Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)

Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)
French National Assembly head Edouard Herriot and British Foreign minister Ernest Bevin surrounded by Italian, Luxembourg and other delegates at the first meeting of Council of Europe's Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg, August 1949 (AFP Photo)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)
The Treaty of Rome was signed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square in the Italian capital

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'
EU leaders pose for a family photo during the European Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

Merkel says fall of Wall proves 'dreams can come true'


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Pope elevates British convert Newman to sainthood

Yahoo – AFP, Ella IDE, October 13, 2019

Giant portraits of the new saints were hung from Saint Peter's Basilica for the
canonisation ceremony which attracted tens of thousands of pilgrims (AFP
Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)

Giant portraits of the new saints were hung from Saint Peter's Basilica for the canonisation ceremony which attracted tens of thousands of pilgrims (AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis created five new saints on Sunday, including Britain's Cardinal John Henry Newman -- one of the Catholic Church's most renowned converts -- and a nun dubbed the "Mother Teresa of Brazil".

Heads of state from across the world attended the canonisation ceremony, which also raised a Swiss laywoman plus two other nuns -- an Indian and an Italian -- to the highest position within the Church.

"Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new Saints," the pope told the faithful on Saint Peter's Square.

"They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession."

Prince Charles, future head of the Church of England, led the British delegation honouring Newman, a 19th-century Anglican theologian who went on to become one of the Catholic Church's leading thinkers.

Francis quoted Newman describing "the holiness of ordinary life" in which, "the Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence... with so little that is unusual... that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man."

Born in 1801, Newman attempted to "renew" the Anglican Church, before becoming convinced that Catholicism was the only true faith and converting aged 44, rising through the hierarchy to become a cardinal.

Giant portraits of the new saints were hung from Saint Peter's Basilica for the ceremony which attracted tens of thousands of pilgrims.

Pope Francis celebrates the canonisation mass on Saint Peter's Square 
(AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)
'Miracles'

The pope noted that three of the new saints were religious women, showing "that the consecrated life is a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world".

But the fourth, Marguerite Bays, was a seamstress, a laywoman from Switzerland known for bearing the stigmata -- wounds corresponding to the injuries Christ suffered on the cross.

"She speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving," Francis said.

Born in 1815, the second of seven children, Bays showed an intense faith from very early on, often breaking off from playing with other village youngsters in order to pray quietly, according to the Vatican.

Despite suggestions she should become a nun, she instead began an apprenticeship as a seamstress aged 15.

Bays underwent surgery for bowel cancer in 1853, and prayed to the Virgin Mary to heal her, offering to swap her disease for the pains experienced by Jesus. The Church says she was cured but given the stigmata in exchange.

Every Friday, she would be immobilised in "ecstasy" as she relived the suffering in body and mind, it says.

Most new saints must have two "miracles" to their names -- usually scientifically inexplicable healings, attributed to prayers.

Giant portraits of the new saints were hung from Saint Peter's Basilica for the 
ceremony which attracted tens of thousands of pilgrims (AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)

Newman is credited with curing an American man from Boston with a debilitating spinal disorder, who claimed in 2001 he could suddenly walk again after praying to the British cardinal.

His second "miracle" -- the inexplicable healing of a woman with a "life-threatening pregnancy" -- was approved this year.

'Mother of the poor'

Bays was canonised alongside Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, who was a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and considered a "mother of the poor".

Born in 1914 into an upper middle-class family in Salvador, she started a health clinic for poor workers and opened a school, a hospital, and an orphanage, as well as care centres for the elderly and disabled.

Sister Dulce, dubbed the "good angel of Bahia", was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.

She was visited in hospital the year before her death by Pope John Paul II, who called her work "an example for humanity".

