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10/16/17

USA: Opinion: America First. America Alone - by Carsten von Nahmen

Donald Trump's decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal is a slap in the face for America's allies. The president risks isolating the US for the sake of his own fans — and his own ego, writes DW's Carsten von Nahmen.

The protector of Americans against the big, bad world: that's how the president sees himself. And also how many of his supporters view him, and precisely why they voted for him. It was these supporters, more than anyone else, that Trump's speech was aimed at on Friday. It doesn't matter what the others think. America First. America Alone.

Throughout the 2016 election campaign, Trump described the 2015 nuclear deal that his predecessor Barack Obama had reached with Iran alongside European, Chinese and Russian partners as a mistake and the "worst deal ever." This campaign cry has followed him to this day, as has his promise to end the deal as president.

And still. Trump didn't go that far on Friday. Not yet. His most important foreign policy and security advisers, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, had strongly advised Trump against such a step, as Iran's nuclear armament ambitions could not be controlled at all without the deal.

Strictly speaking, there is no reason to terminate the deal. The Iranian government is meeting the obligations that the treaty imposed upon it. European allies, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and even Trump's generals have confirmed this.

And so the president pulled an old trick out of the bag, one that he had so gladly used in his previous life as a businessman and reality TV star. He simply redefined the rules of the game, according to his own terms. The determining factor is not whether Iran is meeting the conditions of the nuclear deal, but whether Iran is living up to the "spirit" of the deal. And if it is, Trump said, it's also whether the Iranian government behaves itself otherwise.

All those who, perhaps, at the beginning of Trump's time in office had hoped that the populist would grow into his office and take his responsibility for his country and the world seriously are now disappointed.

Sad!

Read more: USA-Opinion: America First. America Alone. | Opinion | DW | 14.10.2017

Spain-Catalonia: Puigdemont fails to clarify Catalan independence confusion

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has not given a clear answer on whether he has declared independence for the Spanish region.

The Catalan government has tweeted an English version of Puigdemont’s letter to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

Puigdemont offers to meet him as soon as possible to discuss the controversy, but fails to give a yes or no response on independence. He calls for an end to the “repression” of the Catalan people and their government, citing charges against Catalan demonstrators and the chief of the Catalan police.

He also calls for a meeeting with Rajoy “as soon as possible” to find a solution.

Madrid has responded, the Spanish premier “deeply” regretting Puigdemont’s failure to clarify his stance.

Spain’s central government had set a deadline of 10am on Monday for Puigdemont to give a “yes” or “no” answer – and until Thursday to change his mind should the reply be affirmative. Madrid has threatened to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy under Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, if independence is declared.

In addition to the letter, Carles Puigdemont is said to have included documents including a copy of the breakaway Referendum Law that his minority government rammed through the regional parliament with help from its far-left ally CUP.

The move bypassed ordinary parliamentary procedure, prompting an opposition walkout.

Read more:Puigdemont fails to clarify Catalan independence confusion | Euronews

Individual Economic Success: 10 golden rules which can make you a millionaire

Thomas C. Corley of Business Insider has spent years studying the habits of wealthy people.

He completed a "Rich Habits Study" in which he interviewed 233 people each worth more than $3.2 million, 75 percent of whom were self-made millionaires.

He compiled the 10 qualities that stood out to him as most common among—and most important to—those ultra-successful individuals. Firstly, innovation, because your million-dollar idea must be just that.

It needs to have some valuable quality that sets it apart from ideas that have come before. Here's how one designer used her innovation skills to create an invention that helps fight Parkinson's.

1)  Have an Edge: It's not just your idea that needs to stand out—it's you. Whatever your strong suit is, it needs to be strong enough to help you rise above the rest of the pack.

2) Be an Expert: You need to make sure you are constantly up-to-date on everything there is to know about the field you want to succeed in.

3) Skill Set: Learning on the job is great and all, but you need to make sure you have valuable skills that you accumulate over many years.

