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ITALY



Published: Tue, July 2, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



La Stampa, Turin, July 10: U.S. President George W. Bush, in his speech in Manhattan attacked the financial scandals that are weakening Wall Street and accused the company executives accused of fraud as being "men without ethics" just like Osama bin Laden's terrorists.

Seven months after the Enron scandal, the White House has noticed -- with considerable delay -- the opening of a dangerous breach on the internal front: Bush's prestige is at risk if he is not capable of restoring Wall Street's credibility. As president, Bush has to guarantee the security of America's citizens, including that of their wallets.

Better laws

Two opposed and contrasting visions on the citizen-State relationship have now reached a face-off: for Bush the priority is to hunt down those who harm the community, the Democrats instead want better laws to safeguard citizens against fraud.

The risk is that for the White House, Wall Street will become a tougher battle field than what the Afghan mountains of Tora Bora have been for the U.S. Marines.

The stakes are high. Whoever manages to convince Americans over the next few weeks that their savings are safe, will have a greater chance of winning the Congress elections in November.

SOUTH AFRICA

The Sowetan, Johannesburg, July 9: It is a truism that the most critical moments in the life of any newborn are the final seconds before and after birth. And that holds true even for the African Union. Its birth today is being anticipated with much hope. But the conditions are not ideal. Poverty, conflicting national agendas and civil strife are guaranteed to make the first moments of the AU's existence a testing period.

Among the most important challenges must be the urgent need to ensure that the AU finds support among all Africans. Suggestions of disloyalty within the secretariat of the Organization of African Unity, for example, need an immediate response. There are concerns that unwilling bureaucrats could easily render the AU dysfunctional in its infancy. This is not a prospect that we should even contemplate.

Myopic agendas

African leaders entrusted with the responsibility of launching the AU must remove any individuals who seem ready to advance myopic agendas at the expense of continental priorities. Individual leaders driven by narrow personal ambitions must also be neutralized.

In doing so, though, South Africa must know that it will step on the toes of a few, albeit powerful elite.

It must not be fazed. History would be much kinder in judging South Africa for its human rights activism in the continent rather than hand-wringing fence-sitting.

SWEDEN

Svenska Dagbladet, Stockholm, July 10: Undoubtedly, the accounting firms are experiencing a crisis of confidence but there are more explanations to the swindles. One is that the American companies' income tax returns are not public, which of course makes it more difficult to check the bookkeeping.

So therefore it is not surprising that there are voices raised in favor of making the companies' income tax returns available for the public or at least for the New York stock exchange. Easily accessible information together with more competing actors are decisive of a working market.




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