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Obama Says Fixing US Economy Will Take Time December 11, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama says fixing the American economy could take years, calling it “a long term process.”

In a television interview to be broadcast on Sunday, Obama said the structural problems in the economy have been building for two decades and that repairing them would take more than one term in office and “probably take more than one president.”

He described  himself as “the captain of a ship going through really bad storms.” Excerpts of the interview were released by the network before its airing.

The U.S. economy has recently showed signs of improvement with the unemployment rate dropping from nine percent to 8.6 percent but it remains far above a normal traditional rate of four or five percent.  The jobless rate is seen as a major factor in whether Mr. Obama can win re-election to another four-year term next November.

The president once again called on Congress to approve his nominee, Richard Cordray, to head a new consumer protection agency. In the interview he repeated comments made Saturday during his weekly address that Americans need an advocate against “dishonest businesses” and their “unscrupulous practices.”

 

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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UN Rights Chief Dismisses Syria’s Assad Claims on Credibility

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay has dismissed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent claims that the U.N. is not a credible organization and that her commission of inquiry failed to contact his government during an investigation of human rights violations in his country.

Earlier this week, U.S. television network ABC aired an interview with President Assad in which he said he had not received documents or evidence to support recent findings by a U.N. commission of inquiry that crimes against humanity have been committed during the on-going crackdown on dissenters. He also questioned the United Nations’ credibility.

Pillay, who is in New York for U.N. observances of Human Rights Day on Saturday, told reporters that her office has been in contact with Assad’s ambassador in Geneva throughout the process. She added that neither the fact-finding commission her office set up in August nor the international team of investigators who wrote the recent report was allowed into Syria by Assad.

“I think it is very important he does [allow U.N. teams into Syria], though, especially if he is under the impression that the U.N. and the information it provides is not credible,” said Pillay. “It is very important we go there, then, and check his side of the story.”

The international panel’s report found that members of the Syrian army and security forces have committed crimes against humanity in their repression of a largely civilian population in the context of a peaceful protest movement. The crimes detailed include murder, torture, rape and arbitrary detention.

The panel also found that more than 300 children were among the more than 4,000 people killed since the protests began in mid-March.

Assad has taken the position that his government is fighting armed terrorists and infiltrators who want to topple his regime, and that many of the dead are members of his own security forces who are protecting the population.

Pillay said she acknowledges Syrian forces have been killed, but repeated her warning that the country could be slipping into civil war.

“I acknowledge that almost 1,000 of President Assad’s security forces have also been killed in this conflict,” she said. “And this is why I am alerting the world that as you have more and more defectors from the security forces, this may well develop into a fully-fledged civil war.”

There has been, by some accounts, heated discussion among Security Council diplomats as to whether the human rights chief should brief the 15-member council on the situation in Syria. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the council’s president during December, said after consultations, the council has invited Pillay to speak at a closed meeting on Monday.

Churkin said reports that Russia and China objected to such a briefing were “patently not true.” He added that Pillay also will be asked to brief the council on the current situation concerning Palestinian human rights.

Pillay said she would brief the council if invited. However, she expressed distress that the last time she met the members in August, the death toll stood at 2,000. Now it is more than 4,000. She said lives could have been changed if action had been taken sooner.

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UN Rights Chief Dismisses Syria’s Assad Claims on Credibilit December 10, 2011

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay has dismissed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent claims that the U.N. is not a credible organization and that her commission of inquiry failed to contact his government during an investigation of human rights violations in his country.

Earlier this week, U.S. television network ABC aired an interview with President Assad in which he said he had not received documents or evidence to support recent findings by a U.N. commission of inquiry that crimes against humanity have been committed during the on-going crackdown on dissenters. He also questioned the United Nations’ credibility.

Pillay, who is in New York for U.N. observances of Human Rights Day on Saturday, told reporters that her office has been in contact with Assad’s ambassador in Geneva throughout the process. She added that neither the fact-finding commission her office set up in August nor the international team of investigators who wrote the recent report was allowed into Syria by Assad.

“I think it is very important he does [allow U.N. teams into Syria], though, especially if he is under the impression that the U.N. and the information it provides is not credible,” said Pillay. “It is very important we go there, then, and check his side of the story.”

The international panel’s report found that members of the Syrian army and security forces have committed crimes against humanity in their repression of a largely civilian population in the context of a peaceful protest movement. The crimes detailed include murder, torture, rape and arbitrary detention.

