Posts Tagged ‘About Israel grossman’

Russia Says It Won’t ‘Cave In’ To New Western Sanctions

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 20 2014

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in front of the map of the Russian Federation, with Crimea on the left of the map, during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday. The Kremlin has responded angrily to the latest round of U.S.-EU sanctions over the annexation of Crimea.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in front of the map of the Russian Federation, with Crimea on the left of the map, during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday. The Kremlin has responded angrily to the latest round of U.S.-EU sanctions over the annexation of Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in front of the map of the Russian Federation, with Crimea on the left of the map, during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday. The Kremlin has responded angrily to the latest round of U.S.-EU sanctions over the annexation of Crimea.

Alexei Druzhinin/AP

Russia, battered by the falling price of oil, its chief export, and a tumbling ruble, lashed out against the U.S. and EU for new sanctions that President Vladimir Putin says already account for “25 to 30 percent” of his country’s eroding currency.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman says today that the Kremlin will not “cave in” to pressure from the West over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, calling sanctions “collective punishment” on residents of the Black Sea peninsula, who voted in March to join Russia.

President Obama on Friday authorized fresh sanctions that prohibit any new American investment, financing or trade with Crimea. The U.S. move comes a day after similar sanctions were slapped on Russia by the European Union.

“Introducing new unilateral sanctions against the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sebastopol by the USA and European Union is direct evidence that the West has acknowledged that the decision by the Crimeans to rejoin Russia was unanimous and voluntary,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.

“That’s why they chose the ‘punishment’ to be collective,” it added. “It is sad that the countries which call themselves democratic resort to such methods in the 21st century.”

Oil prices have dropped below $60 a barrel from about $115 earlier this year, representing a huge loss in revenue for Moscow, which relies heavily on its petroleum exports.

Last week, Russia’s central bank boosted its interest rate to a whopping 17 percent from 10.5 percent in a move to stabilize the ruble’s precipitous slide in recent weeks. At one point last week, the Russian currency had lost 19 percent of its value in a single day.

Even so, NPR’s Corey Flintoff, reporting from Moscow earlier this week, said “some people are trying to convert their money into dollars and euros. But of course, that already amounts to a big loss for them. There doesn’t seem to be anything like a panic yet.

“Most people that I did talk with said they’re kind of resigned to waiting it out and seeing what happens,” Corey says.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/20/372088847/russia-says-it-wont-cave-in-to-new-western-sanctions?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

4 Gitmo Prisoners Released For Return To Afghanistan

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 20 2014

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The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, in a photograph taken earlier this year.

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The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, in a photograph taken earlier this year.

The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, in a photograph taken earlier this year.

Ben Fox/AP

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

The United States has released four Afghan detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who were returned to Afghanistan — the latest in a series of releases of inmates in recent weeks.

Reuters says: “The men were flown to Kabul overnight aboard a U.S. military plane and released to Afghan authorities, the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009, a U.S. official said.”

The four were released at the request of Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, The Associated Press reports.

The AP says:

“Obama administration officials said they worked quickly to fulfill the request from Ghani, in office just three months, to return the four, who had been cleared for transfer as a kind of reconciliation and mark of improved U.S.-Afghan relations.

“There is no requirement that the Afghan government further detain the men, identified as Mohammed Zahir, Shawali Khan, Abdul Ghani and Khi Ali Gul.”

In a Pentagon statement, the U.S. said it is “grateful to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for its willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”

Even so, The Washington Post reports: “The United States and Afghanistan have not started serious discussions about repatriating the remaining eight Afghans still held at Guantanamo Bay, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the transfers.

Last month, five Guantanamo detainees, four of them Yemenis, were sent to Georgia and Slovakia. And, earlier this month, the U.S. transferred six inmates to Uruguay. The latest release comes as no real surprise, as it is part of a larger U.S. effort to draw down the inmate population at Guantanamo, which President Obama, in his first campaign for the White House, promised to close.

Carol Rosenberg, who covers Guantanamo for The Miami Herald, tells NPR that Ghani formally requested the four be transferred “because they were at the front of the queue, meaning they were on a list that was approved a long time ago. So, it was easier to get them out than, say, the other eight Afghans are still at Guantanamo.

