EU May Shrink to Point Where it No Longer Has Major States – Juncker – Sputnik International


European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to visit the United States on July 25, in a bid to add to improving EU-US relations, which were tarnished after President Donald Trump slapped import duties on steel and 10 percent duties on aluminum.

Speaking at the Carlos de Amberes Foundation in Madrid, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that against the backdrop of a growing global population, Europe may finally “shrink” to the threshold when there will be no major states there.

Describing Europe as “the closest continent,” Juncker predicted that no EU member will make up more than one percent of the global population within the next few years.

 

Source: EU May Shrink to Point Where it No Longer Has Major States – Juncker – Sputnik International

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Trump criticizes Federal Reserve for rate hikes, breaking with tradition


President Donald Trump attacked the Federal Reserve on Thursday, saying he disagreed with the course taken by the central bank and its chairman, Jerome Powell, whom Trump nominated to the position last year.

“I don’t necessarily agree with it,” Trump told CNBC about the Fed’s two rate hikes so far this year. “I’m not thrilled, because every time we go up, they want to raise rates again. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best.”

Markets whiplashed on Trump’s comments, with the Dow Jones dropping more than 100 points and the dollar taking a brief stumble.

The White House released a statement shortly after the president’s statement was released.

 

Source: Trump criticizes Federal Reserve for rate hikes, breaking with tradition

What’s behind Trump’s demands on NATO?


Phil Ebersole's Blog

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President Trump last week demanded that NATO allies, who have already pledged to increase their military spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2024, raise their spending to 4 percent.

This is supposedly necessary to defend against Russia.  Whether or not he really thinks Russia is that much of a threat, the fact is that the European members of NATO already outspend Russia by a considerable amount.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Institute, Russia’s spending military spending last year was $66.3 billion, down from $69.2 billion in 2016.

France spent $57.8 billion, the UK spent $47.2 billion and Germany spent $44.3 billion—a combined total of $149.3 billion, more than double what Russia spent.  Estimated US spending was $610 billion.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies made different but similar estimates.

Its estimate was that Russia spent $61.2 billion last year, while the UK spent $50.7…

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A New Reason for Trump to Release His Tax Returns: Helsinki – Bloomberg


In case you’ve forgotten about them, President Donald Trump’s personal income tax returns still matter. So do the Trump Organization’s business relationships and finances. If you ever doubted either of those things, consider the president’s meeting in Helsinki on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During their press conference, the subject of “compromising” information arose at the very end of their briefing.

“Sir, do you — does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?” Jonathan Lemire, an Associated Press reporter, asked Putin.

Trump shook his head and smirked, gazing down at his lectern. Putin chuckled.

“Yeah, I did hear these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow,” Putin replied, before noting that it was impossible to gather intelligence on the multitude of Western businesspeople who visit Russia. Trump was never important enough in his pre-presidency days to warrant the Kremlin’s attention, he added.

 

Source: A New Reason for Trump to Release His Tax Returns: Helsinki – Bloomberg

Nearly 8 million unpaid carers are ‘propping up’ the broken care system


Nearly 8 million family carers in the UK are “propping up the care system” by providing unpaid care for relatives and other loved-ones, whilst also paying a significant personal and financial price for the care they provide, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank.

Research has calculated that around 7.6 million adults are giving up their time to provide unpaid care for relatives, up 1 million since 2005 and equal to almost 15% of adults living in the UK.

In their report published on Monday, the SMF says the proportion of family carers providing 20 or more hours of unpaid care each week has increased from 24% in 2005 to reach 28% in 2015, with family carers providing an average 19.5 hours of unpaid care each week.

In total, family carers are sacrificing 149 million hours to care for loved-ones every week, equal to 4 million paid care-givers working full-time hours.

However, this level of unselfishness can have a devastating impact on the carers’ health and work prospects, with family carers less likely to be in employment than non-carers and more likely to earn far less.

 

Source: Nearly 8 million unpaid carers are ‘propping up’ the broken care system

24 hours later, Trump claims he misspoke in Helsinki, meant to say Russia did have reason to meddle in election


President Donald Trump attempted on Tuesday to clarify his widely criticized comments in Helsinki, saying that he had misspoken when he said a day earlier that he did not see why Russia would have meddled in the election. Trump said Tuesday he meant to say he did not see any reason why it wouldn’t have been Russia that interfered.

“I thought that I made myself very clear, but having just reviewed the transcript…I realized that there is a need for some clarification,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House. “The sentence should have been…’I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia’.”

At the Monday press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said about election meddling in 2016: “(Putin) just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump also said on Tuesday that he had “full faith and support” for the American intelligence community and supported their assessment that Russian meddled in the 2016 election, but continued to claim that others could also be responsible.

“I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying…that I accept our American intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” the president said.

