Speaking near the conclusion of the two-week UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, on December 11, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), who will chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the next Congress, predicated more aggressive participation by the Obama administration in global climate-change talks than occurred during the Bush administration. According to Kerry, "It will be like the difference between night and day."
During a nationwide call-in program called "A Conversation with Vladimir Putin," broadcast live from a Moscow studio on December 4, the Russian prime minister and former president conveyed a positive forecast for U.S.-Russian relations during the impending administration of Barack Obama.
The Swedish welfare state is far from successful when it comes to integrating immigrants into its economy. Among first-generation immigrants from non-industrialized countries, less than half the adults are active in the labor market. Welfare dependency is nine times higher amongst this group compared to the rest of society.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced on December 2 that the alliance has agreed to a "conditional and graduated re-engagement" with Russia. The top NATO official said that talks with Moscow, which were halted when Russia invaded Georgian territory last August, would resume.
Is the New York Times "airbrushing" history again? It would seem so. On Saturday, November 22, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko presided over a commemoration in Kiev of the 75th anniversary of the famine genocide of 1932-1933 that took the lives of 7-10 million Ukrainians. Known as the Holodomor (Ukrainian for "murder by hunger"), it is one of the greatest mass murders in history, and one of the cruelest. Joining President Yushchenko for the event were official delegations from 44 countries, including the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Macedonia, Georgia, Latvia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.
For many of us, memories of the Cold War and of Russia's predecessor Soviet government may have fostered a natural inclination to sympathize with Georgia during its recent conflict with Russia. But a report published by the New York Times for November 7 offers some additional food for thought. Not that Russia has escaped the grip of the old KGB-controlled nomenklatura; it hasn't. But Georgia has not become pristine either.
Reaction from foreign leaders and citizens to the winning of the U.S. presidency by Democrat Barack Obama has been largely favorable, judging from several overseas-based news sources. The BBC quoted French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said: "At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond." Sarkozy continued: "France and Europe ... will find a new energy to work with America to preserve peace and world prosperity."
Last June, in a national referendum, voters in Ireland rejected the European Union Lisbon Treaty, which was, said opponents, merely a rehashed version of the EU Constitution that had gone down to defeat in 2004. Now, the powers that be in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, have announced a new effort aimed at "educating" Irish voters for another run at the treaty.
On October 16, the Swiss government — despite previous assurances that its banking system was largely immune from the worldwide banking crisis — issued a long-term loan of up to $54 billion to its largest bank, UBS AG. Agence France Presse reported that to secure its loan, the Swiss government will take a temporary stake of 9.3 percent in the bank.
During a two-day European Union summit held in Brussels from October 15-16, French President Nicolas Sarkozy (whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency) stressed that the EU would maintain its stringent goals to reduce carbon emissions, despite economic objections from some EU member nations. Following the prevailing opinion held by much of the world, the EU’s leaders have based their continent-wide regulations on the theory that periodic variations in global temperatures are the result of man-made causes, such as emissions of C02 gasses.