Check out the TB2K CHATROOM, open 24/7               Configuring Your Preferences for OPTIMAL Viewing
  To access our Email server, CLICK HERE

  If you are unfamiliar with the Guidelines for Posting on TB2K please read them.      ** LINKS PAGE **

*** Help Support TB2K ***
via mail, at TB2K Fund, P.O. Box 24, Coupland, TX, 78615

ALERT Europe: Politics,Trade, NATO- August 2019
+ Reply to Thread
Page 3 of 5 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 5 LastLast
Results 81 to 120 of 176
  1. #81

    German government moves to end 'solidarity tax' for eastern Germany
    Germany is planning to drastically reduce its historical "solidarity" tax with its eastern states. The move will mean a significant income tax cut for the middle classes, but Merkel's CDU also wants to unburden the rich.

    Finance Minister Olaf Scholz presented a draft bill on Friday for approval to other government ministries, which would see 90% of taxpayers completely freed of the solidarity tax. The extra tax, commonly known as the "Soli," amounts to 5.5% of income tax and corporation tax.

    Another 6.5% of taxpayers would see their Soli reduced.

    The tax, which brought the state €18.9 billion ($21.2 billion) in 2018, was first introduced in 1991 to help cover the costs of reunification and invest in infrastructure in the former East Germany. It was originally meant as a temporary measure but was made permanent in 1995.

    Watch video05:42
    Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago
    Solidarity Pact set to end

    Germany's federal government also agreed a "Solidarity Pact" with the state governments in 2001, a plan that is meant to financially support the eastern German states and lift them to economic parity with the former West.

    That pact expires at the end of this year, and the president of Germany's Constitutional Court, Hans-Jürgen Papier, concluded in May that the Soli should be abolished by then. He argued the tax would effectively be unconstitutional if no pact was in place as a framework within which to spend the money on the East.

    Since 2012, the government has been collecting more money from the Soli than it spends on its eastern states.

    First step' to total abolition

    The two government parties, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Scholz's Social Democratic Party (SPD), agreed to reduce the tax in last year's coalition agreement. But the CDU is pushing for a total abolition, which would also reduce the tax burden for the upper-income bracket and corporations.

    According to calculations made by the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in June, people with middle incomes could save up to €900 per year if the Soli were abolished. Effectively, Scholz's plan means anyone paying up to €33,912 in income tax will not have to pay Soli at all.

    "It is good that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is implementing the coalition agreement and taking the first step toward reducing the Soli," CDU parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus told the dpa news agency, "but we in the CDU are committed to our aim of abolishing the Soli for all taxpayers."

    Tax gifts for the rich?

    The phrase "first step" also appears in the coalition agreement, though the SPD is apparently reluctant to go further and get rid of the tax entirely.

    SPD deputy parliamentary group leader Achim Post insisted that his party remained against getting rid of the Soli. "We want to achieve more tax equality step by step, but we certainly don't want to give away billion-euro tax gifts," he said. "We need the money for investment in education and climate protection."

    CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak said he was expecting the Cabinet to approve Scholz's draft bill this month, "so that the money gets to the citizens quickly."

    But Bernd Riexinger, chairman of the socialist Left party, accused the government of "pursuing policies for the well-off" rather than those that benefit society. "Only a few months ago Finance Minister Scholz was warning against billion-euro holes in the budget. Now he wants to unburden high earners. That doesn't fit together."

    bk/kl (dpa, AFP)

  2. #82

    AUGUST 11, 2019 / 11:18 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO
    Salvini's quest for snap Italian election faces hurdles
    Silvia Aloisi

    MILAN (Reuters) - League chief Matteo Salvini’s call for snap Italian elections after he turned on his own coalition partner faced mounting resistance on Sunday, with both his former 5-Star ally and the center-left opposition seeking to put the brakes on.

    Salvini’s far-right League on Friday filed a no-confidence motion to bring down the government it formed with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, a move that he hopes will trigger new elections as soon as October and install him as Italy’s new leader.

    But that plan is facing criticism from other parties, whose support the League would need in parliament for the no-confidence vote to succeed.

    Former Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi, who still wields strong influence over his center-left party, said on Sunday going back to the polls just when the government is due to start preparations for the 2020 budget would be “crazy”.

    In an interview with Corriere della Sera daily, Renzi called instead for a caretaker government to be installed with the support of parties across the political spectrum.

    Such an administration’s first task would be to find some 23 billion euros ($25.8 billion) to avert a rise in sales tax which will otherwise kick in from January.

    “We will head back to the polls, of course. But the savings of Italians must come first,” he said.

    He also backed 5-Star’s call for legislation cutting the number of MPs and senators in Italy by 345 to be passed before new elections. There are currently 630 members of the lower house and 315 senators.

    5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio also said on Sunday that triggering a government crisis now was “foolish and dangerous.”

    While the PD, which is itself deeply divided, and 5-Star remain far apart on many issues, commentators sensed a rapprochement between the two sides, united by a desire to foil Salvini’s plans given that he would likely emerge as the winner of a snap election.

    However the current leader of the PD, Nicola Zingaretti, told state TV he did not think Renzi’s proposal would work.

    We are all aware of the danger Salvini represents, but I doubt that a government fixing the public finances Salvini messed up would be the solution,” he said.

    The draft bill cutting the number of lawmakers is at an advanced stage, with a final vote due next month, but such a measure would have to follow a lengthy constitutional procedure that would make new elections unlikely for another year.


    With parliament closed for the summer holidays, Salvini has been waging an unofficial election campaign on Italian beaches, a perfect venue for his down-market, “man-of-the-people” persona.

    5-Star has more parliamentary seats than the League, but Salvini’s party now has twice as much voter support, according to opinion polls.

    Salvini, who effectively triggered the crisis on Thursday by declaring the ruling coalition unworkable, accused his critics of scheming to save their posts and keep him from power.

    “Under-the-table stitch-ups, palace intrigues, technocrat or caretaker administrations will not stop Italians who want a strong government,” he said on Facebook on Sunday.

    Despite the summer recess, Salvini has summoned all League lawmakers back to Rome on Monday and is pushing for a vote on the no-confidence motion against the government this week, while opposition parties would prefer to wait until Aug. 19-20.

    The decision lies with the heads of political groups in the Senate, who will meet on Monday to set a timetable.

    Only President Sergio Mattarella has the power to dissolve parliament and he may be unwilling to do so ahead of preparatory work in September for the 2020 budget, which must be presented to parliament and the European Commission the following month.

    He could try instead to form a new government from the existing legislature before resorting to an election.

    Salvini’s shock decision to call time on the 14-month-old government last week threw the euro zone’s third-largest economy, whose public debt is the second highest in the single currency bloc, into deeper political uncertainty, sparking a sell-off in Italian bonds and shares.

    ($1 = 0.8930 euros)

    Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Keith Weir

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  3. #83
    New Lithuanian agricultural minister promises to cooperate with Latvia, Estonia, Poland in fight for higher direct payments in EU

    VILNIUS – New Lithuanian Agricultural Minister Andrius Palionis has promised to cooperate with Latvia, Estonia and Poland in the fight for higher direct payments to farmers in the EU.

    “The minister and the ministry should gather everyone around one table – unite the forces of the Baltics and Poland to achieve higher direct payments,” he said, adding that if Lithuania is fighting for this alone, it will not win the battle.

    As reported, the agriculture ministers from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia agreed in May that during negotiations with the European Commission, the Baltic states will demand that direct payments to their farmers reach 100 percent of the EU average in seven years.

  4. #84

    Two large-scale international military exercises to be held in Latvia in the autumn

    RIGA - Two large-scale international military exercises will be held in Latvia in the autumn, LETA was informed by the Defense Ministry.

    From September 26 to October 6, the Silver Bullet international military exercises will be held. Participating in the exercise will be troops from the National Armed Forces and allied military units - Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Estonia, as well as troops from the Canadian led NATO battle group.

    The aim of the infantry exercise will be to improve the operation planning and implementation of national defense operations.

    Meanwhile, from October 28 to November 10, the Furious Axe military exercise will take place in Latvia.

    Participating in this exercise will be military units from Latvia and Estonia, as well as soldiers from the Canadian led NATO battle group in Latvia and the British led NATO battle group in Estonia.

    This exercise is aimed at training and improving coordination between the battle groups in the territory of Latvia, as well as the hosting of allied forces.

  5. #85

    Salvini Erupts At Richard Gere: "Why Don't You Take Italy's Migrants To Hollywood On Your Jet"
    Profile picture for user Tyler Durden
    by Tyler Durden
    Mon, 08/12/2019 - 04:15

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini hit back at Richard Gere, suggesting that the actor fly 160 migrants stranded off the Italian coast back to Hollywood on his "private jet."

    Gere, appearing at a press conference for NGO Open Arms on the Italian island of Lampedusa, implored Italy to allow the ship to dock - a request Salvini has staunchly refused for weeks, according to Bloomberg.

    "As the generous millionaire airs his demands about the fate of the Open Arms immigrants, we thank him: he will be able to bring everyone in his private jet to Hollywood and keep them in his villas," said Salvini in response to Gere's appearance.

    "Surely, he is impressed by the decisions that have been taken to bolster police and counter smugglers and criminals. Italy had been waiting for those measures for years," he added.

    Salvini has made a flagship policy of refusing to allow the migrant vessels, coming mostly from nearby North Africa, to enter Italian waters. Now in the first steps of a months-long electoral campaign, Salvini is likely to double down on the anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s made him Italy’s most popular politician for now. -Bloomberg

    Open Arms founder Oscar Camps said during the presser that the migrants - who were rescued in international waters - are entitled to safe harbor and to apply for asylum in Europe. They are currently on a NGO vessel floating in international waters near the island - located around half-way between the southern Italian coast and Tunisia.

    The 69-year-old Gere was filmed aboard the Open Arms vessel on Friday giving migrants snacks and water, before making a short speech.

    The most important thing," said Gere - speaking from the boat, is for the migrants "to be able to get to a free port, to be able to get off the boats and get on land and start a new life."

    Malta, meanwhile, says they will accept 39 of the migrants picked up Friday, however other European governments have thus far refused to allow the remainder to disembark.

    Salvini has dubbed the request to disembark a “provocation” that disregards the lives of the migrants and called on Spain, the country where the boat is registered, to take them in. Spanish authorities have refused, insisting it must disembark at the nearest port.

    The Italian interior minister has also threatened to seize the ship, using newly acquired powers granted him by parliament just days before he pulled the plug on the shaky coalition with a populist ally and sought to force new elections. -Bloomberg

    According to Camps, "No decree or fine will stop us from protecting people at sea."

  6. #86

    Ukraine protests Putin’s trip to motorcycle show in Crimea

    MOSCOW (AP) — Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has protested Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Crimea, where he attended a pro-Kremlin motorcycle club’s annual festival.

