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Index May 2007

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Effort BPO to set up call centre in China

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Published on The Financial Express.com, CORPORATE BUREAU, May 31, 2007.

MUMBAI, MAY 30: Mumbai based domestic call centre Effort BPO Ltd on Wednesday announced that the company has entered into a joint venture with China-based firm Asia Star and Hong Kong based Triple Three to establish a domestic call centre in China. The three partners will initially invest $1 million and will increase this to $ 6 million over a period of two years.

“Effort BPO will be holding 51% equity stake while Asia Star will own 24% and Triple Three 25%,” said Akshay Chabra, MD of Effort BPO.

The new venture will target about 1,000 seats and will take over Asia Star’s call centre business in Shanghai … (full text).

China, India studying potential for regional trade pact

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Published on domain-business.com, 30 May 2007.

Mumbai: China and India will complete a joint study on a potential regional trade pact, which could play a key role in Asian economic integration, by October.

“Government agencies and research institutions from the two sides, headed by the commerce ministry and the Indian department of commerce, have conducted a feasibility study on the regional trade arrangement,” China’s vice minister of commerce Yi Xiaozhun said.

Yi said the study would play a key role in the economic integration of Asia if it leads to a regional trade pact linking China and India. The move also comes amid an impressive 57 per cent growth in bilateral trade.

“We expect to complete the study by October,” the China Daily quoted him as saying. The study was kicked off in New Delhi in March 2006. So far, three rounds of working panels have been held studying issues concerning trade in goods, trade in services and investment … (full text).

Helping Hand, Aid to Failing States?

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Working paper DT/2006-14, by Lisa CHAUVET and Paul COLLIER, November 2006, JEL Code : C41, F35, 050.

Address: DIAL, 4, rue d’Enghien, 75010 Paris, Téléphone (33) 01 53 24 14 50, Fax (33) 01 53 24 14 51, E-mail, Homepage.

ABSTRACT

We define ‘failing states’ are those low-income states in which policy and governance is persistently very bad. We develop a theory of reform in these states in which several characteristics of the society might potentially be the binding constraint on change. We then introduce aid, disaggregated into technical assistance and finance, showing how it might affect these constraints. We then test our theory of aid and reform on global data. We estimate hazard functions to establish what enhances the prospects of sustained reform. We find that a proxy for the relaxation of the binding constraints postulated in the theory is highly significant. There is some evidence that both technical capacity in the society and elite interests are particularly important. Early aid has substantial but offsetting effects: technical assistance consolidates incipient reform whereas finance chills it.

Key Words: Fragile States, reforms, foreign aid, technical assistance, hazard model. (full text 24 pages).
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India and the PGCC intensify economic ties

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Published on Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA on May 30, 2007.

India and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council PGCC agreed Wednesday to further intensify their economic ties and finalize a free trade pact, while recognizing that oil and gas will remain the ‘mainstay’ of their cooperation.

A Mumbai Declaration released at the third edition of the two-day India-PGCC Industrial Forum calls for enhanced cooperation between the two sides in four specific areas — real estate, energy,
petrochemicals and infrastructure, IANS reported.

“Four specific areas of cooperation, not excluding others, have been deliberated to further the process and spearhead the expedition of investment ideas,” said Saudi Commerce and Industry Minister Hashim bin Abdullah bin Hashim Al-Yamani.

While energy will comprise oil, natural gas and electricity, the infrastructure sectors include ports, airports, railways, road transport and highways, senior officials who attended the two-day meeting in Mumbai said … (full text).

Economy may be booming in India, but not peace

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… a Study.

Published on The Economic Times /India Times, May 30, 2007.

… India’s booming economy may be attracting global attention on Wednesday but the Asian power still ranks a poor 109th among 121 nations on the scale of peace, a study said.

As a consolation for India, the country’s neighbours Sri Lanka and Pakistan rank even lower at 111 and 115 respectively, according to the Global Peace Index released on Wednesday.

