Romania: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Great People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Romania

Introduction The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia – for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire – secured their autonomy in 1856; they united in 1859 and a few years later adopted the new name of Romania. The country gained recognition of its independence in 1878. It joined the Allied Powers in World War I and acquired new territories – most notably Transylvania – following the conflict. In 1940, Romania allied with the Axis powers and participated in the 1941 German invasion of the USSR. Three years later, overrun by the Soviets, Romania signed an armistice. The post-war Soviet occupation led to the formation of a Communist “people’s republic” in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae CEAUSESCU, who took power in 1965, and his Securitate police state became increasingly oppressive and draconian through the 1980s. CEAUSESCU was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former Communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
History Prehistory and Antiquity

The oldest modern human remains in Europe were discovered in the “Cave With Bones” in present day Romania.[15] The remains are approximately 42,000 years old and as Europe’s oldest remains of Homo sapiens, they may represent the first such people to have entered the continent.[16] But the earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of the present-day Romania comes from Herodotus in book IV of his Histories (Herodotus) written 440 BCE, where he writes about the Getae tribes.

The province of Roman Dacia

Dacians, considered a part of these Getae, were a branch of Thracians that inhabited Dacia (corresponding to modern Romania, Moldova and northern Bulgaria). The Dacian kingdom reached its maximum expansion during King Burebista, around 82 BC, and soon came under the scrutiny of the neighboring Roman Empire. After an attack by the Dacians on the Roman province of Moesia in 87 AD, the Romans led a series of wars (Dacian Wars) which eventually led to the victory of Emperor Trajan in 106 AD, and transformed the core of the kingdom into the province of Roman Dacia.

Rich ore deposits were found in the province, and especially gold and silver were plentiful. which led to Rome heavily colonizing the province.[20] This brought the Vulgar Latin and started a period of intense romanization, that would give birth to the proto-Romanian. Nevertheless, in the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations such as Goths, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, thus making it the first province to be abandoned.

Several competing theories have been generated to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians have coalesced as a major ethnic group both South and North of the Danube.[25] For further discussion, see Origin of Romanians.

Middle Ages

After the Roman army and administration left Dacia, the territory was invaded by the Goths, then, in the 4th century by Huns. They were followed by more nomads including Gepids, Avars, Bulgars, Pechenegs,and Cumans.

Bran Castle was built in 1212, and became commonly known as Dracula’s Castle after the myths that it the home of Vlad III Dracula.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Ţara Românească—”Romanian Land”), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) and Transylvania. By the 11th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary,[33] and became the independent as Principality of Transylvania from the 16th century,[34] until 1711.[35] In the other Romanian principalities, many small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only in the 14th century the larger principalities Wallachia (1310) and Moldavia (around 1352) emerged to fight a threat of the Ottoman Empire.[36][37]

By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary became Ottoman provinces. In contrast, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, came under Ottoman suzerainty, but conserved fully internal autonomy and, until the 18th century, some external independence. During this period the Romanian lands were characterised by the slow disappearance of the feudal system; the distinguishment of some rulers like Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia, Matei Basarab, Vlad III the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia, Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania; the Phanariot Epoch; and the appearance of the Russian Empire as a political and military influence.

In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), Ban of Oltenia, but the chance for a unity dissolved after Mihai was killed, only one year later, by the soldiers of an Austrian army general Giorgio Basta. Mihai Viteazul, who was prince of Transylvania for less than one year, intended for the first time to unite the three principalities and to lay down foundations of a single state in a territory comparable to today’s Romania.[38]

After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldova and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and an external independence, which was finally lost in the 18th century. In 1699, Transylvania became a territory of the Habsburgs’ Austrian empire, following the Austrian victory over the Turks. The Austrians, in their turn, rapidly expanded their empire: in 1718 an important part of Wallachia, called Oltenia, was incorporated to the Austrian monarchy and was only returned in 1739. In 1775, the Austrian empire occupied the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina, while the eastern half of the principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.

Independence and monarchy

During the period of Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania, and Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were in the situation of being second-class citizens (or even non-citizens)[39] in a territory where they formed the majority of the population.[40][41] In some Transylvanian cities, such as Braşov (at that time the Transylvanian Saxon citadel of Kronstadt), Romanians were not even allowed to reside within the city walls.[42]

After the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians’ expressed desire to officially unite in a single state, forcing Romania to proceed alone against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same person–Alexandru Ioan Cuza – as prince (Domnitor in Romanian).[43] Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit a Romania that did not include Transylvania. Here, the upper class and the aristocracy remained mainly Hungarian, and the Romanian nationalism inevitably ran up against Hungarian one in the late 19th century. As in the previous 900 years, Austria-Hungary, especially under the Dual Monarchy of 1867, kept the Hungarians firmly in control even in parts of Transylvania where Romanians constituted a local majority.

In a 1866 coup d’état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol of Romania. During the Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side,[44] in and in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers.[45][46] In return, Romania ceded three southern districts of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I.

The 1878-1914 period was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey against Bulgaria, and in the peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) Romania gained Southern Dobrudja.[47]

World Wars and Greater Romania
(1916-1947)

In August 1914, when World War I broke out, Romania declared neutrality. Two years later, under the pressure of Allies (especially France desperate to open a new front), on August 14/27 1916 it joined the Allies, for which they were promised support for the accomplishment of national unity, Romania declared war on Austria-Hungary.[48]

The Romanian military campaign ended in disaster for Romania as the Central Powers conquered two-thirds of the country and captured or killed the majority of its army within four months. Nevertheless, Moldova remained in Romanian hands after the invading forces were stopped in 1917 and since by the war’s end, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed, Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania were allowed to unite with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary renounced in favour of Romania all the claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over Transylvania.[49] The union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain,[50] and with Bessarabia in 1920 by the Treaty of Paris.

The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation “Great Romania”, but more commonly rendered “Greater Romania”) generally refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period, and by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time (see map). Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent (almost 300,000 km2/120,000 sq mi[52]), managing to unite all the historic Romanian lands.

Romanian territory during the 20th century: purple indicates the Old Kingdom before 1913, orange indicates Greater Romania areas that joined or were annexed after the Second Balkan War and WWI but were lost after WWII, and pink indicates areas that joined Romania after WWI and remained so after WWII.

