Realizations that a no deal BREXIT is not good for either UK or European citizens

APEurope editorial

The simple but stark message

A joint short term loss of up to £40 billion and up to 2.5 million people losing their employment.

Following the selection of Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative party by around 160,000 members of the party under the UK system this led to him becoming Primer Minister of the UK. He got rid of ministers who were no committed to BREXIT but it has become evident that he wants to head for a no deal BREXIT. The reasons he is doing this is because in the European elections, Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party won the UK part of that election and their objective is a no deal BREXIT. In order stop Parliamentary discussions on BREXIT the Johnson government has extended the Parliamentary recess (closure). This is still subject to the outcome of legal appeals (court cases).

A cross-party coalition of MPs took control of the UK Parliament to pass a Bill to forbid the government from leaving the EU without a deal. The government lost this vote and this Bill is now passing through the House of Lords and is likely to be successful.

It is noteworthy that as a coalition the collection of political parties had to justify their common position by spelling out the impact of a no deal BREXIT. They all made very clear statements citing professional and commercial sector representative estimates of the damage to the UK economy that is likely to result from a no deal BREXIT.

Likely economic and employment impacts, the strategic analysts, have estimated that the impact of no deal on the European economy will be a loss of exports of around £25 billion against around £15 billion on the UK side and the likely losses in employment associated with these figures is estimated to be potentially 1.5 million in the EU and around 1.00 million in the UK directly linked to the trade losses. In the UK the likely impact will see around 350,000 EU citizens working in low paid processing jobs, losing their employment.

Exacerbated by inappropriate central bank policies and US-China ongoing dispute

Both the ECB and Bank of England have followed the quantitative easing path and it is likely that this will transition into slumpflation within the next year with private and corporate debt levels now higher than in 2008. The global instability caused by the US-China trade rift also is resulting in falling demand. The economies which will be most impacted in Europe are Germany, Spain and The Netherlands and Poland.

EU Commission and Council mistakes

Although in the early days no one was contemplating a no deal BREXIT option, the Member States, or at least the Commission, should have carried out a downside scenario on their exposure to a no deal or poorly managed transition. As a result the citizens of Europe remained unaware of the potential dangers to their wellbeing of a no deal BREXIT. There was an assumption that all of this was a British problem. Although top officials within the Commission say they have "prepared for the no deal option" our Berlaymont contacts have suggested that they are not aware of any meetings or investigations and analyses to find out the detailed impacts, country by country within the Union. With the Conservative government and the Brexit party aiming for a "no deal BREXIT", the Member States and the Commission need to become more realistic about the potential dangers to European citizens. The Commission has a fixation with procedures, and currently the Commission and Council are both in a transition with changes at the top. It is therefore essential that responsible political parties in Europe immediately begin to expose this danger to their constituents so as to encourage their governments and the Commission to revisit all impasses so as to reduce the likelihood of a no deal.

The need for a European-wide campaign that includes the UK

There is likely to be a general election in the UK within the next 3 months and the Conservatives and the Brexit Party under Nigel Farage are convinced they will win with a no deal manifesto. If the UK constituents can be better informed concerning the consequences and encouraged to realise the true costs to the wellbeing of too many people, it is likely that neither the Conservatives or the Brexit Party would win such an election. For the sake of European citizens and, indeed the people of the UK it is likely that the Conservatives and the Brexit Party will lose support with more voters supporting those wanting a deal or those wishing to remain such as the Liberal Democrats and some Greens. The identities of parties who wish to avoid a no deal are easily identified and citizens and organizations need to assist them in delivering their message in the case of a general election.

Whereas we are not suggesting that the Commission and European political parties should be campaigning on one side or the other in a UK election. They can however help those who are on the side of outcomes that will do the least damage to EU citizens and businesses and the economies as a whole, including the UK, by producing and circulating evidence-based relevant information on opttion impacts.

EU tactics on BREXIT are the product of a particular mindset

A SEEL workshop was held for APE journalists on the weekend of 8-9 October, 2017. This was organised to bring journalists up to speed on their strategic decision analysis department's concern that mainstream media are not picking up on the EU tactitcs to frustrate the UK's ambitions with respect to BREXIT.

Anyone who deals with transition and innovation processes know that the final design can only have beneficial results if a model of the objective is set out as a target and then the options for achieving that objective can be identified and optimised. When it comes to two political groups seeking a mutually beneficial outcome, the decision analysis model needs to be based on the objective of a mutually advantageous future state, in short, the likely trading relationship.

The European Union's aproach to BREXIT has been to frustrate, intentionally, this normal logical process. This is because they want to create difficulties for the UK because they don't want an example to other disgrutled member states; they dont want the UK to leave. If the UK had been a member of the Eurozone things would have been very different with the ECB, some Eurozone representative and probably the IMF working to underlime the whole process as they did in Ireland and Greece.

The second string to the EU's bow, is even more important. By instisting on sorting out the political question first the EU is preventing the UK from negotiating new trade deals with third parties to help smooth out the transition. The EU inisists on the illogical approach of first of all negotiating the divorce, money to be paid and Northern Irish border question before going on to basic structure of a mutually beneficial trading arrangement. Trading arrangements provide a far clearer picture of the likely future trade cashflows for all EU countries and the UK as well as between institutions participating in programmes and projects of mutual interest. On this basis the identification of transition priorities in respect to law and regulations become well-defined as does the quantification of any budget contributions become completely self-evident. The likely future trading arrangements then provide practical guidance on the Northern Irish border question in terms of regulations and management techniques.

The legal basis and approach by the European Commission with the ECJ hovering in the background is completely illogical because it will cause harm to both the UK and EU citizens through the impacts on business. This legal bluster is designed to create intense frustration and political embarrassment for the UK government in the hope they will fail or desist; it is a direct interference in the internal politics of the country motivated by a dislike of the outcome of the BREXIT referendum.

Prodi had a plan,
a Convention!

Angela Merkel prevented any public referenda
The EU obsession with the "political" question has become more intense with the UK's insistence that it will be released from ECJ jurisdiction in relation to EU citizens living in the UK; a position that upset the ECJ judicial mindset which considered their jurisdiction over the "European constitution" and European citizens as sacrosanct. Today we see the same rigid position in the case of Spain today, that sees separation as something to be resisted and at least made difficult.

As has often been observed, this rigid inflexible approach is undermining democracy in Europe where paradoxically the whole concept of the "Europe of regions" has been promoted by the EU Commission in the past 30 years. In contrast to this "open" approach the reality has been an embedding of a pervasive prescriptive legal system throughout the EU under the ECJ which is marked by inflexibility and marginalization of the EU citizens. This contrasts with English Common Law, almost obliterated by waves of adoption of EU legislation, that is more flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.

D'Estaigne debased the Convention

The image of Angela Merkel as today's "leading EU champion and politician" is paradoxical when in reality she is the person who engineered the cynical marginalization of referenda in relation to the a new "European Constitution" and which was to have been subject to public referenda. The move towards creating such a constitution was initiated by Romani Prodi, President of the European Commission in 2000, who identified the widening European "democratic deficit" as a serious issue. Therefore, some 17 years ago the fact that Europeans are increasingly distrustful of the institutions which take decisions on their behalf but can do little about it within the European Union, had become a serious political issue. Prodi proposed a grandiose solution, a US-style founding fathers-type constitutional convention.

This eventually went forward but the true colours of European planner's mindset became crudely evident by the subsequent procedures and political decisions. The first very negative anti-democratic signal was the antics and behaviour of Valerie D'Estaigne as President of the so-called Convention on the European Constitution. This "convention" became a case study in how to marginalize the population by demonstrating an inability to manage a participatory process. It was an exercise in sickening crude bullying elitism. The outcome, predictably was a Constitutional document that passed too much power to Brussels and it was obvious that the public could not accept it.

Angela Merkel, realising that the European population would not accept such a Constitutional document demonstrated her complete lack of democratic credentials by writing an open and cynical letter to Member State leaders. She explained that public referenda were not needed to get the Constitution accepted. All of the provisions could be imposed on the public by calling the Convention an "amending treaty" which would not need any public referenda. The result was the Lisbon Treaty, imposed on the people of Europe as a monument to the massive and shameful European democratic deficit greatly assisted by Angela Merkel, today the EU's "leading politician" and EU "champion".

The No Europe report and no deal under BREXIT

It is worth reflecting on the result of a "No Europe" report produced in the late 1980s which to some degree explains some of the seeds of the current disorientation over a no deal BREXIT.

Arthur Cockburn

In 1987, UK Commissioner Arthur Cockburn, Vice-President of the Delors' Commission and Commissioner for the Internal Market, Tax Law and Customs, arranged, through his cabinet, for a study to be conducted on the benefits of the European Common Market and referred to as "No Europe". According to an ex-Commission official who was asked to look into this study with a view to coordinating it, meetings were originally organized by an Italian consultant, supposedly organised to secure a participatory input. However the procedures were clearly following a tight pre-established agenda with useful contributions being ignored by the consultant concerned. The official concerned noted this corrupt process and therefore decided not to have anything to do with this work or any subsequent report. However, in conversations with members of Cockburn's cabinet following its completion, it emerged that in spite of the consultant's attempt to show up benefits, these were unconvincing. As a result the study was then recommissioned making use of a London-based management consultancy company to do a more "thorough" job. It should not be overlooked that management consultants will slant analyses according to their terms of reference received and any political orientation received during production and editing of the report.

According to the official concerned the outcome was essentially a repeat failure to come up with any significant benefits from being in Europe. At that time the complexity of cross-border JIT supply chains and integration of many sectors was nowhere near what it is now, nor was the cross-dependency of employment in the UK on the EU at the levels that now exist. However, even then, for those working at the Commission and who were aware of the outcome this was puzzling, largely because more obvious impact anayses had not been carried out. In other words there were no projections on the then apparent trends in cross-border integrations and dependencies. Therefore as it stood the report seemed to question the very existence of the Common Market. For those outside the Commission the outcome was somewhat disconcerting given the strong political arguments on either side of the pro-Europeans and skeptics.

This report was circulated to some within the Conservative party and the government of Margaret Thatcher. This was the beginning of a degree of disorientation within the Conservative party concerning the true costs of leaving the EU without a compensating trade agreement to stabilise sector transactions, jobs and national income impacts. Because the report did not record significant differences between th UK being in or out of the EU it became a contributing factor in colouring the Conservative Euro-skeptic point of view.

In Berlaymont, the Commission HQ on Rue de la Loi, it was nowhere to be found and very soon it was no longer recognised by its name.

This has serious implications with regard to a situation of a no deal and explains to some degree the unrealistic views people have concerning the true impact of a no deal. There has been a significant failure on the part of the UK Conservative party and indeed the new Brexit party as well as the European Commission and Council of Minsters, to separate the political motivation arising from the EU's obvious democratic deficit from the true dimensions and implications of the significant cross-dependencies of income, employment and wellbeing of business and the constituency within the EU-UK nexus.

