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Cuba ve con inquietud un acercamiento demasiado rápido a EE UU · ELPAÍ - 0 views

  • Las autoridades de La Habana ven con inquietud la posibilidad de que EE UU levante "demasiado pronto" la prohibición que impide a los ciudadanos norteamericanos visitar Cuba. Al tiempo que se desea y se aprecia como una tabla de salvación en estos momentos de crisis, el fin de la veda al turismo estadounidense es percibido como un reto, con un elevado potencial desestabilizador en el terreno político e ideológico, según observadores y diplomáticos.
  • Obama ha firmado ya la ley de presupuestos, con una enmienda que permite que los cubanoamericanos realicen visitas familiares una vez al año (hasta ahora, por disposición de Bush, solo podían viajar a la isla una vez cada tres años).
  • Sin embargo, se especula con la posibilidad de que antes de la Cumbre de las Américas, que se realizará en Trinidad y Tobago entre el 17 y el 19 de abril, el presidente de Estados Unidos se descuelgue con un gesto unilateral hacia Cuba y elimine totalmente las restricciones a los viajes de cubanoamericanos y a las remesas que pueden enviar a la isla.
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  • Esta medida, que sería sobre todo un "gesto" de Washington hacia América Latina, opuesta radicalmente al embargo norteamericano, afectaría a un millón y medio de cubanoamericanos.
  • Es precisamente aquí donde está el problema. Mucho antes de que ganara Obama, el dirigente histórico de la revolución Armando Hart dijo claramente: ''Si cumple su promesa [de aliviar el embargo], nacerá una nueva etapa en el combate ideológico entre la revolución cubana y el imperialismo. En ella (...) será necesario el diseño de una nueva concepción teórica y propagandística acerca de nuestras ideas y su origen''. Y añadió: ''Una amplia migración con distintos objetivos puede venírsenos encima y para ello debemos prepararnos culturalmente''.
  • En realidad, el reto es doble. El turismo, con ingresos brutos de unos 2.000 millones de dólares y 2.350.000 visitantes anuales, es el segundo aportador de divisas al país, después de los servicios médicos y educacionales a Venezuela y otros países, calculados en 6.000 millones.
  • El turismo supone más ingresos que las exportaciones de azúcar, níquel y tabaco juntas y Cuba necesita ese dinero. Diversos estudios calculan que el primer año del levantamiento de la prohibición podría viajar a Cuba un millón de turistas norteamericanos, y hasta tres millones anuales en los años siguientes.
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Trackers Deem North Korea's Missile Flight a Failure - - 0 views

  • in October 2006, North Korea conducted an explosive test of a nuclear device inside a remote mountain tunnel. Many intelligence analysts judged it to be a fizzle that barely shook the ground. The test nonetheless raised fears that North Korea would seek to develop a nuclear warhead compact enough to fit atop a missile.
  • David C. Wright, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a private group in Cambridge, Mass., estimated that the rocket, if eventually successful, might lead to a ballistic missile that could throw a warhead of 2,200 pounds a distance of some 3,700 miles, far enough to hit parts of Alaska.

    He added that if the warhead’s weight could be cut in half, down to 1,100 pounds, the rocket would be able to hurl the weapon much farther, about 5,600 miles. That, in theory, would bring the West Coast of the continental United States within its range.

  • But Dr. Wright noted that developing a miniaturized warhead “is likely to be a significant challenge for North Korea,” so that the rocket, even if successful, would “not represent a true intercontinental nuclear delivery capability.”
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Trackers Deem North Korea's Missile Flight a Failure - - 0 views

  • North Korea failed in its highly vaunted effort to fire a satellite into orbit, military and private experts said Sunday after reviewing detailed tracking data that showed the missile and payload fell into the sea. Some said the failure undercut the North Korean campaign to come across as a fearsome adversary able to hurl deadly warheads halfway around the globe.
  • looking at the launching from a purely technical vantage point, space experts said the failure represented a blow that in all likelihood would seriously delay the missile’s debut.
  • Analysts dismissed the idea that the rocket firing could represent a furtive success, calling the failure consistent with past North Korean fumbles and suggesting it might reveal a significant quality control problem in one of the world’s most isolated nations.
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  • “It’s a setback,” Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who tracks satellites and rocket launchings, said of the North Korean launching. He added that the North Koreans must now find and fix the problem. “The missile doesn’t represent any kind of near-term threat.”
  • The United States Northern Command, based in Colorado Springs, issued a statement on Sunday that portrayed the launching as a major failure. It based its information on a maze of federal radars, spy ships and satellites that monitor global missile firings.
  • The command emphasized that “no object entered orbit,” apparently a reference to both the rocket’s third stage as well as the supposed satellite.

