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ALERT Europe: Politics,Trade, NATO- August 2019
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  1. #1

    Europe: Politics,Trade, NATO- August 2019

    Dutch 'burqa ban' comes into force

    The Netherlands joins a number of other European nations in implementing the controversial law. Some consider burqas a symbol of the oppression of women, while others view the ban as a violation of religious freedom.

    A law that prohibits clothing that "covers the face" from being worn in a variety of public spaces, such as schools, hospitals, public buildings and public transport, came into effect in the Netherlands on Thursday.

    Read more: Global restrictions on religion increased over decade, Pew report

    Authorities are now required to tell people to show their faces. If someone refuses, they can be denied access to public areas, and face fines of up to €150 ($167). An Islamic political party in Rotterdam said it will pay the financial penalties for anybody caught wearing the now prohibited clothing.

    The ban, which will affect an estimated 150 burqa and nijab wearing women in the Netherlands, will also apply to full-face helmets and balaclavas.

    Attempts to enforce the new law have already been met with disapproval as several cities as well as hospitals, public transport operators and even police said that they would not be sticking to it.

    Similar restrictions across Europe

    France was the first country in Europe to ban the veil almost ten years ago. However, a UN committee last year ruled the legislation to be violating human rights.

    Several other countries have since followed suit. In Denmark, the burqa ban has been in effect for a year despite severe opposition.

    Earlier this year Austria passed a law intended to ban Muslim girls from wearing headscarves in primary schools. The headscarf ruling came in addition to Austria's prohibition of full-face coverings which has been in force since 2017.

    The German state of Hesse has implemented similar burqa restrictions for the civil service.

    Six months ago, full-face coverings were forbidden at Kiel University in the north of Germany, citing the need for open communication that includes facial expressions and gestures. However, some politicians came out against the move, saying it undermined religious freedom.

  2. #2

    Swiss president sees no quick progress in EU treaty row

    ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss President Ueli Maurer played down prospects for quickly ending a standoff with the European Union over a stalled partnership treaty that has disrupted cross-border stock trading and strained ties with Switzerland’s main trading partner.

    Maurer, a member of the right-wing and EU-skeptical Swiss People’s Party, suggested no deal was likely before the current European Commission’s term expires at the end of October.

    “In my view it’s not enough (time),” he told broadcaster SRF in an interview aired on Wednesday.

    “It does not matter whether it is the autumn or next spring. We have time and we also need time so that we really have something that we can explain, we understand and that serves (the interests of) Switzerland,” he said.

    Brussels blocked EU-based investors from trading on Swiss bourses from July 1 as the row escalated over the treaty, which would see non-EU member Switzerland routinely adopt EU single market rules. The Swiss retaliated by banning EU venues from hosting Swiss stock trading.

    Swiss stock volumes have soared this month to their highest in years as the ban forced market participants onto the domestic exchange.

    The fall-out from the dispute is being closely watched in Britain as a test case for how EU shares may be traded in London after the country leaves the bloc.

    If no Swiss-EU treaty deal emerges while Jean-Claude Juncker is still Commission president, Maurer may end up dealing with designated Commission President and former German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen. She knows Maurer from his days as Swiss defense minister before he took over the finance ministry.

    But Maurer, who holds the revolving Swiss presidency this year, dismissed suggestions that his ties to his former German counterpart could help break the logjam.

    Negotiations will not be any easier, personally it may loosen up a bit,” he said.


    Maurer’s pessimism adds to the impression that the political impasse is unlikely to break soon.

    In Bern, resistance to the treaty — Switzerland’s top foreign policy issue by far — ranges from the normally pro-Europe center left to the stridently anti-EU far right, which both see the danger of the pact’s infringing Swiss sovereignty.

    Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Catherine Evans

  3. #3

    Hungarian Government Will Give $33,000 Bonus to Married Couples Who Have Three Children

    CHRIS TOMLINSON1 Aug 20192
    The Hungarian government has announced measures to offer up to 10 million forints (€30,590 or Ł27,000) to married couples who have three children under its new pro-family budget.
    The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will offer the $33,000 payment in the form of a loan to the eligible couples upon their marriage which would have to be repaid until the couple has three children and then the debt would be forgiven, Le Figaro reports.

    Around 2,400 families have already signed up and applied for the loan this month which is paid back in small payments each month. Should the couple have a child within a five-year period, the interest on the loan is suspended along with repayments suspended for three years.

    The eligibility for the programme has several criteria including that the marriage must be the first for at least one of those involved, the woman must be 18 to 40 years old, and one of the couples must have paid 180 days’ worth of tax contributions to the state.

    Breitbart London
    Exclusive: Families More Important Than Economic Growth, Says Hungarian Govt on Launch of New Pro-Child Policy

    Hungary Announces 'Budget of Families' to Fight Demographic Decline
    Healthy families are more important than economic growth judged purely on figures on a spreadsheet, the Hungarian government told Breitbart London.

    Couples who do not have a first child within five years or no child at all will be forced to repay the full loan within a four-month period unless they give a medical certificate.

    The new programme is part of the broader pro-family budget announced earlier this year by the Fidesz government in order to counter demographic declines without having to rely on mass migration policies.

    “Europe is at a crossroads. Western Europe seeks to address the problem of demography with simple solutions which only offer short-term success, but convey catastrophic consequences in the long run,” a government spokesperson told Breitbart London in June.

    “Hungary has a long-term approach and opts for the more difficult path, as a result of which, however, Europe could become an economically strong, rejuvenated continent. Either we encourage births by placing the interests of families in the focus of politics, or we encourage ever further flows of migration,” they added.

    Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)
    London / EuropeDemographicsFidesz PartyhungaryMass

  4. #4

    Same-Sex Union Vote Failure Dismays Montenegro’s LGBT Community
    Samir KajosevicPodgoricaBIRNAugust 1, 2019
    A law allowing same-sex unions failed to win support in the Montenegrin parliament after junior parties in the ruling coalition voted against it.

    The Montenegrin parliament on Wednesday failed to adopt a law to legalize same-sex unions after deputies from ruling parties representing ethnic minorities voted against it.

    MPs from the main governing Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, the Social Democrats and the Liberal Party backed the reform but those from the Bosniak Party, BS, the Croatian Civil Initiative, HGI, and the ethnic Albanian Forca, which are part of the ruling coalition, opposed the change. Opposition MPs did not vote.

    LGBT activists accused opponents of the change of “destroying the democratic process in Montenegro” and its European path.

    History will remember you by that. A big thank you to everyone who was against this law. Your resistance strengthens us, your hatred will never falter, slow or stop us,” Queer Montenegro, a local NOG, said in a press statement on Wednesday.

    By failing to adopt this law, the assembly sent a message that its representatives only nominally shared European and Euro-Atlantic values, and that these were not their real commitment, other NGOs, Forum Progress and LGBTIQ Social Center, said in a joint statement.

    The main opposition bloc, the Democratic Front, DF, which is close to socially conservative Russia, called on the government to withdraw the law, stating that most citizens in Montenegro were against same-sex unions.

    “After this law a law on adoption of children by LGBT population will follow. This was the case in all EU countries. When we come to a position to decide, we will not even take this into consideration,” DF deputy Jovan Vucurovic said.

    Representatives of the ruling DPS said that the law provided freedom for all citizens, because same-sex unions were a reality.

    DPS deputy Predrag Sekulovic said the law aimed merely to make private unions public, and show tolerance towards those who “think differently” in society.

    “The law allows same-sex unions to be public. If you do not have a problem with yourself, you will not have it with this law. We need to understand people who think differently,” he said.

    Moves by the Human and Minority Rights Ministry to draft a law allowing registered partnerships caused a heated debate on social media, with most comments opposing the idea.

    Under the law, same-sex couples would be acknowledged as legal unions but would not have the same rights as married couples.

    They would still not be allowed to adopt children or be foster parents, for example, which human rights organisation said restricted LGBT rights; same-sex couples would also not be recognised as a family.

    Human and Minority Rights Minister Mehmed Zenka said that the law formed part of the country’s obligations towards the EU, which the former Yugoslav repubic hopes to join. Zenka, who comes from the ethnic Albanian community, said whether people agreed or disagreed with same-sex unions was a private matter. “But if we want to join the EU, then the law is one of the obligations,” he said.

    Montenegro first moved to legalise same sex unions in 2014 but that first attempt also failed.

    Homosexuality remains a hot issue in the socially conservative country, as it does elsewhere in the Balkans.

    Earlier surveys have suggested that 71 per cent of citizens in Montenegro consider homosexuality an illness, and that every second citizen agrees that homosexuality is a danger to society and that the state should suppress it.

    Of other former Yugoslav republics in the region, Croatia and Slovenia, both of which are in the EU, have legalized same sex unions.

  5. #5
    Oh boy !!!

    Turkey Threatens To Reignite European Migrant Crisis
    Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
    by Tyler Durden
    Thu, 08/01/2019 - 03:30
    Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,

    "We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history. If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience." — Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

    "Turkey is fully committed to the objective of EU membership... The finalization of the Visa Liberalization Dialogue process which will allow our citizens to travel to the Schengen area without a visa, is our first priority." — Statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, May 9, 2019.

    This doesn't mean that I have anything against the Turks.... But if we begin to explain it — that Turkey is in Europe — European school students will have to be told that the European border lies in Syria. Where's common sense? ... Can Turkey be regarded a European country culturally, historically, and economically speaking? If we say that, we want the European Union's death." — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    If the EU approves the visa waiver, tens of millions of Turks will gain immediate and unimpeded access to Europe's passport-free zone. Critics of visa liberalization fear that millions of Turkish nationals may end up migrating to Europe. The Austrian newsmagazine, Wochenblick, reported that 11 million Turks are living in poverty and "many of them are dreaming of moving to central Europe."

    Turkey has threatened to re-open the floodgates of mass migration to Europe unless Turkish nationals are granted visa-free travel to the European Union. The EU agreed to visa liberalization in a March 2016 EU-Turkey migrant deal in which Ankara pledged to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

    European officials insist that while Turkey has reduced the flow of migrants, it has not yet met all of the requirements for visa liberalization. Moreover, EU foreign ministers on July 15 decided to halt high-level talks with Ankara as part of sanctions over Turkish oil and gas drilling off the coast of Cyprus.

    In an interview with Turkish television channel TGRT Haber on July 22, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey was backing out of the migrant deal because the EU had failed to honor its pledge to grant Turkish passport holders visa-free access to 26 European countries.

    "We have suspended the readmission agreement," he said. "We will not wait at the EU's door."

    A day earlier, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu accused European countries of leaving Turkey alone to deal with the migration issue. In comments published by the state news agency Anadolu Agency, he warned:

    "We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history. If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience."

