Britain’s economy could grow by 1.3 billion pounds if it left the European Union due to less regulation and more trade with emerging economies, acccording to a British diplomat who dreamt up a blueprint for the country’s EU exit. Britain’s free market Institute of Economic Affairs on Tuesday awarded a 100,000-euro prize to Iain Mansfield, a British diplomat based in the Philippines, who it decided had come up with the best proposal for a ‘Brexit,’ a British departure from the EU.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday in an unprecedented public split between Gulf Arab allies who have fallen out over the role of Islamists in a region in turmoil. The Saudi-led trio said they had acted because Qatar failed to honour a GCC agreement not to back “anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals – via direct security work..
A document detailing the UK’s position on the Ukraine crisis has been seen being taken into Downing Street. It was photographed as an official went into Downing Street for a meeting of the National Security Council as the crisis deepened. It makes clear the Government is not considering curbing trade with Russia – or closing London’s financial centre to Moscow as part of any possible package of sanctions against the country. The papers also suggest the UK will lobby to exclude any talk of a military response to the deepening crisis. “It does give away some of Britain’s position towards Russia.”
China’s holdings of US Treasurys dropped to the lowest levels in two years after China dumped $47.8 billion in paper—equal to about 3.6% of its Treasury holdings as of November—bringing its total holdings to $1.27 trillion. Not that this should come as a shock. Yi Gang, a deputy governor of China’s central bank, hinted at the move when he announced in late November that the country no longer benefits from increasing its foreign reserves.
Though this news is likely to stoke fears of a US bond market sell-off, it’s way too early to judge whether this is a fluke or a new PBoC strategy.
China’s millions of only children—known as “little emperors” for how they are doted upon by parents and grandparents—may turn out to be terrible soldiers. As much as 70% of the Chinese military (paywall) is made up of men and women who are the only children in their family, according to a professor at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University—a figure that gives some military policymakers reason to worry.“Soldiers from the one-child generations are wimps who have absolutely no fighting spirit,” warned the Study Times, an ideology-focused government publication.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) will soon propose rules for vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications on U.S. roads, it announced yesterday. The agency is now finalizing a report on a 2012 trial with almost 3000 cars in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and will follow that report with draft rules that would “require V2V devices in new vehicles in a future year.” A car changing lanes, for example, might get a warning from its V2V system that another car is fast approaching in the driver’s blind spot.
Missile batteries poke out from behind camouflage nets in the hills above the Olympic Park. Soldiers stand guard inside tents masked with fake leaves and branches in the mountains. Navy speedboats patrol the coast. Plainclothes police officers mingle among the crowd. Closed circuit security cameras are everywhere. An electronic surveillance program monitors all cell phone and internet activity. Russian security officials have promised a “ring of steel” to safeguard the Sochi Winter Olympics. Putin has ordered tens of thousands of extra troops and police to help secure the Olympics.
The Special Forces (SF) unit of the Indian Army based in Bangalore has quietly mapped all big government and private establishments in South India to act quickly and effectively in case of a terror strike. “We are ready to take off at very short notice and can be deployed in any part of South India,” its Commanding Officer, who did not wish to be identified, said. Operating from a 180-acre erstwhile military farm, the unit is in regular touch with the Internal Security Division (ISD), Karnataka’s counter-terrorist police unit.
The Army’s doctrine will change dramatically in the near future as joint leaders develop the operational concept of Strategic Landpower, said Gen. Robert W. Cone. One change will be a seventh warfighting function called “engagement,” said Cone, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. He told those at the Association of the United States Army Aviation Symposium in Arlington, Va., Jan. 15, that the new warfighting function would involve skills used to influence foreign governments and militaries.
The new year is only two weeks old and the loonie has already fallen 3.1%, making it the worst performing primary currency. The reasons for the decline are many. One is that the greenback has gained in value as the Federal Reserve starts to back away from its massive monthly bond purchases. But recent Canadian economic data has disappointed markets, particularly reports last week showing a rising trade deficit and December employment data showing the loss of 46,000 jobs. “People are starting to get the view the Bank of Canada is certainly not going to be raising rates, but might actually turn more dovish or even open the door to rate cuts,”
China’s recent announcement that foreign fishing vessels traveling in disputed areas of the South China sea need to seek permission from China first has been dismissed as “provocative and potentially dangerous” by the US, “threatening the existing international order” by Japan and dangerous to “peace and stability” by the Philippines. The marine zone which China says it controls ”appears to enclose an area covering roughly 80%” of the South China Sea, a US Congressional report notes (pdf).
The Federal Security Service (FSS) will begin conducting daily monitoring of all publications Russian bloggers for their relationship to power. Siloviki will create a special database negatively minded citizens who post on their Internet resources publishing oppositional. At the same time representatives of FSO intend to follow not only the capital known bloggers, also fall under the control of web users from the regions. This “Izvestia” said a source close to the federal security service.
The bill would permit injunctions against anyone of 10 or older who “has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person”. In other words, they can impose a kind of community service order on people who have committed no crime, which could, the law proposes, remain in force for the rest of their lives. The bill also introduces public space protection orders, which can prevent either everybody or particular kinds of people from doing certain things in certain places. It creates new dispersal powers, which can be used by the police to exclude people from an area (there is no size limit), whether or not they have done anything wrong.
