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Germany studying request to return €300mn to Iran

Press TV -July 9, 2018

The German government is reportedly studying a request by Iran to withdraw €300 million from bank accounts held in Germany and transfer the cash to the Islamic Republic.

Unnamed officials in Berlin were quoted by Bild newspaper as saying that Tehran was seeking withdraw the funds from the Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG (eihbank) in order to satisfy part of its foreign currency needs when fresh US sanctions against its financial sector take effect.

The report added that Iran had told the German Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) that it needed the cash from the accounts “to pass on to Iranian citizens who require cash while travelling abroad, given their inability to access recognized credit cards”.

BaFin was now reviewing the request, which had been briefed to senior officials in the chancellery, foreign ministry and finance ministry, the newspaper added in its report as quoted by Reuters.

It further highlighted allegations by the US and Israel that Iran would try to use the cash for purposes other than satisfying its domestic needs. However, it cited unnamed German officials as saying that they had no indications of such plans.

In May, US President Donald Trump announced that he would pull America out of a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and re-impose the sanctions that the deal had envisaged to be lifted.

He has already emphasized that the sanctions which would be imposed on Iran would be “at the highest level”.

The sanctions would include a universal ban on Iran over buying or acquiring US dollars as well as restrictions over purchases of crude oil from the country and investing in its oil sector projects.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | 6 Comments

Israel is bulldozing Khan Al Ahmar – and with it the two-state solution

By Jonathon Cook | The National | July 8, 2018

Israel finally built an access road to the West Bank village of Khan Al Ahmar last week, after half a century of delays. But Israel only allows vehicles like the bulldozers scheduled to sweep away its 200 inhabitants’ homes.

If one community has come to symbolize the demise of the two-state solution, it is Khan Al Ahmar.

It was for that reason that a posse of European diplomats left their air-conditioned offices late last week to trudge through the hot, dusty hills outside Jerusalem and witness the preparations for the village’s destruction. That included the Israeli police beating residents and supporters as they tried to block the advance of heavy machinery.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain submitted a formal protest. Their denunciations echoed those of more than 70 Democratic lawmakers in Washington in May – a rare example of US politicians showing solidarity with Palestinians.

It would be gratifying to believe that Western governments care about the inhabitants of Khan Al Ahmar – or the thousands of other Palestinians who are being incrementally cleansed by Israel from nearby lands but whose plight has drawn far less attention.

After all, the razing of Khan Al Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its population are war crimes.

But in truth, Western politicians are more concerned about propping up the illusion of a peace process that expired many years ago, than the long-running abuse of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

Israeli soldier confronts villager in Khan al-Ahmar. (Photo by Mazin Qumsiyeh)

Western capitals understand what is at stake. Israel wants Khan Al Ahmar gone so that Jewish settlements can be built in its place, on land it has designated as “E1”.

That would put the final piece in place for Israel to build a substantial bloc of new settler homes to sever the West Bank in two. Those same settlements would also seal off West Bank Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the expected capital of a future Palestinian state, making a mockery of any peace agreement.

The erasure of Khan Al Ahmar has not arrived out of nowhere. Israel has trampled on international law for decades, conducting a form of creeping annexation that has provoked little more than uncomfortable shifting in chairs from Western politicians.

Khan Al Ahmar’s Bedouin inhabitants, from the Jahalin tribe, have been ethnically cleansed twice before by Israel, but these war crimes went unnoticed.

The first time was in the 1950s, a few years after Israel’s creation, when 80 per cent of Palestinians had been driven from their homes to make way for a Jewish state.

Although they should have enjoyed the protection of Israeli citizenship, the Jahalin were forced out of the Negev and into the West Bank, then controlled by Jordan, to make way for new Jewish immigrants.

A generation later in 1967, when they had barely re-established themselves, the Jahalin were again under attack from Israeli soldiers occupying the West Bank. The grazing lands the Jahalin had relocated to with their goats and sheep were seized to build a settlement for Jews only, Kfar Adumim, in violation of the laws of war.

Ever since, the Jahalin have dwelt in a twilight zone of Israeli-defined “illegality”. Like other Palestinians in the 60 per cent of the West Bank under Israeli control, they have been denied building permits, forcing three generations to live in tin shacks and tents.