  • North Korea’s public portrayal of the event as a complete success was similar in its celebratory tone to the happy note it struck in 1998 after having failed to loft a satellite into orbit.
  • A general rule of engineering is that failures reveal more than successes. If so, North Korea — which has now test-fired three long-range rockets, each time unsuccessfully — is learning a lot about limitations.
  • “It’s not unusual to have a series of failures at the beginning of a missile program,” Jeffrey G. Lewis, an arms control specialist at the New America Foundation, a research group in Washington, said in an interview. “But they don’t test enough to develop confidence that they’re getting over the problems.”

    Dr. Lewis added that an influential 1998 report by Donald H. Rumsfeld, before he became secretary of defense in the Bush administration, argued that the North Korean rockets might be good enough to pose a threat to the United States, even without flight testing.

    “But given that both versions of the Taepodong-2 have failed now,” he said, “we have very little confidence in the reliability of the system.”

  • In August 1998, North Korea’s first attempt at launching a long-range rocket, the Taepodong-1, managed to scare Japan but failed to deliver a satellite to orbit. The troubles continued in July 2006 when its second test of a long-range missile, the Taepodong-2, ended in an explosion just seconds after liftoff.
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Obama Seizes on Missile Launch in Seeking Nuclear Cuts - - 0 views

  • Perhaps trying not to overload a Pakistani government that has shown itself to be overwhelmed by daily political and terrorist attacks, Mr. Obama made only oblique mention of a concern voiced frequently inside the White House: That Al Qaeda and other terrorists view Pakistan’s arsenal of 60 to 100 weapons as the ultimate goal of a campaign to destabilize that government.
  • In London last week, Mr. Obama raised the imminent test with President Hu Jintao of China, whom the United States has relied on to influence the North. A senior administration official, briefing reporters, said he believed the Chinese had expressed concerns to the North, urging it to halt the flight.
  • If so, Beijing was ignored — as it was twice in 2006, when it told the North not to conduct missile tests and then its nuclear test. That suggests, one of Mr. Obama’s aides said Sunday, “that either the Chinese aren’t trying very hard, or the North Koreans aren’t listening very well.”
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Obama Seizes on Missile Launch in Seeking Nuclear Cuts - - 0 views

  • Mr. Obama said that his administration would “reduce the role of nuclear weapons” in its national security strategy, and would urge other countries to do the same. He pointed to the agreement he reached last week with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia to begin negotiations on reducing warheads and stockpiles, and said the two countries would try to reach an agreement by the end of the year. He also promised to aggressively pursue American ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which in the past has faced strong opposition in Congress.
  • “We think that what was launched is not the issue; the fact that there was a launch using ballistic missile technology is itself a clear violation,” said Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador.
  • China left its position ambiguous, although diplomats said that at the initial meeting it stressed that the North Koreans had a right like any other country to launch satellites. “Our position is that all countries concerned should show restraint and refrain from taking actions that might lead to increased tensions,” Yesui Zhang, the Chinese ambassador, told reporters.
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  • Igor N. Schcherbak, the Russian envoy, said that his country did not think it was a violation of the previous resolutions banning ballistic missiles, but he left some wriggle room by saying that Russia was studying the matter.
  • In his speech, Mr. Obama said he still planned to continue with missile defense, but he tied the need for such a system to any Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons. Russia opposes locating a defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, as current plans call for, and Mr. Obama has responded by pushing the Russians to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
  • “Let me be clear: Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies,” Mr. Obama said. “The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven.”
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Agreement Reached on Rasmussen: Obama Saves NATO Governments from Summit Shame - SPIEGE... - 0 views

