Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 275

Posts Tagged ‘presidency’

EU presidency issues official declaration affirming commitment to fighting antisemitism

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 20 giugno 2019

BUCHAREST, (Romania) The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union issued an official declaration on Tuesday affirming its commitment to contributing and supporting international initiatives directed at tackling the challenges facing Jewish communities, concluding the first International Meeting of Special Envoys and Coordinators on Combating Antisemitism, organized as a cooperative effort of the World Jewish Congress, Romanian Prime Minister and EU Council President Viorica Dăncilă, and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania.The unprecedented two-day meeting brought together the national directors of more than 50 Jewish communities around the world with more than 30 government representatives tasked specifically with combating antisemitism, in order to identify the key issues and deliberate best practices going forward, under the banner “Perspective to a Future Strategy to Prevent and Fight Antisemitism, Racism, Xenophobia, Radicalization and Hate Speech.” The EU presidency’s declaration affirmed that “the conclusion of the meeting indicates that significant challenges remain to be tackled, and extra measures should be envisaged,” in certain areas, with four identified in particular: 1) Improving dialogue and cooperation to ensure the security of Jewish communities; 2) promoting the endorsement of the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; 3) financing Holocaust research, education, and remembrance; and 4) improving the recording and collecting of hate crime data, including specialized training programs for law enforcement and criminal justice authorities and providing support to organizations actively involved with collection of data regarding hate crimes.

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Together in Hope and Witness: CEC Presidency Meets in United Kingdom

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 2 aprile 2019

The following is a message from the presidency of the Conference of European Churches. Rev. Christian Krieger (President, Reformed Protestant Church of Alsace and Lorraine), Rt Rev. Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani (Vice-President, Church of England), and Metropolitan Cleopas (Vice-President, Ecumenical Patriarchate) met in Leicester (UK) today to continue implementation of the CEC Strategic Plan 2019-2023. The strategic plan focusses on three aims: promoting peace, justice, and reconciliation in Europe; deepening church communion and ecumenical fellowship; and raising the Churches’ voice in Europe and toward the European Institutions. The presidency will also participate in a vigil service with civic, interfaith, and community leaders at Leicester Cathedral later in the day. Today, we reaffirm the bonds of ecclesial and ecumenical fellowship that unite Churches across Europe. We respond to the same call—to follow the one Christ and be moved by the same Holy Spirit. These are bonds that unite us across time and history, and move us forward together in hope and witness.The Conference of European Churches emerged from a fragmented and divided Europe following the Second World War. At that time there was a real need to overcome political divisions, and work for healing and peace. Today, the continent experiences pain from unhealed wounds and new divisions. We also recall our place in the broader world and the global challenges that we face. European Churches have to look to their roots and history, and again act as an instrument of peace and understanding.We will continue to build bridges of peace and hospitality in our communities, and remain committed to strengthening relationships among churches in Europe. We are enriched by our differences and the diversity of paths leading to the realisation of European ideals. Our common responsibility for the future of Europe compels us toward solidarity and friendship, even in the midst of uncertain and challenging political circumstances.Together we pray that the God of reconciling hope guide us through history’s turmoil and lead us to the flourishing of unity. May we look toward the dawning of the Easter hope and find strength in the mission God has entrusted to us.

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The Trump presidency may not have helped Kushner Companies

