With immediate effect, the Republic of Niger, under the leadership of new president General Abdourahamane Tchiani, and supported by the people of the country, announced the suspension of the export of uranium and gold to France on Sunday. In parallel to the decision, protestors were surrounding the French Embassy in Niger calling for the end of French colonial practices repeating the slogan “Down with France!” and reaffirming their support to the coup leader, Tchiani. Wazobia Reporters, a Nigerien news website,reported one protestor proclaiming “We have uranium, diamonds, gold, oil, and we live like slaves? We don’t need the French to keep us safe.”
When Cornelia Ernst and her delegation arrived at the Rosso border station on a scorching February day, it wasn’t the bustling artisanal marketplace, the thick smog from trucks waiting to cross, or the vibrantly painted pirogues bobbing in the Senegal River that caught their eye. It was the slender black briefcase on the table before the station chief. When the official unlatched the hard plastic carrier, proudly unveiling dozens of cables meticulously arranged beside a touchscreen tablet, soft gasps filled the room. Called the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), the machine is a data-extraction tool capable of retrieving call logs, photos, GPS locations and WhatsApp messages from any phone.
On July 17 and 18, leaders from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU) will converge in Brussels, Belgium, the seat of the EU, for the III CELAC-EU Summit. The two-day summit will be chaired by Ralph Gonsalves, the pro tempore president of CELAC and prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Charles Michel, the president of the European Council. The last summit of this nature took place in 2015, and the parties will meet again in a moment of great regional and global transformation and with the political composition in each region looking vastly different.
Following a tense debate, the European Parliament has voted in favor of a Nature Restoration Law that establishes legally binding targets to restore degraded natural areas in the European Union (EU). It is the first major piece of legislation to protect biodiversity in the EU in 30 years. Members of Parliament (MEPs) said the restoration measures must cover at least one-fifth of the land and sea areas in the EU and be in place by 2030, a press release from the European Parliament said. “The Nature Restoration Law is an essential piece of the European Green Deal and follows the scientific consensus and recommendations to restore Europe’s ecosystems.
Several members of the EU’s Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee have proposed a resolution calling for the EU to assist the International Criminal Court (ICC) in investigating and prosecuting the Israeli government for its war crimes against Palestinians in the occupied territories. The resolution was pushed forward by Swedish Social Democrat Evin Incir, who is also the EU’s rapporteur for recommendations of relations with the Palestinian Authority (PA). The resolution was proposed on 27 June, with 41 votes in favor, 21 against, and nine abstentions, with a plenary vote scheduled for July.
Digital rights groups on Wednesday applauded lawmakers across the European Union after they passed a draft law that would strictly regulate the use of artificial intelligence including facial recognition technology and chatbots, potentially setting a new standard for protecting the public from the misuse of AI—but noted that some provisions could exclude vulnerable people. The European Parliament passed a major legislative hurdle as it voted in favor of the draft rules in the Artificial Intelligence Act, with 499 lawmakers supporting the provisions, 28 opposing, and 93 abstaining from voting.
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On May 10, after meeting with the 16 leaders of the Länder (the 16 state-regions of Germany), the German government took a series of measures to fight “illegal immigration.” Using the racist logic of “good and bad migrants” as a cover, Germany is preparing to enhance its repression of migrants at the borders, tracking and deporting them in greater numbers. This is an overall policy of the member states of the European Union, in anticipation of the next European Asylum and Immigration Pact, scheduled for 2024. Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a social democrat who heads a coalition with the Greens and the Liberals, announced measures that are twofold: to reinforce repressive measures within the country and to further close the borders.
On April 17, a group of 15 international partners—Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the US—issued a statement about their conversation with Somaliland secessionists waging war against Somali nationalists in the Somali city of Laascaanood and the surrounding region, Sool, Sanaag and Cayn . The diplomats plodded through the usual platitudes, calling for a cessation of hostilities and urging both sides to sit down and talk but, most fundamentally, reinforcing the West’s de facto recognition of secessionist Somaliland, encouraging the further fracturing of Somalia and disrespecting the nation’s sovereignty.
Leftist parties in Switzerland, including the Communist Party and the Swiss Party of Labor (PST-POP), have intensified their campaign demanding that the official Swiss policy of neutrality in international conflicts be maintained. Both parties have prioritized this demand in their manifestos for the upcoming April cantonal elections and the federal elections in October. Earlier this month, the Communist Party organized ground-level campaigns in the neighborhoods of Bellinzona, Locarno, Mendrisio, and Lugano, in the Ticino canton, and collected signatures for its neutrality initiative.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled unanimously that the French highest court’s 2015 criminal conviction of activists with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement advocating nonviolent boycotts of Israeli goods violated article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Reacting to the breaking news, Rita Ahmad from the Palestinian-led BDS movement said: This momentous court ruling is a decisive victory for freedom of expression, for human rights defenders, and for the BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. It confirms a 2016 European Union position defending the right to call for BDS against Israel to achieve Palestinian rights under international law.
By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt, Sovereign debt – the debt of national governments – has ballooned from $80 trillion to $100 trillion just since 2008. Squeezed governments have been driven to radical austerity measures, privatizing public assets, slashing public services, and downsizing work forces in a futile attempt to balance national budgets. But the debt overhang just continues to grow. Austerity has been pushed to the limit and hasn’t worked. But default or renegotiating the debt seems to be off the table. Why? According to a June 25th article by Graham Summers on ZeroHedge: . . . EVERY move the Central Banks have made post-2009 has been aimed at avoiding debt restructuring or defaults in the bond markets. Why does Greece, a country that represents less than 2% of EU GDP, continue to receive bailouts instead of just defaulting? Summers’ answer – derivatives: [G]lobal leverage has exploded to record highs, with the sovereign bond bubble now a staggering $100 trillion in size. To top it off, over $10 trillion of this is sporting negative yields in nominal terms. . . . Globally, over $500 trillion in derivatives trade [is] based on bond yields. But Brexit changes everything, says Summers.
By Michael Hudson for Counterpunch. The media in the United States have treated the British vote against remaining in the European Union (EU) as if it is populist “Trumpism,” an inarticulate right-wing vote out of ignorance at being left behind by the neoliberal economic growth policy. The fact that Donald Trump happened to be in Scotland to promote his golf course helped frame the U.S. story that depicts the Brexit vote as a “Trump vs. Hillary” psychodrama – populist anger and resentment vs. intelligent policy. What is left out of this picture is that there is a sound logic to oppose membership in the EU. It is Nigel Farage’s slogan, “Take Back Control.” The question is, from whom? Not only from “bureaucrats,” but from the pro-bank, anti-labor rules written into the eurozone’s Lisbon and Maastricht treaties. The real problem is not merely that bureaucrats are making the laws, but the kind of laws they are making: pro-bank, anti-labor austerity. Tax and public spending policy has been taken out of the hands of national governments and turned over to the banking centers. They insist on austerity and scaling back pensions and social spending programs.
By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams - Intercontinental opposition to the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) continues to grow, with a new poll out Thursday showing that support for the controversial deal has "plummeted" in Germany and the U.S. over the last two years. The survey (pdf), conducted by YouGov for Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation, showed that only 17 percent of Germans believe the corporate-friendly trade agreement is a good thing, down from 55 percent in 2014. Likewise, in the United States, only 18 percent support the deal, compared to 53 percent two years ago...