  • By Friday evening, when Turkey repeated its threat to veto any decision to appoint Rasmussen as the next secretary general, it became clear that a NATO summit being held to celebrate its 60th anniversary threatened to end in fiasco.
  • But Turkey had been the only country that objected to Rasmussen's selection to head the trans-Atlantic military alliance. Detractors of the Dane, led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, felt Rasmussen was unsuitable for the post because he had been unyielding in the dispute over the Muhammad caricatures and preferred to defend the right to free speech rather than apologize.
  • The remaining 27 NATO members, especially Germany, France and the United States, all offered their clear backing for Rasmussen, but the summit remained a suspenseful one. The reason being that one of the many peculiar rules of the alliance is that the secretary general must be unanimously elected, meaning that Turkey actually did have the power to reject the choice.
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  • According to diplomatic sources, the decisive impulse came from the US. Obama spoke with Gül and telephoned with Erdogan -- and was able to assuage their concerns. Erdogan said that Obama offered him certain unnamed guarantees -- allegedly they had to do with the Denmark-based Kurdish broadcaster Roj TV as well as with top NATO posts for Turkey.
  • Once the drama had come to an end, Rasmussen immediately sought to ease the tension, saying he would do "his utmost" for the partnership with Turkey. Relations with the Muslim world, he said, were decisive, and he even promised a review of the television station Roj TV -- a pledge apparently made at the request of Erdogan. Previously, Rasmussen had been unwilling to stop broadcasts in his country of the satellite TV channel.
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Divisions emerge in international response to North Korean rocket launch | World news |... - 0 views

  • The Taepodong-2 rocket flew twice as far as any previous North Korean missile.
  • Although Obama described the action as a "provocation", the US and Japan have so far failed to win support from China and Russia for a statement condemning Pyongyang and tightening existing sanctions.
  • The Japanese foreign minister, Hirofumi Nakasone, today admitted there were divisions in the security council.

    "China and Russia share the concern that this is a threat to the region, but they appear reserved and cautious as of now," he told reporters in Tokyo.

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  • North Korea claimed the Taepodong-2 rocket put an experimental communications satellite into orbit, where it is collecting data and broadcasting the Song of General Kim Il-Sung and the Song of General Kim Jong-il.
  • But US, South Korean and Japanese scientists say the only broadcasts are likely to be from the bottom of the ocean because the satellite failed to reach orbit.
  • The advance in North Korea's ballistic missile technology will raise concerns that the country could one day be capable of delivering a nuclear payload to the US or western Europe.

    It is likely to interest potential buyers from Pakistan, Iran and Syria, who have sent observers to previous launches.

  • So far, however, the US and its allies have been unable to persuade China and Russia that the act was a breach of UN security council resolution 1718, passed after long-range missile and nuclear tests in 2006.
  • The resolution bans Pyongyang from activities related to a ballistic missile programme and calls on the international community to stop trading weapons and luxury goods with North Korea.
  • China, a historical ally of and food supplier to North Korea, has called on all sides to remain calm.

    "Our position is that all countries concerned should show restraint and refrain from taking action that might lead to increased tension," Zhang Yesui, the Chinese ambassador to the UN, told reporters.

  • Russia described the North Korean rocket launch as "regrettable", but stopped short of confirming whether the launch had violated existing resolutions.

    "Before embarking on any actions, we should understand the character of this launch because, at this particular moment, we do not have a clearcut picture," Igor Scherbak, the deputy Russian permanent UN representative, said.

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BBC NEWS | Europe | Obama seeks stronger Turkish ties - 0 views

  • En route to Ankara, Mr Obama said he supported the country's efforts to join the European Union.

    He said Turkey's accession would send an important signal to the Muslim world and firmly anchor it in Europe.

  • Before travelling to Turkey, Mr Obama participated in a Nato gathering in France, where he helped to overcome Turkey's objection to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the alliance's next leader.
  • Turkey had misgivings about Mr Rasmussen over his refusal to apologise for the "cartoons controversy", in which a Danish newspaper published illustrations that inflamed passions in much of the Muslim world.

