Category: us

Vienna tops Melbourne as world’s most liveable city: Economist survey

Vienna tops Melbourne as world’s most liveable city: Economist survey:

Full: Global Liveability Index 2018 

https://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?campaignid=Liveability2018

EU and US launch talks in bid to quell trade tensions

EU and US launch talks in bid to quell trade tensions:

Details are neither inked nor out yet, so it if probably a bit premature to comment, … but: From what I have heard from the media so far, this basically sounds like Trump just gave the EU everything they ever wanted for the last 20 years with little to nothing in return?

Because of the trade imbalance between the EU and US, every US government since the 90′s insisted that a removal on trade barriers on industrial goods would require the EU to accept American intellectual property and weakening standards (on food, safety and environment) to allow American mass farmed products to flood EU markets.

But from what I read so far, Trump is happy if we promise to buy a bit more LNG and soybeans from them?

Top EU court: GMO rules cover plant gene editing technique

Top EU court: GMO rules cover plant gene editing technique:

[…]

Earlier this month, scientists studying the effects of CRISPR/Cas9 said it could cause unexpected genetic damage which could lead to dangerous changes in some cells.

A group of French agricultural associations brought the case to the ECJ, saying plant varieties obtained via mutagenesis should not be exempt from GMO rules under French law.

The court added that an exception could be made for techniques that have been used conventionally and have a long safety record.

EU lawmakers want to punish Hungary’s Orban for democratic slide

EU lawmakers want to punish Hungary’s Orban for democratic slide

U.S. to pull out of U.N. human rights body: source

U.S. to pull out of U.N. human rights body: source:

Diplomatic protocol: the controversy over US Ambassador to Germany

Diplomatic protocol: the controversy over US Ambassador to Germany:

This refers to the interview given by Richard Grenell, Trump’s US Ambassador to Germany, to Breitbart I mentioned earlier.

http://europhile.xresearch.net/post/174572361239/exclusive-trumps-right-hand-man-in-europe-wants

Exclusive: Trump’s Right Hand Man in Europe Wants To ‘Empower’ European Anti-Establishment Conservatives

Exclusive: Trump’s Right Hand Man in Europe Wants To ‘Empower’ European Anti-Establishment Conservatives:

I normally restrain from sharing links to Breitbart, but this is a bombshell: Interview to Breitbart by Ric Grenell, US Ambassador to Germany!

He says he will personally intervene in internal politics of Europe to empower anti-establishment conservatives. 

Thereby directly contradicting the State Department line that the Trump administration is neutral.

_
p.s. Side note about the comment regarding Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, there is a misinformation campaign running about him in the right wing media that started last year https://derstandard.at/2000066611577/Welle-an-dubiosen-prorussischen-Fake-News-ueber-Sebastian-Kurz The goal is not clear, but they try to make him look more anti-system than he really is. This is all fake news, and important to remember that Kurz ran the elections on a conservative, but distinguish pro EU platform. Unlike his coalition partner, the Freedom Party.

US on brink of trade war with EU, Canada and Mexico as tit-for-tat tariffs begin

US on brink of trade war with EU, Canada and Mexico as tit-for-tat tariffs begin:

So here we are again, is there anything different this time?

I actually grew up in Linz, a steel producing area in Austria, which doesn’t make me an expert, but it does mean that local newspapers are covering this in far more depth. I do for example remember that this isn’t the first time this happens. The last time it was G.W. Bush in 2002:

On March 5, 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush placed tariffs on imported steel. The tariffs took effect March 20 and were lifted by Bush on December 4, 2003. Research shows that the tariffs adversely affected US GDP and employment.

The problem is that steel isn’t steel, the same way iron ore or even sand isn’t. (Did you know that the skyscrapers in Dubai are built with sand shipped from Australia?

So the problem with import tariffs is that your companies relying on these products in their production chain are the ones who pay them. So if you for example need specialist steel for crash protection in cars, you have no other option but to keep buying it at 25% markup. This means the end product is more expensive, and any amount on tariffs will reflect manifold on the finished product due to VAT and so on. So just like Brexit, this is a lose-lose situation. But while there is no winner, it is very clear that one side has more to lose than the others. 

This time round is no exception, with the Wifo-Model predicting a damage to the EU economy of up to €10 billion and a damage of €40 billion to the US economy, directly effecting up to 180000 workers in the US. And that is without the EU counter measures.

So what is different this time?

Well, apparently the tariffs put in place by Trump are different to the ones put in place by Bush. For once, the reason he used to defend them is national security. Something that is almost certainly not going to stick at the WTO

But this in itself could be a danger to the continued existence of the WTO. If the WTO decides to deem them unlawful, and the US is simply ignoring its decision, what then? The reason the WTO system worked for so long was that all the major players obeyed its ruling. If one of them decides to no longer do that, the trust in the institution could be irreversibly damaged.

Trump’s tariffs are also claimed to be more damaging to the economy than Bush’s were. I didn’t quite understand why though, but I am going to believe the actual experts on that one.

And lastly, the EU, Canada and Mexico are preparing counter measures. This is very different to what happened last time, where they just waited for the courts to settle this and the damage biting the US economy, telling the US that we can stop this nonsense any time. This time however the ‘allies’ are going into the offensive. The EU prepared counter measures to deliberately hit US areas that voted for Trump. And Canada is doing things along the same line. I wonder to what end?

If Trump doubles down, this will end in a full blown trade war of the US vs. the World. And while I can not see how the US can possibly win it, I am not sure this will discourage a narcissist like Trump. Every measure will hit the US harder than the other way round. At the end we will have an isolated US, not just in terms of trade, but also politically. A US who still has the largest military in the world. 

I assume that the rest of the world will want to pick up diplomatic relations with whoever follows Trump. But with an already deprived working class in the US, pushing them below the poverty line, can’t be a good omen for future elections.

EU to reactivate ‘blocking statute’ against US sanctions on Iran for European firms

EU to reactivate ‘blocking statute’ against US sanctions on Iran for European firms:

What is the 1996 blocking statute?

A blocking statute is a law enacted in a local jurisdiction that attempts to hinder application of a law made by a foreign jurisdiction. The 1996 legislation protects “against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country.” It was originally developed to get around a US trade embargo on Cuba and sanctions related to Iran and Libya, though it was never enacted because the disagreements were settled politically. In the current proposed application, the law would attempt to shield European companies that do business with Iran from future US sanctions by prohibiting the companies from respecting US sanctions. It also would not recognize any court rulings that enforce the American-issued penalties.

EU top diplomat calls others to honor Iran deal after Trump pulls out

EU top diplomat calls others to honor Iran deal after Trump pulls out:

Let me conclude with a message to the Iranian citizens and leaders: do
not let anyone dismantle this agreement. It is one of the biggest
achievements diplomacy has ever delivered, Stay true to your
commitments, as we will stay true to ours.

And the Washington Post writes: Iran to negotiate with Europeans, Russia and China about remaining in nuclear deal

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-prepared-for-all-scenarios-if-trump-nixes-nuclear-deal-officials-say/2018/05/08/531047a0-5241-11e8-a6d4-ca1d035642ce_story.html