    The Foreign Ministry on Sunday called Putin’s trip “a crude violation by the Russian side of state sovereignty and the territorial integrity of our state.”

    The Russian leader wore black leather and drove a motorbike during the Shadow of Babylon show organized by the Night Wolves.

    Putin has attended previous events put on by the motorcycle gang, which gained notoriety for its support of the Kremlin.

    He told Saturday’s crowd “such manly and cool guys set an example to young people in our country and show them how they should treat Russia.”

    Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that most countries view as illegal.

  7. #87
    Pope Francis Proposes ‘Europe First’ Against Populist Nationalism

    Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D. / Europe
    11 August 2019

    ROME — Pope Francis said that citizens of European nations should put the good of Europe before that of their own countries in a remarkably frank interview Friday.

    “The thinking must be ‘Europe first, then each one of us,’” the pope said in a wide-ranging interview with the Italian daily La Stampa. “‘Each one of us’ is not secondary, it is important, but Europe counts more.”

    “Never forget that ‘the whole is greater than the parts.’ Globalization, unity, should not be conceived as a sphere, but as a polyhedron: each people retains its identity in unity with others,” he said.

    “In the European Union, we must talk to each other, confront each other and get to know each other. Yet sometimes we see only compromise monologues. No: we also need to listen,” he said.

    The pontiff made no attempt to conceal his contempt for the policies of Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, whose motto has been “Italians first.” Francis even went so far as to compare Salvini’s speeches to those of Adolph Hitler.

    “Sovereignism” — the movement spearheaded in Italy by Mr. Salvini — reveals “an attitude toward isolation,” the pope said. “I am concerned because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934. ‘Us first, We…We…’ These are frightening thoughts.”

    “Sovereignism means being closed,” the pope continued. “A country should be sovereign but not closed. Sovereignty must be defended, but relations with other countries and with the European community must also be protected and promoted.”

    “Sovereignism is an exaggeration that always ends badly: it leads to war,” he said.

    When asked about populism, the pope said that it is basically the same thing as sovereignism.

    “It is one thing is for people to express themselves, and another is to impose a populist attitude on the people,” he said. “The people are sovereign (they have their way of thinking, feeling, evaluating, and expressing themselves), while populist movements lead to forms of sovereignism. That suffix, ‘ism’, is never good.”

    In his interview, the pope also seemed to embrace popular notions that Europe and the European Union (EU) are virtually the same thing, so that to weaken the EU is to weaken Europe.

    “Europe cannot and must not break apart. It is a historical, cultural as well as a geographical unity,” Francis said. “The dream of the Founding Fathers had substance because it was an implementation of this unity. Now, we must not lose this heritage.”

    “This unity has weakened over the years, partly because of administration problems and internal disagreements. But it must be saved. After the elections, I hope that a process to relaunch it begins and continues without interruption,” he said.

    The pope also expressed his admiration for the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, saying he was pleased with the appointment of the former German defense minister to the post.

    “A woman can be the right person to revive the strength of the Founding Fathers,” the pope said of the Angela Merkel protégée. “Women know how to bring people together, unite.”

    Von der Leyen sprang into public view in 2016 with her push for European military integration, perceived by many to have been one of the key issues that pushed the British people toward Brexit.

    Von der Leyen warned the United Kingdom against opposing further military federalization, the establishment of a single EU army, navy, and air force.

    Earlier this year, she declared that the EU army was “already taking shape.”

  8. #88
    US-China trade war leaves Europe as collateral damage

    By David Mchugh, AP Business Writer
    FRANKFURT, Germany — August 12, 2019, 8:25 AM ET

    Like a sleek Mercedes crunched between two freight trucks, Europe's economy is being knocked off course by the conflict between the U.S. and China over trade.

    The bill for damages from the U.S-China collision will likely be reflected in new growth figures due Wednesday that could show Europe's economic motor, Germany, is stalled or shrinking. Beyond that, economists say there are signs that years of declining unemployment since the depths of the Great Recession and the eurozone debt crisis may be ending.

    And if the trade wars escalate to include higher U.S. tariffs on cars made in Europe, the picture could look even worse.

    The heart of the matter is Germany, Europe's largest economy and a key trade partner of both the U.S. and China.

    Exports amount to almost half the German economy - 47%, according to the World Bank — as its companies play a dominant role in global markets for luxury autos and complex industrial machinery. Supply chains from Germany extend into neighboring eurozone countries as well, while German profits are often invested in factories in places like Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. Great when trade is booming — but it means Germany remains more vulnerable than less open economies such as Portugal or France to a slowdown in global trade in goods and services.

    And that is what's happening.

    German has spewed wretched economic data for weeks: an 8% annual fall in exports in June, a 1.5% drop in industrial production in June from the month before, three times bigger than expected. Surveys of executives suggest the industrial sector is in recession, with consumer demand and services propping up the economy.

    But the damage from trade uncertainty may be spreading to consumers and companies that do business only at home.

    While German unemployment remains low at 3.1%, job gains have stalled recently. Growth in the eurozone as a whole halved to 0.2% in the second quarter compared with the first. Italy, the third largest economy in the eurozone, was another weak spot, with zero growth after only 0.1% in the first quarter.

    One unsettling sign is that investment in new plants and equipment across the eurozone has weakened this year even as factory capacity utilization remains relatively strong . That is a departure from the longer term pattern, and suggests that managers don't see stronger sales and profits ahead.

    Ironically, trade between Germany and the U.S. and between Germany and China is holding up pretty well. It's mainly the uncertainty about the outcome of the clash between U.S. President Donald Trump and the Chinese Communist leadership that has been weighing on business confidence and deterring decisions to invest and buy across global markets. Last week, Trump imposed a 10% tariff on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods effective September 1.

    As a result, research firm Oxford Economics forecasts world trade growth of just 1.2% this year, far below last year's 4.9% rise.

    There are a few small benefits for Europe. While the U.S. and China ramped up barriers against each other, the U.S. has largely kept tariffs on European products the same, except for introducing charges on steel and aluminum imports. China has actually lowered charges on exports from the 19 European countries that use the euro.

    "That mildly positive effect for the eurozone has been, however, more than offset by the hit to business sentiment and demand," says economist Florian Hense at Berenberg bank. "As uncertainty about the future trading regime is pervasive, businesses have cut their outlook and their investment plans. The slowdown in Chinese actual and potential growth, which the trade tensions have exacerbated, also weighs on demand for eurozone exports." Hense thinks the U.S. and China will eventually cut a deal and remove the uncertainty.

    But for now the drawn-out trade discussion continues to corrode optimism.

    Top companies have issued cautious outlooks along with their earnings for the most recent quarter, even those that are doing relatively well. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess warned that "growing protectionism also poses major challenges for the globally integrated auto industry." Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser said that "geopolitics and geo-economics are harming an otherwise positive investment sentiment."

    The auto industry in particular, with its dependence on demand from operations in China, looks less healthy. Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, has issued four profit warnings over 18 months and saw its first quarterly loss since 2009. BMW lost money on its autos business in the first quarter for the first time in a decade. Trump has recently repeated a willingness to increase tariffs on imported autos if he does not get a satisfactory new trade deal with the EU.

    Some of Europe's troubles can't be blamed on the trade dispute. The auto industry is under pressure to meet lower greenhouse gas emissions limits imposed by the European Union. Automakers had expected to rely on more fuel-efficient diesels to help meet the requirements, but saw diesel sales plunge after Volkswagen was caught in 2015 cheating on diesel emissions tests.

    Another source of uncertainty is Britain's impending departure from the EU, currently set for October 31. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to leave without an extension even if that means no divorce deal to smooth trade.

    In an effort to ward off a steeper slowdown or possible recession, the European Central Bank has signaled it could provide more monetary stimulus at its Sept. 12 meeting, including new purchases of bonds, which pump newly created money into the economy. It's a measure of Europe's reversal of fortune that a four-year, 2.6 trillion-euro ($2.9 trillion) bond purchase program was halted only in December.

    "What is hurting German exports currently is the uncertainty which has spread across the globe and has also paralyzed many European economies," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist for Germany at ING. "Looking ahead, the outlook for German exporters is clearly in the hands of the U.S. and China."

  9. #89

    Fast, not so furious? Europe wrestles with electric scooters
    2 hours ago

    PARIS (AP) — Ban them outright. Issue speeding tickets. Make users take a driving test. From Paris to Berlin, European cities are searching for solutions to the two-wheeled phenomenon that’s fast transforming cityscapes worldwide: Electric scooters.

    Proponents call them a leap into the future, an exhilarating, app-based way to zip from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower without generating planet-choking pollution.

    Rubbish, say critics, noting growing numbers of injuries and even deaths involving e-scooters. They decry a new nuisance to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers who are already battling for the limited space on city streets.

    Across the U.S., cities are also struggling to regulate companies renting the vehicles and keep riders safe. Here’s what some European countries are doing about it:


    France’s government met Monday with the victims of scooter accidents as it prepares new rules. Paris alone has more free-floating scooter companies than the entire United States, according to a June study, and at least 20,000 whizzing through its historic streets.

    Most are app-based, rented scooters that you pick up and drop off wherever you want, and that’s especially appealing to tourists and teens. But victims’ groups say these users don’t know French road rules and can’t always be held liable for accidents. One scooter driver has been killed in Paris and scores injured this year.

    Paris imposes 135-euro ($150) fines for riding on the sidewalk on scooters. The city’s mayor wants to limit scooter speeds to 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph) in most areas, and 8 kilometers per hour (5 mph) in areas with heavy foot traffic. She plans to limit the number of operators to three and cap the number of scooters.

    New rules expected in September will expand those limits to other French cities, and include potential speeding fines up to 1,500 euros ($1,680).

    Critics say current proposals don’t go far enough. Some want age limits for riders, and to require them to take driving tests and have insurance, so that governments don’t have to pay for medical care or other damage they cause.


    Berlin legalized electric scooters two months ago and quickly realized it needs tougher rules.

    Last week, city officials in the German capital announced plans for on-street parking zones for the battery-powered vehicles, which are often left haphazardly on sidewalks. Berlin police will also step up patrols to prevent illegal behavior such as doubling.

    German police say seven people have been seriously injured and 27 suffered minor injuries in scooter accidents since mid-June, saying most were due to riders behaving carelessly.

    While pro-scooter folks say they’re a way to cut down on more polluting forms of transport, the anti-scooter faction says they’re mainly used by people who would otherwise walk or take public transport anyway.



    In the U.K., e-scooters are banned from sidewalks and it is an offense to use them on the roads because they don’t comply with laws requiring insurance, taxes and driver testing. Advocates have protested, arguing that it’s time for a change in regulations.

