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MOTTAKI LIKENS CARNAGE IN GAZA TO BOSNIAN GENOCIDE – THE ZIONIST REGIME’S RECENT CRIMINAL ACTS AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF GAZA ARE UNDOUBTEDLY ACTS OF GENOCIDE SIMILAR TO THE ONE COMMITTED BY THE SERB FORCES IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, IRAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI STATED ON TUESDAY (Iran)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 31, 2008

News Code : TTime- 185978 – Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tehran Times Political Desk

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TEHRAN TIMES’ (Iran)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TEHRAN TIMES’ (Iran)

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Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

WHEN THE U.S. SNEEZES, MEXICO CATCHES COLD

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 31, 2008

December 30, 2008

by Elisabeth Malkin

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, MEXICO, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

SANCTIONS DON’T STOP HEWLETT-PACKARD FROM SELLING IN IRAN

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 31, 2008

December 29, 2008

by Farah Stockman – The Boston Globe

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DIGITAL INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ELECTRIC / ELECTRONIC INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

MARKET STUMBLES ON MIDEAST VIOLENCE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 31, 2008

30 Dec, 2008, 13:31 hrs IST

Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE WICHITA EAGLE’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE WICHITA EAGLE’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

ISRAEL IGNORES ITS OWN HISTORY IN GAZA

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 31, 2008

Wednesday, December 31

by Rami G. Khouri – Daily Star Staff

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

BOEING AWARDED $397M MISSILE DEFENSE CONTRACT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 31, 2008

December 30, 2008

by Stephen Farrell

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BOSTON GLOBE’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BOSTON GLOBE’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

FOR HAMAS, LOGIC LED TO CEASE-FIRE’S END

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 31, 2008

December 30, 2008

by Stephen Farrell

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

BETHLEHEM, GAZA, AND MASSACRES OF THE DEFENSELESS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 30, 2008

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

by WorldNews.com Correspondent Dallas Darling

PUBLISHED BY ‘WORLD NEWS’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘WORLD NEWS’

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THIS WAR IS NOT THE ONE ISRAEL IS TELLING

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 29, 2008

Monday, 29 December 2008

by Johann Hari

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

NATIONAL GUARD UNIT DEPLOYING TO AFGHANISTAN – 174TH AIR DEFENSE ARTILLERY BRIGADE TO TRAIN COUNTRY’S ARMY (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008 9:46 PM

by Marla Matzer Rose – The Columbus Dispatch

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’ (USA)

Posted in AFGHANISTAN, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

U.S. WARNING ON SOUTH ASIA TENSION – THE UNITED STATES HAS URGED INDIA AND PAKISTAN TO AVOID UNNECESSARILY RAISING TENSION AMID REPORTS OF TROOP MOVEMENTS TO THE BORDER

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 27, 2008

20:10 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

BBC News

PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, PAKISTAN, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

E TOME SAPATO NA CABEÇA

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 26, 2008

16/12/2008 – 08:17

Redação Diário de Natal – G1

PUBLISHED BY ‘DIÁRIO DE NATAL’ (Brazil)

CHARGE BY IVAN CABRAL (Brazil) – 16/12/2008 – © Copyright 2008 – All Rights Reserved

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PUBLISHED BY ‘DIÁRIO DE NATAL’ (Brazil)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, PALESTINE, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN | Leave a Comment »

IRANIAN PRESIDENT TAKES A SHOT AT THE WEST IN A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE – MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IN A VIDEO FOR CHANNEL 4’S ‘ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE,’ OFFERS WARM GREETINGS BUT SAYS THE WEST’S BULLYING LEADERS AND THEIR POLICIES WOULD BE SHUNNED BY JESUS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

December 25, 2008

by Borzou Daragahi

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE L.A. TIMES’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE L.A. TIMES’ (USA)

Posted in AUSTRALIA, BELGIUM, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, ENGLAND, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FRANCE, GERMANY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, ISRAEL, ITALY, NORWAY, PETROL, RECESSION, SAUDI ARABIA, SPAIN, THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), USA | Leave a Comment »

IS THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION CRIMINALLY LIABLE FOR ITS LAWLESSNESS? – THE CULPABILITY FOR FLOUTING NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AGAINST TORTURE AND SPYING IS SHARED AND IS BEING ADDRESSED BY THE PROPER INSTITUTIONS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

December 24, 2008

L.A. TIMES – Editorial

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE L.A. TIMES’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE L.A. TIMES’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, DOLLAR (USA), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FOREIGN WORK FORCE - LEGAL, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

U.S. REGULATORS APPROVE CN’S DEAL TO BUY EJ&E (Canada)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reuters

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE FINANCIAL POST’ (Canada)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE FINANCIAL POST’ (Canada)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CANADA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, RAILWAY TRANSPORT, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, TRANSPORT INDUSTRIES, USA | Leave a Comment »

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, BUT GLOBAL WARMING INDUSTRY STILL HARD AT WORK

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

Wednesday, Dec 24, 2008

by Christopher C. Horner – Human Events

PUBLISHED BY ‘INFOWARS’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘INFOWARS’ (USA)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, RECESSION, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

MARY, JOSEPH AND THEIR DONKEY AT THE GAZA STRIP IN DECEMBER 2008

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

24 Dec 2008

 
 

 

ILLUSTRATION BY POLYP – © Copyright 2008 –  All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BODY ON THE LINE’

Posted in COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL HUMOR, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, USA | Leave a Comment »

MR. BEARBULL – BUSH BOOTED OUT OF IRAN

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 24, 2008

06:34:00 12/23/2008

by Ron Nathan – Philippine Daily Inquirer

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

NO RECESSION IN U.S. ARMS TRADE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 20, 2008

12/10/2008 11:19:00 PM MST

Denver Post Wire Report

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DENVER POST’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DENVER POST’ (USA)

Posted in COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

LATIN AMERICA SUMMIT: NEW INDEPENDENCE, END EMBARGO

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 18, 2008

December 17, 2008 – 5:55pm

by Bradley Brooks – Associated Press Writer

PUBLISHED BY ‘WTOP’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘WTOP’ (USA)

Posted in BRASIL, CUBA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LATIN AMERICA, POLÍTICA EXTERNA - BRASIL, RECESSION, RELAÇÕES DIPLOMÁTICAS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL, SOUTH AMERICA, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009 | Leave a Comment »

BLACKWATER SHOULD BE DROPPED AS THE MAIN PRIVATE SECURITY CONTRACTOR FOR US DIPLOMATS IN IRAQ, A US STATE DEPARTMENT PANEL HAS RECOMMENDED

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 17, 2008

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

BBC NEWS

PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAQ, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA | Leave a Comment »

REMEMBERING WASHINGTON’S OPENING TO CHINA DECADES LATER

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 17, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

by Richard C. Holbrooke

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in CHINA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

THE RETURN OF REALPOLITIK IN ARABIA – Bush’s ‘diplomacy of freedom’ gives way to Obama’s caution and reticence. The Middle East may test our fatigue

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 16, 2008

DECEMBER 15, 2008, 11:42 P.M. ET

by Amy R. Remo

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE WALL STREET JOURNAL’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE WALL STREET JOURNAL’ (USA)

Posted in AL QAEDA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

UAE AND US COMPLETE NEGOTIATIONS ON PEACEFUL NUCLEAR ENERGY AGREEMENT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 16, 2008

December 15, 2008, 12:53

WAM

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GULF NEWS’ (Dubai)

Washington: The UAE and the United States have completed negotiations on the proposed text for a bilateral cooperation agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, a UAE Foreign Ministry source said.

This “123 Agreement” would allow the transfer of nuclear-related components and materials between the two countries.

“As is normal in these matters, representatives of the US administration and the UAE Government are working closely with members of the Congress to inform them about the agreement and seek their views,” said Yousuf Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US.

“We are confident that the agreement highlights the transparency of the civilian nuclear energy programme the UAE is embarking on and should be lauded as the gold standard of nuclear cooperation agreements,” he said.

“It is the view of the UAE government that the proposed UAE 123 Agreement sets a new standard in ensuring the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation within the UAE programme,” he said.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GULF NEWS’ (Dubai)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, NUCLEAR ENERGY, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

U.S. BUSINESS JUST SHUTTING DOWN – EXPERT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 15, 2008

4:00AM Monday Dec 15, 2008

Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD’

WASHINGTON – Signs that the US recession will be long and severe mounted with a fresh round of bad economic news, including plunging sales from manufacturers to stores and falling prices that raise fears of dangerous deflation.

The widening economic troubles did put a lid on inflation. But they raised concerns about the opposite threat – the potential for a bout of deflation that could drag down incomes, clobber home prices even more and shrink corporate profits.

“Everything is going wrong in the fourth quarter,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “We have collapses in consumer spending, housing and now investment. Business is just shutting down.”

The new batch of data Friday showed retail sales fell by 1.8 per cent in November, marking a record fifth straight monthly decline.

The weakness was led by another sharp drop in auto sales – the worst sales month for automakers in 26 years. After an auto bailout collapsed in Congress on Thursday night, the White House offered a partial reprieve on Friday for the Detroit Three, pledging temporary help to avoid a “disorderly bankruptcy” for one or more of them.

Treasury Department officials were discussing with the automakers what form that support would take. That gave Wall Street a lift, with the Dow Jones industrials rising about 65 points to close just under 8630.

The stock market has shown signs of settling down the past two weeks. While there’s still volatility, the terrifying lurches of several hundred points at a time have become rarer.

The Dow has closed between 8000 and 9000 for 15 trading sessions in a row.

And on two of the last three days, it has moved only double digits for the day, the first time that has happened since Lehman Brothers went bust in mid-September.

A second report from the Commerce Department showed that all stages of production – manufacturing, wholesale and retail – suffered a record drop in sales in October, the month the financial crisis hit with force.

Businesses trimmed their total inventories by the biggest amount in five years, which probably means more cuts in production and layoffs in the months ahead.

And a Labour Department report showed wholesale prices dropped 2.2 per cent in November, the fourth consecutive monthly decline. They had fallen 2.8 per cent in October, a record.

Wholesale prices have not fallen for such an extended stretch since the period between October 2001 and January 2002, when the country was struggling to emerge from the last recession.

The severity of the current recession, already the longest in a quarter-century, was raising the risk of a period of deflation for the first time in the United States since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

While falling prices for fuel and other products mean people have more to spend on other items, a prolonged stretch of price declines can escalate into falling wages as businesses are forced to slash production costs to compete for sales.

Economists say the threat of deflation is remote but the risks are increasing as the downturn worsens, especially with Wall Street in upheaval and businesses and people having trouble getting loans.

“People are just scared at the moment with the financial markets locked up,” said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s in New York.

Wyss and other economists expect the Federal Reserve not only to cut rates sharply at the conclusion of its two-day meeting Tuesday, but also to signal other novel approaches it may employ to get credit into the system.

The Fed’s target for the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, is already at 1 per cent, tying the lowest level of the past 50 years.

The 1.8 per cent fall in retail sales in November was concentrated in bad results for automakers and a plunge in sales at petrol stations because of cheaper petrol.

Other businesses, such as department stores, posted modest sales increases.

But economists caution against reading too much into those gains, contending that the weak economy and continued layoffs will likely make this the weakest holiday shopping season for stores since the 1981-82 recession.

All the economy’s woes are expected to show up in a steep drop in overall activity during the current October-December quarter.

Some economists said the gross domestic product could fall by 5 per cent or more in the fourth quarter and keep falling next year.

Wyss said he expects the recession to end in June.

That would mean it had lasted for 18 months, which would be the longest downturn since World War II.

The current record is 16 months. Both the 1981-82 recession and the 1973-75 slump lasted that long.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD’

Posted in AGRICULTURE, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CONSUMERS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS, DEFLATION, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FARMING SUBSIDIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FOREIGN WORK FORCE - LEGAL, GRAINS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, PETROL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

ZIM PASSES LAW; MDC SAYS NO (Zimbabwe)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 15, 2008

14/12/2008 17:11 – (SA)

Reuters

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWS24.COM’ (South Africa)

Harare – Zimbabwe has published a draft constitutional law to create a unity government, but the opposition MDC on Sunday vowed to block the proposed changes until its demands for equitable power-sharing are met.

President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to form a unity government in September, but the deal has stalled over disagreements on the control of key ministries.

The state-run Sunday Mail reported that the constitutional amendment bill – creating the office of prime minister for Tsvangirai – had been published on Saturday. The MDC immediately rejected the move, saying it had not been consulted.

“This was done unilaterally by (the ruling party) ZANU-PF,” MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters.

“The gazetting was supposed to have been done after consultations.”

He said the MDC had not seen the published Bill to establish whether it conforms with the draft agreed by the two parties during talks held in South Africa last month.

Concerns must be addressed first.

Chamisa said the MDC wanted its concerns on the allocation of ministerial posts and provincial governorships addressed before the constitutional amendments could be dealt with.

“What we are saying is that these political issues will stand in the way of the legal process. We need to clear the political issues first before moving on to the constitution,” Chamisa said.

On Saturday, state media quoted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying Mugabe could call fresh elections if the opposition-dominated parliament fails to pass constitutional changes for the unity government.

Tsvangirai’s MDC won 100 seats in the 210-member lower house of parliament in a March poll as ZANU-PF lost its majority for the first time since 1980, garnering 99 seats. The balance is held by a smaller faction of the MDC, led by Arthur Mutambara.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in a presidential poll held concurrently, but fell short of the necessary votes to avoid a run-off poll which the 84-year-old veteran leader won after Tsvangirai pulled out of the race citing violence.

The second vote was widely condemned and Mugabe has come under renewed Western pressure to step down in the face of a cholera outbreak that has killed nearly 800 people, worsening the plight of Zimbabweans grappling with an economic meltdown blamed on government mismanagement.

Mugabe’s government says the cholera outbreak is a calculated attack by former colonial ruler Britain and the United States which have used “biological warfare” to create an excuse to mobilise military action against Zimbabwe.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWS24.COM’ (South Africa)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ENGLAND, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, USA, ZIMBABWE | Leave a Comment »

POOR NATIONS TO GET FUNDS TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 14, 2008

Saturday December 13 2008

by Arthur Max – Associated Press Writer (Associated Press writers Geir Moulson, Vanessa Gera and Ryan Lucas contributed to this report)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

POZNAN, Poland (AP) – Negotiators at a U.N. climate conference broke through red tape and freed up millions of dollars Friday to help poor countries adapt to increasingly severe droughts, floods and other effects of global warming.

“This could be the one thing to come out of Poznan,” said Kit Vaughan of WWF-Britain.

The decision in the final hours of the two-week conference could begin to release some $60 million (euro45 million) within months, according to delegates and environmentalists following the closed-door talks.

“This is an important step,” said delegate Mozaharul Alam of Bangladesh.

Alam said ministers and senior delegates from dozens of countries decided to give a blocked fund’s governing board the authority to directly disburse money to developing countries for projects to reduce greenhouse gases.

Until now, the U.N.-backed Adaptation Fund board could not operate because its board had no right to approve and sign those contracts.

The fund is derived from a 2 percent levy on offset investments that industrial nations make on green projects in the developing world. The negotiators have been discussing other ways to ramp up the fund into the billions.

The agreement was one of the few concrete goals the delegates set for Poznan when the talks began Dec. 1. Delegations from nearly 190 countries are negotiating a new climate change pact, to be completed next December in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, that would succeed the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who shared last year’s Nobel peace prize for raising awareness of climate change, urged the conference to stay focused on the task of reducing global carbon emissions that have already begun to change the conditions of life on Earth.

Winning cheers and ovations, Gore called on heads of state to convene several climate change summits over the next 12 months to spur on the talks ahead of the crucial meeting in Copenhagen.

This challenge “affects the survival of human civilization,” Gore said.

“We cannot negotiate with the facts, we cannot negotiate with the truth about our situation, we cannot negotiate with the consequences of unrestrained dumping of 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet every 24 hours,” he said.

Environmentalists have complained that the Poznan conference was hamstrung by delays and low ambitions.

“There is still time to rescue the minimum acceptable outcome from Poland, but we need to ensure that in 2009 we hit the ground running,” said Julie-Anne Richards of Oxfam, a British-based humanitarian agency.

The conference “could have been much more robust,” said Gustavo Silva-Chavez, of the Environmental Defense Fund based in New York.

The conference marks the midway point in a two-year negotiating process begun last year in Bali, Indonesia, to reach a new treaty in December 2009.

Ministers and top officials from 145 countries concluded in a round table discussion late Thursday that the negotiations over the next year should produce an ambitious agreement that can be ratified by all countries.

Still, progress has been slowed as negotiators wait for the new and more climate-friendly government of President-elect Barack Obama to take over from the outgoing Bush administration.

U.S. Senator John Kerry, who is in line for chairmanship of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, told The Associated Press that a new draft treaty should be possible even if the U.S. does not impose mandatory limits on greenhouse gases before the next pivotal climate conference.

