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Posts tagged ‘Financial Times’

Weekly Standard’s Kristol: Putin Should ‘Pay’ for Crimea Invasion.


Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to “pay a price” at home through the imposition of economic sanctions for invading the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said Tuesday.

“There is a lot one can do with economic sanctions and other things. And
Putin needs to pay a price for this, and he needs to pay a price for it at home,” Kristol told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“The Russian people, and especially Russian elites close to him, need to feel, ‘Yikes he has endangered our bank accounts abroad, our ability to travel abroad, our hopes to get even richer’ off Putin’s kind of crony version of corporatism,” he added.

Story continues below video.

The opinion was echoed by Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett on the “Morning Joe” panel, “If the West could actually get its act together and coordinate, [it] could be used very effectively indeed.”

The impact of sanctions may not hold that great a sway, Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, told the “Morning Joe” panel. He said Putin had “outfoxed everyone,” and maintained the move into Ukraine would not be “easily reversible.” He also warned the Russian president could become emboldened by his success in Ukraine.

“There is nothing in the response of the United States, or Europe, or anyone else [that] has suggested to him that anyone would stop him actually from rolling forward. And he just has to calculate.

“He might say, ‘All right, I’m going to get criticized. I’m going to get excoriated for a while. But nobody is really going to stop me if I move forward in Ukraine or elsewhere,'” Goldberg said.

It was a mistake not to use the threat of military action against Russia, Kristol argued. He said Americans were “too quick to proclaim our own helplessness.”

“One thing that would help would be if Americans, in government especially, didn’t say, the first thing they say, ‘Well, God forbid, we can’t do anything militarily. The troops, that would be just out of the question,'” Kristol said.

The Russian invasion into Crimea, Tett emphasized, had set off alarms for Europeans as they realized their dependence on Russia for energy. She said it served as a reminder, “They need to get a lot less dependent on Russia.”

The invasion was also important, Kristol maintained, given the fact the Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons in an agreement with Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in 1994 called the Budapest Memorandum. He said a part of the agreement was that “Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty would be respected by Russia.”

“If it now turns out that a nuclear-armed neighbor can just invade a country with whom they made this deal, with impunity, what signal does it send everywhere around the world?” Kristol asked. “The signal it sends is, not only don’t give up your nuclear weapons, build nuclear weapons. That will guarantee your safety. Everything else is just talk.”

Goldberg agreed, and said Middle East countries could decide to take up nuclear arms in the face of the events in the Ukraine.

“If you are sitting in Saudi Arabia right now or the United Arab Emirates, you would see Russia marching into Crimea, and saying, ‘Well, I think we might need the ultimate deterrent as well,'” Goldberg said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

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Insurers Restricting Hospital Access Under Obamacare.


Image: Insurers Restricting Hospital Access Under Obamacare

By Melanie Batley

Some of America‘s leading hospitals will not be participating in Obamacare in a bid to cut costs, leaving patients with fewer choices of facilities and doctors covered under their new plans.

According to the Financial Times, many consumers will not initially realize whether the plans they purchase on the insurance health exchanges will cover preferred medical providers. Most plans, for example, will not cover two of the nation’s top cancer centers — New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering and Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“We’re very concerned. [Insurers] know patients that are sick come to places like ours. What this is trying to do is redirect those patients elsewhere, but there is a reason why they come here. These patients need what it is that we are capable of providing,” Thomas Priselac, president and chief executive officer of Cedars-Sinai Health system in California, a top research and teaching hospital, told the Times.

In some cases, patients who wish to access certain hospitals or doctors will incur high “out-of-network” costs or pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses.

Experts say the situation may be one of a number of unintended consequences of the law which was designed to offer affordable care while mandating a broader level of coverage. As a result of the new regulations which add costs for insurers, companies are restricting the facilities that are seen as too expensive.

And some experts say it could also have an adverse effect on the ability of hospitals to develop innovative treatments that require a pool of some of the sickest patients who will no longer have access.

The Obama administration, however, disputes suggestions that coverage from the insurance marketplaces will limit care, saying access to medical providers will be “vastly” increased.

“Decisions about which private health insurance plans cover which doctors is a decision currently made by insurers and providers and will continue that way,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman told the Times.