    Television presenter and YouTube personality Emily Hartridge, 35, became the first person in Britain to be killed while riding an e-scooter when she was struck by a truck in in south London on July 12.

    The following day, a 14-year-old boy suffered a head injury after crashing into a bus stop in southeast London.



    Electric scooters dot the urban landscapes of major Spanish cities and the official traffic regulator has prepared new guidelines — but their approval hinges on Spanish politicians forming a new national government after a hung parliament emerged from April’s national election.

    In the meantime, cities have adopted a hodge-podge of restrictions.

    Helmets are only mandatory in Madrid for those under 16. Yet they are compulsory for everyone in Barcelona, where a 92-year-old died after she was run over by an electric scooter last year. The rider was investigated for involuntary homicide but was ultimately only fined because of the lack of regulations.

    In Madrid, the city requires scooter-users to operate only in roads with no more than one lane per way, while imposing a maximum speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour (18.6 mph).

    Seville last week joined the scooter ride-sharing frenzy, but the southern city’s rental operator is testing a way to self-restrict rides to and from designated private parking spots.


    Brussels — the capital of Belgium and the European Union — has been inundated with e-scooters over the last year.

    But each of the 19 municipalities that make up Brussels has its own rules on the vehicles. Some impose fines or speed limits, while others impose parking restrictions.

    The Brussels region is now gathering information from all these municipalities to streamline the rules. A city spokeswoman said there has been one deadly accident so far involving e-scooters and a major hospital says it’s treating up to two injuries a day related to scooter incidents.

    Helmets are not required by law, but debate is swirling around obliging scooter and mono-wheel riders to wear them.


    Italy’s transportation ministry set new rules last month for e-scooters, Segways, hoverboards and other electric forms of transport.

    Scooters are allowed in streets — but can’t go faster than 30 kilometers per hour (18 mph). In pedestrian areas, e-scooter speeds are limited to just 6 kph (3.6 mph). Now it’s up to Italian cities to designate areas and post signs, and establish rules for scooter-sharing businesses.



    In the Balkan countries, e-scooters are still operating in a grey zone, except for Slovenia, which is drafting legislation that will restrict them to pedestrian areas and bicycle lanes.

    The maximum speed will be restricted to 25 kilometers per hour (15 mph), but in pedestrian zones, electric scooters will have to stay at a walking pace.

    They will be subject to same local rules as for bicycles, which means they will have to have lights and helmets will be mandatory for underage riders.


    Danica Kirka in London, Aritz Parra in Madrid, Raf Casert and Lorne Cook in Brussels, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Dolores Hinkley in Rome and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade contributed.

  10. #90

    AUGUST 13, 2019 / 7:19 AM / UPDATED 13 MINUTES AGO
    'Wanted' - Macron farming MP targeted in latest French protest

    PARIS (Reuters) - French anti-government protesters put up a large poster of Jean-Baptiste Moreau, one of President Emmanuel Macron’s farming experts, with the word “Wanted” on it outside a local government building on Tuesday, as anger over recent trade deals escalates.

    Many branch offices of Macron’s LREM party have been vandalized in the last month, with farmers in particular angry over EU trade deals with Canada and South American nations.

    “Look at what has just been found on the railings of the local government building,” said Moreau, a farmer who represents LREM in the central France region of Creuse, on his Twitter page, referring to the poster of him.

    Local police in Creuse said an inquiry was underway.

    French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume condemned the incident. “That’s enough. Let’s stop all the hatred and stigmatization,” he wrote on Twitter.

    Anti-government protests have picked up after France’s parliament approved the “CETA” EU-Canada trade deal last month, with recent demonstrations by farmers coming on top of the ongoing “Yellow Vests” protests against Macron’s policies.

    Critics say CETA will undermine EU social and environmental regulations by allowing imports of products made under conditions that would not be allowed in Europe.

    French farmers are also angry over the potential hit to their livelihoods from a provisional trade deal struck in June by the EU and the Mercosur bloc of South American countries, which includes major agricultural exporters Brazil and Argentina.

    More than 10 LREM offices have been targeted in the last month, including manure being dumped outside the office of Monique Iborra and fellow member of parliament Romain Grau’s office being set on fire.

    Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Hugh Lawson

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  11. #91

    Estonian employers' organizations: Current amendments to Aliens Act ineffective

    TALLINN - The bill seeking to amend the Aliens Act has been compiled in a hurry and and without sufficient analysis, and would not help curb the abuse of regulations imposed on the use of foreign labor in Estonia, Estonian entrepreneurs' umbrella organizations said.

    The Estonian Employers' Confederation and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry have sent a joint communication to Minister of the Interior Mart Helme criticizing the planned amendments to the Aliens Act.

    "We support the objective of the amendment seeking to help reduce the abusing of regulations imposed on foreigners' working in Estonia. However, we object to the measures proposed in the bill, as according to our assessment, they are not the most reasonable way for achieving the desired outcome," the statement reads.

    The organizations said that the bill has been compiled in a hurry and as a result, the measures proposed are unclear to entrepreneurs and also likely to regulatory authorities. The proposal also lacks sufficient impact analysis.

    "It remains unclear which problem [the bill] seeks to solve and which foreign labor schemes it would combat," Arto Aas, head of the Employers' Confederation, said. "The new measures should help avoid abuses. What we are seeing currently, is a wish to quickly implement measures that have not been analyzed, but that must not be an objective in itself," he said.

    The director general of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mait Palts said that the bill would also increase honest entrepreneurs' administrative burden.

    "Many entrepreneurs would also have a disproportionate responsibility for third parties. The executive power cannot arbitrarily increase entrepreneurs' administrative burden by establishing reverse burden of proof, and thus forcing employers to do its job," Palts said, adding that in that case, employers would have no resource left to carry out their own activities.

    For instance, pursuant to the bill, a main contractor that does not employ foreign labor itself could nevertheless be classified as a user undertaking and would have to take responsibility for its subcontractors in matters relating to the employment of foreign labor and tax payments, which is effectively impossible.

    The business organizations' position is that the current bill should be binned and the legislative process should be started from scratch. As a first thing, legislative intent must be laid down, which the current bill does not include. Pursuant to the rules for good legislative practice and legislative drafting, each bill should generally be preceded by such a document.

  12. #92

    Number of declarations of foreign workers in Poland rises

    August 13th, 2019

    The number of employers' declarations of employing foreigners in Poland stood at 845,930 in the first half of 2019 as against 756,800 in the first half of last year, the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy has announced. The figure for the whole of 2018 was 1.58 million. The number of Ukrainian citizens employed on the basis of an employer's declaration stood at 764,760 in H1 2019 as against 692,460 in the first half of 2018. For the whole of last year, the number of declarations for Ukrainians reached 1.45 million.


  13. #93

    Western Govts Urge End to Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Stalemate
    Perparim IsufiPristinaBIRNAugust 13, 2019

    The US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy called on Kosovo and Serbia to show willingness to compromise and restart their dialogue on the normalisation of relations which stalled over a dispute about import tariffs.

    The five so-called ‘Quint’ countries – US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy – called on the Pristina and Belgrade governments on Tuesday to stop creating obstacles to the restart of the EU-mediated dialogue, which has been stalled since last year.

    The Quint countries said in a statement that the current status quo “prevents progress on Kosovo’s and Serbia’s path towards the European Union (EU) and is simply not sustainable”.

    “After years of stagnation, the time has come to finally end the conflicts of the 1990s and provide a secure and prosperous future for the people of Kosovo and Serbia by negotiating in good faith an agreement that both sides can support,” the statement said.

    The Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has been stalled since last November, when the Pristina government imposed 100 per cent tariffs on imports from Serbia as a retaliatory measure against Belgrade’s diplomatic moves to block Kosovo from joining Interpol.

    The Quint statement said that the five Western governments want “to see the full normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia via a comprehensive, politically sustainable, and legally binding agreement that contributes to regional stability”.

    “Therefore, we call on Kosovo and Serbia to restart the EU-led dialogue with urgency and ask that both parties avoid actions that will hinder a final agreement, which is necessary for both countries to achieve greater Euro-Atlantic integration and its accompanying benefits,” the statement added.

    The five Western governments said they are prepared to step up their role to support the EU High Representative who facilitates the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

    “But we cannot do so until you both signal a willingness to compromise, remove obstacles and resume discussions,” the statement said.

    “For Kosovo, that means suspending the tariffs imposed on Serbia. For Serbia, that means suspending the de-recognition campaign against Kosovo,” it added.

    Serbia has been campaigning internationally to convince countries which have recognised Kosovo as an independent state to revoke their recognitions.

    The tariff dispute has exacerbated the dispute between Belgrade and Pristina in recent months.

    Serbian officials have demanded that the tariffs be revoked, but their Kosovo counterparts insist that Belgrade should grant full recognition of its former province’s independence.

  14. #94

    Spain to take some migrants on Open Arms ship, says Italy
    Ingrid Melander, Gavin Jones

    MADRID/ROME (Reuters) - Spain has offered to take some of around 150 migrants on a rescue ship that has been blocked from docking in Italy, Rome authorities said on Thursday, signaling a possible end to a standoff that has fueled infighting in the coalition government.

    The vessel was in Italian territorial waters on Thursday, said a spokeswoman for its operator, Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms. Its passengers have been in limbo since they were picked up in the Mediterranean in early August.

    Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had refused to allow them to disembark, triggering the latest of a number of flashpoints over immigration between European governments since he launched a clampdown on refugee arrivals by sea after taking office in June 2018 .

    But a Rome administrative court ruled on Wednesday that the vessel, also called Open Arms, should be allowed to enter Italian territorial waters.

    The office of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that Spain had expressed willingness to take some of the migrants once they had disembarked.

    Salvini’s League and its coalition partner, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, were already in open warfare after Salvini said last week the alliance had become unworkable and called for elections.

    Saying he would “never be an accomplice to human traffickers,” Salvini issued an emergency order to prevent Open Arms arriving at the Italian island of Lampedusa, but the defense minister, who is from 5-Star, has refused to counter-sign it.

    Openly challenging the League leader, who has so far dictated Italy’s immigration policy, Elisabetta Trenta said defying the court was illegal and added that “politics must not lose its humanity.”

    Hollywood star Richard Gere visited the Open Arms last week and urged the Italian government to stop “demonising people” and allow the boat to disembark.

    The Spanish government declined to comment, but daily El Pais said three unnamed government sources had confirmed Madrid’s willingness to take in some of the migrants.

    The newspaper said the exact number that Spain would take had yet to be determined, under a broader deal in which France, Germany and others would also take part.

    The charity’s spokeswoman said the ship was anchored five miles (eight km) off Lampedusa.

    Open Arms’ founder Oscar Camps told reporters on Wednesday that the NGO would request medical evacuation for all those on board once the vessel was in Italian waters.

    Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Mark Bendeich and Gavin Jones in Rome; editing by John Stonestreet

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  15. #95

    AUGUST 15, 2019 / 6:26 AM / UPDATED 8 MINUTES AGO
    Norway detects radioactive iodine by Russian border days after blast

    OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s nuclear safety authority is analyzing tiny amounts of radioactive iodine detected in the air in northern Norway in the days after a deadly explosion during a rocket engine test over the border in Russia.

    Russia’s state nuclear agency, Rosatom, said on Saturday that five people killed in the blast were its staff members, and the accident involved “isotope power sources”, giving no further details.

    Norway’s radiation and nuclear safety authority DSA said it had detected the radioactive iodine at its air filter station in Svanhovd, which is by the Russian border. A river separates the two countries.

    The samples were collected in the period Aug. 9-12, while the accident in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russia occurred on Aug. 8, it said.

    “At present it is not possible to determine if the last iodine detection is linked to the accident in Arkhangelsk last week. DSA continues more frequent sampling and analysis,” DSA said.

    Such radiation measurements are not unusual in Norway, as its monitoring stations detect radioactive iodine about six to eight times a year and the source is usually unknown.

    Russia’s state weather service said on Tuesday that radiation levels in the city of Severodvinsk had spiked by up to 16 times last Thursday, while medics who treated victims of the accident have been sent to Moscow for a medical examination, the TASS news agency reported.

    Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, Editing by Terje Solsvik and Alison Williams

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  16. #96
    German economy shrinks, casting shadow over European growth

    By David Mchugh, AP Business Writer
    FRANKFURT, Germany — August 14, 2019, 10:29 AM ET

    Germany's economy shrank by 0.1 percent in the second quarter as global trade conflicts and troubles in the auto industry held back the largest member of the 19-country euro currency union.

    The weak performance darkened prospects for the entire eurozone, where the European Central Bank is poised to add more monetary stimulus at its next meeting.

    It also raised the possibility that Germany could enter a technical recession by posting another consecutive quarter of falling output.

    The state statistics agency Destatis said Wednesday that falling exports held back output compared to the first quarter, while demand from consumers and government spending at home supported the economy. In comparison to the same quarter a year ago, the economy grew 0.4 percent.

    Germany's economy is facing headwinds as its auto industry, a key employer and pillar of growth, faces challenges adjusting to tougher emissions standards in Europe and China and to technological change. Uncertainty over the terms of Britain's planned exit from the EU has also weighed on confidence more generally — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said his country will leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal to smooth the path to the new trading relationship.

    Analyst Carsten Brzeski at ING said trade conflicts and the struggling automotive sector were key reasons why output had fallen. The last time the German economy contracted on a quarterly basis was the third quarter last year when the automotive sector was dealing with bottlenecks getting cars certified under new emissions standards.

    "Increased uncertainty, rather than direct effects from trade conflicts, has dented sentiment and hence economic activity," Brzeski wrote in an emailed research note.

    U.S. President Donald Trump has imposed new tariffs on Chinese goods while seeking a broader trade agreement and has indicated he may impose import tariffs on autos that would hit European manufacturers. Uncertainty over the outcome of those talks and what the future trading regime will look like among the U.S., China and Europe has weighed on business optimism, deterring business spending and investment.

    That comes on top of structural change in the auto industry, where tightening emissions regulations in Europe and China and digital technologies are pushing automakers to make heavy investments in battery-powered cars and smartphone-based services, with uncertain payoff.

    Germany continues to enjoy low unemployment of 3.1% but lower exports have raised concerns that weakening external demand will spread to domestic consumers and businesses. Germany runs a large trade and investment surplus with the rest of the world, which leaves it more vulnerable to a slowdown in global trade.

    Slowing growth has also increased debate over the German government's practice of running budget surpluses. The International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Treasury Department and some economists at home have said Germany should cut tax burdens and spend more on infrastructure to boost domestic demand.

    That could make the country less dependent on exports.

    On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she sees no need for a stimulus package "so far" but added that "we will react according to the situation," the dpa news agency reported. She pointed to plans to remove the so-called solidarity tax, an added income tax aimed at covering costs associated with rebuilding the former East Germany, for most taxpayers. Andreas Rees, chief German economist at UniCredit, said that the growth figures and Merkel's nuanced remarks indicated the likelihood of a moderate fiscal easing next year "has increased significantly."

    The German quarterly decline was a big reason why growth across the wider 19-country eurozone has slowed. Two quarters of declining output is one common definition of a recession. Figures also released Wednesday confirmed that the eurozone's growth halved in the second quarter of the year to just 0.2%.

    Germany's industrial problems also contributed to the large 1.6% monthly fall in the currency bloc's industrial production in June

    The European Central Bank has signaled it is preparing a package of additional monetary stimulus measures including a possible rate cut and bond purchases that could be announced at its September 12 meeting.

  17. #97

    Norway elections: Norwegians on collision course with EU over vow to ditch EEA membership
    NORWAY could be on collision course with the EU in the next few weeks with eurosceptic parties look aiming for huge gains in the Scandinavian country’s local elections

    Norwegians will head to the polls on September 9 to vote in their next government, with three anti-EU parties keen to drop the nation's membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). The right-wing populist Progress Party, Centre Party, and the left-wing Socialist Left Party are hoping to make gains at the polls, which could mean they could be influential in forming the next government.

    This could see Norway on collision course with the EU if any of the three parties, who are calling for Norway to leave the EEA, form a coalition with the leading centre-left Labour Party.

    Although Norway is not a member of the EU, it is part of the EEA.

    As a member of the EEA, Norway has access to the single market so has to abide by EU laws and regulations when it comes to trade.

    The eurosceptic party is calling for Norway to ditch the EEA and replace it with a trade deal.

    Meanwhile, the Progress Party is polling at about 15 percent.

    The party is against joining the Brussels bloc and has called for changes to the EEA, which would make it easier for Norway to get rid of citizens from other countries.

    While, the Socialist Left Party, another potential coalition party for leading Labour, is also looking to renegotiate the terms of the EEA.

    The party is polling at about 6 percent - an increase on the previous 4 percent it took home in the last election.

    However, polls suggest the nation’s centre-left Labour Party could be taken over by the Conservative Party, which is led by current Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

    Both are down on the previous 2013 elections, with Labour polling at 27 percent and the Conservatives at 24 percent.

    Ms Solberg, leader of Norway’s Conservative Party, has clearly stated she wants the country to become a member of the EU.

    She has previously said she also wants to replace the Norwegian Krone (NOK) with the Euro.

    Before the UK referendum last year, Mrs Solberg warned the UK not to vote to leave, telling voters “you will hate it”.

    Being a member of the EEA means Norway has to stick to the free movement of labour - a key EU rule.

    However, businesses say this has only benefitted them as, with a population of just five million, they would not have enough workers otherwise.

    Unlike Britain, Norway is part of the passport-free Schengen zone, but has extended border checks, unlike other countries signed up to the deal.

    The Scandinavian country has rejected calls to join the bloc twice, in 1972 and 1993, and has gone on to become the sixth richest country in the world per capita.

    The average salary in Norway is £4,000 a month, nearly double the British average.

    Meanwhile, a 2017 poll found a majority of Norwegian politicians in parliament will be against European Union membership following the elections.

    The survey conducted by organisation No to the EU found 43.2 per cent of representatives will be against Norway joining the bloc, while only 22.5 per cent will be for.

    Of those polled, 259 were against EU membership and just 70 were union supporters.

    In comparison, a similar poll from 2013 found that nearly half (46.7 per cent) of the parliament wanted the country to become a EU member state.

  18. #98

    Former 3 Star General Says Merkel Can't Even Bring Herself To Say "German People"

    by Tyler Durden
    Thu, 08/15/2019 - 03:30
    Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

    Former 3 star General Joachim Wundrak says that Angela Merkel is so politically correct, she cannot even bring herself to talk about the “German people”.

    Wundrak announced that he’s going to run for mayor of Hanover as a member of Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

    He slammed Merkel for being the front person for enacting “anti-German” pro-mass migration policies and refusing to even acknowledge the existence of German people as a group.

    “Merkel has sworn an oath to Germany, but she already has a problem talking about a German people. She prefers to speak of ‘population’. Many German politicians struggle to profess their own nation,” said Wundrak.

    “The protection of one’s own borders is no longer a priority goal,” he added.

    “Germany is giving more and more sovereignty to the EU, the European Central Bank, to supranational organisations. I do not agree with this. The nation-state is the primary form of organisation for Germany. Where structures become too big, an undemocratic spirit quickly arises.”

    Merkel’s paranoia about displaying any form of patriotism is notorious.

    During an event in 2015, Merkel was handed a small German flag only for her to appear embarrassed and hand it back. She then flashed a disapproving shake of the head to someone else on the stage.

  19. #99

    Salvini overruled as six EU countries welcome migrants aboard rescue ship

    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Thursday that six EU countries had agreed to take in some 150 migrants who have been blocked from docking in Italy, resolving the latest standoff over immigration to Europe across the Mediterranean

    The Open Arms, with 147 migrants on board, headed for the Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday following the ruling.

    The Proactiva Open Arms charity which operates the ship said it would not try to force entry to Lampedusa port, as another rescue vessel, the Sea-Watch 3 did in June, prompting its seizure and the arrest of its captain.

    The Open Arms is seeking shelter from 2.5-metre (eight-foot) swells along with the Ocean Viking ship operated by SOS Mediterranea and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which has more than 350 migrants plucked from the Mediterranean on board.

    Both Italy and Malta had refused both vessels permission to dock and unload their passengers.

    Since coming to power in June 2018, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly taken a hard line against migrants.

    Salvini announced a swift appeal against the judge's ruling and signed another decree, saying that the Open Arms behaviour showed its "political objective of bring (migrants) to Italy".

    Proactiva Open Arms' founder Oscar Camps told journalists in Madrid: "We won the appeal which we filed at an administrative court in Italy against the security decree."

    'What a strange country'

    The decree, signed by Salvini in early August, banned the Open Arms from entering Italy's territorial waters, arguing that the measure was needed to protect public order.

    Under the decree, the Proactiva Open Arms could be slapped with a fine of up to one million euros ($1.1 million) and its boat seized if it disobeyed.

    But Camps said the court decision now allows the 147 migrants on board to disembark in Italy.

    "All that is missing is that we be assigned a port," Camps said.

    "It's a success. International maritime law prevails," Camps said, before adding that in Italy "everyone does not think like Salvini".

    He recalled that under international agreements, rescued migrants should be taken to the closest available port which in the case of the Open Arms is in Italy or Malta.

    What a strange country," Salvini complained from a beach in the northwest of Italy. "The court in Lazio (Rome) wants to authorise a foreign boat to disembark foreign migrants in Italy."

