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Geert Wilderss Freedom Party may lose support in todays European Parliament elections in the Netherlands, polls indicate, bucking a trend thats seeing support for anti-European Union groups rise elsewhere.

Amid the debt crisis thats roiled Europe, parties that share Wilderss anti-EU message are challenging for first place in countries such as the U.K. and France. In the Netherlands, while support has plunged for Mark Ruttes Liberal-led coalition with the Labor Party, the biggest beneficiary has been the D66 party, which is campaigning for a strong Netherlands in a strong Europe.

Polls this week showed the Freedom Party with enough backing for four of the 26 Dutch seats at stake, compared with the five they won in the last elections five years ago. D66 is on course for first place, taking five seats, the polls suggest.

Wilders sought this week to galvanize backing for his party by cutting a star representing the Netherlands out of an EU flag in Brussels. Im taking this star back with me to the Netherlands and theyre never getting it back from us in Brussels, he said in front of photographers and television crews outside the European Parliament.

The Freedom Party leader told reporters in The Hague last week that his aim was to form an alliance with similar-minded parties, including the U.K. Independence Party and Frances Front National, to repatriate powers to national capitals.

Voting takes place today in the Netherlands as well as Britain three days ahead of most of the 28-nation bloc. While no results can be published before voting ends on May 25, NOS television will be giving an indication of how the Dutch have cast their ballots when polls close at 9 p.m. local time.

A weighted average of polls conducted by TNS Nipo and published by PollWatch 2014 shows the Liberals and Labor are set to take seven of the 26 Dutch seats between them. Thats about half the level of support they got in the September 2012 general election, when they won a majority in parliament between them.

Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced 6 billion euros ($8.3 billion) of austerity measures last year on top of a previously outlined 16 billion-euro package. Ruttes coalition has been continuing to lose popularity after announcing cuts in health-care spending and changes to the pension system and the housing market.

The European elections could lead to more tensions within the coalition, Sarah de Lange, associate professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam, said in a phone interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corina Ruhe in Amsterdam at cruhe@bloomberg.net

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Wilders May Suffer Setback in Europe Vote, Polls Indicate

A weekly column that puts the fun into learning

Lets admit it. Most of us get a little thrill out of finding new ways to save taxes. This is exactly what corporate biggies such as Google, IBM and Amazon have been doing too. Theyve been cleverly routing their global profits through subsidiaries set up in destinations called tax havens. This has been going on for long. But, having been denied their fair share of taxes, governments are now cracking the whip.

What is it?

Tax havens are countries that have low or near-zero tax rates, especially for some kinds of transactions. Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mauritius are the popular ones. But the list includes others such as Luxembourg, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, the Netherlands and Bermuda too.

Multinationals set up their holding companies in these locations which then invest in operations located at other high-tax locations. So, even as the company carries out its real business in a high-tax regime such as the US or India, its able to dodge the taxman by showing a large share of profits as emanating from a tax haven.

But its not just companies; tax havens have something on offer for rich individuals too, promising complete confidentiality. Now youre wondering if everything about tax havens is so clandestine, why havent they been banned at the outset? Well, this is not how things were meant to be. When tax havens first sprang up, they came up in small countries endowed with limited natural resources or other competitive advantages. Such nations saw near-zero tax rates as a good way to attract reluctant foreign capital. But with corporations and affluent individuals taking advantage of the secrecy to save taxes, the whole thing went awry.

Why is it important?

Irked by tax revenue losses, governments have now begun to come down heavily on the menace of tax havens, threatening to revoke tax treaties and demanding more disclosures from them. In India, the phenomenon of routing black money to tax havens has given birth to what is called round-tripping. Foreign direct inflows from Mauritius, Indias second biggest source, totalled $4.5 billion during April-Feb of the last fiscal. But is the tiny island nation really such as industrial powerhouse? Not really. Cynics suspect a large part of the investment flowing in from Mauritius is actually Indian money sent abroad and routed back to avoid taxes. If its Mauritius for us, its British Virgin Islands for UK and Luxembourg for Russia.

The worry is that the anonymity that tax havens offer allows other kinds of illegal activity to flourish too. The world over billions made through illegal routes such as drug trafficking and arms smuggling are said to be laundered through tax havens.

Why should I care?

