Posts Tagged ‘Israel grossman attorney Information’

U.N. Report Highlights Surprising Global Progress On Poverty Goals

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 07 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The last 15 years have brought unprecedented improvements to the lives of the world’s poorest people. A report by the United Nations today highlights the progress. The number of people who live in extreme poverty has dropped by more than half. Many say a catalyst for this was a commitment by world leaders back in 2000. They vowed to a meet an ambitious set of goals to reduce poverty by this year, 2015. NPR’s Nurith Aizenman brings us the first of a two-part report on these Millennium Development Goals, as they’re called. Today – why the goals proved so surprisingly successful.

NURITH AIZENMAN, BYLINE: For an agreement that’s widely credited with bringing millions of people life-saving medications and access to clean drinking water in schools, the Millennium Development Goals had a pretty humdrum beginning. Mark Malloch-Brown was part of a small group of top U.N. officials who largely wrote the Millennium Development Goals. He sums up the process with the word simple.

MARK MALLOCH-BROWN: It’s brilliantly simple. It was myself with some chums in a room kind of thing.

AIZENMAN: They came up with a short list of goals to be met by 2015. The process was so casual they almost forgot something.

MALLOCH-BROWN: You know, happily having sent these things to press, I ran into a smiling German colleague in the corridor who was the head of the environment program. I remember my blood falling to my ankles as I said, oh, goodness me, we’ve forgotten the environment goal.

AIZENMAN: They stopped the presses, added the goal ensure environmental sustainability, bringing the total to eight. Now, a big reason this could all be so low-key was that, at the time, people didn’t expect much to come of the goals. Mark Suzman oversees global policy advocacy for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

MARK SUZMAN: It’s not as if 2000 was the first time that the U.N. has come out and set lofty global goals.

AIZENMAN: But Suzman, who once worked with Malloch-Brown at the U.N., says the very simplicity of the Millennium Development Goals ended up making them uniquely powerful. International aid to poor countries had gotten kind of chaotic and scattershot during the 1990s. And by reducing the global agenda to eight narrowly defined priorities, the goals helped channel everyone’s energies and money.

SUZMAN: What the goals did, by prioritizing and focusing, was actually put together major international donors, civil society partners on the ground, national governments focusing on the same sets of issues. And that allowed for a focusing of both policy change and resources and attention.

AIZENMAN: Countries and donors could track how they were measuring up against the targets. And this often spurred them to try harder. The upshot – 12 million people in poor countries now have access to HIV/AIDS aids drugs. More than 6 million lives have been saved thanks to malaria prevention and treatments. Now, the world hasn’t met every single Millennium Development Goal, and a lot of the rise in poor people’s incomes was the result of economic growth in China and India. Still, says Suzman…

SUZMAN: The last decade has seen arguably the greatest improvements for the largest number of people on the planet in the most countries than has ever happened in human history.

AIZENMAN: So as people started talking about what should replace these goals when they expire this year, there was one thing everyone agreed on – something this important should no longer be drafted by a bunch of technocrats in a room at the U.N. This time, they’ve reached out to every member country, local activists. They’ve polled 7 million people. All those cooks have added a lot of new ingredients. The latest draft has double the number of goals, quadruple the number of sub-goals. Nurith Aizenman, NPR News.

SIEGEL: Tomorrow on this program, we’ll hear about fears that this longer, broader list of goals could prove unworkable.

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/2015/07/06/420595036/u-n-report-highlights-surprising-global-progress-on-poverty-goals?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Recent Islamic State Losses Show It Can Be Defeated, Obama Says

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 07 2015

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President Obama delivers remarks Monday at the Pentagon after a briefing on U.S. efforts against the Islamic State.

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President Obama delivers remarks Monday at the Pentagon after a briefing on U.S. efforts against the Islamic State.

President Obama delivers remarks Monday at the Pentagon after a briefing on U.S. efforts against the Islamic State.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters /Landov

Updated at 5:26 p.m. ET

President Obama has warned that the campaign against the so-called Islamic State “will not be quick” as he cited gains made in Iraq and Syria by the coalition fighting the militant group.

“This will not be quick,” Obama said at the Pentagon. “This is a long-term campaign.”