    'Someone could die'

    Salvini is trying to bring down the government, so far without success, after last week pulling the plug on the ruling coalition between his League and the Five Star Movement (M5S).

    His party has been riding high in opinion polls, largely thanks to his tough anti-migrant policies.

    Conte on Wednesday wrote to Salvini and Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta asking for the minors aboard to be allowed to disembark the rescue ship, Italian media reported.

    Trenta sent two navy vessels to escort the Open Arms as it headed for Lampedusa, with a view to evacuating 32 minors from the vessel after 13 days at sea.

    Camps warned earlier that fights may break out at any moment among the migrants stranded on the vessel.

    "We could have a fight within a half-hour with a serious injury, or worse, someone could die on board due to violence," he told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

    It would be a tragedy, it would be unforgivable."

    The 19 crew members on the Open Arms are finding it harder to contain tensions on board, he added.

    Many of the migrants, mainly from Africa, are suffering from "very high levels of post-traumatic stress" and anxiety over their future.

    They must share just two bathrooms and a living space of only 180 square metres (2,000 square feet), Camps said.

    Two babies were evacuated by helicopter from the ship to Malta on Wednesday for health reasons, Camps said.

    Two babies were evacuated by helicopter from the ship to Malta on Wednesday for health reasons, Camps said.

    (FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP and REUTERS)

  20. #100

    Russia: Plane crash-lands after hitting flock of birds
    A Ural Airlines plane carrying over 200 people managed to land in a cornfield near a Moscow airport after a flock of birds hit the plane's engines. The pilot and crew have been hailed as heroes for saving the passengers.

    A passenger plane was forced to make an emergency landing on Thursday after colliding with a flock of birds shortly after taking off from Moscow's Zhukovsky Airport.

    The Ural Airlines flight was en route to Simferopol in Crimea when a flock of gulls hit both engines on the Airbus A321, causing them to malfunction, the Rosaviatsia air transport agency said in a statement.

    The pilots managed to land the plane in a cornfield around 1 kilometer away from the runway. The jet was carrying 226 passengers and a crew of seven, all of whom were able to be evacuated using inflatable ramps.

    At least 23 people were injured and have been taken to the hospital, Russian health authorities said. The majority of them have since been released.

    The pilot is a genius'

    Passengers and Russian officials have hailed the pilots and crew as heroes for their quick response, saying it likely saved the lives of those on board.

    "We congratulate the hero pilots who saved people's lives," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

    Ural Airlines praised the captain of the plane, 41-year-old Damir Yusupov, saying he has over 3,000 hours of flying experience.

    "Everyone is alive! The pilot is a genius," a passenger identified as Olga told tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda. She added that applause broke out following the landing.

    Russia's investigative committee said it has opened an investigation into the incident. Aviation experts have raised safety concerns about the growing number of birds gathering at illegal dumping sites near Moscow's airports.

    In May, 41 people died after an Aeroflot jet crash-landed and burst into flames at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

    rs/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)

  21. #101

    German police smash child porn ring on darknet
    An anonymous tipoff prompted German police to investigate and eventually dismantle a child pornography ring visited by hundreds of users from multiple countries. A German national has been arrested.

    German cybercrime experts brought down a child pornography platform on the darknet following months of intensive investigation, authorities in the German state of the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania said on Thursday.

    "Despite the high-grade encryption offered by such darknet platforms, the investigation managed to identify several users from various countries," the authorities said in a press release.

    One of the users was found to be a German national and arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing his own child. He also intended to "offer" the child to others, the police said.

    Read more: Germany turns to AI to combat child pornography online

    Authorities believe that hundreds of users visited the illegal site, which was based on the anonymous Tor software. The chat-based platform featured some 200,000 illegal child porn entries.

    Anonymous tipoff

    During the investigation, the authorities discovered that a Dubai-based internet provider was renting out the platform. The illegal files were located on a server in the Netherlands. The authorities did not immediately say if the provider or the server owner would be affected by the proceedings.

    Read more: German police uncover child porn ring at campsite

    Police and prosecutors in the northern city of Rostock praised the "extremely close cooperation" with their Dutch colleagues, which allowed them to determine the precise location of the server and seize it.

    German police were first alerted to the existence of the child pornography ring by an anonymous tip in December 2017. The whistleblower used the "" police site, which focuses on child pornography, cybercrime and extremism.

    dj/aw (dpa, AFP)

  22. #102

    AUGUST 16, 2019 / 1:02 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO
    Not for sale: Danish MPs ridicule idea of Trump buying Greenland

    COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish politicians on Friday poured scorn on the notion of selling Greenland to the United States following reports that President Donald Trump had privately discussed the idea of buying the world’s biggest island with his advisers.

    Trump is due to visit Copenhagen in September and the Arctic will be on the agenda during meetings with the prime ministers of Denmark and Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory.

    “It has to be an April Fool’s joke. Totally out of season,” former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said on Twitter.

    The notion of purchasing the territory has been laughed off by some advisers as a joke but was taken more seriously by others in the White House, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday.

    Talk of a Greenland purchase was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

    If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof, that he has gone mad,” foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People’s Party, Soren Espersen, told broadcaster DR.

    The thought of Denmark selling 50,000 citizens to the United States is completely ridiculous,” he said.

    Greenland, a self-ruling part of Denmark located between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans, is dependant on Danish economic support.

    “I am sure a majority in Greenland believes it is better to have a relation to Denmark than the United States, in the long term,” Aaja Chemnitz Larsen, Danish MP from Greenland’s second-largest party Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA), told Reuters.

    “My immediate thought is ‘No, thank you’,” she said.

    Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod were not available for comment but officials said they would respond later on Friday. The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen was also not immediately available for comment.

    “Oh dear lord. As someone who loves Greenland, has been there nine times to every corner and loves the people, this is a complete and total catastrophe,” former U.S. ambassador to Denmark, Rufus Gifford, said in on Twitter.

    Greenland is gaining attention from global super powers including China, Russia and the United States due to its strategic location and its mineral resources.

    In May, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia was behaving aggressively in the Arctic and China’s actions there had to be watched closely as well.

    A defense treaty between Denmark and the United States dating back to 1951 gives the U.S. military rights over the Thule Air Base in northern Greenland.

    Greenland is part of Denmark with self-government over domestic affairs, while Copenhagen handles defense and foreign policy.

    There has been no indication that a Greenland purchase will be on the agenda for Trump’s talks with Danish officials.

    Martin Lidegaard, senior lawmaker of the Danish Social Liberal Party and a former foreign minister, called the idea “a grotesque proposal” which had no basis in reality.

    “We are talking about real people and you can’t just sell Greenland like an old colonial power,” he told Reuters.

    But what we can take seriously is that the U.S. stakes and interest in the Arctic is significantly on the rise and they want a much bigger influence,” he added.

    In 1917 Denmark sold off the then Danish West Indies islands for $25 million to the United States, which renamed them the United States Virgin Islands.

    (The story is refiled to remove repeated name in paragraph 18.)

    Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard, Andreas Mortensen and Stine Jacobsen; additional reporting by Steve Holland in the United States, Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Angus MacSwan

  23. #103
    Holger Zschaepitz
    ‏ @Schuldensuehner
    2h2 hours ago

    German Chancellor Merkel and FinMin Scholz are ready to run a budget deficit if Europe’s largest economy goes into recession, Spiegel reports, citing sources. Shortfall in tax revenue from econ slump could be offset by new debt.

  24. #104
    Petri Mäkelä
    ‏ @pmakela1
    Aug 15

    The #RussianArmy is conducting a large number of mobilization exercises. These seem to include logistics drills, where equipment from the deep storage facilities is brought to the reserve units.

  25. #105

    Rinne is actually accusing experts at Ministry of Finance, says NCP MP

    FINLAND/ 16 AUGUST 2019

    PRIME MINISTER Antti Rinne’s (SDP) comments about the coalition formation negotiations have raised eyebrows among members of the National Coalition.

    Matias Marttinen (NCP), a first-term Member of the Finnish Parliament from Satakunta, reminded on Thursday that the National Coalition’s economic policy approach was based on recommendations made by the Ministry of Finance.

    If Rinne is accusing the National Coalition of having an extremely right-wing and unclear approach, he’s actually accusing experts at the Ministry of Finance,” he remarked on Twitter.

    Rinne on Thursday said in the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group’s summer meeting that the National Coalition ruled itself out of coalition co-operation for pursuing “an extremely right-wing and largely unclear” economic policy. He viewed already in the run-up to the parliamentary elections that economic policy making must not be based solely on the forecasts of the Ministry of Finance.

    The National Coalition is simply seeking to balance public finances and build a small buffer to cope with the next recession, retorted Marttinen.

    “The main tools are reforms that promote employment and patience when it comes to increasing spending. Fiscal adjustments would’ve also been in the toolbox, if the employment measures had been sufficient,” he stated.

    Aleksi Teivainen – HT
    Source: Uusi Suomi

  26. #106

    Bulgarian Antifa Slates Trump Attack on ‘Hate’ Movement
    Martin DimitrovSofiaBIRNAugust 16, 2019

    Amid a Republican push in the US to classify the left-wing movement as a terrorist organisation, the Bulgarian branch of Antifa has pointed out that far-rightists were responsible for hundreds of killings in the US last year – and Antifa for none.

    Antifa activists in Bulgaria have told BIRN that they see moves in the US to criminalise the left-wing movement as an issue pushed by the far right.

    It comes after Republicans on Capitol Hill introduced a resolution in recent weeks to classify Antifa as “domestic terrorists” – and after President Donald Trump mentioned the Antifa movement in the same context as violent white supremacists following the Dayton, Ohio shooting of on 4 August, calling them both hate groups.

    “We can easily answer the question about how an ideologically and tactically decentralised world movement can be unjustly classified as a US terror organisation, if we look at history,” Antifa–Bulgaria told BIRN, drawing a parallel with the ban on anti-Fascist movements in Nazi Germany and its allies, including Bulgaria, in the 1930s.

    At the same time, in the modern-day US, authorities’ tolerance of the deadly far-right terror and extremism is only growing,” Antifa–Bulgaria claimed, noting that while 425 murders in the US in 2018 have been linked to far-right sympathisers, none were related to anti-Fascist activists.

    The US branch of Antifa fell into the spotlight after the terror attack in Dayton, Ohio that killed 10 people, including the perpetrator Connor Betts, who had previously retweeted positions of the organisation.

    It prompted comments from President Trump condemning “any group of hate.”

    “I don’t like it … Whether it’s white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy, whether it’s Antifa,” Trump was quoted saying one day after the incident.

    This fed into earlier Republican Party moves to label the movement a domestic terrorist organisation. “Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror (along with MS-13 & others),” Trump wrote on Twitter.

    “The Trump administration’s tilting towards Fascist practices is more and more visible, which can be observed in other policies, like those regarding the treatment of migrants,” Antifa in Bulgaria said.