Tens of thousands of people attended her funeral in 1992.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Pope says Amazon feathers same as Vatican hats

Yahoo – AFP, October 7, 2019

Des représentants de groupes ethniques d'Amazonie rassemblés le 7 octobre 2019
sur la place Saint-Pierre du Vatican à l'ouverture d'un synode des évêques de la
région. Les incendies et les politiques de déforestation menacent le mode de vie
des populations autochtones de l'Amazonie. (AFP Photo/Andreas SOLARO)

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis on Monday hit out at "offensive words" spoken against the Amazon's indigenous people, noting that a feather headdress is no more ridiculous than hats worn at the Vatican.

"I was pained to hear, right here, a sarcastic comment about a pious man with feathers on his head who brought an offering," the pope said at the opening of a synod focused on the Amazon's poverty-stricken and isolated indigenous communities.

"Tell me what's the difference between having feathers on your head and the three-peaked hat worn by certain officials in our dicasters (Vatican ministries)?" the pope said to loud applause.

The three-week synod, or assembly, unites 184 bishops, including 113 from the nine countries of the pan-Amazon region, including Brazil.

Representatives of indigenous peoples, some with their heads adorned with coloured feathers, are attending the synod, with many gathering in Saint Peter's Square on Monday.

Before an audience of around 250 people, the Argentine pontiff decried "offensive words" used about indigenous peoples, and rejected reductive or destructive "ideological colonisations".

The working document for the synod, known as the "instrumentum laboris", denounces in scathing terms social injustices and crimes, including murders, and suggests a Church action plan.

The document has been criticised by ultra-conservative Roman Catholics, but the pope called Monday on the gathered bishops to feel free to draw up their own final document.

He called the document "a martyr text destined for destruction", prompting laughter from the audience, before the synod got down to work.


Representatives of the Amazon rainforest's ethnic groups attended the 
synod with Pope Francis (AFP Photo/Tiziana FABI)

Related Article:


Thursday, October 3, 2019

On the Irish border, Britain's new Brexit plan fails to lift mood

Yahoo – AFP, Joe STENSON, October 3, 2019

The border between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland is a key part of
disagreements over a Brexit deal (AFP Photo/PAUL FAITH)

Middletown (United Kingdom) (AFP) - In Middletown, Northern Ireland, opinions on Brexit vary, but most people can agree on one thing: London's latest Brexit plans do nothing to quell fears of a return to a hard border.

"It's a joke," said Lena Carville, 52, as she strolled to the village post office on Thursday morning. "It's going to be hard on everybody who lives along the border.

"It's going to be a disaster as far as I can see," she told AFP.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson published his government's long-awaited proposals for a deal to leave the European Union on Wednesday before an October 31 deadline.

Notably, he pledged no customs checks "at or near the border in Northern Ireland", and instead proposed they are performed at traders' premises or "other points on the supply chain".

But among the 250 residents of Middletown, which butts up against the boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Johnson's plan has not put minds to rest.

"The general Brexit situation is that everybody's in limbo -- nobody knows exactly what's going to happen," said farmer Peter Mackle with exasperation.

Mackle, 60, lives just outside Middletown across the border in the Irish republic. He is a self-avowed Johnson and Brexit supporter.

Sitting in his Range Rover surveying Middletown's high street, he said there could be no return to the past.

"There'll be no customs on the border north and south simply because they'll not be allowed", he said.

"There'll be people power and it'll be stopped regardless of laws and who's going to make them. It certainly will not be tolerated again."

A frontier village

The border between the Republic of Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland was once a frontier of violence in the 30 years of sectarian strife known as "the Troubles".

The bloodshed ended after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which dissolved infrastructure along the 500-kilometre (300-mile) line and rendered it largely invisible.

Since Britain's seismic 2016 vote to leave the EU, there has been a sense a new frontier could emerge between Northern Ireland and trading bloc member Ireland.

Despite Johnson's latest assurances, there were still questions about whether he risked unravelling the fragile peace process -- and even provoking fresh violence.

"I'm pretty worried about it at the minute because at my age I've been through all the troubles and I don't want it for my kids," Carville said, looking concerned.

