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HARSH DOSE OF REALITY TO HIT AMERICA AFTER INAUGURATION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 2, 2009

January 3, 2009

Ian Munro in New York

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE SIDNEY MORNING HERALD’

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE SIDNEY MORNING HERALD’

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RUSSIA WARNS WEST NOT TO MEDDLE IN EX-SOVIET UNION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 11, 2008

December 11, 2008

Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘TEHRAN TIMES’ (Iran)

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia’s foreign minister warned the West on Wednesday against meddling in its backyard, saying the U.S. and Sergey LavrovEuropean countries must not advance their interests in the former Soviet Union at Russia’s expense.

Sergey Lavrov told a group of foreign business leaders that Russia has no monopoly on relations with neighboring former Soviet republics, and said Moscow understands that the United States and European Union have legitimate interests in the region.

But, he said, the U.S. and EU must forge relations with former Soviet republics “through legal, understandable and transparent methods,” Lavrov said. “Behind-the-scenes meddling only creates a crisis situation. One must respect the people of these nations and give them the right to choose their own fate.”

Already long-deteriorating ties between Moscow and the West were badly damaged by Russia’s August war with Georgia, a small ex-Soviet republic that has enjoyed strong U.S. backing and is seeking NATO membership.

Lavrov gave no examples of alleged meddling. But the U.S. and Europe have been courting ex-Soviet republics as they vie with Russia for access to Central Asian and Caspian Sea energy resources and seek ties with nations close to sources of concern such as Iran and Afghanistan.

Also, Russian leaders have suggested the U.S. encouraged Georgia to launch an offensive that sparked the five-day war, and say Washington has pressed to bring Ukraine closer to NATO despite significant opposition among its people.

Lavrov stressed Russia’s opposition to U.S. missile defense plans and NATO expansion but indicated that Russia is eager for improved ties with the U.S. He suggested that it would be up to the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to make the first move.

“We are counting on the future administration of Barack Obama to confirm what he is now saying about the need to cooperate with Russia in fighting common threats — international terrorism and weapons proliferation,” Lavrov said.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘TEHRAN TIMES’ (Iran)

Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, GEORGIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATO, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, UKRAINE, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

GROUP SAYS FINANCE CRISIS SHOWS TRANSPARENCY VITAL

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 9, 2008

Published: December 8, 2008

by Peter Apps – editing by Charles Dick – Reuters

PUBLISHED BY ‘INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Lack of transparency in the banking sector helped cause the global financial crisis and multinational companies, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations must do more to open up, a report said on Monday.

In its annual Global Accountability Report, the London-based One World Trust rated 30 corporations and organisations from Goldman Sachs to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR but found only one met what it described as minimum standards.

The overall worst performers were UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), defence alliance NATO and in bottom place the International Olympic Committee (IOC), all accused of lacking openness and accessibility to those their actions affected.

“The credit crunch and global financial crisis shows just how important transparency is in all sectors,” said trust deputy head of research Letitia Labre. “Companies and organisations are not doing enough to be accountable to those they affect.”

The impact from bad debts in the US mortgage market spread through the global financial system, with banks no longer trusting each other to lend money, prompting a credit crunch and worldwide slump in markets and economic growth.

Critics blame banks and other investment institutions for packaging and selling financial products they did not fully understand, with little clarity on who would take responsibility and with mutual mistrust now paralysing markets.

The report, which focuses on a representative sample of organisations each year, rated only one private sector bank — one of the few surviving Wall Street banks, Goldman Sachs. It put the bank in the bottom third of the list.

AFFECTING EVERYONE

In contrast, mining firm BHP Billiton and oil giant Shell — representatives of industries often criticised for their lack of transparency in negotiating contracts with developing world governments – were among the best performing corporates.

Transparency campaigners have praised the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative for improving the transparency of mining and similar firms, although say colossal problems still remain.

The International Foundation for Organic Agriculture topped the table followed by multilateral lender the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), World Bank group member of the International Finance Corporation and UN children’s fund UNICEF.

They were followed by aid agencies and non-governmental groups Plan International, Transparency International, Catholic Relief Services and Islamic Relief.

The poor performance of organisations such as the IAEA and International Olympic Committee were particularly worrying, the trust said.

