Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Drone ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Now Has A Name: ARGUS

The PBS series NOVA, “Rise of the Drones,” recently aired a segment detailing the capabilities of a powerful aerial surveillance system known as ARGUS-IS, which is basically a super-high, 1.8 gigapixel resolution camera that can be mounted on a drone. As demonstrated in this clip, the system is capable of high-resolution monitoring and recording of an entire city. (The clip was written about in DefenseTech and in Slate.)
In the clip, the developer explains how the technology (which he also refers to with the apt name “Wide Area Persistent Stare”) is “equivalent to having up to a hundred Predators look at an area the size of a medium-sized city at once.”
ARGUS produces a high-resolution video image that covers 15 square miles. It’s all streamed to the ground and stored, and operators can zoom in upon any small area and watch the footage of that spot. Essentially, it is an animated, aerial version of the gigapixel cameras that got some attention for super-high resolution photographs created at Obama’s first inauguration and at aVancouver Canucks fan gathering.
At first I didn’t think too much about this video because it seemed to be an utterly expected continuation of existing trends in camera power. But since it was brought to my attention, this technology keeps coming back up in my conversations with colleagues and in my thoughts. I think that’s because it is such a concrete embodiment of the “nightmare scenario” for drones, or at least several core elements of it. READ MORE

India And ASEAN Economies To Become The Next China For (Manufacturing) Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

By  | 
For 20 years, China has been the major recipient of foreign direct investment in the developing world. It has played a big part in China’s rise from poor rural backwater to economic powerhouse, but rising costs due to higher wages and the phasing out of super-preferential tax policies are pushing multinationals, mainly labor-intensive manufacturers, to relocate. And China’s neighbors -- India and Southeast Asian countries -- stand to benefit the most as they have large pools of labor and strong domestic markets.

South Korea's Oeam Village: A walk into history UNESCO World Heritage candidate keeps authentic Joseon village atmosphere for 500 years

This is not far from where I will be once I get to S/Korea.
The Korea Herald is publishing “Korea’s Cultural Pride,” a 10-part series on the country’s cultural and natural heritage. A total of nine tangible and 14 intangible examples of heritage have been designated UNESCO World Heritage items for international preservation. This year 15 cultural properties are on the tentative list, awaiting designation. This installation will explore Oeam Village, created 500 years ago, which still keeps the Joseon atmosphere. ― Ed.

About 500 years ago Lee Sa-jong, a low-level government official, came to a peaceful hamlet near Asan, South Chungcheong Province. 

He married a daughter of Jin Han-pyeong, a wealthy man in the village, and settled down. Since Jin had no son, Lee supported his father-in-law, which solidified his status in the village that had previously been dominated by the Kang and the Mok clans. Soon after Lee settled in, the current structure of the village consisting of aristocrat housing, and dozens more houses for servants and tenant farmers is believed to have been formed. 

Since then, Oeam Village (pronounced “weh-am”), named after the penname of Lee Kan, the sixth descendant of Lee Sa-jong, has maintained its beauty, tradition and, above all, its community. READ MORE

Yuan Overtakes Ruble as World Payments Currency: SWIFT By Ye Xie & Fion Li

Yuan Overtakes Ruble as World Payments Currency, SWIFT Says
Trading of the yuan outside the mainland has at least doubled to $6 billion a day from a year earlier. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

For the first time, China’s yuan has overtaken the Russian ruble for transactions in the global payment system, according to Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a financial messaging platform.
The use of the yuan increased 24 percent in January from December and 171 percent from a year ago, while that of the ruble declined 5.4 percent on the month, the Belgium-based SWIFT said in a report today. The Chinese currency accounted for an all-time high of 0.63 percent of the global payments, making it the 13th most-used currency, compared with 0.56 percent for the ruble, now the 15th most-used. The euro leads the list, followed by the U.S. dollar and British pound.
China, the world’s second-largest economy, is promoting the role of the yuan, also known as RMB, in international trading and financing as it moves to reduce the control over its currency and open up its financial markets. Trading of the yuan outside the mainland has at least doubled to $6 billion a day from a year earlier, said Charles Feng, regional head for fixed- income trading at Standard Chartered Plc. in Hong Kong, last month. READ MORE

Capitalism versus Planet Earth – an irreconcilable conflict

Capitalism versus Planet Earth – an irreconcilable conflict


The Four Stages of Putinism by Andrei Piontkovsky - Project Syndicate

The Four Stages of Putinism by Andrei Piontkovsky - Project Syndicate
This illustration is by Paul Lachine and comes from <a href=""></a>, and is the property of the NewsArt organization and of its artist. Reproducing this image is a violation of copyright law.