    But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late Sunday that Mr Obama's support had helped to resolve concerns.

    "He put forth a lot of positive energy," Mr Erdogan said. "We responded positively to this. We hope that the promises made are kept."

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  • Speaking in Prague on Sunday, Mr Obama said Turkey's entry into the EU would help to consolidate its position as a Western nation.
  • "Moving forward towards Turkish membership in the EU would be an important signal of your commitment to this agenda and ensure that we continue to anchor Turkey firmly in Europe."
  • But French President Nicolas Sarkozy said it was up to the EU itself to decide who joined the bloc - and that he had always been personally opposed to Turkey's entry.

    "When it comes to the European Union it's up to member states of the European Union to decide," he told French TV.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while close links with Turkey were important, its future status in Europe was still open for discussion.
  • The EU agreed to open accession talks with Ankara in 2004, but in recent years, correspondents say, Turkey has made little progress with democratic reforms which would improve its chances of membership.
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North Korea's defiant rocket launch tests Barack Obama's nuclear resolve | World news |... - 0 views

  • He pledged to pursue bilateral nuclear arms cuts with the Russians, multilateral reductions with all other nuclear powers, including Britain, and to press the US senate to ratify the international treaty banning nuclear testing.

    He called for nuclear non-proliferation to be reinforced by banning manufacture of bomb-grade fissile material and establishing an international "nuclear fuel tank" to stop countries enriching uranium.

    All "vulnerable" nuclear material would also be secured in safe compounds within four years, he added.

  • He said the risk of terrorists acquiring a nuclear weapon was the "most immediate and extreme threat to global security".
  • Obama declared that the US, as the only country ever to have used atomic weapons, had a special moral responsibility on nuclear disarmament to make life in the 21st century "free from fear".
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  • As news of the missile launch was still being digested across the world, the 15-member UN security council met in closed session in New York to discuss a global response. The US, the UK and France were pushing for strong and united action, including new sanctions, but they faced resistance from the veto-wielding Russia and China, who were expected to block or dilute such moves.
  • Yukio Takasu, Japan's ambassador to the UN, called the launch "a clear crime". His French equivalent, Jean-Maurice ­Ripert, said: "We expect the council to unanimously condemn what has happened." Even so, the talks were expected to be long and difficult and the session ended early this morning without agreement on a reaction to Pyongyang's move.
  • "The test represents both a calling card for North Korea to the [US] administration and at the same time strengthens its bargaining position," said Han Sung-joo, a former South Korean foreign minister.
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BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Defiant N Korea launches rocket - 0 views

  • North Korea has defied international warnings and gone ahead with a controversial rocket launch.

    State media said a satellite had been put into orbit and was transmitting data and revolutionary songs.

    But there has been no independent confirmation so far. The US, Japan and South Korea suspect the launch was a cover for a long-range missile test.

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BBC NEWS | Europe | Obama promotes nuclear-free world - 0 views

  • Barack Obama has outlined his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons in a major speech in Europe.

    The US president called for a global summit on nuclear security and the forging of new partnerships to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

    He said he hoped to negotiate a new treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

  • Speaking to a 20,000-strong crowd in front of Prague's historic castle, Mr Obama said the US had a moral responsibility to act in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
  • "The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War," he said.
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  • He pledged to reduce the US nuclear stockpile, and urged others to do the same.

    But as long as a nuclear threat existed, the US would retain its nuclear capability, although it would work to reduce its arsenal.

  • He said his administration would work to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force in order to achieve a global ban on nuclear testing.

    The agreement would ban all nuclear explosions for any purpose, but cannot currently come into effect as nuclear powers such as the US and China have not ratified it, and India and Pakistan have not signed it.

  • The most immediate and extreme threat to global security, the president said, was the possibility of terrorists possessing nuclear weapons.
  • "Al-Qaeda has said it seeks a bomb. And that it would have no problem in using it. And we know that there is unsecured nuclear material across the globe."

    Mr Obama announced a new effort to secure sensitive nuclear material within four years and break down the black market in the trade in illicit weapons.

  • He also said he would negotiate a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia by the end of this year.