In a turn of phrase that seems designed to provoke headlines, the US Department of Defense this week said one of its primary goals is to “take the ‘man’ out of unmanned” combat. This quote and much more comes from the latest in the Department’s ongoing series of Roadmap to the Future reports, which seek to lay out both the current realities and future plans of the US military and defense industry. This time, the topic was ripped straight from the headlines: remote combat systems. While the American military has for a long time remained static in terms of overall manpower, one type of recruit it just can’t seem to get enough of is drone pilots.
China is considering reorganising its seven military regions into five in a bid to respond more swiftly to a crisis, the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Wednesday. The news comes amid rising tensions over Beijing’s territorial claims in the region, with China and Japan squaring off over a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Each of the new military regions will create a joint operations command that controls the army, navy and air force as well as a strategic missile unit, the major daily said, citing senior Chinese military officials and other sources.
The Chinese Communist Party has decided to become directly involved in the management of the country’s top journalism schools and strengthen the administration of those universities, it was learned Sunday from university and media sources. The moves appear to be aimed at promoting “thought reform” to reject “Western values” such as freedom of the press and to foster human resources loyal to the party, according to the sources. The leadership of President Xi Jinping senses a crisis, in the words of one party source, that “it is at universities and in the mass media where reformists (who support such values as democracy) have the most influence.”
In recent years, we have also witnessed a reduction in the number and the scale of European military operations outside the Continent. Europe’s contribution to global security and stability is mainly composed of training and support, and does not involve the proper deployment of military resources. The lack of unity and resources in the EU was highlighted by the intervention in Libya where Europe was obliged to let the United States and NATO take the initiative. In the cases of Mali and the Central African Republic, France did not wait for the EU to express an opinion, because as a French diplomat, who was quoted by Le Figaro explained: “Waiting for Europe is like waiting for Godot.”
The EU intends utterly to eclipse Nato, backed by the two legally binding 2009 Defence Procurement Directives, which enhance the power of the European Defence Agency (EDA). This is becoming an embryo EU defence ministry. EDA’s statute enables decisions to be taken by majority voting, and where any single state can threaten a veto, a subset of member states can act unilaterally as a bloc in the name of the whole of the EU (so called “structure cooperation”). However, EU Defence is not so much about defence, as protectionism of Continental defence industrial interests, whose technology rather lags behind their US counterparts.
An effective European security and defence policy would allow the EU to ‘project influence globally’, argues Maria Eleni Koppa. European security and defence is a topic that has been attracting a lot of attention after the decision of the European council to hold a special discussion dedicated on security and defence – for the first time since 2008 – at the forthcoming December summit. In this context, on 21 November, the European parliament adopted the report on the implementation of European security and defence policy, concerning the positions of the parliament for the future of the common security and defence policy (CSDP).
An uncomfortable prospect for global exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will unfold in India this week — buyers from countries that import 70 percent of the world’s LNG will meet to discuss how to get a better deal. …The meetings may herald the early stages of an Asian buyers’ club for natural gas in supercooled form transported on ships. Should such a grouping gain traction, a historical precedent would be the formation of the International Energy Agency, which was set up by western economies to counter OPEC after the first oil shock in the 1970s.
There are different views in Russia. Some people believe that we have to block any improvements in US – Iranian relationship. For example, they say, the current “special” relationship is based largely on Tehran’s being burdened by the sanctions and having nowhere else to turn but to Russia. But as soon as Iran has other opportunities, it will immediately reorient itself toward more influential Western countries. Of course, there is always the risk that the country that was eager to be “friendly” in times of trouble will turn away as soon as the grip of isolation loosens.
Col. Cyril Carcy, the only French Air Force officer currently embedded with U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Studies Group as a result of this enhanced cooperation among the three countries, describes the three pillars of the TSI this way: “Mutual trust among upcoming Air Force decision-makers, which is essential to prepare the future; integration of the three Air Forces, which goes beyond interoperability; air power advocacy, which means that air chiefs may speak with a coherent and unified voice.” Trust, integration and advocacy are the credo guiding the USAF, the FAF and the RAF on the road to enhanced military cooperation and integration among themselves.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party said it would establish an agency to “manage” growing social unrest, as part of a set of reforms largely focusing on the economy. The new “state security committee” will tackle social instability and unify other agencies in charge of increasing security challenges, both foreign and domestic, the party’s Central Committee said in a statement after a four-day plenary meeting in the nation’s capital ended Tuesday. The committee would “improve the system of national security and the country’s national security strategy”.
A Lower House special committee started deliberations on a bill to create the Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council to serve as a foreign and security policy nerve center. Working with similar organizations of the United States and other nations, the Japanese NSC will engage in policy coordination among ministries and agencies to support the prime minister, who chairs the council. The Japanese NSC would deal with a broad array of diplomatic and security challenges facing Japan, such as its strained relations with China, North Korea’s nuclear arms and missile programs and territorial disputes.
By virtue of our unique geography”, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a 2011 Foreign Policy article, “the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power.” Russia, meanwhile, has seen itself as a Euro-Asian country, as Vladimir Putin has argued from the start of his first term in the Kremlin. The American attitude, which in Secretary Clinton’s locution is about as uncontroversial a statement as an American Secretary of State can make, reflects the country’s historic “maritime” vocation. The Russian one reflects the longstanding fascination with the country’s continental scale and reflects its traditional terrestrial focus.
This year’s defence white paper reflects a definite maturing in the evolution of maritime strategic thinking in our defence policy. The term ‘maritime strategy’ is used ten times. The first use is in the contents, alluding to the fact that a whole section is devoted to maritime strategy. And while the use of air forces in a maritime strategy might seem axiomatic, the 2009 paper also highlighted the need for land forces in maritime strategy, and the 2013 paper elaborated on that need.
Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief has said the kingdom will make a “major shift” in relations with the US in protest at its perceived inaction over the Syria war and its overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said. Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that Washington had failed to act effectively on the Syria crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said. “Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.”
The law, already passed by the cabinet on October 10, has yet to be officially ratified by the interim president, Adly Mansour. The measure would ban any protest not approved in advance by the police, and would allow the interior minister and senior officials to postpone or cancel protests at their discretion. It would also establish “protest-free zones” around state buildings, where pitched battles have been waged between Morsi’s supporters and detractors. “The regime that came [to power] by protest is making laws against protest.”
The Defense Ministry has drafted plans for the Self-Defense Forces to shoot down foreign drones that intrude into Japan’s airspace if warnings to leave are ignored, a source close to the government revealed Sunday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued his approval when Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera briefed him on the plan Oct. 11, the source said. The ministry drafted the plan in response to a Chinese military drone that intruded into Japan’s air defense identification zone Sept. 9, approaching the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China also claims the chain as Diaoyu.
‘The Saudis’ worst nightmare would be the administration striking a grand bargain with Iran. ” Robert Gordon, US ambassador to Riyadh in 2001-2003, so highlights the potential significance of this week’s constructive talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers, chaired by the European Union. They are to reconvene in three weeks, encouraging speculation that a larger geopolitical shift might be possible if agreement is reached on Iran’s nuclear programme and economic sanctions are lifted.
Former Warsaw Pact countries are steadily adopting NATO standards despite fiscal and industrial constraints. Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa announced that Romania had signed a 600 million euro contract for the purchase of retired Portuguese F-16 fighter aircraft. The F-16 aircraft will be modernized to extend their lifespan by 20 years and will steadily replace Romanian MiG-21 fighters upon their arrival in 2015. While the purchase of aging, secondhand aircraft highlights Romania’s fiscal limitations, it also marks another step in the overall move toward NATO standards by ex-Warsaw Pact countries.
In May, a private-sector study group advocating the independence of Okinawa Prefecture from Japan was formed. The group is led by Ryukoku University Prof. Yasukatsu Matsushima, a native of Ishigaki Island, Okinawa Prefecture, and its secretariat is based at Okinawa International University. Its charter states: “Ryukyu has been under the rule of Japan and the United States. It is necessary that we Ryukyuans declare independence from Japan, have all military bases withdrawn from our islands, and build the islands of peace and hope with our own hands.”
The Indian Ocean is distant, its littoral states largely irrelevant, unfriendly, or unimportant to American interests, and a pain to navigate from the Atlantic-Pacific vantage point of the American strategist. Kaplan rejects this. The Indian Ocean is the strategic heartland of the 21st century, and much of this emerges from American oversight in the 20th century. From the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz in the West, to the Strait of Malacca in the East, the Indian Ocean is the transit passage for goods and commodities between East and West.
Britain is forging ahead on military co-operation with France, while warning about EU “interference” on defence. The two countries are the EU’s leading military powers. They spent €92 billion on defence last year (more than Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain put together), according to Swedish NGO Sipri. They are also the most hawkish. They took the lead in wars in Libya and Mali and they were keen to join US strikes on Syria. They are “on track” to create a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) with France by 2016.
The Swiss-based ‘bank of central banks’ says a hunt for yield is luring investors en masse into high-risk instruments, “a phenomenon reminiscent of exuberance prior to the global financial crisis”. This is happening just as the US Federal Reserve prepares to wind down stimulus and starts to drain dollar liquidity from global markets, an inflexion point that is fraught with danger and could go badly wrong. “This looks like to me like 2007 all over again, but even worse,” said William White, the Bank for International Settlement’s former chief economist.
Catalonians seeking independence from Spain last week copied the Baltic Chain that Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians formed from Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius in 1989, the latest indication of the rise of a new and more pragmatic separatism not only in Europe but in the Russian Federation. In an essay Vladimir Titov argues that “the new generation of separatists,” one less romantic and more pragmatic than its predecessors, has the capacity to redraw the map not only of Europe but at least in principle that of the Russian Federation as well.
Formally, the mission of the Japan’s Navy remains protection of sea lines of communication and defense of the homeland in the event of direct invasion. But the current mid-term defense plan and the creation of a more “dynamic defense” strategy to counter China has seen the focus shift from the north-western Pacific to supporting US Navy carrier strike groups in the seas surrounding Japan. Invasion forces at sea are now presumed to come from China, not Russia.
In the last three years, the G20 group of nations has taken up tough geoeconomic issues bedevilling both developed and developing countries. These include matters such as bringing transparency in global energy and commodities markets. Addressing them is vital as the world faces turmoil in both energy and food markets. The new discoveries of shale oil, turbulence in traditional West Asian energy markets and massive food subsidies being doled out by developing country governments like India have had a disruptive effect globally.
Professor Li said the 18th Century Irish philosopher Edmund Burke is now all the rage in Chinese universities, studied for his critique of violent revolution, and esteemed as the prophet of stability through timely but controlled change. They are enamoured by his theories of inheritance, the “living contract” through the generations, the limits of liberty, and — a harder sell — his small battalions. Hobbes too is sweeping China’s intelligentsia, and so is Hannah Arendt, the philosopher of the twin totalitarian movements Left and Right. It is a ferment of ideas. Mao is out, even if the Communist Party is still coy about saying this too publicly.