Politicians who fear involved constituents

Samuel D. Weiskopf

Contrary to the desired image of MPs representing the views of their constituents in parliament, the recent events surrounding the British Labour party is exposing differences in the degree to which MPs uphold this standard.

Since Jeremy Corbyn has become the leader of the Labour party he has pioneered a change in the role of members of the party in determining party policies. This has sliced through the former comfortable lobby relationships with non-party organizations and corporate interests as well as foreign state lobbies influencing MP positions. This emerging system is being resisted by many MPs who are left over from the failed Blair administration that delivered a disastrous financial situation for the National Health Service through Private Public Partnerships and the entry of the UK into a destructive Iraq war justified on the basis of frank misrepresentations by Tony Blair to parliament and the constituents of the United Kingdom.

The reactions of the constituency to such failed and corrupt governance is a contemporary phenomenon, and the hope for change, goes a long way to explaining why the membership of the Labour party has risen so quickly to become the largest political party in the European Union. However, there is a difference. Labour party members can participate directly in the election of the party leader as well as establish, at their annual conferences, party priorities for action and policies. With the worldwide disappointment of constituencies in failed economic and social policies and the active willingness of governments to pursue horrendous military ventures, the MPs who have supported these agendas are becoming nervous. Recently some local Labour constituencies have passed votes of no-confidence in their standing MPs. These could lead to the de-selection of these MPs before the next general election. The common UK political party game of parachuting in favoured lobby-supported MPs into "safe seats" is now at risk with the more proactive local constituencies. MPs need to decide if they will support what their local constituents desire or else risk de-selection. This is a rational and normal state of affairs, why vote in an MP who will not support the views of those who voted them into power?

With the growth of the Labour party, there has been a shift in membership opinion which has turned against the continued interference of corporate lobbies, external foreign agents and the rump of the individuals from the Blair parliament in the progress of the party towards new positions. This explains, to large extent, the explosive accusations of anti-semitism hysteria and a cocktail of accusations variously related to intentional misinterpretatuons of past Labour declarations on or meetings with representatives of the IRA, Venezuela, Hamas, Palestine and Communism. All this, of course, carried in the UK media and built into Theresa May's parliamentary responses to questions when she is not too sure as to a convincing reply to a parliamentary question. Since Jeremy Corbyn has been the person overseeing this rapid change in the Labour party towards a widely sought for increased participation of people in British democracy, he has become the target of most of these accusations. By fronting these accusations many of the MPs concerned, blinded by arrogance and a presumption of entitlement to their current status, have exposed themselves in the full sight of the changing body of the party membership. If these people's actions are deemed to be justified by the party membership they have nothing to fear. However, looking at the record to date, Jeremy Corbyn is supporting something deemed to be a vital necessity to the relevance of British politics to the people of the country. Rather than attack, such people should reflect on whether their time has come and whether they should consider leaving the party. The way things have been mishandled by these people means they will not be missed because if they leave since their stands manifest themselves as one's of self-interest or the interests of forces outside the party and this has no moral or ethical justification.


Holbrook R. Wright
Washington DC

The incredible slide in journalistic standards and what is supposed to be regarded as objective analysis by the media and intelligence agencies in the USA and UK reflects an extreme intellectual deficit guiding the energy expended in these domains. For example, Theresa May when asked what could be the motivation for Russia to organize the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury, she became confused. Any normal investigative analysis that wishes to identify someone to accuse must look at motivation. This requires an assumption that the perpetrators are logical and interested in self-preservation in terms of image and economic sustainability. Already, as a result of the Russian stand to the provocation of the Ukrainian coup and intent of Ukrainian government factions to carry out a genocide against Russian speakers, the West has imposed sanctions on Russia. The simple question is therefore what could be the possible motivation of Russia attempting to organize the assassination of the Skripals just before the Russian hosting of the World Cup and not wishing to face additional sanctions? Clearly, there is no motivation. Independent analyses have concluded that the completely open way in which all of this took place points to a setup to blame Russia. So who has the motivation to do this? The top of the list is elements close to the Ukrainian government. The other is criminal elements who do not wish to see Russia, in any way, improving diplomatic relations with the UK. It has been suggested that Skripal was investigating th influence of the Russian mafia in City-related finance and investments. The Russian government is also concerned about the flight of embezzled funds including unpaid tax to London accompanied by so-called Oligarchs. There is a strong motivation on the part of such people to do anything they can to prevent any diplomatic approximation between Russia and the UK on these matters. Therefore the fact that the individuals shown on UK security camera images in the UK are not known to Russian authorities therefore points to a subcontract to people with such a strong motivation. It has been suggested that the linkages between gangs reaching down into Bulgaria or Serbia/Balkans might provide the identities of the individuals concerned.

The same question of motivation needs to be asked as to why the Syrian regime would risk carrying out chemical attacks against civilians in Syria. There is no motivation because the top Syrian military authorities know that even if they had chemical weapons they can't use them because of the obvious consequences. This is why the motivation for those who are against the regime to carry out or simulate chemical attacks is very high. The association of the so-called chemical attacks that have occurred so far have been filmed and produced by the "White Helmets". This is a group funded by the British and US governments and some Middle Eastern states, there is threfore, a strong basis for discounting this as "evidence". The filming of these videos is so badly done that they are cast to be mainly suggestive as opposed to showing any sequence of the chemical attack events. Leading journalists who were able to talk to the people who actually appeared in these videos have heard that they were complete shams. However, like Blair's dodgy dossier justifying the murder of millions of Iraqis these White Helmet videos were used to justify attacks on Syria by the USA, UK and France.

Lastly, the weakest longer running hysteria has revolved around an attempt to sustain the theory that Russia interfered in the US presidential election causing Hillary Clinton to crash out. Here, people might be able to come up with some form of motivation. This is because the USA and UK interfere in elections in other countries on a worldwide basis but more importantly is just how are they supposed to have interfered. No one has explained, since Clinton's concocted story about Russian "interference" what the Russians might do with lists of Democratic party members or gaining access to voting machines, if in fact this were possible. As a result of exhausted analysis of the possible options, the conclusion is, nothing of significance. However, by politicians and media pundits stating this in a fashion that insinuates some terrible evil and malign undermining of the freedom of the people of America they feel that this is sufficient to justify extreme economic sanctions.

As for so-called Russian Bots, that is, automated or contributors to the main social media who are not who they appear to be, the USA, UK, France and Israel have several thousand Bots manned by military, police and political party paid individuals who interfere directly in opinion formation and elections in the USA and elsewhere. The Israeli IDF has a particularly active Bot operation promoting Israel and countering any views they dislike. It is well-established now that Facebook and others restrict access to some particpant contributions that are contrary to those paying for advertising and including military and intelligence agency contribitions. Recently the closely held secrets of the social media unraveled following the backfiring of the Congressional bought-and-paid-for questioning of social media representatives concerning evidence of Russian electoral interference activities began to expose the futility of this quest. As a result people are leaving these media in droves because they have begun to realise they are machines that expose participants to unwelcomed political scrutiny and to manipulation based on targeted propaganda.

This decadence, as has been observed in other articles in this medium, is observed in some detail by concerned citizens of all ages in Russia, for example, who have a direct access to online alternative media. They put up with a daily abusive negative propaganda leveled against their intelligence and their governments by corrupt media regimes in the USA, UK, France and Israel. More seriously, those promoting this decadent content undermine the security and rights to a peaceful existence by attacking these people. This is a population more aware that the American, of the costs of war, having lost in excess of 25 million citizens to a war where they paid the highest price in helping us destroy the Nazi threat to Europe. These hysterical attacks reduce the status of the people of America, Britain and France to hapless onlookers peeking at a ridiculous theatre of the macabre floating on a sea of innuendo, un-named sources, outright lies and stupidity. Is this why Russian's sacrified so much?

More perversely this is a mechanism used by these deranged media organizations to primarily to attack their own government, as in the case of the USA. We are witnessing sedition on a grand scale with ex-intelligence officials openly calling for the end of the presidency of someone elected by the people of America. Such unelected individuals are doing considerable damage to democracy on a worldwide basis and this needs to come to an end.

Why privacy is fundamental to freedom

With the obvious politicization of intelligences and counter-intelligence agencies and the collaboration of the social media monopolies with these organizations, assisting political party strategies with disinformation, receiving a large proportion of advertising revenues from corporations who also support PACs and corporate media content favouring one political party over another, the threat to individual freedom is more than apparent. The threat is the unscrupulous manipulation of information that members of the public access with much having been doctored to remove important facts. The next step in this process of manipulation is already being applied in mainline China where individuals are ranked according to their social standing (behaviour) and where any divergence from what is considered to be acceptable by the state can be punished by refusal of transport companies to permit such individuals to travel as they wish. Already in the USA association with any particular political leaning or political party is used to deny information and/or feed misrepresentations to individuals who can also be publicly attacked and offended online.

A malign development, already on the horizon, is commercial businesses creating issues for individuals with specific political views, we have seen this with White House employees being refused service in a restaurant. The United States' fixation with economic punishments (sanctions) is likely to see the next step involving the withdrawal of loans on spurious grounds leading to the closing down of small businesses.

People who cheerfully state that they don't mind being profiled or spied upon because they have nothing to hide are exceptionally naive. Their failure to rebel against this evolution of a police state reflects a lack of appreciation of the value of freedom and they will only wake up when it is too late. We are witnessing the amalgamation of large government structure within which government agencies who waste large amounts of government money on high salaries and useless activities discover who wish to cut back on these services so as to make life difficult for these individuals in other aspects of their lives dealing with other government agencies.

The social media monopolies have already gone too far in significantly constraining our liberty while claiming to do no evil. Those with social media accounts who value freedom should close their accounts and look for ways to communicate and access information that do not compromise the future freedom of their families.

The undeniable evidence of interference in elections and the decline and fall of social media
Rafael V. Defoe - APE Constitutional team

During the last 5 weeks Facebook and Twitter have made some major mistakes upsetting a large number of their customers and exposing a crude approach to censorship with the aim of influencing election outcomes. They have conflated "fake news" with political opinion and as a result have closed the accounts of many bone fide political commentators who express their alternative opinions. For example, in Brazil hundreds of accounts on Facebook were closed in the last week. All of them were from a group who have been discussing Brazilian politics for some years but Facebook judged their content to be "fake news" and closed them. Twitter has done the same in the USA with accounts that seem to support Trump. Facebook and Twitter make use of filters to spread or diminish exposure of submissions on the basis of political leaning. They have both embarked on a form of behaviour that is interfering in the US mid-terms and in the forthcoming Brazilian election. Therefore the agents of actions designed to influence the outcome of elections through censorship are individuals and groups working within Facebook and Twitter who are allowing their political opinions colour their decisions on what constitutes fake news. This lack of impartiality is not only dangerous but the pernicious nature of
The basic technique

The New Marxists attempted to change political strategies from one of opposing sides to one where the party objective was to hold onto power based on satisfying a broader proportion of the constituency. With Neil Kinnock as leader of Labour this didn't work. However, under Tony Blair it worked as a result of careful preparation. It was achieved applying dog-whistle techniques of communication. So focussed messages are sent to members of a specific interest group, or identified socio-economic grouping, stating that a political party supports and will enact legislation to support that group. This used to be achieved with political parties publishing vague manifestos and then providing opportunistic "clarifications" of aspects of the manifesto and where the clarification used would vary with whoever the politician was talking to. The minority groups referred to here are not just religious or ethnic, but are various types, including age, gender and profession-based classes, all of whom are particularly vulnerable to associating specific words and phrases with their own interests and a subsequent false assumption of support by the party. These same words and phrases would normally fly over the heads of those not in the group. Therefore the way in which politicians ramble off lists of the "values" they support is a way to keep the dog-whistle blowing. The target dogs, in each case, are minority groups who respond to the key words and assurances.