‘Leaving the Desert in Death’

Israel has also refused to connect the village to the water, electricity and sewage grids, in an attempt to make life so unbearable the Jahalin would opt to leave.

When an Italian charity helped in 2009 to establish Khan Al Ahmar’s first school – made from mud and tyres – Israel stepped up its legal battle to demolish the village.

Now, the Jahalin are about to be driven from their lands again. This time they are to be forcibly re-settled next to a waste dump by the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, hemmed in on all sides by Israeli walls and settlements.

In the new location they will be forced to abandon their pastoral way of life. As resident Ibrahim Abu Dawoud observed: “For us, leaving the desert is death.”

In another indication of the Palestinians’ dire predicament, the Trump administration is expected to propose in its long-awaited peace plan that the slum-like Abu Dis, rather than East Jerusalem, serve as the capital of a future pseudo-Palestinian state – if Israel ever chooses to recognise one.

Khan Al Ahmar’s destruction would be the first demolition of a complete Palestinian community since the 1990s, when Israel ostensibly committed to the Oslo peace process.

Now emboldened by Washington’s unstinting support, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is racing ahead to realise its vision of a Greater Israel. It wants to annex the lands on which villages like Khan Al Ahmar stand and remove their Palestinian populations.

There is a minor hurdle. Last Thursday, the Israeli supreme court tried to calm the storm clouds gathering in Europe by issuing a temporary injunction on the demolition works.

‘Short-Lived Reprieve’

The reprieve is likely to be short-lived. A few weeks ago the same court – in a panel dominated by judges identified with the settler movement – backed Khan Al Ahmar’s destruction.

The Supreme Court has also been moving towards accepting the Israeli government’s argument that decades of land grabs by settlers should be retroactively sanctioned – even though they violate Israeli and international law – if carried out in “good faith”.

Whatever the judges believe, there is nothing “good faith” about the behaviour of either the settlers, or Israel’s government towards communities like Khan Al Ahmar.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ veteran peace negotiator, recently warned that Israel and the US were close to “liquidating” the project of Palestinian statehood.

Sounding more desperate than usual, the Europe Union reaffirmed this month its commitment to a two-state solution, while urging that the “obstacles” to its realisation be more clearly identifed.

The elephant in the room is Israel itself – and its enduring bad faith. As Khan Al Ahmar demonstrates all too clearly, there will be no end to the slow-motion erasure of Palestinian communities until western governments find the nerve to impose biting sanctions on Israel.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

NATO’s Dead?

If so, who killed it: Obama, Putin, Or Trump?

By Andrew Korbyko – InfoRoss – 06.07.2018

NATO, as the world knew it, is dead, and the organization’s demise is attributable to the combination of President Putin’s deft diplomacy in advancing the Russian-Turkish rapprochement and his American counterpart’s revolutionary reconceptualization of the very essence of the alliance, both of which wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Obama.

NATO, as it was previously conceived of for decades, is dead, and while it might be reborn in a different format sometime in the future, its previous model has exhausted its purpose and is entering into the dustbin of history. The organization still officially exists, but everything about it is changing to the point where it might soon become unrecognizable. The consistently anti-Russian driving force behind the bloc has been decisively neutralized by President Putin’s deft diplomacy in winning over its second-largest military member, Turkey, as Russia’s newest strategic partner, while Trump’s revolutionary reconceptualization of the alliance as an equal collection of states combating the asymmetrical security challenges of terrorism and illegal migration will fundamentally transform what it means to be a NATO member.

The Shadow Of Obama

Before going through the post-mortem in detail, it’s worthwhile to describe how Obama’s shadow hangs heavy in the sense that he orchestrated the three greatest mistakes that inadvertently led to NATO’s demise. The 2011 NATO War on Libya has the chance of being seen in hindsight as the final flash of a fast- fading star, with its “shock-and-awe” destruction of the former Jamahiriya going down in history as perhaps the last real instance of the bloc’s members working in coordination with one another to conventionally wage war against a targeted state. The self-congratulatory pomp that followed this brief military campaign has since been proven to have been premature because of the country’s ongoing civil war and role as a transit state for facilitating the flood of hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe, which sparked its own crisis that has since led to the rise of EuroRealist populists in the continent.

