Posts Tagged ‘About Israel grossman’

Chief Bailout Negotiator: Greece Needs An ‘Economically Sustainable’ Deal

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 04 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We are joined now by Euclid Tsakalotos. He is deputy foreign minister for Greece and the head of Greece’s negotiating team.

Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us.

EUCLID TSAKALOTOS: You’re more than welcome.

MARTIN: Greeks are clearly confused about what Sunday’s referendum is about. Can you clarify? What are they voting on?

TSAKALOTOS: Well, the institutions – that’s the IMF, the European Commission and the ECB – made a proposal for an agreement. And that agreement, we felt – the Greek government – was not sustainably economically or socially just. And it’s that proposal that is being put to the Greek people to either accept or to reject.

MARTIN: But as I understand it, that particular proposal isn’t even on the table anymore.

TSAKALOTOS: Yes, that is technically true, but there is going to be a new agreement, and that agreement is going to be of a certain character. So we know what the institutions were proposing. I think most people understand the really underlying issues.

MARTIN: Is this a negotiating tactic, to call this referendum? Since it doesn’t explicitly validate or discredit a particular proposal, it’s mostly symbolic in nature.

TSAKALOTOS: In one sense you’re right, and in one sense you’re wrong. In one sense you are right, in the sense that we always said that this referendum was part of the negotiation process and not in lieu of the process. And it’s part of the negotiation process when we feel that we really did try our very best to reach an honorable compromise, whereas the IMF, the Commission and the ECB proposal was much more close to their opening bid three months ago, rather than trying to find the common ground. And that’s where you’re wrong. It’s more than a symbolic gesture. It’s a democratic gesture. And what we’re asking is that European people must respect the democratic decision because if they do not, people will draw the terrible conclusion that in Europe you can vote, but it doesn’t matter who you vote for, what electoral platform you vote for, what manifesto you vote for – you always get the same policies. And that means that people will be disgruntled with the democratic process, alienated from the democratic process, and that could lead to some very nasty, nationalistic, right-wing politics.

MARTIN: If the vote does not go the way you would like it to, if Greeks vote yes, does that mean your government folds?

TSAKALOTOS: Well, I can’t tell you the mechanics – the political mechanics. But, obviously, it’s like a vote of no-confidence for opposition for the Greek people, and that is a very serious matter. We would have to respect the decision of the Greek people, and the deal would have to be signed on the lines suggested by the institutions.

So the political mechanics are less important than the substance. And the substance is that we would need a government who believe in the institution’s proposals, think that they can work. Presumably, a lot of people who are voting yes and the politicians recommending yes – who are the same politicians, I would add, who ran Greece over the last five years with disastrous consequences for people’s income – they would have to have a greater say in a government. But exactly how that would be carried out, it’s too early to say.

MARTIN: If the vote is no then what does that mean – talks continue?

TSAKALOTOS: We will be there on Monday morning, if there is a no vote, negating on one and only one criterion. What we need is a deal that is economically sustainable, and that’s why it must have something on the debt because what we have in Greece is a lot of pent-up demand. We have people that have some money who are not spending it now. Not because they don’t have it, but because they fear the future. We have savers who are not willing to put their money in banks because they fear for the future. And we have investors not investing because they fear for the future. And unless the decision on debt it taken now and not pushed back to December or Easter or next summer, that pent-up demand won’t be released, and then we won’t even be able to keep our promises.

MARTIN: But what do you say to smaller European countries, like Ireland, who never got their own debt restructured, and they say, you know, Greece got themselves into this bind and they need to suffer the consequences?

TSAKALOTOS: Well, I think a lot of the smaller countries are saying that not because they’re annoyed at the Greeks, but they don’t want their own people to have a new deal. So I think that’s a slightly different matter. I think, as you know, Europe is the sick man of the world economy. Just to keep doing the same thing, time and time again, doesn’t seem to me, as an economist as much as a politician, to be wise.

MARTIN: Euclid Tsakalotos is the deputy foreign minister of Greece.

Thank you so much for talking with us, sir.