If biofuels received no EU policy support, the price of food stuffs such as vegetable oil would be 50% lower in Europe by 2020 than at present – and 15% lower elsewhere in the world – according to new research by the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). The “significantly lower” results are because global prices for vegetable oils – which are 60% palm and soy oil – are “strongly driven” by their use as food, says the paper by the JRC, the EU’s official scientific and technical research laboratory.
BRICS Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations on Thursday agreed to set up a $100-billion foreign currency reserve pool to counter the impact of a pull-out by foreign investors when the US Federal Reserve started tapering its quantitative easing programme. The US Federal Open Market Committee meeting, scheduled for September 17-18, is expected to indicate when the Fed might start tapering the stimulus programme. China would contribute $41 billion towards the currency reserve pool. Brazil, India and Russia would contribute $18 billion each to the fund, while South Africa would contribute $5 billion. No timeline was drawn for the fund to become operational.
As the Vilnius summit of EU’s Eastern Partnership draws nearer, at which several former Soviet states are expected to sign association agreements with the EU, Russia appears to have stepped up efforts to pull those same former Soviet states closer and into its own Customs Union, with mixed results. On the surface, it appears to be a simple choice between which free trade agreement would offer those countries a better economic incentive – but where the EU can wield the carrot of foreign aid, Russia leans on the stick of threatening to withhold energy resources (and, unlike the EU, could not care less about asking for lasting reforms).
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera indicated Tuesday that revised bilateral security guidelines with the United States could define Japan’s capacity to mount attacks on the military bases of hostile nations. “Japan would like to jointly consider with the United States how (the two countries) can complement each other (regarding the issue of Japan maintaining a capacity to carry out such attacks) and how the issue can be defined in the guidelines,” Onodera said in a speech
Speaking at last Wednesday’s press conference, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan expressed his determination in pushing ahead with the formation and activation of a state intelligence gathering apparatus.
Zeidan implied that he was still facing some opposition to this policy. The Prime Minister had indicated in an earlier press conference that he was receiving opposition to this move from the GNC and thuwar (freedom fighters) to this policy move.
Today in America, SWAT teams are deployed about 100 to 150 times per day, or about 50,000 times per year — a dramatic increase from the 3,000 or so annual deployments in the early 1980s, or the few hundred in the 1970s. The vast majority of today’s deployments are to serve search warrants for drug crimes. But the use of SWAT tactics to enforce regulatory law also appears to be rising. This month, for example, a SWAT team raided the Garden of Eden, a sustainable growth farm in Arlington, Texas, supposedly to look for marijuana. The police found no pot, however, and the real intent of the raid appears to have been for code enforcement, as the officers came armed with an inspection notice for nuisance abatement.
Greek tax authorities will seize the assets of businesses and individuals who do not settle their tax debts, the government said on Tuesday (13 August). Under the plans, the Greek finance ministry will issue warnings that assets will be seized if the recipients do not arrange a payment plan within 20 days to those who owe more than €10,000. The move is the latest attempt by the Greek government to clamp down on tax evasion. An estimated €60 billion in unpaid taxes and social security contributions are currently owed to the Greek government, leaving a gaping hole in the country’s budget.
Israel Defense Forces setting up new entities to deal with new strategic situation in the Middle East • Operational concept may include pinpoint actions, similar to recent ones in Syria and Egypt that foreign sources have attributed to Israel. Despite budget cuts and the elimination of some units, the Israel Defense Forces in recent months has been setting up entities that will be tasked with fighting what the IDF calls “the battles between the wars.” The Military Intelligence Directorate, Depth Corps and Operations Directorate are involved in the reorganization process. “The battles between the wars” is a new term coined by the IDF several months ago, and encompasses a dynamic military and political campaign.
The current discourse regarding Chinese foreign policy tends to focus overwhelmingly on its economic aspects. While some U.S. citizens and politicians consider China’s economic rise a threat, certain diplomatic actions, such as China’s increasing involvement in UN peacekeeping missions should be well received in Washington, could pacify these American apprehensions if employed by China consistently. As China gains power and prestige in the global political economy, it is tasked with assuring the world — and specifically the U.S. — of its intent and goodwill at becoming a responsible power.
Canadian Navy should shift warships to West Coast in response to China’s aggressive military buildup, defence analysts say
Canada should get out of is cold war mindset and move the majority of its warships from Halifax to the B.C. coast in response to the Chinese navy’s aggressive military buildup, say defence analysts. The U.S. government has already announced its plan to put 60 per cent of its naval assets on its west coast by 2020 as part of its plan to make the 21st century “America’s Pacific Century” — a term coined by Hillary Clinton. The Canadian military’s tiny fleet of warships is split up on a 60-40 basis favouring the Atlantic coast
Around 2,000 Thai anti-government demonstrators converged near parliament Wednesday in an opposition-led rally against a controversial bill offering amnesty for political violence in the divided nation.
Hundreds of riot police carrying shields and batons barricaded the approaches to the legislature with concrete blocks and barbed wire to stop demonstrators reaching the building in the historic area of Bangkok. The government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been braced for several days for the rally.
Within one week in June, Cypriot Andrew Georgiou suffered a massive heart attack and his father was diagnosed with leukaemia, just as they were fighting to recover much of their life savings wrapped up in the country’s EU-led bailout.