In addition, the Libyan model of Hybrid War destabilization was also applied to Syria, albeit minus the final conventional warfare form, and this exacerbated the Migrant Crisis to the point of no return in guaranteeing the inevitable rise of right-wing politicians in Europe. Taken together, the Wars on Libya and Syria, waged in different manners but nevertheless following the same neo-imperialist regime change form, generated unprecedented humanitarian blowback to the point of triggering far-reaching political changes in NATO’s EU members, making many of them reconsider the official anti-Russian purpose of the bloc when it could be better put to use in defending the organization’s southern shores from swarms of migrants. For as “constructive” of an idea as this may have been, it led to deep divisions within the EU itself between the pro-migrant Western countries, the anti-migrant Central & Eastern European ones, and the anti-Russian Baltic States, Poland, and Romania.

While these intra-NATO disagreements were percolating, Obama made another massive mistake in giving the greenlight for the failed pro-American coup attempt against Turkish President Erdogan in the summer of 2016, and the blowback from this sloppy operation was almost instantaneous in making the bloc’s second-largest military deeply suspicious of US intentions from then on out. Although Turkey had hitherto been mostly focused on facilitating American strategic objectives in the Mideast (which for the most part were disadvantageous to Russia’s long-term regional vision), its unchanging geopolitical position as an irreplaceable part of NATO’s anti-Russian “containment” policy was thought to have retained a consistent function that had been taken completely for granted up until that point. That was a huge error, as will be seen, because President Putin’s deft diplomacy succeeded in its judo-like maneuver to flip Turkey from an enemy into a partner.

Putin’s Judo

Taking advantage of President Erdogan’s understandable distrust of what he had presumed was his country’s closest ally, President Putin reached out to extend his support for the embattled Turkish leader in demonstrating which of the two Great Powers really had Ankara’s best interests in mind. It shouldn’t be forgotten that unconfirmed reports also alleged that Russian intelligence might have tipped President Erdogan off right before a fighter jet flown by one of the coup conspirators was set to bomb his residence, therefore saving his life and sealing a new bond of friendship between both countries. It might never be known whether that actually happened or not, but in any case, the Russian-Turkish rapprochement that followed soon thereafter was swift and even saw Moscow passively accepting Ankara’s limited “Euphrates Shield” incursion into northern Syria later that summer, something that would have been utterly unthinkable just a few months prior.

The revival of the Turkish Stream pipeline project and a related agreement on nuclear energy cooperation served as physical testimonies to the strength of the Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership, which went one dramatic step much further in officially including a military dimension per Ankara’s desire to buy Moscow’s state-of-the-art S-400 air & missile defense system despite Washington’s threats to sanction it if the deal goes through. In the course of less than two years, President Putin’s deft diplomacy flipped the tables on the previous US-Turkish Strategic Partnership by replacing America with Russia and totally changing the overall dynamics of Mideast geopolitics. The de-facto removal of NATO’s second-largest military force from the organization, which is essentially the true state of affairs at the moment given Ankara’s planned S-400 military cooperation with Moscow and Washington’s CAATSA sanction threats, dealt a heavy blow to the bloc from which it has yet to recover.

Decades’ worth of strategic planning that went into using Turkey as a bulwark against the spread of Russian influence towards the Mediterranean are now worthless after Ankara has for all intents and purposes turned its back on the bloc out of protest of the US’ role in the failed summer 2016 coup attempt. The organization can no longer count on the cornerstone of its Mideast, Black Sea, and Eastern Mediterranean policies, and this has inevitably led to the alliance having to reinvent itself. As it happened, this took place concurrent with the rapid politicization of the Migrant Crisis and its resultant intra-NATO/-EU disputes about how best to respond to this civilizational challenge, further exacerbating divisions within the West and making Turkey’s “defection” (brought about through President Putin’s masterful diplomacy) all the more impactful of a destabilizing move for the already confused alliance.

Trump’s Turnaround

The last and most powerful factor that contributed to the death of NATO was Trump himself, who decided to turn everything around and reorient the bloc from its official anti-Russian purpose by transforming it into something entirely different. It’s true that some of the anti-Russian functions will still remain because of the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania’s membership as “frontline states”, but Trump’s vision is to use NATO as a platform for responding more to asymmetrical security threats such as terrorism and illegal immigration instead of conventional ones like Russia was portrayed as being since the organization’s inception. Words are one thing, but transforming them through action is another, and it’s here where Trump is “walking the walk” much more than “talking the talk” like his predecessors did in visibly pressuring his “allies” to contribute their required 2% of GDP towards defense like they were always supposed to do to begin with.

