Category Archives: European Union

How Education Level is the Biggest Predictor of Support for Geert Wilders

Billy Ehrenberg-Shannon and Aleksandra Wisniewska report for the Financial Times:

Image result for How education level is the biggest predictor of support for Geert WildersEducation, rather than exposure to immigrants, is emerging as the clearest nationwide indicator of the likelihood of Dutch voters supporting Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Party for Freedom, according to an extensive Financial Times survey of demographic and voting data from the most recent general election.

Mr Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) looks on course to win the most seats in the upcoming election on March 15, but is likely to be blocked from power after most parties indicated that they would refuse to join it in a coalition.

The PVV’s resurgence is part of a wave of populism that has swept Europe, capitalising on fears over immigration, growing Euroscepticism and anti-establishment sentiment.

The blond-haired populist paints an idyllic picture of his supporters, labelling them Henk and Ingrid.

In Mr Wilders’ words, they are the “backbone” of Dutch society: “Mr and Mrs Average with their own houses, one nice holiday a year and an active social life.”

In the eyes of Frits Bolkestein, a former mentor turned critic of Mr Wilders, they are something else: “People with a grudge. They’re unemployed, their daughter’s on drugs and their son has run away.” The reality is more complicated.

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The Dark Side of Liberation: Rape by American Soldiers in World War II France

Jennifer Schuessler wrote for The New York Times in 2013:

Image result for What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War II FranceThe soldiers who landed in Normandy on D-Day were greeted as liberators, but by the time American G.I.’s were headed back home in late 1945, many French citizens viewed them in a very different light.

In the port city of Le Havre, the mayor was bombarded with letters from angry residents complaining about drunkenness, jeep accidents, sexual assault — “a regime of terror,” as one put it, “imposed by bandits in uniform.”

This isn’t the “greatest generation” as it has come to be depicted in popular histories. But in “What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War II France,” the historian Mary Louise Roberts draws on French archives, American military records, wartime propaganda and other sources to advance a provocative argument: The liberation of France was “sold” to soldiers not as a battle for freedom but as an erotic adventure among oversexed Frenchwomen, stirring up a “tsunami of male lust” that a battered and mistrustful population often saw as a second assault on its sovereignty and dignity.

“I could not believe what I was reading,” Ms. Roberts, a professor of French history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, recalled of the moment she came across the citizen complaints in an obscure archive in Le Havre. “I took out my little camera and began photographing the pages. I did not go to the bathroom for eight hours.”

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Top General: U.S. Mulling ‘Long-Term Commitment’ in Iraq

Ryan Browne reports for CNN:

Image result for Top General: U.S. Mulling 'Long-Term Commitment' in IraqThe US military is contemplating a long-term presence in Iraq to stabilize the country after the anticipated defeat ISIS, America’s top military officer said Thursday.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford said that both the US and NATO have begun discussions with Iraq about the possibility.
“We have, as has NATO, begun a dialogue about a long term commitment to grow the capacity, maintain the capacity of Iraqi Security Forces, but no decisions have been made yet,” Dunford told an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington, his first time fielding questions since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
“Iraq has begun to speak, and you’ve heard Prime Minister (Haider) Abadi speak, about the international community continuing to support defense capacity building,” he added.

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Croatia and Hungary Are ‘New Face of Corruption’ in Europe

Nikolaj Nielsen reports for EU Observer:

Perceived corruption in Croatia and Hungary is so high that both have dropped in global rankings when compared to last year, according to Transparency International (TI).

Carl Dolan, who heads the anti-corruption NGO’s office in Brussels, described the two on Wednesday (25 January) “as the new face of corruption in Europe”.

His comments, posted on a blog on TI’s website, followed the publication of the NGO’s annual corruption perception index.

Out Wednesday, the survey noted Croatia and Hungary have now joined the ranks of the worst performers in the EU alongside Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and Romania.

The survey ranks some 176 countries and scores them on a 0 to 100 scale, with 0 being perceived as highly corrupt and 100 as being very clean.

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City Lobby Group Comes Out Fighting for Global Brexit in Dramatic U-Turn

Tim Wallace reports for The Telegraph:

City of LondonThe City’s top lobby group has performed a dramatic u-turn on Brexit, scrapping its previous campaign to remain in the EU and instead hailing the vote to leave as “unprecedented opportunity” for the UK to develop a powerful new set of trade and investment policies.

The group, which represents banks, finance firms and the professional services industry, now believes that Britain’s departure from the EU represents “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” for a strategic re-think of commercial relationships with the rest of the globe.

Before the EU referendum the organisation had planned for a way to cope with Brexit just in case voters chose to leave the group of 28 nations.

But the new proposals are more than just an effort to make the best out of Brexit – in an apparently major conversion, the group actively points out the ways in which EU membership has proved to be a “straitjacket” in terms of global trade, holding Britain back from building relationships with non-EU nations.

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Brexit: Past the Point of No-Return

British flag and EU flag in Parliament Square in London, June 19, 2016After decades of debate, years of acrimony over the issue in the Conservative Party, months of brutal brinksmanship in Westminster, and hours of debate this week, MPs have just approved the very first step in the process of Britain leaving the European Union.

There are many hurdles ahead, probably thousands of hours of debate here, years of negotiations for Theresa May with our friends and rivals around the EU, as she seeks a deal – and possibly as long as a decade of administrative adjustments, as the country extricates itself from the EU.

On a wet Wednesday, the debate didn’t feel epoch-making, but think for a moment about what has just happened.

MPs, most of whom wanted to stay in the EU, have just agreed that we are off.

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UK Court Ruling on Brexit Emboldens Right-Wing of the Tory Party

Sharmini Peries speaks to economist John Weeks who discusses the recent Surpeme Court ruling that said the British Parliament must be consulted before Theresa May’s government can trigger an exit from the European Union (Article 50), and how Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has come under a lot of pressure to oppose attempts to negotiate quickly. (The Real News)

Theresa May Reassures British and Foreign Capital Over Brexit

Sharmini Peries speaks to political scientist Leo Panitch who says leaving the European Union won’t have a major impact on capitalist globalization, but it reflects the political rise of a xenophobic right that could soon undermine the remaining environmental, labor, and social protections in Britain. (The Real News)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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”?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…”

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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)