The panel also found that more than 300 children were among the more than 4,000 people killed since the protests began in mid-March.

Assad has taken the position that his government is fighting armed terrorists and infiltrators who want to topple his regime, and that many of the dead are members of his own security forces who are protecting the population.

Pillay said she acknowledges Syrian forces have been killed, but repeated her warning that the country could be slipping into civil war.

“I acknowledge that almost 1,000 of President Assad’s security forces have also been killed in this conflict,” she said. “And this is why I am alerting the world that as you have more and more defectors from the security forces, this may well develop into a fully-fledged civil war.”

There has been, by some accounts, heated discussion among Security Council diplomats as to whether the human rights chief should brief the 15-member council on the situation in Syria. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the council’s president during December, said after consultations, the council has invited Pillay to speak at a closed meeting on Monday.

Churkin said reports that Russia and China objected to such a briefing were “patently not true.” He added that Pillay also will be asked to brief the council on the current situation concerning Palestinian human rights.

Pillay said she would brief the council if invited. However, she expressed distress that the last time she met the members in August, the death toll stood at 2,000. Now it is more than 4,000. She said lives could have been changed if action had been taken sooner.

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UN Chief Urges Somalia to ‘Seize Moment’ December 9, 2011

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Somali’s capital Friday for talks on the future of the war-torn country. During his visit, Ban announced that the U.N. political office would be moved to Mogadishu in January from its present location in neighboring Kenya.

The office, called the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, was set up in 1995 to help the then-secretary-general connect with Somali leaders, civil society groups, and others with the goal of bringing about peace and reconciliation in the war-torn country.

Ban also said that his visit to the beleaguered capital was meant to boost morale as African Union troops have been chasing away al-Shabab militants from the capital and beyond.

“Being here is the most visible way for us to send clear message to the people of Somalia: You are not alone; the U.N. and broader international community will stand with you and will stay with you as you build your own future,” he said. “This is my commitment as secretary-general; this is a United Nations priority.”

Ban met with Somali transitional President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden in the Somali presidential palace.

He also spoke with officials from AMISOM, troops deployed by the African Union to support the Transitional Federal Government, or TFG.  The United Nations facilitated the formation of the TFG through a lengthy negotiation process that began about a decade ago.

Analyst Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, head of the research group Southlink based in Kenya, says he thinks moving the United Nations’ political office to Mogadishu is a vote of confidence for the TFG.

“That is a step forward in the right direction because right now Mogadishu is under the total control of the TFG.  It is a clear indication now, this time around, that the U.N. is serious about Somali issues.  At least they are going to have the closest office to the people of Somalia,” he said.

Abdiwahab says Kenya’s recent decision to send forces to the 12,000-strong AMISOM force – also consisting of troops from Burundi and Uganda – was a logical move.

“Kenya is one of the front-line states.  The war is costly.  Kenyans, they are looking for logistical support from AMISOM.  They cannot stay in Somalia indefinitely.  They cannot stay in Somalia for another two to three years because of the economy.”

Ban also praised Kenya for its recent decision to dispatch troops to the AMISOM mission, and thanked the governments of Burundi and Uganda for contributing troops.

The U.N. secretary-general stressed that all parties must move ahead quickly with the so-called “Roadmap,” a detailed plan on how move the government from being transitional to permanent.  The deadline is August 20 of next year.  The Roadmap is expected to end with the holding of democratic elections.

Ban’s visit marks the first time that a U.N. secretary-general has visited Somalia since 1993.

Somalia’s civil war dates back to 1991 with the overthrow of then-President Mohamed Siad Barre.  Throughout the years, the war has taken on different dimensions and combatants.

The current conflict involves clashes between the TFG and the militant group al-Shabab, which wants to impose strict Islamic law in Somalia.

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Pakistan president’s ‘chest pain’ sparks rumors December 8, 2011


December 7, 2011

by legitgov

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Pakistan president’s ‘chest pain’ sparks rumors 07 Dec 2011 Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was undergoing what his office said on Wednesday were routine medical tests in a Dubai hospital, but which fuelled rumors of his possible resignation. Zardari’s office said a news web report, which kicked off much of the speculation, was untrue. “President Asif Ali Zardari is in a Dubai hospital for medical tests and checkup as planned,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Reuters.

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