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Brussels Playbook Plus: EU fights fake news machine

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EU FIGHTS FAKE NEWS MACHINE FROM SHADOWS: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Playbook he doesn’t confidence “fighting propaganda with propaganda.” The EU also stays away from the propaganda game (mostly) but has produced a team called “East StratCom” inside External Action Intend to catalogue and expose disinformation it says arises from the Russian state. To this point it claims to are finding nearly 2,500 degrees of Russian disinformation.

You can imagine Playbook’s surprise when journalists were invited to some briefing Monday on said disinformation, and then be known they couldn’t quote the
diplomats giving the briefing. Reporters were, put simply, inspired to expose disinformation from shadowy sources via non-quotes from another faceless source.

To be fair, they carries a slick “EU vs Disinformation” Facebook page and a Twitter account (@EUvsDisinfo), therefore it is not completely in the shadows. But Playbook will not help wondering if Brussels should assemble the “face” back into Facebook.

Here’s some context you can ensure that you get: The “EU source” belongs to an organization of around 12 people, without any discretionary budget. They have got uncovered false stories for instance one concerning the Ukrainian army crucifying a three-year-old boy inside of a former rebel stronghold. Angela Merkel may be a new target of Russian disinformation, says the “EU source,” which is regularly implicated like a cause of terrorist attacks.

CULTURE WARS In the COLLEGE OF EUROPE: The Bruges home of future Eurocrats, a beacon in the European peace project, is definitely the site of your brewing culture war. None other than Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered the opening speech of the present academic year on the College of Europe, telling students “Now is not the here we are at division.” This reveals some of them forgot to have notes as things started to get nasty when multiple students from different The european countries took turns to make national displays during the college canteen.

The Benelux delegation is said to experience promised “Belgian chocolate, Dutch drinking games, Luxembourgish potatoes and also a speech from Paul Magnette,” depending on Beata Thor, a Swedish student. However, their display included King Leopold II, the “Butcher of Congo,” without explanation. The college’s?student newspaper called them out on this, bringing about an?apology of sorts.

“Millions of an individual were killed, injured or saw their living conditions severely worsened. The real reason for pretty much everything human misery was a never-ending imperialistic quest for power and cash,” admitted the Benelux contingent. Still, Leopold is usually a significant historical figure, hence they included him anyway. Bulimia: nasty messages over the college’s Facebook group. Stayed tuned to get more detailed.

OVER The most notable: Playbook was alarmed to see a trade union report today suggesting Europe it not just burning, but burning even though the Committee with the Regions fiddles. The CoR has never
before been accorded such importance, and now we thought we would investigate.

According to Unite Syndicale we’re also “in turmoil” (a really Trumpian phrase) as “southern Europe borders on war zones” as well as the European idea is challenged like never before (excluding the earth Wars, presumably). And thru it all “the Committee in the Regions fiddles around with jobs for your boys!”

“As Europe struggles to outlive, the CoR struggles to rush by way of a bogus internal ‘competition’ exclusively restricted to its Mexican army of political appointees,” the union raged. No, that is not another Trump insult, but a French expression to go into detail a group through an abundance of administrators. Around the wider point, Playbook agrees that job vacancies must be advertised. But surely the wider question is: How does the EU spend tens of millions on the Committee in the Regions, without really hearing it?

SEPARATED AT BIRTH:?Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva, and pop superstar Britney Spears.

BY THE NUMBERS:

357,000,000,000: Niche European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi says he’ll present Italy whether it leaves the euro.

25: The amount of MEPs who agreed within the International Trade Committee to approve the EU-Canada trade deal.

15: The number of trade committee MEPs with the Canada deal.

46:?Days before the Dutch general election.

WHO’S UP:

Martin Schulz: He is predicted being announced when the Socialist challenger to Angela Merkel in Germany’s national election in September.

Benoit Hamon: The French Socialist won the very first round of the center-left presidential primary and is also planning to clinch the nomination this Sunday.

WHO’S DOWN:

Francois Fillon: What is this great that his wife Penelope was about the payroll of his office between 1992 and 2002 might not help his poll numbers to the French presidential bid.

Sean Spicer: Managed to anger and confuse nearly everyone in reference to his first briefing as being the U.S. presidential spokesperson.

