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Building transatlantic ties against the crisis | Economy and Business

Three years had elapsed since the last edition of a forum that, in what has now a become a tradition during the week-long United Nations General Assembly in New York, brings together political and financial leaders from both sides of the Atlantic at the invitation of EL PAÍS and the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce. And what a three years it has been: a pandemic that brought the world to a grinding halt, shortages and disruptions in supply chains – all unprecedented in the history of globalization – inflation more typical of the days of old, central banks desperate to try and turn the course of the tide and a war in Europe that is threatening to trigger a global food crisis. All of these concerns provided a somewhat gloomy backdrop to the speeches and interviews during the fifth edition of the meeting, which was held last Thursday at the Yale Club in Manhattan and sponsored by Abertis, Baker & McKenzie, Hiberus and Iberia, with the cooperation of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI).

Gustavo Petro, president of Colombia (left), in conversation with Jan Martínez Ahrens, director of EL PAÍS América.
Gustavo Petro, president of Colombia (left), in conversation with Jan Martínez Ahrens, director of EL PAÍS América.Juan Arredondo

Two world leaders were present at the event, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who closed a session held under the title Latin America, The United States and Spain in the Global Economy, where they spoke about climate change, logistics, energy transition, tourism and education, among other topics. Also discussed at the forum was the perspective of Transatlantic relations, which Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel Albares described as crucial in “facing the complex geopolitical panorama of the present.”

It was inevitable that geopolitics would dominate proceedings when Sánchez and Petro took the podium. New York had awoken that morning, replete with world leaders, to a partial mobilization of 300,000 people in Russia – the country’s first use of such a measure since World War II – the threats of Vladimir Putin to resort to nuclear force and so-called referendums in the pro-Russian Donbas region of Ukraine. The Spanish prime minister condemned the Kremlin’s rhetoric, reaffirmed Spain’s commitment to the defense of Ukraine and issued a warning: “We are entering a critical phase: Putin knows he is losing the war.”

José Manuel Albares, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain (left), greets Manuel Tovar, Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica.
José Manuel Albares, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain (left), greets Manuel Tovar, Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica.Juan Arredondo

In this new reality, Sánchez added, the best approach is to continue to work as a team, as part of the coalition of the European Union, the US and the other members of the G7. Not only in terms of the war in Ukraine, but also to navigate the turbulent waters of an economic panorama that does not look overly promising but in which Spain, according to Sánchez’s “prudent optimism,” is in a “better position than other European economies.”

“[Spain] has experienced growth this year above the EU average,” he said. “The consensus is that we will exceed 4% in 2022 and 2% in 2023. We have 330,000 more people in work than last year. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2008. The percentage of temporary jobs is below 20% and we are changing a dynamic of historical insecurity. The tourism sector is now at practically the same level as it was before the pandemic. Exports of goods have grown by 20%. We have considerably more robust foundations than in the past and homes and businesses are much less indebted. Our country is much more resilient. These figures invite confidence in the Spanish economy as a place to invest.”

Left to right: Spain's PM Pedro Sánchez, Prisa President Joseph Oughourlian and , President of Prisa, and Mariano Jabonero, Secretary General of the Organization of Ibero-American States.
Left to right: Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez, Prisa President Joseph Oughourlian and , President of Prisa, and Mariano Jabonero, Secretary General of the Organization of Ibero-American States.Juan Arredondo

Petro, for his part, took advantage of an interview with the director of EL PAÍS América, Jan Martínez Ahrens, to continue the theme of a defiant speech he delivered a day earlier at the UN – an environmentalist plea in which he questioned the war on drugs – and to make his first statement on Ukraine, 45 days after being elected as the first leftist president of Colombia. Petro said he would align himself in a common front with his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which will take the form of a statement calling for the creation of a UN committee with a view to declaring a cease-fire in Ukraine of at least five years. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is as bad as those of Syria and Iraq,” he concluded.