Malaysia: Anwar Ibrahim Unveils Election Pledges By Luke Hunt

Flickr (udeyismail)
The political machinery that has run Malaysia since independence in 1957 will face its toughest test at the upcoming elections, with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim well placed to increase his party’s hold at the national and state levels.
However, taking power from the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition that it heads still appears unlikely. The incumbents maintain a foothold in Malaysia’s predominantly Muslim west, although their grip on Chinese, Indian and non-Islamic communities has weakened substantially.
Most pundits believe a late March or April election is likely. Prime Minister Najib Razak is planning a short campaign in the hopes of blunting the opposition’s attack. UMNO also controls the mainstream press and has formidable financial resources.

Are Filipinos Malays? By Mong Palatino

Flickr (alexdstewart32)
If asked about their race, most Filipinos would identify as being Malay. Filipinos are taught in schools to be proud of their Malay heritage and encouraged to strengthen their ties with other Malays in Southeast Asia.
But Filipinos wishing to migrate in Singapore have to deny this fundamental identification because the Singapore government rejects the classification of Filipinos as Malay. But if Filipinos are not Malay, what ethnicity are they? Officially, Singapore recognizes immigrants from the neighboring Philippines as part of the racial category referred to as “Other.”
But why refuse the Malay background of Filipinos in the first place? Perhaps it has something to do with the special privileges accorded to the Malay minority in Singapore. Article 152 of the Constitution of Singaporestates that the government “shall recognize the special position of the Malays, who are the indigenous people of Singapore, and accordingly it shall be the responsibility of the Government to protect, safeguard, support, foster and promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social and cultural interests and the Malay language.” READ MORE

Asian Golf: It’s a Woman’s World By John Duerden

Golf season in Asia is underway, but expectations for the men in the region are not nearly as high as they are for the women.
Nonetheless, Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand won the Myanmar Open over the weekend to get 2013 off to a good start for Asia’s male golfers.
The main story, however, was the emergence of rookie Mithun Perera, a young Sri Lankan who pushed Plaphol until the end and suggested that he has a bright future in the game.
"All you need is one good week to turn your life around. I feel my time is coming soon. I try my best in every tournament and I think the win is not far away," Mithun said, according to an Asian Tour press release. "I'm sure my father and my country are proud of me. This week, I flew the Sri Lankan flag high. There's no disappointment for me." READ MORE

Turkey cornered into Israeli embrace By Ramzy Baroud

The U.S. never said a word when Israel murdered the American citizen. It was swept under the rug as usual.
When will the world recognize, and hold Israel accountable for their crimes?
By Ramzy Baroud 

An Israeli-Turkish rapprochement is unmistakably underway, but unlike the heyday of their political alignment in the 1990s, the revamped relationship is likely to be more guarded and pose a greater challenge to Turkey rather than Israel. 

Israeli media last week referenced a report by Turkish newspaper Radikal regarding secret talks between Turkey and Israel that could yield an Israeli apology for its army's raid against the Turkish aid flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, which was on its way to Gaza in May 2010. The assault resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists, including a US citizen. READ MORE

