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Posts Tagged ‘Possible’

NZealand rescue possible, but needs to be quick: experts

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

Obama sees Mideast ‘progress’ possible this year

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 10:53 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama Wednesday pledged unwavering commitment to forging significant progress in the Middle East this year, despite the furor whipped up by Israel’s raid on a Gaza aid flotilla.

Welcoming Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to the White House, Obama promised the “full weight” of US diplomacy on the latest crisis and to coax Israelis and Palestinians out of a “dead end” and into direct peace talks.

US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP photo

He also unveiled 400 million dollars of US aid for Gaza and the West Bank for housing, education and infrastructure, calling the humanitarian situation “unsustainable,” and warned a Palestinian state was the only long-term solution.

The White House talks came with the Arab world still livid about the Israeli raid on the aid flotilla on May 31, which killed nine activists, and amid frantic US efforts to stop the uproar derailing peace efforts.

“I believe that potentially we can make some significant progress before the end of the year,” Obama said, telling Abbas in the Oval Office he remained deeply committed to spending personal political capital in the Middle East.

The US leader said that the 400-million-dollar aid package was meant to reaffirm US commitment to improving the “day-to-day lives of Palestinians.”

He said it may be possible to take the “tragedy” over the Gaza aid convoy and turn it “into an opportunity to create a situation where lives in Gaza are actually, directly improved.”

Abbas said that the aid package was “positive.”

But he told Obama in front of reporters that he needed to see progress in the current US-mediated “proximity” talks with Israel, before proceeding to direct discussions.

“We are working in order to make progress. President Obama is working for that, to see progress,” Abbas said.

As Obama seeks to inject new momentum into peace moves, both the White House and the Israeli government said they were trying to finalize arrangements for a visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this month.

The Israeli leader had been due here last week, to smooth over tensions which flared during his last visit, but had to cancel because of the Gaza crisis.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, who was in the Oval Office meeting, meanwhile told AFP that US envoy George Mitchell would go back to the Middle East next week for more proximity talks.

Erakat said Abbas had come to the United States with the message that progress was urgently needed.

“Time is of the essence, that’s his message, we need to see genuine movement in the direction of a two-state solution and ending the occupation,” he said.

The US leader also called on Israel to live up to UN Security Council conditions on probing the flotilla raid, which laid out the need for “credible, international involvement.”

“I’ve said to the Israelis directly … it is in Israel’s interest to make sure that everybody knows exactly how this happened so that we don’t see these kinds of events occurring again,” Obama said.

But Israel has rejected any international inquiry into the affair, amid calls for an easing of the three-year blockade of Gaza.

Earlier, Netanyahu said he was in talks with “several members of the international community” but said a probe should not focus on the role of Israeli soldiers in the raid.

Obama, while saying Israel had a right to make sure arms were not infiltrated into Gaza, also said that it should be possible to work out some kind of framework to avoid a repeat of the flotilla raid.

“It seems to us that there should be ways of focusing narrowly on arms shipments, rather than focusing in a blanket way on stopping everything and then, in a piecemeal way, allowing things into Gaza,” he said.

The White House said aid package for Palestinians would help “increase access to clean drinking water, create jobs, build schools, expand the availability of affordable housing, and address critical health and infrastructure needs.”

The money will be largely be funneled through the US Agency for International Development and the United Nations Relief Works Agency, which deals with Palestinian refugees.

The United States avoids dealing with Gaza’s ruling Hamas, which it deems a terrorist organization, and has worked to shore up the West Bank government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Source: SGGP

Goldman fraud charges trigger possible wider crackdown

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2010 at 11:03 am

Top Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs faced charges of financial fraud Saturday as US financial firms eyed the prospect of a wider crackdown on those that bet on the collapse of the housing market.

A civil suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday accused Goldman of “defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts” about a financial product based on subprime mortgage-backed securities.

The securities were a key contributor to the financial crisis that peaked in 2008 because many contained risky mortgages.

The charges are believed to be the first brought against a Wall Street firm for speculating on the collapse of the housing market, which is still struggling to emerge from the worst financial crisis in decades.

