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Text adopted – 2012 discharge: Court of Justice – P7_TA(2014)0293 – Thursday, 3 April 2014 – Brussels – Final edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012(1) ,

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2012 (COM(2013)0570 – C7‑0276/2013)(2) ,

–  having regard to the Annual Report of the Court of Auditors on implementation of the budget for the financial year 2012, together with the institutions’ replies(3) ,

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(4) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2012 pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 314(10) and Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(5) , and in particular Articles 50, 86, 145, 146 and 147 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(6) , and in particular Articles 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to its previous discharge decisions and resolutions,

–  having regard to Rule 77 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0213/2014),

1.  Notes with satisfaction that in its 2012 annual report, the Court of Auditors observed that no significant weaknesses had been identified in respect of the audited topics related to human resources and procurement for the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘Court of Justice’);

2.  Welcomes the fact that, on the basis of its audit work, the Court of Auditors concluded that the payments as a whole for the year ended on 31 December 2012 for administrative and other expenditure of the institutions and bodies were free from material error;

3.  Notes that in 2012, the Court of Justice had commitment appropriations amounting to EUR 343 567 692,52 (EUR 335 904 453,30 in 2011) and that the implementation rate of 98,63% was higher than in 2011; recalls that the Court of Justice’s budget is purely administrative;

4.  Notes that the amount of pending and closed cases in the General Court has decreased slightly in 2012 when compared to previous years (i.e. 1 308 pending cases in 2011 and 1 237 pending cases in 2012); regrets, however, that the number of closed cases has been decreasing (i.e. 714 closed cases in 2011 and 688 closed cases in 2012); finds that the proposal for the creation of additional appointments of judges in the General Court, which continues under examination in the Council, could contribute to the effective reduction of pending cases;

5.  Notes that the Court of Justice and the Civil Service Tribunal have followed the same trend of fewer cases closed and more cases pending when compared to the situation in 2011 (Court of Justice: 849 pending cases in 2011 and 886 pending cases in 2012, with 638 closed cases in 2011 and 595 closed cases in 2012; Civil Service Tribunal: 178 pending cases in 2011 and 235 pending cases in 2012, with 166 closed cases in 2011 and 121 closed cases in 2012); notes that there has been no change of members of the Civil Service Tribunal;

6.  Asks for clear information on the output of every three-and five-judge-chamber of the Court of Justice and the General Court and of the three-judge and the Single judge Chamber in the Civil Service Tribunal; asks for information on how many cases were treated as rapporteur by the President and the Vice President after the reorganisation of the Court of Justice;

7.  Asks the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal to give an overview of the number of cases pending since more than 24 months;

8.  Emphasises the fact that the Court of Justice recognises that there is still a margin for improvement within the existing means at the Court of Justice’s disposal; stresses that the internal reforms implemented in 2012, namely the creation of the new five-Judge chamber and the new three-Judge chamber and the changes in the composition of the Grand Chamber, as well as the revision of the Rules of Procedure, have contributed to certain changes in the system and that more can be done with further reforms; asks the Court of Justice for information on how many cases were attributed in 2012 to each rapporteur in the Court of Justice and the General Court;

9.  Urges the Court of Justice to find a way to properly manage the trend towards an increase in the number of new cases and heavy workload as internal reforms and the revision of the Rules of Procedure alone will not be sufficient in the coming years to significantly decrease the number of pending cases in the Court of Justice; sees one possibility in reducing the weeks without hearings or advisements;

10.  Shares the view that the General Court should take more action to reduce outside Court activities of members and staff; asks the Court of Justice to follow a more transparent approach by publishing on the Court of Justice’s website a list of the outside activities for each Judge;

11.  Requests that the Court of Auditors carry out a benchmark study which gives information about the output of comparable Supreme Courts in Member States and the Court of Justice;

12.  Stresses that in the years when the mandate of more judges come to an end, there is a high risk that productivity will decrease and that the continuity and stability of the Court of Justice’s work will be affected if the Council does not renew the mandate of the judges and if there is a delay in the appointment of the new judges;