Norway is the most peaceful country in the world and Iraq the least. Russia also ranks a lowly 118th.

The Global Peace Index, published a week before a Group of Eight (G8) summit in Germany, rates 121 countries from Algeria to Zimbabwe on some 24 factors including levels of violence, organised crime and military expenditure … (full text).

Earth, Inc. Sliding Into Bankruptcy

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Published on countercurrent.org, by Stephen Leahy, 29 May, 2007,
(they have it from Inter Press Service).

BROOKLIN, Canada, May 29 (IPS) – Build a shrimp farm in Thailand by cutting down mangrove forests and you will net about 8,000 dollars per hectare. Meanwhile, the destruction of the forest and pollution from the farm will result in a loss of ecosystems worth 35,000 dollars/ha per year.

Many leading development institutions and policy-makers still fail to understand that this ruthless exploitation for short-term profits could trigger an Enron-like collapse of “Earth, Inc.”, experts say.

For example, the World Bank and other economic development agencies would happily loan a shrimp farmer 100,000 dollars to clear more mangroves.

All economies depend on the natural capital lying within nature’s lands, waters, forests, and reefs, but humans have often treated them as if they had little value or were inexhaustible.

“Up till now, humans have been exploiting natural capital to maximise production of food, timber, oil and minerals at the expense of soil, water and biodiversity,” said Janet Ranganathan, director of people and ecosystems at the Washington-based World Resources Institute … (full text).

Hernando de Soto’s texts and videos

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Linked with Hernando de Soto – Peru, and with The Institute for Liberty and Democracy ILD.

Read his texts and listen to his (english) videos:

For spanish videos (and for more in english), go to Google-Video and put his name into the search tool.

Asian economic and corporate news summary

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Published by FXnews.com on May 28 2007.

BEIJING (XFN-ASIA) – A summary of Asian economic and corporate news at 1000 GMT: … (full text for Japan, South Korea, Hong-Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippnes, Australia & New Zealand).

India economy predicted to overtake Japan

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Forecasted by ABC Radio Australia.

Japan’s central bank chief predicts India’s economy will overtake the Japanese economy by 2025 to rank third in the world after the United States and China in terms of purchasing power parity.

Bank of Japan governor, Toshihiko Fukui, also urged India to loosen restrictions on capital flows and develop domestic bond markets so as to further integrate itself into the global economy.

He says everyone recognises the large and varied influence India is having on the world.

Mr Fukui is also pressing India to minimise environmental damage and take steps to boost energy efficiency to help curb high energy prices.

India is expected to report Thursday that its economy expanded at a record 9.2 per cent in the past financial year despite a series of monetary tightening measures by the central bank to cool inflation.

Same on Khaleej Times online.

We are 30 years behind China in terms of development

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Linked with Bibek Debroy – India.

Harsha Baruah interviews Bibek Debroy, published on Tehelka, May 12, 2007:

Two Excerpts:

… What about unemployment… no one has the correct data?

Firstly, unemployment data in India is notoriously unreliable, and I’m not talking about the National Sample Survey (NSS). If one speaks about the poor, many of whom are in the rural areas, it is an issue of underemployment, not unemployment. No one who is poor, strictly speaking, ought to be unemployed. Our labour force is 400 million, of which a little under 30 million is in the organised sector. What mps and the Left parties really talk about is the 30 million. Of the 30 million, around 20 million are employed in the government including the psus, and around 10 million are employed in the private organised sector. Today manufacturing altogether employs around 38 million people in India. If we apply the Chinese model to India, manufacturing would create employment for around 80 million. So we’d still have 320 million people for whom one would have to find jobs. I think the employment problem can only be solved if you begin to look outside manufacturing at rural transformation; at the services sector. As per nss surveys, about 55 percent of the male population reports itself as self-employed. Creating employment requires creating an environment where self-employment can take off …

… The standard comparison between India and China. Is that fair?

