Politeía Digest

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American Pie – April 30th.

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Goldman may face Justice Department review

The Securities and Exchange Commission has referred its investigation of Goldman Sachs to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, less than two weeks after filing a civil securities fraud case against the firm, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Any probe by the Justice Department, if underway, would be in a preliminary stage. No Goldman Sachs employees involved in the mortgage-related transactions that are the focus of the SEC case have been interviewed by Justice Department prosecutors or the FBI agents who often conduct probes on behalf of prosecutors, according to a source familiar with the matter. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The Justice Department usually investigates high-profile cases of securities fraud, but the threshold for criminal prosecution is significantly higher than that of civil cases. The SEC files only civil cases.

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News reported Thursday night that the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan had followed up on the request and opened a criminal probe. The office declined to comment.

“Given the recent focus on the firm, we’re not surprised by the report of an inquiry,” said Goldman spokesman Lucas Van Praag. “We would cooperate fully with any request for information.” More on Washington Post.

Conservative Cameron dominates third and final election debate in Britain

LONDON — A day after committing a major gaffe on the campaign trail, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown needed a golden moment against his two rivals Thursday night during the last of three prime-time election debates. But as the lights went down in Birmingham, Brown appeared to be settling for bronze.

The three televised debates — a first this year — have reshaped the closest prime ministerial race in decades here, ushering in a new kind of political theater. Over the past three weeks, the exposure has led to a surge in the polls for the perennially third-place Liberal Democrats after two stellar performances by their fresh-faced leader, Nick Clegg.

But in Thursday’s debate — which focused on the single biggest issue in Britain, the economy — front-runner David Cameron of the Conservative Party dominated. He delivered a line of tough love, holding out the specter of a financially troubled Greece as he vowed to cut Britain’s massive budget gap and force welfare recipients back to work. Three snap polls released after the debates showed voters declaring Cameron the winner.

Clegg, nevertheless, was still seen as besting Brown. Clegg’s frequent one-on-one tangles with Cameron — leaving the prime minister out — underscored the possibility of the Labor Party suffering its worst defeat in decades in next Thursday’s vote.

The final debate carried a hefty dose of schadenfreude, coming as it did after Brown’s colossal gaffe on the campaign trail Wednesday. He called a widow and lifelong Labor voter who gave him an earful on immigration “a bigoted woman” in off-camera remarks, which were caught on tape. In the ensuing media frenzy, the Telegraph newspaper dubbed it Brown’s “Day of Disaster.”

Saying he was “mortified” by his behavior, Brown offered the woman a 40-minute apology. He topped that off Thursday night, during his opening remarks at Birmingham University, with an acknowledgment of his self-described “disaster.”

There is a lot to this job, and as you saw yesterday, I don’t always get it right,” Brown said. “But I do know how to run the economy, in good times and bad.”

The most animated exchange of the night came after an audience member suggested that politicians in general are out of touch with ordinary Britons on immigration, now emerging as a dominant issue in the race.

Brown, as in all the debates, was the most aggressive of the three candidates. He took particular issue with Cameron’s assertions that the Conservatives have modernized, referring to them four times as the “same old” elitist, out-of-touch party. More on Washington Post.

As Greek Drama Plays Out, Where Is Europe?

WASHINGTON — With new European Union leaders practically invisible and some national leaders acting largely for domestic political reasons, the burden of shaping a rapid and credible restructuring program for Greece has fallen primarily to the International Monetary Fund — exactly where proud European Union leaders had insisted it should not be.

Once again — as during the 2008 financial crisis and the more recent halt in European air traffic due to volcanic ash — European leaders have failed to surmount national interests and cobble together a coherent policy quickly enough to address a problem. In the process, they may have done permanent damage to the credibility of the European Union.

There is no doubt that the European project has suffered structural damage from this,” said Jacob Kirkegaard, a research fellow in European affairs and structural reform at the Peterson Institute for International Economics here. “It’s clear that the I.M.F. is the last man standing and is structuring the program.”

Criticism is rising about the competence of European leaders, which has worsened the plight of all the countries in the euro zone.

Senior United States officials, while not wanting to interfere in a European problem, have nonetheless expressed their anxiety to European counterparts and to the monetary fund itself. President Obama called Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Wednesday to lend his support and encouragement for her willingness to take a bolder position to try to calm the markets.

Mrs. Merkel has been the central figure in the debt crisis, as she has tried to respond to German voters’ displeasure at having to bail out Greece, after years of bailing out eastern Germany. She delayed action on the problem for months, hoping to put it off until after critical regional elections on May 9.  More on New York Times

U.S. Seeks To Revamp NATO Treaty In Europe

BERLIN — Spurred by a new treaty with Russia to reduce strategic nuclear missiles, the United States and NATO are seeking to revive a major treaty on conventional weapons in Europe, according to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s secretary general.

The effort will form one of three parts of a plan intended to revamp NATO’s relationship with Russia. The plan also includes inviting Russia to join the ballistic missile shield that the United States and NATO plan to deploy across Europe. And NATO is even looking at reducing some of its tactical nuclear weapons.

If we could make progress as far as conventional disarmament is concerned, it could also lead to disarmament or reduced reliance by the alliance on a nuclear deterrent and in general improve the relationship between NATO and Russia,” Mr. Rasmussen said in an interview at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.

NATO hopes to reach a consensus on the plan in time for its November summit meeting in Lisbon.

But Mr. Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, said he had no illusions about the difficulties in reviving the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, or C.F.E., from which Russia withdrew in December 2007.

The issue was muddied by the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008, after which Russia recognized the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as states independent of Georgia.

Nikolay Korchunov, Russia’s deputy ambassador to NATO, said Thursday that Russia was “interested in reinvigorating” the treaty. He added, however, that “it should be part of a bigger package that would include missile defense as well as nuclear disarmament.”

With President Obama making improved relations with Russia one of his foreign policy priorities, Mr. Rasmussen said it was time for NATO to capitalize on that relationship. It was, he added, a “great opportunity” to move forward on arms control after the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that Mr. Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia signed in Prague on April 8. More on New York Times


Written by Theophyle

April 30, 2010 at 9:09 am

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Manuela Durson. Manuela Durson said: American Pie – April 30th. « Politeía Digest: American Pie – April 30th. leave a comment ». Goldman may face Justi… http://bit.ly/cghbX4 […]

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