Trump, being the successful businessman that he is, can’t fathom why the US should subsidize the EU’s “socialist welfare states” especially given that the “foreboding challenge” of a “Soviet invasion” no longer makes that necessary like it may have once. Seeing world affairs from an economic perspective and therefore perceiving the EU to be America’s rival in this respect, Trump knows that the best way to “level the playing field” and “get a better deal” is to put pressure on America’s military underlings by compelling them to pay more for defense in order to advance their interests in a reconceptualized NATO, with this being coordinated alongside the US’ campaign to get the EU to lift its anti-American tariffs. The knock-on effect of this “double whammy” could hit the Europeans’ economic growth and possibly compel them into “cutting a deal’ of some sort for relief, one which can only be speculated upon at this time but which would undoubtedly strengthen American influence.

Far from representing the “united” West that NATO did during the Old Cold War and the brief period of unipolarity that followed, the New Cold War has seen the bloc weakened from within because of the blowback caused by Obama’s disastrous Wars on Libya & Syria as well as the failed pro-American coup attempt against President Erdogan in summer 2016.

President Putin skillfully exploited the latter in rapidly turning Turkey into a close partner and convincing it that its future interests are best served by keeping the bloc at arm’s length, while Trump dealt the deathblow against the alliance for his own reasons mainly having to do with a different view on contemporary security challenges and his economically driven vision of foreign affairs. While the shell of NATO still exists, its functional capacities are now divided into different regional blocs mostly constituting the new anti-migrant European Intervention Force in Western Europe and the remaining anti-Russian forces in the East, though Turkey’s de-facto “defection” means that the organization will never be the same as before.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

French shipping firm pulls out of Iran due to US sanctions threat

MEMO | July 7, 2018

French shipping group CMA CGM has decided to pull out of Iran following the Trump administration’s decision to renew sanctions on companies operating in the country, its chief executive said on Saturday.

Some other big shipping companies like A.P. Moller-Maersk have already said they would halt business ahead of a reimposition of sanctions following the United States’ decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

“Due to the Trump administration, we have decided to end our service for Iran,” CMA CGM chief Rodolphe Saade said during an economic conference in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence.

“Our Chinese competitors are hesitating a little, so maybe they have a different relationship with Trump, but we apply the rules,” Saade said.

He added that his company’s cooperation agreement with local Iranian partner IRISL had been suspended and that the company did not want to fall foul of the rules given their large presence in the United States.

He also said that the company had so far not seen an impact of trade tensions between China and the United States on shipping volumes, but was making preparations with a close eye on China and southeast Asia in case the situation deteriorated.

In May, the European Union announced measures that would enable it to avoid US sanctions on Iran or possibly block them. The measures are designed to avoid tens of billions of dollars in losses for European companies, which invested in Iran in the wake of the agreement, signed in 2015. However, this hasn’t stopped many large European companies and insitutions from bowing to US pressure, including the EU’s own bank.

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Vienna Opposes US Anti-Iran Sanctions That Affect Austria – President

Sputnik – 04.07.2018

VIENNA – Vienna regrets Washington’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran as these restrictions violate international law and affect Austria due to their extraterritorial nature, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said on Wednesday.

“Austria regrets the US pullout from the JCPOA. We also regret the US decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran. This does not concern the so-called primary sanctions against Iran, but the secondary sanctions which affect Austria, too. We believe that these secondary sanctions violate international law due to their extraterritorial nature,” Van der Bellen told reporters after his talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Vienna.

The European Commission supports this position against the United States’ decisions related to the JCPOA, the Austrian president added.

Rouhani on Future of JCPOA

His Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, in his turn, said that Tehran would remain in the deal, provided that the country is able to benefit from it.

“We will not withdraw from the JCPOA if we are able to benefit from it,” Rouhani said after talks with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen.

Rouhani specified that Iran would stay in the deal if the remaining signatories to the agreement manage to ensure Iran’s interests after the US pullout from the agreement.

