especially in the US and Europe) that began with the Fed invoking zero interest rate policy in 2008, gave way to international distrust of the enabling status quo that unfolded in different ways across the planet. My prognosis is for more destabilization, financially and politically.  In other words, the world’s a mess.

Over 2016, I circled the earth to gain insight and share my thoughts on this path from financial crisis to central bank market manipulation to geo-political fall out, while researching my new book, Artisans of Money. (I’m pressing to hand in my manuscript by February 28th – the book should emerge in the Fall.)

I traveled through countries Mexico, Brazil, China, Japan, England and Germany, nations epitomizing various elements of the artisanal money effect. I spoke with farmers, teachers and truck-drivers as well as politicians, private and central bankers. I explored that chasm between news and reality to investigate the ways in which elite power endlessly permeates the existence of regular people.

In last year’s roadmap, I wrote we were in a “transitional phase of geo-political-monetary power struggles, capital flow decisions, and fundamental economic choices. This remains a period of artisanal (central bank fabricated) money, high volatility, low growth, excessive wealth inequality, extreme speculation, and policies that preserve the appearance of big bank liquidity and concentration at the expense of long-term stability.”

That happened. Going forward, as always, there’s endless amount of information to process. The state of economies, citizens and governments remains more precarious than ever. Major areas on the upcoming docket include – central bank desperation, corporate defaults and related job losses, economic impact of political isolationism, conservatism and deregulation, South America’s woes, Europe’s EU voter rejections, and the ongoing power shift from the West to the East.

For now, I’d like to share with you some specific items – which are by no means exhaustive, that I’ll be analyzing in 2017.

READ MORE…

The Long and Painful Journey to World Disorder

Martin Wolf, influential journalist and regular attendee at Bilderberg and Davos, writes for The Financial Times:

It is not true that humanity cannot learn from history. It can and, in the case of the lessons of the dark period between 1914 and 1945, the west did. But it seems to have forgotten those lessons. We are living, once again, in an era of strident nationalism and xenophobia. The hopes of a brave new world of progress, harmony and democracy, raised by the market opening of the 1980s and the collapse of Soviet communism between 1989 and 1991, have turned into ashes.

What lies ahead for the US, creator and guarantor of the postwar liberal order, soon to be governed by a president who repudiates permanent alliances, embraces protectionism and admires despots? What lies ahead for a battered EU, contemplating the rise of “illiberal democracy” in the east, Brexit and the possibility of Marine Le Pen’s election to the French presidency?

What lies ahead now that Vladimir Putin’s irredentist Russia exerts increasing influence on the world and China has announced that Xi Jinping is not first among equals but a “core leader”?

READ MORE…

Get Ready For Another Year of Global Tumult

Stephen Collinson reports for CNN:

Image result for Get ready for another year of global tumultThe political tumult that rocked the world in 2016 might be an appetizer for 2017.

Crucial elections loom this year in France and Germany, where the same anti-establishment backlash that produced Donald Trump and Brexit could offer an opening to nationalist leaders who oppose Muslim immigration and further erode the European unity that has been a signature of the post-World War II era.

The Middle East is spiraling deeper into the mire of fraying borders and sectarian disorder while violence in places such Syria is unleashing a tide of desperate refugees that is destabilizing Europe. Meanwhile, rising powers such as China, Russia and Iran are closely watching the developments to determine whether the convulsions in the West give them an opening to advance their own interests.

Of course, the 15 years since the September 11 attacks have been dominated by war, strife and economic disruption. But what makes 2017 so unique is that America — long a force for stability — is poised to inaugurate one of the most impulsive presidents ever to walk into the Oval Office.

READ MORE…

It’s the ‘Most Volatile’ Year for Political Risk Since WWII, Eurasia Group Says

Rainer Buergin reports for Bloomberg:

Image result for It’s the ‘Most Volatile’ Year for Political Risk Since WWII, Eurasia Group SaysU.S. unilateralism under Donald Trump, China’s growing assertiveness and a weakened German Chancellor Angela Merkel will make 2017 the “most volatile” year for political risk since World War II, according to Eurasia Group.

“In 2017 we enter a period of geopolitical recession,” the New York-based company said in its annual outlook. International war or “the breakdown of major central government institutions” isn’t inevitable, though “such an outcome is now thinkable.”

With Trump’s ascent to the presidency on an America First platform, the global economy can’t count on the U.S. to provide “guardrails” anymore, according to Eurasia, which advises investors on political risk. Trump’s signals of a thaw with Russia, skepticism toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and his “alignment” with European anti-establishment parties such as France’s National Front could weaken the main postwar alliance protecting the global order, according to the report released Tuesday.