TSAKALOTOS: You’re more than welcome, once more.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/03/419824368/chief-bailout-negotiator-greece-needs-an-economically-sustainable-deal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Syrian Christians Face New Threat From Rebel Alliance

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 04 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Christians living through Syria’s civil war face a new threat as an Islamist rebel alliance surges in the country’s north. Today, in the heaviest fighting for months, the Islamist alliance launched an attempt to seize the key city of Aleppo from government forces. With backing from U.S. allies, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, this rebel coalition fights both the Syrian regime and the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS. But the coalition has extremists in its own ranks who have mistreated Christians and forced them out of their homes. NPR’s Deborah Amos went to Turkey, to the city Antakya, to meet a priest who was kidnapped by those militants last March.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH BELLS)

DEBORAH AMOS, BYLINE: This is a historic neighborhood where organized Christianity began here in southern Turkey – a place once known as Antioch, where Christians trace their roots back to the early church. And across the nearby border in Syria, Christian communities date back centuries. Now Christianity is dying in the Middle East, say church leaders in the region, under threat from militant Islam. Syrian priest Ibrahim Farah saw threat firsthand. Here, he is free to take part in the ancient rituals of worship. In Syria, his church is now shut.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

AMOS: In March, when the provincial capital of Idlib fell to a rebel coalition, Islamist militants kidnapped Father Ibrahim. Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate, al-Nusra Front, held him for 20 days. Some rebel groups objected, but here’s the problem – more moderate rebels had pledged to protect Syria’s minorities, even pledged to empower civilians to govern the liberated province. But the militants of al-Nusra made no such pledge and quickly imposed hard-line rules. By the time Father Ibrahim was released, all of the Christians of Idlib – about 150 families – had fled. Father Ibrahim crossed the border to Turkey.

IBRAHIM FARAH: (Foreign language spoken).

AMOS: He says this is the first time I’ve come to this church, a symbol of the long history of his faith.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

Are these Turkish Christians asking you about Syrian Christians?

FARAH: (Through interpreter) Of course, they’re interested. And they ask because they know about the situation in Syria, and we are all Christians in the Middle East. They’re afraid. They’re very afraid.

AMOS: Are they right to be afraid? Father Ibrahim raises his hand to stop the interview.

FARAH: (Through interpreter) We wish for peace in all of the world.

AMOS: He seems wary of criticizing the militants of al-Nusra and won’t talk about his kidnapping. He still hopes the hard-line Islamists can be convinced to allow civilians to run the province. There are growing protests by residents against al-Nusra, and their heavy hand has raised tensions within the rebel coalition.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing in foreign language).

AMOS: Meanwhile, back at the Turkish church, another Syrian Christian has come here recently for refuge. He’s an engineer from Aleppo, Syria’s battered northern city, half-held by rebels. He watched the military campaign in Idlib and says the provincial capital fell when the regime rapidly withdrew and rebel forces stormed in and that convinced him to leave his city, fearing the Christian community of Aleppo is the next target for hard-line Islamists. He won’t give his name to protect his family’s still in Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And maybe all of Christians still in Aleppo now think about the exit from Aleppo. And I saw Idlib fall, and I thought about Aleppo.

AMOS: Many in this Turkish frontier town are stepping up an emergency plan for Aleppo, just across the border. Aleppo is likely to be the next battleground as the rebels gain momentum. International aid groups have set up operation rooms to coordinate relief. Aleppo Christians are organizing in the event of a mass exodus, says aid worker Fadi Heliso.

FADI HELISO: If a battle start for Aleppo between the opposition and the regime, we don’t know who would manage to control the city.

AMOS: Activists are pressuring moderate rebel groups to protect civilians, but the Islamists are the strongest faction on the ground. Deborah Amos, NPR News, in southern Turkey.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/03/419824382/syrian-christians-face-new-threat-from-rebel-alliance?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Portland, Ore., Soccer Fans Gear Up For Women’s World Cup Final

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 04 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Sunday in Vancouver it’s a first-ever Women’s World Cup finals rematch as the U.S. plays Japan. Japan beat the U.S. for the soccer championship in 2011. This time around, the Americans are brimming with confidence after defeating No. 1 ranked Germany in the semifinals. Japan needed some luck to get to the title game. NPR’s Tom Goldman spoke to fans in soccer-crazy Portland, Ore. about this weekend’s big matchup.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Somewhere between the shrieks of joy in Japan and cries of anguish in the U.K., there was this in Portland on Wednesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, no.

GOLDMAN: Oh, no, indeed, as the scoreboard confirmed. England defender Laura Bassett’s own goal gave Japan a 2-1 semifinal win and sent the Japanese to a second straight World Cup final. At Portland’s Bazi Bierbrasserie, Bassett’s gaffe seen ’round the world wasn’t ridiculed. The Bazi crowd knows soccer, and Matt Hasti, wearing a soccer scarf even in 90-degree heat, said Bassett had to try to break-up the pass, a move that sent the ball into England’s goal.