The development may lend more ammunition to critics of the president’s signature healthcare law who say health coverage under Obamacare will be inferior to existing coverage.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Govt battles to recover €185m Abacha loot.


Abacha

Nigeria has embarked on an international campaign to press Liechtenstein into returning €185m linked to the late military dictator General Sani Abacha, which is still harboured in the tiny principality nearly 14 years after recovery proceedings began.

The Federal Government first requested assistance from Liechtenstein in returning the assets in 2000, two years after Gen Abacha’s sudden death paved the way for the return of civilian rule.

Criminal investigations and subsequent forfeiture proceedings established that the funds originated from bribes paid by Germany’s Ferrostaal AG to companies whose ultimate beneficiary was Gen Abacha. They related to a grossly inflated contract for the construction of an aluminium smelter, according to a Financial Times report.

Liechstenstein’s constitutional court ordered the confiscation of the funds in 2012 and in March 2013 dismissed a final appeal against the order by companies linked to the Abacha family, clearing the way for restitution of the funds.

 

But the Liechtenstein government has declined to accept written guarantees from Nigeria that it will compensate the principality in the unlikely event that it should incur any liabilities in a further suit that has been filed by the Abacha-linked companies at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This could delay the return of the funds for several more years.

The late Gen. Abacha was the penultimate and most brutal of Nigeria’s military rulers. He and what Switzerland’s Supreme Court dubbed the “Abacha family criminal enterprise” amassed a fortune worth several billion dollars from misappropriation of public funds during his 1993-1998 rule. The lawyer representing the Abacha family could not be reached for comment.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s minister for economy and finance and the former managing director of the World Bank, described the delays as “outrageous” and accused the Liechtenstein government of being unco-operative. She told the Financial Times she plans to appeal for support for Nigeria’s claims at this week’s International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings.

“This is about funds that were stolen by a corrupt dictator. We have spent nearly 14 years trying to get them back and we are pleading with the Liechtenstein authorities not to aid and abet the continuation of that corruption,” Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said.

Liechtenstein officials defend the delay as the result of the case in Strasbourg which would, if the court accepts to hear it, address the plaintiffs’ rights to a fair hearing under article 6 of the European convention on human rights. The European court cannot overrule Liechtenstein court rulings restoring the funds but officials in the principality fear they could be laid open to compensation claims from the Abacha-linked companies.

“Unfortunately, now we are in a situation where we have a final judgment, we have the assets and the government wants to return those assets to Nigeria, but four entities have filed a case at the ECHR,” Robert Wallner, Liechtenstein’s attorney-general said.

“Even though their chances of winning are low we lawyers know we can never be sure of the outcome.”

Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer working with the Nigerian government, has traced $2.4bn of assets linked to Gen. Abacha, most of which were channelled through European banks. Nigeria has recovered $1.3bn, the largest tranche of which – $500m – came from Switzerland in 2005. A further $1.1bn – in France, the UK, Luxembourg and the Channel island of Jersey – is still tied up in legal proceedings.

“Every other country where a final court decision was taken, paid back immediately,” Mr Monfrini said, taking issue with Liechtenstein for failing to accept the Nigerian guarantee relating to the Strasbourg case. “They don’t want to trust these people because they are Africans, although the balance sheet of Nigeria is a lot better than France or Spain. I would call this a neo-colonialist attitude.”

Nigeria has engaged the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery unit, Star, set up by Mrs Okonjo Iweala herself when she was at the bank, to monitor the use of the funds once they are returned – as it has done with other recovered assets. But Liechtenstein wants the World Bank to play a greater role as guarantor.

“We want the World Bank to discuss with us and develop different opportunities to how we can bring the money back,” a senior official at the Justice ministry said. “We are OK to pay the money back but we want to have an opportunity to be on the safe side…It is a long process but it is a fair proceeding,” the official said.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Gingrich: History Shows Shutdowns Aren’t Catastrophic.


The government shutdown has led to a lot of “hyperbole and hysteria,” writes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a new opinion piece, but the “facts are against the whiners, complainers and hysteria-mongers.”