“In January 2010, the Obama drew up a list of people who would be approved for release,” Rosenberg says. “These four men were on it, along with dozens of others. Many of them had also previously been approved for release during the Bush years.

“What we’re seeing here is the release of people who were informed in 2008, 2009, 2010, that they would be allowed to go under certain circumstances. But, as I think we all know, the process pretty much got stalled by violence in the various countries where some of these people would be going,” she says.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/20/372092432/4-gitmo-prisoners-released-for-return-to-afghanistan?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Despite Its Beauty, Cuba Isn’t Quite Ready For Tourists

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 20 2014

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In 1959, Fidel Castro imposed a law forbidding the import of foreign cars, so many Cubans drive and maintain older models.

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In 1959, Fidel Castro imposed a law forbidding the import of foreign cars, so many Cubans drive and maintain older models.

In 1959, Fidel Castro imposed a law forbidding the import of foreign cars, so many Cubans drive and maintain older models.

Kate Skogen/JetKat Photo

I’ve always had a good time in Cuba. The people are friendly and funny, the rum is smooth, the music intoxicating and the beaches wide, white and soft.

But you’re accompanied everywhere by government minders. They call them responsables. Any Cuban you interview knows your microphone might as well run straight to their government.

If you want to talk to someone with a different view, you have to slip out of your hotel in the middle of the night without your minder — though dissidents say other security people follow you.

Each trip I’ve made as a reporter has revealed a little more of what kind of society Cubans live in. It’s a warm, sunny place, filled with industrious and accomplished people who laugh loudly in public but mutter or whisper under their breath about the government. And the government is everywhere.

In Cuba, the government is the news and the economy. It is the only voice in every broadcast or book. Every neighborhood has a local “Committee for the Defense of the Revolution,” on watch for what they call “counter-revolutionary activities.”

You still sometimes make a human connection with your responsable, and each trip, I’ve left with a light suitcase. Responsables beg — that is not too strong a word — for you to leave them your blue jeans, razor blades, toothpaste, or The Economist magazine, which they cannot get and often try to sell.

Government press people say, each trip, “Return as a tourist. Bring your family,” and I’ve been tempted. Havana is beautiful, caught in a kind of pastel time capsule of a 1940′s sea-breeze skyline and 1950′s Chevies nosing noisily up the street. Havana would be something to see before new Hyatts, Starbucks, or Chase Bank buildings make it look like many other modern cities.

But tourists inhabit a separate Havana. They can spend dollars, eat lobster, and drink wine in beachside restaurants in which Cubans are not permitted. They can watch news from around the world and travel the Internet as Cubans can’t.

And it is startling and sad to see legions of young women lined up behind tourist hotels, hoping, as Yoani Sanchez, the Cuban blogger, has written, to “snag … a tourist to take them to a hotel and offer them, the next morning, a breakfast that comes with milk.”

The largest hotel company in Latin America is the Grupode Tirismo Gaviota. It is owned by the Cuban military. So while I’ve been glad to go to Cuba as a reporter, I can’t bring myself to return as a tourist.

Maybe now, more Americans will get the chance to see Cuba. And I hope they get to know what they’re really seeing.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/20/372061961/despite-its-beauty-cuba-isnt-quite-ready-for-tourists?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Cuban-American Congressional Leaders Vow To Fight Obama’s Proposals

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 19 2014

A day after the president’s announcement that he wants to normalize relations with Cuba, Cuban-American congressional leaders came together in Miami to condemn it as appeasement of a Communist regime.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/19/371821086/cuban-american-congressional-leaders-vow-to-fight-obama-s-proposals?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Exchange Of Spies Was Critical To U.S.-Cuba Deal

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 19 2014

Part of the deal for the return of American Alan Gross from Cuba involved the release of a Cuban man who had served as a spy for the U.S. He’s said to have provided info about Cuban spies in the U.S.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/19/371821107/exchange-of-spies-was-critical-to-u-s-cuba-deal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Thailand Says It Was Unaware Of CIA ‘Black Site’ On Its Soil

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 19 2014

Abu Zubaydah, an alleged al-Qaida operative who was reportedly subjected to waterboarding at a secret location in Thailand in 2002.

