Greece and Turkey Thrash Out Differences at the Conference Table.

Greece and Turkey Thrash Out Differences at the Conference Table.

Europe, News, Politics
During the past year relations between Turkey and Greece have simmered just below a boil, with both sides accusing the other of breaches of faith, borders, and intent. Provocative exchanges between the two countries are nothing new -- ever since the end of World War Two the two sovereign nations have rattled sabers at each other as regular as clockwork over a number of perceived insults and threats. But last Friday the Turkish Foregin Ministry appeared to be willing to turn down the rhetoric a wee bit, as it issued a diplomatic communique to Greece calling for ‘sustained dialogue in lieu of armed confrontation’ in matters of disputed territory and fishing rights. Fishing in the eastern Mediterranean has been a sore spot between the two countries, more so now than…
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Iceland Has the Lowest Prisoner Population in Europe.

Iceland Has the Lowest Prisoner Population in Europe.

Europe, News
Human rights organizations have just released figures for all of Europe for the year 2017, indicating that Iceland maintained the lowest exponential number of prisoners per one-hundred-thousand citizens in the European Union -- just 39 per 100,000. Topping the list is Lithuania, where 232 out of every 100,000 are prisoners. After Iceland, the lowest prisoner populations were in Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, with around fifty prisoners per 100,000. The EU on average saw 116 people incarcerated for every 100,000 persons. That happens to be the lowest rate of incarceration in the past 20 years. The average of women prisoners is just five percent. The statistics do not include any juveniles under the age of 18. The Minister of the Interior in Iceland told reporters recently that the reason Iceland has…
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France Proposes 3 Percent Digital Tax on American Companies.

France Proposes 3 Percent Digital Tax on American Companies.

Europe, Finance
The Finance Minister of France, Bruno Le Maire, set off a firestorm of controversy last month when he proposed a hefty ‘digital tax’ on internet giants like Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google -- as well as smaller companies that exist mainly in the cloud and have been making good money from French online consumers. The new tax, which the French government prefers to call a three-percent import duty, will affect any company that does more than 25 million euros worth of business in France per annum.  The United States was quick to respond to the proposed new tax by threatening to impose higher tariffs on imports from France such as cheese and champagne. Silicon Valley views the French digital tax as a flagrant breach of so-called backdoor agreements that in…
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Expat Retirees in Portugal to Start Paying New Taxes.

Expat Retirees in Portugal to Start Paying New Taxes.

Europe, Finance, News
For years Portugal has been a haven, a retirement El Dorado, for Europeans and Americans alike who want someplace warm and sunny, with easy access to both the seashore and the mountains -- and, most important of all, a place where taxes are non-existent for seniors and foreigners, and the cost of living is relatively inexpensive. Portugal has met all these requirements for over forty years, when it first became a popular retirement spot for Britons weary of paying exorbitant taxes at home even after they stopped working. This was all made possible by Portugal’s celebrate ‘Non Habitual Residency’ visa -- which gave foreign retirees freedom from any kind of taxation, so their pensions would stretch much further than in any other country in Europe. But all that is about…
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Spain Looks to More Renewable Energy Sources

Spain Looks to More Renewable Energy Sources

Europe, News, Tech
On Tuesday Spanish officials went ahead with approval of a joint declaration proclaiming that the country is experiencing a climate emergency. Spanish officials are forwarding the proposed proclamation to their parliament in the next several months in order to get their seal of approval on the document. European media report that the Spanish Cabinet have solidified environmental targets that are the same as those of the EU (European Union.) Those EU goals include reducing the net carbon emissions of all nations inside the EU to zero no later than the year 2050. And the Spanish government is now vowing that it will have 95 percent solar energy and other non-fossil energy status in the next twenty years. In recent years Spain has been experimenting with wind farms as an alternative…
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More ‘Killer Summers’ for Europe?

More ‘Killer Summers’ for Europe?

Europe, News, Weather
Europe has the longest unbroken string of weather observations in the world, in some cases going back to the 16th century in certain parts of Germany, Great Britain, France, and Italy -- as part of the nascent Renaissance interest in scientific observation as opposed to superstitious guesswork. That makes it even more disturbing to know that for most parts of Europe the summer of 2019 was the second hottest ever recorded. The record for heat during the months of June, July, and August, has only ever been equaled, or beaten, back in the summer of 1963 -- when a brutal heat wave rolled over much of Europe during July, withering crops and dropping people with heat stroke left and right. The summer of 1963 was called the ‘Killer Summer’ by…
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Hungary Has a Mongoose Problem.

Hungary Has a Mongoose Problem.

Europe, News, Wildlife
The city of Budapest has a mongoose problem. The capital city of Hungary is dealing with an exploding population of the viral feliformia, which originally came from the subcontinent of India. Municipal authorities are at a loss to explain how the mongoose, which is famous for fighting and then devouring poisonous snakes like Cobras, came to be established in the city. One theory is that the animals were first introduced into the city environs by a now defunct brewery, which made a pilsner beer called ‘Mongoose’  To publicize the beverage, the brewery imported dozens of mongooses from India and displayed them in cages in their lobby. When the brewery went bankrupt the owners simply opened the cages and let the creatures go to find for themselves. Wildlife experts say this…
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Switzerland Put on U.S. Financial Watch List.

Switzerland Put on U.S. Financial Watch List.

Europe, Finance, News
The United States Treasury Department has just put the country of Switzerland on their list of rogue nations that are manipulating currency (the Swiss franc) in a manner that is harmful to United States financial markets. At the same time, the Treasury Department also announced that they were taking China off that same list. Apparently now that trade talks with the Chinese are seen by the Trump administration to be going so well, it would thought prudent to remove them from a ‘naughty’ list in order to help them save face. Such economic flim flam has been done many times before by the Treasury Department, such as when they placed Mexico on the same list several years ago while removing Russia from it after Trump met with Putin.  Does the…
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Ireland to Receive Funding to End its Reliance on Peat.

Ireland to Receive Funding to End its Reliance on Peat.

Europe, Health, Tech
Ireland will be receiving over 30 million euros (35 million American dollars) in grant money from the European Union’s green funding in order to help the country make the transition from peat fuel production and consumption. The funding should help employees in County Clare, who run the Moneypoint Power Plant, which burns peat, to either be retrained to burn natural gas or else find jobs in a different sector of the economy. The money is part of a much larger European Union fund that has been set aside to help member countries transition away from carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels like peat and coal. This is all part and parcel of the European Union’s much heralded Green Deal Initiative. The Green Deal Initiative is the organization’s way to become…
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Scotland Wants Its Own Brexit.

Scotland Wants Its Own Brexit.

Europe, News, Politics
Over three years of battles, bumps, and bruises comes to an end this month in Great Britain, as the country finally prepares to initiate Plan Brexit, leaving the European Union for one and for all. But the country’s problems will be far from over when the separation takes place at the end of the month. Currently Britain also faces a stor.my future, and maybe another ‘divorce,’ as it confronts a Scotland that is no longer much enamored of staying part of the United Kingdom. Scottish leader Ms. Nicola Sturgeon is demanding the right to hold a Scottish referendum to see if the country’s five million residents still want to remain a part of Great Britain. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, the always-confrontational Boris Johnson, has flatly refused to grant…
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