    The speech came days after he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev - meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in London - agreed to reopen negotiations about reducing nuclear warheads.

    They aim to produce a new arms control treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) that expires at the end of the year.

  • "As long as the threat from Iran exists, we will go forward with a missile defence system," he said.
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The Frightening Fall of Russia's Richest Man | Newsweek International | - 0 views

  • Oleg Deripaska had no time for empty formalities. By his 40th birthday he had risen to be the wealthiest man in Russia, with a $44 billion global empire and 290,000 employees.
  • A few weeks ago Deripaska met again with Medvedev—this time as a humbled man. His empire was lost unless the Russian president got its creditors to hold off foreclosing $7.4 billion in urgent overdue loans—less than half of Deripaska's total indebtedness. Medvedev reluctantly agreed.
  • Kudrin offered no relief to him or any of the oligarchs in the room. "There will be bankruptcies," Kudrin told the oligarchs.
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  • A few days later, the former multibillionaire arrived unshaven and in jeans for a meeting with Russia's finance minister, Alexei Kudrin
  • Igor Bunin, president of the Center of Political Technologies, a Moscow think tank, credits Deripaska with outwitting "some of the most dangerous men in Russia." Dozens were left dead in what became known as the Aluminum Wars, and an FBI investigation into Deripaska's possible mob ties from that period has been cited as the reason for the 2005 revocation of Deripaska's U.S. entry visa. But no charges were brought against him, and he has denied any wrongdoing or any connection to organized crime.
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Europe to contribute 5,000 extra troops to Afghanistan | World news | - 0 views

  • Barack Obama today won agreement for substantial Nato troop reinforcements in Afghanistan, when nine European nations, including Britain, said they would send up to 5,000 troops and logistical help ahead of the presidential elections there in August. Britain is to send 900 extra troops almost immediately, who will remain until October.
  • News of the reinforcements came as Nato named the Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as its next leader after overcoming Turkish opposition.

  • David Miliband the foreign secretary said the surprisingly large number of troops offered was proof of a palpable "Obama effect."
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  • Britain currently has 8,100 troops in Afghanistan, and is separately considering a larger permanent deployment, which may be facilitated by the imminent drawdown in Iraq. The British contribution to the reinforcements includes 275 troops who were due to return to the UK in July but will now stay until October
  • The countries agreeing to contribute further help, according to European diplomats, include Poland – which is to send as many as 600 troops – Spain, Croatia, Greece and the Netherlands. Germany is expected to confirm that it will be sending extra troops to the largely peaceful north of Afghanistan for the election on 22 August.
  • France is sending a further 150 military police to help train Afghan civilian police, arguing that last year it announced a large extra deployment.
  • America and Britain had become increasingly frustrated at the 28 Nato countries's unwillingness to commit troops to serious fighting against the Taliban in southern and eastern Afghanistan. While yesterday's temporary additions do not mean that Nato countries have committed themselves to a long-term increase in forces, the US claimed there was a definite change of mood.
  • Before the troops announcement was made, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, hastily agreed to review a draft law that allegedly legitimises rape inside marriage for Afghanistan's Shia minority. The review follows phone calls yesterday from Brown and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, as well as warnings from Canada that it will withdraw its troops if the law is passed.
  • Karzai has agreed to refer the law back to the Ministry of Justice and has committed himself to veto the law if it infringes the human rights of women. He protested yesterday that the law had been misinterpreted by western media and that it did not ban women from leaving their home without the permission of their husband.
  • Obama is committing an extra 21,000 troops, and possibly another 10,000 later in the year.
  • in a sign of the persisting tensions inside the 28-nation alliance, the summit at one stage appeared deadlocked over the appointment of Rasmussen, after objections from the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • Turkey had rejected the nomination because of Rasmussen's defence of Danish newspaper cartoons depicting Muhammad in 2005.

