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NATO Summit – A Funeral and Rebirth Always Postponed – The World Reporter
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NATO Summit – A Funeral and Rebirth Always Postponed

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Written by Gabriela Ionita
The annual meeting of NATO members is scheduled to take place on 20-21st May 2012 in Chicago, USA. An anniversary meeting, we could say, as this year’s NATO Summit edition will be reaching number 25 (only the traditional meetings are officially counted, but not the exceptional ones). According to the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, this year’s meeting is probably the biggest in NATO’s history,  as the Summit will be attended by state and government leaders from the 28 member states, but also other senior representatives from over 30 other countries worldwide. The only notable absence in this context seems to be the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

This year’s edition is of extreme importance also because it is the first time when it takes place outside the U.S. capital, moving to the hometown of President Obama – Chicago. Scheduled right after the G8 Summit at Camp David, the NATO Summit comes with a rather complicated agenda, especially due to economic instability in Europe and the many political changes in the last six months (most recent that of the presidential elections in France). 

At the NATO Summit, there will be reports on the steps taken to underpin the decisions from the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 (where, as we remember, the key reform policies and the reaffirming of the Alliance transatlantic cooperation were outlined).

This year, the NATO Summit will focus on three main themes:

  1. The Afghanistan file and the clear commitment of NATO to assist the Afghan authorities for transitional period until 2014 and post-transition (after 2014).
  2. Implementing the Smart Defense concept in an attempt to demonstrate that NATO is able to meet the challenges of the 21st century. “Another objective of the Summit in Chicago is to show ‘how to cope with today’s economic challenges so that we are prepared for future security challenges” said Rasmussen. After more than six decades of existence, NATO can look back with pride, but to justify its existence it must clearly see future challenges, how it can anticipate and manage them with precision and speed. 
  3. The third objective of the meeting will be strengthening its network of strategic  worldwide  partnerships. Surely there is will be a public recognition of the efforts made by Macedonia in the mission in Afghanistan, even if the entry into NATO is still delayed, since the requirements agreed at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008 are not yet met. 

Regarding Ukraine’s participation in the Summit in Chicago, even when EU leaders canceled their participation at the Yalta Summit, U.S. Ambassador in NATO, Ivo Daadler, said at a press conference that: “Ukraine is a valued member of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. And all members who contribute with troops, and therefore are members of the ISAF operation, are invited to Chicago. Therefore, Mr. Yanukovich could be present at Chicago. It is not our job to rule on the current political issues that are ongoing in Ukraine “.

Moreover, Israel’s lack of the guests at the summit was also justified on this basis – Israel did not participate in the ISAF troops – and not because it has been pressured by Turkey in this respect. Of course, the discussion will revolve over topics like the economic crisis and its impact on defense budgets, the missile shield in Europe, the essence of the Arab Spring, the civil war situation in Libya and Syria, but also the plan to reduce tensions and maintain security of key areas such as the Strait of Hormuz. 

Regarding the operations in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, Ambassador Ivo Daadler, through the bilateral agreement signed between U.S. and Afghanistan *, America agrees to give post-transition support even after 2014 and hopes to succeed in convincing the other 28 members of the Alliance to join in this common effort.

In the same registry we note the declaration of the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, who, at the end of a meeting on Afghanistan with Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, concluded: “First, we agreed on the next phase of transition and on the fulfillment of the undertaken objectives by 2014. Second, we are ready to define how we see the relationship between NATO and Afghanistan after 2014. And thirdly, we are prepared to work together with the Afghan people to ensure that the Afghan security strategy will take force and will be fully implemented. NATO is an alliance united behind all these objectives, so we expect a very productive summit in Chicago. “

However, more then few voices (even among NATO members) consider the conflict management in Afghanistan is raising a big question mark over NATO’s ability (and hence its leader – U.S.) to harness the resources of its members in a common purpose. In turn, American observers often criticize the European NATO allies for not respecting their commitments in Afghanistan, although many of these commitments have been made in such a way that they themselves constraint involvement of the agreed arrangements. 