A victim of Cyprus’s chaotic financial rescue, Georgiou cannot be sure his stressful legal battle for the lost money wrecked his family’s health. But, as he said with grim understatement, “it sure as hell didn’t help”.
The United States has expressed concern about Japan’s desire to acquire the ability to attack enemy bases in an overhaul of its defense policies pursued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a government source said in Tokyo. One of the American officials attending bilateral talks on foreign and defense policy cooperation late last month in Tokyo asked the Japanese side to consider the possible negative fallout on neighboring countries if Abe’s administration embarks on such a policy shift.
On paper, Japan is a pacifist nation. It ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, a list tabulated by peace activists at Vision of Humanity. Japan’s constitution makes illegal a traditional standing army. But a recently published defense white paper shows the extent to which the country has one of the most well-equipped “invisible” armies in the world. Japan’s armed forces are euphemistically dubbed the “Self Defense Force” (SDF) — officially it’s an extension of the police. But with the world’s 6th best-equipped troops and a nearly $60 billion defense budget last year, the SDF is not composed of your average beat cops.
Russia has started to create a single defense center commanding all military and emergency operations, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday. “We’ve started to create such a Center. We have already defined its principal shapes and parameters,” Shoigu told a meeting held at Rzhevka firing range in the north-western Leningrad region. According to the minister, the National State Defense Center will supervise strategic nuclear forces, military administration issues and everyday life of the Armed Forces. It will also gather and analyze information about combat training, emergency situations in the armed forces as well as non- military-related emergencies.
High-ranking U.S. and South Korean armed forces officials on Tuesday discussed plans to return to Seoul command of its own troops during wartime, Yonhap reported. The command transfer is presently planned to happen at the end of 2015. However, Seoul earlier this month requested that it be delayed — for the second time — amid concerns that South Korean military capabilities are not yet at the desired level. North Korea’s rising nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities also are said to have played a role.
Business leaders of Asian nations today decided to promote new free trade agreements and strengthen the existing pacts to use them as building blocks for creating a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).
According to a joint statement issued after the 4th Asian Business Summit, economic partnership agreements and FTAs will bind Asian economies together and promote greater regional cooperation for expanded trade in goods, services and greater cross-border investment flows, besides dismantling of non- tariff barriers.
Dow Jones Market Watch is warning of major problems emanating from the Eurozone. This comes amid the latest data from Spain where the economy contracted yet again, this time by 1.7 percent in the second quarter on a year-on-year basis. More problems were reported out of Greece, Italy and Germany. In an article today, Michael Casey, managing editor for the Americas at DJ FX Trader, said:
“…you’d think the threat of a euro-zone financial meltdown would force policymakers into a tough, unified solution.
United Nations is assessing private military and security companies and their commitment to international norms, an envoy said from New York. The United Nations announced a panel discussion on the use of mercenaries and private security companies is scheduled next week at the U.N. headquarters. Group director Anton Katz said the United Nations has an opportunity to influence the standards and behavior of the private security industry in a way that puts it in line with international human rights laws.
Cyprus is resisting pressure from the European Commission (EC) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to sell its gold reserves to finance its “bailout.” Yesterday the Cypriot Finance Minister said that a sale of its gold reserves was not the only option under consideration to pay down its debt and that other alternatives were being considered. Cyprus has 13.9 tonnes (c. 447,000 troy ounces) of gold reserves which are worth some 436 million euros at today’s market prices.
The Defense Ministry will explain its plans to boost the amphibious and pre-emptive strike capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces. The move underscores the focus the ministry is putting on defending the nation’s outlying islands as tensions with China continue to simmer over the Senkaku Islands dispute. The SDF currently does not have a military branch equivalent to the U.S. Marine Corps. SDF personnel are mainly tasked with landing on enemy-controlled terrain by air or sea ahead of other forces
The United States and the United Kingdom are trying to thwart the existence of CSTO, developing their relations with the countries of Central Asia and Armenia. In addition, political intentions are referred to that any support to CSTO would boost the influence of Russia on the post-Soviet states, including the support of totalitarian and not so very democratic regimes. However, neither the United States, nor the United Kingdom is trying to boost pressure on any of these states with a view to destroying CSTO. This policy is linked not only to reluctance to boost confrontation but also the understanding of localization and regional restrictions of this bloc which does threaten the West and NATO.
Japan has no intention to go it alone in defending its territory or national interests from growing threats in the Asia-Pacific region. But an annual defense review released Tuesday and other recent developments signal an increasing willingness on the part of Japan to go it alone, first.
Japan plans to establish a new National Security Council that would streamline how and when Tokyo would use military force, appoint a senior officer to command troops from all three armed services, and formally designate a Marine Corps-like force to defend its vulnerable southwest islands.
The top U.S. special operations commander, Adm. William McRaven, ordered military files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout to be purged from Defense Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they could be more easily shielded from ever being made public.
The secret move, described briefly in a draft report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, set off no alarms within the Obama administration even though it appears to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps also the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
The Indian navy and army are looking East and pursuing strategic defence ties with regional allies FOUR Indian Navy ships’ voyage last month through the strategic Malacca Straits, calling at Port Klang, Da Nang and Manila, though not extraordinary, points to a significant trend. Slowly, India seems to be shedding what critics call its “landlocked mindset” and is surveying the vast expanse of water around it. A country conducting maritime trade from times immemorial rarely flaunted its naval power. Its navy came into being, thanks to the British East India Company only four centuries ago.
Preventing capital flight from banks in crisis-hit countries has been a priority for eurozone policy makers. But have they just shot themselves in the foot? At the height of the region’s debt problems, the amounts held by foreigners in banks in Spain, Italy and other eurozone “periphery” countries shrunk worryingly. Recent months have seen signs of improvement – thanks to a pledge by the European Central Bank to prevent a eurozone break-up, as well as government efforts to boost confidence in the banking system.
The council plans to hold a meeting in Riyadh on Thursday to agree on mechanisms for imposing sanctions on Hizbullah members residing in Gulf countries, including not renewing residency permits and targeting their financial and business activities, GCC Secretary-General Abdul Latif al-Zayani said. The sanctions would be implemented “in co-ordination [...] with ministers of commerce and the central banks of the GCC”, he added. Recently, Qatari authorities deported 18 Lebanese expatriates allegedly affiliated with Hizbullah.
The Harper government wants to pull the cloak of eternal secrecy over past and present employees of nine federal agencies and those who used to toil at two now-defunct branches. They would join the more than 12,000 current and former federal intelligence officials already covered by Security of Information Act provisions forcing them to take the secrets of their most closely held work to the grave. A group that advocates a more open and accountable federal government called the blanket proposal “dangerously undemocratic.”
In 2008, the impossible happened. Investors lost money on something they thought they could never lose money on. One of the oldest and most respected money market mutual funds, Reserve Primary Fund, announced that due to losses incurred on its investments (in Lehman Brothers debt) in the midst of the financial crisis, the fund lost money — investors were down (down! in a money market fund!) 3 percent. Five years later, the Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing to do something to make sure that losses in these “safe investments” don’t happen again.
The Iranian people will choose the man to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 24 June 2013. The country’s complex and unique political system has always raised questions about the extent of power, the president has as the highest publicly elected official and the second in command of the country.
The Iranian political system is a combination of unelected powerful institutions, controlled by the Supreme Leader, and elected officials such as the president and members of parliament. Despite efforts by the Supreme Leader, the rift between those elected and unelected institutions have sometimes surfaced over the past two decades.
In most Chinese cities, the environmental cost of rapid development is obvious: unbreathable air and undrinkable water. Less obvious is the cost of cleaning them up.
Since the late 1990s, the “National model city for environmental protection programme” has accredited at least 76 cities nationwide as exemplars of urban sustainability, based on criteria including clean air, rubbish-free streets and ample public parks. Yet China is also home to hundreds of cancer villages, and a US-based academic has spent years drawing a link between the two.
When James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, arrived in Frankfurt last week, he issued an unusual public warning to the European Central Bank: Be bolder.
Central bankers, anywhere in the world, are a cautious lot. They prefer slow and steady over the dramatic gesture. And they rarely go public with criticisms of other central banks. But the economic stagnation of the major developed nations has driven central banks in the United States, Japan, Britain and the European Union to take increasingly aggressive action.
This reform package, the so-called ‘Two-Pack’, enters into force on 30th May 2013 in all euro area Member States. The new measures mean increased transparency on their budgetary decisions, stronger coordination in the euro area starting with the 2014 budgetary cycle, and the recognition of the special needs of euro area Member States under severe financial pressure. The entry into force of the Two-Pack also paves the way for further steps to be taken to reinforce the Economic and Monetary Union, as set out by the Commission in its ‘Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine EMU’
Authorities in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state have introduced a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya families in an effort to ease tensions with the Rohingya’s Buddhist neighbours after a spate of deadly sectarian violence, an official said on Saturday.
The measure was enacted a week ago after a government-appointed commission investigating the violence issued proposals to ease tensions, which included family planning programmes to stem population growth among minority Muslims, said Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing.
One of the things that I find most mystifying about Western coverage of Russia is the tendency to treat obvious facts as wild-eyed conspiracy theories. So you have people saying “Putin and his lot are crazy, they think we’re trying to start a color revolution! Where on earth did they get that idea?” Meanwhile, in the plain light of day, the Obama administration makes a push to use tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to support various anti-regime civil society groups. The, unstated, but nonetheless obvious, goal of using that money is to change Russia’s government.
Could Okinawa become an independent state? Five Okinawans formed a group to study the possibility on May 15, the 41st anniversary of the island prefecture’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty.
While only a minority of Okinawans are calling for independence, a growing distrust among islanders toward those on the mainland, who have left the southern prefecture burdened with U.S military bases, could lead to more empathy for the idea. Okinawa Prefecture accounts for only 0.6 percent of Japan’s landmass, but it hosts 74 percent of all U.S. military bases in the country.
The European Union is to move military training of Somali soldiers from Uganda to Mogadishu in a show of confidence in Somalia’s growing stability after two decades of turmoil, the EU special envoy to Somalia said on Wednesday.
The success of Amisom, made up mostly of Ugandan, Burundian and Kenyan soldiers, has encouraged Western countries to look beyond the scars left by the deaths of U.S. and U.N. soldiers during Somalia’s violent disintegration into civil war in the early 1990s, and increase their engagement. The EU’s training mission, separate from Amisom, has trained some 3,000 Somali soldiers and officers in Uganda since 2010.
Bitcoin has come onto the radar of the UK government, with officials gathering in London on Monday to discuss the security threats and tax concerns posed by the digital currency.
About 50 civil servants from HM Revenue and Customs, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Home Office and GCHQ – the intelligence listening service – held a one-day conference which examined how bitcoin works and how criminals might seek to exploit the electronic cash system, which is currently unregulated by any financial authority.