BREXITOMETER:?Now that Britain’s PM Theresa May has indicated her desire to leave the market, there’s no looking back. But we have seen bumps in the route to a challenging Brexit, as May’s government lost the content 50 lawsuit and then she bowed to demands from MPs to create out her Brexit strategy in the white paper.

QUOTE Every week: “He was using alternative facts.” – President Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway explaining how presidential spokesman Sean Spicer found think crowds for Trump’s inauguration were the greatest ever.

GAFFES AND LAUGHS

No gender equality for bees: The Parliament’s women’s rights committee soon voted on the resolution with EU funds to generally be spent promoting gender equality, which triggered a backlash from those that think EU funds may be better spent elsewhere. Beatrix von Storch, a senior an affiliate the far-right Alternative for Germany, who, on being appointed on the committee in 2014, swiftly considered necessary it is scrapped, proposed an amendment that didn’t produce the final cut: “Not all EU policy areas could be gender mainstreamed, as, by way of example, the EU policy on honey bees, as there is just one single female bee queen per colony and never two.”

Maltese bird hunting isn’t any laughing matter: Here is what Vicky Ford MEP said when Malta’s Economy Minister Christian Cardona started sniggering when she flagged the plight of the birds that Maltese hunters shoot: “Minister, please stop shooting the birds in the year … Don’t laugh. Stop it. Stop it. Do not do it. Do not do it if you are holding the presidency of your European Council. Please. Thank you so much.”

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Republican lawmakers don\’t back Trump’s attacks on Comey

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More troubling into a lawmakers was the reality that Trump will continue to weigh in on the investigation – in public and on Twitter – and has launched a campaign to attack Comey\’s credibility.

\”You stands out as the first president to search down since you also can\’t stop inappropriately discussing an analysis if you only were quiet would clear you,\” Graham said on CBS\’ \”Face the united states.\”

Since Comey testified Thursday prior to Senate Intelligence Committee, Trump has questioned hmo\’s FBI director\’s credibility. Comey stated after his firing, he steered the content of memos memorializing his account of meetings with all the president on the press. Though he maintains the information presented in those memos was unclassified, Trump initiated a policy of attacking him as a \”leaker\” and suggested Sunday that his decision to produce his concerns public may just be illegal.

Comey\’s testimony "showed no collusion, no obstruction, he\’s a leaker," Trump said on Friday inside White House\’s Rose Garden. On Sunday morning, he tweeted, \”I believe the James Comey leaks will be considerably more prevalent than anyone believed possible. Totally illegal? Very \’cowardly!\’\”

But even Trump\’s staunchest Republican defenders declined to directly back which claim on Sunday. \”I have no idea should it be a crime,\” Lee said. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) declared that \”even if your law had not been broken,\” Comey shouldn\’t have leaked towards the press.

\”Man up,\” he stated on Fox News\’ \”Sunday Morning Futures.\” \”Come out and say, \’This is precisely what happened.\’\” King also mused that Comey may be behind a string of damaging press leaks in December, January and February that have already contributed to the administration\’s stumbling start.

But Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) had strong praise for Comey after his testimony. \”I mean personally component all the committee members we\’re grateful for your company to the united states not only to your capacity as FBI director speculate prosecutor, and above all being somebody who loves the united states enough to see it want it is,\” Burr told the former FBI chief.

Trump has drawn his staunchest defense from his political allies. Longtime confidant Roger Stone, who himself is caught up in the Russia investigation but has defiantly insisted he previously had no illicit contacts with Russians throughout the campaign, blasted Comey repeatedly over the weekend.

\”No obstruction of justice, no collusion from Trump camp. This man is deranged,\” Stone said of Comey on Sunday, tweeting an image of an Comey T-shirt while using words \”Nut Job\” emblazoned below his face.

But even Trump\’s top supporters struggled sometimes utilizing their defense. Trump\’s son Mr . trump Jr. seemed to suggest on Fox News over the past weekend that his father did the truth is tell Comey he \”hoped\” the FBI would let the Flynn investigation go.

\”When he notifys you to behave, guess what, there\’s really no ambiguity there. There isn\’t any, \’Hey, I hope,\’\” Trump Jr. said. \”\’You we are friends. Hey, hope this takes place, but you reached do your career.\’ It is precisely what he told Comey.\”

Yet, Trump Jr.\’s comment seemed to contradict obama brilliant legal team, who said Trump never made the remark in anyway.