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All you wanted to know about tax havens

By Peter Campbell

Published: 15:55 EST, 9 May 2014 | Updated: 15:55 EST, 9 May 2014

The US drugs giant that plans to take over AstraZeneca has almost 200 offices registered in tax havens across the world, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Pfizer uses a complex network to run its global businesses. Almost half of its subsidiaries some 40 per cent are based in offshore shelters or other low-tax regimes such as the Cayman Islands and Jersey.

The revelations come after it emerged that the company took 67m more from the UK Government than it paid in tax over three years.

Revelation: Almost half of Pfizer’s subsidiaries are based in offshore shelters or other low-tax regimes such as the Cayman Islands

Some 85 Pfizer companies are registered in the US state of Delaware, a highly controversial tax shelter. It also has dozens of businesses registered in the Netherlands, Ireland and Luxembourgs.

In total, 185 of its 468 subsidiary companies are based in low-tax areas.

The group has an estimated 43bn nestled away in havens a sum tax experts expect to grow by 6bn a year.

Tax accountant Richard Murphy said: It has accumulated 43bn in tax havens across the world, and that doesnt happen by accident. Its profits from everywhere outside the US end up in low-tax jurisdictions and there is no doubt that the same would happen if it acquired AstraZeneca.

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US drugs giant Pfizer builds up 43bn in tax havens

Security researcher Sergio Demian Lerner estimates that Satoshi – the pseudonymous creator of the currency, mined around 1,000,000BTC in the early days, but has never spent any. At a price of around $400 each, that would make him worth around $400 million.

Libertarians have some good points. I certainly believe that people should have as much liberty and freedom to choose and freedom to act as is possible, while compatible with a society that is in other ways fair and functional. But the notion that they can free currency from governments is really misguided. One of the few functions of government that I thought was unassailable was providing a stable currency.

What is a stable currency? It used to be a currency that was either made up of or backed by gold or silver. In modern era its more a currency thats backed by the full faith and credit of the government. Bitcoin is backed by the full faith and credit of wasted computer time.

Wasted computer time. Its like stock in a company that doesnt do anything. One of these totally speculative IPOs. Its a promise. I think its a distraction.

I think the enthusiasm for Bitcoin will, if were lucky, will help us make some progress towards a more rational digital currency. Ultimately the providers of those currencies are probably going to be governments.

Borenstein awknoledges that many people have made their fortunes on the huge price fluctuations seen by Bitcoin in recent years, he says it is nothing more concrete than the tulip bubble seen in the Netherlands around 1637. In March that year a single bulb of one species of tulip was being traded for around ten times the income of the average skilled craftsman.

“I have no doubt that not only have people made a fortune on Bitcoins, but some people in the fortune will make a fortune on Bitcoins, because it’s a speculation. Some people will lose a fortune. At the level of an investment it may be a little more than tulips but on the level of a technological indicator it may be a pointer towards a multi-currency digital future,” he said.

First Virtual took initial funding, including from established firms like GE Capital, and floated in a 1996 IPO. It was later bought out by DoubleClick in the dot com crash.

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Bitcoin 'a distraction', says online payment pioneer

Two years ago, a Dutch law firm prepared a pitch in Moscow to Russian businesses: come to the Netherlands and we can help you avoid taxes and keep your assets safe. Russia's biggest oil, gas, mining and retail companies — including some run by billionaires close to President Vladimir Putin — have moved tens of billions of corporate assets to the Netherlands and other European countries often …

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How Russia Inc. Moves Billions Offshore — and a Handful of Tax Havens May Hold Key to Sanctions

Summary: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance of countries from Europe and North America promising collective defence. Currently numbering 26 nations, NATO was formed initially to counter the communist East and has searched for a new identity in the post-Cold War world. Background:

In the aftermath of the Second World War, with ideologically opposed Soviet armies occupying much of Eastern Europe and fears still high over German aggression, the nations of Western Europe searched for a new form of military alliance to protect themselves. In March 1948 the Brussels Pact was signed between France, Britain, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, creating a defence alliance called the Western European Union, but there was a feeling that any effective alliance would have to include the US and Canada.

In the US there was widespread concern about both the spread of Communism in Europe strong Communist parties had formed in France and Italy – and potential aggression from Soviet armies, leading the US to seek talks about an Atlantic alliance with the west of Europe. The perceived need for a new defensive unit to rival the Eastern bloc was exacerbated by the Berlin Blockade of 1949, leading to an agreement that same year with many nations from Europe. Some nations opposed membership and still do, e.g. Sweden, Ireland.

