Category: European Union

Wherever German Chancellor Angela Merkel goes, protests follow. So when she landed in Lisbon two days before the Southern European general strike on November 14, 2012, the international press expected similar scenes to that which took place in Athens when tens of thousands demonstrated against her visit to the Greek capital.

Unfortunately, the demonstration on that Monday afternoon only attracted a couple of hundred leftists under the banner “Fora Merkel!” – Merkel must go. Riot police and metal fences separated protesters from the Presidential Palace where Merkel met with members of the Portuguese cabinet.

In Athens, placards and posters read, “Merkel in Athens is like Hitler in Paris.” These would be echoed later in Cyprus where teenagers took to the streets earlier in 2013. [Read the full article]

Worth to have look. This op-ed raises some interesting questions while it approaches the topic from a broader and different angle.


Helmut Schmidt


Helmut Schmidt takes a last, long drag on his cigarette and stubs it out. Within a minute, the man who piloted what was then West Germany through the last global economic crisis leans forward to pluck another smoke from the box he keeps on his desk on the sixth floor of Die Zeit’s offices, where he is a publisher, in Hamburg.

Rumour has it that Schmidt has 30,000 menthol fags stashed away in readiness for a possible EU-wide ban. As one butt follows another into his ashtray, the former chancellor bemoans the leadership vacuum that is hobbling Europe, discusses the respective merits of British prime ministers, and questions whether it would be a good thing for the UK to join the euro. [Read the full article]


A 'nest' of surveillance cameras at the Gillet...


Frenemies: Spying on Allies Fits Obama’s Standoffish Profile | Spiegel


US President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit the Church of Our Lady cathedral in Dresden during a June 2009 whistle-stop visit to Germany. Diplomats from the German Foreign Ministry had painstakingly planned every last detail. They were looking forward to the photographs of Chancellor Angela Merkel with the US president in front of cheering crowds.

But the White House bristled. The president didn’t want to do that — that was the word in Washington. He reportedly placed little value on such photo ops, and he had to leave as quickly as possible, to get to an appearance at the Buchenwald concentration camp. The haggling went back and forth for weeks, and in the end the White House gave in, but only a little. Obama raced through Dresden. After their visit inside the church, Merkel had to shake hands with visitors by herself. The president had already disappeared. [Read the full article]


Merkel: US spying has shattered allies’ trust | AP


BRUSSELS (AP) — European leaders united in anger Thursday as they attended a summit overshadowed by reports of widespread U.S. spying on its allies — allegations German Chancellor Angela Merkel said had shattered trust in the Obama administration and undermined the crucial trans-Atlantic relationship.

The latest revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency swept up more than 70 million phone records in France and may have tapped Merkel’s own cellphone brought denunciations from the French and German governments.

Merkel’s unusually stern remarks as she arrived at the European Union gathering indicated she wasn’t placated by a phone conversation she had Wednesday with President Barack Obama, or his personal assurances that the U.S. is not listening in on her calls now. [Read the full article]


Mr. Abe’s undemocratic secrecy bill | Japan Times


The Abe Cabinet today is submitting to the Diet a bill designed to protect state information that the government deems vital to national security. The bill, which will give the heads of administrative bodies discretionary power to designate an extremely wide range of information as “special secrets,” will greatly limit the ability of the general public and mass media to access relevant information, thus undermining freedom of the press and the people’s right to know. If the content of the bill is closely scrutinized, it becomes clear that it will undermine the foundation of Japan’s democracy. We strongly urge Diet members, whether they belong to the ruling or the opposition bloc, to oppose the bill and defeat its passage.

Since the bill will enable the bureaucracy to hide an enormous amount of government information from the public, it appears to violate the basic principle of the Constitution that “sovereign power resides with the people.” Under the bill, the heads of administrative bodies will have discretionary power to designate information as special secrets in the areas of defense, diplomacy, prevention of “special harmful activities” (mainly intelligence activities by foreign countries) and prevention of terrorism if they think the information merits special protection. National public servants who are charged with leaking such secrets could face up to 10 years’ imprisonment. [Read the full article]


NSA chief: Stop reporters ‘selling’ spy documents | Politico


The head of the embattled National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander, is accusing journalists of “selling” his agency’s documents and is calling for an end to the steady stream of public disclosures of secrets snatched by former contractor Edward Snowden.

