Friday, October 31, 2008

Marc Faber: Fed and Treasury will prop stock prices

Marc Faber speaks on Bloomberg TV on Ben Bernanke's strategy of pumping more money into the credit system.

He says that Bernanke and Paulson are mainly interested in propping up stock market asset prices and thus will support a three to six month rally in equities. This will eventually result in soaring worldwide inflation in his view.

Inflation may be held in check now by low commodity and especially oil prices; deleveraging and falling real estate prices, but the intervention and injection of money will eventually inflate prices.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Japan unveils $277 billion stimulus package

Japan announced a 27 trillion yen (US $277 billion) economic stimulus plan on Thursday that includes $50 billion in new spending.

Last August, Tokyo approved a $12 trillion yen stimulus package.

The new plan is a major expenditure for the government. For example, Bush's stimulus plan earlier this year totaled only $168 billion although the United States has a population of 301 million compared to Japan's 127 million.

Most of the new Japanese package will consist of tax breaks for individuals and businesses.

rate cut (AFP)

Japan unveils stimulus package, stock soar after US rate cut (AFP)

BBC News

Japan unveils $270 billion stimulus package
MarketWatch - 3 hours ago
By Chris Oliver, MarketWatch HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Japan unveiled a 27 trillion yen ($270 billion) economic-stimulus package Thursday that includes 5 ...
Japan Offers Stimulus Package to Spur Its Economy New York Times
Japan announces $400b stimulus package ABC Online
Aso unveils Y26.9 tril new stimulus package to tackle crisis Japan Today

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Comment: Towards nuclear disarmament

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently called for nuclear states to work toward nuclear disarmament outling a five-point plan.

Recently, the arms race has been heating up again. With the building of a ballistic missile shield by the US, China and Russia have undertaken extensive modernization programs. Russia is building a new type of warhead for both its land-based and submarine-based platforms that will be much faster and harder to knock down than anything before.

China is deploying new solid-fuel ICBMs and is building a fleet of possibly up to eight ballistic missile-carrying submarines. Some of the subs may carrying up to 24 missiles with at least three warheads each.

Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, there are still an estimated 26,000 nuclear weapons in the world today.

Vancouver Sun

UN chief outlines five-point nuclear disarmament plan
AFP - Oct 24, 2008
It was signed by the five nuclear powers and ratified by Britain, France and Russia but not by China and the United States. Ban also underscored the need ...
UN asks N-states to work toward nuclear disarmament Press Trust of India
Ban Ki-moon sets new proposal on nuclear disarmament Toronto Star
UN wants world nuclear disarmament PRESS TV

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

EU leader urges climate change fight continue

European Union leader Jose Manuel Barroso urged leaders at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Beijing to keep up the fight against climate change despite the financial crisis.

In some ways, the climate change battle will benefit inadvertently from the fall in production and consumption that is likely to occur in a non-organized fashion from economic recession or depression.

Healthy economies can certainly be developed that do not depend on rampant consumerism. Indeed, that's how the world has survived for most of history. However, the idea was a smooth, structured move toward such a transition. The economic free-fall could send us in that direction in a more drastic fashion. However, there still is a need to shift toward sustainable, green technologies.

Such a shift could become more difficult now because money is being diverted to prop up banks and financial firms.

If nothing is done, most scientists agree that severe consequences lie ahead from rising sea levels, to serious fluctuations in weather patterns that would hamper agriculture and cause extensive infrastructure damage.


Barroso: Climate change to become more serious if no action is taken
Xinhua, China - Oct 25, 2008

... actions to tackle the climate change, there will be larger threats," Barroso made the remarks at the press conference of the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting ...
EU, Asia agree on finance, climate change, Myanmar Trend News Agency
ASEM reviews 12 years’ progress Viet Nam News
China can make important contribution to resolving global crisis ... Forbes

Monday, October 27, 2008

US cross-border raids in Pakistan, Syria

Another suspected US drone strike in Pakistan has killed 10 people according to security officials. On Sunday, US helicopters assaulted a village in Syria killing eight people, Syrian media reported. Washington had no comment on the attacks.