READ MORE…

UK Companies ‘Linked to Azerbaijan Pipeline Bribery Scandal’

Jamie Doward reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Azerbaijan pipeline bribery scandalFour British companies are alleged to have played a key part in a multimillion pound bribery scandal involving a leading Italian politician.

Luca Volontè, a former member of the Union of the Centre party in Italy, has been accused of helping quash a human rights report criticising Azerbaijan, one of the world’s most authoritarian countries. The Observer has also established that one of the UK companies was allegedly linked to a scandal involving Russian organised crime.

Volontè, who is also president of the European People’s party in the Council of Europe, is being investigated by the Milan public prosecutor’s office for allegedly accepting €2.39m in bribes.

It is claimed that Volontè received the money in exchange for persuading the People’s party to vote against a 2013 report by the council, Europe’s leading human rights organisation, that highlighted the plight of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. He denies any wrongdoing.

READ MORE…

Jean-Claude Juncker Blocked EU Curbs on Tax Avoidance, Cables Show

Simon Bowers reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Jean-Claude JunckerThe president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, spent years in his previous role as Luxembourg’s prime minister secretly blocking EU efforts to tackle tax avoidance by multinational corporations, leaked documents reveal.

Years’ worth of confidential German diplomatic cables provide a candid account of Luxembourg’s obstructive manoeuvres inside one of Brussels’ most secretive committees.

The code of conduct group on business taxation was set up almost 19 years ago to prevent member states from being played off against one another by increasingly powerful multinational businesses, eager to shift profits across borders and avoid tax.

Little has been known until now about the workings of the committee, which has been meeting since 1998, after member states agreed a code of conduct on tax policies and pledged not to engage in “harmful competition” with one another.

However, the leaked cables reveal how a small handful of countries have used their seats on the committee to frustrate concerted EU action and protect their own tax regimes.

READ MORE…

The Right Is Emboldened, But It’s Not In The Ascendancy

Gary Younge writes for The Guardian:

Image result for The right is emboldenedWhen there’s a cloud this large and foreboding no lining, silver or otherwise, will suffice. This was a year in which vulgarity, divisiveness and exclusion won – a triumph for dystopian visions of race, nation and ethnicity. Those thought dangerous and marginal are now not only mainstream, they have power. Immigrants and minorities are fearful, bigots are emboldened, discourse is coarsened. Progressive alternatives, while available, have yet to find a coherent electoral voice. You can polish this turd of a year all you like – it won’t stop it stinking to high heaven.

But while the prospects for hope are scarce there is, none the less, one thing from which we might draw solace. The right is emboldened but it is not in the ascendancy. The problem is that the centre has collapsed, and liberalism is in retreat. There is nothing to celebrate in the latter but there is much to ponder in the former. It suggests that this moment is less the product of some unstoppable force than the desperate choice of last resort.

READ MORE…

The Enlightenment Had a Good Run

Stephen Kinzer writes for The Boston Globe:

An angry mob holding torches in a still from the film, 'Frankenstein,' directed by James Whale, 1931. (Photo by Getty Images)Democracy is in retreat around the world. From Poland and Turkey to Russia and the United States, voters have placed their faith in authoritarian leaders. This should not be surprising. In fact, it is remarkable that the democratic ideal survived so long. Three centuries ago, philosophers of the Enlightenment began telling us that reason is more important than tradition, and that people should shape their own lives rather than submitting to leaders. That was an audacious rebellion against all of previous human history. For a time it seemed to be succeeding.

Today’s cry of protest, though, is a rejection of the Enlightenment. Voters are making clear that they want to be ruled with a strong hand, not rule themselves.

With its emphasis on science, the Enlightenment reshaped the world. Modern prosperity is its legacy — but so is the social upheaval that made prosperity possible. Humanity’s immense material progress has not been matched by moral or political progress. Instead, leadership failures have set off explosions of frustration and discord. Even the two countries where the Enlightenment was born, Britain and France, are being shaken by reactionary movements that reject Enlightenment ideals.

READ MORE…

A Deadly Day: Russian Ambassador Assassinated, Berlin Truck Crash and Zürich Mosque Attacked

Amy Goodman speaks to Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of several books, about the three deadly events which took place on 19th December and the wider context surrounding them. (Democracy Now!)