“These are very powerful bodies which have the ability to affect the lives of all of us,” said Labre.

The report graded the organisations according to four dimensions of accountability: transparency, participation of stakeholders, evaluation of performance and scalability and response to complaints.

Researchers examined documents provided by the organisations, interviewed their key officials and examined publicly available information as well as talking to stakeholders and experts on each of the organisations.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INTERNATIONAL, NATO, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | 2 Comments »

SHARING THE RESPONSABILITY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

DECEMBER 3-8, 2008

by Michael Levitin

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ – Print Edition – (USA)

He was Chief of Staff to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the leading voice behind 'A BIGGER BREAK' - Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the crisis forced the U.S. to leave behind its traditions - Photo by Hans-Christian Plambeck (Laif-Redux)Germany’s refusal to fight in Iraq. Now German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is the Social Democratic Party candidate for chancellor in next year’s elections, running against the popular Christian Democrat incumbent, Angela Merkel. In his first major interview with the U.S. press, Steinmeier sat down with NEWSWEEK’s Michael Levitin to discuss German troop engagements in Afghanistan, Russia’s recent aggression, the global financial crisis and how Germany might work alongside the United States. Excerpts:

LEVITIN: The day after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to install missiles in Kaliningrad if Washington did not “rethink” its deployment of a NATO missile shield in Eastern Europe. Did Moscow’s latest show of aggression shift the dynamic between Russia and Europe? How should you respond- and what should Europe’s response be?

STEINMEIER: Medvedevs announcement the day after the elections was clearly the wrong signal at the wrong time. We have no illusions about Russia. In the last few years it has often proved itself a difficult partner. The question remains how to deal with this huge country in Europe’s immediate neighborhood; having to choose between containment versus engagement, I advocate the latter. We must try to develop relations with Russia that go beyond economic interests and contribute to increased stability and security. After all, it is in our own interest to make sure that a Russia that is looking for its own identity is politically and culturally anchored in die West.

LEVITIN: Do you see Germany as a middleman, acting as a buffer between Russia and the rest of Europe-perhaps at the moment even Russia’s closest EU ally?

STEINMEIER: Russia is aware of our uniquely close relationship with the United States. We are firmly embedded in NATO and the EU and thus we don’t aspire to play the role of a middleman. Together with our European partners we showed a strong and outspoken response to Russia’s role in the conflict in Georgia. I think Europe’s united voice no doubt contributed to the military conflict ending. Now the stabilization of the region as a whole has to continue, and for genuine stability we need Russian cooperation. As for energy links between the EU and Russia, the answer depends on which European country you talk to. But in general, Russia depends as much on Europe and America buying its goods as we rely on Russia supplying us with natural gas and oil. As far as Germany is concerned, it is little known in the United States that we have worked successfully for decades to diversify our suppliers of various forms of energy and fuels, with Russia but also Norway and Africa being important suppliers.

LEVITIN: You mentioned the conflict In Georgia. Should that country and Ukraine be Invited to Join NATO?

STEINMEIER: This is not a simple yes-or-no decision. With national elections looming, the domestic situation in Ukraine has changed, as has the situation in the Caucasus since the conflict broke out this summer. Yes, we remain committed to supporting and assisting these countries on the road ahead. But concerning the Membership Action Plan, Germany and other European governments continue to stand by their position.

LEVITIN: The most urgent U.S. foreign-policy question involving Germany, which Obama raised many times during his campaign, is Afghanistan and whether Germany will contribute more troops there to stabilize the south. How much is your country willing to sacrifice for this partnership, putting its soldiers into harm’s way?

STEINMEIER: I have spoken to Barack Obama twice, and from these exchanges I know that he sees Afghanistan in a very nuanced way. I feel we see eye to eye in our assessment that we’re facing a very difficult security situation, but that military means alone cannot bring about the necessary changes. Our approach has to be a comprehensive one, and contrary to what some people may say, Germany has played its part.

LEVITIN: In the north, certainly. But It’s in the south where the greatest violence has taken place, and where Obama’s asking for greater German participation.