With "social media" this dishonesty is easier to apply because based on individual level profiles picked up from content supplied by contributors to Facebook and Twitter, political parties can send content to please one group while other groups cannot access that content and remain unaware of what was sent to an opposing group. At the same time, other groups can receive content that is diametrically opposed to content sent to other specific groups.

The fuzzier the manifesto the easier it is to convince interest groups and voters that "their interpretation" of a party's aims is correct and therefore they are more likely to vote for the party. The obvous paradox is that people with diamtetrically opposed views are duped into voting for the same party and the one that manages this this deception.
personal data collection to make money from advertisers, intelligence agencies and a host of other predatory organizations has greatly impacted the status of social media including Amazon and Google and Microsoft's ventures into news bulletins.

With the financial contributions of these "hi-tech" corporations to the campaigns of Congress and Senate members and the ridiculous appearances of people like Zuckerberg in front of House Committees, has become a sordid pseudo show of "accountability" that does not in fact exist. One simple truth is that WhatsApp is, as Zuckerberg confirmed, encrypted from end to end giving the impression that Facebook has no idea what is being transmitted. Any transmission has an encryption and decryption key that can be recorded for ease of access by Facebook and, of course, intelligence agencies.

The evidence of alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election has yet to be shown to the public and, in any case, US authorities and authorities worldwide have confirmed that no Russian meddling, if they could detect any, influenced election outcomes or vote counts. The main meddlers are operating right under our noses and the attempts to interfere in elections by Facebook and twitter are there for all to see in the accumulating evidence of their malign behaviour. Blaming Russia for doing what they are doing is an old diversionary trick straight out of counter-intelligence manuals. They are destroying the whole basis of having any positive social function; they are in fact anti-social. Broadly speaking, the judgement of Facebook in the case of the Brazilian accounts appeared to be that these were "too right wing". The Federal Public Prosecutor of Brazil has sent a letter to Facebook requesting the justification for this overt interference in the internal politics of Brazil.

However, the left wing liberal groupings are resorting to totalitarian behaviour in exercising outright censorship of political views they do not like or agree with. This is exposing a malign and biased approach to their operations that are constantly being exposed as mismanaging personal data, information and knowledge. They are the main agents in the undermining of global democratic procedures. It will be recalled that Obama was very happy with his association with Facebook and his victories were put down to his effective use of "social media". As we learn about the manipulative capabilities of Twitter and Facebook it becomes essential that an investigation into their levels of interference in US elections since their foundation needs to be reviewed. They were active during the Scottish and European Referendums and this needs to be investigated also.

These organizations have become abusive and dangerous monopolies that need to be broken up in the name of sanity and a more open balanced democractic forum in cyberspace. President Trump should ask the DoJ to initiate an investigation on the current and past interference by Facebook, Twitter and the DNC in US elections.

Sam Husseini
source: FAIR website
Sam Husseini had a relevant question, but was prevented from delivering it

Sam Husseini was forcibly removed by Finnish security personnel from the 2018 Trump Putin press briefing before the two Presidents has arrived. He was holding up a paper on which was written "Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty," which the Finnish authorities considered to be a "malicious item". He had intended to ask Trump and Putin on their opinion on Israel's clandestine nuclear arms arsenal. This is an issue of fundamental importance and very pertinent to the discussions and decisions relating to the Iran deal. It is also relevant in the context of both the US and Russia stating that they are taking Israel's concerns into consideration in Syria. It is regrettable that he was unable to deliver his question. It would have been quite revealing to see how Trump and Putin would have handled it; no doubt by deflecting the topic to something else.

Sam Husseini is the communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that promotes progressive experts as alternative sources for mainstream media reporters.

He formerly worked at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and at the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He has written articles for a variety of publications, including CounterPunch, The Nation, The Washington Post, USA Today and Salon.

Husseini was born in 1966 to a Palestinian Christian father and a Jordanian mother. He is a US citizen and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned a double bachelor's degree in applied mathematics and logic and computation.

Why Crimea cannot be returned to the Ukraine

There is ample evidence that if Russia had not had a military base in the Crimea and had not transferred Crimean sovereignty to Russia, today we would now be remembering a genocide promoted by the leading Ukrainian post-coup politicians including the darling of the swamp, Yulia Tymoshenko involving the murder of thousands of ethnic Russians in Crimea. Russia was able to save around 2 million ethnic Russians in Crimea without a shot being fired.

Today, military brigades with strongly and overt allegiance to the Nazi cause are being trained and armed by US contingents who continue to attack and murder ethnic Russians in the Donbass region through indiscriminate shelling and snipers killing and maiming, in the main, civilians. The Ukraine regime ignores these atrocities as does the USA. Russia holds that the Minsk agreement should be adhered to by the Ukraine government to provide devolved governance for these regions while the USA doesn't act to encourage the regime to carry out their part of this agreement but keep on repeating that the crisis is caused by Russian inaction. There is also the repetitive mantra emanating from the swamp that demand that Russia returns Crimea to the Ukraine.

The Dombass region has a population of around 4 million mostly ethnic Russians and any Russian decisions are geared towards avoiding any further killings and above all permitting any slippage towards genocide in this region. Russians have a vivid memory of the actions of the Nazis and the Ukrainian Nazis in particular during the Second World War in carrying out genocide leveled at ethnic Russians. Unfortunately the corporate media fail to inform the people of the USA that the CIA helped many of these elements escape the Nuremburg trials after the Second World War, helping them get to the USA and permitting them to live in the USA. It is the remnants of these groups, both as individuals and agents within the CIA who have influenced the current CIA and US mercenary involvement in today's Ukraine. Part of the warped thinking is that these brigades will be called upon if the CIA decide to begin covert operations on Russian soil. The US and UK coordinated this type of preparation in Libya to eventually attack Ghadaffi in Libya and to unseat Assad of Syria. The Libyan contingent "succeeded" causing the current chaos but with Russian help this covert plan failed in Syria. This is why there is so much animosity within the swamp with regard to Russia. Sergey Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister has made it very clear that Russian action in Syria was at the request of the government and was designed to avoid the type of chaos witnessed in Iraq and Libya with ISIS running the country and continuing their genocide of Christians, other religions and non-Sunni Moslems.

The Russian Federation acted responsibly in the case of the Ukraine to avoid and prevent genocide which in the case of the evolving irresponsible US policy would have been put down to collateral damage. A better understanding of the Ukraine's ethnic composition, its history and the current real threats to the lives of ethic Russians will realize that Crimea cannot be returned to the Ukraine and the people of the Donbass should receive greater autonomy and guarantees of protection.

But Donald Trump's performance is not up to the mark

Donald Trump has initiated his European/NATO visit with an absurd salvo accusing Germany of undermining NATO security because it is supporting the alternative pipeline to deliver Russian gas. This is just nonsense. Lecturing Angela Merkel, who was born in East Germany, how to suck eggs is simply ridiculous. In reality 20% of German energy comes from gas and Germany imports 60% of its gas from Russia and the rest from Norway. Therefore Germany's dependency on Russia accounts for just 12% of its energy requirements; hardly a strategic risk. Trump made his daft statements while Mike Pompeo sat beside him and allowed Trump to make a fool of himself. Surely Pompeo who was head of the CIA knows better? But anyway, Trump's fuss will impress his US base and assorted Beltway strategists, so-called. But this exaggeration of Germany's exposure aside, the track record shows that there is virtually no risk associated with using Russia as a major international gas supplier. According to Ibn Nr, this topic was studied in some depth at the European Commission in the 1980s only to find that the track record showed that the then Soviet Union was a reliable energy supplier, so the work was not advanced at that stage. As it stands, if those in supply contracts don't adhere to agreed prices (the case in Ukraine) Russia was the right to reduce supplies. Indeed, in the case of Ukraine, Russia initially discounted prices to help the country out of its economic hole. Updates on the 1980s reviews on Russian Federation energy supplies have shown consistency with an almost 40 year unbroken record of reliable supplies. This is a result of consistency and reliability being a priority undertaking by the Russian government's regulation of this sector. On the economic side, Russian gas is far lower cost that any current alternative including USA sources liquefied "equivalents" based on cost of utilizable convertible energy. If Trump can point to the risk or provide a convincing economic argument, all well and good, but he can't. His strategic arguments are bluster and he has no business case for saying what he is saying.

In terms of establishing who can be trusted to maintain international agreements and supplies it is worth reviewing who has intentionally undermined trust by imposing ad hoc, often unexpected, actions to impose constraints on supplies. The most notorious examples emanate from one country, the USA, that appears to think it has a God-given right to impose sanctions that cause suffering and deaths of innocents and an ability to back out of international agreements on a whim. The USA's claim that Russian supplies of gas represent a strategic threat is completely hypocritical and unfair in the light of the USA's own irresponsible maverick track record. To date the country generating the most disruptive strategic threats to world trade has been the USA, most blatantly demonstrated in the latest rounds of bullying related to lists of sanctions leveled at several countries and the latest in the form of aluminum and steel and the threats leveled against anyone wishing to import Iranian petroleum. The unilateral withdrawal of the US from the Iranian nuclear deal is another obvious example.

In a debate at Cambridge University involving Edward Lucas and Peter Hitchens on "Poland between Russia and Germany ", the topic of Russian "threats" came up and an attendee asked specifically what the evidence was that Russia was a threat to Europe. Lucas side-stepped the question by repeating the NATO mantra of the "unpreparedness of the Baltic countries" in case of an attack but he never could explain why there would be an attack. After the question was repeated several times and Lucas continued to repeat the mantra while not coming up with any evidence in a somewhat embarassing fashion, Peter Hitchens finally confirmed that there was no evidence that the Russian Federation was a threat to anyone in Europe.

Apart from politicians like Boris Johnson who has funded organizations that come up with false flag baseless "evidence", at strategic points in time, to attempt to point to Russia's "malign influence", the actual track record shows that there is no evidence of Russia being a threat or being untrustworthy. The biggest chasm of trust that is opening up is that between the better informed European and Russian electorates desiring peaceful co-existence and the belligerent and false accusations bandied about by US and UK intel agencies and ill-informed or irresponsible partisan politicians. The crisis of trust is one facing the US and the UK governments and not the government of the Russian Federation.