MATT HASTI: But if that defender doesn’t touch that ball, the Japanese player’s got it and she’s got a damn nice shot on gold. So the defender’s got to do something.

GOLDMAN: So England was gone. And moments after the U.S.-Japan final was set, Hasti and friend, Justin Brown, already were talking strategy.

JUSTIN BROWN: Every team that I’ve seen try to play long ball against Japan has not worked, even with the height advantage.

HASTI: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: Hastie agreed, despite its players average height of 5-foot-3, Japan’s speed and positioning on defense has effectively countered the tactic of bombing-in long passes to tall forwards, a preferred tactic by the U.S., often to superstar Abby Wambach.

HASTI: I mean, she’s a great player. All the props to her, you know, best scorer – men or women – in the world, in this kind of stage. But when you long-ball it to her, she’s old. She can’t catch that ball anymore – what you were saying.

GOLDMAN: What Brown said was the U.S. played the long-ball strategy the first few games of the tournament and was ineffective on offense.

BROWN: Whereas the last game against Germany, there was a lot more passing and possession, and it was a much more enjoyable game to watch.

GOLDMAN: As the U.S. has changed strategies, Wambach has started games on the bench, where she’s been an enthusiastic cheerleader. It even prompted a tweet and, of course, Twitter controversy, when former men’s star Landon Donovan said, quote, “love the enthusiasm and veteran presence of Abby Wambach, despite not playing much. That kind of leadership is priceless during a World Cup.” It was seen as a slap at men’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who left Donovan off the team that played in last year’s World Cup in Brazil. Donovan denied ulterior motives.

But, you know what? That’s the men’s soap opera. The U.S. women are united, playing their best soccer, and Portlander Angie Renee Wright can’t wait to see them Sunday in person, after her fourth seven-hour drive from Portland to Vancouver during this World Cup.

ANGIE RENEE WRIGHT: We drive through the night because he doesn’t like the car seat.

GOLDMAN: He is 11-week-old Azul, who’ll be decked-out Sunday in a onesie decorated with a soccer ball. Azul slept through the Japan-England game. His mom watched carefully, and knows Japan is a lot more dangerous than it showed in the semis.

WRIGHT: We saw the Japanese versus Netherlands. They played an excellent game. They’re going to recalibrate and hone in on some of the things that they weren’t so tight on this game.

GOLDMAN: The juicy storyline of U.S. versus England is gone, no fight for American independence two on Fourth of July weekend. But the rematch should keep fans everywhere riveted to a first-of-its-kind World Cup finale. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Portland.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/03/419824403/portland-ore-soccer-fans-gear-up-for-womens-world-cup-final?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Getting Divorced In The Philippines Where It’s Against The Law

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 03 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Getting divorced in the United States is often emotionally taxing, but for the most part, it is doable. Depending on circumstances, it can take just a matter of months. The Philippines is the only country in the world where ending a marriage is not just difficult, getting divorced is against the law. The only option for most citizens there is to get an annulment, which, in the Philippines, is a long, expensive court proceeding. Journalist Ana Santos was 28 years old when she left her husband. Four years later, her marriage was legally ended through an annulment. She wrote about her experience for an article that recently appeared in The Atlantic. It’s titled “Ending A Marriage In The Only Country That Bans Divorce.” She joins us today from the Philippines to talk about it. Thanks much for being with us, Ana.

ANA SANTOS: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: Can you start off by explaining the law a little bit more for us? Why is divorce prohibited?

SANTOS: Well, to start off, divorce wasn’t always banned in the Philippines. When the Spanish came in, divorce was banned and then it was offered sporadically. And then after that, in 1949, the Civil Code of the Philippines totally outlawed divorce. Under Philippine law, there are a number of ways to separate from your spouse. One is through legal separation. You separate properties. You agree to live apart, but you are not allowed to remarry. And then there are two ways to annul a marriage – declaration of nullity and then annulment. And for a minority of the Philippine population who are Muslim, divorce is allowed because they are governed by a separate set of laws called the Muslim Personal Code.

MARTIN: So that’s a small percentage of the population. About 5 percent of the Philippines who are Muslim can get divorced, but for 95 percent of the residents there, it is against the law and the only option is to get an annulment. How difficult is that?

