martes, 11 de agosto de 2015

Perlas


Cuatro perlas sobre el mundo en que vivimos, tomadas de Russia Today esta mañana. Las primeras dos noticias proceden del mundo árabe; las dos siguientes, de Europa. Acá van:


Título: 20yo woman drowns in Dubai after father refuses to let lifeguards ‘touch & dishonor her’

Texto: A man who prevented Dubai lifeguards from saving his drowning 20-year-old daughter, saying he would rather she died than be dishonored by being touched by male lifeguards, has been arrested and charged in the United Arab Emirates.
The man, an expat from an undisclosed Asian country who has not been identified by police, took his wife and children to the beach for a picnic. His daughter was having fun swimming, when she suddenly got into difficulty in the water and screamed for help.

“Two [lifeguards] were at the beach, and they rushed to help the girl.” Lt. Col. Ahmed Burqibah, deputy director of Dubai police’s search and rescue department, told Emirates 24/7.

”However, there was one obstacle, which prevented them from reaching the girl and helping her… the belief of this Asian man, who considered that if these men touched his daughter, then this would dishonor her. It cost him the life of his daughter.”

According to Lt. Col. Burqibah, the father – a tall and strong man –  physically prevented the lifeguards from reaching his daughter.

“He started pulling and [holding back] the [lifeguards] and got violent with them. He told them that he prefers his daughter being dead than being touched by a strange man.”

By the time the father had stopped fighting with the lifeguards, the young woman's heart had stopped beating.

“She died unfortunately, at a time when she had a chance to live, especially [since the lifeguards] were so close to her to [pulling] her out of the water,” Burqibah said. “This is one of the incidents [that] I cannot forget. It shocked me and many others who were involved in the case.”

The young woman’s father was later arrested by Dubai police and charged in connection with the incident.


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Título: ‘Chaos & lawlessness’: The West’s Libyan legacy

Texto: With peace talks between Libyan political factions beginning in Geneva, seeking to forge a unity government in a country crippled by chaos and lawlessness, the West’s role in the destabilization should be questioned.

Out of the many examples of Western military campaigns in recent times, none has been more grievous or disastrous than NATO’s 2011 intervention in Libya, which only helped turn the country into a failed state.

Unleashed under the auspices of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 – a mandate abused to effect the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Tripoli despite its official and stated objective of ‘protecting civilians’ – NATO’s intervention in the form of airstrikes did not result in the democratic society so gushingly anticipated by those responsible and their supporters.

Instead it ushered in crisis and chaos as Libyan society promptly fragmented and broke down into the tribal, sectarian, and brutal internecine conflict that has turned a once-functioning state and society into a dystopia into which Islamic State (IS) has gained a foothold and been able to spread its malign influence. The result has been the usual barbaric ritual beheadings by IS of prisoners, the persecution of women and minorities, and in June the slaughter of 37 tourists in Tunisia in a terrorist attack prepared and organized across the border in Libya.

Here it should be noted that there were no terrorist training camps in Libya and IS was not a presence there prior to NATO’s military intervention and the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.

Another grievous consequence of the chaos in Libya is a refugee/migrant crisis that has seen tens of thousands desperate to escape the hell the country has become, willing to risk a perilous voyage across the Mediterranean in barely-seaworthy vessels in order to do so. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have drowned in the attempt thus far with more sure to follow.

Not that they are welcomed with open arms and given sanctuary if they somehow manage to survive the voyage and reach mainland Europe. On the contrary, not merely content with helping to destabilize and destroy Libya, European governments have shamefully denied rightful refugee status to those who are naturally attempting to flee the hell into which they have been plunged. Instead these desperate people are being demonized and dehumanized, treated not as human beings fleeing war and persecution, but as criminals intent on staging an invasion. British Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently described them as constituting a “swarm.”

The reason it is important to record this litany of disaster in such detail is to counter the moves that are afoot in European capitals and in Washington, as the Libyan talks in Geneva begin, to claim that Libya is on the way to the becoming the flowering example of democracy it was claimed the 2011 ‘revolt’, aided by NATO, was certain to create.