"We can't go back on the Good Friday Agreement" added villager Gerald Williamson, 54, with a sense of agitation.

"It's written in stone, it's very important to the people here," he added before heading up Middletown's main street and its smattering of shops.

Business concerns

Visitors to Middletown are left in no doubt about local views on the border. Signs dot the side of the road beside the lush green hillsides, stocked with cattle.

"No border, no barriers, protest," one placard reads. Another says "EU customs area", denoting the spot where checks could soon take place.

Local people aren't the only ones unconvinced by Johnson's proposals. Northern Irish business leaders also slate them as costly and unworkable.

Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium industry body, said they would require "intrusive surveillance which will put a burden on business and be disruptive for border communities".

But stacking chairs and tables outside her takeaway cafe as she prepared to open, Noeleen Simpson gave some backing to the prime minister.

"It's all he can do," she said with a sense of resignation.

For her the threat of a no-deal Brexit -- meaning checks choking the border roads which carry her passing trade -- is a greater concern.

"I don't want any interruptions. I just want the best for the north," the 45-year-old explained.

Parked on Middletown's main thoroughfare, though, one man saw a upside to any strict customs checks -- the re-emergence of lucrative black market smuggling, once common in the area during the Troubles.

"If they do this we could be earning a lot of money out of it," he said.

Russian court blocks major LGBT online groups

Yahoo – AFP, October 3, 2019

A Russian court has ruled that two popular LGBT groups be blocked for "anti-family
values;" pictured are several Gay right activists on World Day Against Homophobia
and Transophobia in Saint Petersburg on May 17, 2019 (AFP Photo/Olga MALTSEVA)

Moscow (AFP) - A Russian court has ruled that two popular LGBT networking groups be blocked for disseminating "anti-family values", including a major group that has nearly 200,000 members.

The court in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday announced the decision against the groups on VK, a Russian platform similar to Facebook.

"An inspection showed they contain information available to the public, including children, which negates family values, propagates non-traditional sexual relations and promotes disrespectful attitudes towards parents," the court statement said.

Russia in 2013 introduced a law against "gay propaganda", which officially bans the "promotion of non-traditional lifestyles to minors" but in effect outlaws LGBT activism.

One of the groups mentioned in the court decision is called the Russian LGBT Community, which has more than 187,000 members.

The other group, LGBT Russia, is overseen by the NGO Russian LGBT Network, which told AFP the decision was a complete surprise.

"The court spends about five minutes blocking LGBT internet resources and the decisions have identical wording," said the organisation's spokeswoman, Svetlana Zakharova.

"We don't publish anything on our pages that needs to be marked 'adults only'," Zakharova said. "We talk about cases of discrimination and human rights violations and help anybody who needs it, including teenagers," she said.

Zakharova said the NGO would appeal the ruling.

Homophobia is widespread in Russia where reports of rights violations and attacks on LGBT people are common, though there are gay scenes in major cities.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Coming home? 132,000 descendants of Spain's exiled Jews seek nationality

Yahoo – AFP, Alvaro VILLALOBOS, October 2, 2019

In 1492, the Spanish crown ordered the country's Jewish community, which numbered
at least 200,000, to either convert to Catholicism or be burned at the stake (AFP Photo)

Madrid (AFP) - More than 500 years ago, they faced a bleak choice: convert to Catholicism or be burned at the stake. The only other option was exile.

For Jews living in Spain at the time, 1492 was a year burned into historical memory when their community of at least 200,000 people were forced into exile.

Now, more than five centuries later, over 132,000 of their descendants have taken advantage of a limited-term offer of Spanish nationality that expired on Monday.

It is a long, complex and costly process involving a lot of paperwork. So far, only 6,000 people have been granted citizenship under the scheme.

The law, which was passed by parliament in October 2015, sought to address what the government has described as a "historic mistake" by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

Known as Sephardim -- the Hebrew term for Jews of Spanish origin -- many of the exiles fled to the Ottoman Empire or North Africa and later to Latin America.

