Tuesday, May 23, 2017

May Days in the U.K.

Clock is ticking....

"The clock begins: Britain to start EU exit on March 29" by Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless Associated Press  March 21, 2017

LONDON —The trigger for all this tumult is the innocuous-sounding Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, a never-before-used mechanism for withdrawing from the bloc. The article stipulates that the two sides will have until March 2019 to agree on a divorce settlement and — if possible — establish a new relationship between Britain, the world’s No. 5 economy, and the EU, a vast single market containing 500 million people, but like any divorce, things may not go to plan.

The letter British Prime Minister Theresa May sends next week will plunge Britain into a period of intense uncertainty. The country doesn’t know what its future relationship with the bloc will look like — whether its businesses will freely be able to trade with the rest of Europe, its students can study abroad or its pensioners will be allowed to retire easily in other EU states. Those things have become part of life in the UK since it joined what was then called the European Economic Community in 1973.

It’s also not clear what rights the estimated 3 million EU citizens already working and living in Britain will retain, and it’s not even certain that the United Kingdom — made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — will survive the EU exit intact....


RelatedEuropean Union officials consider scenarios to remake bloc

"EU approves tough Brexit talks stance, demanding UK pays" by Ian Wishart Bloomberg News  May 23, 2017

BRUSSELS — The European Union finalized its tough Brexit negotiating position, reiterating its hard line on the United Kingdom’s departure bill and refusing to discuss a future trading arrangement until there is agreement on other key topics.

“We want to move to a situation where all the commitments taken by the UK will be honored, as will ours with the UK,” Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, told reporters in Brussels on Monday after a meeting of the remaining 27 national governments. “We need to settle the accounts, and that’s a question of trust between us to build our future relationship.”

Speaking a day after UK Brexit Secretary David Davis was quoted in an interview as saying Britain would walk away from talks unless the bloc drops its high financial demands, Barnier said it would be wrong to see any collapse in the negotiations as a success.

The size of Britain’s exit bill, which some estimates put as high as 100 billion euros ($112.4 billion) and is based on the UK’s past financial commitments to the EU, has been a source of debate for weeks and will prove an early test of the ability of both sides to find common ground when negotiations start. Even a 1 billion-pound settlement would be “a lot of money,” Davis said in the interview published in the Sunday Times.

Looks like puni$hment to me.

“All 27 of us today have confirmed the position we’re going to defend,” Barnier said. “I do understand the UK has different positions, but as we’ve said, a negotiation is a negotiation.”

The negotiating mandate covers the main areas that need to be tackled before any discussion of a free-trade arrangement, and touches on the divorce bill, citizens’ rights, and the UK’s border with Ireland, and says that EU judges should be able to rule on whether the agreement is being applied.

The EU’s insistence over the role of European courts brought a sharp reaction from Brexit Secretary Davis who said any deal would need independent enforcement.

“An ideological obsession in Brussels with one-sided jurisdiction by the European Court of Justice — in the UK, after we have left the EU — is not acceptable and will not work,” Davis said in an emailed statement.

Barnier said he is seeking to organize the first round of the talks in the week of June 19. Envoys from the EU’s 27 countries will meet in Brussels on Tuesday to start discussing more detailed positions on the main issues under negotiation. Their position papers are likely to be published next week, an EU official said, raising the prospect of contentious Brexit demands from the European side appearing a week before the UK general election.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May used the looming talks as a reason for voters to re-elect her Conservative Party to government in the June 8 election. “There will be no time to waste and no time for a new government to find its way,” she said in a speech in Wales on Monday. “Every vote for me and my team in this election will be a vote to strengthen my hand in the negotiations to come.”

You guys should vote Corbyn.

The initial part of the Brexit discussions will be spent working out the order of talks, threatening a breakdown even before the debate on substantive matters begins. The EU has rejected May’s request that the sides discuss the UK’s future trading relationship with the bloc at the same time as issues relating to its withdrawal.