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Thailand’s prime minister says his government had no knowledge of a secret location inside the country where the CIA is said to have waterboarded top al-Qaida operatives in 2002.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha was responding to the so-called “torture report” released by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month that detailed the treatment of terrorism suspects at secret locations — black sites— around the world.

One such center, known by the CIA code-named “Cat’s Eye,” was reportedly in Thailand. It is where Abu Zubaydah, an alleged al-Qaida facilitator, and another alleged al-Qaida figure, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, are believed to have been subjected to waterboarding and other techniques in an effort to extract information about terrorist activities. Other such sites were reportedly established by the Central Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania.

“The U.S. did not tell us anything. We didn’t know where it was hidden,” Prayut, an army general who seized power in Thailand in May, told reporters in the capital, according to The Bangkok Post.

“We didn’t have to take responsibility because they were already handed over,” Prayuth said.

The Bangkok Post says:

“Gen Prayut had previously denied that Thailand hosted clandestine torture facilities for the US.

“Returning from South Korea last Friday, Gen Prayut acknowledged the release of the explosive Senate report, which listed Thailand among the countries used by the CIA for the detention and torture of suspected terrorists.

“But he said the claims made within the public portion of the massive report were false, and the Foreign Ministry would explain that Thailand was not involved in the CIA’s actions.”

The Washington Post reports that after Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan and handed over to the U.S., the CIA rejected placing him in U.S. military custody, settling instead “on a location in Thailand that would become the agency’s first black site.”

Once there, the alleged al-Qaida operative “was kept in a coffin-sized box for hundreds of hours and waterboarded until he ‘became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through is open, full mouth,’” the newspaper said, quoting from the 528-page Senate report that is itself a declassified version of a classified study that exceeds 6,000 pages.

However, the Washington Post says:

“Almost immediately, there were tensions with the Thai government. The day after Abu Zubaida arrived, Thai officials began placing new conditions on their acquiescence, demanding access to U.S. intelligence that officials familiar with the Senate report said had nothing to do with terrorism. The Thai officials who had approved the CIA plan were suddenly replaced by others who objected to the deal and demanded that it be closed ‘within three weeks.’

“CIA lobbying got Thai officials to relent, but by November [2002], the location had leaked. The New York Times refrained from publishing the Thai connection, but “the fact that it had the information, combined with previous media interest, resulted in the decision to close [the site].”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/19/371865080/thailand-says-it-was-unaware-of-cia-black-site-on-its-soil?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Pakistan Keeps On Vaccinating Despite Tough Terrain And Terror Threat

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 18 2014

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A Pakistani health worker administers a polio vaccine to a child during a campaign in the northern city of Rawalpindi.

FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images


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A Pakistani health worker administers a polio vaccine to a child during a campaign in the northern city of Rawalpindi.

A Pakistani health worker administers a polio vaccine to a child during a campaign in the northern city of Rawalpindi.

FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images

Between the rugged terrain and the constant terrorist threats, vaccinating Pakistani children against common diseases hasn’t been easy. Mountains make it hard — at times even impossible — for vaccinators to reach people in the north. In the south, health workers have to use four-wheelers and camels to travel through Pakistan’s harsh deserts.

The Taliban also stands in the way. Since 2012, the Taliban has gunned down at least 60 health workers and policemen who were guarding them. The attack this week on a school in Peshawar that killed at least 140 children and teachers is a reminder how the group can wreak havoc with the country’s sense of security.

Still, Pakistan has been making strides in vaccinating children. In 2013, the country saw between 60 and 85 percent immunization coverage against diseases like measles, tuberculosis, polio and meningitis. In 1980, the rate was almost zero.

“We’ve seen the death of children occurring even 10 years ago cut down by half because of the vaccines,” says Dr. Dure Akram, a retired professor of pediatrics at Dow Medical University in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Akram, 66, now serves as the honorary chairman of Health Education and Literacy Program, a nongovernmental organization providing primary health care in Karachi.

Akram stopped by NPR to talk about the successes — and challenges — of routine immunization programs in Pakistan.

Will the recent Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar have any effect on the immunization program?

I do not think that this would affect the routine immunization or the polio campaign because we understand that this is retaliation by the Taliban against the army. I hope that it would not in any way compromise the routine the immunization activities going on there.

But in the past the Taliban has made it impossible for health care workers to carry out regular immunization drives. In places such as North Waziristan for instance. Is that still a problem?