If NATO wants to survive as alliance, the efforts of its members must reflect the political and strategic consensus. The U.S., as de facto leader of the Alliance, should encourage rather than hinder this process. Lack of political will, lack of participation in allied operations justified by the lack of defense budgets – deserves criticism from American partner – yet they reflect a basic lack of common purpose and lack of unified objectives. American efforts to influence NATO’s decision-making process has helped create the impression that the U.S. “take the decision, act and impose their own interests”, and in making decisions the opinions of other members are purely advisory, which prompted questions related to the Alliance’s purpose.

Andrew Dorman (Chatman House) rightly noted that in the meeting in Chicago “the 28 NATO members have many issues on which to come to an agreement on. First, NATO’s involvement in wars, from Libya to Afghanistan or vice versa and in the potential war in Syria and Iran, led to different degrees of commitment from its members and differences of views on NATO’s geopolitical strategies. Or formulating the question frankly: is this an alliance that focuses only on the European continent or one that focuses on broader security issues of its members and on potential global threats? How to define these threats? ” Secondly, he said that “it remains in question how the NATO relationship with Russia will evolve in the context of the tensions caused by the location of the missile shield and the thorny issue associated with the expansion of NATO to include several former Soviet states ( Georgia, Ukraine) “.

The fervent critics of the atlantist trend deemed that the summit is going to the pillars of strength of the organization, after a visible failure in Iraq and Libya, an increasingly unstable situation of the disastrous failure of Syria, the inability of the international community to find a compromise solution for Iran’s nuclear file, the general financial crisis, the U.S. election year (the fierce Republicans – Democrats dispute on foreign policy issues) and the military and economic strategy ‘reorientation’ of America from Europe to Asia-Pacific. Of course, we are already used to this, as in the last twenty years, at the threshold of any NATO Summit, a number of experts, journalists, opinion leaders not only discuss certain issues, but also predict NATO’s funeral. Common also are the press briefings of the NATO officials in the summit and after, arguing that despite all adversities, the Alliance continues to survive (even if its promised reinvention is rather theoretical). The question is: how long? 

This mosaic could not miss the usual protests, already announced by the initiators of the movement ‘Ocuppy Wall Street’ and numerous other anti-globalization and human rights organizations. So the organizers decided a plan of exceptional security measures, from which Chicago will become a city besieged by their own police forces rather than the protesters. There was even a discussion over the establishment of a restricted flights area over the city during the event (rated by the Department of Homeland Security / DHS as one that requires exceptional security measures).

Moreover, in the fever of preparations, the Mayor of Chicago, former presidential adviser, Rahm Emanuel, has proposed and adopted several measures to avoid possible protests, measures that will be taken by the authorities even after the summit. I will only mention here the installation of surveillance cameras in many places of the city, restricting certain public activities, registration of any sign or banner that is designed to be worn by more than one person, restricting parades and public marches, the right to coordinate intervention forces (other than those belonging to the Chicago Police Department). These ordinances have already attracted a number of protests by Amnesty International and Ocuppy Chicago, whose representatives consider that the event is used to abusively reduce human rights and freedoms. 

* On May 1, 2012, President Barack Obama and President Karzai signed the Strategic Sustainable Partnership between the United States of America and Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. 
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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Employee Training and Development Becomes One of the Most Disruptive Megatrends That Is Shaping the Future of Work

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Employee training

There is no question about the effectiveness of employee training and development. It’s incredibly important to help your staff advance their skills and knowledge to help grow a business, but the impact of employee learning has often been understated and even neglected. However, companies are now suggesting that employee training and development is one of the biggest megatrends that have completely transformed the future of work. It has overhauled how businesses should be developing and engaging with employees, and it’s leading to an incredibly diverse and talented workforce that is capable of wonderful new things.

Part of the problem of employee training and development is that it’s difficult to measure its impact on the workplace. Employee performance often isn’t a quantitative measurement that is easy to read and link to their output. This is one of the reasons why the effectiveness of employee training and development has been questioned by management experts.