SANTOS: It is very difficult to get an annulment. You have to prove that your spouse is psychologically incapacitated to handle the responsibilities of being married, and that requires, you know, it requires evidence. You have to get a psychiatric evaluation and then your case is filed in family court, and it takes anywhere from two to four years. And during that time all the fees pile up and, of course, you know, the judges, along with the lawyers, offer to speed things along for a little bit of money on the side.

MARTIN: Do both parties have to get psychological evaluations?

SANTOS: You don’t – it’s a choice between – it’s a tossup, really.

MARTIN: So you just sought that label for your husband.

SANTOS: Yeah, and it was something that we had agreed upon.

MARTIN: Did he fight your petition for an annulment?

SANTOS: For the most part, he didn’t. Annulments are not supposed to be colluded. There is one party that is supposed to fight it out and that’s another part of the process that makes it totally insane. Why can’t we jointly agree as consenting adults not to be married anymore? That heightens the adversarial process of the annulment.

MARTIN: You did some reporting on this issue. This is a subject you wrote about for The Atlantic. Did you find out in your reporting just how many annulments are granted every year in the Philippines?

SANTOS: The office of the solicitor general gave me some statistics that show that there are more than 10,000 annulment cases that were filed in 2013. Of that number, there are – about 5 or 6 percent are denied.

MARTIN: Has the process of getting an annulment – since that’s the only mechanism to end a marriage – has that process gotten easier over the years?

SANTOS: No, it hasn’t gotten easier. It’s gotten more expensive. I had interviewed one of my former classmates and she told me that she paid 10,000 U.S. dollars for an all-inclusive package and a guarantee of a decision in her favor.

MARTIN: What is life like now? You live in the Philippines. Do you feel any stigma associated with being a divorced woman – I’m sorry – you’re not a divorced woman – with being a woman who went through an annulment?

SANTOS: Can I also just tell you, Rachel, it was also very difficult to know what to call myself even. On forms, employment applications, you know, those tick boxes there would be single, married and that was it. I was like OK, I’m not single. I’m not married, so what is this? And until now, they have added a couple of boxes, but they still don’t say annulled. It’ll say separated or widowed (laughter). I’m like, I’m still not one of these people (laughter). I wrote a piece about that saying that maybe they should just add a box that says it’s complicated.

MARTIN: (Laughter) What’s your relationship – may I ask – what’s your relationship now with your former husband?

SANTOS: I will be very honest and I’ll be very fair. He’s been a very good father to our child. And he has been quite respectful. We have a very civil relationship right now. We have worked out a way to jointly but separately raise our child.

MARTIN: Ana Santos is a freelance journalist living in the Philippines. Her article “Ending A Marriage In The Only Country That Bans Divorce” was featured in The Atlantic. Ana, thanks so much for talking with us.

SANTOS: Thank you, Rachel.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/02/419554813/getting-divorced-in-the-philippines-where-its-against-the-law?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Deputy Secretary Of State: Iran Needs Nuclear Deal ‘More Than We Do’

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 03 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The new deadline to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program is a just a few days from now – July 7. The stakes are as high as they have ever been. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held direct talks with the Iranian foreign minister yesterday. Kerry said things are moving in the right direction.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN KERRY: We have some very difficult issues, but we believe we’re making progress and we’re going to continue to work because of that.

MARTIN: To talk more about where things stand, we are joined by Kerry’s deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken. Thanks so much for being with us.

TONY BLINKEN: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: We just heard Secretary Kerry being hopeful, but his British counterpart was quoted as saying he doesn’t believe there’s any kind of breakthrough moment pending. If there is progress as Secretary Kerry has suggested, where is it?

BLINKEN: Well, Rachel, I don’t want to get into the details of the negotiations, but, you know, we’ve been at this for almost two years and it was worth taking a few extra days to see if we could finalize this agreement and to get it right.

MARTIN: We’ve talked on this program about the need for Iran to come clean about its past nuclear activities and separately Iran has to be willing to allow inspectors into its military facilities. Are those two items, are those deal breakers for the U.S.?

BLINKEN: Well, they’re two things. It’s clear that the so-called possible military dimensions of Iran’s program need to be accounted for. And this is, in fact, a separate process with the IAEA.

MARTIN: The International Atomic Energy Agency.