13.  Notes that the Court of Justice has the highest proportion of staff working in the translation service among all Union institutions, having 47,3 % of its employees working as translators and interpreters; appreciates the obligations on the Court of Justice to handle proceedings in all 24 official languages of the Union and to translate all of its decisions into the official languages; believes, however, that there is room for the rationalisation of the translation services of the Court of Justice;

14.  Calls on the Court of Justice to apply the method for calculating the translation costs per page in the same way as it is done in the other institutions in order to be able to compare the translation costs between institutions in an equal manner;

15.  Acknowledges the benefits of the e-Curia application, which came into operation in November 2011; notes with satisfaction that, as anticipated, this application has contributed to an improved performance in the handling of cases;

16.  Takes note of the costs incurred in the e-Curia project and its maintenance; welcomes the improvements made to the system to accommodate requests and suggestions from users; asks to be informed in detail of the continuous updating of the system and of its subsequent costs;

17.  Welcomes the transition from paper to electronic reports; notes that the e-Curia application made it possible to allow electronic exchange of documents of the court proceedings and decisions between all parties and the courts of the Court of Justice after 1 January 2012; points out that the last paper reports were issued before the end of 2012 and that the conversion from a paper to an electronic flow of documents has led to a significant reduction of production costs;

18.  Considers very positive that by the end of 2012, there were 1003 active users of e-Curia, among those 14 Member States, two European Free Trade Association countries and five European institutions (in particular Parliament, the Council and the Commission); regrets, however, that there are still some Member States not using e-Curia to exchange documents with the Court of Justice;

19.  Notes that only seven general meetings of the Court of Justice had full attendance in 2012; asks for the agenda of those meetings to be included as an annex to the annual activity report of the corresponding year;

20.  Welcomes the fact that the Court of Justice has adopted rules concerning dignity in the workplace which apply equally to all members of staff working in a Member’s chamber or in one of the services, including procedures for dealing with allegations of harassment; emphasises the fact that it is essential to maintain the best possible working environment for staff and Members in the future;

21.  Takes note of the adoption of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 741/2012 amending the Protocol on the statute of the Court of Justice(7) and also the adoption of the new rules of procedure of the Court of Justice in 2012; believes that the modifications brought forward will contribute to a better performance of the Court’s duties; expects the follow-up of these reforms to be detailed in the annual activity report 2013;

22.  Regrets the fact that the Member States which have joined in the last 10 years are not represented at Director-General and Director levels in the institution; reiterates the need for a greater geographical balance at those levels of the administration, as it is already the case at Head of Unit level;

23.  Welcomes the fact that the organisational change with the creation of the Library Directorate did not have a budgetary impact on the posts created;

24.  Welcomes the fact that the commemorative programme for the 60th anniversary of the Court of Justice held in 2012 has had only minimal direct costs;

25.  Supports the Court of Justice’s policy of giving preference to the use of internal resources, in particular translation services; invites the Court of Justice to assess the possibility of implementing a system of translation “on demand” for specific cases to further reduce the pressure in terms of the quantity of documents to be translated;

26.  Takes note of the increase in expenditure on the Early Childhood Centre and the production and distribution of documents; calls on the Court of Justice to ensure that these imbalances are not repeated in future years;

27.  Confirms that the number of hearings and other meetings with interpretation continued to grow in 2012, with a growing number of cases in all jurisdictions;

28.  Regrets the delay in implementing the ex post control of expenditure linked to the maintenance of infrastructure equipment and IT application; notes that an action plan was put in place to correct the results of the ex post control of the cleaning and maintenance costs;

29.  Calls on the Court of Justice to include in its Annual Activity Reports the results and consequences of closed European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) cases where the institution or any of the individuals working for it were subject of the investigation;

30.  Asks for the Court of Justice’s building policy to be attached to the annual activity report;

31.  Welcomes the fact that the Court of Justice has prepared a thorough and detailed annual activity report and has included in it in-depth information on its human resources management, as requested by Parliament;

32.  Calls on the Court of Auditors to include in its next annual report a review of the follow-up by the Court of Justice of Parliament’s recommendations in this resolution.

