- France pledges peanuts whilst it owes Haiti billions
- Global Economic Wars: Wall street behind Greece's debt burden
- Clinton: Iran is becoming a military dictatorship
- Pakistan is America's greatest concern
- China decries Obama-Dalai Lama meeting
France pledges peanuts whilst it owes Haiti billions
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged earthquake-ravaged Haiti 270m euros (£235m) in reconstruction aid. The aid package includes cancelling 56m euros (£48m) in debt owed by Haiti. However, the legacy of French colonial rule is still a bitter issue for many Haitians. Haiti won independence in 1804 after a bloody uprising by slaves against the French. But, Paris demanded 90 million pieces of gold in reparations for lost property and Haiti did not finish repaying the debt until 1947. By some estimates the amount paid by Haitians is worth $20 billion at today's value.
Clearly, France's mantra of liberty and equality is not applicable to Haitians.
Global Economic Wars: Wall street behind Greece's debt burden
European leaders have criticised Goldman Sachs and other investment banks following allegations that they helped Greece to disguise the true scale of its debts over several years. "It's a scandal if it turned out that the same banks that brought us to the brink of the abyss helped to fake the statistics," Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech at a conference in Germany Wednesday night. Eurostat, the European Union's statistical office, has already asked Greece to clarify the use of some derivatives contracts set up from 2001 with banks including Goldman Sachs. Greek officials and banking sources claim those contracts were legal until Eurostat stopped accepting them a few years later. Bankers have claimed that Greece set an artificially low exchange rate, which meant the amount of debt it was taking on appeared lower. Goldman would hand Greece the difference upfront, to compensate for the loss. This money, which resembled a loan rather than a bond, would therefore not count as public debt. The European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee has also urged EU commissioner Olli Rehn to explain the banks' role, and to specify what action he plans to take "to stop banks assisting European governments in hiding public debt", Arlene McCarthy, the committee's vice-president said recently. The crisis is spreading towards other European countries with a high public deficit, including Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Clinton: Iran is becoming a military dictatorship
Iran is veering toward a military dictatorship -- that's the word from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Speaking in Qatar on Monday, Clinton said Iran's Revolutionary Guard is increasingly dominating the government in Tehran. She made the comments as she seeks support for tougher sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear program. "Iranian officials have refused every offer to meet on its nuclear program," said Clinton. "So these actions, understandably, have caused us to wonder, what does Iran have to hide?" Clinton's words were among the strongest she's used since President Obama offered to engage with Iran. Clinton's trip to Qatar is part of an effort to gather support for tough, new sanctions against Iran, and she made her case by warning that the country is becoming a military dictatorship. "We are planning to try to bring the world community together in applying pressure to Iran through sanctions adopted by the United Nations that will be particularly aimed at those enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guard which we believe is, in effect, supplanting the government of Iran," she said. "That is how we see it."
Pakistan is America's greatest concern
US vice president Joe Biden has admitted he sees instability in Pakistan as a greater threat to international security than Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq. Speaking on Larry King Live, Mr Biden said that the combined effect was to make Pakistan his "greatest concern". "It's a big country," he said. "It has nuclear weapons that are able to be deployed. It has a real significant minority of radicalised population. It is not a completely functional democracy in the sense we think about it."
China decries Obama-Dalai Lama meeting
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai Friday summoned the U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and lodged solemn representations over U.S. President Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama. "The U.S. act grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, gravely hurt the Chinese people's national sentiments and seriously damaged the Sino-U.S. ties, " said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu in a further statement Friday. In spite of China's strong opposition, U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met respectively with the Dalai Lama in Washington on Thursday. "Tibet is an inalienable part of the inviolable territory of China, and the issues concerning Tibet are purely internal affairs of China," Ma said. China firmly opposes leaders or government officials of any country meeting the Dalai Lama in any form, and also firmly opposes any country or anyone using the Dalai Lama issue to interfere in its internal affairs, he added. "The Dalai Lama's words and deeds have shown that he is not a pure religious figure, but a political exile who has all along been engaged in separatist activities under the pretext of religion," the spokesman said.