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Czech Republic
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28 июня, 00:49

Czech mate

Czech Republic Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, left, shakes hands with Japaneses Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe's official residence in Tokyo on Tuesday.

27 июня, 07:30

В НАТО обеспокоены растущей военной мощью России

В НАТО обеспокоены растущей военной мощью России. Об этом заявил руководитель военного комитета альянса генерал Петр Павел, сообщают РИА «Новости» со ссылкой на Politico.

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26 июня, 08:00

Czech Republic : Selected Issues

Country Report No. 17/169

26 июня, 05:46

A Wide World Of Winless War

Cross-posted from TomDispatch.com The tabs on their shoulders read “Special Forces,” “Ranger,” “Airborne.” And soon their guidon ― the “colors” of Company B, 3rd Battalion of the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group ― would be adorned with the “Bandera de Guerra,” a Colombian combat decoration. “Today we commemorate sixteen years of a permanent fight against drugs in a ceremony where all Colombians can recognize the special counternarcotic brigade’s hard work against drug trafficking,” said Army Colonel Walther Jimenez, the commander of the Colombian military’s Special Anti-Drug Brigade, last December.  America’s most elite troops, the Special Operations forces (SOF), have worked with that Colombian unit since its creation in December 2000. Since 2014, four teams of Special Forces soldiers have intensely monitored the brigade. Now, they were being honored for it. Part of a $10 billion counter-narcotics and counterterrorism program, conceived in the 1990s, special ops efforts in Colombia are a much ballyhooed American success story.  A 2015 RAND Corporation study found that the program “represents an enduring SOF partnership effort that managed to help foster a relatively professional and capable special operations force.”  And for a time, coca production in that country plummeted.  Indeed, this was the ultimate promise of America’s “Plan Colombia” and efforts that followed from it.  “Over the longer haul, we can expect to see more effective drug eradication and increased interdiction of illicit drug shipments,” President Bill Clinton predicted in January 2000. Today, however, more than 460,000 acres of the Colombian countryside are blanketed with coca plants, more than during the 1980s heyday of the infamous cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.  U.S. cocaine overdose deaths are also at a 10-year high and first-time cocaine use among young adults has spiked 61% since 2013.  “Recent findings suggest that cocaine use may be reemerging as a public health concern in the United States,” wrote researchers from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in a study published in December 2016 ― just after the Green Berets attended that ceremony in Colombia. Cocaine, the study’s authors write, “may be making a comeback.” Colombia is hardly an anomaly when it comes to U.S. special ops deployments ― or the results that flow from them.  For all their abilities, tactical skills, training prowess, and battlefield accomplishments, the capacity of U.S. Special Operations forces to achieve decisive and enduring successes ― strategic victories that serve U.S. national interests ― have proved to be exceptionally limited, a reality laid bare from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen to the Philippines.  The fault for this lies not with the troops themselves, but with a political and military establishment that often appears bereft of strategic vision and hasn’t won a major war since the 1940s. Into this breach, elite U.S. forces are deployed again and again. While special ops commanders may raise concerns about the tempo of operations and strains on the force, they have failed to grapple with larger questions about the raison d’être of SOF, while Washington’s oversight establishment, notably the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, have consistently failed to so much as ask hard questions about the strategic utility of America’s Special Operations forces. Special Ops at War “We operate and fight in every corner of the world,” boasts General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM).  “On a daily basis, we sustain a deployed or forward stationed force of approximately 8,000 across 80-plus countries.  They are conducting the entire range of SOF missions in both combat and non-combat situations.”  Those numbers, however, only hint at the true size and scope of this global special ops effort.  Last year, America’s most elite forces conducted missions in 138 countries ― roughly 70% of the nations on the planet, according to figures supplied to TomDispatch by U.S. Special Operations Command.  Halfway through 2017, U.S. commandos have already been deployed to an astonishing 137 countries, according to SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw.  Special Operations Command is tasked with carrying out 12 core missions, ranging from counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare to hostage rescue and countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Counterterrorism ― fighting what the command calls violent extremist organizations (VEOs) ― may, however, be what America’s elite forces have become best known for in the post-9/11 era.  “The threat posed by VEOs remains the highest priority for USSOCOM in both focus and effort,” says Thomas. “Special Operations Forces are the main effort, or major supporting effort for U.S. VEO-focused operations in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, across the Sahel of Africa, the Philippines, and Central/South America ― essentially, everywhere Al Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are to be found...” More special operators are deployed to the Middle East than to any other region.  Significant numbers of them are advising Iraqi government forces and Iraqi Kurdish soldiers as well as Kurdish YPG (Popular Protection Unit) fighters and various ethnic Arab forces in Syria, according to Linda Robinson, a senior international policy analyst with the RAND Corporation who spent seven weeks in Iraq, Syria, and neighboring countries earlier this year.  During a visit to Qayyarah, Iraq ― a staging area for the campaign to free Mosul, formerly Iraq’s second largest city, from the control of Islamic State fighters ― Robinson “saw a recently installed U.S. military medical unit and its ICU set up in tents on the base.”  In a type of mission seldom reported on, special ops surgeons, nurses, and other specialists put their skills to work on far-flung battlefields not only to save American lives, but to prop up allied proxy forces that have limited medical capabilities.  