The Iranian president also stressed that the remaining signatories to the JCPOA had demonstrated firm political will.

Rouhani is currently on his European trip aimed at discussing the future of the JCPOA after the US withdrawal with EU member states. On Monday and Tuesday, the Iranian president visited Switzerland, after which he arrived in Austria.

EU officials have repeatedly criticized the extraterritorial nature of sanctions imposed by the United States on the countries considered by Washington as its adversaries.

After the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, other signatories — Iran, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the European Union – said they would abide by it. Moreover, EU leaders asked the United States to grant sanctions waivers to the bloc’s companies cooperating with Iran.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Germany’s AfD Party Passes Resolution to Lift EU Sanctions Against Syria

By Suliman Mulhem – Sputnik – July 4, 2018

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party is continuing its efforts to repatriate Syrian refugees, formally urging the German federal government and the EU to lift their debilitating economic sanctions against the Arab Republic.

Earlier this month at a party convention in Augsburg, AfD politicians passed a resolution calling for the lifting of EU economic sanctions against Syria in a bid to aid Damascus’ ongoing efforts to stabilize the entirety of the country and provide adequate public services, according to a party press release sent to Sputnik reporter Suliman Mulhem.

The resolution was submitted by Dr. Christian Blex and a number of other party officials who visited Syria in March to assess the situation on the ground for themselves.

Presenting the resolution at a party conference, Bundestag member Dr. Blex warned of the detrimental effects of the sanctions on the availability of healthcare for Syrians who decided to remain in their home country, especially those on low incomes and with limited resources to seek treatment abroad.

“They [the sanctions] target human beings who the European states allegedly want to protect. The EU sanctions against Syria are a cause of flight; its removal would even benefit Germany’s economy,” Dr. Blex said.

“We demand Germany be no longer complicit in the sanctions, which are an instrument of power against the current government. A prolongation of the suffering of the Syrian people to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad is incompatible with AfD-principles and not in the German national interest,” the resolution reads.

Moreover, the resolution called on the German government and the EU itself to reinstate diplomatic relations with Damascus to “find a solution which secures the country’s peaceful rebuilding process,” highlighting that rebuilding Syria and reviving its national economy is firmly in Germany’s interests, as it’s necessary for the repatriation of Syrian migrants.

AfD members also passed a resolution on July 1 condemning the tripartite aggression by the UK, US and France against Syria earlier this year as a “violation of international law.”

The coordinated strikes were carried in retaliation to an alleged chemical attack which was blamed on the Syrian government, despite Damascus staunchly denying any involvement and having no motive to carry out such an attack.

READ MORE:

EU Sanctions Have ‘Disastrous’ Effects on Syria’s Civilian Population – AfD MP

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran will import goods only from countries that buy its oil – MP

RT | July 4, 2018

The Energy Committee of Iran has announced that Tehran will buy goods only from those nations which purchase Iranian oil. This follows the US demand from its allies to stop buying Iranian crude.

“We will carry out barter exchange of oil and goods, which means the purchase of goods will depend on the sale of oil,” representative of Iran’s Energy Committee Asadollah Karekhani told ILNA news agency.

“We want to inform our target markets and countries that buy oil from us that we’ll purchase goods from them only if they purchase our oil,” he said, noting that a working group is being formed on barter deals.

Last week, a senior US State Department official told reporters that Washington would try to convince its allies to completely stop buying oil from Iran by early November. Discussions are also being held with other countries, including China.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned that if the country’s crude oil exports were threatened, the rest of the Middle East’s would be as well.

“Assuming that Iran could become the only oil producer unable to export its oil is a wrong assumption … The United States will never be able to cut Iran’s oil revenues,” he said.

Iran is OPEC’s second-largest crude exporter with more than 2 million barrels a day.

Rouhani is currently in Europe to gather support ahead of a meeting later this week between Iran and the five global powers that are still party to the 2015 nuclear deal.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

European Union extends economic sanctions against Russia

RT | June 29, 2018

EU leaders have extended economic penalties against Russia for six months until the end of January. The decision prolongs the ban on doing business with Russian banking and financial institutions and new energy projects.

“We had a very short discussion on Russia, Ukraine and the Minsk Agreements that led to a political decision to extend the sanctions for another six months,” an unnamed source in the EU Council told journalists in Brussels.

