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Italy challenges the Western order

Italy challenges the Western order

The EU is under a lot of strain

With a massive influx of immigrants from across Africa and the Middle East, and growing poverty, Italy voted in a populist government representing policies which would seem to virtually overturn the postwar European order.

The austerity measures which have been imposed upon the Italian people have pushed more and more of them down into poverty, with the poverty rate doubling over the course of the past decade.

Relative to migration, Italy is one of the Southern European countries taking the brunt of the migrants who are flooding into Europe by the thousands, helped along by various NGOs which seek to alter the demographic makeup and economic and political order of Europe under the guise of humanitarianism.

The present economic metrics tend to perceive the profits of multinational corporations as a gauge of the health of the economy, rather than the economic situation on the ground level, faced by the Italian citizen. All of these and more are things which this new government has a view towards radically changing.

To combat Austerity, which may be tossed out the window, the option on the table is to review treaties to which Italy is partied which impose or advise them. Rather than gutting the population for the money which the government needs in order to cover obligations to multinational financial interests, a proposal was broached of launching a universal basic income, reduction in the pension age, as well as a flat tax system.

And while the migrant policy is still evolving, it has had a view towards repatriating the migrants which are already within Italy’s borders. Italy has already flexed its will on the migrants issue over refusing a ship full of migrants port in Italy, forcing it to set sail for Spain.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Gently Rotting Debt-Ridden EU

The Gently Rotting Debt-Ridden EU

The EU as a political construction is in a state of terminal decay. We know this for one reason and one reason alone: its core principle is the state is superior to its people. A system of government can only work over the longer term if it recognises that it is the servant of the people, not its master. It matters not what electoral system is in place, so long as this principle is adhered to.

The EU executive in Brussels does not accept electoral primacy. It shares with Marxist communism a belief in statist primacy instead. The only difference between the two creeds is Marx planned to rule the world, while Brussels is on the way to ruling Europe.

The methods of satisfying their objectives differ. Marx advocated civil war on a global scale to destroy capitalism and the bourgeoisie, while Brussels has progressively taken on powers that marginalise national parliaments. Both creeds share a belief in an all-powerful executive. The comparison with Marxism does not flatter the EU, and suggests it has a limited life and that we may be on the verge of seeing the EU beginning to disintegrate. Despite economic evolution in the rest of the world, like Marxian communists Brussels is stuck with a failing economic and political creed.

It has no mechanism for compromise or adaptation. A rebellion from Greece was put down, the British voted for Brexit, which is proving impossible to negotiate, and now Italy thinks it can partially escape from this statist version of Hotel California. The Italians are making huge mistakes. The rebel parties forming a coalition government want to stay in the EU but are looking to exit from the euro. Putting aside the impossibility of change for a moment, they have it the wrong way around. If they are to achieve anything, they should be exiting the EU and staying in the euro. Let me explain, starting with the politics, before considering the economics.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What The “Doomsday Brexit Plan” Document Says Should Frighten Us All

This is the first paragraph of The Times article (paywall) regarding Britain’s now famous Doomsday Brexit plan.

Britain would be hit with shortages of medicine, fuel and food within a fortnight if the UK tries to leave the European Union without a deal, according to a Doomsday Brexit scenario drawn up by senior civil servants for David Davis.

The Times confirms that the port of Dover will collapse “on day one” if Britain crashes out of the EU, leading to critical shortages of supplies. This was the middle of three scenarios put forward by senior advisors. A type of best guestimate if you like. You simply do not want to know the outcome of the worst of those three scenarios. Indeed, we have been spared from such details.

The article states that the RAF would have to be deployed to ferry supplies around Britain. And yes, we’re still on the middle scenario here. You would have to medevac medicine into Britain, and at the end of week two we would be running out of petrol as well,” a contributing source said.

The report continues to describe matters such as cross-channel disruption for heavy goods vehicles, which would also be catastrophic.Massive carparks will be required.

A senior official said in the ‘Doomsday’ Brexit plan:

We are entirely dependent on Europe reciprocating our posture that we will do nothing to impede the flow of goods into the UK. If for whatever reason, Europe decides to slow that supply down, then we’re screwed.

Let’s not worry about the fact that French borders are often left in chaos due to the all too familiar strikes that appear almost monthly during holiday season for one reason or another.

