The anti-leader

first_imgWhen Petr Necas became the Czech prime minister in June 2010, many rejoiced that, at last, a centre-right government would be led by a discreet managerial type who had no history of corruption scandals, was no lout in political debate, and appeared normal, with an untroubled private life. Today, a year later, Necas is labelled an “anti-leader” by the media and his fissiparous cabinet enjoys the confidence of just 16% of the population (less than Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, as one commentator put it sourly). Why such disappointment? The answer is not complicated. Firstly, Necas became the leading figure in the ‘liberal-conservative’ Civic Democrats (ODS), and then its leader, in very benign circumstances. The media had painted his predecessor, Mirek Topolánek, in overly dark colours, though Topolánek was certainly never short of sharp words. Moreover, many people were fearful that the elections would be won by Jirí Paroubek of the Social Democrats, an arrogant man with an authoritarian streak who was seeking to form a government with the Communists, a party unreformed since 1989. But, unexpectedly, a centre-right coalition emerged from the elections, securing, by Czech standards, an unusually strong mandate (118 seats in the 200-member parliament). Its members – a weakened ODS, the new and powerful TOP09 and the populist Veci verejné (VV, Public Affairs) – had similar economic programmes, and it seemed that here was a ‘new-style’ government capable of pushing through reform, of reducing the state debt, and of attacking corruption. The conservative ‘good-boy’ Necas appeared a natural enough leader of a “cabinet of stabilisation” – he may have had no charisma, but Czechs had, by then, had their fill of charismatic leaders. Unfortunately, amid the optimism, people forgot that politics is more than management of the economy and that a premier must be more than a diligent, honest official and veteran of the parliamentary benches. Necas was born into a non-communist family of pre-war small entrepreneurs. In 1988, this “quiet lad” (as colleagues characterised him) completed his physics studies in Brno, gaining a doctorate, and began work as a researcher in an electronics company, Tesla. And then communism collapsed. Necas swiftly entered politics – quite why, it is hard to determine. But, whatever the impulse, he rose fast. By 1992, he was already a member of parliament for the ODS, a party founded by Václav Klaus, the current president. He has been in parliament ever since, making him one of the band of politicians who have not known ‘ordinary life’ for 20 years. He is, though, a man who keeps his life ordinary. A cultivated man and a Catholic, he leads a life free of excess. A father of four, his interests are, he says, history, books and classical music (all of which are easy to believe), and also swimming and skiing (which are somewhat harder to imagine). In parliament, Necas held a range of influential posts and in 1995 he was named deputy minister of defence. In 1997, the ODS offered him the post of interior minister: he accepted, but immediately thought again, apparently after talking with his wife. In 2006, he became minister for labour and social affairs and deputy prime minister, somewhat against expectations, since defence and security were his areas of specialisation. Then, in 2010, he helped topple Topolánek, taking over to lead the ODS into the elections. Necas was one of ‘Klaus’s children’ – reliable and loyal, he generally held exactly the views that Klaus wanted to hear. When, in the mid-1990s, the ODS embarked on its path towards nation-first Europhobia, it was Necas who, with somewhat comic laddishness, advised: let’s enter the EU, but only because we have no alternative; let’s get what we can from the EU and give as little as we can. On the occasions that his and Klaus’s views parted ways, he was never publicly critical. But his is not a career built solely on patience and an ability to be in the right place at the right time. He is an upright man, who has done much work, whether as minister for social affairs or to help the Czech Republic’s entry into NATO (he has always supported close co-operation with the US; in this, he and Klaus differ). Necas seems an ideal senior official. And if someone forcefully presents ideas that chime with his, he can be a pillar of support, an organiser, a public speaker. He is, then, a typical ‘second man’ of whom the top man can be sure – in part because he will pose no threat. But, as premier, he has found himself in a situation that is testing him beyond his powers. Moreover, the challenges he faces run against the grain of his personality. Necas made mistakes from the outset: he allowed other parties almost all the important ministries, so the government’s most prominent figures are now the foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP09), and the finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek (TOP09). Incompre-hensibly, he gifted the interior ministry to the smallest coalition party, VV. The result was a dual problem: restiveness in his own party and clashes within the coalition, for TOP09 is a genuine challenger, while VV brings difficult baggage in the form of close ties to one of the country’s largest private-security companies. Necas later began to stake out his ground, but he did so ineptly (quarrelling embarrassingly with the foreign minister about mandates on European issues) or unconvincingly (throwing out the interior minister months after giving him the post). Tensions within the coalition have been heightened by corruption scandals and reshuffles that have clearly exposed VV as a (now failed) corporate project rather than a classical political party. The result is the evaporation of hopes of a reforming cabinet. How can people believe in reforms conducted by a government whose members fight like alley cats? And how can people place confidence in a prime minister who, rather than resolving crises, consistently deepens them? His party is slipping backwards: while Topolánek understood that the ODS needed to open itself up and liberate itself from Klaus, now an activist president, Necas is incapable of doing either. His government, rather than devoting itself to policy, is consumed by its own problems. The crisis extends to foreign policy, accurately characterised recently by one commentator: “From Necas we hear only that he does not want the euro, or to help Greece, or to tap [the EU’s] funds or further EU integration. But what, then, does the Czech prime minister want? He would perhaps rather stand still. But others are not standing still, and nor will they.” The fairytale is over, and the coalition is on the verge of collapse. And Necas does not know what to do. Curriculum Vitae 1964: Born, Uherské Hradište 1988: Degree in physical science, J.E. Purkyne University, Brno 1988: Postgraduate degree, natural sciences, J.E. Purkyne University 1988-89: Compulsory military service 1988-92: Engineer and researcher, Tesla 1992-: Member of parliament, Civic Democrats (ODS) 1995-96: First deputy minister of defence 1996-98: Deputy chairman, joint committee of Czech and European parliaments 1996-2002: Chairman, committee for defence and security 1998: Shadow minister of defence 1999-2010: Deputy chairman of the ODS 2002-06: Deputy chairman, European affairs committee 2006-09: Deputy prime minister and minister of labour and social affairs 2010-: Leader of the ODS 2010-: Prime minister Fact Filelast_img read more