Gingrich’s article, appearing in The Financial Times, points out that there have been numerous government shutdowns in the past, and while pressure is on the Republicans to surrender their view, and reopen the government, their demands reflect “ignorance” of history.

It’s common for government’s to shut down because of conflict between the different branches, said Gingrich, who was House Speaker during two shutdowns in 1995-96 while former President Bill Clinton was in office.

But there were plenty of shutdowns before that, Gingrich said, including 12 presided over by Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill alone while dealing with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, Gingrich pointed out.

“No one in the O’Neill era saw shutdowns as catastrophic,” said Gingrich. “They were irritating, complicated and frustrating, but also part of the legislative process.

The U.S. government has power struggles, said Gingrich, because of the way the founding fathers set up offices to keep America from falling under a dictatorship.

“Our founding fathers wanted tension between the legislative and executive branches,” said Gingrich. “They understood the parliamentary system and rejected it as prone to dominance by the king. They divided power to protect liberty.”

However, the CNN Crossfire host complained, the modern media has no historic memory.

“It cannot place John Boehner, the current Speaker, within the context of Speaker O’Neill’s 12 government shutdowns because it has never heard of them and does not want to,” said Gingrich.

And while House Republicans oppose Obama, feeling obligated because they won the 2010 and 2012 elections that way, “Mr. Obama and his supporters like to claim the presidential election of 2012 settled everything. That is a profoundly un-American view.”

And in a divided government, the sides are obligated to negotiate, and unless Obama agrees, “the House Republicans will have no choice: using the power of the purse to force negotiation is the heart of the Constitution’s division of power.”

But the crisis will pass, he said, when Obama agrees to negotiate.

Gingrich’s Financial Times piece is one of several he’s used to comment on the shutdown, reports Politico.

The former 2012 presidential candidate has also been speaking on The Tonight Show, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club,” in Time Magazine, and in other places to share the lessons he learned in the 1990s.

Related:

History Lesson: Why Investors Shouldn’t Fear a Government Shutdown

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

New York Times, Twitter Hacked by Syrian Group.


The New York Times and Twitter had their Internet registrations hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army, rendering at least parts of their sites inaccessible, said a person with knowledge of the companies’ investigations.

The Syrian group disrupted traffic to the websites by hacking into Melbourne IT, the company that controls the registration of the domains nytimes.com and twitter.co.uk, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak about the matter and asked not to be identified. That allowed hackers to control traffic of Internet users trying to reach those sites.

Some users reported being redirected to the Syrian group’s sites. Many were simply unable to access the pages at all. The Syrian Electronic Army, which backs the country’s president, Bashar Assad, has also claimed responsibility for hacking The Washington Post earlier this month and the Financial Times in early May, redirecting readers to its own websites and videos.

A Twitter user claiming to represent the Syrian Electronic Army posted images Tuesday of a set of altered domain registrations for the Times, Twitter and the Huffington Post’s U.K. site. The Times data listed a Syrian email address as the administrator’s contact information.

The New York Times suspects that hackers rendered its site unavailable for some users beginning about 3 p.m. New York time, Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The New York Times Co., wrote in an email.

On its website, Twitter said its domain registration provider “experienced an issue in which it appears DNS records for various organizations were modified,” including the twimg.com domain it uses to host images. The original domain record for that site has since been restored, and no user information was affected, it said.

The Huffington Post, owned by AOL, also experienced a hack attempt and “minimal disruption of service,” said Rhoades Alderson, a spokesman for the online publisher.

Security officials at both The New York Times and Twitter are investigating how the hackers were able to alter the domain registration data, the person familiar with the investigations said. The hackers could have gained access to Melbourne IT’s corporate network through a breach or stolen the passwords of administrators at the U.S. companies who have authority to change the data.

Tony Smith, a spokesman for Melbourne IT, based in Melbourne, Australia, didn’t immediately respond to a voice mail and email seeking comment.

While Twitter’s site was operating normally Tuesday night, twitter.co.uk was inaccessible.

The Times has been increasingly focusing on its website for growth as the industry reels from a print-advertising slump. Digital subscribers to the Times and its international edition increased 35 percent to 699,000 at the end of the last quarter. The company averaged about 14 new paying online readers every hour from the beginning of January to the end of June.