He said the coalition against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has hit the group with more than 5,000 airstrikes, destroying thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories and training camps and killing thousands of fighters, including senior commanders. The Islamic State, Obama said, has lost more than a quarter of the populated areas it had seized in Iraq, and parts of Syria that it controlled, too.

“ISIL’s recent losses in both Syria and Iraq prove that ISIL can and will be defeated,” Obama said.

Obama said the U.S. continues to ramp up the training and support of local forces fighting the Islamic State on the ground in Iraq, and will “do more to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria.”

The Islamic State is one of several factions involved in the civil war in Syria. Obama said the only way for that civil war to end was if President Bashar Assad stepped down; a move, he said, that would unite the remaining factions against the Islamic State.

Obama said the coalition would also continue to target the oil and gas, and financial infrastructure that funds the Islamic State’s operations, and to speed up the delivery of military equipment to Iraqi forces battling the organization. But, he added: “No amount of military force will end the terror that is ISIL unless it’s matched by a broader effort — political and economic.”

Obama said the U.S. was doing a better job of preventing large-scale attacks on the homeland, but that so-called lone-wolf terrorists are harder to detect.

“Here in the United States, we have seen all kinds of home-grown terrorism and tragically recent history reminds us how even a single individual motivated by a hateful ideology with access to dangerous weapons can inflict horrendous harm on Americans,” he said. “Our efforts to counter violent extremism must not target any one community because of their faith or background, including patriotic Muslim Americans who are partners in keeping our country safe.

“That said, we also have to acknowledge that ISIL has been particularly effective at reaching out to and recruiting vulnerable people around the world, including here in the United States. And they are targeting Muslim communities around the world.”

Obama said that in order to defeat groups such as the Islamic State, the U.S. must also “discredit their ideology, the twisted thinking that draws vulnerable people into their ranks.”

“Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas — a more attractive, more compelling vision,” he said.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/06/420626902/obama-says-recent-islamic-state-losses-show-it-can-be-defeated?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

European Commission Official: No Vote Puts Greece In Weaker Position

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 07 2015



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Greece still owes its creditors almost 250 billion euros, and yesterday’s no vote has sent shockwaves through Brussels, the capital of the European Union. Joining us now on the line is the vice president of the European Commission for the euro and social dialogue – that’s his title. He is Valdis Dombrovskis, a Latvian. Welcome to the program, sir.

VALDIS DOMBROVSKIS: Good afternoon.

SIEGEL: You’ve said that the vote in Greece widens the gap, provides no easy way out and that too much time and too many opportunities have been lost. Bottom line – does that mean, as far as you’re concerned, Greece is probably leaving the euro right now?

DOMBROVSKIS: Well, if both sides are working seriously and constructively, there is always a possibility to find a solution. But it’s also true that yesterday’s referendum had made things more complicated, and the gap we need to breach has become wider.

SIEGEL: Wider – the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras seems to think that with 60 percent of Greeks backing him up, he’s in a stronger position negotiating with Europe. Has he got that wrong? Is he in a weaker position?

DOMBROVSKIS: Well, it’s certainly emphasized by European Commission, also by president of the Eurogroup already before the referendums that, actually, the no vote would dramatically weaken the negotiating position of the Greek government. And it will be more difficult to found a solution which all 19 – well, 19 including Greece – eurozone countries could support.

SIEGEL: But how do you answer the argument that if Greece adopts the policies that its creditors want it to pursue, it will cut spending, it will raise taxes, it will diminish growth and be even less able to pay back the debts that are saddling the country?

DOMBROVSKIS: Well, that’s why institutions are so much stressing the need for a credible strategy out of the crisis because the first thing for Greece is to regain financial stability because without financial stability, there is no economic growth. Banks are worried. They are not lending to the real economy. Citizens are worried. They are not spending. Companies are worried. They are not investing. And if you restore financial stability, banks start lending to the economy, citizens start spending, companies start investing. It’s something we saw in other pilgrim countries, like in Ireland, like in Portugal. And those countries which were implementing reforms were actually able to return to economic growth.

SIEGEL: Mr. Dombrovskis, just before you go, I want to ask you what you thought as you saw scenes of crowds of Greeks celebrating the victory of the no vote – the rejection of the terms that had been on the table but had expired. What was your reaction to those scenes of jubilation on behalf of a majority of Greek voters?