Home secretary Sajid Javid makes an unconvincing comment stating he’s ‘confident’ a deal will be done. That’s hardly the type of assurance we need is it?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Treasury Dept Warns Allies Against Accidentally Trading With Iran

US Treasury Dept Warns Allies Against Accidentally Trading With Iran

Companies ‘face substantial risks’ if they’re caught trading with Iran

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday issued a statement directed at allied governments, and private companies operating out of allied countries, warning them against any trade with Iran, warning they “face substantial risks” if they are caught.

Undersecretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker says that the world must “harden your financial networks,” and make sure they have “airtight” procedures in place to prevent even accidental business ties to Iran. He added that nations must make sure “Iran and its proxies are not exploiting your companies to support their nefarious activities.”

Though presented as a warning about being tricked by Iran, the warning is likely primarily directed at EU nations, as the EU has already decided to prohibit its companies complying with US sanctions on Iran. The EU is planning to try to block the US from punishing those companies, but many of the major businesses are being very cautious about new deals with Iran, fearing the US will go after them anyhow.

US sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program are expected to ratchet up in the next several months, after President Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal. Yet the deal remains in place, and many nations may not be willing to follow the US in this crackdown so long as Iran remains compliant.

This is Italy. This is not Sparta.

Nikolay Dubovsky Became Silent 1890

“European Stocks Surge Celebrating New Spanish, Italian Governments”, says a Zero Hedge headline. “Markets Breathe Easier As Italy Government Sworn In”, proclaims Reuters. And I’m thinking: these markets are crazy, and none of this will last more than a few days. Or hours. The new Italian government is not the end of a problem, it’s the beginning of many of them.

And Italy is far from the only problem. The new Spanish government will be headed by Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, who manoeuvred well to oust sitting PM Rajoy, but he also recently saw the worst election result in his party’s history. Not exactly solid ground. Moreover, he needed the support of Catalan factions, and will have to reverse much of Rajoy’s actions on the Catalunya issue, including probably the release from prison of those responsible for the independence referendum.

Nor is Spain exactly economically sound. Still, it’s not in as bad a shape as Turkey and Argentina. A JPMorgan graph published at Zero Hedge says a lot, along with the commentary on it:

The chart below, courtesy of Cembalest, shows each country’s current account (x-axis), the recent change in its external borrowing (y-axis) and the return on a blended portfolio of its equity and fixed income markets (the larger the red bubble, the worse the returns have been). This outcome looks sensible given weaker Argentine and Turkish fundamentals. And while Cembalest admits that the rising dollar and rising US rates will be a challenge for the broader EM space, most will probably not face balance of payments crises similar to what is taking place in Turkey and Argentina, of which the latter is already getting an IMF bailout and the former, well… it’s only a matter of time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hotel Europa


Theodoor Rombouts( 1597-1637) Prometheus
 

On Friday, in This is the End of the Euro, I said: The euro has become a cage, a prison for the poorer brethren. The finance minister proposed by 5-Star/Lega and refused by Italian president Mattarella, Paolo Savona, has called the euro a German cage.

There are now stories spreading that the coalition, Savona first of all, were secretly planning an exit from the euro. A series of slides Savona prepared in 2015 on how to exit the euro is used as evidence of that secret plan. But the slides are not secret. Yes, he has said that it’s good to have a plan to leave ‘if necessary’. But that’s not the same as secretly planning such a move.

Every country should have such a plan, and you would hope they do. A government that doesn’t is being very irresponsible. But it’s true, this is how both the EU and the euro have been designed: not just as a prison, but as a prison without any doors or windows. No way to get out. And that will prove to be its fatal flaw.

It has more such flaws, for sure. The inequality of its members, which allows for the richer to feed on the poorer, is a big one. The US founders were smart enough to provide for transfer payments from rich to poorer, the EU founders couldn’t be bothered with that lesson. They must have studied it, though, and rejected it.

Credit were credit’s due: Yanis Varoufakis said it best when he compared the EU to the Eagles’ Hotel California. A few lines:

Mirrors on the ceiling
The pink champagne on ice
And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can’t kill the beast

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who Needs Enemies?


Vittorio Matteo Corcos Conversation in the Jardin du Luxembourg 1892

Obviously, there are tensions between Europe and the US. Just as obviously, these tensions are blamed on, who else, Donald Trump. European Council President Donald Tusk recently said: “With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?” EU Commission chair Jean-Claude Juncker even proclaimed that “Europe must take America’s place as global leader”.

