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Arab National Bank
17 сентября 2013, 18:36

Egypt Takes Path Toward Rejecting Globalist Control

image source Brandon Turbeville Activist Post In what many analysts are considering a decided shift back toward Egyptian Nasserism (meaning Arab nationalism based upon the precedent set by former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser), the Egyptian Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade, Mounir Fkhry Abdel-Nour has stated that Egypt will no longer be seeking a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This decision, which was largely anticipated by those following the Egyptian countercoup and the apparent nationalistic tendencies of Gen. Sisi, would reverse a trend that was set in motion decades ago by corrupt Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and accelerated by Muslim Brotherhood fanatic Muhammed Morsi. Under both Mubarak and Morsi, Egyptian standards of living plummeted, prices rose, and economic stagnation took hold. As a condition of the IMF loans, an onslaught of “free-market” reforms, privatizations schemes, and austerity measures began to take place with even more being expected in the future, such as a value-added tax publicly advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood ruling class. The history of the IMF’s involvement in Egypt is, as it has been everywhere else, a tragic one.  As Jack Shenker of the Guardian wrote in 2009,  Ever since, the country has been subject to successive waves of neoliberal reform. In 1996 a huge privatisation drive kicked off – resulting in sham sales to public banks and regime cronies, a rapid deterioration of working conditions and a wave of strikes so powerful that one analyst labelled it the largest social movement seen in the Middle East in half a century. Then 2004 brought a new cabinet which swiftly cut the top rate of tax from 42% to 20%, leaving multimillionaires paying exactly the same proportion of their income into government coffers as those on an annual salary of less than £500. Special economic zones were created, foreign investment reached dizzying heights ($13bn in 2008) and, in the past three years, economic growth has clocked in at a consistently high 7%. The minimum wage, incidentally, has remained fixed at less than £4 a month throughout. The global business community applauded Mubarak's rule as "bold", "impressive" and "prudent".  google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60;  As WSWS notes, after the ouster of Mubarak and the election of the Muslim Brotherhood, “social inequality in Egypt has deepened. Food prices are rising, and more than two decades after the last deal between the IMF and Egypt in 1991, over 40 percent of the population live on less than $2 a day, while a tiny, super-rich layer at the top of society is increasing its fortunes.” Indeed, the economic crisis only escalated when the corrupt, fanatical, and incompetent Muslim Brotherhood took power, pursuing Mubarak’s legacy of yet another deal with the IMF which would have lead to even further tragic consequence for the average Egyptian. From attempts to remove subsidies on necessities like food and oil, the raising of the sales tax, and the implementation of a value-added tax, the Muslim Brotherhood's economic program was an abysmal failure. Thus, with the recent announcement by the interim Egyptian government of the abandonment of any request for a loan from the IMF, many analysts have predicted “the process of a historic re-orientation, last seen in the early 1970s.” One of the most notable aspects of this possible “re-orientation” would be a significant turn away from a close relationship with the United States and a pivot toward Russia as the nation seeks to regain its prominence that it once experienced during a period where it was free from the yoke of the United States. In a rather frank statement, Egyptian Minister Abdel-Nour pointed out that Egypt “is currently facing a plot, which appears clearly through the terror acts and stances of some international media outlets against the government and democracy.” Although Abdel-Nour did not elaborate (or if he did his elaborations were not reported), it is largely understood that the Minister is referring to the Anglo-American powers that have not only attempted to control Egypt for the last several decades but to destabilize it no less than twice in the last two years, even attempting to use it as a spearhead military force against Syria and Ethiopia. Furthering suspicions regarding Egypt’s turn toward Russia and away from the United States, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy stated on September 16, during his visit to Russia that “Egypt appreciates Russia's "supporting stance to the Egyptian people's will". Fahmy also stated that “Egyptian foreign policy is seeking to develop relations with Russia, boost bilateral cooperation and enhance mutual interests”. Fahmy’s statement regarding the unfolding crisis in Syria – with the United States and the rest of the Anglo-American world foaming at the mouth to take military action against Syria – was likewise revealing. In regards to the latest Russian initiative to seek diplomatic solutions to the chemical weapons controversy (which has been entirely organized and fabricated by the West from the very beginning), Fahmy stated that “If this initiative should be successful, it would become the most important element for the protection against the threat of a division of the Middle East, as it occurred after the first World War. Should a military solution for solving the crisis be chosen, it would bring the real threat of splitting parts of the Eastern Mediterranean region”. When one observes the developments taking shape in Egypt on a singular and individual basis, it might appear at first glance that the nation is experiencing the same turmoil and unstable political life that many Middle Eastern nations are currently experiencing across the region. However, when one steps back and takes a look at the bigger picture, it seems that what is taking place in Egypt is indeed more than a simple confluence of circumstances but a true realignment of political power both within and outside the country. If Egypt takes a turn towards nationalism and Nasserism then the Anglo-American world will necessarily find itself another center of resistance to global hegemony in the Middle East. Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here.  Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident. Turbeville has published over 275 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville's podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.  

05 сентября 2013, 14:52


Follow ZeroHedge in Real-Time on FinancialJuice Imagine the scenario. You drive to work this morning and you spend all day slogging away at the office, with sweltering temperatures of 50° C to boot. The only bonus that you have is that you are grinding away in luxurious surroundings. But, when it comes to leaving, the doors are locked, bolted and barred. You can’t get out of the place and nobody gives a damn anyhow. That’s exactly what it’s like at the moment for expats living and working in Qatar. They are at the mercy of their business partners in order to be able to live the country and are to all intents and purposes being held hostage, complacently acceptably condoned by the governments, with little being done by the Western states where those visiting business people come from. Qatar: Doha Wealthiest State Qatar has enough natural gas to make every citizen of the country wealthier than any other in the world. Sheikh Tamim bin Khaifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar is a new ambitious determined leader that plans to make Qatar a prominent country in the world. It has close ties with the US since the US Central Command’s Forward Headquarters are located in Qatar along with the Combined Air Operations Center. It has a population of 250, 000 citizens and the rest of the population is made up of Arab nations (13%), Indian subcontinent (24% from India and 16% from Nepal, amongst others) andSoutheast Asia (11% from the Philippines). There are a total of 1.87 million people currently residing in the country, with 65% that are immigrant workers. It’s the home of Al Jazeera and it tops the list of the richest nations in the world today. Qatar had a Gross Domestic Product of $91, 600 per capita in 2010. It increased to $100, 600 in 2011. It reached $102, 800 in 2012. By comparison, the USA had a per capita GDP of $50, 700 in 2012. 14% of households are millionaires. Go to Qatar with the fervent desire to earn bundles of cash from the richest nation in the world and you risk losing your dignity, your freedom and even all sense of humanity. Qatar is described as the El Dorado, the Vegas of the Middle East, the place where you can strike it rich in one fell swoop. But, there’s a price for everything; nothing comes free. The propaganda is intensely maintained in the media through the channels that the state of Qatar has managed to get its hands on. People should think twice before being attracted by the Midas touch; they might not turn into very much at all and certainly not gold. The state of Qatar is organizing the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and as such a hoard of immigrant workers have been taken on in a vision of times gone by with slave drivers forcing the workers to build , unbuild and rebuild. Those workers are driven like slaves and have their basic rights taken away from them. Qatar might be at the top of the list of richest nations in the world, but it’s pretty damn poor with regard to workers’ rights and even human rights. But, what can be expected from a country that has a ruling family that has a hereditary title and has had its country in their grasp since the mid-nineteenth century? What can be expected from a country that has the major and most important key positions in the country and the government handed out in true fashion of nepotism to family members of the ruling Al Thani dynasty? The only time privileges are changed and old orders knocked out is when there is a coup d’état (a peaceful one is de rigueur); wars and revolts cost money and that would be a waste, so the ousted Emir usually goes peacefully and anyhow he’s your father usually (Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani overthrew his own father and took the country in 1995). Kafala The workers have their rights taken away and they are trapped in a Kafala from which there’s no possible escape. Kafala is literally a procedure of adoption in Muslim law that allows someone to be adopted but to maintain their own name as full adoption is legally impossible. The adopted person will not have the full rights regarding inheritance as a legitimate child that is born to the family. The adoption procedure has been extended to business and any foreigner that wishes to work in Qatar must be ‘adopted’ and surrenders all rights to their sponsor. The Kafala allows workers to be maintained in servitude to an employer or to a business partner, with passports that are confiscated to stop them leaving the country and with courts that are banned so they have no access to legal recourse. If your sponsor does not provide the visa to allow you to exit the country, then you end up staying put until he allows you to, or until you give him what he wants from you. More than a million workers are forced into labor by slave-drivers with immense wealth. Their salaries are unpaid or paid late, they are denied basic freedoms and yet they are building the multi-billion dollar World Cup 2022infrastructure of luxury hotels and football stadiums. Qatar: World Cup 2022 There was already great controversy over the granting of the World Cup to Qatar since it was amidst accusations of corruption, underhand tactics and bribery as well as pressure on certain people. A secret meeting between the Emir of Qatar and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010 ensured that the French would vote for Qatar. One French footballer got $15 million for his support (Zinedine Zidane) and Michel Platini was told to vote for Qatar by the French President. Qatar bought the French football team Paris Saint Germain in return. Just last year a prominent US businessman (Nasser Beydoun) in Doha was held hostage in economic slavery and indentured servitude for 685 days. He had been trying to get out of Qatar ever since he resigned from his job in 2009 as CEO of a group of restaurants in the country. The exit visa was refused by the group Wataniya Restaurants that had sponsored him to work there. He was sued for $13 million and detained in the country. He was found innocent and allowed to leave after 685 days. He stated: “Though this battle is over the war has just started. The people who held me hostage have a profound immorality, cold egotism and an utter disregard of justice and humanity.” Beydoun is not the only one that is making the economic slavery hot the headlines in the media these days as more and more cases come to light. There is the case of the Belgian, Philippe Bogaert, that went to Doha to work as a TV producer and that has been refused an exit visa for the past two years. If a project fails, then it’s the foreigner that is considered to be responsible and he is sued to pay the money back, holding the visa as ransom to get exactly what is wanted. Boagaert is being sued for over $4.2 million. Without your sponsor’s say-so it is impossible to do anything in the state of Qatar. You can’t drive a car, you can’t rent or buy a house and you can’t even open a bank account. Other countries have adapted the work laws in their countries and Bahrain has done away with the Kafala, for example. The United Arab Emirates has a free zone that doesn’t apply the Kafala to attract foreign business people to work in Dubai. But, have things changed there? In Bahrain for example the Labor Market Regulatory Law came into force in April 2009. But, essentially very little has changed. The migrant workers are still expected to have a sponsor. The only gain that they have made is to be able to change employer much more easily than before (i.e. without the consent of the employer a worker can change jobs today). The governments of these countries do very little to protect migrant workers and they do even less to apply and implement the changes in the law when they have been made. Withholding salaries is widespread. Forced labor without payment has transformed these people into economic slaves for the sole benefit of accruing more wealth and yet we do nothing. Western governments sit complacently and forget the workers that are in these countries slaving away. Qatar has enough money and has enough investment in our countries for the governments not to rock the boat. If it rocks too much, the oil will spill and we wouldn’t want that, would we? Al Jazeera makes sure that the Western governments do little else than look on and watch. 220 million people watch Al Jazeera English alone in more than100 countries. It is watched 2.5 million times on YouTube and is the most watched TV channel there. That’s a powerful tool to be reckoned with. In the meantime, the economic slavery continues and Qatar is a five-star oil-rich state as a result of the masses grinding away of those held hostage Septaper Will Open Floodgates | How Sinister is the State? | Food: Walking the Breadline | Obama NOT Worst President in reply to Obama: Worst President in US History? New Revelations: NSA and XKeyscore Program | Obama's Corporate Grand Bargain Death of the Dollar | Joseph Stiglitz was Right: Suicide | China Injects Cash in Bid to Improve Liquidity Technical Analysis: Bear Expanding Triangle | Bull Expanding Triangle | Bull Falling Wedge | Bear Rising Wedge | High & Tight Flag       

31 марта 2013, 18:33

Rich Cyprus Savers To Lose Up To 60 PERCENT Of Their Accounts

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Big depositors at Cyprus' largest bank may be forced to accept losses of up to 60 percent, far more than initially estimated under the European rescue package to save the country from bankruptcy, officials said Saturday. Deposits of more than 100,000 euros ($128,000) at the Bank of Cyprus will lose 37.5 percent in money that will be converted into bank shares, according to a central bank statement. In a second raid on these accounts, depositors also could lose up to 22.5 percent more, depending on what experts determine is needed to prop up the bank's reserves. The experts will have 90 days to figure that out. The remaining 40 percent of big deposits at the Bank of Cyprus will be "temporarily frozen for liquidity reasons," but continue to accrue existing levels of interest plus another 10 percent, the central bank said. The savings converted to bank shares would theoretically allow depositors to eventually recover their losses. But the shares now hold little value and it's uncertain when – if ever – the shares will regain a value equal to the depositors' losses. Emergency laws passed last week empower Cypriot authorities to take these actions. Cyprus' Finance Minister Michalis Sarris said the measures were taken to put the Bank of Cyprus on a solid footing. "We suffered a serious blow without doubt ... but we now have a bank which is reformed and ready to assume its role in the Cypriot economy," the state-run Cyprus News Agency quoting him as saying. Analysts said Saturday that imposing bigger losses on Bank of Cyprus customers could further squeeze already crippled businesses as Cyprus tries to rebuild its banking sector in exchange for the international rescue package. Sofronis Clerides, an economics professor at the University of Cyprus, said: "Most of the damage will be done to businesses which had their money in the bank" to pay suppliers and employees. "There's quite a difference between a 30 percent loss and a 60 percent loss." With businesses shrinking, Cyprus could be dragged down into an even deeper recession, he said. Clerides accused some of the 17 European countries that use the euro of wanting to see the end of Cyprus as an international financial services center and to send the message that European taxpayers will no longer shoulder the burden of bailing out problem banks. But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble challenged that notion, insisting in an interview with the Bild daily published Saturday that "Cyprus is and remains a special, isolated case" and doesn't point the way for future European rescue programs. Europe has demanded that big depositors in Cyprus' two largest banks – Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank – accept across-the-board losses in order to pay for the nation's 16 billion euro ($20.5 billion) bailout. All deposits of up to 100,000 are safe, meaning that a saver with 500,000 euros in the bank will only suffer losses on the remaining 400,000 euros. Cypriot officials had previously said that large savers at Laiki – which will be absorbed in to the Bank of Cyprus – could lose as much as 80 percent. But they had said large accounts at the Bank of Cyprus would lose only 30 to 40 percent. Asked about Saturday's announcement, University of Cyprus political scientist Antonis Ellinas predicted that unemployment, currently at 15 percent, will "probably go through the roof" over the next few years. "It means that (people) ... have to accept a major haircut to their way of life and their standard of living. The social impact is yet to be realized, but they will be enormous in terms of social unrest and radical social phenomenon," Ellinas said. There's also concern that large depositors – including many wealthy Russians – will take their money and run once capital restrictions that Cypriot authorities have imposed on bank transactions to prevent such a possibility are lifted in about a month. Sarris, the finance minister, said that foreign branches of the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank in countries such as Britain, Russia, Ukraine and Romania will eventually be sold. He also said that Cypriots would seek out new markets like China and the Arab countries while maintaining good business relations with Russians, "despite their bitterness." Cyprus agreed on Monday to make bank depositors with accounts over 100,000 euros contribute to the financial rescue in order to secure 10 billion euros ($12.9 billion) in loans from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund. Cyprus needed to scrounge up 5.8 billion euros ($7.4 billion) on its own in order to clinch the larger package, and banks had remained shut for nearly two weeks until politicians hammered out a deal, opening again on Thursday. But fearing that savers would rush to pull their money out in mass once banks reopened, Cypriot authorities imposed a raft of restrictions, including daily withdrawal limits of 300 euros ($384) for individuals and 5,000 euros for businesses – the first so-called capital controls that any country has applied in the eurozone's 14-year history. The rush didn't materialize as Cypriots appeared to take the measures in stride, lining up patiently to do their business and defying dire predictions of scenes of pandemonium. Under the terms of the bailout deal, the country' second largest bank, Laiki – which sustained the most damaged from bad Greek debt and loans – is to be split up, with its nonperforming loans and toxic assets going into a "bad bank." The healthy side will be absorbed into the Bank of Cyprus. On Saturday, economist Stelios Platis called the rescue plan "completely mistaken" and criticized Cyprus' euro partners for insisting on foisting Laiki's troubles on the Bank of Cyprus. ____ AP business correspondent Geir Moulson in Berlin and APTN reporter Adam Pemble in Nicosia contributed.

Выбор редакции
22 марта 2013, 06:18

UBS' George Magnus Asks "Why Are The European Streets Relatively Quiet?"

The wave of social unrest that rumbled across Europe between 2008 and 2011 has become less intense. This has come as a cause for relief in financial markets, as it has helped to underpin the marginalization of ‘tail risk’ already addressed by the ECB and the Greek debt restructuring. And yet the latest crisis over the Cyprus bail-out/bail-in not only shoots an arrow into the heart of the principles of an acceptable banking union arrangement, if it could ever be agreed, but also signifies the deep malaise in the complex and fragile trust relationships between European citizens and their governments and institutions. Some people argue that protest, nationalist and separatist movements are just ‘noise’, that the business of ‘fixing Europe’ is proceeding regardless, and that citizens are resigned to the pain of keeping the Euro system together. UBS' George Magnus is not convinced, even if public anger is less acute now than in the past, it is far from dormant, and its expression is mostly unpredictable. So is the current lull in social unrest a signal that the social fabric of Europe is more robust than we thought, or (as we suggested 14 months ago) is the calm deceptive? Another systemic problem Social unrest is a systemic phenomenon, which, according to an OECD report, meets two principal criteria. It is highly uncertain, complex and ambiguous; and it is highly likely to generate ripple effects into other sectors of the economy and society, possibly leading to the toppling of governments, or even political systems. Although European social unrest since the crisis in Greece began has claimed a small number of fatalities and considerable damage to property, it has been notable more for the public expression of lack of trust in the institutions of government, including in Brussels. If a rising number of people give up on the willingness and ability of their institutions to address grievances, then the lull is most likely deceptive. We have been here before. The economic and political context of the 1930s was, of course, different. Then there was much historical and unresolved geo-political baggage, and a rupture of the political centre as two radically different ideological veins erupted from the backlash against free trade and the gold standard. One championed radical social reform, the other what may be euphemistically called ‘nation-building’ 5 . And there was no EU. But the problem today, as then, is the same, namely the inadequacy of mainstream, political channels to address rising public concern about the loss of economic security, social stability and, yes, cultural identity6. How else to explain both the rise of Spain’s indignados, and other similar national protest movements in Europe, and the increase in nationalist, populist and separatist sentiment, and representation in national parliaments from Greece, France, and Spain to Finland and the Netherlands, and now Italy? Via George Magnus, UBS: ...   Still an austerity zone   Even though the financial crisis in Europe has faded, for the time being at least, the economic stress nurturing protest movements hasn’t. The best that can be said is that the incidence of austerity may not be as significant as it was in 2010-11   ...   Backlash link to austerity   Let’s assume nothing changes, and that while European elites debate how – or if – they can build strong European banking, fiscal and economic institutions, with the required transfer mechanisms between creditors and debtors, the economic lot of European citizens, an unhappy one for five years now, shows no improvement. This seems a decent assumption.   ...   The principal economic lesson is that an austerity regime with recurring reductions in public outlays won’t work a) when the private sector is trying to delever and shrink liabilities at the same time b) when it is a generic phenomenon and c) when its principal impact is to depress the level of money GDP and sustain the economy in a liquidity trap. But thanks to some interesting empirical work, another lesson concerns the corrosive and dangerous effects of large and sustained austerity in creating a social backlash that results in greater uncertainty, and therefore inertia, when it comes to corporate hiring and capital spending. As a result, output and public sector tax revenues suffer, reinforcing the negative dynamic between debt and the economy.   ...   when expenditure cuts, specifically, rise to more than 2% of GDP, and particularly when they rise towards or over 5% of GDP, the number and the severity of incidents of unrest rise sharply.   ...   Self-evidently, there have been heightened levels of social unrest and shocks to the political system in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, but not in the UK or Ireland, or in the US, for that matter, though neither the US nor the UK, for example, have been immune to social unrest, sometimes requiring the force of the state to suppress it.12. But the main difference between many incidents of social unrest and the ones that damage the social fabric and the economic environment is the impact (sometimes more perceived than real, perhaps) of highly restrictive budgetary measures. Some governments may be better able to implement and absorb them, and sustain the trust or belief in citizens in perseverance. Mostly, this comes down to the robustness of local institutions, and the performance of leaders, as well as culture and history.   The most fundamental manifestation of this damage is, of course, unemployment. But this is only the most visible sign of the upheaval in Europe’s famed social model, and overlooks other important social and economic fault lines, including stagnant or declining real wages, rising income inequality, levels of youth unemployment of between 25% and 50%, and the rise in the numbers of long-term unemployed.   These phenomena didn’t begin with the financial and Euro crises, of course, but they have certainly been exacerbated by it and by the response of governments, and citizens are certainly making the connection, regardless. So why are the streets relatively quiet? The short answer is we don’t know. None of the reasons we can think of add up to much, but judge for yourself. It could have something to do with Europe’s rapid ageing demographic transition. The proportion of young adults, aged 15-24 has already been falling from peak levels seen in the mid 1980s, and is on track to decline further in the next 20 years. The proportion of 15-59 year olds, or what we might imagine as the part of the population most likely to express non-voting anger, is peaking now, but a significant decline is predicted. Perhaps the baby boomers have expended their protest energy!   Rapid growth in, and a rising proportion of, the numbers of young people, say aged 15-29, certainly feed the potential for social protest and upheaval. But they also need a catalyst, which could be the emergence of high inflation. Empirically, there is an unequivocal association, but this is best applied, in contemporary times at least, to the experience of emerging and developing countries, for example, as in the Arab Spring. Although the European upheavals in the 1960s and 1970s were set against a backdrop of rising inflation, those in the 1930s and today are the product of depression and awkward questions of self-determination, not inflation. Perhaps the relative calm in Europe has something to do with European family structures. The Bank Credit Analyst recently published a chart, emphasizing the role of the family as a shock absorber. The authors suggest that the countries with the highest youth unemployment rates are also those with the highest proportion of young adults living with their parents, who fulfill the role of effecting transfers and economic and social support. We are not sure about this one either, although having an extended family structure on which to rely is clearly a mitigating factor against poverty and social exclusion. But the two variables may simply be spuriously correlated since both represent symptoms of a depressed economy. In any event, those countries with the highest youth unemployment and numbers living at home have already claimed the bragging rights for anti-austerity protest, while six of the other eight countries have been characterized by fallen or weakened governments, and the rise of nationalist and anti-immigrant political parties and policies. A conclusion to this discussion is not possible.   In a benign outcome, the potential for social disorder will be defused by a new approach to economic burden-sharing, a re-sequencing of the pursuit of austerity and growth objectives, and steady progress towards the establishment of credible and trusted European banking, economic and political institutions, including financial transfer mechanisms. Motherhood, to be sure, and this has at least two vital caveats, namely the willingness of Germany and other northern European countries to accept significant sovereignty compromises, and the implications for the EU project, if this level of integration proves a bridge too far for UK voters in the promised 2017 referendum. Social and political upheavals would doubtless haunt the worst-case outcome, where muddling through leads nevertheless to a fragmentation of the Eurozone, or, in extremis, a collapse, in spite of OMTs and the like. The possible consequences, including for the social fabric of Europe, have been well aired in the last couple of years. The middle way, so to speak, is a muddling through that never scales the successful outcome hurdles, but carries on regardless. Political bonds, maybe fear, sustain the Euro system, but European leaders are unable to reach an agreed and acceptable framework for durable economic recovery and full integration. This outcome describes the status quo, and is the base case for most people. But it is also about stagnant, low growth, persistent high unemployment, retreating targets for debt sustainability, more bail-outs and bail-ins, latent financial instability, and likely sovereign default. The current Eurozone news could not be more apt, and doesn’t seem like the ideal scenario in which to expect European social unrest and political turbulence to fade away.

21 марта 2013, 18:13

Remarks by President Obama and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in Joint Press Conference

Muqata Presidential Compound Ramallah, West Bank 1:33 P.M. IST PRESIDENT ABBAS:  (As interpreted.)  In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.  Mr. President Barack Obama, I wish to warmly welcome you and your accompanying delegation to Palestine.  Mr. President, during your visit to our country you will meet a people proud of their history, heritage, culture, and symbols -- a young, creative and entrepreneurial people who have made the miracle and rose from the calamities of the Nakba, and continue the path of their ancestors, extending since the ancient times over this land -- their land.  A people who adhere to their rights and are in harmony, and keep abreast with the realities of the age, its language and methods.  A people who build institutions of the state of Palestine, giving an exemplary model despite all hardships and hurdles. The people of Palestine, Mr. President, who receive you today aspire to attain the simplest rights -- the right to freedom, independence and peace, and look forward to that day to come in which they exercise normal and natural life over the land of the state of Palestine -- the independent state of Palestine  -- along the borders of the 4th of June, 1967, with Jerusalem, the “Lady of the Cities,” as its capital, alongside the state of Israel. We, Mr. President, believe that peace is necessary and inevitable, and we also believe that it is possible.  We believe that peacemaking, as much as it requires political courage, also requires an expression of good faith, a recognition of people’s rights, respect for the other, and dissemination of a culture of peace and a commitment to international legitimacy and its resolutions.  Certainly, peace shall not be made through violence, occupation, walls, settlements, arrests, siege and denial of refugee rights.   We are extremely in pleasure to receive you today in our country.  Our people share with American people, and with you personally, the belief in the values and principles of freedom, equality, justice and respect for human rights.  And we, together with the peoples of the world, are partners in the pursuit to achieve a just peace that ends occupation and war, and achieves security, stability and prosperity to all the peoples of our region. Today, ladies and gentlemen, we have conducted a good and useful round of talks with His Excellency President Obama.  It was an opportunity to focus, on our side, on the risks and the results that exists that a continuation of settlement activity represent on the two-state solution, and over the need to release prisoners.  I asserted to His Excellency the President that Palestine has taken long and additional steps for the sake of making peace. I hereby assert again that we are ready to implement all our commitments and obligations, and to respect the signed agreements and international legitimacy resolutions in order to provide for the requirements of launching the peace process and achieving the two-state solution -- Palestine and Israel.  We are also serious in ending the division and achieve the Palestinian reconciliation, which constitutes an additional source of power for us to continue our march towards making peace, security and stability in the region.  I have renewed confidence that the United States, represented by his excellency President Obama and Mr. John Kerry, shall intensify its efforts to remove the obstacles ahead of the efforts to achieve a just peace, which the peoples of the region have long awaited.  Here I wish to thank the President for his continuous confirmation of the U.S. commitment to provide support to the Palestinian people, and to thank him and his administration for the support that has been provided during the past years -- various forms of support -- to the Palestinian treasury, to development projects, and to the UNRWA.  Mr. President, once again you are welcome in Palestine.  Thank you.  (Applause.) PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Marhaba.  Thank you, President Abbas, for your generous words and for welcoming me to Ramallah.  I was last here five years ago, and it's a pleasure to be back -- to see the progress that's happened since my last visit, but also to bear witness to the enduring challenges to peace and security that so many Palestinians seek.  I’ve returned to the West Bank because the United States is deeply committed to the creation of an independent and sovereign state of Palestine.  The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it.  Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities. Like people everywhere, Palestinians deserve a future of hope -- that their rights will be respected, that tomorrow will be better than today and that they can give their children a life of dignity and opportunity.  Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own. I want to commend President Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, for the progress that they’ve made in building the institutions of a Palestinian state.  And the United States is a proud partner in these efforts -- as the single largest donor of assistance that improves the lives of Palestinians, both in the West Bank and Gaza.  As your partner, we salute your achievements and we mourn your losses.  We offer condolences, in particular, over the loss of your fellow Palestinians last weekend in the tragic accident in Jordan. Ramallah is a very different city than the one I visited five years ago.  There’s new construction.  There's new businesses, new start-ups, including many high-tech companies, connecting Palestinians to the global economy.  The Palestinian Authority is more efficient and more transparent.  There are new efforts to combat corruption so entrepreneurs and development can expand.  Palestinian security forces are stronger and more professional -- serving communities like Bethlehem, where President Abbas and I will visit the Church of the Nativity tomorrow.  Moreover, this progress has been achieved under some extremely challenging circumstances.  So I want to pay tribute to President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad for their courage, for their tenacity, and for their commitment to building the institutions upon which a lasting peace and security will depend.  I would point out that all this stands in stark contrast to the misery and repression that so many Palestinians continue to confront in Gaza -- because Hamas refuses to renounce violence; because Hamas cares more about enforcing its own rigid dogmas than allowing Palestinians to live freely; and because too often it focuses on tearing Israel down rather than building Palestine up.  We saw the continuing threat from Gaza again overnight, with the rockets that targeted Sderot.  We condemn this violation of the important cease-fire that protects both Israelis and Palestinians -- a violation that Hamas has a responsibility to prevent. Here in the West Bank, I realize that this continues to be a difficult time for the Palestinian Authority financially.  So I’m pleased that in recent weeks the United States has been able to provide additional assistance to help the Palestinian Authority bolster its finances.  Projects through USAID will help strengthen governance, rule of law, economic development, education and health.  We consider these to be investments in a future Palestinian state -- investments in peace, which is in all of our interests. And more broadly, in our discussions today I reaffirmed to President Abbas that the United States remains committed to realizing the vision of two states, which is in the interests of the Palestinian people, and also in the national security interest of Israel, the United States, and the world.  We seek an independent, a viable and contiguous Palestinian state as the homeland of the Palestinian people, alongside the Jewish State of Israel -- two nations enjoying self-determination, security and peace.  As I have said many times, the only way to achieve that goal is through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.  There is no shortcut to a sustainable solution. In our discussion with President Abbas, I heard him speak eloquently about the difficult issues that cannot be ignored -- among them, problems caused by continued settlement activities, the plight of Palestinian prisoners, and access to holy sites in Jerusalem.  I understand that the status quo isn’t really a status quo, because the situation on the ground continues to evolve in a direction that makes it harder to reach a two-state solution.  And I know that the Palestinian people are deeply frustrated.  So one of my main messages today -- the same message I’m conveying in Israel -- is that we cannot give up.  We cannot give up on the search for peace, no matter how hard it is.  As I said with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday, we will continue to look for steps that both Israelis and Palestinians can take to build the trust and the confidence upon which lasting peace will depend.  And I very much appreciate hearing President Abbas’s ideas on what those steps could be.  I want both sides to know that as difficult as the current situation is, my administration is committed to doing our part. And I know that Secretary of State John Kerry intends to spend significant time, effort, and energy in trying to bring about a closing of the gap between the parties.  We cannot give up on the search for peace.  Too much is at stake.  And if we’re going to succeed, part of what we’re going to have to do is to get out of some of the formulas and habits that have blocked progress for so long.  Both sides are going to have to think anew.  Those of us in the United States are going to have to think anew.  But I’m confident that we can arrive at our destination to advance the vision of two nations, two neighbors at peace -- Israel and Palestine.  If given the chance, one thing that I’m very certain of is that the Palestinians have the talent, the drive, and the courage to succeed in their own state.  I think of the villages that hold peaceful protests because they understand the moral force of nonviolence.  I think of the importance that Palestinian families place on education.  I think of the entrepreneurs determined to create something new, like the young Palestinian woman I met at the entrepreneurship summit that I hosted who wants to build recreation centers for Palestinian youth.  I think of the aspirations that so many young Palestinians have for their future -- which is why I'm looking forward to visiting with some of them right after we conclude this press conference.  That's why we can't give up, because of young Palestinians and young Israelis who deserve a better future than one that is continually defined by conflict.  Whenever I meet these young people, whether they're Palestinian or Israeli, I'm reminded of my own daughters, and I know what hopes and aspirations I have for them.  And those of us in the United States understand that change takes time but it is also possible, because there was a time when my daughters could not expect to have the same opportunities in their own country as somebody else's daughters.  What's true in the United States can be true here as well.  We can make those changes, but we're going to have to be determined.  We're going to have to have courage.  We're going to have to be willing to break out of the old habits, the old arguments, to reach for that new place, that new world.  And I want all the people here and throughout the region to know that you will have the President of the United States and an administration that is committed to achieving that goal.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.) Q    After you meet leaders from both sides, is there any chance to resume peace talks as soon as possible?  