That is a very difficult area. Since June of 2012 nobody was allowed to get in there to give vaccination. So that area became a pocket of disease and illnesses of children that could have been easily prevented. This was a political move on part of the Taliban. Presently in the last 6 months, the military has opened it up [and allowed vaccinators in to Taliban controlled areas], But there are still pockets where [the military has] not reached.

Over time, how have vaccines changed Pakistan?

Let me give you a bit of historical perspective. When I was growing up, we just had the smallpox vaccine. Sometimes when there were epidemics of typhoid, there was a typhoid vaccine. Other than that we grew up totally exposed to common childhood infections. So we did not even dream that one day our children would be protected against common infections [like] pneumonia, diarrhea and measles. With GAVI’s (The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations) help, our immunization program got accelerated and we could procure vaccines that were not accessible because of the price.

During my lifetime as a teacher, I saw diseases disappear. I saw outbreaks of measles disappear. I have seen isolation wards where we used to keep cases of tetanus closing down. A couple weeks ago, I was visiting my old hospital where I used to teach and we were taking rounds in the ward. The professor there — who used to be my student — asked me to look into a case that she thought may be diphtheria. She said, “I have not seen diphtheria in my life.” But I had [seen it] growing up. So this is a very visible impact of the vaccines.

Which vaccine would you say had the greatest impact in Pakistan?

As of now, the measles vaccine because measles decreases the immunity of children. It kind of eats up the vitamin A, which is a major micronutrient that protects against infections. So we used to see outbreaks of measles followed by outbreaks of tuberculosis, vitamin A deficiency and blindness. We definitely are still seeing measles outbreaks but these are in pockets, whereas we used to see outbreaks running throughout the country.

Hopefully [in the future], the most important vaccine to decrease mortality in children would be the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, which would decrease the two major killers of children under 5 in Pakistan. Pneumococcal vaccine was introduced just over a year and a half ago, and the rotavirus vaccine will be introduced next year.

What are the challenges of vaccinating children in Pakistan?

We have a population that is scattered, they’re in areas where there are no roads, especially in the deserts and mountains. We have a poverty level [of] 45 to 50 percent, and they do not have easy access to health care facilities. In addition, we’ve had disasters: the earthquake in 2005 [and] the floods in 2010 and 2011, which displaced over a million people [and] caused epidemics of diarrhea, pneumonia and various infections. Then we have manmade disasters like terrorism, which plagues us almost every week. We’re always in fear as to where it’s going to hit us next.

It seems like health problems in Pakistan are intertwined with insecurity. For instance, the places in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, where you still have major disease outbreaks are often the same places that are insecure.

You’re right. In cities like Peshawar — a bustling metropolis — and in Karachi, which is the industrial hub, there are pockets where even now we cannot go to immunize or to give health care because of the fear of insurgents attacking us. But that does not apply to the major part of the country; it applies to isolated pockets in the north of Pakistan and in Karachi.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/12/18/371479086/pakistan-keeps-on-vaccinating-despite-tough-terrain-and-terror-threat?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Putin: Sanctions, Falling Oil Prices Causing Ruble’s Tumble

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 18 2014

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, where he blamed Western sanctions and falling oil prices on his country’s economic troubles.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, where he blamed Western sanctions and falling oil prices on his country's economic troubles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, where he blamed Western sanctions and falling oil prices on his country’s economic troubles.

Pavel Golovkin/AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the West in a year-end news conference today, blaming international sanctions and a steep plunge in oil prices for the precipitous drop in the value of the ruble.

Putin, speaking during a more than three-hour news conference attended by some 1,200 journalists, “promised never to let the West chain or defang his proud nation,” according to The Associated Press.

It was the second time this month that Putin has spoken in a nationwide forum about the country’s economic woes, and the Russian leader echoed and expanded on many of the points he espoused in his Dec. 4 “state of the union speech.”

He blamed “external factors,” including sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU over the Ukraine crisis as a key factor in the decline of the ruble, which plunged 19 percent in a single day on Tuesday, but has since shown signs of firming. Putin said the sanctions were about 25 to 30 percent of the ruble’s troubles.

