I Agree With Neocons, The War On Terror Is Same Magnitude As Cold War

Cold War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
CNN - Cold War

Nations struggle. There are many that struggle under the thumb of dictators, very little hope on the horizon. They struggle to build political parties that will liberate them. There are those that struggle under total poverty. Africa sends nine times as much money in interest payments as it gets in aid. There are new democracies struggling to build the institutions of democracy.

Americans can opt to think all that is someone else's problem. But 9/11 changed that. Arabs don't have democracy. They make up this huge swamp. The Arab masses are poor and suffering. The Al Qaeda are mosquitoes born out of that swamp. And they want to bite.

There is much confusion among American progressives on this issue. The anti-Iraq War sentiment has been gathering momentum in the country. Republican Senators running for cover have been abandoning Bush.

What is the right thing to do? 9/11 did happen. The Al Qaeda is stronger today than ever before. Of all countries, America is uniquely positioned. For all talk of the rise of India and China, an average Indian makes $3000 a year, an average Chinese twice that, an average American makes $40,000 or more. Europe struggles to integrate.

I think in steps.

Step 1. 9/11 did happen. The Al Qaeda is stronger today than ever before. The threat is very real.

Step 2. 9/11 was Pearl Harbor. It was the beginning of something new. It has been called the War on Terror. That war is the same magnitude as the Cold War. I agree with the neocons when they say that. For the Dems to not accept that would be to give Rudy a big opening in 2008. Rudy will get to say the Dems are being naive. It is a matter of security, it is also a matter of progressive ideology. Democracy is right for every country. Democracy comes from inside the human heart, it does not come from America. Spreading democracy is for indigenous movements to do, but that process can be helped, it can be accelerated.

Step 3. The only way to conclude the War On Terror is to ensure a total spread of democracy in the Arab world. There is a neocon way to do that. You invade Iraq. You spend $500 billion and counting. You get over 150,000 Iraqis killed, you get 3,000 Americans killed. I disagree with the neocon way fundamentally. And then there is the progressive way. That is the way of Nepal's magical April Revolution. That can be fomented in every country. And the fastest way is to engineer global efforts for each such movement. Globalization and the internet make sure isolationism is not an option on the table. Lack of democracy and strides towards prosperity anywhere is a threat to democracy and prosperity everywhere else, to paraphrase MLK.

Spread Democracy

In The News

Obama's Sister Souljah? MSNBC I'm not going to do it to you; I'm going to do it with you.
Lonely and lame, Bush agonises over legacy Guardian Unlimited a week in which his isolation has been exposed as never before ..... the withdrawal of support for his Iraq strategy by Pete Domenici, a Republican senator for 35 years. The loss of such a loyal senator is ominous for Mr Bush's war plans. ..... More defections are expected, and Mr Bush cuts a lonely figure, holed up in the White House fretting over his legacy. ..... former staffers and friends, spoke of his loneliness, his agonising over how history will portray him. ..... "a marked difference in his physical appearance". ..... Although never a social animal, he is reluctant to drop into Washington restaurants unannounced for dinner, as the Clintons did, in part because he is fearful of the public response. ...... he has largely avoided public contact .... About 50% of the sitting Republican senators face re-election in November next year and their constituents have made them well aware of how unpopular the Iraq war is. .... With little positive to show from six years in office, Mr Bush has been talking up his transformation of the supreme court as his legacy. He has given it a strong rightwing bias, demonstrated by rulings on abortion, employment discrimination and rejection of death penalty appeals. .... "Hoover was a disaster. Warren Harding rates very low in the pantheon of presidents and it is likely that Bush will be seen as a bottom feeder."

Cheney Clout May Be Dwindling Washington Post Cheney, who thrives on secrecy while pulling the levers of power, is getting caught in the glare of an unwelcome spotlight. .... "Republicans have, in essence, moved on and focused on who to get behind in 2008" .... Is anyone listening to Cheney any more? .... The vice president shuffled alone and in silence out of a luncheon of Republican senators last week amid defections on Iraq by GOP senators and as the administration's immigration overhaul went down to defeat. ..... "Who died and left him boss?" asked Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. ..... "He must be an awfully bruised guy at this point. I think his star has set" ..... He has a history of heart problems, including four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, two artery-clearing angioplasties and an operation to implant a pacemaker-defibrillator.
Clinton gives voice to outsourcing fears San Jose Mercury News Clinton challenged a large crowd of Indian technologists gathered in Santa Clara on Friday to help allay the fears of Americans that good jobs are being exported, or risk political and economic backlash. ..... about 3,000 people attending a conference sponsored by the alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology ..... while American workers have become more productive this decade, their median income has declined. .... attendees were promised if they handed in their business cards they would be returned with a Clinton autograph.
Clinton taps growing political clout Indian-Americans San Francisco Chronicle
Hillary to woo Indian-Americans NDTV.com seeking to tap the growing political clout of Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley. .... nearly 4,000 businesspeople attending the annual alumni conference of the Indian Institute of Technology, one of the world's most elite university systems. ..... the 2.3 million-member community exerts more influence in the 2008 presidential election. ..... Although they make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, Indians living in the United States have the highest average income of any racial group ...... Their 2005 median household income was nearly $74,000, 59 percent higher than the general population average. ...... in Silicon Valley. Of an estimated 7,300 U.S. tech startups founded by immigrants, 26 percent have Indian founders, CEOs, presidents or head researchers .... In April, New York hotelier and restaurateur Sant Chatwal said Indian-Americans could raise at least $5 million for Clinton's campaign. ..... "Our political clout — or I should say political involvement — has lagged behind our economic involvement, so I'm glad the political activity is catching up," said Rajat K. Gupta, senior partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Company .... "India is an emotional country — things like that have a huge emotional impact," said Arjun Malhotra, chairman and CEO of Sunnyvale-based consulting firm Headstrong Inc.