The decision came at the bloc’s summit and is expected to be confirmed in the coming days. According to the source, the move was triggered by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who reportedly urged the leaders to prolong sanctions against Moscow due to the current state of implementation of the Minsk peace accord on Ukraine.

“It was said that there are no changes, so sanctions are prolonged, the sanctions regime remains unchanged,” the source added.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that the renewal of the punitive measures against Russia should not be automatic. Italy has repeatedly voiced concerns over the sanctions, saying they were having a huge negative impact on Italian firms’ exports to Russia.

“We will reaffirm the principle that there should be nothing automatic about the renewal of sanctions,” the official told parliament. “We need to be very careful about this. Sanctions should be a means and not constitute an end.”

The penalties were initially introduced in 2014 over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis and its reunification with Crimea. Sanctions target Russia’s financial, energy and defense sectors, along with some government officials, businessmen and public figures.

The Kremlin responded by imposing an embargo on agricultural produce, food and raw materials on countries that imposed sanctions on Russia. Since then both sides have repeatedly broadened and extended the restrictive measures.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Macron Embraces Liberal Authoritarianism by Attempting to Force French Children Into The Military

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | June 28, 2018

Emmanuel Macron was the first modern French President not to experience compulsory military service as prior to his eighteenth birthday, the French government abolished conscription. However, after benefiting from the fact that France is a country facing no traditional military threats, Macron has now put forward formal proposals which would force all 16 year old French girls and boys to serve in the military.

Macron’s proposals not only defy the pan-European trend of ending compulsory service but they also defy logic. It is well known that especially in the age of high-tech warfare, conscripted armies are simply not as efficient nor as effective as those comprised of volunteers. Countries that maintain compulsory military service are generally those that face major existential threats from traditional armed forces, countries with small populations or nations that simply have not got around to modifying old rules. In any case, many of the countries that still do enforce some kind of compulsory service are reducing the amount of years or months required while also offering a variety of exemptions.

Furthermore, while most countries that still conscript young people only begin the process when one has turned 18 and while furthermore, they generally only ever draft males – Macron has set the bar at the age of 16 and will require both males and females to forcibly join the armed forces if he gets his way.

Macron’s proposals represent a massive step backwards for the French people. France is a country that has enjoyed all the benefits of pan-European peace while its volunteer armed forces continue to inflect suffering upon the developing world along with their other NATO allies. There can be no justification for conscription during a time of unparalleled peace, but Macron has other things in mind.

While liberalism used to connote an idea of relaxed governmental controls on everything from the economy to public morality, today’s liberalism is increasingly embracing an atmosphere of classic authoritarianism which is used to enforce not patriotic nor moral values, but contemporary ultra-liberal ones. In other words, liberalism has pivoted from “do as you will do – no matter the consequences” to “do as we say or else be severely punished for not embracing our particular liberal set of social values”.

Macron’s attempt to militarise society by targeting children is the next logical progression of such a barbaric modus operandi and what is more worrying is that other liberal authoritarians in Europe may follow Macron in throwing away Europe’s peace by turning it into a needlessly more militarised region.

Without a doubt, the biggest problem that contemporary Europe faces is the migration crisis that was itself caused by Angela Merkel forcing a pan-EU open door policy down the throats of ordinary people who never got to have a formal say in the matter. As France has been one of the countries to most readily embrace Merkel’s open door policy, Macron bears his share of responsibility for the present crisis.

Macron has implied that his conscription policy is an attempt to use military service to create social solidarity where at present there is a great deal of discord. However, by militarising the youth, all it will do is propagate an atmosphere of violence that can only be tackled by tough policing when combined with an end to open door policies for economic migrants posing as refugees.

The problems in French society are due to a combination of lax enforcement of current drug laws, poor policing techniques against the proliferation of gangs, terror cells and weapons and an attitude of so-called political correctness which disallows police from following basic lines of logic in cracking down on criminal activities in society.

All Macron’s conscription plans will do is create more anger and violence among ordinary citizens who at the moment simply want professional police to do their job without the constraints they are currently under. Furthermore, Macron’s plan seeks to shift the blame for the migrant crisis onto an invisible foreign threat that a bulked-up, partially conscripted French military will now prepare to fight. This weapon of mass distraction seeks to point the finger at any given “foreign menace” as the cause of the current breakdown in French society when in reality it was France’s and the EU’s own policies which sowed the seeds of the current atmosphere of widespread discontent.

