Wednesday, July 8, 2009
G8 Opens - Challenges Abound
As the debate in the United States over the Obama administration's stimulus programs continues, leaders of the top industrialized nations are meeting in Italy to discuss - what else - the economy and how to stimulate it.
There are concerns being expressed that the economic downturn may be more severe than initially thought. And that any predicted rebound may, indeed, be short lived.
Pres. Obama is likely hearing from at least some of his counterparts that he needs to toss more money at the problem. Something that would not endear him to his critics back in the United States.
But the discussion, at least, underscores that this is clearly a global recession and that the industrialized nations of the world need to be unified in their approach.
Meanwhile, the meeting, in L'aquila, is at the epicenter of an earthquake that claimed nearly 300 lives. Aftershocks that are still often felts have led organizers to place helicopters on standby to whisk the world leaders away if necessary. Though the building in which the summit is taking place is said to be earthquake proof.
The effects of the earthquake can be seen, strikingly, just a short ride away, where thousands call tents they are living in home. They hope that today's visit of damaged areas by Obama will highlight their plight. They are demanding real housing by winter - obviously a fair request - no one wants to live in a tent in the cold.
UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon is urging the world leaders to pledge more money to help the world's impoverished. Climate change, Iran, North Korea and the Middle East are also on the summit's agenda.