IMF demands deeper austerity measures in Sri Lanka - World Socialist Web Site

IMF demands deeper austerity measures in Sri Lanka - World Socialist Web Site

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

India Maoist Assessment: 2012

The trajectory of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) movement across India demonstrates conflicting trends which give, at once, great relief to the state and to affected populations across wide areas, even as assessments of the Maoist threat allow little scope for any measure of complacence.
There has, over the years 2010-2011, been an abrupt geographical and operational contraction of the movement, resulting in a dramatic drop in fatalities, declining incidents of Maoist violence, and a retraction from a number of areas, principally in regions where the Maoists sought to make new inroads in the execution of their decision to “extend the people’s war throughout the country”. There has, nevertheless, been a troubling extension in some new areas, most prominently in India’s troubled Northeast, where a multiplicity of ethnicity-based insurgencies have collapsed, creating new spaces for radical expansion by the Maoists.
In 2008, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) had indicated that a total of 223 Districts across 20 States were variously affected by the Maoist movement. By 2011, this assessment had dropped to just 182 Districts (as on October 31, 2011) in 20 States – though a breakdown of the intensity of the movement in these Districts is not available. Partial data compiled from the open source by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) confirms these broad trends, with total affected Districts dropping from 194 in 2008 to just 141 in 2011. Significantly, SATP enumerates just 48 of these Districts in the Highly Affected category in 2011, down from 58 in 2008; another 47 and 46 Districts, respectively, were listed in the moderately and marginally affected categories in 2011, as against 54 and 83 Districts in these categories in 2008. READ MORE

NATO reaches into Asia-Pacific on behalf of US foreign policy interests

NATO has become the modern days version of the Knights Templar. 
The crusades never ended, they just expanded.  
NATO is now an aggressor instead of a protector.

Will NATO become a key factor in the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific? Some leading circles in the US and in Europe see it as part of a system to contain a rising China.

The Obama "pivot" policy, now called "rebalancing," aims to step up security cooperation with "democratic" Asia-Pacific states. Though some cooperative relations with China have been developed, an edgy tone appeared in Washington's more forward regional diplomacy, along with visibly stepped up regional military activities and deployments. 

The globalization of NATO is integral to the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific policy, and reflects continuity with several decades of US policy.

Though many believe NATO is an anachronism whose mission ended with the end of the Cold War, powerful transatlantic circles keep it going and search for new missions and news areas of operation outside the North Atlantic. International terrorism and the rise of China, for example, serve as justifications.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen does not hesitate to preach the globalization of NATO. In his remarks to the recent annual Munich Security Conference, Rasmussen emphasized this process, and praised the work of former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright for assisting NATO globalization. READ MORE

The BRICS Strategic Roadmap

The BRICS Strategic Roadmap
The BRICS countries have a remarkable opportunity to coordinate among themselves after the global economic meltdown is over because major economies would continue to be plagued by financial instability and insipid growth. Source: AP
A new strategic agenda will be considered during the upcoming 5th Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) summit in Durban, South Africa (March 26- 27, 2013). Its contours are so broad and vast that this four-continent outfit will inevitably take several summit meetings to implement it.
The BRICS officials have identified 13 specific areas to synergise BRICS economies. It must be stressed here that the political and technical feasibility of this 13-point programme is yet to be determined. Obviously the implementation of this programme will inevitably require further deliberations. However, it is for sure that these 13 points will be part of BRCS discussions at all levels or a long time to come.
The deep-focus areas for the BRICS policymakers are as below: (i) intra-BRICS trade and investment cooperation; (ii) cooperation in infrastructure financing; (iii) industrial development and cooperation; (iv) cooperation in transportation; (v) cooperation in food security; (vi) cooperation in technical education; (vii) cooperation in financial market development; (viii) cooperation in research and development; (ix) cooperation in area of culture and tourism; (x) cooperation in international issues; (xi) cooperation in energy security; (xii) cooperation to build effective institutions; (xiii) Setting up an International development Bank for fostering South–South investment.
The BRICS roadmap is that the member countries should coordinate their economic policies and diplomatic strategies not only to enhance their position as a grouping in the international economic and financial system, but also to be a stabilization factor for the world economy as a whole. The idea is that BRICS should increasingly harmonise and coordinate their policies with a view to sustaining their growth momentum and capacity to weather global turbulence so that this cooperation benefits not just the grouping but also for the global economy.
BRICS’ Common Challenge READ MORE

Russia returns to the Mediterranean: Fifth Soviet Navy Squadron is back? | Russia & India Report

Russia returns to the Mediterranean: Fifth Soviet Navy Squadron is back? | Russia & India Report
Russia returns to the Mediterranean: Fifth Soviet Navy Squadron is back?
The Russian Navy will fulfil tasks in all parts of the World Oceans. Source: RIA Novosti / Igor Zarembo