NATO was created by the North Atlantic Treaty, also called the Washington Treaty, which was signed on April 5th 1949. There were twelve signatories, including the United States, Canada and Britain (full list below). The head of NATO’s military operations is the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, a position always held by an American so their troops dont come under foreign command, answering to the North Atlantic Council of ambassadors from member nations, which is led by the Secretary General of NATO, who is always European. The centrepiece of the NATO treaty is Article 5, promising collective security:

“an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

NATO had, in many ways, been formed to secure West Europe against the threat of Soviet Russia, and the Cold War of 1945 to 1991 saw an often tense military standoff between NATO on one side and the Warsaw Pact nations on the other. However, there was never a direct military engagement, thanks in part to the threat of nuclear war; as part of NATO agreements nuclear weapons were stationed in Europe. There were tensions within NATO itself, and in 1966 France withdrew from the military command established in 1949.

The end of the Cold War in 1991 led to three major developments: the expansion of NATO to include new nations from the former Eastern bloc (full list below), the re-imagining of NATO as a co-operative security alliance able to deal with European conflicts not involving member nations and the first use of NATO forces in combat. This first occurred during the Wars of the Former Yugoslavia, when NATO used air-strikes first against Bosnian-Serb positions in 1995, and again in 1999 against Serbia, plus the creation of a 60,000 peace keeping force in the region.

NATO also created the Partnership for Peace initiative in 1994, aimed at engaging and building trust with ex-Warsaw Pact nations in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and later the nations from the Former Yugoslavia. Other 30 countries have so far joined, and ten have become full members of NATO.

Member States:

1949 Founder Members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France (withdrew from military structure 1966), Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States 1952: Greece (withdrew from military command 1974 80), Turkey 1955: West Germany (With East Germany as reunified Germany from 1990) 1982: Spain 1999: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland 2004: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia

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About the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Washington (AFP) – World press freedom has hit its lowest level in a decade after a regression in Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine, and US efforts to curb national security reporting, a watchdog said Thursday.

A report by Freedom House, which has been conducting annual surveys since 1980, found that the share of the world’s population with media rated “free” was 14 percent in 2013, or only one in seven people.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of the world population lived in areas where the media was “not free” and 42 percent in places where press was “partly free,” the Freedom of the Press 2014 report said.

“The overall trends are definitely negative,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the report.

Karlekar said press freedom is under attack in many regions of the world.

“We saw a real focus on ‘attacking the messenger,’” she told a news conference, including “deliberate targeting of foreign journalists” in many countries.

“In every region of the world last year, we found both governments and private actors attacking reporters, blocking their physical access to newsworthy events, censoring content, and ordering politically motivated firings of journalists,” she said.

Of the 197 countries and territories evaluated in 2013, Freedom House found 63 rated “free,” 68 “partly free” and 66 “not free.”

The top-ranked were the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, and the lowest North Korea, which ranked just behind Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The report expressed concern on use of new technologies by authoritarian governments to filter online content and to monitor the activities of reporters.

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Global press freedom slips to decade low



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NATO planes chase out Russian bombers
Russian forces found over the North Sea, near the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands. CNN's Jim Sciutto reports. Danish fighter jets v. Russian bombers: 18-minu…

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NATO planes chase out Russian bombers – Video

the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationwas originally created by representatives of twelve Western powers: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in 1949, as a military security alliance to deter the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR) expansion on the European Continent. From 1945 to 1949, to widen the Communist sphere of influence, the USSR had annexed Czechoslovakia, East Prussia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and sections of Finland, and had penetrated into the governments of Albania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

The foundation for NATO had been set in Brussels, Belgium, in March 1948, when representatives of Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom met to forge a mutual assistance treaty to provide a common defense system. The Brussels Treaty stipulated that should any of the five signatories be the target of armed aggression in Europe, the other treaty parties would provide the party attacked all the military aid and assistance in their power. In June 1948, after a losing battle by isolationists, the U.S. Congress adopted a resolution recommending that the United States join in a defensive pact for the North Atlantic area. President Harry S. Truman urged U.S. participation in NATO as a critical part of his policy of containment of Soviet expansion. Containment had begun with the Truman Doctrine of 1947 with military assistance to Greece and Turkey to resist Communist subversion. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on 4 April 1949 in Washington, D.C. It formally committed the European signatories and the United States and Canada to the defense of Western Europe. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, 82 to 13. This treaty marked a fundamental departure with tradition of the United States because it was Washington’s first peacetime military alliance since the FrancoAmerican Alliance of 1778. In October 1949, in the Mutual Defense Assistance Act, Congress authorized $1.3 billion in military aid for NATO. Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952. The Federal Republic of Germany joined in 1955 following an agreement on the termination of the Allies’ postwar occupation of West Germany and an understanding that the country would maintain foreign forces on its soil. A rearmed Germany became a major component of NATO.