China is allowing anti-North Korean posts on its Internet sites. More importantly, the Bank of China is cutting ties with its key counterpart in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. The apparent back-down can be papered over by propaganda in North Korea but not in the rest of the world, said Denny Roy, a Korean expert at the East West Center in Hawaii. “The sharpest signal may be from the Bank of China,” Roy said. China’s action was “a huge signal to North Korea,” said Scott Snyder, Korean expert with the Council on Foreign Relations.
German-Foreign-Policy.com reports that Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defense has received the results of a study it commissioned seeking advice on counterinsurgency efforts in the wake of U.S. military drawdown in the Northern Hemisphere.
Prepared by researchers at the University of Kiel, “the counterinsurgency study calls inter alia for the stricter centralization of command authority and a drastic enhancement of the espionage apparatus” (May 2; translation ours). The report reveals a startlingly Teutonic aggression in the language used.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said the recommendation that the population Muslims should be controlled in the long term was outrageous. “It’s quite chilling to start talking about limiting births of one particular group,” he said. “Will coercive measures get taken on the ground even if the union government says people can take this voluntarily?”
The report said concerns expressed by Buddhists in Rakhine state over the rising population of Muslims they see as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh had “undermined peaceful coexistence” between the two groups. It said the introduction of family planning education “would go some way to mitigating” the crisis.
Every American president since Harry Truman has announced a doctrine reflecting the priorities of each White House occupant. Globally, Obama intends to put the United States at the head of two giant economic blocks – the Transatlantic and Trans-Pacific Partnerships. This should ensure Washington’s leadership in a polycentric system of international relations.
If the TTP becomes a reality, the U.S. will account for three-fourths of the partnership’s combined GDP. This will ensure American dominance within the new economic alliance. At the same time, the TTP is an alternative to the ASEAN+3 arrangement promoted by Beijing .
This has certainly not been a dull week in capital markets. The intraday investor has been exposed to just about everything. As of Friday, we have a commodity market that is telling the investor that global growth is slowing. A U.S. equity market, financed by cheap money, continues to signal that the American consumer is somewhat in the driving seat when it comes to stock prices. And finally, the European sovereign market appears to be convinced that domestic Japan is about to embark on a global shopping spree.
One week ago, Russian journalist Mikhail Beketov died from heart failure while choking on a piece of food during lunch. He was badly traumatized five years ago when assailants beat him so badly that several fingers and one of his legs had to be amputated. He was confined to a wheelchair. He could not speak.
Sadly, Beketov’s plight is not unusual. In Russia, violence against journalists is not directed by the state per se, but rather is enabled by the state. In her 2004 book Putin’s Russia, the journalist Anna Politkovskaya explained in detail how this system worked: when a journalist criticizes an official or rich person too strongly, they are first threatened, then hurt a little bit, and then, eventually, killed. The killers are never brought to justice.
For half a century, geopolitical theory was effectively banned. In the USSR, this branch of science was described as “bourgeois.” In the West, it was considered politically incorrect, and was largely the preserve of provincial professors with no hope of entering the establishment. The situation began to change with the advent of the new century, and now geopolitics is back in ordinary usage and quickly regaining its political correctness and legitimacy. There is no single definition of geopolitics. But in the most general terms, it can be described as the science of investigating the relationship between foreign policy, international relations, and geographical and natural surroundings.
Morocco could be the first victim among the emerging democracies of Southern Mediterranean, a European strategy for economic independence and political sovereignty. The World Social Forum held recently in Tunis, associative altermondialists Maghreb, South European and Scandinavian, had preached an alarming discourse: It would be according to what was discussed by them, a wide ranging a war that is about to pit the EU-27 countries against the democratic spring countries in the southern Mediterranean. Thus, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and to a lesser extent Jordan, whether it decides its orientation towards democracy or not, will be kept on a leash by Europeans through Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs)
France intends to set up a currency swap line with China to make Paris a major offshore yuan trading hub in Europe, competing against London, the China Daily on Saturday cited Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer as saying.
Yuan deposits in Paris amount to 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), making it the second largest pool for the Chinese currency in Europe after London. Almost 10 percent of Sino-French trade is settled in yuan, also called the renminbi or RMB, according to French data cited by the official newspaper. “The Bank of France has been working on ways to develop a RMB liquidity safety net in the euro area with due consideration of a supporting currency swap agreement with the People’s Bank of China,” Noyer told the English-language newspaper.
A group of Iranian lawmakers has begun drafting a bill on reattaching Azerbaijan to Iran by updating the terms and conditions of a 19th century treaty that ceded part of modern-day Azerbaijan and most of Armenia to Russian control.
The 1828 Turkmenchay Treaty ended the last war between Russia and Persia and paved the way for St. Petersburg to establish suzerainty over the South Caucasus. (Tehran already had given up its claims on Georgia in the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan.) But the Iranians now argue that there was a critical detail in the fine print.
The Internal Revenue Service is collecting a lot more than taxes this year—it’s also acquiring a huge volume of personal information on taxpayers’ digital activities, from eBay auctions to Facebook posts and, for the first time ever, credit card and e-payment transaction records, as it expands its search for tax cheats to places it’s never gone before.
The IRS, under heavy pressure to help Washington out of its budget quagmire by chasing down an estimated $300 billion in revenue lost to evasions and errors each year, will start using “robo-audits” of tax forms and third-party data the IRS hopes will help close this so-called “tax gap.”
