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31 января 2013, 19:52

Faber to Maria: "You Don't Own Gold And You Are In Great Danger"

  Gold rose $13.80 or 0.83% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,676.50/oz. Silver slipped to a low of $31.24 in the morning, but it then ran up to a high of $32.24 and finished with a gain of 2.01%. Gold hovered nearly unchanged after surprise GDP figures showed that the U.S. economy contracted and the U.S. Federal Reserve maintained asset purchases. Platinum is on track for its most stellar month’s performance in a year. The U.S. GDP was -0.1% for Q4 and it was expected at 1%. This was its largest drop since 2Q 2009 as U.S. military defence spending plummeted. The Fed left their $85 billion bond-buying stimulus plan intact, citing the monetary stimulus was critical to decrease unemployment, however mentioned this lull in the U.S. economic recovery was temporary. Investors will be watching the nonfarm payrolls data out tomorrow. Gold reached multi year highs in Japanese yen again overnight. TOCOM's December contract, reached a record 4,944 yen a gram or 153,000 yen per ounce. Gold as climbed more than 6% this year on a weakening yen after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Japan's central bank to ease policy even more aggressively. XAU/JPY 5 Year – (Bloomberg) Reuters reported a dealer in Tokyo saying "Of course a weaker yen attracts buyers, but I think we shall wait for the price to hit 5,000 yen before we see some selling." Gold Silver Ratio, Quarterly – (Bloomberg) India's government announced it does not have plans to for additional taxes or curbs on imports of gold as it waits to see the impact of recent tax increases, said a finance ministry official yesterday. Respected CNBC financial journalist Maria Baritromo interviewed Marc Faber, a contrarian Swiss investor and publisher of the Gloom Boom and Doom Report. “You said a minute ago that markets go up and down, doesn’t gold go up and down too?” said Baritromo. “Yes it does go up and down but I am fearful of a systemic crisis, wars and so on and it is because I am fearful that I own gold,” said Faber.Maria Baritromo and Marc Faber – (CNBC) Faber then asked Baritromo if she owned any gold.  Her response was that I own earrings and jewellery. Faber relied, “Sorry to say you are in great danger because you don't own any gold...but you have a golden personality!” This tiny snippet of an interview highlights what research at GoldCore has been saying for years. Although many people think gold is a huge bubble like the housing market that burst, it is simply not the case.  How many people do you know that diversify their portfolios with precious metals like silver and gold bullion?  Systemic risk is defined as "financial system instability, potentially catastrophic, caused or exacerbated by idiosyncratic events or conditions in financial intermediaries". This is akin to the effect of the proverbial pebble when dropped in the pond, it ripples outward. The global marketplace is interconnected and potential danger across the pond such as the Lehman Brothers catastrophe affects investors across the world.  Bullion investment is a proven hedge to diversify against systemic risk. NEWSGold Trades Near One-Week High on U.S. Economy, Fed's Stimulus - Bloomberg Gold holds near 1-wk high on Fed; TOCOM hits record - Reuters Gold rises on surprise drop in US growth, Fed - Reuters Gold, Silver Climb on GDP Data, Stimulus: Commodities at Close - Bloomberg COMMENTARYGold or Platinum—Which Will Get to $2,000 First? - CNBC Kaye - Expect A Massive Silver Short Squeeze – King World News Things That Make You Go Hmm - Such As Currency Wars – Zero Hedge Video: Gold Caps Biggest Gain in Almost Three Weeks - Bloomberg For breaking news and commentary on financial markets and gold, follow us onTwitter.  

31 января 2013, 19:52

Faber to Maria: "You Don't Own Gold And You Are In Great Danger"

  Gold rose $13.80 or 0.83% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,676.50/oz. Silver slipped to a low of $31.24 in the morning, but it then ran up to a high of $32.24 and finished with a gain of 2.01%. Gold hovered nearly unchanged after surprise GDP figures showed that the U.S. economy contracted and the U.S. Federal Reserve maintained asset purchases. Platinum is on track for its most stellar month’s performance in a year. The U.S. GDP was -0.1% for Q4 and it was expected at 1%. This was its largest drop since 2Q 2009 as U.S. military defence spending plummeted. The Fed left their $85 billion bond-buying stimulus plan intact, citing the monetary stimulus was critical to decrease unemployment, however mentioned this lull in the U.S. economic recovery was temporary. Investors will be watching the nonfarm payrolls data out tomorrow. Gold reached multi year highs in Japanese yen again overnight. TOCOM's December contract, reached a record 4,944 yen a gram or 153,000 yen per ounce. Gold as climbed more than 6% this year on a weakening yen after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Japan's central bank to ease policy even more aggressively. XAU/JPY 5 Year – (Bloomberg) Reuters reported a dealer in Tokyo saying "Of course a weaker yen attracts buyers, but I think we shall wait for the price to hit 5,000 yen before we see some selling." Gold Silver Ratio, Quarterly – (Bloomberg) India's government announced it does not have plans to for additional taxes or curbs on imports of gold as it waits to see the impact of recent tax increases, said a finance ministry official yesterday. Respected CNBC financial journalist Maria Baritromo interviewed Marc Faber, a contrarian Swiss investor and publisher of the Gloom Boom and Doom Report. “You said a minute ago that markets go up and down, doesn’t gold go up and down too?” said Baritromo. “Yes it does go up and down but I am fearful of a systemic crisis, wars and so on and it is because I am fearful that I own gold,” said Faber.Maria Baritromo and Marc Faber – (CNBC) Faber then asked Baritromo if she owned any gold.  Her response was that I own earrings and jewellery. Faber relied, “Sorry to say you are in great danger because you don't own any gold...but you have a golden personality!” This tiny snippet of an interview highlights what research at GoldCore has been saying for years. Although many people think gold is a huge bubble like the housing market that burst, it is simply not the case.  How many people do you know that diversify their portfolios with precious metals like silver and gold bullion?  Systemic risk is defined as "financial system instability, potentially catastrophic, caused or exacerbated by idiosyncratic events or conditions in financial intermediaries". This is akin to the effect of the proverbial pebble when dropped in the pond, it ripples outward. The global marketplace is interconnected and potential danger across the pond such as the Lehman Brothers catastrophe affects investors across the world.  Bullion investment is a proven hedge to diversify against systemic risk. NEWSGold Trades Near One-Week High on U.S. Economy, Fed's Stimulus - Bloomberg Gold holds near 1-wk high on Fed; TOCOM hits record - Reuters Gold rises on surprise drop in US growth, Fed - Reuters Gold, Silver Climb on GDP Data, Stimulus: Commodities at Close - Bloomberg COMMENTARYGold or Platinum—Which Will Get to $2,000 First? - CNBC Kaye - Expect A Massive Silver Short Squeeze – King World News Things That Make You Go Hmm - Such As Currency Wars – Zero Hedge Video: Gold Caps Biggest Gain in Almost Three Weeks - Bloomberg For breaking news and commentary on financial markets and gold, follow us onTwitter.  

30 января 2013, 01:46

India’s Central Bank Cuts Rates Amid Softer Data

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today lowered its main policy interest rate, the repurchase rate, and the cash-reserve ratio (CRR) by 25 basis points apiece in its quarterly monetary policy review. Lowering the CRR is expected to inject 180 billion rupees ($3....

30 января 2013, 00:05

Fed Balance Sheet Breakout!

India's central bank just chopped interest rates, in the face of the worst economic growth in 10 years. "The RBI unexpectedly also reduced the cash reserve ratio (CRR), the share of deposits banks must keep with the central bank by 25 bps ...

29 января 2013, 15:57

Mostly expected, the Reserve Bank of India cut its benchmark rate 25 basis points to 7.75% overnight. At the same time, the bank also lowered its forecasts for growth and inflation. "It is critical now to arrest the loss of growth momentum without endangering external stability." [[EPI]] -0.6% premarket.

Mostly expected, the Reserve Bank of India cut its benchmark rate 25 basis points to 7.75% overnight. At the same time, the bank also lowered its forecasts for growth and inflation. "It is critical now to arrest the loss of growth momentum without endangering external stability." EPI -0.6% premarket. Post your comment!

25 января 2013, 20:05

TradeTheNews.com US Market Update: Dec New Home Sales Data Disappoints, Analysts See Housing Recovery On Track

***Economic Data*** - (EU) ECB: Banks to repay €137.2B in weekly repayments of 3-year LTRO operation announces size of weekly repayments of 3-year LTRO with 278 of 523 banks participating - (IN) India Forex Reserves w/e Jan 18th: $295.7B v $296....

25 января 2013, 15:46

Vivian Norris: Power Meditation and Business: Redefining "Success"

"Meditation more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient for whatever success I've had".- Ray Dalio, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Bridgewater Associates "The Power is given to you from God or whatever you believe and Power Meditation allows you to channel it and use it...building your inner strength and core".- Danyaal Hasan, Coutts Private Banking "The biggest change is that self-confidence comes back and positive thinking opens up lots of channels of success. The powers within yourself open up and attract people towards you".- Sworup Dutta, Founder of Power meditation http://power-meditation.org Although a growing number of "successful" business people make meditation part of their lives, very few of them speak that openly about it. I came across the name of the hedge fund wizard, Ray Dalio, on a blog by the late free-internet hero, Aaron Swartz entitled: "Leaning into the Pain" http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/dalio In this blog he cites Dalio writing that, "Gaining strength is the adaptation process of the body and the mind to encountering one's limits, which is painful. In other words, both pain and strength typically result from encountering one's barriers. When we encounter pain, we are at an important juncture in our decision-making process". One way that Dalio approaches dealing with all of this is through meditation. Dalio asserts that, "Meditation has given me centeredness and creativity...it's also given me peace, health...I go into a subconscious state basically and it opens my mind and relaxes me and when I carry that...through the day it gives me an ability to look at things without the emotional high jacking without the ego with a clarity and gives me an open-mindedness...and that is where the creativity comes from...". http://financetrends.blogspot.fr/2012/12/ray-dalio-meditation-is-secret-of-my.html My first deeper experience with meditation, and how it could completely change one's life, was when I met Sworup Dutta, who had come to Paris from India last October. Several business and personal acquaintances had learned about Power Meditation, a kind of meditation focusing on Willpower and one's own strength through personal willpower, and I had witnessed it changing their lives. Not only did these people feel better, their professional lives were enhanced, and more "successful". Failure, competition, and ultimately business is all about human experience. Power meditation can be done daily in 15-20 minutes, and goes beyond mindfulness into actually boosting self-esteem and effectiveness. I spoke with Denial Hasan, who has a very busy schedule working in private banking in London. He gets up around 5 a.m. and is not home until 8 or 9 p.m. and has very little time to focus on his family. He met the founder of the Power Meditation technique, Sworup Dutta years ago through his wife's family. He began discussing and doing meditation seven eight years ago but then Sworup introduced him to Power Meditation last October. Danyaal's experience was very similar to my own experience with Sworup. "I try to do Power Meditation a few times a week, or at least on the weekends. It helped when Sworup was physically present to lead the meditation in that I had the same feeling I have when I am in a holy place, feeling calmer, slowing down...the body posture and clearing of the mind are what I picked up on..." "It gives you more confidence, generally as I am younger and less experienced than many of my colleagues, I feel I have to work harder...there was extra pressure and self-doubt. Now when I am in a meeting, I feel more confidence and power meditation helped me to really enjoy my work. I love what I do." But what is the difference between meditation in general and power meditation? Danyaal describes it like this, " Power Meditation allows you to focus on your willpower. It is about focusing on a single point and not thinking about anything else other than building your will and inner strength". Everything one must do on a day-to-day basis becomes focused on this will. There is a confidence in interactions with others and how one deals with tricky situations in the financial world. Power meditation is very effective for people in this turbulent industry". I would add that, when applying Power Meditation to one's personal life as well, to deal with emotional and relationship difficulties, that building one's willpower allows us to see and act more clearly, with a kind of cool distance, while still remaining present. This ability to focus and to feel the strength and confidence, which comes from focusing one's willpower, also helps us to make decisions even split second ones, with more intelligence and wisdom. After three days of Power Meditation sessions, when confronted with a personal situation which I felt was disrespectful and which called for an immediate decision to be made, however painful, I was able to make that decision firmly and stick with it. There was no doubt I had made the correct decision and the self-confidence I felt, even alongside the pain of an ending of a relationship, helped me to move ahead and ultimately look back and know I had done exactly the right thing. Even during the most trying and sad moments, I never doubted that the Power Meditation and the strength I had inside myself to enforce my own integrity and my own boundaries, were opening new doors towards a more successful and authentic future. Putting both professional and personal experiences into perspective, allows us to redefine success and the time taken to meditate creates clarity about what success truly means. Failure is a learning experience. The ability to center and channel one's willpower through meditation helps us to step back and see that failure is actually part of our success. It simply becomes part of life, one strand in the richness of human experience. I was able to share this Power Meditation with my teenage daughter who felt a strong change after a short session. "If you believe in yourself, you can achieve great things".- Danyaal Hasan Sworup Dutta adds that when he is able to personally be present during a Power Meditation session, that it is like water falling on a tree and then those drops falling from each leaf producing results. "When your body and signals being sent to the Super conscious mind then penetrate and help wake up your unconscious mind, you perceive life in a different fashion". This is what I experienced with Power Meditation. It went beyond what I had known through practices of mindfulness, yoga and other meditative work. There was something so powerful that I can honestly say it was life changing. Power has shifted in my life and others I spoke with agree that after beginning Power Meditation, everything changed. It only gets better. If more people in the financial world were able to step back and look clearly at what they are doing, finding strength and confidence within themselves to do the right thing, not simply what appears to be "successful", they would find deeper and more lasting success. I encouraged Danyaal to speak openly about his Power Meditation as Ray Dalio does about his practice of meditation, as the more comfortable the business world becomes with these practices, the healthier and more sustainable our economies will become. Danyaal added that, "This is something we should be talking about as it transforms how you do business. A lot of issues in the financial sector are really about how we have done things and how we need to focus on people and not just ourselves. The more people who conduct themselves in business with positive energy, the more it rubs off and creates positive outcomes". The funny thing is that as each person slows down and takes that time to focus on their own willpower, through meditation, it benefits the whole. Economies are ultimately about human beings. Being able to create the most positive environment in which business to operate will have a lasting impact on the future of how we live and create more sustainable societies. Perhaps individual meditation can be seen as a kind of bottom up "anti-fragile" way of doing business. It is obvious that something needs to be done differently in order to learn from failure, and create more success for a greater number of people. I believe meditation is part of the answer.

24 января 2013, 08:41

Gordon Brown: Girl Rising: 2013 and the New Power of the World's Young Women: From Demure to Defiant

This is the first in a series of blogs by Gordon Brown written from WEF in Davos, looking at the growing global empowerment of young women. Stay up to date by signing up at www.educationenvoy.org. The rights of girls is becoming the hot topic of the 2013, as a new movement of empowered young women discovers that it has the momentum to force big issues -- girls' health, girls' education and the protection of girls against violence -- to the centre of the global agenda. The pressure that has come from anti-rape marches, which have dominated the early days of the year in India and have spread to other countries, will not dissipate in the next few weeks. Indeed it will be stepped up, with Valentine's Day demonstrations around the world on February 14, when the online campaign group One Billion Rising plans what it calls a mixture of 'a global strike, an invitation to dance, an act of solidarity with women and a refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given'. Girls' rights will be the focus of the 10x10 Initiative when, on International Women's Day (March 8), award-winning journalists and film-makers will expose in the new documentary 'Girl Rising' just how unfair the distribution of educational opportunities is for so many millions of girls around the world. The new film will give added impetus to long-running campaigns such as Plan International's Because I Am A Girl, whose aim is to give four million girls around the world the chance to gain the education that can help them to break out of the cycle of poverty. In the wake of the shooting last year of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, discrimination against girls -- 32 million of whom are denied the chance to go to school -- will be the theme of a special event during the United Nations General Assembly in September. Ahead of that, getting girls to school in targeted countries will be a top agenda item in a summit on April 18-19 in Washington, to be attended by the UN Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank, in advance of the IMF/World Bank spring meetings. During that week, we will also focus on ways to ban child marriage and child labour, and outlaw the prejudice that prevents girls going to school. The rights of girls is moving to the top of the global issues agenda because young women are saying with rising resolve that they will no longer accept the rules and conventions imposed upon them by a male-dominated adult population. Indeed, I see in recent protests a real shift. Demonstrations that started as cautious, often gentle, admonitions to the powers that be, with respectful requests for change, have now come to encompass a set of defiant, non-negotiable demands in the form of ultimatums -- and rightly so. Protests that once were pleas to 'please stop this' have become protests that insist 'no more and never again'.

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23 января 2013, 03:13

Barclays to move hundreds of back-office jobs to India

Barclays is planning to offshore hundreds of roles at its troubled investment banking unit to India in a bid to cut costs, The Independent has learnt.

22 января 2013, 18:53

India Scrambles To Make Gold Purchases Ever More Difficult: Hikes Import Tax And Duties Again

Three weeks ago it became clear that in its fight to curb consumer thirst for gold products, India, whose population is the largest single source of gold consumer demand (at least for now, soon to be replaced with China) is losing said fight, after its finance minister made it very clear that "demand for gold must be moderated" leading to a hike in import taxes to 4%. Needless to say, there is no more certain way to increase demand for a given commodity (or gun, ahem US government) than to hint that the government will make its procurement problematic. Sure enough India blamed its record current account deficit on precisely this: the soaring imports of gold as locals revert to a currency far more appreciated and respected than paper, a topic further explained when we showed the exponential surge in gold-backed loans outstanding in India. Indeed, at least in this country, there is one safe and abundant collateral product which, contrary to the US, is as good as money - gold - whose consumer demand in just India and China is shown in the chart below. Combined India and China consumer amount to some 35% of total gold demand, and 55% for just jewelry. And while we have tracked the relentless gold gross import surge into China, we have not done the same with India, because we assumed these were implied. It is precisely the importing of gold that India is once again doing its best to curb, this time by boosting import duties on gold dore bars by a 150% from 2% to 5%, a day after it once again hiked gold import taxes, this time by 50% from 4% to 6%. Form Reuters: India more than doubled the import duty on gold dore bars and ores on Tuesday, hard on the heels of a hike in taxes on refined gold, as the government tries to curb demand in the world's biggest importer of bullion and rein in a record current account deficit.   India, whose gold imports total about 800 tonnes a year, hiked the import duty on gold dore bars to 5 percent from 2 percent. Dore, an alloy of gold and silver that is used by refineries to produce pure gold, accounts for about 100 tonnes of annual imports.   The move came one day after the government increased import tax on gold to 6 percent from 4 percent, aiming at closing the gap on import duties on bullion bars and dore, which had become an attractive import since last year after the government hiked tax on gold imports to 4 percent. "It was a duty arbitrage that they have plugged," said Shekhar Bhandari, executive vice president of treasury at Kotak Mahindra Bank. "Otherwise people would not import through normal channels but import dore bars."   "There won't be much impact. Dore imports will increase day by day. The difference of one percent will attract refiners," said Harmesh Arora, director with the Bombay Bullion Association, a trade body.   Arora said refiners have been trying to tap small miners in Ghana, Kenya and other African countries for dore bars   Gold mines often process their gold-bearing ore on site and send dore bars to gold refineries to be processed into tradeable bars of high purity at 99.5 percent gold content or more.   "If there is 700 tonnes of imports for the Indian market, this can be totally converted into dore market," said Arora.   India's total annual gold consumption is about 900-1,000 tonnes and the difference is made up mostly from recycling.   Rising imports of gold have worried the government, which is battling a record high current account deficit. It is trying to curb gold imports to about $38 billion in the year to March 31, 2013, down from $58 billion a year earlier. Ironically, while the ongoing piecemeal attempts to deal with the "current account imbalances" driven by the people's desire to park their money in real money will fail, what the government's intervention will do is force even more demand for gold in anticipation of even more government attempts to make procuring gold increasingly more difficult. But don't tell the BIS - for them this headline is nothing more than what it implies superficially, and thus, a good reason to sell gold.

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22 января 2013, 14:00

Another Mobile Payment Solution Rolled Out, This Time By Citibank

Citibank has finally entered the mobile payment solutions market. The bank has partnered with Ezetap Mobile Solutions to provide a fully integrated mobile payment solution that will be operational in India as well as in global Citigroup markets. With this solution, around 320+ million customers will be able to make payments at various checkpoints of [...]Looking For A Social Media Agency?? - Contact WATConsult - India's Leading Social Media Agency

22 января 2013, 11:52

Meet "Baxter" the Robot Out to Get Your Minimum-Wage, No Benefits, Part-Time Job, Because He's Still Much Cheaper; Fed Cannot Win a Fight Against Robots

The federal Minimum wage in the US is $7.25 per hour. Ten states have higher minimum wages with Rhode Island clocking in 50 cents higher at $7.75. Costs to the employer are higher of course, even if the employer ducks benefits by using part-time workers. For starters, employer contributions to Social Security are 6.2% of hourly wages which adds another 45 cents to employer costs. That brings employer costs up to $7.95 per hour minimum, not counting training costs, vacation (if any), sick-time disruptions, and other such costs. Of course, employers must also factor in the cost of Obamacare. Small businesses do not have to provide health-care, but under employer responsibility provisions of the affordable care act, businesses that employ more than 50 workers will pay a steep penalty in 2014 if they don't. Click on the preceding link to see a nice flow chart of the penalty process. What IF? What if companies, small or large, did not have to worry about Obamacare? What if they did not have to worry, about training, sick-leave disruptions and weather-related disruptions? What if companies only had to pay $3.00 per hour, rivaling wages in China?Meet BaxterBaxter - The Automation Robot MIT Technology Review discusses Baxter in Small Factories Give Baxter the Robot a Cautious Once-Over. Chris Budnick, head of Vanguard Plastics, a small injection-molding operation in Southington, Connecticut is considering the use of Baxter for one process that is not yet automated: stacking and packing textured, plastic cups, which Vanguard sells for 2 cents apiece to a medical company. It currently costs Budnick $9.00 an hour to have a staffer from a temporary agency to do the job. Budnick is now considering Baxter to replace that agency job. Let's tune in to the MIT story for additional details about Baxter and the job Baxter will replace. Baxter was conceived by Rodney Brooks, the Australian roboticist and artificial-intelligence expert who left MIT to build a $22,000 humanoid robot that can easily be programmed to do simple jobs that have never been automated before. Brooks’s company, Rethink Robotics, says the robot will spark a “renaissance” in American manufacturing by helping small companies compete against low-wage offshore labor. Baxter will do that by accelerating a trend of factory efficiency that’s eliminated more jobs in the U.S. than overseas competition has. Of the approximately 5.8 million manufacturing jobs the U.S. lost between 2000 and 2010, according to McKinsey Global Institute, two-thirds were lost because of higher productivity and only 20 percent moved to places like China, Mexico, or Thailand. The ultimate goal is for robots like Baxter to take over more complex tasks, such as fitting together parts on an electronics assembly line. “A couple more ticks of Moore’s Law and you’ve got automation that works more cheaply than Chinese labor does,” Andrew McAfee, an MIT researcher, predicted last year at a conference in Tucson, Arizona, where Baxter was discussed. Baxter comes with two arms, a vision system, and 360° sonar (which it uses to detect people nearby), but for the cup-stacking job it will also need a specially designed gripper, which Rethink is now developing. Rethink is also developing software so that the robot can communicate with other machines, such as a conveyor belt, telling it to move forward or stop. So how important will Baxter really be to Vanguard? Budnick couches his answer in baseball terminology. “Baxter is a potential double,” he says. “Maybe a home run if it can use both its arms.” 60 Minutes Discusses Baxter Inquiring minds are listening to a 13 minute video on 60 Minutes that discusses "The Age of Robots", and Baxter. Link if video does not play: 60 Minutes on Robots Please play the video. It's well worth your time.60 Minutes Quotes and IdeaPercentage of Americans with jobs is at a 20-year low Routine middle-skill jobs are being eliminated fastest Software robots and physical robots replace wanted jobs There are heavily automated warehouses where there are no human workers, right now "You'd think the robots would run into each other but it never happens" One robot saves 1.5 people New Categories of jobs are in the sights of automation eDiscovery replaces legal jobs US manufacturing is making a comeback, but without the jobs Investment in robots has increased 30% since the recession ended Baxter costs $22,000 and can be trained in a matter of minutes Baxter costs $22,000 and lasts 6,500 hours, about $3.40 per hour Buying a robot is like hiring a Chinese worker "Workers in China and India are more in the bulls-eye of the automation tidal-wave than the American worker" Even if manufacturing returns to the US most of the jobs will go to robots "Work as we currently think of it will be largely done by machines" What people will do is the $64,000 question Email Exchange With Friends Here is an interesting Email exchange I had with a few friends, one of which sent me the MIT article. "Bob" writes "Buy American is a big theme with the robotics guys. My future son-in-law won't even buy his tux from a Hong Kong tailor. He refuses to buy anything from China. They view themselves as abolishing Chinese slave labor by making it uneconomic." "John" responded "What do those people then do to feed themselves?" "Bob" replied "The easy answer is that it isn't our duty or problem to keep a slave state prospering and fed. You are not going to wipe out China's slave labor overnight. If China's elite sees that its low wage slave labor will no longer reap profits, they will do what other slave masters have done: educate its people so that they can compete in an economy where there are no slave conditions."In Praise of Cheap Labor "Mish" says, I fail to see where the above line of thinking goes. We have come to a point where the minimum wage is 200% too much. How does hiring Baxter at $3.40 per hour prevent slave labor in China? Is no job better than some job? Baxter is a hugely deflationary force. Increasing the minimum wage only exacerbates the problem. Oddly enough, Paul Krugman agrees, or at least he once did before he became the "Conscience of a Liberal". Want proof? Please consider In Praise of Cheap Labor; Are Bad Jobs at Bad Wages Better than No Jobs at All? Taxing Robots Cannot Work Economist Paul Krugman and others are now pondering heavy taxes on robots. Is that the answer? How can it be? Paying more people to do nothing (or to do jobs robots can do cheaper) cannot possibly solve anything. Such practices encourage the birth of more people when there are fewer jobs to be had.Two Realities Either technology creates jobs long-term or it doesn't. I believe it does, and on that score I am an optimist (I just cannot say when it will happen). Let's assume I am wrong. Then taxing robots to meet some artificial living-wage standard can hardly be the answer. Encouraging the birth of more unneeded, unproductive people is a sure-fire way to start a major war. In either reality, Krugman is wrong.Fed Cannot Win a Fight Against Robots The problem is not that wages are too low. Rather, the problem is expenses are two high. The remedy then is certainly not higher minimum wages (which previously encouraged more outsourcing and now encourages more robots), but rather making the dollar go further. In that regard, it's a mad world in which the central bankers and the Keynesian clowns are both hell-bent on forcing wages and prices up, when every attempt to do so accelerates the use of more robots. There is nothing wrong with falling wages provided costs fall as well. Who (other than Keynesian clowns and misguided union activists) does not want lower prices? Moreover, falling prices as a result of increasing productivity over time is the natural state of affairs. For example, one farmer today produces as much goods as 100 farmers a few decades ago. Certainly the price of agricultural goods is up over that time frame, but far less than the corresponding increase in money supply and credit (the true measure of inflation).Robots an Invincible Force Central banks are powerless to stop the advance of technology. Robots in particular are an invincible force. Resistance is futile. The Fed, central banks, and governments around the globe need to embrace technology and its deflationary forces. Otherwise, the result will be a sad combination of fewer jobs, rising population, higher prices, and a ultimately a major war. Mike "Mish" Shedlock http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com I am hosting an economic conference in April, in Sonoma. Please click on the image below for details."Wine Country" Economic Conference Hosted By MishClick on Image to Learn MoreMike "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/account_management.html to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

21 января 2013, 10:55

Bomb Explodes at Greek Shopping Mall, Two People Injured

Published by The Times of India on January 20, 2013 ATHENS: An explosive device went off close to a bank in a shopping centre near Athens on Sunday, lightly injuring two security staff and damaging stores, police said. The explosion followed a spate of gun and makeshift bomb attacks on organisations, journalists and political figures in recent weeks, some claimed by groups angry about Greece's deep financial crisis.    The device, which exploded shortly before 11am (0900 GMT), was left in a rubbish bin close to a branch of National Bank at a large mall in the suburb of Maroussi, said police. Security staff had already evacuated the mall after police told them about two warnings calls to a newspaper, made about half an hour earlier. Police said they were combing the mall for other explosive devices and checking security cameras. They had received no claims of responsibility so far. Greece is in the sixth year of a recession that has fuelled anger against banks, foreign lenders and the political class, blamed by Greeks for bringing the country close to bankruptcy. Unidentified attackers opened fire on the Athens headquarters of Greece's governing New Democracy party with a Kalashnikov assault rifle on Monday, in what the government said was a worrying escalation in political violence. Published at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Bomb-explodes-at-Greek-shopping-mall-two-people-injured/articleshow/18101561.cms

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21 января 2013, 01:07

India rape prosecutors bank on DNA, despite poor forensic track record

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A DNA investigation of bloodstained clothes and body swabs has linked all five men and a juvenile accused of the gang rape and murder of a woman in New Delhi to the crime, providing evidence the prosecution claims will be enough to convict them.

20 января 2013, 01:59

Google and the future of search: Amit Singhal and the Knowledge Graph

Google has revolutionised the way we holiday, shop, work and play. Now, with Knowledge Graph, it plans to radically transform the way we search the internet… again. But some voice qualms about the company's ambitionsThinking about Google over the last week, I have fallen into the typically procrastinatory habit of every so often typing the words "what is" or "what" or "wha" into the Google search box at the top right of my computer screen. Those prompts are all the omnipotent engine needs to inform me of the current instant top 10 of the virtual world's most urgent desires. At the time of typing, this list reads, in descending order:What is the fiscal cliffWhat is my ipWhat is obamacareWhat is loveWhat is glutenWhat is instagramWhat does yolo meanWhat is the illuminatiWhat is a good credit scoreWhat is lupusIt is a list that indicates anxieties, not least the ways in which we are restlessly fixated with our money, our bodies and our technology – and paranoid and confused in just about equal measure. A Prince Charles-like desire for the definition of love, in my repetitive experience of the last few days, always seems to come in at No 4 on this list of priorities, though the preoccupations above it and below it tend to shift slightly with the news.The list also supports another truism: that we – the billion components of the collective questioning mind – have got used to asking Google pretty much anything and expecting it to point us to some kind of satisfactory answer. It's long since become the place most of us go for knowledge, possibly even, desperately, for wisdom. And it is already almost inconceivable to imagine how we might have gone about finding the answer to some of these questions only 15 years ago without it – a visit to the library? To a doctor? To Citizens Advice? To a shrink?That was the time, in the prehistory of about 1995, when our ideas of "search" still carried the sense of the word's Latin roots – a search was a kind of "arduous quest" that invariably involved "wandering" and "seeking" and "traversing". Not any longer. For those who are growing up to search in this millennium, it implies nothing more taxing than typing two words into a box – or, increasingly, mumbling them into a phone – and waiting less than an instant for a comprehensive answer, generally involving texts and images and films and books and maps. Search's sense of questing purpose has already gone the way of other pre-Google concepts, such as "getting lost".That rate of change – of how we gather information, how we make connections and think – has been so rapid that it invites a further urgent Google question. Where will search go next? One answer to that question was provided by the billionaire double act of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google's founders, in 2004, when pressed about their vision of the future by the former Newsweek journalist Steven Levy."Search will be included in people's brains," said Page of their ambition. "When you think about something and don't really know much about it, you will automatically get information.""That's true," Brin concurred. "Ultimately I view Google as a way to augment your brain with the knowledge of the world. Right now, you go into your computer and type a phrase, but you can imagine that it could be easier in the future, that you can have just devices you talk into or you can have computers that pay attention to what's going on around them…"Page, generally the wilder thinker, was adamant, though. "Eventually, you'll have the implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer."Nine years on, Brin's vision at least is already reality. In the past couple of years, a great advance in voice-recognition technology has allowed you to talk to search apps – notably on iPhone's Siri as well as Google's Jelly Bean – while Google Now, awarded 2012 innovation of the year, will tell you what you want to know – traffic conditions, your team's football scores, the weather – before you ask it, based on your location and search history. Page's brain implants remain some way further off, though both Google founders have lately been wearing "Google Glass" prototypes, headbands that project a permanent screen on the edge of your field of vision, with apps – cameras, search, whatever – answerable to voice-activated command. Searching is ever more intimately related to thinking.In this sense, the man who is, these days, in charge of the vast majority of the world's questing and wandering and seeking and traversing is called Amit Singhal. Aged 44, head of Google Search, he is a boyishly enthusiastic presence, who inhabits a much-mythologised office in Mountain View, California, somewhat in the way that the Wizard of Oz lived at one end of the Yellow Brick Road. Singhal is the man who pulls the levers that might just help you find a heart, or a brain, or the way back to Kansas. For a dozen years, he has taken over responsibility from Brin for writing and refining the closely guarded algorithm – more than 200 separate coded equations – that powers Google's endless trawl for answers through pretty much all of history's recorded knowledge. So far, he has never stopped finding ways to make it ever smarter and quicker.To find Singhal, I go through all those by now second-nature travel preparations. I Google a hotel to stay at nearby in Palo Alto, view the options, have a virtual look around a couple before booking. I Google my flight times and check in. I Google a car hire firm, find the cheapest on a comparison site, and choose a car, and hook up to Google maps to plan the route of the 400 or so miles I'll drive from Los Angeles northwards. I Google information about where to park at the Googleplex, and Google the Street View of the walk I will make from the car to the right office building, past the replica T rex outside. I Google a few interviews Singhal has given in the past. And then a day or two later I do it all for real.There is something slightly disconcerting about the Mountain View Googleplex itself, which I guess has a lot to do with finding yourself in the physical space of so virtual an entity. At the end of last year, Google published photographs of its vast and ever-growing data centres for the first time. The images of our cloud of knowing were either inspiring or terrifying, depending on your point of view. Endless banks of servers, linked with primary coloured Google wiring, stretched as far as the eye could imagine, a great outsourced brain thrumming in high-security hangars in Oklahoma, Ohio and Georgia, fed by all the world's anxiety and curiosity. The control centre of that unprecedented storage centre could hardly be more open access, however.You can wander around the sprawling landscaped Googleplex campus or hop on a primary coloured Google bike to cycle between buildings and nobody bothers you at all. The Googleplex was conceived by Brin and Page to encourage geeks to be sociable. It seems to work; it is overpopulated by a chatting and mingling crowd of what seem like quite intense postgrad students who look happy and healthy and are, though you would never quite guess it, often jaw-droppingly rich. The site is full of free cafes, punctuated by volleyball courts; every workspace has pool and table tennis tables; you can visit a doctor or a dentist, get a haircut, get your dry cleaning done, have a massage (Google's masseuse became a stock millionaire), go to the gym.It has book talks, movies and music events – when I visit David Beckham had just been on site as a "guest speaker". There are whiteboard walls everywhere full of algebra and in-jokes; there is a learning space with classes in everything from mindfulness to Greek myth. And of course lots of gadgets. In the foyer is a mini wraparound Imax of screens that allows you to key in a postcode and stand in any street in the world. Fittingly, having Googled the way here, now I have arrived I find myself standing outside my house in London again, exactly where I was two days and a transatlantic flight earlier.Google's Mr Search, Amit Singhal, has likewise come a long way to get here. He started out in a village in Uttar Pradesh in India, in a home that for the first eight years of his life possessed no screen at all. When one arrived in 1977, a black-and-white television, it carried for Singhal, he tells me, all the magic of prophecy. "There were two kinds of programmes," he recalls. "Programming for local farmers and reruns of American series such as Star Trek." You don't really have to think too hard to imagine which of these programmes Singhal chose."I watched way too much Star Trek, to the extent that I could remember episodes by heart," he recalls with a laugh, "and I deeply believe now that shaped my thinking. The fascination with flying through galaxies and talking to a computer that could answer any question was always there for me. But of course I never imagined those problems would begin to be solved in my lifetime at all."Singhal found himself in any case in the right place at the right time. He started studying the idea of search as a graduate in America in 1991, the year the world wide web began making its connections. He did a PhD and then ended up in the Bell laboratories at AT&T. It was only when he came to Google in the millennium year, however, that he experienced "a strange kind of discontinuity". Everything that had seemed like science fiction all his life was suddenly within his compass.To prove that point, Singhal takes his Android smartphone out of his pocket and, like Captain Kirk, talks into it. "Google: what is the population of London?" he says. "The population of London was 8.174 million in 2011," the carefully conversational voice replies. "How tall is Justin Bieber?" he wonders. "Justin Bieber is 5ft 7in tall." Singhal looks at me with childlike glee. "If I had gone to sleep 20 years ago and you had woken me up today and I heard that, I would be thinking, yes! And where do I sign up to fly to another galaxy?"What he is demonstrating, however, he insists, is still just the beginning. Google search is, he says, with evangelical zeal, on the threshold of another epochal change in its fast-forward evolution. Having searched for a decade or so using the original brilliant principle of hierarchies of web-based links, the great primary coloured knowledge domination machine has, Singhal suggests, "begun to learn how to understand the real world of people, places and things".To answer his question about Justin Bieber, Google already has to know quite a lot. It has to know Justin Bieber is a person and that tallness means height. "So you have already got to get to the semantics of what is being asked. But even that is not enough. Because beyond that there is this huge mass of unstructured text that we know as the web. And you cannot properly understand what was asked for without really understanding how you are going to go about answering it."Until now, Google has been an unprecedented signposter of knowledge. It has not "known" the answer to anything itself but it has had an awfully clever way of directing you to exactly the place you can find out. In some senses, that attribute is in the process of changing. This year, Google will roll out what it calls its Knowledge Graph, the closest any system has yet come to creating what Tim Berners-Lee, originator of the web itself, called "the semantic web", the version that had understanding as well as data, that could itself provide answers, not links to answers.The Knowledge Graph is a database of the 500 million most searched for people, places and things in the Google world. For each one of these things, it has established a deep associative context that makes it more than a string of words or a piece of data. Thus, when you type "10 Downing Street" into Google with Knowledge Graph, it responds to that phrase not as any old address but much in the way you or I might respond – with a string of real-world associations, prioritised in order of most frequently asked questions.Five years ago, when