It is notable that Trump has come under a corporate media and Democractic party-based attacks leading to investigations based on unjustified accusations that his campaign was in "collusion with the Russian State". No evidence has been found and the report by Mueller came up with nothing but pages of redacted text and an admission that there was no evidence. Donald Trump therefore knows full well the utter nonsense surrounding this demonization of Russia. Trump, appealing to his base, however, is prepared to side-step this issue to appear "tough" on the question of European strategic interests in relation to Russia. His US base, being so bombarded by the media tales and assertions designed to demonize Russia and in particular Vladimir Putin the president, swallow this nonsense and this is why he expresses the issues in such banal terms, so that they can comprehend. It is fuzzy but Donald Trump has demonstrated his ability to make bizarre statements which come across to his base as the guy defending America's and, of course, their interests. However, in general, Europeans have more access to alternative media and have lived alongside Russia as long as Europe has existed and long before the USA came into existence. They have far more access to other sources of information. For the European and Russian electorates Trump's pitch is shallow and completely unconvincing, just plain daft.

Coming to the 2% GDP spent of defence, Trump once again is talking mumbo jumbo. The exceptionally high cost of the USA's subsidized "military research" initiatives produce unjustifiably expensive military equipment. The latest example is the massively over-budget and very late delivery of the sluggish overweight F-35s which many consider to be useless death traps. To make a sensible contribution to the European defense discussion, Trump should have first of all have qualified independent experts work out what is in fact needed in terms of configurations to defend the EU and, for that matter, the USA, by first of all analyzing and explaining what the defence is designed to address. Better still, it would be useful to see a rational evidence-based explanation of who this defence is protecting Europe against. Just stating "Russia, Russia, Russia" has become an irritating noise that explains nothing. But it is repeated by people who are either fanatics, completely paranoid or, as is more likely, who want to achieve pernicious ends by resorting to campaigns to engender fear in their populations. These soul destroying criminal campaigns are aided and abetted by corporate media looking to their ratings as opposed to national welfare and sanity.

For a "businessman", Trump doesn't act in a convincing fashion, what he should be doing is making a business case which would be almost impossible given the absurd prices demanded and lack of effectiveness of systems. As things stand the Russian Federation, in a relatively low fanfare, modest way, has produced a more effective defence system than "Western" systems spending something like 35% of the EU defence budget and 10% of the USA's bloated expenditure. Donald Trump needs to realize that any European expenditure needs to represent value for money. Europe isn't taking advantage of the USA it is rather the other way round. Trump wants to take advantage of Europe by off loading expensive mediocre equipment onto European governments and has the gall to call this "defence". The 2% of GDP is a figure that comes out of thin air just as Trump's press statement that it should be raised to 4%. If Russia can perform on a fraction of that amount and produce quality systems, our Western "exceptional" strategists should be able to do with 1% of GDP. The USA should be fair to Europe and stop charging exorbitant rip-off prices for run of the mill military hardware; the USA military suppliers clearly have a productivity problem or live in a parallel universe. The US government defense budgets are no more than massive Soviet style subsidies to these companies which, as a result, and as in the Soviet Union, they are no longer competitive. The performance of projects is abysmal with critical paths being constantly updated to add in modifications or augment subsidy. As a result these companies have lost their commercial edge and can only survive by over-pricing. Since on this score the US government appears to have lost track of the required due diligence and audit disciplines as a result of political horse-trading and revolving door arrangements. The system is incredibly corrupt. It is worth mentioning that the over-spends and wastage of resources will increase under the current strategic cyber initiative because much of this work is being moulded to be contracted to private corporations. This field is notorious for the inability of governments to monitor developments if, indeed, they even understand what is being done. Spending more on such useless equipment and wasteful initiatives is the last thing required to improve "security" or to create and "effective defence".

Europe's "trust" in US and UK intelligence agency advice and following this to become embroiled in disastrous non-ending conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria, has caused much reflection. It has become evident to all that US and UK policies have not delivered peace, stability and the defence of freedom but have delivered instability and a major decline in security and a major immigration crisis that has split Europe down the middle. Trump made some somewhat crass statements on the immigration issue stating that people in Europe and the UK agree with him on the issue of immigration. He somewhat overlooked the cause of the European crisis which, of course, was USA aggression and military incompetence.

Of course, following Trump's' morning statements concerning German gas and NATO spending, Theresa May rushed to the fore to explain how Britain is sending additional military personnel to Afghanistan in support of NATO and spends 2% of its budget on defence. This sort of antic doesn't go down well with Europeans who consider the UK to have been hoodwinked into purchasing over-priced F-35s with no possible benefit to its defence. British Prime Ministers kowtowing to USA administration, especially on military questions and collaborating in covert underhand initiatives appears to have become a normal pattern of behaviour, very much to the embarrassment of the British electorate.

The NATO bandwagon will, of course, attempt to roll forwards, trying to find a justification for its existence, and Trump will continue to push NATO countries to waste excessive financial resources on ineffective schemes. He might up the stakes by threatening or in fact, withdrawing 35,000 troops from Germany. He should be allowed to do so since they offer no real security in any case. The nuclear umbrella is also a figment of fantasy. No US president will order a launch of nuclear strikes in the defense of Europe when he or she knows this will result in th USA becoming a radioactive wasteland. There is a need for rational level headed discussion and analysis. This requires that Trump pack in his silly rhetoric and that we all forget about America's parochial gerrymandered mid-term elections and consider European priorities instead. Europeans, with or without the UK and/or the USA, need to sit down with Russia to analyse and address evolving situations so as to come to an agreement on a permanent collaborative state that secures peace and prosperity for the people of Europe and Russia.

Labour proposes a more balanced BREXIT negotiation approach

Geoffrey Black, APE, London

On 25th April, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour Party's Secretary for Exiting the EU, delivered an excellent explanation of the different approach of the Labour Party to BREXIT negotiations. It is odd that the UK mainstream media did not provide much coverage of this announcement because it represents a better alternative to the somewhat cavalier approach adopted by Theresa May.

Far from accepting a series of assumptions, the Labour Party has adopted a more strategic approach that is supported by a range of options and thereby not cutting and drying any position. An important and honourable aspect is a unilateral declaration of EU Citizen's rights protection which Labour would introduce on their first day in office, if elected. This is a far more responsible position than the "intent" of the Conservatives. Labour aims to dispel the doubts of EU Citizens in the UK as a priority so as to eliminate any further stress and uncertainty; something others do not appear to be concerned about. The questions that such a move would weaken the UK's bargaining position with respect to UK citizens in Europe is a somewhat base concern and somewhat shameful.

Labour makes no assumptions concerning a likely "hard BREXIT" which most serious analysts consider to be irresponsible in economic and social terms. Starmer agreed that this means movement of people needs to continue but Labour would seek an agreed basis for controlled movement. In fact this is a discussion taking place in the EU at the moment.

It is encouraging to see the Labour Party come up with a more mature presentation on an approach to BREXIT negotiations. In doing so Labour has demonstrated a capacity not to just combat Conservative policies on BREXIT but to rather present a better alternative. So on the BREXIT debate the Conservatives have lost ground and we have yet to discuss the many other policy issues concerning the performance of this government; something the Conservatives had wished to avoid.

Theresa May wants to make this a battle on "who can lead the country" but at the moment the question is becoming what are the actual interests of the people of Britain over the next few years. Demands for change in the current government's policies appear to be high on the agenda but they wish to avoid this type of discussion.

The electorate have seen the "fear factor" tactics deployed by the Conservatives in the Scottish Referendum and the EU Referendum. It worked, just, in the case of the Scottish Referendum but failed in the case of the EU Referendum leading to the resignation of David Cameron. They will attempt to use this again in the last 2 weeks of th electoral campaign when people will need to keep their focus on which approach to BREXIT is likely to result in better outcomes and which policies they would like to see enacted in the country in relation to Health, social care, the economy, investment and innovation and economic growth. With the main security risks today come from terrorists who have a penchant for committing suicide so it is clear that the Trident nuclear "deterrent" isn't a deterrent with such people. The old Soviet Union has gone and the old justifications for possessing a nuclear arsenal considerably weakened. Part of the Conservative fear factor spoiler tactics will be of course to ask whether or not Jeremy Corbyn would press the nuclear button. Of course there are those who think this macho intent has some sense; it doesn't. It is only somewhat irresponsible and slightly deranged individuals like Michael Fallon who have spoken of the possibility of the UK carrying out nuclear first strikes. This is clearly complete and utter nonsense. To add to this sordid mix, Boris Johnson has not helped things by offering to provide the USA with a la carte internationally illegal attacks on Syria to order.

Not living in a tin pot republic and with a need to get rid of irresponsible Lilliputian politicians, the people of Britain should not put their faith in decision makers who dice with death, murder and mayhem, with such ease. These sorts of insane proclamations and the underlying aggression and associated violence of which the world has become increasingly fatigued need to be dispelled and removed from the discourse of constitutional democracy. Britain needs a change towards responsible international leadership seeking peace and goodwill for all, not based on military might or the pea brained goofy logic of "if you are not with us you are against us" and of course "all options are on the table", that is, "negotiation" based on threats of violence.

POST SCRIPT: Keir Starmer has written in the 1st May edition of the Guardian Newspaper concerning his doubts about Theresa May's Apporach to BREXIT, it is worth reading:
"I fear Theresa May is negotiating us all towards a Brexit disaster" 

State-sponsored violence and the undermining constitutional democracy

Isobelle Daufine, Paris, EO

Recent history shows that the most significant state-sponsored violence that has destroyed the lives of innocent non-combatants has been sustained by the United States from Vietnam (Agent Orange) to the CIA's support of Iraqi use of poisonous gas against Iranians with the financial support of Saudi Arabia. It is therefore ridiculous that the USA has gone through the theatre of feigned offense at a false flag "chemical attack" to blame it on the Assad Regime before any evidence has been collected and analyzed. The evidence is a badly-produced amateur video placed on social media and produced by people supported directly by the governments of the UK and USA (see below).

The complaint about a reported 80 or so people killed should be contrasted by the millions who have been killed by US-sponsored warfare, economic sanctions and covert actions carried out or promoted by US administrations. To claim to be the greatest democracy in the world with a constitution that contains safeguards and checks and balances to avoid inappropriate decisions is absurd. Absurd because the administration and most of the Congress and Senate are in the hands of those who have "financed" their election campaigns or various other things, such as getting their offspring through expensive universities. The US government is essentially run by financiers and manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction as Dwight D Eisenhower warned against in his famous "Military Industrial" speech. Just as Eisenhower warned, the current state of failure of the US democratic systems, and loss of voice of the people of America in determining their own future, is the result of the power of amoral forces undermining constitutional democracy. This is also the result of there being no effective checks and balances on the military arms of the administration that hold sway over the State Department and the White House. Unfortunately, in this context, the US Constitution has nothing to offer on bringing these real aspects of US government action under a control and direction that reflects the will of the people. The US Constitution, for this reason, is inappropriate and entirely unexceptional for a country with so much military power and with a track record of such incompetence in its use as evidenced in millions of dead innocents who litter the soil over which US-related campaigns have passed leaving countries in chaos during the last 50 years. This has been of significant intensity in the Middle East more recently giving rise to the European immigration crisis and spreading instability throughout the world. The track record is abysmal and, with all it's military might, the track record is one of failure to achieve objectives. The resulting oppression and obliteration of people's freedoms from fear and mayhem caused by these irresponsible ventures is not inspiring example of "leadership" for a country which has the affront to consider itself to be the leader of the so-called "free world".