Obama: 'Billary show' is stuck the past The Clintons have also come under fire for strictly limiting press access during their three-day tour 3 July 2007: Obama sees financial lead as launch pad nearly all of Mr Obama's cash can be used in the primary campaign while much of Mrs Clinton's can only be spent in the 2008 general election ..... 258,000 donors - thought to be close to double the number Mrs Clinton has. ..... a triumphant Obama campaign said they had seized the momentum. Mr Obama said: "Together we have built the largest grassroots campaign in history for this stage of a presidential race. And it's just the beginning." ..... The 2008 White House race is likely to be the first billion-dollar election in history. ...... campaign's treasure chest ensured it would have organisational strength in depth across the country. "This is one more manifestation of the 'enthusiasm gap' we have over our rivals. ...... the obvious power and momentum of the movement we're building ..... national polls that are all but meaningless ...... Many of Mrs Clinton's donors have already given the maximum amount of £2,280
The Michelle Obama "Experience" Atlantic Online the only thing he doesn't have is years in Washington ...... When Barack and Michelle Obama say "experience," they mean experience with hardship, experience with diverse ranges of people, experiece derived from broad educational background, experience with community organizing and poverty law, experience with state politics, and experience with legislating. They draw Obama's life experiences into this picture, too. ....... Hillary Clinton primarily means "executive" experience -- how to set up a White House, how to negotiate with Congress, how to interact with world leaders, how to synthesize information, how to manage people.
Obama Muses On Family Stresses Atlantic Online The family, she said, was "doing fine" and their sacrifices were "relatively minor." ... "There's nothing more difficult than me being on the phone, hearing about their soccer game hearing about what went on their school and knowing that I'm not there to be part of their life right now," he said. "I love my Secret Service guys but I'd like to go to the stores by myself if I had an option," he said later. "I don't like all the fuss. I'm not an entourage guy." ....... The other side of the trade-off, he said, was the "possibility through our campaign to create a different spirit in our political life." ... Obama joked that his wife didn't want to be president herself because she was "too smart." "She just wants to be able to tell the president what to do"
Crush on Obama steals the show Hamilton Spectator, Canada
Obama's Viral Marketing Campaign
TIME "He's got a much more viral campaign than we do," says an envious Hillary Clinton strategist, using a term for word-of-mouth advertising and marketing techniques. "He's got a real buzz about him." ...... a world in which the concept of community has grown to include MySpace and Facebook ..... more than $10 million of Obama's second-quarter contributions were made online, and 90% of them were in increments of $100 or less. ..... In 2000, George W. Bush revolutionized campaign fund raising--and shattered existing records--by creating a muscular network of "bundlers," each of whom committed to bring in $100,000, $200,000 or more from friends and associates. ...... hosting individual fund-raising Web pages for Obama. ..... can later be converted into door knockers and phone bankers .... "If 200,000 people are willing to give $15 now," he says, "they're likely to give $100 when the opponent is a Republican."
Barack Obama's Smart Campaign Pitch FOX News He's young, articulate, smart, and that has all led to a certain rock star atmosphere around him. .... Obama said: Haven't we had enough of those guys? ..... Obama's pitch to the American people: For the last 20 years you've had Bush, Clinton, Bush again, and now do you really want Clinton again? Do you want another four, perhaps another eight? Do you want more?
Obama's cyber campaign tool crosses the Atlantic Independent, UK
Meditating Iowans At Peace With Obama
CBS News, NY turned out in large numbers in the town’s traditional green square to hear the Illinois senator deliver his stump speech on the night of July 3 — more people, Fairfield’s sheriff said, than had come out to greet a sitting president. ..... "Somehow we have lost the capacity to recognize ourselves in each other,"” Obama said, to an intently nodding crowd of at least 1,000. "You know, people talk a lot about the federal deficit, but one of the things that I always talk about is …an empathy deficit," he continued, to applause. ...... Obama spoke as Washington wallows in a summer of intense conflict. Subpoenas are flying from the Hill to the White House. ..... In some of his speeches, he didn't even mention President Bush. ..... This is a central gamble of Obama's campaign for President. The loudest voices in the Democratic Party — from Chairman Howard Dean to former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Hillary Clinton — have been sounding steady notes of confrontation with the White House. Clinton and Edwards argue that they will win the partisan wars. ..... Obama argues that the country, and even partisans, are tired of partisan warfare. .... a suburb — the fist new city incorporated in Iowa in decades — called Maharishi Vedic City, in which all buildings face East.
Iowa, meet Barack Obama Chicago Tribune, United States the Barack Obama trivia questions started to fly. .... What did he do after graduating from Columbia University in 1983? How did he meet his wife? Where were his parents born? ..... Trivial Pursuit game Obama's campaign has started playing in recent days with crowds before he appears on stage at rallies. ..... most of those who will cast the first votes of the nominating process next January know very little about the senator. ...... the ads are running "indefinitely" ..... "People think he was created in July 2004 at the Democratic National Convention"
Obama wraps up grassroots Iowa tour DesMoinesRegister.com
Obama is the leader of the pack
Escanaba Daily Press, MI Obama has the unique ability to bring adversaries to the table and work out amicable solutions to our problems. He is a genuine person.
Can Money Buy Political Love? CBS News, NY
Tribe Lends Support to Early Obama Iowa Push
Harvard Crimson, MA "I've been involved with him from the time he graduated from Harvard Law," Tribe said. "Barack is enormously mature, brilliant, and inspiring in his commitment to make people's lives better and to the American ideal in its best form." .... "It was inspiring," Tribe says in the ad, "absolutely inspiring to see someone as brilliant as Barack Obama, as successful, someone who could've written his ticket on Wall Street, take all of the talent and all of the learning and decide to devote it to the community and to making people's lives better." ..... "Barack is less likely to go for the jugular than his opponents," Tribe said. "But they see him as a threat because of the amazing breadth of his support across the country." .... Tribe added that Obama, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991, has given him the most sense of "hope and possibility" from a candidate since he supported John F. Kennedy '40 in 1960. .... "He doesn't bring to mind the divisions in our society that we've seen over the past decades," Tribe said. "He represents the future in the best sense."