During the Second World War, Romania tried again to remain neutral, but on June 28, 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance.[53] Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war.[54][55] This, in combination with other factors, prompted the government to join the Axis. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was awarded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis arbitration.[56] The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940, succeeded by the National Legionary State, in which power was shared by Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Within months, Antonescu had crushed the Iron Guard, and the subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. During the war, Romania was the most important source of oil for Nazi Germany,[57] which attracted multiple bombing raids by the Allies. By means of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from the Soviet Russia, under the leadership of general Ion Antonescu. The Antonescu regime played a major role in the Holocaust,[58] following to a lesser extent the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and Romas, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union (Transnistria) and in Moldavia.[59]

In August 1944, Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Michael I of Romania. Romania changed sides and joined the Allies, but its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947.[60] With the Red Army forces still stationed in the country and exerting de facto control, Communists and their allied parties claimed 80% of the vote, through a combination of vote manipulation,[61] elimination, and forced mergers of competing parties, thus establishing themselves as the dominant force. By the end of the war, the Romanian army had suffered about 300,000 casualties.

Communism
(1947–1989)

In 1947, King Michael I was forced by the Communists to abdicate and leave the country, Romania was proclaimed a republic, and remained under direct military and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania’s resources were drained by the “SovRom” agreements: mixed Soviet-Romanian companies established to mask the looting of Romania by the Soviet Union.

After the negotiated retreat of Soviet troops in 1958, Romania, under the new leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu, started to pursue independent policies such as: being the only Warsaw Pact country to condemn the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, and to continue diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967; establishing economic (1963) and diplomatic (1967) relations with the Federal Republic of Germany.[68] Also, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel-Egypt and Israel-PLO peace processes.[69] But as Romania’s foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from 3 to 10 billion US dollars),[70] the influence of international financial organisations such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Nicolae Ceauşescu’s autarchic policies. He eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy, while also greatly extending the authority police state, and imposing a cult of personality. These led to a dramatic decrease in Ceauşescu-popularity and culminated in his overthrow and execution in the bloody Romanian Revolution of 1989.

During the 1947–1962 period, many people were arbitrarily killed or imprisoned for political, economic or unknown reasons:[71] detainees in prisons or camps, deported, persons under house arrest, and administrative detainees. There were hundreds of thousands of abuses, deaths and incidents of torture against a large range of people, from political opponents to ordinary citizens.[72] Between 60,000 and 80,000 political prisoners were detained as psychiatric patients and treated in some of the most sadistic ways by doctors. It is estimated that, it total, two million people were direct victims of the communism repression.

Present-day democracy

After the revolution, the National Salvation Front, led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures.[77][78] Several major political parties of the pre-war era, such as the Christian-Democratic National Peasants’ Party, the National Liberal Party and the Romanian Social Democrat Party were resurrected. After several major political rallies, in April 1990, a sit-in protest contesting the results of the recently held parliamentary elections began in University Square, Bucharest accusing the Front of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate. The protesters did not recognize the results of the election, deeming them undemocratic, and asked for the exclusion from the political life of the former high-ranking Communist Party members. The protest rapidly grew to become an ongoing mass demonstration (known as the Golaniad). The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, and the violent intervention of coal miners from the Jiu Valleyled to what is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad.

The subsequent disintegration of the Front produced several political parties including the Romanian Democrat Social Party (later Social Democratic Party), the Democratic Party and the (Alliance for Romania). The first governed Romania from 1990 until 1996 through several coalitions and governments and with Ion Iliescu as head of state. Since then there have been three democratic changes of government: in 1996, the democratic-liberal opposition and its leader Emil Constantinescu acceded to power; in 2000 the Social Democrats returned to power, with Iliescu once again president; and in 2004 Traian Băsescu was elected president, with an electoral coalition called Justice and Truth Alliance. The government was formed by a larger coalition which also includes the Conservative Party and the ethnic Hungarian party.

Post-Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, eventually joining NATO in 2004, and hosting in Bucharest the 2008 summit.[80] The country applied in June 1993 for membership in the European Union and became an Associated State of the EU in 1995, an Acceding Country in 2004, and a member on January 1, 2007.

Following the free travel agreement and politic of the post-Cold War period, as well as hardship of the life in the post 1990s economic depression, Romania has an increasingly large diaspora, estimated at over 2 million people. The main emigration targets are Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, UK, Canada and the USA.

Geography Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Ukraine
Geographic coordinates: 46 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 237,500 sq km
land: 230,340 sq km
water: 7,160 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 2,508 km
border countries: Bulgaria 608 km, Hungary 443 km, Moldova 450 km, Serbia 476 km, Ukraine (north) 362 km, Ukraine (east) 169 km
Coastline: 225 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow and fog; sunny summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms
Terrain: central Transylvanian Basin is separated from the Plain of Moldavia on the east by the Carpathian Mountains and separated from the Walachian Plain on the south by the Transylvanian Alps
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Moldoveanu 2,544 m
Natural resources: petroleum (reserves declining), timber, natural gas, coal, iron ore, salt, arable land, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 39.49%
permanent crops: 1.92%
other: 58.59% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30,770 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 42.3 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 6.5 cu km/yr (9%/34%/57%)
per capita: 299 cu m/yr (2003)
Natural hazards: earthquakes, most severe in south and southwest; geologic structure and climate promote landslides
Environment – current issues: soil erosion and degradation; water pollution; air pollution in south from industrial effluents; contamination of Danube delta wetlands
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: controls most easily traversable land route between the Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine
Politics The Constitution of Romania is based on the Constitution of France’s Fifth Republic[131] and was approved in a national referendum on December 8, 1991.[131] A plebiscite held in October 2003 approved 79 amendments to the Constitution, bringing it into conformity with the European Union legislation.[131] Romania is governed on the basis of multi-party democratic system and of the segregation of the legal, executive and judicial powers.[131] The Constitution states that Romania is a semi-presidential democratic republic where executive functions are shared between the president and the prime minister. The President is elected by popular vote for maximum two terms, and since the amendments in 2003, the terms are five years.[131] The President appoints the Prime Minister, who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers.[131] While the president resides at Cotroceni Palace, the Prime Minister with the Romanian Government is based at Victoria Palace.

The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (Parlamentul României), consists of two chambers – the Senate (Senat), which has 140 members, and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputaţilor), which has 346 members.[131] The members of both chambers are elected every four years under a system of party-list proportional representation.

The justice system is independent of the other branches of government, and is made up of a hierarchical system of courts culminating in the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which is the supreme court of Romania. There are also courts of appeal, county courts and local courts. The Romanian judicial system is strongly influenced by the French model, considering that it is based on civil law and is inquisitorial in nature. The Constitutional Court (Curtea Constituţională) is responsible for judging the compliance of laws and other state regulations to the Romanian Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country. The constitution, which was introduced in 1991, can only be amended by a public referendum, the last one being in 2003. Since this amendment, the court’s decisions cannot be overruled by any majority of the parliament.

The country’s entry into the European Union in 2007 has been a significant influence on its domestic policy. As part of the process, Romania has instituted reforms including judicial reform, increased judicial cooperation with other member states, and measures to combat corruption. Nevertheless, in 2006 Brussels report, Romania and Bulgaria were described as the two most corrupt countries in the EU.

