Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Obama in Europe;HMAS Success

Russia stands alone,President Barack Obama said in Brussels on Wednesday.It was alone in the UN.If anyone in Russia thought they could drive a wedge between the EU and the United States,they were mistaken.Russia's actions aren't just about one country;they're about the kind of world we want.
We have gone through some very rocky waters;through these difficult times,we've been able to strengthen the relationship.On the sanctions,so far what we've seen is excellent coordination between the United States and Europe.What we're now doing is coordinating deeper sanctions should Russia move further into Ukraine.We're taking the impact of sanctions on Europe into account.Giving Europe more gas is not gonna happen overnight.Our energy ministers are committed to doing that.That is their assignment coming out of the G7 meeting.
Our publics have legitimate questions about the trade deals.Because of the trade relationship,we've created millions of jobs on both sides,and growth and prosperity have flourished.Its important to us as leaders to see that others beside the elite few benefit from trade deals,and I think we can shape them in such a way to ensure that.*
Captain Allison Norris of the Royal Australian Navy said HMAS Success was prepared to pick up debris from the Indian Ocean,should it prove to be from the lost flight MH-370.Radar would not be able to detect objects that close to the ship,so lookouts with binoculars and night vision devices are being posted.It's very cold-we rotate the lookouts every hour.Any debris we find would have to be returned to shore,the captain noted.*
Australia is in charge of the search operation,giving assignments to the mutinational units.The search was called off again Thursday on account of bad weather.Six military and five civilian aircraft were scheduled to search,along with Australian and Chinese ships.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Columnist Assesses Ukraine Crisis

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen made several remarks at a panel discussion Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington,DC on the topic of The Russian Intervention in Ukraine.It was moderated by former CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer and also included former US national security advisors Zbigniew Brezinski and Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft.
I'm not sure Vladimir Putin is a man who listens to concessions,Mr.Cohen said.Unless you respond to his strength with your own,you end up losing.We cannot take a veto from Moscow on whether free countries can join the EU.
Putin had the perception he could get away with this.There was a sense of a United States where the apposite word was "retrenchment."I think it's a matter of great concern when the US steps back from a red line at the last minute,as in the Syria chemical weapons matter.There is a sense of disunity and weakness that gave Putin a kind of green light.
President Putin is trying to recreate some sort of Russian imperium.While it's true there are "three Ukraines,"in the sense of Crimea,Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine,one Ukraine was recognised by Putin in 1994.This intervention is a game changer,a sea change.I think the situation is combustible,both within Ukraine and in the Baltic states.It was a 19 year-old kid that precipitated World War I.I think this is a far,far more dangerous situation than many people imagine.
I think what Putin has presented the West is,looking again at the transatlantic alliance;at defence budgets;at the notion that our attention should be elsewhere.President Obama is about to go to Europe.I think it's absolutely critical that this trip be well-prepared and a strong,united,vigourous statement about what has occurred be made,New York Times columnist Roger Cohen told the CSIS audience.*
President Obama will travel to a G7 developed nations summit in the Hague,Netherlands next week,but Vice President Joe Biden met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite in Vilnius Wednesday.He reiterated America's commitment to the security of the Baltic states and warned Russia of further consequences if it contiued on its "dark path."*
EU ministers are meeting in Brussels today,Thursday,to discuss further sactions on Russia.They may put higher ranking government officials and industry bigwigs on the sacnctions list.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Commentary:Ukraine Loses Out To Ratings

CNN had been doing an excellent job covering the Ukraine crisis until the Malaysian airliner crash became a page turner and eyeball stealer.An editorial judgement was made,not on the objective significance of a story,but on what American viewers are likely to watch.For the last few days,there has been little if any video from Ukraine on the network.Most of CNN's airtime has been consumed by the airliner story-plus a gas explosion in New York City on Wednesday.
These two stories are more riveting to most Americans than Russia's invasion and annexation of part of Ukraine.While the Ukraine story is likely to be more significant historically,CNN broke the continuity of its reportage on the story.It will probably pick it up again on Sunday when the unconstitutional and unmonitored vote on Crimea becoming a part of Russia will be held,but the break in coverage will make it more difficult for already globally detached Americans to comprehend the story,emotionally and intellectually.
Wolf Blitzer could have devoted a few minutes of his "The Situation Room" broadcast to video of the struggle for Ukraine's sovereignty and the rule of law,but it was entirely consumed by the heartrending lost airliner and the endless and useless speculation about its disappearance.His show was substantially about entertainment,not the hard and historic facts being played out on the ground in Ukraine.If CNN breaks the mold sometimes,it fails other times when eyeballs and ratings are on the line.
Ukraine was thrown under the editorial bus,not because it doesn't matter as much or more than the downed airliner,but because it is not as compelling viewing for most Americans.It's understandable from a TV business point of view,but it ultimately fails to fully inform the public.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Ukraine Crisis and the Hotel Business

We're going from 20 to 50 hotels in Russia,said Sebastian Bazin,CEO of Accor SA,at the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin.I'm gonna be very candid with you.I'm gonna let the politicians decide what to do with this.It's too soon to halt projects.I just cannot make the decision on over the last 72 hours.I'm going myself to assess the situation.*
We've been for 35 years in China.It is a vital and a great country for our core.It really is.We have over 3500 hotels and 450,000 rooms.The Chinese ledger's been evolving immensely for the last five years,so just pay attention.We are the Euro market leader.There is immense value for the real estate at our core.*
I'm going for a 5-10 year journey here.We're gonna be opening 750 hotels over the next three years.Europe is the market where we're expanding the least.Let's maintain and increase the leadership.Five years from today,it will be maybe 55-60% of our portfolio.*
We've just signed for a 200 room hotel in Tbilisi,Georgia,said Angela Brav,Group CEO for Europe,Intercontinental Hotels Group.A Holiday Inn Express has also been signed for in Sheremetyevo Airport in Russia.We have a key market strategy:UK,Germany,Russia.We want to have 100 hotels in Russia by 2020.We have 19 right now in Russia and the CIS.
It's a very serious situation for us.The single most important thing for us is,we are continuing to monitor the situation.We'll make those decisions when necessary.Right now we're continuing our strategy of growth.We saw the fourth quarter really moving in the right direction.GDP is going up and unemployment is in the right place-in the right place almost in all segments,business and leisure.
Our single most important focus for us is that people book directly with our hotels.I think technology can only help us.We have clearly delineated brands.We opened six of our nine brands in London in the past nine months.*
Accor SA(AC:EN Paris),Interncontinental Hotels Group(IHG)