“I think Copenhagen should produce a treaty fundamentally geared to reductions of emissions,” Kerry said.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, BANKING SYSTEMS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA | Leave a Comment »

WEATHERING THE STORM – Syrians are quickly realising that the impact of the global financial crisis will be larger than first thought. In an age of globalisation, no country is an island

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

Issue: December 2008

by Brooke Anderson

PUBLISHED BY ‘SYRIA TODAY’

Despite government assurances that their country will weather the storm engulfing markets around the world, Syrians are quickly realising that in the 21st century, no country is immune from a global economic meltdown.

“No country can say it’s unaffected,” Samira al-Masalmeh, managing editor of local affairs at the independent Syrian daily newspaper Al-Watan and the economic weekly Al-Iqtissadiya, said. “It’s true, we don’t have direct economic relations with the United States, but the crisis is affecting Europe. We work with Europe and Asia, so there is an indirect effect on Syria.”

Syria will, however, weather the storm better than most countries, Masalmeh said. “For the most part, 70 percent of investment in Syria is from inside the country,” she said. “Syria has a strong and diversified internal economy that doesn’t depend on oil. We don’t have a stock market.”

The global financial crisis, which originated in the US banking system, hits Syria at a time when the country is opening up its economy after more than 40 years of socialist rule. Many in Syria now believe the country needs to quickly learn the lessons emerging from more developed economies now battling recession. “I hope Syria will learn a lesson from America and it will put into place better laws protecting investment,” Masalmeh said.

Far from the epicentre

To date, the Syrian government has taken a cautious view of the crisis. “The Syrian economy is stable and solid and the Syrian pound is strong and protected,” Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdullah al-Dardari said in October. “Syria has an independent banking system. In addition, the Syrian pound has a higher interest rate than other currencies.”

Dardari also said deposits in Syrian banks have increased since the beginning of the crisis because of the stability of the local banking sector. “The government is working day and night for the stability of the economy and to serve the nation and the citizen,” he said, adding there is “no reason at all to be scared or worried”.

Likewise, Syrian Minister of Finance Muhammad al-Hussein has emphasised the limited impact the global financial crisis will have on Syria. “The worldwide financial crisis could have an effect on Syria, but the government- is working with President Bashar al-Assad to make sure the effect is limited,” Hussein told the state daily newspaper Al-Thawra. He said Syria was “far away from the epicentre of the earthquake”.

Indirect impact

One government official striking a different note is Duraid Dargham, head of the government-run Commercial Bank of Syria, the country’s largest bank. In a full-page article published in the Tishreen newspaper in early October, Dargham said the danger posed to Syria by the global financial crisis was real and significant. “The economic crisis will have a big effect on Syria,” he wrote.

Dargham said Syria’s economy would take two main hits. The first will come in a decline in both the price and global demand for oil. Since the crisis erupted, the price of oil has fallen from a record SYP 6,510 (USD 140) per barrel to around SYP 2,557 (USD 55) a barrel and the slide is expected to continue. It’s a drop which could now make growth estimates for 2009 optimistic and will further widen the country’s budget deficit, a fact Hussein pointed out at a recent banking conference.

The second blow will come from remittances from Syrians living abroad who now number a massive 18m; Syria’s internal population is little more than 19m. On average, Syrian expatriates, many of whom earn high wages in the Gulf, inject SYP 37.2bn (USD 800m) annually in remittances into the Syrian economy. With many parts of the world entering recession and unemployment rising, this stream of foreign funds is expected to slow.

Jihad Yazigi, editor of the English-language economic newsletter The Syria Report, said Syria’s links to the Gulf markets make it vulnerable to the ongoing global economic turmoil. “A lot of money comes [to Syria] from the Gulf,” he said. “Some Syrians could be made redundant in the Gulf so we could see a slower pace of remittances and that could lead to more unemployment here.”

Yazigi also points to the possibility of foreign direct investment flows slowing over the next year. Rather than the dramatic blows being landed on the world’s leading economies like the US and Japan, Yazigi said the impact on Syria would come incrementally. “We haven’t seen anything yet, because the impact is indirect,” he said. “It won’t be as dramatic as the price of stocks. It will be an interesting sign if we see the delay of one to two big Gulf investments in Syria. Investors have to prioritise when they want to invest and Syria is not a priority for them. We haven’t felt it yet, but we will. It won’t be a big impact, but there will be an impact.”

Masalmeh points to tourism, an increasingly important money spinner in Syria, as another area likely to be negatively impacted as people around the world tighten their spending habits and cancel overseas holiday plans. “The crisis will affect tourism because there’ll be less money to spend,” she said. “If there’s no money, there’s no tourism.”

Feeling the squeeze

One Syrian company is already seeing the impact of the global financial crisis firsthand. At Muhanna for Sweets, a Damascus-based family sweets business founded in 1935, chief executive officer Mahmoud Muhanna said the global financial crisis could not come at a worse time. The company is already battling the impact of a cut in fuel subsidies which has seen the price of raw materials rise. As a result, the company has had to increase the prices of its goods – 30 to 40 percent for some sweets and 100 percent for others – at a time when foreign buyers in America and Europe are looking to save money. “All of the prices of raw materials – sugar, fat, and pistachios – have increased,” Muhanna said.

Three years ago, exports made up 40 percent of all sales at Muhanna for Sweets. Now they account for just 25 percent of business. Twenty-five percent of total exports go to the US, 5 to 10 percent go to the Gulf, while the rest go to Europe.

Muhanna does not expect any growth in his exports to US and European markets in the short term. As such the Gulf and local market will become all the more important. He said his company has been helped by the steady flow of tourists in the past several years, business travellers from the Gulf and the opening of new hotels such as the Four Seasons. But it’s a customer base that might not be so reliable in the coming months, he admits.

To counter a decline in exports, Muhanna is already thinking of a plan B: creating a line of less expensive sweets. Still, he doesn’t appear to be too worried about the financial turmoil creating a crisis in sweets consumption. “No matter what happens, people always buy Arab sweets,” he said.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘SYRIA TODAY’

Posted in ASIA, BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAMIC BANKS, JAPAN, PETROL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, TOURISM INDUSTRIES, USA | Leave a Comment »

OIBM, STANDARD BANK INCLUDED IN US CREDIT FUND (Malawi)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

12 December 2008 – 12:39:03

by Suzgo Khunga

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY TIMES’ (Malawi)

Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM) and Standard Bank signed agreements with the US embassy which allow the two financial institutions to participate in the Development Credit Authority (DCA) programme.

The agreements would enable United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) to enlarge its DCA programme and allow the two banks to lend up to US$13 million (K1.8 billion) to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in the agriculture and agriculturally linked sectors of the economy until 2014.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, US ambassador to Malawi Peter Bodde congratulated the two banks for targeting SME’s which he said are a critical sector for Malawi’s economic development.

“We all know the human impact these programmes have and how they can make a big difference in improving people’s lives,” Bodde said.

Under the DCA facility, the two banks would increase their SME client portfolio, especially in agricultural sector businesses located in rural areas.

Standard Bank and OIBM would work to provide loans to credit worthy farmers and small agri-businesses that have difficulties meeting normal bank loan conditions.

While commercial banks have often given preference to established urban businesses, the DCA facility is meant to increase lending to promising SME’s and lower their collateral requirements.

Deputy Chairman of OIBM Board of Directors Rodwell Mbale said the collaboration would stimulate productivity of smallholder farmers and allow them to invest in agro-processing industries.

Ministry of Finance Principal Budget Officer Bettie Ngoma who witnessed the signing of the agreements, noted that the initiative was a great way to stimulate microfinance lending by banks.

The US government’s DCA programme is already operational in 23 countries assisting thousands of enterprises to access required finance to achieve and maximise growth.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY TIMES’ (Malawi)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOOD PRODUCTION (human), FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MALAWI, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, USA | Leave a Comment »

FEARS OF FASCISM AS ISRAELI EXTREMISTS PREPARE TO TAKE ELECTIONS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

December 10, 2008

by Mel Frykberg – Middle East Times

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST TIMES’ (Washington, DC – USA)

JERUSALEM – Israel’s upcoming general elections early next year could see some of the country’s most BENJAMIN NETANYAHUextreme right-wing elements, accused of being racist by some, winning the elections.

Right-wing poster boy Benjamin Netanyahu, a former Israeli prime minister, and chairman of the right-wing party Likud, is battling even more extreme elements in his own party in a bid to become Israel’s next prime minister.

He will face off against Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the chairman of the more centrist and ruling party Kadima, to lead the country. Current opinion polls indicate Netanyahu to be in the lead.

Likud held its primaries on Monday to prepare a list of candidates for the Knesset (Israeli parliament) with those from the far right making a strong showing.

Netanyahu had hoped that the more moderate elements he had brought into the party would help the party maintain a more moderate image. But during the primary hardliners captured and dominated the first 20 spots.

Chief extremist to make huge political gains and threaten Netanyahu’s chairmanship was Moshe Feiglin, a fan of the early fascist and Zionist pioneer, Zeev Jabotinsky, who hailed from Russia.

His strong showing prompted incumbent premier Ehud Olmert to comment that Likud had turned from a party of peace to an extreme right faction.

“The Likud, which was once a party of peace, has turned into an extreme rightist party, which will lead the state of Israel into a corner of isolation and which will bring us back to grave times,” said DOLFIE HITLER ... RAGING MADOlmert.

Livni also had little sympathy for Netanyahu’s plight. “The list is not my problem, it’s Bibi’s [a nickname for Netanyahu] problem. It’s a weight around his legs, not mine.”

Even Kadima member Tzahi Hanegbi, a former right-wing extremist himself and son of Geula Cohen, one of Likud’s founders and a strong supporter of Israel’s controversial settler movement, lamented the party’s swing to the right.

Hanegbi was against the evacuation of Gaza’s settlements and charged years ago with attacking Israeli-Arab students with chains during an altercation at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

“Netanyahu’s dream team became his nightmare. The stars are out and the rebels are in. The Likud rebels are rebels no longer, they are the rulers,” said Hanegbi.

The controversy surrounding Feiglin, who won 20th position on the Kadima list and stands a good chance of being elected to the Knesset, is based on some of his more outrageous statements and his extreme ideology.

During an interview in 1995 with the Israeli daily Haaretz Feiglin shared his thoughts on Hitler and his policies.

“Hitler was an unparalleled military genius. Nazism promoted Germany from a low to a fantastic physical and ideological status.

“The ragged, trashy youth body turned into a neat and orderly part of society and Germany received an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order.

“Hitler savored good music. He would paint. This was no bunch of thugs. They merely used thugs and homosexuals,” said Feiglin.

Feiglin also gave his candid opinion on the Palestinians, whom he said didn’t really exist.

“There is no Palestinian nation. There is only an Arab-speaking public which has suddenly identified itself as a people, a negative of the Zionist movement, parasites.

“The fact that they hadn’t done so earlier only serves to prove how inferior they are. The Africans have no nations either. Only Zulus, Tutsis,” he MOSHE FEIGLINadded.

Acerbic analyst, political commentator and former chairman of the left-wing peace party Meretz, Yossi Sarid, lashed out at Feiglin in a stinging commentary in Haaretz.

“The time has come to break free from the shackles of politically correct speech and call these people – Feiglin and his cronies – by their explicit name.

“They are not ‘radicals’ but fascists by any acceptable definition. And had they not been born – through no fault of their own – to Jewish mothers, they would have been damn anti-Semites to boot,” asserted Sarid.

Should Feiglin eventually take over Likud and should Likud win the forthcoming general elections it would be stating the obvious to say that peace talks with the Palestinians and the domino effect of stability in the region, don’t stand a fighting chance.

And while Feiglin might be Netanyahu’s political nemesis and nightmare, he could well turn out to be the entire region’s nightmare to boot.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST TIMES’ (Washington, DC – USA)

Posted in DEFENCE TREATIES, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

RUSSIA WARNS WEST NOT TO MEDDLE IN EX-SOVIET UNION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 11, 2008

December 11, 2008

Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘TEHRAN TIMES’ (Iran)

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia’s foreign minister warned the West on Wednesday against meddling in its backyard, saying the U.S. and Sergey LavrovEuropean countries must not advance their interests in the former Soviet Union at Russia’s expense.

Sergey Lavrov told a group of foreign business leaders that Russia has no monopoly on relations with neighboring former Soviet republics, and said Moscow understands that the United States and European Union have legitimate interests in the region.

But, he said, the U.S. and EU must forge relations with former Soviet republics “through legal, understandable and transparent methods,” Lavrov said. “Behind-the-scenes meddling only creates a crisis situation. One must respect the people of these nations and give them the right to choose their own fate.”

Already long-deteriorating ties between Moscow and the West were badly damaged by Russia’s August war with Georgia, a small ex-Soviet republic that has enjoyed strong U.S. backing and is seeking NATO membership.

Lavrov gave no examples of alleged meddling. But the U.S. and Europe have been courting ex-Soviet republics as they vie with Russia for access to Central Asian and Caspian Sea energy resources and seek ties with nations close to sources of concern such as Iran and Afghanistan.

Also, Russian leaders have suggested the U.S. encouraged Georgia to launch an offensive that sparked the five-day war, and say Washington has pressed to bring Ukraine closer to NATO despite significant opposition among its people.

Lavrov stressed Russia’s opposition to U.S. missile defense plans and NATO expansion but indicated that Russia is eager for improved ties with the U.S. He suggested that it would be up to the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to make the first move.

“We are counting on the future administration of Barack Obama to confirm what he is now saying about the need to cooperate with Russia in fighting common threats — international terrorism and weapons proliferation,” Lavrov said.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘TEHRAN TIMES’ (Iran)

Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, GEORGIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATO, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, UKRAINE, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

MARKETS CAN’T RULE THEMSELVES – A ‘made in the U.S.A.’financial crisis highlights the need for more global—and more robust—oversight

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 11, 2008

December 2008 – february 2009

by Joseph Stiglitz – (*)

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK – Special Edition – ISSUES 2009’ (USA)

For years, there has been an ongoing discussion among world leaders and thinkers about deficiencies in the international financial architecture and about economic imbalances, GROUND ZERO - Wall Street exported troubles to the world; it needs world help to fix themincluding the widening U.S. trade deficit. Many worried about a disorderly unwinding of these imbalances. Nothing was done. We are now paying the price for our failure to act. Ten years ago, the fear was that financial turmoil in the developing world might spill over to the advanced industrialized countries. Today, we are in the middle of a “made in the U.S.A.” crisis that is threatening the entire world.

If we are going to address this worldwide crisis and prevent a recurrence, we must reform and reconfigure the global financial system. There are simply too many inter-dependencies to allow each country to go its own way. For example, the United States benefited from its export of toxic mortgages; had it not sent some of them to Europe via complex securitization, its downturn would have been far worse. But the resulting weaknesses in Europe’s banks are now ricocheting back to the United States.

Better regulation would have helped prevent such a situation. But the reform of the global financial system must go much further. For example, there must be better monetary-policy coordination around the world. Europe’s current slowdown is due in part to the fact that while the European Central Bank spent the past year focusing on inflation, the United States was (rightly) focusing on the impending recession. The resulting difference in interest rates led to a strong euro and weak exports. That hurt Europe. But a weak Europe eventually hurts the United States, as Europe is forced to reduce its imports of American goods. With better coordination, perhaps America would have been able to convince Europe of the risks of recession, and that would have led to moderation of Europe’s interest rates.

There is also a need for internationally coordinated stimulus programs to help jump-start growth. It is good news that China, the United States and Japan have now all instigated major programs of fiscal expansion. But they are of vastly different sizes, and so far, Europe’s is lagging behind. Its growth and stability pact imposes constraints that may have global consequences. Beyond this, confidence in financial markets will not be fully restored unless governments take a stronger role in regulating financial institutions, financial products and movements of capital. Banks have shown that they can’t manage their own risk, and the consequences for others have been disastrous. Even former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, the high priest of deregulation, admits he went too far.

What we need now is a global financial regulatory body to help monitor and gauge systemic risk. If financial rules are allowed to vary too widely from nation to nation, there is a risk of a race to the bottom — some nations will move toward more lax regulation to capture financial business at the expense of their competitors. The financial system will be weakened, with consequences that are now all too apparent.

What should this” new set of global financial rules encompass? For starters, it should ensure that managerial incentive schemes are transparent and do not provide perverse encouragement for bad accounting, myopic behavior and excessive risk taking. Compensation should be based on returns not from a single year but over a longer time period. At the very least, we should require greater transparency in stock options, including making sure that they receive appropriate accounting treatment. And we need to restrict the scope for conflicts of interest — whether among rating agencies being paid by those they are rating, or mortgage companies owning the companies that appraise the properties on which they issue mortgages. We need to restrict excessive leverage, and other very risky behavior. Standardization of financial products would enhance transparency. And financial-product safety and stability commissions could help decide which products were safe for institutions to use, and for what purposes. We have seen what happens if we rely on bankers to regulate banking.