Erdoğan condemns Trump letter: ‘We haven’t forgotten’

first_img Also On POLITICO Turkey deal gives Pence and Pompeo a break By Jake Sherman FAQ Turkey’s invasion of Syria explained By Zia Weise U.S. President Donald Trump’s threatening letter in which he urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to not be a “fool” or a “tough guy” was not well-received, with Erdoğan on Friday condemning the message as undiplomatic and saying “we haven’t forgotten it.”“President Trump’s letter, which did not go hand in hand with political and diplomatic courtesy, has appeared in the media,” Erdoğan said Friday during a news conference about the Syria-Turkey ceasefire deal, according to a translation. “Of course we haven’t forgotten it. It would not be right for us to forget it.”The October 9 letter demanded that Erdoğan call off his invasion of northern Syria, warning that he would be viewed as “the devil” in history if “good things don’t happen.” It came after Trump had already received bipartisan and widespread backlash for pulling U.S. troops out of the region, smoothing the way for the incursion. “Let’s work out a good deal!” Trump penned. “You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will.”Trump’s threats referred to sanctions the Treasury Department previously imposed on senior Turkish officials for the detention of an American evangelical clergyman.Erdoğan reportedly threw the letter in the trash upon receiving it.“For our relationship, there’s no point to dwell on this letter,” Erdoğan told reporters on Friday. “This is not a priority for us, but when the time comes, we would like it to be known that we will take the necessary steps.”He did not elaborate on what those steps would be.“I hope history will not record this letter,” Serdar Kiliç, Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S., said on Thursday’s PBS NewsHour. He maintained the letter should never have been sent because “it lacks all the niceties, and it’s void of any established practices in that regard.”last_img read more

Keller Williams Releases KEYS

first_imgKeller Williams has digitally released KEYS:  A Collection of Grateful Dead Covers on Piano to Benefit the Rex Foundation.  Williams put down the guitar and turned to piano to perform 10 Grateful Dead songs with his own creative spin.Track Listing:1. He’s Gone2. Can’t Come Down3. Terrapin Station4. Attics Of My Life5. Althea6. Brokedown Palace7. Wharf Rat8. Bird Song9. Row Jimmy10. Touch of Grey100% of the proceeds will go to The Rex Foundation, a non-profit started by the Grateful Dead to give out grants to various organizations assisting in a range of causes.KEYS is available on iTunes today.For more information on Keller William and his upcoming tour dates click here.To learn more about The Rex Foundation click here.last_img read more