(1) OJ L 56, 29.2.2012.
(2) OJ C 334, 15.11.2013, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 331, 14.11.2013, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 334, 15.11.2013, p. 122.
(5) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(7) Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 741/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 August 2012 amending the Protocol on the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union and Annex I thereto (OJ L 228, 23.8.2012, p. 1).
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CALLS for an Assembly recall are growing today after Tata Steel confirmed it was considering selling off its entire UK operation.
Tata made the announcement last night, saying it was exploring all options including what it called ‘divestment’, selling …

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Outrage as former head of Civil Service says quitting EU could take YEARS

Lord O'Donnell and EU and UK flagsGETTY/ PA

Lord O’Donnell warned that the process of breaking ties with Brussels could ‘take a very long time’

Lord O’Donnell, who was Cabinet Secretary to three prime ministers warned that the process of breaking ties with Brussels after a “leave” vote in this summer’s EU referendum could “take a very long time” and lead to years of stability. 

He also raised the prospect of the leaders of other EU countries seeking to punish the UK for leaving the bloc. 

But the former Whitehall mandarin’s intervention in the debate over Britain’s European future triggered an angry reaction from anti-EU campaigners last night. 

Lord O’Donnell spoke out about the potential difficulties of leaving the EU in an interview on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday. 

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He declined to say whether he backed or opposed an EU exit while insisting departure would be “a very complex process.” 

It was likely to take longer in practice than the two-year timespan set out in “Article 50” of the EU’s rulebook, the former Civil Service chief said. 

“Obviously at the end of two years, anything we haven’t negotiated has to be extended by unanimity of a vote excluding us, so that’s a bit scary,” said Lord O’Donnell. 

Canada took seven years to agree a trade deal with the EU and Greenland took three, he said. 

The crossbench peer acknowledged that David Cameron could be ousted as prime minister in the event of an “out” vote in the referendum on June 23, with Tory MPs possibly looking to replace him with a “tough negotiator”. 

David CameronGETTY

Lord O’Donnell acknowledged that Cameron could be ousted as PM in the event of an ‘out’

All the precedents suggest it’s going to take a very long time

Lord O’Donnel

“Yes they might indeed, the problem about being a tough negotiator in all of this is that even if you are a tough negotiator, all the precedents suggest it’s going to take a very long time. 

“When Canada tried to get a deal with the EU, and they have got most of the way there, it took them seven years.” 

Lord O’Donnell warned that looming elections in European countries could have an impact on British EU exit negotiations. 

He said: “Let’s just imagine the guys on the other side of the table, so you’ve got countries like France and Germany. Both of them next year will be fighting elections, they have anti-EU parties that they’ll be fighting against. 

“Do you think the politics will be such that these countries, these leaders will want us to be seen to be having great successes from leaving. I’m afraid the politics works completely the wrong way for us.” 

He added: “The problem is it’s a very complex process, we have to negotiate our entry to the single market, we have to negotiate our future relationship with the EU and we have to negotiate our trade treaties with all other countries, so there’s a lot to be done.” 

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign group, said: “There’s a European free trade zone that stretches from Iceland to Turkey – the idea that the UK would not be part of this after we Vote Leave is unrealistic. 

“It is ridiculous to argue that we should not Vote Leave because it is too difficult for diplomats to negotiate. Lord O’Donnell’s comments sum up the civil service’s decades old defeatist attitude which has frustrated any attempts to get reform in the EU. 

Dominic Raab PA

Dominic Raab disputed Lord O’Donnell’s suggestion that it could take years to negotiate an EU exit

“We are a great country so we will get a good deal when we Vote Leave, it is in everyone’s best interests. The in campaign should stop doing Britain down.” 

Tory Justice Minister Dominic Raab disputed Lord O’Donnell’s suggestion that it could take years to negotiate an exit from the EU. 