Colombia’s role in Latin America (Petro also discussed Venezuela, the total disarmament of guerrilla organizations and how to combat climate change in the Amazon with the help of the United States) was another of the key topics addressed in his speech to the UN. The Latin American continent was to the fore from the outset of the day’s events, which were led by Joseph Oughourlian, president of Prisa, the parent company that publishes EL PAÍS, which he described as a “multi-Latin” company that derives 70% of its income and results from the region. “We decided to invest heavily in the region over the past few years,” Oughourlian said. As a result, EL PAÍS, with the support of the rest of Prisa, has strengthened its newsrooms and editions Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina, as well as its presence in the United States.

Support network

In order to help Spanish companies to gain a foothold in the land of opportunity, one of the primary missions of the Spain-US Chamber of Commerce is to facilitate “the connection of a wide-ranging network of business organizations, governmental authorities, professional and commercial associations and prominent dignitaries,” with the goal of strengthening commercial ties between both countries, the Chamber’s president, Alan D. Solomont, said during his speech.

Alan D. Solomont, President of the Spain-United States Chamber of Commerce.
Alan D. Solomont, President of the Spain-United States Chamber of Commerce.Juan Arredondo

“Spain is and will continue to be the gateway to Europe for Latin America,” Minister Albares said, while promising to use Spain’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2023 to further strengthen these ties. The links between Spain and Latin America were also lauded by Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Trade Manuel Tovar, who reinforced his country’s position as the “island of sustainability, environmental protection and respect for the rights of workers,” in the increasingly convulsive context of Central America, where authoritarian overtones are sounding in Costa Rica’s neighbors, Nicaragua and El Salvador. In economic terms, Tovar announced that Costa Rica would increasingly look to the Pacific commercial front though its ties with countries such as Ecuador. “Unfortunately, our continent remains too little integrated,” he said.

Faced with the reality of the current global situation, Christian Asinelli, corporate vice-president of the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America Strategic Program, said that the Latin America and Caribbean could further strengthen its position as a “region of solutions” for the uncertainties deriving from the aftermath of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. “We are capable of boosting energy transition,” Asinelli said, and as such he put forward the multilateral CAF as a valuable tool for the future. “Some member nations have reserves of gas that aid with energy transition and there is capacity for hydroelectric projects that will serve to increase food production,” he added.

Christian Asinelli, Corporate Vice President of Strategic Planning at CAF-Development Bank of Latin America.
Christian Asinelli, Corporate Vice President of Strategic Planning at CAF-Development Bank of Latin America.Juan Arredondo

Given this reality, Christian Asinelli, corporate vice president of Strategic Programming at CAF-Development Bank of Latin America, opted for the reinforcement of Latin America and the Caribbean as “a region of solutions” for the uncertainties arising from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. “We are capable of promoting the energy transition,” explained Asinelli, and for this he applied to the multilateral organization for which he works as a tool for the future. “Some member countries have gas reserves that can help with the energy transition, and there is capacity for water projects that allow increasing food production,” he added.

Greater digitization

Mariano Jabonero, secretary general of the OEI, laid out the educational perspective and called for a wider commitment to the digitization of education to bridge the gap between education and productivity. Jabonero advocates hybrid education, in which digital transformation would be strengthened, broadband access and the technological skills of teachers are improved and household access to the internet is increased. “The future is virtual, technological and digital. It is an educational challenge, but also a political and economic one,” he said.

Tim Robertson, CEO Americas, DHLGlobal Forwarding.
Tim Robertson, CEO Americas, DHLGlobal Forwarding.Juan Arredondo

Tim Robertson, CEO of logistics giant DHL in the Americas, provided an optimistic nore among so many grim forecasts. His company belongs to one of the sectors that was hardest hit during the early stages of the pandemic, when it seemed that countries were paradigmatically closing in on themselves. But the logistics sector also discovered that out of adversity arose the virtue of e-commerce, which took a giant leap forward during those days of confinement and uncertainty. Supply chains subsequently showed their most fragile side, but Robertson believes international freight capacity will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this winter. “It has been a terrible two and a half years, but it has at least served to demonstrate the essential role of commerce in improving people’s quality of life.” This, he added, was in part due to the logistics sector, which had little choice but to prove its “resilience” – a recent buzzword that was among the most oft-spoken in New York last week.