On Aug. 14, the newspaper’s website and email systems crashed for more than two hours because of an internal malfunction with its servers.
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Standing Against GMOs By Nnimmo Bassey.


Nnimmo Bassey
By Nnimmo Bassey

Nature has the right responses to changing climate and holds the ace to the survival of species on the planet. Humans simply have to be humble enough to accept that we do not understand everything about the intricacies of natural processes. The time has indeed come when the world has to accept that working with nature is immeasurably more beneficial than working against her. Agricultural genetic engineering (GE) over the past few decades has strived to upturn nature and box her for profit, but as it has consistently turned out, nature continues to trump the manipulators.

The power of the biotech industry has been more successful in restraining and constraining governments to do their bidding than in overcoming the power of nature. Their grip on governments has worked to the extent that when they commit crimes like genetic contamination all governments do is to legalise the misdeed so that it may become entrenched and so that the polluter profits from their crimes. And nature pays. And humans and other species pay.

Those who plead caution with regard to the planting and eating of genetically engineered (GE) crops are vilified as anti-science, whereas a close scrutiny shows that it is actually the biotech industries who are anti-science and who pretend that their approximate experimentations are precise in any serious way. Usually speaking from the position of power, proponents discount calls for reason and pleas that we have just one planet and that it is the diversity in nature that is the bedrock of resilience to variable climatic and other conditions.

The Financial Times in an editorial titled Seeds of Doubt and published on 21 July 2013 raises very deep issues. It’s subtitle, “Europe is right to be cautious over GM crops” captures the essence of the timely warning. The editorial informs that most GE crops are engineered to resist harmful insects or pests and to withstand glysophate, a type of herbicide. These engineering feats are expected to protect crops from target insects and to relief the farmer of the need to weed – a task that places a lot of stress on small-scale farmers. However, the application of the technology requires that farmers adopt monoculture as the norm and avoid mixed cropping and crop rotation as well.

The editorial notes the truth that critical farmers and scientists have long said, that target pests develop ways of overcoming the engineered defences while weeds have simply become super weeds, tough to hold down and tough to kill. Consequent upon these realities the biotech industry has had to continue to produce more toxic defences and chemicals in bids to overcome the resistance. Unfortunately for the industry, it has turned out that “the harder they come, the harder they fall”, as the reggae musicians sing. Those superbugs and super weeds would make even Spider Man jealous.

The FT editorial urges, “regulators should take a broad view of the ecological change triggered when new species are released.” It adds that “Narrow fixation on the biochemical properties of a crop risks missing the wood for the trees.” The editorial concludes that if Europe has saved her environment and forgone “gains” enjoyed for some time by farmers in the USA since the 1990s ” it will have been a small price to pay.”

One wonders why most African governments are not paying attention to the truth that natural resilience is the only way to secure our environment. We cannot afford to go the way of farmers who do not see their crops as food but as commodities to be processed into products for the market. This is the logic of the so-called value-added agricultural production mantra. While there is nothing wrong with value-addition, food crops need to be seen primarily as food crops to avoid needless and harmful tinkering by those who only see market shelves when they look at farms.

Coming on the same day as the FT editorial is another article, this time in the New York Times, that lays bare the tragic consequences of dependence on GE crops in a region of the USA. The article titled Our Coming Food Crisis and written by Gary Paul Nabhan, talks of the risks faced by farmers in a town in California as a metaphor for climate induced food crisis that could hit the USA and by extension impact the world through spiked food prices.

Nabhan draws attention to the higher temperatures being recorded in the area and stresses that when this persists it necessitates the use of more water for irrigation. This does not only place a demand on available surface and ground water, but also leads to higher energy need to pump the water over longer distances. Passing these costs to the consumer translates directly to increased food prices.

The writer went ahead to set out time-tested agro ecological practices that would create a climate smart situation, while at the same time helping to cool the climate, as the peasant movement La via Campesina keeps reminding us.