Saving Lives More Efficiently

first_imgClick here to read more. And when should emergency crews rapidly transport a patient to a hospital with lights and sirens on, potentially endangering the lives of paramedics and other motorists and pedestrians — even though the care provided by the emergency crew is the same as what can be provided in the emergency department? ANN ARBOR, Mich.– When someone’s heart suddenly stops beating — a condition called cardiac arrest — there’s a lot that bystanders and ambulance crews can do to get it started again. But if the victim doesn’t respond, when should such efforts stop?last_img read more

Blackhawks return to Notre Dame

first_imgThe five-time Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks arrived on campus Thursday for their second straight training camp trip to Compton Family Ice Arena, with public practices on Saturday and Sunday.Tom Nevala, general manager of the Compton Family Ice Arena, said the training camp was first set up last year through discussions with Blackhawk’s manager Stan Bowan, a 1995 Notre Dame alumnus.Observer File Photo “With the facilities we have available to them, the campus environment, they thought it would be a great way to start the season,” Nevala said.The team completed physical testing at the United Center in Chicago Thursday morning before traveling to the University, where Nevala said they will reside at the Morris Inn for the duration of their visit.While at Notre Dame, Nevala said the team will participate in both private and public events.“They are doing some things, but they are private functions on campus,” he said. “They are doing some things in the community as well. I think they’ll go to the Robinson Learning Center, I want to say on Friday afternoon.”Team practice on Friday will be closed to the public, but faculty, staff and students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross are welcome to join the team for an exclusive practice at the Compton Family Ice Arena from 10:00 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. The training camp itself will take place on Saturday and Sunday from 10:15 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.“Hopefully it’s a chance for everyone [to benefit],” he said. “That’s why we have the Friday event specifically for Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students, faculty and staff. It’s a great chance to get out and see these guys live in a much smaller venue than the United Center.”Nevala said hosting the team is a special experience that “certainly comes at a great price.” According to the Notre Dame website, the now sold-out general admission tickets for the weekend scrimmages were available for purchase for $10.“I think, more importantly, the 60 guys who come here as part of the Blackhawks enjoy being around the atmosphere that you enjoy every day,” he said. “Maybe a third of an NHL team played hockey in college, most of them [now] have the opportunity to experience the college environment and enjoy kind of being like you guys.”Nevala said the team seems to enjoy the training program set up at Notre Dame.“Before they’ve even started camp this year, they’re already looking forward to returning again next year,” he said.Tags: Chicago Blackhawks, Compton Family Ice Arena, Training Camplast_img read more

Governor Shumlin presents 25,000th VTStrong license plate to Vermont’s emergency responders

first_imgGovernor Peter Shumlin was joined today by firefighters, store owners, ski area representatives and others in celebrating the sale of the 25,000th â I Am Vermont Strong’license plate, marking the half-way mark in a campaign to sell enough plates to raise $1 million for the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. Money from the license plate sales is earmarked for Vermont families impacted by flooding in 2011, as well as the Vermont Foodbank. The Governor reminded Vermonters that the need for assistance following the devastating spring floods and Tropical Storm Irene remains strong. â I am urging people to continue to support their neighbors who suffered damage to their homes during last yearâ s storms by buying a VTStrong license plate,’Gov. Shumlin said. â These plates reflect the spirit that makes Vermont strong and the funds are critical in helping Vermonters recover from the devastation of the May and August flooding.â  The $25 plate can be affixed to the front of most vehicles or bought as souvenirs. The goal is to sell 50,000 plates to raise $1 million for the Disaster Relief Fund, and the Governor bought the first plate in February to present to the Corliss family of Berlin, whose mobile home was destroyed by flood waters. Today the Governor bought the 25,000th plate, presenting it to Barre Fire Department Capt. Keith Cushman and thanking all emergency responders across the state for their help during the 2011 storms. â Vermontâ s firefighters, emergency responders, police officers, National Guard troops and others stepped forward to save lives and property during both storms,’Gov. Shumlin said, presenting the plate to Capt. Cushman. The historic plate will remain on a Barre fire truck for a period of time before being shared with other departments across the state, and eventually donated to the Vermont Fire Academy for display. Firefighters from Montpelier and other local units were on hand today for the event. The Governor noted that the St. Johnsbury Fire Department has purchased â I Am Vermont Strong’plates for its fire trucks, and the Barre firefighters plan to do the same. Shumlin also thanked the organizations and individuals who have been selling the plates, including member of the Vermont Ski Areas Association and the Vermont Grocers Association (Price Chopper took 1,750 plates and is the biggest purchaser; Shaw’s, Maplefields and Hannaford’s also have made large purchases). In addition, he thanked businesses like National Life and others that have stepped forward to help with Irene and flood recovery in other ways.The Vermont Disaster Relief Fund was created following the spring flooding a year ago. When Irene struck Vermont in August, Gov. Shumlin formalized and established a governing body for the fund, which is chaired by David Coates of Colchester. The fund is the primary vehicle for providing disaster assistance to individuals.Governor’s office 4.5.2012last_img read more