    The migration deal, which entered into force on June 1, 2016, was hastily negotiated by European leaders desperate to gain control over a crisis in which more than one million migrants poured into Europe in 2015.

    Under the agreement, the EU pledged to pay Turkey €6 billion ($6.7 billion), grant visa-free travel to Europe for Turkey's 82 million citizens, and restart accession talks for Turkey to join the EU. In exchange, Turkey agreed to stop the flow of migrants to Europe as well as to take back all migrants and refugees who illegally reach Greece from Turkey.

    Turkey currently hosts an estimated 3.5 million migrants and refugees — mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans. Many of these people presumably would migrate to Europe if given the opportunity to do so.

    Responding to Çavuşoğlu's remarks, EU spokesperson Natasha Bertaud insisted that Turkey's continued enforcement of the EU-Turkey deal remains a condition for visa liberalization.

    Turkish officials have repeatedly accused the EU of failing to keep its end of the bargain, especially with respect to visa liberalization and accession to the EU.

    Under the agreement, European officials promised to fast-track visa-free access for Turkish nationals to the Schengen (open-bordered) passport-free zone by June 30, 2016 and to restart Turkey's stalled EU membership talks by the end of July 2016.

    To qualify for the visa waiver, Turkey had until April 30, 2016 to meet 72 conditions. These include: bringing the security features of Turkish passports up to EU standards; sharing information on forged and fraudulent documents used to travel to the EU, and granting work permits to non-Syrian migrants in Turkey.

    European officials say that although Turkey has fulfilled most of their conditions, it has failed to comply with the most important one: relaxing its stringent anti-terrorism laws, which are being used to silence critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

    Since Turkey's failed coup on July 15, 2016, more than 95,000 Turkish citizens have been arrested and at least 160,000 civil servants, teachers, journalists, police officers and soldiers have been fired or suspended from various state-run institutions.

    Responding to the purge, the European Parliament on March 13, 2019 called for EU accession negotiations with Turkey to be suspended. "While the EU accession process was at its start a strong motivation for reforms in Turkey, there has been a stark regression in the areas of the rule of law and human rights during the last few years," according to the adopted text.

    Turkey was first promised EU membership in September 1963, when it signed an "Association Agreement" aimed at establishing a customs union to pave the way for eventual accession to the EU. Turkey formally applied for EU membership in April 1987 and membership talks began in October 2005.

    Turkey's EU accession talks stalled in December 2006 after the Turkish government refused to open Turkish ports and airports to trade from Cyprus. Since then, talks have continued on and off, but the process has been stalled due to political opposition from France and Germany, among others.

    If Turkey were to join the EU, it would overtake Germany to become the EU's largest member in terms of population. Consequently, the EU's largest member state would be Muslim. Some European officials have warned that Turkish accession would cause Europe to "implode" and be "Islamized."

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that Turkey has no place in the EU. In a February 2016 interview with the French news channel iTélé, he expressed sentiments that presumably are shared by many Europeans:

    "Turkey has no place in Europe. I have always adhered to this position, it is based on common sense. This doesn't mean that I have anything against the Turks. We need them, they are our allies in NATO. But if we begin to explain it — that Turkey is in Europe — European school students will have to be told that the European border lies in Syria. Where's common sense?

    "It's not just that. What's the idea behind Europe? Europe is a union of European countries. The question is very simple, even in a geographical sense, is Turkey a European country? Turkey has only one shore of the Bosporus in Europe. Can Turkey be regarded a European country culturally, historically, and economically speaking? If we say that, we want the European Union's death."

    On May 9, 2019, Erdoğan said that Turkey was committed to joining the EU. A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry noted:

    "Turkey remains committed to its objective of EU membership and continues its efforts in this respect.... Our expectation from the EU is to treat Turkey on equal footing with other candidate countries and to remove political barriers on the way of negotiations which is supposed to be a technical process...

    "Although our accession negotiations are politically blocked, Turkey decisively continues its efforts for alignment with the EU standards. In the meeting today, we have set out the current developments in Turkey and agreed on the steps to be taken in the forthcoming period.

    The finalization of the Visa Liberalization Dialogue process which will allow our citizens to travel to the Schengen area without a visa, is our first priority."

    Even if Turkey complies with all of the EU's demands, it seems unlikely that Turkish nationals will be granted visa-free travel anytime soon. On July 15, EU foreign ministers formally linked progress on Turkish-EU relations to Cyprus. A measure adopted by the European Council on July 15 states:

    "The Council deplores that, despite the European Union's repeated calls to cease its illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey continued its drilling operations west of Cyprus and launched a second drilling operation northeast of Cyprus within Cypriot territorial waters. The Council reiterates the serious immediate negative impact that such illegal actions have across the range of EU-Turkey relations. The Council calls again on Turkey to refrain from such actions, act in a spirit of good neighborliness and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus in accordance with international law....

    "In light of Turkey's continued and new illegal drilling activities, the Council decides to suspend ... further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being. The Council endorses the Commission's proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020."

    European officials may be justified in taking a hardline stance against Turkey, but Ankara is well positioned to create chaos for the European Union if it chooses to do so. Indeed, Europe appears to be trapped in a no-win situation.

    If the EU approves the visa waiver, tens of millions of Turks will gain immediate and unimpeded access to Europe's passport-free zone. Critics of visa liberalization fear that millions of Turkish nationals may end up migrating to Europe. The Austrian newsmagazine, Wochenblick, reported that 11 million Turks are living in poverty and "many of them are dreaming of moving to central Europe."

    Others believe that Erdoğan views the visa waiver as an opportunity to "export" Turkey's "Kurdish Problem" to Germany. Markus Söder, the head of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, warned that millions of Kurds are poised to take advantage of the visa waiver to flee to Germany to escape persecution at the hands of Erdoğan: "We are importing an internal Turkish conflict. In the end, fewer migrants may arrive by boat, but more will arrive by airplane."

    On the other hand, if the EU rejects the visa waiver, and Turkey retaliates by reopening the migration floodgates, potentially hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East could once again begin flowing into Europe.

  6. #6
    Partial Dutch ban on face-covering clothing takes effect

    By Mike Corder, Associated Press
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands — August 1, 2019, 7:11 AM ET

    A new Dutch law took effect Thursday banning face-covering clothing — including the burqa and niqab worn by conservative Muslim women — on public transportation, in government buildings and at health and education institutions.

    The Netherlands, long seen as a bastion of tolerance and religious freedom, is the latest European country to introduce such a ban, following the likes of France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Denmark.

    Muslim and rights groups have voiced opposition to the law — formally called the "partial ban on face-covering clothing" — and an Islamic political party in Rotterdam has said it will pay the 150-euro ($167) fines for anybody caught breaking it.

    There were no immediate reports Thursday morning of anybody being fined under the new law, which was passed despite the fact that very few women in the Netherlands wear a burqa or niqab — estimates put the number at a few hundred in this nation of 17 million.

    Anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, whose calls for a total burqa ban ignited more than a decade of debate before parliament approved the law last year, welcomed the introduction of the limited ban as "a historic day" and called for it to be expanded to include Islamic headscarves.

    "I believe we should now try to take it to the next step," Wilders told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "The next step to make it sure that the headscarf could be banned in the Netherlands as well."

    The Dutch government has insisted that its partial ban doesn't target any religion and that people are free to dress how they want. A government site explaining the new ban says, however, that "this freedom is limited at locations where communication is vital for good quality service or for security in society."

    Wilders dismissed that explanation as political correctness.

    Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren, who wasn't available for comment Thursday, said earlier this year that the government will evaluate the new law after three years — usually such evaluations follow five years after a new law is implemented.

    It remains to be seen how strenuously the law will be enforced in the Netherlands.

    The national federation of academic hospitals said in a statement that enforcement is up to police and prosecutors. It added: "We are not aware of any cases in which wearing face-covering clothing or a possible ban has led to problems" in health care.

    The head of the umbrella organization of public transport companies also has said that bus drivers and train conductors don't have the power to enforce it and would have to leave it up to police.

    The Dutch ban came into force eight years after France became the first European nation to ban the public use of veils, both face-covering niqabs and full-body burqas. A 2004 law also bans Muslim hijab headscarves and other prominent religious symbols from being worn in state schools, but doesn't apply in universities.

    France's tough law fell foul of the U.N. Human Rights Committee, which last year ruled that the country violated the human rights of two women by fining them for wearing the niqab.

    Professor Tom Zwart of the University of Utrecht, who studies the intersection of law, culture and religion, said that the ban is largely symbolic, but for women who wear a niqab "the ban is still on the books, and if they come across a strict bus driver or tram conductor, they might still be in trouble. This undoubtedly has a chilling effect on their ability to take part in public life."

  7. #7
    Aki Heikkinen
    ‏ @akihheikkinen
    2h2 hours ago

    Huge Russian exercise “Ocean Shield 2019” kicks off in #Balticsea. 10 thousand soldiers, 49 warships + 20 support vessels and 58 aircraft.

  8. #8
    Petri Mäkelä
    ‏ @pmakela1
    2h2 hours ago

    Petri Mäkelä Retweeted Heleиa Saxberg

    Russian #Baltic Fleet scrambles all of its ships + a Slava-class cruiser and a Gorshov-class frigate from the Northern Fleet to a snap drill.

    Naval aviation and infantry participating at least with some elements.

    49 ships out

  9. #9

    Tuberculosis outbreak at German school infects over 100
    An unusually high number of students and teachers at a school in southwestern Germany have been infected with tuberculosis. Health officials are scouring the school for clues about why the disease spread.

    Health officials on Thursday examined a school in the southwestern German town of Bad Schönborn where a tuberculosis outbreak has infected dozens of children and adults.

    A total of 109 students, teachers and other school employees have been infected, the district administration of Karlsruhe said.

    Four people, including at least two students, have active cases of tuberculosis. That means they are presenting symptoms and could be contagious.

    The actively sick students have been removed from the school and are receiving medical treatment, the district administration said.

    "We cannot rule out the possibility that there will be new cases of active illness," Ulrich Wagner from the Karlsruhe health department told the Badische Neueste Nachrichten newspaper.

    Unusual number of cases

    At the beginning of July, two children at two different schools in Bad Schörnborn were found to have active tuberculosis.

    Since then, the number of infected people has continued to rise, particularly at the Michael Ende Gemeinschaftsschule, where a student in the eighth grade was initially infected.

    Officials said that some 56 students in the eighth grade — 88% of the entire class — are currently infected.

    The case is concerning because several children from different grades as well as teachers who would not have been greatly exposed to to the eighth grade students have also tested positive for the infection.

    Health officials are now examining the school's classrooms to determine how the bacteria were able to spread to so many people, local public broadcaster SWR reported.

    Treatable and curable

    Local officials emphasized that tuberculosis is a treatable and curable illness, adding that not everyone who is infected with the disease will become sick.

    Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing.

    When active, tuberculosis most often affects the lungs — resulting in chest pain, fever, weight loss, and coughing that lasts for weeks. Sometimes blood is coughed up.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around a quarter of the world's population is infected with latent tuberculosis — meaning they are not actively ill and cannot transmit the disease.

    The WHO says that those who are infected with tuberculosis bacteria have a 5 to 15% chance of becoming sick.

  10. #10

    Germany Demands Italy Open Ports as NGO Picks up More Migrants

    CHRIS TOMLINSON1 Aug 2019342
    German interior minister Horst Seehofer has requested Italy re-open ports to migrant transport vessels as NGOs ramp up operations off the coast of Libya.
    The German minister had asked Italian populist interior minister Matteo Salvini what the point of closing ports was when many migrants have eventually ended up in Italy, Il Giornale reports.

    “I want to avoid the same pattern being repeated every time, with a ship with migrants waiting for eight or 14 days in front of Italy’s coasts and Salvini who does not want them to go ashore. But it always ends up docking anyway, either because migrants collapse, get sick, or there are pregnant women,” Seehofer said.

    Seehofer’s words come as the Italian coastguard vessel, the Gregoretti, spent five days with migrants on board before a deal was reached Wednesday afternoon to have the migrants distributed to six different countries including Germany and France.

    Breitbart London
    Merkel Demands Sea Watch Captain’s Release, Asylum Seeker Calls for EU-Wide Migrant Distribution

    Angela Merkel Demands Sea Watch Captain's Release
    A Senegalese migrant brought to Italy has said Salvini is "right" to insist that other EU nations accept boat migrants.

    Matteo Salvini responded to his German counterpart’s comments, saying: “We are not opening anything, the ports remain closed.”

    “We are not the refugee camp in Europe,” Mr Salvini added.

    The response echoes similar comments made by Salvini last week in response to French President Emmanuel Macron who slammed the Italian minister for not attending a conference on migration in Paris.

    “Italy will not be your refugee camp… There is the port of Marseille, don’t come and put pressure on us. If you expect us to sign a document where ships arrive in Italy, you are wrong. Italians are no longer going to be anyone’s slaves,” Salvini said.

    Despite ongoing court cases against several NGOs and their captains, such as German NGO Sea Watch’s Carola Rackette and Pia Klemp, NGO activity has increased off the Libyan coast.

    Breitbart London
    Salvini to France: Italy Will No Longer Accept All Migrants Arriving in Europe

    Salvini: Italy Will No Longer Accept All Migrants Arriving in Europe
    Matter Salvini has declared his country will no longer take in all migrants arriving in Europe in a letter to the French interior minister.

    Another German NGO, Sea-Eye, announced it had picked up 40 migrants this week. The spokesman for Sea-Eye Gordon Isler said that the closest safe port was the Italian port of Lampedusa but noted: “We will see how things will go in the next few hours.”

    Salvini responded to the NGO stating: “If the NGO really cares about the health of immigrants, it can set a course for Tunisia: if instead, they think of coming to Italy as if nothing had happened, they have the wrong minister.”

    Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)

  11. #11

    Hungary involves Estonia in efforts to fend off migration deals

    Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports on Wednesday, July 24, that in a meeting earlier this week Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) reached the agreement with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó to be proactive by exchanging information on issues of international migration.

    «That is the goal of this mechanism — to be aware as early on as possible of various international initiatives regulating the field of migration and, accordingly, to get involved in discussions in the early stages,» a spokesperson of the Estonian Foreign Ministry explained to ERR.
    The Estonian broadcaster also cited Hungary Today, a news portal, that Hungary’s top diplomat in the government of Viktor Orbán has agreed with his Estonian colleague and Polish Minister of Interior and Administration Joachim Brudziński to be prepared for migration-related initiatives conducive to international migration in their initial stages.

    This would concern such diplomatic formats as the UN and the European Union, as Szijjártó believes, dangerous migration-related documents mandatory for member states could be in the making.

    An interview by France 24 with the Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister in February, 2019.

  12. #12

    Removal of a controversial memorial plaque in Vilnius triggers a firestorm

    What many believe was a controversial decision of Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius, the removal of a memorial plaque early Saturday morning to Jonas Noreika, a high-rank pre-war Lithuanian military officer and an anti-Soviet resistance fighter implicated in Jews’ genocide, in central Vilnius has triggered a major firestorm, with the sides trading insults and accusations.

    The plaque was placed on the facade of the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.

    A tough question

    The bottom line question is this: can someone, even such a staunch defender of statehood as Noreika, known to the public more as Generolas Vėtra (General Storm), be glorified with a major smear on the escutcheons – Noreika allegedly approved the Nazi administration’s decisions to establish a Jewish ghetto and seize their property in the north-eastern Lithuania.

    Asked by BNN to weigh in on the question being raised by many analysts this week in Lithuania, Kęstutis Girnius, a Lithuanian analyst of American descent, called it «a very difficult question».

    «We have a combination of historical and political matters. On one hand, with the record he (Noreika) has he is a legitimate national hero, but, on the other hand, he had a high post on the Nazi administration and was responsible for setting up a ghetto and appropriating Jewish assets. Therefore, some people deem him a Holocaust perpetrator, someone who cannot be honoured in any form, at least not in Lithuanian capital. In the cusp of the controversy is bad timing – why the plaque was removed in the middle of night and why the decision was made exclusively by the mayor himself?» Girnius said.

    MP asked Prosecutor General to opine

    Conservative party stalwarts, MPs Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Audronius Ažubalis and Gabrielius Landsbergis (the latter is chairman of Lithuania’s Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats, known colloquially as the Conservative party) were raging against this week particularly vociferously. The former even asked to the Prosecutor’s General office to probe the mayor’s actions.

    «I am ashamed that a true Mankurt (according to a Kyrgyz legend, mankurts were prisoners of war who were turned into slaves by being exposed in the hot sun with their heads wrapped in camel skin – L. J) stands at the helm of my native town, Vilnius. I am ashamed he is unable to separate oppressors and collaborators, who willingly handed freedom of our nation to Communists, from those who, under very complicated conditions, sought to retain our state’s independence and who have always been on the side of our state,» Kasčiūnas lambasted Šimašius on his Facebook account.

    Mayor defends decision

    Šimašius however defended himself, arguing that the decision to remove the plaque was aimed at applying the “equal principle” to all memorial signs related to totalitarian regimes, be it the removal of the Soviet statues from the Green Bridge four years ago, or the removal of the plaque to Noreika.

    He nevertheless admitted that removing the plaque clandestinely in early morning hours was the only mistake he made in passing the decision.

    The mayor’s decision was notably applauded by equally many high-ranking politicians and influencers, like the celebrity TV producer Edmundas Jakilaitis.

    So who is wrong?

    It depends how you look at it

    «What I see ongoing now is a major clash of views and perceptions on morality, values and what true human virtues are. It is all about how we look at it. Simply speaking, can someone, albeit very courageous and who himself perished from oppressors (Noreika was murdered by KGB after his apprehension in 1946 – L. J.), be praised after committing a major error in the life?» Arvydas Anušauskas, a Lithuania historians and parliamentarian, asked rhetorically, referring to Noreika’s implication in Holocaust.

    Historians, including Anušauskas, do not even question what now has been known for long: as head of Siauliai County during the Nazi occupation period, Noreika signed documents on the establishment of a Jewish ghetto and on arrangements regarding Jewish property.

    Bad timing

    However, Anušauskas was perplexed that the plaque was removed without broader consultations with historians, besides, nearly in way too early hours.

    «It was not up to the mayor to decide what to do with it. His decision to do it singlehandedly is deplorable and certainly lacked consistency,» Anušauskas emphasised to BNN. «I find it weird when the Noreika plaque, according to Šimašius, has nothing to do with totalitarian regimes, however the monument to Petras Cvirka (a controversial Lithuanian writer who in 1940 went along with others went to Moscow to ask the-then dictator Joseph Stalin to allow Lithuania to join the Soviet state – L.J.) supposedly is (related to them),» noted Anušauskas.

    Bad publicity

    As a matter of fact, public discussions on this plaque have been simmering in Lithuania for many years. Lithuania’s Jewish community has been long urging Lithuanian authorities to take down the plaque honoring Noreika. Not without the community’s exertion, several articles blasting Lithuania, and Vilnius, for honoring Noreika, have appeared in influential Western media, including «The New York Times».

    All along, there have been persistent whispers that General Storm, whose real name was Jonas Noreika, also helped the Nazis kill Jews. But these were largely discounted as the work of ill-willed outsiders serving a well-orchestrated campaign by Moscow to tar its foes as fascists,» stated a New York Times journalist in his article last autumn.

    Approached by BNN, the Communication Department of Vilnius Municipality, did not say what part the international pressure has played on Šimašius’ decision, but insisted that any piece of unfavourable information harms the city’s interests.

    Grant Gochin, a Jewish US citizen of Lithuanian descent, has sued Lithuanian government’s historical institute for what he called is «facilitating» of Noreika «honouring». He’s lost in court several times in recent years but has vowed to take the issue to the European Court of Justice.

    Plaque was smashed in spring

    The plaque in April was smashed with a hammer by Stanislovas Tomas who unsuccessfully bid for the European Parliament. It was latter glued back together and put back on the wall, however.

    The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania has concluded that, in Noreika’s case, there are «undeniable facts» about his involvement in the formation of ghettos and seizure of Jewish assets, and they also underlined that nobody denies his merits to Lithuania and independence but these history pages and specific biographic facts of this person do not allow honoring him in public and making him a hero. This is also what Lithuanian Foreign minister Linas Linkevičius underscored defending the Šimašius decision.

    Also last week, Vilnius City Council decided to rename a small street in central Vilnius named after Kazys Škirpa, a controversial 20th century Lithuanian diplomat and military officer, due to his declared anti-Semitic views. Both decisions received support and backlash.

    Amid the scandals Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has called for «a moratorium on erasing historic memory», insisting that the discussions need to involve more institutions and experts to formulate the principles and regulation of a national memory policy.

  13. #13

    Pro-Paedophile Group Attempted to Infiltrate Amsterdam Pride Parade

    CHRIS TOMLINSON2 Aug 20191
    A pro-paedophile group calling themselves the “Children’s Liberation Front” attempted to infiltrate a pride parade over the weekend in Amsterdam before being removed.
    A man claiming to represent the group handed out leaflets and other materials on the edges of the parade calling for paedophiles to be allowed to join the LGBT community, but members of the public reacted with anger, Le Figaro reports.

    Some people participating in the parade became so angered by the man’s actions that police were forced to evacuate him from the area and confiscated his materials, but did not arrest him.