A person close to the government said it had mulled the idea of paying public employees and pensioners one month of their income in Treasury bills, forcing them, in effect, to lend the Treasury the money the court said it couldn’t cut from their paychecks. A government spokeswoman denied that the idea was being considered.
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said he would look for fresh spending cuts to keep Portugal’s €78 billion ($101 billion) international bailout program on track following a Constitutional Court decision that threw his government into crisis by striking down some of its planned austerity measures.
Which cruel ruler is continually forcing new rounds of austerity measures on the Greeks? And which dark power managed to break the resistance of Cypriots in just a few days? The answer is not Germany. It is the eurozone’s shadow state.
“Within this euro shadow state is a shadow government, the European Council,” Mayer said at a recent lecture at the Academy for Civic Education in Tutzing, southern Germany. “There’s a shadow executive, the Eurogroup. And there’s a task force to implement discipline that was grossly infringed upon. That’s the troika.”
“We will look into various options of creating repair bases on Afghan territory,” the head of the Defense Ministry’s department of international cooperation, Sergey Koshelev, told the press. He added that the maintenance of weapons and military hardware in Afghanistan remains a top priority, as any instability in the country would affect Russia’s own security, as well as the security of other European nations. Russian NATO envoy Aleksandr Grushko also said that Moscow was not excluding the possibility of broader cooperation with the military bloc.
A Kashmiri leader has revealed that China is in occupation of parts of Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Aksai Chin, despite not being a party to any of these land ownership disputes. In an interview, Dr Shabir Choudhry, Head of Diplomatic Committee and senior leader of the Kashmir National Party (KNP), said: “China also occupies part of Jammu and Kashmir state, some part of the Aksai Chin area and some areas of Gilgit Baltistan.”
“Despite that occupation, China is not a party in any dispute. Pakistan and pro-Pakistani Kashmiris are trying to make Beijing a party in these disputes. This will be totally disastrous,” he warned.
In October, the government started a new program of “nationalization of the elite.” That’s a term that was thought up by Konstantin Kostin, an advisor to President Vladimir Putin. Kostin says the Kremlin is aiming to change the mentality of many elite Russian business people, who see Russia as a country to exploit, but who end up going to live elsewhere. Other sources close to the Kremlin agreed that there was another motivation for these laws. They said that this “nationalization of the elite” was a direct response to the mass protests last year demanding honest elections in Russia. “The government is convinced that there are foreign governments behind these protest movements,” said one source.
Today’s unbacked fiat currencies are at the root of an emerging global monetary problem. While the talk of “recovery” in recent months now populates headlines, the desperate actions of politicians and central bankers show the contrary.
There is a saying “the further back you look into the past, the more certain you can be about the future.” History has shown that currency debasement ALWAYS leads to inflation and ultimately hyperinflation. This happened to the Roman Empire, the Weimar Republic in Germany, Argentina and most recently Zimbabwe where inflation peaked at 7.96 billion percent.
Raw materials and energy reserves in Central Asia make the region of particular interest to both China and Russia. The two countries share interests in region but are also each others biggest competitors.
The countries enjoy what experts have often called a strategic partnership, but that does not mean relations are without problems. The energy sector often crops up as a bone of contention between the nations as both look to increase their power and influence in Central Asia.
Large depositors face heavy losses and the Central Bank of Cyprus will be given new powers to shut down struggling banks under a last-ditch plan to prevent the island’s exit from the euro. Included in legislation drafted by the European Central Bank are draconian controls on capital, including unprecedented restrictions on debit card use and cash withdrawals. Cypriot MPs were meeting on Friday night in a final attempt to stop the ECB and eurozone from carrying out a threat to withdraw cash support from the country’s banks next Tuesday.
The Cyprus bailout proposal made by the Eurogroup is both economically and politically absurd. But what if the real reason behind the whole Cyprus crisis is the desire to confiscate the country’s gold?
The European Union, the IMF and the ECB are pushing Cyprus into bankruptcy while risking a contagion effect that could lead to the meltdown of the eurozone. European leaders have already bailed out Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Why is the Cyprus bailout so special? Why do the European leaders prefer to push the country into bankruptcy and raid the Cypriot bank accounts instead of saving it?
For a businessman renowned for steering clear of politics, Oleg Deripaska, chief executive of Rusal, is unusually frank about Russia’s ills. He also faults Gazprom for being “preoccupied with its business in the west”, that is, Europe – at the expense of fast-growing Asian markets. The solution, he says, is to break the company up, forming two distinct entities – one focused on the west, its traditional market, and the other on the east of Russia, which has huge gas reserves but has been starved of investment.
German politicians and many of their European colleagues suspect Cyprus to be a tax haven and a money-laundering site for Russian oligarchs. Of the 68 billion euros stored in Cypriot bank accounts, around 20 billion ($26 billion) belong to Russian account holders. A report compiled last year by the German secret service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, claims to have found evidence that Cypriot banks or Russian bank branches based in Cyprus are used to launder illegal money.
The bailout format is therefore a gamble on several levels. Most importantly, massive questions still linger over the precedent this sets. If Cypriot depositors are forced to pay today, why not Spanish ones tomorrow? People queuing up in massive numbers outside ATM machines is always an incredibly scary sight wherever you are and given the anger in Cyprus, we just don’t know how people will react when banks open again (unclear when, the Cypriot government may declare both Tuesday and Wednesday bank holidays as well). But fears of deposit-led contagion to other parts of the eurozone should definitely not be be overstated.