From left: Lisa Schineller, managing director of Americas Sovereign Ratings at S&P Global Ratings; Carla Arimont, Vice President of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the US; and Ernesto Revilla, Managing Director and Head of Latin American Economy at Citigroup.
From left: Lisa Schineller, managing director of Americas Sovereign Ratings at S&P Global Ratings; Carla Arimont, Vice President of the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the US; and Ernesto Revilla, Managing Director and Head of Latin American Economy at Citigroup.Juan Arredondo

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China plans to send San Diego Zoo more pandas this year, reintroducing panda diplomacy | International

China plans to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo, renewing its longstanding gesture of friendship toward the United States after a recalling nearly all the iconic bears on loan to U.S. zoos as relations soured between the two nations.

The China Wildlife Conservation Association has signed cooperation agreements with zoos in San Diego and Madrid, the Spanish capital, and is in talks with zoos in Washington, D.C. and Vienna, the Chinese organization said, describing the deals as a new round of collaboration on panda conservation.

San Diego Zoo officials told The Associated Press that if all permits and other requirements are approved, two bears, a male and a female, are expected to arrive as early as the end of summer, about five years after the zoo sent its last pandas back to China.

“We’re very excited and hopeful,” said Megan Owen of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and vice president of Wildlife Conservation Science. “They’ve expressed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to re-initiate panda cooperation starting with the San Diego Zoo.”

Zoos typically pay a fee of $1 million a year for two pandas, with the money earmarked for China’s conservation efforts, according to a 2022 report by America’s Congressional Research Service.

In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised hopes his country would start sending pandas to the U.S. again after he and President Joe Biden convened in Northern California for their first face-to-face meeting in a year and pledged to try to reduce tensions.

China is considering a pair that includes a female descendent of Bai Yun and Gao Gao, two of the zoo’s former residents, said Owen, an expert in panda behavior who has worked in San Diego and China.

Bai Yun, who was born in captivity in China, lived at the zoo for more than 20 years and gave birth to six cubs there. She and her son were the zoo’s last pandas and returned to China in 2019.

Gao Gao was born in the wild in China and lived at the San Diego Zoo from 2003 to 2018 before being sent back.

Decades of conservation efforts in the wild and study in captivity saved the giant panda species from extinction, increasing its population from fewer than 1,000 at one time to more than 1,800 in the wild and captivity.

The black-and-white bears have long been the symbol of the U.S.-China friendship since Beijing gifted a pair of pandas to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., in 1972, ahead of the normalization of bilateral relations. China later loaned pandas to zoos to help breed cubs and boost the population.

The U.S., Spain and Austria were among the first countries to work with China on panda conservation, and 28 pandas have been born in those countries, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said. The latest collaboration will include research on disease prevention and habitat protection, and contribute to China’s national panda park construction, it said.

“We look forward to further expanding the research outcomes on the conservation of endangered species such as giant pandas, and promoting mutual understanding and friendship among peoples through the new round of international cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in Beijing.

Demands for the return of giant pandas, known as China’s “national treasure,” grew among the Chinese public as unproven allegations that U.S. zoos mistreated the pandas flooded Chinese social media.

Fears over the future of so-called panda diplomacy escalated last year when zoos in Memphis, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., returned their pandas to China, leaving only four pandas in the United States, all at the zoo in Atlanta. That loan agreement expires later this year.