The USSR strongly opposed the NATO alliance. The Berlin Blockade in 194748 and the threat of war had in fact given impetus to the creation of NATO. Following the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, fearing the possibility of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe as a result of a miscalculation by Moscow, NATO countries expanded their military forces in Europe. Allied forces in Western Europe numbered twelve divisions to deter a Soviet threat of eighty divisions. The sending of several U.S. divisions to Europe was strongly debated in the U.S. Congress. Proponents of isolationism, including former President Herbert Hoover and Senator Robert Taft, opposed the assignment of ground troops to Europe. Others, including retired Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supported an increase in the U.S. commitment to the Cold War and urged expansion of NATO forces. The isolationists lost, and Truman in 1951 added four more to the two divisions already in Germany to bring the Seventh U.S. Army to six divisions. Truman also brought Eisenhower out of retirement to become Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), following the creation of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in 1951. NATO ministers, in the Lisbon Agreement on NATO Force Levels of February 1952, set new force goals for 1954 consisting of 10,000 aircraft and 89 divisions, half of them combatready. These were unrealistic; but by 1953, NATO had fielded 25 active divisions, 15 in Central Europe, and 5,200 aircraft, making it at least equal to Soviet forces in East Germany. In 1955, Moscow created the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance composed of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

EastWest relations were further strained by Nikita Khrushchev, who emerged as the Soviet leader after Josef Stalin’s death in 1953. Although he had criticized Stalin’s dictatorship and had accused his predecessor of escalating international tensions, Khrushchev ordered a Soviet force into Hungary to suppress a rebellion and maintain Communist rule in 1956. In 1957, the USSR’s launching of Sputnik, the first of the space satellites, indicated that the Soviet Union was developing longrange nuclear missiles. NATO had planned in 1954 to use nuclear weapons in case of a massive Soviet invasion. In 1957, it planned to make the thirty NATO divisions and its tactical aircraft nuclearcapable. By 1960, NATO’s commander, SACEUR, probably had some 7,000 nuclear weapons; but two SACEURs, Gen. Alfred Gruenther and Gen. Lauris Norstad, warned of NATO’s declining conventional capabilities as a result of reductions or redeployments in British and French forces.

During the 1960s, French president Charles de Gaulle rejected the lead of the United States and Britain in Europe and pushed for a larger diplomatic role for France. The French developed their own nuclear capacity; then, in 1966, while still remaining a part of the NATO community, France withdrew its troops from the alliance and requested that NATO’s headquarters and all allied units and installations not under the control of French authorities be removed from French soil. NATO headquarters officially opened in October 1967, in Brussels, where it has remained. East and West efforts to achieve peaceful coexistence decreased a year later when the Soviet Union and four of its satellite nations invaded Czechoslovakia.

In an effort to reach an era of detente, a relaxation of tensions reached through reciprocal beneficial relations between East and West, the Nixon administration took the lead with the Leonid Brezhnev government in Moscow, and NATO members and Warsaw Pact members opened the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in November 1969. In May 1972, the first series of SALT Treaties was signed. The following year a SALT II agreement was reached, although it was never ratified by the United States. Further efforts during the 1970s for EastWest balanced force reductions proved unsuccessful. The ArabIsraeli War did little to ease world tensions when it erupted on 6 October 1973, after which the Soviets implied that they might intervene in the crisis due to the strategic importance of oil reserves in that part of the world. A year later, Brezhnev accused NATO of creating a multinational nuclear force and called for cancelation of the alliance as a first step toward world peace. In 1979, the USSR invaded Afghanistan and that ongoing conflict caused the suspension of negotiations between the United States and the USSR on reductions in intermediaterange nuclear forces (INF) that had opened in 1981. Talks resumed in 1984 primarily to prevent the militarization of outer space and then led to negotiations on arms control and disarmament. Reformer Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR in March 1985, and that October he met President Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, to discuss ceilings of 100 nuclear missile warheads for each side (none of which would remain in Europe) and 100 residual warheads to remain in Soviet Asia and on U.S. territories in the Pacific. Verification arrangements were also agreed upon for the first time.