These European ‘leaders’ love the big words. They think they make them look good, strong. In reality, they are merely messenger boys for Berlin and Paris. Who have infinitely more say than Brussels. Problem is, Berlin and Paris are not united at all. Macron wants more Europe, especially in finance, but Merkel knows she can’t sell that at home.

So what are those big words worth when the whip comes down? It’s amusing to see how different people reach wholly different conclusions about that. Instructive and entertaining. First, Alex Gorka at The Strategic Culture Foundation, who likes the big words too: “..a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US.”and “May 17 is the day the revolt started and there is no going back. Europe has said goodbye to trans-Atlantic unity. It looks like it has had enough.

Brussels Rises In Revolt Against Washington: A Turning Point In US-European Relations

The May 16-17 EU-Western Balkans summit did address the problems of integration, but it was eclipsed by another issue. The meeting turned out to be a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US. The EU will neither review the Iran nuclear deal (JPCOA) nor join the sanctions against Tehran that have been reintroduced and even intensified by America.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

DOLLAR COLLAPSE COMING: EU To DITCH The US Dollar In Payments For Iranian Oil

DOLLAR COLLAPSE COMING: EU To DITCH The US Dollar In Payments For Iranian Oil

The dollar’s collapse is nearing.  The European Union is planning to switch its payments to the Euro for its oil purchases from Iran, eliminating United States dollar transactions.

Just one more nail to the US dollar’s coffin.  Its collapse is all but imminent at this point. The EU has successfully found a way to scoff at potential future sanctions on Iran by openly defying the US; and as an “added bonus,” they’ve helped seal the dollar’s fate.  According to RT, a diplomatic source with the EU has told a news outlet of the decision.  “I’m privy to the information that the EU is going to shift from dollar to euro to pay for crude from Iran,” said the diplomatic source. 

Brussels has been at odds with Washington over the US’s decision to withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was reached during the administration of Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has pledged to re-impose sanctions against the Islamic Republic as soon as he is able to do so. The Trump administration also has had plans to topple the current regime in Iran, according to leaked documents, and it looks like they’ve just given themselves the go-ahead:

The Washington Free Beacon has obtained a three-page white paper being circulated among National Security Council officials with drafted plans tospark regime change in Iran, following the US exit from the Obama-era nuclear deal and the re-imposition of tough sanctions aimed at toppling the Iranian regime.

The plan, authored by the Security Studies Group, or SSG, a national security think-tank that has close ties to senior White House national security officials, including – who else – National Security Adviser John Bolton, seeks to reshape longstanding American foreign policy toward Iran by emphasizing an explicit policy of regime change, something the Obama administration opposed when popular protests gripped Iran in 2009, writes the Free Beacon, which obtained a leaked copy of the circulating plans. –Zerohedge

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Merkel: “Trump’s Decision Damages Trust In The International Order”

One day after Angela Merkel said Europe can no longer rely on the US “to protect it” in the aftermath of Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord, stating that “It’s no longer the case that the United States will simply just protect us. Rather, Europe needs to take its fate into its own hands, that’s the task of the future”, the  German Chancellor has doubled down, and said President Trump’s decision to scrap the Iran nuclear accord was “not right.”

“It’s not right to unilaterally cancel an accord that was negotiated, that was unanimously approved in the UN Security Council,” Merkel said in a speech at a Catholic religious conference in Muenster, Germany “That damages the trust in the international order.”

“What we’re seeing at the moment, which is probably the most alarming, is that multilateralism is in a real crisis” she added. She then echoed her prior warning: “I’ve said this about the U.S. decision on the Iran accord, I could say the same thing about the climate accord, the WTO – if we always say that something doesn’t suit us, and we don’t get a new international order, and everybody simply does what they want – then that’s bad news for the world.”

Or it could simply be bad news for Europe, or rather everyone but the US, and since Trump’s promise was “America first” it should hardly come as a surprise. Perhaps what Angela should be more worried about is that her disastrous “open door” immigration policy has ushered in not only Brexit but – as of yesterday – laid the groundwork for the first populist, anti-establishment government in Italy where the Five Star and League are about to form a government, which will have immigration as its key talking point.