For example, an Air Force Special Operations Surgical Team recently spent eight weeks deployed at an undisclosed location in the Iraq-Syria theater, treating 750 war-injured patients.  Operating out of an abandoned one-story home within earshot of a battlefield, the specially trained airmen worked through a total of 19 mass casualty incidents and more than 400 individual gunshot or blast injuries. When not saving lives in Iraq and Syria, elite U.S. forces are frequently involved in efforts to take them.  “U.S. SOF are... being thrust into a new role of coordinating fire support,” wrote Robinson. “This fire support is even more important to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a far more lightly armed irregular force which constitutes the major ground force fighting ISIS in Syria.”  In fact, a video shot earlier this year, analyzed by the Washington Post, shows special operators “acting as an observation element for what appears to be U.S. airstrikes carried out by A-10 ground attack aircraft” to support Syrian Democratic Forces fighting for the town of Shadadi. Africa now ranks second when it comes to the deployment of special operators thanks to the exponential growth in missions there in recent years.  Just 3% of U.S. commandos deployed overseas were sent to Africa in 2010.  Now that number stands at more than 17%, according to SOCOM data.  Last year, U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed to 32 African nations, about 60% of the countries on the continent.  As I recently reported at VICE News, at any given time, Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other special operators are now conducting nearly 100 missions across 20 African countries. In May, for instance, Navy SEALs were engaged in an “advise and assist operation” alongside members of Somalia’s army and came under attack.  SEAL Kyle Milliken was killed and two other U.S. personnel were injured during a firefight that also, according to AFRICOM spokesperson Robyn Mack, left three al-Shabaab militants dead.  U.S. forces are also deployed in Libya to gather intelligence in order to carry out strikes of opportunity against Islamic State forces there.  While operations in Central Africa against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal militia that has terrorized the region for decades, wound down recently, a U.S. commando reportedly killed a member of the LRA as recently as April.  Spring Training What General Thomas calls “building partner nations’ capacity” forms the backbone of the global activities of his command.  Day in, day out, America’s most elite troops carry out such training missions to sharpen their skills and those of their allies and of proxy forces across the planet.  This January, for example, Green Berets and Japanese paratroopers carried out airborne training near Chiba, Japan.  February saw Green Berets at Sanaa Training Center in northwest Syria advising recruits for the Manbij Military Council, a female fighting force of Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Turkmen, and Yazidis.  In March, snowmobiling Green Berets joined local forces for cold-weather military drills in Lapland, Finland.  That same month, special operators and more than 3,000 troops from Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom took part in tactical training in Germany. In the waters off Kuwait, special operators joined elite forces from the Gulf Cooperation Council nations in conducting drills simulating a rapid response to the hijacking of an oil tanker.  In April, special ops troops traveled to Serbia to train alongside a local special anti-terrorist unit.  In May, members of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Iraq carried out training exercises with Iraqi special operations forces near Baghdad. That same month, 7,200 military personnel, including U.S. Air Force Special Tactics airmen, Italian special operations forces, members of host nation Jordan’s Special Task Force, and troops from more than a dozen other nations took part in Exercise Eager Lion, practicing everything from assaulting compounds to cyber-defense.  For their part, a group of SEALs conducted dive training alongside Greek special operations forces in Souda Bay, Greece, while others joined NATO troops in Germany as part of Exercise Saber Junction 17 for training in land operations, including mock “behind enemy lines missions” in a “simulated European village.”  #Winning “We have been at the forefront of national security operations for the past three decades, to include continuous combat over the past 15-and-a-half years,” SOCOM’s Thomas told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities last month.  “This historic period has been the backdrop for some of our greatest successes, as well as the source of our greatest challenge, which is the sustained readiness of this magnificent force.”  Yet, for all their magnificence and all those successes, for all the celebratory ceremonies they’ve attended, the wars, interventions, and other actions for which they’ve served as the tip of the American spear have largely foundered, floundered, or failed.  After their initial tactical successes in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, America’s elite operators became victims of Washington’s failure to declare victory and go home.  As a result, for the last 15 years, U.S. commandos have been raiding homes, calling in air strikes, training local forces, and waging a relentless battle against a growing list of terror groups in that country.  For all their efforts, as well as those of their conventional military brethren and local Afghan allies, the war is now, according to the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, a “stalemate.”  That’s a polite way of saying what a recent report to Congress by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found: districts that are contested or under “insurgent control or influence” have risen from an already remarkable 28% in 2015 to 40%. The war in Afghanistan began with efforts to capture or kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.  Having failed in this post-9/11 mission, America’s elite forces spun their wheels for the next decade when it came to his fate.  Finally, in 2011, Navy SEALs cornered him in his long-time home in Pakistan and gunned him down.  Ever since, special operators who carried out the mission and Washingtonpower-players (not to mentionHollywood) have been touting this single tactical success. In an Esquire interview, Robert O’Neill, the SEAL who put two bullets in bin Laden’s head, confessed that he joined the Navy due to frustration over an early crush, a puppy-love pique.  “That’s the reason al-Qaeda has been decimated,” he joked, “because she broke my fucking heart.”  