    According to them, partisan media coverage in the US and the prominence of conservative talking heads, who spread misinformation about the organisation, are also to blame for the anti-Antifa rhetoric in the US.

    The Bulgarian Antifa branch underlined that the global movement is heavily decentralised and that the Bulgarian organisation has no direct communication or organic links with the US movement.

    Bulgarian Antifa itself has no record of violent activities. Is mostly known for staging peaceful counter-marches to the far-right parades held by Lukovmarch, a group that commemorates the memory of a controversial World War II-era general.


    Plain Jane wants to know where he gets his numbers from.

  27. #107

    French ministers seek investigation into Epstein’s activities in France

    Two French government ministers called on Monday for an investigation into the activities in France of Jeffrey Epstein, the US financier found dead in an apparent suicide while being held on sex-trafficking charges.

    Epstein, a convicted paedophile who hobnobbed with countless politicians and celebrities over the years, was arrested on July 6 in New Jersey after his private jet landed on a flight from Paris, where he owned a luxurious apartment in the French capital’s leafy 16th arrondissement (district).

    He was found dead in his cell on Saturday while awaiting trial on federal charges he trafficked underage girls for sex. The discovery came a day after a court released documents in which one of Epstein's alleged victims claimed she was exploited as his "sex slave" for years, including during trips to Paris.

    "The American investigation has highlighted ties with France. It therefore seems fundamental to us, and for the victims, that an investigation should be opened in France so that all the light is shed on this matter," France’s Gender Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa said in a joint statement with the child welfare minister, Adrien Taquet.

    “Epstein’s death must not deny his victims the justice they are entitled to,” the ministers added, noting that an investigation would help ensure young women are given better protection in future.

    "We would like to use this occasion to highlight again our utmost determination to protect young girls from sexual violence and especially from being exploited by criminal networks, and this should result in new measures being announced during the final quarter of this year," Schiappa and Taquet wrote.

    However, their cabinet colleague Nicole Belloubet, the justice minister, later stressed that it was not the government's responsibility to initiate investigations.

    "Since 2013, investigations started individually are forbidden, in compliance with the principle of judicial independence," Belloubet told AFP.

    ‘Little black book’

    US prosecutors say Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage teens, some as young as 14, at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005. The young women were paid hundreds of dollars in cash to massage him, perform sexual acts and to recruit other girls, prosecutors allege. Epstein faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

    According to the court documents released on Friday, one of Epstein’s accusers, who said she was hired as a “masseuse” aged 15, alleged that she was used as the billionaire’s “sex slave” during frequent trips to the French capital.

    The plaintiff, who claimed to have been a fixture of Epstein’s lurid escapades for four years, told investigators she saw Epstein and his close associates abuse women from across the world, including three French 12-year-olds who she alleged were sent to him as a birthday present.

    On Monday, French daily Le Parisien noted that the names of several French businessmen and aristocrats featured in Epstein’s contact book – known as the “little black book” – alongside those of his regular Parisian “masseuses”.

    Innocence In Danger, a French child protection NGO, has written to Paris prosecutors calling for an investigation into Epstein’s conduct in France.

    He must have had some French ‘masseuses’, with the complicity of many people here,” the NGO’s director Homayra Sellier told French weekly L’Express. “It’s pretty obvious, given his record.”

    (FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

  28. #108

    Merkel successor denies urging ex-spy chief's ejection

    The head of Germany's ruling Christian Democrats insists she has not called for ex-domestic intel boss Hans-Georg Maassen's exclusion from the party. The ex-spy chief has been accused of sympathizing with the far right.

    The woman widely tipped to replace Angela Merkel as German chancellor has backed away from an earlier suggestion that the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) should expel the country's former domestic intelligence chief from the party.

    Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer insisted to the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) that she had not called for Hans-Georg Maassen's exclusion.

    "Neither in the interview nor elsewhere did I call for a party expulsion procedure," she said, referring to an interview published earlier on Saturday by Germany's Funke newspaper group.

    Read more: German intelligence to boost observation of right-wing extremists

    Kramp-Karrenbauer, who took over from Merkel as CDU leader in December, was reacting to criticism of her earlier comments from within the party.

    Attempting to play down the controversy, she continued: "The CDU is a party with more than 400,000 members. The fact that each one has a different opinion is what makes us interesting."

    Earlier, Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is also defense minister, had at least hinted at possible expulsion when she told a Funke media group reporter: "For good reasons, there are major obstacles to excluding someone from a party, but I do not see any attitude in Mr Maassen that really connects him with the CDU anymore."

    Maassen, who belongs to a faction of Germany's conservative alliance that has restrictive views on immigration, was sent into retirement last November by Germany's BfV domestic intelligence service.

    He was censured after downplaying video footage showing far-right protesters chasing migrants in Chemnitz in eastern Saxony and spoke of "radical left forces" within the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel's coalition partner in government.

    Responding to Kramp-Karrenbauer's initial remarks, Maassen told dpa: "It is a mystery to me who advised her to conjure up such thoughts."

    Regional elections next month in the eastern German states of Saxony and Brandenburg, along with Thuringia in October, could see a further swing to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

    The anti-immigrant AfD has lawmakers in each of the country's 16 state parliaments, as well as 91 seats in the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament.

    mm/kl (AFP, dpa)

  29. #109

    French police suicide rate climbs, French govt is flummoxed
    16 minutes ago

    PARIS (AP) — Three riot police officers, a police commander, a police academy teacher — all are among eight French police officers who have killed themselves recently. That makes 64 so far this year — and the number just keeps on climbing.

    Deaths by suicide for French police now outnumber deaths in the line of duty. The protectors need protecting, say police unions, which are demanding more help to stop the problem.

    Those who choose to end their lives are from everywhere in France and of all ages, many with young children. The latest death came Wednesday in the Ardeche region in southeast France. Why they step across what one police union calls the “thin blue line” remains a question that French authorities have so far been unable to answer.

    A parliamentary inquiry made public in July lists a multitude of reasons for the stress and despair among French police, including overwork since a series of terrorist attacks that started in January 2015 and the weekly, often extremely violent, anti-government protests since November by the yellow vest movement seeking more economic and social justice . It does not single out any one reason.

    “Given the situation today, 2019 could be the worst in the last 30 years,” said Denis Jacob, head of the Alternative Police CFDT union.

    A Senate report last year said the French police suicide rate was 36% higher than the rate for France’s general population, but also uncovered no single reason behind the suicides.

    “We don’t have an understanding” of why, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner conceded in April as he announced yet another prevention plan, the third minister in a row to do so, underlining authorities’ failure to solve the public health problem.

    Significantly, Castaner acknowledged that police suicides must not be considered “external to work,” and seen as only the result of personal problems. And National Police Director Eric Morvan broke a taboo, sending a letter to all officers encouraging them to talk “without fear of being judged” and saying discussing distress “is never a weakness.”

    While psychological trauma, including encounters with violence, is a risk factor for suicide, there are 10-15 factors that can feed the “acute crisis” which leads to taking one’s own life, Catherine Pinson, a psychologist in charge of the police support service, told the Senate inquiry.

    The “hypervigilance” of police in the face of potential terror attacks is a clear stress factor that keeps police in their “bubble” even at home, Amelie Puaux, a psychologist with the support service, told the French senators.

    And the 2016 deadly attack on a police couple in front of their small child at their home in Magnanville, west of Paris, dramatically impacted police officers fearful for their families, she said. Some moved, changed services or resigned to protect their loved ones.

    Sebastian Roche, a research director at the National Center for Scientific research who specializes in comparing police systems, says there are simply no studies to understand the causes of the French suicides or impact studies to evaluate prevention measures, which he calls a “huge weakness” within the Interior Ministry.

    He doesn’t believe that PTSD — with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — is at the root of the problem, noting the dip in police suicides in 2015 when deadly Islamic State attacks in France began in January and culminated in November with the Paris massacres that left 130 people dead.

    “All of a sudden, their mission made sense,” he said by telephone. “The population judged them as useful.”

    French citizens applauded police as heroes during that stretch in 2015. That image lost its shine over time, then collapsed, as French police matched exceptionally violent yellow vest anti-government protests with harsh containment tactics that maimed some protesters.

    At one point, yellow vest protesters, picking up on the suicide wave , even chanted “Kill yourselves! Kill yourselves!” at lines of police.

    While suicide among police is a problem in many countries, France’s rate appears exceptionally high.

    In the U.S., with a population five times that of France, 167 officers died by suicide in 2018 and 111 so far this year, according to Blue H.E.L.P., a Massachusetts-based organization devoted to preventing police suicides. A U.S. suicide prevention bill signed into law in July will also supply funds for support.

    In Italy, a fellow European nation slightly less populous than France, 31 officers have killed themselves this year, according to the police support group Cerchioblu. Britain’s Office for National Statistics counts 21 to 23 police suicides a year between 2015 and 2017, but unlike in France, most British police do not have guns.

    The French parliamentary reports laid out a kaleidoscope of deficiencies within the security forces that can eat away at morale and feelings of self-worth, from distant superiors fixated on numbers of arrests to the 23 million hours of unpaid overtime officers had worked as December 2018, according to the parliamentary inquiry.

    A lack of equipment and dilapidated police stations and living quarters were also cited. In the Paris region, the inquiry found it “wasn’t exceptional” to find five officers sharing a cramped living space or for some to be sleeping in their cars.

    The government pledged to launch a platform of psychologists operating 24/7 by June, but say now that won’t be ready until September.

    A hotline is available, but Jacob is among those who think that an emergency number alone won’t solve the French police suicide problem. His union wants police to have access to independent psychological services, not those run by the government, so that seeking help — now widely perceived as a failure — can be discreet. Unions also want deeper investments and a structural overhaul.

    Jacob said, despite the arrival of female police officers, a French police officer still “has the image of a macho. He doesn’t cry. He doesn’t suffer. He’s tough. To admit you suffer is to admit you have weaknesses. It’s still taboo with us.”

    An officer also risks losing their gun if a psychologist deems the firearm a risk, a development that takes the officer out of the field and holds up their problems for all to see, he said.

    “It’s a vicious circle,” a police officer who for 20 years sacrificed family life for work recounted on LCI TV, months after pulling himself away from killing himself.

    “One night you go home, look around and it’s empty,” he said. “I was tired. I took my gun and put it in my mouth.”

    Yet looking at a photo of his daughter and thinking of bodies he’d removed from suicide scenes stopped him.

    “No, I don’t have the right” to kill myself, he said.

  30. #110

    Putin, Macron to meet for French-Russian talks before G-7

    PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin are meeting in southern France to discuss the world’s major crises, including Ukraine, Iran and Syria, and try to improve Moscow’s relations with the European Union.