Beyond better global coordination of macroeconomic policy and regulation, there are at least two other actions governments should take. First, we need a reform of the global reserve system. More than 75 years ago, John Maynard Keynes, the greatest economist of his generation, wrote that a global reserve system was necessary for financial stability and prosperity; since then the need has become much more dire. Keynes’s hope was that the International Monetary Fund would create a new global reserve currency that countries would hold instead of sterling (the reserve of the time). Today, such a currency could be used to replace the dollar as the de facto reserve currency. Because it would not depend on the fortunes of any one country, it would be more stable. Supply could be increased on a regular basis, ensuring that reserves kept up with countries’ needs. Issuance could be done on the basis of simple rules—including punishment for countries that caused global weaknesses by having persistent surpluses. This is an idea whose time may have finally come.

The other major reform should be a new system of handling cross-border bankruptcies (including debt defaults by sovereign states). Today, when a bank or firm in one country defaults, it can have global ramifications. With various national legal systems involved, the tangle may take years to unwind. For example, the problems arising from Argentina’s 2001 default are still not resolved, and bankruptcy complications plagued South Korea and Indonesia during their crises a decade ago, slowing down the process of recovery. The world may soon be littered with defaults, and we need a better way of handling them than we have had in the past.

This crisis has highlighted not only the extent of our inter-dependencies but the deficiencies in existing institutions. The IMF, for instance, has done little but talk about global imbalances. And as the world has focused on problems of governance as an impediment to development, deficiencies in the IMF’s own governance meant its lectures had little credibility. Its advice, especially that encouraging deregulation, seems particularly hollow today. Many critics in Asia and the Middle East, where pools of liquid capital dwarf die IMF’s own, are wondering why they should turn over their money to an institution in which the United States, the source of the problem, still has veto power, and in which diey have so little voting power.

This is a Bretton Woods moment — a time for dramatic reforms of existing institutions” or, as was done at the end of World War II, the creation of new ones. Until now, Washington has consistently blocked efforts to create a multilateral global financial system that is stable and fair. It exported the deregulatory philosophy that has proved so costly, both to itself and to the world. President Obama has an opportunity to change all this. Much depends — now and for decades to come — on his response.

(*) – Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate in economics and a professor at Columbia University.

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U.S. ARMS SALES UNDERMINE HUMAN RIGHTS, GROUP SAYS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Dec. 10, 2008, 1:31PM

by Barry Schweid – Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. arms trade is booming — sales reached $32 billion last year — and more than half of the purchasers in the developing world are either undemocratic governments or regimes that engaged in human rights abuses, a private think tank reported today.

Timed to the 60th anniversary of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the report by the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan policy institute, named 13 of the top 25 arms purchasers in the developing world as either undemocratic or engaged in major human rights abuses.

The 13 listed in the report were Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Colombia, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Yemen and Tunisia.

Sales to these countries totaled more than $16.2 billion over 2006 and 2007.

The total “contrasts sharply with the Bush administration’s pro-democracy rhetoric,” the report said.

Also, the report said that 20 of the 27 nations engaged in major armed conflicts were receiving weapons and training from the United States.

“U.S. arms transfers are undermining human rights, weakening democracy and fueling conflict around the world,” the report said.

William D. Hartung, the lead author of the report, said, “The United States cannot demand respect for human rights and arm human rights abusers at the same time.”

U.S. arms sales grew to $32 billion in 2007, more than three times the level when President Bush took office in 2001, the report said.

The United States is the world’s largest arms supplier. U.S. exports range from combat aircraft to Pakistan, Morocco, Greece, Romania and Chile to small arms and light weapons to the Philippines, Egypt and Georgia.

In 2006 and 2007, the United States sold weapons to more than 174 states and territories.At the beginning of the Bush administration there were 123 arms clients, the report said.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

Posted in BAHRAIN, BANKING SYSTEMS, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, CHILE, COLOMBIA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FORMOSA - TAIWAN, GEORGIA, GREECE, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAQ, ISLAMIC BANKS, ISRAEL, JORDAN, KUWAIT, MILITARY CONTRACTS, MOROCCO, OMAN, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, ROMANIA, SAUDI ARABIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, YEMEN | Leave a Comment »

CUBAN TOURISM SURGES AS REST OF CARIBBEAN STALLS – Tourism In Cuba Up Nearly 11 Percent Despite 3 Hurricanes

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

HAVANA, Dec. 8, 2008

The Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘CBS NEWS’ (USA)

(AP) Cuba’s vacation industry has remained as hot as the tropical sun here, even as the world economic crisis sparks cancellations and layoffs elsewhere in the Caribbean.

The communist country says it’s booked solid through December and expects a record 2.34 million visitors this year _ largely because global financial woes have so far been softer on Canada, its top source of visitors.

Luck also played a role: While the island suffered three devastating hurricanes, its key tourist sites were largely spared. And where beachfront resorts did get hit, the tourist-hungry government has made sure to repair hotels _ in some cases even before damaged homes and infrastructure. Tourism is Cuba’s second-largest source of foreign income, behind nickel production.

So while other islands in the region are laying off hotel workers and suspending construction of new property, Cuban resorts are gearing up for a strong season.

“We’ve had a few cancellations, but overall our numbers are still strong,” said David Gregori of WowCuba, a travel agency in Charlottetown, Canada, that specializes in bicycle trips and other Cuba tours. “People still like to get away. They might try to save some money while doing it, but they’re still traveling.”

The number of foreign visitors has swelled nearly 11 percent this year, making up for 4 and 3 percent declines in 2006 and 2007, government figures show.

Officials offer no explanation for those slower years. But tour operators blame the island’s low returning-visitor rates: Some tourists complain of poor service, crumbling infrastructure and lousy food, indicative of a communist system where shortages are common and state employees are unaccustomed to putting customer service first.

Still, the island is often cheaper than its subtropical neighbors, because many foreigners buy all-inclusive packages offering dozens of direct flights from Europe and Canada to airports all over Cuba, as well deep discounts on hotels, food and booze.

Others are enticed by the prospect of seeing one of only five communist countries left on the planet.

“A lot of people who are going for simple fly-and-flop holiday, and there are others who are going for history and culture, dancing, music,” said Julia Hendry, marketing director for Europe and the United Kingdom of the Bahamas-based Caribbean Trade Organization. Cuba has both, she said, “whether it’s swimming and beach or the excitement of Old Havana and Cuban history.”

About 35 percent of this year’s tourists have been Canadian, with 635,000 visiting through September, one-fifth more than in the same period last year. Canada’s economy has not suffered the same losses now sapping the savings of homeowners in the U.S.

Russian tourists rose 40 percent to top 28,000 thru September, and Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero traveled to Moscow last month to further promote his country.

Visitors from Britain, Italy, Spain and Germany, the top suppliers of tourists after Canada, declined between 3 and 5 percent respectively, however.

Washington’s trade embargo prohibits Americans from visiting, though island immigration records show about 41,000 came last year, many presumably without permission. But not relying on U.S. tourists may now be a blessing.

“Canadians are going to keep coming, especially with snow at home,” said Helen Lueke of Sherwood Park, Canada, who has vacationed in Havana about once a year for decades.

Alexis Trujillo, Cuba’s deputy secretary of tourism, predicted full bookings at least through next summer.

“There’s no doubt tourism is always sensitive to everything,” he said of global economic turmoil. “But we don’t think that for Cuba that will mean an important decrease.”

Tourism generated $2.2 billion for Cuba in 2007. The government has announced no plans to delay a $185 million plan to upgrade more than 200 resorts and build 50 boutique hotels by 2010 _ nt even after Hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma hit within two months, causing more than $10 billion in damages and crippling farms and infrastructure across the countryside.

Construction crews assigned to vacation properties in Havana and elsewhere have largely continued working as normal since the storms.

In the eastern province of Holguin, the island’s No. 3 tourist destination after Havana and the beach resort of Varadero, officials prioritized hotel repairs, trucking in workers to rebuild beachfront resorts. Holguin expects about 270,000 foreigners this year, about the same as 2007, despite scores of hurricane-related cancellations.

Havana’s decaying yet picturesque historic district saw little damage, as did Varadero, 90 miles (140 kilometers) to the east, where white sand and warm, see-through surf has enticed everyone from Fidel Castro to Al Capone. A record million visitors are expected to stay in the town’s 7,000 hotel rooms, which range in price from about $120 to $350 per night, with meals and open bar included.

Though European tour operators say sales have slowed since the financial crisis deepened in October, they expect trips to Cuba and some other Caribbean destinations to stay strong through the winter. Europeans are putting off short, side trips closer to home, but many families are still willing to splurge on once-a-year trips to the tropics, Hendry said.

“We have noticed that all-inclusive markets, where travelers can budget in advance, seem to be doing relative well. Cuba is quite well-populated with that sort of property,” she said.

The industry could get another boast if President-elect Barack Obama keeps campaign promises to ease restrictions on Cuban Americans who want to visit their relatives on the island. Currently, those with family here can only come once every three years.

Nelson Gonzalez, a 56-year-old physical therapist, said his mechanic brother in Miami last came to visit in 2007. But his brother called the morning after the U.S. election to say he was reserving a seat on one of the many special charters that fly from the U.S. to Havana for the last week in January _ confident Obama will ease family travel rules immediately after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

“When your family members reach a certain age, you don’t know if in three more years everyone will still be here,” said Gonzalez, who lives with his 80-year-old parents.

Though visiting family members spend less than tourists, Gregori said many Cuban Americans use his company to book rental cars in advance of visiting relatives.

But “if you want to rent a car in Havana in December, I don’t have any,” he said. “They’ve been sold out for months, and every year they get sold out earlier and earlier.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘CBS NEWS’ (USA)

Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CANADA, COMMERCE, CUBA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, GERMANY, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ITALY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, RUSSIA, SPAIN, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TOURISM INDUSTRIES, UNITED KINGDOM, USA | Leave a Comment »

NO POLITICAL CONDITIONS ON RUSSIAN ARMS SUPPLIES FOR LEBANON – Officials: ‘There are no obstacles in terms of equipping the army’

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

by Andrew Wander – Daily Star staff

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

BEIRUT: Russia will not attach political conditions to any future supplies of military hardware to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), senior defense officials said over the weekend. Speaking after a meeting on Saturday with Mikhail Dimitriev, Russia’s military co-operation chief, Defense Minister Elias Murr said: “There are no obstacles in terms of equipping the army. We prepared for my visit to Russia next week.”

Murr said the path was clear for discussing with his Russian counterpart in Moscow “what could be provided to the LAF.”

A senior Defense Ministry source told The Daily Star the types of weapons that could be supplied have not yet been discussed, but insisted there would be “no political conditions” attached to any arms deals between Russia and Lebanon.

The source said LAF commanders are currently deciding what weapons they would like to obtain from Russia, and said they will meet with Murr before his trip to Moscow, scheduled for December 15, to make him aware of their requests.

Speaking on Saturday, Dimitriev said Russia is keen to encourage regional stability and considers “it very important to see a strong LAF.”

He said that Moscow wishes to “provide a new pulse to our bilateral relations in the military and technical field.”

Dimitriev also met with parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri, whose own visit to Russia in mid-November sparked controversy. Hariri was reported by Russian media to have offered Lebanese recognition for the Russian-backed breakaway Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Hariri as saying that US support to the LAF was limited to light weapons and that Lebanon needed a supplier of more powerful military hardware, including “tanks and artillery.”

The US says it is seeking to bolster Lebanese state forces so that they can establish their authority throughout Lebanon’s territory. Washington considers Hizbullah, which has a strong presence in parts of the country, a “terrorist organization” and believes the best way to undermine it is to build up the power of central state authority.

The Pentagon insists that policy is designed to strengthen the LAF within the country, not to create a “juggernaut” that could challenge regional stability. In particular, Washington does not supply weapons that would challenge Israel’s “qualitative edge” in military hardware, a Pentagon official said last week.

Lebanon is courting several potential arms suppliers apart from the US. Last week, President Michel Sleiman asked the German defense minister, Franz Josef Jung, for alternative tanks but German officials have said the request is unlikely to be granted because of a national law preventing the sales of arms to conflict zones.

On a trip to Iran at the end of November, Sleiman was reported to have struck a deal with defense officials in Tehran that could involve the supply of medium-range rockets and other heavy weapons to the LAF.

Murr is expected to visit Syria soon to discuss defense issues. His trip will come after Jean Kahwaji, the commander of the LAF, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus to discuss military co-operation, but unlike Kahwaji’s trip, Murr said an agenda would be agreed on in advance and submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

Analysts say that the current round of LAF rearmament is the most substantial since the 1980s, and that the range of potential suppliers demonstrates the fine balance of power in the region.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LEBANON, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

KUWAIT TAKES SWIPE AT ISRAELI RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN PALESTINE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Monday, December 6th, 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ARAB TIMES’ (Kuwait)

GENEVA, Dec 6, (KUNA): Kuwait condemned late Friday Israel’s human rights violations in Palestinian territories and its failure to include these violations in the reports submitted to the international community. This came during an interjection by Kuwait’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva, made by Councellor Najib Al-Bader, during a work-team session of the Universal Periodic Review stemming from the Human Rights Council, tasked with reviewing a report submitted by Israel. Al-Bader said the report was void of any indication at the legal rights of the Palestinian people and overlooked all resolutions of the Human Rights Council and other international agencies.

He added that Israelis denied the Palestinians the right to determine their fate despite the fact that this right had been acknowledged by the UN’s Security Council and General Assembly, as well as the International Court of Justice and Israel itself. The Kuwaiti diplomat emphasized that enabling the Palestinians to determine their fate and establish an independent state on territories occupied since 1967 would provide basic guarantees for boosting human rights and consolidating global peace and security. He called for including a recommendation pertaining to this issue in the report.

Moreover, Al-Bader noted the suffering of Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, whom he said were held under harsh circumstances, while also speaking of the deteriorating health conditions of those hailing from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights held in Israeli prisons. He called for issuing a recommendation in the report over the importance of implementing all resolutions of the Human Rights Council related to the release of Syrian prisoners held in Israeli jails and ending occupation of the Golan Heights. The Universal Period Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member states once every four years. The UPR is a state-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each state to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

Meanwhile, Kuwait deplored late Friday all acts of piracy and armed robberies against the ships off the Somali coast and urged the international community to join forces to eradicate the scourge. Addressing the General Assembly as it met to discuss the “Oceans and the Law of the Sea,” Kuwaiti diplomat Mohammed Al-Zo’bi emphasized the importance Kuwait attaches to the subject of oceans and the law of the sea. He said he was concerned at the increase in piracy and armed robberies against ships, specifically the recent hijacking of the Saudi tanker off the coast of Somalia, and stated that such activity threatened trade and maritime navigation, and jeopardized the lives of the crews on board.

In that regard, he commended the Security Council for its adoption of resolution 1864 earlier this month, which focused on strengthening global efforts to combat piracy off Somalia’s coast and expanding the mandate of state and regional organizations working with Somali officials towards that goal. He said that protecting the marine environment and its natural resources was also of utmost importance to Kuwait and called for a more integrative approach to expanded research and measures aimed at preserving the biodiversity of oceans and seas from the impact of manmade and natural climate change.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ARAB TIMES’ (Kuwait)

Posted in CARGO PIRACY, ENVIRONMENT, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, KUWAIT, PALESTINE, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WATER | Leave a Comment »

AFRICOM CHINA AND CONGO RESOURCE WARS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Tuesday, Dec 09, 2008

by F. William Engdahl – Online Journal

PUBLISHED BY ‘INFOWARS’

Just weeks after President George W. Bush signed the order creating a new US military command dedicated to Africa, AFRICOM, events on the mineral-rich continent have erupted which suggest a major agenda of the incoming Obama Presidency will be for the son of a black Kenyan to focus US resources, military and other, on dealing with the Republic of Congo, the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, the oil-rich Darfur region of southern Sudan and increasingly the Somali ‘pirate threat’ to sea lanes in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. The legitimate question is whether it is mere coincidence that Africa appears just at this time to become a new geopolitical ‘hot spot’ or whether it has a direct link to the formal creation of AFRICOM.

What is striking is the timing. No sooner had AFRICOM become operational than major new crises broke out in both the Indian Ocean-Gulf of Aden regarding spectacular incidents of alleged Somali piracy, as well as eruption of bloody new wars in Kivu Province in the Republic of Congo. The common thread connecting both is their importance, as with Darfur in southern Sudan, for China’s future strategic raw materials flow.

The latest fighting in the eastern part of the Congo (DRC) broke out in late August when Tutsi militiamen belonging to the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP, National Congress for the Defense of the People) of General Laurent Nkunda forced loyalist troops of the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC, Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) to retreat from their positions near Lake Kivu, sending hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians fleeing in the process and prompting the French foreign minister, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, to warn of the imminent risk of ‘huge massacres.’