But al-Qaeda was not decimated ― far from it according to Ali Soufan, a former F.B.I. special agent and the author of Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of Bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State.  As he recently observed, “Whereas on 9/11 al-Qaeda had a few hundred members, almost all of them based in a single country, today it enjoys multiple safe havens across the world.”  In fact, he points out, the terror group has gained strength since bin Laden’s death. Year after year, U.S. special operators find themselves fighting new waves of militants across multiple continents, including entire terror groups that didn’t exist on 9/11.  All U.S. forces killed in Afghanistan in 2017 have reportedly died battling an Islamic State franchise, which began operations there just two years ago.  The U.S. invasion of Iraq, to take another example, led to the meteoric rise of an al-Qaeda affiliate which, in turn, led the military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) ― the elite of America’s special ops elite ― to create a veritable manhunting machine designed to kill its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and take down the organization.  As with bin Laden, special operators finally did find and eliminate Zarqawi, battering his organization in the process, but it was never wiped out.  Left behind were battle-hardened elements that later formed the Islamic State and did what al-Qaeda never could: take and hold huge swaths of territory in two nations.  Meanwhile, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch grew into a separate force of more than 20,000.  In Yemen, after more than a decade of low-profile special ops engagement, that country teeters on the brink of collapse in the face of a U.S.-backed Saudi war there.  Continued U.S. special ops missions in that country, recently on the rise, have seemingly done nothing to alter the situation.  Similarly, in Somalia in the Horn of Africa, America’s elite forces remain embroiled in an endless war against militants.  In 2011, President Obama launched Operation Observant Compass, sending Special Operations forces to aid Central African proxies in an effort to capture or kill Joseph Kony and decimate his murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), then estimated to number 150 to 300 armed fighters.  After the better part of a decade and nearly $800 million spent, 150 U.S. commandos were withdrawn this spring and U.S. officials attended a ceremony to commemorate the end of the mission.  Kony was, however, never captured or killed and the LRA is now estimated to number about 150 to 250 fighters, essentially the same size as when the operation began. This string of futility extends to Asia as well.  “U.S. Special Forces have been providing support and assistance in the southern Philippines for many years, at the request of several different Filipino administrations,” Emma Nagy, a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Manilla, pointed out earlier this month.  Indeed, a decade-plus-long special ops effort there has been hailed as a major success.  Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines, wrote RAND analyst Linda Robinson late last year in the Pentagon journal Prism, “was aimed at enabling the Philippine security forces to combat transnational terrorist groups in the restive southern region of Mindanao.”  A 2016 RAND report co-authored by Robinson concluded that “the activities of the U.S. SOF enabled the Philippine government to substantially reduce the transnational terrorist threat in the southern Philippines.” This May, however, Islamist militants overran Marawi City, a major urban center on Mindanao.  They have been holding on to parts of it for weeks despite a determined assault by Filipino troops backed by U.S. Special Operations forces.  In the process, large swaths of the city have been reduced to rubble. Running on Empty America’s elite forces, General Thomas told members of Congress last month, “are fully committed to winning the current and future fights.”  In reality, though, from war to war, intervention to intervention, from the Anti-Drug Brigade ceremony in Florencia, Colombia, to the end-of-the-Kony-hunt observance in Obo in the Central African Republic, there is remarkably little evidence that even enduring efforts by Special Operations forces result in strategic victories or improved national security outcomes.  And yet, despite such boots-on-the-ground realities, America’s special ops forces and their missions only grow. “We are... grateful for the support of Congress for the required resourcing that, in turn, has produced a SOCOM which is relevant to all the current and enduring threats facing the nation,” Thomas told the Senate Armed Services Committee in May.  Resourcing has, indeed, been readily available.  SOCOM’s annual budget has jumped from $3 billion in 2001 to more than $10 billion today.  Oversight, however, has been seriously lacking.  Not a single member of the House or Senate Armed Services Committees has questioned why, after more than 15 years of constant warfare, winning the “current fight” has proven so elusive.  None of them has suggested that “support” from Congress ought to be reconsidered in the face of setbacks from Afghanistan to Iraq, Colombia to Central Africa, Yemen to the southern Philippines.   In the waning days of George W. Bush’s administration, Special Operations forces were reportedly deployed to about 60 nations around the world.  By 2011, under President Barack Obama, that number had swelled to 120.  During this first half-year of the Trump administration, U.S. commandos have already been sent to 137 countries, with elite troops now enmeshed in conflicts from Africa to Asia.  “Most SOF units are employed to their sustainable limit,” Thomas told members of the House Armed Services Committee last month.  In fact, current and former members of the command have, for some time, been sounding the alarm about the level of strain on the force.  These deployment levels and a lack of meaningful strategic results from them have not, however, led Washington to raise fundamental questions about the ways the U.S. employs its elite forces, much less about SOCOM’s raison d’être.  “We are a command at war and will remain so for the foreseeable future,” SOCOM’s Thomas explained to the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Not one member asked why or to what end.  Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch, a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the Intercept. His book Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa received an American Book Award in 2016. His latest book is Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is NickTurse.com. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