Included in the EU’s negotiating mandate published on Monday is the demand that European citizens living in the UK at the time of Brexit should have the right to permanent residence after living there for five years.

SeeHouse of Lords chides UK government, backs EU citizens’ rights

You can't be a Hayter.

It also stipulates that the financial settlement should include all costs related to Brexit, including the relocation of EU agencies currently based in the UK.

The two sides have until March 29, 2019, to find common ground on the separation. At that point, Britain will leave the EU regardless of whether it has a deal or not.

The EU’s mandate says that the UK will depart at the end of that day Brussels time while the British government envisages leaving the bloc an hour later, when Big Ben chimes midnight in London.

“They have to realize that if you’re part of a club and you want to leave — and it’s very British — you have to pay your contribution,” Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told reporters in Brussels. A good agreement between the EU and the UK “is in the interests of all of us.”


After demanding Britain pay through the nose to leave, they turn around and say please be our nuclear shield!

"Fearing US withdrawal, Europe considers its own nuclear deterrent" by Max Fisher New York Times  March 06, 2017

BERLIN — An idea, once unthinkable, is gaining attention in European policy circles: a European Union nuclear weapons program.

Under such a plan, France’s arsenal would be repurposed to protect the rest of Europe and would be put under a common European command, funding plan, defense doctrine, or some combination of the three. It would be enacted only if the continent could no longer count on US protection.

Has anyone asked the French?

Though no new countries would join the nuclear club under this scheme, it would amount to an unprecedented escalation in Europe’s collective military power and a drastic break with US leadership.

Analysts say that the talk, even if it never translates into action, demonstrates the growing sense in Europe that drastic steps may be necessary to protect the postwar order in the era of a Trump presidency, a resurgent Russia, and the possibility of an alignment between the two.

Even proponents, who remain a minority, acknowledge enormous hurdles. But discussion of a so-called “Eurodeterrent” has entered the mainstream — particularly in Germany, a country that would be central to any plan but where antinuclear sentiment is widespread.

Jana Puglierin of the German Council on Foreign Relations said a handful of senior European officials had “for sure triggered a public debate about this, taking place in newspapers and journals, radio interviews, and TV documentaries,” but the most important support has come from Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker and foreign policy spokesman with Germany’s ruling party, who gave the nuclear option increased credibility by raising it shortly after President Trump’s election.

In an interview in the German Bundestag, Kiesewetter, a former colonel who served in Afghanistan, calibrated his language carefully, providing just enough detail to demonstrate the option’s seriousness without offering too much and risking an outcry from German voters or encouraging the US withdrawal he is hoping to avoid.

“My idea is to build on the existing weapons in Great Britain and France,” he said, but acknowledged that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could preclude its participation.

The United States bases dozens of nuclear warheads in Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands as both a quick-reaction force and a symbol of its guarantee to protect the Continent. Kiesewetter said his plan would provide a replacement or parallel program.

Mostly, Kiesewetter said he hoped to spur Trump to end doubts over US security commitments to Europe, rendering unnecessary the nuclear “Plan B.” For now, his intention is merely to “trigger a debate” over addressing “this silent, gigantic problem.”

This would require, he said, four ingredients: a French pledge to commit its weapons to a common European defense, German financing to demonstrate the program’s collective nature, a joint command, and a plan to place French warheads in other European countries. 

Has anyone asked those other countries?

The number of warheads in Europe would not increase under this plan, and could even decrease if the United States withdraws.

“It’s not a question of numbers,” Kiesewetter said. “The reassurance and deterrence comes from the existence of the weapons and their deployability.”

It has worked. A small but growing contingent of German analysts and commentators have endorsed versions of a European nuclear program.

Kiesewetter said he had heard interest from officials in the Polish and Hungarian governments, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and within relevant German ministries, though he would not say which.

But any European nuclear program would face enormous hurdles.