DOMBROVSKIS: Well, it’s clear that there’s not going to be quick and easy solutions to the problem. And I think it’s very important that, also, the Greek government is constructive and honest to its citizens and tells the Greek citizens what are the consequences of different decision government is taking.

SIEGEL: Do you think they were less than honest in this case?

DOMBROVSKIS: Well, I’m not entirely convinced that all Greek citizens were explained what implications different decisions may create.

SIEGEL: Valdis Dombrovskis, vice president of the European Commission, thank you very much for talking with us today.

DOMBROVSKIS: Thank you. Thank you so much.

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/2015/07/06/420595008/european-commission-official-no-vote-puts-greece-in-weaker-position?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Is It All Greek To You? Thank Medieval Monks, And The Bard, For The Phrase

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 06 2015

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Greek flags fly beside those of the European Union in Athens. Many people chalk the phrase up to Shakespeare, but its origins likely date back much earlier than that –€” to medieval monks eager for a cop-out.

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Greek flags fly beside those of the European Union in Athens. Many people chalk the phrase up to Shakespeare, but its origins likely date back much earlier than that -- to medieval monks eager for a cop-out.

Greek flags fly beside those of the European Union in Athens. Many people chalk the phrase up to Shakespeare, but its origins likely date back much earlier than that –€” to medieval monks eager for a cop-out.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

If you’ve been following the Greek financial crisis, you’ve certainly seen this old cliche in the headlines.

In USA Today, there was “If ‘it’s all Greek to you,’ here’s the skinny on debt crisis.” The BBC says, “All Greek to you? Greece’s debt jargon explained.”

We’re all guilty of it. Even NPR had “If the mess in Greece is all Greek to you, then read this.”

Shakespeare lovers are well aware this phrase comes from the Bard — or, well, partly. Ben Zimmer, a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal, says that Shakespeare is probably responsible for the popularity of the phrase.

“It appears in his play Julius Caesar,” he says. “There’s a character who’s describing the speech of Cicero, who is a learned scholar; he actually knew Greek. But this character didn’t really understand what Cicero was saying, and he says, ‘For mine own part, it was Greek to me.’ “

But Shakespeare didn’t actually come up with the phrase “it’s all Greek to me.” The phrase appeared in a translation of an Italian play decades earlier.

Its true origin is a bit of a mystery, though Zimmer says there’s a pretty good guess. Back in the days before the printing press, medieval monks would copy old Latin manuscripts to preserve them, but the Greek alphabet threw them for a loop.

“And so if they were copying a Latin manuscript, and they came across a Greek quotation in a manuscript, they might have trouble actually trying to copy that part,” Zimmer says. “And so as a kind of a cop-out, they might just write in Latin, Graecum est, non legitur, which means, ‘This is Greek. It cannot be read.’ “

But it seems like those medieval monks — or whoever’s behind “it’s all Greek to me” — were just expressing a universal human sentiment.

Zimmer says there’s a version of this phrase in many languages.

“In Finnish, you might say, ‘It’s all Hebrew,’ ” he says. “In Italian, you might say, ‘This is Arabic,’ or ‘This is Aramaic to me.’ “

And in Greek? The expression is, “This is all Chinese to me.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/05/420335188/is-it-all-greek-to-you-thank-lazy-monks-and-the-bard-for-the-phrase?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

U.S. Women Win World Cup Final 5-2, After Spectacular Start

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 06 2015

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To the delight of American fans, Carli Lloyd of the United States scored a hat trick in the first 15 minutes of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final against Japan on Sunday.

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To the delight of American fans, Carli Lloyd of the United States scored a hat trick in the first 15 minutes of the FIFA Women's World Cup Final against Japan on Sunday.

To the delight of American fans, Carli Lloyd of the United States scored a hat trick in the first 15 minutes of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final against Japan on Sunday.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The U.S. team won the Women’s World Cup final 5-2 in a game that brought U.S. fans to their feet, reduced polished sportswriters to all-caps expressions of awe and rewrote FIFA records — and that’s just in the first half.