Nkunda, like his mentor, Rwanda’s Washington-backed dictator, Paul Kagame, is an ethnic Tutsi who alleges that he is protecting the minority Tutsi ethnic group against remnants of the Rwandan Hutu army that fled to Congo after the Rwandan genocide in 1994. MONUC UN peacekeepers reported no such atrocities against the minority Tutsi in the northeast, mineral rich Kivu region. Congolese sources report that attacks against Congolese of all ethnic groups are a daily occurrence in the region. Laurent Nkunda’s troops are responsible for most of these attacks, they claim.

Strange resignations

The stage for political chaos in Congo was further set in September when the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 83-year-old prime minister, Antoine Gizenga, resigned after two years. Then at end of October, with suspicious timing, the commander of the United Nations peacekeeping operation, the Mission de l’Organisation des Nations-Unies au Congo (MONUC, Mission of the United Nations Organization in the Congo), Spanish Lieutenant General Vicente Diaz de Villegas, resigned after fewer than two months on the job, citing, ‘lack of confidence’ in the leadership of DRC President Joseph Kabila. Kabila, the Congo’s first democratically elected president, has also been involved in negotiating a major $9 billion trade agreement between the DRC and China, something which Washington is clearly not happy about.

Nkunda is a long-standing henchman of Rwandan President, US-trained, Kagame. All signs point to a heavy, if covert, USA role in the latest Congo killings by Nkunda’s men. Nkunda himself is a former Congolese Army officer, teacher and Seventh Day Adventist pastor. But killing seems to be what he is best at.

Much of Nkunda’s well-equipped and relatively disciplined forces are from the bordering country of Rwanda and the rest have been recruited from the minority Tutsi population of the Congolese province of North Kivu. Supplies, finance and political support for this Congolese rebel army come from Rwanda. According to the American Spectator magazine, ‘President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has long been a supporter of Nkunda, who originally was an intelligence officer in the Rwanda leader’s overthrow of the Hutu despotic rule in his country.’

As the Congo News Agency reported on October 30, ‘Some have bought into the pretext of an endangered Tutsi minority in Congo. They never fail to mention that Laurent Nkunda is supposedly fighting to protect “his people.” They have failed to question his true motives which are to occupy the mineral-rich North-Kivu province, pillage its resources, and act as a proxy army in eastern Congo for the Tutsi-led Rwandan government in Kigali. Kagame wants a foothold in eastern Congo so his country can continue to benefit from the pillaging and exporting of minerals such as columbite-tantalite (coltan). Many experts on the region agree today that resources are the true reason why Laurent Nkunda continues to create chaos in the region with the help of Paul Kagame.’

The USA role and AFRICOM

Evidence which was presented in a French court in a ruling made public in 2006 claimed that Kagame was responsible for organizing the shooting down of the plane carrying Hutu President of Rwanda Juvénal Habyarimana, in April 1994, the event that set off the indiscriminate killing of hundreds of thousands of people, both Hutu and Tutsi.

The end result of the killings in which perhaps as many as a million Africans perished was that US and UK backed Paul Kagame — a ruthless military dictator trained at the US Army Command-General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth Kansas — was firmly in control as dictator of Rwanda. Since then he has covertly backed repeated military incursions by General Nkunda into the mineral-rich Kivu region on the pretext it was to defend a small Tutsi minority there. Kagame had repeatedly rejected attempts to repatriate those Tutsi refugees back to Rwanda, evidently fearing he might lose his pretext to occupy the mineral riches of Kivu.

Since at least 2001, according to reports from Congo sources, the US military has also had a base at Cyangugu in Rwanda, built of course by Dick Cheney’s old firm, Halliburton, conveniently enough near the border to Congo’s mineral-rich Kivu region.

The 1994 massacre of civilians between Tutsi and Hutu was, as Canadian researcher Michel Chossudovsky described it, ‘an undeclared war between France and America. By supporting the build up of Ugandan and Rwandan forces and by directly intervening in the Congolese civil war, Washington also bears a direct responsibility for the ethnic massacres committed in the Eastern Congo, including several hundred thousand people who died in refugee camps.’ He adds, ‘Major General Paul Kagame was an instrument of Washington. The loss of African lives did not matter. The civil war in Rwanda and the ethnic massacres were an integral part of US foreign policy, carefully staged in accordance with precise strategic and economic objectives.’

Now Kagame’s former intelligence officer, Nkunda, leads his well-equipped forces to take Goma in the eastern Congo as part of an apparent scheme to break the richest minerals region away from Kinshasha. With the US military beefing up its presence across Africa under AFRICOM since 2007, the stage was apparently set for the current resources grab by the US-backed Kagame and his former officer, Nkunda.

Today the target is China

If France was the covert target of US ‘surrogate warfare’ in 1994, today it is clearly China, which is the real threat to US control of Central Africa’s vast mineral riches. The Democratic Republic of Congo was renamed from the Republic of Zaire in 1997 when the forces of Laurent Désiré Kabila brought Mobutu’s 32-year reign to an end. Locals call the country Congo-Kinshasa.

The Kivu region of the Congo is the geological repository of some of the world’s greatest strategic minerals. The eastern border straddling Rwanda and Uganda, runs on the eastern edge of the Great African Rift Valley, believed by geologists to be one of the richest repositories of minerals on the face of the earth.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo contains more than half the world’s cobalt. It holds one-third of its diamonds, and, extremely significantly, fully three-quarters of the world resources of columbite-tantalite or “coltan” — a primary component of computer microchips and printed circuit boards, essential for mobile telephones, laptops and other modern electronic devices.

America Mineral Fields, Inc., a company heavily involved in promoting the 1996 accession to power of Laurent Kabila, was, at the time of its involvement in the Congo’s civil war, headquartered in Hope, Arkansas. Major stockholders included long-time associates of former President Clinton going back to his days as governor of Arkansas. Several months before the downfall of Zaire’s French-backed dictator, Mobutu, Laurent Desire Kabila based in Goma, Eastern Zaire, had renegotiated the mining contracts with several US and British mining companies including American Mineral Fields. Mobutu’s corrupt rule was brought to a bloody end with the help of the US-directed International Monetary Fund.

Washington was not entirely comfortable with Laurent Kabila, who was finally assassinated in 2001. In a study released in April 1997 barely a month before President Mobutu Sese Seko fled the country, the IMF had recommended “halting currency issue completely and abruptly” as part of an economic recovery programme. A few months later upon assuming power in Kinshasa, the new government of Laurent Kabila Desire was ordered by the IMF to freeze civil service wages with a view to “restoring macro-economic stability.” Eroded by hyperinflation, the average public sector wage had fallen to 30,000 new Zaires (NZ) a month, the equivalent of one US dollar.

According to Chossudovsky, the IMF’s demands were tantamount to maintaining the entire population in abysmal poverty. They precluded from the outset a meaningful post-war economic reconstruction, thereby contributing to fuelling the continuation of the Congolese civil war in which close to 2 million people have died.

Laurent Kabila was succeeded by his son, Joseph Kabila who went on to become the Congo’s first democratically elected President, and appears to have held a closer eye to the welfare of his countrymen than did his father.

Now, in comes the new US AFRICOM. Speaking to the International Peace Operations Association in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 27, General Kip Ward, commander of AFRICOM defined the command’s mission as ‘in concert with other US government agencies and international partners, [to conduct] sustained security engagements through military-to-military programs, military-sponsored activities, and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of US foreign policy.’

The ‘military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of US foreign policy,’ today, are clearly aimed squarely at blocking China’s growing economic presence in the region.

In fact, as various Washington sources state openly, AFRICOM was created to counter the growing presence of China in Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, to secure long-term economic agreements for raw materials from Africa in exchange for Chinese aid and production sharing agreements and royalties. By informed accounts, the Chinese have been far shrewder. Instead of offering only savage IMF-dictated austerity and economic chaos, China is offering large credits, soft loans to build roads and schools in order to create good will.

Dr. J. Peter Pham, a leading Washington insider who is an advisor of the US State and Defense Departments, states openly that among the aims of the new AFRICOM is the objective of ‘protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance . . . a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.’

In testimony before the US Congress supporting creation of AFRICOM in 2007, Pham, who is closely associated with the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, stated, ‘This natural wealth makes Africa an inviting target for the attentions of the People’s Republic of China, whose dynamic economy, averaging 9 percent growth per annum over the last two decades, has an almost insatiable thirst for oil as well as a need for other natural resources to sustain it. China is currently importing approximately 2.6 million barrels of crude per day, about half of its consumption; more than 765,000 of those barrels — roughly a third of its imports — come from African sources, especially Sudan, Angola, and Congo (Brazzaville). Is it any wonder, then, that . . . perhaps no other foreign region rivals Africa as the object of Beijing’s sustained strategic interest in recent years. Last year the Chinese regime published the first ever official white paper elaborating the basis of its policy toward Africa.

‘This year, ahead of his 12-day, eight-nation tour of Africa — the third such journey since he took office in 2003 — Chinese President Hu Jintao announced a three-year, $3 billion program in preferential loans and expanded aid for Africa. These funds come on top of the $3 billion in loans and $2 billion in export credits that Hu announced in October 2006 at the opening of the historic Beijing summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which brought nearly 50 African heads of state and ministers to the Chinese capital.

‘Intentionally or not, many analysts expect that Africa — especially the states along its oil-rich western coastline — will increasingly becoming a theatre for strategic competition between the United States and its only real near-peer competitor on the global stage, China, as both countries seek to expand their influence and secure access to resources.’

Notably, in late October Nkunda’s well-armed troops surrounded Goma in North Kivu and demanded that Congo President Joseph Kabila negotiate with him. Among Nkunda’s demands was that Kabila cancel a $9 billion joint Congo-China venture in which China gets rights to the vast copper and cobalt resources of the region in exchange for providing $6 billion worth of road construction, two hydroelectric dams, hospitals, schools and railway links to southern Africa, to Katanga and to the Congo Atlantic port at Matadi. The other $3 billion is to be invested by China in development of new mining areas.

Curiously, US and most European media neglect to report that small detail. It seems AFRICOM is off to a strong start as the opposition to China in Africa. The litmus will be who President Obama selects as his Africa person and whether he tries to weaken Congo President Joseph Kabila in favor of backing Nkunda’s death squads, naturally in the name of ‘restoring democracy.’

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘INFOWARS’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CHINA, CIVIL WAR - CONGO, COMMODITIES MARKET, CONGO, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, IMF, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, METALS, METALS INDUSTRY, MINING INDUSTRIES, PETROL, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE UNITED NATIONS, USA | 1 Comment »

THE BIG THREE NEED A SHAKEOUT, NOT A BAILOUT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 9, 2008

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

by Keith Fitz-Gerald – Investment Director

PUBLISHED BY ‘MONEY MORNING’

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

I don’t know about you, but my jaw literally hit the floor when the chief executives of Detroit’s “Big Three” begged for a taxpayer-funded bailout. Never mind that General Motors Corp (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and Chrysler LLC are now seeking an aggregate $34 billion – which is up 36% from the $25 billion the Big Three was seeking just two weeks ago – or that they “drove” to Capitol Hill in a caravan of new hybrids so shiny they could’ve made the Keystone Cops green with envy.

And now that negotiations are under way to “advance” the three U.S. automakers $15 billion from an existing loan program, I don’t know whether to laugh … or to cry, since the total amount actually needed may be north of $150 billion.

The bottom line: Detroit doesn’t need a bailout.

It needs a shakeout.

How to Really Assess the Big Three’s Health

Nothing drove that point home more than when Ford CEO Alan R. Mulally who, after admitting “big mistakes,” attempted to sway Congressional members by saying that “we’re really focused now.”

I may not be the brightest bulb in the bunch here, but it seems to me I’ve heard this same mea culpa before – several times. Indeed, wasn’t that what the Big Three said:

– Back in the 70s, after Japanese-made cars that were better made and more economical started grabbing huge swaths of U.S. market share.

– Back in the 80s when U.S. quality began to suffer badly.

– And again back in the 90s when they tossed their lot in with SUVs and trucks.

But I really have to question whether GM, Ford and Chrysler were “really focused” after supposedly beating back each of these challenges, since the Big Three has seen its market share drop from more than 70% then to less than 50% today.

They’re so “focused” I can’t stand it. And I can only wonder what they’ll say when Chinese automakers hit our shores in the next few years, rolling out cars that sell for 30% less than it costs Detroit to make cars for.

Even at their new salaries of $1 a year, the Big Three’s top leaders are overpaid in my book – but I digress.

The so-called Big Three are nowhere near the anchor of American industry that Detroit would have us believe. And the arguments they’re using are superficial – at best. Maybe that’s good enough to bamboozle some people, but I believe that the American public is smarter than that. I can’t speak for our elected leaders who seem hell bent for leather on sticking band-aids on all our serious problems, but that, too, is another story for another time.

Essentially, the carmakers’ case boils down to this: Each of the Big Three – GM, Ford and Chrysler – contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, and directly or indirectly employ three million Americans. Thus, by allowing any or all of the automakers to fail, lawmakers would be making a major economic misstep.

That might be true, but not for the reasons the automakers have stated.

The Big Three are manufacturers. You don’t measure their success or failure by how much they purchase. You measure it by how much they sell, whether their market share is rising or falling, and what customers are saying about the quality and functionality of the finished product.

Economics 101

That brings us to the basics of supply and demand. If you recall your freshman-level Economics 101 course, “supply” is the total amount of goods and services (in this case cars and related support services) available for purchase. Demand is the amount of a particular good or services that a consumer or consumers will want to purchase at a given price.

Demand curves are normally downward sloping because consumers typically buy less of an item as its price increases. Similarly, supply curves are upward sloping because producers are willing to supply increasing amounts of their wares at increasingly higher prices. A bit of an oversimplification, perhaps, but it makes the general point.

In their rush to portray their industry as an economic linchpin and supplier of key future technologies – not to mention as a “victim” of the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression – the U.S. automakers are forgetting that their failure will not bring about a total destruction of demand. History is literally littered with failed companies. Demand for cars won’t fall off because the Big Three go under anymore than folks would stop buying beer if Annheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (the maker of Budweiser that’s now Annheuser-Busch InBev NV) were to collapse and disappear.

What’s far more likely to happen is that Japan’s Honda Motor Co. (ADR: HMC) and Toyota Motor Co. (ADR: TM), India’s Tata Motors Ltd. (ADR: TTM), Germany’s Daimler AG (DAI) and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), China’s Chery Automobile Co. Ltd. and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., and other companies from around the world will happily fill the void.

In fact, I’m certain that these companies will not only absorb key elements of the purchasing chain, but the workers, too. History shows that industry consolidation is actually a positive influence for the remaining companies and their workers. History also demonstrates that during periods of industry consolidation, there really isn’t anything other than short-term loss in business activity.

In short, if the demand is there, other firms will move in.

What Detroit is actually seeking is a bailout that preserves the status quo, and that implicitly rewards 40 years of inept management, bad decisions and poor quality. But to my way thinking, it makes no sense whatsoever to throw $34 billion at businesses that are losing $6 billion a month.

Like the other federal bailouts that I’ve opposed (as a proponent of free markets and the Austrian school of economics, I believe that bailouts are fundamentally wrong), a taxpayer-funded bailout of the U.S. auto sector would do nothing to improve Detroit’s competitive position. Instead, the capital would serve as little more than a punitive tax on such successful companies as Toyota and Honda, just to name two of the most obvious that would suffer. It would also allow Detroit to come back for more money after they blow through whatever we give them now. In the end, that will hurt both the consumer and the taxpayer – in most cases, one and the same.

Congressional sources are saying that that before the Big Three gets a cent, they would each have to make concessions similar to those extracted from the U.S. financial-services sector. Not only would the automakers have to eradicate their dividends and guarantee repayment, they’d also have to willingly submit to government control, just in case things didn’t play out as planned.

Maybe I’m the only one who sees a problem with this but such a change would mean that the same people who have been running the U.S. Postal Service would not be in charge of both Wall Street and one of our major manufacturing industries.

No thank you.

There are still plenty of strong automobile companies operating in the U.S. market that are able to offer of successful products that range from ultra-plain utilitarian models to all sorts of luxury vehicles, with to large-scale trucks in between.

And if the Big Three were to fail, still more auto firms will come to the United States, as their many foreign predecessors did in the years before.

So here’s to the natural order of things and, hopefully, a levelheaded Congress that will let the markets take their natural course and force a shakeout – and not a bailout.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘MONEY MORNING’

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, GERMANY, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, JAPAN, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

SCHWARZENEGGER TELLS U.N.: GREEN RULES HELP MARKETS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 9, 2008

December 8, 2008

Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Matthew Jones

PUBLISHED BY ‘SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN’ (UK)

POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) – Green regulations will help both the environment and ailing economies, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told a 187-nation U.N. climate conference on Monday.

“Of course, there are some people who say that we can’t afford the fight against global warming while our economies are down,” he said in a video message on the sidelines of the December 1-12 U.N. meeting in Poznan, western Poland.

“But the exact opposite is true,” he said.

California, which is the world’s fifth biggest economy on its own, has been leading other U.S. states in the fight against climate change.