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Clearstream and some french politics

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Linked with Denis Robert – France.

Clearstream Banking S.A. (CB) is the clearing division of Deutsche Börse, based in Luxembourg: It was created in January 2000 through the merger of Cedel International and Deutsche Börse Clearing, part of the Deutsche Börse Group, which owns the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Cedel, established in 1971, specialized in clearance and settlement. In 1996 it obtained a bank license. In July 2002 Deutsche Börse purchased the remaining 50% of Clearstream International for €1.6 billion. Deutsche Börse’s strategy is to be a vertical securities silo, providing facilities for the front and back ends of securities trading. By 2004 Clearstream contributed €114 million to Deutsche Börse’s total Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) of €452.6 million. It handled 50 million transactions, and was custodian of securities worth € 7,593 trillion. In Révélation$ (2001), by investigative reporter Denis Robert and ex-Clearstream banker Ernest Backes, Clearstream was accused of being an international platform for money laundering and tax evasion via an illegal system of secret accounts (the “Clearstream Affair” / full long text on wikipedia).

Other links:

Strengthening Local Economies

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Picked up on Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter.

Published on worldwatch (not dated).

The wealth of a nation depends in large measure on the economic health of its cities. Strong local economies are the foundation of strong communities that can grow and withstand the pressures created by an increasingly urbanized world. And strong communities require a holistic approach that not only provides the traditional deliverables of economic development—jobs, income, wealth, security—but also protects the environment, improves community infrastructure, increases and develops local skills and capacity, strengthens the social fabric, and respects heritage and cultural identity.

While individual actions and lifestyle choices, such as buying organic produce, are important personal contributions, strengthening local economies requires a collective shift in individual actions and political choices. The cooperative economy of Emilia Romagna in northern Italy, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Vancity Credit Union in Vancouver, the Women’s International Sewing Cooperatives of Nueva Vida, and the campaigns for local trade across North America are all examples of the potential of community mobilization to help strengthen local economies … (full text).

U.S. arms sales to India

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U.S. expects breakthrough in arms sales to India, State Dept. – Published on NOVOSTI, russian news & information agency, May 24, 2007.

Two excerpts: U.S. arms exporters are ready to become major suppliers to the Indian market, while the Bush administration anticipates a breakthrough in bilateral defense relations next year, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs said …

… Moscow may not be thrilled by such ambitious plans as its military cooperation with Delhi goes back nearly 50 years, India accounting for about 40% of Russian arms exports. Eighty percent of India’s Armed Forces, the second- largest in the region, are equipped with Russian weaponry.

The two countries have signed a host of arms deals, worth $2.6 billion, including most recently an agreement on transfering Russian technology to build RD-33 jet engines in India and to develop a military transport plane together – seen as a move to secure a contract for 126 MiG-35 jet fighters against the backdrop of fierce competition from the U.S., Sweden and France. (full text).

More infos in russian.

EU governments & their aid promises

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Picked up on Weitzenegger’s Website for International Development Cooperation, and its Newsletter.

In 2002 and again in 2005 European Union governments committed to substantial increases in the amount of aid they give to poor countries. According to official figures most European countries are living up to their aid promises.

But European citizens should hold their applause. European governments continue to make misleading claims about their aid figures: nearly one third of Europe’s reported Official Development Assistance (ODA) was not in fact genuine aid.

Read this whole press release.

Download their 48 pages pdf-text.

Read also on CONCORD, the European NGO Confederation for relief and development.

Sectarian Fighting Overshadows Oil Law Debate in Iraq

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Published by Adam Wolfe, PINR The power and interests news report, May 23, 2007.

Iraq’s national oil law has been touted as a major step toward the political reconciliation of the country’s major sects. The U.S. military surge in Baghdad is, in part, designed to provide the sectarian-defined political groups breathing room to pass this and other measures that would give every group a greater stake in the political and economic future of a unified Iraq. Yet, as negotiations over the oil law drag on, and grow increasingly bitter, such reconciliation seems less and less likely.

