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Index November 2007

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Recession … For the Rest of This Decade and Beyond

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Published on LewRockwell, by Mike Whitney, November 29, 2007. http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/whitney3.html

Lately it seems as though everyone wants to take a poke at the dollar. Last week, it was the Brazilian supermodel who demanded euros for her jaunts on the catwalk instead of USD. The week before that, hip-hop impresario, Jay-Z, released a video dissin’ the dollar and praising the euro as the “baddest Dude in the ‘hood.”

Lambasting the greenback has become trendy. It’s a favorite pastime of politicians, too. At the November OPEC meeting in Riyadh, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked the assembled finance ministers to “study the feasibility of selling oil in another currency.” Ahmadinejad disparaged the dollar as “a worthless piece of paper.”

The fiery Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, followed Ahmadinejad’s lead predicting that the demise of the dollar would mean the “end of the Empire.”

Hugo may be on to something. The dollar is America’s Achilles heel; if the dollar tanks, so does the empire. That means the taxpayer will have to foot the bill for Bush’s bloody-interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than the Chinese.

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Myanmar – arrests continue two months on

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Published on AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, AI Index: ASA 16/041/2007 (Public), News Service No 229, 27 November 2007.

PRESS RELEASE: Amnesty International condemns the new arrests of political activists inside Myanmar, despite the commitment by Prime Minister Thein Sein to the UN Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari in early November that no more arrests would be carried out.

“Two months after the violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, arbitrary arrests continue unabated as part of the Myanmmar governments systematic suppression of freedom of expression and association, contrary to its claims of a return to normalcy,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme Director.

“Normalcy for the military government may mean a return to systematic and widespread human rights violations away from media attention, but the international community must no longer tolerate this situation,” added Catherine Baber.

Amnesty International confirms that the following arrests have occurred since early November:

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US veteran population, a mounting social catastrophe

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Published on WSWS, by Naomi Spencer, 20 November 2007.

As thousands of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan return to the US, the dimensions of the social burden of war are beginning to take shape. A number of recent reports highlight the toll colonial occupation has taken on the physical and mental health of military personnel, as well as the lack of US government medical and financial assistance awaiting them on their return.

Incidence of veteran suicide, homelessness, drug addiction, incarceration, severe poverty, unmanaged mental illness, and the redeployment of mentally unstable troops all point to a growing social crisis faced by returning soldiers and a military on the verge of collapse.

More than 3,860 US troops have been killed in Iraq, and well over 60,000 soldiers have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Because of medical and technological advances, the ratio of survivors to fatalities in the current war operations is greater than in any other war in modern history. Thousands of wounded soldiers are surviving with extremely serious injuries, and many more suffer untreated psychological and brain trauma on the battlefield.

When these soldiers return to the United States, they face long waits for medical care in overcrowded, mismanaged, and underfunded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilitiesor drop out of the system entirely, into all manner of social misery.

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Iran Looks for Allies through Asian and Latin American Partnerships

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Published on PINR, by Benedetta Berti, November 27, 2007.

Iranian economic cooperation and energy policy within the developing world serve as pillars of its foreign policy strategy, helping both its quest for regional hegemony in the greater Middle East and its position vis--vis the international community in the context of the ongoing nuclear crisis.

To increase its political capital and international standing, Tehran is not only investing in its most vital area of interest (the Middle East) and in its regional geopolitical environment — which encompasses Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region — but is also acting globally, extending its influence well beyond its traditional area of reach through political-economic alliances.

This trend seems to be confirmed by Iran’s current diplomatic, political and economic global partnerships in Asia and Latin America, a powerful tool to consolidate old alliances and gain new partners.

China, Pakistan and India: Iran Looks East: …

… Regionally, the increased political capital and international standing can be leveraged by Iran in the greater Middle East, its most vital area of interest. In this sense, economic and political partnerships serve as power enhancers for the Islamic Republic, which needs to gain both internal stability and external credibility in order to assume a leadership role in the region.

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America’s Days of Reckoning, Good-Bye to All That

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Published on Counterpunch, by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, November 26, 2007.

Pat Buchanan is too patriotic to come right out and say it, but the message of his new book, Day of Reckoning, is that America as we have known her is finished. Moreover, Naomi Wolf
(also here) agrees with him. These two writers of different political persuasions arrive at America’s demise from different directions.

Buchanan explains how hubris, ideology, and greed have torn America apart. A neoconservative cabal with an alien agenda captured the Bush administration and committed American blood, energy, and money to aggression against Muslim countries in the Middle East, while permitting America’s domestic borders to be overrun by immigrants and exporting the jobs that had made the US an opportunity society. War and offshoring have taken a savage economic toll while open borders and diversity have created social and political division.