Under the legislation, those able to prove their Jewish heritage and their "special connection" to Spain were able to apply for citizenship, with the justice ministry saying it received 132,226 applications.

More than half of them were filed in the past month, when the ministry received some 72,000 applications.

'Taken something from my family'

"They said you didn't need a lawyer but without one, it would have been impossible," said Doreen Alhadeff, a resident of Seattle who obtained Spanish nationality for herself and two grandchildren.

Like all applicants, she had to provide proof of her Sephardic origin. This can be done through genealogical documents or through the local Jewish community.

Those documents then had to be taken personally to Spain to be approved by a local notary -- a process Alhadeff says cost her around $5,000.

"I felt they had taken something important away from my family, and I wanted to get it back," said the 69-year-old.

She remembers while growing up hearing Ladino, a 15th-century language fusing Hebrew and Spanish that is still spoken by Sephardim today.

For Jews living in Spain, 1492 was a year burned into historical memory when a 
community of at least 200,000 people were forced into exile (AFP Photo/GERARD JULIEN)

Others are still waiting to see if their application will be accepted.

Among them is the French writer Pierre Assouline, who has written many books, including one about his Sephardic origins entitled: "Return to Sepharad" -- Hebrew for Spain.

He filed his application nearly four years ago, along with a letter from Spain's King Felipe VI -- but the process is taking longer than expected.

"It's surprising and disappointing," he said.

Most applications came from Latin America, with around 20,000 from Mexico, 15,000 from Venezuela and 14,000 from Colombia, the justice ministry said. Another 4,000 came from Argentina and 3,000 from those in Israel.

Reconnecting with their roots

"We knew since the start that it was going to be a law with some complications regarding the means of proof," admitted Miguel de Lucas, head of Madrid's Centro Sefarad, a meeting place for Jewish communities in the Spanish capital.

But, he added: "It's better to have a law with some complications than no law at all."

Maya Dori, an Israeli lawyer who has lived in Spain for 17 years, has been deeply involved in the process, helping about 500 people from countries as far apart as Uruguay, Panama, Costa Rica, England and Turkey.

In helping people track down their ancestry, she had seen many "going on a personal journey, reconnecting with their roots and discovering many things about their families".

In her own case, it took seven years to get citizenship under a previous law dating back to 1924.

Unlike the recent legislation, applicants under that law had to relinquish any other citizenship and were required to live in Spain.

It is not only an attachment to historical ancestry that has provided a draw, says Gonzalo Manglano, head of the Cervantes Institute in Istanbul.

He points to the lure of a European passport for those from countries like Turkey.

"Both things carry a lot of weight," he said.

Although those applying under the new law did not have to be practising Jews, they needed to pass a Spanish language test as well as answering questions on Spain's culture and society.

A similar scheme is running in Portugal which does not require a language exam.

Isaac Querub, president of Spain's Federation of Jewish Communities (FCJE), hailed the legislation as a success, saying the Sephardim could no longer be thought of as "stateless Spaniards".

"Thousands of Sephardim have reclaimed their Spanish nationality and thousands more are in the process of doing so. Spain has closed a historical wound with an enduring act of justice," he said in a statement.

"Spain, as the King (Felipe VI) said (in 2015), has missed them and the Sephardim will never forget that."

Monday, September 30, 2019

MEPs disqualify two candidates for new EU Commission

Yahoo – AFP, Marc BURLEIGH, Clément ZAMPA, September 30, 2019

Incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has suffered a
blow to her choice of team with two candidates being disqualified (AFP Photo/
FREDERICK FLORIN)

Brussels (AFP) - European lawmakers vetting candidates for the new European Commission on Monday declared two of the 26 unfit to take office due to conflicts of interest.

The nominees put forward by Hungary and Romania were rejected by the European Parliament's legal affairs committee just ahead of confirmation hearings for the team picked by incoming Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

A German member of the committee, Tiemo Woelken, tweeted that members had decided that Romania's Rovana Plumb and Hungary's Laszlo Trocsanyi are "unfit to become commissioners".