It now appears impossible for Iraq’s parliament to pass the national oil law by the government-imposed deadline of May 31, 2007. The immediate cost of this failure will be economic — while many of the Western majors would not invest in Iraq due to the remaining security risks, Eastern and smaller oil firms appear willing if the political risks were first removed through legislation.

However, the long-term damage done by the failure to reach a consensus on the oil law will be a hardening of the sectarian fractures in Iraq’s political landscape … (full text).

The Nationalization of Venezuelan Oil

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Published by PINR The power and interests news report, May 21, 2007.

On May 1, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that the nationalization of the Venezuelan oil industry was complete, and that his country would formally withdraw from the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.) and World Bank. Beginning with changes to tax rates on foreign companies in April 2006, and strengthened by his landslide election victory in December 2006, Chavez handed control of Venezuela’s oil operations to state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (P.D.V.S.A.).

Since taking office in 1999, Chavez began to move away from the I.M.F. and World Bank. He attributes increased income inequality to the strict neoliberal policies of privatization and deregulation prescribed by both agencies. Having enjoyed ten consecutive quarters of high economic growth, including 8.8 percent growth in the first quarter of 2007, Venezuela was able to pay off the considerable amount of debt it owed years ahead of schedule … (full text).

Body mass politic

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Liked with Bibek Debroy – India.

Published by Bibek Debroy, The Indian Express, May 22, 2007.

A simple index can track real deprivation. Caste is so misguiding as policy tool.

Two excerpts: Is there a better question to ask, as the UPA completes three years, than who really is the aam aadmi? Who are India’s poor? How does public policy select the right beneficiaries? ‘Weaker sections’ is a vague expression. ‘Backward classes’ is a shade more precise, though we can go around in circles trying to define working class, lower class, proletariat, lumpen-proletariat, lower class, under-class and slave-class. Marxist taxonomy has contributed to further confusion. But it is obvious that class is fundamentally an economic construct.

Note that in 1963, when a 50 per cent cap was imposed by courts in the Balaji case, 50 per cent of India’s population was indeed below the poverty line (BPL). NSS (National Sample Survey) data show a BPL figure of 27.5 per cent in 2004-05 according to one method (uniform recall) and 21.8 per cent according to a different method (mixed recall). Today, if we continue to harp on 50 per cent, we fail to recognise India has changed. And we do harp on 50 per cent. 15 per cent for SCs and 7.5 per cent for STs add up to 22.5 per cent. Since courts allow 50 per cent, 27.5 per cent must be other backward classes (OBCs).

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ILO’s 96th International Labour Conference

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(Français, Español)

96th Session, 30 May -15 June 2007.

Information note for persons attending the 96th session of the International Labour Conference,

Homepage Labour Conference.

Korea fails to tap female workforce

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Published on Korea Herald, by Lee Sun-young, May 22, 2007.

Korea is failing to tap the labor pool of highly educated women, which in many advanced countries, was the key to economic expansion and prosperity, experts said yesterday.

Kim Young-ok, a senior researcher at Korean Women’s Development Institute, said in a forum held in Seoul that many advanced economies witnessed a significant rise in female workers’ participation in the labor market during the years leading up to the breaking of the $20,000 per-capita income mark.

“Although Korea’s per-capita income is nearing $20,000, its female employment rate has not increased to a noticeable degree,” she said.

According to 2004 OECD data, the female labor force participation rate of Asia’s third-largest economy is 54.4 percent, about 20 percentage points lower than that of advanced economies. It ranks 27th among the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The ratio indicates that only about half of Korean women aged between 16 and 64 years of age are employed. (full text).

Why Working Less Is Better For The Globe

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By Dara Colwell, published on AlterNet, May 21,2007.