  • Later, however, Turkey dropped its objections and it was announced that Nato leaders agreed unanimously to appoint Rasmussen as the next head of the alliance.
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Editorial - Mr. Obama and Turkey - - 0 views

  • The Justice and Development Party scored an impressive re-election in 2007 after pursuing market-oriented policies that brought economic growth and more trade ties with the European Union. That conservative Muslim party also expanded human rights and brought Turkish law closer to European standards.
  • Those reforms have since stalled — partly because of opposition from civilian nationalists and generals who still wield too much clout. (The trial of 86 people accused of plotting a military coup is a reminder of the dark side of Turkish politics.)
  • But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also seems to have lost enthusiasm for the European Union bid and the reforms that are the price of admission.
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  • President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has been especially unhelpful, making clear that he will do all he can to keep Turkey out of the European Union.
  • Mr. Obama must persuade Mr. Sarkozy and others that admitting Turkey — a Muslim democracy — is in everyone’s interest. And he must persuade Ankara that the required reforms will strengthen Turkey’s democracy and provide more stability and growth.
  • We are concerned about Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic tendencies. His government’s decision to slap the media mogul Aydin Dogan with a $500 million tax bill smacks of retaliation against an independent press that has successfully exposed government corruption.
  • Ankara has played a positive role, mediating indirect talks between Israel and Syria. With Washington’s encouragement, Mr. Erdogan could also use his relationships with Iran, Sudan and Hamas to encourage improved behavior.
  • Turkey’s cooperation with Iraqi Kurds has vastly improved. There are also reports that Turkey and Armenia may soon normalize relations.
  • We have long criticized Turkey for its self-destructive denial of the World War I era mass killing of Armenians. But while Congress is again contemplating a resolution denouncing the genocide, it would do a lot more good for both Armenia and Turkey if it held back. Mr. Obama, who vowed in the presidential campaign to recognize the event as genocide, should also forbear.
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BBC NEWS | Middle East | Papers alter Israel cabinet photo - 0 views

  • Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers have altered a photo of Israel's new cabinet, removing two female ministers.
  • Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver were grouped with the rest of the 30-member cabinet for their inaugural photo.

    But Yated Neeman newspaper digitally changed the picture by replacing them with two men. The Shaa Tova newspaper blacked the women out.

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BBC NEWS | Technology | Google sees voice search as core - 0 views

  • Google has said it sees voice search as a major opportunity for the company in building a presence on the mobile web.
  • During a question and answer session, Mr Gundotra was quizzed on rumours circulating in the blogosphere that Google is looking to buy the micro-blogging service Twitter.
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Barack Obama's New World Order - TIME - 0 views

  • Most of the hallmarks of the foreign policy of George W. Bush are gone. The old conservative idea of "American exceptionalism," which placed the U.S. on a plane above the rest of the world as a unique beacon of democracy and financial might, has been rejected. At almost every stop, Obama has made clear that the U.S. is but one actor in a global community. Talk of American economic supremacy has been replaced by a call from Obama for more growth in developing countries. Claims of American military supremacy have been replaced with heavy emphasis on cooperation and diplomatic hard labor.
  • The tone was set from Obama's first public remarks in London on Wednesday, at a press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, where the American President said he had come "to listen, not to lecture." At a joint appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Baden-Baden on Friday, a German reporter asked Obama about his "grand designs" for NATO. "I don't come bearing grand designs," Obama said, scrapping the leadership role the U.S. maintained through the Cold War. "I'm here to listen, to share ideas and to jointly, as one of many NATO allies, help shape our vision for the future."
  • At a town hall in Strasbourg, France, Obama stood before an audience of mostly French and German youth and admitted that the U.S. should have a greater respect for Europe. "In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world," he said before offering other European critical views of his country. "There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."
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  • The contrast is striking. Only four years ago, George W. Bush, in his second Inaugural Address, described what he called America's "considerable" influence, saying, "We will use it confidently in freedom's cause." Bush's vision of American power was combative and aggressive. He said the U.S. would "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture." He continued, "We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom."
  • Obama, by contrast, is looking for collaboration. He is looking to build a collective vision, not to impose an American one.
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Legalized Oppression of Women: Western Outrage over Discriminatory Afghan Law - SPIEGEL... - 0 views