“The public is totally opposed,” Puglierin said, referring to German antinuclear sentiment, which has at times culminated in nationwide protests against the weapons.

In practical terms, the plan would change the flag on Europe’s nuclear deterrent from that of the United States to that of France. But this would risk making a US exit from Europe more permanent.

France so far has shown no willingness to share its weapons, much less put them under a joint European command. But its view could change with Trump.

Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies regional nuclear powers, was initially skeptical but came to see such a plan as both technically and politically feasible.

For France, he said, “it extends their frontier,” making it likelier that a nuclear conflict would be fought far from French soil. For Germany and other European states, it would “increase the credibility of the forward deployment against Russian aggression.”

Oh, so ONCE AGAIN that is what this is REALLY ABOUT!


You may want to rethink the idea:

British leader won’t confirm reported missile failure 

It was test-fired off the coast of Florida.

British PM knew missile reportedly misfired, official says The Trident II D5 missile, which is designed to carry a nuclear warhead but which was unarmed for the test, had veered off course off the coast of Florida after being fired from HMS Vengeance, one of Britain’s four aging nuclear-armed submarines. Instead of heading toward a target off the coast of West Africa, it turned and headed toward the United States, the paper reported.

Related: China to Nuke U.K.?

Of course, a different kind of terror overtook England yesterday:

"At least 19 killed in suspected terror explosion at UK concert" by Rory Smith and Sewell Chan New York Times  May 22, 2017

MANCHESTER, England — An explosion that may have been a suicide bombing killed at least 19 people Monday night and wounded about 50 others at an Ariana Grande concert filled with adoring adolescent fans, in what the police were treating as a terrorist attack.

Panic and mayhem seized the crowd at the Manchester Arena as the blast reverberated through the building, just as the show was ending and pink balloons were dropping from the rafters in a signature flourish by Grande, a 23-year-old pop star on an international tour.

Traumatized concertgoers, including children separated from parents, screamed and fled in what appeared to be the deadliest episode of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 London subway bombings.

Which was a crisis drill gone live.

See: “Adam Khatib may not have known the full extent of the plan being hatched by his co-conspirators, but he certainly knew that they had murder in mind." 

Does he know Mr. Aswat or Mr. Khan?

Also see:

May Day Memories: British Patsies
May Day Memories: The U.S. Connection
Terror Expert: London Bomber Was Working For MI5
Israeli Connections to the London Tube Bombs

Kinda a kick in the head, huh?

Speaking to reporters early Tuesday, Manchester’s chief constable, Ian Hopkins, said the police learned of the explosion about 10:33 p.m. local time. The wounded were taken to six hospitals, he added.

There was no immediate word from the authorities on the precise cause of the blast, but unconfirmed reports said a suicide bomber might have detonated a nail-filled explosive device.

Intelligence officials in the United States were briefed on the Manchester explosion late Monday and were told that it appeared to be a terrorist attack, according to a senior official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The scene in downtown Manchester immediately evoked the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, which included a deadly assault inside the Bataclan concert hall, where the Eagles of Death Metal had been playing. But unlike the Bataclan show, the Manchester concert was filled with teenagers.

Which proved to be a complete hoax.

“This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until the police know otherwise,” the Manchester police said in a Twitter post. Early Tuesday morning, Sky News reported that a bomb disposal team had arrived on the scene as part of the investigation and that the security cordon around the arena had been widened.

Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the victims and their families in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.” She was scheduled to lead a meeting of the government’s crisis response committee on Tuesday morning.

Grande, a singer with a big voice who started her career as a star on a Nickelodeon TV series, is on an international tour supporting her 2016 album, “Dangerous Woman.” Grande was not hurt. TMZ, the entertainment news website, reported that she was “in hysterics” over the deadly blast. Her manager, Scooter Braun, said on Twitter, “We mourn the lives of children and loved ones taken by this cowardly act.”

She once wished death to her fans.