People Population: 22,246,862 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.6% (male 1,778,864/female 1,687,659)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 7,718,125/female 7,791,102)
65 years and over: 14.7% (male 1,337,915/female 1,933,197) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 37.3 years
male: 35.9 years
female: 38.7 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.136% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 11.84 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 23.73 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.81 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.18 years
male: 68.69 years
female: 75.89 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.38 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 6,500 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 350 (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Romanian(s)
adjective: Romanian
Ethnic groups: Romanian 89.5%, Hungarian 6.6%, Roma 2.5%, Ukrainian 0.3%, German 0.3%, Russian 0.2%, Turkish 0.2%, other 0.4% (2002 census)
Religions: Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) 86.8%, Protestant (various denominations including Reformate and Pentecostal) 7.5%, Roman Catholic 4.7%, other (mostly Muslim) and unspecified 0.9%, none 0.1% (2002 census)
Languages: Romanian 91% (official), Hungarian 6.7%, Romany (Gypsy) 1.1%, other 1.2%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.3%
male: 98.4%
female: 96.3% (2002 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 3.5% of GDP (2005)

Brexit bill becomes law, allowing UK to leave European Union

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Brexit bill becomes law, allowing UK to leave European Union

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill repeals the 1972 European Communities Act through which Britain became a member, and transfers decades of European law onto British statute books in a bid to avoid any legal disruption.

WORLD Updated: Jun 26, 2018 17:33 IST

Reuters
Reuters
London
European Union supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the People's Vote march in central London, Britain, on June 23.
European Union supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, participate in the People’s Vote march in central London, Britain, on June 23. (Reuters file photo)

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth granted royal assent to Prime Minister Theresa May’s flagship Brexit legislation on Tuesday, ending months of debate over the legislation that will formally end the country’s European Union membership.

The House of Commons speaker John Bercow said the EU withdrawal bill, passed by both houses of parliament last week, had been signed into law by the monarch, to cheers from Conservative lawmakers.

“I have to notify the House in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967 that her Majesty has signified her royal assent to the following acts … European Union Withdrawal Act 2018,” Commons Speaker John Bercow told lawmakers during a session of the house.

Should North And South America Copy EU Border Policies?

Should N. & S. America Copy EU Border Policies?

 

If you are from the Americas, simply meaning North of South America there is a good chance that you are aware of the border issues between the U.S. and Mexico. If you are aware of the U.S. President, Donald Trump then you are probably aware of his feelings about wanting a very high border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. It is my personal belief that there are good things and bad things about open, and about closed Borders between Nations. This should be obvious from the simple fact that there are good and bad people in every Nation, Religion and Ethnicity. I wish that I had the answers for everything concerning this issue, but I simply don’t. My goal with this article, just like almost all of the articles that I write, is to get the kind folks who read my articles to think deeper about the issues.

 

First I guess we would need to consider what we think about the EU example if we are going to possibly consider doing the same here in the Americas. Chancellor Merkel of Germany has been a huge driving force concerning open Borders though out all of Europe. The stats have shown that for many years the overall population of Western Europe has been declining. This would mean that, for example, you live in Germany and your economy is doing great, wages are up because companies are having to compete for quality workers, even untrained laborers. When the concept of Open Borders began in the Halls in Brussels it was pre-Arab Spring and pre-Syria melt down. The original idea would have made it much easier for a citizen of Spain or Italy to move to France if France’s job market and quality of life were better than the jobs and quality of life in Spain. This concept of Open Borders was not counting on their being several million refugees flooding into Europe because of turmoil outside of Europe’s Borders. With the large influx of Arab and Persian refugees flooding into Europe things like jobs, housing and the cost of food has become a big problem not only for the original residents but also for those migrating in. Even if there were no elevation in crime, petty or violent, you still have the makings for conflict.

 

Lets look at the ‘why’s’ for these migration issues for a moment please. Somethings come down to ‘animal’ instincts. Some may not like that statement but if you will think about it for a moment most of you will understand what I mean by that. For thousands of years, millions of years, animals have migrated with the seasons, with the food supplies, this is true of birds, big lizards and humans. Sometimes all of these creatures have migrated because of violence in their traditional homeland. With humans this usually means enslavement, death, or escape. For a moment lets look at the reality of Islamic Refugees flooding Europe. First we need to look at the why’s, why are these people risking their lives to migrate from Northern Africa and the Middle-East to Europe? Here are a few issues I would like you to think about for a moment. First lets start with unstable governments, horrible or no economies, not enough food, clean water or shelter and their biggest issue is violence/wars. My question to you is, under these realities wouldn’t you try to move, to get yourself and your family out of these conditions? Even under brutal Dictators these people mostly stayed in their home countries, in their own lands. You may well wonder why people would stay living under someone like al-Assad of Syria and I believe that the answer was simple, he made sure there was an efficient economy, he made sure that the lights were on and that there was food to eat and the trash got picked up off of the streets. Are there some very evil people like Jihadist mixing in with the masses? Of course there are and yes it is difficult to screen them out, but does Europe, does Christianity, throw out the starving, hungry and cold because of the one or two percent?

 

Now, lets talk about North and South American Countries for a moment please. When I Googled for the information I came up with a total of 55 ‘American’ Nations between the North, South, Caribbean and Central America. The Census from 2015 says that within these 55 Nations there are approximately 994 Million people living in these countries. China on the other hand has one Billion Three Hundred and Eighty Million residents, India has One Billion Three Hundred and Twenty Five Million people. The largest physical Nation on Earth is Russia and they have One Hundred and Forty-Five Million People. The U.S. it is said has Three Hundred and Twenty-Three Million residents.

 

To me it seems that President Trump only has a problem with our Southern Border with Mexico, not the much larger Border we share with Canada. I have never once heard him talk about building even a little short wall to divide our two Nations, have you? Do you ever consider if part of the issue here is skin color, or the reality that almost all of the people at our Southern Border are poor? Truth is that there are some violent gang members like members of the MS-13 folks mingled in with the families who are starving and have nothing who are only hoping for a safe place to live and to raise their children. Throughout the years I have spoken with quite a few people who were here working in the U.S. who were here illegally concerning the why question, why are they here instead of their homeland. The answers were always economic. I know that I never came across a person who told me that fear of gangs was a reason though I know that this is an issue for many and that many are too afraid to talk about that. All of the folks who would talk to me about why they are here instead of their homeland told me that they would much rather be home but that there are no jobs at home. These people were here working so that they could send money home to their families so that their families could survive. If here in the States, if there were no jobs, no money for food or housing but we found out that there were jobs in Mexico or Brazil, would you stay here and let your family starve to death? Some will say that they would wait here until they could get in legally and that sounds like a great idea, reality though is, how long, how many years can you and your family go without food or any housing while you wait on a list?