4) Work Ethic:This one's a no-brainer. If you want to be successful, you've got to be willing to work incredibly hard and devote lots of time and energy to your goal.

5) Focus UP: Once you're set on an idea, you need to be able to focus on making it a reality. If you're working on a million-dollar project, it requires your full attention, no matter how long the project takes.

6) Connections, Connections and more connections: You can never have too many connections. Seek out the people who can help you and don't be shy.

7) Don't work alone: It'll be hard to get anywhere without people supporting you.Get people to work with you who believe in you and support your ideas and are not scared to be critical of some of your proposals.

8) Never get discouraged and give up: Persistence, of course, is extremely important. Failure happens and can only help you to start over again with new fresh ideas.

9) Have faith in your ability to succeed:  Luck is not what makes things really happen. Vision, a good plan and focused hard work is the only path  to success.

10) Blow your own horn: make sure that after you have produced your product or service, people hear about it via a variety of publicity vehicles readily available to you. 

EU-Digest

10/15/17

Clean Air: Canada aligning with U.K. to fight global growth in coal-fired electricity - Mia Rabson

Eliminating, or at least reducing, the world's reliance on coal is a critical step in the Paris climate change accord's efforts to prevent the planet from warming more than two degrees Celsius over with pre-industrial times
.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is on a two-day trip to the U.K. and Ireland this week, pushing Canada as a global leader on climate change action.

On Thursday she was in Ireland to be a panellist at a climate risk conference in Dublin and tour Ireland's Marine Institute in Galway.

During Wednesday's stop in London she and Claire Perry, British minister of state for climate change and industry, announced plans to use their own national commitments to phase out coal power plants as a means to convince others to do the same.

In a statement, the two said Canada and the U.K. are both committed to phasing out unabated coal use at home — Canada by 2030 and the U.K. by 2025 — and they are inviting others to jump on board during the next United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany in November.

Read more: Canada aligning with U.K. to fight global growth in coal-fired electricity | National Observer

The Netherlands: World’s first CO2-neutral chicken eggs laid in the Netherlands - by Mina Solanki

 Another world’s first for farming and agriculture in the Netherlands; this time it's a CO2-neutral chicken farm with 24.000 chickens in Castenray in the province of Limburg.

In order to achieve CO2-neutrality, specific choices have been made regarding the farm itself and the chickens that will inhabit it. White chickens will take up residence on the farm; this type of chicken is lighter in terms of weight and eats less, thus saving on the amount of feed necessary to rear the chickens.

Contributing to the eco-friendly character of the farm, the feed given to the chickens is made from farming waste products, which would otherwise not be used for human consumption.

The farm features 1.097 solar panels, which will generate more energy than the farm uses. Around 60 percent of the generated solar energy will be sold. Fossil fuels are not used and emission of particulate matter will be limited to an absolute minimum through the use of advanced technology that filters the air leaving the barn.

Chickens are the inspiration for this farm, as it has been designed according to their needs, and the Dutch animal protection agency, Dierenbescherming, was involved during its development.

Chickens like sunlight and are actually forest animals. To accommodate for this, the farm design includes an indoor garden with a glass roof and trees and tree trunks where the chickens can play.

The chickens can experience fresh air from outside, inside the farm, but if it is nice weather they can also venture outside and choose from two spaces to roam.

Read more: World’s first CO2-neutral chicken eggs laid in the Netherlands

Germany: German interior minister floats idea of Muslim holidays

Germans are debating whether to allow the celebration of Islamic holidays at the state level in areas where large numbers of Muslims live.

The discussions come after the interior minister endorsed the idea on October 10.

Thomas De Maiziere, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) which won federal elections last month, made his comments during a campaign rally for state elections in Lower Saxony in the country's northwest.

"I'm willing to talk about the possibility of introducing Islamic holidays," de Maiziere said.

According to the German constitution, all 16 states can decide on their own which religious public holidays are celebrated.

"In areas where a lot of Catholics live, we celebrate All Saint's Day, and in areas where not a lot of Catholics live we don't celebrate All Saint's Day. So why can't we think about Islamic holidays as well?" said de Maiziere.

