Times of Earth coverage of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s inauguration. Correspondent discusses Karzai’s lack of domestic and international legitimacy and security the surrounding the ceremony.

In his inaugural speech, Karzai committed to making Afghan forces in charge of security, fighting corruption, and holding a Loya Jirga, grand assembly, to speak with the Taliban.

Hillary Clinton hailed the speech as a new beginning for Afghanistan. “He was particularly strong on the steps that he intends to take regarding corruption,” she told reporters after the ceremony, adding it “set forth an agenda for change and reform”.

Abdullah Abdullah, his former rival for the Presidency, is not impressed-speech is “more of the same.”

“The United States of America … came into this crisis without anything like the basic tools countries need to contain financial panics,” he said. “Coming into AIG, we had basically duct tape and string.”

That is how Timothy Geithner defended the U.S. bailout of insurance giant AIG today in a hearing in front of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. He also recommended that one regulatory body patrol large banks and that Congress pass regulatory legislation. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is currently working on such a bill but, during the hearing, Republican Senator Richard Shelby said that it needed a  “complete rewrite.”

→ Republicans also called for Geithner’s resignation because of the slow speed of recovery. Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pressed Geithner to investigate the possible manipulation of the Chinese yuan. (Bloomberg)

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will host Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to talk about peace in the Middle East. Brazil has a history of remaining silent about abuses of human rights or power in other countries, but now that it is becoming a world economic power it is trying to show it can wield power diplomatically as well. (Reuters)

Two safe picks for Europe. Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy and British Trade Commissioner Baroness Ashton have been named the European Union’s new president and foreign minister. The choice indicates that countries may not want stars leading the newly strengthened European Union. Baroness Ashton has garnered the fiercest criticism because she has no diplomatic experience. (Telegraph)

White House strategist David Axelrod reminds us that Rome wasn’t built in a day after Obama’s lack luster China trip. (LA Times)
A letter written by FT Hood shooting suspect Nadal Hassan’s supervisor in 2007 shows that there were the faculty had “…serious concerns about CPT Hasan’s professionalism and work ethic. … He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism.” It is signed by the chief of psychiatric residents at Walter Reed, Maj. Scott Moran. Hassan didn’t answer his phone while on call, proselytized to his patients, and missed an important exam. (NPR)

Famed public artist Jeanne-Claude passed away from a brain aneyurism at the age of 74. In collaborating with her husband Christo, Jeanne-Claude leaves a legacy of challenging, temporary and “etherial” public works, most notably “The Gates” in New York City’s Central Park.  (ArtInfo)

"The Gates"

"The Gates." Christo and Jeanne-Claude. 2005. Image courtesy: ArtInfo



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