    “Public order was going to be disturbed. Due to strong reactions to the leaflets, they were confiscated. The individual then left of his own accord, ” police spokeswoman Jelmer Geerds said.

    “He was not arrested. He can pick up his prospectuses later, as is customary when items are temporarily seized in the interest of public order,” Geerds added.

    While several in Dutch media have claimed that only one man is behind the group — the same man who handed out the leaflets at the pride parade — the group briefly had a Twitter account claiming to have participated in the parade. The account has since been suspended by Twitter.

    Rebecca Mansour

    Child’s Profile on Gay Sex Site Got Offers from Over 100 Men, Pride Activist in Sex Sting

    Child's Profile on Gay Sex Site Got Offers From 100+ Men, Pride Activist in Sex Sting
    A gay pride activist was allegedly caught sending sexually explicit messages to a boy who was actually two undercover Swedish journalists.

    Following the incident, a petition was signed by over 14,000 people to “Prohibit paedophiles at the gay pride of Amsterdam”.

    Earlier this year, the Stockholm pride association was also forced to deal with a paedophilia scandal after it was revealed one of its members had attempted to request sex from an underage boy over the gay dating app Grindr.

    The “boy” was, however, a pair of journalists named Negra Efendić and Adrian Sadikovic of Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet who found more than a hundred men propositioned 14-year-old “David” for sex.

    In 2017, another member of Stockholm pride was fired from the organisation after it was revealed that he had been previously convicted of raping a 13-year-old boy in 2011.

  14. #14
    Foreign Office
    ‏Verified account @foreignoffice
    8h8 hours ago

    The #INFTreaty has collapsed. Why? Because Russia has secretly developed new missile systems that violate the agreement and threaten Europe, repeatedly ignoring US concerns

  15. #15
    Dominic Raab
    ţVerified account @DominicRaab
    4h4 hours ago

    Dominic Raab Retweeted Jens Stoltenberg

    Russia has caused the #INFTreaty to collapse by secretly developing and deploying a treaty-violating missile system which can target Europe’s capitals. Their contempt for the rules based international system threatens European security. UK fully supports @NATO’s response

  16. #16
    Jens Stoltenberg
    ‏Verified account @jensstoltenberg
    6h6 hours ago

    Today, the #INFTreaty ceases to exist. Russia bears sole responsibility for the Treaty’s demise. #NATO will respond in a measured & responsible way and continue to ensure credible deterrence & defence.

  17. #17

    US rapper A$AP Rocky released from Swedish jail
    President Donald Trump has cheered the decision of a Swedish court to let A$AP Rocky go free until a verdict on his assault case is reached. The rapper described the monthlong detention as "difficult and humbling."

    US rapper A$AP Rocky and two members of his entourage have been freed from jail in Sweden, where they had been held since early July after being charged with assault.

    The three men are still awaiting the judges' verdict, but may be able to return to the US while deliberations take place. The verdict is expected on August 14.

    The 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, was accused of beating 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari on June 30 outside a fast food restaurant in central Stockholm.

    The case gained notoriety after President Donald Trump publicly lobbied Sweden's government to release the rapper, though Sweden rebuked Trump by saying they could not interfere with the country's justice system.

    Trump celebrated the release with a tweet on Friday, saying he hoped the rapper would be home "ASAP," in a reference to his stage name and an acronym for "as soon as possible."

    Donald J. Trump


    If he is found guilty, Mayers faces up to two years in prison. On Thursday, during questioning, the rapper admitted to having punched the 19-year-old but said he had done so in self-defense.

    A key issue determining whether or not Mayers' would be released was whether or not the rapper hit the young man with a bottle.

    One of the witnesses, who initially had told police that he did, revised her story on Friday, testifying that she didn't actually see Mayers hit the man with a bottle.

    A 'humbling' experience

    Mayers wrote on his Instagram account that the monthlong detainment in Sweden had been "a very difficult and humbling experience."

    "Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of my fans, friends and anyone across the globe who supported me during these last few weeks. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am for all of you," he said.

    The three suspects were seen hugging each other in court after being told they would be released. Some members of the public that had gathered outside the courthouse cheered loudly.

    A private plane was waiting at Stockholm Arlanda Airport to bring the suspects back to the US later in the evening, according to the Swedish media.

    jcg/cmk (Reuters, AP)

  18. #18
    Trump: US will sell more 'great American beef' to EU

    Flanked by farmers, Trump announced a trade "breakthrough" with the EU on boosting beef exports. With many in Europe concerned about the quality of US meat products, EU officials emphasized the beef is "hormone free."

    US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he was signing a deal with the European Union to increase sales of "great American beef" to the bloc.

    "The European Union stepped up and we appreciate it," Trump said at a press conference, flanked by a contingent of EU and US officials as well as farmers and ranchers wearing cowboy hats.

    Under the deal, Trump said beef sales to the EU will increase by 46% in the first year, and go up by 90% over the next seven years.

    At the end of the press conference, Trump made a joke about the EU agreeing to pay a 25% tariff on Mercedes Benz and BMW cars exported to the US.

    "I'm only kidding," Trump said, before pointing to the EU officials present and adding: "They started to get a little bit worried."

    EU puts emphasis on 'hormone free'

    In June, the European Commission announced that it reached an agreement with the US to allow the import of more hormone-free US beef. Earlier trade discussions with European and US officials had hit a snag over agriculture imports.

    During Friday's press conference, the EU's ambassador to the US, Stavros Lambrinidis, repeatedly emphasized that the deal pertained to "hormone-free" beef.

    "For us it is a highlight that trade is not just about money, it is also about values. It is about making sure that high standards are used and upheld to deal with unfair competition," Lambrinidis said.

    The deal still needs the approval of the European Parliament before it can go into effect.

    The US and the EU have been issuing tit-for-tat threats regarding trade in recent years, but this has ramped up significantly under Trump's "America First" administration.

    The EU and the US are each other's largest trading partners.
    rs/amp (AP, dpa, Reuters)

  19. #19

    German customs seize 4.5 tons of cocaine, worth $1.1 billion

    BERLIN (AP) — German customs authorities say they have seized 4.5 tons (nearly 5 U.S. tons) of cocaine in a container shipped from Uruguay, a haul with an estimated street value of nearly 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

    The customs office in Hamburg said Friday that the drugs were seized two weeks ago when it checked the container that was en route from Montevideo to Antwerp, Belgium. The paperwork stated that it was loaded with soya beans, but customs officials could only see black sports bags when they opened it up.

    They found more than 4,200 packets of cocaine in the 211 bags. It was Germany’s biggest single seizure of cocaine to date.

    The customs office said that the drugs have already been destroyed “amid strict secrecy and extensive security precautions.”

  20. #20

    Turkey Jails Another Professor Deported from Moldova
    Madalin NecsutuChisinauBIRNAugust 2, 2019
    Turkey has jailed another of the seven teachers controversially deported from Moldova last year – handing down a stiff prison sentence of 12 years.

    A Turkish court on Friday jailed an employee of the Orizont private high school chain in Moldova, Yasin Ozdil – who was handed over to Turkey in 2018 in a joint secret service operation – for 12 years.

    Ozdil formerly headed the public relations department for a branch of the school chain in the Durlesti area, near the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.

    The schools are reportedly connected to the movement headed by the exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara considers a terrorist. Turkey refers to his movement as the FETO, or Fethullah Terrorist Organisation, and holds it responsible for the failed coup in Turkey in 2016 – which Gulen has denied any connection to.

    Before coming to Moldova in 2015, Ozdil worked for the presidential office of former Turkish president Abdullah Gul.

    He was detained on September 6, 2018, when the Moldovan secret services, SIS, broke down his door and took him from the apartment where he lived with his family. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have called it a classic case of kidnapping.

    The last message on his Facebook account read: “They entered my home to catch me pls police help me.”

    Ozdil is the fifth of seven professors controversially expelled from Moldova last year to be sentenced by a Turkish court, after being unwillingly returned home. All of them had filed for political asylum in Moldova before they were seized and sent back to Turkey.

    In July, Riza Dogan, director of the same Durlesti branch of the school chain in Moldova, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in Turkey. Another three professors have been sentenced since the beginning of this year.

    The head of the Moldovan commission for national security, defence and public order, Chiril Motpan, said on Friday, after conducting some hearings on this case, with the chief of the SIS among others, that the decision to expel the Turks had been political.

    He said the main actors implicated in the rendition operation were the former deputy head of the anti-terrorism center of SIS, Alexandru Baltaga, and Vasile Botnari, a politician affiliated with the former ruling Democratic Party.

    Motpan added that those invited to the hearings had invoked several causes in defence of the deportations, including planned terrorist attacks, espionage for the benefit of another state, or even paedophilia.

    He said their claims were unconvincing. “The SIS representatives did not provide us with clear evidence of terrorist acts. No notes, reports, evidence were presented in this regard. It was an arbitrary decision with violations of legal provisions that damaged Moldova’s external image,” he concluded.

    After the controversial rendition, Turkey showed its appreciation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came himself to Chisinau to re-open the presidential palace in Chisinau that had been renovated for President Igor Dodon with Turkish funds.

    Some Turkish companies meanwhile received important contracts from the previous government of Moldova, led by the Democratic Party, to build roads and a national sports arena.

    On June 11, 2019, the ECHR ruled that the Government of Moldova should pay 25,000 euros to each of the Turkish citizens whose rights had been violated. So far, five of them have addressed the ECHR.

  21. #21

    Swedish Municipality That Took Too Many Migrants Faces Bankruptcy
    SwedenREUTERS/Claus Fisker/Scanpix Denmark
    CHRIS TOMLINSON3 Aug 2019257
    The Swedish municipality of Bengtsfors has petitioned the national government for aid due to massive costs incurred taking in more migrants than the municipality could afford.
    Local Moderate Party politician Stig Bertilsson said the multi-page letter was clear in identifying the cause of the budget deficit as being related to the large number of “new Swedes” taken in and requested aid to cover the costs, SVT reports.

    “Costs in municipalities that have received new arrivals have continued to be substantial even when government revenues have stopped. This creates a large negative hole in the municipal cash register,” Bertilsson said.

    When asked about tax revenues from new migrants that could bridge the deficit gap, Bertilsson said that in the long run he hoped there would be a rise in revenues but so far there has not been one, adding that the Swedish labour market “has a long way to go”.

    Unemployment figures for migrants in Sweden are in fact much higher than those for native Swedes, with a report last summer showing a 19.9 per cent unemployment rate for migrants compared to just 3.6 per cent for natives.

    Breitbart London
    Swedish Municipalities May Be Forced to Raise Taxes to Pay for Mass Migration

    Swedish Municipalities May Be Forced to Raise Taxes to Pay for Mass Migration | Breitbart
    A report claims that Sweden may be forced to raise taxes to pay for the recent population growth fueled by mass migration.

