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Daily Archives: 06/23/2010

Monaco's Prince Albert to wed Olympic swimmer

Reuters 

June 23, 2010

MONACO (Reuters) – Prince Albert II of Monaco, son of late Hollywood star Grace Kelly, announced his engagement on Wednesday to South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock, ending decades as one of Europe’s most eligible bachelors.

Albert, 52, has been linked to a string of beautiful women and has acknowledged fathering two illegitimate children, but he sought to shed his playboy image after succeeding his father Prince Rainier in 2005. He has dated Whittstock since 2006.

“The prince’s palace announced on Wednesday, June 23, 2010, the engagement of his Royal Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco with Mademoiselle Charlene Wittstock,” a palace statement said. It did not give a date for the wedding.

The last time Monaco celebrated a wedding of its ruling prince was in 1956, when Rainier married Kelly, bringing a huge dose of glamour to the tiny Mediterranean principality.

But the Grimaldi dynasty that has ruled for more than seven centuries is also familiar with tragedy and bad publicity: Kelly died in a 1982 car crash, and her children, Albert, Caroline and Stephanie, regularly made headlines for the wrong reasons.

Once dubbed Dirty Bertie by the tabloid press, Albert in his younger days was photographed accompanying a stream of famous women, such as Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Brooke Shields, Lisa Marie Presley and Kylie Minogue.

But unlike his two sisters, who have a clutch of marriages and seven children between them, Albert never showed any indication of wanting to settle down until he started going out with the blond, elegant Wittstock in 2006.

Rumors occasionally surfaced that they were set to marry, but the pair remained silent about their future until now.

They were last seen together in public at the weekend in Stockholm, when they attended the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria, heir to the Swedish throne.

More camera-shy than his photogenic siblings, Albert once said press intrusion was partly to blame for his prolonged bachelorhood. “Life will not be easy for my future wife,” he told Le Figaro daily before he met Wittstock.

“I became accustomed at an early age to the incessant presence of photographers. Some of my girlfriends who have been exposed, even for a very brief time, to this sort of life were not at all pleased,” he said.

Palace insiders suggested that his refusal to wed persuaded his father from abdicating in his favor, and Albert only took the throne on the death of the family patriarch.

Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi was born on March 14, 1958 and educated in Monaco and Amherst College in Massachusetts in the United States.

Fluent in English, French, Italian and German, Albert became a roving commercial ambassador for his country’s booming business interests for years and also served as head of Monaco’s delegation to the United Nations.

Charlene Lynette Wittstock was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in January 1978. The prince’s office said that before moving to Monaco, she had been a child-carer.

However, she is more famous for representing South Africa as a swimmer in the 2000 Olympics. Her sporting career was later curtailed by a shoulder injury.

Although Albert has fathered two children, under the succession rules in the Catholic principality only children born within marriage may succeed to the throne.

Obama to give final hearing to General Stanley McChrystal

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June 23, 2010

(DNAINDIA)  Terming his top military commander’s remarks to a magazine as showing “poor judgement”, US president Barack Obama says he wants to hear directly from Gen Stanley McChrystal before taking a final call on deciding whether or not to fire him.
   
Obama in his first comment on the disparaging magazine story that has enraged both the White House and Pentagon said McChrystal and his aides showed “poor judgement”.
   
Obama would be meeting the General during his monthly situation room meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan at White House today.

McChrystal has been summoned specially for the meeting and is expected to be given a final hearing, before apparently facing the axe. The meeting is expected to be dominated by the General’s highly critical comments against top officials of
his Administration in an interview.

“I think it’s clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed poor judgement. But I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make any final decisions,” Obama told reporters when asked if McChrystal is being fired.

“Even as General McChrystal is on his way here, I want everybody to keep in mind what our central focus is, and that is success in making sure that al-Qaeda and its affiliates cannot attack the United States and its allies,” he said.
   
“We’ve got young men and women there who are making enormous sacrifices, families back home who are making enormous sacrifices.
   
So whatever decision that I make with respect to General McChrystal or any other aspect of Afghan policy is determined entirely on how I can make sure that we have a strategy that justifies the enormous courage and sacrifice that those men and women are making over there, and that ultimately makes this country safer.
   
I know secretary Gates feels the exact same way,” Obama said.

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Photo : President Barack Obama & Secretary Robert Gates
   
The meeting is scheduled to last for about 90 minutes.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said: “Without a doubt, General McChrystal, as secretary
Gates has said, has made an enormous mistake, a mistake that he’ll get a chance to talk about and answer to tomorrow to
both officials in the Pentagon and to the Commander-In-Chief.

“In the story, one top McChrystal adviser refers to vice-president Biden as “Bite Me.”

A McChrystal adviser says that in his first meeting with the general, president Obama “clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was.

Here’s the guy who’s going to run his f—ing war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

Another aide calls national security adviser Gen James Jones (ret) a “clown. stuck in 1985.”
   
McChrystal says he felt “betrayed” by the leak of a cable from US ambassador to Afghanistan Gen Karl Eikenberry (ret) describing Afghan president Hamid Karzai as “not an adequate strategic partner.”
   
He is quoted as saying: “I like Karl, I’ve known him for years, but they’d never said anything like that to us before. Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, ‘I told you so.'”

At one point in the story, apparently in front of the reporter, “McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. ‘Oh, not another e-mail from (Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard) Holbrooke,’ he groans. ‘I don’t even want to open it. ‘ He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.”

Jokes an aide: “Make sure you don’t get any of that on your leg,” referring to the contents of the email. McChrystal, was quick to apologize, saying that “[i]t was a mistake reflecting poor judgement and it should have never happened.”
   
In a statement yesterday soon after the content of his interview to the Rolling Stone magazine became known, McChrystal reaffirmed his “enormous respect and admiration”  for Obama, and his top national security officials.
   
US defense secretary Robert Gates in a statement said he believes that McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case.

“We are fighting a war against al-Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world. Going forward, we must pursue this mission with a unity of purpose,” he said.

“Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions.
   
Gen McChrystal has apologised to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologise to them as well. I have recalled Gen McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person,” Gates said.