Many loan agreements were for 10 years and often were extended well beyond. But negotiations last year to extend the agreements with U.S. zoos or send more pandas did not produce results. China watchers speculated that Beijing was gradually pulling its pandas from Western nations due to deteriorating diplomatic relations with the U.S. and other countries.

Then on Nov. 15, 2023, a week after the National Zoo’s pandas departed for China, Xi spoke at a dinner in downtown San Francisco with American business executives and signaled that more pandas might be sent. He said he learned the San Diego Zoo and people in California “very much look forward to welcoming pandas back.”

“I was told that many American people, especially children, were really reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas and went to the zoo to see them off,” Xi said.

The San Diego Zoo continued to work with their Chinese counterparts even after it no longer had any pandas.

Owen said China is particularly interested in exchanging information on the zoo’s successful breeding of pandas in captivity. Giant pandas are difficult to breed in part because the female’s reproductive window is extremely narrow, lasting only 48 to 72 hours each year.

Bai Yun’s first cub, Hua Mei, was also the first panda born through artificial insemination to survive into adulthood outside of China, and would go on to produce 12 cubs on her own after she was sent to China.

Bai Yun, meanwhile, remained at the zoo where she gave birth to two more females and three males. With cameras in her den, researchers monitored her, contributing to the understanding of maternal care behavior, Owen said.

“We have a lot of institutional knowledge and capacity from our last cooperative agreement, which we will be able to parlay into this next chapter, as well as training the next generation of panda conservationists,” she said.

Chinese experts would travel with the bears and spend months in San Diego, Owen said.

She said the return of the bears is not only good for San Diego but the giant panda’s recovery as a species.

“We do talk about panda diplomacy all the time,” Owen said. “Diplomacy is a critical part of conservation in any number of contexts. …. If we can’t learn to work together, you know, in sometimes difficult situations or situations that are completely out of the control of conservationists, then we’re not going to succeed.”

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Cardinal Filoni: ‘Gaza is on the way to becoming a cemetery’ | International

Cardinal Fernando Filoni (Manduria, Italy; 1946) has served as the grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem since 2019. The church official is also a high-level diplomat for the Holy See, with whose structure and inner workings he is intimately familiar, due to his work as substitute for the Vatican’s Secretary of State under Benedict XVI. He was also the nuncio, or diplomatic representative for the Pope, in Jordan and Iraq, where he would later return as a special envoy during difficult years of the conflict with the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Today, he is keeping a close eye on the conflict in Gaza.

Question. You just came back from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. What did you find and how would you describe the current climate there?

Answer. The situation is dramatic now that, in addition to Gaza and the part of Israel in north that are under attacks, there are many families who don’t know how to survive, and who are currently in an extremely difficult situation.

Q. After the declarations of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, who referred to Israel’s response to the attack by Hamas as “disproportionate”, we have seen an unprecedented rise in tension with some sectors of Israeli diplomacy. Although the tone has since softened somewhat, how should this diplomatic phase be understood?

A. It’s important to keep in mind that, during tense situations, both sides tend to develop opinions and lean towards one direction or another, whether that’s individuals, governments or institutions. I don’t think that Cardinal Parolin gave a “disproportionate” response [Parolin used the word “carnage” to refer to Israel’s actions], and delivered a calm and serene statement. An incorrect interpretation will only take into account one side. I also believe that diplomacy must learn to exist amid contradictions, and I believe that the Holy See, just like Israeli diplomacy, will understand that it is necessary to avoid polemics in order to adopt a more realistic vision and build relations that seek the common good.

Q. We know that the Pope is extremely concerned about the situation in Gaza and that he regularly connects by videoconference with a Christian church there. How is the Vatican’s diplomacy working on this front?

A. That goes beyond diplomacy, it’s a way of participating in the lives of that population. The Pope is especially sensitive to all those suffering from war. I think that the Vatican’s diplomacy is always open to contributing to peace: Cardinal Parolin has said on various occasions that we are open to contributing our grain of sand. But one has to want peace, work towards it and establish it based on criteria like justice and truth. If that will is lacking, even the most venerable diplomacy will prove impotent. I think that, regarding the tendency to always remain open, those who desire it, whether that be Israel, the Palestinians or any other reality that is in conflict, will benefit from it.