“The green rules and regulations that will help save our planet will also revive our economies,” the governor aid.

The Poznan talks are reviewing progress toward a new global pact to fight climate change meant to be agreed at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen. The talks have been overshadowed by the global financial crisis.

Schwarzenegger also said he would attend the Copenhagen talks to support U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

The Poznan talks are a step on the way to agree a new worldwide climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it runs out in 2012. The United States is the only industrialized nation that has not ratified the Kyoto treaty.

President George W. Bush said Kyoto was unfair because it did not set caps on emissions by emerging nations like China and India and he reckoned it would be too costly for the U.S.

Obama has promised much tougher action on fighting climate change and intends for the U.S. to be more involved in environmental efforts when he takes over the presidency in January.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN’ (UK)

Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009 | Leave a Comment »

NOW IS THE TIME FOR POLITICS – MORE GOVERNMENT IS THE SOLUTION, NOT THE PROBLEM, AND KEY TO SOLVING WORLD POVERTY (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 9, 2008

DECEMBER 2008 – FEBRUARY 2009

by Luis Inácio Lula da Silva

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ (USA) – SPECIAL EDITION – ISSUES 2009

The world today is experiencing turbulence unlike anything we’ve seen in decades. The U.S. credit crisis has contaminated the international economy, and financial systems have been shaken to the core, undermining economic doctrines once treated as absolute truths.

As I told the UN. General Assembly in September, now is the time for politics, for governments to use public control and oversight to halt the economic anarchy. I welcome the actions that other countries have taken. But it will be some time before their initiatives kick in. That means more steps are needed in the meantime to safeguard the world’s most vulnerable: workers whose jobs and purchasing power are on the line, simple folk trying to save for the future, the poor who depend on the state.

The abuses and errors coming to light daily are all evidence that our existing system of international economic governance has broken down. To develop a better one, the world’s major developing countries should be called on to join the debate. We have plenty to contribute. Take Brazil. We are ready to do our part, and our economy is better prepared than most to confront the crisis. We have said no to macroeconomic adventurism. Inflation is under control and we are growing steadily. We have plenty of foreign reserves and owe nothing to the International Monetary Fund. This gives us the tools and the peace of mind to withstand the turbulence the crisis will bring.

Brazil is also better prepared to deal with the social and economic dislocation that may ensue. Consider: since I took office in 2003, more than 10 million Brazilians have joined the workforce. Some 20 million have risen out of absolute poverty. Our internal market is expanding, giving us an important economic cushion. Above all, we are redistributing income and reducing social inequality. These advances have nothing to do with luck or a favorable environment. They are the result of hard work by the Brazilian people and their government.

Weaving a broad social safety net is a central part of this endeavor. Our income-transfer program now distributes benefits to 11 million poor families nationwide, on the condition that mothers get prenatal care and parents keep their children in school and vaccinated. Our success shows that individual governments can and must play a vital role in reducing poverty and inequality. And our example in health care and education is already being made available to other countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia facing similar challenges.

That said, no state will escape this crisis on its own. Coordinated actions are needed. Yet they will succeed only if international decision making is redesigned in accordance with new realities; the institutions set up after World War II reflect a balance of power that’s long been superseded. This challenge actually goes far beyond the immediate financial storm. Other threats loom, such as hunger and poverty, the rising price and scarcity of food, the energy crisis and climate change. World commerce remains distorted, and the best means of addressing that—die Doha round of trade talks — could collapse.

Still, none of these obstacles is insurmountable. We all know the solutions, and we have the tools and the resources to succeed. Too often what we lack is political will. Many people today are comparing our current situation with the Great Depression. But we should take those parallels further and should summon the spirit of solidarity that helped create the New Deal, harnessing it to forge a new global pact to roll back poverty and extreme inequality. Contrary to what so many believe, globalization has only increased the economic and social responsibilities of governments. We must renew our commitment to strong multilateralism and we must make that multilateralism more democratic, in order to build agreements that reflect the legitimate interests of all nations. This means, among other things, enlarging the U.N. Security Council and revamping the IMF to provide effective financial support to countries in need.

The United States-by virtue of its size and its economic prowess—is and will continue to be a key player in the global search for common solutions. Washington has played such a decisive role since the end of World War II. Given the challenges and opportunities facing us today, we in the developing world hope that we can once again count on the American people to come to the defense of multilateralism, equality and justice. This is not the time for protectionism, but for progressive action born of generosity and solidarity that will forge collective answers to 21st-century challenges.

Luis Inácio Lula Da Silva is the President of Brazil.

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ (USA)

Posted in 'DOHA TALKS', A PRESIDÊNCIA, AFRICA, ASIA, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BRASIL, CENTRAL BANKS, CIDADANIA, COMBATE À DESIGUALDADE E À EXCLUSÃO - BRASIL, COMMERCE, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FLUXO DE CAPITAIS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, G20, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, IMF, INDÚSTRIA DA CONSTRUÇÃO CIVIL, INFRAESTRUTURA - BRASIL, INSTITUIÇÕES DE FOMENTO NACIONAL, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LATIN AMERICA, LUIS INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA, MACROECONOMY, O MERCADO DE TRABALHO - BRASIL, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, OS TRABALHADORES, POLÍTICA EXTERNA - BRASIL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RELAÇÕES DIPLOMÁTICAS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL, SOUTH AMERICA, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE, HYPOCRISY AND PRIVATE LIVES (Lebanon)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Talal Nizameddin wrote this article for THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

First person by Talal Nizameddin

I am suffering from a total state of agnosia. Is this the same Michel Aoun who angrily vowed that he would break the head of the Syrian regime? Is this the same Syrian regime that pacified the Lebanese Army soldiers fighting under Aoun’s command and waged a ruthless campaign for 15 years to marginalize the idealistic Free Patriotic Movement supporters? At least I am almost sure that I haven’t been afflicted by amnesia. I remember when the Lebanese felt the thrill of defiance when they beeped their car horns driving through the Nahr al-Kalb tunnel leading to Jounieh from Beirut.

Letting bygones be bygones and forgiveness is a treasured feature of human nature and being an optimist, I say whatever breaks the ice and allows people to move on from a painful past should be welcomed with open hearts. But the process of forgiveness is a long and arduous one. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam it must begin with honesty, leading to confession and then as a final step absolution becomes meaningful. On a human level, in a one-to-one conflict, a discussion must take place that expresses the pain of each side so that there is an understanding of the hopes and fears of the other side before saying sorry reaches a level beyond words and touches the human within us.

It is said that since the end of the Cold War we have been living in the age of the clash of civilizations and the dialogue of faiths. In the Western and pro-Israeli media, Islam is the culprit, with the image of bloodthirsty mad Muslims rampaging through Mumbai killing randomly all those around them the latest episode of terror that does nothing to the great religion they claim to be fighting for. Among Arabs and Muslims it is the Jews who have manipulated the Holocaust tragedy to inflict suffering on Palestinians and Arabs. The Christian West is also blamed for a low-burning decadence that over time has led to the collapse of the world financial markets due to greed and the neglect of the poverty and misery of the so-called Third World.

What is strikingly noticeable about Aoun’s visit is the tour of the historic churches of Syria. The message clearly states that Christianity is safe from the harm of Muslim fanatics in secular Syria. But the manipulation of the clash of civilizations idea has been even better fine-tuned because there is now a distinction between Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam that has been dispersed in our media outlets like a wave of cluster bombs. Thus we have inter and intra-civilization clashes if we are to believe our political experts and TV commentators. Aoun and his supporters have played further on Lebanese Christian emotions, maliciously highlighting the difference between the Shiites, true Lebanese patriots who are fighting Israeli occupation and the Sunnis, bad people who are paid by the Saudis to turn Lebanon into a Wahhabi extension. Even by local standards Lebanese politics has descended to a truly low level.

In fact, the Saudi monarch courageously endorsed a United Nations gathering to promote dialogue among the world’s great religions despite criticisms from no other than Aoun and his comrades in March 8. Despite the good intentions, the Saudis may however be wasting their time. By entering into such discussions the world risks mirroring the same Lebanese facade that religious belief somehow lies at the source of conflict. It evades the powerful economic explanations and the fact that there is a huge gap in wealth between states and between individuals in the world we live in. It also, and just as importantly, diverts attention from the lack of representation, the lack of personal freedoms and the lack of human rights most people in the world endure on a daily basis. Blatant injustice, economic and political, creates extremism and not religions.

The West should not feel too self-satisfied about its state when there are calls for more social justice and greater freedoms. In Britain, as an example of an advanced European country, the state has been shown to fail time and time again in protecting children with one in four children according to a recent study suffering from sexual abuse. Crime is rampant and ethics are barely visible in the business and political realms. As in the United States, a philosophy of “grabbing hands grab what they can” has reigned for decades. Support for oppressive regimes, particularly here in the Middle East, is justified in the name of good diplomacy but the arming of parties fuelling regional conflicts is also considered good business sense.

If most sensible people agree that finding a solution to the Palestinian problem, which has nothing to do with religion, will make the Middle East and the world a better place, why on earth has it been so difficult for the world’s only superpower to convince Israel to accept a neighboring viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza? If the United States is truly a democracy, then I must concur with the people I despise the most, the religious fanatics, that blaming the elected leader of the United States is futile because the American people must shoulder their moral responsibility to force their government into a strategic change in their approach. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a political problem with a human dimension. It is simply about national self-determination and not religious fanaticism or civilizational clashes. Palestinians and Jews belong to the same religious family chart, whether they like to admit or not although undoubtedly their historic experiences have diverged.

Nowhere has the mythology of sectarian and religious warfare been more prevalent than in Lebanon. I am still surprised how many Western observers take for granted the cliches about Muslim-Christian divisions characterizing Lebanese society. In reality, Lebanon is more of a clan-based system, with chiefs of clans or communities often but not necessary being defined by their religious beliefs. It just so happens that the sect is an important form of self-identification that is manipulated for conflicts, whether it is over land or political power. That is why within Lebanese sects there are often more than one chief. Take the Maronites as an example of multiple chiefs or zaims, Suleiman Franjieh, Samir Geagea, Michel Aoun, Amin Gemayel and Dori Chamoun all godfathering their own loyal communities. Even the ideological Hizbullah recognizes the need to respect the independence of the unruly clans of Baalbek in return for acknowledgement.

In Lebanon inter-communal relations and divisions are far more complex than simple religious divides. The downside of this system is that the individual is forced into belonging into a clan, because the collective of clans are far more powerful than the formal state. Only the community can protect the individual. In Lebanon, individuals do not have private lives, as is the case in the West, because they are the property of the family, the village, the community. The pattern is the same among all of Lebanese sects. But then again, free from the regional political conflicts, the interference from outside and the flaws in the internal political system, why should we accept that the community is a lesser entity than the state in its value?

Some Western political theorists have even called for a return to communalism as a result of the social failures of the modern state. The Lebanese model offers the opportunity of creating a political system that safeguards communities and also protects the rights of individuals living within them because the hypocritical and simply false pretense of a unified centralized state has been unworkable and shows no signs of succeeding. The Lebanese want their personal liberty, social justice and their community at one and the same time. It is no easy task but where there is a will there is a way and Lebanon could present the world with an example to be emulated around the world. Lebanon’s greatness and loyalty from its citizens could be reinforced by the historic achievement of harmonious and fraternal communal cohabitation. The first step is liberation from the old slogans and working for the common good without playing on communal fears to achieve personal ambitions. When a zaim such as Aoun tours with an open heart the various neighborhoods of Beirut rather than the churches of Syria we would have began reaching the final step toward that sacred goal.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in AL QAEDA, CHRISTIANISM, EUROPE, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAM, JUDAISM, LEBANON, PALESTINE, RELIGIONS, SAUDI ARABIA, SYRIA, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED KINGDOM, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

IRAN TESTS NEW MISSILE FROM WARSHIP: REPORTS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Sun Dec 7, 1:52 am ET

Reporting by Hashem Kalantari, writing by Edmund Blair

PUBLISHED BY ‘YAHOO NEWS’ (USA)

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s military test-fired a new surface-to-surface missile from a warship as part of exercises along a strategic shipping route, state media reported on Sunday.

Iran launched six days of naval war games on Tuesday in the Sea of Oman and the Gulf region amid tension with the United States and Israel, which have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end a row over Tehran’s nuclear work.

Iran has said that, if pushed, it could close the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf and through which about 40 percent of the world’s traded oil passes.

“The surface-to-surface Nasr-2 missile was tested in the (Sea of) Oman operational region,” state radio reported, adding that the test took place on Saturday.

“The Nasr-2 was fired from a warship and hit its target at a distance of 30 km (19 miles) and destroyed it,” the official news agency IRNA said, adding it was the first test of the new, medium-range missile.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to build nuclear warheads, a charge Tehran denies. It insists that it wants to master nuclear technology to generate electricity so that it can export more of its huge oil and gas reserves.

Washington, which has its navy Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain, has pledged to keep shipping lanes open. Experts say Iran’s navy would be no match for U.S. technology but could still create havoc in the waterway.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘YAHOO NEWS’ (USA)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WAR EXERCISES | Leave a Comment »

ARMS SALES AND THE FUTURE OF U.S.-TAIWAN-CHINA RELATIONS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

November 24, 2008 05:01 PM – Age: 13 days

by Jau-shieh Joseph Wu

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION’ (USA)

Publication: China Brief Volume: 8 Issue: 22

Category: China Brief, Featured, Military/Security, China and the Asia-Pacific

The outgoing Bush Administration made an 11th hour decision to notify the U.S. Congress on GEORGE WALKER BUSHOctober 3—a day before Congress went into recess ahead of the groundbreaking November presidential election in the United States—that a raft of arms and weapons systems, which have been effectively frozen since December 2007, will be released for Taiwan. The passage of the arms package provided a temporary reprieve for Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, whose approval rating since assuming office in May has plummeted to 23.6 percent in October (Global View, November 2008). The items released by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, at the value of $6.4 billion, includes: 182 Javelin anti-tank missile; 30 Apache helicopters; four PAC-3 anti-missile batteries; 32 submarine-launched Harpoon missiles; and four E-2T radar plane upgrades. But more noticeable than the items released is the absence of the first phase of 8 diesel-powered submarines, Black Hawk helicopters, and two additional PAC-3 batteries that had been originally sought (United Daily News [Taiwan], October 5, 2008; Defense News, October 6). Taipei also requested 66 F-16 C/D jet fighters to add to its current inventory, but the Bush Administration has not received the letter of request for the reason that it would only process the above-mentioned package at the current stage.

The passage of the arms package was received with a sigh of relief in Taipei, which is concerned about the island’s strained relations with the United States,and, had a decision lapsed to the next U.S. president, weary that the package would be approved at all. As expected, Beijing complained bitterly and suspended unspecified military exchange programs with the United States (United Daily News, October 8, 2008), but overall the sale did not upset Sino-U.S. relations, nor did it interrupt the momentum of reconciliatory gestures between the Kuomintang (KMT), the ruling party on Taiwan, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, the scaling-down of the arms package signifies subtle changes in the geopolitical landscape in East Asia, where the shifting center of gravity may affect the long-term interests of the United States and its relations with the nations in the region.

Arms Sale and Taiwan’s Defense

Although the items approved only represent a fraction of Taiwan’s request and the value is half of what was originally sought, the package nonetheless improves Taiwan’s defense capability and reduces Taiwan’s widening military disparity vis-à-vis China. However, China’s military is rapidly modernizing, with its military defense budget has increased by double digit for more than 15 years while Taiwan’s defense budget has remained low. Therefore, the arms package will be unable to offset the strategic changes in the depth projection of China’s military in the region and encirclement of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Among Taiwan’s most cited threats is the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) deployment of more than 1,000-1,400 short-ranged ballistic missiles (SRBM), which have increased at the rate of 100 per year since 2001. These missiles have been aimed at Taiwan from six missile bases in Lepin, Santow, Fuzhou, Longtien, Huian, and Zhangzhou, spanning three southeastern coastal provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Fujian [1] (Liberty Times [Taiwan], March 30, 2008). In addition, China has also acquired an estimated 50 advanced submarines, which is more than what military analysts state the PLA needs to blockade the Taiwan Strait. The PLA has also engaged in military exercises and deployments designed to sharpen its defensive capabilities so that even with limited offensive capabilities, China would be able to subdue Taiwan’s defenses in a limited amount of time by denying the access of other maritime powers that may come to Taiwan’s defense [2]. Furthermore, China has—in recent years—ratcheted up its computer-hacking activities against the Taiwanese government’s national security-related agencies and has stolen countless sensitive materials (United Daily News, April 8, 2007), so much so that some Taiwanese security officials describe that a “silent war” has already begun.