“I don’t think that’s true,” he said. 

The Eurosceptic minister told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I was, as it happens, an international lawyer by training and trade.

“I used to negotiate treaties and I can tell you that, if we voted to leave, we could do so and negotiate an exit agreement following triggering Article 50.” 

Eu and UK flagsGETTY

The peer also raised the prospect of the leaders of other EU countries seeking to punish the UK

He added: “The truth is we have the legal flexibility; the real issue is the political will and the mutual interest and that is very clearly strong. 

“We’re the fifth biggest economy in the world, European firms sell us 59 billion more than we sell them. Of course we’d strike a new deal and relatively soon, with transitional arrangements if necessary.” 

Lord O’Donnell warned Article 50 “wasn’t written in a neutral way”. 

He added: “It’s a rather biased playing field we’ll be on because actually if we don’t get a deal then we revert to what’s called World Trade Organisation rules, so tariffs would apply to all of our products and at the end of that two-year period if we haven’t done it, then we would revert to that unless there’s a unanimous agreement the other way.” 

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InfoComm Introduces a Series of Events Exploring the Internet of Things in Pro AV

FAIRFAX, Va., March 30, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — InfoComm International® announces the launch of a new conference program created to explore the role of the Internet of Things in professional audiovisual solutions. IoT Insights will debut May 9 at the Marriott Santa Clara, in Santa Clara, Calif.

IoT Insights Santa Clara will be held immediately prior to Internet of Things World, a leading industry conference and exposition. Registration for InfoComm’s IoT Insights Santa Clara is now open at infocomm.org/IoTInsights.

“The Internet of Things has generated considerable buzz in business, consumer electronics and society at large,” said Betsy Jaffe, Senior Vice President of Member Services, InfoComm International. “The fact is, audiovisual professionals have been living and developing the early IoT since the first network ports started appearing on AV equipment. Now, with the explosion of networked sensors and devices, the AV industry has an opportunity to help organizations digitize processes and change the way they operate. What’s needed is an understanding of IoT technologies and issues, such as security and data analysis, presented in the context of commercial AV applications. InfoComm’s IoT initiatives, beginning with IoT Insights in Santa Clara, will offer an industry forum for discussions that are important to our members’ future business development.”

IoT Insights Santa Clara will begin with a keynote address by Gary Hall, CTS®-D, CTS-I, Chief Technology Officer, Federal Defense, at Cisco Systems. Hall will discuss the size and scope of IoT opportunities available to AV professionals from his vantage point at a leading developer of network technology. With the surge of networked devices and sensors, and the digitization of business processes, the AV industry stands poised to help organizations create better experiences through audiovisual communications and data.

“When you take a video camera or a microphone, miniaturize it and put it on a sensor, then have it connect back to hundreds of other sensors, it gives you a brand-new capability that never existed before: the ability to do things better,” said Hall.

The daylong conference will also include a session devoted to real-world IoT applications, as well as in-depth discussions of critical IoT-related issues, including security and data analysis.

IoT Insights Santa Clara will be moderated by Michael Carter, Vice President of Integrated Building Technologies at The Clarient Group and a former member of the InfoComm Board of Directors. Carter has more than 30 years of experience engineering and deploying technology solutions and his understanding of convergence trends drive his strategic approach to smart, sustainable buildings.

InfoComm’s IoT Advisory Committee includes:

IoT Insights Santa Clara will be followed by a full-day IoT Insights program on Tuesday, June 7, at the InfoComm 2016 show in Las Vegas. InfoComm 2016 attendees can sign up for IoT Insights Las Vegas in June when they complete their registration for the show at infocommshow.org.

A third IoT Insights event, to be held in New York later in 2016, is currently in the planning stages.