Fear for Obama's safety after knife arrest Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom the Secret Service agents became suspicious because they recalled seeing Zakaryan's car, with Ohio plates, at an Obama event the previous day .... gave contradictory answers about why he was outside the hotel .... police said they had no reason to believe Zakaryan presented any threat to Mr Obama ...... Assassination is a perennial fear for American politicians and Mr Obama's race and the Muslim background of his father makes him a potential target for extremists. ..... Obama's rhetoric often draws comparisons with President John F Kennedy and his brother, Robert ..... Obama has been shadowed by at least six Secret Service agents. At an event in a gymnasium in Waterloo, the agents guarded each door and asked anyone approaching Mr Obama with hands in their pockets to take them out. ....... The Clinton's campaign tour in Iowa - dubbed the "Billary Show" - has been witheringly dismissed by Mr Obama who said he was interested "in looking forward, not looking backward". .... its new slogan, "Ready for Change. Ready to Lead". Mr Obama said: "Change can't just be a slogan. Change has to mean that we're not doing the same old thing that we've been doing."
This was not a threat to Obama Chicago Tribune the man was just hoping to sell some Obama trinkets and was looking for the next campaign event of the day. His big mistake, allegedly, was not having a driver's license and having a large knife in his car. .... The knife was longer than 8 inches, which exceeds the state limit.