And do you think that the two-state solution is still valid in this policy of expanding settlements is continuing going on?  And my last question -- did you raise the freezing of settlement activity with Prime Minister Netanyahu when you met him?  Thanks. PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Based on the conversations that I've had with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, I do think the possibility continues to exist for a two-state solution.  I continue to believe it is our best, and indeed, in some ways, our only chance to achieve the kinds of peaceful resolution of old conflicts, but also the opening up of new opportunities for peoples on both sides to thrive, to succeed, for both Israel and a state of Palestine to be incorporated into the global economy. One of the striking things, one of the ironies of this conflict is that both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are extremely entrepreneurial.  They have a keen business sense.  They could be hugely successful in helping to lift up the economy of the region as a whole.  I was with President Peres this morning before I came here, looking at a high-tech exhibit that was taking place in Jerusalem.  And there was actually a program that U.S. -- a U.S. company, Cisco, had set up, where it was hiring young Arab engineers and Palestinian engineers because they were so well qualified, so talented and there was a great hunger for those kinds of skills.  Well, imagine if you have a strong, independent state that’s peaceful -- all the talent that currently is being untapped that could be creating jobs and businesses and prosperity throughout this area. So I absolutely believe that it is still possible.  But I think it is very difficult.  I think it’s difficult because of all sorts of political constraints on both sides.  I think it’s difficult, frankly, because sometimes, even though we know what compromises have to be made in order to achieve peace, it’s hard to admit that those compromises need to be made, because people want to cling on to their old positions and want to have 100 percent of what they want, or 95 percent of what they want, instead of making the necessary compromises. And as a politician, I can say it’s hard for political leaders to get too far ahead of your constituencies.  And that’s true for Prime Minister Netanyahu; I’m sure it’s true for President Abbas as well.  But if we can get direct negotiations started again, I believe that the shape of a potential deal is there.  And if both sides can make that leap together, then not only do I believe that the Israeli people and the Palestinian people would ultimately support it in huge numbers, but I also think the world and the region would cheer.  There would be some who would be upset because they benefit from the current conflict.  They like the status quo, they like the arrangement as it is.  But I actually think that there are majorities out there who right now don’t feel helpful but still would strongly support both Palestinian and Israeli leadership that made the necessary effort and compromises for peace. Now, one of the challenges I know has been continued settlement activity in the West Bank area.  And I’ve been clear with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli leadership that it has been the United States’ policy, not just for my administration but for all proceeding administrations, that we do not consider continued settlement activity to be constructive, to be appropriate, to be something that can advance the cause of peace.  So I don’t think there’s any confusion in terms of what our position is.  I will say, with respect to Israel, that the politics there are complex and I recognize that that’s not an issue that’s going to be solved immediately.  It’s not going to be solved overnight. On the other hand, what I shared with President Abbas and I will share with the Palestinian people is that if the expectation is, is that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time, then there’s no point for negotiations.  So I think it’s important for us to work through this process, even if there are irritants on both sides.  The Israelis have concerns about rockets flying into their cities last night. And it would be easy for them to say, you see, this is why we can’t have peace because we can’t afford to have our kids in beds sleeping and suddenly a rocket comes through the roof.  But my argument is even though both sides may have areas of strong disagreement, may be engaging in activities that the other side considers to be a breach of good faith, we have to push through those things to try to get to an agreement -- because if we get an agreement then it will be very clear what the nature of that agreement is:  There will be a sovereign Palestinian state, a sovereign Jewish State of Israel. And those two states I think will be able to deal with each other the same way all states do.  I mean, the United States and Canada has arguments once in a while, but they’re not the nature of arguments that can’t be solved diplomatically.  And I think we can keep pushing through some of these problems and make sure that we don’t use them as an excuse not to do anything. Q    Mr. President, President Abbas, on behalf of all my colleagues, I want to get a little bit more specific on the question of settlements and the overall peace process.  Mr. President, when you started your administration, you called for a halt of new settlement activity.  That held up for a while, then dissipated.  And then late last year when the Israeli government announced very sensitive settlement activity in the E1 zone, your administration put out a statement that many in this region thought was either tepid or completely nonresponsive.  What would you say here, in Ramallah, Mr. President, to those entrepreneurial Palestinians you referenced who believe you’ve either been equivocal or nonresponsive to the issue of Israeli settlements?  And do you, President, Abbas, do you believe it is necessary for the peace process to start with a declaration publicly from the Israeli government that it will either slow down or stop entirely new settlement activity?  And broadly, on the peace process itself, Mr. President, you talked about thinking anew.  Historically, the theory has been nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.  Are you, Mr. President Obama and President Abbas, open to a theory that would say if things are agreed to, they shall be implemented, to build confidence on both sides and restart the peace process?  Thank you. PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Major, I think I answered the question previously about settlements.  You mentioned E1, in particular.  I think that is an example of at least a public statement by the Israeli government that would be very difficult to square with a two-state solution.  And I’ve said that to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  I don’t think that’s a secret. With respect to whether there’s a requirement for a freeze or moratorium, I want to repeat what I just said earlier, which is if the only way to even begin the conversations is that we get everything right at the outset, or at least each party is constantly negotiating about what's required to get into talks in the first place, then we're never going to get to the broader issue, which is how do you actually structure a state of Palestine that is a sovereign, contiguous, and provide the Palestinian people dignity, and how do you provide Israel confidence about its security -- which are the core issues. The core issue right now is, how do we get sovereignty for the Palestinian people, and how do we assure security for the Israeli people?  And that's the essence of this negotiation.  And that's not to say settlements are not important.  It is to say that if we solve those two problems, the settlement problem will be solved.  So I don't want to put the cart before the horse.  I want to make sure that we are getting to the core issues and the substance, understanding that both sides should be doing what they can to build confidence, to rebuild a sense of trust.  And that's where, hopefully, the U.S. government can be helpful. On your last point, I think that part of my goal during this trip has been to hear from both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu about what they would need and how they would see a potential path -- how it would be structured.  And so I think it's premature for me to give you an answer to the question you just posed.  I think it was a good one; I think it was a legitimate one, but I'm still hearing from them.  And me, Secretary Kerry, others, we're going to go back and look at what we've heard from both sides and make a determination as to what has the best prospect for success. I will say this, that I think incremental steps that serve to delay and put off some of the more fundamental issues, rather than incremental steps that help to shape what a final settlement might look like, are probably not going to be the best approach, because it's not clear that that would, in fact, build trust.  If you have a situation where it looks like the incremental steps replace the broader vision, as opposed to incremental steps in pursuit of a broader vision, then I think what you end up getting is four more years, 10 more years, 20 more years of conflict and tension, in which both sides are testing boundaries of those incremental agreements.  Whereas if we can get a broad-based agreement that assures the Palestinians that they have a state, and you have a comprehensive approach that ensures Israel the kind of security that they need, the likelihood of that deal holding and, ultimately, the sense of trust that comes from people-to-people relations, not just governmental relations, I think that's much more likely to occur.  PRESIDENT ABBAS:  Regarding the issue of settlements, it is not only our perception that settlements are illegal, but it is a global perspective.  Everybody considers settlements not only a hurdle, but even more than a hurdle, towards the two-state solution.  We mentioned and we remember that the Security Council, during the '70s and '80s, had issued more than 13 resolutions not only condemning settlements, but demanding ending them and removing them because they are illegal.  We are asking for nothing outside the framework of international legitimacy.  Hence, it is the duty of the Israeli government to at least halt the activity so that we can speak of issues.  And when we define our borders and their borders together, each side will know its territory in which it can do whatever it pleases.  So the issue of settlement is clear.  We never give up our vision, whether now or previously, but we continue to maintain this vision, and we believe the settlements are illegal and that settlement activity is illegal.  We hope that the Israeli government understands this.  We hope they listen to many opinions inside Israel itself speaking of the illegality of settlements.  We spoke about this with Mr. President and we clarified our point of view on how we can reach a solution.  Many Palestinians, when they see settlements everywhere in the West Band -- and I don’t know who gave Israel that right -- they do not trust the two-state solution or vision anymore.  And this is very dangerous that people and the new generation reaches the conviction that it’s no more possible to believe in the two-state solution.  We continue to believe in the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, and consequently, if peace between us and the Israelis is achieved, the Israelis will know very well that the Arab and Islamic world all together, which means 57 Arab and Muslim states, shall immediately recognize the State of Israel according to the road map and the Arab initiative. Thank you. END    2:05 P.M. IST

19 марта 2013, 20:08

Record Bank Heist In Cyprus Spells An End Game For Your Wealth

Jeff BerwickActivist Post The emergency bank holiday in Cyprus has been extended through Tuesday and Wednesday (Friday - Ed.) in what as far as the team at Dollar Vigilante has researched, will be the longest emergency bank holiday in Europe or North America since the Second World War. This marks the first time during the five-year-old global credit crunch, depositors may be forced to pay upfront for their nation's bailout. European finance ministers are reaching into Cypriot savings accounts to backstop a 13 billion euro bailout for Cyprus. The decision was made public early Saturday morning, shortly after which Cyprus banks closed to slow down withdrawals. I had prepared comments on the Cyprus bailout-by-bank-account-robbery on Saturday evening and Sunday, but something told me that Monday would bring potentially even bigger news (what's so surprising about governments and banks stealing from their serfs, anyway?), either market-wise or politically. Well that news came in the form of a nearly week-long bank holiday.To be fair, the papers have not exactly made it clear which Thursday (or Friday) we can expect the banks to re-open. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; The banks always announce bad news on a Friday to paralyze the people. Then more bad news follows Monday, after a nation's oligarchs have been able to position themselves to benefit most from the crisis. It happened when US debt got downgraded a couple years ago. Savers in Cyprus face a 9.9 percent tax on accounts greater than 100,000 euros. Those with less will be charged at a 6.75 percent rate. Big depositors are facing a potential 15.26% levy. The one-time “tax” (theft) is expected to raise 5.8 billion euros for the near-bankrupt country in stolen proceeds. As if 5.8 billion euros is anything for the bankers and their central bank printing presses as infantry. If anything, this move was made to show savers in the rest of the Western World their fate. The first major banking holiday of the “Great Recession” has cutoff the Cyprus peasantry from their funds (but you can bet oligarchs are taking out their deposits as I type).Accounts are locked. Money can't be withdrawn or transferred to safer locations. Under the central banking system, the money you put in the bank isn't really yours. As The End Of The Monetary System As We Know It (TEOTMSAWKI) continues, governments aren't even trying to maintain that illusion anymore. Why try? After all, their propaganda isn't working anymore thanks to the Internet. So, might as well step up the heist. This is a game of chicken, and the EU and big banks have stepped on the gas. Germany, EU officials along with Anglo-American banks engineered this weekend’s wealth reallocation via Cyprus banks. These technocrats have had close allies in Washington and London since World War II. They knew that problems were going to crop up eventually in Cyprus, so why did they decide on what Forbes calls “the single most inexplicably irresponsible decision in banking supervision in the advanced world since the 1930s?” Well, no matter how "inexplicably irresponsible" this decision has been, something tells me things are going exactly as planned in Cyprus right now.The White House has already given its support for the theft:"We're obviously monitoring the situation right now," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing. "We believe it's very important for Europe to take steps necessary, as they have been, to both grow and deal with sovereign debt issues."The White House wouldn't comment on the "levy" when pushed. Cypriot finance ministry officials began discussions with lenders on Sunday ostensibly to lessen the theft from smaller savers, with sources close to the “consultations” telling Reuters that Cyprus bureaucrats were hoping to cut the lower theft threshold to 3.0 percent from 6.7 percent for deposits under 100,000 euros. The upper threshold on larger deposits would increase, however, to 12.5% from 9.9%. But make no mistake about it; the Cypriot parliament has been called in order to ratify the robbery of depositors, just like what happened during the TARP bailout in the US. Remember when Hank Paulson threated martial law if banks didn't get nearly one trillion dollars of initial liquidity injection? This is the same sort of situation. The Euro partners and the IMF have set the new tone. Troubled economies like Italy and Greece and Spain will begin to see an uptick in withdrawals. But it might already be too late for them. European authorities were prepared for the reaction of Cypriots. Over the weekend electronic money transfers had fallen under strict controls, and the levy amounts in Cypriot's bank accounts were inaccessible to the depositors. Despite having to pay for the bailout, one can expect that this robbery won’t be too much different from other IMF-World Bank led robberies of the so-called “Third World”: In other words, this will in some ways be your standard “economic medicine” or “structural readjustment” with taxes going up and a firesale/devaluation of national assets.Nation-states of Planet Earth must realize they are far from sovereign. Economically, at least, the EU is a prime example of what the future holds for much of the world. Savers are no longer safe in the supra-state of the EU. These actions by European central planners in Cyprus will lead citizens in the PIIGS to withdraw funds out of the bank, and possibly en masse. I know that is exactly what I would be doing if I banked anywhere in Europe – or, in fact, any Western nation. It is for this reason that we’ve always stated that you should never hold a large amount of your money in a Western bank account in fiat currency (and recommend instead having an offshore account in an unindebted tax haven). The Russian-educated, three-weeks-in-office Communist President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said the new tax was “an alternative to disorderly bankruptcy.” He told the nation through a televised address that it was painful but "will eventually stabilize the economy and lead it to recovery." An ECB official said authorities in Cyprus had already prepared for the levy “to ensure that the levy can be collected.” In other words, mass withdrawals were anticipated and prevented. Savers suffering from the robbery would be “compensated” with shares in bankrupt commercial banks. So, get screwed or get screwed. Communism or Communism. Socialism or Socialism. Supra-statism or Supra-statism. Wealth confiscation or wealth confiscation. We hear that parliament might not make the theft legal after today's negotiations. Well, in that case, Cyprus will default and the banks will close. google_ad_client = "ca-pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 7/28/12 */ google_ad_slot = "9833874419"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; For any Cypriot Dollar Vigilante, hopefully you have taken our advice here at TDV and kept cash for a few months at home, as well as gold, silver and bitcoin, in case banks should close for extended periods (or forever). Just as the Arab Spring all started with one person in a market lighting himself on fire, this one action could cause a run on banks throughout the PIIGS that could eventually collapse the whole EU banking system. Depending on how bad it gets it could even lead to the collapse of the euro and, if panic really sets in, could lead to The End Of The Monetary System As We Know it (TEOTMSAWKI). Southern Europe is done with the European banking system. Their confidence shattered, the illusion vanishes. This is happening right now, in real time, right before our very eyes. There is no longer any time to waste being in denial, as this will happen all over the Western World. It will. 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18 марта 2013, 20:05

UN Human Rights Council: America's Imperial Tool

image sourceStephen LendmanActivist Post In 1945, the UN was established,"to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war; reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights; (support) equal rights of men and women....of nations large and small;  establish conditions under which justice....can be maintained;  promote social progress; practice tolerance and live in peace; and  (promote) economic and social advancement of all peoples." It failed on all counts. It's largely a US imperial tool. It's been so from inception.With few exceptions, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) marches in lockstep with Washington. It does so shamelessly. Poland's Remigiusz Henczel serves as president. America's waging hot war on Syria. It does so politically, economically and other ways against Iran. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon aides and abets Washington's agenda. So does the Human Rights Council. Former Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Shaheed, serves as Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran. He does so dishonorably. He takes State Department blood money. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; Tehran's High Council for Human Rights Secretary-General, Mohammad Javad Larijani, said:The money the special rapporteur has received from the US State Department has led to a situation that he cannot write about anything except their anti-Iran desires. (He) "has no right to take a stance against the country he is assigned to. (He) repeats (anti-Iranian) words of the US and Israel.Iran provided UN officials with damning evidence. Shaheed's a serial violator. He issued four anti-Iranian reports. Tehran categorically denies all charges. They're based on unreliable information. They reflect Western propaganda. They belie reality. On February 28, HRC published his "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran." Baseless human rights violations were charged. They include "widespread and systemic" torture, as well as harassment, arrests and attacks on human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.According to Shaheed:The prevailing situation of human rights in Iran continues to warrant serious concern, and will require a wide range of solutions that are both respectful of cultural perspectives and mindful of the universality of fundamental human rights promulgated by the treaties to which Iran is a party.Shaheed tried having things both ways. On the one hand, he said Tehran made "noteworthy" women's rights "advances." On the other, he claimed "recent policies prohibit women’s access to a number of fields of study, further restrict women’s freedom of movement, and current polices that continue to impede women’s ability to hold certain decision-making positions in Government remain problematic." He claims "unimpeachable evidence." Pro-Western and internal dissident sources supplied it. It's biased and unreliable. It discusses free and fair elections, freedom of expression, association and assembly, human rights defenders, torture, executions, women's rights, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, and socioeconomic rights. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay long ago fell from grace. Her mandate is suppressing truth. She ignores Western human rights abuses. America's are the world's worst. She turns a blind eye on Israel. She ignores its worst crimes. She, Shaheed, and like-minded sources lack credibility. They're imperial tools. They're in lockstep with Washington. Their job is advancing its agenda. On March 11, HRC headlined "Oral Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic." It followed previous duplicitous reports. They're pre-scripted. They're predictable. They're one-sided. They lack credibility. They turn truth on its head. They report what Washington wants to hear. They point fingers the wrong way. They blame Assad for Western crimes. They ignore credible eye-witness testimonies. They use spurious ones. They do so repeatedly. They claim Syria's war is "civil." There's nothing civil about it. Imported proxies are used. They're invaders. They're heavily armed, funded, trained and directed. They've been so from inception. Most Syrians deplore violence. They oppose internal and external groups committing it. Syria is Washington's war. Obama bears full responsibility. He's guilty of crimes of war and against humanity. He prioritizes war. He spurns peace. He's an unindicted war criminal. In 2011, he destroyed Libya. He's ravaging Syria now. HRC blames Assad for his crimes. Its report includes baseless accusations. They charge Assad with forced displacements, razing neighborhoods, looting homes, torture, rapes, denying medical care, targeting doctors and other hospital personnel, persecuting anti-government opponents, and continuing hostilities across Syria. "Government forces continue to focus their military operations on securing major towns and cities, intensifying shelling and airstrikes on anti-Government armed groups' strongholds," it says. Omitted was saying it's done defensively. Assad's obligated to do so. Syria was invaded. Other leaders would respond the same way. Failure would be grossly irresponsible. HRC claimed bombing, shelling, and missile attacks "caused widespread damage to residential neighborhoods." It blamed Assad for deaths caused by insurgents. They're Western-recruited death squads. Their mandate is kill, kill, kill. They commit gruesome atrocities. Eyewitness survivors confirm it. HRC won't cite them. It didn't explain. It glossed over insurgent crimes. They're too grave to ignore. It did so anyway. Targeting Assad is prioritized. He's blamed for "extrajudicial killings, beatings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests," and other high crimes.Uncorroborated reports claim his forces "steal from civilian houses while conducting ground searches." In mid-January, HRC said government forces removed dozens of women traveling to work or school. Doing so, it said, "was to coerce (their) family members, some of whom were ostensibly fighting with anti-Government armed groups, to surrender." "Multiple accounts alleged that the detained women were sexually abused." "Other interviewees (alleged) torture in" Damascus detention centers. No evidence whatever corroborates HRC claims. It largely whitewashes anti-government forces' crimes. It did so in previous reports. They point fingers the wrong way. It's done to please Washington. Assad's wrongfully blamed for death squad massacres and other atrocities. Spurious accusations include the following:"The brutality of the civil war in Syria has been amplified by the perpetration of massacres." "According to 'corroborated' reports, Government forces executed between 52 and 90 prisoners, detained due to their affiliation to the opposition, in a makeshift prison in a former cultural center in Maarat Al Numan, Idlib, in October 2012." "The mass killing of detainees took place in the context of an assault by Free Syrian Army fighters on Maarat Al Numan." As they approached the checkpoint, "they heard heavy gunfire." "(T)hey discovered multiple bodies of detainees who had been shot at close range. Survivors of the murder (said) Government soldiers killed the detainees in anticipation of the attack by the FSA to prevent their release." Other accusations were similar. Assad's accused of "indiscriminate use of all available firepower assets, including artillery, air force assets and most recently, surface-to-surface ballistic missiles against insurgent held areas." HRC points fingers the wrong way. It does so shamelessly and consistently. Its Syrian and Iranian reports lack credibility. They support Washington's agenda. They lie for power.Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. 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18 марта 2013, 08:00

A Palestinian state in two years : institutions for economic revival - economic monitoring report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee

On August 25, 2009, the 13th Government of the Palestinian Authority (PA) presented a program entitled 'Palestine: ending the occupation, establishing the state' (hereafter referred to as the program) outlining several national goals, including the achievement of 'economic independence and national prosperity'. The program accords high priority to the development of the public institutions of the PA in order to achieve the stated national goals. It acknowledges that maintaining an efficient and effective public sector that provides citizens with high quality services and value for money is a constant challenge. No amount of well-functioning institutions, will, however, lead to economic growth in the absence of access to markets, whether within the West Bank and Gaza, in Israel, or in the rest of the world. In this regard, the recent developments in easing of movement and access restrictions by the Government of Israel (GoI) represent a welcome first step. The GoI has taken steps to ease movement restrictions in the West Bank and to allow greater access to West Bank markets for Arab citizens of Israel. In the first half of 2009, the political stalemate in Gaza continued and the economy stagnated. The West Bank economy is showing signs of new growth, so that it is possible that for the first time in years, West Bank and Gaza (WB&G) may have positive per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2009.