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Greece & the Debt Crisis

The entire EU Crisis began precisely on schedule on the Political Pi Turning point from the major high in 2007. Precisely on the day of the ECM turning point, April 16, 2010 (2010.29) Greece notified the IMF it was on the verge of bankruptcy. By April 22nd, the Euro fell to near year-low levels amid concerns about Greece’s debt crisis. The IMF activated the loan facility and Greece received its first €45 billion on April 23rd, 2010. Then on May 9th, the IMF approved a bailout package for Greece with the largest loan and exceptional, fast-track access. Of course, that turning point of April 16th, 2010 was also the first time the SEC charged Goldman Sachs with outright FRAUD is selling its Mortgage Backed Securities.

Mother-MerkelIn dealing with Greece, the German head of state Chancellor Angela Merkel, had promised the German taxpayers that any loan to Greece they will be held to the fire and forced to repay. The polls were turning hard against Merkel as she was being bashed in the world press for Greece had forgiven Germany’s debt after World War II, but Merkel refused to provide any relief for Greece because of her campaign promise. The divert the press from here hardline policy on Greece, Merkel then summarily announced that she would take the refugees from Syria with open arms. That then began the European Refugee Crisis and Merkel then force the rest of Europe to share the burden she created unilaterally. The entire European Refugee Crisis was created by Merkel, and this has been at the center of the crisis which is tearing Europe apart at the seams. That came as the next ECM wave turned from its peak 2015.75.

Now as we approach the next political Pi Turning Point due on November 21st, 2018, which will be 8.6 years from when the Greek debt crisis began, the EU Commission has demanded from the Eurozone states that debt relief should be provided to Greece. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Facebook and the Future of Online Privacy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Imag

Facebook and the Future of Online Privacy

The EU has taken the lead in responding to abuse by the likes of Facebook, thanks to its new privacy standards and proposed greater taxation of peddlers of online personal data. Yet more is needed and feasible.

NEW YORK – Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, recently notedthat the public scrutiny of Facebook is “very much overdue,” declaring that “it’s shocking to me that they didn’t have to answer more of these questions earlier on.” Leaders in the information technology sector, especially in Europe, have been warning of the abuses by Facebook (and other portals) for years. Their insights and practical recommendations are especially urgent now.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the US Senate did little to shore up public confidence in a company that traffics in its users’ personal data. The most telling moment of testimony came when Illinois Senator Richard Durbin asked whether Zuckerberg would be comfortable sharing the name of his hotel and the people he had messaged that week, exactly the kind of data tracked and used by Facebook. Zuckerberg replied that he would not be comfortable providing the information. “I think that may be what this is all about,” Durbin said. “Your right to privacy.”

Critics of Facebook have been making this point for years. Stefano Quintarelli, one of Europe’s top IT experts and a leading advocate for online privacy (and, until recently, a member of the Italian Parliament), has been a persistent and prophetic critic of Facebook’s abuse of its market position and misuse of online personal data. He has long championed a powerful idea: that each of us should retain control of our online profile, which should be readily transferable across portals. If we decide we don’t like Facebook, we should be able to shift to a competitor without losing the links to contacts who remain on Facebook.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Merkel Caught in the Energy Conundrum for Germany’s Future

Merkel Caught in the Energy Conundrum for Germany’s Future

The nominal U.S. President, Donald Trump, will meet with the two main European leaders next week with the goal of pushing the President off his position to end the Iran Nuclear Deal, or JCPOA. But it is the bigger issues of energy security that will be the real focus.

From soy-boy Emmanuel Macron of France to the Gelded One of Germany, Angela Merkel, putting the European Union back in its place is one of the few things that Trump may still be able to affect the trajectory of when it comes to foreign policy.

He has no control over Syria, having ceded his authority to the neoconservative crazies who have been wrong about everything since the fall of the Soviet Union.  I also don’t think he has much control over negotiations with North Korea.

While everyone on the right keeps talking about how he keeps winning, after the disaster of his strikes on Syria, why would anyone take him seriously during Korean demilitarization talks?

Does anyone think now Donald Trump has the leeway to negotiate an end to the Korean War and make those terms stick?

And if you do, do you think Xi or Putin or Kim himself do?

EU Fracturing

And that brings me back to Macron and Merkel.  They were split on striking Syria.  It’s obvious that Macron saw this as an opportunity to up his ‘street cred’ with the globalist oligarchy, cozying up to the U.S. and U.K. and finish what his predecessors started in Syria decades ago.