Hollywood and the failing States

Amir Habib, Cairo, Emacipation

The recent events leading to Donald Trump agreeing to have the US fire around 50 Tomahawk missiles to impact the area of a Syrian airfield was the cause of widespread embarrassment. This was because the images reporting on the so-called chemical attack were inconclusive. Ibn Nr has noted that the videos that appeared in Western media tended to showed photogenic children and in one scene with two patients there were some 20-odd burly "medics" all wearing medical face masks and doing precious little. The other scenes showed people running and shouting with a dynamic video sequence of back shots showing the circular symbol of the Oscar winning Hollywood idols, the White Helmets, a propaganda arm of Al Nusra. Although promoted as a civil defence force their role is to video specific mounted scenarios to be fed to the Western media. Their propaganda has been swallowed hook line and sinker by US and more particularly UK authorities who have provide them in total of over £70 million in funding. This is an absurdity when people in London and Stockholm are suffering from the consequence of murderous actions of sympathizers of this very same terrorist group.

Boris Johnson is one of the many Western politicians who are thoroughly misguided in using the group's output as well as in supporting them with UK tax payer's money.

The explanation that an air raid resulted in the rupture of stored chemical warfare containers hidden by Al Nusra is a more convincing explanation of the cause of the release of gas. On the other hand Ibn Nr is of the opinion that Al Nusra is quite capable of releasing gas on a limited scale to secure footage to produce coverage to blame the Assad Regime. At this stage of the war against Isil, Isis or Daesh the Syrian Government has absolutely no reason to risk losing momentum by attracting the inevitable outcome of actually using chemical weapons. They have been successful with the Russians in negotiating freedom of civilians as well as having the terrorists move out, as in Aleppo. However, this could only happen when the terrorists realized they were going to lose. The US action has interfered with this aspect of the peace process.

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Joseph Goebbels,
Hitler's Minister of Propaganda
President Trump's actions were illegal and just a show. He did not wait for any investigation of the so-called chemical attack before taking action; he was taken in by a poorly produced propaganda video. The claims that the Russian guarantees of the Syrian regime ridding itself of any chemical weapons are unsafe has no grounding in facts when US teams assisted in the destruction of chemical stockpiles. This process was very thorough. This line of reasoning that Russia was not up to the job was used by Rex Tillerson the new State Secretary, in the absence of any proof of who carried out the attack. Tillerson's slow and pedantic prepared script approach is a matter of increasing concern. It is clear that the USA continues to protect Al Nusra front in Syria in spite of their being considered to be a terrorist organization responsible for murderous activities. The only way the terrorists could have gained any control over any Syrian material was by previous captures of inventory. According to Ibn Nr, most of the existing chemical weapon materials in Syria is in the hands of the terrorists who have obtained supplies via Turkey.

Lastly, it is estimated that in Mosul in Iraq some 320 civilians have been killed by "allied" attacks in the last 3 weeks where as in Syria the figure is around 120 and yet all of the media attention is on the so-called chemical attack where is alleged up to 80 people died.

If you repeat it enough people will believe you

Stefan Stein,Berlin, APE

A depressing amount of the "news" and public statements of actions of various regimes emanating from CNN, BBC as well as the CIA, Pentagon and the State Department consist of little more than a scandalous and shameless range of baseless assertions, unattributed sources and complete absence of evidence, is an outstanding example of the crudest form of propaganda based on lies. This same approach was exercised and explained by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda (see the box on the left).

The obsequious sycophant

Isaac Goldberger, New York, APE

Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, is clearly out of his depth. His repeated appearances as Trump's lap dog and obsequious sycophantic sideshows demonstrate a parochial eagerness to please "America" by repeating, without question, doubtful mantras from the Beltway. His behaviour has become an increasing embarrassment and subject of jokes and derision amongst international leadership and diplomatic circles. It is amazing that the people of the United Kingdom have to endure a representation by a clown on the international stage. This is unacceptable.

Untimely election

Geoffrey Black, APE, London

Theresa May called general election in the UK to be held on 8th June 2017. She justified this on the basis of there being too much disagreement in Westminster and unity in the country meant she needed a new mandate to provide a strong support in carrying out BREXIT negotiations. There is no evidence to support this assertion and it is more likely that the aim is to gain another 5 years of fixed term parliament when currently the polls indicate the Conservatives will win comfortably and increase their majority.

The other political parties, however, see this as an opportunity to call attention to the government's record on a range of issues of more immediate importance to the electorate. The Conservatives will not be able to avoid this discussion and it is of interest to see what comes out in the very rushed production of party election manifestos.

The tone of the election on the Conservative side is already descending to low levels with the firing off of personal insults largely aimed at the Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy Corbyn suffers not so much from bad policies but from a biased UK media somewhat akin to the CNN syndrome in its treatment of Donald Trump. So far the polls give the Conservatives a commanding lead of 20 points over the Labour party but it is notable that Labour have a majority support from the under-40s. Part of the challenge is for Labour which has the highest political party membership in the UK and is the largest socialist party in Europe, to get the younger generation to actually go out and vote on the day. The Conservative can rely on the over 60s who all tend to vote.

An embarrassing, unintelligent report

Paul Hammond, Washington

The Director of National Intelligence of the government of the United States, has released a highly embarrassing report entitled, "Background to "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections": The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution."

This report is embarrassing because it is such an amateur cut and paste job with little input from professional intelligence analysts and containing basic errors in facts, out-of-date information and other details pointing to a product of a seriously uninformed team. It is even worse that the "dodgy dossier" signed by Tony Blair in the run up to the Iraq war which he attempted to pass off as an intelligence assessment. These reports are highly politicized and products of the post-truth and "fake-fact" environment that permeated the Westminster filter bubble under Blair then and that pervades today's Beltway.

For an "intelligence briefing" dealing with such serious accusations, the range of levels of certainty of conclusions in the document are unacceptable for any responsible decision-maker. The assessment contained in the unclassified report is stated to be supported with "high confidence" by the CIA and FBI and by NSA with moderate confidence. At the back of the document three levels of confidence are defined with the high confidence, this being the highest level, signifying that "High confidence in a judgement does not imply that the assessment is a fact or certainty; such judgements might be wrong". This definition which, in reality, is a disclaimer, and is simply not serious for the field of cyber crime.

Margarita Simonyan
It also provides no justification for the deportation of 35 Russian diplomatic staff from the USA.

Rather than provide anything convincing concerning Russia's attempt to influence the US election, the document provides a considerable amount of irrelevant information on the Russia Today (RT) channel.

For those interested in understanding the rise of cross-border news of which RT is a world leader, it is worth reading the independent report produced by PwC UK (Pricewaterhouse Coopers UK plc) entitled The rise of cross-border news. Margarita Simonyan, Editor in Chief of RT explains the reason for this independent report as, "We wanted to understand the motivation of viewers and readers of cross-border news - and we believed this understanding would help all providers of global news deliver a service that meet users' needs".

Also, in order to clear up the misinformation concerning RT propaganda see the internal APE Brief RT_20160520. Our APE General Editorial Advice is that little or no additional resources should be allocated to this non-story.

Diversionary tactics wont save corrupt Macedonian politicians

JB Swift, Brussels
Solomon Weiskopf, Skopje

Balkan Insight has stated in a recent article that the European Commission expressed “concern” on Monday over the “tensions and the negative rhetoric” present in Macedonia in the past few days". This must be the understatement of the year.

During the Christmas period there have already been a lot of emails flowing between top EU officials, exchanges in corridors and even in some closed seasonal cocktail excounters as they react to media advisories and wires that point out the widespread extent of VMRO DPMNE party corruption and intimidation. In particular the use of a broken "agricultural policy" in influencing voting patterns and which helped swing the election towards VMRO DPMNE. Already the subject of the possible suspension of agricultural funding has been raised.

The VMRO DPMNE leader, Nikola Gruevski, has accused the State Electoral Commission, DIK, and foreign diplomats of interfering in the election process trying to steal their election victory. He even accused DIK of "unlawful" decisions, said that foreign ambassadors were interfering in its work, and threatened to shut down civil sector groups allegedly linked to George Soros.

According to Deutsche Welle:

"Calls for protests in front of the US Embassy in Skopje on social media were later supplemented with threats against opposition supporters and publishing of their home addresses accompanied with the message "Get ready, we're coming." Speaking during a VMRO rally on December 15 one party official told supporters to prepare for the "Night of Knives," possibly referring to events in Nazi Germany in 1934 known as the "Night of the Long Knives."

Being a visceral parochial politician in a tiny country, Gruevski sees the EU as a source of money to be fooled by cynical cosmetic "reforms", such as in the agricultural sector, to keep money flowing. In order to avoid official investigations, suspension of funding or the black listing of consultancy companies who actively assist VMRO DPMNE operatives manipulate EU funds, he is resorting to displacement activities consisting of threatening international officials. However, he does not appear to understand that they will not respond the way that national ministry officials do, who obey so as not to risk losing their jobs. International officials do not come within the grip of such intimidation tactics that have been the hallmark techniques of VMRO DPMNE's operational norms.

The recent appearance of death threats on the website Imgur is the sort of thing Gruevski's small minded extremism attracts and encourages. Fake death notices have appeared on the US and EU Ambassadors Jess Baily and Samuel Žbogar including their images and also includes the former EU mediator in Macedonia, Peter Vanhouotte, and former European Parliament rapporteur on Macedonia, Richard Howitt.

No further comment needed.

Salt & Vinegar option under BREXIT

JB Swift, Brussels

Donald Tusk
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, assertion that no BREXIT is better than hard BREXIT and that leaving will only leave salt and vinegar. This exposes a behind-the-scenes effort on the part of a wide range of interest groups to try and reverse the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

What is not being accepted is that no one has quantified the benefits of remaining. In the 1980s UK European Commissioner Cockburn commissioned a study called "No Europe". This was supposed to calculate the benefits of being in Europe. The initial study came up with no benefits so the study was repeated, again coming up with no significant benefits. This report was a source of embarrassment and was therefore binned by the Commission. However, the fundamental message of the report was not lost on those who had read the report, especially some members of the UK Conservative party. It should be remembered that Cockburn was a UK Commissioner proposed by the Thatcher government. The significant enlargement that took place since then including Central European countries helped exacerbate the so-called democratic deficit and the current likelihood of enlargement going beyond Bulgaria into the Balkans is bringing the spotlight onto doubtful democratic practice and less EU benefits for existing EU Member States, especially in the area of agriculture.