But, Trump added, “Could be other people also, there’s a lot of people out there.”

 

Source: 24 hours later, Trump claims he misspoke in Helsinki, meant to say Russia did have reason to meddle in election

‘Scandal’ of new rail station set to be built without step-free access to trains | DisabledGo News and Blog


A new rail station being built as part of a multi-billion pound regeneration programme will not enable wheelchair-users to board trains without the help of staff and a ramp, disabled campaigners have warned.

Brent Cross West Thameslink is being built as part of the £4.5 billion Cricklewood Brent Cross development in north-west London, a partnership between Barnet council and the private sector.

But current plans for the station, which is due to open in 2022, are that it will be step-free from the entrance to the platform, but not from the platform to the train.

This appears to be because building the higher platforms necessary for wheelchair-users to board trains without manual ramps and assistance would mean freight trains would have to slow down when passing those higher platforms.

Campaigners believe that although most freight trains will pass through the station’s dedicated freight platform, some will be routed through passenger platforms, and it could delay the passenger services behind them if they are forced to slow down.

The controversy could prove embarrassing for Govia Thameslink Railway, the company which will run Thameslink services through the station.

 

Source: ‘Scandal’ of new rail station set to be built without step-free access to trains | DisabledGo News and Blog

America’s Values Must Guide White House Diplomacy – Bloomberg


Never in my lifetime can I remember a week when a president of the United States did more to insult our closest allies and flatter our biggest adversaries. Alienating friends who share our values while ignoring a hostile power’s intrusions into U.S. sovereignty is diplomacy at its most incompetent and counterproductive — and Americans in both parties must demand that it stop.

At Wednesday’s NATO summit in Brussels, President Donald Trump went out of his way to offend German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that her country is “captive” to Russia. He turned a legitimate and longstanding complaint about Europe’s under-spending on defense into a slap in the face by seeming to demand that their spending commitments be doubled. And he later undermined U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May by asserting that she is mishandling Brexit negotiations — and praising one of the ministers who just quit her government. His attempt to walk back those comments with his tired refrain — “fake news” — fooled no one. The damage was done. And there was more to come.

On Friday, the president again dismissed the investigation into Russian meddling as a “rigged witch hunt” — even though the Department of Justice had already briefed him on the impending indictment of 12 Russians who attempted to influence the 2016 elections. Trump said he would bring up the subject when he meets with Putin on Monday: “I will absolutely, firmly ask the question.” Sorry, Mr. President. The U.S. Department of Justice has already answered the question.

The state of denial about Russia that pervades the Oval Office has led to Monday’s summit in Helsinki, a major coup for Putin. A strongman who has annexed territory from his neighbors, destabilized U.S. allies in Eastern Europe, abetted war crimes in Syria, and meddled with the 2016 U.S. presidential election gets to share a stage with an American president. That’s great for him. But what’s in it for us? The answer is unclear.

 

Source: America’s Values Must Guide White House Diplomacy – Bloomberg

Preventable harm and the Work Capability Assessment


Introduced in 2008, the work capability assessment (WCA) is used by the UK government to limit access to the long-term sickness and disability benefit, known as the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The scope of the assessment was increased in 2010.

Extensive evidence suggesting that the WCA is a dangerous and fatally flawed assessment model for disabled and chronically sick people continues to be disregarded by successive governments. This article identifies the influence of American corporate funders with UK welfare reform policies since 1992.

I argue that these influences have shaped the WCA in ways which cause preventable harm in the lives of chronically sick and disabled people, who are dependent upon the ESA for their financial survival. Further, I argue that the ESA assessment process was adopted to encourage the general public to purchase income protection insurance which intentionally undermines the UK welfare state.

Introduction

Successive calls for welfare reform in the UK are not as progressive as they might appear to the outside world. From the point of view of chronically sick and disabled people themselves, the problems started thirty-five years ago under the Thatcher government when privatisation, a consumer model of care and individualism were introduced, arguably to the detriment of disabled people.

 

Source: Preventable harm and the Work Capability Assessment

Justine Greening calls for second Brexit referendum – BBC News


Justine Greening has called for a second referendum, labelling the prime minister’s Brexit deal a “fudge”.

Writing in the Times, the former education secretary described Theresa May’s proposals as “the worst of both worlds”.

The final decision should be given back to the people and out of “deadlocked politicians” hands, Ms Greening said.

She states there are three options: the PM’s deal, staying in the EU or a clean break from Europe with no deal.

Ms Greening, who resigned after the cabinet reshuffle in January, said the referendum should offer a first and second preference vote so that a consensus can be reached.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Greening said the government’s proposals were a “genuine clever attempt at a compromise that could work” but “suits no-one”.

 

Source: Justine Greening calls for second Brexit referendum – BBC News