Macron’s liberal authoritarianism will simply punish French children for literally no reason at all, while simultaneously providing himself an excuse to deflect from the blame he has earned by his refusal to wake up to reality regarding Europe’s migrant crisis.

If there was ever a reason for French men and women to take to the streets and protest their government, this certainly is among the most important.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Hungary Accuses EU of ‘Double Standards’ Over Nord Stream 2

Sputnik – June 28, 2018

EU divisions and US sanctions threaten to delay the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring Russian gas to Europe.

The European Union applies double standards to Nord Stream 2, Hungarian Foreign and Foreign Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto told Sputnik.

“We are not part of the project, we can’t resist it. But I can say there are unacceptable double standards,” the minister said. According to him, the former South Stream project, which would increase the diversification of natural gas supplies for Central Europe has been “killed” by the EU.

“And now we don’t see any encouragement on the part of the European Commission. I can’t imagine any excuses or reasons the Commission could bring,” Szijjarto added

In 2014, EU opposition forced Russia to cease work on the South Stream project, which was to run across Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary in favor of a new pipeline to run under the Black Sea to Turkey [Turkish Stream].

Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream 2, which is a joint venture of Russia’s Gazprom with France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV AG, UK-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, aims to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas a year to the European Union across the Baltic Sea to Germany.

Building permits have already been issued by Germany, Finland and Sweden.

A similar permit by Denmark is still pending, but on Tuesday it was announced that the Danish government wants to delay the implementation of the project. According to Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the idea needs to be discussed on a pan-European level.

Denmark’s decision came after the US State Department said it hoped that the EU would “independently” suspend the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline or “reformat” a Russian-proposed plan to this effect.

Some countries, above all Ukraine, who are afraid of losing revenues from Russian gas transit, are opposed to Nord Stream 2. The project is also facing opposition from the United States who has ambitious plans to export its LNG to Europe.

Russia has repeatedly urged its European partners not to perceive the Nord Stream pipeline as an instrument of influence. According to President Vladimir Putin, Moscow considers the project to be entirely economic.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Ever wonder where the 275 billion taxpayers money went that got poured down the EU carbon trading system hole?

eu democracy

By Tim Channon | Tallbloke’s Talkshop | June 28, 2018

Talkshop readers may remember a damning report by UBS about the billions of public money lost in the ETS carbon trading system. It calculated that if the money had been invested in modernising the European power generation fleet, CO2 could have been cut by 40% (and generate a huge number of high quality jobs). EU emissions rose 1.8% last year.

Despite all the recent turmoil over the UK steel industry and meetings in Brussels today, the reality is that the European Union has actually been subsidising the Chinese steel industry for years, in payments hidden amongst its efforts to combat Climate Change.

Using complex methods of carbon credits and carbon offsets, the EU devised rules on climate change ended up paying Chinese steel manufacturers billions to upgrade their steel mills and other energy intensive industry.

According to the analysis company, European Insights, almost €1.5 billion was paid to over 90 steel plants in China with the purpose of modernising them to consume less energy, and making the plants more efficient. Taken with the downturn in Chinese trade and the need for them to reduce world market prices to sell their product, the output of these mills has flooded onto the European market making steel products artificially cheap and endangering thousands of jobs in the UK. One plant alone, Anshan Iron and Steel, received a payment of €150 million to help pay for the installation of up to date equipment and replace the old inefficient Communist era machinery.

The money came from the EU’s self-claimed flagship Climate Directive, the Emission Trading System, and paid for by power and industrial companies in the EU who are, as part of their industry, emitters of carbon dioxide. This system forces big carbon emitters in Europe to buy carbon offsets, known as Certified Emission Reductions. They can buy these on the “carbon market” but companies in China, for example, who could show they intended to reduce their own levels of carbon emissions, would qualify.

The system then allowed Chinese steel producers to exploit a loophole that allowed their modernisation to be financed by the sale of these credits, as they received upfront payments of billions of Euros.