Americans are working harder than ever before. The dogged pursuit of the paycheck coupled with a 24/7 economy has thrust many of us onto a never-ending treadmill. But of workaholism’s growing wounded, its greatest casualty has been practically ignored – the planet.

“We now seem more determined than ever to work harder and produce more stuff, which creates a bizarre paradox: We are proudly breaking our backs to decrease the carrying capacity of the planet,” says Conrad Schmidt, an internationally known social activist and founder of the Work Less Party, a Vancouver-based initiative aimed at moving to a 32-hour work week — a radical departure from the in early, out late cycle we’ve grown accustomed to. “Choosing to work less is the biggest environmental issue no one’s talking about.”

A backlash against overwork fatigue, the Work Less Party is one of a growing number of initiatives aimed at cutting work hours while tackling unemployment, environmentally unfriendly behavior and boosting leisure time. According to Schmidt, author of “Workers of the World RELAX,” which examines the economics of reduced industrial work, working less would allow us to produce less, consume less, pollute less and – no complaints here – live more.

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It’s Sholay in Sanskrit

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What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think — ‘Sanskrit’? An ancient Indian language that has formed the base for many languages including German? Or the liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism?

How about hit Bollywood songs like Papa kehte hain and Tum paas aayeee translated into India’s classical language?

Well, that’s exactly what a group of students from the University of Maryland, USA, have done as an initiative to promote Sanskrit in today’s day and age — all via cyberspace. Their website speaksanskrit.org is their way of popularising the language. So, where and how did it all begin?

It all started with a group of Indian students called DESI from the University of Maryland, who joined hands with Sanskrit promotion group Samskrita-Bharati in February 2005. (full text).

Some of today’s Asian economic news

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Energy concerns

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Some latest articles:

Brief Review Of Indian Ordnance Factory Conference

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Dated 17/5/2007,

Excerpt: … Though India imported military hardware and software worth 10.5 billion US $ in last 3 years, hardly any product falling in core activity area of Ordnance Factories figures in the import basket. However, the organization is aware of the requirement of Defence Forces to acquire smart weapons and ammunitions to manage modern warfare. The technology for the product manufactured in Ordnance Factories used to flow either from DRDO, the designated Defence R&D organization or from overseas Defence industries chosen by the user.

The R&D infrastructure in Ordnance Factories was limited to production technology leading to process improvement. Since Defence business management doctrine has undergone change and today Ordnance Factories have to secure order even from Defence Forces through competition, development of new products and upgrades has become a matter of paramount importance for sustained growth. Graduation from present miniscule scope on R&D to product development is an arduous task and requires specialists as well as infrastructure. Ordnance Factories are aware that this cannot be accomplished over night and delay in development will affect growth.

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Film-makers’s goal to get to Himalayas

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TWO women from Llanidloes are embarking on a journey of a lifetime to make a film in the remote mountain villages in Ladakh often referred to as ‘Little Tibet’, high in the Himalayas. Orla McConville and Chanah Hall will endure a mammoth journey including a flight to Delhi, a 24-hour train journey, a bus journey and a 4-day trek on foot into mountains covered by snow eight months of the year. Powys Environmental and Development Edu-cation Centre (PEDEC) who initiated this awareness-raising project, wished to offer this rare opportunity to young film-makers to explore the eight Millennium Development Goals. Orla and Chanah decided to focus on Gender Equality (goal number three) and Ensuring Environmental Sustainability (goal number seven). The two travellers will be staying alongside villagers at 3,500 metres – over three times higher than Snowdonia – which up until very recently has had little influence or contact from the Western World. It looks to be a fascinating insight into an ancient civilisation that like so many other communities are bearing the weight of Western influence, May 17, 2007. (full text).

Deal to see Indian defense spending soar

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By Siddharth Srivastava

NEW DELHI – In the past few years, India has emerged as one of the world’s biggest importers of military armament. And the South Asian country is just gathering steam.