'Drone' raid kills 10 in Pakistan
BBC News - 5 hours ago
Missiles from a suspected US drone (unmanned plane) have killed 10 people in a militant camp near Pakistan's Afghan border, security officials say.
Suspected US missile attack kills 20 in Pakistan's tribal region Xinhua
Suspected US missile strike kills 20 in Pakistan Monsters and

Eight die in US attack inside Syria: official media
AFP - 16 hours ago
"Four American helicopters violated Syrian airspace around 16:45 local time (1345 GMT) on Sunday. They penetrated eight kilometres (five miles) into Syria," ...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

UN hoping for Obama?

A Washington Post article indicates that many United Nations staff members and delegates are hoping that Sen. Barack Obama wins the U.S. presidential race.

An informal survey of more than two dozen U.N. staff members and foreign delegates showed that the overwhelming majority would prefer that Sen. Barack Obama win the presidency, saying they think that the Democrat would usher in a new agenda of multilateralism after an era marked by Republican disdain for the world body.

The United Nations is not popular with Republicans in general who often advocate a unilateral approach, although workers at the UN acknowledge that the administration has been more cooperative recently.

Out of 28 UN workers and foreign delegates surveyed, only two said they preferred Sen. John McCain for president.

The majority of people here believe in multilateralism. The Republicans were constantly questioning the relevance of the United Nations," said one UN worker while another remarked, "Please, God, let him win."

According to the article, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has a hankering for Obama, but officially he takes no position in the US election.

The United Nations has elected one black secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and Ralph Bunche, a UN mediator who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize was African American.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

ASEM looks toward fast Asian growth

Leaders met at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) with much focus on Asia's role as an economic growth engine in the coming years.

With the world rocked by the financial meltdown and many developed nations facing recession or worse, a number of Asian countries led by China are still expected to grow in the short to mid term.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that rapid economic growth in Asia was key to digging out of the current mess. Asia has about $4.36 trillion in currency reserves with China owning $1.9 trillion of that total.

Washington Post
Chinese foreign minister says ASEM summit was productive
Xinhua - 43 minutes ago
BEIJING, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi Saturday summarized the achievements of the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit saying it "reaped rich fruits".
China Calls for More Work to Solve Global Economic Crisis Voice of America
World leaders pledge financial reform as gloom deepens AFP

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cambodia, Thailand pledge peace

Somchai Wongsawat, the Thai prime minister, and Cambodian leader Hun Sen met to discuss their border conflict and said the two nations are now "good friends" pledged to peace.

Deadly clashes erupted last week in the dispute over the Preah Vihear temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site located near the border of both countries.


Thai and Cambodian PMs pledge peace - 36 minutes ago
Thailand and Cambodia have put the issue of a deadly border dispute behind them and are now "good friends", officials have said following a meeting between the leaders of the two countries.
Thailand, Cambodia say clashes behind them Reuters
Thai, Cambodian officials negotiate border dispute International Herald Tribune

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pakistan strengthening ties with China

Pakistan is solidifying its alliance with China with the latter pledging to help Islamabad with debt payments and economic development.

With rival India completing a nuclear deal with the United States, Pakistan has turned to its old ally to big two plants of its own -- the Chasma-3 and Chasma-4 reactors that will generate 680 MW of electricity.