Thankfully, new strategies have been developed to help measure workplace learning and its impact on companies. Below, we’ve included a helpful infographic that covers some of the most important measurements, such as return on investment and how it is calculated in the context of employee learning and development. It should put the effectiveness of employee training into perspective and will help you better understand when training is needed and how development actually improves your business and its productivity.


Infographic by: Ezra Coaching
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Top 10 Simple Health Changes To Boost Your Well-Being

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It does not matter how old you are, where you live, or what your occupation is, your health should always be a top priority. However, most of us are a little bit guilty of letting our well-being slide from time to time. With that being said, read on to discover some of the simple ways you can give your health a boost today.

  1. Get rid of at least one item in your life that contains toxic chemicals – You may be shocked by just how many items in your life contain toxic chemicals. This includes everything from air fresheners to bed sheets. Get rid of one of these items and replace it with something natural instead. This is something you should make a habit to do every few months or so. You will be surprised by just how much of a difference this can make. 
  2. Deep breathe for at least five minutes – Throughout the day, you should make sure you take the opportunity to deep breathe for at least five minutes. Why? Well, there have been numerous studies that have shown that deep breathing can help to lower stress hormone levels. This means that you will feel better, get an improved night’s sleep, and you will have less anxiety too.
  3. Drink more water – You probably expected this to be on the list, but the importance of drinking more water should never be ignored. Your body needs water for almost every function. If you are dehydrated, this could be the cause of headaches, pains, aches, and a number of other symptoms.
  4. Have one veggie night per week – A lot of people eat far too much meat, red meat especially. So, why not have a veggie night once a week? Not only is this good for your health, but it will be good for your bank balance too. There are so many great recipes online that can give you ideas regarding tasty and creative dishes that do not incorporate any sort of meat or fish. Once you start off with one night per week, you may then decide that you want to up it to two nights, and so on. However, it always helps to start off small so that it is easier and more manageable, and you can then get used to it.
  5. Sign up for an online pharmacy – Nowadays, you can easily order your prescriptions and medications over the Internet via an online pharmacy. This can help you to boost your health because it ensures you never experience delays with your medication. If you are someone who often doesn’t take their recommended course of tablets because you cannot get to the doctors in time for a repeat prescription, then this is definitely a good suggestion for you. Your medication will be delivered to your door with a click of a button.
  6. Make a dedicated effort to lower your stress levels – There is no denying that we live in a very stress-filled world at the moment! The world we live in is one that has heaps of pressure, and it can be difficult to stay on top of everything and keep those stress levels low. However, it is vital that you find a way to do so. After all, if you don’t adrenal fatigue and health can start to take a tumble, which is the last thing you want. For those who are unaware, adrenal fatigue relates to a group of different symptoms that impact people who are under a lot of physical, emotional, or mental stress. From being a single parent to having a stressful job, there are a lot of different reasons why you may be struggling. Therefore, we recommend that you look for different ways to reduce those stress levels so that you can enjoy a more calming and peaceful life. Whether it is doing some breathing techniques or taking more regular breaks so you can have moments for yourself, there are a lot of different ways that you can make sure you are keeping your stress levels to a minimum. The importance of this should not be overlooked, as stress can impact our mental and physical health in so many different ways. 
  7. Do something nice for someone every day – You will be surprised by how good this makes you feel, and by how much this has a positive impact on your health. It’s all about mental well being. When you do something nice for another person, you are benefitting their health, as well as your own. First and foremost, there is no denying that it feels good to hear some nice words for someone or to get a helping hand when you need it. You feel recognised and appreciated, and this is something we all need. At the same time, doing something nice for someone else and seeing their reaction can make you feel amazing too. After all, doing something good for someone is a gift for yourself at the same time. You will find that the deed continues throughout the day, making you feel great and happy within yourself. 
  8. Incorporate some movement into your commute – If you do not have an active job, this is particularly important. Sitting at a computer all day can be bad for your health. One way to combat this is by incorporating some movement into your commute. If you can walk or bike to work, you should give this a go. If not, start parking your car further away from your place of work so that you have to walk there and back. You should also start using the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
  9. Start meal planning – You will find it much easier to eat healthily if you plan your meals. At the start of every week, make a menu of what you are going to cook for dinner every evening, as well as what you are going to make for your lunches every day. Not only will this help you to eat better, but you will save money too. Make sure you incorporate some healthy snacks into your food prep for work. This will stop you from going to the vending machine whenever you are bored or your energy is zapped. The great thing about the times we live in at the moment is that you can easily get recipes and meal prep inspiration online. So, if you are struggling, simply do a little bit of digging online and we are sure that you will find a lot of different options when it comes to meal ideas and clever food prep suggestions for the week ahead. Not only is this going to help you to be more organized, but you will find that it actually saves you quite a bit of money in the process. After all, when we do not have a food plan for the week ahead, we tend to spend a lot of money on items we do not need. Food can end up going in the bin because we do not use it. This ends up in an awful lot of waste, and we should all be looking to reduce this, so meal prep is great in many ways.
  10. Keep a journal – Last but not least, keeping a journal is good for a person’s mental health. You should write down your thoughts. It doesn’t need to be a long entry; you can simply jot down a few bullet points every evening. This will help you to articulate your thoughts so that they do not wear you down. After all, it can be very difficult to sleep if you have lots on your mind. A lot of experts advise this approach for people who suffer from insomnia. One of the main reasons why a lot of people struggle to get the hours of sleep they need is because they cannot shut off when they go to sleep; their minds are still going at a million miles per hour. They are thinking about what they need to do the following day and any worries or concerns that they may have. Because of this, it very much makes sense to keep a journal so you can offload some of these thoughts and worries and you can have a much more restful night of sleep. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you will see that it actually does make a significant difference when it comes to drifting off and enjoying a good night of rest. 