Amid Finger Pointing at Russia, US Brings Tanks Back to Cold War Depot

Andrea Germanos writes for Common Dreams:

As President Barack Obama vows that the United States will take “action” in response to the allegations that Russia interfered with the November election, the U.S. army has started to bring tanks back to a Cold War site in the Netherlands as a show of its “commitment to deterrence in Europe.”

The U.S. and Dutch military reopened the Eygelshoven site on Thursday. It will contain “strategically prepositioned critical war stock” including M1 Abrams Tanks and M109 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzers.

“Three years ago, the last American tank left Europe; we all wanted Russia to be our partner,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, head of U.S. Army Europe. “My country is bringing tanks back,” and “[w]e are signaling our commitment and demonstrating the ability to prepare,” he said.

“That is what Eygelshoven represents. This is the manifestation of 28 nations committed to the security of each other,” he said.

Added Dutch Gen. Tom Middendorp, chief defense staff of the Royal Netherlands Army: “We want to make sure we are sending a clear signal to Russia that we will not accept any violation of NATO’s territorial integrity.”

READ MORE…

The Fear of Marine Le Pen: W​ill the Next Political Earthquake Happen in France?

Angelique Chrisafis reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Marine Le PenOn the wall in the new presidential campaign offices of France’s Front National leader Marine Le Pen hangs a portrait of Hollywood tough guy Clint Eastwood. He might seem an odd choice of pinup for Europe’s biggest far-right, nationalist, anti-immigration party, but Le Pen admires Eastwood’s “bravery” in voting for Donald Trump in the US election last month. Dirty Harry, like Trump himself, has become something of a feel-good mascot for the French far-right’s battle for the leadership of the country. Instead of a gun, the ageing but still snarling Eastwood is pointing a blue rose, Le Pen’s new campaign symbol.

Trump’s US victory blew apart any notion of foregone electoral conclusions, leading Paris’s mainstream politicians to warn that the world’s next political earthquake could happen in France. Le Pen winning the French presidential election in five months’ time – something that had always been seen as impossible – would be the greatest shock in postwar European politics.

The panicked warnings carry an element of admission of defeat from France’s mainstream right and left parties. For years, they have shouted that the Front National is a dangerous, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic party, yet they have been unable to stem its slow, but steady, rise. In fact, all the mainstream parties have borrowed Le Pen’s rhetoric on immigration and anti-terrorism in an attempt to compete. However, as Jean-Marie Le Pen – the party’s founder, a gruff ex-paratrooper and Marine’s father – is fond of saying: “Voters prefer the original to the copy.”

READ MORE…

Europeans Greatly Overestimate Muslim Population, Poll Shows

Pamela Duncan reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Europeans greatly overestimate Muslim population, poll showsMembers of the public in European states including France, Belgium, Germany and the UK greatly overestimate their country’s Muslim population and the rate at which it is growing.

An Ipsos Mori survey that measured the gap between public perception and reality in 40 countries in 2016 found French respondents were by far the most likely to overstate their country’s current and projected Muslim population.

The average French estimate was that 31% of the population was Muslim – almost one in three residents. According to Pew Research, France’s Muslim population actually stood at 7.5% in 2010, or one in 13 people.

French respondents were also widest of the mark when it came to the projected Muslim population in 2020. The average prediction was that Muslims would make up 40% of the French population in four years’ time, almost five times the 8.3% Pew Research projection.

READ MORE…

Italy: Referendum Result May Lead Nowhere For Italy’s Five Star and Northern League

Stephanie Kirchgaessner writes for The Guardian:

Image result for italy referendumThe tweet from Italy’s most rightwing xenophobe was enough to send a chill down any liberal democrat’s spine.

In the face of a resounding defeat of centre-left prime minister Matteo Renzi, Northern League leader Matteo Salvini wrote: “Viva Trump, viva Putin, viva la Le Pen e viva la Lega!” It was swiftly followed by a note of congratulations from Marine Le Pen, who said the Italian electorate had “disowned the EU and Renzi”.

It was clear from the high voter turnout – 68% of eligible voters cast ballots on Sunday – that Italians were indeed sending a message to the political establishment in Rome. But deciphering that message will not be easy, despite celebratory claims from Europe’s far right.

Italy is facing a number of big issues that were not technically on the ballot: a migration crisis in which the country feels abandoned by Europe; an unresolved banking crisis; steep unemployment and a debt load of 132% of GDP with no solution in sight.

READ MORE…

EU Energy Targets Will ‘Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions’

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

The European Commission has announced its new blueprint to phase out coal and energy inefficiencies, while supporting clean energy — but a coalition of civil society groups warns that the revised EU Renewable Energy Directive is fatally flawed.