23 июня, 14:06

Inefficiencies in the Ukrainian healthcare: do we get the value for money?

Current healthcare system entails multiple inefficiencies. Proposed reforms will mitigate many of them by shifting financing from facilities to services

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22 июня, 18:53

Shades of Zlatan: Patrik Schick’s £26m Juventus move caps a meteoric rise

The Czech Republic striker, who has been likened to Ibrahimovic, has flown on Juve’s jet from the Under-21 Euros to seal a transfer from Sampdoria“Right now, Patrik doesn’t have the muscles, but you can just imagine him in two or three years,” enthused the 2003 Ballon d’Or winner Pavel Nedved this month. “He reminds me of Zlatan Ibrahimovic because he was like that when he came to Juve. He didn’t have the muscles either.”As meteoric rises go, it is hard to beat the story of Patrik Schick. The 21-year-old Czech Republic forward was having a medical on Thursday to seal a €30m (£26.4m) transfer from Sampdoria to Nedved’s former club Juventus. Thirteen months ago he had just returned to Sparta Prague from a loan spell at Bohemians – the third-best-supported team in the Czech capital and the club where the 1976 European Championship-winning hero Antonin Panenka is the honorary president. Continue reading...

22 июня, 08:45

GGP: European Energy Outlook: Importance of Supply Diversification

The statements, opinions and data contained in the content published in Global Gas Perspectives are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publisher and the editor(s) of Natural Gas World. This article was written by Emin Akhundzade INTRODUCTION  European...

21 июня, 18:12

EU migration to Britain falls sharply: study

THE number of people moving to Britain from Eastern Europe has fallen by around a third since the Brexit vote, according to a study released?Wednesday that suggested the plunge in the pound could be to

18 июня, 13:00

Patagonia's CEO Is Ready To Lead The Corporate Resistance To Donald Trump

NEW YORK ― On a cloudy May morning, Rose Marcario, the chief executive of outdoor retailer Patagonia, stared out a second-story window of a Manhattan restaurant, watching construction workers jackhammer the street below. The workers made her think of her grandfather, an Italian immigrant who, after making it through Ellis Island in the 1920s, got his first job digging the streets of this city. He earned 10 cents a day and had to bring his own shovel. People regularly spat at him and sneered at his broken English.  “He’d tell me, ‘I didn’t mind that, because I knew that someday in the future, you were going to have a better life,’” she recalled.   His sacrifice has been weighing on Marcario lately. She isn’t a parent herself, but she thinks of her young cousins, nieces and nephews. She wants them to inherit a planet with a stable climate and normal sea levels ― a country that still has some pristine wilderness left. Her job ― running a privately held company with roughly $800 million in annual revenue and stores in 16 states plus D.C. ― provides her a much bigger platform to influence their lives than anyone in her family had two generations ago. It’s also why she’s decided to take on the president of the United States to stop him from rolling back decades of public land protections.   “We have to fight like hell to keep every inch of public land,” Marcario, 52, told HuffPost last month. “I don’t have a lot of faith in politics and politicians right now.” Ventura, California-based Patagonia has taken on a number of national conservation efforts since environmentalist and rock climber Yvon Chouinard founded it in 1973. In 1988, the firm launched a campaign to restore the natural splendor of Yosemite Valley, which was being destroyed by cars and lodges. The company took on a more consumer-centric approach, launching an ad campaign in 2011 urging customers not to buy its jackets in an attempt to address rampant waste in the fashion industry.   The company was relatively quiet for the first two years after Marcario took the top spot in 2014. But she grew dismayed as environmental and climate issues took a backseat in the 2016 election, despite the stark difference between the two top candidates’ views. She worried the vicious mudslinging of the election would turn off voters. Instead of turning away from political discord, as many corporate giants have, Marcario ran toward it. In September, the company announced plans to spend $1 million and launch a get-out-the-vote tour of 17 states. On Election Day, the retailer completely closed down its operations in 30 stores to make sure employees and shoppers made it to the polls. Still, Donald Trump’s November victory caught Marcario by surprise. Trump had campaigned on bombastic promises to revive the coal industry, a top source of planet-warming emissions, and vowed to transform the U.S. into a major fossil fuel exporter. Then he named the CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. as his secretary of state and picked an oil and gas ally to head the Environmental Protection Agency.  He nominated Ryan Zinke, a freshman congressman from Montana who questioned the science behind global warming, to head the Department of the Interior, which controls national parks and 500 million acres of land ― or 20 percent of the U.S. landmass.   And Trump made clear that he plans to roll back the environmental rules issued under Obama ― which he has said constrain businesses and stymie job growth. In a show of postelection defiance, Patagonia decided to donate all $10 million of its Black Friday sales to environmental causes. In a Nov. 28 blog post, the company nodded to the president-elect’s dismissal of climate science and promise to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, though it stopped short of calling Trump out by name. But Marcario still thought public lands were safe. While Trump, born and raised in New York City, never seemed to care about outdoor excursions that didn’t include 18 holes, his eldest son, Donald Jr., is a big-game hunter who grew up camping in the forests of his mother’s native Czech Republic. During the campaign, Trump signaled plans to buck the Republican Party platform calling for federals lands to be turned over to state control, where they were more likely to be exploited for resource development or sold off. “I want to keep the lands great,” Trump told Field & Stream magazine in January 2016. That tone changed shortly after the election. One of Obama’s final actions was to set aside 1.35 million acres in southeastern Utah to create Bears Ears National Monument, named by the various Native American tribes whose sacred lands it included. The designation riled the state’s Republican leaders, who condemned the designation as a federal land grab and urged the incoming Trump administration to undo it, and mining interests that were looking to tap uranium and mineral deposits in the region. Patagonia went on the offensive against Utah’s Republican governor and Washington delegation. In January, the company threatened to pull out of Salt Lake City’s biannual Outdoor Retailer Show, a trade show that brings 45,000 visitors spending more than $40 million each year. Marcario pledged to fight the state’s leadership “with