In her new book, End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, Wolf explains America’s demise in terms of the erosion of freedoms. She writes that the ten classic steps that are used to close open societies are currently being taken in the US. Martial law is only a declaration away …

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Rise in women’s migration …

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… spurs development, says World Bank

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

Published on forbes, November 26, 2007.

BANGALORE (Thomson Financial) – A global increase in women’s migration is having enormous effects on development and may lead to benefits like reductions in household poverty, a World Bank report said.

Women now make up almost half the migrant population in the world. The number of international women migrants increased by almost 3 pct points to 49.6 pct between 1960 and 2005, to about 95 mln …

… Mexican women migrants to the US are overwhelmingly employed in the non-agricultural sector when compared with their male counterparts.

However, there is a need to develop mechanisms to increase women’s ability to influence the allocation of household expenditure to increase the positive effects of women migration on development, the World Bank report added. (full text).

Same topic on worldbank.

Links:

Policy Coherence for Development 2007, Migration and Developing Countries, by OECD;

Chhattisgarh women take to self-help, about 7,000 self-help groups operate in Rajnandgaon district alone, where more than half of the 1.2 million people are women, November 24, 2007.

Supporting Business Environment Reforms

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(Practical Guidance for Development Agencies, the Draft was distributed for the Accra Conference, October 9-13, 2007)

Linked with Association of International Schools in Africa aisa, and with The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development.

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

Published on Enterprise Development.org, by Donor Committee for Enterprise Development, 34 pages, 5-7 November 2007.

Download the Draft:

This guidance incorporates the views of a broad range of development agency staff working to support business environment reforms for the private sector development. The Donor Committee relies on you, development practitioners, to assess the content and usefulness of this guidance and give us your feedback so that we can improve the guidance before publishing this edition. (Constructive feedbacks by email to Simon White and Andrei Mikhnev or through the web-site).

Key Messages:

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The Dollar is America’s Achilles’ heel

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Published by Online Journal, by Linda S. Heard, November 22, 2007.

Dump it or stay with it is a question being mulled over by private investors, financial institutions, major corporations and central banks around the world in relation to the weakened US greenback.

On Sunday, it was the turn of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Speaking at a press conference following the recent OPEC meet in Riyadh, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said all member states are concerned about the falling US currency and have asked their finance ministers to study the feasibility of selling oil in another currency.

However, OPEC’s official communique omitted to mention any such intention, probably due to Saudi Arabia’s determination to not rock an already capsizing boat. It’s interesting to note, though, that for the first time Saudi Arabia declined to cut interest rates in concert with the last Federal Reserve decision.

It is certainly a dilemma for oil-producing nations. Sticking to a currency in decline doesn’t appear to make financial sense on the surface, but were they to change, say, to euros there is a good chance the dollar would collapse causing chaos in world markets and a possible global recession.

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First Woman, First Black, First Latino, or First Honest President?

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Published on Countercurrents.org, by Joel S. Hirschhorn, 21 November, 2007.

The phrase honest politician has become an oxymoron. We should not be impressed by the prospect of having the first woman, first black or first Latino president. What would be far more radical would be to have the first honest president, if not ever, certainly in a very long time.

Presidents in recent memory have been excellent liars, contributing mightily to our culture of dishonesty. Bill Clinton had the audacity to look right into the TV camera and blatantly lie to the American public. George W. Bush has probably set a record for official lying, though it might take many decades to fully document them. Carl M. Cannon saw the bigger truth: posterity will judge [George W. Bush] not so much by whether he told the truth but whether he recognized what the truth actually was.

Things have gotten so bad that hardly anyone can even imagine an honest president. But if we dont expect an honest president, how can we expect to trust government …

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Woes of privatisation in South Africa

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Linked with Mandisi Majavu – South Africa.

Published on Zmag, by Mandisi Majavu, November 10, 2007. (Originally published in Business Daily Africa, 28-September-2007).

2 excerpts: Economic policies that endorse the privatisation of everything we hold dear do not create economic opportunities for the majority of people in South Africa. In fact , such policies exacerbate inequality and social injustice. An economic system that is inherently designed to create inequality by favouring the wealthy over the poor cannot be expected to create fair economic opportunities for all. To expect such a system to operate differently is wishful thinking.

The poor know this, and that is why they are up in revolt in places such as Joe Slovo, Mandela Park and Soweto. Social movements in this country exist to oppose a despicable system, an appalling and ugly system, to paraphrase Keynes …

… Post-colonial thinkers have yet to conceptualise a liberatory State structure that does not facilitate a mere replacement of the old colonial ruling class with the new post-colonial ruling elite. We have yet to come up with a political and economic vision of life after colonialism. In many post-colonial countries, economic life became slightly different in the sense that the ownership of work places and resource was transferred from the hands of colonial masters to the hands of a new black elite.