 

Since Mr. Trump has become President he has canceled several trade agreements with our allies and friendly Nation as well as putting higher tariffs on some of their imported products. One of the agreements that Mr. Trump hates is called ‘NAFTA’ this stands for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Free non-tariff trade between all Countries in North and South America was the goal of President Bill Clinton when he was President back in the 1990’s. Should all Nations open their Borders like Chancellor Merkel envisioned for the EU? Maybe we should build Mr. Trumps Wall (with him paying for it being the Mexican Government sure isn’t going too) and shoot anyone who tries to come into our Country any way other that through a designated doorway. Maybe instead of having an allowed immigration total of 50,000 people total each year maybe we should revise this number to about 350,000 with 250,000 of that total reserved for our ‘Sister’ Nations. These are just ideas, concepts of thought, what are your ideas? I know that I don’t have all the answers to this issue but it is an important issue that isn’t ever going to totally go away until there is a true workable solution. Personally I believe that the solution is going to have to be attacked with a multinational approach. Until every government quits selling out to the huge multi-national companies and creates quality employment and living standards for their own people these human waves of disparate people will only continue, and they will only grow in numbers. Friends, what other choice do these people really have?

 

 

Donald Trump’s G7 temper tantrum

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Donald Trump’s G7 temper tantrum

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s views on foreign policy — and, really, everything — are surprisingly simple: He likes people who are nice to him and do things he wants and he doesn’t like people who aren’t nice to him and don’t do things he wants.

So, his views on any given issue or foreign leader are largely informed by how that person has treated Trump in their last interaction — and how much of what he wants that they are willing to give him.
That worldview is important to keep in mind as Trump travels to Canada to attend the G7 summit on Friday, a trip which he has already tried to wiggle out of, is cutting a day short and, if Twitter is any indication, is assuming will be a total and complete disaster.
“The European Union treats us very unfairly,” Trump said as he left the White House Friday morning to head to the G7. “Canada [treats us] very unfairly.”
That’s the latest in a series of increasingly frustrated and angry comments coming out of the White House over the past few days, as its become more and more clear that leaders Trump thought were his friends — French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — have pushed back on his demands, particularly on tariffs.
Trudeau and Trump had a reportedly contentious phone call late last month as the Canadian leader expressed his unhappiness with the United States imposing tariffs on its neighbor to the north for “national security reasons.”
And Trump has repeatedly antagonized Trudeau in the run-up to the G7 meeting.
“Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things…but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!” Trump tweeted Thursday night.
He kept up that drumbeat Friday morning, tweeting: “Canada charges the U.S. a 270% tariff on Dairy Products! They didn’t tell you that, did they? Not fair to our farmers!” (It’s slightly more complicated than that.)
Even Macron, the world leader with whom Trump appeared to have the warmest relations, has come under fire from the President’s Twitter account.
“Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers,” Trump tweeted. “The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”
That tweet came after — stop me if you’ve heard this one! — a heated phone call between Trump and Macron earlier in the week in which the French President expressed his unhappiness with Trump’s policies on immigration and trade.
Trump expected more capitulation from the likes of Trudeau and Macron because, well, they had been nice to him. They had, of course, done that out of a (mistaken) belief that praising Trump and playing to his desire to be venerated would make him more malleable to their policy wishes.
When he didn’t get the full support of Macron and Trudeau for policies that, well, they don’t support, Trump pouted. Publicly.
“Even as late as Thursday afternoon, Trump was questioning why he would attend a G7 meeting where he’s outnumbered on key issues like trade and climate change. As a series of combative tweets from Macron began emerging late in the day, Trump again raised the prospect of scrubbing all or part of his visit to Canada, asking advisers what the point of attending the summit would be, according to a person familiar with the conversations.”
This my-way-or-the-highway (or take-my-ball-and-go-home) approach is what Trump promised as a candidate for president. Past holders of the office had made terrible deals for the US — Trump would make good ones. He alone knew how to talk to world leaders to get them to do exactly what he wanted. It was all in the art of the deal.
Campaigning is easy. Governing is hard.
And it turns out that simply telling other countries to, say, pay for a border wall (and enjoy it!) or renegotiate broad and complex trade deals isn’t as easy as firing someone on a reality TV show.
That reality makes Trump mad. And when he gets angry, he tweets. Watch his Twitter feed over the next 24-48 hours.

Italy’s Political Disaster Has World Financial Markets Running Scared

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC)

 

Markets stabilize as Italian fears ease  

Political uncertainty in Italy has unhinged world markets, raising the specter of a euro crisis that could ripple across the global economy and even force the Federal Reserve to slow its rate-hiking plans.

Several strategists say there is little chance the euro zone’s third-largest economy will move to leave the single currency, creating a continent-wide crisis of confidence. But internal chaos and a new election could make for a rocky summer for markets and even put a dent in European economic growth.

Italy moved to the foreground as the latest source of angst for markets, after a weekend of drama in which President Sergio Mattarella on Sunday blocked the formation of a government that would have been decidedly against the euro.

Traders and financial professionals work ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), April 6, 2018 in New York City.

U.S. markets set to rebound amid Italy uncertainty  

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, Italy’s biggest party, and the far-right League party picked euro critic Paolo Savona as their economy minister. The two parties, both critical of Europe’s single currency, had won more than half the votes in March’s parliamentary elections. Mattarella vetoed the choice and instead asked Carlo Cottarelli, a former IMF official,toform a temporary government, but both parties object to him, and a new vote is now expected in late July.

The euro sank, losing 0.7 percent Tuesday to $1.1540, and investors dumped Italian bonds while seeking safety in U.S. Treasurys and German bunds. The 2-year Italian yield briefly snapped above 2.73 percent, a sharp move from just 0.48 percent on Friday and a negative yield earlier this month.

Global equity markets slumped, with the Dow tumbling more than 450 points. Banks led the selloff, and the S&P financial sector declined more than 3 percent. In Europe, yields on Italian bank debt spiked as bank shares sold off.

Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, said a rash of recent data has already raised concerns about European growth. “This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in the case of prospects for Europe. It will spill over into the U.S. They won’t buy as many of our imports,” he said.

“When world economic growth has been threatened in the last three years, it was a concern. It hurts confidence on the economic outlook for the U.S.,” he said. “Given what we know right now, I would not be comfortable rushing out and forecasting a rate hike in September.”