    In the letter to the national government, the local government claims that raising taxes to cover the costs will not be a solution as local tax rates are already high at 22.9 per cent, the tenth-highest overall in Sweden.

    Last year, a report from the Swedish National Institute of Economic Research (KI) claimed that many municipalities across the country would be forced to raise taxes, specifically stating mass migration costs as the reason.

    “We are facing some years of demographic challenge, which makes me a little worried that the municipalities may be forced to raise taxes,” said Urban Hansson Brusewitz, the head of KI.

    Bertilsson has proposed that Swedish municipalities should look at a system of equalisation payments among municipalities in order for those with higher average tax yields to help those where residents have lower average incomes.

    Such a plan has already been proposed and was discussed last spring by the municipal governments in order to help more rural, lower-populated areas.

    Breitbart London
    Switzerland: Over 80 Percent of Somali Migrants on Welfare

    Switzerland: More Than 80 Percent of Somalian Migrants On Welfare
    Several migrant groups of different national origins in Switzerland have welfare dependency rates well above 50 per cent.
    4:38 AM - Apr 30, 2019

    Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)

  22. #22
    Irish Central Bank Says Country Needs More Migrants to Keep Wages Down

    Jack Montgomery / Europe
    1 August 2019

    The Central Bank of Ireland believes that not enough migrants are arriving to have a “wage-dampening effect”, and that “if wages are not downwardly flexible” it could become a “concern”.

    The Irish central bank, roughly equivalent to the Bank of England in the United Kingdom or the Federal Reserve in the United States but less independent insofar as it is subject to the European System of Central Banks, under the broad purview of the European Central Bank (ECB), insisted that the country is “is likely to require significant inflows of workers from abroad over the coming years, provided the economy remains on a favourable growth trajectory”.

    Reports published by the Bank recall that mass immigration “was a major feature of the Irish labour market during the period from 2004 to 2007” — before the financial crash — but that while net migration “increased to 34,000 in 2018, the third consecutive year of strong gains”, the inflow now skews towards more highly-skilled migrants, allowing wages to rise.

    “As the supply of labour is scarce relative to demand, workers’ bargaining power increases and the price of labour increases,” the report notes, claiming that that “sustained increases in net inward migration will be needed in the coming years to ensure that growth will be not impeded by labour supply constraints.”

    The Bank’s reports do acknowledge that mass immigration does tend to increase “both rents and prices” and that “increased numbers of migrants will create overheating pressure in other areas of the economy, and particularly in the already congested housing market” — but appears indicate that policymakers should ultimately come down on the side of employers who insist they must retain access to large pools of foreign labour, in the name of sustaining “growth”.

    The report suggests that the Bank’s preferred way to alleviate the inevitable pressure on housing would be to simply build more of it, as “continued focus on addressing housing supply shortages can help ensure that Ireland remains an attractive location for the migrants who will be needed to fill vacancies in the labour market”.

    The impact on the Irish countryside, congestion, social cohesion and so of this sort of exponential expansion of the foreign-origin population and housing stock appeared to receive little consideration.

    Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery

  23. #23
    British supporters of far-right activist gather in London

    By The Associated Press
    LONDON — August 3, 2019, 7:55 AM ET

    Demonstrators carrying England's flag are gathering in central London to demand the release of far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

    Singing "We want Tommy out," demonstrators have congregated at Oxford Circus on Saturday. Strict conditions were imposed by police on the demonstration and a counter-demonstration planned by Stand Up To Racism.

    London's Metropolitan Police warned that anyone breaching the conditions could be arrested and prosecuted.

    Commander Kyle Gordon warned police would ensure "anyone who is intent on violence is dealt with swiftly and robustly."

    Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was sentenced last month to a total of nine months in prison for contempt of court. The 36-year-old was arrested and jailed for filming defendants in a criminal trial and broadcasting the footage on social media.

  24. #24
    Rhine River At Dangerously Low Water Levels Could Cause Production Hell For German Firms

    by Tyler Durden
    Zero Hedge
    Saturday 08/03/2019 - 07:35

    A series of heatwaves across Central Europe this summer has brought record-breaking temperatures to Germany that sparked dangerously low water levels on the Rhine river, one of the continents most important shipping routes, which could decrease manufacturing and disrupt supply chains that might tip Germany into recession.

    Water levels on the Rhine last summer made some parts of it unnavigable. This disrupted supply chains in Germany's industrial heartland that use the river for shipping.

    Reuters recently reported that the shortage of rainfall this summer and scorching hot temperatures across Germany and France had made some parts of the Rhine impassable for fully loaded cargo ships.

    "Approximately 80% of all goods that are transported via domestic water transport go along the River Rhine. Thus, it is Germany's most important waterway," Robert Lehmann, an economist at Germany's influential Ifo Institute research center, told CNBC Tuesday.

    "Coal, oil, and gas or chemical products are transported with a much higher intensity: 10% to 30%. These are the main goods at the beginning of important value-added chains, thus, low water levels at the River Rhine can immediately lead to restrictions in industrial production."

    Low water levels on the river could have severe economic consequences for Germany's economy that is already dealing with an industrial recession.

    New economic data on Thursday showed Germany's manufacturing sector plunged in July with factories producing goods at the slowest rate in seven years and export orders crashed to the lowest in more than a decade.

    Germany's automobile industry has been the most significant factor in the industrial slowdown, low water levels on the Rhine have also been seen as a factor.

    Holger Schmieding, the chief economist at Berenberg Bank, told CNBC Tuesday that shipping on the river was halted last fall, this caused the production of German chemicals and pharmaceuticals to plummet by 10% from September to November and damaged the overall economy

    "While some of this reflected an emerging softness in demand, the impaired shipping was the major cause. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals account for 8.3% of German industrial output and 2% of overall German value-added. So, a 10% fall in output of that sector maintained for a full quarter would reduce GDP (gross domestic product) for that quarter by 0.2 percentage points."

    The Rhine flows 760 miles starting in Switzerland and goes through Germany into the Netherlands, draining into the North Sea. It's the top shipping route for intercontinental transportation of agricultural and petrochemical products.

    Germany's WSV rivers authority said they're powerless in preventing the river from drying out. "The Rhine is a natural river," said Hans-Heinrich Witte, president of WSV. "There are limits to what we can do to keep it open as an industrial waterway."

    Carsten Brzeski, the chief economist at ING Germany, noted last week that the German economy is at "the most dangerous crossroads since 2009" amid a broad base industrial slowdown. The sweltering temperatures just made the situation worse.

    Traders told Reuters on Friday morning that water levels on some parts of the Rhine are increasing but from ultra-low levels after wet weather was seen in Germany this week.

    "The northern sections of the Rhine, especially around Cologne, are still hovering around the minimum level for full loads but overall we are not facing the sort of serious problems we had last year," one trader said.

    "But I think we will see the river moving in and out of shallow water in the coming weeks."

    Unusually low water levels on the Rhine, an industrial recession in Germany, and economic stagnation across Europe, it seems like the European Central Bank will have their hands full this fall in trying to revive the Germany economy.

  25. #25
    From: Rhine River At Dangerously Low Water Levels Could Cause Production Hell For German Firms
    Attached Images

  26. #26
    Recession Signs Are Hitting Europe; Is Lagarde Up For The Challenge?

    by Tyler Durden
    Zero Hedge
    Saturday 08/03/2019 - 09:20

    Authored by Marshall Auerback via Economy For All,

    If new institutional reform is to come to the Eurozone, it will entail a major paradigmatic shift...

    We now know that there will be a changing of the guard at the European Central Bank (ECB) in October. The current head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, will succeed current ECB President Mario Draghi at that time.

    A known quantity among the political and investor class of Europe, Lagarde seems like a safe choice: she is a lawyer by training, not an economist. Hence, she is unlikely to usher in any dramatic changes, in contrast to current European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, who significantly expanded the ECB’s remit in the aftermath of his pledge to do “whatever it takes” to save the single currency union (Draghi did this by underwriting the solvency of the Eurozone member states through substantially expanded sovereign bond-buying operations). Instead, Lagarde will likely stick to her brief, as any good lawyer does. There’s no doubt that her years of operating as head of the IMF will also reinforce her inclination not to disrupt the prevailing austerity-based ECB ideology.

    Unfortunately, the Eurozone needs something more now, especially given the increasingly frail state of the European economies. The Eurozone still doesn’t have a treasury of its own, and there’s no comprehensively insured banking union.

    Those limitations are likely to become far more glaring in any larger kind of recession, especially if accompanied by a banking crisis. That is why the mooted candidacy of Jens Weidmann may have been the riskier bet for the top job at the ECB, but ultimately a choice with more political upside. An old-line German central banker might have been able to lay the groundwork for the requisite paradigmatic shift more successfully than a French lawyer, especially now that Germany itself is in the eye of the mounting economic storm.

    It’s summertime, but the living is certainly not easy in the Eurozone. The Mediterranean economies — notably Greece and Italy — have never really achieved sustainable growth over the last decade, and to the extent that either country ran deficits, or received bailout assistance, it was largely used to pay off debts to a range of bank creditors, rather than generate higher employment. However, the Eurozone’s weakness is now rapidly spreading to the North, notably in Germany, where the Ifo Institute’s manufacturing business climate index is “in freefall,” reports the Financial Times. The Ifo indicator — a good coincident gauge of overall economic health in the Eurozone’s main manufacturing hub — registered its worst reading in nine years, precipitously declining to minus 4.3 in July vs. a gain of plus 1.3 in June. Furthermore, Germany’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) has plunged to the mid-40sover the last few months. Fifty is the demarcation separating expansion from contraction, suggesting an imminent recession.

    On top of that, Germany’s leading bank, Deutsche Bank (DB), is steadily being revealed to be the greatest repository of corporate corruption since BCCI. Whether it be money laundering for Russian oligarchs (or, allegedly, the Trump family); involvement in interest rate scams such as LIBOR manipulation; violations of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, Syria, Libya and Sudan (among others); or the sale of toxic securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, DB has played a leading role, and is now paying the price. Berlin has repeatedly sought to find a buyer for the bank, but both Commerzbank and UniCredit have had a closer look under the hood and ran for the hills accordingly. The share price performance suggests that Deutsche Bank is an imminent candidate for a bailout, if not outright nationalization.

    This comes during a historically unprecedented situation in global bond markets, particularly in the Eurozone where negative yields are now pervasive — in other words, investors are now willing to pay certain governments to safeguard their money, whether this be Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, or the Netherlands. This is a foolhardy risk to incur, given that all Eurozone governments are currency users, not issuers (only the ECB creates euros), and therefore carry the same kind of theoretical solvency risk as, say, an American state or municipality.