French member Manon Aubry told journalists a vote confirmed the committee's finding last week that the two commissioners "cannot take office because of conflicts of interest".

The decision weakens von der Leyen's hand as the European Parliament holds confirmation hearings for the remaining commissioner candidates, running from Monday to October 8.

It also obliges Hungary and Romania to put forward new candidates.

Most of the rest of the team chosen by von der Leyen -- who is already confirmed -- are expected to get through the grilling, forming a near gender-balanced executive drawn from across the European bloc's member states.

Members of the new European Commission with their portfolios (AFP Photo/
Patricio ARANA)

But the legal affairs committee pre-empted the wider parliament's hearings by using a new power to scrutinise candidates.

Trocsanyi, meant to take charge of EU enlargement issues, was tripped up over government contracts awarded to his law firm.

In a statement, Trocsanyi slammed the "blatant injustice" of his disqualification and vowed to fight it "before the responsible court of justice".

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had claimed the committee's move was motivated by Trocsanyi -- his former justice minister -- helping "to stop migration".

Plumb, a former Romanian labour minister, was stymied over two problematic loans that raised suspicions of corruption.

A vice chairman on the legal affairs committee, Sergey Lagodinsky, tweeted that the disqualifications were "a victory for parliamentary democracy".

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed his candidate ran into trouble 
for helping to 'stop migration' (AFP Photo/ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Uncomfortable questions

Hungary and Romania, while initially standing by their candidates, have said they have no lack of replacement names if necessary.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that von der Leyen would decide whether or not to ask for new nominees after she is officially informed by the parliamentary speaker of the committee's decision.

Some of the other designated commissioners also have clouds hanging over them.

But, while they were likely to have uncomfortable questions thrown at them in the public hearings, they were seen as being under less pressure.

The EU's anti-fraud office OLAF declined to recommend charges against Poland's candidate commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, after he reimbursed 11,250 euros ($12,300) for travel expenses improperly claimed while he was an MEP.

Ireland's Phil Hogan -- named to be EU commissioner for trade -- will be one 
of the first to appear in the hearings (AFP Photo/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

A similar OLAF probe into France's Sylvie Goulard remains open, but she too has already paid back 45,000 euros.

Belgium's Didier Reynders had a corruption probe against him set aside on Friday, while Spain's Josep Borrell -- named to become the EU's foreign policy chief -- was fined 30,000 euros last year for insider trading.

No British candidate

The European Parliamentary hearings were expected to also touch on a controversy over von der Leyen's decision to give the title of "Protecting our European Way of Life" to the commissioner in charge of migration.

Three commissioners-designate were to appear for hearings on Monday: Slovakia's Maros Sefkovic, to handle interinstitutional relations; Ireland's Phil Hogan, for trade; and Bulgaria's Mariya Gabriel, for innovation and youth.

The hearings end with von der Leyen's three executive vice presidents being quizzed.

Britain is the one EU member state without a future commissioner in the mix as its government is intent on it leaving the bloc on October 31, the day before the new European Commission takes office.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

EU loses big Starbucks tax case, wins on Fiat

Yahoo – AFP, Catherine KURZAWA, September 24, 2019

In cases keenly being watched by Apple, ordered to repay Ireland 13 billion euros 
in 2016, Brussels saw its unpaid taxes claim against Starbucks annulled -- but 
upheld in the case of Fiat (AFP Photo/Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD)

Luxembourg (AFP) - An EU court on Tuesday annulled an order by Brussels that Starbucks pay 30 million euros to the Netherlands, saying regulators had failed to demonstrate it received illegal state aid.

In a separate decision, however, the same court said Fiat must pay roughly the same amount to Luxembourg, upholding a similar EU order from 2015.

The split decision will be closely watched by Apple, which was ordered to repay Ireland 13 billion euros in 2016 in a blockbuster case that is also making its way through EU courts.