Underlining persistent concerns about the unfettered trade, US President Barack Obama said Friday he would veto a Wall Street reform bill that lacked tough rules for complex financial instruments.

“I will veto legislation that does not bring the derivatives market under control and some sort of regulatory framework assures that we don’t have the same sort of crisis we have seen in the past,” Obama said.

The SEC said Goldman failed to tell investors that a major hedge fund had helped put together the controversial financial product known as collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and was at the same time betting against it.

Paulson & Co, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which it could take speculative positions against mortgage securities chosen by the fund, the commission said in a statement.

The deal, which took place during a massive mortgage meltdown in 2007 and as the country was about to fall into a brutal recession, was said to have cost investors around one billion dollars.

Goldman claimed that it lost 90 million dollars from its own investment in the security.

“We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record which establishes that the accusations are unfounded in law and fact,” the company said.

The firm said it would “vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation.”

Paulson & Co. founder John Paulson said he had no role in choosing the mortgages.

The lawsuit also named Fabrice Tourre, then a vice-president at Goldman. He was said to be the creator and salesman of the product, which caused investors to lose about one billion dollars.

“The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” said Robert Khuzami, SEC’s director of the enforcement division in a statement.

Analysts said a long courtroom battle could now be expected.

The authorities have not ruled out the possibility of others involved in the alleged fraud or other similar types of fraud.

“The SEC continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the US housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress,” said Kenneth Lench, head of the SEC’s structured and new products unit.

It not known whether the SEC might refer the case to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

“The fact that the only individual charged here, after what was presumably a very thorough investigation, was a vice president rather than a managing director or higher, is relatively reassuring news for Goldman,” said Bank of America-Merrill Lynch research analyst Guy Moszkowski.

He said it seemed most likely that the potential for more serious charges rose dramatically the higher up the management chain the charges went.

Among investors of Goldman’s controversial product were German commercial bank IKB.

Paulson was not charged because it was not obligated to disclose any conflict of interest to investors, Khuzami said.

“Goldman made representations to investors, and Paulson did not.”

The firm reportedly made billions of dollars by betting against the housing market in the years before its collapse.

“Paulson did not sponsor or initiate” Goldman’s product, the Paulson firm said in a statement.

Goldman shares dived 12.79 percent Friday to 160.70 dollars, after falling as much as 15 percent when news of the fraud charges first hit the market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 125.91 points or 1.13 percent to end the week at 11,018.66 points, snapping a six-session winning streak that had driven the blue-chip index to a fresh 18-month high.

Oil prices also fell sharply, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, slipping 2.27 dollars to 83.24 dollars a barrel.

Source: SGGP

Google probing possible inside help on attack

In World on January 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Google is investigating whether one or more employees may have helped facilitate a cyber-attack that the U.S. search giant said it was a victim of in mid-December, two sources told Reuters on Monday.

Google, the world’s most popular search engine, said last week it may pull out of the world’s biggest Internet market by users after reporting it had been hit by a “sophisticated” cyber-attack on its network that resulted in theft of its intellectual property.

The sources, who are familiar with the situation, told Reuters that the attack, which targeted people who have access to specific parts of Google networks, may have been facilitated by people working in Google China’s office.

“We’re not commenting on rumor and speculation. This is an ongoing investigation, and we simply cannot comment on the details,” a Google spokeswoman said.

A cleaner looks out from the lobby of Google China’s headquarters in Beijing, January 15, 2010.

Security analysts told Reuters the malicious software (malware) used in the Google attack was a modification of a Trojan called Hydraq. A Trojan is malware that, once inside a computer, allows someone unauthorized access. The sophistication in the attack was in knowing whom to attack, not the malware itself, the analysts said.

Local media, citing unnamed sources, reported that some Google China employees were denied access to internal networks after January 13, while some staff were put on leave and others transferred to different offices in Google’s Asia Pacific operations. Google said it would not comment on its business operations.


Google, which has denied rumors that it has already decided to shut down its China offices, said on Monday it contacted the Chinese government last week after the announcement.

“We are going to have talks with them in the coming few days,” Google said.

Google is also still in the process of scanning its internal networks since the cyber-attack in mid-December.