About InfoComm International

InfoComm International® is the international trade association representing the professional audiovisual and information communications industries. Established in 1939, InfoComm has more than 5,000 members, including manufacturers, systems integrators, dealers and distributors, independent consultants, programmers, rental and staging companies, end users and multimedia professionals from more than 80 countries. InfoComm International is the leading resource for AV standards, market research and news. Its training, certification and education programs set a standard of excellence for AV professionals. InfoComm International is the founder of InfoComm, the largest annual conference and exhibition for AV buyers and sellers in North America. InfoComm also produces trade shows in China, Europe, India, Latin America and the Middle East. Additional information is available at infocomm.org.

PRESS CONTACT:
Brad Grimes, Director of Communications, InfoComm International
Email: bgrimes@infocomm.org
Phone: +1.703.273.7200

 

 

SOURCE InfoComm International

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Bill Donovan, America’s Titanic Spy Who Helped Destroy The Nazis

‘Wild Bill” Donovan earned his nickname leading recklessly successful charges against the Germans in World War I.

For that he became the most-decorated American soldier, receiving the Medal of Honor, two Distinguished Service Crosses, the Distinguished Service Medal and two Purple Hearts, among his many medals.

But that was nothing compared with his service during World War II, when he created the Office of Strategic Services and pioneered spying and sabotage techniques that laid the foundation for the CIA and Navy SEALs.

His visit to assess Britain’s war needs in July 1940 was “one of the most momentous missions ever undertaken by any agent in the history of Western civilization,” wrote William Stephenson, the British security coordinator, in the foreword to “Donovan: America’s Master Spy” by Richard Dunlop. “He was one of the most significant men of our century.”

The Law Man

Donovan (1883-1959) was born in Buffalo, N.Y. He was a mediocre young student but became serious by the time he entered Columbia University, graduating from its law school in 1908.

He returned to Buffalo to work for a prestigious law firm, then left to form a partnership in 1912.

Two years later he married Ruth Ramsey, the daughter of a wealthy Buffalo man. They would have a son, David, and daughter, Patricia.

At the start of 1916, Donovan was tasked by the John D. Rockefeller Foundation to undertake a humanitarian mission to try to have food delivered to starving German-occupied Eastern Europe. The Germans said no, but the experience was valuable in dealing in foreign affairs.

In April 1917, America declared war on Germany, and Maj. Donovan took command of the Army’s 1st Battalion of the 165th Infantry Division. He trained his men rigorously, and in February 1918, he landed with them at the front in Luneville, France. They were the first U.S. unit to recover ground permanently and were often in the advance of offensives.

“He was the calmest man under fire I ever saw,” recalled Sgt. Dick O’Neill. “Once the men realized the major was going to remain calm no matter what happened, they began to count on him to do the right thing.”

Donovan was promoted to lieutenant colonel just before the Allied Meuse-Argonne offensive in October, when he was wounded a second time and sent to a hospital.

Legal Eagle

Back in Buffalo in April 1919, five months after World War I ended, Donovan formed a new law practice. Three years later he was appointed U.S. attorney for western New York, but after shocking friends by going after bootleggers during Prohibition, he was soon ousted. He then was named assistant attorney general in the Justice Department in charge of the criminal division.

“Donovan was always after the truth, determined to get at the facts and exhausting every conceivable way of unearthing them,” wrote Dunlop. “He amassed incredible mountains of facts and figures and marshaled all of his evidence in clear and logical ways that foreshadowed his vast intelligence undertakings of the future.”

After receiving the Medal of Honor in 1923, Donovan visited Berlin, where he was briefed on a rising troublemaker, Adolf Hitler (who, after taking over Germany in 1933, told aides he hated Donovan more than any other American).

In 1925, Donovan took charge of the federal antitrust division before moving to New York City to form a law firm just before the October 1929 stock market crash.

“Donovan soon found a niche, handling legal details for the many mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies that come with an economic downturn, while defending trade associations, oil companies and coal mine owners facing antitrust suits,” Douglas Waller, author of “Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage,” told IBD.