    Macron has invited Putin on Monday afternoon to his summer residence, the Fort de Bregancon on the French Riviera, for a meeting followed by dinner, just a few days before opening a meeting of the Group of Seven nations in the French city of Biarritz with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders.

    France holds the 2019 presidency of the G-7, which also includes Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan. Russia was excluded from the group after it annexed Crimea in 2014.

    Macron intends to share the outcomes from his meeting with Putin with other world leaders in Biarritz Aug. 24-26.

    A top diplomatic official at the French presidency said on customary condition of anonymity that the meeting aims to find “common ground” that would allow world powers to “converge on the essential.”

    France seeks to play the role of mediator in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, and Macron has stressed the importance of keeping dialogue open with Moscow. French companies have also been pushing to lift EU sanctions resulting from Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

    The election of Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, provides opportunity to relaunch negotiations, the French diplomat said.

    Zelenskiy has pushed for a quick four-way meeting involving himself, Putin, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss ways to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.

    The Kremlin has kept the door open for such a meeting, but urged Ukraine to first honor provisions of a 2015 Minsk agreement that was brokered by France and Germany. The deal has helped reduce fighting, but clashes have continued and political settlement has stalled.

    Iran will also be high on the agenda in the context of heightened tensions between the country and the United States. France wants Russia to use its close ties with Tehran to push for de-escalation.

    Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. Russia, along with Britain, Germany and China, remains a part of the accord.

    France also hopes to convince Putin to use his influence in Syria to stop a government military offensive in the region of Idlib, a rebel-controlled area in the northwest of the country. Moscow backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, but Paris is pushing for a truce that would prevent more civilian deaths and flows of refugees.

    The meeting in Bregancon will offer Putin a chance to press the case for normalizing ties with the EU, which remain tense after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

    In a landmark move, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe restored the credentials of Russia’s delegation in June, five years after it was stripped of voting rights following Crimea’s annexation.

    Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, who briefed reporters before Putin’s trip to France, said that Macron played a role in the body’s move.

    “We are grateful to France for its constructive role,” Ushakov said.

    He added that at the meeting with Macron, Putin would raise the issue of restoring a full-fledged dialogue between Russia and the EU.

    The French diplomat acknowledged the task won’t be easy given the many diverging interests between the two countries.

    Earlier this month, France strongly condemned Russia’s crackdown on anti-government protesters in Moscow, denouncing the arrests of more than 2,000 people and the “clearly excessive use of force.”


    Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this story

  31. #111

    Thousands flee from ‘monster’ wildfire on Canary Islands
    38 minutes ago

    LISBON, Portugal (AP) — An out-of-control wildfire in Spain’s Canary Islands was throwing flames 50 meters (160 feet) into the air on Monday, forcing emergency workers to evacuate more than 9,000 people, authorities said.

    The blaze — described by the local fire department as “a monster” — was racing across parched woodlands into Tamadaba Natural Park, regarded as one of the jewels on Gran Canaria, a mountainous volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago off northwest Africa.

    Famous for its beaches and mountains, Gran Canaria and its capital, Las Palmas, are popular European vacation destinations but the blaze was in a rugged inland area. No hotels were reported evacuated.

    Canary Islands President Ángel Víctor Torres said 1,100 firefighters were being deployed in shifts along with 16 water-dropping aircraft to battle the blaze that started Saturday afternoon. The local government said around 6,000 hectares (14,800 acres) had been charred in just 48 hours, villages were evacuated and two dozen roads were closed.

    Emergency workers faced huge flames and gusting winds that blew embers into the air, starting secondary fires, local fire officials said. Summer temperatures Monday were expected to hit 36 degrees Celsius (nearly 97 degrees Fahrenheit) and build to 38 C (100 F) later this week.

    The Spanish caretaker government’s farm minister, Luis Planas, told a news conference in Las Palmas that Madrid sent a “cutting-edge” drone to the island that can livestream images of the fire at night. One aircraft on Gran Canaria also coordinated aviation movements to prevent an accident in the busy skies, he said.

    Planas said the official response to the fire on Gran Canaria was one of the greatest firefighting deployments recently in all of Spain.

    Gran Canaria is the third-largest island in the Canary Islands archipelago, which is 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Africa. About 50 kilometers (31 miles) in diameter, Gran Canaria has a population of 850,000.

    Wildfires are common in southern Europe during the parched summer months but changing lifestyles and the emptying out of rural areas have made woodlands more vulnerable, experts say.

    Gran Canaria emergency chief Frederico Grillo said recent blazes on the island are much worse now than when families worked in the countryside and kept the forests more orderly, private news agency Europa Press reported.

    He said if the island’s entire annual budget was used for forest fire prevention, it would only be possible to clear brush from 30% of its woodlands and there would still be large amounts of inaccessible areas due to the island’s steep mountains and deep ravines.

  32. #112
    AUGUST 19, 2019 / 5:45 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO
    Britain's Prince Andrew denies any involvement in Epstein sex scandal

    LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince Andrew rejected any suggestion that he participated in the alleged sex crimes which U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein was accused of, Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

    Epstein committed suicide in a Manhattan jail cell earlier this month while being held on sex-trafficking charges.

    “The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

    His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behavior is abhorrent,” the Palace said.

    British media including the Daily Mail published a picture which it said showed Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth, waving goodbye to a woman from inside a Manhattan mansion owned by Epstein.

    The Mail said the picture had been taken in 2010 - two years after Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state felony prostitution charge and registered as a sex offender.

    U.S. court papers have previously shown that Epstein had socialized with Andrew and other high-profile figures including U.S. President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton.

    Epstein first came under investigation in 2005 after police in Palm Beach, Florida, received reports he had sexually abused underage girls in his mansion there.

    By 2007, Epstein was facing a potential federal indictment for sexually abusing dozens of girls between 1999 and 2007. Epstein struck a deal, however, to plead guilty in 2008 to the Florida state felony prostitution charge, and register as a sex offender.

    Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  33. #113
    Storms cause travel chaos, large-scale damage in Germany

    By The Associated Press
    BERLIN — August 19, 2019, 5:55 AM ET

    A series of summer storms that uprooted trees and blew over power lines has disrupted rail and road travel across parts of southern and central Germany.

    Rail operator Deutsche Bahn on Monday listed delays for more than a dozen intercity connections, including to neighboring Switzerland and France.

    Frankfurt Airport reported that 41 flights were canceled late Sunday and eight arrivals were diverted because of severe weather.

    Authorities said several people were injured after strong gusts blew debris off buildings in the central city of Offenbach.

  34. #114
    ‏ @sbreakintl
    18h18 hours ago

    Satellite imageries shows Russia ongoing construction of a new airbase on the island of Gogland at 35km from Finland with helipads, an airstrip and docks expansion.

  35. #115
    This situation has been ongoing for almost three weeks. The charity has refused several offers from Spain to dock, determined to keep Italy on the defensive. They are now being threatened with removing their flag. Their own stupidity may be the beginning of the end of the migrant crisis if governments step in and decertify the charity. Good !

    AUGUST 20, 2019 / 5:51 AM / UPDATED 33 MINUTES AGO
    Tensions build on migrant ship off Italy; 10 jump overboard
    Belén Carreño, Guglielmo Mangiapane

    MADRID/LAMPEDUSA (Reuters) - Tensions rose on a rescue ship stranded off southern Italy on Tuesday, as 10 of the migrants aboard jumped into the sea and tried to swim ashore, according to the Spanish charity that operates the vessel.

    The ship Open Arms, at sea for 19 days with almost 100 migrants onboard, has been waiting just off the port of Lampedusa, asking permission to bring the mostly African migrants ashore, despite an Italian ban on private rescue ships docking.

    Italy says it has borne too much responsibility for handling African migration to Europe. Its interior minister says the charity-run ships have become “taxis” for people smugglers.

    “Nine people have thrown themselves into the water trying desperately to reach the coast of Lampedusa. Our lifeguards and Italian coastguards are trying to rescue them. The situation is out of control,” the Open Arms tweeted.

    It had earlier tweeted that one other migrant had jumped in the water and posted a video of the migrant swimming toward the shore, his way blocked by an Italian Coast Guard boat.

    Day 19: a night of panic and a man in the water,” the charity tweeted. “The night began with an urgent medical evacuation, and this morning a man has jumped into the water trying to reach the land before his eyes ... The situation is desperate.”

    The man overboard, a Syrian, was rescued by Italian authorities, who are caring for him, an Open Arms spokeswoman said.

    Dozens of migrants have been taken ashore since the ship entered Italian waters because they were said to be minors or ill. The remaining migrants still sleep jammed together on deck and share two toilets. Open Arms says some are suicidal.

    Interior Minister Matteo Salvini suggested on Tuesday that the charity was exaggerating the problems on board. Of eight migrants taken ashore on Monday night for urgent medical attention, he said, only two had health problems.

    “I will never go back (on the ban),” he told Radio 24.

    The standoff has fueled Salvini’s campaign against migrant boats from Africa, and comes as he is trying to drag Italy into snap elections. The ruling coalition, in danger of collapse later on Tuesday, has split over the issue.

    Salvini’s political rival, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, who controls the Coast Guard but not port access, has offered to take the migrants on a Coast Guard vessel to Spain, which has offered them safe harbor.

    But Toninelli has set a condition — that Madrid de-register the Open Arms ship by removing its Spanish flag. Without a flag, it would be difficult for the ship to continue running rescue missions; its insurance would be invalid and it could be intercepted at any time by a navy or coast guard force.

    Separate talks are also under way between Italy and Spain to find a diplomatic solution, said a source in Rome familiar with the matter. She did not elaborate.

    “They want to take the flag away from us. The price is very high,” Open Arms’ director and founder, Oscar Camps, said in remarks published by El Mundo newspaper on Tuesday.

    Camps has ruled out the option of taking the migrants to Spain on the Open Arms ship, saying conditions on board were too miserable for them to endure such a journey.

    If a solution is not found, Open Arms has not ruled out the option of defying Italy’s ban and attempting to dock.

    Asked if the ship would try and enter the port without permission, the Open Arms head of mission in Lampedusa, Riccardo Gatti, said on Monday, “Yes, it is an option”.

    Spain’s left-wing government offered on Monday to allow the ship to dock at a Spanish port, and it and five other European Union nations have offered to take the migrants.

    The details of the offers from France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg have yet to be finalised.

    Additional reporting by Jose Elías Rodríguez, Ashifa Kassam, Elena Rodriguez and Joan Faus in Madrid, Stephen Jewkes in Milan; writing by Mark Bendeich; editing by Larry King

    Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  36. #116

    In case of no-deal Brexit, Latvia's payments into EU budget would increase by EUR 23.27 million
    2019-08-18 LETA/TBT Staff

    RIGA - In case of a no-deal Brexit, Latvia's payments into the European Union budget could increase by about EUR 23.27 million, according to report from the Finance Ministry submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers.