everything that we have.” A month later, she pulled out of the show and put intense pressure on its organizers to quit hosting the event in Utah’s capital until state lawmakers halted their assault on Bears Ears. In April, Trump directed Zinke to not only re-examine the Bears Ears designation but to to review all national monument designations going back 21 years, calling them an “egregious abuse of federal power.” Patagonia threatened to sue the Trump administration a day later, vowing to “take every step necessary, including legal action, to defend our most treasured public landscapes from coast to coast.” “A president does not have the authority to rescind a National Monument,” Marcario said in a terse statement that day. “An attempt to change the boundaries ignores the review process of cultural and historical characteristics and the public input.” Reversing Obama’s Bears Ears designation would be an unprecedented assault on a presidential prerogative created in the 1906 Antiquities Act. Nearly every president has wielded the act to preserve tribal lands and natural wonders. Only Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush declined to use the law, according to The Wilderness Society. But no White House has ever rescinded a monument, and a 2016 analysis from the Congressional Research Service suggests that presidents can only adjust, not outright abolish, a prior designation. Zinke completed his review this month, and on Monday submitted an interim report that recommends shrinking the boundaries of Bears Ears. There is some precedent for that: Woodrow Wilson halved Mount Olympic National Monument, which Roosevelt had designated in 1909. The monument was later restored to its full size when Franklin Roosevelt signed a congressional act redesignating the monument as Olympic National Park in 1938, providing it the expanded protections granted under national park status. Patagonia says it will make good on the threat to sue the administration if they move to alter Bears Ears.   The company has suggested it will take a novel approach to a lawsuit ― arguing that a reversal of those protections would hurt their business, which is structured to make environmental philanthropy a core function. The retailer is registered as a benefit corporation, or B corp, meaning the company has committed to adhering to rigid environmental and charitable standards, submitting detailed annual progress reports, and giving 1 percent of its pre-tax profits to green causes each year. Patagonia donated $800,000 to groups that advocated for Bears Ears to be established as part of that charitable giving. It also sent employees on retreats to the monument and tested products there. In May, the company released a virtual reality film touring Bears Ears.   We have to fight like hell to keep every inch of public land. Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario “We have such a close connection to the area,” Hilary Dessouky, Patagonia’s general counsel, told HuffPost by phone this week. “That’s part of our argument, that we are directly connected to the area though the work that we’ve done.” “We have a real economic interest in the preservation of America’s public lands,” she added. Mark Squillace, a law professor at the University of Colorado, said Patagonia’s claim could hold up in court. “Patagonia probably does have significant business interests that could be affected,” Squillace, who worked under Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt during the last year of Bill Clinton’s presidency, told HuffPost by phone. “The test for standing is not too draconian, so I think most courts would let Patagonia in.” Anticipated lawsuits from environmental groups and tribes ― whose legal standing to sue would be even stronger ― could also bolster Patagonia’s case. Trump could attempt to reduce the monument through an executive order, but he could also appeal to Congress to vote to change Bears Ears’ status, which Zinke has suggested they may do. That would face tough opposition, however. “I don’t believe Trump has the legal authority to rescind or shrink the monument,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who has a national monument in his own state under consideration, said on Monday. “If the administration moves forward with that plan, if he puts this plan before Congress, I will fight him every step of the way.” Patagonia said it would also consider its legal options if Congress acts, but would likely have a tougher time with that. At the very least, the company said it’s already considering putting its efforts behind pro-environment candidates in the 2018 election. Marcario said she had no interest in directly funding individual candidates, but Patagonia employees have given a total of $56,547 to the Democratic Party over the last 27 years, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. (Republicans, by contrast, received just one $500 donation in 1990.)  Marcario is ready for a long fight over something that could become her legacy at the company. Patagonia’s first CEO, Kris Tompkins, spent 12 years at the helm and donated more than 340,000 acres of land in Argentina’s northeastern Iberá wetlands to establish what will become the country’s largest nature preserve. Tompkins and her late husband, billionaire retail mogul Douglas Tompkins, also bought up huge swaths of wilderness in Argentina and Chile in hopes of preserving it. “She’s a pretty hard act to follow,” Marcario said with a laugh. Patagonia hasn’t been without its faults. Two years before Marcario took over, internal audits found forced labor and brutal conditions at Taiwanese mills that produced the raw materials for its apparel. Patagonia applied aggressive new standards for monitoring its suppliers in response, but it’s always difficult to monitor every supplier at all times. Marcario said she also wants to make changes at the corporate level to further their ideals ― by converting the firm’s food division, Patagonia Provisions, to purely organic ingredients and investing the employee retirement plans entirely in sustainable, eco-friendly funds and businesses. But for now, she’s focused on running a major company and keeping Trump from downsizing a national monument in southeastern Utah, a mammoth task unto itself. Progress requires effort, but it takes time, too. She learned that resolve from grandfather and from her childhood summers spent fishing the waters surrounding Staten Island with homemade rods her uncles made. She’s given to quoting Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous line about the long, justice-bent arc of the moral universe. After wrapping up the interview, Marcario grabbed her Patagonia backpack and prepared to catch her ride outside. She walked a few steps, then turned around. “Look, I grew up as a gay woman in the ‘80s, watching my friends die of AIDS and Jerry Falwell on TV saying they deserved it,” she said, referring to the far-right evangelical preacher. She paused for a moment, then smiled. “Look how far we’ve come.” type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=5935ea40e4b0099e7fae9975,5900eb2be4b0af6d718af532,5865619ee4b0eb5864889f98,5899ebbee4b09bd304bd9ef0,57e55c95e4b0e28b2b53a6d7 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