Q. What could be one possibility for a short-term ceasefire, with the potential to be a long-term solution to the conflict? The Pope believes in a two-state solution, how can the Holy See work and provide assistance toward that?

A. An immediate ceasefire is essential. We run the risk of turning it into a cemetery; the reality is, in Gaza there are children, elders, sick people, men and women; right now there is a massive shortage of water and food. A ceasefire means bringing back hope to these people’s lives. And then, there’s the long-term solution. In the long term, one must not stop thinking of the need to establish, as has already been said, a coexistence based on the principles of truth and justice. The truth concerns both Israel and Palestine. And justice must encompass both Israel’s right to exist and live in its land in peace and security, and Palestine’s right to remain in the territories that belong to it, in equal security. The logic of mutual destruction must be renounced. Hamas cannot say that Israel must be destroyed. And Israel cannot demand the destruction of the Palestinian reality; everyone has the right to live in their territory without violent and illegal expropriation.

Q. What would justice mean in this case?

A. Justice would mean recognizing everyone’s rights and renouncing all forms of violence. As head of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which has shown special attention to the Holy Land since the time of Pope Pius IV (1850), with the knights and dames, members of the order, we work for peace, caring for the lives of the people and supporting, through the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, more than 45 schools, the University of Bethlehem, many poor families and numerous social projects. All this means working concretely, as humble laborers, for peace.

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Congratulations, Privacy Just Took A Great Leap Out the Window!

Your Data Is Being Used Without Your Permission And Knowledge

The Voice Of EU | In the heart of technological innovation, the collision between intellectual property rights and the development of cutting-edge AI technologies has sparked a significant legal battle. The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. This legal maneuver aims to address concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of the Times’ content for the training of AI models, alleging copyright infringements that could potentially result in billions of dollars in damages.

READ: HOW YOUR DATA IS BEING USED TO TRAIN A.I.

This legal tussle underlines the escalating tension between technological advancements and the protection of intellectual property. The crux of the lawsuit revolves around OpenAI and Microsoft allegedly utilizing the Times’ proprietary content to advance their own AI technology, directly competing with the publication’s services. The lawsuit suggests that this unauthorized utilization threatens the Times’ ability to offer its distinctive service and impacts its AI innovation, creating a competitive landscape that challenges the publication’s proprietary content.

Amidst the growing digital landscape, media organizations like the Times are confronting a myriad of challenges. The migration of readers to online platforms has significantly impacted traditional media, and the advent of artificial intelligence technology has added another layer of complexity. The legal dispute brings to the forefront the contentious practice of AI companies scraping copyrighted information from online sources, including articles from media organizations, to train their generative AI chatbots. This strategy has attracted substantial investments, rapidly transforming the AI landscape.

Exhibit presented by the New York Times’ legal team of ChatGPT replicating a article after being prompted

The lawsuit highlights instances where OpenAI’s technology, specifically GPT-4, replicated significant portions of Times articles, including in-depth investigative reports. These outputs, alleged by the Times to contain verbatim excerpts from their content, raise concerns about the ethical and legal boundaries of using copyrighted material for AI model training without proper authorization or compensation.

The legal action taken by the Times follows attempts to engage in discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI, aiming to address concerns about the use of its intellectual property. Despite these efforts, negotiations failed to reach a resolution that would ensure fair compensation for the use of the Times’ content while promoting responsible AI development that benefits society.

In the midst of this legal battle, the broader questions surrounding the responsible and ethical utilization of copyrighted material in advancing technological innovations come to the forefront.

The dispute between the Times, OpenAI, and Microsoft serves as a significant case study in navigating the intricate intersection of technological progress and safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital age.


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