The concern with the likely intensification of the democratic deficit was a major issue in bringing about BREXIT. This is also an emerging issue in France who wish to maintain the benefit of massive EU agricultural financial transfers to their agricultural sector. The bottom line here is that many in Britain know that the European Commission has no bargaining position if a country wishes to leave the EU because it is not possible to quantify the benefits of remaining; indeed, with enlargement, they will become negative. Any "hard exit" will prejudice European exporters to the UK. This means trying to punish, or threatening to punish the UK, bordering on economic sanctions, will only hurt Europe. This is why there is a panic in the European Commission. In any case, the British have a preference for eating fish and chips with salt and vinegar and this tradition will continue after BREXIT.

Ljubomir Frckovski
Macedonian election result increases likelihood of more EU member state exits

Marion Fonseca, Skopje.

Ljubomir Frckovski, the former Macedonian interior and foreign minister was never optimistic about the outcome of the recent Macedonian election. In an interview with DW he stated that he believed that Macedonia has a big problem with democracy. "That is why it is so important not to attribute too much meaning to the election process in Macedonia." Modern dictators, such as those who have been part of the Macedonian populist party, have been able to manipulate elections. That is why the entire election process "needs to be taken out of the hands of the government and there needs to be international monitoring in place. Fortunately this is now going to happen in Macedonia."

The problem is the international observers could not monitor cash payments made to poor rural inhabitants who are kept in their low income status by defective and corrupt agricultural sector policies. This state of affairs is sustained by the ruling party who drag their feet in relation to the introduction of better policies to enhance producer incomes and in line with the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU. According to a rural development strategist working at the European Commission in Brussels, "This Macedonian election result is a disaster and will only feed discontent amongst those Euro-skeptics whose main motivation is to live in a Union that is free of corruption and a democratic deficit." He added, "This only contributes to the feeling that certain countries are not welcome in the EU until they eliminate political corruption. The current talk about Balkan integration into the EU only helps destabilize the confidence of member state populations in the EU creating momentum for member state exits from the EU."

Other observers say the European Commission should be paying urgent attention to the development of agricultural sector policies and should address the lack of freedom of journalists in Macedonia. They live in a regime of fear pervading the environment of reporting on political matters. In March Peter Vanhoutte, who mediated between the Macedonian political parties, stated, "I am shocked by the current situation, the atmosphere of fear, suppression of freedom, by the high number of people currently in detention for the simple fact that they opposed this government or refused to obey its rules." Vanhoutte was regularly targeted by pro-government media and by the ruling party in a cavalier manner, who declared him to be persona non grata because of his outspoken critique of the government.

Samuel Žbogar
Samuel Žbogar, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Macedonia points to needed reforms in Macedonia

Solomon Weiskopf, Skopje

Samuel Žbogar, Head of the European Union Commission Delegation in Macedonia visited Prilep at the end of November together with the British Ambassador, Charles Garrett. He expressed the hope that the upcoming elections would be conducted in a fair and credible manner leading to a new government that would engage in implementing serious reforms and helping create conditions for a path to Europe. Žbogar is recently-appointed and appears to be unaware that the European Commission has come under mounting criticism from more rational Macedonian observers and international agricultural sector experts for its ineffective oversight and lack of response to more obvious emerging issues relating to the agricultural sector. Agricultural policies remain subservient to a singular function as a "voting machine" favouring the VMRO-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO–DPMNE). Distorted policies favour those who rent substantial areas of state land and who illegally sub-let it to gain all of the subsidies. Those who rent and work the land receive no policy benefits. Staff at the ministry of agriculture admit that since this practice took hold the relevant land rental records have not been updated at the Ministry. The Ministry policies also favour processing industries who support political parties and at the expense of the majority of low income producers. It is obvious to those who work in the sector that Macedonia has no chance of achieving fair elections as long as the agricultural sector policies favour the corrupt electoral process in favour of VMRO–DPMNE.

The IPARD programme, the main consumer of EU tax payers' funds, is a continuing failure being unable to absorb projected funding because of self-imposed intentional spoiler tactics conducted by VMRO-DPMNE aperatchiks. The EU Commission pre-accession Progress reports are particularly weak on agriculture issues. However comments on the ongoing poor performance of IPARD is a permanent feature in these reports during the last 3 years, including the report for 2016. Besides impractical and somewhat non-transparent investment funding under IPARD which many consider to favour supporters of the main political party, technical assistance projects funded by the EU have difficulty in advancing under the prevailing conditions within the Ministry of agriculture. According to a recent detailed article in Emancipation, ministry officials have admitted that several EU-funded projects related to policy have failed and that project managers providing technical assistance have been driven to resignation out of frustration due to VMRO-DPMNE apparatchik interference. Ministry officials have alleged that if consultants, brought in at EU expense to assist on policy issues, disagree on the current approach, then elements from the VMRO DPMNE will ensure that they are "eased out" through withdrawal of support and the creation of obstacles such as non-cooperation. A senior member of a management committee that oversees the current progress of an EU-funded policy project at the ministry of agriculture, has alleged that during the last three months significant resources appear to have been withdrawn from the team leader who was attempting to introduce improved policy methods.

The ministry pays lip service to the introduction of compliant legislation and so-called administrative structures but, in practice, agricultural policy continues to be out of line with the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy. This is to the detriment of farmers' income and sector economic development. The deployment of actions and means dedicated to undermining free elections continues. This requires urgent action and, in particular, the attention of the Head of the EU Delegation in Skopje.

British ambassador to Macedonia's presentation on relations with the country

Sarah Muskin, Sofia

An unusual YouTube presentation, featuring the British Ambassador to Macedonia, represents a rather distinct approach to diplomacy. This is an informative video where the Ambassador, Charles Garrett, presents Macedonia in a very positive light and explains UK relations with Macedonia. The attractive aspect of this video is the lack of hype and the simple exposition of some aspects of positive collaboration between countries; well worth watching. To see this video click here.

Apeurope authorizes detailed study on the costs & benefits of Brexit

Nevit Turk, Paris

During the Apeurope Annual General Meeting held on 10th October, Group correspondents registered their extreme frustration at the absense of evidence-based positions, on all sides, during the recent European referendum. With the decision to leave the European Union, this lack of clarity continues. The vascillation and delays by all British polictical parties in defining any coherent position is alarming and the posturing of the European Commission officials and some heads of state of Member States is unacceptable. Therefore, in the continued absense of any positive government or Commission action the Apeurope Board has authorized a study on the "Costs & Benefits of the UK leaving the European Union".

This study will analyse the sector and foreign trade partner potential opportunities, gaps and impacts arising from the new options that now exist with BREXIT. This has the objective of providing a basis for identifying mutual benefits to the remaining European Union's members and to the UK.

The return of the UK fishing grounds
will be a major economic and
social benefit of BREXIT

On the question of foreign investment in the UK drying up with BREXIT, some recent confidential corporate executive conclaves are concluding that the UK's prospects are better outside the EU because the economy will grow faster than the EU as a result of the incremental growth in UK trade with non-EU countries. The organization of negotiating teams, with many members coming from British Commonwealth countries, is impressive and there is a large build-up of trading profiles being prepared, not with the EU, but with a long list of global partners. Whereas the UK started BREXIT with weak negotiation resources the current capabilities have already surpassed the somewhat sclerotic approach associated with the EU Commission typified by secrecy and a very poor public image such as their poorly handled TTIP negotiations.

There is a poorly appreciated fact surrounding the UK regulatory environment for financial services and a long established flexibility in the way the UK-based financial sector handle just about any challenge, sets London apart from any other world financial centre. This has its drawbacks but remains a well known, but seldom admitted, reality. The European Commission dreams that BREXIT will result the global financial centre migrating to Frankfurt, or anywhere else in mainland Europe, but according to traders this is unlikely to come true for the foreseeable future. At the moment European centres do not have the right combination of capabilities, experience and regulatory environments or, frankly, any track record to contemplate substituting London as the global financial centre.

The Whale in the coming BREXIT talks

John Templer, Shetland

In some of the preparatory exchanges concerning the Apeurope Study "Costs & Benefits of the UK leaving the European Union" one delegate pointed out that one of the most shocking give-aways by the Heath Conservative government, when the UK entered the European Union in 1972, was the UK's fishing grounds, amongst the most productive on the planet. This had a significant negative social and economic impact on the British fishing industry. BREXIT provides the damaged UK fishing industry and the UK fishermen the opportunity to regain their former prominent contribution to Britain's Agricultural, Fisheries and Forestry sector by supplying the UK with home-caught fish.

The current catch value, official and unofficial, is around £500 million. Much fish coming to the UK market goes through large EU-based factory ships who simply sell fish caught within these waters to UK fishermen or land the fish for port-side markets. With BREXIT the national fishing communities' income could double to around £1 billion.

The re-establishment of British sovereignty over the former UK fishing grounds would be a major tangible benefit of BREXIT. In preparation to this major benefit it would make sense, in terms of managing the total manageable catch (TAC) to come to agreement with Iceland on management and to only permit EU vessels to fish under license paid to the UK treasury. License income would be used to monitor fish stocks and prevent abuse arising from unacceptable catching practices such as avoiding catching and killing very young fish needed to grow stocks for the sustainability of the industry.

This could become the Whale in the BREXIT negotiation fish tank when discussions get going. Several countries, France and Spain and indirectly The Netherlands, have much to lose with this aspect of BREXIT. The solution, of course, is for EU Commission and other Member State heads to stop their talk about punishing Britain for BREXIT but to come to a satisfactory settlement of things like this; there are many more to come and Emancipation News will be setting these out here.

Putin's Useful Idiots?

Dimitri Ivanov, London

An American NGO called the Henry Jackson Society, has just published a document by an Andrew Foxall of the so-called Russia Studies Centre. This document is entitled, "Putin's Useful Idiots: Britain's Left, Right and Russia", demonstrates a lamentable misunderstanding of Russia's policy with repect to so-called left and right movements worldwide. There is no depth to this document with most references being all very recent, most dated 2016 and one or two 1990s vintage. In fact the analysis is plain wrong and reflects perhaps the writer's age and lack of experience with the fundamentals of Russian motivations going back beyond the initiation of World War II. The writer has simply bought into the recent Clintonesque and John Kerry State Department-driven paranoia about Putin. The personalisation of this document, centred on Putin, is typical of the brand of knee jerk journalism that is the US mainstream media today. This cannot be considered to be a serious researched document reflecting the current motivations of Putin.