Indian defense officials, who generally prefer not to be identified, have said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) should float within two months a long-delayed global tender for 126 multi-role combat jets in a deal believed to be worth close to US$10 billion.

“There are certain procedural issues that need to be resolved before we float a request for proposal [RFP] for the aircraft,” said an official. “This should happen in a month or two.”

There are also indications that the Defense Ministry could fast-track the process by issuing an RFQ (request for quotation) instead of an RFP for the fighter-jet contract. (full text).

Indian Minister cautions US on move to examine visa use

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New Delhi, May 16: Cautioning United States against restricting the existing liberalised regime in the services sector, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath today warned that US move to examine the use of H-1B visas by nine Indian companies would make it difficult for India to enhance its commitments in the services sector during negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Reacting to US lawmakers’ decison asking foreign companies, including Indians like Infosys, Wipro and TCS, to disclose details about their workforce using the American visa programme, he said the US move on utilisation of the special H-1B visa by Indian IT companies would not only restrict movement of skilled professionals but also have an adverse impact on the rapidly expanding services trade.

The Minister warned that it would be difficult for India to enhance its commitments in the services negotiations in WTO unless there is forward movement by trading partners like the US in such areas.

He said he will also raise this issue with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and in the G-4 meetings scheduled to be held in Brussels on May 17-19. (full text).

Forex turnover 6.6 times BOP

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By Our Correspondent

Mumbai, May 16: The turnover in the foreign exchange market is 6.6 times the size of India’s balance of payments during 2005-06 as compared to 5.4 times in 2000-01.

Disclosing this at the first French Indian Financial Forum Paris Europlace on Thursday, Dr Rakesh Mohan who talked of the developments in the financial markets in India said the basic aim of the financial market development is to aid economic growth and development.

He said there had been a complete transformation in the money market, the government securities market and the foreign exchange market over the past decade.

He said “in a low income economy like ours the cost of downside risk is very high and so the objective of maintaining financial stability has to be constantly kept in view as we develop financial markets.” (full text).

American Theocracy

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Linked with Kevin Phillips – USA.

Excerpt from a book review of Kevin Phillip’s American Theocracy, published on SCOOP, on 16 March 2006:

Excerpt: … From Ancient Rome to the British Empire, Phillips demonstrates that every world-dominating power has been brought down by an overlapping set of problems: a foolish combination of global overreach, militant religion, diminishing resources, and ballooning debt. It is exactly this nexus of ills that has come to define American’s political and economic identity at the start of this century. Matching his command of history with a penetrating analysis of contemporary politics, Phillips surveys a century of foreign policy and wars in the Middle East, showing how all, to one degree or another, reflected our ever-growing preoccupation with oil. Today, that dangerous inheritance includes clumsy military miscalculations, the ruinous occupation of Iraq, and sky-high oil prices.

Continue Reading…

Indian firms to tie with Iraq on oil

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Published on People’s Daily online, May 14, 2007.

Indian public sector firm Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Ltd. (OVL) and a private sector firm Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) could soon tie up to strike a strategic relationship for overseas gas and oil projects, national daily, The Hindu, reported Monday.

The newspaper reported that OVL is keen to revive talks with Iraq to get a stake in its Tuba oilfield. The newspaper quoted an unnamed official from OVL as saying that they were open to more of such partnerships with RIL.

It is reported that OVL had already completed negotiations with the Iraqi Government for the stake in the oilfield but the deal could not reach its final stage since the then Saddam government got overthrown at the time.

Had that deal gone through, OVL and RIL would have held 30 percent stake each in the oilfield. The remaining 40 percent stake would have been held by Algerian firm Sonatrach … (full text).

GCC ministers discuss economic integration

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Published on ‘The Gulf Today‘, May 14, 2007, by Business Bureau.

FINANCE ministers of the Gulf Co-operation Council GCC (in english) member states have discussed many important economic topics aimed at boosting economic integration, said Kuwait’s Finance Undersecretary Khalifa Hamada on Sunday.

Hamada, who is representing Kuwait’s Finance Minister Bader Al-Humaidhi at the 73rd GCC economic and monetary ministerial meeting, told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that ministers discussed means to overcome obstacles facing the joint customs union, establishing a joint GCC market this year, the monetary union, and the issuance of a common GCC currency by the year 2010.

He added that they reviewed in detail results of the 23rd meeting of finance and economy undersecretaries held here earlier this month, as well as recommendations of the council of governors of GCC central banks and monetary institutions held in Madina last month … (full text).

Links:

AICC functionary opposes forcible land acquisition

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Published on NewIndPress.com, Monday May 14 2007, by Orissa.

BHUBANESWAR: General Secretary of AICC V Narayanswami on Sunday opposed to the idea of forcibly acquiring land from the farmers for Posco steel plant at Paradip.

He told reporters here after the extended executive meeting of the party that the BJD-BJP Government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had extended all facilities to the Posco on the plea of it being the biggest single foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, but at the cost of the livelihood of the farmers.

He alleged that the district administration has conspired against the farmers to forcibly occupy the land from them in the thickly populated three panchayats in Jagatsinghpur district.

He also warned that the Congress would resort to agitation against the Government for showing undue favour to the industrial houses sacrificing the interest of the State … (full text).

Politics tangles new oil, gas pipeline plans

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Published on Daily Times Pakistan, May 13, 2007.

LONDON: “Happiness is multiple pipelines”, was a car-bumper sticker distributed by Americans in oil-producer Kazakhstan in the 1990s that highlights the energy-hungry West’s desire to boost oil and gas supply routes.

But building pipelines – especially privately-backed ones — often means tackling political or environmental obstacles that can take years to resolve.

“When you have multiple ownership pipelines crossing several borders it’s quite often difficult to get a political consensus to get these projects either completed or expanded,” said David Fyfe, economist at the International Energy Agency. Europe would like pipelines free of the grip of Russia, the world’s second biggest oil exporter and biggest gas producer.

The EU-backed Nabucco pipeline project to bring Caspian gas to Europe aims to cut reliance on Russia, but Hungary has yet to make up its mind on its involvement. Iran’s desire to join it is also politically sensitive. Russia backs its own link to Turkey … (full text).

First 1000 mw power plant in Mouda

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Published on The Economic Times / India Times, May 13, 2007.

NAGPUR: National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) will be setting-up a 1000 mw mega power project, the first in Maharashtra at Mouda on the outskirts of district, about 40 kms from here.

The project which remained on paper for quite some time has finally been cleared by all concerned agencies and NTPC has floated necessary tenders inviting bids for the project, official sources said. The cost of the project is Rs 5000 crores.

“The project has been given the status of mega one which will reduce the cost since concessions are extended on sales tax, excise duty and other taxes,” former Ramtek MP Subodh Mohite, the brain behind the project, told reporters, last night … (full text).

ILO says, workplace discrimination still rampant

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Picked up on United Press International upi, May 11, 2007.

Excerpt: … The International Labour Organisation ILO on Thursday said that rising gender disparities in income and opportunities persist in workplaces globally. “Despite major advances in fighting discrimination at work, mounting inequalities in income, significant and persistent forms of workplace discrimination are causing growing concern”, ILO (International Labour Organisation) said in a new report (The New ILO Global Report on Equality at Work 2007) released in Geneva.

The report entitled: “Equality at Work: Tackling the Challenges”,provided a global picture of job-related discrimination and recommendations to overcome them. It noted that people were not only being discriminated against based on their sex, race or religion, but also on newer criteria such as age, sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS status and disability.

ILO said barriers to equality could prevent societies from realising the full potential of today’s globalised economy, noting however that, its member states had made great progress in curtailing discrimination in the workplace.

