Archive for 28/06/2013

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The U.S. Senate passed legislation Thursday that offers the hope of citizenship to millions of immigrants living illegally in America’s shadows and promises a military-style effort to secure the long-porous border with Mexico. Its prospects remain highly uncertain in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The bipartisan vote was 68-32 on a measure that sits atop President Barack Obama’s second-term domestic agenda. Even so, conservatives generally oppose citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. unlawfully, complicating the bill’s prospects in the House.


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Rajasthan man shocked to receive SSC exam admit card with Barack Obama’s photo
At US Fed Reserve, uncertainty rules on future course of policy & leadership

Uttarakhand flood: Air operations near end, Harsil fully evacuated of pilgrims
India Inc gets a peek into Narendra Modi’s agenda
India-China border talks today, NSA to meet Premier Li Keqiang
Spectators in galleries that overlook the Senate floor watched expectantly as senators voted one by one from their desks. Some onlookers erupted in chants of “Yes, we can” after Vice President Joe Biden announced the bill’s passage.

After three weeks of debate, there was no doubt about the outcome. Fourteen Republicans joined all 52 Democrats and two independents to support the bill.

In a written statement, Obama coupled praise for the Senate’s action with a plea for resolve by supporters as the House works on the issue. “Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen,” said the president, who was traveling in Africa.

In the Senate, at least, the developments marked an end to years of gridlock on immigration. The shift began taking shape quickly after the 2012 presidential election, when numerous Republican leaders concluded the party must show a more welcoming face to Hispanic voters who had given Obama more than 70 percent of their support. Even so, division among Republicans was evident as potential 2016 presidential contenders split. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was one of the Gang of 8, while Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas were opposed to the bill.

In the final hours of debate, members of the so-called bipartisan Gang of 8, the group that drafted the measure, frequently spoke in personal terms while extolling the bill’s virtues, rebutting its critics _ and appealing to the House members who turn comes next.




Gauchar: Army Chief General Bikram Singh today said the armed forces will continue their operations till all the people are rescued from various locations in flood-hit Uttarakhand.

Mr Singh, who is on a day-long visit to affected areas, said he had asked his commanders to launch relief operations in “very, very difficult conditions” in a proactive manner, without waiting for any requisition from authorities.

“We are getting information that there may still be some survivors in certain areas. Like I am told, yesterday we had an input that in north of Badrinath there were some people, 40
of them. We had launched sorties yesterday but couldn’t detect them.
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“We will be doing it again, if the weather permits. But endeavour is to locate all our citizens, wherever they are, and get them out,” he told reporters in Gauchar.

Mr Singh said he was visiting the area to laud the efforts of over 8,000 personnel of the Army, along with the troops of the ITBP, NDRF and IAF.

“This was also an opportunity to offer my condolences to people who lost their lives in the chopper crash. My heart goes out to them,” he said.

Many of the troops deployed in relief operations are from Garhwal Rifles unit, the Army Chief said, adding that Garhwal Scouts are from Uttarakhand and their families were also impacted by the flash floods.

“They are sons of the soil and a large number of them are affected too. I must tell you these boys have refused to take leave to attend to their kith and kin and rather render their duties. We all had a phenomenal synergy,” Mr Singh said.

On coordination among the forces operating in the area, Mr Singh said it was a “difficult operation but agencies worked in unison” to achieve the objectives.

“All the agencies have done their bit and let’s not count numbers. It was the synergy between all the agencies. The IAF has done a great job. There was a challenge as there were no roads and communication. I have come here to compliment the boys and give them ‘shabashi’,” he said.

Lauding the efforts made by Central Army Commander Lt Gen Anil Chait, Mr Singh said he had instructed him not to wait for any requisition before launching relief operations.

“And that’s what he did. From a footprint of 500, today we have 8000 troops, who were inducted into this area. I think it was a very speedy move undertaken by the Army commander, his formation commanders (and) unit commanders,” he said.

On the status of people stranded in Harshil and Badrinath, Mr Singh said they were getting essentials such as food and have been provided access to communication, and would be taken out from the areas, depending on the weather conditions.

After visiting Gauchar, the Army Chief said he will take an aerial view of the flood-ravaged areas, and will return to Dehradun by the afternoon, where he is scheduled to meet Chief
Minister Vijay Bahuguna.

The Army, since June 17, has deployed around 8,000 personnel along with its choppers for rescue operations.
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The recent militia movement against various Ministries is apparently generating strong opposition from the Libyan people, who recognize this as an attempt to exert some political muscle by the militias, and to assert their authority with the central Government. Libyans from the area around the affected Ministries have joined together to protest against the blatant use of armed force to compel the General National Congress (GNC) to support the new legislation, which would oust any current government official who was formerly associated with the Gadhafi regime.