But Rupkey also said the markets are reacting to news that occurred over a three-day holiday weekend in the U.S. and may not be as turbulent in upcoming sessions. “It’s not a full-blown European sovereign debt crisis yet. For one thing, the Italian 10-year yield is a little over 3 percent. Back in 2012, it was at 8 percent. It’s not the same situation yet.”

“I’m sure many American traders wish that Europe, in general, would stop having these mini referendums on whether the euro is going to survive,” said Rupkey. “It’s going to be really dragged out. I don’t think we can trade on this every day. I don’t think 10-year yields in Italy are going to go higher and higher every day, waiting for that vote. The focus is going to shift back pretty quickly to the U.S., which is employment and wage data on Friday.”

For some traders, the Italian political crisis is deja vu to the Greek debt crisis, which wound down three years ago after fanning fears that the whole financial and economic fabric of the euro zone could unravel.

“The chaos in Europe is pushing down U.S. interest rates so money is flowing to the U.S., fleeing Europe, making people think, that [with falling interest rates], coupled with the rising dollar, that the Fed responds by maybe having second thoughts about the trajectory of Fed policy,” said Marc Chandler, head of foreign exchange strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman. “It also is a risk to the real economy because Europe’s a big trading partner.”

The Federal Reserve, driven by a stronger U.S. economy, is on track to raise interest rates for a second time this year at its meeting June 13. The Fed has forecast three hikes for this year, but the markets had been expecting an added hike in September, in addition to December.

“The Fed is going to raise in June, raise in September and then they’re going to play it by ear,” said Peter Boockvar, CIO at Bleakley Advisory Group.

The U.S. 2-year Treasury yield, the most sensitive to Fed rate hikes, slipped to 2.38 percent, after touching 2.60 percent recently. The 10-year dipped to 2.82 percent from 3.12 percent just several weeks ago.

Chandler said he does not expect a new Italian government to push to exit the euro, though it could threaten other measures. Italy is the biggest debtor in the euro zone, with 2.3 trillion euros in debt, or 132 percent of GDP last year. That is double Germany’s level and well above the 87 percent of the euro zone.

“Their tactics would be to make some demands like: ‘Let’s cut taxes. Let’s use our t-bills to pay down our arrears. … Let’s keep challenging the EU,'” Chandler said. “That’s the back door to leave. You place demands on the EU.”

If this Italian situation gets worse, it could mean pain in the short term: Randy Warren

If this Italian situation gets worse, it could mean pain in the short term: Randy Warren  

He said the next coalition government could have a list of proposals to challenge the existing rules of the EU. “That’s why despite what their lips say, ‘We’re not looking to leave immediately,’ what it increases is the stress on the system, the demands they are placing,” Chandler said.

But the likelihood Italy leaves the euro are “slim to none,” he said.

Spain is another worry for markets, with a vote of confidence later this week on the administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy because of a campaign finance scandal. That could force a new election for that country, which has already seen a deep divide over the Catalan region’s wish to split from Spain.

“The outcome in Italy is hard to see as an investment-friendly outcome. It’s much easier to see an investor-friendly outcome in Spain. Spain is bad, but Italy is a lot worse,” he said.

Chandler said one outcome in the next election is that Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister, could run for office again. A court ruled that the three-time prime minister may again seek office, after being banned because of tax fraud for more than five years. Berlusconi has been supportive of a “parallel” currency to the euro, Chandler said.

Also unclear is how the European Central Bank will respond to the turmoil kicked up by Italy, and some strategists say ECB President Mario Draghi would be sure to retain stimulus as needed. The ECB is expected to announce in September that it will put aside its asset purchases, but if Italy’s woes spill into the broader economy, that could be in doubt.

“He’s completely lost control of the Italian bond market in two weeks,” said Boockvar. “I think he’s going to do his best to verbally calm nerves, but as far as legally using his balance sheet to help, I don’t see what he can do.”

But some traders appear to see the Italian situation as enough of a red flag to slow the Fed, particularly after the U.K. Brexit vote led to a market correction.

“The market is still pricing in a Fed hike for next month. It’s already in the cards. Why would the Fed not raise interest rates, given the kind of economic data we expect this week?” said Chandler. “Where I really see this having an effect is on the back end, the September hike.”

Robert Sinche, chief global strategist at Amherst Pierpont, does not see enough damage from Italy to slow the Fed.

“I think this will be a lot of noise, but I’ve seen this movie three or four times before. Italy stays in [the euro zone], and life goes on. There could be a little more uncertainty over the summer. They’ve realized that, which is why they pushed up the election to late July/early August,” he said.

“The ECB has been notoriously quiet because I think they like the signals the market is sending to Italy on the type of fiscal policies they’re talking about,” said Sinche. “I think we’ve had this spasm of risk off and in another couple of days we’ll be focused on some other bright light that comes along. I think what we’re seeing now is really a lot of liquidations of shorts in the bond market that were feeling pretty confident in Fed hikes and inflation.”

WATCH: Costa says Italian political risk way overdone

Italian political risk way overdone: Costa

Italian political risk way overdone: Costa  

Ireland votes resoundingly to repeal abortion ban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Ireland votes resoundingly to repeal abortion ban

Dublin, Ireland (CNN)Ireland has voted an emphatic “Yes” to amend the country’s constitution to enable legislation that would allow women to have an abortion in a historic and emotionally charged referendum.

With a high turnout of 64.13%, 1,429,98, or 66.4%, voted for the amendment Friday and 723,632, or 33.6%, against, according to the country’s Referendum Commission. The results that were announced Saturday defied earlier projections that it would be a tight race.
Only one county voted no — the rural and religiously conservative Donegal in northwest Ireland.
The vote signifies a resounding victory for the government of Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister, or Taoiseach as the office is called in Ireland.
“Today is a historic day for Ireland,” Varadkar said at a press conference. “A quiet revolution has taken place, and today is a great act of democracy.”
“A hundred years since women gained the right to vote, today we as a people have spoken,” he said. “And we say that we trust women and respect women to make their own decisions and their own choices.”
He noted that people in “almost every county, almost every constituency, men and women, all social classes and almost all age groups” voted to repeal the amendment. “We are not a divided country,” he said.
Chants of “Yes we did” rose from the crowd as the Referendum Commission’s Returning Officer Barry Ryan announced the final results.

"Yes" supporters wait for the final results Saturday at Dublin Castle.

It was a scene of jubilation as some supporters burst into tears. Others began laughing as they hugged one another and asked each other, “Can you believe we did this?”
Emma Gallagher, 22, began crying as she heard the final results.
“I feel safe now, I feel comfortable,” she told CNN. “It felt for a long time women didn’t matter. … Now we know that we matter.”
Rene Wogan, 66, held Gallagher’s hand and told her, “It was all for justice. You’re forwarding the flag on for women.”
Thousands of people packed the square in front of Dublin Castle as abortion rights politicians, including Varadkar, also joined the celebration.
He told Sky TV he expected legislation to be voted through by the end of the year.
“I feel enormous relief and great pride in the people of Ireland who didn’t maybe know what they thought until they were finally asked the questions,” Ailbhe Smyth, a longtime women’s rights activist, told CNN.
“It has been a long and very hard road, but we never lost sight of this because it’s so central to the existence, and the selfhood and personhood of women to have that control of our own bodies.”