Read more: German interior minister floats idea of Muslim holidays | Germany News | Al Jazeera

Austria: Sebastian Kurz: Austrian conservative set to become world's youngest leader

Austria's conservative People's Party, led by 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, is set to win the country's general election, projections suggest.

The victory would make Mr Kurz the world's youngest national leader.

The People's Party was set to win more than 31%. It is so far unclear whether the Social Democrats or the far-right Freedom Party will finish second.

Short of a majority, Mr Kurz's party could seek an alliance with the anti-immigration Freedom Party.

Read more: Sebastian Kurz: Austrian conservative set to become world's youngest leader - BBC News

10/14/17

Europe backs original Iran deal while Saudis hail Trump's move

The European Union's Federica Mogherini said the current deal is "working and delivering", adding that the rest of the world would work to preserve the agreement.

The foreign affairs policy-maker also criticised Mr Trump's unilateral action, contending the deal is not a domestic issue and is not in the hands of any one president to terminate.

British Prime Minister Theresa May released a joint statement with France's Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Angela Merkel, saying they are "concerned by the possible implications".

"We stand committed to the [deal] and its full implementation by all sides", they wrote, adding that it "is in our shared national security interest".

"We look to Iran to engage in constructive dialogue to stop de-stabilising actions and work towards negotiated solutions," the statement said.

Mr Macron also said the latest developments "will not put an end to the Iranian nuclear accord, and that together all the parties in France and its European partners will continue to meet their commitments".

He added that he was considering visiting Tehran after speaking by phone with President Rouhani.

In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry stressed on the "inadmissibility of using aggressive and threatening rhetoric in international relations", saying Moscow "remains committed" to the deal.

The statement added that "there can be no question of any resumption of sanctions by the UN Security Council".

Read more: Europe backs Iran deal, Saudis hail Trump's move - BBC News

US Economy:: Devastating California wildfires predicted to cost US economy $85 billion; Containment may take weeks - by Brian Lada

Devastating fires charring California have claimed more lives than any fire in the state's history, and the economic toll is predicted to climb to $85 billion.

"These wildfires, especially in Northern California, are particularly devastating,” said Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather.

“We estimate the California wildfires will profoundly affect the economy of California. The cost to contain and fight the fire and deal with the aftermath will be in the billions. And, the loss in tax revenue from businesses no longer around, including the vineyards; the workers who have lost their jobs and can no longer pay taxes as well as other impacts will be quite costly.

This will create a hole in the California budget, which may necessitate an increase in taxes. If California has to borrow more this might negatively impact its bond ratings and it will have to pay higher interest rates on all borrowings, which can cost upwards of 10s of billions of dollars. At this time, we estimate the economic impact of the fires is already approaching $70 billion dollars. Based on our forecast the total costs from this disaster on the economy would exceed $85 billion and, if the fires are not contained in the next couple of weeks, the total economic impact could even reach $100 billion.”

Read more: Devastating California wildfires predicted to cost US economy $85 billion; Containment may take weeks

USA: Trump risks making US rogue actor as he condemns Iran nuclear deal - by Julian Borger

The content, tone and style of Donald Trump’s speech about Iran on Friday was a reminder of how much the current president of the United States relishes conflict.

With his domestic legislative agenda stalled at home and a federal investigation scrutinising his finances and his relations with Moscow, Trump has taken to finding enemies to rail against, including the press and black football players who kneel during the national anthem.

The tactic galvanises his core supporters and seems to rejuvenate him. He appeared similarly energised excoriating Iran on Friday. But taken into foreign policy, Trump’s visceral drive for confrontation threatens to add a second nuclear crisis to the one Trump has already escalated in the Pacific with North Korea.

Note EU-Digest: Interesting negotiation move forcing everyone back to the conference table, unfortunately it could also backfire in a big way?

Read more: Trump risks making US rogue actor as he condemns Iran nuclear deal | US news | The Guardian