On May 2 over 200 Libyans joined together at Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square to march from there to Algeria Square and back. The message conveyed by this march was the disappointment and opposition to the militiamen who raised arms to force the GNC to adopt the new Political Isolation Law.

One member of the protestors summed up the general feelings when he noted that the Libyan people want these militiamen to stop taking the law in their own hands, and to join the army and police force instead. Members of the march held signs reading “Yes for peaceful demonstrations, no for armed ones”, or “Yes for the Ali Zeidan Government”.

Some members of the crowd expressed their concern for foreign intervention if the security situation in Tripoli did not improve. They too called upon the militias not to take the law in their own hand, and to restore stability in the city.

By the end of the evening the protests against the militias’ actions were still going strong, with reports from social network sites that more neighboring cities were planning to come into Tripoli to join in the protest, and to prevent forcing the GNC to adopt any laws.

The ALCCI is very heartened to see that the action by these militias continues to generate protest and opposition by average Libyans. While we understand the desire for accountability by members of these militias, it is former critical to keep experienced bureaucrats in place, who have the knowledge and expertise to ensure the Government is able to continue to accelerate the development of the economy, and to provide security and good jobs to the militia members, as well as to all levels of Libyan society.

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Not Yet There, but Exceptional Progress Since 2011.

Two years ago the entire world watched the Arab Spring unroll across the Middle East, successfully deposing entrenched regimes in Tunisia and Egypt with remarkably little violence, and spreading a wave of optimism in both countries. But when a Revolution began in Libya on February 17, most observers inside and outside the country saw little prospect for success, given the strength and determination of the Qaddafi regime to remain in power. Having many Libyan associates and friends, I shuddered when I heard his threats to wipe out the opposition “like rats”; I knew his security forces would show no mercy.

The events of the next few months riveted the attention of the world on Libya, and we watched with bated breath as the Revolution took hold, and liberated more and more of Libya from the Qaddafi tyranny. But we also felt deep forebodings when his security forces began to move against their poorly-armed and under-strength adversaries, fearing a bloodbath across the country.

Buoyed then by the decision of the USA and NATO to support the Revolution and stop this despotic regime from the barbarity it threatened against its own people, and cheered by the superb effect of the NATO bombing, we came to believe the Revolutionary forces might just prevail, and our prayers were answered when we heard of Qaddafi and his clique fleeing Tripoli with Revolutionary forces hot on their heels, and when those forces won the fight and deposed Qaddafi with minimal blood and disruption.

In the two years since then, Libya has slowly but surely opened to the outside world. Transition to democracy is never easy, especially in a country that never had a democratic tradition, but despite many obstacles and bumps in the road, the transition has been a striking success. For the first time in its history, Libya has seen open and free elections with all parties able to compete, and avoided the voter fraud that has plagued too many other emerging “democracies.” That transition may not have been as fast or extensive as many Libyans would like, but in truth its progress to date has been prodigious, and has given every indication of the capacity to keep evolving in ways that will benefit all Libyans.

Of course more progress could have been made, but let us appraise Libya’s achievements relative to its neighbors. Syria’s brutal civil war, with no real end in sight, has killed tens of thousands, disrupted the lives of millions of others, and threatens to spark a wider conflict. In Cairo, Tahrir Square is often again packed with thousands of Egyptians protesting new government policies, including alleged Mubarak supporters seeking to discredit the new administration and force a return to the old ways. Egyptians are dispirited, the Government paralyzed and the economy stagnant just when Egypt desperately needs economic development and recovery. The promise of Egypt’s Revolution has not begun to be met.

Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring, has avoided such violent demonstrations, but has seen increasing tension between hard-line Salafi groups and the more moderate parties, and the assassination of a leading secular-minded Opposition figure has greatly increased fears of targeted violence against those who differ with those fundamentalist groups. Some are already calling for a new government, and for general strikes to protest alleged “pandering” to the extremists. Tunisians in general have been greatly disappointed by the slow pace of change and improvement in daily lives. Lacking natural resources, Tunisia cannot quickly build its economy and provide jobs and a stake to all Tunisians. The Government remains stable, and is not yet facing Egypt-like dissent, but too little real progress has dented the hopes and expectations of the Tunisians who inspired the entire Arab Spring movement.

To the west, Algeria has seen its own oil and gas production encounter serious declines, which can have a great impact on the national budget, exacerbated by a sharp rise on demand for electricity which has outpaced supply and resulted in power outages that further impact gas production. Moreover, the Government remains ambivalent about outside investment, being ranked 152nd by the World Bank global index of business friendliness. The terror attacks on the natural gas complex earlier this year have also raised fears of security – and the attendant costs of outside firms to do business there.