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 23 luglio 2017

trumpWHEN the deal was struck just over a decade ago, for $1.8bn, 666 Fifth Avenue, a 41-storey Manhattan skyscraper, became the most expensive office building ever sold in America. Now it is in limbo, awaiting billions of dollars of investment to rebuild it and raise it almost twice as high. Across the Hudson River, another hunt for money is under way, to build a property called One Journal Square in Jersey City. In June a property-investing start-up called Cadre attracted financial backing from Silicon Valley luminaries including Andreessen Horowitz, a venture-capital company.The thread linking these ventures is Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, whose family business, like that of the president, is in property. Mr Kushner helped conceive all three projects. He has a “passive ownership interest” in Cadre (meaning he is not actively involved in its management). His family co-owns 666 Fifth Avenue and One Journal Square.Unlike the president, Mr Kushner is not exempt from federal conflict-of-interest laws. He has taken steps to distance himself from his wide-ranging property business. Kushner Companies, a complex enterprise that is made up of dozens of limited-liability companies, or LLCs, has more than 20,000 flats and 13m square feet (1.2m square metres) of commercial space across six states. Before joining the Trump administration he stepped down as the head of Kushner Companies and sold his stake in several properties, including 666 Fifth Avenue and One Journal Square.Yet Mr Kushner kept his stake in many of the LLCs that make up the business. He still has a passive ownership interest in about 90% of his holdings in property, worth up to $408m, according to his disclosures. His father, Charles Kushner (photographed with his son, above), has a big role at Kushner Companies. Jared Kushner’s stakes in 666 Fifth Avenue and One Journal Square went into trusts owned by his family. A long list of lenders and partners to the family business could benefit from White House policies.
Now that Mr Kushner is in the White House, two questions preoccupy observers. First, is his family business benefiting financially from his role and from his proximity to the president? Second, is he conflicted despite the steps he has taken to adhere to federal law?Start with the question of financial benefits. This is a pivotal moment for the firm. It is seeking tenants for Panorama and new loans for a residential building along Jersey City’s waterfront (in both of which Mr Kushner still has a stake). More important, it is also looking for investors for 666 Fifth Avenue and One Journal Square (in which Mr Kushner does not have a stake). But the scrutiny that has accompanied Mr Kushner’s White House role appears to be hindering, not helping.In January the New York Times reported that Kushner Companies was seeking equity capital for 666 Fifth from Anbang, one of China’s biggest insurers, which has ties to Beijing’s political elite. At the moment 666 Fifth Avenue’s debt—of $1.4bn, according to Vornado’s recent filings—eclipses the value of the office building itself, says Jed Reagan of Green Street, a research firm. That is partly Kushner Companies’ own doing, because of the price it paid and because it is intentionally letting the building slowly empty of its office tenants so it can be rebuilt. The new design, created by Zaha Hadid, an architect who died last year, would include a hotel, luxurious flats, new space for shops and would cost $7.5bn.The talks with Anbang fell apart in March amid protests from ethics experts and from Democrats, who fretted about conflicts of interest and threats to national security. Another avenue also recently closed. For over two years, Kushner Companies has talked to Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, an eminent Qatari, about investing in 666 Fifth. This month The Intercept, a news site, reported that HBJ, as he is known, had agreed to invest $500m if Mr Kushner could raise other money elsewhere. Kushner Companies confirmed on July 11th that talks had recently ended and that it is reassessing the financing structure of the redevelopment project. Some speculate that Mr Kushner has looked elsewhere, too. In December he met with the head of a government-owned Russian bank that is subject to American sanctions. Vnesheconombank said it was a business meeting. The White House said that Mr Kushner was “acting in his capacity as a transition official”.The proposed One Journal Square development has also hit trouble. In May Nicole Meyer, Mr Kushner’s sister, courted Chinese investors as part of America’s “EB-5” visa programme, which offers a path to citizenship for certain investors. In Beijing Ms Meyer touted One Journal Square, explained Mr Kushner’s new role in Washington and said the building “means a lot to me and my entire family”. That sparked accusations that the family was exploiting Mr Kushner’s public role. Kushner Companies apologised “if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors”.On May 7th Jersey City’s mayor, Steven Fulop, said the project would not receive the tax breaks and bonds that Kushner Companies had sought. The city might not have granted them in any circumstance—the Kushners had asked for a particularly generous package. But Mr Fulop, a Democrat, and city councilmen are up for re-election, and Mr Trump received just 14% of the city’s vote in November. Kushner Companies had already lost its anchor tenant, WeWork, a shared-office company.If Kushner Companies is not yet benefiting from proximity to the presidency, the potential for conflicts remains enormous. Corporate-tax reform would have a sizeable impact on property firms, for example. Mr Trump has said he wants a 15% corporate tax to apply to pass-through entities, which would include the LLCs that comprise much of the Kushner businesses (and Mr Trump’s as well). Loosening of financial regulation, expected under Mr Trump, ought to benefit lenders to Kushner Companies. Citigroup, for example, recently provided $425m to refinance one of its projects in Brooklyn. Blackstone, which lent $375m for Panorama, is raising an infrastructure fund that might be expected to find investment opportunities in Mr Trump’s infrastructure plan. And so on.Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, says that some of this “stinks to high heaven”. That does not mean that Mr Kushner has or is likely to violate any law. The rules governing conflicts of interest bar him from “personally or substantially” participating in matters with a “direct and predictable” effect on his finances. But policies that benefit Mr Kushner’s parents or Kushner Companies’ partners may be allowed, depending on circumstances. “That’s the grey area,” says Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Centre in Washington, DC.What seems to have developed, in sum, is a lose-lose situation. Mr Trump’s presidency appears to be doing Kushner Companies as much harm as good. If potential business partners continue to be wary of the scrutiny that comes with involvement with a firm bearing his name, Mr Kushner might end up having to choose between his property interests and his public role.Yet the list of potential conflicts is so long that public confidence in policymaking is at risk. A White House spokesman says Mr Kushner will recuse himself in any matter with “a direct and predictable effect” on entities in which he retains a financial interest. Those issues include EB-5 financing and affordable housing, he notes. But the White House has not published a complete list of matters in which Mr Kushner would decline to participate. And no such list is planned.This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Searching for a Kushy landing” (by The economist – abstract) (photo: trump)

