Posts tagged ‘USA’


Roubini: US, Global Recession Ahead

By Nouriel Roubini

In recent weeks, the global liquidity and credit crunch that started last August has become more severe. This is easy to show: in the United States, the euro zone, and the United Kingdom, spreads between Libor interest rates (at which banks lend to each other) and central bank interest rates – as well as government bonds – are extremely high, and have grown since the crisis began. This signals risk aversion and mistrust of counter-parties.

To be sure, major central banks have injected dozens of billions of dollars of liquidity into the commercial banking sector, and the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Canada have lowered their interest rates. But worsening financial conditions prove that this policy response has failed miserably.

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Pirates Kill All Four American Hostages

The four Americans on the yacht hijacked by pirates have been killed, a US defense official has said.

Jean and Scott Adam, and two other Americans were captured by Somali pirates three days ago. The California couple were in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman when they were captured.

(The post of their capture is here.)

The couple had been maintaining an online diary of their journey, which can be accessed here.

Negotiations were under way to free the hostages when gunfire erupted aboard the pirated vessel, according to a statement released by the US Central Command.

“As they responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the [Adam’s yacht] Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds,” the statement said.

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US Official Arrested In Pakistan Is CIA

An American jailed in Pakistan for the fatal shooting of two armed men was secretly working for the CIA and scouting a neighborhood when he was arrested, a disclosure that is likely to further frustrate US efforts to free the man and strain relations between the US and Pakistan.

Raymond Davis, 36, had been working as a CIA security contractor and living in a Lahore safe house. Davis shot the men in what he described as an attempted armed robbery as they approached him on a motorcycle. A third Pakistani, a bystander, died when a car rushing to help Davis struck him. Davis was carrying a Glock handgun, a pocket telescope and papers with different identifications.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration insisted anew Monday that Davis had diplomatic immunity and must be set free.

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Time For West To See The Distinctions

There has been a tendency among western commentators during the past few weeks of popular uprising in the Middle East and north Africa to interpret the events as occurring along starkly defined fault lines.

There are the people versus the regime; Islamists versus the secular; and autocratic, corrupt rulers pitted against a popular desire for democracy, human rights and economic inclusion. All of which contains some truths, but it remains a partial picture.

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Rents In Rio Now Beat New York

Prime office space in Rio de Janeiro has overtaken that of New York for the first time as the most expensive in the Americas on the back of Brazil’s growing economy and its strong currency, according to US realty firm Cushman & Wakefield.

The cost of prime office rentals and associated costs in downtown Rio shot up by to $1,321 per square meter in 2010, compared with $1,260 in midtown New York.

Complete article via Financial Times.


Pirates Seize Yacht & 4 Americans

[Ed. Note: Regretfully, this post has been updated here.]

Somali pirates operating off the coast of Oman have hijacked a yacht carrying an American couple sailing around the world.

Jean and Scott Adam – along with two other unidentified Americans – were attacked by Somalia pirates in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman.

The couple, belongs to a yacht club in Marina Del Rey, California.

The couple had been maintaining an online diary of their journey, which can be accessed here.

The U.S. Navy is actively tracking the yacht with four Americans on board that was hijacked by pirates and was reported to be headed for the Somali coast.

ABC News reported that a Defense Department official said the monitoring includes at least one warship and some helicopters trailing the yacht as it makes its way from Yemen to Somalia.

In a separate incident, a British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, were held by pirates for more than 300 days before being freed.


US Vetoes UN Resolution On Settlements

The Obama administration on Friday cast its first ever veto in the UN Security Council, blocking a Palestinian-backed draft resolution that denounced Israel’s settlement policy as an illegal obstacle to peace efforts in the Middle East.

The US vote killed a resolution that enjoyed the backing of the 14 other members of the UN Security Council and isolated the United States on a crucial Middle East matter at a time of political upheaval in the region.

The US action also ended an urgent last-minute diplomatic campaign, involving conversations between President Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to convince the Palestinians to drop their resolution in favor of a milder statement rebuking Israel for constructing new settlements in seized Arab lands.

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Justice Begins: Egypt Arrests Ex-Ministers

An Egyptian prosecutor on Thursday ordered the detention of three ex-ministers and a prominent businessman pending trial on suspicion of wasting public funds.

The prosecutor dealing with financial crimes said former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli, former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana, former Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi and steel magnate Ahmed Ezz must be held for 15 days. All four have denied any wrongdoing.

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Libyans In US Allege Coercion

In an apparent effort to control the public narrative in the wake of rare protests that have spread throughout Libya, the country’s government is threatening to withdraw scholarship funding from citizens studying in the United States unless they attend pro-government rallies in Washington this weekend, Al Jazeera is reporting.

Several Libyans studying in the US said they and their peers have received phone calls this week from a man employed by the Libyan embassy instructing them to join rallies in the capital on Friday and Saturday. The man told the students that their government-funded scholarships would be cut off if they did not attend.