A woman from the "Yes" campaign reacts after final results were announced Saturday at Dublin Castle.

The Eighth Amendment, which was added to the constitution following a referendum in 1983, banned abortion in Ireland unless there was a “real and substantial risk” to the mother’s life.
Repeal of the amendment has completed a circle of sweeping social reforms in the European Union nation that fly in the face of the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church, from contraception to divorce, and most recently same-sex marriage.
Roscommon, in the rural interior, the only county to say no to same-sex marriage, also voted yes in the abortion referendum.
Thousands of Irish working abroad returned to Ireland to cast their vote.
Those opposed to abortion vowed Saturday to take their fight now to the Irish Parliament, where lawmakers will have to bring about legislation allowing for terminations in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy — and later in cases where there is a risk to the mother’s life or the fetus is not expected to survive.
Dr. Ruth Cullen, spokeswoman for the anti-abortion LoveBoth campaign, conceded defeat Saturday before the count had finished.
“We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances. He gave his word on this, now he must deliver on it. No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach’s promises in this regard,” Cullen said at a press conference Saturday.
The death of an Indian dentist ignited the abortion rights campaign in Ireland. Savita Halappanavar, 31, died in 2012 because of complications from a natural miscarriage after abortion was denied to her.

Repeal supporters leave notes at a mural of Savita Halappanavar, whose death sparked the campaign.

Voters over 65 were the only age group overall not supporting the repeal of the amendment.
Ireland’s vote will likely put pressure on Northern Ireland to change its abortion laws, too. Despite Northern Ireland being part of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act legalizing abortions never applied there, and even victims of rape and incest are forced to travel to mainland Britain if they want a termination.

So In Germany There Is No Freedom Of Speech: Can’t Call A Pedophile A Pedophile?

So In Germany There Is No Freedom Of Speech: Can’t Call A Pedophile A Pedophile?

This post is mostly a copy paste of an article in “The Muslim Issue”. The German Chancellor says you can’t say bad things about a country’s leader even if what you are saying is the truth. So, you can lie and that is okay? The German leader does not seem to have any problem with the rampant pedophilia that she is responsible for bringing into Germany. She may be a smart person when it comes to economics but when it comes to the actual safety of the German people in their own homes, streets, or shopping centers she turns a blind eye. Please read this reblog from the Muslim Issue below to see what you think of these issues.

(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON APRIL 15TH OF 2016)

MUSLIMS WORLDWIDE

Germany: Merkel grants Turkish request to prosecute comic over Erdogan insult

4 Votes

Merkel screwed by Erdogan

Text by FRANCE 24
Latest update : 2016-04-15

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that Germany had accepted a request from Turkey to seek prosecution of a German comedian who read out a crude poem about Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on German television.

Erdogan had demanded that Germany press charges against comedian Jan Boehmermann after he mocked the Turkish leader in a show on German public broadcaster ZDF on March 31, suggesting that he hits girls, watches child pornography and engages in bestiality.

It is illegal under German criminal code to insult a foreign leader, but the law leaves it to the government to decide whether to authorise prosecutors to pursue such cases.

This has put Merkel an awkward position. The driving force behind a controversial European Union-Turkey migrant deal, she has already come under fire for ignoring human rights and press freedom violations in Turkey in an effort to secure its cooperation.

“There were different opinions between the coalition partners – the conservatives and the SPD [Social Democrats],” Merkel told reporters at the Chancellery in Berlin.

”The outcome is that the German government will give the authorisation in the current case,” she added, stressing that this was not a decision about the merits of the prosecution’s case against Boehmermann.

Merkel’s announcement sparked sharp criticism from the SPD, her centre-left coalition partner, which was opposed to Turkey’s request.

“This was the wrong decision in my view,” said Thomas Oppermann, leader of the SPD in parliament. “Prosecution of satire due to ‘lèse-majesté’ does not fit with modern democracy.”

Anton Hofreiter, parliamentary leader of the opposition Greens, said Merkel must now “live with the accusation that the deal with Turkey is more important to her than defending freedom of the press”.

Sahra Wagenknecht of the far-left Linke accused Merkel of kowtowing to the “Turkish despot” Erdogan.

‘Merkel is walking quite a difficult diplomatic tightrope’

‘Wrong signal’

Boehmermann, an impish-looking 35-year-old, is known for pushing the boundaries of satire. Last year he claimed to have manipulated a video of Greece’s then-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis in which he is shown giving the middle finger – known as the “Stinkefinger” in German – to Berlin for its tough stance in the debt crisis. The video infuriated German politicians.

The cult comedian made clear before reciting the poem about Erdogan that he was intentionally going beyond what German law allowed.

ZDF has since removed a video of the poem from its website. But Boehmermann has received backing from prominent German artists and a poll for Focus magazine showed 82 percent viewed the poem as defensible.

He is reportedly under police protection and cancelled his last show on ZDF.

In giving her statement, Merkel pressed Turkey – a candidate country for European Union membership – to uphold the values of freedom of expression, the press and art.

She justified the decision to accept the Turkish request by pointing to the close and friendly relationship Berlin shares with Ankara, referring to the three million people with Turkish roots who live in Germany, the strong economic ties between the countries and their cooperation as NATO allies.

But the Association of German Journalists (DJV) said Merkel had sent the “wrong signal” to the Turkish government and added that her references to violations of the right to freedom of press and opinion in Turkey had not made up for that.

A Turkish group called the Union of European Turkish Democrats, which has posted videos online supporting Erdogan, filed a complaint with Austria’s media watchdog on Friday over Austrian newspaper Oesterreich reprinting parts of Boehmermann’s poem under the headline, ‘Is this confused poem art or a scandal?’

Merkel said the German government planned to remove the section of the criminal code that requires it to grant permission for prosecution in such cases.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

European Parliament condemns Hamas for use of human shields

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In first, European Parliament condemns Hamas for terror, use of human shields

Resolution still slams IDF’s use of live fire against Gaza marches on border and calls for lifting of Gaza blockade, but Israel says ‘unprecedented anti-Israeli clauses were cut’

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session on February 6, 2018, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session on February 6, 2018, in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)

The European Parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a resolution that denounces Hamas as a terrorist group that uses human shields, calls for Israel’s destruction and “seems to aim at escalating tensions” at the Gaza-Israel border.