In this regard the US Special Envoy to Libya, Jonathan Winer, recently had the astounding temerity to claim in an article that appeared on the US State Department’s official blog that the overthrow of Gaddafi was a “moment of pride for Libyans and those who supported them.”

By “those who supported them,” Winer is obviously referring to the US and its European allies, responsible for the previously-mentioned NATO intervention without which the so-called Libyan rebels would not have succeeded, given that their revolt did not have the mass support of the Libyan people, which is just one of the many myths conjured up in order to support the toppling of the Gaddafi regime.

But leaving that aside for a moment, the gall of US and European leaders and their functionaries in claiming Gaddafi’s overthrow should be considered a source of pride is truly staggering – not only because it has ushered in the aforementioned chaos and destabilization, but also because only just prior to Gaddafi’s overthrow the West was doing lucrative business with the Libyan leader and referring to him in the most convivial terms.

If Gaddafi was the ‘tyrant’ the US claimed he was upon his death at the hands of a mob, what was he before when President Obama was shaking hands with him at the G8 Summit in Italy in 2009, to which the Libyan president was invited as head of the African Union?

The only word to describe the ease with which the West turned on its former trade partner and ‘friend’ is opportunism. The truth is that by the time the Arab Spring spread to Libya it had reached the end of its momentum, lacking the popular support it had enjoyed in Tunisia and Egypt before it. When Gaddafi claimed that in Libya the revolt in Benghazi in the east was being led by Al-Qaeda, governments and opinion formers the West scoffed, preferring to regard the rebels as democrats. Of course there were those among the rebels who were fighting to bring about democratic change, but they were by no means the driving force of the struggle.

In June 2011, for example, a few months before Colonel Gaddafi met his grisly end, the influential American conservative magazine, National Review, carried a story on its website citing a report compiled by two French think tanks. It revealed that “jihadists have played a predominant role in the eastern Libyan rebellion against the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, and that ‘true democrats’ represent only a minority in the rebellion.”

Yet despite this we have Washington, in the shape of the aforesaid US Special Envoy to Libya, Winer, trying to claim that in 2015 Libya is on the verge of emerging from the abyss of terrorist violence, social fragmentation, and lawlessness into a Western-style democracy underpinned by the rule of law.

“Many Libyans are working to bridge differences and to realize the democratic aspirations of the revolution for which so many sacrificed so much. These efforts reflect the common desire to live in a unified country with other Libyans who reject violence and seek a civil, democratic state committed to human rights and the rule of law,” Winer writes.

Only someone reaching deep down into a well of desperation and denial could come up with this analysis. Libya was turned into a failed state by Washington and its allies, yet rather than admit the fact they are intent on claiming that the country is merely going through a difficult process of transition towards democracy. The tens of thousands of men, women and children who have risked, and are still risking, their lives trying to escape across the Med in anything that will carry them offer a far stronger rebuke to this staggering and, it has to be said, bonkers narrative than any words ever could.

The Libyan people are victims of the West’s crude attempt to hijack the momentum of the Arab Spring at the very point at which it came to the end of its reach. The speed of its spread and mass support in Tunisia and Egypt, where it succeeded in toppling two pro-Western dictators in the shape of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, caught Washington and its allies by surprise.

Libya is where they decided to try and place themselves at the head of its momentum, motivated not by the desire to help effect democratic change, but to ensure that the extensive and lucrative oil exploration contracts and economic ties forged with the Gaddafi regime were protected and upheld after its demise.

This was their motivation and a failed state is the result. While, of course, a world interested in justice and human rights supports the attempt to forge a unity Libyan government that can start to rebuild the country and achieve a measure of stability, any such attempts that involve those responsible for the disaster in the first place have to be viewed with caution.

Washington and Europe have never been a source of stability in the Middle East or North Africa. On the contrary, their presence and double dealing has only ever brought people living there unremitting suffering and despair.


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Título: EU can’t ‘bully’ nations into extending sanctions on Russia forever – Mattias Westman to RT

Texto: EU sanctions against Russia are unlikely to continue far into the future, as it will become increasingly harder to “bully” nations that want to lift the measures, founding partner at Prosperity Capital Management Mattias Westman told RT.