    As the economist Frances Coppola notes, “Every Danish government bond currently circulating in the market is trading at a negative yield. And the inverted curve tells us that markets are pricing in further interest rate cuts, most likely to hold the ERM II peg when the ECB cuts rates and re-starts QE.” Which means yields can become even more negative. Such is the desperation for perceived “safe assets” that Austria, Belgium and Ireland have all sold 100-year securities (the yield on Austria’s 2117 bond has dropped nearly 100 basis points since it was launched two years ago with what was then considered a derisory 2.1 percent coupon, and recall that Ireland’s banking crisis placed the country close to national insolvency 11 years ago). It’s virtually impossible to make sensible economic forecasts a few months out, let alone a century, so this does suggest a certain kind of collective madness (or desperation) now taking over the bond markets.

    All of which tells us that something is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark (and elsewhere), as Lagarde takes over as president of the ECB. The constellation of soft economic data in Europe has investors clamoring for the ECB to act, but negative yields suggest that there is little more that interest rate manipulation can do to generate an economic upturn. Indeed, economists Markus Brunnermeier and Yann Koby have persuasively argued that negative yields represent the juncture “at which accommodative monetary policy ‘reverses’ its effect and becomes contractionary for output.” In other words, monetary policy has reached the point where further attempts to cut rates might actually hinder economic growth, rather than promote it.

    As Rob Burnett, a fund manager at Lightman Investment Management, has suggested, “What is required is demand-based stimulus and spending must be directed into the real economy” — in other words, fiscal expansion, which unfortunately is not the purview of the ECB. Furthermore, the central bank’s “quantitative easing” purchases of sovereign bonds have hitherto been conditionally predicated on the national finance ministries’ continuing to practice fiscal austerity, which in turn produces the exact opposite economic outcome that Burnett has proposed. The unfinished architecture of the Eurozone makes this problem particularly awkward, given that there is no “United States of Europe” treasury equivalent — a gaping institutional lacuna in the Maastricht Treaty — which in itself creates unstable dynamics that constrain national policy fiscal space. Politically, the ECB represents the awkward focal point in regard to increasing global market integration on the one hand with growing demands for reclaiming national political sovereignty on the other. Such challenges become more acute in the context of a global economy that, outside of the United States, is teetering toward recession (or worse).

    It’s also a terrible environment for banking in particular, especially as any attempts to reduce deposit rates below zero (in effect charging depositors for the privilege of having banks store their money) would almost certainly trigger bank runs. Nor are the banks inclined to generate profits via lending activity when there is a steadily decreasing supply of creditworthy borrowers on the other side.

    The other problem also relates to the Eurozone’s faulty half-finished architecture: free intra-Eurozone capital flows are promoted within the Eurozone (via the Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer system, aka the “TARGET2 system”), despite the absence of a unified supranational banking system or common, Eurozone-wide deposit insurance (such as the American FDIC). This creates ample scope for bank runs from one country to another (as the economist Peter Garber predicted back in 1998), and which were occurring in earnest back in 2012, as investor George Soros observed, and specifically tied to TARGET2.

    Across the Eurozone, bank assets generally exceed GDP. They also do in non-Eurozone countries, such as Norway, Switzerland, and the UK. But the difference in the non-Eurozone countries is that they are all sovereign currency issuing countries, which means that all have unlimited capacity to provide deposit insurance in the event of a bank run. Paradoxically, it is precisely because of this unlimited currency issuing power that such bank runs seldom go very far in these countries. The public intuitively understands that the insurance can be made good.

    This is why the United Kingdom and Switzerland were able to handle their respective banking crises in 2008 without threatening national insolvency. Retaining sterling as the national currency, the UK had unlimited fiscal capacity to offer credible deposit insurance instantaneously during its crisis. To cite one example, in 2007 a regional bank, Northern Rock, applied to the Bank of England (BOE) for emergency support to help it through a liquidity crisis triggered by the subprime mortgage slump in the U.S. and temporarily incurred substantial deposit runs as a result. The BOE’s prompt actions (made easier by the fact that they did not need to secure the collective approval of 27 other countries, as occurs in the single currency union) put a halt to the withdrawals. Likewise, Switzerland was able to recapitalize its own major banks relatively quickly after the 2008 crisis began in earnest and avoided the prolonged banking crises that characterized the Eurozone countries.

    Ireland is a good example of the latter. An economy structurally similar to the UK, Ireland experienced a banking crisis with far more longstanding deleterious effects (including an unemployment rate almost double that of the UK at its peak). The crisis was far more serious than in non-Eurozone countries because the markets intuitively understood that the country did not have the fiscal capacity to adequately safeguard the banks’ deposit base (despite pledges to do so on the part of Dublin’s policymakers).

    Within the Eurozone, the Emerald Isle’s problems were by no means unique. As is now well appreciated, all Eurozone member states operate under the same constraints with no national currency. In regard to coping with a potential banking crisis, however, the currency issuer, the ECB, does not have the regulatory or political authority to close a bank, regardless of what country the bank claims as its home (in the same way that, say, the American FDIC can operate to shut down a bank, no matter which state, and credibly restart it quickly, by virtue of the backstop of the U.S. Treasury). So far the member states within the single currency union have managed to dodge this particular bullet, but given the mounting strains now intensifying in the Eurozone, a credible banking union of some sort must ultimately be on the table. Wolfgang Münchau, columnist for the Financial Times, outlined the four key “centralised components” required to make such a union workable and durable: “a resolution and recapitalisation fund; a fund for joint deposit insurance; a central regulator; and a central supervising power.”

    Even a central banker as powerful as Mario Draghi has yet been unable to persuade the major Eurozone powers, especially Germany, to accede to such a proposal, which Berlin still regards as a covert means of putting German taxpayers on the hook for billions of euros’ worth of other countries’ banking liabilities. In light of the current travails of Deutsche Bank (and the longstanding financial difficulties of Germany’s regional lenders, the so-called “Landesbanken”), however, attitudes might change in Berlin.

    In any case, this represents one of the more formidable challenges Christine Lagarde is likely to face in her new job going forward. Given the existing institutional limitations of a monetary union without a supranational treasury backstop, no Eurozone FDIC can be credibly established absent institutional ties to the ECB. National banking interests cannot interfere with the deposit insurance fund because this would immediately destroy the credibility of the banking union. But absent broad multinational consensus, no such supranational FDIC can come into being.

    The glue holding the Eurozone’s institutionally fragile structure together has always been the European Central Bank. As the sole issuer of the euro, the ECB is operationally free to provide as many euros as needed to keep the funding system in place. It cannot go broke. But politically, it is an orphan. The problem is that calls for international cooperation to improve its supranational governance structures to address these cross-country dynamics reinforces the impression of eroding national control, which in turn heightens populist backlash across the continent. Mario Draghi’s monetary gymnastics helped preserve the Eurozone, but the battle is not yet won.

    One wonders whether someone with Christine Lagarde’s comparatively limited economic and financial expertise has the ability to confront these challenges with the same aplomb her predecessor. We shall find out soon enough.

  27. #27
    Russia Launches Production Of Su-57 Stealth Fighter Jet

    by Tyler Durden
    Zero Hedge
    Saturday 08/03/2019 - 09:55

    A new report from TASS News shows that Sukhoi Aircraft Company, part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, has started series production of Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jets and will soon be delivering these planes to the country's Aerospace Force.

    Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, told TASS earlier this week that production of the stealth jets has started, with expected production ramps through the 2020s.
    "A state contract was signed at the Army 2019 international arms exhibition between the Defense Ministry of Russia and the Sukhoi Company for the delivery of a batch of Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jets. The Sukhoi has started to fulfill its contractual obligations," the vice-premier's office reported.

    The state contract requests the delivery of 76 Su-57s to Russia's Aerospace Force by 2028.

    Russia's Defense Ministry said the Su-57s are "the most advanced fifth-generation multirole fighter jet, which will boost the domestic Aerospace Force's combat capabilities."

    The vice-premier's office released a statement that confirmed the first two Su-57s would be delivered to the Aerospace Force by year-end. "The first plane will be delivered to the customer before the end of 2019."

    The Su-57 is a multirole stealth fighter that is capable of maintaining supersonic cruising speed and is equipped with advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful onboard computer, advanced radar system, and armament placed inside its fuselage. The plane can track 60 targets and open fire at 16 of them concurrently.

    The fifth-generation fighter jet has been battle-tested in combat conditions in Syria.

    With US-Russia relations deteriorating in the aftermath of the collapse of the INF nuclear arms treaty, which prompted Russia's Vladimir Putin to slam the US for "demolishing" global security, Russian state television listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, in a report which Reuters said "was unusual even by its own bellicose standards" and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes.

    It's entirely possible that Su-57s could evade US radar systems and launch hypersonic missile attacks at asset-heavy areas across Alaska, West Coast, and on the East Coast. The next world war will be fought with fifth-generation fighters and hypersonic weapons.

  28. #28
    Germany: Sabotage suspected as high-speed train collides with strategically placed concrete slabs

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    3 August 2019

    Passengers on a high-speed train traveling near the German town of Struckhum – not far from the Danish border – have eluded injury after their train collided with slaps of concrete strategically placed over the tracks in what appears to be an act of sabotage.

    The regional express train was reported to have been traveling at a speed of about 100 kilometers per hour when it plowed into the concrete blocks, the Local reports.

    After hearing the loud bang, the conductor, who unfortunately hadn’t been able to see the concrete blocks, was quick to stop the train and activate the emergency alarm. Upon inspecting the exterior of the train, it was clear that extensive damage had occurred.

    As to the motive of Monday’s attack, German authorities are unsure. Police investigators, however, have said that those who were riding the train were quite fortunate that the attack failed to derail the train.

    The concrete blocks were reported to have weighed about 80 kilograms each.

    A police spokesperson indicated that they may have been positioned to damage the train’s fuel tank.

    Unfortunately, neither the passengers or the conductor were able to catch a glimpse of the perpetrators seemed to have managed to place additional concrete blocks on the tracks following the incident.

    Members of the federal police stumbled upon the newly placed obstruction not far from where the attack had occurred, commenting that it appeared that the perpetrators had intended to cause damage to other trains.

    The attack comes just a couple of weeks after three separate fires were started at an Italian electrical center for high-speed trains in what also is believed to have been an act of sabotage.

    Investigators believe that extreme-left anarchists could be responsible for the attack.

    In October of 2018, authorities in Germany and Austria arrested an Iraqi migrant on terrorism charges for attempting to derail a high-speed train.

    In a separate case that occurred just a few months later, cement blocks were placed on tracks near a Berlin railway in an apparent attempt to derail a train.

    Interestingly enough, an ISIS flag with writings in Arabic were both found close to the crime scene

  29. #29
    Germany to Italy: “Open your ports to the 3rd world!”