BLINKEN: That’s right. And they’ve been working on this with Iran for quite some time. Related to that is this question of access and inspections, and if we do not have and the IAEA does not have the access that it needs to be able to verify that Iran is not producing fissile material for a nuclear weapon, then we won’t have a deal. You know, you heard the president the other day being very clear that he will be very comfortable walking away from this if we don’t get – the international community doesn’t get what it needs. And at the heart of that are these questions of transparency and access and verification.

MARTIN: You have said before that what you don’t know is whether the Iranians have the political space to make a deal. What does that mean? Do you have any reason to believe that that space is opening?

BLINKEN: You know, it’s interesting because there’s sometimes a perception here that Iran is the only country on Earth that doesn’t have politics when in fact it’s exactly the opposite. Their politics are incredibly intense and if you just spend a little bit of time reading their newspapers, listening to their media, listening to the debates in their Majlis – in their parliament – it’s very, very clear. And there are people in Iran who are dead set against this agreement and there are others who are pragmatic and believe that it’s in Iran’s best interest to get a deal. And the challenge is who prevails politically and do the people who want an agreement have the authority to actually get to yes?

MARTIN: Are you clear on where the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is on this?

BLINKEN: I don’t think we are. I think – you’ve heard him makes statements in recent days, but again, this goes to the politics in Iran. But the bottom line is this – none of that matters. What matters is the agreement, if it’s reached. What we’ve seen to date is this – we have, as you know, an interim agreement, the so-called joint plan of action. And Iran has made good on all of its commitments in that agreement, as verified by the IEA, as verified by our own people and other countries. So if we get to that agreement in Vienna and Iran makes the commitments that it must make in order to get to a deal, what the track record of the interim agreement suggests is that they’ll keep their commitments.

MARTIN: Do you think it will happen?

BLINKEN: My sense is this – the Iranians have a lot invested in this and they need this agreement and they need it more than we do. So at the end of the day, I think there’ll be a lot of pressure internally in Iran to get this done because President Rouhani was elected, in large, part to deliver economically for the Iranian people. At the same time, you know, Iran continues to take actions in other areas – support for terrorism, destabilizing activities in the region and, of course, its own human rights picture – that are going to remain problems, serious problems, even if a deal is reached. But the bottom line is this – if we’re able to reach an agreement, even as Iran undertakes those other very objectionable activities, it’s because reaching an agreement will make the world a little bit safer

MARTIN: If a plan comes even a couple days beyond the July 7 deadline, the U.S. Congress has 60 days to review it. That’s a long time and there are vocal opponents on the Hill who don’t want a deal that would eventually mean relaxing sanctions. Are you concerned that after all of this work at the international level that Congress won’t ratify this?

BLINKEN: No. We welcome the scrutiny. It’s important. It’s necessary. But I would also say this – if at the end of the day there are some who oppose the agreement, that’s their right, but they have an obligation, I think, not only to say why they oppose it, but what they would do differently and how they would actually get it done.

MARTIN: Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, thanks so much for taking the time.

BLINKEN: Thank you.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/02/419554848/deputy-secretary-of-state-iran-needs-nuclear-deal-more-than-we-do?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Yes, There Really Is A Town In Liberia Called ‘Smell No Taste’

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 03 2015

i

This is a photo taken in the town of Smell No Taste, where a teenager died of Ebola this past week. The home where he passed away is now under quarantine.

Abbas Dulleh/AP


hide caption

itoggle caption

Abbas Dulleh/AP

This is a photo taken in the town of Smell No Taste, where a teenager died of Ebola this past week. The home where he passed away is now under quarantine.

This is a photo taken in the town of Smell No Taste, where a teenager died of Ebola this past week. The home where he passed away is now under quarantine.

Abbas Dulleh/AP

A curious detail appeared in stories about the death this week of a 17-year-old boy from Ebola.

As The New York Times reported: “Abraham died Sunday in his father’s home in a community known as Smell No Taste, a few miles from his mother’s home and a short distance from Liberia’s international airport and the Firestone rubber plantation.”

Smell No Taste? It seemed as if someone was pranking the Times.

To check it out, we got in touch with James Ciment, author of Another America: The Story Of Liberia and the Former Slaves Who Ruled It.

“During World War II, Liberia became an important trans-Atlantic landing site for military flights, as Liberia is the closest point between the Americas and Africa,” Ciment wrote in an e-mail. “To guard the runways (as well as the country’s critical rubber plantations), the United States posted several thousand black GIs there. Their base was off-limits to most of the Liberians, but the smell of all that abundant American food cooking drifted beyond the base’s perimeter, hence the name.”