Libya is far from ideal, and its Government still has far to go to fill the aspirations of citizens who joined the Revolution. Much obviously remains to be done. However, we cannot overlook its achievements to date. Free and fair elections returned a government eager to develop institutions and bring Libya firmly into the 21st Century, economically and politically, and tap the vast resources at its disposal. Libya has already returned to (and often exceeded) pre-war oil production, and with more technical assistance could produce some 3 million bpd. The new Government is in place, with new Ministers seeking ways to improve the lives of Libyans in health care, security, infrastructure, education and so much more beyond the traditional oil & gas sector. This is not a political issue: Libya is keen to bring American companies ready and able to provide assistance and expertise to achieve that goal.

Security of course remains a challenge, as the Government strives to control the militias that played a key role in the Revolution, and now need to secure good jobs in a flourishing economy and reintegrate these fighters into mainstream society. Libya critically needs to quickly develop that economy, and help these fighters achieve the quality of life that propelled them to Revolt in the first place.

There is no doubt that the technical expertise and assistance of companies from America can accelerate that process. These opportunities have already attracted business and government officials worldwide to come to Libya to explore profit from this, and that competition from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, etc, means American companies can ignore or defer this market at their own peril. We must move now!

America remains highly popular with Libyans, who want to cement closer ties with American companies whom they see as honest and direct, and able to bring the best technology and expertise to projects. Qaddafi-era corruption and business tactics left Libyans disillusioned about the nations and companies who profited from that regime, and they want business done transparently, and to benefit all Libyans, not just the select elite few. This can give America a significant advantage – if we are willing to pursue it.

Libya has not suddenly become a true democracy where corruption is a distant memory. Competitors still seek every advantage, fair or unfair, and this remains a tough market. But Libya’s natural resources allow it to rebuild its infrastructure and bring it into the 21st century. American firms willing to explore this market will be warmly received by Libyan officials and companies who know corruption is unsustainable for long-term goals, and want to replace the wasteful past with a sound global presence. American companies willing to navigate the turmoil can find good partners to maximize success there.

This is not easy, but groups like the American Libyan Chamber of Commerce & Industry can effectively introduce companies to Libya and potential partners there. Our ties with the new Government and next generation business leaders reinforce a reputation for integrity that was never tainted by relations with the Qaddafis, and can help assure American business goals in this dynamic new market, and help make Libya a potential economic and political leader of the new Middle East. Libya’s nascent democracy is fragile but very practicable, and can become a model of sustainable development if more American firms will partner and cooperate with their counterparts in Libya, for the mutual profit of all involved.

I hope you will let us help you explore and realize the many opportunities for business that will help bring Libya firmly into the 21st Century, and provide an excellent platform for American companies to seek and win more business throughout a region poised for huge potential growth as soon as the security situation allows. This is not just a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Libya and its neighbors are determined to break with past inefficiencies and to develop economies that can benefit all their citizens. American companies can and should he an integral part of that economic revolution, and the ALCCI is resolved to be a catalyst of that process – and the success for both sides!


Robert J. Marro


American Libyan Chamber of Commerce & Industry Inc (ALCCI)

Washington, D.C.

Entering into any foreign market can be tricky and Libya is no exception. While there are a number of opportunities in this market, there are also major challenges that need to be managed. Libya’s legal structure is multi-layered, and it’s banking infrastructure primitive. Libya’s physical infrastructure requires upgrading, and telecommunications services are far from world class. There are still very few modern office spaces available, and the few Western-class hotels are often filled to capacity. U.S. companies seeking to send representatives to Libya are advised to expect delays in obtaining Libyan visas, but the American Libyan Chamber of Commerce and Industry is arranging programs for member companies to receive expeditious handling and response for their visa requests.

In general, American products are well known and appreciated, including designer apparels, high-technology gadgetry, movies, software and other consumer products. Currently, most of these products enter Libya through third countries, but with the new regime in place, that will likely be superseded by direct access, provided that American companies can secure the appropriate Libyan partner with whom to work to arrange this direct access. Several years ago the U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Service and the U.S. Mission in Libya organized a very successful USA Pavilion at the Tripoli International Fair, which was visited by thousands of Libyans eager to learn about U.S. products and services. While this shows a very strong appetite for American products, U.S. forms need to be present in the market to fully tap this export potential. The American Libyan Chamber of Commerce and Industry offers a number of ways for U.S. firms to test the market for the products and services of dismembers companies, offering low cost but highly effective ways to reach the variety of Libyan companies that can successful represent them in the Libyan market

Libya is a diverse and challenging market requiring adaptability and persistence, careful planning and patience, in order to maximize success in what will very likely be the most attractive and profitable market in the Arab world. U.S. firms willing to invest time and effort to develop a solid market presence through their own efforts and with the assistance of groups like the American Libyan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, should expect to reap great future rewards.


