Month: January 2007

Article: The geopolitical genius of China’s satellite kill

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From the January 24, 2007, Financial Times
By Victor Mallet

China’s successful launch of a ballistic missile this month to destroy a satellite in orbit has been variously portrayed by defence analysts and commentators as a damaging blow to Beijing’s relations with Washington, a sign that China has overreached itself and just made a big mistake.

These conclusions suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of how Chinese leaders have behaved in the past, how they will behave in the future and how they will probably continue to get the better of their western counterparts in the chess game of international diplomacy.

On this occasion, as before, China has put into practice a ruthless, rational and legally defensible strategy that exploits a key weakness of the world’s biggest economy and sole military superpower.

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Article: Gold-Plated Indifference

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From the January 22, 2007, New York Times:

Gold-Plated Indifference
By PAUL KRUGMAN

President Bush’s Saturday radio address was devoted to health care, and officials have put out the word that the subject will be a major theme in tomorrow’s State of the Union address. Mr. Bush’s proposal won’t go anywhere. But it’s still worth looking at his remarks, because of what they say about him and his advisers.

On the radio, Mr. Bush suggested that we should “treat health insurance more like home ownership.” He went on to say that “the current tax code encourages home ownership by allowing you to deduct the interest on your mortgage from your taxes. We can reform the tax code, so that it provides a similar incentive for you to buy health insurance.”

Wow. Those are the words of someone with no sense of what it’s like to be uninsured.

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Another Excellent Speech: National Security in the Age of Terrorism

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Another excellent speech by Chas Freeman. See previous speech I posted here: Why Not Let Them Hate Us, as long as They Fear Us?

Remarks to the Congressional Research Service Seminar for New Members
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)

Chas W. Freeman Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, spoke to new members of Congress last week in Williamsburg. Freeman, who was ambassador during President George H.W. Bush’s administration, is now president of the Middle East Policy Council.

January 6, 2007
Williamsburg, Virginia

This is not a happy time for national security policy.

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Article: He’s in the Bunker Now

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From the January 14, 2007, New York Times:

He’s in the Bunker Now
By FRANK RICH

PRESIDENT BUSH always had one asset he could fall back on: the self-confidence of a born salesman. Like Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” he knew how to roll out a new product, however deceptive or useless, with conviction and stagecraft. What the world saw on Wednesday night was a defeated Willy Loman who looked as broken as his war. His flop sweat was palpable even if you turned down the sound to deflect despair-inducing phrases like “Prime Minister Maliki has pledged …” and “Secretary Rice will leave for the region. …”

Mr. Bush seemed to know his product was snake oil, and his White House handlers did too.

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Article: War costs are hitting historic proportions

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From the January 14, 2007, LA Times:

THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ: FOOTING THE BILL
War costs are hitting historic proportions
The price tag for the Iraq conflict and overall effort against terrorism is expected to surpass Vietnam’s next year.
By Joel Havemann

WASHINGTON — By the time the Vietnam war ended in 1975, it had become America’s longest war, shadowed the legacies of four presidents, killed 58,000 Americans along with many thousands more Vietnamese, and cost the U.S. more than $660 billion in today’s dollars.

By the time the bill for World War II passed the $600-billion mark, in mid-1943, the United States had driven German forces out of North Africa, devastated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway, and launched the vast offensives that would liberate Europe and the South Pacific.

The Iraq war is far smaller and narrower than those conflicts, and it has not extended beyond the tenure of a single president. But its price tag is beginning to reach historic proportions, and the budgetary “burn rate” for Iraq may be greater than in some periods in past wars.

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Article: Military Is Expanding Its Intelligence Role in U.S.

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From the January 14, 2007, New York Times:

Military Is Expanding Its Intelligence Role in U.S.
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.

The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.

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Article: Quagmire of the Vanities

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From the January 8, 2007, New York Times:

Quagmire of the Vanities
By PAUL KRUGMAN

The only real question about the planned “surge” in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional.

Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks they’re cynical. He recently told The Washington Post that administration officials are simply running out the clock, so that the next president will be “the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof.”

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Photo of George Bush and Jack Abramoff

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From AP News: Mon Jan 8, 9:53 PM ET:

Campaign photo shows Bush with Abramoff

WASHINGTON – A liberal watchdog group published on its Web site Monday a picture of President Bush and imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the kind of photo the White House has refused to release.

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Part II: The Great Gates Contradiction

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Part 2 of 2 of the LA Times serries. See here for Part 1 of 2.

A TIMES INVESTIGATION
Money clashes with mission
The Gates Foundation invests heavily in sub-prime lenders and other businesses that undercut its good works.
By Charles Piller

January 8, 2007

Seattle — WHEN the cold call came from Ameriquest Mortgage Co., a top lender, Jeff and Cheryl Busby were intrigued.

They had been wanting to renovate the garage of their small bungalow, a stone’s throw from picturesque Green Lake. The agent, they said, promised that refinancing would give them $20,000 in cash, yet lower the monthly payments.

The agent was a smooth talker, and the Busbys were not concerned that he didn’t offer them a chance to study the documents.

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The Great Gates Contradiction

Billgatesmashupcube
This is an interesting article from the LA Times. With one hand Bill Gates spends money improving lives and with the other he invests money destroying them. Until more of this type of contradictory behavior is exposed, people like Bill Gates, who has the power to influence major corporations such as those discussed in this article, will continue their contemptible behavior, donning their black ties at fancy dinners to accept charity awards when the source of their philanthropy is polluted.

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The Great Gates Contradiction

Billgatesmashup
This is an interesting article from the LA Times. With one hand Bill Gates spends money improving lives and with the other he invests money destroying them. Until more of this type of contradictory behavior is exposed, people like Bill Gates, who has the power to influence major corporations such as those discussed in this article, will continue their contemptible behavior, donning their black ties at fancy dinners to accept charity awards when the source of their philanthropy is polluted.

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Euro – Dollar Update

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The CurrencyShares Euro Trust (Amex: FXE): 11:15 AM NYC time, January 5th: Just a quick update to my 1 December 2006 posting, noting the breakaway gap above 130 and subsequent follow through. After rallying to almost 134, the Euro eased into a tight, downward sloping handle for the next month, which takes us to where we are today: a retest of the 130 level. Aggressive traders could…

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Article: Money Is Everywhere, But for How Long?

Money

Updated 13 March 007: Click here to see YouTube video / song by Sam Zell.

From the January 3, 2007, Wall Street Journal:

Money Is Everywhere, But for How Long?
By ALAN MURRAY

It may be time to put away the bubbly.

The New Year’s forecasts are so unrelentingly sanguine that you have to wonder whether a tanker of strong, black coffee is in order. The U.S. economy will keep growing. The housing market will recover. The Federal Reserve will cut interest rates. And financial markets will soar.

The world, it seems, has become intoxicated by the steady flow of what my fellow financial writers call “liquidity.” Money flows freely, like the vodka from Dennis Kozlowski’s infamous ice-hewn David, filling every dark and desolate crevice of the financial world.

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