STEINMEIER: We have shouldered our share of the military responsibility and we have also enlarged our engagement. We are about to increase our troops by 30 percent, to 4,500. We are participating in aerial surveillance across the whole of Afghanistan, including the south, and German radio engineers are also stationed in Kandahar. The German Air Force runs flights for all NATO countries throughout Afghanistan, again including the south. We took over the lead of the Quick Reaction Force in the north. And let us not forget that circumstances there have also changed; the north, too, has seen its share of armed opposition activities increasing in the last month. But our engagement in Afghanistan is about much more than military action. We have always said that we will only be successful if we succeed in helping rebuild the country and its economy. Civil reconstruction is the second important pillar of our engagement on the ground, and we’ll continue to increase our contribution in this area next year.

LEVITIN: Given the turmoil in Pakistan, what do you think the next steps forward ought to be?

STEINMEIER: The security of the whole region strongly depends on Pakistan. If we want to combat terrorism in Afghanistan, we have to succeed in stabilizing Pakistan politically and economically. This calls for a strengthened Pakistani commitment to combat terrorism, but it also calls for international assistance for this country. It needs a substantial loan from the IMF. We also need to be ready to help stabilize the country in a lasting way.

LEVITIN: On Iran, what realistic hopes do you see of bringing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the table and persuading him to give up Tehran’s nuclear ambitions? And how far will you be willing to push?

STEINMEIER: No doubt there is hope in the international community that after 29 years of standstill, a new approach may be possible. We all remember the reasons for the break-off of relations between the U.S. and Iran. Since then, U.S.-Iranian relations have also been a story of missed opportunities: when Washington signaled openness, Tehran wasn’t willing or able to respond in kind, and vice versa. I think it would be worthwhile trying to have direct talks, but the Iranians have to know it is up to them to prove they do not aspire to nuclear weapons-and that they’re willing to play a constructive role in the region. I have to admit I am skeptical, and can only express my hope that the leaders in Iran seize this opportunity.

LEVITIN: Turning to the financial crisis, the banks got a bailout. Now the automobile manufacturers are seeking the same thing. How do you see EU countries regaining their competition policy-and their legitimacy-after this?

STEINMEIER: I believe the politicians would have lost their legitimacy if they hadn’t acted. What we’re facing here is the very visible failure of the market. We had to make sure that the crisis in the financial markets does not lead to a total breakdown of the financial system as a whole. On both sides of the Atlantic, unconventional means were applied to manage the crisis. Honestly speaking, many of the measures taken in the U.S. seemed a bigger break with American tradition than can be said about European measures.

LEVITIN: How important is it that developing countries play a greater decision-making role In the future? For example, we saw hints of the G8 expanding into a G20 several weeks ago in Washington.

STEINMEIER: What is the most fundamental challenge the world is facing today? To my mind, it consists of integrating the emerging powers of the 21st century into a system of shared global responsibility. I am talk ing about countries like China and India, but also Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia. Can any of the global challenges we face be tackled without them? I don’t think so. That is why we have to make them stakeholders, and in that respect the recent financial summit in Washington was historic. To me it is obvious we cannot stop there.

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ (USA)

Posted in 'DOHA TALKS', AFGHANISTAN, AFRICA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, G20, G8, GEORGIA, GERMANY, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, ISLAM, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATO, NATURAL GAS, NORWAY, PAKISTAN, PETROL, RECESSION, RUSSIA, SAUDI ARABIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | 1 Comment »

RUMSFELD NEMESIS SHINSEKI TO BE NAMED VA SECRETARY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

Posted on Sat, Dec. 6, 2008

by Hope Yen – The Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘PHILLY.COM’ (USA)

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary, turning to a former Army chief of staff once vilified by the Bush administration for questioning its Iraq war strategy.

Obama will announce the selection of Shinseki, the first Army four-star general of Japanese-American ancestry, at a news conference Sunday in Chicago. He will be the first Asian-American to hold the post of Veterans Affairs secretary, adding to the growing diversity of Obama’s Cabinet.

“I think that General Shinseki is exactly the right person who is going to be able to make sure that we honor our troops when they come home,” Obama said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” to be broadcast Sunday.

NBC released a transcript of the interview after The Associated Press reported that Shinseki was Obama’s pick.

Shinseki’s tenure as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003 was marked by constant tensions with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which boiled over in 2003 when Shinseki testified to Congress that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the invasion.

Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, belittled the estimate as “wildly off the mark” and the army general was forced out within months. But Shinseki’s words proved prophetic after President George W. Bush in early 2007 announced a “surge” of additional troops to Iraq after miscalculating the numbers needed to stem sectarian violence.

Obama said he selected Shinseki for the VA post because he “was right” in predicting that the U.S. will need more troops in Iraq than Rumsfeld believed at the time.

“When I reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans and, I think about how so many veterans around the country are struggling even more than those who have not served , higher unemployment rates, higher homeless rates, higher substance abuse rates, medical care that is inadequate , it breaks my heart,” Obama told NBC.

Shinseki, 66, will take the helm of the government’s second largest agency, which has been roundly criticized during the Bush administration for underestimating the amount of funding needed to treat thousands of injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thousands of veterans currently endure six-month waits for receiving disability benefits, despite promises by current VA Secretary James Peake and his predecessor, Jim Nicholson, to reduce delays. The department also is scrambling to upgrade government technology systems before new legislation providing for millions of dollars in new GI benefits takes effect next August.

Obama’s choice of Shinseki, who grew up in Hawaii, is the latest indication that the president-elect is making good on his pledge to have a diverse Cabinet.

In Obama’s eight Cabinet announcements so far, white men are the minority with two nominations , Timothy Geithner at Treasury and Robert Gates at Defense. Three are women , Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security, Susan Rice as United Nations ambassador and Hillary Rodham Clinton at State. Eric Holder at the Justice Department is African American, while Bill Richardson at Commerce is Latino.

Shinseki is a recipient of two Purple Hearts for life-threatening injuries in Vietnam.

Upon leaving his post in June 2003, Shinseki in his farewell speech sternly warned against arrogance in leadership.

“You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader,” he said. “You can certainly command without that sense of commitment, but you cannot lead without it. And without leadership, command is a hollow experience, a vacuum often filled with mistrust and arrogance.”

Shinseki also left with the warning: “Beware a 12-division strategy for a 10-division army.”

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PUBLISHED BY ‘PHILLY.COM’ (USA)

Posted in AL QAEDA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), DEFENCE TREATIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATO, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN | Leave a Comment »

RUSSIAN ENVOY CRITICIZES NATO REFUSAL TO LET HIM ADDRESS SESSION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 14, 2008

13:38 – 14/11/2008

by Ria Novosti

BRUSSELS, November 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s envoy to NATO has criticized the alliance for refusing Russian envoy Dmitry Rogozinhim the right to address the NATO parliamentary session starting on Friday in Spain, while allowing the Georgian leader to give a speech.

NATO’s 54th Parliamentary Assembly session in Valencia runs from November 14 to 18. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been actively seeking membership in the Western military alliance, is expected to focus on criticism of Russia’s role in the August conflict over South Ossetia.

“Parliamentarians should be free to choose their information sources on the conflict. Instead of hearing alternative information, they will be listening to the twittering of Saakashvili,” Russian envoy Dmitry Rogozin told RIA Novosti.

He said he had intended to give Russia’s account of Georgia’s August 8 attack on breakaway South Ossetia and the ensuing five-day war between Russia and Georgia, but that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s president, Jose Lello, had refused, saying there was not sufficient time to fit him into the session schedule.

Saakashvili will give his speech on November 18. Rogozin said he has refused NATO’s invitation to attend the session.

During the August conflict, most Western powers sided with Georgia, accepting Saakashvili’s claim that Georgia reacted to military aggression from Russia.

However, Saakashvili’s version of events has come under scrutiny since the conflict, and Western rights groups have criticized Georgia’s attacks on South Ossetian civilians.

A report released on November 4 by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said the Georgian military used cluster munitions in civilian areas of South Ossetia.

Independent observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have said they are unable to verify Georgia’s claim that Russia bombarded Georgian villages in the run-up to the conflict. Georgia had based its justification for its attack on South Ossetia on the alleged Russian bombardment.

Saakashvili has also come under pressure in his own country. Around 10,000 protesters gathered on the streets of Tbilisi last Friday, rallying against the president for dragging the country into a costly war that it had little chance of winning.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘RIA NOVOSTI’

Posted in COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES, EUROPE, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, NATO, RUSSIA | Leave a Comment »