18 июня, 13:00

Patagonia's CEO Is Ready To Lead The Corporate Resistance To Donald Trump

NEW YORK ― On a cloudy May morning, Rose Marcario, the chief executive of outdoor retailer Patagonia, stared out a second-story window of a Manhattan restaurant, watching construction workers jackhammer the street below. The workers made her think of her grandfather, an Italian immigrant who, after making it through Ellis Island in the 1920s, got his first job digging the streets of this city. He earned 10 cents a day and had to bring his own shovel. People regularly spat at him and sneered at his broken English.  “He’d tell me, ‘I didn’t mind that, because I knew that someday in the future, you were going to have a better life,’” she recalled.   His sacrifice has been weighing on Marcario lately. She isn’t a parent herself, but she thinks of her young cousins, nieces and nephews. She wants them to inherit a planet with a stable climate and normal sea levels ― a country that still has some pristine wilderness left. Her job ― running a privately held company with roughly $800 million in annual revenue and stores in 16 states plus D.C. ― provides her a much bigger platform to influence their lives than anyone in her family had two generations ago. It’s also why she’s decided to take on the president of the United States to stop him from rolling back decades of public land protections.   “We have to fight like hell to keep every inch of public land,” Marcario, 52, told HuffPost last month. “I don’t have a lot of faith in politics and politicians right now.” Ventura, California-based Patagonia has taken on a number of national conservation efforts since environmentalist and rock climber Yvon Chouinard founded it in 1973. In 1988, the firm launched a campaign to restore the natural splendor of Yosemite Valley, which was being destroyed by cars and lodges. The company took on a more consumer-centric approach, launching an ad campaign in 2011 urging customers not to buy its jackets in an attempt to address rampant waste in the fashion industry.   The company was relatively quiet for the first two years after Marcario took the top spot in 2014. But she grew dismayed as environmental and climate issues took a backseat in the 2016 election, despite the stark difference between the two top candidates’ views. She worried the vicious mudslinging of the election would turn off voters. Instead of turning away from political discord, as many corporate giants have, Marcario ran toward it. In September, the company announced plans to spend $1 million and launch a get-out-the-vote tour of 17 states. On Election Day, the retailer completely closed down its operations in 30 stores to make sure employees and shoppers made it to the polls. Still, Donald Trump’s November victory caught Marcario by surprise. Trump had campaigned on bombastic promises to revive the coal industry, a top source of planet-warming emissions, and vowed to transform the U.S. into a major fossil fuel exporter. Then he named the CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. as his secretary of state and picked an oil and gas ally to head the Environmental Protection Agency.  He nominated Ryan Zinke, a freshman congressman from Montana who questioned the science behind global warming, to head the Department of the Interior, which controls national parks and 500 million acres of land ― or 20 percent of the U.S. landmass.   And Trump made clear that he plans to roll back the environmental rules issued under Obama ― which he has said constrain businesses and stymie job growth. In a show of postelection defiance, Patagonia decided to donate all $10 million of its Black Friday sales to environmental causes. In a Nov. 28 blog post, the company nodded to the president-elect’s dismissal of climate science and promise to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, though it stopped short of calling Trump out by name. But Marcario still thought public lands were safe. While Trump, born and raised in New York City, never seemed to care about outdoor excursions that didn’t include 18 holes, his eldest son, Donald Jr., is a big-game hunter who grew up camping in the forests of his mother’s native Czech Republic. During the campaign, Trump signaled plans to buck the Republican Party platform calling for federals lands to be turned over to state control, where they were more likely to be exploited for resource development or sold off. “I want to keep the lands great,” Trump told Field & Stream magazine in January 2016. That tone changed shortly after the election. One of Obama’s final actions was to set aside 1.35 million acres in southeastern Utah to create Bears Ears National Monument, named by the various Native American tribes whose sacred lands it included. The designation riled the state’s Republican leaders, who condemned the designation as a federal land grab and urged the incoming Trump administration to undo it, and mining interests that were looking to tap uranium and mineral deposits in the region. Patagonia went on the offensive against Utah’s Republican governor and Washington delegation. In January, the company threatened to pull out of Salt Lake City’s biannual Outdoor Retailer Show, a trade show that brings 45,000 visitors spending more than $40 million each year. Marcario pledged to fight the state’s leadership “with everything that we have.” A month later, she pulled out of the show and put intense pressure on its organizers to quit hosting the event in Utah’s capital until state lawmakers halted their assault on Bears Ears. In April, Trump directed Zinke to not only re-examine the Bears Ears designation but to to review all national monument designations going back 21 years, calling them an “egregious abuse of federal power.” Patagonia threatened to sue the Trump administration a day later, vowing to “take every step necessary, including legal action, to defend our most treasured public landscapes from coast to coast.” “A president does not have the authority to rescind a National Monument,” Marcario said in a terse statement that day. “An attempt to change the boundaries ignores the review process of cultural and historical characteristics and the public input.” Reversing Obama’s Bears Ears designation would be an unprecedented assault on a presidential prerogative created in the 1906 Antiquities