The cases can now be appealed at the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice.

"The general court annuls the commission's decision on the aid measure implemented by the Netherlands in favour of Starbucks," the statement said.

"The commission was unable to demonstrate the existence of an advantage in favour of Starbucks," it added.

The cases from 2015 were the first out of the gate in the crackdown by the EU's anti-trust supremo Margarethe Vestager against member states that had sealed sweetheart tax deals with multinationals.

In her landmark rulings, Vestager said Dutch authorities must recoup unpaid taxes from Starbucks because it illegally allowed an elaborate tax set-up that allowed it to shift revenue abroad.

"I am pleased that the European Commission's case on Starbucks against the Netherlands on state aid has been clarified," Dutch secretary of state for finance Menno Snel said in a statement.

"This decision proves that the Dutch tax authorities treated Starbucks like any other company, and no better or different," he added.

The Starbucks and Fiat cases are dwarfed by the blockbuster order in 2016 that Apple repay Ireland 13 billion euros.

That case drew global attention, helping Vestager become the EU's highest-profile official.

In the new commission, she has been promoted to executive vice president and will effectively become Europe's tech regulation czar, while still holding on to her powerful anti-trust portfolio.

EU member states such as Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have attracted multinationals over many years by offering extremely favourable tax deals to generate jobs and investment.

The issue hit close to home in 2014 with the LuxLeaks scandal which revealed that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's native Luxembourg gave companies favourable tax deals while he was prime minister.

Luxembourg has also been ordered by Brussels to recoup 250 million euros from Amazon and 120 million euros from French energy giant Engie.

The same court handed the commission a first setback in 2019, when it threw out a tax deal decision against Belgium, but mainly on procedural grounds. The commission last week refiled the case.

The commission is also investigating tax deals with Ikea and Nike in the Netherlands. Brussels dropped a keenly-watched case against McDonald's.

UK court ruling leaves Queen in ‘hideous’ position

24matins, Dmitry ZAKS,  24 September 2019

Queen Elizabeth II approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to cut down the
number of days MPs will meet before Brexit, set for October 31© POOL/AFP Victoria Jones

Queen Elizabeth II was left exposed Tuesday to suggestions that Boris Johnson used her as a political pawn by having her approve a suspension of parliament that the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled broke the law.


Constitutional experts say the 93-year-old head of state had no choice but to give royal assent to Johnson’s request to slash the number of days parliament meets before Britain is due to leave the European Union on October 31.

Britain has functioned for centuries as a constitutional monarchy in which the sovereign can only act on the prime minister’s advice.

In other words: the monarch has authority in name only while her prime minister wields the political power that counts.

It’s the oldest rule in the constitution,” Durham University constitutional expert Robert Craig said.

Yet the five-week suspension she signed off on looked suspiciously long from the start. The court noted Tuesday that most prorogations last for a matter of just days.

These are required when parliament’s session draws to an end and the prime minister prepares to set out the agenda for the year ahead.

And the one Johnson had asked for came in the politically-explosive run-up to Britain’s scheduled withdrawal from the European Union on October 31.

This is a hideous moment for the palace,” BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond wrote.

It also raises even bigger questions as Brexit day nears and the debate over the monarch’s role in UK politics rumbles on.

For decades, for centuries, (Britain’s constitutional monarchy) has been governed by convention and precedent, and an unspoken agreement not to push things too far,” Dymond said.

Boris Johnson blew that apart.

Breaking conventions

University of Liverpool law professor Mike Gordon speculated before the ruling that Johnson’s “government might advise the queen not to give the royal assent” to the parliamentary law ruling out the possibility of Britain’s crash exit from the EU.

And at that point we’ll be in difficult constitutional territory,” said Gordon.

The convention she gives the royal assent to anything parliament will pass clashes with the convention she acts on ministerial advice.

The last monarch to refuse royal assent — signing a bill into law — was queen Anne in 1708.