European installations that involve high energy consumption also can participate in this carbon trading market, but at a much lesser scale. Effectively around 12,000 European installations, including power stations and steel mills, were forced by the EU into subsidising Chinese industrial growth and development in a trade worth up to a total of €45 billion.

The Think Tank, European Insights, said: “These Chinese upgrades have now, sadly, assisted in record levels of Chinese steel production and are contributing to the low steel price that is endangering jobs in the UK. The system of carbon credit trading is highly complex, and we uncovered 91 individual steel mills in China that received funding of this nature. We estimate that the total paid to them was €1.4 billion.”

The EU approach to Climate Change is another example of the unintended consequences associated with policies made at an EU level. The initiative was well-meaning maybe, but failed totally to anticipate the consequences on world trade and impact on EU member states. Most damaging is that EU is also terribly slow to ameliorate the negative effects of its own policies.

The full report by European Insights can no longer be found here:

http://europeaninsights.org/carbon-credits-and-steel/

And you won’t find it on the wayback machine at Archive.org either

https://web.archive.org/web/20180628113838/http://europeaninsights.org?reqp=1&reqr=

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

HuffPost Blames Populists And Russia For European Renewable Policy Failures

By Eric Worrall | Watts Up With That? | June 26, 2018

The alleged Russian conspiracy which is supposed to be helping populists win elections worldwide has now been blamed for a fall in EU nation state support for European renewable energy policies.

How A Populist Europe In Thrall To Russia Threatens Climate Change Action

“We are in a really dangerous moment.”

By Arthur Neslen
26/06/2018 7:45 PM AEST

As a growing number of European countries tip toward the far right politically, attempts to curb climate change are coming under pressure. The region’s race to cut planet-warming greenhouse gases is generating friction, and some Members of European Parliament and experts point the finger of blame at Russian big energy interests and populist governments in thrall to them.

This month, a bid to raise the European Union’s supply of renewable energy to 35 percent of the electricity mix by 2030 was stymied by a bloc of EU states led by populist governments in the Visegrad countries ― Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia ― even though it had the support of the European Parliament and European Commission.

The same bloc of countries helped whittle down proposals for a binding 40 percent energy conservation target, despite signs of accelerating climate change from the Antarctic to the African savannah.

“We see a pattern of populist governments clearly opposing ambitious climate and energy regulations, which is in line with the primary Russian economic interest: exporting fossil fuels and nuclear technology,” Benedek Jávor, the vice-chair of the European parliament’s environment committee and a Hungarian Green MEP, told HuffPost.

Russia supplies more than a third of Europe’s gas but this could be reduced to nothing by an ambitious energy saving target, according to analyses by several think tanks and consultancies.

Hungary, for example, which is becoming an increasingly authoritarian government under far-right leader Viktor Orbán, is a valued advocate for Russian gas infrastructure and is also building a Russian-financed €10 billion ($11.5 billion) nuclear reactor outside Budapest.

Russia’s energy agenda plays to a wider audience than extreme nationalists. Gas and nuclear are both seen as relatively lower carbon options than coal, which could “bridge” the path to a mid-century world powered solely by renewables. However, some climate studies suggest that, where gas is concerned, the bridge could also burn the chances of limiting global warming to no more than a 2 C temperature rise above pre-Industrial levels ― the target the majority of scientists say cannot be exceeded if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Several academic papers have found that investment in gas could crowd out desperately needed funds for renewable energy while providing few emissions-cutting benefits.

Full article: https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/europe-populism-russia-climate-action_us_5b30b86fe4b0321a01d33adf

In my opinion HuffPost are making it up as they go. If renewable energy was viable, gas wouldn’t have an opportunity to “crowd out” renewable investment, because renewable investment would make sense on its own terms.

As for Huffpost’s evidence free allegation that Russia is pushing populism to undermine the green agenda, in my opinion it would make far more sense for the Russian government to support the green agenda – to support anti-fracking, anti-nuclear and renewable energy advocacy movements.

More fracking in Europe would undermine Russian gas sales. A Nuclear power renaissance in Europe would undermine Russian gas sales. Useless green energy “investments” not so much.

Of course I’m not suggesting Russia is doing anything of the sort. Why risk scandal and exposure, when liberal green European politicians are doing everything in their power to wreck European energy independence without outside help?

June 27, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Nuclear Power, Russophobia, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment