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Archive for the ‘world news’ Category

Not sure what credence to give this

Posted by Charles II on April 16, 2013


Essam Elerian, vice chairman of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), wrote in a statement posted in Arabic on his Facebook account that the “events [i.e., Boston bombing] began with the sending of French battalions to Mali in a war against organizations that are said to be part of al Qaeda.”

He condemns the attacks. So why would he have any knowledge of their origin? I think it’s probably BS and that we’ll find the cause of the attacks was a lot closer to home. But it’s one of those odd stories that makes one raise one’s eyebrows.

Posted in world news | 6 Comments »

“They love us everywhere we go, so when in doubt…

Posted by Charles II on November 16, 2011

…send the Marines.” –Tom Lehrer

Today’s State Department briefing:

QUESTION: Do you have any more details about the incident in Manila today with the – involving the Secretary and the convoy, what exactly happened?

MR. TONER: Sure. I mean, I don’t know if everybody’s aware, but at 2:45, 1445 in military time, local time in the Philippines, which was, I believe, around 1:45 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, while en route to the presidential palace for a scheduled meeting in Manila, the Secretary’s motorcade ran into a crowd of approximately 40 to 50 people, protesters. They threw objects at the lead vehicle. I believe it was eggs and paintballs, maybe a few rocks. And the motorcade pulled out of that area and went to its scheduled location – sorry, the next schedule meeting place, which was the presidential palace. I’m sorry -they were en route from the presidential palace onto the next scheduled meeting place. And they pulled out of there and they went on to their next stop, and – without incident. And there were no reports of any injuries.

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Posted in Hillary Clinton, State Department, world news | Comments Off on “They love us everywhere we go, so when in doubt…

Doing away with one another: UN report on homicide

Posted by Charles II on October 6, 2011

Thanks to Jo6Pac, since AP doesn’t want anyone to know they exist, I looked up the UN report on homicide. From the report:

Since 1995, the homicide rate has decreased in many countries, mainly in Asia, Europe and Northern America, to the extent that it can be a relatively rare occurrence. Yet it has increased in others, particularly Central America and the Caribbean, where today it can be seen to be nearing crisis point.

Higher levels of homicide are associated with low human and economic development. The largest shares of homicides occur in countries with low levels of human development, and countries with high levels of income inequality are afflicted by homicide rates almost four times higher than more equal societies. Homicide and property crime were affected by the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, with increases in homicides coinciding with drops in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and rises in the Consumer Price index (CPI) in a sample of countries affected by the crisis.

This [disproportionate amount of male homicides of males] translates into a much higher risk of men being murdered than women, with global homicide rates of 11.9 and
2.6 per 100,000, respectively [despite the greater risk of domestic violence that women face].

Globally, UNODC estimates that the total number of annual homicides in 2010 was 468,000. An initial disparity in homicide distribution around the globe can be seen when disaggregating that figure by region, with the largest proportion, some 36 per cent or 170,000 homicides, estimated to occur in Africa, 31 per cent, or approximately
144,000, in the Americas and 27 per cent, or 128,000, in Asia. Europe and Oceania account for significantly less at 5 per cent, or 25,000, and under 1 per cent, or 1,200 homicides, respectively.

The homicide rate in the Americas is, at 15.6 per 100,000, more than double the world average (figure 1.3), while, at 17.4 per 100,000, Africa has the highest rate among all regions, although it also has the largest uncertainty range due to large discrepancies
between criminal justice and public health data.4 Asia falls between 2.4 and 4.3 per
100,000, and both Europe and Oceania also fall below the global average at 3.5 per 100,000, respectively.

the homicide rate usually increases when countries move from very high to lower levels of development.

Inequality is also a driver of high levels of homicide. Homicide rates plotted against the Gini Index, an important measure of inequality, show that at global level countries with large income disparities (Gini Index higher than 0.45) have a homicide rate almost four times higher than more equal societies.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the violence is driven by drug trafficking.

Posted in War On Some Drugs, world news | 1 Comment »

Noted with sorrow

Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2011

Syed Saleem Shahzad, a journalist with and Pakistan Bureau chief for ATimes who I have cited many times, was murdered, perhaps by Pakistani’s ISI (intelligence service), perhaps by Al Qaeda, or perhaps by parties unknown. As Munawer Azeem and WA Butt of Dawn note, Pakistani law enforcement wrapped up the case with unusual alacrity.

Shahzad, a rare journalist of moderate viewpoint but with sources inside Islamic extremism, was a voice almost impossible to replace. He will be missed.

Posted in media, Pakistan, world news | Comments Off on Noted with sorrow

South of the Border

Posted by Charles II on June 22, 2010

There are very few means for Americans to get a glimpse into the reality occurring in Latin America. Oliver Stone has produced a film called “South of the Border” that gives some insight not only into that reality, but into how the American media have completely misled our understanding of what’s going on. Now, what is going on in Latin America is too complex for a guy like Stone to capture. By necessity, given the time constraints of the medium, he sketches in black and white. There’s a lot of gray.

At any rate, here is an excerpt of a longer interview of him and co-worker Tariq Ali on his new movie:

AMY GOODMAN: That was Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. Oliver Stone, talk about how the US media portrays Chávez.

OLIVER STONE: Well, all you have to do is go to YouTube, and you’ll see. I mean, we put in the movie, it’s hysterical and outrageous. And by the way, mainstream—Washington Post, New York Times—it’s awful. I mean, it’s almost as if the New York Times guy—Simon Romero is his name—he sits there for years, and he’s a sniper. He doesn’t say one positive thing. It’s like every week or two he has to file his story, make it negative. It seems like that’s a directive. And he goes out—I mean, you read this stuff. All of it—and he never goes to the other side. He never gets the other side of the story. And he gets very complex little incidents, and he builds it up into this madhouse. It seems like it’s Chile again, like Allende. It’s like the economy is crashing. And the contrary is true. I mean, it’s a very rich country. It’s a regional power. It’s got, apparently, $500 billion—5,000 billion barrels of oil in reserve. It’s a major player for the rest of our time on earth, as long as we go with oil. You know, they’re not going to go away. So, Brazil and Venezuela.

And that raises a whole interesting thing about what recently happened in Iran, you know, when Lula from Brazil went over there with Turkey, Erdogan. That was a very interesting moment for me and for Tariq, because I grew up in the ’50s, so did he, and we remember the neutral bloc, remember the—remember Nehru and Nasser and Sukarno and fellow in Cambodia.

TARIQ ALI: Sihanouk

OLIVER STONE: Sihanouk. I mean, there was a bloc of people who used to say, “Hey, this is what we want. This is not what the United States wants.” And they were a mediator, a third rail between the Soviets and us. That’s gone in the world, and people don’t seem to realize it who are growing up. So when Lula did that, I couldn’t believe the outrage by people like Tom Friedman attacking him. And it was disgusting, I thought, really disgusting, because he never presented the point of view of Brazil and Turkey, which are major countries, huge powers, regional powers.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the New York Times, of course, before that trip, was blasting the possibility of Lula being able to negotiate any kind of arrangement and basically saying he was naive, he was out of his league. And Tariq, your response? The impact of that deal that was brokered by Turkey and—

TARIQ ALI: Look, I mean, everyone was surprised in the West, that how dare these countries have the nerve to go over our heads and negotiate an independent deal with Iran. But this is what the world once used to be like. No one accepted US hegemony unquestioningly, as many of the Security Council members do. The other point is that Brazil was very courageous to do this, Lula particularly, because Brazil has been trying to get a Security—permanent Security Council seat for a long time, and they’ve now jeopardized that process. They will never be allowed it. So they did it for good principled reasons, showing the world Iran is prepared to do a deal; it’s you who don’t want to do it, because you’re permanently under pressure from Israel.

This is what we’re seeing emerge from US weakness: a new, non-aligned bloc.

Posted in Brazil, Iran, Latin America, Turkey, world news | 4 Comments »

A lawbreaker brought to justice

Posted by Charles II on March 9, 2010

The US preaches free trade, but practices illegal dumping. The BBC:

The Brazilian government has announced trade sanctions against a variety of American goods in retaliation for illegal US subsidies to cotton farmers.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) approved the sanctions in a rare move.

Brazil published a list of 100 US goods that would be subject to import tariffs in 30 days, unless the two governments reached a last-minute accord.

It said it regretted the sanctions, but that eight years of litigation had failed to produce a result.

It said it would raise tariffs on $591m (£393m) worth of US products – from cars, where the tariff will increase from 35% to 50%, to milk powder, which would see a 20% increase in the levy.

The US government also preaches self-reliance and practices corporate socialism, preaches free speech and has created a media run by a handful of wealthy companies, preaches democracy and practices despotism…

This WTO decision is yet one more sign of failing American power. When our government does these unjust things, subsidizing American products with taxpayer dollars and them dumping them at below-cost prices into foreign markets simply to ruin their producers and enrich certain US interests, it deserves to lose that power.

Posted in economy, Latin America, world news | 6 Comments »

China dole

Posted by Charles II on February 20, 2010

A classic Chinese political gambit may be developing. Donald Kirk, Asia Times:

North Korea seems to be playing the China card for all it’s worth – in multi-billions in aid and investment – to overcome United Nations sanctions and pressure for Pyongyang to get rid of its nuclear program.

A report in South Korea about China investing US$10 billion in North Korea’s dilapidated economy has analysts worrying that such a deal could negate the impact of promises of that much money in energy aid as a reward for North Korea giving up its nukes.

American corporate lawyer Tom Pinansky, at a luncheon of the American Chamber of Commerce in Seoul, raised the issue in a barbed question to South Korea’s ambassador to the US Han Duk-soo. What would happen to six-party talks in which the lure of massive aid is the bargaining tool, if China is going to give the North all the aid it wants anyway?

Han, a former prime minister with a long background in economic and foreign affairs, more or less equivocated. There was nothing to substantiate the report, he said, indicating that China, as host of the six-party talks on North Korea’s, was cooperating on sanctions.

I’ve never understood why American diplomacy seems to be incapable of doing similar things. That is, not threatening other countries, or even confronting them directly, but simply acting in ways that undermine their vital interests and strengthen ours. Granted, this one will cost China some serious money, but doubtless they will ration it out at the minimum rate required to keep North Korea in existence. In the meantime, they cause the United States incredible headaches, because North Korea is at the borders of two US more-or-less vital interests (Japan and South Korea), and just crazy enough to, say, fly a missile over Japan.

Posted in China, nukes, world news | 3 Comments »

Obama to world on climate deal: “Take it or leave it.” World: “We’re leaving it. And you.”

Posted by Charles II on December 18, 2009

I don’t know how it was reported in the commercial media, but as seen through DemocracyNow! it looked as if America’s loss of stature is coming home to roost in the climate negotiations. Andrea Mitchell at NBC (on Rachel) said that it appears that Obama was not invited to a meeting between China and other nations and blundered his way in.

obama clearly ticked “wen” china’s premier sent jr aide to crucial meeting. was obama dissed by china? He never got 2nd one on one w/ wen

obama aides on af1 say he didnt barge in on leaders frm china,brazil,india s africa – thot he was seeing china alone, stumbled into caucus

Here’s the NYT reporting on it from John Broder:

The deal eventually came together after a dramatic moment in which Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton burst into a meeting of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders, according to senior administration officials. Mr. Obama said he did not want them negotiating in secret.

The intrusion led to new talks that cemented central terms of the deal, American officials said.

Sergio Serra, Brazil’s senior climate negotiator here, confirmed that Mr. Obama had joined a meeting of Brazilian, Indian, Chinese and other officials, although he did not say that Mr. Obama walked in uninvited.

The rest of the world was basically p–sed at Obama’s high-handed speech and his very brief stay at Copenhagen. This is an excerpt from Obama. Notice his failure to mention that the major holdout has been the US, including its Senator Ridiculous (R-Imhofe)

I just want to say to this plenary session that we are running short on time. And at this point, the question is whether we will move forward together or split apart, whether we prefer posturing to action. I’m sure that many consider this an imperfect framework that I just described. No country will get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached and no obligations with respect to transparency. They think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price—I understand that. There are those advanced nations who think that developing countries either cannot absorb this assistance, or that will not be held accountable effectively, and that the world’s fastest-growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden.

We know the fault lines, because we’ve been imprisoned by them for years. These international discussions have essentially taken place now for almost two decades, and we have very little to show for it other than an increased acceleration of the climate change phenomenon. The time for talk is over.

In other words, “Take it or leave it, suckers.”

Some responses:

AMY GOODMAN: Lumumba Di-Aping, you have called two degree increase a suicide pact, yet we see these leaked UNFCCC documents that indicate current negotiations would lead to three degree increase. What do you mean by “suicide pact”? And what’s your reaction to these latest documents? Did you know about them?
LUMUMBA STANISLAUS DI-APING: … I read from the IPCC report. “In all four regions of Africa, and in all seasons, the median temperature [increase] lies between 3 degrees C and 4 degrees C, roughly 1.5 times the global mean response.” One hundred and fifty times, so a two degrees is not three; it’s actually 3.5 and above.

So, for me, it means simply I will accept the total destruction of my continent, her people, in Copenhagen. That, I would not do. That should not be asked of Africa, because it is effectively saying Africa is not the part of the human family.

AMY GOODMAN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just arrived here in Copenhagen, dealing with the questions of will these talks collapse and making her announcement about what the US is putting on the table. Naomi Klein, your response?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, it was an extraordinary press conference, because it was really like just the most naked form of blackmail. She put this figure on the table. She said the US will contribute to a $100 billion fund, but only if the terms of their deal are agreed to by all of the countries here. So it was “agree to our terms.” And those terms are very clear. They’re kill the Kyoto Protocol, instead of legally binding emissions, transparency, which I don’t even know what that means, and no overall target, but these national plans. And as Jade has just outlined, those national plans do not meet the crisis. So it’s a horrible choice that the United States has put before the world: accept a completely unacceptable agreement that will not solve the climate crisis, or receive no money to deal with the effects of that crisis, which you are already living—the droughts, the floods, the malaria.

PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] … The budget of the United States is $687 billion for defense. And for climate change, to save life, to save humanity, they only put up $10 billion. This is shameful. The budget for the Iraq war, according to the figures we have, is $2.6 trillion for the Iraq war, to go kill in Iraq. Trillions of dollars. But directed towards paying the climate debt, $10 billion. This is completely unfair.

SUNITA NARAIN: Well, I think if President Bush was in kindergarten, President Obama is in first grade, but nothing more than that.

Posted in Barack Obama, environment, getting a clue, global warming, world news | 14 Comments »

Snuffing out the press candle

Posted by Charles II on December 11, 2009

Normally I don’t pay much attention to Project Censored on the grounds that it should be called News We Think is Important But Was Only Covered by the Left Media. But this is important news:

Award Winning Flashpoints Radio Show Under Threat by KPFA Management

By Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff


The Flashpoints radio program is being directly threatened with closure by station management. Budget cuts implemented by KPFA management; reduce staff time for Flashpoints by some 75 hours per week. Flashpoints, an award winning national radio program, originates at KPFA in Berkeley, California, and reaches some thirty cities in the US and serves an on-line audience worldwide.

Nora Barrows-Friedman wrote on December 9, “KPFA has effectively destroyed Flashpoints this week, beginning with the layoff of our technical producer position. Just hours ago, they called me into a meeting and casually informed me that my hours will be reduced by 50%. I cannot afford to keep this job if I’m on 20 hours a week.”

Ms. Barrows-Friedman is a long time investigative reporter specializing in Israel-Palestine issues and is one of the few reporters in the country who covers this sensitive issue in a straightforward manner. She taught herself Arabic and often reports from the ground in the Middle East. Along with Flashpoints producers Dennis Bernstein and Miguel Molina, Ms. Barrows-Friedman was the recent recipient of a lifetime achievement Media Freedom Award from Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored.

“Nora Barrows Friedman has seniority over at least a dozen more recent and less experienced staff people. She has done an outstanding job at Flashpoints, showing a special dedication and talent. She has top professional qualifications and standards, tested by time and performance,” stated long standing political commentator and author Dr. Michael Parenti.

Flashpoints is, as far as I know, the only electronic media to consistently cover developments in the Americas, notably Haiti and Mexico, as well as Palestine and other under-covered places. They have some tremendous, very brave journalists, like Kevin Pina and Nora Barrows Friedman. If Flashpoints goes down, it will be substantially harder to get news about the hemisphere.

Posted in media, news media, world news | 2 Comments »


Posted by Charles II on July 14, 2009

I fought long and hard on the bulletin boards of Brad Setser and Nouriel Roubini in favor of the hypothesis that there would be partial decoupling of certain economies because they had trade (actually current account) surpluses as cushions. I tried to explain it as springs with strong restoring forces attached to springs with weak restoring forces.

At first, the decoupling crowd noisily asserted that even if the US economy crashed, the rest of the world would do fine. And Nouriel and Brad, less noisily but no less stubbornly asserted that there would be no decoupling at all. Now the evidence is in: if you ran a trade surplus, you had the reserves to help keep people comfortable. If you were running deficits, your people had to cut back their spending.

From Goldman Sachs, 7/1 The Winners and Losers of the Global Rebalancing Act:


Goldman says that countries like Japan, the Philippines, India and Australia fare the best.  China will remain the main driver of export growth through 2010.

Posted in financial crisis, world news | Comments Off on Decoupling

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