John Battelle wrote his book The Search, which is still the definitive history of the subject, he concluded by imagining a future directly out of Isaac Asimov's science fiction. "All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected. But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships. A timeless interval was spent doing that."Knowledge Graph, you might say, is the beginning of that "timeless interval". Google has already come closer than anyone could ever have imagined to the "nothing was left to be collected" part of that equation. It is in searchable possession not only of the trillions of pages of the world wide web, but it is well on the way to photographing all the world's streets, of scanning all the world's books, of collecting every video uploaded to the public internet, mostly on its own YouTube. In recent years, it has been assiduously accumulating as much human voice recording as possible, in all the languages and dialects under the sun, in order to power its translation and voice recognition projects. It is doing the same for face recognition in films and photographs. Not to mention the barely used possibilities of the great mass of information Google possesses regarding the interests and communications and movements and search history of just about everyone with a phone or an internet connection.This data has been collected not just for the purpose of feeding it back to us as accurately as possible, but also for the wider purpose: of teaching Google how to think for itself. Singhal has worked with what he calls "signals of salience" for the past dozen years, finding ever more accurate text- and link-based methods of making searches happen. But also, crucially, as these signals have become ever more sophisticated, Singhal and his team have been able to "observe the whole world interacting with the data, and with that we were able to begin to do something else, which was to begin to make the computer understand the context of what was being asked".The way in which this is done is quite simple. Search analysis is divided into "long clicks" and "short clicks". A long click represents a satisfied customer. A user performs a search, clicks through on a result and remains on that site for a long time. They don't come back to the result set immediately to click on another result or to refine their query. A short click is the opposite of a long click. It occurs when a user performs a search, clicks through on a result and quickly comes back to the result set to click on an alternative result. It represents a minor failure. We may think we are learning all the time from Google, but by virtue of this ongoing trillion-click analysis, it is learning far more from us.In this way, as far back as 2002, Singhal introduced a refinement based on Ludwig Wittgenstein's theory on how the meaning of words is always influenced by context. Searches for ambiguous terms began to look beyond the search terms for other related words. So a phrase such as "hot dog" would be understood in relation to mustard and baseball games, not overheated canines. "Nuance," he says now, "is what makes us human."I imagine, I say, that along the way he has been assisted in this work by the human component. Presumably we have got more precise in our search terms the more we have used Google?He sighs, somewhat wearily. "Actually," he says, "it works the other way. The more accurate the machine gets, the lazier the questions become. So actually our lives get harder." He had to work especially hard to correct and understand spelling errors and analyse synonyms. And all along the dream has been the old Star Trek one of providing the right answer to what you think you want to know even if you don't know quite how to phrase the question. To work like a mind works, in other words. "The end game of this is we want to make it as natural as possible a thought process," he says. "We are maniacally focusing on the user to reduce every possible friction point between them, their thoughts and the information they want to find." Getting ever closer to Page's brain implants, in effect.Knowledge Graph is the first real demonstration of that prowess. It started a couple of years ago when, Singhal says, "We ran into this tiny company called Metaweb, which had, through a symphony of machines and humans, begun to perfect a system to present real-world people, places and things in a computer memory. The method seemed scalable. So we bought this company."By that point, Metawab had stored 12 million reference points. Over the last two years, in its characteristic style, Google has quickly accelerated that to "over 570 million references with 18 billion factual connections between them". (This is a sizable number: by point of comparison, the English version of Wikipedia has about 4 million pages.) Google is in the process of launching Knowledge Graph in seven languages and aiming to exhibit the same local intelligence in each.Knowledge Graph's project manager is Emily Moxley. She talks me though some of this intelligence. It goes quite a long way beyond being able to distinguish between an English query for football scores and an American one. "In Japan for example," she says, "our analysis shows that people want to know quite a lot about the blood type of film stars", so that will be a prioritised part of the instant Knowledge Graph in that part of the world.Likewise, Japanese Googlers seemed short-click frustrated that the search for sumo wrestling data was not as accurate as it might be. "We worked on rectifying that," Moxley says. "We thought at the very least we should be able to answer a certain depth of queries." What kind of depth? "Somewhere at least in the most popular tens of millions," she suggests.More than that, Singhal wants to be sure all aspects of the data are properly in harmony with your desires. "If you wanted to find out about Dr Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream speech'," he says, "you might want the text, you might want a picture of him, but we guess that what you really want is a video clip of him delivering the speech – so how to get that to the top of your search." Again Knowledge Graph can deliver that; it starts to know what you want to know.In talking to Singhal, it is quite easy to get caught up in the utopian possibilities of the technology and quite easy, of course, to forget that Google has also created wealth faster and more efficiently than any company in history; that it is probably the most effective generator of advertising dollars ever invented; and that a great deal of what it knows about us we might well want it not to (an unease that might grow by association now that Facebook has announced a search engine of its own data, one that promises to be even more intimate in its revelation of personal history than Google has ever dared to be).All the Google employees I speak to adopt the same kind of reflexive flinch if you hint at any of this, if you suggest that their motives for all this data gathering, this knowledge sharing, might be anything other than pure. It is the same kind of "Why wouldn't you trust us?" flinch that has powered the company's growth through loyalty and that sees it refuse to reveal its own intimate search history even when threatened, as it is currently by the European Union, to prove that it does not artificially weight algorithmic results in favour of its own products and commercial partners.Singhal rejects all of this. He winces when I ask: "What's in it for Google?""We are a search people," he says. "The thing that motivates me is to build a search engine that will outdo all my previous creations. Simple as that."Further, he believes, as a statement of faith, "that all information is empowering". One of his favourite examples comes from his own family. Every year, Singhal returns to Uttar Pradesh and sees the transformations that the mobile availability of all the world's knowledge has brought. And most years his father comes over to California. "My dad is a retired civil servant," Singhal says, "and when he visited us he used to worry the whole time about returning home and taking presents through customs where the rules about what you could bring home were very complicated, and changing all the time, and he would get harassed and asked a hundred questions."I remember 10 years ago when he was here I showed him how to Google 'Indian custom regulations' and there it all was in black and white, up to the minute. He printed it out and his chest all puffed out. As soon as he got home he called me excitedly to say how he had presented the customs officer with this bit of paper and told him how his gifts for his grandkids complied with the letter of it. To which the customs officer replied, 'Welcome home, Mr Singhal!'"Singhal could no doubt point to a multitude of such examples. But what about the less measurable ways that the ease of search has changed our lives? I ask. What about the ways in which it has diminished the excitement of serendipity, the way that it has made the personal experience of a chance encounter with knowledge so much rarer?Singhal has been working on that. The Knowledge Graph will still return the results it thinks you most likely need, but down the list it will have a randomised element; it will have chance built into it, another way it might mimic the way we think. His current obsession is in behavioural psychology; he has become an avid student of the work of Daniel Kahneman. "I just love the way it details how human beings feel when faced with choices and decisions, what makes you run away when someone offers you 32 chocolates to choose from, but which satisfies you when they only give you one chocolate."How, I wonder, will Google incorporate that knowledge in its unending search?"I don't know exactly yet…" Singhal says brightly, leaving you in no doubt of what might be his organisation's guiding mantra: he will soon.LOOK THE OTHER WAY Other search engines are availableDuckDuckGoSearches the web without filtering results based on previous searches. Google will customise results based on a person's search history, which can give you biased search results (called the "filter bubble"). Not only does DuckDuckGo burst the filter bubble to give you more results, but it won't remember your previous searches. Good for: Unbiased searches, maintaining privacy, finding illicit content.Wolfram AlphaNot a search engine but a "computational knowledge engine", Wolfram Alpha can interpret queries and provide concrete factual answers rather than a list of search results. It can also make calculations. It doesn't search web pages but its own store of information covering a number of fields from chemistry to history. Good for: Historical facts, mathematical problems, nutritional information, cheating on your crossword.Yossarian Lives!A photo-based search engine that uses metaphors to generate images related to your search. Rather than web results, Yossarian Lives! provides pictures representing related ideas. By clicking the "Resonance" button, users can express the usefulness of a particular image to help narrow down results for future searches. Good for: Generating ideas.Facebook Graph SearchThe new, not-yet-released Facebook search feature that will allow users quickly to find content posted to the social networking site by themselves and their friends. For example, "Italian restaurants in London my friends like", or "Friends of friends who are single and live in Ipswich" would yield specific, personal results. Graph Search will be integrated with search engine Bing (much like Google) to provide answers outside the realm of Facebook.Good for: Narrowing down photo searches or holiday recommendations, online dating.StartpageSearches Google for you by proxy so you can still use the powerful search engine but results aren't skewed by your search history and your searches will not be tracked.Good For: Finding results without being spied on. Julia ChapmanGoogleInternetComputingSearch enginesMobile phonesSmartphonesAndroidiPhoneGoogle Street ViewTim Adamsguardian.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

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18 января 2013, 13:20

Aadhar Will Incorporate Credentials Of 600 Million Mobile Banking Users: Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani, the Chairman of  UIDAI, appears to have ambitious plans for the nation-wide endeavor to have everybody’s identification affixed to a 16 Digit Unique number called Aadhar. He wants to take the present Mobile Banking population to 60 Crores (600 Million) in the foreseeable future. With over a quarter of a billion citizens already [...]Looking For A Social Media Agency?? - Contact WATConsult - India's Leading Social Media Agency

17 января 2013, 22:17

The Role of Religion and the Culture of Identity in the Public Policy: The Balkans Case

Stevo M. Lapcevic    “Prior to the discovery of  the New World, America and Australia, people were familiar with only three landmasses (continents) – Europe, Asia and Africa. All three old landmasses were mutually connected by the Balkan Peninsula. Up until the most recent geological age, the Balkan Peninsula was connected with Asia by a land bridge, of which numerous larger or smaller islands had survived on the sea surface, the islands that have for thousands of years kept the Balkans directly connected with Asia, the largest, most populous and for the history of mankind most important continent. With the African landmass the Balkans was connected by short seaways over the important Mediterranean Sea that includes, as some sort of gulfs, the Balkan seas, Adriatic, Ionian and Aegean. On the northern side, the Balkan Peninsula is by a wide area connected and coalesced with Europe.”    This unique geographical and geopolitical position granted the Balkans an important and fateful role in the history of the world. It is a point at which three continents meet, and this fact is the reason why it was frequently called “catena mundi”, i.e. “the buckle of the world”. Consequently, it is the place where a wide array of cultures and civilizations interweaves, shaping, each in its own way, the political destiny and identity of the area.   “The Balkans is something more than the southeast of Europe. It is the buckle of the world. This buckle has a greater responsibility and a graver duty than Europe. The Balkans is not only Christian like the rest of Europe. The Balkans is a real coexistence of races and peoples, religions and classes, all bound by one fate, stronger than religious affiliations and social prejudice. The Balkans is therefore something unique in the group of the old continents – neither Europe nor Asia. There are some that think of the Balkans as “the Nearer East” or Asia and refer to it in that way. Such references are the best proof that the Balkans is neither the European East nor the Asian West, but a separate area with distinctive characteristics and a special task.”  According to Vladimir Dvorinkovic, one of the most prominent Yugoslav philosophers and ethno-psychologists and the author of the well-known Yugoslav Characterology, history in the Balkans, in all its contents, falls into separate series of events, an entire chain of fractions and tendencies that most often clashed with all their might and destroyed each other. More than anywhere else in Europe, Balkan history used to be (and still is) conditioned by cultural and traditional patterns, that have been intertwining in the Balkans since the earliest times of its historical existence.   Culture, (geo)politics and history of the Balkans are a cross section of European and Asian cultures, (geo)politics and histories, in a word – of Eurasian expanses. Jovan Cvijic, a renowned Serbian geographer and scientist, thought that precisely this Eurasian heritage of the Balkans had influenced to a larger or smaller degree the establishment of political and cultural models of all the peoples in the peninsula.   Cultural and Political Influences in the Balkans   Several cultural and political influences are discernible on the Balkan ground. During the classical antiquity Hellenistic culture exerted its influence, and owing to its connection with Persia, even before the time of Alexander the Great this culture had certain Eurasian characteristics. Through his activities, Alexander managed to unify the entire Southern Balkans and to take it to the East, to the land of his grandfather. Thus the Balkan men became the first Europeans to comprehend the full scope of the true East, and Alexander was the first man who succeeded in gathering around him both marine and land forces of the Balkans.   “Owing to Alexander and his Balkan shepherds, Greek drama reached the luxurious palaces of the rich maharajas, and India along with the Far East and the newly-founded cities all across the Middle East became culturally and commercially connected with Europe.”  With the Hellenes as mediators, cultural patterns of the Middle East, the cradle of the oldest civilizations, had a strong influence on the Balkan Peninsula. “It is known that, under the influence of Phoenicia and Egypt, the oldest civilization not only in the Balkans but in the whole of Europe was created in the Greek archipelago.”  After Hellenic and Eurasian influences, the Balkans fell under Roman, mostly continental, European influence that, as Jovan Cvijic put it, ‘cleansed’ this area from Eurasian traits. However, the arrival of the Slavs, especially the Bulgarians, as well as the Hungarians, to the Balkan area will almost completely neutralize this cultural conversion.   The Middle Ages brought Eurasianism back into focus, only now in the form of Orthodoxy. The Byzantine Empire became the first cultural and political unifier of the Balkan peoples. This great heir of Hellenistic ideas finally laid the foundation for the consequent Balkan fondness for Orient culture, owing to which a unified Slavic-Mongolian-Hellenic culture was created in the Balkans at the very beginning of the Middle Ages, i.e. after the arrival of the Slavs, the Bulgarians and the Hungarians.   “Entering history, the South Slavs had, taking over religion from the Byzantines, also accepted education and many elements of social and state structure; a similar case was with the Romanians. Byzantine culture was widely spread; it covered the entire peninsula, going even across the Sava and the Danube. The influence of the West was for some time spread over an even larger area, but it was later reduced mostly to the narrow Adriatic coastal area, crushing against the high bulwarks of the Dinaric Alps and only partially intruding deeper into the peninsula mainland by the river valleys of the tributaries of the Adriatic sea.”    Apart from Constantinople, Balkan politics and culture were developed in Salonika, which was a real meeting point of Eurasian Byzantine and Slavic culture, a town in which the brothers Cyril and Methodius, the creators of Slavic literacy, were born. While Salonika connected the Slavs with Constantinople, Constantinople was the connection of the Balkans with Anatolia, and over it with Northern Africa and Asia.   The strongest Byzantinization of the Slavs in the Balkans happened, above all, among the Bulgarians, who were the first to abandon their old social and religious system. After the Bulgarians, Byzantine culture was accepted and developed by the Serbs, and only then the Romanians, among whom this culture was mixed with Hungarian cultural influence.   The penetration of the Ottoman Turks into Europe over the Balkans enabled, it seems paradoxically, a shift of the old Byzantine Orthodox Eurasian influence from the east of the peninsula to the west and north, where it was driven like a peg into Central European cultural background over the Sava and the Danube and into the Western, Venetian background over Dalmatia, where it was held by a natural border – the Adriatic Sea. The influence of the Turkish Eastern cultural patterns became stronger with further Ottoman advances, especially due to the fact that for a considerable number of centuries the Islamic influence geographically followed the spread of Byzantine culture. Turkish cultural influence directly affected a change in the social life of the Balkan nations. Owing to the Turks, these nations broke loose from the rigid class, almost cast-like social structure. Turkey enabled noblemen and soldiers and peasants alike to, in accordance with their abilities, climb in the hierarchy, which will also become the need of the Balkan states created after the nineteenth-century revolutions.   Apart from these three influences, doubtless the strongest, that unified the Balkans culturally but unfortunately not (geo)politically, the influences of Western and Central Europe are noticeable in the Balkans from the Middle Ages to the present day.   “The influence of the Western culture is also noticeable. Reaching the Adriatic coast by the transversal roads that led through the mountains, it left the strongest traces of its influence in the Adriatic area. Due to the centuries-long influence of the Romans, Balkan population was Romanized to a great degree. One part of the Balkan population was completely Romanized, the other part was Slavenized, while only the smallest part was preserved to the present day. Therefore, the Western culture also caused certain ethnic changes in the Balkans. Today this influence is in the strongest way exerted through the church.”    The increase of the influence of the Western European culture is strongly connected with the later East-West Schism, after which the western parts of the Balkans and a part of the Adriatic coast came under the influence of Rome.   When we talk about the influence of the Central European culture, we should stress that it is the youngest, that it is colonial in character, and that it comes over the Sava and the Danube. It was transplanted into the Balkans by Austria-Hungary and its influence is the weakest today since, owing to the Hungarians forsaking their own Asian identity, it almost completely withdrew facing the Western, Austrian, i.e. German cultural advances. Here as well religion played the most important role in the process of assimilation.   Consequences   Unfortunately, the nations of the Balkans never managed to connect into a single geo(political) block. They did not succeed in making a customs union, let alone a stable political alliance. Such state of affairs was onone hand caused by the interests of the great powers and on the other hand by the tendency of the Balkan states to, in accordance with the Western national romanticism, prove and defend their cultural and political supremacy over their neighbours in this small peninsula.   After all, although close, some nations in the Balkans had developed within different cultural and political frameworks, and it seems that this fact permanently disabled any attempts at unifying the Balkans as a whole. In that respect, many nations in the Balkans have been lost for it for a very long time. Saying that, we have in mind principally those nations that run away from the Balkans, that despise it, that are ashamed of their Eurasian cultural heritage. Clearly, the Croats are such a nation most of all, since they have tried throughout the course of their history to prove their being an integral part of the Western Europe, both in (geo)political and cultural respect. To the Croats, the Balkans is something humiliating, “Turkish”, “Byzantine”, a geographical and political term that, according to Mladen Svarc, leader of the “New Croatian Rightists”, reminds them of communism and Yugoslavia from which the Croats “took only harrowing experience”. Along with the Croats, Islamic Balkan nations belong to this group as well. Unlike the Croats, these nations know that they cannot count on Central or Western Europe, that for them the Balkans (for now) is the greatest achievement. They are not ashamed of their Balkan name, yet they do not think of the Balkans as their ultimate goal. To them, basically, the Balkans was just a transition that gained on importance only when this transit to Europe’s inland became endangered.   The reasons for such (geo)political viewpoint are, above all, ethnic and linguistic in nature, at least when we talk about the Roman Catholics and Muslims of  Slavic origin. Namely, the greatest part of the modern Croats and Bosnian Muslims ethnically belongs to Serbian national core, from which they were separated owing to a variety of factors at a specific point in time. They still speak the Serbian language, and many of them keep the memory of their Orthodox ancestors.   By converting to Roman Catholicism, one part of the Serbian people detached itself from the Eurasian Orthodox idea. Merging into the Western cultural background that imposed the name of the Croats on them, those Serbs finally forsook their Orthodox Eurasian heritage. To them, the Balkans became just a “shameful name”.   On the other hand, the Muslims of Slavic origin (composed mainly of Serbs that converted to Islam), who inhabit mostly parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, took a different course, as we have already mentioned, sharing the fate of the Turkish Empire. Namely, after Turkish retreat from the major part of the Balkans, owing to their sense of defeat, these Slavs felt endangered. On the other hand, logically, they could not convert back to Orthodoxy, which resulted in a rather rigid attitude of the Serbs (from whose core they separated) towards them.   This comes as a confirmation of Jovan Cvijic’s remark that the Byzantine idea of supremacy of religion over nationality was and still is the most rooted trait of Byzantine cultural and political inheritance. In the Byzantine Empire this cultural and political trait enabled the empire to prosper, whereas in Balkan politics it left extremely negative consequences that, as it has been already mentioned, manifest themselves in the rejection of the members of the same people belonging to different religions.   However, it should be pointed out here that, apart from paganism, Orthodox Christianity is an authentic Balkan religion. Islam and Catholicism are, in essence, religions coming from the outside which, owing to Arabian or Roman cultural and political activities became widely present on this area.   While Catholicism spread simultaneously with the political influence first of Rome, and later of Venice and Hungary, almost without exceptionkeeping to the Adriatic coast and the banks of the Sava and the Danube, Islam spread over smaller oases all over the Balkans, especially in towns.   “No religion in the Balkans was completely compact at the time of the Turkish rule. They were all scattered and dislocated. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Bulgaria, represent real mosaic in this respect. The fact that some Balkan states, such as Serbia and Greece, became compact Orthodox countries is a consequence of their national revival, departure of the Muslims and the change in the structure of the populace.”    According to the majority of Balkanologists, Religious intolerance, that is so fully at work in the Balkans today, is not naturally related to the Balkans. What we deal with is actually a phenomenon “that Venetian and Austrian authorities allowed themselves to stir, spreading prejudice and slurs about Byzantine corruption and working diligently on proselytism (Catholicizing and Uniating)” . Thus religious intolerance, for which the Balkans is nowadays famous worldwide, is the result of Western and Middle European cultural influence, not Eurasian, on which the peninsula was founded.   The Balkans gave the world its first cultural, i.e. literary language. “That was the old Greek language, which belongs to the eastern family of languages along with the other old and new languages in the Balkans” . Owing to Alexander of Macedon, this language became the language of culture of the whole East, from the Balkans, over Asia Minor and India, all the way to Egypt. “Christ’s teachings increased its significance even more: it became the language of religious, spiritual life. The Romans took some expressions from it. As the language of science and church, it became a model not just for every other literary language in Europe, but world’s science draws its terminology from it.”    The first Balkan written codes are Greek and Slavic (Cyrilic) alphabet that is nowadays used in Macedonia, Bulgaria and partially in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These codes can be regarded as originally Balkan. “The Latin code was spread in the Balkans owing to three factors. In the first place it was national conceit. The Romanians remembered the Latin origin of their language in the middle of the nineteenth century so that through the Latin code they could connect themselves firmer with the Western Roman world. Orthodoxy could not preserve the Cyrilic code among them. National interests prompted the spread of the Latin code among the Romanians. The acceptance of the Latin code partially among the Albanians, and fully among the Croats, is completely to be attributed to the Catholic Church. The Western Apennine Catholicism, aided by prolific literature, destroyed the Balkan “glagoljica” and “bosancica”. The Turks completely, and Albanians only partially introduced the Latin code for practical and international reasons.”  And although, as we have seen, the Latin code in its present-day form is a code that is used outside the Balkans, it is undisputable that this code as well is based on the Balkan culture, all the more due to the fact that it originates from an adaptation of the Greek written code.   The influence of linguistic (geo)politics is noticeable in four Balkan areas, the western, where the Serbian corpus bordered on Croatian, the southern, in Macedonia, where Serbian and Bulgarian interests were in conflict, and only recently in the southwestern area, in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Striving to suppress the Serbian element that was related to Russia, Austria endeavoured to Catholicize and thus alter the cultural identity of those orthodox Serbs that lived to the West from the River Drina – they were about four million in number. In this sense, linguistics was turned into an instrument of Austrian geopolitical interests.   