16 марта 2013, 21:09

Iran, Israel On The Agenda As Obama Heads To Middle East

WASHINGTON -- When President Barack Obama steps into the Middle East's political cauldron this coming week, he won't be seeking any grand resolution for the region's vexing problems. His goal will be trying to keep the troubles, from Iran's suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon to the bitter discord between Israelis and Palestinians, from boiling over on his watch. Obama arrives in Jerusalem on Wednesday for his first trip to Israel as president. His first priority will be resetting his oft-troubled relationship with now-weakened Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and evaluating the new coalition government Netanyahu laboriously cobbled together. The president also will look to boost his appeal to a skeptical Israeli public, as well as to frustrated Palestinians. "This is not about accomplishing anything now. This is what I call a down payment trip," said Aaron David Miller, an adviser on Mideast peace to six secretaries of state who is now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. For much of Obama's first term, White House officials saw little reason for him to go to the region without a realistic chance for a peace accord between the Israelis and Palestinians. But with the president's one attempt at a U.S.-brokered deal thwarted in his first term and the two sides even more at odds, the White House has shifted thinking. Officials now see the lowered expectations as a chance to create space for frank conversations between Obama and both sides about what it will take to get back to the negotiating table. The president will use his face-to-face meetings to "persuade both sides to refrain from taking provocative unilateral actions that could be self-defeating," said Haim Malka, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The trip gives Obama the opportunity to meet Netanyahu on his own turf, and that could help ease the tension that has at times defined their relationship. The leaders have tangled over Israeli settlements and how to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu also famously lectured the president in front of the media during a 2011 meeting in the Oval Office, and later made no secret of his fondness for Republican challenger Mitt Romney in last year's presidential campaign. Beyond Mideast peace, the two leaders have similar regional goals, including ending the violence in Syria and containing the political tumult in Egypt, which has a decades-old peace treaty with Israel. The president's trip comes at a time of political change for Israel. Netanyahu's power was diminished in January elections and he struggled to form a government. He finally reached a deal on Friday with rival parties, creating a coalition that brings the centrist Yesh Atid and pro-settler Jewish Home parties into the government and excludes the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties for the first time in a decade. Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, acknowledged that with a new government, "you don't expect to close the deal on any one major initiative." But he said starting those conversations now "can frame those decisions that ultimately will come down the line." Among those decisions will be next steps in dealing with Iran's disputed nuclear program. Israel repeatedly has threatened to take military action should Iran appear to be on the verge of obtaining a bomb. The U.S. has pushed for more time to allow diplomacy and economic penalties to run their course, though Obama insists military action is an option. The West says Iran's program is aimed at developing weapons technology. Iran says its program is for peaceful energy purposes. Another central difference between the allies on Iran is the timeline for possible military action. Netanyahu, in a speech to the United Nations in September, said Iran was about six months away from being able to build a bomb. Obama told an Israeli television station this past week that the U.S. thinks it would take "over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon." Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., tried to play down any division on the Iranian issue ahead of Obama's trip. He said Friday that "the United States and Israel see many of the same facts about the Iranian nuclear program and draw many similar conclusions." Obama's visit to Israel may quiet critics in the U.S. who interpreted his failure to travel there in his first term as a sign that he was less supportive of the Jewish state than his predecessors. Republican lawmakers levied that criticism frequently during last year's presidential campaign, despite the fact that GOP President George W. Bush did not visit Israel until his final year in office. The centerpiece of Obama's visit will be a speech in Jerusalem to an audience mainly of Israeli students. It's part of the president's effort to appeal to the Israeli public, particularly young people. He will make several cultural stops, all steeped in symbolism, in the region. They include the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem; Mount Herzl, where he'll lay wreaths at the graves of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism, and Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister who was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish extremist who opposed Rabin's policy of trading land with the Palestinians for peace; and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a revered site for Christians. In a sign of the close military ties between the U.S. and Israel, Obama will view an Iron Dome battery, part of the missile defense system the U.S. has helped pay for. Traveling to the West Bank, Obama will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah. Obama and Fayyad will visit a Palestinian youth center, another attempt to reach the region's young people. Obama will make a 24-hour stop in Jordan, an important U.S. ally, where the president's focus will be on the violence in neighboring Syria. More than 450,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan, crowding refugee camps and overwhelming aid organizations. The White House said Obama had no plans to visit a refugee camp while in Jordan, though he will be discussing with government officials how the U.S. can increase its assistance. In his talks with Jordan's King Abdullah, Obama also will try to shore up the country's fledgling attempts to liberalize its government and stave off an Arab Spring-style movement similar to the ones that have taken down leaders elsewhere in the region. The president's final stop will be in Petra, Jordan's fabled ancient city. ___ Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC ___ Online: White House: http://tinyurl.com/a9r3lej

13 марта 2013, 20:06

Has the European Spring Started?

Via Lucas Jackson, Has the European Spring Started?   “So it is the human condition that to wish for the greatness of one's fatherland is to wish evil to one's neighbors. The citizen of the universe would be the man who wishes his country never to be either greater or smaller, richer or poorer.” - Voltaire   With Angela Merkel and her vassal at the ECB Mario Draghi seemingly in control of markets on the European continent, there is a temptation to pull a George W. Bush and unfurl the “Mission Accomplished” banner.  However, that was a PR blunder for Bush the Younger and it would a be blunder for Merghi as well. There are a couple of items that have hit the tape recently that seem to indicate the ground upon which the Euro is based is shaking.  The most recent was out of Germany where according to a Reuters article, “One in four Germans would be ready to vote in September's federal election for a party that wants to quit the euro, according to an opinion poll published on Monday that highlights German unease over the costs of the euro zone crisis.”  Link here. Germany’s population is around 80mm people and right now about 20mm of those would actively vote against the Euro.  As the article highlights, this number is even more significant because there is a national taboo in Germany against nationalistic tendencies, a hangover from the nationalism of WWII.  Despite this taboo, a major portion of the country is actively wishing for the return of the Deutsche Mark.  One wonders how much higher the number would be absent the taboo on nationalism? Grillo the Clown? The Economist ran an article on the Italian elections recently entitled, “Send in the Clowns” where they attempt to paint Silvio Berlusconi and rising political star Beppe Grillo as nothing more than clowns, not to be taken seriously unless it is to discuss how they threaten the status quo.  As it regards Berlusconi, Mr. Bunga Bunga deserves all the negative press he gets.  At this point in his life, he is simply trying to keep getting elected to national office in order to maintain amnesty from prosecution and stay out of jail.  As a billionaire in Italy, it seems to me that his chances of ever seeing the inside of a jail cell are quite low. But what about Grillo?  In his former life he was a clown, a real life entertaining clown.  So I suppose I am meant to assume that means he knows nothing about the big picture of global or even European politics or economics?  He is usually described as a quaint Italian anachronism with no real chance of accomplishing anything.  If you read about him in the major non-Italian media at least, that is how he is portrayed. Truthfully, I had never listened to a word Mr. Grillo said.  But it’s hard to comment knowledgably about someone when all you’ve done is read what the major non-Italian news publications have said about them.  So I took the time to watch the short clip (major props to Mike Krieger and his Liberty Blitzkrieg Blog for highlighting this) below to gain a better understanding of why 25% of the Italian electorate voted for him.  For any of you who haven’t seen or heard Mr. Grillo speak, I recommend you watch the short five minute clip below: What emerged in my mind after watching this clip was a few thoughts:   1.       Grillo is hardly a clown.  He is smart, well-read and has a thorough understanding of the how the current status quo works. 2.       He is an extremely good public speaker.  He is engaging, lively and does an amazing job of connecting with his audience.  No wonder he crushed the technocrat Mario Monti in the polls!  Watch how he works this sizeable audience like a rock star.  Very few politicians of any country can do this – especially without a teleprompter! 3.       He speaks truth to power and could very well be a force to be reckoned with in Italian politics for many years going forward.  Dismiss him as a clown at your own risk...   The Wave is Building Perhaps you believe Draghi’s open-ended commitment to do, “...whatever it takes,” to bail out Europe’s broken banking system will be enough to stabilize things for good.  Could be. On the other hand, the Merghi doctrine of open-ended support depends upon the sovereigns of Europe voting more or less along traditional lines.  I feel pretty confident saying this will not happen.  Over 25% of the people in two of Europe’s largest, best educated, richest, most populous countries are already saying they reject the status quo.  More tellingly, the number of people sharing this view has been growing rapidly in recent years, not shrinking. With Italy the number 4 holder of gold in the world with over 2.4 tonnes and Germany the number 2 with over 3.4 tonnes, the shifting of the political winds will have major effects on the world’s economic and banking systems. Keep your eyes on the changing sentiment of European politics.  What is certain today will be uncertain tomorrow.  Massive youth unemployment ensures the next generation of voters do not see eye-to-eye with the previous.  The old politicians just want to avoid change while the new politicians want nothing but.  The wheels are in motion for major transition and upheaval on the old continent.  Given the nature of the political structured in Europe, it’s unlikely the European Spring will take on the same dynamic as the Arab Spring, but massive change is afoot nonetheless. And even though the man leading the charge in Italy is a former entertainer, one would be mistaken to dismiss the man as a simple clown.  Very mistaken.

22 января 2013, 19:46

South Africa's ANC berates bank for "Arab Spring" ad campaign

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A major South African bank has become embroiled in a row with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) over an advertising campaign in which youngsters voice concerns about the faltering progress of Nelson Mandela's self-styled 'Rainbow Nation'.

22 января 2013, 13:09

Israelis vote in general election

More than 30 parties are contesting polls expected to return Binyamin Netanyahu at the head of a more hawkish coalitionIsraelis have begun voting in a general election that is expected to return Binyamin Netanyahu at the head of another coalition government, albeit with fewer parliamentary seats and a more rightwing, hawkish bent.Opinion polls have predicted that the Likud-Beiteinu alliance – an electoral merger between the parties of Netanyahu and the hardline former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman – will get 32-35 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.The significant drop from the current 42 seats held by the two parties is attributed largely to the draining of votes to the ultra-nationalist rightwing Jewish Home party, led by former commando and startup millionaire Naftali Bennett. Jewish Home – which is vehemently opposed to a Palestinian state and advocates the annexation of large chunks of the West Bank – is expected to become the third biggest party, with around 12 seats. But Netanyahu has also run a lacklustre campaign marked by tactical errors.The prime minister and his family cast their votes five minutes after the polls opened at 7am local time (0500 GMT). He said that despite the dry weather, he wished to see "a rain of ballots" for his party. "The stronger Likud-Beiteinu is, the easier it will be to lead Israel successfully," he added. He later visited the Western Wall in the Old City, leaving a note saying "With God's help, for the future of Israel" in the cracks between the ancient stones.After Bennett and his wife cast their votes in Ra'anana, an affluent suburb of Tel Aviv, the unexpected star of the three-month election campaign sang Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem, outside the polling station.Around 18% of the public had not decided which party to vote for, according to the last opinion polls to be published before the election. In theory they could dramatically change the outcome, or boost the prospects of smaller parties. There are more than 30 parties contesting the elections for the 19th Knesset.The polls close at 10pm, and 85% of the votes will be counted overnight. Turnout is expected to be around 65% of the 5.6 million eligible voters, although the proportion among Israeli Arabs – 20% of the population – is likely to be lower.President Shimon Peres urged Israelis to exercise their right to vote. "In 65 years of existence Israel went through seven wars but never lost its democratic freedom. We fought for our survival but never gave up our democracy. We are a unique country; neither war nor trouble can overcome freedom. Today is a celebration of that democracy," he said.Election day is a holiday in Israel, with schools, banks and government offices closed, and many employees given a day off.One parliamentary candidate, Meirav Cohen of Hatnua, led by Tzipi Livni, gave birth to a baby girl a few hours before the polls opened.IsraelBinyamin NetanyahuPalestinian territoriesMiddle East and North AfricaHarriet Sherwoodguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