Freelance filmmaker Arwen Kidd, who has been based in Liberia since 2008, knows Smell No Taste well. She made a movie named after the town, profiling a teenager whom she describes as a “mover and a shaker.”

To get to Smell No Taste, she says, you drive about an hour from downtown Monrovia toward the airport. “I describe it as a large village or a small town,” she says. “It’s big enough to have a school.”

The town is also known as “Unification Town.” And there’s a story there, too.

Kidd heard from a source at the airport that a town near Smell No Taste used to be called “F*** No Pay.” The origin story is that those American GIs would visit local prostitutes and not pay for their services.

The government supposedly renamed both of these towns “Unification Town” in advance of a visit in the 1980s by Liberia’s president.

True or apocryphal? Maybe the latter. But you have to admit, it’s a great story.

Meanwhile, other Liberian towns, Ciment says, take their name from the places that settlers from America left behind: Greenville, Kentucky, Virginia. Like Smell No Taste, they’re a reminder of the ties that bind the U.S. and Liberia.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/07/02/419545292/yes-there-really-is-a-town-in-liberia-called-smell-no-taste?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Germans Express ‘Frustration’ With Greece For Stalling Bailout Deal

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

No country is playing a more critical role in dealing with Greece than Germany. Germany has the most powerful economy in Europe. It’s home to the European Central Bank – the ECB – and it’s the key political dealmaker. German public opinion has been stacked against Greece from the beginning of this crisis, and many Germans feel that the Greeks deserve the consequences of their actions. To hear more about the German view, I’m joined now by Roman Pletter. He is deputy head of the business and economics section of the newspaper Die Zeit, and he joins us from Hamburg. Welcome to the program.

ROMAN PLETTER: Welcome. Hello.

SIEGEL: As we hear news about the very real fears and crises on the streets of Greece, how would you describe the mood in Germany?

PLETTER: Well, actually, it’s a mixture of frustration and indifference. I think frustration with the Greek government because many Germans feel like the Greece government were just playing them for several weeks when there was just enough time to get a deal done. But the other side is that in Germany itself, economically speaking, actually, it’s like living on an island at the moment. So unemployment is low. Growth is doing well. And I think we do not feel all the economic problems some other countries in the euro zone might face at the moment.

SIEGEL: When you say you feel like you’re living on an island, you feel like you’re living on a very pleasant island is what you are saying.

PLETTER: That’s right. And so I think there is no huge outrage about Greece. That’s not the case. Another side is that, of course, there are some politicians who think we have to rescue them because they fear that if the euro collapses, the whole euro zone and even Europe is an idea might be destroyed afterwards.

SIEGEL: Well, does maintaining the euro zone and maintaining the euro as a currency – does that trump whatever sense of fairness Germans might have, thinking that it’s only fair that Greece honor its obligations?

PLETTER: Well, I think that’s at the heart of the economic thinking of, for example, Chancellor Angela Merkel. She once said she wants to run the economy like a Swabian housewife, which refers to doing economic policy in a way like running your household. That means don’t spend more money than you have, and that’s what her conservative constituency expects from her. And given the fact that Germany had Social Security reforms 10 years ago, when former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder – he had to resign afterwards because people did not support these reforms. Now we are benefiting from these reforms. And many Germans think we had this hard time, and we expect the Greece people doing this themselves.

SIEGEL: But what – how did Germans react to the argument that, yes, Germany said, we should run this like a sound German household. On the other hand, by including Greece in the euro zone, you more or less said to an improvident member of the family go run up a bill. You can now borrow money is if you were a German, at very low rates.

PLETTER: I see your point, and I think that’s an argument often made by other countries criticizing Germany. The answer you would get from many German politicians is that when Greece joined the euro, they actually betrayed the other countries in the euro zone with delivering wrong numbers about their growth rates, about their economic situation. And they basically lied their way into the euro zone. And that’s something many people are still kind of struggling with. And that makes it so hard for many Germans to say, well, actually, we’ll bail out Greece anyway, but that’s a problem. In my personal opinion, that’s a problem because it’s very backwards-looking. It doesn’t help us in the future. Now we have to deal with the situation. They’re in the euro zone, and we have to deal with it.