BBC News

Making a defence pact with China - 38 minutes ago
President Asif Ali Zardari’s official visit to China at its end ran short of a most strategic need of the time, a defence pact with China and desirably immediately followed by joint militmanoeuvrings.
Beijing assures Pakistan of support for debt payments Financial Times
UPDATE 1-Pakistan trumpets intensified ties with China Reuters

Seattle Post Intelligencer

Need for a new era of strategic ties with China
Pakistan Dawn, Pakistan - Oct 14, 2008
But Pakistan may need to do more than just ask for help and talk about the history of the Pakistan-China friendship. It may have to demonstrate through its ...
Pakistan seeks cash amid financial crunch and costly insurgency The Canadian Press
In Scramble for Cash, Pakistan Turns to China's Deep Reserves Washington Post

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mumbai unrest after Thackeray arrest

Protests erupted in the city of Mumbai in India after the arrest of right-wing leader Raj Thackeray.

The controversial Thackeray was arrested for anti-immigrant activities. He is the nephew of Bal Thackeray, the founder of Shiv Sena, a Hindu religious political party. The elder Thackeray gained notoriety when he stated that he wanted to be the dictator and "Hitler" of all of India .

BBC News

Mumbai tense following arrest of right-wing leader
Christian Science Monitor - 2 hours ago
The detention of Raj Thackeray, an anti-immigrant activist, threatens to stoke communal tensions against workers from northern states in India's financial hub.
Firebrand Indian politician's arrest sparks unrest AFP
'This time Raj seems to be in serious trouble' Times of India

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Comment: Oil Barons see reversal of fortunes

The oil industry hit the jackpot with the Bush administration. Prices went through the roof almost reaching $150 a barrel. Companies like Exxon made unprecedented profits. How much they owe such success to the Bush family's oil connections is a matter of debate.

Now, in less than a month, things have dropped off the cliff for the oil barons. As I write this oil is trading at $70.47 a barrel, off less than half its highs from July. Stocks also plummeted for most of the oil companies. Texas-based Exxon lost 20 percent of its value so far this year it's worse drop since 1981. Houston-based ConocoPhilipps was off 35 percent, while Chevron of San Ramon, California was down 25 percent.

However, the oil industry is still expecting profits for this year because of the record high oil prices before the financial meltdown.

No doubt, though, that companies are preparing for declining demand as the world economy slows down.

Unfortunately, for consumers, gas prices cannot be expected to follow oil prices in a precise manner. Although gas prices have been going down, they probably will never equal the cuts in oil prices. The problem is that oil refinery capacity still probably will not be able to keep up with demand evem as the economy slows.

Washington Post

From $140 a barrel to $70: How oil prices halved in a matter of weeks, TX - 11 hours ago

Natural gas prices did not suffer as much as the other facets of the energy sector primarily due to a less-than-expected rise in supplies, but declined ...
Falling oil prices give consumers a break Los Angeles Times
Gas Prices Dropping: The Good News and Bad News TIME
San Diego Gas Prices Continue To Slide KGTV,

Monday, October 20, 2008

Strong quake rocks eastern Indonesia

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.5 hit Indonesia's Sulawesi island Monday. There were no immediate damage or casualty reports, and no tsunami warning was issued.
Strong quake hits Indonesia's Sulawesi island
Reuters UK - 8 hours ago
JAKARTA, Oct 20 (Reuters) - A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 hit Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Monday but there were no immediate reports of any deaths or damage, an official at the national quake agency said.
Powerful Earthquake Shakes Central Sulawesi Province Bernama
Powerful quake rocks eastern parts Indonesia People's Daily Online

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Iran wants OPEC to cut oil output

Iran called on OPEC to reduce world oil production by 1 million to 3 million barrels per day in response to the sharp drop in world demand.

The financial crisis and expected economic slowdown caused oil prices to drop from nearly $150 per barrel in July to about $72 on Friday. The steep decline has hit oil-producing countries hard and a cut in output is expected.

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation

UPDATE 1-Iran wants OPEC oil output cut of 1-3 mln bpd -TV
Forbes - 56 minutes ago
TEHRAN, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Iran wants OPEC to cut output by 1 million to 3 million barrels per day (bpd) because of the financial crisis and a drop in world oil demand, state TV quoted Iran's OPEC governor, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, as saying on Sunday.
Analysts: 1 million barrel OPEC cut not enough International Herald Tribune
OPEC Targets Higher Prices, Market In Flux Resource Investor

Saturday, October 18, 2008

China pledges help, nuke plants for Pakistan

China will invest $1 billion in Pakistan over the next year and will help build tow nuclear plants in the country, Islamabad announced Saturday.

China is already a major supplier of military goods to Pakistan. Bejing is helping the country with the F-22 P Frigate warship, Al Zarrar and Al Khalid main battle tanks, JF 17 multi-role aircraft, the National Electronic Complex of Pakistan (NECOP) and other defense related projects.


Pakistan trumpets intensified ties with China
Reuters - 37 minutes ago
By Augustine Anthony ISLAMABAD, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Pakistan announced on Saturday Chinese bankers would be visiting soon to assess Pakistan's needs, and companies had pledged to invest $1 billion by next June.
Pakistan's Zardari wants trade for restive regions Reuters India
China to help Pakistan build 2 more power plants Seattle Post Intelligencer

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cambodia's PM assures no escalation in Thailand dispute

Camboidan Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Friday that Wednesday's firefight near the Thai border area will not escalate into a major conflict.

"Large-scale war won't take place and people living at the border needn't worry," he told reporters.

Malaysia and Indonesia have offered help in solving the crisis, but Hun Sen it was not time yet for external assistance.

Times Online

Cambodian PM assures of no escalation of clash with Thailand
Xinhua - 1 hour ago
PHNOM PENH, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Wednesday's weapon clash with Thailand at the border area has come to its end and will not escalate into more serious military confrontation, said Prime Minister Hun Sen here on Friday after concluding a regular cabinet ...
Fears Thai-Cambodian border dispute to hit business ties AFP
Indonesia should lead efforts to solve Thai-Cambodian dispute Antara

 Thailand and Cambodia on Thursday agreed to joint patrols of disputed border areas after deadly clashes, but made little progress toward resolving their long-standing territorial spat.Play
Cambodia, Thailand agree joint border control AFP via Yahoo! News - Oct 16 9:43 AM

 Cambodian and Thai military officials were to meet Thursday in a bid to prevent more clashes a day after a deadly border shoot-out which prompted hundreds of Thai expatriates to return home.Play
Thailand, Cambodia military talks after deadly border clash
AFP via Yahoo! News - Oct 16 4:59 AM

A Thai farmer walks behind herd of buffalos near the Thai-Cambodia border, in the disputed border area with Cambodia, near the Preah Vihear temple, in Si Sa Ket province, northeast of Bangkok, October 17, 2008. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

Families evacuating the northern Cambodia border line the roadside, about 120 km (75 miles) northeast of Siem Reap, October 16, 2008. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Taliban carries out major attack

Taliban forces carried a bold second attack on the provincial capitial of Lashkar Gah displaying more offensive capability than in previous years.

Although the attacks were repulsed, the Taliban moves mark the first brazen attempts at open warfare against strong enemy positions, in this case even a provincial capital.

The Taliban have shown greater ability to mass groups in the hundreds for operations and the attack late Tuesday involved simultaneous attempts to breach Lashkar Gah's defenses from different points.

Recently, Afghan and allied Western officials have hinted at the possibility of negotiations with Taliban, who appear permanently entrenched in the region.

Times Online

Second Taliban Attack Strikes Major Afghan City
New York Times - 14 hours ago
By JOHN F. BURNS KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan government troops repulsed a fresh attack late Tuesday by Taliban fighters massed outside the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah in southwestern Afghanistan and killed at least 18 of them, the provincial ...
Arabs, Pakistanis Identified Among Afghan Insurgents Killed by Air ... Voice of America
Amid Low Morale, Germany Set to Extend Afghanistan Mandate Deutsche Welle

 Some seven years after the US moved against Afghanistan, violence is up as are concerns it could become 21st Century VietnamPlay Vietnam echoes in Afghanistan Reuters via Yahoo! News - Oct 09 3:15 PM

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cambodia, Thailand exchange gunfire

In a serious escalation of tension, Cambodia and Thailand exchanged fire at a disputed border region where the two sides are fighting over an ancient World Heritage site.

Reports indicate two Cambodian soldiers were killed; seven Thai soldiers injured and ten Thai soldiers captured in the fighting over the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

The temple was built by Khmers, who were based in Cambodia, and was awarded to that country by the International Court of Justice in 1962.

Gunfire on Thai-Cambodian Border
New York Times - 2 hours ago
By SETH MYDANS BANGKOK - Thai and Cambodian soldiers exchanged rocket and rifle fire for about an hour on Wednesday, according to reports from the scene, threatening to escalate a tense confrontation at the border over a disputed 900-year-old ...
Fighting at Thai-Cambodia border kills 2 soldiers The Associated Press
Thai and Cambodia temple dispute spills over into deadly fighting Times Online

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cambodia, Thailand dispute troop withdrawal

Cambodia claimed that Thai troops had withdrawn from a disputed border area, but Thailand denied the claims maintaining its right to patrol the area.

Tensions over the area near the Preah Vihear temple, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site in July, 2008, have heated up lately with both sides threatening armed conflict.

UNESCO added the Preah Vihear temple to its World Heritage list in July 2008

Times Online

Cambodia: Thailand withdraws troops from border
The Associated Press - 3 hours ago
Thai army spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd denied the Cambodian claim that Thai troops had withdrawn from the disputed area. "There has been no troop movement ...
Cambodia, Thailand set time frame to resolve border disputes Xinhua
Cambodia, Thailand resume talks on border spat AFP
Thailand sends more troops to Cambodian border Swissinfo

 Thailand and Cambodia launch a new round of talks to resolve their dispute over the 900-year-old temple.Play
New talks in Preah Vihear Temple row
Reuters via Yahoo! News - Oct 13 3:54 AM

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pressure builds for Taliban talks

According to a Time Magazine article, Afghan President Hamid Karzai along with US and British officials agree that victory against the Taliban is not possible. The realization increases the likelihood of negotiations with the insurgent group.

The assessment comes as heavy fighting is reported in both Afghanistan and Pakistan involving Taliban and al-Qaeda forces.

 Some seven years after the US moved against Afghanistan, violence is up as are concerns it could become 21st Century VietnamPlay
Vietnam echoes in Afghanistan
Reuters via Yahoo! News - Oct 09 3:15 PM

 U.S. General David Petraeus said negotiations with some members of the Taliban could provide a way to reduce violence in AfghanistanPlay
Petraeus: Open to Taliban talks
Reuters via Yahoo! News - Oct 08 3:57 PM

United Press International

Momentum builds for Taliban negotiations
United Press International - 2 hours ago
KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai and US and British officials have concluded there can be no military victory over Taliban insurgents, Time Magazine says.
As Afghanistan Slides, Chance of a Taliban Deal Increases TIME
Afghanistan: A country locked in a spiral of doom Times Online

Boston Globe

Fierce battles in Pakistan, Afghanistan
Radio Australia, Australia - 16 hours ago
There has been intense fighting with Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan and British forces say 100 militants were ...
Pakistanis flee as war on Taliban flares up Radio Netherlands
Clashes in Pakistani tribal region kill 24 The Associated Press
Attack by Pakistani Army on the borders of Afghanistan Avionews

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Suspected US drone strike kills five in Pakistan

Suspected US drones fired two missiles into the tribal regions of Pakistan Saturday killing at least five militants.

The latest in a series of cross-border attacks carried out against the objections of the Pakistani government comes as a US report was released detailing the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

According to the report, al-Qaeda is leading a network composed of Pakistani and Kashmiri militants; Afghan Taliban, and Pakistani tribal groups. Al-Qaeda itself is composed mostly of Arabs but Central Asians including Uzbeks and Chechens are now playing a larger role.

Boston Globe

US Airstrike Said to Kill 5 in Pakistan
New York Times - 28 minutes ago
By REUTERS MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) - Residents of a Pakistani region regarded as a haven for Al Qaeda and the Taliban said that remotely piloted American aircraft fired two missiles on Saturday, killing at least five militants.
Five killed in US missile attack in Pakistan Reuters
Suspected US Missile Strike Kills At Least 3 in Pakistan Voice of America

File photo shows US soldiers watching the launch of a pilotless spy drone. US pilotless spy planes on Sunday flew over a Pakistani tribal town bordering Afghanistan just hours after a missile strike killed at least four people, residents said. (AFP)

Tribesmen gather at the site of a missile attack in Tappi, a village 20 km (12 miles) east of Miranshah, near the Afghan border October 10, 2008. A U.S. missile attack by a pilotless drone aircraft on Thursday killed at least six people, including 3 Arabs, in a Pakistani tribal region regarded as a safe haven for al Qaeda and Taliban militants, an intelligence official said. REUTERS/Haji Mujtaba (PAKISTAN)

Tribesmen show parts of a missile at the site of a missile attack in the village of Tappim, 20 km (12 miles) east of Miranshah, near the Afghan border October 10, 2008. A U.S. missile attack by a pilotless drone aircraft on Thursday killed at least six people, including 3 Arabs, in a Pakistani tribal region regarded as a safe haven for al Qaeda and Taliban militants, an intelligence official said. REUTERS/Haji Mujtaba (PAKISTAN)

Map of Pakistan locating North Waziristan, where a missile strike by suspected US spy drone killed at least eight militants, according to security officials Wedn

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Middle class supporters rebel against Thai democracy

Opponents of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra called on the military to oust the current leader and his party in a military coup.

Army Commander Gen. Anupong Paochinda, however, promised not to intervene against Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat drawing sharp criticism for the general from the protesters.

In a counter demonstration, thousands of supporters of Somchai rallied near the office of the prime minister.

"We gathered today to show that the majority of this country objects to these rebels trampling on Thailand's democracy," said Veera Musigapong, one of the leaders of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship. "We want to show that they are destroying the country in the name of the Thai public."

Times Online

Supporters of Thai government rally near Bangkok
The Associated Press - 1 hour ago
"We gathered today to show that the majority of this country objects to these rebels trampling on Thailand's democracy," said Veera Musigapong, ...
Thailand's middle classes lead unlikely protest - against democracy
Thais want peace, but also better traffic, as protests drag on
AFP - 7 hours ago

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Dalai Lama is recovering at a New Delhi hospital after successful gallstone surgery, a spokesperson said Friday.

Washington Post

Dalai Lama recovering from surgery, Canada - 4 hours ago
Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has undergone surgery in New Delhi to remove gallstones, his spokesman said Friday. Friday's surgery was a "simple ...
Video: Dalai Lama Has Successful Surgery AssociatedPress
Dalai Lama recuperates after successful operation
UPDATE 1-Dalai Lama has surgery for gallstones Reuters India

image unavailable
Aug 31, 2008

 A spokesman for the Dalai Lama says doctors have successfully removed a gallstone from the Tibetan leader. Meantime, the 73-year-old remains hospitalized in New Delhi. (Oct. 10)
Play Dalai Lama has successful surgery
AP via Yahoo! News - Oct 10 12:59 AM

Ganga Ram hospital, where Tibetan Spiritual leader the Dalai Lama underwent a surgery in New Delhi, India, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008. Surgeons successfully removed gallstones from the Dalai Lama on Friday, an operation that will not prevent the Tibetan spiritual leader from traveling again by the end of the month, a top aide said. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi) (AP/Mustafa Quraishi)