Act. Nearly every president has wielded the act to preserve tribal lands and natural wonders. Only Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush declined to use the law, according to The Wilderness Society. But no White House has ever rescinded a monument, and a 2016 analysis from the Congressional Research Service suggests that presidents can only adjust, not outright abolish, a prior designation. Zinke completed his review this month, and on Monday submitted an interim report that recommends shrinking the boundaries of Bears Ears. There is some precedent for that: Woodrow Wilson halved Mount Olympic National Monument, which Roosevelt had designated in 1909. The monument was later restored to its full size when Franklin Roosevelt signed a congressional act redesignating the monument as Olympic National Park in 1938, providing it the expanded protections granted under national park status. Patagonia says it will make good on the threat to sue the administration if they move to alter Bears Ears.   The company has suggested it will take a novel approach to a lawsuit ― arguing that a reversal of those protections would hurt their business, which is structured to make environmental philanthropy a core function. The retailer is registered as a benefit corporation, or B corp, meaning the company has committed to adhering to rigid environmental and charitable standards, submitting detailed annual progress reports, and giving 1 percent of its pre-tax profits to green causes each year. Patagonia donated $800,000 to groups that advocated for Bears Ears to be established as part of that charitable giving. It also sent employees on retreats to the monument and tested products there. In May, the company released a virtual reality film touring Bears Ears.   We have to fight like hell to keep every inch of public land. Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario “We have such a close connection to the area,” Hilary Dessouky, Patagonia’s general counsel, told HuffPost by phone this week. “That’s part of our argument, that we are directly connected to the area though the work that we’ve done.” “We have a real economic interest in the preservation of America’s public lands,” she added. Mark Squillace, a law professor at the University of Colorado, said Patagonia’s claim could hold up in court. “Patagonia probably does have significant business interests that could be affected,” Squillace, who worked under Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt during the last year of Bill Clinton’s presidency, told HuffPost by phone. “The test for standing is not too draconian, so I think most courts would let Patagonia in.” Anticipated lawsuits from environmental groups and tribes ― whose legal standing to sue would be even stronger ― could also bolster Patagonia’s case. Trump could attempt to reduce the monument through an executive order, but he could also appeal to Congress to vote to change Bears Ears’ status, which Zinke has suggested they may do. That would face tough opposition, however. “I don’t believe Trump has the legal authority to rescind or shrink the monument,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who has a national monument in his own state under consideration, said on Monday. “If the administration moves forward with that plan, if he puts this plan before Congress, I will fight him every step of the way.” Patagonia said it would also consider its legal options if Congress acts, but would likely have a tougher time with that. At the very least, the company said it’s already considering putting its efforts behind pro-environment candidates in the 2018 election. Marcario said she had no interest in directly funding individual candidates, but Patagonia employees have given a total of $56,547 to the Democratic Party over the last 27 years, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. (Republicans, by contrast, received just one $500 donation in 1990.)  Marcario is ready for a long fight over something that could become her legacy at the company. Patagonia’s first CEO, Kris Tompkins, spent 12 years at the helm and donated more than 340,000 acres of land in Argentina’s northeastern Iberá wetlands to establish what will become the country’s largest nature preserve. Tompkins and her late husband, billionaire retail mogul Douglas Tompkins, also bought up huge swaths of wilderness in Argentina and Chile in hopes of preserving it. “She’s a pretty hard act to follow,” Marcario said with a laugh. Patagonia hasn’t been without its faults. Two years before Marcario took over, internal audits found forced labor and brutal conditions at Taiwanese mills that produced the raw materials for its apparel. Patagonia applied aggressive new standards for monitoring its suppliers in response, but it’s always difficult to monitor every supplier at all times. Marcario said she also wants to make changes at the corporate level to further their ideals ― by converting the firm’s food division, Patagonia Provisions, to purely organic ingredients and investing the employee retirement plans entirely in sustainable, eco-friendly funds and businesses. But for now, she’s focused on running a major company and keeping Trump from downsizing a national monument in southeastern Utah, a mammoth task unto itself. Progress requires effort, but it takes time, too. She learned that resolve from grandfather and from her childhood summers spent fishing the waters surrounding Staten Island with homemade rods her uncles made. She’s given to quoting Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous line about the long, justice-bent arc of the moral universe. After wrapping up the interview, Marcario grabbed her Patagonia backpack and prepared to catch her ride outside. She walked a few steps, then turned around. “Look, I grew up as a gay woman in the ‘80s, watching my friends die of AIDS and Jerry Falwell on TV saying they deserved it,” she said, referring to the far-right evangelical preacher. She paused for a moment, then smiled. “Look how far we’ve come.” type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=5935ea40e4b0099e7fae9975,5900eb2be4b0af6d718af532,5865619ee4b0eb5864889f98,5899ebbee4b09bd304bd9ef0,57e55c95e4b0e28b2b53a6d7 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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16 июня, 20:16