Any amateur student of history knows that Russia has a well-established habit, like the USA, of funding sympathetic political movements. In fact the USA dedicates somthing like 500 times more funding to foreign political movements and NGOs than does Russia. Indeed, Russia learned some of these techniques from the USA. It is notable that although there is ample evidence of USA funding of foreign political activity as well as regime change supported by bloody wars, the Clinton campaign and security agencies in the USA could not come up with any evidence for Russian interference in the recent US election. Of course even the FBI was accused of acting on behalf of Russia. There is by contrast excessive amounts of evidence concerning USA interference in foreign elections as well as support of the so-called right in Ukraine as well as terrorist groups in the Middle East and of strong political support for Saudi Arabia in spite of evidence of their involvement in the murderous events of 9-11 in downtown New York. One cannot equate this behaviour with anything to do with freedom, democracy and the rule of law but the author of this document does not want to be bothered with such details but simply wants to deliver on attacking Putin.

One bizarre recommendation by this individual is a that politicians should be required to register the fact that they will participate in coverage by such media organizations as RT. This is a MacCarthyism excess. RT receives funding from the Russian government in the same way as Voice of America in the USA or BBC in the UK. Most US mainstream media are essentially stenographers for US government output, especially in the case of foreign affairs and State Department output so that on these stations it is difficult to get alternative point of view across. A self-imposed or funded censorship creates enormous bias in news coverage, indeed, the experience of Bernie Sanders during the primaries, provides ample evidence of this. RT has a range of programmes that are managed by people who would not accept any editorial orientation from RT. For example Larry King and his program "Politicking", Ameera David's "Boom Bust" and Afshin Rattansi's "Going Underground"". These are all programs that provide a rational and alternative view of opinions and all off them grill interviewees from any side.

Finally, to highlight where this document goes wrong, like the USA, Russia provides "support" to people whose ideas are potentially against the interests of the country. Such people, mainly on the right, are seduced into misunderstading of provision of platforms, and even funding, signifies support for their basic philosophies; it doesn't and never has done. It is largely designed to raise their profile and expose them so as to line up domestic opinion against them. This succeeded in the case of the National Front and most other ultra right wing UK parties to the benefit of the UK population.

In disagreement with Stalin, Leon Trotsky pointed out the danger of the right (Fascists) and Stalin made him pay the ultimate price. However, the lesson arising from the Nazi fiasco caused Russia to finally understand Trotsky's analysis at a great human cost. The recent Ukraine events saw the US State Department support of neofascist paramilitary units. There were calls for NATO expansion into Ukraine. NATO, however, had demonstrated its willingness to alter its etablished defensive role willy nilly to pursue a proactive regime change in Libya, under the guise of an innocent "no flight zone". This created a significant change in the perception of the stablity of NATO as a reliable adversary alliance both within the UK as well as in Russia. The evidence is there for all to see that NATO's intervention resulted in chaos and the spread of ISIS and a major European immigration crisis which Muammar Gaddafi had predicted and had prevented. This led, naturally, to the Crimean outcome in light of the important Russian naval base and ethnic make-up of Crimeans, mainly Russian speakers. Ukrainan events at the time was showing TV coverage of Ukrainan neo-fascists clubbing members of Russian ethnic groups to death. This is not to argue that what has occurred is right it is simply to point out that there were good reasons for this move in strategic terms as well as in terms of the security of the population in Crimea. When the West acts in a way that does not demonstrate a consistent strategy there is a problem of predictability resulting in instability. The only way to stop this growing global chaos is to take decisive actions.

In such a world there is a need for balanced rational analyses to identify options for possible soltions. The shallow nature of this journalistic publication devoid of objective analysis with rights reserved by a UK registered charity calls into question why this organization has a charitable status when it is wasting money on such polemic that contributes nothing to the debate.

Hollande's reclassification of "collateral damage" to "war crimes" is just ridiculous, he must be getting desperate

Francois Hollande is a real disappointment. He needs to understand that the French proudly led the disastrous Libyan invasion that led to the murder of Gadaffi and created a failed state in what was one of the richest countries in Africa. This also led to massive migration into Southern Europe and a negative narrative absorbed by people born in France as well as others who now try and terrorize the people of France. The French government have shown a good degree of incompetence in this story. This was all initiated as a result of a knee jerk reaction attempting to align France with USA State Department desires. But no one can deny that this action, like others in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria were punctuated with atrocities and war crimes but the "handling" of all such event was to simply put these down to "collateral damage" and therefore in a baskets labeled "mistakes" or "not worth investigating".

Francois Hollande is now demonstrating typical French leader's penchant of cow towing to the US State Department's line by trying to add weight to the State Department's hysterical theatrics by pushing a motion in the UN Security Council that they knew Russia would have to refuse. Like the United Kingdom, France followed the USA's very bad example of walking out of the Security Council when the Syrian US Ambassador was to speak. These people are supposed to be diplomats but they act like a group of uncouth scoundrels who no longer feel they need to hear the opinions and presentation of facts by any opposition. This is after all why they exist and are there. They are not there to set a bad example to the world demonstrating their tendency to only listen to one side. Things might be very different if the USA State Department and UN Ambassador would only present credible evidence supporting their claims to show who is really responsible for any specific event that might be classified as a war crime. These accusations are serious enough for the US to be required to support such claims with real time evidence. The current state-of-the-art monitoring surveillance systems being deployed could present such evidence if it existed but, because they are unable to present any evidence, the truth appears not to be with the USA and its partners. They rely on bluster and assertion. Since they have been unable to present any evidence when required, and on a repetitive basis, their credibility is low and increasing numbers have increasing doubts about th sincerity of the USA. Resorting to histrionics and accusations of "barbarism" and the like is shallow theatrics that only makes them look ridiculous. Is this behaviour a less-than-subtle attempt to distract attention from a failed foreign policy based on blind aggression?

The attack on the Syrian forces in Aleppo was not "a terrible mistake" it was coordinated by several coalition units (to not isolate the US contribution) and attacked an area known to be occupied by the Syrian government forces for over 2 years. The reason the "mission" could be "called off immediately", as claimed by John Kerry, was because so much ordinance had been thrown at the location, killing over 62 soldiers, that it was already "mission accomplished" within a very short time lapse

The EU insistence on supporting failed US/NATO/"coalition" middle east "policies" sustains the immigrant pressure on the EU

This title says it all, because of the weak European leadership at Member State and Commission levels, constituencies of the European Union, the people, continue to pay a high price for the yawning democratic deficit of the European Union. No wonder the United Kingdom voted to leave, they see more promise without this expensive suffocating overhead.

In a shaky Europe where the UK is giving the impression that it will not compromise on border controls while the UK is a major EU market for European companies and employs many Europeans, lands the EU and not the UK with a problem. Markets have reacted the wrong way, leading to a further devaluation in the UK pound. This has helped UK business export growth helping strengthen the UK's trading independence from the EU. The more the disoriented heads of some Member States, including Angela Merkel who was the one who encouraged all heads of state not to provide the European electorate with a vote on the new constitution, and the confused Commission President continue on the line of punishing the United Kingdom the more such individuals will expose their lack of credibility as representatives of anything approaching a participatory democracy. This typical continental reaction, harking back to the 1930s is hardening the position of many in the United Kingdom and encouraging many more in Europe to consider following the United Kingdom to regain their sovereignty as constituents in true democracies.

Paranoid NATO warping Europe's foreign policy

NATO’s 28 leaders took decisions to bolster the Alliance’s deterrence and defence at the first working session this year. They would have been better deployed discussing how to close down this failed institution. But the robot-like Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg plods on taking his instructions and reading his prepared briefs in an unconvincing manner always acting as spokesperson in chief for the US arms industry and murky lobbies who want to stoke up support for an organization that is destabilizing the world. Maybe the EU should present NATO with a bill to pay for the chaos created by the mass migration into Europe resulting from its failed military efforts. Keeping the cold war alive and well appears to be NATO's main current role.

European Union Foreign Policy is failing it's Citizens

The recent past events in the Ukraine are yet another example of the failure of the European Union Member States to implement a sound independent Foreign Policy. The recent lauding of a Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, by the European Commission does not hide the fact that he was hardly elected by a democratic process when those who put him in power used selective and calculated violence and murder to remove a democratically elected President and to fill the main Government portfolios with representatives of Neo Nazi parties of the "Right" who profess anti-Semitic and anti-ethnic Russian views. The EU policies appear to have been quite effective in stoking up this sort of polemic not only in the Ukraine but increasingly in Member States of the EU, encouraging many citizens to reflect on the possibility that life might be more agreeable if their countries were no longer members of the Union.

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Governments that spy on citizens

The recent revelations concerning secret surveillance of private communications on the world wide web by the USA National Security Agency will not have been surprising to anyone who had read the book "Cypherpunks - Freedom and the Future of the Internet" by Julian Assange and others (published by OR Books at the end of 2012 - shown right). Whereas before there was a sort of plausible denial that such activities were being carried out by the USA and UK government agencies, it would seem that now the facts are seeping out to the general embarrassment of those who would like to uphold a more wholesome if not rational image.

President Obama has exposed his weakness by trotting out the tired time-tested justification that if people want security they need to give up some of their privacy (read freedom).

This was the underlying thrust of Nazi and Fascist "reasoning" used to control the middle classes who accepted official outrages against others for fear of becoming conspicuous by rebelling against it and becoming marginalized. This regime of fear lets the government off the hook in their particularly aggressive treatment of whistle blowers and is a testament to the command and control absolutist approach to defending the image of officialdom and governance, through intimidation.

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EU military spending is 'elephant in the room' and key factor in European debt crisis

We remind people of a report that argues that high levels of military spending played a key role in the unfolding European economic crisis and continues to undermine efforts to resolve it. The report was produced by the Transnational Institute and the Dutch Campaign against the Arms Trade. The report, "Guns, Debt and Corruption: Military spending and the EU crisis", demonstrates how military budgets across Europe have been largely protected, at a time of severe social cuts. EU's military expenditure totalled €194 billion in 2010, equivalent to the combined annual deficits of Greece, Italy and Spain. The latest data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Institute suggests little change in these overall trends. The report unveils how high levels of military spending in countries such as Greece, Cyprus and Spain at the epicentre of the Euro crisis played a significant role in their debt crises. Much of the military spending was tied to arms sales by creditor countries like Germany and France. In Portugal and Greece, several major arms deals are being investigated for serious irregularities. Yet creditor countries continue to hawk new arms deals to debtor countries whilst demanding ever more stringent cuts in social services.

The report argues that resolving the economic crisis will require cancellation of the debt tied to corrupt arms deals and a redirection of military spending towards social needs. It highlights research that spending on education and public transport creates double the number of jobs as investments in defence.

Report author Frank Slijper said: “Global military spending was still at a record €1.3 trillion in 2011 despite the global economic crisis. Even in Europe most countries still spend more than ten years ago. The only austerity that Europe really needs is one imposed on the military and the arms industry.” “It is time for Brussels and EU member states to publicly acknowledge the 'elephant in the room' of the current EU economic crisis and that is the role of military spending. At a time of harsh cuts in social services, it is morally unjustifiable to spend money on weapons that should be invested in creating jobs and tackling poverty.”