And guess why? Because certain industries are not going to let go of their profits.

The campaign groups — Global Forest Coalition, Woodland League, Econexus, Biofuelwatch, Transnational Institute, NOAH, Corporate Europe Observatory, and Amis de l’Afrique Francophone-Bénin — point out that in the EU energy plan, bioenergy and waste account for some two-thirds of all energy classed as ‘renewable’. Most of this ‘bioenergy’ will also come from burning wood, both in power stations and for heating.

However, scientific studies increasingly prove that big bioenergy projects produce more greenhouse gases even than traditional fossil fuels.

According to Biofuelwatch, the EU’s cavernous demand for wood to burn for energy is directly tied to the acceleration of logging, land-grabbing from indigenous peoples in countries like Brazil and Ghana, and the conversion of more forests, farmland and grasslands into monoculture tree plantations. This has endangered biodiversity and caused “added harm to forests and people.”

Meanwhile, a new report by the conservation group Birdlife reveals that masses of protected forest areas across Europe are being felled to provide wood for the burgeoning biomass industry.

READ MORE…

Europe’s Green Energy Policy is a Disaster for the Environment

Michael Le Page reports for New Scientist:

Biofuels or fossil fuels?The European Union’s proposals for revising its renewable energy policies are greenwashing and don’t solve the serious flaws, say environmental groups.

The EU gets 65 per cent of its renewable energy from biofuels – mainly wood – but it is failing to ensure this bioenergy comes from sustainable sources, and results in less emissions than burning fossil fuels. Its policies in some cases are leading to deforestation, biodiversity loss and putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than burning coal.

“Burning forest biomass on an industrial scale for power and heating has proved disastrous,” says Linde Zuidema, bioenergy campaigner for forest protection group Fern. “The evidence that its growing use will increase emissions and destroy forests in Europe and elsewhere is overwhelming.”

On 30 November the European Commission unveiled a draft “clean energy” package for the period up to 2030. On the surface, these proposals address some of the issues with existing renewable energy policies.

But environmental groups who have been analysing the proposals say that the changes will make little difference.

“It’s almost worse than doing nothing,” says Sini Erajaa, the bioenergy policy officer for BirdLife Europe & Central Asia, who describes the changes as greenwashing.

READ MORE…

The Global Web of Nazi Power That Links Jo Cox’s Killer and Donald Trump

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

Mounting evidence shows that Thomas Mair, who has received a ‘whole life’ sentence for his brutal “terrorist” murder of Labour MP Joe Cox on 16 June, was radicalised by neo-Nazi ideology.

But an in-depth investigation commissioned by the hate crime charity Tell Mama (available here) reveals that this ideology has found succour with an astonishingly powerful trans-Atlantic network of far-right political parties and organisations.

So powerful is this far-right network, according to the Tell Mama investigation, that it has alarming connections to mainstream political parties across the world, from the Republican Party in the US, to the Conservative Party in Britain, along with several ruling parties in key European countries.

And despite its hatred of the European Union, ironically, the network has grown its reach by parasitically exploiting the EU system.

And with the election of Donald Trump to the American presidency, this network has just grown monumentally stronger.

READ MORE…

Europe’s Leaders to Force Britain into Hard Brexit

Toby Helm reports for The Observer:

Image result for hard brexitEuropean leaders have come to a 27-nation consensus that a “hard Brexit” is likely to be the only way to see off future populist insurgencies, which could lead to the break-up of the European Union.

The hardening line in EU capitals comes as Nigel Farage warns European leaders that Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National, could deliver a political sensation bigger than Brexit and win France’s presidential election next spring – a result that would mean it was “game over” for 60 years of EU integration.

According to senior officials at the highest levels of European governments, allowing Britain favourable terms of exit could represent an existential danger to the EU, since it would encourage similar demands from other countries with significant Eurosceptic movements.

READ MORE…

Trump, NATO Chief Pledge Alliance’s ‘Enduring Importance’ in Phone Call

Robin Emmott reports for Reuters:

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg agreed on Friday on the Western alliance’s “enduring importance”, NATO said, striving to reassure Europe that Washington will remain committed to its security.

Trump questioned during his election campaign whether the United States should protect allies seen as spending too little on their defense, raising fears that he could withdraw funding for NATO at a time of heightened tensions with Russia.