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Lebanon’s Rivals See What They Want

by Michael Young, author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle

Although Hizbollah and Iran hailed the ouster of the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as a political defeat for their enemies, it is not at all certain that Sunnis in some parts of the Arab world, particularly in Lebanon, were distressed by the transformations in Cairo.

Iran’s satisfaction, and that of its Arab followers, derived from a short-term appraisal that Mr Mubarak’s departure was a setback for the United States. However, nothing yet indicates that Washington has “lost” Egypt. In fact, America’s regional role may be strengthened if its Arab friends become more democratic, or just more pluralistic. After all, the protests in Tunisia and Egypt confirmed the deep detestation for – and therefore the fragility of – an American-led network of regional alliances resting on a foundation of despotism.

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China Warns US Over Internet Freedom

China has warned the US not to use calls for internet freedom as an excuse to meddle in other countries’ affairs.

The foreign ministry comments came after yesterday’s announcement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of an initiative to help dissidents around the world get past government internet controls.

Since Clinton’s speech, comments about it have been removed from China’s popular Twitter-like microblog sites.

“It is ironic that the Chinese are blocking an online discussion about internet freedom,” said US Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman.

Complete article via BBC


Agent Orange & Vietnam’s Children

Thirty-five years after the end of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, Vietnamese children continue to suffer its aftermath.

Nguyen Thi Ly, 9, suffers from Agent Orange disabilities.

Click to enlarge.

Ed Kashi, VII Photo Agency photographer based in U.S., won 2nd Prize Contemporary Issues Single category for the above photo of Nguyen Thi Ly, in Da Nang, Vietnam.

More 2010 World Press Photo Award-winning photographs are available via BBC.


80 Million Egyptians Disagreed, Mr. Biden

Q: Should Mubarak be seen as a dictator?

“I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

US Vice President Joe Biden
January 27, 2011

Source: PBS NewsHour

In the video version, the remark takes place at the 3:54 mark. Also, if you want to see Hillary Clinton’s stupid comment, it’s here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Roar of the Democratic Wave

[Ed. Note: While not all of the recommendations in the following commentary, The Roar of the Democratic Wave, are agreed with, much of the overall analysis is quite insightful. Bold and audacious, de Vasconcelos lays out a path that could keep “the wave” cresting. In regards to the current fast-moving events in Egypt, his call for US pressure on Egypt’s military is absolutely the right one. Mubarak’s not going to budge but if the generals issue orders to shoot protesters, it is a very open question whether they would be carried out.]

The Roar of the Democratic Wave
By Álvaro de Vasconcelos

Has the uprising in Tunisia sparked a new democratic wave that will conquer Egypt and eventually sweep away the authoritarian “Arab exception”? After southern Europe in the 1970’s, Latin America in the late 1980’s, and Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990’s, it seems that now it is the Mediterranean region’s turn. For Europe, democratization immediately to its south is a vital interest.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ouster in Tunisia signaled the collapse of the Arab “stability” model, praised by many Western leaders, consisting of authoritarianism and overrated economic performance. The surge of anger and revolt in Egypt, whatever its final outcome, marks the beginning of the end for authoritarian nationalist Arab regimes.

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White House Rift With Hillary Clinton

The White House and the State Department have been sending out different messages over the past few days regarding the U.S. position on Egypt. The seeming disparity between the focus and tone of remarks by officials from each part of the government has the Washington community wondering if there’s a rift between Pennsylvania Avenue and Foggy Bottom and who’s really in charge.

Internal disagreements on how closely to align the United States with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman and his self-interested reform process emerged into public view last weekend, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. is calling on the international community to support the process initiated by Suleiman. Clinton also had to distance herself from the comments of the State Department’s chosen “envoy” Frank Wisner, who called for Mubarak to stay in power when he spoke at the conference in Munich.

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Obama Reply To Mubarak’s Speech

Complete statement by Barack Obama on Egypt:

“The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.

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Why Israel Needs A Democratic Egypt

From The Christian Science Monitor

Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt once seemed as solid as the stones of the pyramids. It provided a “cold peace” for more than three decades between the former enemies.

But the pact was based on a weak reed – the assumption that a friendly autocrat like Hosni Mubarak would always rule in Cairo.

Now with young Egyptians like Google executive Wael Ghonim waging a pro-democracy revolt in Tahrir Square, the security pact’s future could be sinking like an army tank in the Sinai sands.

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Inside White House Egypt Meeting


Among those who attended were the Center for Strategic and International Studies’s Jon Alterman, Dan Brumberg of the U.S. Institute of Peace, Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University and the Wall Street Journal, former George W. Bush White House Middle East and democracy advisor Elliott Abrams, Human Rights Watch’s Tom Malinowski, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Michele Dunne, and Scott Carpenter, a former State Department Middle East democracy official now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The one and a half hour meeting, with the National Security Council’s Dan Shapiro, Samantha Power, and Ben Rhodes, was off the record.

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