By the end of the 1980s, dramatic changes had occurred in the Warsaw Pact countries. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened, which led the way to a unified Germany ten months later. Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania took steps toward breaking from Soviet domination. When Russian troops were withdrawn from Eastern Europe in 1990, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. In response to these events, NATO members at a summit conference in London in July 1990 declared that they no longer considered the Soviets to be an adversary and laid plans for a new strategic concept that was adopted in 1991 in Rome. The concept reaffirmed the significance of collective defense to meet evolving security threatsparticularly from civil wars and massive refugee problemsand established the basis for peacekeeping operations, as well as coalition crisis management both inside and outside the NATO area. It also stressed cooperation and partnership with the emerging democracies of the former Warsaw Pact.

The North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) was created in 1991 to draw former Soviet republics, as well as the Baltic states and Albania, into a closer relationship with NATO countries. The same year, the Soviet Union established diplomatic links with NATO and joined the NACC on a foreign ministerial level. Hungary and Romania entered a twentyfivenation Partnership for Peace (PFP), an arm of NATO created in 1994. The PFP administers exercises, exchanges, and other military contacts to encourage military reform. The partnership also provides for peacekeeping, humanitarian, and rescue operations. Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic aspired to become full members of NATO, and debate opened on a secondtier Russian NATO membership allowing for political, but not military, integration for the former Soviet Union. In June 1994, Russian leader Boris Yeltsin announced that the Russians would join the PFP, but Russian fears of an eastward expansion of NATO remained a contentious issue.

In 1992, due to the escalation of the Bosnian Crisis, and Serbia’s armed support of the Bosnian Serbs against Muslims and Croats, NATO’s mission was expanded to include peacekeeping operations in support of United Nations (UN) efforts to restrain the fighting and find a solution to the conflict. In July 1992, NATO ships and aircraft commenced monitoring operations in support of the UN arms embargoes on Serbia and Bosnia from the former Yugoslavia. In April 1993, NATO aircraft began patrolling the skies over Bosnia to monitor and enforce the UN ban on Serbian military aircraft. In November 1995, following U.S.sponsored peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, a peace agreement was signed in Paris in December calling for a MuslimCroat federation and a Serb entity in Bosnia. During 1996, fourteen nonNATO countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Ukraine) were invited to contribute to the NATOled Implementation Force (IFOR). All the NATO countries with armed forces (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States) pledged to contribute military forces to the operation, and Iceland provided medical personnel. With 60,000 troops, 20,000 of them from the U.S. forces, IFOR was the largest military operation ever undertaken by NATO. It was the first ground force operation, the first deployment out of area, and the first joint operation with NATO’s PFP partners and other nonNATO countries. NATO’s IFOR halted the pitched battles and urban sieges that ravaged Bosnia during the fouryear war. National elections were held in September 1996, and plans were made for a reduced IFOR force.

The collapse of Communism in Europe led NATO to search for new roles beyond that of a mutual defense pact. One was to bolster democracy and national security in former Warsaw bloc nations; consequently in March 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were made members of NATO. The other new role for NATO was as a regional policeman seeking to restrict ethnic wars, terrorism, and the generation of massive flows of refugees through genocidal violence. Consequently, as a result of military and paramilitary actions by Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic against hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo, NATO in late March 1999 began a military offensive against Serbian forces and installations By April 1999, when the 50th anniversary of the establishment of NATO was observed, NATO forces in the Kosovo Crisis were engaged in the largest military assault in Europe since World War II. The NATO air offensive ended successfully with the Serbian forces withdrawal from Kosovo in June and the establishment of a UN administered and NATO implemented peacekeeping force there. With the end of the Cold War (and NATO’s first war), a new era for NATO had clearly emerged.

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NATO: Definition from Answers.com – Answers – The Most …

Apr 262014

From New World Encyclopedia

Coordinates: 505234.16N, 42519.24E

NATO countries shown in green

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); French: Organisation du Trait de l’Atlantique Nord (OTAN); (also called the North Atlantic Alliance, the Atlantic Alliance, or the Western Alliance) is a military alliance established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, the organization constitutes a system of collective defense in which its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However the Korean War galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The first NATO Secretary General Lord Ismay, famously described the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.[2] Throughout the Cold War doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defense against a prospective Soviet invasiondoubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO’s military structure from 1966.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became drawn into the Balkans while building better links with former potential enemies to the east, which culminated with the former Warsaw Pact states joining the alliance. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, NATO has attempted to refocus itself to new challenges and has deployed troops to Afghanistan and trainers to Iraq.