21 января 2013, 18:49

Israeli elections set to amplify religious voice in Knesset

Polls suggest one in three Knesset members will be religious and ultra-orthodox Jews and one in six West Bank settlersReligious and ultra-orthodox Jews and inhabitants of West Bank settlements are expected to have disproportionately high representation in the new Israeli parliament, to be elected on Tuesday.More than a third of members of the 19th Knesset are expected to be entering parliament for the first time, a much higher turnover of political representatives than in previous elections."There will be an over-representation of the religious and ultra-orthodox – around one in three members of the Knesset, according to the latest polls," said Ofer Kenig, of the Israel Democracy Institute. About one in five members of the last Knesset were religious or ultra-orthodox, he said."This is a very significant change. The explanation is not necessarily the demographic growth of this sector but the success of religious parties in attracting support from secular and traditional voters."He said there would be "a very high representation of Jewish settlers", up to 20 of the 120 members of the Knesset. Less than 5% of Israel's population lives in West Bank settlements.The new Knesset is expected to be the first in Israel's history without a member from a kibbutz. "Throughout Israel's history, kibbutzniks have played a very important part in shaping Israeli society, but they have always been a very small proportion of the population," Kenig said, adding that the new political elite was a coalition of West Bank settlers, ultra-orthodox, national-religious and rightwing city dwellers.Among those expected to be elected is Orit Struck, a candidate for the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party and a radical settler in the Palestinian city of Hebron.This week, she defended her son, who is serving an 18-month prison sentence for abducting and assaulting a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, causing severe injuries. "Zviki is my firstborn and is sitting in prison for no fault of his own, because of his Arab neighbours," Struck told the NRG website.Another Jewish Home candidate, Jeremy Gimpel, was the subject of a furore when a video revealed that he suggested in 2011 that the Dome of the Rock, the revered mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, could be "blown up" to allow the building of a third Jewish temple on the site, which is also sacred to Judaism."Imagine today if the golden dome, I'm being recorded so I can't say blown up, but let's say it was blown up, right, and we laid the cornerstone of the temple in Jerusalem … it would be incredible," he said. Following calls to disqualify him as a candidate, Gimpel said the remarks had been "a joke".A third Jewish Home candidate, Hillel Horowitz, a rabbi also from the hardline Hebron settlement, called for Jewish settlers to return to Gaza and a West Bank outpost, which were evacuated in 2005. "We will do everything we can to work to return the people of Israel to Homesh in northern Samaria [the West Bank] and to Gush Katif [in Gaza]," Horowitz said on the religious zionist website Kipa, the Jerusalem Post reported.Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party, currently in an electoral alliance with the former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, is expected to be more hardline rightwing in the next parliament.Among those expecting to become new Likud members of the Knesset is Moshe Feiglin, who this month proposed that the Israeli government pay Palestinians in the West Bank $500,000 a family to leave. "This is the perfect solution for us," he said.Feiglin, a hardline settler from Karnei Shomron in the West Bank, was recently arrested for contravening Israeli law by praying near the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque. His faction has sought more power and influence within Likud over recent years; he won 25% of the party vote last year when he challenged Netanyahu for the leadership. He told the Guardian he believed that "one day I will lead the state of Israel".Another rising star on the Likud rightwing is Danny Danon, a Knesset member who has accelerated up the list of candidates in the election, which may give him leverage in the post-election scramble for ministerial jobs.Danon advocates the annexation by Israel of large swaths of the West Bank and argues that Palestinians there and in Gaza should come under Jordanian and Egyptian control rather than having their own state.He demanded the jailing of a fellow Knesset member, the Israeli-Arab Haneed Zoabi, branding her a "traitor" for taking part in the flotilla of ships attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in 2010. Danon told the Guardian that the hardening of rightwing opinion in Israel was "an awakening". The public, he said, "appreciates my message".IsraelMiddle East and North AfricaBinyamin NetanyahuHarriet Sherwoodguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

10 января 2013, 04:29

Arab Maghreb Union states create investment bank

NOUAKCHOTT, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The five nations of the Arab Maghreb Union have created a investment bank with capital of $100 million to finance infrastructure projects in the region, Mauritania's central bank governor said on Wednesday.

08 января 2013, 22:42

Argentina President Rents Plane For International Trip To Avoid More Elliott Confiscations

In a somewhat surprising bid to avoid having even more Argentina assets impounded by the increasingly more belligerent hedge fund hordes, president Kirchner opted to squeeze the government's already dwindling coffers further and instead of using her official aircraft, she decided to pay British air charter Chapman Freeborn $880,000 for an airplane rental to take her to Cuba, the UAE, Indonesia and Vietnam. This happens even as Argentina is once again caught in a messy brawl with the UK over the Falklands. And while the nearly $1 million abuse of taxpayer funds will hardly pass unnoticed, we have no doubt that Argentina should be able to finance itself in the international markets efficiently should it choose to: just slap a high yield on the debt and pitch it to Elliott, already in possession of an Argentina boat, who may (or may not) gladly buy it. Stranger things have happened. From AFP: Argentine President Cristina Kirchner will go on a four-nation trip in a rented British airplane for fear that her official aircraft would be impounded in a debt dispute, the government said Monday.   Despite a bitter war of words with London over the Falkland Islands, Kirchner's government is paying British air charter firm Chapman Freeborn $880,000 for the trip to Cuba, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Vietnam.   The government's concern is very real: last year, a court in Ghana impounded the Argentine navy ship "Libertad" for two months following a request from NML Capital, a Cayman Islands-based investment firm.   The company, denounced by Argentina's government as a "vulture" fund," says Buenos Aires owes it $370 million stemming from the nation's debt default a decade ago.   Oscar Parrilli, the presidency's secretary general, said in a statement that it was "highly probable" that funds would try to detain Kirchner's official Tango 01 (T-01) aircraft on her upcoming trip.   Even though using the official plane would be 20 percent cheaper, the foreign ministry advised against using it "due to the aggressive posture of vulture funds," he said. A government source said the trip begins in Havana on Thursday.   Kirchner, who rented a Chapman Freeborn charter for previous trips in 2010 and 2011, has traded barbs with British Prime Minister David Cameron over the Falklands, which Britain retained after a bloody war on the islands in 1982. We hope CFK does not have a Swiss bank account (like everybody else apparently these days) as breaching through the Elliott cordon of armed guards on Bahnhofstrasse to get to her stash would be worthy of a Bruckenheimer movie.

05 ноября 2012, 17:08

Gold And Silver Worth $1.4 Billion Carried In Baggage From Turkey To Iran, UAE And Middle East in September

Submitted by GoldCore Gold Bullion Gold And Silver Worth $1.4 Billion Carried In Baggage From Turkey To Iran, UAE And Middle East in September Today’s AM fix was USD 1,679.00, EUR 1,313.05, and GBP 1,050.82 per ounce.  Friday’s AM fix was USD 1,708.25, EUR 1,325.77, and GBP 1,061.29 per ounce. Silver is trading at $31.05/oz, €24.39/oz and £19.51/oz. Platinum is trading at $1,550.32/oz, palladium at $597.38/oz and rhodium at $1,070/oz. Gold dropped $35.70 or 2.08% in New York on Friday and closed at $1,678.00. Silver hit a low of $30.789 and finished with a loss of 4.01%. Gold and silver were down nearly 2% and 3% on the week. Cross Currency Table – (Bloomberg) Gold edged up a bit on Monday, limiting the fall after the better than expected US jobs number sent the yellow metal downward to a two month low. If the US Fed doesn’t need to embark on more stimulus measures this may limit the yellow metal’s appeal with investors who see continuous money printing by central banks as increasing inflation and debasing currencies. The US dollar limited gold’s rebound as it hit its highest in 2 months as investors parked money there before the US election. This week there is an ECB policy meeting on November 8th and also a key gathering of the Chinese Communist Party.   US Economic highlights include ISM Services at 1500 GMT today.  Wednesday’s data is Consumer Credit, Thursday Initial Jobless Claims and the Trade Balance and Friday Export & Import Prices, Michigan Sentiment, and Wholesale Inventories are published.  Turkey’s trade deficit has been shrinking and the country has enjoyed the best bond rally in the emerging markets this year due in part to the contributions of airline passengers transporting gold in their baggage. Statistics from Istanbul’s 2 main airports show $1.4 billion of precious metals were registered for export in September.   XAU/USD Currency, 1 Year – (Bloomberg) Iran is Turkey’s largest oil supplier and Turkey has been paying for the oil not only with liras but also with gold bullion. Turkey exported $11.7 billion of gold and precious metals since March, when Iran was barred from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, (Swift) making it nearly impossible for Iran to complete large international fund transfers. Of the $11.7 billion, $10.2 billion or 90% was to Iran and the United Arab Emirates, according to data on Turkey’s state statistics agency’s website. Turkey’s current account deficit is second in the world at $77.1 billion or 10% of GDP while the US currently holds the top spot.   The problem with Turkey switching from a net importer to a net exporter of gold bullion this year is that the foreign trade data is misrepresented. Turkey’s use of precious metals is a key factor to help turn around its nation’s current junk bond rating status. We mentioned before the government’s efforts to move the $302 billion in privately held gold, into government banks to increase the money supply in the economy.  “October data will be very critical” as the US urged Turkey not to export gold to Iran or the UAE, “which means indirectly to Iran,” Ozgur Altug, chief economist at BGC Partners in Istanbul, said in an e-mailed report yesterday. The increase in precious metal exports accounted for three quarters of the 14% one year gain in total exports in the first nine months, Gulay Girgin, chief economist at Oyak Securities in Istanbul, said in an e-mailed report yesterday. “If you look at Turkey’s trade figures without gold, it doesn’t look that great,” Gizem Oztok Altinsac, an economist at Garanti Yatirim, the investment unit for Turkey’s biggest bank, said by phone yesterday. “I think the analysts are paying a lot of attention to this, but at the end of the day, the bottom line is the current-account deficit, and that’s getting better.” For breaking news and commentary on financial markets and gold, follow us on Twitter.   NEWS Gold edges higher as dollar retreats – Market Watch  Gold firms after jobs report sparked sell-off - Reuters Hedge Funds Reduce Bullish Bets Most in Five Months - Bloomberg Gold Traders Most Bullish in 10 Weeks on Stimulus - Bloomberg COMMENTARY Bundesbank Continues Golden Damage Control – Zero Hedge Election outcome will have no impact on the price of gold – The Daily Reckoning Keiser: 'Barack Obama is clueless. Mitt Romney will bankrupt the country' – The Independent The Great Precious Metals Managed Retreat – Resource Investor