The game began in spectacular fashion: In the first five minutes, captain Carli Lloyd scored two swift goals — the fastest two goals in FIFA history, according to the FIFA Women’s World Cup twitter account.

Just a few minutes later, Lauren Holiday brought the score up to 3-0.

And then Lloyd did it again: she scored — from midfield — to raise the score to an astounding 4-0, just 15 minutes into the game. It was the first hat trick in a Women’s World Cup final and the fastest hat trick in any World Cup game.

And did we mention it was a strike from midfield?

The U.S. lead was definitive, but Japan hadn’t given up. They scored an elegant goal in the 27th minute, finally giving Japan fans something to cheer about.

As NPR’s Russell Lewis reported before the game, the U.S. team made it to the final thanks to some remarkable work on defense:

The U.S. has played six games in the World Cup and hasn’t given up a goal since its opener against Australia — a stunning scoreless streak of 513 minutes. Not surprisingly, the three nominees from the United States for FIFA’s ‘Golden Ball’ award play defense and midfield.

When that streak finally ended at 540 minutes, it tied Germany’s 2007 World Cup record. But while defense brought the U.S. women to the final, it was offense that was shining on the field.

In the second half, Julie Johnston scored an own goal that Hope Solo couldn’t block, bringing Japan’s score to 2. A few minutes later, Tobin Heath scored again for the U.S., bringing America back to another dominant lead: 5-2.

With 10 minutes remaining, star forward Abby Wambach came on the field. Lloyd passed her teammate the captain’s armband — giving Wambach the chance to wear it one last time. This was Wambach’s final World Cup game.

The American women held their 5-2 lead through game’s end.

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The BC Place stadium — dominated by U.S. fans — rejoiced as the American team took home the Women’s World Cup Sunday night.

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The BC Place stadium  dominated by U.S. fans  rejoiced as the American team took home the Women's World Cup Sunday night.

The BC Place stadium — dominated by U.S. fans — rejoiced as the American team took home the Women’s World Cup Sunday night.

Alison MacAdam/NPR

They earned their trophy in a Canadian stadium packed with U.S. fans. The crowd booed FIFA officials when they came to the stands, reports NPR’s Melissa Block, who was in the stands — but they had nothing but cheers for the players. Japan’s players, after fighting hard all game, stoically applauded the victors as Team USA was showered by gold glitter.

The game was a rematch of the 2011 World Cup final, which Japan won in a dramatic penalty kick shoot-out. That game was tense: 1-1 at the end of regulation and 2-2 at the end of overtime, before Japan won the shootout 3-1.

That heartbreaking loss was driving the Americans as they headed into Sunday’s game. “It’s kind of been that thing that’s been within us, that fuels our fire, that motivates us,” Wambach said Friday.

And the U.S. women burned that fuel all the way to victory.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/05/420346946/u-s-women-lead-world-cup-final-5-2?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

After Rejecting Bailout Plan, Greece’s Economic Future Is ‘Invisible’

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 06 2015

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Greeks stand outside of a local school in Athens that served as a voting station.

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Greeks stand outside of a local school in Athens that served as a voting station.

Greeks stand outside of a local school in Athens that served as a voting station.

Chris Arnold/NPR

The Greek word for no is oxi, and across Athens and the Greek Islands on Sunday, it was everywhere: on posters, spray-painted on walls and old cars.

And it was also on ballots: Greek voters voted oxi Sunday in a historic referendum over the country’s economic future.

The Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called the surprise vote to ask his country whether they would accept a bailout offer from European leaders that he thinks would be too oppressive. The concern now is that the no vote could send Greece crashing out of the eurozone and into an even worse recession.

The many forms of “no” are a sign of the anger that many Greeks felt over the terms Europe insisted on in recent years in exchange for bailout money for Greece’s struggling economy.

The no voters argued that the unemployment rate in Greece has doubled since 2010 with 25 percent of Greeks looking for work and unable to find jobs. So they say, “What kind of bailout is that? Enough. No. Oxi.”

Panagiotis Psarros voted against the referendum in Athens on Sunday. He said voting no is just another way to put more pressure on the European Union to help Greece and be more moderate on the measures.

Many say Greece had to pay bailout money back too quickly all while agreeing to cut pensions for retirees and raise taxes. They say this is crushing their economy.