“The president-elect and the secretary general both underlined NATO’s enduring importance and discussed how NATO is adapting to the new security environment, including to counter the threat of terrorism,” NATO said in a statement after a phone conversation between Trump and Stoltenberg.

There was no immediate comment from Trump’s side.

READ MORE…

Steve Bannon’s Dream: A Worldwide Ultra-Right

Christopher Dickey and Asawin Suebsaeng write for The Daily Beast:

[…] Bannon’s support for European far-right parties runs far deeper than his interest in Marion Maréchal-Le Pen or the National Front. He brags about his international Breitbart operation as “the platform” for the American alt-right, and has for years been thinking globally, with an affinity for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Alternative for Germany (AfD), and the Party for Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, all of which have earned glowing coverage on the pages of Breitbart.

But the election of Bannon’s man Donald Trump as president of the United States has made the globalization of Breitbart and its message infinitely more plausible than it ever was before, and politicians once considered Europe’s deplorables are now rushing to bask in the gilded glow of Trump and Bannon.

On Saturday, Britain’s Nigel Farage, whose blatant and acknowledged lieshelped convince his countrymen to opt out of the European Union in the Brexit vote, visited the president-elect in his eponymous Fifth Avenue tower. 

Farage emerged from the meeting looking like he’d just won the jackpot at one of the pre-bankruptcy Trump casinos, suggesting that the new president’s “inner team” was not too happy with Tory Prime Minister Theresa May, since she’d been skeptical of Brexit before the vote. Would that “inner team” be Bannon? In our post-factual world, maybe we can say, “People say…”

READ MORE…

The Rise of Right-Wing Populism in the Western World

It might be tempting to view the political success of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as something uniquely American. But, argues Gary Younge, rightwing populism and scapegoating of society’s vulnerable is cropping up all across the west. This is what happens when big business has more power than governments. (The Guardian)

NATO to Trump: Here’s Your Marching Orders

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The election of President-elect Donald Trump in the United States has sent a shockwave through NATO, and fearful of losing US support for their latest costly attempt to return to a Cold War-era has set the alliance’s leadership on a new campaign of hyping the need for an anti-Russia campaign, with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg publishing a new article playing up the idea of NATO needing to be ready to mobilize against Russia in Eastern Europe, above and beyond the 300,000 troops already there.

Stoltenberg also addressed a news conference during which he pointedly warned against Trump’s talk of making US military force in Europe conditional on European funding, insisting that all NATO members have to provide “absolute and unconditional” security support for one another.

Stoltenberg insisted that the only time Article 5 had been invoked by NATO was to support the United States after 9/11, which led to an alliance-wide invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. While true, alliance members have constantly raised the specter of doing so to suck the US into major wars, including Turkey raising the possibility of doing so against Syria.

During the campaign, Trump expressed major doubts about the relevance of NATO in a post-Cold War world, comments which fueled considerable anger from officials deeply invested in the recent military buildups in Eastern Europe in recent years, and a major backlash which saw the rest of NATO crossing their fingers for a Clinton victory that ultimately did not come.

READ MORE…

How Teens In Macedonia Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News

Craig Silverman and Lawrence Alexander report for BuzzFeed:

[…] Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least 140 US politics websites. These sites have American-sounding domain names such as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com. They almost all publish aggressively pro-Trump content aimed at conservatives and Trump supporters in the US.

The young Macedonians who run these sites say they don’t care about Donald Trump. They are responding to straightforward economic incentives: As Facebook regularly reveals in earnings reports, a US Facebook user is worth about four times a user outside the US. The fraction-of-a-penny-per-click of US display advertising — a declining market for American publishers — goes a long way in Veles. Several teens and young men who run these sites told BuzzFeed News that they learned the best way to generate traffic is to get their politics stories to spread on Facebook — and the best way to generate shares on Facebook is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters.

As a result, this strange hub of pro-Trump sites in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is now playing a significant role in propagating the kind of false and misleading content that was identified in a recent BuzzFeed News analysis of hyperpartisan Facebook pages. These sites open a window into the economic incentives behind producing misinformation specifically for the wealthiest advertising markets and specifically for Facebook, the world’s largest social network, as well as within online advertising networks such as Google AdSense.

READ MORE…

Former NATO Chief Rasmussen: We Need U.S. As “World’s Policeman”

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Image result for America needs to be the world's policeman, former NATO chief saysIn a new interview with Britain’s Sky News, former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen brought out the old narrative of America as the “world’s policeman,” but with a lot more upbeat of an attitude about it than one would generally see.