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    3 August 2019

    Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer has called on his counterpart in Italy, Matteo Salvini, to reopen the country’s ports to migrant transport vessels as NGOs increase their people-trafficking operations off the Libyan coast.

    Seehofer, an open borders politician, has asked Italy’s national populist interior minister why he has closed his country’s ports when most of the migrants eventually end up docking and disembarking regardless, Il Giornale reports.

    “I want to avoid the same pattern being repeated every time, with a ship with migrants waiting for eight or 14 days in front of Italy’s coasts and Salvini who does not want them to go ashore. But it always ends up docking anyway, either because migrants collapse, get sick, or there are pregnant women,” the German interior minister said.

    Seehofer’s comments come on the heels of an agreement that was reached between the EU and Italy on Wednesday which allowed migrants on board of an Italian coastguard vessel to disembark at an Italian port so long as they would be relocated to other EU member states.

    In response to his German counterpart’s words, Matteo Salvini said, “We are not opening anything, the ports remain closed,” adding “We are not the refugee camp in Europe.”

    Salvini’s defiant words echo statements he made while responding to French President Emmanuel Macron after Macron condemned him for not showing up to a conference on migration Paris.

    “Italy will not be your refugee camp… There is the port of Marseille, don’t come and put pressure on us. If you expect us to sign a document where ships arrive in Italy, you are wrong. Italians are no longer going to be anyone’s slaves,” Salvini retorted.

    Recently, NGOs operating migrant transport vessels in the Mediterranean have ramped up their efforts

    French NGO SOS Mediterranee’s new ship announced that it had resumed its collection and transportation of migrants into Europe.

    The German NGO Sea-Eye’s “Alan Kurdi” ship announced that it too had resumed its migrant collection and transportation service as well.

    Earlier in the week, a spokesperson for Sea-Eye Gordon Isler announced that it had picked up 40 migrants while mentioning that the closest safe port was the Italian port of Lampedusa.

    In a statement directed at NGOs who claim have migrant’s best interests at heart, Salvini said: “If the NGO really cares about the health of immigrants, it can set a course for Tunisia: if instead, they think of coming to Italy as if nothing had happened, they have the wrong minister.”

  30. #30
    NGO Tells Salvini They Will Never Land ‘Rescued’ Migrants in Nearby Libya

    Chris Tomlinson / Europe
    3 August 2019

    After picking up 40 migrants, the NGO Sea-Eye has challenged Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, saying they will never return migrants to Libya.

    The defiant NGO addressed the populist League leader in comments reported by Il Giornale, saying: “We will obey international law and we will not bring anyone back to a country at war. Libya is not a safe haven.”

    Salvini was quick to reply to the NGO saying: “The ship Alan Kurdi, currently 30 miles from the coasts of Libya, REFUSED the port of Tripoli assigned to it by the Libyan Coast Guard.”

    “Here we are again, a German NGO which doesn’t care about the international authorities. I won’t give up!” Salvini added

    The comments from the German-based NGO come after the interior minister reiterated that the Italian ports were closed to migrant transport vessels, telling the ship to drop the migrants off in Tunisia, which is far closer to the area where they are collected than Sicily or mainland Italy.

    Earlier this week, German interior minister Horst Seehofer requested that Salvini open the ports to NGOs, arguing that many have landed in Italy anyway after days of negotiations.

    Salvini, who has always tried to ensure that other EU member-states have agreed to take in any migrants which do land in Italy prior to bringing them ashore, rejected the German’s call, saying: “We are not opening anything, the ports remain closed.”

    This week also saw the landing of 116 migrants who were picked up by an Italian coastguard vessel, the Gregoretti, after a deal was made to redistribute them to six countries across Europe, including France and Germany.

    Italian authorities announced on Thursday that two of the migrants aboard the vessel had been arrested on suspicion of being human traffickers. The Ragusa police said the two men, from Senegal and Gambia, are under investigation for aiding illegal migration.

    They added that they were also searching through a second group of migrants picked up by the coastguard to determine if any human traffickers were among those migrants as well.

    Several members of migrant transport NGOs are facing similar charges, including ship captain Pia Klemp and captain Carola Rackete of Sea-Watch.

    Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)

  31. #31

    No names are mentioned so I question if this gang is homegrown or not.

    Italian police arrest 6 in nightclub stampede that killed 6

    MILAN (AP) — Italian police on Saturday arrested six men on manslaughter charges for allegedly using pepper spray to carry out thefts at a concert for teens, triggering a stampede that killed six people at a venue near the Adriatic coastal city of Ancona last year.

    The tragedy last December killed five teens, ranging in age from 14 to 16, along with a 39-year-old mother accompanying her daughter to a concert by a popular Italian singer, Sfera Ebbasta, whose late arrival accounted for the presence of so many young people when the pepper spray was unleashed after midnight. It was the second deadly incident involving bands of thieves using pepper spray in Italy, following a 2017 stampede that killed two in Turin at an open-air screening of the Champions League soccer final.

    Prosecutor Monica Garulli told reporters that the six suspects, who are 19 to 22, were part of a gang based in the northern city of Modena that hit nightclubs and other venues in northern and central Italy with the aim of robbing unsuspecting club-goers. She said the incident on Dec. 8 was the last time they appeared to have used pepper spray, but that they had continued to operate.

    The six suspects are under investigation for manslaughter and for causing injury to 197 others. The men, along with a seventh gang member, also are being investigated for association with the intent to carry out robberies.

    Garulli said one of the suspects robbed someone who had stopped to give aid to an injured person.

    Survivors said panic spread in the club in Corinaldo, near the Adriatic coastal city of Ancona, after the pepper spray was unleashed. Prosecutors said an oversold venue and security lapses also contributed to the deaths, which are the focus of another investigation.

    In the Turin stampede, four defendants were sentenced to just over 10 years in jail on manslaughter convictions. Two women were killed and more than 1,600 injured when the four used pepper spray to create a diversion to rob fans in Turin’s Piazza San Carlo to watch Juventus play Real Madrid on a big screen.

    City officials also faced criticism for not having adequate safety measures in place, given the number of people in the packed square surrounded on three sides by colonnaded buildings.

  32. #32

    Moscow police detain more than 800 at protest, monitor says

    MOSCOW (AP) — Police in Moscow cracked down hard on an unsanctioned election protest for the second weekend in a row Saturday, detaining more than 800 people at a rally against the exclusion from city council contests of some independent and opposition candidates, an arrest monitoring group said.

    Election officials rejected signatures several candidates needed to qualify for next month’s local ballot. The decision tapped dissatisfaction with a political environment dominated by the Kremlin-aligned United Russia party, in which dissenting voices are marginalized, ignored or repressed.

    The OVD-Info organization, which tracks arrests in Russia, said 828 people were detained Saturday.

    The Russian Interior Ministry said the number was about 600 in a crowd of about 1,500 protesters, although police are widely believed to understate crowd estimates for opposition events.

    The detentions came a week after authorities arrested nearly 1,400 people at a similar protest.

    Lyubov Sobol, one of the excluded candidates and a driving figure of the current wave of protests, was among those detained. She was grabbed by police in central Moscow and hustled into a police van, loudly demanding to know why she was being held.

    Demonstrators were aiming to hold a march along the Boulevard Ring, which skirts central Moscow and is a popular locale for people to walk around, despite repeated warnings that police would take active measures against a protest.

    Helmeted riot police lined the route and started seizing demonstrators from a scattered cluster on Pushkin Square and pushing them back from another square further along the route.

    Some of the detentions were harsh, including one young bicyclist who was beaten with truncheons as he lay on the pavement still straddling his bike. Some other detainees appeared nonchalant, smirking or checking their phones as police led them to buses.

    The demonstrations dissipated after about four hours as a steady, cold rain began falling.

    Once a local, low-key affair, the September vote for Moscow’s city council is now emblematic of the division within Russian politics and the Kremlin’s ongoing struggles with how to deal with strongly opposing views in its sprawling capital of 12.6 million people.

    In the past month, the issue has provoked a surprisingly large outcry for a local election. On July 20, about 20,000 people turned out for a demonstration that was the largest in the city in several years.

    On Saturday, about 2,000 people attended another rally in St. Petersburg supporting the Moscow protests, the local news site reported.

    The Moscow city council, which has 45 seats, is responsible for a large municipal budget and is now controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. All of its seats, which have a five-year-term, are up for grabs in the Sept. 8 vote.

    Also Saturday, Russia’s Investigative Committee announced it was opening a criminal case against the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, headed by the Kremlin’s most prominent foe Alexei Navalny. The committee said the organization was suspected of receiving funding that had been criminally acquired.

    Navalny is serving 30 days in jail for calling last week’s protest. The head of the foundation also is jail in connection with that protest.

    This story has been corrected to show there were 2,000 protesters at the St. Petersburg crowd, not 3,000.

  33. #33

    Amazon Alexa voice recordings sent into Polish homes

    Private voice commands told to Amazon's virtual assistants are being transcribed by agency workers, a newspaper reports. Numerous cases have emerged of smart speakers spying on users breaking the law or having sex.

    Amazon has admitted it employs temporary workers, sometimes working from home, to transcribe the voice commands of its Alexa virtual assistant.

    The acknowledgment follows revelations by the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that workers hired by an agency in Poland were allowed to hear the voice recordings of its German users.

    The disclosure heightens privacy concerns amid the growing popularity of interactive devices that allow users to give voice instructions to make their gadget play music, turn on lights or check the news and weather.

    Accidental recordings

    Previous revelations have shown how the voice assistants can be triggered unintentionally to record conversations.

    Last week, Britain's Guardian reported that contractors working on Apple's virtual assistant, Siri, had heard more than just users' instructions, having listened in to events including people making drug deals and having sex.

    Welt’s article, meanwhile, revealed how the voice commands given by Alexa's German users are not only heard by Amazon employers but also by agency workers in Poland.

    The newspaper reported that contractors, recruited by the agency Randstad, were allowed to work from home or on the road, a practice that potentially opens up users' personal information to be copied or shared without scrutiny.

    Teleworking jobs offered

    Welt said that while the tech giant had insisted that only trusted staff had access to the recordings, job advertisements by the agency offered workers with strong German language skills the promise of "teleworking throughout the country," after being trained by Amazon at their Gdansk office.

    Amazon admitted that audio transcription can be carried out at home but insisted "there are strict security measures and policies that every employee must adhere to." For example, working in public places is prohibited, it said.

    One agency worker told Welt it was possible to hear names or places in the voice recordings, which could potentially allow Alexa users to be identified.

    Security tightened

    On Saturday, Amazon announced a new global privacy feature allowing users to explicitly block their voice commands from being reviewed by humans.

    Apple and Google also recently suspended human audits of voice assistant recordings following similar concerns.

    German and US regulators have begun investigations into the possible violation of privacy by the tech giants.