The Treaty of Brussels, signed on March 17, 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western European Union’s Defense Organization in September 1948.[3] However, participation of the United States was thought necessary in order to counter the military power of the USSR, and therefore talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately.

These talks resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states, as well as the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Support for the Treaty was not unanimous; Iceland suffered an anti-NATO riot in March 1949 which may have been Communist-inspired. Three years later, on 18 February 1952, Greece and Turkey also joined.

The Parties of NATO agreed that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense will assist the Party or Parties being attacked, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force does not necessarily mean that other member states will respond with military action against the aggressor(s). Rather they are obliged to respond, but maintain the freedom to choose how they will respond. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels (which founded the Western European Union) which clearly states that the response must include military action. It is however often assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. Further, the article limits the organization’s scope to Europe and North America, which explains why the invasion of the British Falkland Islands did not result in NATO involvement.

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NATO – New World Encyclopedia

NATO (nt) abbr.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an international organization composed of the US, Canada, Britain, and a number of European countries: established by the North Atlantic Treaty (1949) for purposes of collective security. In 1994 it launched the Partnership for Peace initiative, in order to forge alliances with former Warsaw Pact countries; in 1997 a treaty of cooperation with Russia was signed and in 1999 Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic became full NATO members

n.

an organization formed in 1949 for the purpose of collective defense: originally comprising Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and later joined by Greece, Turkey, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.

[N(orth)A(tlantic)T(reaty)O(rganization)]

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NATO – definition of NATO by the Free Online Dictionary …

Coffee shop chain will move to London in wake of row over tax avoidance Anger over the corporation’s actions led to customer’s spurning Starbucks The Africa and Middle East operations will also be run from the UK

By Peter Campbell

Published: 13:16 EST, 16 April 2014 | Updated: 18:51 EST, 16 April 2014

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Starbucks will move its tax base from the Netherlands to London in an attempt to banish its immoral image.

The coffee chain is changing controversial methods it uses to push money into overseas tax havens. The surprise announcement puts pressure on Google and Amazon, which have been criticised for similar tax avoidance.

Starbucks faced a boycott in 2012 after it emerged the company had paid corporation tax only once since arriving in the UK in 1998.

Starbucks has said it will pay more tax in the UK as it announced its European HQ will move to London. The coffee shop chain was hit by a customer boycott two years ago in protest over its tax payments

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Starbucks to pay more tax in Britain following customer boycott

When done right, Schema markup can give a lift to international campaigns.

Schema.org, which is supported by all major search engines, provides what we call structured data markup. Launched in 2011, it is now recommended by Google as opposed to any other markup.

Schema.org can convey a massive amount of information to search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. This markup technology can specify any person and characteristics of that person such as gender, date of birth, and educational institution. The markup technology can also be added in any language.

Schema markup simply gives search engines a better representation of what the website page is presenting by adding a set of HTML tags to each web page. Schema markup is extremely important to SEO because it helps search engines better understand the information on the pages of your website.

My good friend Sante Achille is an Italian SEO professional living and working in Italy out of L’Aquila, a small medieval town close to Rome. He has an engineering degree, has worked for major aerospace organizations including the European Space Agency (Noordwijk – Netherlands), and has been working on the web since the very beginning of the commercial World Wide Web in 1994.

With more than 19 years of hands-on experience, Achille has reviewed and optimized hundreds of websites and successfully cooperated with small local companies and large multi-national corporations, offering a wide spectrum of expertise essential to the success of a project.

I had the privilege of picking Achille’s brain on Schema.org and everything about it. Sante’s advice and suggestions on Schema markup technology is great, so read on for some really good insight into what you can do on an international front.

Achille said there is a general misunderstanding about Schema which is associated to “rich snippets” that often appear in the SERPs and highlight those products or recopies users have reviewed and evaluated by assigning from 1 to 5 stars.

Schema is far more than that and requires a considerable amount of planning for it to be effective and put to use with all its potential. Schema describes itself as a “collection of schemas, i.e., html tags, that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognized by major search providers.”