“I think it’s wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000—whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these—you know it just doesn’t make sense,” Alexander said in an interview with the Defense Department’s “Armed With Science” blog. [Read the full article]


The National Security Agency, Narcissism, and Nationalism | The Daily Beast


I spent Wednesday afternoon meandering across the web, looking at how the American media were covering allegations that the National Security Agency had spied on yet another foreign leader. “Don’t Tap My Phone,” screamed the banner headline at Huffington Post, above a grim-faced German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Obama to Merkel: We’re Not Spying On You,” announced the lead story on Then I tacked right, to see how the websites of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Red State, National Review, and The Weekly Standard were handling the story. They weren’t. None of them featured the allegations at all, though it had been the subject of a Jay Carney White House press briefing just hours before.

This is part of the reason America is struggling as a superpower: our nationalists don’t give a fig about the nationalism of anyone else. American conservatives sometimes say that unlike American liberals, who believe in surrendering power to global institutions, they believe in the nation as the sole legitimate source of authority in international affairs. And that’s true when defending our nation’s prerogatives. Had news broken that Germany was tapping our president’s cell phone, Limbaugh would be musing about fire-bombing Dresden again. But the American right is indifferent, if not hostile, to non-Americans defending their nation’s honor. NSA spying on foreign leaders is only the latest example. In Colorado, they’re now issuing drone-hunting licenses so Americans can shoot down any airborne spy planes that trespass their property. And yet there’s scarcely any sympathy on the right for the Pakistanis and Yemenis who are upset that the U.S. sends drones over their countries, though those drones regularly kill people. [Read the full article]


Europe falls out of love with Obama over NSA spying claims | CNN


On July 24, 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama addressed tens of thousands of Germans on the avenue that leads from the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. In a pointed reference to the outgoing administration of President George W. Bush, he promised a new era of “allies who will listen to each other, who will learn from each other, who will, above all, trust each other.”

One German present among the hugely enthusiastic crowd said the occasion reminded him of Berlin’s famous “Love Parade.” No U.S. politician since John F. Kennedy had so captured Europeans’ imagination. [Read the full article]


NSA’s Italy op exposed: ‘Millions’ of private communications intercepted with govt awareness | RT


Everyday communications of Italians are also on the watch list of the US National Security Agency, a new report has revealed. While an Italian parliamentary committee seeks clarification of NSA activities, local security sources defend the snooping.

Italy’s spy watchdog COPASIR has recently learned details of large-scale monitoring of Italians by the US intelligence agency NSA, according to a report published by Corriere della Sera. [Read the full article]


Euro Parliament axes data sharing with US – the NSA swiped the bytes anyway | The Register


The European Parliament has voted to halt the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP), an agreement to share data on financial transactions in the Continent with the US – after documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed the NSA was hacking the system anyway.

“Parliament stresses that any data-sharing agreement with the US must be based on a consistent legal data protection framework, offering legally-binding standards on purpose limitation, data minimisation, information, access, correction, erasure and redress,” the resolution reads. [Read the full article]


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European Union


They come seeking refuge, but when asylum seekers cross into the European Union, they often find little compassion. In Greece, they are held in squalid detention camps, while in Italy they often end up on the street. Here is what they face at entry points across the EU.


They know they are putting their lives at risk. Nevertheless, many people board ramshackle watercraft and set sail from the coast of Africa in the hope of a better life in Europe.

While a few years ago it was predominately North African migrants coming to Italy in search of work, today it is often refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia who are fleeing chaos and violence in their countries. The number of asylum applications in Europe has sharply increased in the past six years. [Read the full article]


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