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The Trump presidency is in a hole

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 3 aprile 2017

trump presidencyDONALD TRUMP won the White House on the promise that government is easy. Unlike his Democratic opponent, whose career had been devoted to politics, Mr Trump stood as a businessman who could Get Things Done. Enough voters decided that boasting, mocking, lying and grabbing women were secondary. Some Trump fans even saw them as the credentials of an authentic, swamp-draining saviour. After 70 days in office, however, Mr Trump is stuck in the sand. A health-care bill promised as one of his “first acts” suffered a humiliating collapse in the—Republican-controlled—Congress (see Lexington). His repeated attempts to draft curbs on travel to America from some Muslim countries are being blocked by the courts. And suspicions that his campaign collaborated with Russia have cost him his national security adviser and look likely to dog his administration (see article). Voters are not impressed. No other president so early in his first term has suffered such low approval ratings.
It is tempting to feel relief that the Trump presidency is a mess. For those who doubt much of his agenda and worry about his lack of respect for institutions, perhaps the best hope is that he accomplishes little. That logic is beguiling, but wrong. After years of gridlock, Washington has work to do. The forthcoming summit with Xi Jinping, China’s president, shows how America is still the indispensable nation. A weak president can be dangerous—picture a trade war, a crisis in the Baltics or conflict on the Korean peninsula.Mr Trump is hardly the first tycoon to discover that business and politics work by different rules. If you fall out over a property deal, you can always find another sucker. In politics you cannot walk away so easily. Even if Mr Trump now despises the Republican factions that dared defy him over health care, Congress is the only place he can go to pass legislation.The nature of political power is different, too. As owner and CEO of his business, Mr Trump had absolute control. The constitution sets out to block would-be autocrats. Where Mr Trump has acted appropriately—as with his nomination of a principled, conservative jurist to fill a Supreme Court vacancy—he deserves to prevail. But when the courts question the legality of his travel order they are only doing their job. Likewise, the Republican failure to muster a majority over health-care reflects not just divisions between the party’s moderates and hardliners, but also the defects of a bill that, by the end, would have led to worse protection, or none, for tens of millions of Americans without saving taxpayers much money.Far from taking Washington by storm, America’s CEO is out of his depth. The art of political compromise is new to him. He blurs his own interests and the interests of the nation. The scrutiny of office grates. He chafes under the limitations of being the most powerful man in the world. You have only to follow his incontinent stream of tweets to grasp Mr Trump’s paranoia and vanity: the press lies about him; the election result fraudulently omitted millions of votes for him; the intelligence services are disloyal; his predecessor tapped his phones. It’s neither pretty nor presidential.
That the main victim of these slurs has so far been the tweeter-in-chief himself is testament to the strength of American democracy. But institutions can erode, and the country is wretchedly divided (see article). Unless Mr Trump changes course, the harm risks spreading. The next test will be the budget. If the Republican Party cannot pass a stop-gap measure, the government will start to shut down on April 29th. Recent jitters in the markets are a sign that investors are counting on Mr Trump and his party to pass legislation.More than anything, they are looking for tax reform and an infrastructure plan. There is vast scope to make fiscal policy more efficient and fairer (see article). American firms face high tax rates and have a disincentive to repatriate profits. Personal taxes are a labyrinth of privileges and loopholes, most of which benefit the well-off. Likewise, the country’s cramped airports and potholed highways are a drain on productivity. Sure enough, Mr Trump has let it be known that he now wants to tackle tax. And, in a bid to win support from Democrats, he may deal with infrastructure at the same time.