Inventing The OSS

A millionaire by 1932, Donovan waged political battles with President Franklin Roosevelt through the decade. But they shared a growing recognition of the Nazi threat and the need for an organization to gather global intelligence. FDR sent him to Britain that summer of 1940 to determine if sending material aid made sense if the war was about to be lost.

“I arranged ample time with (British Prime Minister Winston) Churchill, and (Donovan) spoke with industrial leaders and representatives of all classes,” wrote Stephenson. “He learned that it was true — that defying the Nazis was no mere bold facade, but the very heart of Britain, which was still beating strongly.”

America began delivering ships, weapons, ammunition, aircraft and food to Britain, initially covertly due to the desire of Congress to stay neutral, then under the Lend-Lease program, protected by Navy convoys.

Roosevelt appointed Donovan to create the OSS from scratch in July 1941. The lawyer-turned-spy persuaded companies to have representatives around the world provide information, and he began sending the president the first of 7,500 wartime memos.

When asked what he was looking for in the ideal recruit, Donovan quipped, “A Ph.D. who could win a bar fight.”

“Donovan’s key trait was his restless energy, always seeking action and thrusting himself into dangerous situations, heedless of risk and without seeking credit,” said Vejas Liulevicius, author of the Teaching Co. audiovisual course “Espionage and Covert Operations: A Global History.” “His dynamism led to unceasing experimentation in operations and was the prime reason he could build up an intelligence service from nothing, despite formidable bureaucratic resistance.”

Wild Bill’s A-Team

Patrick O’Donnell, author of “Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of WWII’s OSS,” calls Donovan “the ultimate leadership story” and offers suggestions on how 21st century organizations can thrive in global chaos.

Donovan came through, says O’Donnell, by:

Teaming up agile, dynamic leaders in a flat organization and throwing rank out the window.

Empowering agents to make decisions and improvise.

Creating multidisciplinary teams with cross-functional responsibilities.

Encouraging constant innovation, with no punishment for failure.

Using resources efficiently, making do with whatever was available.

Anticipating the unexpected.

OSS technologists developed everything from tiny cameras and guns that looked like tobacco pipes to fake Gestapo badges and the precursor of scuba gear for underwater demolition. Operatives working with resistance movements tied down enemy forces from France to Greece and recruited agents inside enemy governments.

The first big test was the Allied invasion of North Africa in 1942, with the OSS providing critical intelligence and helping sabotage enemy equipment and subdue garrisons. Donovan was forbidden to be on the ground but went anyway.

He likewise ignored the ban on landing with the troops on D-Day in June 1944, an Allied triumph partly because of the OSS’s preparatory work.

Donovan’s outfit also paved the way for the landing on the southern coast of France a few months later, helping save the lives of 10,000 Allied soldiers.

 By the end of the war, Donovan was a major general, and the OSS had 13,500 men and women, about the size of an infantry division. Few were killed, and collectively they earned 2,000 medals for valor.

After The War

The OSS chief’s power was based on his relationship with Roosevelt, but that changed when the president died in April 1945. The new president, Harry Truman, disbanded the OSS five months later, and Donovan returned to his law practice.

Later in the decade, Donovan helped Allied prosecutors make the cases against Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.

When Truman signed the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, Donovan’s ideas and his proteges, such as future director Allen Dulles, prevailed. “OSS’s greatest contribution may have been to win the Cold War, replacing gentlemanly intelligence traditions with the tools to fight totalitarian regimes effectively,” said O’Donnell.

In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Donovan to be the ambassador to Thailand, a cover to gather intelligence on communist movements in Southeast Asia. A year later, the old spy stepped down because of early symptoms of dementia.

In 1957, the National Security Medal was pinned on him at his New York City home, where the still-alert Donovan was receiving nursing care. That made him the only individual to receive all four top military honors.

He died two years later at 76. Eisenhower called him “the last hero.”

Donovan’s Keys

Founded the Office of Strategic Services to conduct spying and sabotage in World War II.

Overcame: Almost a complete lack of resources to start.

Lesson: Creativity can overcome every obstacle.

“Strategy without information on which it can rely is helpless.”

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