FBI Probing Threat to Goldman Sachs That Says 'Hundreds Will Die' FOX News
McCain's Prospects Look Pretty Grim CBS News
By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann FOX News
Grim Old Pantry looks bare; meanwhile Obama fundraising soars
National Post
Obama's Tightrope Washington Post
Barack Obama's Campaign Increasingly Engages Hillary Clinton ABC News
Despite Obama connections in NH, Gephardt endorses Clinton
Boston Globe here in New Hampshire voters are going to continue to look at the candidates closely and make their own judgements
Obama asks New Orleans crowd to change US MSNBC
In Clinton show, eyes are on Bill
Chicago Tribune a number of small American flags stabbed into half a dozen bales of straw. City folks called them bales of hay. ...... As Bill spoke an extraordinary thing happened. Hillary began to disappear. ...... Ten minutes into her speech it was clear Sen. Clinton was losing folks fast. .... Bill plays it by ear and has perfect rhetorical pitch, while Hillary struggles with reading crowds and delivering scripted punch lines. ..... Sweaty Secret Service agents and perspiring local cops watched the crowd, talked by radio to their brethren stationed on nearby rooftops ..... Fifteen minutes later, the Clintons were gone, cooling off before heading to the north-central part of the state. ..... her husband, one of the world's finest salesmen
Bill Clinton rehearses secondary role on the campaign trail International Herald Tribune it was the tall man with the familiar white hair who made the crowd go truly gaga ..... "Bob Barker! It's Bob Barker!" two women shrieked upon seeing the former president ..... A game-show-host-turned-two-term-president: how can Hillary Clinton compete? .... No matter how much he tries to blend in, Bill Clinton is one Oscar-worthy supporting actor who can sometimes upstage his leading lady simply by taking air. ..... he has dispensed advice, praise and neck-and-shoulder massages in their three-day trip here ....... describing second-tier opponents like Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico in more generous terms than her more immediate foes like Senator Barack Obama ....... With him, she drew some of her biggest crowds in Iowa ..... she rarely sounds as if she has a lump in her throat. ..... Bill Clinton saying he was less concerned about "overshadowing" her than about "blocking" her. ..... Given that so many people know him, he said, the only problem is if "it will interfere with their ability to know her." ..... While the couple drew cheers at the parade - homemade "Hillary 2008" signs adorned front porches and one woman thanked Bill Clinton for "saving Africa" - a couple of men booed Bill Clinton along the way. "Go back to Canada!" another man shouted at him - eight times. Bill Clinton walked on. ...... (Aides said they did not purposely remove his stool after the first rally; there was just nowhere for him to sit.) ..... I bet people leaving the rally had a very clear idea of which one of them was running for president
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Study explodes myth that women like to talk Telegraph.co.uk
Mayor's girlfriend is placed on leave
Los Angeles Times
Reporting a Mayor’s Marital Woes, Minus One Significant Detail New York Times Mirthala Salinas, a television journalist here, learned on Thursday that it was not a wise career move to report that the mayor of Los Angeles was leaving his wife while failing to mention that she was dating him. ..... he confirmed that he has been dating her for more than a year
Republicans Uniting Around Proposal for 2008 Iraq Withdrawal Bloomberg Congressional Republicans, increasingly voicing dissatisfaction with the course of the Iraq war, are beginning to unite around a proposal that may allow for a drawdown of U.S. combat forces by March 2008. ..... doesn't set a deadline for withdrawal, it aims to create conditions that could lead to a redeployment of U.S. troops as early as the first quarter of next year .... it is clear that the additional troops aren't quelling sectarian violence in Iraq