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Schema & International SEO Everything You Need to Know

WASHINGTON The largest U.S.-based companies added $206 billion to their stockpiles of offshore profits last year, parking earnings in low-tax countries until Congress gives them a reason not to.

The multinational companies have accumulated $1.95 trillion outside the U.S., up 11.8 percent from a year earlier, according to securities filings from 307 corporations reviewed by Bloomberg News. Three U.S.-based companies Microsoft, Apple and IBM added $37.5 billion, or 18.2 percent of the total increase.

“The loopholes in our tax code right now give such a big reward to companies that use gimmicks to make it look like they earn their profits offshore,” said Dan Smith, a tax and budget advocate at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which seeks to counteract corporate influence.

Even as governments around the world cut tax rates and try to keep corporations from shifting profits to tax havens, Congress remains paralyzed in its efforts. The response of U.S.-based companies over the past few years has been consistent: book profits offshore and leave them there.

Congress hasn’t acted because of disagreements over whether to be tougher on U.S. companies operating abroad amid broader disputes over government spending and taxation. The stalemate has prevented the U.S. from tapping a pot of money that President Barack Obama and the top Republican tax writer in Congress have eyed for such projects as rebuilding highways.

Meanwhile, the companies are deferring hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. taxes as they lobby to end a system they describe as a competitive disadvantage in world markets. The top 15 companies now hold $795.2 billion outside the U.S., up 10.6 percent.

That increase was slower than the 15.9 percent rise in stockpiled profits those same companies had the previous year. Pfizer reported a decrease in offshore profits this year, and General Electric and Citigroup each reported growth of less than 3 percent.

The Bloomberg analysis covers the two most recent annual filings from 307 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. It excludes purely domestic corporations, those that don’t disclose offshore holdings, companies with headquarters outside the U.S. and real estate investment trusts that aren’t subject to corporate taxes.

The increase in profits held outside the U.S. has been particularly large and steady at technology companies, many of which have moved patents and other intellectual property to low- tax locales.

U.S. multinational companies reported earning 43 percent of their 2008 overseas profits in Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, more than five times the share of workers and investment they have in those jurisdictions, according to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report.

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Cash abroad rises to $206B as Apple to IBM avoid taxes

Liberty Global Plc (LBTYA), the cable company controlled by billionaire John Malone, plans to offer mobile phone services to customers throughout Europe, taking on carriers such as the U.K.s Vodafone Group Plc.

Liberty Global will put together a so-called mobile virtual network operator system, or MVNO, the name given to companies that use other carriers wireless infrastructure for their own mobile services, Senior Vice President Manuel Kohnstamm said in a interview yesterday in Amsterdam.

Were working on a deep MVNO, and we dont only do that in Austria but in the whole of Europe, Kohnstamm said. Were constructing a pan-European MVNO platform.

Liberty Global will be able to keep margins high because, as a European cable TV operator, the company runs one billing system, one back-office and one back-haul, which connects the core network to the smaller subnetworks, he said. The company is introducing the MVNO network in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and the U.K., Kohnstamm said.

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The company has been active on acquisitions in the European cable market in recent years, taking over Virgin Media Inc. in the U.K. in 2013 and agreeing to buy Dutch operator Ziggo NV (ZIGGO) in January.

London-based Liberty Global has now reached a critical mass, Kohnstamm said, which has led the company to having sufficient scale to be competitive on delivering hardware, research and development, technology and content. While the company isnt actively pursuing acquisitions, it hasnt lost interest in potential takeovers.

We will always be interested and look around, Kohnstamm said, adding that he mostly sees a role for small and middle-sized companies.

They are the ones having to compete with Deutsche Telekom, Belgacom and KPN, which also invest and innovate further, Kohnstamm said. For that reason, he eventually sees those companies being just as interested in joining Liberty as Liberty is in them.

Belgiums Telenet Group Holding NV (TNET), which Liberty Global failed to take over after Telenets shareholders rejected a bid in 2013, isnt one of those smaller companies Liberty is aiming for at the moment.

The rest is here:
Liberty Global to Roll-Out Pan-European Mobile Platform

For Uli Hoeness, the next four days will be a painful reminder of how a decade-old folly turned a German soccer icon into one of the countrys most prominent tax dodgers.

The president of Bayern Munich soccer club and a member of the German national team that won the 1974 World Cup is scheduled to appear in a Munich court today on charges he hid trading profits in Switzerland to evade taxes.