So there you have it: some of the best ways to give your health a boost. The suggestions that have been provided are really simple and easy, so there is no excuse not to give yourself a bit of TLC. we are sure that you will start to notice a difference as time goes on. However, as is the case with anything, it requires patience and persistence. You cannot expect to turn your health around in one night.

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Why Buy A Business, Rather Than Start One

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There are good and bad sides to buying a business and starting your own business from scratch. For lots of people, the positives of buying an established business outweigh the positives of starting a business. Here are the reasons why buying an existing business could be the right choice.

Easier To Secure Finance

All businesses will need finance. Unless you can fund your business yourself, you’ll need to secure financing from investors. Most lenders will be more willing to lend money to an established business that they can already see is doing well, rather than risk an unknown factor. 

Income From Day One

One of the downsides of starting a business is that most start-ups will go through an early stage where they don’t make much, if any, money. For some entrepreneurs, this stage can last for several years. 

During this stage, you will need to pay out for things like your premises, as well as equipment, installation of equipment, stock, materials, fixtures and fittings, legal and professional fees, a license, uniforms, and more. 

If you don’t have finance in place or another form of income, this stage can be very tough for a new business owner. If you buy a business, you can start earning from day one, and avoid this tricky period where you might be out of pocket.  

Established Brand

When you buy a business that already exists, you are also buying into a brand that is already known, recognizable, and has a track record. You get the business complete with all the trademarks, copyrights, and websites associated with it, as well as the business locations

This means that your business will already have customers, lenders, suppliers, and other contacts that are confident in the business already. 

Instant Customer Access

An existing business also has customers already, which can help you succeed straight away. You can use a range of strategies and marketing to build on the existing customer base, but won’t have to struggle to build a customer base from scratch. 

Established Network Of Contacts

When you start a business from scratch, a lot of your time and energy has to be put into building up a network of contacts. 

All businesses need to have supplier and marketing contacts, so buying an existing business that already has those contacts in place allows you to hit the ground running.

Like money lenders, suppliers and marketing companies are more likely to offer you more favourable terms if your business has been around for a while and they know it.  

Focus On Growing The Business

When an entrepreneur starts a new business, they will have to put a lot of their energy into getting their business off the ground. This takes a lot of time and can be very tiring. 

On the other hand, when you take over a business that is already established, you’ll be freer to focus on the areas of the business that most need your attention, aiding the growth of the business as a whole. 

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