So when Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel Body of Trump\’s most vocal allies amid the growing scandal – on Sunday necessary Congress to terminate its inquiries into Russia\’s meddling while in the 2016 presidential campaigns, she drew a swift rebuke from Graham.

\”None of this business,\” he explained when inquired on Romney McDaniel\’s remarks.

One curveball that lawmakers might have to address this week: A Trump lawyer declined to eliminate that Trump would consider wanting to oust Mueller.

\”The president is going to consult with his counsel and from the government and also outside. Exactly what not going to speculate upon which he will probably, or will likely not, do,\” attorney Jay Sekulow said on ABC\’s \”This Week.\”

Sekulow said he \”can\’t imagine\” the situation would arise, but \”that, again, is a concern the president together with his advisers would discuss if there was a basis.\”

Trump won\’t have the capability to fireside Mueller directly, but also in theory could order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to dismiss Mueller and may fire Rosenstein if he didn\’t comply. Trump could then nominate someone who would likely dismiss the special prosecutor.

Asked for the prospect of Trump pushing out Mueller, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on the very same show, \”That\’d turn into a mistake.\” He called Mueller \”above reproach.\”

Democrats have started suggesting with increasing volume that Trump often have obstructed justice by allegedly pressuring Comey out from the Flynn probe. Most on Sunday cautiously tiptoed about the issue, noting that Mueller\’s probe would get to the bottom of this question. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, though, said he offers to invite Trump to testify publicly and under oath prior to a Senate. Trump himself said Friday although be ready to protect himself in public places testimony. But Schumer\’s request seems unlikely to materialize anytime soon.

Comments from lawmakers tee up a frenetic week of action into their Russia probes. The home Intelligence Committee has requested copies of any tapes Trump often have of his meetings with Comey. Trump hinted inside a tweet recently that some may exist, but he\’s since refused to verify or deny their existence, frustrating people in Congress looking to eliminate the difficulty. The Senate intelligence Committee is attempting to schedule a hearing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who\’s got recused himself in the role from the Russia investigation.

Comey, on Thursday, suggested he previously nonpublic information that contributed to Sessions\’ recusal, and late Saturday, as concerns that information grew, Sessions announced his will testify . It\’s unclear whether Sessions\’ appearance are going to be public or private.

The Senate intelligence panel can also be attempting to schedule a discussion with Trump\’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who reportedly attemptedto begin a communications back channel while using Kremlin at the end of December. And Manchin said he\’s seeking to plan a closed selecting two top intelligence officials – Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers – go over reports that Trump had asked these phones undermine the Russia investigation. Both men declined to communicate publicly about those reports throughout an open hearing prior to the committee on Wednesday.

And Graham said he expects the Senate to secure a sanctions package that may slap Russia with penalties due to its interference inside 2016 election. If Trump doesn\’t sign it, he stated, \”He would be betraying democracy.\”

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Clock ticking in Romanian corruption showdown

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BUCHAREST – By passing a decree that may let corrupt politicians free, the Romanian government also set the clock ticking on efforts to thwart it.

The measure was passed late Tuesday night, to turn into effective 10 days later. That deadline assists galvanize thousands of protesters who’ve flooded the streets to demand the decree be revoked.

With the ecu Commission along with the embassies of Western nations also criticizing the move, the costa rica government must decide getting in touch with defy both mainstream European opinion additionally, the biggest demonstrations in Romania for the reason that fall of communism.

Curiously, late government entities may not actually aid the protesters’ cause, like a temporary administration will not have the power to cancel the decree, according to political experts.

Events were mounted in train when Justice Minister Florin Iordache announced how the government would update the penal code by decriminalizing the offense of official misconduct for cases involving injury to the population purse of less than

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How Australia built a wall (and purchased it)

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SYDNEY – Think of it Australia’s naval wall.

It’s cloudy the amount Mr . trump is aware of how Australia treats refugees who arrive on its shores by boat. Though the program would probably get his approval.

In the three-and-a-half?years since launch of Operation Sovereign Borders, the “Lucky Country” has?turned?back rickety vessels and detained asylum seekers offshore in harsh conditions for the Pacific island of Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. Refugees who arrive by sea are banned from?ever settling in?Australia – without exception.