Macron is positioning himself to replace Merkel as the de facto leader of the EU. He’s been groomed for this position as Merkel’s time on the world stage comes to an end.

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Turkey Breaks with NATO, Refuses to Expel Russians

Turkey Breaks with NATO, Refuses to Expel Russians

Following the alleged March 4th alleged Russian poisoning of Sergei Skripal, an ex-double agent in the UK, several European countries and the US have begun ejecting Russian diplomats from their countries. With both the UK and US each ejecting dozens of diplomats, it stands to reason that every other NATO country would follow suit.

However, several European Union members have yet to follow London’s lead. One important NATO country isn’t bowing to western Russophobia: Turkey.

Despite calls from the UK for all of their allies to stand with them in “punishing Russia” they have failed to convince many of their fellow EU members, Israel, and Turkey to follow their suggestions. While there isn’t much London can do to their fellow European states, and obviously, they can’t criticize Israel; tension between Turkey and the EU has reached a point where it’s fashionable to demonize Ankara.

Both the US and UK often pander to Turkey due to the country’s strategic location and their control of the second largest military in NATO. This, however, has become much more difficult in recent months due to the increasingly authoritarian governance of the country leading to arrests of western employees, global kidnappings, and blatant defiance of international law.

This tense relationship between Turkey and the EU was on full display yesterday as Turkish President Recep Erdogan met with EU leaders about his nation’s prospects of joining the bloc. Predictably, no new results were achieved between Brussels and Ankara. This allows Erdogan to go back to turkey and play the victim, likely in anticipation of this announcement on Russia, which he will probably frame as ‘retaliation.’

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Germany Approves Russia-Led Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline

Germany Approves Russia-Led Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline

Nord Stream 2

Germany approved on Tuesday the construction and operation of the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in its territorial waters, thus issuing all necessary permits for the German section of the project that has torn Europe and EU member states over the implications of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom gaining even more foothold on the European gas market.

Hailing the project as necessary to cover Europe’s future supply gap and contributing to the “security of supply and competition in the EU gas market,” the pipeline company Nord Stream 2 AG said on Tuesday that the permitting procedures in the other four countries along the route – Russia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – were proceeding as planned.

“Further permits are expected to be issued in the coming months. Accordingly, scheduled construction works are to be implemented in 2018 as planned,” the company said.

Germany is the key beneficiary of Nord Stream 2 and supports the project on the grounds that it is an economic issue.

Other EU states, however–including Poland and the Baltic states, as well as the European Union institutions–argue that the project further solidifies Russia’s grip on Europe’s gas market and undermines efforts to diversify supplies.

For Russia, Nord Stream 2 – a project to twin the existing Nord Stream pipeline between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea — not only boosts its gas supplies to the EU, but also bypasses the Ukrainian transit route.

With the spy poisoning scandal in the UK and the West-Russia tension high, Nord Stream 2 has taken center stage in energy policies again in recent weeks. Earlier this month, U.S. Senators urged the U.S. Administration “to utilize all of the tools at its disposal to prevent its construction.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia Vows Imminent Response: “The US Only Understands Force”

Update: RIA Novosti reports an unnamed foreign ministry official protested the decision by EU, NATO nations to expel envoys, and  confirmed that Russia will respond to each country expelling diplomats, warning that the “expulsions won’t go unanswered.”

“Unfriendly” action won’t be left unanswered.

U.K.’s allies are “blindly following” principle of Euro-Atlantic unity at the expense of common sense.

Additionally, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said that, with regard to the US response, “US only understand force.”

“I mentioned in my statement in the State Department that I consider these actions counterproductive,” Antonov said.

“I said that the United States took a very bad step by cutting what very little still remains in terms of Russian-American relations.”

*  *  *

President Trump has reportedly ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States on Monday, including 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations in New York, in response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

As The New York Times reports, the expulsion order, announced by administration officials, also closes the Russian consulate in Seattle.

The Russians and their families have seven days to leave the United States, according to officials.

The expulsions are the toughest action taken against the Kremlin by President Trump, who has been criticized for not being firm enough with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

In a call with reporters, senior White House officials said that the move was to root out Russians actively engaging in intelligence operations against the country, and to show that the United States would stand with NATO allies.

The officials said that the closure of the consulate in Seattle was ordered because of its proximity to a U.S. naval base.

Worst. Putin Puppet. Ever.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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