28 октября 2012, 04:17

On Europe And The Future Of International Relations

Authored by Rodrigo Serrano of Rational Capitalist Speculator, Since the 2008 financial crisis the foundations of the global economy have been in repair, translating into a prolonged period of economic frailty. Against this backdrop, social and political tensions have increased between citizens and government, international institutions and governments, and individual nation states. This murky political environment is fertile ground for international relations theory to: produce a better understanding of the forces affecting these developments, as well as offer potential solutions to these increasingly apparent conflicts. The European debt crisis remains the largest challenge facing the global economy. A negative resolution emanating from the world’s largest economic bloc would cause harmful ripple effects worldwide in global trade flows. More importantly, it could also mark a paradigm shift in international relations, dealing a critical blow to what has been a relentless trend towards liberalism since the end of World War II, while providing fecund ground for a resurgence in realist ideology. Interestingly though, constructivism may be at the forefront in explaining the current dilemma between the European core and its periphery. It is therefore important for officials and institutions in leadership positions to analyze the situation through a constructivist lens. Given the fast-paced nature of the political situation in the Eurozone, it is important to invoke a constructive approach when analyzing the competing forces affecting the region. Presently, we are witnessing a clash between long-standing and embedded “regulative norms” versus relatively recent “constitutive norms.” Both classes are best defined in Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sinkkink’s article: International Norm Dynamics and Political Change. “Scholars across disciplines have recognized different types of categories of norms. The most common distinction is between regulative norms, which order and constrain behavior, and constitutive norms, which create new actors, interests, or categories of action” (Keck and Sikkink 1998, p.891). In peripheral nations such as Spain, Greece, and Italy, long-standing social welfare systems have served to entrench a cohesive array of regulative norms among society commensurate with a distinctive and generous standard of living. Meanwhile constitutive norms, such as the desire to erase the horrid memories of World War II along with the desire for economic prosperity, converged in the mid-to-late 1990s to create the European Monetary Union (EMU). Ironically, the bloc’s defining characteristic, the Euro, is now the impetus of the current conflict between these norms. “Whereas Germany, still staggering under the financial burden of reunification, impressively massaged down its labor costs, trimmed its welfare spending, and became competitive again, many of the peripheral countries allowed their unit labor costs to soar” (Garton Ash Sept/Oct 2012, p. 3). In order to resolve the crisis, labor productivity must improve and labor costs lowered throughout the periphery to better compete in today’s demanding global marketplace. This means that social welfare systems in these countries will need to be substantially curtailed. In essence, for regulative norms throughout the periphery, the Euro and kryptonite are akin. The discordance of these two powerful sets of norms has given rise to political activist groups such as Los Indignados in Spain and anti-Euro protesters in Greece, respectably demanding a softening of austerity measures and in the extreme case, advocating an exit from the EMU altogether. Like the Arab Spring, these groups bring to light what Ann-Marie Slaughter calls The New Foreign Policy Frontier. “But [Hillary] Clinton herself insists that 21st-century diplomacy must not only be government to government, but also government to society and society to society, a process facilitated and legitimated by government. That much broader concept opens the door to a do-it-yourself foreign policy, in which individuals and groups can invent and execute an idea -- for good or ill – that can affect their own and other countries in ways that once only governments could.” (Slaughter 2011, p.1-2). The aforementioned groups are having an increasing effect on German and European Union (EU) policy, with Germany’s Christian Social Union party leader Horst Seehofer recently softening his stance on Greek austerity and Angela Merkel appearing more receptive toward Spain requesting aid without further conditionalities. Moreover, the conflict of these norms increases the threat of internal war, which adds another layer of complexity to the tenuous balance of power between sovereign states versus the supranational organization that is the EU. “As such, free trade that jeopardizes a state’s key industries or allows potential adversaries to become relatively stronger may not be in a state’s interest even if the economy of the state gains in an absolute sense. Better to subsidize an inefficient group of producers than face the threat of a violent challenge to the regime” (David 1998, p. 89). In simple terms, core countries demanding further austerity from an already recession-wracked periphery should tone down their rhetoric and give these countries a much needed breather or risk an anti-Euro political faction upending all progress up to date. While examining the current situation in Europe through a constructive viewpoint seems most prudent, it does not significantly discount realism as a viable alternative when analyzing the current state of affairs. On the contrary, realism remains an underlying force in the current precarious condition between the core and periphery nations. “The economic expert, dominated in the main by laissez-faire doctrine, considers the hypothetical economic interest of the world as a whole, and is content to assume that this is identical with the interests of each individual country. The politician pursues the concrete interest of his country, and assumes (if he makes any assumptions at all) that the interest of the world as a whole is identical with it… Laissez-faire, in international relations as in those between labor and capital, is the paradise of the economically strong. State control, whether in the form of protective legislation or of protective tariffs, is the weapon of self-defense invoked by the economically weak” (Carr 2008, p. 74). Furthermore, beneath the veneer of constructivist analysis and potential solutions that such analysis may provide, lies the specter of a powerful resurgence of crude realist ideology. A negative settlement within Europe could lead to a fragmenting EMU in tandem with a significant reduction in the perceived power of a panoply of liberal-style institutions such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF); dealing a critical blow to a bedrock of Institutional Liberalism, one espoused by Robert O Keohane: “Collapse is avoided because as Joseph Nye and I wrote in Power and Interdependence, ’a set of networks, norms and institutions, once established, will be difficult either to eradicate or drastically rearrange’” (Keohane 2012, p. 136). Additionally, the likely subsequent global economic downturn would create an effective incubator for a renaissance of realism not only in Europe, as discarded ex-EMU nations are once again left to fend for themselves, but abroad, as a worsened economic climate leads to declining trust and an increased focus on individual interests. While liberals may point to the importance of economic interdependence as well as an eventual climatic repeat of “the Monnet method” as key factors in the ultimate creation of a political and fiscal union, the chronic competitive divide between European core countries and their peripheral counterparts increases the likelihood that austerity will continue, further fueling the popularity of nascent nationalistic political parties, such as the Golden Dawn in Greece, the 5 Star Movement in Italy, and both the Basque Nationalist Party and EH Bildu in Spain. At some point, one of these parties will assume power setting the stage for a repudiation of the country’s “odious debt”. As Dani Rodrik stated in The Globalization Paradox, “When globalization collides with domestic politics, the smart money bets on politics” (Rodrik 2011, p. 188). From a realist point of view, Kenneth Waltz’s thoughts on the security of organizations deserve intense introspection. “Organizations have at least two aims: to get something done and to maintain themselves as organizations. Many of their activities are directed toward the second purpose… In making political decisions, the first and most important concern is not to achieve the aims the members of an organization may have but to secure the continuity and health of the organization itself” (Waltz 1979, p. 111 – cf. Diesing 1962, p. 198-204; Downs 1967, p. 262-70). Indeed, to ensure its own survival an institution is likely to “break the rules”. An ongoing and increasingly appropriate example of this behavior is the ECB and its recent announcement of Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT), a policy that seemed unthinkable only a year ago. This policy ventures into the gray area with regards to monetizing government debt, which is illegal as per Article 123 of the bank’s founding treaty. While Mario Draghi continues to reassure that the bank will under no circumstance begin printing money to buy government debt without strict conditionalities from Eurozone governments, it would be naïve to confidently think that they would simply stand by if the survival of the Eurozone solely depended on committing to cap government bond yields. While there’s a significant probability that, if faced with extinction, the ECB would resort to monetary financing, would Germany, haunted by its past experience with Weimer hyperinflation (due to printing money), acquiesce to such a policy? In the face of such significant and critical challenges facing the global economy and political order, what can be done? Using a constructivist approach, one must be cognizant of the strengthening trend of nationalistic sentiment and possible development of ensuing norms in periphery countries. It is of great import that these trends are arrested by implementing various targeted, profound, and didactic educational campaigns throughout Europe, most importantly in core countries, so as to encourage continued cooperation (fiscal stimulus?) in exchange for sustained efforts on the part of periphery countries to reconstruct their labor markets. Nations under intense economic hardship need to feel that core countries understand their dilemma and that they are committed to their long-term prosperity. Demanding continued austerity without some sort of relief risks a breakdown of trust between both poles. Additionally, award-winning Czech journalist Jan Machá?ek, speaking at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs on October 4th, advocated educating European citizens about the constitutional structure of Federalism and the fact that it is not centralism. Perhaps these educational policies will lead to the socio-dynamic version of critical mass. All in all, these strategies require immense patience from all parties. An alternative policy may also lie in the realization that we have a tension between national democracy and global markets that is extremely close to its breaking point. From Dani Rodrik’s The Globalization Paradox: “How do we manage the tension between national democracy and global markets? We have three options. We can restrict democracy in the interest of minimizing international transaction costs, disregarding the economic and social whiplash that the global economy occasionally produces. We can limit globalization, in the hope of building democratic legitimacy at home. Or we can globalize democracy, at the cost of national sovereignty… The menu captures the fundamental political trilemma of the world economy: we cannot have hyperglobalization, democracy, and national self-determination all that once… We cannot fudge the role of nation states and proceed on the assumption that we are witnessing the birth of a global political community… Hyperglobalization cannot be achieved, and we should not pretend that it can” (Rodrik 2011, p. 200). Perhaps it would be more sensible to pare back visions of supranational governance in exchange for increased flexibility within the current political order. The financial crisis in 2008 has resulted in a protracted period of economic frailty, which has tested the resiliency of today’s global political order. Increased tensions, not only in Europe but also throughout the world, must be diligently analyzed to determine their causes in order to present effective and sustainable solutions to ameliorate their negative effects. In a theoretical sense, liberalism helps little to solve the current dilemma in Europe. In fact, one could say that the region is experiencing an overdose, as institutions such as the European Parliament, European Commission, IMF, G-8, OECD have thus far failed to resolve the crisis. Today’s circumstances require thinking outside the box and embracing constructivism as a tool to both evaluate the brisk-paced nature of the Eurozone debt crisis as well as produce potential solutions that focus on educating the citizens of Europe on the intricacies of a currency union and constitutional federalism. It would also be wise to ponder the idea of whether a supranational government could exist. Proceeding down a path with a likely dead end would consume precious resources and lead to widespread suffering among every day citizens.

10 октября 2012, 20:32

Look to UAE bank

THE National Bank of Abu Dhabi, one of the largest banks in the United Arab Emirates, opened its representative office in Shanghai yesterday to provide consultation to Chinese mainland customers who are keen to do business in the Arab world.

10 октября 2012, 14:12

Abu Dhabi National Bank opens Shanghai office

THE National Bank of Abu Dhabi, one of the largest banks in the United Arab Emirates, opened a representative office in Shanghai today to provide consulting services to Chinese entrepreneurs who want to do business in Arab countries.