Others warned that a no vote was dangerous. But Psarros doesn’t believe that — he said he thinks the media and European leaders were trying to scare the Greek people. People are controlled by three things, he said: sex, money and fear.

“And they wanted to make us feel the fear,” he said through an interpreter.

But for others exiting the polls Sunday, this was not just a symbolic vote to push Europe to cut Greece a better deal.

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Konstantinos Poulakidas runs a watch stand in Athens. He says regardless of the outcome of the referendum, for Greece right now, “the future is invisible.”

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Konstantinos Poulakidas runs a watch stand in Athens. He says regardless of the outcome of the referendum, for Greece right now, the future is invisible.

Konstantinos Poulakidas runs a watch stand in Athens. He says regardless of the outcome of the referendum, for Greece right now, “the future is invisible.”

Chris Arnold/NPR

“Sometimes I’m very sad, I’m very very worried, and I’m extremely angry. Extremely angry,” said 41-year-old Maria Skokou, a psychiatrist who voted with her mother.

They both voted yes. Skokou is upset because she thinks Greeks don’t really understand what they are putting into motion by voting no.

“A vote for no will be a total disaster,” she said. “We will eventually be kicked from the euro and the eurozone, which I think is going to be a huge mistake. One of those historic mistakes that Greece has made.”

Many of the yes voters agree. They think Greece could be pushed back to using its own currency — perhaps the old drachma — which might set off runaway inflation. Skokou’s mother worries she’ll have to bring a suitcase full of drachmas to the grocery store.

“She means that money will have no use, no value,” her daughter said.

And clearly many people in Greece were very scared before Sunday’s vote. A woman working the cash register at a little gift shop didn’t want to be recorded.

But she broke down crying saying she’s been wanting to have a baby, but she’s too afraid. She can’t find a good job, and there’s just too much economic uncertainty.

Skokou said her brother, who’s a chemical engineer, has started to look for another job in Australia in case he loses his job in Greece.

But where does Greece go from here? It’s unclear exactly how European leaders will respond to Greece’s rejection of the referendum. People in Greece — especially business owners — are desperate to get the banks back open.

People are having trouble paying their rent and buying merchandise to put on their store shelves. Kostantinos Poulakidas, who runs a small wristwatch stand in Athens, summed up Greece’s situation well.

“The future is invisible, and we cannot see it,” he said. “The future is invisible.”

And that continues to be true even after the votes were counted, and oxi won the day.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/05/420345171/after-rejecting-bailout-plan-greeces-economic-future-is-invisible?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Week After Beach Attack, Tunisia Declares State Of Emergency

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 05 2015

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Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi speaks during a forum on strategic planning, in Tunis, in June. Essebsi has declared a state of emergency his office says is aimed at dealing with the threat of Islamist extremists.

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Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi speaks during a forum on strategic planning, in Tunis, in June. Essebsi has declared a state of emergency his office says is aimed at dealing with the threat of Islamist extremists.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi speaks during a forum on strategic planning, in Tunis, in June. Essebsi has declared a state of emergency his office says is aimed at dealing with the threat of Islamist extremists.

Mohamed Messara/EPA/Landov

More than a week after a deadly attack by an Islamic extremist at a Tunisian beachfront resort that killed 38 foreign tourists, the president of the North African country has declared a state of emergency.

President Beji Caid Essebsi’s office says in a statement that he needed the powers that come with the declaration to more effectively deal with the threat from extremists.

As Reuters writes: “Tunisia’s emergency law temporarily gives the government more executive flexibility, hands the army and police more authority, and restricts certain rights such as the right to public assembly.”

The declaration follows last week’s attack in which a lone gunman entered a resort at the Mediterranean coast town of Sousse and began systematically killing tourists, most of them British, but also some from Germany and Belgium. The assailant, who was killed by authorities, was later identified as 23-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui, an aviation student. The self-described Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

The statement from the president’s office said Essebsi would give a speech on national television with more details at 2 p.m. EDT.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/04/420038537/week-after-beach-attack-tunisia-declares-state-of-emergency?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

U.N.: Report On Iran’s Atomic Program Possible By Year’s End

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 05 2015

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (not pictured) at a hotel in Vienna on Friday.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (not pictured) at a hotel in Vienna on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (not pictured) at a hotel in Vienna on Friday.