In June, the European Union extended sanctions against Russia until January 2016. However, this required a unanimous decision from all member countries – something that will become harder and harder to achieve, according to Westman.

“Already in the summer, when [the sanctions] were prolonged...there were a lot of countries who did not want to do it...I think each time it will become harder and harder to bully the countries who want to lift the sanctions,” said Westman, a founding partner and director at Prosperity Capital Management Ltd.

“They [EU leaders] probably might not want to spend so much political capital on bullying their countries into agreeing on prolongation very much longer.”

He stressed that Moscow’s counter-sanctions are “biting a bit” in the south of Europe, which increases the likelihood of sanctions against Russia being lifted.

However, Westman stated that this would be “politically inconvenient” for Washington, which does not want to appear weak against Moscow.

The economist also largely disagreed with comments made by US President Barack Obama, which claimed that the sanctions have “seriously weakened” the Russian economy.

Though he admitted the sanctions have had some negative impact on Russia, he said that the country’s economic slowdown had more to do with the price of oil which has fallen by 50 percent, concluding that this was “inevitably going to have an effect on the Russian economy, particularly on the ruble.”

“I think the Central Bank did the right thing in terms of allowing the ruble to fluctuate and to decline with the terms of trade in order to preserve the margins and the competitiveness of the Russian industry,” he stressed.

It’s been one year since the West imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, prompting Moscow to respond with counter-sanctions. Those sanctions have resulted in major economic losses for the EU, which are continuing to worsen.

In July the former French minister for apprenticeship and professional formation, Nadine Morano, said that the EU has lost €21 billion in revenue as a result of Russia’s counter-sanctions so far – and that number could nearly quadruple to €81 billion over time.

Meanwhile, the Austrian Institute of Economic Research presented a projection of possible economic losses for the EU in 2015 in a worst-case scenario. It shows that Germany will be affected by the embargo the most, with losses of €29.9 billion. The next in line are Italy (€16.3 billion), France (€11.1 billion), the UK (€9.0 billion), and Spain (€8.5 billion).

“It’s unfortunate that the West has taken has taken such a strong side for one part of an internal conflict in Ukraine. I think there is lack of understanding what the causes of this conflict are,” Westman said adding, however, that he has seen some signs that “some more awareness is coming on, that this is not a simple as it might have looked from the beginning.”


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Título: Germany made €100bn profit on Greek crisis – study

Texto: Greece’s biggest creditor Germany has made a huge profit on the country’s debt crisis over the last 5 years as it saved through lower interest payments on funds borrowed amid investor "flights to safety."

Each time investors got bad news about Greece, they rushed to the ‘safe haven’ of Germany, with the interest rates on German government bonds falling, according to the study from the private, non-profit Leibniz Institute of Economic Research, Agence France-Presse reported Monday.

The estimated €100 billion Germany had saved since 2010 accounted for over three percent of its GDP, the report said.

"These savings exceed the costs of the crisis - even if Greece were to default on its entire debt," the study said.

The bonds of countries such as the United States, France and the Netherlands had benefited "to a much smaller extent."

Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who has always been against writing off the Greek debt pointed to his own government's balanced budget.

The balanced budget, however, was possible mainly as a result of Germany's interest savings through the Greek crisis, the study claimed.

Schauble has repeatedly said the Greek debt of €316 billion cannot be restructured within the eurozone. He claimed Grexit [Greece’s exit from the Eurozone-Ed] might be a solution for the country’s debt ‘haircut.’

While Greek and EU officials say Athens and the creditors are close to the final agreement on the third €86 billion rescue, Berlin continues hindering the process. Last week, the creditors urged for more reforms from Athens, arguing that another two-or three-week bridging loan was better than hurriedly striking a three-year deal. Germany’s proposed option of a €5-billion bridging loan to give negotiators more time is still on the table.


The multibillion deal is expected to be reached by the August 20 deadline, when Greece has a €3.2-billion debt repayment due to the European Central Bank (ECB).


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