Parents separated from their children during the mayhem were told to go to a Holiday Inn, where many youngsters had taken refuge. A number of hotels, including the Holiday Inn and the Travelodge, opened their doors to concertgoers trapped inside the police cordon, providing them with drinks and phone chargers to enable them to contact family members. Residents also offered stranded concertgoers places to stay in their homes.

The confusion and fear in the hours afterward were reflected on social media. One Twitter post asked: “Did anybody see my girlfriend? I lost her in the chaos.”

SMG, the Pennsylvania-based company that manages the Manchester Arena, and Wes Westley, the company’s president and chief executive, described the precautions at the site.

“It is obviously as tight security as anywhere in the States,” he said in an interview. “Backpacks are not allowed. Drinks are taken away from people. You have to go through very strict security to enter the arena.”


While the country and the world reacted to the news of the explosion and deaths with dismay, anger and grief, the British authorities, who have foiled numerous terrorist plots, were probably not surprised. The terrorist threat level set by MI5, the domestic intelligence service, has been at “severe,” the second-highest level, for months now, meaning officials considered an attack “highly likely.”

And they still couldn't stop it?

While disenchanted young people can be radicalized through extremist websites, officials are particularly worried about the return of hundreds of battle-trained fighters who left Britain and other European countries to join jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq.

May’s governing Conservative Party announced that it would refrain from campaigning on Tuesday in the June 8 general election, out of respect for the victims. Opposition politicians — Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, Tim Farron of the Liberal Democrats and Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party — joined May in expressing their grief and condolences.

But with the election approaching, Manchester seems bound to become part of the political discourse....





Manchester Blast: Terrorism or False Flag?

ISIS Claiming Responsibility for Manchester Blast

Key Questions About the Manchester Bombing 


Commentators are claiming total hoax.

Manchester England Arena False Flag Bombing: What We Have So Far On This Latest False Flag 

Looks like it is another crisis drill gone live. No photos of the event or explosion in this age of self-absorbed social media? The official ones I've seen don't prove a thing.

American Officials Leak Name of Manchester Suicide Bomber

Israeli spokesperson promotes Manchester False Flag

What Is The Manchester Agenda?

distraction from Sean Rich Murder story?

Also see: 

UK defiant as IS claims responsibility for London attack

That was a mere 2 months ago, remember!?

Teen pleads guilty in stabbing death of American tourist in London the man was found to have paranoid schizophrenia, a serious mental illness, and did not have any apparent political motivation.

Just another lone nut, huh?

"Queen Elizabeth II on Monday marked her sapphire jubilee by celebrating with new coins, a new stamp, gun salutes, and a reissued portrait taken by a famed photographer. The queen planned to observe the day privately...."

RelatedSpotlight on Prince Harry’s new girlfriend, Meghan Markle 

They having sex yet?

"In a debate that has gone from office corridors to Britain’s Parliament, lawmakers put their foot down Monday and told employers to stop making women wear high heels as part of corporate dress codes. Members of Parliament debated a ban on mandatory workplace high heels, in response to a petition started by a receptionist who was sent home without pay for wearing flat shoes. Labor lawmaker Helen Jones, who helped lead a parliamentary investigation into dress codes, said she and her colleagues were shocked by what they found. ‘‘We found attitudes that belonged more — I was going to say in the 1950s, but probably the 1850s would be more accurate, than in the 21st century,’’ she told lawmakers at Parliament’s Westminster Hall. Monday’s debate was triggered by the experience of Nicola Thorp, who was told in December 2015 that her flats were unacceptable for a temporary assignment in London with finance firm PwC. Her employment agency, Portico, had a dress code specifying that female workers must wear non-opaque tights, have hair with ‘‘no visible roots,’’ wear ‘‘regularly re-applied’’ makeup — and appear in shoes with a heel between 2 and 4 inches. She started an online petition, calling formal workplace dress codes ‘‘outdated and sexist.’’ It has gathered more than 150,000 signatures, making it eligible for a debate in Parliament." 