SIEGEL: Roman Pletter of the newspaper Die Zeit in Hamburg. Thanks for talking with us today.

PLETTER: Thank you very much.

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NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240766/germans-express-frustration-with-greece-for-stalling-bailout-deal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Greece Moves Forward With Referendum On Proposed Bailout

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Greek prime minister said today he is willing to compromise to save his country from financial chaos. He said he’d work with European leaders on a new credit deal, but those leaders say they won’t talk about that until Greeks vote in a referendum Sunday. Greece’s previous loan deal expired yesterday. The banks are still closed, and the country is very close to broke. Joanna Kakissis has the latest from Athens.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: In a short televised address, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that he was still fighting hard for them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALEXIS TSIPRAS: (Through interpreter) We have been fighting all these months to protect your pensions and to make sure you have respectable ones. The proposals the lenders tried to blackmail us into signing would have cut your pensions. And that’s why we declined, and that’s why they’re taking revenge on us now.

KAKISSIS: That revenge, he says, is the closing of Greek banks and the limit on cash withdrawals until at least next week. But economist Platon Tinios says the European Central Bank had been using Greek government bonds as collateral to finance the banks. And since the previous bailout expired yesterday, that collateral may now be worthless.

PLATON TINIOS: So that would mean really big problems for the banks. The amount of money that the banks have on which they can lend will almost disappear.

KAKISSIS: The bank closures are affecting Kostas Youderis. The small fabric factory where he works can’t pay him until the banks reopen and credit is restored. The prime minister says Greeks should not regard Sunday’s vote as a referendum on the euro, but Youderis says that’s exactly how he sees it.

KOSTAS YOUDERIS: (Speaking Greek).

KAKISSIS: “If we drop the euro and return to our old drachma,” he says, “we will all be crying in our mother’s arms. We will go right off a cliff.” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who leads the eurozone finance ministers, hinted that the blame for the crisis lay mostly with the Greek government, and he apologized to Greeks who feel like they’re expulsion from the euro is imminent.

JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM: Finally, I can just say that I’m very sorry about the situation, given the strong determination of the Greek people to be a part of Europe and to remain a part of the eurozone in which we fully support them.

KAKISSIS: Tsipras has asked Greeks to vote no on Sunday’s referendum in order to get a better deal from creditors. For NPR News, I’m Joanna Kakissis in Athens.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240759/greece-moves-forward-with-referendum-on-proposed-bailout?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Puerto Rico Says With Restructuring It Can Pay Off Debts

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 02 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We’ve been talking a lot about Greece’s financial crisis, but Puerto Rico has also been on the brink of financial collapse. Hundreds of millions of dollars in debt payments were due today, and media sources say that Puerto Rico did make those payments. But it’s still most likely the Commonwealth is not going to be able to pay off its entire debt, which totals $73 billion.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Earlier this week, the governor of Puerto Rico said he’ll seek a moratorium on paying back the loans in order to allow Puerto Rico to rebuild its economy. To find out more about the island’s debt burden and what it means for residents there, we called Luis Vega Ramos. He’s a member of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives.

LUIS VEGA RAMOS: We have cut spending in great terms during during the last two and a half years. We have reformed the banking system. We have enacted new tax measures for the people of Puerto Rico so we that can have more revenue. We’ve reduced operating expenses of the government close to $2 billion so far. And the only element of our public expenditure that is on the rise is still the payment of our public debt.

MARTIN: To say that you cannot pay back $73 billion in debt, understanding that you’re trying to restructure to be able meet some of those payments, what does this mean for Puerto Rico’s ability to secure international loans in the future?

RAMOS: Well, I mean, Puerto Rico can only secure loans, through our current political situation, through the U.S. municipal bond market. And the reality is that option has been practically non-available. So, in that sense, saying what we have said practically doesn’t change the possibility of Puerto Rico moving out and getting more financial loans. What we’re saying is we intend to pay, but we need to restructure the nature of those payments.

MARTIN: I understand this is a complicated question, but how did this happen – $73 billion in debt?

RAMOS: Well, it’s a combination of factors. Obviously, there is a financial crisis worldwide. To that, we also have to add some not-so-wise practices of borrowing money to use in operational expenditures instead of on capital improvements. And that’s like using the money to pay for the mortgage in order to buy perishable items.