But much of what has been happening in UK politics has not been recorded in history for centuries.

It is hard to imagine anyone better-versed in the sovereign’s duties than Britain’s longest-serving monarch — on the throne since 1952 and holding a special place in most Britons’ hearts.

The sovereign is usually only approached by ministers when their attempts to sort out the various political debates among themselves all fail.

The closest this queen has come to being drawn into politics was during the 1975 constitutional crisis in Australia.

Her governor-general John Kerr had sacked Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam and the queen refused to get involved in the political furore that followed.

Former British prime minister John Major said he hoped the queen is spared any more possible blushes by Johnson.

No prime minister must ever treat the monarch or parliament in this way again,” Major said.


Dr Barbie, nurse Ken: French toymakers to fight stereotypes

Yahoo – AFP, Mariëtte Le Roux, September 24, 2019

Des poupées dans un magasin parisien, le 30 novembre 2011 (AFP Photo/
PIERRE VERDY)

Paris (AFP) - French toymakers signed a pact on Tuesday, three months before Christmas, to rid games and toys of gender stereotypes the government blames for keeping women out of maths and science careers.

The charter for a "balanced representation (of genders) in toys" was signed by the government, the FJP toy industry federation and the association of toy manufacturers.

Explaining the initiative, junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said many toys project an "insidious" message that discourages girls from pursuing careers as engineers or computer coders -- fields perceived as more appropriate for their male counterparts.

"There are toys for girls that are generally very pink and generally very focused on domestic life, whereas toys for boys are generally themed around construction, space travel, and science and technology," she told broadcaster RTL.

This message that jobs are gender-specific is hammered home from a young age, with the result that "very few women" enter science and technology, Pannier-Runacher lamented.

"If you go to a shop to buy a toy for your young niece or nephew, the first question is: 'Is it for a girl or a boy?' and not: 'Do they like to play outside? Do they like to play construction games? Do they like to play at taking care of a baby?'," she said.

This has the effect that girls, even though they tend to perform better than boys at maths and physics at school, are underrepresented in the sector as adults.

"Today, ten percent of coders are women, which means that 90 percent of coders are men designing the algorithms of tomorrow," said Pannier-Runacher.

At France's national research centre, the CNRS, women represented just 38 percent of researchers in 2017, and less than a third of research managers. Women are more than half the French population.

Toys have a "fundamental" role in helping girls find their calling, says Florence 
Barnier, who heads the Elles Bougent (They Move), which seeks to boost the 
number of girls in the sciences (AFP Photo/Alastair Pike)

Apart from changes in toy design, the charter also envisages that manufacturers will adapt the way their products are advertised.

And there will be retraining for toyshop attendants, so they can learn that "what is important is the potential of the child and what they love", that "a baby in the arms of a small boy or a Meccano (building set) in the arms of a girl is also good," said Pannier-Runacher.

Girls can be knights

"A little girl may not wish to be a princess. She might want to be a knight... and go to combat rather than being confined to a castle hosting her friends for tea," the junior minister added.

Pannier-Runacher tweeted a picture of the new charter along with "you can be anything" Barbie dolls dressed as an astronaut and a robotics engineer.

Last year, Barbie-maker Mattel announced a campaign to teach young girls not to buy into sexist stereotypes.

It has given the decades-old doll known for her original impossible physique a number of metamorphoses in recent years, including as an engineer, a scientist and a mathematician.

The charter signed at the economy ministry does not envision sanctions for not complying, Pannier-Runacher said, but companies stand to receive a reputational boost if they do.

The FJP federation said in a statement it was committed to taking "measurable" steps towards boosting gender neutrality in toys.

Toys play a "fundamental" role in helping girls find their calling, added Florence Barnier, who heads the Elles Bougent (They Move) movement which seeks to boost the number of girls in the sciences.

"If we do not give science-themed toys to young girls, they will not be able to see themselves in these jobs," she said.