Friction between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the CCP in the Taiwan Strait was to be expected for two parties whose visions for Taiwan and its relationship with China are diametrically opposed. That the result of Taiwan’s presidential election on March 22 was embraced by the embattled U.S. leadership came as no surprise. The KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou appears more conciliatory toward China than his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP. Chen stoked tensions in cross-Strait relations prior to the election by advocating that Taiwan join the United Nations as a new member, promoted a national referendum on the issue during the recent presidential election. These tensions have since eased following President Ma’s inauguration. Bush Administration officials—in pubic and in private—conveyed satisfaction to see Taiwan’s KMT government and the CCP re-engaged in cross-Strait dialogue, particularly the resumption of the Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF) – Association for the Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) channel, severed by the CCP after former President Lee Teng-hui stated in a major policy speech in 1999 that Taiwan-China relations are “special state-to-state relations.”

Cross-Strait Politics and China’s Legal Warfare against Taiwan

From November 3 to 7, the head of ARATS, Chen Yunlin, serving as China’s special envoy to Taiwan, participated in an unprecedented visit to Taiwan to negotiate cross-Strait aviation, shipping, and food safety agreements. Chen Yunlin’s visit has attracted international attention on the warming relations between a democratic Taiwan and an authoritarian China, and also on a deepening divide in Taiwanese society.

A closer examination of ongoing cross-Strait shuttle diplomacy between the KMT and CCP, and public announcements made by President Ma raises legitimate questions about whether the current trend is in Taiwan’s national interest or for that matter U.S. long-term security interest.

The issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty has always been the focal point of cross-Strait tension, since the PRC claims that Taiwan is a part of China under its interpretation of the “one-China principle.” The Chinese government has engaged in what some analysts call a diplomatic “full-court press,” using a carrot and stick strategy in the form of financial and monetary incentives, to legalize the “one-China principle” in major international organizations and thereby legitimize its claim of sovereignty over Taiwan (Javno, November 16, 2007).

The first such step came in May 2005, when the Chinese government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat requiring the WHO to seek Chinese approval before Taiwan, under the name “Taiwan, China,” could participate in any WHO-related activities. The second came in the United Nations, which in March 28, 2007, issued a letter from the Secretariat to Nauru stating that, in compliance with the 1972 UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, “the United Nations considers Taiwan for all purposes to be an integral part of the People’s Republic of China.” The third incident was with the OIE (World Organization of Animal Health). In May 2007, Beijing attempted to pass a resolution “recognizing that there is only one China in the world and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China which includes Taiwan,” changing Taiwan’s membership into “non-sovereign regional member,” and using “Taiwan, China” or “Taipei, China” as Taiwan’s official title in this organization.

As these three examples demonstrate, the “one-China principle” has been used by the PRC as a means of waging its “legal warfare” to incorporate Taiwan and to accomplish its bottom-line goal of de jure unification, as explicitly stated by its CARCEL PARA POSADAdeclared intent to use military force if necessary under the “anti-secession law” of 2005 to “reunify” Taiwan. The examples also illustrate how, if Taipei agrees to the “one-China principle,” it may be interpreted as accepting China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. Under such pretexts, the government under the DPP had to avoid and even repel the “one-China principle” as the precondition for the resumption of cross-Strait talks. The DPP did this by seeking international support for its counter-position, which led to the standoff in cross-Strait negotiations and showed the world that the “one-China principle” effectively became a non-starter.

These efforts notwithstanding, Ma Ying-jeou in his inaugural address reversed the previous administration’s position and accepted the so-called “1992 consensus” as the foundation for cross-Strait reconciliation in spite of the fact that the PRC officially stated that the “1992 consensus” was a consensus realizing (ti-xien) the “one-China principle.” In several private meetings with foreign visitors, Ma even went on to say that he accepted the one-China principle with or without any elaboration on what he meant by it. In addition, Ma stated in September during an interview with a Mexican journal that the relations between Taiwan and China are “non-state to state special relations,” and his spokesperson Wang Yuchi further qualified that statement of policy by saying that relations should be characterized as “region to region” (diqu dui diqu) relations (September 3, 2008, news release, http://www.president.gov.tw). In the effort to participate in international organizations, Ma announced that there is no better title for Taiwan other than “Chinese Taipei” (United Daily News, April 5, 2008). During the August/September effort to participate in the United Nations, the KMT government gave up on the membership drive and pursued only “meaningful participation” in UN-affiliated organizations. Even so, the Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Wang Guang-yia, stated that Taiwan was not qualified to participate in major international organizations, and Taiwan’s participation in the WHO had to follow the MOU signed between the Chinese government and the WHO Secretariat (Liberty Times, August 28, 2008). The Ma administration made no attempt to repudiate the Chinese claim, and Ma’s spokesperson stated that it was not a “non-goodwill” (Liberty Times, August 29, 2008). In addition, when in the negotiations for cross-Strait chartered flights the Ma administration decided to open up six domestic airports in addition to two international airports, the decision apparently fell into the Chinese claim that the cross-Strait flights are domestic flights. In short, the official statements and policy actions by the KMT government on relations between the two sides of the Strait thus put Taiwan within the description of the “one-China principle,” with Taiwan being part of China.

Inner Politics and Arms Sales

In another interview by India and Global Affairs, Ma stated that HOMELESS - USAhe wanted to pursue full economic normalization with China, and that he also wanted to reach a peace agreement within his term (Liberty Times, October 18, 2008). If Ma’s concept on the relations between Taiwan and China falls within the description of the “one-China principle,” a full economic normalization will mean an arrangement similar to the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and China. A peace agreement between Taiwan and China within the timetable of his four-year term may necessitate that the United States prepare for an eventual termination of arms sales to and security cooperation with Taiwan. Ma’s statements may be welcomed by the international community as gestures toward peace, but it is actually putting Taiwan’s security in jeopardy. If Taiwan were to sign a peace agreement under the KMT where the conditions are defined by the KMT and CCP, the resulting equation, influenced by a much more powerful China at the other end of the negotiating table, may forfeit Taiwan’s freedom to repudiate China’s claim over Taiwan. Taiwan may be moving dangerously too close to the PRC and may not be able to maintain its current de facto independent status any longer.

The United States has for decades held a policy of refuting the PRC’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, as stated in the “six assurances” provided by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and other private communications with Taiwan (Fredrick Chien Memoir, vol. 2, 2005, 215-6). When China manipulated the UN Secretariat to issue a letter in March 2007, which stated that Taiwan is considered by the UN an integral part of the PRC, the United States protested to the UN Secretariat, arguing that such a declaration is against U.S. policy (Liberty Times, September 6, 2007). But if Taiwan itself accepts one-China principle, the foundation for this U.S. policy may be jeopardized. In other words, Ma’s effort of reconciliation is a short-term relief for the United States at a time when it is not capable of addressing simultaneous international conflicts. However, such efforts may prove to be against U.S. long-term interests, especially if the United States continues to view China’s rapid military modernization with suspicion.

Taiwan’s domestic politics are severely divided over the course of the government’s ongoing rapprochement with China. President Ma has not made any efforts to seek domestic reconciliation or attempt to communicate with the opposition over his intentions on cross-Strait policy. In fact, Ma’s statements and actions angered many people who believe that Taiwan should keep China at arm’s length. Taiwan appears to be more divided than before in the months since Ma’s inauguration, as evidenced by several large-scale, anti-government/anti-China demonstrations. Consequently, Taiwan’s status has been relatively weakened in facing the subtle and not so subtle threats from authoritarian China. A divided and weakened Taiwan severely threatens Taiwan’s national security, and is, by extension, not in the interests of the United States or Japan, its key ally in East Asia. All interested parties should therefore encourage the KMT to engage the opposition DPP in formulating its policy across the Taiwan Strait.

Conclusion

The changes occurring within the strategic landscape of East Asia are quite subtle indeed. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are one of the most important means LOADING BOMBSfor the United States to demonstrate its security commitment to its key allies and ensure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. In order for the United States to continue to maintain peace and stability in the region, the United States has long held the position, as prescribed by the Taiwan Relations Act, that arms sales to Taiwan are evaluated on the merit of Taiwan’s defense needs, not political judgments or as a result of consultations with the PRC. However, the U.S. decision to scale down the volume of weapons that had already been promised may make Taiwan feel uncomfortable about the U.S. commitment at a time when Taiwan needs a strong defense in order to ward off China’s possible aggression. A continued U.S. commitment is also integral in permitting Taiwan to resist China’s political pressure, however remote it may seem, and most importantly enable Taiwan to negotiate with China from a position of strength. The unfinished issue of arms sales to Taiwan thus becomes another pressing matter for the new U.S. administration to address in order to safeguard American interests in reinforcing peace and stability in East Asia.

Notes

1. Tseng Shiang-yin, “The Enhancement of Taiwan’s missile defense,” Taiwan Defense Affairs (Vol 5, No. 3, Spring 2005) pp. 88-117, www.itdss.org.tw/pub/05_3/05_3_p088_177.pdf.

2. Ling Chang-sheng, “Research, Development and Deployment of China’s Cruise Missiles,” Defence International Issue 213 (Taiwan: April 12, 2003), www.diic.com.tw/comment/06/06930412.htm.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION’ (USA)

Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FORMOSA - TAIWAN, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | 1 Comment »

SHARING THE RESPONSABILITY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

DECEMBER 3-8, 2008

by Michael Levitin

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ – Print Edition – (USA)

He was Chief of Staff to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the leading voice behind 'A BIGGER BREAK' - Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the crisis forced the U.S. to leave behind its traditions - Photo by Hans-Christian Plambeck (Laif-Redux)Germany’s refusal to fight in Iraq. Now German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is the Social Democratic Party candidate for chancellor in next year’s elections, running against the popular Christian Democrat incumbent, Angela Merkel. In his first major interview with the U.S. press, Steinmeier sat down with NEWSWEEK’s Michael Levitin to discuss German troop engagements in Afghanistan, Russia’s recent aggression, the global financial crisis and how Germany might work alongside the United States. Excerpts:

LEVITIN: The day after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to install missiles in Kaliningrad if Washington did not “rethink” its deployment of a NATO missile shield in Eastern Europe. Did Moscow’s latest show of aggression shift the dynamic between Russia and Europe? How should you respond- and what should Europe’s response be?

STEINMEIER: Medvedevs announcement the day after the elections was clearly the wrong signal at the wrong time. We have no illusions about Russia. In the last few years it has often proved itself a difficult partner. The question remains how to deal with this huge country in Europe’s immediate neighborhood; having to choose between containment versus engagement, I advocate the latter. We must try to develop relations with Russia that go beyond economic interests and contribute to increased stability and security. After all, it is in our own interest to make sure that a Russia that is looking for its own identity is politically and culturally anchored in die West.

LEVITIN: Do you see Germany as a middleman, acting as a buffer between Russia and the rest of Europe-perhaps at the moment even Russia’s closest EU ally?

STEINMEIER: Russia is aware of our uniquely close relationship with the United States. We are firmly embedded in NATO and the EU and thus we don’t aspire to play the role of a middleman. Together with our European partners we showed a strong and outspoken response to Russia’s role in the conflict in Georgia. I think Europe’s united voice no doubt contributed to the military conflict ending. Now the stabilization of the region as a whole has to continue, and for genuine stability we need Russian cooperation. As for energy links between the EU and Russia, the answer depends on which European country you talk to. But in general, Russia depends as much on Europe and America buying its goods as we rely on Russia supplying us with natural gas and oil. As far as Germany is concerned, it is little known in the United States that we have worked successfully for decades to diversify our suppliers of various forms of energy and fuels, with Russia but also Norway and Africa being important suppliers.

LEVITIN: You mentioned the conflict In Georgia. Should that country and Ukraine be Invited to Join NATO?

STEINMEIER: This is not a simple yes-or-no decision. With national elections looming, the domestic situation in Ukraine has changed, as has the situation in the Caucasus since the conflict broke out this summer. Yes, we remain committed to supporting and assisting these countries on the road ahead. But concerning the Membership Action Plan, Germany and other European governments continue to stand by their position.

LEVITIN: The most urgent U.S. foreign-policy question involving Germany, which Obama raised many times during his campaign, is Afghanistan and whether Germany will contribute more troops there to stabilize the south. How much is your country willing to sacrifice for this partnership, putting its soldiers into harm’s way?

STEINMEIER: I have spoken to Barack Obama twice, and from these exchanges I know that he sees Afghanistan in a very nuanced way. I feel we see eye to eye in our assessment that we’re facing a very difficult security situation, but that military means alone cannot bring about the necessary changes. Our approach has to be a comprehensive one, and contrary to what some people may say, Germany has played its part.

LEVITIN: In the north, certainly. But It’s in the south where the greatest violence has taken place, and where Obama’s asking for greater German participation.

STEINMEIER: We have shouldered our share of the military responsibility and we have also enlarged our engagement. We are about to increase our troops by 30 percent, to 4,500. We are participating in aerial surveillance across the whole of Afghanistan, including the south, and German radio engineers are also stationed in Kandahar. The German Air Force runs flights for all NATO countries throughout Afghanistan, again including the south. We took over the lead of the Quick Reaction Force in the north. And let us not forget that circumstances there have also changed; the north, too, has seen its share of armed opposition activities increasing in the last month. But our engagement in Afghanistan is about much more than military action. We have always said that we will only be successful if we succeed in helping rebuild the country and its economy. Civil reconstruction is the second important pillar of our engagement on the ground, and we’ll continue to increase our contribution in this area next year.

LEVITIN: Given the turmoil in Pakistan, what do you think the next steps forward ought to be?

STEINMEIER: The security of the whole region strongly depends on Pakistan. If we want to combat terrorism in Afghanistan, we have to succeed in stabilizing Pakistan politically and economically. This calls for a strengthened Pakistani commitment to combat terrorism, but it also calls for international assistance for this country. It needs a substantial loan from the IMF. We also need to be ready to help stabilize the country in a lasting way.

LEVITIN: On Iran, what realistic hopes do you see of bringing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the table and persuading him to give up Tehran’s nuclear ambitions? And how far will you be willing to push?

STEINMEIER: No doubt there is hope in the international community that after 29 years of standstill, a new approach may be possible. We all remember the reasons for the break-off of relations between the U.S. and Iran. Since then, U.S.-Iranian relations have also been a story of missed opportunities: when Washington signaled openness, Tehran wasn’t willing or able to respond in kind, and vice versa. I think it would be worthwhile trying to have direct talks, but the Iranians have to know it is up to them to prove they do not aspire to nuclear weapons-and that they’re willing to play a constructive role in the region. I have to admit I am skeptical, and can only express my hope that the leaders in Iran seize this opportunity.

LEVITIN: Turning to the financial crisis, the banks got a bailout. Now the automobile manufacturers are seeking the same thing. How do you see EU countries regaining their competition policy-and their legitimacy-after this?

STEINMEIER: I believe the politicians would have lost their legitimacy if they hadn’t acted. What we’re facing here is the very visible failure of the market. We had to make sure that the crisis in the financial markets does not lead to a total breakdown of the financial system as a whole. On both sides of the Atlantic, unconventional means were applied to manage the crisis. Honestly speaking, many of the measures taken in the U.S. seemed a bigger break with American tradition than can be said about European measures.

LEVITIN: How important is it that developing countries play a greater decision-making role In the future? For example, we saw hints of the G8 expanding into a G20 several weeks ago in Washington.

STEINMEIER: What is the most fundamental challenge the world is facing today? To my mind, it consists of integrating the emerging powers of the 21st century into a system of shared global responsibility. I am talk ing about countries like China and India, but also Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia. Can any of the global challenges we face be tackled without them? I don’t think so. That is why we have to make them stakeholders, and in that respect the recent financial summit in Washington was historic. To me it is obvious we cannot stop there.

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RUMSFELD NEMESIS SHINSEKI TO BE NAMED VA SECRETARY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

Posted on Sat, Dec. 6, 2008

by Hope Yen – The Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘PHILLY.COM’ (USA)

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary, turning to a former Army chief of staff once vilified by the Bush administration for questioning its Iraq war strategy.

Obama will announce the selection of Shinseki, the first Army four-star general of Japanese-American ancestry, at a news conference Sunday in Chicago. He will be the first Asian-American to hold the post of Veterans Affairs secretary, adding to the growing diversity of Obama’s Cabinet.

“I think that General Shinseki is exactly the right person who is going to be able to make sure that we honor our troops when they come home,” Obama said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” to be broadcast Sunday.

NBC released a transcript of the interview after The Associated Press reported that Shinseki was Obama’s pick.

Shinseki’s tenure as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003 was marked by constant tensions with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which boiled over in 2003 when Shinseki testified to Congress that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the invasion.

Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, belittled the estimate as “wildly off the mark” and the army general was forced out within months. But Shinseki’s words proved prophetic after President George W. Bush in early 2007 announced a “surge” of additional troops to Iraq after miscalculating the numbers needed to stem sectarian violence.

Obama said he selected Shinseki for the VA post because he “was right” in predicting that the U.S. will need more troops in Iraq than Rumsfeld believed at the time.

“When I reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans and, I think about how so many veterans around the country are struggling even more than those who have not served , higher unemployment rates, higher homeless rates, higher substance abuse rates, medical care that is inadequate , it breaks my heart,” Obama told NBC.