Generally speaking, in Western (geo)political idea, the Drina plays an extremely significant role. As the Western Europeans see it, this river represents a “natural border” that divides the West and the East in the Balkans. It is a point at which, according to the Western theoreticians, Byzantine and German cultural and political influences came into contact. Hence there is no place on the western bank of the Drina for the Orthodox and, in general, all the other people whose aspirations are turned to the East. In this light we should consider the activities of Austria-Hungary, and later of the Croats, as well as the interference of the European Union and the USA into the issue of the internal organization of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Muslims, unfortunately, have for a long time been an instrument of the West.   The Balkan languages were, through Serbian, dragged from the darkness of monastery cells into the light of the day by the Serbian scholar Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic. Loved and despised at the same time, respected by the Grimm brothers, the great Goethe, Paul Schaffarik, Nikola Tomazeo and many other authors and linguists of the Balkans and the world, he collected and published not just Serbian, but also Romanian, Albanian and Bulgarian folk literature.   At the time when Vuk was working, a great number of Orthodox Serbs in the areas of today’s Croatia had already been Catholicized, but only a smaller number was ready to renounce their Serbian origin. Therefore Vienna thought that through Croatian linguists their language should be altered because it differed from the language of the original Croats. Since that was not possible, because the Croats were several times outnumbered, there was an idea to rename the Serbian language into Croatian.   Thus in the fourth decade of the eighteenth century the “Iliric Movement” was formed with a declarative aim to gather all the Austrian Slavs. In reality, it was a well-organized (geo)political movement, through which Austria wanted to reach the Drina, an intention that was discussed by the most prominent Croatian geopolitician Ivo Pilar.   In his lifetime, Vuk Karadzic succeeded in preserving the Serbian language, but soon after the death of this great man (in 1867), his followers started retreating before the attacks of Austro-Croatian lingistic geopolitics. Namely, according to the postulates of the 1850 Vienna Literary Agreement, Croatian men of letters accepted Serbian as their literary language. Soon after that this language was called “Serbian or Croatian”, in WWII it was called “Croatian”, and after the war the term was turned into “Serbo-Croatian”. Today, this language is again called “Croatian”. Thus the task of eliminating Eurasia from what are today Croatian areas was finally completed at the end of the twentieth century.   But, since the West has not yet seized the Drina, this usurpation of the Serbian language and its written code was continued in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Croats and the Bosniacs speak the “Bosniac” language, that does not differ in the slightest from the language of the Bosnian Serbs.   The most recent theft of the Serbian language has been committed in Montenegro, where, for the first time in history, a “Montenegrin” language was created, completely linguistically unfounded, a language that, just like those examples mentioned above, does not differ from Serbian at all. Yet, since modern Montenegro was created by the West to prevent the access of Serbia, i.e. Eurasia, to the sea, such contradictions are not too surprising, because anything that drives Eurasia from the Balkans is completely legitimate.   Certainly the most confusing phenomena are the conflicts of those authentic Balkan nations originating from the same cultural heritage – Orthodox Eurasian. We have in mind principally the Greeks, the Serbs, the Bulgarians and the Romanians, who, along with the Russians, all belong to what is colloquially referred to as “the Byzantine Commonwealth”.   The reasons for the conflicts among these nations should not be sought in medieval rivalry, since that was completely forgotten owing to the centuries of servitude under the Turks. The cause should be looked for in the Western way of thinking, which, as it has already been mentioned, the Balkan nations started adopting during the nineteenth century.   The creation of new independent states in the Balkans after Turkish withdrawal did not only mean that some peoples in the Balkans made national states, but also that they re-directed their cultural history. While the Balkans was, during the entire period of Turkish rule, in a constant connection with Eurasian civilization filtered through Islam, the Balkan Risorgimento – so we may call the whole period of the newer Balkan history from the Serbian and Greek Uprisings until the end of the world war – means taking a new cultural course.   Unlike Italian and German Risorgimento that continued the old traditions of these states, the Balkan Risorgimento meant a real cultural revolution. The Eurasian course of the Balkans was immediately upon liberation from the Turks slowly replaced by the Western technicism and scientism, followed by liberalism, both in politics and economics. This gambit can be considered as the greatest mistake of the modern Balkans, since such individualistic, falsely spiritual and falsely humanistic social and cultural philosophy could not provide the peninsula with internal cohesion, national and inter-national equanimity and good relations, in a word – identity and unity.   Thus, instead of solidarity that existed at the time when the Eurasian ideology, merged with Orthodoxy, moulded the Balkan peoples, the Western idea of politics, nation, national state, religion and spirituality emerged in its entirety.   During the nineteenth and the first half on the twentieth century, the only light in the horizon were Balkan socialists, admirers of Russian socialist idea. Those were, above all, Svetozar Markovic, Ljuben Karavelov, and their later followers andinheritors of their ideas in both left and right sections of socialism, who thought that the Balkans will not be united by the courts and salons but by cultural unity related to the “folk system” that would lift this unity to the level of the Balkan idea.   Therefore we can freely state that socialism (both national and international) was (and still is) the main pillar of modern Eurasianism in the Balkans.    Relationships between Serbia and Bulgaria, the key to the Balkans   As we have said, the freedom that was won by the Orthodox Balkan nations in the nineteenth century also brought the West to the political stage, and its life patterns soon became Balkan’s patterns. Applied in politics, they caused the separation of the liberated Balkan nations, intoxicated with the Western national romanticism. Since then to the present day, Eurasia has been in constant retreat.   Having this in mind, misunderstanding and conflicts between the Serbs and the Bulgarians, which caused the general disturbance in relations in the Balkans, were particularly tragic. To make things even more ironic, the Serbs and the Bulgarians are the two most similar nations in the Balkans and they share not just a unique cultural, Eurasian identity but they have a unique origin as well. A great number of Balkan experts thinks that they are one people that has the same origin and a rather similar language.   Actually, the relations between the Serbs and the Bulgarians have been quite ambivalent. Depending on historical conditions, these relations shifted from excellent to catastrophic, ending in bloody conflicts. From all those conflicts the West had the greatest benefit, above all Austria-Hungary, which, using this lack of mutual understanding, succeeded in becoming a Balkan force after The Congress of Berlin in 1878.   A positive trend in the relations between Serbia and Bulgaria lasted from the 1860s until the end of the 1870s. It was the time when Bulgarian emigrants, great fighters for national liberation, lived in Serbia. Those were above all Georgi Sava Rakovski, Vasil Levski, Ljuben Karavelov and Hristo Botev. This generation, owing to Serbian authorities, founded in Belgrade Bulgarian printing houses, schools and two Bulgarian legions in which future Bulgarian liberators were trained. In this period the well-known plan was created to form a Serbian-Bulgarian monarchy that would have been ruled by the Serbian Duke Mihailo Obrenovic and that would turn to Russia for protection. However, the untimely death of the Serbian ruler postponed this idea for some other time.   The second phase of the Serbian-Bulgarian relations started after the Peace Treaty of San Stefano which ended the Russo-Turkish War in 1878. According to the terms of the Treaty, Russia, that had its troops fighting in both Serbia and Bulgaria, decided to include almost entire territory of Macedonia into the newly-formed Bulgarian state, an act that could not be supported by the Serbian side. In agreement with the Western forces and due to Serbian insistence, this Treaty was declared invalid in Berlin later that year. “The Macedonian Issue” has been a stumbling block in the relations between Serbia and Bulgaria ever since. For the subject that this paper analyses the Peace Treaty of San Stefano is extremely important, because it represents an attempt of Russian diplomacy to cut the stumbling Balkan nations loose from the Western way of thinking and to put them back on the path of their own identity.   As the winning side, Russia thought that Bulgaria should be strengthened because, due to its geographical position, it could contribute the most to a hypothetical liberation of Constantinople. On the other hand, according to the Treaty, as a compensation for the loss of  Macedonia, Serbia would have gained much in Kosovo, Raska and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Serbs would gain considerable autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. Thus Russia wanted to create two strong Balkan states, one of which would be directed towards Constantinople and the other to the Adriatic Sea. This also reveals a paramount need for a union between Serbia and Bulgaria today, which is the most important precondition for returning the people of the Balkans to the Balkans, i.e. to Great Eurasia.   If we look at the annulled Peace Treaty of San Stefano from today’s perspective, we will easily notice that its annulment was only damaging for Serbia, not beneficial. Namely, had this Treaty remained in force, the majority of Serbian people,that lives outside Serbia today, would have been unified in one state that would cover the space from Serb-populated areas in the present-day Croatia to the modern borders in the East. But the Western spirit that had possessed the Serbian elite, that is clearly manifested in Duke Milan Obrenovic’s opinion that “Serbia has only one goal: to become a modern European country or to disappear”, finally won a victory.   The defeat of Russian diplomacy brought the apple of discord into the Balkans, since Bulgaria was, primarily because Serbia wished so, unjustly divided into the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia. The latter remained, along with Macedonia, under Turkish dominion. But a far worse consequence is reflected in the fact that Serbia came under the influence of Vienna. After these events were over, Serbian students stopped going to Russia to complete their studies and went to Austria-Hungary instead. Such policy on the Serbian side lead to renouncing its claim to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the first armed conflict between Serbia and Bulgaria in 1885. Encouraged by Vienna, the Serbs started it and finally lost it.   Thus all the subsequent conflicts between these two nations, conflicts that ripped the Balkans to the west of the Drina in all their might, creating cracks into which the Western thought penetrated even deeper, are just a residue of wandering between San Stefano and Berlin. Thinking about this problem, Konstantin Leontyev was able not just to fully understand it but also to offer an adequate solution: “Therefore it is not good only to have in mind just the banishment of the Turks from Europe, just the emancipation of the Slavs… but something wider and in its idea more independent. This wider and more independent notion should be nothing else but the development of our own original Slavic-Asian civilization. Otherwise all the other Slavs would soon become worse than continental Europeans, and nothing more… Russian eagles did not fly over the Danube and the Balkans so that the Serbs and the Bulgarians could later, in freedom, hatch the chicks of civic Europeanism.”    Which direction to take today?   Nowadays, the Eurasian thought is in full retreat in the Balkans. It was overpowered by liberalism and profanization. Although it is perfectly obvious that isolated, individual cultures cannot survive in the Balkans, Balkan politicians, lured by the West, do nothing to bond the Balkan nations.   The western part of the Balkans, inhabited by the Croats, is lost beyond the possibility of restoration. Its return to Eurasia cannot be expected. Islamic Balkan nations, in accordance with their Pan-Turanian tendencies and the growing Turkish geopolitical interference on the peninsula, remain in essence Eurasian, but they are to a large degree controlled by the United States of America that, pursuing its own interests, gave them two new Balkan states – Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.   The Republic of Srpska, the only Eurasian oasis on the west bank of the Drina, is crucial to the survival of  Eurasia in these areas. If we add the fact that the West, by creating independent Montenegro, separated Serbia from the Adriatic Sea, the need to preserve the Republic of Srpska gains on significance even more. “After WWII, in the second half of the 20th century, the Balkans faced additional problems. The integration of Europe on one hand and world globalization on the other clashed violently in the Balkans. The end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century brought a new collision of interests of these great powers, and the interests of the USA have significantly increased when compared to the previous historical background. We could say that the Balkans was devastated by theactivities of thevictorious industrial West striving to re-organize it to meet the interests of the USA and some new centres of power.    However, in its culture, logic, politics, ethics, in a word – its spirituality, the Balkans has no contradictions. It neither belongs to Europe, as (according to the Roman model) the Roman Catholics would have it, nor does it belong to the Orient (at least not to the degree that the Balkan Muslims would have it). It belongs to itself and to those who do not think of its truth as a burden that has to be removed.   Orthodox Balkan nations are those that created the Balkans, that cannot survive without it and that are therefore obliged to protect it. These nations, owing to the Byzantine Empire, even in their earliest history showed a great affection for the Orthodox Orient and its culture, the affection that will not disappear even when, instead the scent of incense, heath and desert winds bring Islam. As in Russia, in the Balkans the children of the forest met the children of the heath, creating a unique cultural unit of Eurasian type. Therefore, regardless of the current policy, the Balkan Orthodox nations are completely directed towards each other. This fact is confirmed by their culture, their pattern, their songs and dances, and their history that clearly shows that everything beneficial the Balkan nations did for themselves was done by joint forces. Talking about cultural and political potential of the Balkans, Tadeusz Zielinski, a philologist and professor at Warsaw University, stressed that this peninsula would be the pillar of “the fourth European renaissance”, that Zielinski calls “Slavic”.   Zielinski thought that the Slavic nations that live in the Antique (Balkan) area, supported by the great Russia, would continue the trends of the Caroline, Roman and German renaissance in Europe.   While the first renaissance was religious, the second and the third national, the fourth would, according to Zielinski, be spiritual, ethical, and in its essence it would be a unity of variations.   Such renaissance can only be designed by the Western mechanicistic world. Its only condition of survival is the collision with the Eurasian spirituality. Zielinski thought that if the West discarded and rejected such alliance, new trenches would be dugbetween the East and the West and they would be virtually insurmountable.   Having all this in mind, now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is upon the Balkans to finally decide whether it will be “Europe’s landfill site”, as it is frequently called in the West, or the advance guard of the Great Eurasia.   Works Cited · Balkan i Balkanci, Beograd: Balkanskiinstitut, 1937 · Dorovic, Vladimir. Borba za nezavisnost Balkana, Beograd: Balkanskiinstitut, 1937 · Knjiga o Balkanu,Tom prvi, Beograd: Balkanski institut, 1936 · Knjiga o Balkanu, Tom drugi, Beograd: Balkanski institut, 1937 · Leontjev, Konstantin. Istok, Rusija i slovnstvo, Beograd: 1999 · Srpska slobodarska misao, casopis za filozofiju, drustvene nauke i politicku kritiku, broj 40, Beograd: 2006   Раздел: ЭтносыРегион: ЕвропаТеги: Balkansgeopolitics