Get her a nice piece of jewelry instead.

"UK’s problem-plagued inquiry into child sex abuse begins" Associated Press  February 27, 2017

LONDON — Britain’s problem-plagued inquiry into child sex abuse finally began Monday, years after it was organized, amid revelations that entertainers, clergy, and senior politicians were involved.

The far-reaching probe began hearing evidence after being beset by criticism and delays. It will scrutinize 13 institutions for child protection failings, including the army and local authorities.

The committee, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, began its work by hearing evidence about a migration program that oversaw the resettlement of an estimated 100,000 vulnerable British children in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Zimbabwe from the 1930s to the 1970s.

The program, funded by British taxpayers, was said to have been justified by the government as a way of cutting care costs for children, and an opportunity to meet labor shortages in British colonies.

Aswini Weereratne of the Child Migrants Trust described the mass migration as ‘‘forced or coerced deportation.” She said some of the children sent abroad by the British government suffered ‘‘torture, rape, and slavery.’’


It's like looking for gold, isn't it? 

This next item will break your heart:

"GE faces probe over suspicions it misled EU in $1.7 billion deal" by Gaspard Sebag and Peter Levring Bloomberg News  May 23, 2017

General Electric Co. is the latest US company to be investigated by the European Union for possibly turning in misleading information during a merger review.

The European Commission opened proceedings on March 9 to review whether GE misled EU officials examining a deal to buy LM Wind Power, a maker of wind-turbine blades, for 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), the Boston-based company said in an e-mailed statement on Monday.

Since then, there has been “no further formal communication” from the commission to GE and the EU regulator cleared the deal on March 20, GE said. The probe is at a preliminary stage, according to a person familiar with the matter.

GE may be in trouble for telling regulators it didn’t have any plans to develop a new giant offshore wind turbine when the company did have such a project on hold, said another person, who asked not to be named as the case is confidential. GE is now scrambling to explain that there was no intention to misinform regulators, the person said.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager signaled a zero-tolerance approach to companies that give inaccurate information when she fined Facebook Inc. 110 million euros (about $123 million) on May 18 for combining WhatsApp data with its other services after having told the merger officials otherwise during the EU’s 2014 review. The social network said it acted in good faith and won a lower fine after cooperating with regulators.

“It’s no excuse that the closed circle of people working on a merger didn’t know what was going on elsewhere at the company,” Vestager told Bloomberg on May 19 in a general response to questions about the EU’s crackdown on merger cases.

“That simply doesn’t hold up,” she said, adding that companies “need to be thorough.”

If the EU considers it has enough evidence against GE, the next procedural step would be to state its case in a so-called statement of objections, which could take months to be put together. Such documents are often a precursor to fines. The European Commission in Brussels declined to comment on the GE probe.

GE’s push into the wind industry comes after it took over Alstom Renewable Power Sector as part of its $10 billion acquisition of Alstom SA’s power operations two years ago. GE renamed the unit, which produces 6 megawatt offshore wind turbines, GE Renewable Energy.

On March 20, the EU approved GE’s acquisition of Denmark-based LM Wind Power unconditionally after officials found no competition concerns.

But while GE told the commission during the review that it wasn’t planning to expand into next-generation offshore wind turbines with a capacity of 12 megawatts, EU regulators subsequently said they found evidence to the contrary, the second person said. The punishment for breaking the EU’s rules is as high as 1 percent of annual sales.

The probe into possible misleading information may lead to a statement of objections around the EU’s summer break in August and subsequent fines, the person said.

In addition to any fine, the case could hurt GE’s relationship with EU regulators as they review its other merger plans and investigate its maintenance contracts for aircraft engines. Last month, GE filed for EU approval its plan to combine its oil and gas business with Baker Hughes Inc.


Maybe they could turn to Scotland?