The motion also calls for the release of Israeli citizens and the bodies of fallen soldiers held by the Palestinian terror group in the coastal enclave.

The carefully calibrated text, which was the result of intense negotiations between the parliament’s various factions but was eventually jointly submitted by all major political groups, also backs calls for probes into Israel’s use of live ammunition to fend off protesters at the border and calls on Israel to exercise restraint.

It passed with 524 “yes” votes, 30 “no” votes, and 92 abstentions.

Pro-Israel advocacy groups welcomed the resolution, stressing the unusual fact that a European Union body found strong words of condemnation not only for Israel but also for Hamas.

Islamist Hamas terror movement leader Yahya Sinwar (C) shouts slogans as he takes part in a protest near the border with Israel east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Mohammed ABED)

Idit Rosenzweig-Abu, spokesperson of Israel’s mission to the EU, said “the resolution adopted today is far from being pro-Israeli, however we are satisfied that unprecedented anti-Israeli clauses were cut out of the resolution and, most importantly, we are happy to hear a strong, clear call for the immediate release of the Israeli citizens and the return of the bodies of our soldiers held in Gaza.”

Idit Rosenzweig-Abu (twitter)

The resolution began as starkly anti-Israel, even urging an arms embargo against the Jewish state in its earliest drafts.

The final three-page motion starts off by noting that the now-weekly “March of Return” at the Gaza border was organized by civil society groups, that Hamas asked people to join the marches, and that Israelis reported that stones and firebombs were thrown against troops and that some protesters tried to damage the border fence and infiltrate into Israel.

The text goes on to note that the IDF used live ammunition, killing “close to 30 Palestinians” and wounding thousands.

It then recalls the fact that Hamas is listed by the EU as a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction and continues to launch rockets from Gaza into Israeli territory.

It also states that “Hamas continues to keep the population under control and pressure in the Gaza Strip, which remains a hub of internationally recognized terrorist organizations,” and heavily curtails “basic freedoms, including of association and expression.”

“The European Parliament… Calls for utmost restraint and underlines that the priority must be to avoid any further escalation of violence and loss of life; expresses its regret of the loss of lives; condemns the killings and injuries of innocent Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip over the past three weeks and urges IDF to refrain from using lethal force against unarmed protesters,” the resolution reads.

It goes on to acknowledge “Israel’s security challenges and the need to protect its territory and borders while using proportionate means” and “condemns the terror attacks of Hamas and other militant groups against Israel from the Gaza Strip, including the firing of rockets, infiltrations into Israeli territory, and the building of tunnels.”

The lawmakers then express concern that “Hamas seems to aim at escalating tensions” and “strongly condemns the continuous tactic of Hamas to use civilians for the purpose of shielding terrorist activities.”

Stressing the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest and calling on Israel to respect this right, the motion calls on protest leaders to “avoid any incitement to violence, as well as to ensure that any protests, demonstrations, and assemblies remain strictly non-violent and cannot be exploited for other means.”

While the resolution takes note of the Israeli army’s fact-finding missions into past protests, it supports the calls for “independent and transparent investigations into these violent events,” which had been made by the EU, the United Nations, and many individual states.

“Intentional use of lethal force against protesters who do not pose an imminent threat to life or serious injury violates international human rights law and in the context of occupation is a serious breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” it states.

It also calls for an “immediate and unconditional end to the blockade and closure of the Gaza Strip,” which, it argues, results in “a deteriorating unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the area.”

Oron Shaul, Hadar Goldin and Avraham Mengistu. (Flash90/The Times of Israel)

The resolution demands the “freeing and the return to Israel” of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, two Israeli citizens held by Hamas in Gaza against their will, and calls for the return of the remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, two IDF soldiers who fell in the last war between Israel and Hamas. The EU lawmakers also offer “condolences to their families.”

“The above points are extremely important in any discussion regarding the Gaza Strip and I am pleased they were successfully pushed for by the ECR [European Conservatives and Reformists] Group to be included in the EP resolution,” said MEP Anders Vistisen, the vice chair of the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, who played a significant role in the negotiations that led to the resolution’s passing.

“Though the resolution is far from perfect and the left continuously seeks to blur reality, the ECR will continue to be the voice of reason,” he added. “I take the opportunity to stand with Israel over its recent mourning of all its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, and I extend my warmest congratulations to Israel for its 70th birthday which is celebrated today.”

The American Jewish Committee’s Europe branch had partial praise for resolution.

“The AJC Transatlantic Institute today praised the European Parliament for condemning Hamas for the war crimes it committed during the recent violent protests, but criticized the EU legislature for urging in its resolution on the situation in the Gaza Strip an ‘unconditional’ end to Israel’s naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory,” the organization said in a statement.

“We all want to see Gaza become the next Singapore. But calling for the ‘unconditional’ end to Israel’s targeted blockade is at this time – unfortunately – neither realistic nor an even remotely reasonable proposal,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of AJC’s EU office.

“The European Parliament deserves praise for its clear-eyed assessment of Hamas’s responsibility for escalating the violent protests. By also spelling out and condemning Hamas’s war crimes – such as using its own people as human shields and firing rockets on Israeli cities – Parliament has taken a principled stand,” said Schwammenthal.

At the same time, “Publicly urging a sister democracy and close friend to investigate in a ‘transparent’ manner seems – at the very least – somewhat out-of-place,” he said.

READ MORE:

China’s trade surplus narrows 21.8% in Q1

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHINE NEWSPAPER OF SHANGHAI CHINA)

 

China’s trade surplus narrows 21.8% in Q1

Xinhua

Imaginechina

A cargo truck drives amid stacked shipping containers at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port in Shanghai on March 29, 2018.

China’s goods trade surplus shrank 21.8 percent in the first quarter of this year as the country saw a better balance of trade, customs data showed on Friday.

China’s goods exports rose 7.4 percent year on year in the first three months while imports grew 11.7 percent, resulting in a trade surplus of 326.18 billion yuan (US$51.85 billion), according to the General Administration of Customs.

Total foreign trade volume expanded 9.4 percent to 6.75 trillion yuan in the first quarter from the same period last year.

Huang Songping, a spokesperson with the GAC, told a press briefing that the relatively fast trade growth was a result of a mild global economic recovery that has given rise to robust trading activities, as well as the sound development of the domestic economy, which has strengthened demand for imports.

Steady progress in the Belt and Road Initiative and stronger trading with emerging markets also supported the first-quarter growth, Huang said, as trade volume with Belt and Road countries jumped 12.9 percent in the three-month period, 3.5 percentage points faster than the overall increase.

Trade with countries along the Belt and Road reached 1.86 trillion yuan, accounting for 27.5 percent of China’s total foreign trade in the first quarter, according to Huang.