LSGM honors Laquer for gift

first_img April 1, 2017 Regular News LSGM honors Laquer for gift L SGM honors Laquer for gift More than 100 people gathered at the Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood to honor Edie Laquer and celebrate the establishment of the Edie Laquer Foundation Women and Children’s Rights Attorney Chair at Legal Services of Greater Miami. This inaugural gift will help ensure women and children will always have an attorney dedicated to providing them with representation in the civil justice system and that their right to safe, affordable, decent housing and access to health care will be protected by the legal services staff. Laquer has been a presence in the Miami real estate industry for over 30 years. “We are so very grateful to Edie for being a trailblazer and establishing the first Endowed Attorney Chair at Legal Services,” said LSGM Executive Director Marcia Cypen. “Her vision and philanthropic leadership will make a lasting impact on women and children in our community for generations to come.” Legal Services of Greater Miami is a nonprofit organization providing free civil legal services for vulnerable members of the community with nowhere else to turn for help, including women, children, seniors, veterans returning from combat, people with disabilities, low-wage workers, and the homeless.last_img read more

Board of Governors reviews proposed IOTA rule amendment

first_imgBoard of Governors reviews proposed IOTA rule amendment Nov 18, 2020 By Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Top Stories Supreme Court seeking comments on IOTA task force proposals The Bar Board of Governors has been briefed on proposed Bar rule amendments from the Task Force on the Distribution of IOTA Funds, including that the Supreme Court is now seeking comments on the rule changes.Former Bar President Mayanne Downs, chair of the task force, presented its recommendations to the court at the board’s interim November 16 meeting.That discussion included deadlines for commenting on the amendments, whether the board should take a position, and a separate proposal from public board member Jody Hudgins to boost interest payments by banks on IOTA funds.The amendments would apply to Bar Rule 5-1.1(g), which governs the IOTA program.Under the task force proposal, “All IOTA monies will be paid to experienced and already-in-this-business-and-good-at-it grantees in Florida and they would use all that money to hire and pay lawyers so that lawyers can provide direct legal services,” Downs said.Grantee legal aid agencies would be able to use 10% for overhead and The Florida Bar Foundation, which collects IOTA funds from banks and distributes it to local programs, would be able to use 15% for overhead — the first time there have been limits on overhead, Downs said.It would eliminate the Foundation using IOTA funds for grants to improve the administration of justice, as allowed in earlier Supreme Court IOTA opinions. It would mandate that IOTA funds be distributed within six months of receipt. The rule amendments also call for a two-year review if it is ultimately adopted by the court.An official notice is online and will be in the December edition of the Bar News. The court has set a January 4 deadline for comments and the task force has until January 25 to respond, Downs said.The court’s directive in creating the task force in October 2019 was to consider an alternate model for collecting and distributing IOTA funds, whether there should be priorities and limits on how IOTA funds are spent, and whether there should be reporting requirements in the rule (the Foundation now provides a detailed annual audit). The court also, Downs said, specified that “in doing all of our work, we ‘shall give priority consideration to the need for funding direct legal services for low-income litigants in Florida.’”Board member Paige Greenlee, a former member of the Foundation Board of Directors, asked if the Board of Governors would be taking a position on the rule amendments, adding “I’ve heard from several constituents with concerns.”President Dori Foster-Morales noted the court set up the task force with administrative support from the Bar, but has not asked the board for its position.“We are here for discussion and if that’s something that people want to do, then a motion could be made to do that,” she said.No motion was made at the meeting.Board member Josh Chilson said the proposed amendments would do away with the Foundation’s program to help repay student loans for legal aid attorneys and asked Downs about that.Downs called that and the recognition of some other Foundation programs that would lose funding “agonizing” but said it could be reviewed in two years if ending the loan repayment assistance made it difficult to hire or retain legal aid attorneys. She also said the Foundation or legal aid programs might be able to find other funds for that effort.IOTA Interest RatesHudgins, who also serves on the Foundation Board of Directors, outlined a different amendment to Rule 5-1.1(g) he is proposing on behalf of the Foundation to set a standard interest rate for banks to pay in lawyers’ IOTA accounts. He said it has been discussed with the board’s Disciplinary Procedure Committee and the DPC will revisit it at the board’s regular December meeting.“There’s no equitable…index on the rate being paid on the IOTA funds,” Hudgins said, adding few lawyers know what rate is being paid on their IOTA account and those rates are generally too low.“Why are banks paying such a low fee? Because we can. Why can we pay such a low fee? Because you guys don’t ask. Why do you not ask? Because it really doesn’t have any economic effect on your practice of law or on your well-being,” said Hudgins, who is a banker. “It has a tremendous effect on the access to justice for the low to moderate income folks around Florida who need access to justice.”The proposal would set the minimum interest rate on IOTA accounts at 25 basis points [the current rate averages 11 basis points] and allow it to rise when interest rates increase.Hudgins said he expects “banks to complain a bit” but ultimately go along with the proposed rule change because it is fair and equitable. He noted that every extra basis point paid on IOTA accounts yields an extra $670,000 for the Foundation and its grant programs.He presented more details at a recent Foundation Board of Directors meeting.last_img read more