Hoeness, 62, is one of the most well known Germans seeking clemency by disclosing violations and paying back the taxes. Countries around the globe have sought to uncover wealthy citizens who tried to hide savings in European tax havens Switzerland, Luxembourg and Lichtenstein.

If someone famous like Hoeness is being exposed like this, it certainly has effects, for better or worse, said Manuel Theisen, a business and tax professor at Munich University. The case prompted many others to turn themselves in, because they fear if someone like him is being prosecuted it means no one is safe.

The Hoeness probe started a year ago when he reported himself to authorities after lawmakers rejected a treaty that would have stopped prosecutors from buying stolen Swiss bank data with details on German account holders.

The fact that prosecutors charged him indicates they dont believe he disclosed all of his assets on a voluntary self-declaration filing, said Martin Wulf, an attorney at Streck Mack Schwedhelm in Berlin.

To be valid, a self declaration has to be complete, said Wulf, who isnt involved in the case. The filing must provide all information about the person to allow the tax authorities to gauge how much tax is due.

In an interview in May 2013 with German weekly Die Zeit, Hoeness said he committed a huge folly when he hid money in the Swiss account. Former Adidas AG Chief Executive Officer Robert Louis-Dreyfus in 2001 lent him 5 million euros ($7 million) and acted as a guarantor for another loan of 15 million euros, Hoeness said. He used the money to gamble and speculate on the stock market until 2006 and didnt pay taxes on the profits, he said.

Hanns Feigen, Hoeness attorney, didnt return a call seeking comment. The court has scheduled four days of trial and a verdict may come as soon as March 13.

Before making his fortune as the founder the HoWe Wurstwaren KG sausage factory, Hoeness played almost nine years for a Bayern Munich team that won three league titles and European cups during the 1970s. He was one of six Bayern Munich players, including Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Mueller and Paul Breitner, who helped the German national team win the 1974 World Cup title against the Netherlands.

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Bayern Munich Heros Folly Keeps German Focus on Tax Evasion

Published February 18, 2014

FoxNews.com

FILE: May 14, 2013: Associated Press reporters and editors work in the House Press Gallery, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.AP

An increased focus on cracking down on whistleblowers has significantly dropped the United States press freedom ranking in the world, a new report says.

Reporters Without Borders annual Freedom Index report ranked the United States 46th in the world regarding freedom of information, a drop of 13 spots from 2012. The report cited the trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning, the pursuit of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and the Justice Departments seizure of Associated Press phone records in an effort to find the source of a CIA leak, among other cases.

A federal shield law to help journalists protect sources is an urgent need in the United States, said the report, which also blasted the United Kingdom for its detention of the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first broke Snowdens bombshell NSA revelations.

Both the U.S. and U.K. authorities seem obsessed with hunting down whistleblowers instead of adopting legislation to rein in abusive surveillance practices that negate privacy, a democratic value cherished in both countries, the report said.

David Cuillier, the president of the Society of Professional Journalists, told FoxNews.com on Monday he agreed with the reports findings and believes the journalism climate in the United States continues to get worse. Part of the problem, he said, is a public that, to a large extent, no longer trusts journalists and believes it’s acceptable for the government to intimidate reporters, hide information and threaten journalists with jail time for doing their jobs.

If the people didnt like that, then the government wouldnt do it, Cuillier said. (The government) will do as much as they can get away with. If the public lets them do it, or cheers them on, then theyll do everything they can to control their message.

Finland, the Netherlands and Norway topped the list, while Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan were considered the most hostile nations in the world for press freedom.

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United States' press freedom ranking drops sharply, report says

Scandinavia has once again topped the list of the World Press Freedom Index for 2014, according Reporters Without Borders. The list spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information, with analysis referring to a range of factors, including state repression and the economic crisis. Finland has come out on top for the fourth year running, followed by Netherlands and Norway …

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Reporters Without Borders: Who's Top for Press Freedom?

UTRECHT, Netherlands/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. cable group Liberty Global (NSQ:LBTYA) has won its 10-month pursuit of Ziggo (ZIGGO.AS) with a deal that values the Dutch operator and its debt at 10 billion euros ($13.7 billion) and expands billionaire John Malone's vast European cable empire. Ziggo rejected an initial offer from Liberty last October as too low, seven months after the U.S. group …

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Liberty Global buys Ziggo to expand European cable empire



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