The European Union, the United States and ASEAN were the top three trading partners of China, which together accounted for 41.2 percent of foreign trade.

From January to March, trade between China and the United States rose 13 percent in dollar-denominated terms, with Chinese exports to the United States increased 14.8 percent and the China-US trade surplus standing at 58.25 billion dollars.

Chinese private enterprises played a bigger role in trade by contributing 38.3 percent to total trade, up 1.7 percentage points compared with the first quarter of 2017.

The country’s less developed regions, including central and western China, all outpaced the national average trade growth in the January-March period.

Huang said he sees rising pressure and challenges for the global economy and international trade in the second quarter stemming from global uncertainties and intensifying protectionism.

Fiercer competition in the global manufacturing sector will also pose challenges for China’s foreign trade, he said.

But Huang said he expects China’s foreign trade will maintain an upward trend as the country has pledged to take measures to further open up its market and expand imports.

Hungary’s Viktor Orban is widely expected to win Sunday’s election

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Hungary’s Viktor Orban is widely expected to win Sunday’s election. Why is he so popular?

 3:10
Is Hungary’s election the country’s last chance to avoid autocracy?

Hungary is in the midst of a divisive election that will decide if the country’s anti-immigrant prime minister gets a third straight term in office. 

 April 7 at 3:30 PM 
The rally was a curious blend of kitsch and gravitas: plastic flags, unwieldy crucifixes and pop lyrics extolling the virtues of blood and soil. But this is Europe in 2018.

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, mounted the podium to the sound of screams and raucous applause. In the same city where Hungary once crowned some of its kings, he delivered his final pitch to voters before Sunday’s election: a familiar litany against migrants, the European Union and George Soros, his favorite billionaire punching bag.

For months now, so much of Orban’s rhetoric has focused on how faraway bureaucrats and boogeymen have subverted Hungary’s national interests to line the coffers of what he couches as an international financial conspiracy, a rhetorical line some see as little more than a modern remake of an anti-Semitic trope. Yet it would be a mistake to cast his victory on Sunday — almost a foregone conclusion — merely as an internal assault on the European consensus, even if that is the result.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech in Szekesfehervar, on Friday, his last before Sunday’s election. (Ferenc Isza/AFP/Getty Images)

In the minds of many of Orban’s supporters, Sunday’s election is less a rally against the E.U. as it is a battle of European visions. And to them, the best way to ensure the future of Europe is to support the man who has transformed their country into the single E.U. member state that perhaps least resembles a 21st-century Western democracy.

Despite Orban’s bluster, Hungary is not a particularly Euroskeptic nation. In advance of the Brexit vote in June 2016, polls showed that Hungarian voters, second only to Poles, were the most supportive of Brussels in the entire 28-state bloc. More recent analyses suggest that that support has waned, but they also show that Hungary’s trust in the E.U. as an institution is average, and more than half of the population favors introducing the euro.

“Yes, Hungary is part of Europe,” said Nandor Holl, a 20-year-old business school student who said he hopes to enter politics some day. He was at Friday’s rally here with his friends, proudly sporting a banner for Fidesz, Orban’s right-wing party.

“My country is very important to me, and I choose it first, but I feel it’s important to keep Europe as an entity,” he said. “Honestly, I think the Hungarian government wants the same — but just to save it from migrants.”

Orban’s opponents — including former members of the party he now leads — see his tenure as a troubling turn toward an “Eastern-style” autocracy incompatible with contemporary European values of transparency, tolerance and democracy.

To them, Orban — who in the last eight years in power has overhauled the constitution and cracked down on Hungarian media, among other things — is more in line with Russia’s Vladimir Putin than he is with the continental cohorts of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. And Sunday’s election represents an existential choice.

“The question is which direction we will go in the next four years,” said Peter Akos Bod, who served as trade minister in Hungary’s transition government in 1990 after the fall of communism, and later as the president of Hungary’s central bank.

“The election will determine whether Hungary consolidates itself as a democracy or whether it aligns with Putin and the ascendant authoritarians of the 21st century,” said Michael Ignatieff, the president and rector of Budapest’s Central European University, an institution backed by George Soros that Orban has repeatedly threatened.

But Europe means something different to Orban’s supporters. To them, he incarnates a nostalgic vision of a Hungary, and a Europe, that is culturally homogenous.

“It’s difficult to say, as I cannot speak for everyone,” said Gabor Bodi, 49, a physical therapist who was at the rally, when pressed to define the appeal of Orban’s vision. He was holding a crucifix several meters tall that towered above the crowd. “But as you can see, I am carrying a cross.”

Nostalgia is an Orban specialty, and appeals to a vanished white, Christian past have long been a mainstay of his rhetoric, including at the rally:

“We freed ourselves from bonded slavery.”

“We stopped the first big wave of migration.”

“We proved that the Christian culture and way of life is not part of the past. On the contrary, we can bring it and we must bring it with us into the future.”

But sociologists say the emphasis is deeper than that.

Orban’s line plays on a collective memory of foreign invasion by Turks, Austrians and Russians, said Imre Kovach, an expert on domestic social dynamics at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest.

Much the same is true in Poland, another E.U. member state run by right-wing populists that has sought, through the passage of a widely condemned “Holocaust law,” to end what leaders see as the deliberate attempt to shame the nation on the part of western critics.

“Hungarian identity is a very European identity, but I do think that it’s really different from, say, a French or German,” Kovach said. “They just don’t have the same image of what ‘Europe’ means.”

The difference, he said, is the experience of postwar history. Hungary, like Poland, experienced nearly 50 years of communist rule after the end of the World War II. For many, the end of communism was seen as a moment when the country would be granted a long-denied sense of autonomy — an autonomy that’s not always recognized in the European Union.

“From a historical point of view, when Hungarians had to make a decision about siding with the West or the East, they always chose the West,” Kovach said. “But the 20th century’s events were not for the Hungarians — we lost so much, so many territories, so many people’s lives.”

Orban rarely shies away from this history. When he does wade into it, the subtext is often the sacrifice Hungary made in defending a continent that has never properly expressed its gratitude.

“We also know our own history,” he said in an October speech, at a Danube regional strategy summit. “Those who wanted to gain a foothold in Europe always came across this route. And Hungary was the last defensive line, if you like, a gate to and for the West.”

Many of his supporters say they have received the message loud and clear.

Rudniczai Janosne, 60, is a retired office worker who braved the crowds to come to the Szekesfehervar rally. She struggled to find the words when asked why she found Orban’s message so captivating.

“When I hear his voice, when I see the Hungarian flag, or when I hear the anthem,” she said, “the top of my head gets faint. Tears come to my eyes.”

Gergo Saling contributed to this report.

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