Historic Grand Ave building becomes art, collab, event space

first_imgThe Unexpected Art Gallery opens in a historic Grand Avenue building this month, bringing a unique mixed-use art exhibition gallery, office and event space to this growing Downtown Phoenix neighborhood. The gallery renovates the 8,000 square foot Miller Store Fixture building at 734 W. Polk St. where the owners plan to host exhibitions and include a TechShop maker’s space, a game room, the “UStudio” photo, video and recording studio commons, “Back Alley” outdoor community gathering place, a VIP loft and an art library.The gallery debuts with art classes offered by renowned local artist Lucretia Torva of Torva Fine Art. The owners also announced the building’s first tenant is the Earl Jones Institute For Film and Television, a nonprofit organization established by actor Robert Earl Jones, to create and support cultural diversity in the fields of film, television and digital media. The nonprofit, now run by Robert’s son Matthew, has plans to hold workshops and events in the space.“Our goal has always been to have a focal point for the collaboration of the arts community with business, engineering and education. Unexpected is a community-designed experience poised to become a hub for art and commerce, but it’s also so much more. It’s a place where you can connect with those who are looking to expand the view of Phoenix culture. It’s a place where you can express yourself, learn from others and create community,” said Ben Smith, one of Unexpected Art Gallery’s partners.The gallery is also seeking local artists through November 12 to adopt a brick on a designated wall in the building and create a unique interconnected art design. The only “rule” is that each brick connects somehow to the bricks adjacent to it to create a large work of art that all gallery visitors can enjoy. For each brick created by an artist, the gallery will make a donation to Arizona School for the Arts. There is no fee for artists to participate. Interested artists can sign up by sending an email to [email protected]“We are thrilled to join the Downtown Phoenix neighborhood family and bring a unique space to the area,” added Smith. “Our commitment is to give back and create connections in the vibrant community we have joined.”last_img read more

Are climate sceptics more likely to be conspiracy theorists?

first_imgThe Guardian: It’s time to come clean: climate change is a hoax. And the moon landings were faked, 9/11 was an inside job, and the CIA is hiding the identity of the gunman on the grassy knoll.It might seem odd to lump climate change – a scientific theory supported by thousands of peer-reviewed papers and hundreds of independent lines of evidence – with conspiracy theories like these. But new research to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found a link between the endorsement of conspiracy theories and the rejection of established facts about climate science.In a survey of more than 1,000 readers of websites related to climate change, people who agreed with free market economic principles and endorsed conspiracy theories were more likely to dispute that human-caused climate change was a reality.Read the whole story: The Guardian More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more