Nepal's leaders take lessons in democracy

An economic puzzle The Economist The conundrum of America’s economy the economy has not been growing all that briskly (it expanded at an annualised pace of just 0.7%) .... The unemployment rate is 4.5%, down from last year, and lower than in all but the rosiest days of the Clinton era. .... the housing slump lopped nearly a percentage point off GDP in the first quarter of 2007..... As vexing a concern is the effect that a slowing housing market will have on the mountain of debt and debt-related instruments that were issued to finance the boom. The most frightening aspect of the problems at two hedge funds run by Bear Stearns, both heavily exposed to the subprime-mortgage market, was not that a big bank had been plunging into risky assets; it was the revelation of how little anyone knew about the risks involved.
How strong is America's economy?
Free flowing A bumper year for foreign direct investment THE 30 members of the OECD made foreign direct investments (FDI) worth $1.12 trillion last year, 29% more than in 2005 and more than in any year since 2000. ..... Over the ten years to 2006, the rich club's members have made direct investments worth over $8 trillion outside their borders. America was the biggest source of money, investing a total of $1.58 trillion.
Hong Kong: The resilience of freedom tempting to argue that Hong Kong has changed China more than the other way round .... the dynamic momentum of China's internal reforms ...... The city streets still hum to the rhythm of commerce. The skyline remains one of the glories of urban ambition. ..... the street names still celebrate former colonial governors—Des Voeux, Robinson, Nathan, Bonham ...... Until 2047 Hong Kong would keep its own economic and political system and enjoy autonomy in everything except foreign affairs, defence and national security. ..... in December next year: the 30th anniversary of the Communist Party plenum that marked the Deng restoration. ...... By 1997 it had become a prosperous, service-oriented economy and a sophisticated, cosmopolitan society. China was a poor agricultural nation in the throes of the world's fastest industrial revolution. ...... Asia's 1997 financial crisis, the bursting of the dotcom bubble, and epidemics of bird flu and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) ......... its politics is a battle between two camps, one labelled “pro-Beijing” and the other “pro-democracy”. ..... a mass uprising four years ago, in protest at an “anti-subversion law”
America: Still No.1 EVEN the greatest empires hurt when they lose wars. It is not surprising then that Iraq weighs so heavily on the American psyche. Most Americans want to get out as soon as possible, surge or no surge; many more wish they had never invaded the country in the first place. But for a growing number of Americans the superpower's inability to impose its will on Mesopotamia is symptomatic of a deeper malaise. ........ An army designed to have 17 brigades on active deployment now has 25 in the field. ...... There is the emergence of China as a rival embryonic superpower, with an economy that may soon be bigger than America's (at least in terms of purchasing power); the re-emergence of a bellicose, gas-fired Russia; North Korea's defiance of Uncle Sam by going nuclear, and Iran's determination to follow suit; Europe's lack of enthusiasm for George Bush's war on terror; the Arabs' dismissal of his democratisation project; the Chávez-led resistance to Yankee capitalism in America's backyard. ......... other financial centres are gaining at Wall Street's expense ..... ever fewer foreigners trust America ...... Neither American hard nor soft power is fading. Rather, they are not being used as well as they could be. ...... America looks weaker than it did in 2000. But is that really due to a tectonic shift or to the errors of a single administration? ....... Disbanding the Iraqi army compounded the error. ..... Vietnam (where 58,000 Americans were killed ....... Iran has been defying America since Jimmy Carter's presidency, and North Korea for a generation before that. As for soft power, France has been complaining about Coca-Cola and Hollywood for nearly a century. ........ —be it the fight against global warming or the quest for an Arab-Israeli peace—America is quite simply indispensable. ....... a defence budget almost as big as the whole of the rest of the world's ....... the multiplier effect that Mr Bush missed: win the battle for hearts and minds and you do not need as much hard power to get your way. ..... China is likely to be more and more in America's face, whether buying American firms, winning Olympic gold or blasting missiles into space. Merely by growing, China is disrupting the politics of the Pacific. ..... America's lead is immense. ... economics is not a zero-sum game: so far, a bigger China has helped to enrich America. ..... If America were a stock, it would be a “buy”: an undervalued market leader, in need of new management. ....... More than any rival, America corrects itself. ..... something (a misadventure in Iran?) may yet compound the misery of Iraq in the same way Watergate followed Vietnam.
Britain: Now that he's gone the self-deprecating humour, the deliberate spontaneity, the appeal to noble sentiments, the refusal to find serious fault with his own performance ...... Blair swept into Downing Street in 1997 with the biggest majority for over 60 years ..... Politics in Britain is about to get intensely interesting. .... health care and education are better than they were, though still less good than they should be ..... Britain's much-vaunted role as the bridge between America and Europe creaked near-fatally under the weight of the war in Iraq. But the country remains a halfway house between the naked free-marketry of the former and the social safety nets of the latter ......... the one big country in the EU to open its labour market to workers from most of the new member states ...... Mr Brown has inherited his perceived strength, and Mr Cameron has bagged his charisma. ...... Blair leaves office a widely distrusted man (though he still beats Mr Cameron and Mr Brown as most Britons' preferred drinking buddy, according to a YouGov poll). ........ on health and education is the “personalisation of services” ...... a man whom Britain's top civil servant once called “Stalinist” ..... On June 26th a hitherto little-noticed Tory MP defected to Labour, accusing Mr Cameron of “superficiality, unreliability and an apparent lack of any clear convictions”. ...... Cameron, with his privileged background, has yet to register much north of Birmingham.
Judges behaving badly
At one time, one in ten Brooklyn judges were said to be under investigation for sleaze. .... “To distrust the judiciary,” said Honoré de Balzac, “marks the beginning of the end of society.” ..... many people blame low pay and the fact that judges are elected ..... In 39 states, some or all judges are elected for fixed terms. Federal judges, usually held in much higher esteem, are appointed on merit for life—as in Britain. ..... Sandra Day O'Connor, a former Supreme Court justice, fears that judicial elections have turned into “political prize-fights, where partisans and special interests seek to install judges who will answer to them instead of the law and the constitution.” ...... a district court judge earns $165,000 a year, about the same as a first-year associate in a top law firm .... John Roberts, chief justice of the Supreme Court, earns just $212,000—half the salary of England's top judge and one-fifth of the average income of a partner in the majority of America's 100 top-grossing law firms. Around 40 judges have left the federal bench over the past five years. ....... Roberts said that the issue of judges' pay had reached “the level of a constitutional crisis”
Gold from the storm July 2nd 1997, the official start of the catastrophic Asian financial crisis. On that day Thailand ran out of foreign-exchange reserves trying to defend its currency from a huge speculative attack. It was forced to float the Thai baht, which promptly plunged. The meltdown quickly spread as investors pulled their money out of countries with similar economic symptoms—especially Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea. ......... Never before had the world seen capital flight on such a scale and speed, causing financial markets and economies to collapse. ....... East Asia boasted low inflation, balanced budgets and a remarkable record of almost 8% average growth over three decades. This made the shock all the more unexpected and dramatic. ...... Asia's flaws had been plain to see: a combination of weak financial systems, a hasty opening of economies to foreign capital and a policy of tying local currencies to the dollar. The expectation that currencies would remain fixed encouraged banks and other local firms to borrow heavily in dollars at lower interest rates than at home. As capital flooded in, these borrowings soared, as did property values and share prices. ......... At its low point the Indonesian rupiah had fallen by 86% against the dollar. The currencies of Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines were all down by 40-60%; stockmarkets suffered losses of at least 75% in dollar terms. ....... In 1998 Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand saw their real GDP per head shrink by an average of 11%. ..... Thailand and Indonesia, the two worst hit, suffered a slump in GDP during 1997-2002 of around 35% relative to their potential output (assuming growth at its previous pace)—as bad as America's output loss during its Great Depression in the early 1930s. ........ the slump came from financial excesses, not poor productivity growth ..... productivity growth in East Asia had been much higher than in other emerging or developed economies ....... reforms to restructure and strengthen banking ..... Emerging Asia has grown by an annual average of 8% over the past three years ...... China and India, which are the fastest sprinters ...... an investment rate of more than 40% in China ...... For all the rhetoric about bold change, the truth is that reform has been relatively limited outside the financial sector. ...... quality of governance is important for investment and growth ..... six measures of governance: accountability, political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, the rule of law and control of corruption ...... non-performing loans have fallen sharply: in Thailand from 43% in 1998 to 8% last year .... the most important lesson of the crisis. Exchange rates are once more, in effect, tied to the dollar. .... excessive growth in money and credit, inflationary pressures and asset bubbles in shares and housing .....China has almost certainly been a net boost for the rest of Asia. ..... Rather than shielding themselves with big reserves, East Asia's governments should make their economies more pliable and their banks more resilient, and thus better able to cope with future volatility. They need more flexible exchange rates, which would not only prevent a further excessive build-up in reserves, but also help to shift growth towards domestic demand and away from exports. Governments must also restore business confidence and create a healthier investment environment.
A world awash in heroin drugs finance the Taliban, while their violence encourages poppy cultivation .... the past decade's striking decline in the “Golden Triangle”—the border region of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos—which UNODC says is “almost opium free”. ...... The drugs business is by far the most profitable illicit global trade, says UNODC, earning some $320 billion annually, compared with estimates of $32 billion for human trafficking and $1 billion for illegal firearms. ...... through West Africa to America, and via Pakistan and Central Asia to China. ...... These days, says NATO, Taliban commanders and drug smugglers are often one and the same. ..... Afghanistan last year produced the equivalent of 6,100 tonnes of opium, about 92% of the world total. ..... The opium trade is worth about $3.1 billion (less than a quarter of this is earned by farmers), the equivalent about a third of Afghanistan's total economy. ..... opium rots any institution it touches ...... Some of the biggest drug barons are reputedly members of the national and provincial governments, even figures close to President Hamid Karzai. ..... To show that aerial spraying works, the Americans point to UNODC's estimated 52% reduction in coca cultivation (but not cocaine output) in Colombia since 2000. ..... Ordinary policemen averaged $1,000 each in backhanders. “We do a dangerous job and we get $70 salary a month,” said one ..... Thailand rid itself of poppy by an active policy of encouraging alternative economic development. But through the 1980s and 1990s it enjoyed strong economic growth driven by tourism and exports, and a fairly stable government. ...... Dry opium, by contrast, can be stored almost indefinitely and often acts as a family's store of wealth. ..... elusive ingredient: a stable government that controls its own territory and borders.