Shinseki, 66, will take the helm of the government’s second largest agency, which has been roundly criticized during the Bush administration for underestimating the amount of funding needed to treat thousands of injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thousands of veterans currently endure six-month waits for receiving disability benefits, despite promises by current VA Secretary James Peake and his predecessor, Jim Nicholson, to reduce delays. The department also is scrambling to upgrade government technology systems before new legislation providing for millions of dollars in new GI benefits takes effect next August.

Obama’s choice of Shinseki, who grew up in Hawaii, is the latest indication that the president-elect is making good on his pledge to have a diverse Cabinet.

In Obama’s eight Cabinet announcements so far, white men are the minority with two nominations , Timothy Geithner at Treasury and Robert Gates at Defense. Three are women , Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security, Susan Rice as United Nations ambassador and Hillary Rodham Clinton at State. Eric Holder at the Justice Department is African American, while Bill Richardson at Commerce is Latino.

Shinseki is a recipient of two Purple Hearts for life-threatening injuries in Vietnam.

Upon leaving his post in June 2003, Shinseki in his farewell speech sternly warned against arrogance in leadership.

“You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader,” he said. “You can certainly command without that sense of commitment, but you cannot lead without it. And without leadership, command is a hollow experience, a vacuum often filled with mistrust and arrogance.”

Shinseki also left with the warning: “Beware a 12-division strategy for a 10-division army.”

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PUBLISHED BY ‘PHILLY.COM’ (USA)

Posted in AL QAEDA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), DEFENCE TREATIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATO, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN | Leave a Comment »

FIDEL ABRE PORTAS DE CUBA AO DIÁLOGO COM OS EUA (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

06/12/2008 – 14:53

PUBLISHED BY ‘BLOG OF ZÉ DIRCEU’ (Brasil)

por Zé Dirceu

O ex-presidente e líder cubano Fidel Castro saiu na frente e 44 dias antes da posse (20 de janeiro) do novo presidente dos Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, tomou a iniciativa de abrir as portas de Havana ao diálogo com o governo norte-americano em relação à suspensão do bloqueio econômico com que Washington sufoca Cuba há 48 anos.

Em seu mais recente artigo assinado no Granma, Fidel considera que Obama é um líder com quem o governo de Cuba, hoje chefiado pelo presidente Raúl Castro, pode conversar “em qualquer lugar” que o norte-americano escolher.

Ele lembra sua condição, e de Cuba, de “não pregadores da violência e da guerra” e só adverte a Obama que se lembre de que “a diplomacia da cenoura e do porrete (afagar ou castigar)” não funcionará nos entendimentos com o governo de seu país.

Há uma semana Raúl já antecipou à revista The Nation estar disposto a encontrar-se com O presidente Obama em território neutro. Sua disposição casa-se com a do futuro secretário de Comércio de Obama, Bill Richardson, para quem os EUA têm de “mudar a política em relação à Cuba porque o embargo (bloqueio econômico) não faz sentido”.

TODOS NO MUNDO CONTRA O BLOQUEIO

Conforme registrei aqui nesse blog ontem, também a Câmara de Comércio Americana juntou-se a outras 11 entidades empresariais e entregou essa semana carta ao presidente Barack Obama na qual solicita a suspensão do bloqueio.

As 12 entidades reconhecem ser complicado a suspensão total e imediata do bloqueio de 48 anos, mas até sugere que ela se faça gradualmente – no começo, suspendendo-se a proibição de viagens e de envio de dinheiro a Cuba, dos cubanos residentes nos EUA.

Estes, conforme pesquisa que também publiquei ontem, em sua esmagadora maioria já não querem mais saber desse bloqueio. De acordo com a pesquisa, feita pela Universidade Internacional da Flórida (FIU), 55% dos cubanos de Miami (maior colônia cubana do mundo) estão a favor do fim do embargo.

Esse índice sobe para 60% que querem o fim da proibição de viagens e chega a 65% entre jovens e cubanos de meia idade de Miami que são contra as sanções. O bloqueio já foi rechaçado e teve sua suspensão pedida por 185 países em nada menos que 17 resoluções oficiais aprovadas pela Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU).

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BLOG OF ZÉ DIRCEU’ (Brasil)

Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), BRASIL, CUBA, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, POLÍTICA EXTERNA - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES COMERCIAIS INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES DIPLOMÁTICAS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA | Leave a Comment »

SWIMMING UP STREAM

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 6, 2008

Friday, Dec 05, 2008

REFLECTIONS BY COMRADE FIDEL

PUBLISHED BY ‘PORTAL CUBA’

REFLECTIONS BY COMRADE FIDEL

Following Obama’s speech, on May 23 this year, to the Cuban American National Foundation established by Ronald Reagan, I wrote a reflection entitled “The Empire’s Hypocritical Policy”. It was dated on the 25th of the same month.

In that Reflection I quoted his exact words to the Miami annexationists:

“[…] together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba; this is my word and my commitment

[…] It’s time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.

[…] I will maintain the embargo.”

I then offered several arguments and unethical examples of the general behavior of the Presidents who preceded the one who would be elected to that position on the November 4 elections. I literally wrote:

“I find myself forced to raise various sensitive questions:

1 – Is it right for the President of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

2 – Is it ethical for the President of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

3 – Should state terrorism be used by a country as powerful as the United States as an instrument to bring about peace on the planet?

4 – Is an Adjustment Act, applied as punishment on only one country, Cuba, in order to destabilize it, good and honorable, even when it costs innocent children and mothers their lives? If it is good, why is this right not automatically granted to Haitians, Dominicans, and other peoples of the Caribbean, and why isn’t the same Act applied to Mexicans and people from Central and South America, who die like flies against the Mexican border wall or in the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific?

5 – Can the United States do without immigrants, who grow vegetables, fruits, almonds and other delicacies for Americans? Who would sweep their streets, work as servants in their homes or do the worst and lowest-paid jobs?

6 – Are crackdowns on illegal residents fair, even as they affect children born in the United States?

7 – Are the brain-drain and the continuous theft of the best scientific and intellectual minds in poor countries moral and justifiable?

8 – You state, as I pointed out at the beginning of this reflection, that your country had long ago warned European powers that it would not tolerate any intervention in the hemisphere, reiterating that this right be respected while demanding the right to intervene anywhere in the world with the aid of hundreds of military bases and naval, aerial and spatial forces distributed across the planet. I ask: is that the way in which the United States expresses its respect for freedom, democracy and human rights?

9 – Is it fair to stage pre-emptive attacks on sixty or more dark corners of the world, as Bush calls them, whatever the pretext may be?

10 – Is it honorable and sound to invest millions upon millions of dollars in the military industrial complex, to produce weapons that can destroy life on earth several times over?”

I could have included several other issues.

Despite the caustic questions, I was not unkind to the African American candidate. I perceived he had greater capacity and command of the art of politics than his adversaries, not only in the opposing party but in his own, too.

Last week, the American President-elect Barack Obama announced his Economic Recovery Program.

Monday, December 1st, he introduced his National Security and Foreign Policy teams.

“Vice President-elect Biden and I are pleased to announce our national security team […] old conflicts remain unresolved, and newly assertive powers have put strains on the international system. The spread of nuclear weapons raises the peril that the world’s deadliest technology could fall into dangerous hands. Our dependence on foreign oil empowers authoritarian governments and endangers our planet.”

“…our economic power must sustain our military strength, our diplomatic leverage, and our global leadership.”

“We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships […] American values are America’s greatest export to the world.”

“…the team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that.”

“…these men and women represent all of those elements of American power […] they have served in uniform and as diplomats […] they share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world.”

“I have known Hillary Clinton…,” he says.

I am mindful of the fact that she was President-elect Barack Obama’s rival and the wife of President Clinton, who signed the extraterritorial Torricelli and Helms Burton Acts against Cuba. During the presidential race she committed herself with these laws and with the economic blockade. I am not complaining, I am simply stating it for the record.

“I am proud that she will be our next Secretary of State,” said Obama. “[she] will command respect in every capitol; and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world. Hillary’s appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment…”

“At a time when we face an unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I have asked Robert Gates to continue as Secretary of Defense…”

“[…] I will be giving Secretary Gates and our military a new mission as soon as I take office: responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control.”

It strikes me that Gates is a Republican, not a Democrat. He is the only one who has been Defense Secretary and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, that is, he has occupied these positions under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. Gates, who is aware of his popularity, has said that first made sure that the President-elect was choosing him for as long as necessary.

On the other hand, while Condoleezza Rice was traveling to India and Pakistan under Bush’s instructions to mediate in the tense relations between these two countries, two days ago, the minister of Defense from Brazil gave the green light to a Brazilian company to manufacture MAR-1 missiles, but instead of one a month, as it had been the case until now, it will produce five every month. One hundred of these missiles will be sold to Pakistan at an estimated cost of 85 million euros.

In a public statement, the minister said that “these missiles that can be attached to planes have been designed to locate ground radars. They allow the effective monitoring of both the ground and air space.”

As for Obama, he continued unflappable his Monday statement: “And going forward, we will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen our military and increase our ground forces to defeat the threats of the 21st century.”

On Janet Napolitano, he indicated: “[she] offers the experience and executive skill that we need in the next Secretary of Homeland Security…”

“Janet assumes this critical role having learned the lessons – some of them painful – of the last several years, from 9/11 to Katrina […] She understands as well as anyone the danger of an insecure border. And she will be a leader who can reform a sprawling Department while safeguarding our homeland.”

This familiar figure had been appointed a District Attorney in Arizona by Clinton in 1993, and then promoted to State Attorney General in 1998. Later on, in 2002, she became a Democratic Party candidate and then governor of that bordering state which is the most common incoming route used by illegal immigrants. She was elected governor in 2006.

About Susan Elizabeth Rice, he said: “Susan knows that the global challenges we face demand global institutions that work… We need the UN to be more effective as a venue for collective action – against terror and proliferation; climate change and genocide; poverty and disease.”

On National Security Advisor James Jones he said: “[…] I am convinced that General James Jones is uniquely suited to be a strong and skilled National Security Advisor. Generations of Joneses have served heroically on the battlefield – from the beaches of Tarawa in World War II, to Foxtrot Ridge in Vietnam. Jim’s Silver Star is a proud part of that legacy […] He has commanded a platoon in battle, served as Supreme Allied Commander in a time of war, (he means NATO and the Gulf War) and worked on behalf of peace in the Middle East.”

“Jim is focused on the threats of today and the future. He understands the connection between energy and national security, and has worked on the frontlines of global instability – from Kosovo to northern Iraq to Afghanistan.”

“He will advise me and work effectively to integrate our efforts across the government, so that we are effectively using all elements of American power to defeat unconventional threats and promote our values.”

“I am confident that this is the team that we need to make a new beginning for American national security.”

Obama is somebody we can talk to anywhere he wishes since we do not preach violence or war. He should be reminded, though, that the stick and carrot doctrine will have no place in our country.

None of the phrases in his latest speech shows any element of response to the questions I raised last May 25, just six months ago.

I will not say now that Obama is any less smart. On the contrary, he is showing the mental faculties that enabled me to see and compare his capacity with that of his mediocre adversary, John McCain, who was almost rewarded for his “exploits” merely due to the traditions of the American society. If it had not been for the economic crisis, television and the Internet, Obama would not have won the elections against the omnipotent racism. It also helped that he studied first in the University of Columbia, where he graduated in Political Sciences, and then in Harvard where he graduated as a lawyer. This enabled him to become a member of the modestly rich class with only several million dollars. He is certainly not Abraham Lincoln, nor are these times similar to those. That society is today a consumer society where the saving habits have been lost while the spending habit has multiplied.

Somebody had to offer a calm and serene response even though this will have to swim up the powerful stream of hopes raised by Obama in the international public opinion.

I only have two more press dispatches left to analyze. They all carry news from everywhere. I have estimated that only the United States will be spending in this economic crisis over $6 trillion in paper money, an amount that can only be assessed by the rest of the peoples of the world with their sweat and hunger, their suffering and blood.

Our principles are the same as those of Baraguá. The empire should know that our Homeland can be turned to dust but the sovereign rights of the Cuban people are not negotiable.

Fidel Castro Ruz

December 4, 2008 – 5:28p.m.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘PORTAL CUBA’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMERCIAL PROTECTIONISM, COMMODITIES MARKET, CUBA, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FOREIGN WORK FORCE - ILLEGAL, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE WORK MARKET, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

FIRST SIGNATURES ON TREATY TO BAN CLUSTER BOMBS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 4, 2008

December 04, 2008 Edition 1

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MERCURY’ (South Africa)

OSLO: About 100 nations began putting their names to a landmark treaty banning cluster bombs yesterday, amid calls for major arms producers such as China, Russia and the United States to join them.

Norway, which played a key role in hammering out the worldwide ban on using, producing, transferring and stockpiling cluster munitions, was the first country to sign the convention.

“The world is a safer place today,” said Richard Moyes of the Cluster Munitions Coalition, an umbrella group that comprises some 300 non-governmental organisations.

“This is the biggest humanitarian treaty of the last decade,” he said.

Dropped from warplanes or fired from artillery guns, cluster bombs explode in mid-air and scatter hundreds of bomblets, which can be just 8cm long.

Many bomblets fail to explode, littering war zones with de facto landmines that can kill and maim long after a conflict ends.

Worldwide, about 100 000 people have been killed or maimed by cluster bombs since 1965, 98% of them civilians.

More than a quarter of the victims were children, who mistook the bomblets for toys or tin cans. – Sapa-AFP

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MERCURY’ (South Africa)

Posted in CHINA, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NORWAY, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

IRAN STAGES WAR GAMES IN PERSIAN GULF

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 3, 2008

News number: 8709131608 18:12 – 2008-12-03 – Defence

PUBLISHED BY ‘FARS NEWS AGENCY’ (Iran)

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian naval forces started five days of war games in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

“The aim of this maneuver is to increase the level of readiness of Iran’s naval forces and also to test and to use domestically-made naval weaponry,” Admiral Qasem Rostamabadi said.

The maneuver started yesterday with the deployment of troops in and around the strategic Straight of Hormoz and the troops officially started their drills on Wednesday.

The naval maneuvers would cover an area of 50,000 square miles, including the Sea of Oman off Iran’s southern coast.

“In this six-day long maneuver there will be more than 60 combat vessel units,” Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the navy, said.

They would include destroyers, missile-equipped battleships, submarines, special-operations teams, helicopters, and fighter planes, he said.

Iran often stages exercises or tests weapons to show its determination to counter any attack by the United States or Israel against its nuclear sites.

Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran has mounted since a big Israeli air drill in June. In the first week of June, 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters reportedly took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.

Iran has, in return, warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by the Tel Aviv.

A US attack on the Syrian village of Sukkariyah on October 26, has also raised speculation about the likelihood of a US unilateral strike on the Islamic Republic.

The United States has also always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran’s progress in the field of nuclear technology.

Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

An Iranian naval commander last week said the country’s navy could strike an enemy well beyond its shores and as far away as Bab al-Mandab, the southern entrance to the Red Sea that leads to the Suez Canal.

Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has found that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “is unlikely” to delay the country’s program.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘FARS NEWS AGENCY’ (Iran)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL, IRAN, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WAR EXERCISES | Leave a Comment »

CANADA HAULS US TO WTO OVER COUNTRY-OF-ORIGIN LABELING FOR BEEF, PORK

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 3, 2008

Last update: December 2, 2008 – 5:58 AM

by Bradley S. Klapper – Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE STAR TRIBUNE’ (USA)

GENEVA – Canada filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization on Tuesday over a new U.S. law that requires retailers to provide country-of-origin labeling for fresh beef and pork, officials said.

The Canadian government said it was concerned the U.S. rules were discriminating against Canadian agricultural exporters, who have lobbied hard for a legal challenge at the WTO.

“We believe that the country-of-origin legislation is creating undue trade restrictions to the detriment of Canadian exporters,” Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day said in a statement.

The WTO confirmed receipt of Canada’s complaint.

Canadian farm groups say a growing number of meat plants in the U.S. are refusing to accept Canadian cattle and hogs for processing since the Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) law went into effect on Oct. 1.

Under country of origin labeling, Canadian cattle and pigs must be segregated in U.S. feedlots and packing plants, prompting some firms to only deal with American livestock. Canadian animals are also required to have more documentation about where they come from and, in the case of cattle, must have tags that indicate they are free of mad cow disease.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington could not immediately comment.

Ottawa’s filing at the Geneva-based trade referee initiates a two-month consultation period between the North American neighbors. If they fail to reach a settlement, Canada can ask the WTO for a formal investigation. Such trade disputes can result in punitive sanctions, but usually after years of litigation.

Canada and the U.S. are the world’s biggest commercial partners, but have battled for years over trade issues involving beef, corn, dairy and wheat. In 2006 the two countries signed an accord on softwood lumber, a key component in home-building, ending a decades-long dispute that once fueled talk of an outright trade war.