Kremlin memoirs: Boris Yeltsin's widow recalls their foreign tours

L-R: Naina and Boris Yeltsin, Hillary and Bill Clinton during the G-8 summit in Denver. Source: Getty Images The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center and Sinbad Publishing House have published "A Personal Life," the memoirs of the wife of Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin. RBTH is the first online media to publish excerpts related to the presidential couple's official visits abroad.   Despite the difficult situation in the country, Boris, as Russia's president, had to meet foreign heads of state and travel abroad on official visits. This was not a formality. The situation inside the country depended on how relations between the new Russia and the world would be built. We really needed help - the country was on the brink of hunger. Today, when I read that in the 1990s the Russian president traveled the world with an outstretched hand, I am very saddened. It’s not true. Boris did everything so that Russia would be perceived as an equal partner. And he was successful in this. Wherever we went, we were met with much respect. First ladies at G8 summit in Denver, 1997. Naina Yeltsina is 4th from left. Source: AFP The leaders of European countries and the U.S. understood the difficult situation our country was in and tried helping the new Russia. Later Helmut Kohl told me how Germany sent us humanitarian aid, including entire shipments of female undergarments. I admitted that we were obviously grateful for their goodwill, although we did not feel that life had improved. "Yes, I understand," said Kohl. "We, Western Germany, invested so many resources into Eastern Germany but still have not been able to solve all the problems." "What should we do, Mr. Kohl, since we don't have a Western Russia, there is only one Russia?" I asked. "I agree, it's much more difficult for you," replied the chancellor. I think that in the 90s the leaders of various countries were united not only by formal mutual obligations. Relations among them were indeed trustful and respectful. There was a common desire to make relations between the countries warmer. Otherwise there wouldn't have been any "meetings without ties," which became a tradition back then. Boris would prepare [for the meetings] very thoroughly. This was not easy, since he did not have much experience - only international contacts from the Central Committee. But his visit to America as chairman of the Supreme Council of Russia had been unofficial. Naina Yeltsina (C), enjoys an outdoor tea ceremony with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's wife Kumiko (L) in 1998. Source: Reuters He had to master all the subtleties of protocol along the way. It was a good thing that in the beginning of 1992 Boris had an experienced and brilliantly educated person in this field, Vladimir Nikolaevich Shevchenko. Earlier, he had directed Gorbachev's protocol service. Boris respected everything Shevchenko did. He knew how to value professionals. During travels the president's schedule was very rigid: official meetings, negotiations, signing documents. For some reason it’s usually thought that heads of state just put their signatures on documents, which have already been prepared by diplomats and assistants. This is not so. His assistants told the president the position of the ministries and departments. They presented information, agreed on document projects. But the most important things would happen later, behind closed doors, when assistants and journalists would leave. It was not clear until the last minute whether the heads of state would come to an agreement or not. In 1991-1993, we went to Italy, Germany, the U.S., the UK, France, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, and the CIS countries. In those years Russia began to participate in summits of world leaders. First it was the G7, in which Russia was invited. Later, Russia was also included in the informal club of great powers: the G7 became the G8. According to protocol, I had to accompany my husband on his official travels. Being the first lady is obviously also a job. And it not only deals with formal responsibilities. I knew that I also represented my country - a country that was big, complex and with enormous problems, but one that I loved. Boris and I wanted that people everywhere respected Russia and that they would treat Russian citizens with warmth, understanding the problems that had befallen them. Being sincere in my role as first lady was not difficult - probably because I do not know how to pretend and I believe that a person must remain himself in all situations. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Russian first lady Naina Yeltsina look around as they tour the Kremlin in Moscow in 1994. Source: Reuters I always prepared for travels by reading the briefing materials that the protocol service gave me. I couldn't just come to a country without having an idea of its political structure, customs, and culture. I tried to be prepared when communicating with international leaders, their wives and ordinary citizens. Back then, in the 1990s, none of us knew how the work of a first lady should be organized. Everything was done by intuition. I had neither a press secretary nor any assistants. Vladimir Shevchenko played the role of everyone. I am grateful to him. He still helps me. Obviously I had bodyguards - officers from the Federal Protective Service. That is the first lady's team. Thanks to Vladimir, and perhaps to my habit of doing everything conscientiously, I managed with my new responsibilities. However, in other countries, I saw that large staffs worked with presidents' wives. Some wives had small teams, other large teams, but each first lady had a team. I remember Hillary Clinton's assistants working with particular precision. Perhaps this is not the most typical example. Hillary had her own political ambitions - it was already clear back then. Later when she ran twice for president, I wished her success with all my heart. During the G7 summits, and the visits to various countries, the first ladies had their own programs. We had warm informal relations. With many first ladies, Madam Chirac for example, we became friends and maintained a close relationship for many years. We visited the Chiracs in the Élysée Palace even when Boris was no longer president. Bernadette gave me wonderful roses from their garden. Unfortunately, they did not survive in our climate. Naina Yeltsina adjusts a shirt of her husband (1998). Source: Reuters The first lady's program, unlike that of the president, had its particularities. It included less official events, but more socializing with people. I came into closer contact with people’s lives. This was very important for me. I visited hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. I was not ashamed to ask questions. I was sincerely interested in understanding all the details. It is impossible to know everything about everything. It is useless to make believe that nothing amazes you. I have always believed that one should not pretend. The most important thing is to be yourself. (…) All his foreign partners knew Boris's punctuality. And obviously I could not let him down. But life is life and sometimes there were unexpected situations. Usually I would first help him gather his things. I selected his suit, tie, and sometimes I would groom him. Only afterwards I’d start taking care of myself. Once, before going out, I decided to wash my hands but I confused the faucets and water from the shower poured over my head. I had to immediately fix my hair, which took time. Pope John Paul II meets with Boris and Naina Yeltsin at the Vatican. Source: Reuters Boris could not wait and went out to meet the public. Vladimir Nikolaevich then had to explain my delay to the journalists. He did not invent anything. He told them the truth. When we returned home my former classmates were calling me: "Naya, how could you confuse the faucets; our profession is water supply and canalization!" I had to adapt to the presidential rhythm of life. Sometimes I would have to do a manicure by myself on the plane. Boris would grumble: "You're going to cut up all your fingers!" Once they finished doing my hair right in the car. Read more: An extract from a book written by Mikhail Gorbachev's former press secretary, Andrei Grachev

16 июня, 00:30

Aidy Boothroyd urges England Under-21s to grasp moment in the spotlight

• England travel to Poland after group stage exits in last three tournaments• Under-20s’ World Cup win adds to focus on side for opener with SwedenAidy Boothroyd has urged his England players to forget the failures of previous years as they prepare to kick off the Under‑21 European Championship against the holders, Sweden, on Friday.With a new format that sees 12 nations placed into three groups in a scramble to reach the semi-finals in Poland, the presence of some of the continent’s finest emerging players has added extra lustre to an already prestigious competition. England, who have picked up one victory from nine group-stage matches at the past three tournaments – in Denmark, Israel and the Czech Republic – are among the early favourites despite Boothroyd’s squad possessing only a smattering of Premier League regulars in the absence of Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli. Continue reading...

15 июня, 16:22

Henry Schein Grows on Strategic Buyouts, Competition Rife

On Jun 15, we issued an updated research report on Melville, NY-based Henry Schein, Inc. (HSIC).