Awkward pause unless trade resumes too, Gazans' “lives will be sustained while their economic plight will deteriorate and the last remaining businesses will die off quickly.” ..... Israel seems in no hurry to prevent that; nor does Mr Abbas, nor their local allies, the leaders of Egypt and Jordan. ..... there is now a “gentleman's agreement” between Gaza's assorted armed factions to attack Israel only in response to Israeli actions, such as its killing of several militants in Gaza this week
Merkel's magic ANGELA MERKEL is proving a champion of the art of the possible. As she emerged tired but triumphant from a marathon summit in Brussels that agreed to a new European Union treaty, the German chancellor had again shown her skill in finding consensus where none seemed likely. ..... her emotional intelligence: an ability to put herself in the shoes of every protagonist in a complex multilateral chess game. And she keeps her cool. ..... “She has fantastic timing” ..... She was even prepared to be upstaged in Brussels by Nicolas Sarkozy, the energetic French president (see article), if it got the job done. ....... Merkel's mix of charm and persistence. ... The first shots have been fired in what could turn into a two-year election campaign that may paralyse the government less than halfway through its term. ...... Given the continuing strength of the Greens, any future government (other than another grand coalition) will probably have to embrace three parties, not two. ..... Ms Merkel's party must contemplate a deal not only with the FDP but also with the Greens, to make a “Jamaica” (after that island's flag) coalition. ..... the cards stacked against her at home may mean that practising the art of the possible is no longer enough for success.
ChinaReal GDP growth will slow slightly from 10.7% in 2006 to a forecast 10.5% in 2007 and 9.6% in 2008. ... The government will continue in its efforts to rebalance the economy, attempting to make growth less dependent on exports and investment while introducing measures to boost consumption.
Hard paternalism After visiting 45 aboriginal settlements over the past ten months, the inquiry found violence and child sexual abuse rife in every one. .... alcohol, drug abuse, pornography, unemployment and a breakdown of aboriginal culture and identity .... alcohol was “totally destroying” families and communities ..... this river of grog ... the federal government was taking control of 60 aboriginal communities .... imposed bans on alcohol and pornography, ordered compulsory health checks on children under 16 and declared that welfare payments would be stopped to parents whose children failed to attend school. ..... Aborigines comprise about 2% of Australia's population ..... the NT (a self-governing federal territory) ..... Mick Dodson, an aboriginal leader, gave warning four years ago that “Our children are experiencing horrific levels of violence and sexual abuse beyond comprehension.” No federal swoop followed.
Cosmic mood-swings Dr Lebedev's account of months of increasingly territorial behaviour and flagging conversation with his lone colleague on the good ship Salyut 7 is a “painfully boring” portrayal of why human space exploration is as pointless as it is frivolous. ...... Even at the speed of light (and therefore radio), the trip from Earth to Mars and back can be as long as 44 minutes. Any conversation with home would therefore be pretty dreary. ...... space has driven a bit cranky. Half of all cosmonauts have developed a condition that Russian psychologists call “asthenisation” (and American ones do not recognise). This is characterised by irritability and low energy. Crew members often get on badly with each other. Individuals develop “space dementia”. Orbiting astronauts have even become clinically depressed and panicked at psychosomatic illnesses. ....... Dr Kanas had expected the mood on space stations to dip during the third quarter of a mission, as often happens on submarines and Antarctic research stations. ...... the ISS crew coped with stress by blaming the ground team and perceiving that its members felt negatively towards them—even though the records of mission controllers showed that they did not. ...... one of the crews of Skylab, NASA's first attempt at a space station, became so annoyed with mission control during their 84 days in space that they mutinied, sulked and turned off all communication. ..... Some psychologists propose sending an all-female crew to Mars. Even if women become irritable, they are less likely to commit suicide or murder each other than men are. Others think a mixed team would support each other better. But that, as the European experiment may demonstrate, raises the possibility of the first human Martians. Perhaps it would be better to stick to more psychologically robust and less libidinous space explorers: robots.
Lazy, hazy days for lucky Lula
a slew of corruption scandals ...... president of the senate ... a lobbyist for a construction firm made regular payments to a journalist with whom he had an affair and a child .... Folha de São Paulo, the biggest-selling daily, shifts only 300,000 copies in a country of 190m people. .... In many ways, Brazil is doing better than it has for a generation. ... The government this month offered cheap credit to producers of shoes, textiles and furniture who are struggling in the face of Chinese competition. ...... “we have to compete not with our past but with our competitors.” ..... Lula stands supreme in Brazil. Rather than governing, he reigns above party while “Brazil is on automatic pilot”
Bagehot He cannot, however, change his own biography. Mr Brown is Scottish—and he knows it. ..... should Mr Brown or a future Labour leader command an overall majority in Britain, but not in England ..... letting only English MPs vote on English matters, might in practice produce rival parliamentary majorities, deadlock and chaos. .... the Scots .. receive more public funding per head than the English. ..... an ancient English stereotype about tight-fisted Scots ... Mr Brown's best comeback may be to exploit another, still more permissible prejudice: against posh people. David Cameron, the Tory leader, is not aristocracy, but with his Eton education he is posh enough for caricature.