Critics (and some proponents) in the system voice it out is brutal by design, providing those fleeing persecution with a cruel but effective deterrent. And delay: In 2013,?300 boats carrying 20,587 people made it to?Australia. Only 1 year later, the quantity of boat-people dropped to?157. Since 2014, no boat has made it?through.

“On moral and ethical grounds We would express it is wrong to look at people with committed no offense, and treat them so badly how they?love to face persecution instead,” said barrister Julian Burnside, who works pro bono?with asylum seekers and campaigns against?offshore detention. “But be the fundamental logic than it.”

The U.N.’s human rights committee ruled?the fact that indefinite detention of refugees over?security concerns breached international law.

Whether Australia’s hardline system breaks international law is often a couple of heated debate in the united states – and abroad.

Conditions in Australian-run detention camps are notoriously harsh. Reports of self harm, allegations of medical negligence, illness, suicide, rape,?assaults at the hands of fellow asylum seekers, hostile locals and authorities?are commonplace. In 2009, the Guardian published?2,000 leaked incident reports from Nauru, including allegations of a guard?threatening to kill a kid and the other swapping sexual favors for really shower time.

    Australia’s?leaders?insist they?adhere to their?obligations, but the U . n . and NGOs?have differing views. In April 2016, the U.N.’s human rights committee ruled?that your indefinite detention of refugees over?security concerns breached international law?and?ordered the nation to produce?five those who were detained?for six years.

    Also in 2009, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called for the immediate change in asylum seekers out of the Manus Island and Nauru processing centers, labeling?them inhumane and “immensely harmful.” Amnesty International swallows a similar view. “Amnesty disagrees while using the government’s interpretation of the obligations under international humanitarian law,” said Australian spokeswoman?Emma Bull.

    Dumb and dumber

    And?this system comes at a price. Australia,?which in the ’90s considered itself something of the?deputy regional peacekeeper into the United States’ global sheriff, has lost most of its humanitarian good waiting on home and abroad. Faced with a flood of negative media reports?quoting doctors about conditions in the processing centers, the Australian government threatened?doctors and nurses with two-year prison sentences if he or she spoke out. (Authorities eventually caved into media pressure and amended the foundations.)

    And as there are the monetary cost.?Australia currently holds about 1,250?refugees in the?offshore processing centers, who typically have spent 478 days in detention. As you move the government hasn’t already?detailed the cost of the work, according to the Australian National Audit Office?holding the refugees costs over?405,000 (in close proximity to $440,000) per person each and every year. Electrical systems, the?Australian government estimates Syrian refugees that happen to be able to settle in Australia as part of its humanitarian intake cost it roughly 10,700 per person annually.

    Australia, which contains?a population of 24 million, has pledged to?settle?19,000 refugees per year on its shores, when they don’t arrive by boat.

    Because?Australia bans boat-arrivals?from selecting its shores, those that?are granted refugee status either can live in detention, settle in the community on?Manus or Nauru, or say yes to move to one third country.

    That leaves the country?begging or bribing others?to take refugees off its hands.

    Enter the?refugee resettlement arrangement?struck in November with then U.S. Barack obama, which Trump referred to as a “dumb deal”?on Twitter.

    The agreement is true for refugees already on Nauru and Manus, plus those chosen Australia temporarily for medical therapy. They can be qualified to apply for a one-off resettlement during the U.S., be more responsive to vetting by American authorities.

    The deal was away from the back of one other, struck in?September by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a invitation-only summit hosted by Obama. Under that arrangement, known as something of advance payment, Australia accepted resettle?Central American refugees from?camps in Panama and nicaragua , and pledged over 92 million aid for displaced people around the world.?(Australia, who has?a population of 24 million, has pledged to?settle?19,000 refugees 1 year on its shores, when they don’t arrive by boat.)

    If the U.S. deal falls through, Australia should resort to its plan b: Cambodia. Beneath a pact?struck in 2014, Australia accepted?cash nation around 40?million to resettle its refugees. Unfortunately, the agreement with Cambodia is?- to loan Trump’s phrase – a dumb deal. A couple of years after that it was struck, only?five refugees have decided look at the country, and simply one?has stayed there.

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