Yet the politics of tax reform are as treacherous as the politics of health care, and not only because they will generate ferocious lobbying. Most Republican plans are shockingly regressive, despite Mr Trump’s blue-collar base. To win even a modest reform, Mr Trump and his team will have to show a mastery of detail and coalition-building that has so far eluded them. If Mr Trump’s popularity falls further, the job of winning over fractious Republicans will only become harder.Were he frustrated in Congress, the president would surely fall back on areas where he has a free hand. He has already made full-throated use of executive orders and promises to harness the bureaucracy to force through his agenda. In theory he could deregulate parts of the economy, such as finance, where the hand of government is sometimes too heavy. Yet his executive orders so far have been crudely theatrical—as with this week’s repeal of Barack Obama’s environmental rules, which will not lead to the renaissance of mining jobs that he has disingenuously promised coal country (see article). It is the same with trade. Mr Trump could work through the World Trade Organisation to open markets. More probably, the economic nationalists on his team will have the upper hand. If so, America will take a bilateral approach, trade protection will grow and foreign policy will become more confrontational.The Americans who voted for Mr Trump either overlooked his bombast, or they saw in him a tycoon with the self-belief to transform Washington. Although this presidency is still young, that already seems an error of judgment. His policies, from health-care reform to immigration, have been poor—they do not even pass the narrow test that they benefit Trump voters. Most worrying for America and the world is how fast the businessman in the Oval Office is proving unfit for the job. (By The economist) (photo the trump presidency)

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Maltese EU Presidency: Revitalizing faith in the European Project

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 11 gennaio 2017

archbishops-curia-maltaBruxelles. A joint delegation from the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) met with the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, and representatives of the government of Malta at the start of their six month Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The meeting was convened to discuss common concerns, especially relating to the priorities of the Maltese presidency including migration, neighbourhood policy, and social inclusion.“Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union offers our nation the opportunity to give a strong impetus to revitalizing faith in the European project,” said the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr Charles J. Scicluna.Issues relating to migration and the reception of refugees in Europe dominated the hour-long meeting. Both government and church representatives expressed the need to reframe this discourse, including speaking of the benefits of migration for European societies and emphasising opportunities to welcome those in need of safety in Europe. The churches also reiterated their call for improved safe and legal pathways to Europe, the central importance of family unity and reunification, and the work churches do in local contexts in providing transformative encounters with refugees.The CEC-COMECE delegation also encouraged the Maltese government to take a holistic, global approach as they make progress in each of their priority areas. Responses to migration and the reception of refugees must take into account the root causes of the displacement of people, including ecological crises. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and their coherence with European Union policies are one area for developing a robust and balanced approach.
The meeting of CEC and COMECE with the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union took place under Article 17 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. This is a commitment of the EU to open, transparent, and regular dialogue with churches and religious communities. The churches were grateful for the opportunity to meet early in the presidency, which began on 1 January 2017. (photo: Archbishop’s Curia, Malta)