Charlemagne The twin Kaczynski brothers who are Polish president and prime minister fought hard (at one point even arguing that Poland should be treated as a bigger country, because so many Poles died in the second world war)..... Conventional wisdom in Brussels holds that Poland will “pay” for its behaviour in a future budget round. That is implausible: the EU is incapable of being vengeful with such precision. ....... Given the Poles' record of populist social conservatism, it was feared that an exemption would lead to “gays being tarred and feathered” on the streets of Warsaw, says one diplomat, exaggerating only slightly. ....... Whereas Ms Merkel toiled away in the shadows, Mr Sarkozy invited press photographers to see him meet a string of leaders, then went for a jog wearing mirror-finish sunglasses and a black T-shirt with the badge of France's toughest police commando unit. ..... an incomprehensible mess of footnotes and protocols .... For anyone whose dream is still some ideal of European unity, the mere fact that each competing camp won at this summit was, of itself, a defeat.
Buttonwood PEOPLE have trouble defining the term hedge fund. For some it simply conveys an aura of big money tinged with a dashing hint of menace. ..... hedge funds are rapidly becoming indistinguishable from the rest of the financial-services industry ..... a “quantitative” manager, using sophisticated computer models to pick stocks ...... The latest fashion is 130/30 funds, which use borrowed money to combine 130% long positions with 30% short (betting on falling prices). ..... “absolute return” investing ...... hedge funds .. the annual management fees are a lot higher ... the stockmarket is willing to pay a very high multiple for companies that earn performance fees ...... constantly on the lookout for markets that are inefficient ..... borrowers say hedge funds are much quicker than banks at deciding whether to make a loan. ....... If returns are bad enough, the business can disappear overnight. ..... their prime brokers, on whom they depend heavily when borrowing money. .... flotations also force hedge-fund managers to be more transparent, diluting the mystique on which their high fees partly depend. .....accelerate the process by which boutiques turn into broadly based financial groups, with all the bureaucracy that implies (bureaucracy that many managers went into the business to escape) Europe.view As Europe slides again into chilly division, West Berlin’s current equivalent may be the Baltic states. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are small: even their combined population of 8m would make them one of NATO’s bantamweight members. ...... Recent war games there apparently included practising the reconquest of the Baltic states. ..... The aim is to sap the Balts’ self-confidence ...... Catholic Poland and Lithuania think texts are secondary to belief: they want firm emotional commitment to the project before focusing on the details. Protestant Estonia and Latvia want the details written down clearly before they can believe. ...... Latvia, where business tycoons loom large in politics ..... play one Balt against another. One country is flattered, a second is frozen and the third is ignored. .... Estonia is in the deep freeze, while Latvia is basking in Kremlin approval.
Report: Obama protection costs Chicago Tribune Secret Service protection costs $44,000 a day for Obama. ... May, when Obama was first assigned a Secret Service detail. ....... Well woth it. I wish we had him in office now. Impeach Bush & Cheney for treason. .... A group scoped out the atrium of International Market Square. The 2008 campaign is expected to strain the agency’s budget. ..... The agency is planning to hire and train 103 agents to protect President Bush when he leaves office Jan. 20, 2009. ..... spending $44,000 a day on around-the-clock security for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. ...... Obama, who has talked openly about the possibility of getting shot, is the first of 18 major-party presidential candidates other than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., to be assigned a security detail. ...... the Secret Service wants to spend more than $100 million on campaign protection in 2008, roughly $35 million more than it spent in 2004. ...... the agency, which has a total of 6,500 employees ....The Secret Service protects the president and vice president, their families, former presidents, visiting foreign heads of state and government and major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses. ....... the agency will take the lead in securing the national political conventions in Denver and St. Paul next year. Adding to the workload is the fact that no sitting president or vice president is running as a candidate. ...... The Secret Service plans to use more than 500 agents to provide protection during the 2008 campaign. ...... 116 domestic offices ..... Obama has been assigned a security detail since May 3, more than eight months before the first votes will be cast in the Iowa caucuses. That's the earliest a presidential candidate has ever qualified for protection. .... Major presidential candidates and their spouses generally do not qualify for protection until 120 days before a general election ..... Jesse Jackson, a Democrat, received protection in 1984 and 1988 after receiving threats during his presidential runs. Decisions to provide early protection are made by a special five-member committee, made up of top House and Senate leaders of both parties. ...... the senator and his wife have spoken publicly of the possibility of an assassination attempt. And the first-term senator has been drawing particularly large crowds on the campaign trail this year.
Obama says strength lies in number of donors Boston Globe Obama on Monday resisted the temptation to talk about his whopping $31 million fundraising quarter ..... There are a quarter million people who want to see a new health care system out there. There are a quarter million people who want to turn the page on our energy policy. There are at least a quarter million people who are ready to see this war in Iraq brought to an end ..... outraising Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton by $10 million ...... steals the spotlight from Clinton ... "It's not about me. The reason people are coming out is because they are burning with a desire and want for change," Obama said ...... We've placed our faith in the core decency of the American people ..... the country should bolster its intelligence capabilities, examine the Pentagon budget for antiquated Cold War programs and encourage bipartisanship. ...... They call me a hope-monger, a hope-peddler. But I am absolutely convinced ... that's what people want. ..... Obama was scheduled to speak Monday evening at a house party with organic yogurt mogul Gary Hirshberg.