Discrimination: “The condemnation of discrimination in employment and occupation is today almost universal”, it stressed, noting the progress been made since its first edition was issued four years ago as most of its member states ratified their conventions the issue. “However, the need to stamp out such discrimination has become far more urgent in the face of a world that appears increasingly unequal, insecure and unsafe”, the report observed. ILO warned that inequalities in income, assets and opportunities diluted the effectiveness of any action aimed at combating discrimination … (full text).

Kashmir to promote sheep husbandry

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… to meet increased mutton demand.

Linked with Kashmir – Shrinagar- Jammu.

Published on NewKerala.com, May 11, 2007, ANI.

Dachigam, Jammu and Kashmir: Kashmir is all set to promote sheep husbandry in a big way to meet increasing demand for mutton. Local sheep breeders say if the government policies work, it would also create ample job avenues in the sector. “Here the market for sheep is very good. The local demand and need here is more for wool or manure. This is also helping in generation of employment,” said Lateef Ahmed, a sheep breeder in Dachigam.

Last winter, due to heavy snowfall the national highway, the region’s only link to the rest of the country was closed for over a month, causing acute shortage of mutton in the valley, giving way to black marketing. But the State Government says this year the demand was met from its new breeding facilities at Daksum, Panthal, Dachigam and Resai, which are of international standards. (full text).

Party of Untouchables wins Uttar Pradesh, India

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Published by Y.P. Rajesh on Reuters India, Fri May 11, 2007

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Bahujan Samaj Party, the party championing the lowest castes, scored a surprise win in elections in Uttar Pradesh on Friday, while the country’s ruling and main opposition parties both lost ground.

The results were not expected to hurt Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s central coalition as the Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also fared poorly, disproving exit polls that had forecast an improved showing.

The victory of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which represents the country’s former “untouchables”, analysts said, could indicate that the state was moving away from divisive, caste-based politics and had voted for a new, broader coalition.

The BSP, headed by fiery teacher-turned-politician Mayawati, forged an unlikely alliance with the Brahmins, those on top of the Hindu caste hierarchy, touting it as a union of economically marginalised classes rather than a caste-based relationship.

“The people of Uttar Pradesh have risen above religion and caste divisions and have voted for us,” Mayawati told a news conference.

The strong show by the party was a vindication of its philosophy and was also a victory of the traditionally oppressed, she added.

“This is a vote in favour of good governance. She has broadbased her support base to head a national social coalition. This is the winning card,” said B.G. Verghese, a former editor and political analyst at New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research.

Home to about 170 million people, Uttar Pradesh in the northern Hindi heartland is one of the most crowded regions on earth. It is roughly the size of the United Kingdom yet only five nations, including India itself, have a higher population. (full text).

Venezuela victim of drug trade

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Published on IRIBnews.ir, May 09, 2007.

President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that Venezuela is a victim of drug trafficking. Earlier, Amerian drug Czar John Walters had accused the country of growing amounts of cocaine entering Europe.

“We are victim and a bridge for drug trafficking, for quite a while now,” Chavez told people at a Caracas theater. President Chavez reiterated that Venezuela does not produce drugs. (full text).

U.S. creates template for trade deals

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Published on Internat. Herald Tribune/Business, by By Steven R. Weisman,  May 10, 2007.

WASHINGTON: The Bush administration and the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, breaking a partisan impasse that had dragged on for months, were expected to reach agreement late Thursday on the rights of workers overseas to join labor unions. Both sides predicted that the agreement would clear the way for U.S. congressional approval of several pending trade agreements.

Democrats said the accord would be a major victory in their campaign to ensure that trade deals provided for the rights of workers to organize and that trading partner countries banned child labor and slave labor.

Details of the breakthrough were not available Thursday afternoon in Washington. The ramifications of the accord could go far beyond the countries affected – Panama, Peru and Colombia. All three countries have negotiated bilateral trade deals with the United States, but they have been held up for months by Democrats in Congress. (full text).