The steps outlined in the article include reliance on organic composting, rain water harvesting and funding to help farmers transition to perennial agriculture: “initially focussing on edible tree crops and perennial grass pastures – rather than providing more subsidies to biofuel production from annual crops. Perennial crops not only keep 7.5 to 9.4 times more carbon in the soil than annual crops, but their production also reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to till the soil every year.”

Nabhan goes on to write on the need to secure seed diversity especially of the sort already in seed banks that are known to have drought and heat tolerance. Screening these and making sketched ones available to farmers, according to the writer, would be at a ” fraction of what it costs a biotech firm to develop, patent and market a single ‘climate-friendly’ crop.”

Another critical point made in the article is that the government of the USA spends billions in crop insurance payments that could be invested in climate change adaptation. The writer notes that continued pay-outs to farmers rather than implementing a climate policy that would avoid losses means little more than subsidizing farmers for not adapting climate change.

Insurance payment for crops is not common in Africa, but it has been recently introduced in Northern Ghana where farmers risk losses due to hotter than usual seasons. It has been reported that the introduction of the payouts has given farmers more confidence in their vocation and encouraged them to increase the acreage of their farms. While this is laudable the fact still remains that creating the right policy environment for farmers to cultivate indigenous climate adapted crops is more sustainable than payouts.

The point of this article is that there is no reason to allow genetically engineered crops into farms that have not been already contaminated. This point is vital for African countries that must not allow themselves to be stampeded to toe paths that lead to questionable destinations. Genetically engineered crops are not as climate smart as native crops that have adapted to these conditions over the years.

Even the claims that Africans have nutritional deficits do not in any way have to translate to GE crops as solution to the problem. The enrichment of crops with higher levels of vitamins has been done through plant breeding processes of biofortification that is not genetic engineering. On all counts, including that of yield, the notions used to cajole political leaders to accept genetically modified crops succeed because of peculiar modification of perceptions on the basis of myths and mirages. Europe is right in rejecting GMOs. Africa cannot afford to repeat the mistakes made by those who already walked into the GMO cul-de-sac. We must not be in the business of turning our environment and peoples to laboratories and guinea pigs.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Coptic Christians Under Attack in Egypt Since Morsi’s Ouster.


Coptic Christians in Egypt have come under harsh attack since the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi — with members of the community kidnapped, killed, and their houses of worship trashed amid charges they were behind this month’s coup, community leaders and activists say.

“Copts have always been subject to religious persecution, but what happened this past week was a negative reaction to the [General] al-Sisi statement ending Morsi’s term,” Ishaq Ibrahim, of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rightstold The Financial Times.

“Muslim Brotherhood members were spreading rumors since then saying it is a Coptic conspiracy to exclude them from power,” he added.

At least nine Christians have been killed nationwide in recent weeks, including at least one priest, The FT reports. More than a dozen churches have been attacked or destroyed — and Coptic-owned businesses have been smeared with graffiti, while threatening fliers have been distributed.

Meanwhile, activists and community officials say the current round of violence has been inflamed by the rhetoric of Islamists irate over the toppling of Morsi.

And across Cairo on Friday, Morsi’s defenders and foes alike rallied supporters at competing demonstrations, one in Tahrir Square and the other around the Raba’a al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo.

Some worry that the rivalry is becoming sectarian, the FT reports.

For instance, Mina Aboud Sharween, a priest, was killed by gunmen on July 6. And the body of Magdy Lamei, a Christian salesman, was found on Thursday, days after being kidnapped and held for a ransom of about $70,000.

Both killings took place in the Sinai Peninsula, where presumed Islamists have been attacking Egyptian security forces since June 30, the FT reports.

“I cannot accuse any faction for these crimes,” the Rev. Ayoub Youssef, a priest from the Sinai taking refuge in Cairo after his church was firebombed, told the FT. “It is the investigative reports that will determine that.

“But I am asking the new government to speed up these prosecutions,” he said.

According to Newsmax contributor James Walsh, Coptic Christians have resided in Egypt since the 1st century A.D., about 600 years before Muhammad began preaching and 630 years before he solidified Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.

Muslims entered Egypt in the year 639 and by the 13th century, Islam had taken over. By the 20th century, Christians, who formed only 10 percent of the Egyptian population, had become victims of on-again-off-again violence by Muslim radicals.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

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