Rasmussen criticized President Obama for not being hawkish enough, saying his successor needs to be much more interventionist, and declaring “we need America as the world’s policeman,” adding that the US needs to “restore international law and order” through wars.

Rasmussen, who was always a relative hawk in the post but seems to have taken it to an entirely new level, set out a series of things the US needs to fix militarily, including Iraq, Syria, Libya, Russia, China, and North Korea. This of course closely mirrors recent Pentagon talk of wars in the decades to come.

The timing of his calls for extreme US bellicosity are centered on trying to influence the upcoming US election in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who has campaigned heavily on picking fights in Syria and against Russia. Rasmussen underscored this fact by declaring Donald Trump, who openly said the US cannot be the world’s police, as “very dangerous for the world.”

READ MORE…

Brexit Court Defeat For UK Government

BBC News reports:

Image result for Brexit Court Defeat For UK GovernmentParliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU, the High Court has ruled.

This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – beginning formal exit negotiations with the EU – on its own.

Theresa May says the referendum – and existing ministerial powers – mean MPs do not need to vote, but campaigners called this unconstitutional.

The government is appealing, with a further hearing expected next month.

The prime minister’s spokeswoman said she would be calling President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to say she intended to stick to her March 2017 deadline for triggering Article 50.

READ MORE…

We’ve Seen Donald Trump Before – His Name Was Silvio Berlusconi

John Foot writes for The Guardian:

Image result for trump berlusconiWe keep being told that the Donald Trump phenomenon means we have entered the era of post-fact politics. Yet, I would argue, post-fact politics has been tarnishing democracy for some time. Twenty-two years ago a successful businessman sent a VHS tape to Italy’s news channels. It showed him sitting in a (fake) office. He read a pre-prepared statement via an autocue.

The man’s name was Silvio Berlusconi, and he was announcing that he was, in his words, “taking the field”. The first reaction was derision. Opposition politicians saw his political project (the formation of a “movement” called Forza Italia – Go for it, Italy – just months ahead of a crucial general election) as a joke. Some claimed a stocking had been put over the camera to soften the impact of Berlusconi’s face.

But Forza Italia soon became the biggest “party”. In the working-class Communist citadel of Mirafiori Sud in Turin, an unknown psychiatrist standing for Berlusconi’s movement beat a long-standing trade unionist. Berlusconi had not just won, he had also stolen the left’s clothes and some of its supporters. That first government was short lived, but Berlusconi would dominate Italian politics for the next 20 years – winning elections in 2001 and 2008 and losing by a handful of seats in 2006. In terms of days in office, Berlusconi ranks as Italy’s third longest-serving prime minister, behind Mussolini and the great liberal of 19th-century Italy, Giovanni Giolitti.

READ MORE…

TiSA Agreement Leaks Show Corporations Pushing Privatization of Public Services

Sharmini Peries speaks to Deborah James, Director of International Programs at CEPR, who discusses TiSA. (The Real News)

Deutsche Bank Was Given Special Treatment in EU Stress Tests

Laura Noonan, Caroline Binham and James Shotter report for the Financial Times:

Deutsche Bank was given special treatment in the summer EU stress tests that promised to restore faith in Europe’s banks by assessing all of their finances in the same way.

Germany’s biggest lender, which has seen its share price fall as much as 22 per cent in recent weeks on fears that it could face a US fine of up to $14bn, has been using the results of the July stress tests as evidence of its healthy finances.

But the Financial Times has learnt that Deutsche’s result was boosted by a special concession agreed by its supervisor, the European Central Bank.

READ MORE…

MPs Deliver Damning Verdict on David Cameron’s Libya Intervention

Patrick Wintour and Jessica Elgot report for The Guardian:

David Cameron’s intervention in Libya was carried out with no proper intelligence analysis, drifted into an unannounced goal of regime change and shirked its moral responsibility to help reconstruct the country following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, according to a scathing report by the foreign affairs select committee.

The failures led to the country becoming a failed a state on the verge of all-out civil war, the report adds.

The report, the product of a parliamentary equivalent of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, closely echoes the criticisms widely made of Tony Blair’s intervention in Iraq, and may yet come to be as damaging to Cameron’s foreign policy legacy.

It concurs with Barack Obama’s assessment that the intervention was “a shitshow”, and repeats the US president’s claim that France and Britain lost interest in Libya after Gaddafi was overthrown. The findings are also likely to be seized on by Donald Trump, who has tried to undermine Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy credentials by repeatedly condemning her handling of the Libyan intervention in 2011, when she was US secretary of state.

READ MORE…