16 января 2013, 21:00

Neil Wagner: As the Climate Goes, So Goes the Economy

The financial costs linked to climate change represent the biggest threat to the global economy, according to Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University. Stiglitz, who has served as both chief economist of the World Bank and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, says, "...while we focus on immediate concerns, [long-term problems] continue to fester, and we overlook them at our peril. The most serious is global warming." How serious is "serious?" As serious as India's Union Finance Ministry determining its government is spending more on climate change adaptation than on the health sector. As serious as a reduction of the world's gross domestic product by 1.6 percent annually. Torrential rain is responsible for flooding that could render hundreds of thousands of homes in the UK uninsurable and, consequently, unmortgageable; home prices would take a big hit. Meanwhile, Stiglitz's home country of the United States is experiencing its second-costliest year of weather disasters on record. That ranking assumes the costs haven't been as grossly underestimated as future costs have been by the U.S. government. U.S. weather disasters caused losses of $1.06 trillion between 1980 through 2011 - the year in which the record for billion-dollar weather disasters was set in the United States. Drought has drained enough water from the mighty Mississippi River that a shutdown of shipping traffic is considered a possibility, costing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Add to all these costs to research that says the cost of dealing with climate change will only increase in time, then ask yourself, "Why exactly do we avoid taking action to prevent more damage?" As Chiemi Hayashi of the World Economic Forum's Risk Response Network says, "...with economic and environmental stresses playing out over different timeframes, deep-rooted biases in the way we judge risks may mean we are too preoccupied with firefighting short-term economic problems to tackle longer-term climate threats." But all is not lost. Stiglitz believes the battle against climate can be a net positive for us humans: Some suggest that, given the economic slowdown, we should put global warming on the backburner. On the contrary, retrofitting the global economy for climate change would help to restore aggregate demand and growth. Of course, when you put it that way, making simultaneous progress towards both the economic and literal survival of the human race, combatting climate change sounds like a good idea. But how can we be expected to focus on such abstract quandaries when we are being confronted by more immediate issues, like Kim Kardashian's baby bump, and Taylor Swift's romantic status? I guess ivory tower academic elites like Stiglitz just don't understand the importance of real-life issues like the rest of us. Check out What on Earth at Science FridayLike "What on Earth?" on Facebook. Become a Fan here at The Huffington Post.

15 января 2013, 03:40

Guest Post: Despite Sanctions, Iran's Economy Limps Along

Submitted by John C.K. Daly of OilPrice.com Despite Sanctions, Iran's Economy Limps Along In the 20th century, upright moral nations developed a new method of showing international opprobrium to rogue nations, the implantation of economic sanctions, designed to modify a recalcitrant nation’s behavior to accommodate international political mores. The most infamous example is the U.S. unilaterally imposing an oil embargo on Japan in July 1941, which most historians now agree led directly to Pearl Harbor, as energy bereft Japan, importing 4/5 of its crude oil needs from the U.S., decided to seize the oil assets of the Dutch East Indies in order to continue its imperial adventures in China and southeast Asia. Fast forward to 2013, and Washington is seeking yet again to use sanctions to influence Iran’s domestic policies, most notably its support for insurgent (terror) regimes and its civilian nuclear uranium enrichment program, which Tehran maintains is entirely peaceful, but which the U.S. and Israel assert in fact masks a covert program to develop a nuclear weapon capacity. Iran is now unique in the world that it is currently subject to a series of sanctions regimes, including those imposed by the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations Security Council. Even plucky Australia has gotten into the act, with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr announcing on 10 January that Canberra’s new sanctions targeted Iran’s financial, trade, energy, and transport sectors, telling reporters, "These sanctions further increase pressure on Iran to comply with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations and with UN Security Council resolutions and to engage in serious negotiations on its nuclear program." So, how effective has western pressure been in bringing Tehran’s mullahcracy to heel? On 7 January Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi told the country's budget and planning parliamentary commission that  Iran’s oil exports have plummeted by 40 percent as a result of the Western sanctions targeting the country’s nuclear program and that there had also been  “a 45 percent decrease in repatriating oil money." Qasemi’s candidness was a significant climbdown, as previously he had persistently maintained that Iran's crucial oil exports were entirely unaffected by the U.S. and EU sanctions. Whatever yardstick is used, the Western sanctions have diminished Iranian oil exports. While in 2011 the EU had purchased 18 percent of Iran's oil exports, that figure has now shrunk to zero, while other Iranian export markets, including China, Japan, South Korea, India and Turkey have  decreased Iranian crude oil imports from anywhere from 15 percent to more than 40 percent during 2012. According to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Iran is the second largest producer, and the International Energy Agency, Iranian crude exports have fallen from around 2.4 million barrels per day in late 2011 to roughly one million barrels per day by December 2012. Financial analysts estimate that plummeting exports, combined with the U.S. sanctions designed to exclude Iran from using international banking transactions to repatriate oil revenues are now costing the country roughly $5 billion per month in lost revenues. On 9 January Iran’s central bank stated that by the end of 2012 the country’s annual inflation rate soared by 27.4 percent, and that in October 2012, the Iranian rial lost about 50 percent of its value in one week. Tehran refutes the nuclear allegations and maintains that, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. So, how effective have the sanctions been in moderating Iran’s behavior up to now? Current indications are not much, despite the damage inflicted on the country’s economy. On 9 January Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran should establish more processing industries in the oil and gas sectors to reduce dependency on exports of crude oil and that the budget plan for the next Iranian year of 1392 (to start on 21 March) envisaged less dependence on crude oil revenues as the government intends to replace crude oil exports with oil derivatives to allow the nation’s economy to participate in the oil sector’s lucrative downstream industry. An Islamic regime has controlled Iran for the last 34 years, and it is worth bearing in mind that, according to the CIA World Factbook, the median age of Iran’s population is 26, which means that half the country’s population knows no other political system. Accordingly, what is the Farsi word for “stalemate?” A regime that has weathered more than three decades of tumult in its efforts to construct an Islamic society seems unlikely in an energy-starved world to ameliorate its behavior solely to please the dictates of Washington, Brussels, the UN and Canberra. And oh, on 14 September 2012 the United States exempted Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Japan from complying with the sanctions for another 180 days, a list that was expanded on 8 December to include China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Taiwan. And, of course, the military option remains “on the table.”