  • A new law signed by President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan requires Shiite women to ask their husband's permission before leaving the home and forces them to have sexual intercourse. The West is outraged, and German politicians are mulling restrictions in development aid
  • The Afghan constitution provides for Shiites, which represent between 10 and 20 percent of the population, to pass their own family law based on their legal traditions. But the new law is particularly restrictive. Article 132, for example, mandates that "the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband." Furthermore, if her husband is not travelling or sick, the wife is required to have sex with him at least every fourth night. The only exception is if the wife herself is ill.
  • Article 133 is just as problematic. "The husband can stop the wife from any unnecessary act," it reads. Furthermore, the law requires wives to get the permission of their husbands before they leave the house, except in cases of emergency. In addition, the legal age of marriage for Shiite women has been lowered from 18 to 16.
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  • The timing of the new law could hardly have been worse. With leaders of NATO member states gathered in Strasbourg on Friday -- just days after a far-reaching conference on the disastrous situation in the country came to an end earlier this week -- the legislation seems designed to offer proof as to just how little the Western alliance has accomplished in Afghanistan. The law provides state backing to the oppression of women and seems designed to almost force Shiite men to debase their wives.
  • Already, Karzai was under attack in the West for the advances currently being made by both al-Qaida and the Taliban in the country. In response, Kabul has long been quick to point out the progress that has been made -- often emphasizing new schools for girls and the fact that women have been elected into parliament. The new law now makes such claims of improvement seem absurd.
  • Praise for Karzai comes from an uncomfortable quarter: the Taliban, who Karzai likes to describe as "the enemies of Afghanistan." "The Shiite law is similar to the rules of the Taliban. We support it,"
  • Upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan likely played a role in Karzai's signing of the law. His re-election is in no way a sure thing and his influence outside of the capital Kabul is limited. Many in Afghanistan consider him to be little more than a Western puppet and he has few successes to point to. Support for Karzai is particularly thin in religious circles, leading many to suspect that the new law is an attempt to win over the ultra conservative. He may also be hoping to win a few extra votes from among the Hazara.
  • Just what tools are available to the West to get Afghanistan to reverse the law is unclear. NATO governments have long been careful to keep a distance from domestic policy decisions in Afghanistan in order to avoid the impression that Karzai is just a puppet.
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No Nukes, More Troops: Obama Seeks to Renew Partnership with Europe - SPIEGEL ONLINE - ... - 0 views

  • In France and Germany on Friday, US President Barack Obama said he wanted to renew the trans-Atlantic partnership. Part of that alliance, though, involves more European troops for Afghanistan, he said. Unexpectedly, Obama called for a world without nuclear weapons.
  • Not only did the president pledge a renewal of trans-Atlantic relations -- he also said that he seeks to create a world free of nuclear weapons. "This weekend in Prague," he said, "I will lay out an agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons."
  • The US president was coming from the G-20 summit, held on Wednesday and Thursday in London. At that meeting, the world's richest nations agreed to make $1 trillion available to the developing world through the World Bank and the International Monetary fund in addition to tripling the money available to the IMF.
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  • More significantly from a European perspective, the US agreed to significantly strengthen international oversight of financial markets, with particular attention paid to tax havens, hedge funds and ratings agencies.
  • It was a move that both Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted upon -- and one which will go a long way toward removing whispers of friction between Obama and Merkel.
  • "In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world." He went on to say that "there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."
  • "In Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans chose to blame America for much of what's bad…. On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise."
  • At the Afghanistan Conference in The Hague earlier this week, Obama was careful not to make any concrete demands for more troops from his European NATO allies. But on Thursday, he seemed willing to tighten the screws slightly. In addition to warning that al-Qaida still posed a threat, he also said, referring to Afghanistan, that "Europe should not simply expect the United States to shoulder the burden alone. This is a joint problem that requires a joint solution."
  • The response from Sarkozy, who was standing right next to Obama, was swift. "There will be no French military enforcements," the French president said. "We are ready to do more in the field of policing, of gendarmes, in the field of economic aid, to train Afghans."
  • Other NATO countries on Friday, though, said that they would be willing to send more troops. SPIEGEL ONLINE learned from diplomats attending the NATO summit that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown intends to send several hundred more troops to Afghanistan. Both Belgium and Spain are likewise promising more soldiers, though Spain is reportedly planning to send just 12 additional troops.
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