NPR’s Corey Flintoff reports that Putin said the worst-case scenario would mean two years of economic unease, but that the government would protect pensions and government salaries until then. He also said the crisis will force Russia’s economy to diversify away from only exporting oil and gas.

According to the AP: “Putin displayed his traditional defiant stance toward the West, which he insisted is trying to destroy Russia to grab Siberia’s great natural resources.”

Referring to the annexation of Crimea and Russian support for rebels in eastern Ukraine, Putin said “I believe that we were right,” adding, “And I believe our Western partners are not right.”

The Kremlin’s moves in Ukraine came as Kiev mulled the possibility of joining NATO. The expansion of the Western alliance, Putin said, was akin to a new Berlin Wall — dividing East and West.

But the Russian leader hinted at conciliation with Ukraine. The New York Times writes:

Mr. Putin recognized the efforts of President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine in ending the conflict in the southeast of that country, but he suggested that others in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, may be trying to prolong the conflict.

“Undoubtedly, the president of Ukraine certainly wants a settlement, and I have no doubt that he is striving for this,” Mr. Putin said.

“But he’s not alone there,” he added, referring to more hawkish officials.

The Guardian notes that Putin: “said that it was illogical to blame him for current frosty relations with the west. Referring to the number of US military bases around the world and its deployment of anti-ballistic missiles in Europe, he asked how Russia could possibly be seen as the aggressor.”

The Russian leader said it was too early for him to decide if he would run for president in 2018.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/18/371643381/putin-sanctions-falling-oil-prices-causing-rubles-tumble?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

FIFA Begins Meeting After American Lawyer’s Angry Resignation

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 18 2014

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Michael J. Garcia, head of FIFA’s investigatory chamber of the ethics committee, resigned Wednesday in protest.

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Michael J. Garcia, head of FIFA's investigatory chamber of the ethics committee, resigned Wednesday in protest.

Michael J. Garcia, head of FIFA’s investigatory chamber of the ethics committee, resigned Wednesday in protest.

Walter Bieri /EPA /LANDOV

Soccer’s governing body is meeting Thursday in Morocco, a day after the American lawyer, who spent two years investigating allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the World Cup, quit in protest at how FIFA handled his report.

Michael Garcia’s resignation stems from events that began last month. That’s when German judge Hans-Jochaim Eckert released a report that cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption in their successful bids for the soccer World Cup in 2018 and 2022, respectively. Eckert’s report was based, in part, on Garcia’s work. The German judge released a 42-page version of Garcia’s report, which the American lawyer said contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations.” He called upon Eckert to release his full 430-page work, which FIFA has sealed. On Tuesday, FIFA rejected that appeal on a technicality.

“No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization,” Garcia wrote in his resignation letter. “And while the November 13, 2014, Eckert Decision made me lose confidence in the independence of the Adjudicatory Chamber, it is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end.”

Today’s FIFA meeting in Morocco, which will go on until Friday, will discuss preparations for the 2018 World Cup. But it will also discuss Garcia’s full 430-page report. FIFA’s executive committee will vote on a measure that could lead to the publication of an edited version of the report.

The Associated Press reports that the 27 members on the panel are divided over releasing all or even part of the report. But the fact more of it hasn’t been released only adds to speculation about what it contains. It also raises questions about FIFA, an organization long plagued by allegations of opacity.

The AP adds:

“Prosecutions launched by Garcia against five senior football officials for wrongdoing in the World Cup campaigns will continue. Those cases can be led by his ethics investigation deputy, Zurich-based former public prosecutor Cornel Borbely.

“Former Germany great Franz Beckenbauer, a voting member of the FIFA executive committee in 2010, is the highest profile of the five accused men.

“Three current board members — FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Michel D’Hooghe of Belgium and Worawi Makudi of Thailand — also face sanctions for their actions during contests marred by claims of bribery, collusion and favor-seeking.”

You can find our previous coverage of this story here.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/18/371653878/fifa-begins-meeting-after-american-lawyers-resignation?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Obama Expected To Impose New Sanctions On Russia

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Dec 17 2014

Aides say Obama will sign a bill authorizing new economic sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its ongoing interference in Ukraine. Russia’s economy is reeling from earlier western sanctions.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/17/371364792/obama-expected-to-impose-new-sanctions-on-russia?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world