China has tried to play down Google’s threat to leave, saying there are many ways to resolve the issue, but insisting all foreign companies, Google included, must abide by Chinese laws.

Washington said it was issuing a diplomatic note to China formally requesting an explanation for the attacks.

The Google issue risks becoming another irritant in China’s relationship with the United States. Ties are already strained by arguments over the yuan currency’s exchange rate, which U.S. critics say is unfairly low, trade protectionism and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Washington has long been worried about Beijing‘s cyber-spying program. A congressional advisory panel said in November the Chinese government appeared increasingly to be penetrating U.S. computers to gather useful data for its military.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Possible peacekeeping role looms for US troops in Haiti

In World on January 15, 2010 at 9:19 am

The US relief mission in Haiti remains focused on saving lives but American troops could be called on to help keep order if security deteriorates, officials said.

Members of a Dominican rescue team attempt to save a victim trapped amid the rubble of a destroyed building in Port-au-Prince. (AFP Photo)

With more than 5,000 US ground troops bound for Haiti this week as part of a major relief effort after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, US and international officials were watching closely for signs of potential rioting or unrest.

“At this time we’re not seeing any security concerns,” a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

“The focus of the US troops on the ground will be providing humanitarian assistance and relieving the suffering of the Haitian people.”

But he added: “Soldiers and Marines are trained to conduct security operations if they need to.”

Haiti has no army, and its police forces have all but collapsed in the aftermath of the country’s worst earthquake in over a century.

Security has fallen almost entirely to the UN peacekeeping mission, whose force of 7,060 troops and 2,091 police have been deployed since 2004 to help stabilize the impoverished Caribbean nation of nine million.

Amid looting and scenes of chaos, some rescue crews in the Haitian capital said they faced dangerous conditions that forced them to stop work at nightfall.

“Our biggest problem is insecurity. Yesterday they tried to hijack some of our trucks. Today we were barely able to work in some places because of that,” said Delfin Antonio Rodriguez, civil defense chief and rescue commander for the Dominican Republic, whose teams worked to rescue victims trapped under rubble in Port-au-Prince.

Mounting tensions in the street could complicate international plans to pour in aid and assistance but US officials said they were not alarmed over the state of security at the moment.

The Pentagon said a 3,500-strong brigade from the 82nd Airborne ordered to deploy to Haiti — with an advance corps of 100 arriving late Thursday — would be charged in part with maintaining a “safe environment” for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

More than 2,00 Marines heading to Haiti over the weekend also could be asked to carry out a similar role, officials said.

Ensuring safe conditions was crucial for a steady flow of international aid and urgent medical care, the US State Department said.

“Obviously, in those situations, one of the keys is maintaining law and order,” spokesman PJ Crowley said. “So far it’s been pretty good.”

He said US efforts were designed “not only to provide life-saving support to the Haitian people, but to rebuild the capacity of the Haitian government.”

US officials are anxious to avoid a breakdown in order that could trigger a mass exodus from the impoverished country as in years past, with desperate Haitians on rickety boats trying to flee to US soil.

But diplomats and military officers were cautious in discussing the sensitive issue, stressing that Americans were not out to assert control in the Caribbean nation and would work to support the Haitian authorities and the UN peacekeepers.

“I’m confident that this government (in Haiti) is not looking for the US to take over,” said State Department counselor Cheryl Mills.

“They are looking for a partner, and we will be their partner and provide the kind of leadership that is necessary… but we have no intention of supplanting the leadership of Haiti,” she said.

In natural disasters elsewhere, armed US combat troops have provided security for engineers or other expert teams.

But US officers said their military sometimes has to tread lightly to avoid antagonizing the population they are trying to help.

Mindful that a heavy military presence could backfire, some US Marines helping with humanitarian efforts in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami operated without weapons, helmets or flak jackets.

General Douglas Fraser, head of the US Southern Command, said Wednesday that the situation in Haiti was “calm” and that it was too early to speculate about possible security operations.

The general praised the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and said the peacekeeping force had performed a “significant job in sustaining and maintaining stability and security within the country.”

“So we will work with MINUSTAH and get assessments and figure out what the security situation is and then decide what to do from there,” he said.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share