"Fighting for funds, Scots managers create an $810 billion giant" by Lukanyo Mnyanda Bloomberg News  March 07, 2017

EDINBURGH — The merger of Scotland’s two largest money management companies is the biggest attempt yet in Europe to defend the old-fashioned business of picking stocks and bonds in the intensifying battle against cheaper, better-performing funds that track indexes. 

AI is better picker.

For the industry, it underscores the biggest challenge to its model for decades: larger “passive” funds drawing customers while more expensive “active” managers who use research to select investments are losing them.

The UK fund industry oversees about $8.6 trillion of assets, making it the biggest in the world after the United States, and the pressure to reduce costs is coming from regulators and politicians as well as competitors in the world of low inflation and interest rates.

The hook-up would create a company with 660 billion pounds of assets and make it Britain’s largest active manager. Now it has to contend with changing market forces.

“We are operating in an environment where major headwinds continue to buffet the savings and investment market place and therefore affect the asset management industry,” Standard Life CEO Keith Skeoch said on a conference call to discuss the transaction. The investment environment has “increased the client’s need for active management,” he said.

In Europe, Morningstar Inc. figures show index-tracking investments account for about 15 percent of the market, though the trend in the United States suggests it will keep rising. Passive funds are likely to overtake their active counterparts in the United States by 2024 at the latest, Moody’s Investors Service said last month.

In the background, new European regulations are estimated to add an extra $2.1 billion in technology costs alone this year. In response, active managers are introducing new strategies including securitized credit that index trackers can’t replicate to maintain their fee income.

First, they have to improve performance and beat indexes, according to passive investment specialist Vanguard Group Inc. “Fund management groups are adapting to a slightly different world, where passive funds have made great strides,” said Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Plc. “It makes sense that bigger is sometimes stronger.”

“The jury is out on whether it can stem the tide.” 


I'm sure Trump can show you the course to independence.

Also see: 

"Ireland bounced back to net migration for the first time in seven years, as the nation’s recovery from the worst economic crash in Western Europe continues. Some 79,300 people moved to Ireland in the year to the end of April 2016, the government statistics agency said in Dublin on Tuesday. That was a 14 percent increase from a year earlier. The number of people leaving the country fell 6 percent to 76,200. Irish emigration rose to the highest since the 19th century during the nation’s financial crisis, peaking in 2013. Some of those who left are now returning, as companies ranging from Apple Inc. to Credit Suisse Group AG expand in Ireland."


Yesterday, outraged by Apple’s tax dodge. Today, by its tax bill.
Cook defends Apple’s tax practices and says cash will return to US
Ireland to appeal tax ruling in Apple case
EU finance ministers line up behind tax ruling against Apple
Apple could face billions in taxes in European Union dispute

"It turns out there’s a wealth gap among companies, just like among people. Of the $1.8 trillion in cash that’s sitting in US corporate accounts, half of it belongs to just 25 of the 2,000 companies tracked by S&P Global Ratings. Outside of Apple, Google, and the rest of the corporate 1 percent, cash has been falling over the last two years even as debt has been rising."

Apple got hit with a $14.5b tax bill.

"The European Union’s executive branch rejected Thursday the US government’s complaint that its probes into sweetheart tax deals between EU governments and big companies are hitting US firms hardest...."

That's what led to the scrapping of the trade deal:

"Free-trade talks between the European Union and the United States have failed, Germany’s economy minister said Sunday, citing a lack of progress on any of the major parts of the long-running negotiations. Both Washington and Brussels have pushed for a deal by the end of the year, despite misgivings among some EU member states about the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. Sigmar Gabriel compared the negotiations unfavorably with a trade deal forged between the 28-nation EU and Canada, which he said was fairer for both sides. ‘‘In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,’’ Gabriel said. He said Washington is ‘‘angry’’ about the EU’s deal with Canada, because it contains elements the United States doesn’t want to see in the TTIP. The office of the US trade representative had no comment. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, said last month that the TTIP was ‘‘absolutely in Europe’s interest.’’

Which Europe would that be?