    Although recent cases may give consumers the impression that someone is “listening" to their conversations, it is rarely true. Only a tiny proportion of the voice recordings are ever replayed by the tech giants, who insist the monitoring is only done to improve services.

  34. #34

    Global Elites Take Private Jets, Yachts to Climate Summit
    SIMON KENT31 Jul 201911,812
    The great and the good from the worlds of business, finance, politics, entertainment, and European royalty have descended on the Sicilian seaside for a billionaire’s-only party dubbed Google Summer Camp.
    Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have invited a who’s who of A-list names — including former President Barack Obama, Prince Harry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry (to name a few) – to their annual deluxe climate chat, according to the New York Post, each and every one charged with the responsibility of helping the rest of humanity find ways of fighting climate change.

    Traditionally held every year at the end of July, the famed Verdura Resort hosts the top-secret gathering, with the three-day summer camp costing the tech giant some $20 million, sources told the Post.

    Many of the guests, including Obama and DiCaprio — who has his own climate change foundation — have described global warming as the biggest threat to future generations.

    Forbes reports numerous yachts are currently moored off the beach at Verdura Resort having discharged their passengers; German pharmaceutical titan Udo J. Vetter’s sailing yacht Aquarius, Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg’s sailing yacht EOS, Graeme Hart’s yacht Ulysses with others en route including David Geffen’s yacht Rising Sun, Google’s Eric Schmidt’s yacht Infinity and its support vessel Intrepid, among them.

    According to Italian press reports, the attendees were also expected to show up in 114 private jets, of which 40 had arrived by Sunday.

    The Post found that 114 flights from Los Angeles to Palermo, Italy, where guests landed, would spew an estimated 100,000 kilograms of CO2 into the air.

    Flying to and from climate change talks is nothing new to the global elites.

    At least 1,500 private jets descended on Davos and nearby airports in Switzerland in January as the international financial and political elite gathered for their annual talk about global climate challenges.

    Davos is a small town in the Swiss Alps, around 92 miles south-east of Zurich, and an easy taxi ride from a host of commercial airports.

    Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: or e-mail to:
    EntertainmentLondon / EuropePoliticsBarack ObamaClimate ChangeDavosGoogleLarry PageSergey BrinSicilyVerdura Resort

  35. #35
    My hunch is that "Google Summer Camp" is both an excuse for those in the elite with very "liberal" (officially) views to gather and as an alternative to the Bohemian Grove which does not allow women members.

    Back when my friends were working there (and before the place became big news outside of those who lived nearby) there was a lawsuit that forced "Boho" to hire women workers, but as a private club, they could not be forced to take on female members.

    In the "old days" when my friend reported seeing elderly former Presidents acting about 10 and "pissing at trees" and Henry Kissinger in drag with coconuts (I saw the photos and still need mind bleach) not having women I think was considered a "positive" because so few of them had real power in the world and the few that did could be contacted in other ways (even other conferences like Bildeburg).

    Today, there is a large number of women especially in the tech industries, which while better known for their alpha male front boys do have a lot of women making important decisions and the same is even truer these days when it comes to banking and high finance.

    Combine that with the fact that "the Elite" are not all one giant amorphas blob of billionaires who all have the same opinions (or even the same goals) and Google Summer Camp either as a compliment or more likely a rival to BoHo when it comes to some behind the scenes decision making is not that big a surprise.

    Though making a big deal of it with huge private ships and planes sitting near the venue is very different from the older "BoHo" tradition of say very little and attend quietly (and pretend it is all a Summer Camp for Big Boys which is why I find the name "Google Summer Camp" to be very interesting).
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  36. #36
    Turkey to Europe: “If we open the floodgates to migrants no European government will be able to survive”

    By Arthur Lyons
    Voice of Europe
    5 August 2019

    Turkey has warned European countries that, if it wanted to, it could destroy Europe’s governments by letting millions of migrants from the Middle East pass through its borders to make their way into Europe.

    Days ago, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said, “We are facing the biggest wave of migration in history. If we open the floodgates, no European government will be able to survive for more than six months. We advise them not to try our patience.”

    He also accused European countries of leaving Turkey to deal with the migration issue by itself.

    In March of 2016, the EU made a tentative agreement that if realized would’ve allowed visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to EU member states and begin proceedings to allow Turkey to Ankara complied with a series of requirements.

    The plan wasn’t realized and now Turkey is threatening Europe with drastic action if it fails to deliver a deal.

    EU officials say that although Turkey has helped to reduce the flow of migrants coming into Europe, but it hasn’t met all the needed requirements for visa liberalization.

    Soeren Kern of the New York-based Gladstone institute writes, “[Turkey] has failed to comply with the most important one: relaxing its stringent anti-terrorism laws, which are being used to silence critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

    In a July 22nd interview with a Turkish television channel, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuţođlu said, “We have suspended the readmission agreement. We will not wait at the EU’s door.”

    Currently, there are about 3.5 million migrants – mostly from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan – who are being hosted by the Turkish government. These migrants, along with millions more still living in the war-torn Middle East, all would like to come to Europe.’

    The only thing standing in their way is the land bridge that is Turkey. If the ‘floodgates were opened’ the ensuing fallout would make the 2015 migrant crisis look like a cakewalk.

  37. #37

    Cyprus to ask the Netherlands to take some of the islands’ thousands of refugees
    Society August 5, 2019

    Cyprus is poised this week to make a formal request to the Netherlands to accept some of the thousands of refugees on the island, broadcaster NOS said on Monday. Cyprus’ home affairs minister Constantinos Petrides has told the broadcaster he has no faith in the European resettlement mechanism for distributing refugees across the EU and that he is now approaching individual countries. The situation in Cyprus, he said, is insupportable. The island is now home to thousands of refugees who have arrived by sea from the Middle East and Africa. Some 15,000 refugees on the island have been processed and a further 15,000 are awaiting documentation, NOS said. Every month 1,000 new refugees are arriving.

    Cyprus was not prepared for this,’ Petrides said. ‘We are a small island and have not completely solved our own 1974 refugee crisis. Now these new arrivals comprise more than 4% of our population.’ Status The Netherlands gave protected status to 4,795 refugees last year and granted asylum to a further 1,225 people who had first registered in another EU country, according to figures from European statistics agency Eurostat. In total, the 28 European member states gave protected status to almost 333,400 refugees, down 40% on 2017. Most – 139,000 – were taken in by Germany, with Italy and France in second and third place.

    The Netherlands plans to cut the number of refugees it will accept under the EU resettlement scheme to 500 following the decision to allow more children to qualify for the child refugee amnesty.


  38. #38

    Danish business sector elated over Donald Trump visit
    US president’s stop in Denmark presents a massive opportunity, contends Brian Mikkelsen

    August 1st, 2019 10:51 am| by Christian W
    It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to argue that Donald Trump likely isn’t the most popular US president among the Danes – in fact, quite a few of them might line up and voice their displeasure when the controversial leader visits Denmark on September 2.

    But the Danish business sector is of another opinion. Trump’s quick jaunt to Denmark presents a huge opportunity for companies looking make critical connections and gain a foothold in the US market.

    For Danish business, the visit is outstanding news. Aside from being familiar allies, the US is also a close trading partner. We export for more than 125 billion kroner to the US and the country has the world’s largest economy and is our second-largest export market,” said Brian Mikkelsen, the former business minister and current head of the Danish chamber of commerce, Dansk Erhverv.

    “Life science companies, for instance, have very good prerequisites for getting even more out of the US market and the presidential visit is a golden opportunity for the Danish business sector to open doors.”

    READ ALSO: Donald Trump is coming to Denmark

    Four in a row
    Mikkelsen maintained that while much of the attention will be focused on Trump, he will likely be accompanied by a considerable delegation that could offer connection which may prove vital for Danish companies.

    Yesterday, new PM Mette Frederiksen said that she looked forward to Trump’s arrival and discussing global issues such as security, Arctic dilemmas, trade and investment.

    Donald Trump will become just the fourth incumbent US president to visit Denmark. However, it seems like Denmark has become a must-visit country for US leadership in recent decades. The three presidents to also visit Denmark during their tenures are Bill Clinton,
    George W Bush and Barack Obama.

  39. #39

    Second African swine flue case reported in Slovakia

    A second case of the African swine fever virus in Slovakia has been diagnosed in Velky Kamenec (Kosice region), approximately 5.5 kilometres from the outbreak which was registered in Strazne last week, the State Veterinary and Food Administration (SVPS) reported on Thursday on its web page. SVPS clarified that only one pig was infected and that it was the only pig in the holding at the time of its death. The source of the infection has not been identified yet.


  40. #40

    Politologist: events in Moscow are a strong signal for protests to expand further

    The decision of some residents to take it to the streets of Moscow to protest against the unfair treatment of opposition members before next month’s municipal elections was sudden and unexpected, because the protest is associated with an event that is not all that important – elections that are not really elections but appointment of officials to the administration of Moscow, says Daukšts.

    The politologist claims society was offended by the government’s refusal to listen to other people’s – the opposition’s – opinions. This, according to the politologist, caused a backlash that was used by official and unofficial opposition.

    «I believe these events could spiral further, because the informal opposition continues forming organizational structure, which is one of the most dangerous turns for Russia’s ruling clique and could potentially impede their ability to enforce their will. The peak of intelligence has taken it to the streets. These people are interested in politics, but when lower class residents take it to the streets it sometimes causes serious changes, which is something politicians in power are trying to avoid,» says Daukšts.

    He adds that all tools of propaganda are being used because a relatively small number of Moscow had residents participated in protests.

    He adds that what is important the most is for Russia’s society to understand that without actively participating in the process, the government will not change and it is necessary add pressure through bigger protests.

    «I think protests of recent weeks are only the beginning and a powerful signal to protests in Russia possibly expanding, because the exhaustion from Putin is gradually becoming more apparent. This is further proven by results of sociological surveys. There are also multiple other indicators,» says Daukšts.

    Russia’s relations with the west are interpreted one-sidedly, says the expert. There is one historical pretext in Russian mentality – external threats are used in Russia as a tool for consolidation. Western sanctions often consolidate the chauvinistic part of the population who see threats to their existence, the politologist says.

    On Saturday, 3 August, Russian police and National Guard detained 828 protesters. 19 of them were allegedly beaten. The number of detained minors had exceeded 90.

    Moscow police have since released nearly all detainees, as reported by OVD-Info, which is an organization that monitors arrests.

    At least 19 people remain detained by police.

    The Saturday’s protest was announced as a ‘walk on boulevards’. Several hours prior to its beginning, Moscow police had deployed riot police and National Guard units.

    Nearly 1 400 people had been detained in a protest that took place a week prior. Around 77 protesters received different injuries during the protest.

    Protesters demand equal opportunities for all participants in next month’s elections.


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