MARTIN: As this financial crisis in Puerto Rico has unraveled over the past few years, there’s been a pretty steady exodus of Puerto Ricans to the United States and other places. Are you expecting that the fixes that you’ve outlined – are you expecting people to feel secure enough in Puerto Rico’s future that they come home? How is this likely to affect the lives of your residents and citizens who have dispersed?

RAMOS: That’s where I think our debt holders, by agreeing on new terms so that we can pay what we owe – that the money that we don’t have to pay up front can be used in certain, specific investments that promote the economy of Puerto Rico. The reason of development like aeronautics, like science and technology and medical – if we get an injection that permit us to develop those very important pockets of economic development, we’ll be in a better position to pay our debt holders. And we’ll also be in a better position to depend less and less and less on fellow subsidies for our working poor.

MARTIN: Luis Vega Ramos is a member of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives. Thanks so much for talking with us, sir.

RAMOS: Thank you very much – a privilege.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/01/419240842/puerto-rico-says-with-restructuring-it-can-pay-off-debts?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Puerto Rico’s Governor Seeks To Delay Debt Payments

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 01 2015



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That’s the debt crisis in the Mediterranean. Closer to home in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is facing a fiscal crisis of its own. After years of borrowing to cover budget shortfalls, the U.S. territory is more than $72 billion in debt and faces some important deadlines tomorrow. The governor there, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, gave a televised address last night. In it, he warned residents that there would have to be sacrifices, and some of them would have to be borne by creditors. The governor is proposing a multi-year moratorium on debt payments.

NPR’s Greg Allen joins us now from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Greg, today, Puerto Rico’s bonds fell in value for the second day in a row, the first following an interview in which the governor called Puerto Rico’s debt, quote, “unpayable.” Is the governor threatening to default at this point?

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Well, bondholders might disagree, Rachel. But officials here say definitely not. They say – what they’re asking is in the best interest not just of Puerto Rico but also the bondholders and the hedge funds that hold Puerto Rico’s debt. What Puerto Rico wants is better terms from its lenders, even, as the governor said last night, a moratorium on debt payments for a couple of years until the island can get its economy going again. I spoke today to a representative from the governor’s party, Rep. Luis Vega Ramos. He’s – he compared Puerto Rico to a family that’s had a setback and can no longer pay their home mortgage. Here’s what he had to say.

LUIS VEGA RAMOS: That family does what Puerto Rico needs to do now. They put their best suit and tie. They go to the bank, and they say to the bank people, we’ve never missed a mortgage payment. We cannot pay you as it is right now. So in one pocket, I have my checkbook, and I can structure a new way of paying you. Or in the other pocket, I have the keys to the house.

MARTIN: OK, but is there any reason to believe that lenders in Puerto Rico want the keys to the house?

ALLEN: I don’t think they do. Lenders really just want their money. The main thing Puerto Rico has going for it at this point is that lenders – they don’t want assets like the island’s troubled power company. So the lenders are at the table negotiating, but something like a multi-year moratorium on debt payments that the governor’s asked for – that might be a bit of a stretch.

MARTIN: Puerto Rico has to make some big debt payments tomorrow. What are people saying? Does it have the money?

ALLEN: Well, clearly they have some. Puerto Rico’s reported to have paid off a $700 million short-term loan to a group of banks today. The head of the government bank has said they will have the cash to make a big debt payment tomorrow on general obligation bonds. But there’s other things going – out there. The island power company has a big payment due tomorrow and Puerto Rico officials have been doing last-minute negotiations with bondholders in that deal. It looks like they might have a deal where the power company pays much of what it owes and is able to postpone paying back part of the debt while negotiations continue there.

MARTIN: You’re there in San Juan, Greg. What’s it feel like walking around the city for average workers? What does it feel like to them?

ALLEN: Well, you know, it seems like a crisis to me because the way we report it. Then you get here, and you realize that things have been so bad for so long that I think for most people here, it’s just another day. In the governor’s address last night, he talked about pain and shared sacrifice. And we’ll have to see what that means because in the past, when there’s been big layoffs of government workers, cuts to education spending – things that did cause pain – there were big protests in the streets. So we won’t know until probably August or later. The governor’s appointed a working group to work something out with lenders, and we’ll see what they come up with and whether big spending cuts are going to be part of that picture.

MARTIN: NPR’s Greg Allen in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thanks so much, Greg.

ALLEN: You’re welcome.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/30/418924548/puerto-ricos-governor-seeks-to-delay-debt-payments?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world