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U.S.A.: This election is more important than 2008 and 2012

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 5 ottobre 2016

trumpNow, that may sound incredible — after all, I’m the guy who had the honor of winning those races. And we’ve been able to accomplish amazing, important things for the people of this country because of our victories. But as much as I may have disagreed with the men I ran against four and eight years ago, I didn’t question whether they were fundamentally capable of serving as president. I didn’t have to worry that our very democracy would be endangered if they won.This year is different. Donald Trump is unfit to handle the demands of the presidency. His election wouldn’t just mean four years of turning back the clock on all our progress — it could very well mean lasting damage to the nation we love. We have to do everything we can to stop him. It’s never been more important. Right now, our team is falling short of where we need to be in terms of fundraising, and with 36 days to go, we can’t waste a minute.

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Churches meet with Italian EU Presidency

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 20 dicembre 2014

The 20th session of the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on GP01XT2 (UNFCCC) ended last week in Lima, Peru. The nearly two-week gathering saw over 12, 000 international visitors, including government and UN agency representatives, descend on Lima for intensive dialogue aimed at assessing and addressing widespread global climate change.
An ecumenical team under the leadership of the World Council of Churches, including representatives from European churches, participated in these events. CEC and European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) were represented in Lima through the work of this ecumenical team.The talks concluded with 195 countries agreeing to the Lima Call for Climate Action. The document paves way for a more definitive international climate agreement to be tabled at COP 21, which will be held in Paris in 2015. While United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the Lima talks as paving meaningful way to COP 21 in Paris, the Conference of European Churches expresses deep ambiguity and frustration with the Lima outcomes. The Lima negotiations failed in their ambitious aims to restore trust in the UNFCCC process and facilitate progress towards a Paris agreement. Hopes for a robust and cohesive action out of Lima were high, yet participating governments left much undone in advance of the Paris talks. The decisions from Lima show a disheartening dilution of global commitment to addressing catastrophic climate change and an ongoing marginalisation of those most affected by climate change. At this juncture, CEC renews its commitment to be a unifying presence for the churches in Europe and beyond in delivering a meaningful, faith-based response to climate change. In reflecting on the Lima talks, CEC General Secretary Guy Liagre remarks, “We hope that the days and months leading to the Paris talks will see a strengthened and coordinated church response to the devastation of God’s good creation and the oppression of those made poor by climate change.” WCC delegation member Henrik Grape, Church of Sweden, echoes this sentiment, “Church presence at meetings of this kind is about underlining solidarity, justice, and equity.”Faith can be a great carrier of hope and source of courage in the work of transforming the world. “The CEC takes seriously its mission in working on climate justice, which our governing board reaffirmed just last week,” Liagre notes, “Our efforts will be intensified on the way to the COP meeting in Paris next year.”

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Forthcoming news conference

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 29 settembre 2009

Paris on Thursday 1 October 2009 at 1145 – Maison de la CEF – 58 avenue de Breteuil. The CCEE Presidency will meet with media representatives in  On the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), scheduled to take place from Thursday 1 – Sunday 4 October in Paris at the Maison de la Conférence des évêques de France, on the theme “Church and State, twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall”, the CCEE Presidency will meet with journalists to respond to their questions. The News Conference will be attended by: Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and CCEE President; Cardinal Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb and CCEE Vice-president; Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux and CCEE Vice-president.

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The European Maritime Day

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 3 agosto 2009

The European Commission, in partnership with the Government of Spain and the Government of the Principality of Asturias, is organising the third edition of European Maritime Day (20 May 2010).  In 2010 the European Maritime Day Stakeholder conference will take place in Gijón, on the Atlantic Coast of Spain, on 19-21 May. All interested parties are invited to contribute to this event that is part of the official calendar of the upcoming Spanish Presidency of the European Union. The main theme of the conference is “Innovation”, an inspiring principle of the Spanish Presidency. We will thus be able to look at how we foster innovation in policy making for competitiveness, environmental protection, better working conditions and employment as well as for excellence in science and research in the maritime sectors. http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeday

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