Russia is due to provide its permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea by deploying an operational formation of the Russian Navy in the region by 2015. According to the General Staff, the squadron will consist of ships from the Black Sea, the Northern and the Baltic Fleets.
The new formation will be made to the pattern of the Fifth Operational Squadron of the former USSR Navy. During the Cold War, that squadron fulfilled tactical missions in the Mediterranean. At that time the main rival of the squadron was the Sixth Fleet of the US Navy. A year after the collapse of the Soviet Union, on the 31st of December 1992, the Fifth Squadron was disbanded.
Time proved that it was a rash step. The Mediterranean region remains the hub of clashing interests of world’s leading powers. This has been especially clear over recent years with the Arab spring events, Gaddafi’s overthrow in Libya and the protracted civil war in Syria. During his visit to the Black Sea Fleet on the 20th of February the Russian Defence Minister stressed that the Mediterranean region was the core of all essential dangers to Russia’s national interests. Thus, the Russian Navy will fulfil tasks in all parts of the World Oceans. READ MORE

A Brave New Burma? Amid reforms, Burma remains embroiled in conflict. Have human rights taken a backseat to development? By Nic Dunlop

President Obama performs a ritual as Hillary Clinton looks on during their visit to the Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.
This is all nonsense. 
Shillary Clinton and O's charade visit had nothing to do with human rights at all.
It was all about natural resources, cheap labor markets, and more encroachment on China.
 Any one who thinks different is a fool. 
Last November, President Obama visited Burma, meeting reformist President Thein Sein and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But as the pace of change in the Southeast Asian country accelerates, human rights groups have criticized governments for being too quick to reward the new regime in pursuit of their own strategic and economic interests. This begs the question: Have the West and Aung San Suu Kyi abandoned their principled stand on Burma?
After Burma’s elections in 2010, reforms swept the country. Amnesty was granted to hundreds of political prisoners, new labor laws were created and press censorship was relaxed. After spending 15 years under house arrest, Nobel laureate Suu Kyi was released, joining the political mainstream as a member of parliament.
Once freed, Suu Kyi made her first trip to Europe in 24 years. She accepted her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, 21 years after it was awarded, and addressed both houses of parliament in London. After Europe, she went to the United States where she was awarded the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, meeting President Obama and a host of other politicians and public figures.
In response to Burma’s reforms, most sanctions have been lifted. Washington has normalized relations with Burma more quickly than in other cases of U.S. rapprochement since the Cold War, including post apartheid South Africa. 

Pakistan’s Energy Savior: Iran By Zachary Keck

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari arrives in Iran today to sign a series of economic agreements, including one that finalizes the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline.
At the end of January, the two sides agreed to set up a joint construction company to build the portion of the pipeline that will be on Pakistani soil. Iran is providing $500 million to finance a third of the project with Pakistan covering the remaining $1 billion. 781 km of the 1,881 km pipeline will be on Pakistani soil.
The two sides initially said construction of the Pakistani pipeline would be finished in 15 months. More recent reports from Iran’s state media have said it may take up to 22 months. Construction began on February 20th.
Iran has said it has nearly completed the pipeline on its side of the border. 

Toward a Global Dialogue on Ecology and Marxism A Brief Response to Chinese Scholars By John Bellamy Foster