    The ministry points out that uncertainty in regards to the Brexit outcome also creates uncertainty in regards to payments into the EU budget after 2019.

    ''There is a risk that in the medium term Latvia's payments into the EU budget could increase in relation with the planned amount if Brexit takes place without an agreement and if EU member states fail to agree in the short term on measures to lessen the consequences of Brexit and avoid a negative impact on the EU budget,'' the Finance Ministry points out.

    According to a ministry assessment, if there is a negative Brexit scenario, Latvia's payments into the EU budget in 2019 could increase by EUR 4.23 million, but in 2020 - by EUR 23.27 million. In recent years, Latvia has paid in approximately EUR 250 million into the EU budget.

  37. #117

    Lithuania’s president says he sees no reason to meet with Putin

    A meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is unlikely and would be pointless, said Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda in an interview to public media LRT.

    «What could I be talking about with Mr President Putin at this point? As long as we have the situation in Ukraine, as long as escalation of tensions continue in the entire region, I see no point in exchanging diplomatic pleasantries and, importantly, I haven’t got the moral right to do so – there is nothing to celebrate, tensions are felt throughout the region,» said Nausėda.

    He also said the European Union is divided in regards to how Russia should be treated.

    «Being on the border with Russia, we can see the true danger, the true risks,» the Lithuanian president said. «Today, there is simply no place for jokes or diplomatic pleasantries.»
    Nausėda nonetheless stressed that he has always been against provoking Russia or using aggressive rhetoric.

    «We talk like leaders of civilized countries, but first, in order to talk, we need to have an object,» he told LRT, adding that at his meeting with German officials there will be enough topics to discuss. One of them revolves around relations with Russia.

    Shortly after his election as president, Nausėda declared Russia an aggressor in Ukraine and Crimea, adding that it will be hard to maintain good relations with such a country. However, he stressed that Russian residents should not consider Lithuania as a hateful country. He also urged Lithuanians and Russians to maintain contacts.

    The article originally appeared on LRT English

  38. #118

    Moldova, Ukraine Ready for Potential Russian Gas Disruption
    Madalin NecsutuBIRNAugust 20, 2019
    Chisinau and Kyiv are plotting their escape from Russia’s energy grasp, but progress on securing supplies via Romania is slow.

    Moldova and Ukraine have signed a contract to upgrade gas distribution stations for imports from Romania, stepping up preparations for potential supply disruptions as their gas contracts with Russia come close to expiring.

    Ukrtransgaz, the Ukrainian national gas company, said the deal would further consolidate energy security for both former Soviet republics with an eye on the heating season of autumn/winter 2019/2020.

    “It is a very important project for Ukraine and Moldova because it helps them to diversify their gas import routes,” Ukrtransgaz said in a statement.

    Both Kyiv and Chisinau’s gas delivery contracts with Russian Gazprom expire at the end of this year, just as the TurkStream pipeline is due to come online and bring Russian gas to the Balkans via Turkey, bypassing Ukraine and Moldova.

    Kyiv suspects Russia will completely cease gas transit via Ukraine next year when Nord Stream 2 becomes operational and links Russia directly with Germany.

    Work in Romania on the Iasi-Ungheni-Chisinau pipeline that will link Moldova to the European energy system is only expected to be completed in the spring of 2020.

    Ukrtransgaz says it is preparing to open a new redirection point for gas flows, allowing it to import 1.5 billion cubic metres annually from Romania via Moldova. New gas flow measurement and management stations have been installed at the Moldovan-Ukrainian border.

    “The companies Ukrtransgaz and Moldovagaz have established the technical solutions necessary for the creation of new import capacities based on the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline system, on the south-north direction,” Ukrtransgaz said.

    Since Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, Ukraine and Russia have clashed repeatedly over energy deliveries, requiring European Union intervention.

    And since Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the EU in June 2014, Russia has hiked the price it charges Moldova for gas and piled pressure on the country to abandon its search for alternative supplies.

  39. #119
    Italian PM Conte to resign after League party pulls backing

    By Frances D'emilio, Associated Press
    ROME — August 20, 2019, 10:57 AM ET

    Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation Tuesday, blaming his decision to end his 14-month-old populist government on his rebellious and politically ambitious deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini.

    Conte told the Senate that the surprise move earlier this month by Salvini's right-wing League party to seek a no-confidence vote against the coalition was forcing him to "interrupt" what he contended was a productive government. He said that government reflected the results of Italy's 2018 election and aimed to "interpret the desires of citizens who in their vote expressed a desire for change."

    The coalition included two rivals, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and Salvini's euroskeptic, anti-migrant right-wing League party.

    Conte said he will go later Tuesday to tender his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella. As head of state, Mattarella could ask Conte to stay on and find an alternative majority in Parliament. That is considered an unlikely scenario, however, given the long-festering acrimony among the coalition's partners and the deep divisions in the opposition Democrats, who would be a potential partner.

    Or, after sounding out party chiefs in consultations expected to start as soon as Wednesday, Mattarella could come to the conclusion that another political leader or a non-partisan figure could cobble together a viable government. That government's pressing task would be to lead the country at least for the next few months, when Italy must make painful budget cuts to keep in line with European Union financial regulations.

    Failing that, Mattarella could immediately dissolve Parliament, 3½ years ahead of schedule, as Salvini has been clamoring for. Pulling the plug on Parliament sets the stage for a general election as early as late October, right smack in the middle of delicate budget maneuvers that will be closely monitored in Brussels.

    Conte, a lawyer with no political experience, is nominally non-partisan, although he was the clear choice of the 5-Stars when the government was formed.

    The premier scathingly quoted Salvini's own recent demands for an early election so he could gain "full powers" by grabbing the premiership. Conte blasted Salvini for showing "grave contempt for Parliament" and putting Italy at risk for a "dizzying spiral of political and financial instability" in the months ahead by creating an unnecessary crisis that collapses a working government.

    Salvini, who sat next to Conte, smirking at times as the premier spoke, began the Senate debate by saying, defiantly, "I'd do it all again."

    Pressing for a new election as soon as possible, Salvini, who as interior minister has led a crackdown on migrants, said: "I don't fear Italians' judgment."

    In the European Parliament election three months ago in Italy, as well as in current opinion polls, Salvini's League party has soared in popularity to be the No. 1 political force among Italians.

  40. #120
    Looks like the grown ups are taking charge.

    Spain sends warship to pick up migrants off Italy's coast
    Guglielmo Mangiapane, Ashifa Kassam

    LAMPEDUSA/MADRID (Reuters) - Spain ordered a naval vessel on Tuesday to the Italian island of Lampedusa to bring migrants stranded there on a rescue boat to Mallorca after some of them jumped overboard, amid a prolonged stand-off with Italy’s government over their fate.

    Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli welcomed Spain’s move to take the migrants.

    The Open Arms rescue ship is run by a Spanish charity of the same name and has been at sea for 19 days with almost 100 migrants onboard. It has been waiting just off the port of Lampedusa, asking to bring the mostly African migrants ashore despite an Italian ban on private rescue ships docking.

    The navy ship Audaz “will depart this afternoon at 5 p.m. and will sail for three days to Lampedusa, where it will take charge of the people hosted by the Open Arms and escort the boat” to the Spanish port of Palma in Mallorca, the Socialist government said in a statement.

    The government ... considers this to be the most adequate solution that will allow a resolution of the humanitarian emergency taking place aboard the Open Arms this week,” it said.

    The plan is to transfer most of the migrants to the Audaz and escort the Open Arms with the remaining migrants, a government official clarified later.

    The Open Arms said it had not yet been informed of the Spanish decision.

    It earlier tweeted that “the situation is out of control” aboard the ship and that nine people had thrown themselves into the water. It says the situation on board is desperate and some migrants are suicidal. The passengers are sleeping jammed together on deck and sharing two toilets.

    After the charity said nine had tried to swim ashore, Reuters footage showed another five people jump, although it was not immediately clear if some were lifeguards.

    Italian coastguards went to the rescue of those who jumped, Reuters reporters saw. Reuters footage showed a few people being brought to the Open Arms on a small dinghy but it was not clear if they were among the rescued migrants.

    Italy has taken a tough line on migrant entry, saying it has borne too much responsibility for handling African migration to Europe. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini says the charity-run ships have become “taxis” for people smugglers.

    Dozens of migrants have been taken ashore since the ship entered Italian waters because they were said to be minors or ill.

    Salvini suggested on Tuesday that the charity was exaggerating the problems on board. Of eight migrants taken ashore on Monday night for urgent medical attention, he said, only two had health problems.

    “Spanish NGO, Spanish ship, Spanish port: The coherence and strength of Italy has paid off. We are no longer the refugee camp of Europe,” he said in a statement.

    The standoff has fueled Salvini’s campaign against migrant boats from Africa, and comes as he is trying to force Italy into snap elections. Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation on Tuesday accusing Salvini of sinking the ruling coalition for personal and political gain.

    While welcoming Spain’s latest move, Salvini’s political rival Toninelli said he hoped that Madrid would now commit to stop Open Arms’ activity in the future, meeting Italy’s wishes.

    Toninelli, who controls the Coast Guard but not port access, had earlier offered to take the migrants on a Coast Guard vessel to Spain under the condition that Madrid de-register the Open Arms ship by removing its Spanish flag.

    I hope that Spain answers our appeal and commits to stopping Open Arms in the future with the means and in the ways it deems right,” the Italian minister said in a statement.

    Without a flag, it would be difficult for the ship to continue running rescue missions.

    Spain and five other European Union nations have offered to take the migrants. The details of the offers from Spain, France, Germany, Romania, Portugal and Luxembourg have yet to be finalised.

    Additional reporting by Jose Elías Rodríguez, Belen Carreno, Elena Rodriguez and Ingrid Melander in Madrid, Stephen Jewkes in Milan, Crispian Balmer in Rome; Writing by Mark Bendeich and Andrei Khalip; Editing by Frances Kerry and Gareth Jones


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

NOTICE: Timebomb2000 is an Internet forum for discussion of world events and personal disaster preparation. Membership is by request only. The opinions posted do not necessarily represent those of TB2K Incorporated (the owner of this website), the staff or site host. Responsibility for the content of all posts rests solely with the Member making them. Neither TB2K Inc, the Staff nor the site host shall be liable for any content.

All original member content posted on this forum becomes the property of TB2K Inc. for archival and display purposes on the Timebomb2000 website venue. Said content may be removed or edited at staff discretion. The original authors retain all rights to their material outside of the website venue. Publication of any original material from on other websites or venues without permission from TB2K Inc. or the original author is expressly forbidden.

"Timebomb2000", "TB2K" and "Watching the World Tick Away" are Service Mark℠ TB2K, Inc. All Rights Reserved.