Libya’s Health Care system has suffered from neglect and mismanagement for over 40 years, and despite many Libyans earning degrees in medicine and health care in universities around the world, the sector has not been able to keep pace with demand and needs, or with other neighboring countries in the region. Since the Revolution ended, however, the country is keen to rebuild this vital sector as quickly as possible, and to show the Libyan people that progress is being made quickly. Health care is one of the key pillars of effectiveness for any Government, and expectations of the people are already high.

As a result of the Revolution, many qualified Libyan doctors left the country. This unfortunately has led to many unqualified people entering the medical field, and has even allowed some health providers to practice without licenses, thereby putting the lives of Libyan citizens in danger. Some commentators have noted that the increase in poor oversight and lack of management has even led to corruption at some levels of the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The absence of a governing body to protect patients, doctors, or health service employees has significantly damaged the healthcare system in Libya, further necessitating its urgent reform. Libya faces a critical shortage of the well-trained health care technical specialists and experienced managers who can administer and supervise the effective delivery of health services, as well as a fundamental deficiency of devoted doctors, nurses, and technicians. In Libya, only a very few people have an MBA or other advanced degree or formal training in health service management. This wholly inadequate pool of qualified managers who could spearhead health service administration improvement is consequently unable to meet the country’s vital needs.

Perhaps more important, there is no licensing system in the country, resulting in many doctors and nurses practicing without licenses. This is not to say that all unlicensed physicians and other practitioners are unqualified or incapable, but there is clearly no governing body to protect patients, or even doctors or health service employees, by ensuring that all such providers have been certified as qualified, and licensed to provide this very expert care.

Another crucial problem is that too many hospitals in Libya are old, badly equipped and maintained, and have too many critical staffing issues. All of these problems are a result of the lack of effective polices and of efficient management, which played a major role in the current deterioration and deficiency of Libya’s health system, and the limitations of the MOH itself.

The American Libyan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ALCCI) is therefore focused on finding American companies that can help rebuild the sector, and quickly assure availability of world-class health care services in Libya. Our goal is to eliminate existing gaps in health services, and to restore the necessary infrastructure in this (and other sectors) for the country.

This is a challenge that the ALCCI is particularly well equipped to address, and to help vastly and quickly improve the health care system in Libya. For American companies, the critical first step is to understand how the MOH will develop a Strategic Plan to address all these weaknesses. ALCCI can therefore create a practicable and objective approach to quickly and cost-effectively resolve the problems, and help the MOH design and implement the health care system that Libyans deserve – and desire. ALCCI members who can provide medical and other relevant experts, who know the sector well, and who have the requisite knowledge of Libya to make this work, will find unparalleled opportunities in this potential market.

ALCCI believes the United States and our innovative and world-class medical and health care companies can thereby help the Libyan Government (and the MOH) develop a methodical partnership with the private sector to quickly identify and implement the vital improvements needed for its healthcare system. We are also confident that American companies can examine and help craft the requisite Laws and rules to protect both patients and providers, and to create that crucial aspect of a world-class health care infrastructure.

ALCCI seeks to promote and build effective partnerships between key private companies in key health sectors in America that can benefit the entire Libyan health care system itself. ALCCI wants to help MOH and individual hospitals and clinics acquire top management and technical training programs for all staff, and explore partnerships with hospitals in America that can provide that training, and share treatment protocols and technologies, and even offer online discussion and treatment options. ALCCI also wants to introduce U.S. firms that can help MOH create a Medical Licensing Body and a Review Board Process to ensure only fully qualified providers are permitted to practice, and closely monitor how well they provide their services.

ALCCI can help cultivate effective Libyan partnerships for U.S. providers, equipment suppliers and financial institutions, pharmaceutical and other firms that can develop this system in the shortest time possible, and make Libya a regional center of health care excellence. We can also assist medical companies explore the potential to establish manufacturing facilities in Libya that will provide many thousands of good jobs (American and Libyan) in every aspect of this sector, and make Libya a destination of choice for medical patients from across the region..


David Boles, Blogs

Yes, I’m late to the Apple TV bandwagon.  I thought I’d wait out my wanderlust temptation to try the “black box” edition of Apple TV and leap on the concept when it was more fully realized as an embedded meme in an actual Apple TV that included the actual TV, but like losing patience for the phantom iPhone 5S to appear, I decided to give in to my purchase envy and shell out the $99.00USD for the shiny cube.

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Sunset in Indonesia with starfish.

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