I would like to thank Zhihe Wang, Meijun Fan, Hui Dong, Dezhong Sun, and Lichun Li for doing so much to promote a global dialogue on ecological Marxism by summarizing some of the insights and concerns of Chinese scholars in this area, focusing in this case on my work in particular. The various questions, challenges, and critiques raised in relation to my work and that of related scholars are all, I believe, of great importance to the development of theory and practice in this area. I am therefore providing a brief set of responses to the problems raised, which I hope will be helpful in the further promotion of this global dialogue on ecology and Marxism.
Marx and Ecological Marxism
Many of the criticisms expressed relate to the question of the compatibility of Marx’s ideas with ecological Marxism. Xu Yanmei, Pu Xiangji, Li Benzhu, Gao Huizhu, Zhang Xiangli, and Leng Yunsheng have all raised what I consider to be important questions about how Marx’s materialism is depicted in my book Marx’s Ecology, and how this is related to classical Marxian conceptions of history, practice, and dialectics—as well as Marx’s own development. Xu Yanmei, we are told, contends that my work makes the mistake of placing Marx’s dissertation on a par with his mature work. In contrast to my interpretation, she argues that an ecological critique did not consciously enter into Marx’s critique of capitalism or his critique of religion. These are important criticisms. Here I will confine my response to the relation of Marx’s ecological critique to his critique of capitalism. However, the connections of his ecological thought to the critique of religion are also important. I have discussed these in the bookCritique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present, written with Brett Clark and Richard York.1

The initial research that led me to write Marx’s Ecology began with an investigation into the ecological analysis that came to occupy such a central place in Marx’s critique in Capital. The most important discussions lie at the end of the core chapter on “Machinery and Large-Scale Industry” in Capital, vol. 1, and at the end of the long treatment of capitalist ground rent inCapital, vol. 3—but the same critical ecological viewpoint permeates all of Marx’s mature work. In particular, he relied heavily on Justus von Liebig’s critique of capitalist agriculture (contained espeically in the long introduction to the 1862 edition of Liebig’s great work on agricultural chemistry). But Marx went beyond Liebig in brilliantly incorporating the metabolism concept to explain the relation between humanity and nature, defining the labor process itself in these terms. Human production, like life itself, could thus be viewed in terms of “metabolism,” i.e., as an “organic exchange of matter”—as Engels put it in Anti-Dühring. Marx described capitalism’s necessarily antagonistic relation to nature as an “irreparable rift in the interdependent process of social metabolism, a metabolism prescribed by the natural laws of life itself.” He thus anticipated the entire direction that critical ecological science was to take in twentieth-century systems ecology, which made the concept of metabolism the key to ecosystem theory.2

What Does Ecological Marxism Mean For China? Questions and Challenges for John Bellamy Foster

Zhihe Wang’s article “Ecological Marxism in China,” which appeared in the February 2012 Monthly Review, demonstrated that Chinese interest in ecological Marxism has grown rapidly over the past two decades.1 Ecological Marxism is regarded by some scholars as “the most important resource for developing Chinese Marxist philosophy in the new age.”2 The practical, political, and theoretical reasons for its success include: pressing environmental issues facing China; the government’s call for ecological civilization; the many characteristics that ecological Marxism shares with traditional Chinese Marxism; and the support it has provided for China’s environmental movement.3
Numerous works by Western scholars, including Ben Agger, John Bellamy Foster, William Leiss, and James O’Connor, have recently been translated into Chinese. Interest in ecological Marxism in China also overlaps with interest in ecological work associated with the “constructive postmodernist” tradition, evolving out of Alfred North Whitehead’s work. The best-known practitioners of constructive postmodernism are John B. Cobb and David R. Griffin; the former is the author (with Herman Daly) of For the Common Good, as well as many other works. As of 2010, nine books, almost six hundred articles, seventy-five master’s theses, and fifteen dissertations have been written in China on ecological Marxism. READ MORE

Head of the Dragon: The Rise of New Shanghai

Shanghai, 1989 
Two decades ago, when Shanghai’s leaders looked out over the new New China born of Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, it seemed history had gone off the rails. It wasn’t Shanghai, the city that invented Chinese capitalism, but Deng’s new experimental instant metropolis, Shenzhen, on the border with Hong Kong, that was brimming with factories and drawing thousands of ambitious young people from across the country. It was as if Deng had held a great national casting call for China’s next business hub and upstart Shenzhen had gotten the part Shanghai assumed she was destined to play. Hoping to set things right, Shanghai officials lobbied their superiors in Beijing, urging them to reopen to the world China’s historic global gateway city and financial center. 

Back then even Deng’s pro-market political allies were wary of Shanghai. Some officials worried that unleashing China’s cradle of cosmopolitanism and revolution could upend their rule. Others fretted that the symbolism alone would aid their ideological enemies. Deng was already beset by anti-market factions within the Party who warned that his new Special Economic Zones for international investment would become “foreign concession zones” reborn. Though Deng had been able to overrule them in creating Shenzhen, the symbolism of their critique would be much more salient in Shanghai, a city that had actually been a grouping of foreign concessions during China’s “Century of Humiliation,” from the Opium War through World War II. READ MORE

U.S. Drone and Surveillance Flight Bases in Africa Map and Photos | Public Intelligence

U.S. Drone and Surveillance Flight Bases in Africa Map and Photos | Public Intelligence

via Google Earth.

More photos HERE

Kazakhstan, a human rights disaster, hosts Iran Talks

IMF Accused of Double Standard on China's Currency Moves

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wind Energy to Dominate South Korea Renewable Energy Efforts

South Korea has potential wind reserves of more than 340 TWh of which close to 100 TWh is onshore and a whopping 243 TWh is offshore.
With the countries all over the world developing their wind energy potential, South Korea has also joined the trend by initiating a massive wind energy program that is expected to relieve the country of its huge fossil fuel imports that, currently, energize the country. South Korea has recently realized the vast wind reserves which has been given priority in the country’s renewable energy revolution. A recently published research report by Kuick Research has pointed out that the country holds one of the world’s largest wind resources with wind speeds in the higher limit.
The report details that South Korea has potential wind reserves of more than 340 TWh of which close to 100 TWh is onshore and a whopping 243 TWh is offshore. This indicates towards huge offshore wind energy potential that the administration has just beginning to tap. Another reason for the country to move offshore was because of the limited land available for wind farm development. The report gives detailed wind map studies with the wind speeds much faster than that required for power generation READ MORE

Dictator’s Daughter Returns to S. Korea President Mansion - Bloomberg

Dictator’s Daughter Returns to S. Korea President Mansion - Bloomberg

Thirty-four years ago, Park Geun Hye spent her last night in South Korea’s presidential mansion washing her assassinated father’s blood-soaked shirt. Today she returns as the country’s first female president.
The eldest daughter of the late President Park Chung Hee will be sworn into office at about 10 a.m. at an outdoor ceremony in front of the National Assembly. In succeeding Lee Myung Bakfor a single five-year term, Park, 61, inherits an economy burdened by a widening income gap, record household debt and the won’s 23 percent gain in six months against the yen that’s hurting export competitiveness with rival Japan. Her success may hinge on whether she can escape the shadow of her father’s dictatorial 18-year rule, which was marked by double-digit growth, as well as torture and censorship to quash dissent. READ MORE

Cave Art in China Shows Earliest Transsexual Orgy Porn, Claim Archaeologists - IBTimes UK

Cave Art in China Shows Earliest Transsexual Orgy Porn, Claim Archaeologists - IBTimes UK

Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs
Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs
Ancient rock carvings created thousands of years ago depict scenes of bisexual and transgender activity, according to a report.
If true, the images, dubbed the Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs, would be the oldest depictions of homosexual activity known to humanity.
The explicit carvings, which could date back to 2000BC, show 100 figures and cover a 30 sq ft area of rock in remote Xinjiang region in northwest China.  
They were discovered in the late 1980s by archaeologist Wang Binghua - but now a fresh light has been thrown on them by author Mary Mycio.
Mycio claimed that bisexual participants can be identified as hermaphroditic figures that combine male and female features. READ MORE

U.S. Detected Indian Nuclear Test Preparations in 1995, but Photo Evidence was "Clear As Mud" The Clinton Administration and the Indian Nuclear Test That Didn't Happen — 1995-1996

U.S. Detected Indian Nuclear Test Preparations in 1995, but Photo Evidence was "Clear As Mud"

President Bill Clinton meets Prime Minister Narasimha Rao at the White House on 19 May 1994, where he used a "soft" approach to encourage Indian support for a comprehensive nuclear test ban. That evening Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott raised the pressure.
Source: William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

The Clinton Administration and the Indian Nuclear Test That Didn't Happen — 1995-1996

Washington, D.C., February 22, 2013 – In the last months of 1995, U.S intelligence agencies detected signs of nuclear test preparations at India's test site in Pokhran, but the satellite photos that analysts studied were "as clear as mud," according to declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project.
The Clinton administration was worried that the Indians were about to stage a nuclear test because it could trigger a nuclear arms race with Pakistan and possibly encourage their "neighbors" to reconsider adherence to the Nonproliferation Treaty.[1] Documents in today's publication shed light on the intelligence watch over the Indian test site and the Clinton administration's efforts to head off a feared test.
Surveillance by U.S. intelligence of the Indian test site at Pokhran was intense. Declassified e-mails by Arms Control and Disarmament Agency staffers indirectly discuss satellite reconnaissance photography of the test site noting the mysterious rearrangement of cables possibly connecting to a test device. The e-mails provide readers with a sense of the difficulty of analyzing satellite photographs of intricate human-made structures. One of the e-mails, for instance, has this title: "The Mystery of the Cables Continues." The messages are also laden with humor: the apparent installation of a satellite TV dish, said one, could provide: "MTV for those long, lonely nights."

Return of the Gandhis - By James Traub | Foreign Policy

Return of the Gandhis - By James Traub | Foreign Policy

Experts Discuss Rising Obesity In Asia Pacific | Asian Scientist Magazine | Science, Technology and Medicine News Updates From Asia

Experts Discuss Rising Obesity In Asia Pacific | Asian Scientist Magazine | Science, Technology and Medicine News Updates From Asia
Experts Discuss Rising Obesity Epidemic In Asia-Pacific

South Korea's Park Geun-hye prepares to take country's reigns

Capitalism and Inequality What the Right and the Left Get Wrong By Jerry Z. Muller

Detail of A Social History of the State of Missouri by Thomas Hart Benton. (Getty Images / John Elk) 
Recent political debate in the United States and other advanced capitalist democracies has been dominated by two issues: the rise of economic inequality and the scale of government intervention to address it. As the 2012 U.S. presidential election and the battles over the "fiscal cliff" have demonstrated, the central focus of the left today is on increasing government taxing and spending, primarily to reverse the growing stratification of society, whereas the central focus of the right is on decreasing taxing and spending, primarily to ensure economic dynamism. Each side minimizes the concerns of the other, and each seems to believe that its desired policies are sufficient to ensure prosperity and social stability. Both are wrong.
Inequality is indeed increasing almost everywhere in the postindustrial capitalist world. But despite what many on the left think, this is not the result of politics, nor is politics likely to reverse it, for the problem is more deeply rooted and intractable than generally recognized. Inequality is an inevitable product of capitalist activity, and expanding equality of opportunity only increases it -- because some individuals and communities are simply better able than others to exploit the opportunities for development and advancement that capitalism affords. Despite what many on the right think, however, this is a problem for everybody, not just those who are doing poorly or those who are ideologically committed to egalitarianism -- because if left unaddressed, rising inequality and economic insecurity can erode social order and generate a populist backlash against the capitalist system at large. READ MORE

The United States Heads to the South China Sea Why American Involvement Will Mean More Friction -- Not Less

A Norweigian- and Chinese-owned offshore oil rig in the South China Sea, May 2006. (Bobby Yip / Courtesy Reuters)
When U.S. officials are asked to comment on disputes over contested islands in the western Pacific, they invariably affirm that the Obama administration has no position on issues of sovereignty but opposes any use of force to resolve the matter. "Whether with regard to disputes in the South China Sea or in the East China Sea," Deputy Secretary of State William Burns declared last October in Tokyo, the United States "does not take a position on the question of ultimate sovereignty." True to form, he continued, "What we do take a position on is the importance of dealing with those questions through dialogue and diplomacy and avoiding intimidation and coercion." In this and other such statements, the United States projects an aura of neutrality -- even suggesting, on occasion, that the country could serve as a good-faith mediator between disputants. But Washington's stance is less neutral than it appears and more geared toward violent conflict than talking it out.
In the East China Sea, China and Japan are squabbling over a cluster of small, uninhabited islands called the Diaoyu by the Chinese and the Senkaku by the Japanese. Japan has administered the islands since the end of World War II, but China, Taiwan, and Japan all lay claim to them. In the South China Sea, meanwhile, tensions have flared over several island groups, most notably the Spratly and Paracel islands (called, respectively, the Nansha and Xisha by China). China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim all of these islands, and Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim some of them. READ MORE

India must be Russia’s number one priority

India must be Russia’s number one priority
The 13th Indo-Russian summit between visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Source: Ria Novosti

“Two geopolitical factors must be brought to the forefront here: the first is that India currently ranks first in terms of Russian arms purchases; and second is that power in China is now in the hands of a new wave of young 40-something politicians that regard the USSR as history, believes Sergey Pisarev. While the old generation treated the Soviet Union as a serious power that shouldn’t be messed with, modern Chinese politicians see the Soviet Union as ancient history, and many Russian territories are marked as Chinese in their minds and on their maps.”
Many Russian politicians and diplomats, the businessman says, have noted that the new generation of Chinese politicians has been showing a certain aloofness. In the meantime, India became the world’s largest buyer of Russian arms in 2012. These two factors suggest that India should be Russia’s number one priority. If we manage to build a military-strategic, military-economic and cultural bloc with India, Russia will reap enormous benefits.
“Western culture is disintegrating before our eyes and Chinese culture remains somewhat of an enigma. In contrast, Indian culture has been close and familiar to us since the Soviet times. We accepted Indian music and Indian arts because Indian culture has always been comprehensible, not because someone imposed them on us. We have no major religious differences, because Buddhism is a faith that accepts everything. Indians have no problem with Christianity. The histories of Russia and India are very interesting. We used to have the same geopolitical enemy in England. India has always considered England to be an invader, and we had problems with England whenever the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union tried to build relations with India. It was believed that Russia would become an all-encompassing power if we formed a union with India, and our opponents did everything in their power to prevent such an alliance,” says Pisarev READ MORE

Renewing the South Korean Miracle

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SEOUL – South Korea’s incoming president, Park Geun-hye, takes over a country that has been a global role model for economic development. But, with the economy slowing, it has become a model in need of renewal.
The so-called “Miracle on the Han River” took root with the reforms initiated by Park’s late father Park Chung-hee, the country’s ruler for much of the 1960’s and 1970’s. A measure of South Korea’s success is that it was the first country to make the transition from being a recipient of OECD aid to becoming a donor, with per capita GDP today exceeding $30,000 (in purchasing power parity terms).
But the growth formula that long underpinned South Korea’s success – a form of state-guided capitalism that focuses on export-led manufacturing – is no longer working for many South Koreans. GDP has nearly tripled over the past 20 years, but, with real wages rising at less than half this rate, growth has become decoupled from the fate of ordinary citizens.
More than half of middle-income households spend more each month than they earn. The signs of social distress are multiplying. South Korea’s divorce rate has doubled, fertility rates have fallen to the fourth lowest among advanced economies, and the suicide rate is the highest in the OECD.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

EU-US Free Trade Agreement: End of the Asian Century? By Anthony Fensom

Did February 12 mark the end of the “Asian Century”, barely a decade after it began?
Delivering his State of the Union Address, U.S. President Barack Obama declared his key goals for trade policy in his second term as leader of the world’s biggest economy.
“To boost American exports, support American jobs, and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP),” Obama said in the address. “And tonight, I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union – because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”
The Obama administration previously set the goal of completing negotiations on the 11-member TPP by October, ahead of rival free trade agreements (FTAs) planned in Asia such as the “Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership” encompassing 16 nations or the mooted trilateral FTA between regional powers China, Japan and South Korea. READ MORE

Iran plans to build oil refinery in Pakistan Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian semi-official news agency says Iran is planning to build an oil refinery in Pakistan.
The plan is part of Iran's effort to decrease international pressure on its oil industry, which has been target of international sanctions over the country's disputed nuclear program.
Thursday's report by Fars quotes Asim Hussain, an adviser to the Pakistani prime minister, as saying that the refinery in the Pakistani port of Gwadar will be able to refine 400,000 barrels a day.
The report says Iran will sell products from the refinery to Pakistan in return of food, especially wheat, meat and rice.
The deal to build the refinery came after a meeting between Iran's oil minister Rostam Ghasemi and the Pakistani adviser.