London pushes to take Saudis off EU dirty money blacklist | Reuters


Britain is leading a group of European Union states who are trying to block an EU plan to include Saudi Arabia and 22 other jurisdictions on a blacklist of countries that pose money-laundering and terrorism financing threats, sources said.

The EU’s executive commission adopted last month a draft list that adds Saudi Arabia, Panama and small Pacific and Caribbean islands to the existing list of 16 states, which currently includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and North Korea.

Source: London pushes to take Saudis off EU dirty money blacklist: sources | Reuters

Swisscom, Sunrise, Salt pay $380 million for Swiss 5G frequencies | Reuters

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Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt have paid a relatively modest 380 million Swiss francs ($379 million) for fifth-generation wireless frequencies that will tighten their grip on the Swiss mobile market.

The three were able to secure an attractively priced deal after a fourth company, London-based newcomer Dense Air, dropped out of the process, auction results showed on Friday.

The outcome in Switzerland contrasts with neighboring Germany, where three big mobile operators face competition from a fourth operator in bidding for a slice of 5G spectrum.

Source: Swisscom, Sunrise, Salt pay $380 million for Swiss 5G frequencies | Reuters

Acting U.S. attorney general will testify before House panel | Reuters


Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has agreed to testify on Friday before the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department said on Thursday, after he threatened to not show up following the panel’s warning that it could subpoena him.

The committee’s Democrats want to question Whitaker about his oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and his communications with the White House related to the probe and the firing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Source: Acting U.S. attorney general will testify before House panel | Reuters

In stunning move, Thai king’s sister running for PM in March polls | Reuters


The sister of Thailand’s king entered the race to become prime minister on Friday as the candidate of a populist party, an unprecedented foray into politics by a royal that instantly upended the first election since a 2014 military coup.

Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi, 67, the elder sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, was nominated by a party loyal to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the figure at the center political turbulence and rival street protests that have riven Thai society for years.

Source: In stunning move, Thai king’s sister running for PM in March polls | Reuters

Contradicting Trump, Merkel says Islamic State not defeated | Reuters


Islamic State is far from defeated, and instead is morphing into an asymmetrical warfare force after the militant group lost almost all of the territory it once controlled in Syria, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday.

Merkel’s remarks at the inauguration of the Berlin headquarters of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency BND contradicted statements by U.S. President Donald Trump that the Islamist group has been defeated.

Source: Contradicting Trump, Merkel says Islamic State not defeated | Reuters

‘Death to America’ aimed at Trump, not American nation, Iran leader says


Iranians will chant “Death to America” as long as Washington continues its hostile policies, but the slogan is directed at President Donald Trump and U.S. leaders, not the American nation, Iran’s supreme leader said on Friday.

“As long as America continues its wickedness, the Iranian nation will not abandon ‘Death to America’,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a gathering of Iranian Air Force officers marking the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, according to his official website.

Source: ‘Death to America’ aimed at Trump, not American nation, Iran leader says

Ford investing $1 billion, adding 500 jobs in Chicago | Reuters


Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it is investing more than $1 billion in its Chicago operations and adding 500 jobs as it prepares to launch three new SUVs this year and end production of the Taurus.

Ford said it is building a new body shop and paint shop at its Chicago Assembly plant, and making major modifications to the final assembly area. At Chicago Stamping, Ford is adding stamping lines, the company added.

Source: Ford investing $1 billion, adding 500 jobs in Chicago | Reuters

European social rights—Marshall for the 21st century | Social Europe

The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) is a mainly symbolic instrument adopted by the Juncker commission in 2017.

Yet, its choice of words suggests a closeness to national social rights—to institutions which not only guarantee legal certainty and obligation at the societal level but also promise a certain predictability for the subjects and addressees of these rights and the social policies linked to them.

It is no secret that there is none of this at the supranational level of the EU and the EPSR does not change that. Such an apparent sham only adds to the impression that Social Europe is a ‘myth’, as Höpner put it.

Source: European social rights—Marshall for the 21st century • Social Europe

Why top rates of income tax should be much higher | Social Europe


Another bit of basic economics that neoliberals hardly ever mention is the diminishing marginal utility of consumption.

This implies quite the opposite of low tax rates at the top. It is socially much more beneficial to tax those to whom one dollar is not worth the effort of picking it off the sidewalk and transfer it to those who are poorer.

A well known paper by Diamond and Saez found that, after allowing for disincentive and avoidance effects, the optimal top rate of income tax in the US should be 73 per cent.

There are two reasons why even 73 per cent might be an underestimate.

Source: Why top rates of income tax should be much higher • Social Europe

Does the European Union generate external instability? | Social Europe

The European Union is justly admired for making war among its members impossible. This is no small achievement in a continent which was in a state of semi-permanent warfare for the past two millennia.

But creating geopolitical stability internally has not, during the last two decades, been followed by external geopolitical stability along the fringes of the union. Most of the big EU member states (UK, Poland, Italy, Spain) participated, often eagerly, in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which led to the deaths of some half a million people, destabilized the middle east even further and produced Islamic State.

Then, seemingly not having learned from this fiasco, France and Italy spearheaded another regime change, this time in Libya. It ended in anarchy, another civil war, two competing governments and a UN Security Council deadlocked for years to come—since it is clear that China and Russia will not in the foreseeable future vote to allow another western military intervention.

Source: Does the European Union generate external instability? • Social Europe