The report has been released in the EU as campaigners in around 30 countries held over 100 events worldwide to protest record levels of military spending and to call for resources to be reallocated to anti-poverty and environmental sustainability programmes. The report can be downloaded here where other recent reports can be accessed. NATO remains a major vector in maintaining military expenditure irrespective of need.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
How constitutional principles saved a nation

Like all politicians facing the challenges of demands being made by owners of assets of failed private banks, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, faced pressure from creditors for the government to bail out private banks with government revenue or loans and to compensate deposit holders. Rather than panic under the immense pressure of the extra-constitutional pressures brought about by the IMF, banks and media, Ólafur Grímsson took time to reflect upon and to analyze the issue. In completing his decision analysis he had to take into account the direct pressure from Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling.

President Grímsson did not react in a knee-jerk fashion as Gordon Brown and the US Governments had done. The solution of these so-called "democracies" was to force normal people, including farmers, nurses, doctors, factory workers and fishermen pay for the mistakes made by the management of big banks. He recognized immediately that such a "solution" was completely unconstitutional; the demands of the "financial system" posed a threat to democracy. Indeed, President Grímsson was one of the first politicians to openly express this problem of the undermining of democracy through an unfair imposition of taxes, levies and other forms of financial sequestration on innocent citizens engineered by the IMF and governments in countries who themselves had succumbed to the extra-constitutional pressures from banks.

Ólafur Grímsson refused to sign the IMF and other agreements the British government tried to impose leading to the UK branding Iceland in the same category as Al Quaeda and other terrorist organizations. In face of this disgraceful attempts at intimidation Ólafur Grímsson proposed a referendum so that the people of Iceland could decide whether or not they were willing to pay for the bail out of the private banks. Naturally the people of Iceland, given the opportunity to express their preferences, refused to support such a bail out when the referendum was held. Since then Iceland has recovered while countries who succumbed to the extra-constitional pressures face increasingly difficult circumstances as exemplified by the current events in the UK and the disgraceful treatment of the people of Cyprus, Greece, Spain and other countries at the hands of the IMF, ECB and European Commission.

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The intensification of currency conflict

The paralysis in the necessary dynamics of economies has led to falling confidence in future prospects. The recognition of this fact is causing some reflection on the necessity for growth. However, this "solution" is bound to be shaped along traditional Keynesian lines of public expenditure. This creates a strategic problem of avoiding price stimulus in the face of excessive "quantitative easing" and the early requirement to raise interest rates to prevent transforming the recession into slumpflation.

Because interest rates are being held low investment portfolios are increasingly absorbing positions on soft and hard commodities, including gold and silver.

With each country thinking that "quantitative easing" and low interest rates will help stimulate exports as a result of the fall in purchasing power of the national currency, the pernicious reality is that most countries today are involved in a currency conflict. This currency conflict also exists within nations where savers are being penalized and those on fixed income from financial investments have found their real incomes decline by in excess of 60%.

The overall decline in confidence in the major currencies of the US dollar and Euro has led to major trading partners in Asia to begin trade agreements under which their currencies are pegged and directly convertible without making use of an intermediate "international" currency.

The bad precedent set in the Cyprus deal

The current "solutions" to the economic debt crises such as quantitative easing and low interest rates hurt savers and it is important to emphasize that savers are not those creating debt. Savers help banks survive by providing funds to them. However these funds remain the property of savers. The decisions made this weekend include a move to have some of those with current and savings accounts in Cypriot banks pay a levy in excess of 20% as a condition for the bail out, is a disgrace. This undermines the necessary level of confidence in the neutrality of banks enforced through an underlying lack of respect for basic constitutional considerations. This is an act of theft manipulated through the prevention of people accessing their own property in the form of money while the robbery takes place. This solution attacks the very people who have done nothing wrong. This undermines the already shaky European Commission's, and therefore the European Union's legitimacy as democratic institutions. Why is the European Parliament doing nothing? Why do our UK politicians say nothing about this unacceptable abuse?

Issues of constitutional economics
Constitutional economics

Constitutional economics is largely associated with the work of James Buchanan who received the Nobel Prize for his contributions to this field.

The recent experiences of Ireland, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, Greece and Spain have raised questions as to the role of constitution in economic policy as the foundation of democratic participation in the formulation of economic policies. Broadly speaking, as a fundamentally "regulatory" organization the European Union continues to consolidate its operations in the name of freedom and democracy and the rule of law but in reality law is being used to rule over a geographic zone without effective participatory democracy and therefore with declining freedoms.

The arbitrary nature of European decision-making has been highlighted by the current economic crisis which was caused initially by an over-valuation of mainly US-inspired derivatives that were purchased world wide by gullible banks and other types of investor. Evidence appears to indicate that many transactions in this domain were fraudulent and in several cases client funds were "lost" while executives, during the period leading up to the admission of failure, paid themselves very large bonuses that had no relationship to performance. Several European banks were affected by the downward valuations of portfolios and the degree of failure led to several governments believing that the only solution was to bail out these banks. The theory was that by handing money to the banks to "build up their balance sheets" lending would start again and the economies would recover. However, the transfer of government funds to the bank bail outs raised government debt and imposed current and future rises in taxation on the constituencies as well as cut backs in public services. The combined effect has been "austerity" and an evolving recession making it less likely that banks will lend. In the meantime bank executives continue to pay themselves multi-million Euro bonuses on top of multi million Euro salaries in a continued cavalier attitude to the use of public funds and to shareholders.

The effective devaluation of currencies arising from low interest rates and "quantitative easing" was expected to stimulate exports. However, as explained in the previous article a currency conflict exists in competitive devaluations resulting in disappointing export performances.

Greece, the first major casualty of Europe's democratic deficit

Greece has essentially lost its right to rule.

Sovereignty has been traded for loans from the IMF and Euro group in order to pay of creditors and, in the main, private banks.


the birth & death of democracy...
The deprivation to be enforced on the population of Greece is the price to be paid for irresponsibility on the part of the European Union and, in particular, the European Commission, for not monitoring and auditing the state of affairs of Greece as part of the Single Market and as a member of the Euro in particular.

Behind the scenes Germany presses its interests by demanding proof that the Greek politicians will deliver on what they have voted to undertake while, at the same time, obtaining front end loadings and pay backs in the form of arms sales to Greece for German manufacturers. Naturally the arms sales were agreed to by politicians and not be the people of Greece.

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The strategic disintegration of Europe?

The potential candidates for future European enlargement confront challenges that threaten the cohesion of the European Union.

In a visit to Serbia in August 2011, Angela Merkel commented on the unwelcomed development of parallel structures supported by the Serbs in Kosovo which undermine the Kosovo state. It would seem that the direct purpose of undermining the state is a common and continuing policy of the Serbian psych affecting areas where Serbs live outside Serbia. These proclivities persist encouraged by appeals, by local politicians, to Serbian nationalism. A case in point is Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Dayton Accord resulted in three devolved areas within the State of Bosnia & Herzegovina in the form of the Serb Republic, the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina and District Brcko. It is reported that there is a persistent effort on the part of Serb Republic local government entities to undermine support for the consolidation of, or operation of, state institutions. This is achieved through a consistent withdrawal of support for project decisions that relate to the development of state administrative structures.
Since the satisfaction of the European Legal requirements for accession include the development of state entities responsible for coordinating development and the observation of European Law in each sector, this anti-state stance is creating a significant wastage of funds where projects do not progress because of intransigence emanating from Serb Republic interests. The European Union has been observing this with some dismay and is now encouraging Bosnia to implement necessary reforms so that Bosnia can apply for membership of the EU. The European Council President, Herman van Rompuy, after a meeting with the Bosnian Prime Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda, said,

"With other countries in the Western Balkans taking resolute steps toward the union, there is no reason why (Bosnia) should slip behind."

A basic condition is stronger central government and changes in the country’s constitution. One basic issues is that the current constitution violates European Law by restricting the running of the joint presidency to the three main communities and excluding others such as Jews or Roma. The Bosnian political system has been in grid lock through a lack of ability of the three main community representatives to agree on the formation of a government following elections in October 2010. Neighbouring countries, such as Croatia, is expected to join the EU soon and Montenegro and Serbia are now recognized candidates.

While the entity populations of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and District Brcko and the Bosniak and Croat communities wish to see much more integration, the Bosnian Serbs through the entity Serb Republic, insist on more autonomy for their area while continuing to undermine central government initiatives.

The overall progress of the surrounding states could result in Bosnia & Herzegovina becoming isolated from the benefits that accrue to the others as they join the EU. For example Bosnia, stands to gain significant payments from the EU Common Agricultural Policy, a vital issue in a largely rural economy. However, Bosnia's agricultural exports will be compromised and the cost of agricultural imports will rise as a result a decline in incomes resulting from Bosnia's slow progress.

Improving the effectiveness of Bosnian development

One of the normal practices under development projects is the application of participatory decision-making in the use of funds including the evaluation of tenders for goods, works and services. Where one of the participants is not willing to support the acquisition of goods, services or works in a timely manner in favour of a state activity, these parts of development projects become non-productive either through unacceptable delays or never being implemented.

One of the responsibilities of funding agencies is to apply a realistic due diligence to project design to avoid some quite serious mistakes that have led to an inability of Bosnia & Herzegovina to absorb funds by applying them effectively. Where participatory approaches have been applied in Bosnia involving substantial funding, such approaches have turned out to prove to be unwarranted. This creates a direct challenge to the European Union's approach to development for accession where the state institutions need to be strengthened so as to coordinate development and ensure legislation is adapted and enforced. Where control over funds is passed to participants who oppose the state, such projects will not only fail but they will undermine the EU objective of establishing appropriate administrative structures to oversee the application of European Law and regulations. In such circumstances the parties opposing the state and cynically motivated by the wish to "capture" funds as opposed to supporting the overall EU objectives.

The European Union is in urgent need to hold meeting with other donors, including the World Bank, to ensure that future projects do not contain procedures that undermine the Bosnian state. This issue must be addressed so as to avoid the exposure of EU funding to corruption and the undermining of the objectives of preparation for candidacy.

Lastly, The European Union has suffered fractures in coherence and unity as a direct result of cash diplomacy as exercised by the USA in Central and Southern Europe. The risks of such manipulation by Russia in the Slav and Serbian enclaves throughout the Balkans, or US or other externally driven cash diplomacy, is even greater in the Balkan regions because of the very low income levels.

The European Union needs a consistent and clear policy on what is expected of accession states and part of the process of accession should include the development of state institutions that are independent of developed governance to the degree that they can effectively protect minority interests as opposed to becoming the victims of forces arising from the manipulation of minority interests in the hands of local politicians and politicians located inside or outside Bosnia & Herzegovina. Certainly, as long as Serbia continues to give support to enclave politics in Kosova and Bosnia & Herzegovina then by design or by default, they disrupt European Union interests.

Serbian progress to accession should be slowed down because their "foreign policy" undermines future EU cohesion. Their accession to the EU should only be validated when the issues in Kosova and Bosnia & Herzegovina have been resolved through a strengthened state apparatus upholding Human Rights and able to uphold and enforce all other aspects of European Law across the entities.