“We are committed to a respectful working relationship with our American neighbors,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said, “but have always made it clear that these new regulations must not discriminate against Canadian producers.”

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE STAR TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in CANADA, CATTLE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, PORK, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION | Leave a Comment »

UN: SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES ONGOING IN IRAQ – Report cites ongoing widespread ill-treatment, torture of detainees by Iraqi law enforcement authorities

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 2, 2008

First Published 2008-12-02

PUBLISHED BY ‘MIDDLE EAST ON LINE’

GENEVA – Serious human rights abuses including the torture of detainees are ongoing in Iraq, even though the general security situation has improved, a United Nations report published Tuesday said.

There are “ongoing widespread ill-treatment and torture of detainees by Iraqi law enforcement authorities, amidst pervasive impunity of current and past human rights abuses,” said the UN Iraq mission’s report on the human rights situation in Iraq for the first half of this year.

The mission said it found through visits to prisons that many prisoners have been held for many months without recourse to defence, even though some have not even been charged formally with a crime.

Minorities also continue to be targetted by organised armed militia, with members of the minority groups having to pose as Kurdish or Arab to get access to health care or education.

Meanwhile, women also faced harrassment on their mode of dress, while in the Kurdistan region, the mission still gets reports on violent killings, burning and domestic violence of women.

A UN independent expert last month also raised concern on the domestic assault on women, in particular at the rise of honour killings, in which women deemed to have broken moral codes are killed by members of their own family, and the impunity which is afforded the perpetrators.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘MIDDLE EAST ON LINE’

Posted in FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAQ, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

BEYOND THE BAILOUT STATE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 2, 2008

First Published 2008-12-02

by Steve Fraser – (*)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST ON LINE’

The American way of life, including its economy of mass consumption, has depended on maintaining the country’s global preeminence by any means possible: economic, political, and, in the end, military, says Steve Fraser.

Roosevelt’s Brain Trust vs Obama’s Brainiacs

On a December day in 1932, with the country prostrate under the weight of the Great Depression, ex-president Calvin Coolidge — who had presided over the reckless stock market boom of the Jazz Age Twenties (and famously declaimed that “the business of America is business”) – confided to a friend: “We are in a new era to which I do not belong.” He punctuated those words, a few weeks later, by dying.

A similar premonition grips the popular imagination today. A new era beckons. No person has been more responsible for arousing that expectation than President-elect Barack Obama. From beginning to end, his presidential campaign was born aloft by invocations of the “fierce urgency of now,” by “change we can believe in,” by “yes, we can!” and by the obvious significance of his race and generation. Not surprisingly then, as the gravity of the national economic calamity has become terrifyingly clearer, yearnings for salvation have attached themselves ever more firmly to the incoming administration.

This is as it should be – and as it once was. When in March 1933, a few months after Coolidge gave up the ghost, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated president, people looked forward to audacious changes, even if they had little or no idea just what, in concrete terms, that might mean. If Coolidge, an iconic representative of the old order, knew that the ancien régime was dead, millions of ordinary Americans had drawn the same conclusion years earlier. Full of fear, depressed and disillusioned, they nonetheless had an appetite for the untried. Like Obama, FDR had, during his campaign, encouraged feverish hopes with no less vaporous references to a “new deal” for Americans.

Brain Trust vs Brainiacs

Yet today, something is amiss. Even if everyone is now using the Great Depression and the New Deal as benchmarks for what we’re living through, Act I of the new script has already veered away from the original.

A suffocating political and intellectual provincialism has captured the new administration in embryo. Instead of embracing a sense of adventurousness, a readiness to break with the past so enthusiastically promoted during the campaign, Obama seems overcome with inhibitions and fears.

Practically without exception he has chosen to staff his government at its highest levels with refugees from the Clinton years. This is emphatically true in the realms of foreign and economic policy. It would, in fact, be hard to find an original idea among the new appointees being called to power in those realms – some way of looking at the American empire abroad or the structure of power and wealth at home that departs radically from views in circulation a decade or more ago. A team photo of Obama’s key cabinet and other appointments at Treasury, Health and Human Services, Commerce, the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, the State Department, the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and in the US Intelligence Community, not to speak of senior advisory posts around the President himself, could practically have been teleported from perhaps the year 1995.

Recycled Clintonism is recycled neo-liberalism. This is change only the brainiacs from Hyde Park and Harvard Square could believe in. Only the experts could get hot under the collar about the slight differences between “behavioral economics” (the latest academic fad that fascinates some high level Obama-ites) and straight-up neo-liberal deference to the market. And here’s the sobering thing: despite the grotesque extremism of the Bush years, neo-liberalism also served as its ideological magnetic north.

Is this parochialism, this timorousness and lack of imagination, inevitable in a period like our own, when the unknown looms menacingly and one natural reaction is certainly to draw back, to find refuge in the familiar? Here, the New Deal years can be instructive.

Roosevelt was no radical; indeed, he shared many of the conservative convictions of his class and times. He believed deeply in both balanced budgets and the demoralizing effects of relief on the poor. He tried mightily to rally the business community to his side. For him, the labor movement was terra incognita and – though it may be hard to believe today – played no role in his initial policy and political calculations. Nonetheless, right from the beginning, Roosevelt cobbled together a cabinet and circle of advisers strikingly heterogeneous in its views, one that, by comparison, makes Obama’s inner sanctum, as it is developing today, look like a sectarian cult.

Heterogeneous does not mean radical. Some of FDR’s early appointments – as at the Treasury Department – were die-hard conservatives. Jesse Jones, who ran the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a Hoover administration creation, retained by FDR, that had been designed to rescue tottering banks, railroads, and other enterprises too big to fail, was a practitioner of business-friendly bailout capitalism before present Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was even born.

But there was also Henry Wallace as Secretary of Agriculture, a Midwestern progressive who would become the standard bearer for the most left-leaning segments of the New Deal coalition. He was joined at the Agriculture Department — far more important then than now – by men like Mordecai Ezekiel, who was prepared to challenge the power of the country’s landed oligarchs.

Then there were corporatists like Raymond Moley, Donald Richberg, and General Hugh Johnson. Moley was an original member of FDR’s legendary “brain trust” (a small group of the President’s most influential advisers who often held no official government position). Richberg and Johnson helped design and run the National Recovery Administration (the New Deal’s first and failed attempt at industrial recovery). All three men were partial to the interests of the country’s peak corporations. All three wanted them released from the strictures of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act so that they could collaborate in setting prices and wages to arrest the killing deflation that gripped the economy. But they also wanted these corporate behemoths and the codes of competition they promulgated subjected to government oversight and restraints.

Meanwhile, Felix Frankfurter (another confidant of FDR’s and a future Supreme Court justice), aided by the behind-the-scenes efforts of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, fiercely contested the influence of the corporatists within the new administration, favoring anti-trust and then-new Keynesian approaches to economic recovery. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins used her extensive ties to the social work community and the labor movement to keep an otherwise tone-deaf president apprised of portentous rumblings from that quarter. In this fashion, she eased the way for the passage of the Wagner Act that legislated the right to organize and bargain collectively, and that ended the reign of industrial autocracy in the workplace.

Roosevelt’s “brain trust” also included Rexford Tugwell. He was an avid proponent of government economic planning. Another founding member of the “brain trust” was Adolph Berle, who had published a bestselling, scathing indictment of the financial and social irresponsibility of the corporate elite just before FDR assumed office.

People like Tugwell and others, including future Federal Reserve Board chairman Marriner Eccles, were believers in Keynesian deficit spending as the road to recovery and argued fiercely for this position within the inner councils of the administration, even while Roosevelt himself remained, until later in his presidency, an orthodox budget balancer.

All of these people – the corporatists and the Keynesians, the planners and the anti-trusters – were there at the creation. They often came to blows. A genuine administration of “rivals” didn’t faze FDR. He was deft at borrowing all of, or pieces of, their ideas, then jettisoning some when they didn’t work, and playing one faction against another in a remarkable display of political agility. Roosevelt’s tolerance of real differences stands in stark contrast to the new administration’s cloning of the Clinton-era brainiacs.

It was this openness to a variety of often untested solutions – including at that point Keynesianism – that helped give the New Deal the flexibility to adjust to shifts in the country’s political chemistry in the worst of times. If the New Deal came to represent a watershed in American history, it was in part due to the capaciousness of its imagination, its experimental elasticity, and its willingness to venture beyond the orthodox. Many failures were born of this, but so, too, many enduring triumphs.

Beyond the Bailout State

Why, at least so far, is the Obama approach so different? Some of it no doubt has to do with the same native caution that caused FDR to navigate carefully in treacherous waters. But some of it may result from the fallout of history. Because the Great Depression and the New Deal happened, nothing can ever really be the same again.

We are accustomed to thinking of the Bush years – maybe even the whole era from the presidency of Ronald Reagan on – as a throwback to the 1920s or even the laissez-faire golden years of the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. In some respects, that’s probably accurate, but in at least one critical way it’s not. Back in those days, faced with a potentially terminal financial crisis, the government did nothing, simply letting the economy plunge into depression. This happened repeatedly until 1929, when it happened again.

Since the New Deal, however, inaction has ceased to be a viable option for Washington. State intervention to prevent catastrophe has become an unspoken axiom of political life in perilous times. Of course, thanks to regulatory mechanisms installed during the New Deal years, there was no need to engage in heroic rescues – not, at least, until the triumph of deregulation in our own time.

Then crises began to erupt with ever greater frequency – the stock market crash of 1987, the savings and loan collapse at the end of that decade, the massive Latin American debt defaults of the early 1990s, the collapse of the economies of the Asian “tigers” in the mid-1990s, the near bankruptcy of the then-huge hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, later in that decade, the dot-com implosion at the turn the century, climaxing with the general global collapse of the present moment. Beginning perhaps with the bailout of the Chrysler Corporation in the late 1970s, these recurring crises have been met with increasingly strenuous efforts to stop the bleeding by what some have called “the bailout state.”

The Resolution Trust Corporation, created to rescue the savings and loan industry, first institutionalized what Kevin Phillips has since described as a new political economy of “financial mercantilism.” Under this new order the state stands ready to backstop the private sector – or at least the financial sub-sector which, for the past quarter century, has been the driving engine of economic growth – whenever it undergoes severe stress.

Today, the starting point for all mainstream policymakers, even those who otherwise preach the virtues of the free market and the evils of big government, is the active intervention of the state to prevent the failure of private-sector institutions considered “too big to fail” (as with most recently Citigroup and the insurance company AIG). So, too, the tolerance level for deficit spending, not only for military purposes but, in extremis, to help stop ordinary people from going under, is infinitely higher than in 1932. Ronald Reagan was prepared to live with such spending, if necessary, even as he removed portraits of Thomas Jefferson and Harry S. Truman from the Cabinet Room and replaced them with a canvas of Calvin Coolidge.

The question for our “new era” – not one our New Deal ancestors would have thought to ask — has become: How do we get beyond the bailout state? This is one crucial realm where genuinely new thinking and new ideas are badly needed.

At the moment, as best we can make out, the bailout state is being managed in secret and apparently in the interests, above all, of those who run the financial institutions being “rescued.” Often, we don’t actually know who is getting what from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, or on what terms, or even which institutions are being helped and which aren’t, or often what our public monies are actually being used for.

What we do know, however, is anything but encouraging. It includes tax exemptions for merging banks, prices for public-equity stakes in failing outfits that far exceed what is being paid by governments (or even private investors) abroad for similar holdings. Add to this a stark lack of accountability, aggravated by the fact that the US government has neither voting rights (nor even a voice) on boards of directors whose firms would be in bankruptcy court without Washington’s aid.

Living in an Empire of Depression

Are we, then, witnessing the birth of some warped, exceedingly partial version of state capitalism — partial, that is, to the resuscitation of the old order? If so, lurking within this string of bum deals might there not be a great opportunity? Putting the economy and country back together will require massive resources directed toward common purposes. There is no more suitable means of mobilizing and steering those resources than the institutions of democratic government.

Under the present dispensation, the bailout state makes the government the handmaiden of the financial sector. Under a new one, the tables might be turned. But who will speak for that option within the limited councils of the Obama team?

A real democratic nationalization of the banks – good value for our money rather than good money to add to their value – should be part of the policy agenda up for discussion in the Obama era. As things now stand, the public supplies the loans and the investment capital, but the key decisions about how they are to be deployed remain in private hands. A democratic version of nationalizing the financial system would transfer these critical decisions to new institutions created by the Congress and designed to pursue public, not private, objectives. How to subject the flow of credit and investment capital to public control ought to be on the drawing boards if we are to look beyond the old New Deal to a new one.

Or, for instance, if we are to bail out the auto industry, which we should — millions of jobs, businesses, communities, and what’s left of once powerful and proud unions are at stake – then why not talk about its nationalization, too? Why not create a representative body of workers, consumers, environmentalists, suppliers, and other interested parties to supervise the industry’s reorganization and retooling to produce, just as the president-elect says he wants, new green means of transportation – and not just cars?

Why not apply the same model to the rehabilitation of the nation’s infrastructure; indeed, why not to the reindustrialization of the country as a whole? If, as so many commentators are now claiming, what lies ahead is the kind of massive, crippling deflation characteristic of such crises, then why not consider creating democratic mechanisms to impose an incomes policy on wages and prices that works against that deflation?

Overseas, if everything isn’t up for discussion – and it most certainly isn’t – it ought to be. What happens there bears directly on our future here at home. After all, we live in the empire of depression. America’s favorite export for more than a decade has been a toxic line-up of securitized debt. Having ingested it in lethal amounts, every economy in the world from Iceland’s and Germany’s to Russia’s and Indonesia’s is either folding up or threatening to fold up like an accordion under the pressure of economic disaster.

Until now, the American way of life, including its economy of mass consumption, has depended on maintaining the country’s global preeminence by any means possible: economic, political, and, in the end, military. The news of the Bush years was that, in this mix, Washington reached for its six-guns so much more quickly.

A global depression will challenge that fundamental hierarchy in every conceivable way. The United States can try to recapture its imperiled hegemony by methods familiar to the Obama-Clinton-Bush (the father) foreign policy establishment, that is by using the country’s waning but still intimidating economic and military muscle. But that’s a devil’s game played at exorbitant cost which will further imperil the domestic economy.

It might, of course, be possible, as in domestic affairs, to try something new, something that embraces the public redevelopment of America in concert with the global South. This would entail at a minimum a radical break with the “Washington Consensus” of the Clinton years in which the United States insisted that the rest of the world conform to its free market model of economic behavior. It would establish multilateral mechanisms for regulating the flow of investment capital and severe penalties and restrictions on speculation in international markets. Most of all, it would mean lifting the strangulating grip of American military might that now girdles the globe.

All of this would require a capacity for re-imagining foreign affairs as something other than a zero-sum game. So far, nothing in Obama’s line-up of foreign policy and national security mandarins suggests this kind of potential policy deviance. Again, no Rooseveltian “brain trust” is in sight, even though unorthodoxies are called for, not just because of the hopes Obama’s victory have aroused, but because of the urgency of our present circumstances.

If original thinking doesn’t find a home somewhere within this forming administration soon, it will be an omen of an even more troubled future to come, when options not even being considered today may be unavailable tomorrow. Certainly, Americans ought to expect something better than a trip down (the grimmest of) memory lanes into the failed neo-liberalism of yesteryear.

(*) – Steve Fraser is a visiting professor at New York University and the author of Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace. He is a regular contributor to TomDispatch.com and co-founder of the American Empire Project series (Metropolitan Books).

Copyright 2008 Steve Fraser

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SAUDI ARABIA’S KING WANTS US OVER A $75-PLUS BARREL

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 2, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008 – Added 1d 22h ago

by Associated Press PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BOSTON HERALD’ (USA)

CAIRO, Egypt – Saudi Arabia’s king says the price of oil should be $75 a barrel, much higher than it is now, but his oil minister Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, left, attends a meeting with King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud at the king´s hunting lodge in Saudi Arabia to discuss current issues in the Middle East Jan. 17, 2007
indicated yesterday that no measures will likely be taken until OPEC meets again next month.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi said that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will “do what needs to be done” to shore up falling oil prices when the group meets Dec. 17 in Algeria, but for now it was “too early.”

Other ministers at the hastily convened OPEC meeting in Cairo did not entirely rule out production cuts, including Libyan oil official Shokri Ghanem, who, ahead of the meeting, said “all options are open.”

But Naimi, whose country is the world’s largest oil producer, said the bloc needs to wait until the Algeria meeting to assess the impact of earlier production cuts.

Naimi’s comments came after Saudi King Abdullah told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah in an interview published Saturday that oil should be priced at $75 a barrel.

“We believe the fair price for oil is $75 a barrel,” he said, without explaining how the price could be raised.

The price of crude stood at about $147 a barrel in mid-July.

On Friday, the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery was trading at about $54 per barrel.

© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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