Carlos Barria/Reuters/Landov

Yukio Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, says that if Iran cooperates, the agency could issue a report on the country’s past atomic research by the end of the year.

NPR’s Peter Kenyon, reporting from Vienna, says that progress is also being reported on sanctions relief for Tehran — but a deal has yet to be finalized.

“With cooperation from Iran, I think we can issue a report by the end of the year,” Amano, the head of the U.N. agency, says.

Iran has dragged its feet on answering the IAEA’s questions even amid marathon talks held in a Vienna hotel involving the U.K., China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, aimed at reaching a deal that would lift United Nations sanctions.

Reuters notes:

“The six powers had yet to agree on a United Nations Security Council resolution that would lift U.N. sanctions and establish a means of re-imposing them in case of Iranian non-compliance with a future agreement.

” ‘We still haven’t sorted a Security Council resolution,’ a diplomat close to the talks told Reuters. ‘We don’t have Iran on board yet.’ “

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/04/420090633/u-n-report-on-irans-atomic-program-possible-by-years-end?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

As Greece Stares Down Its Money Troubles, A Decisive Vote Looms

Uncategorized | Posted by Israel Grossman Attorney
Jul 05 2015



ARUN RATH, HOST:

Greeks will vote in a referendum tomorrow that’s unsettling both Greeks and the rest of Europe. The Greek government says it’s a vote on austerity where the Greeks will agree to more in exchange for more bailout loans to keep their country solvent. European leaders, on the other hand, are seeing it as a vote on the eurozone and whether Greeks want to remain part of it. Joanna Kakissis joins us now from Athens. Joanna, how are things now in Athens? What have you been seeing on the streets and in the media?

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Well, you know, people are remarkably calm considering the fact that Greek banks have been closed for a week – for more than a week now. They’ve been lining up calmly at ATM lines and, you know, getting out their 60 Euros per day – that’s just under $70 per day – and sort of hoping for the best. The Greek media have really focused on those ATM lines, you know, showing sort of the older people really getting tired waiting there for the money. But from what I’ve seen, people just are trying to stay as calm as possible. Greeks have been through a lot in the last five years, and they’ve seen, you know, doom and gloom warnings before. And so they’re just trying to see where this goes and where – what’s going to happen in the next few days, especially after the referendum. The big problem appears psychological. I mean, essentially, one side is saying if you vote yes, you’re essentially not Greek enough. And the other side is saying if you vote no, you’re not European enough.

RATH: So walk us through what’s going to happen tomorrow.

KAKISSIS: Well, polls open at 7 a.m., and they close at 7 p.m. That’s Greek time. But we may not know anything until around midnight. Public opinion polls released on Friday show that the vote will likely be close. That doesn’t mean that a clear result will actually clear anything up after all this. A yes vote would please Europe, but it might mean that the government resigns – the Greek government resigns, and that would force new elections, you know, a lot more turmoil. And no would please the government, but it would make it much harder to return to the negotiating table because, you know, the Greek government is comprised of leftists and right-wing nationalists, who have really vilified European leaders.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused them of blackmail. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has called them terrorists. I saw a campaign poster for the No Movement – that’s, you know, voting against austerity and against European leaders’ proposals. I saw this campaign poster that portrayed German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as an ogre who drinks Greek blood. So I don’t see how they will all be able to sit at the same negotiating table again.

RATH: Wow. So where does this leave Greece and the eurozone?

KAKISSIS: Well, you know, that’s the trillion-dollar question – or the trillion-euro question, I guess – whichever currency you want to use. Greek banks can’t stay closed forever without people really going nuts, you know? As the days go on, there are going to be concerns that there will be panic, people emptying out supermarkets, people lining up for medicine, most of which is imported. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has said that the banks will reopen on Tuesday, but it’s really hard to see how that’s going to happen since they have so little liquidity.

RATH: That’s Joanna Kakissis in Athens. Joanna, thanks so much.

KAKISSIS: 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/2015/07/04/420097015/as-greece-stares-down-its-money-troubles-a-decisive-vote-looms?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

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.

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