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‘War of Position’, Anti-Capitalist Attrition as a Revolutionary Strategy for Non-Revolutionary Times

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Linked with Mandisi Majavu – South Africa.

Published on Znet, by S.J.Darcy, November 13, 2007.

An excerpt of the end: … Finally, we need to identify some basic methods for pursuing the third strategic objective of the attrition strategy: constructing an anti-corporate alliance, capable of posing a real threat to capitalism. The first thing to do is to specify the appropriate constituency of such a political project. The forces of anti-capitalism are now few in number, but we need to gain influence among a constituency much broader than ourselves. Here we need not innovate: the Left has traditionally identified as its audience a broad sector of the populace, consisting of the membership of working-class organizations, classically including unions and co-operatives, and their natural allies in those democratic and egalitarian community organizations working within civil society to achieve social and environmental justice, and political and economic democracy. This constituency has the two advantages of being both potentially receptive to anti-capitalist (or at least anti-corporate) politics, and potentially powerful in the threat that it can pose to the status quo. So, what we need to do is mobilize this constituency to build a powerful anti-corporate alliance of labour and community organizations. But, no less important, we need also to ensure that radicals, of varying political stripes, are able to operate within these labour and community organizations, and to have a certain influence within them, which will naturally tend to be greater in times of significant social upheaval, and weaker in other periods.

The value of such a labour/community alliance for the anti-capitalist project is clear. But what, tactically speaking, can we do to build it? Heres two crucial elements of the answer to that question.

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Why war with Iran is likely

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Linked with Justin Raimondo – USA.

Published on Press TV, by Justin Raimondo, 10 Nov 2007.

Excerpt: … Americans see their leading politicians “debating,” but none of them are opposing war with Iran: indeed, they all seem to be going along with it, with a few exceptions – and these exceptions, precisely because they aren’t going along to get along, are invariably dismissed by the pundits as “minor” or “fringe” candidates, who cannot under any circumstances be taken seriously.

The majority of Americans now want a definite deadline for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, and yet not a single “major” candidate for president proposes such a course. What’s more, if he or she did, they would be immediately relegated to second or third-tier status, even as their campaign fundraising dried up for reasons convincingly explained by Wesley Clark.

Beating the drums for war, the Israel lobby is pulling out all the stops, and this time they are out in the open about it. The fear that the Lobby would be too visible in promoting Israel’s interests motivated them to keep a relatively low profile during the run-up to war with Iraq, but it isn’t holding them back now. AIPAC, for one, is openly leading the charge for war, and, as the overwhelming vote in favor of Kyl-Lieberman indicates, they are doing a bang-up job of it.

The Democrats are terrified of the Lobby: the loss of all that New York money, which is essential for Hillary’s victory, would be a disaster for them. Not that there is much danger of Hillary forgetting her good friends in the military-industrial complex, who have donated more to her than to all the others combined. She, after all, has a lot to prove: can a woman be a tough commander-in-chief?

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Radioactive Ammunition (containing depleted uranium DU) …

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Published on OpEdNews, by Sherwood Ross, November 19, 2007.

Radioactive Ammunition Fired in Middle East May Claim More Lives Than Hiroshima and Nagasaki

By firing radioactive ammunition, the U.S., U.K., and Israel may have triggered a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East that, over time, will prove deadlier than the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan.

So much ammunition containing depleted uranium (DU) has been fired, asserts nuclear authority Leuren Moret, The genetic future of the Iraqi people for the most part, is destroyed …

… Radioactive fallout from DU apparently blew far and wide. Following the initial U.S. bombardment of Iraq in 2003, DU particles traveled 2,400 miles to Great Britain in about a week, where atmospheric radiation quadrupled.

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Nuclear Revival in Europe Increasingly Likely

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Published on PINR, November 13, 2007.

Recent news reports from Europe suggest that a nuclear revival in the European Union is increasingly likely. Soaring hydrocarbon prices and lasting uncertainties regarding hydrogen-based solutions are making the combination between civil atomic power and alternative energy a promising prospect for governments in the European Union. (The New Role of Coal in Energy Security) …

… Paris’ role in the re-launch of atomic energy in Europe has been paramount. PINR noted on August 25, 2005 that given Paris’ importance in the European energy market, one could “expect nuclear power to be re-launched on a continental Scale. (French Energy Policy).

The bottom line is that as environmental concerns rise in the European Union, and since European states have made ecology a top priority, the above mentioned dynamics are getting stronger: the more that CO2 emissions and global warming become urgent issues, the more atomic energy will be viewed through a new light. In fact, because China, India, Brazil, and other countries are rapidly emerging as new economic giants in the world, hundreds of millions of people will soon need electricity. As a consequence, great powers will need to decide whether new energy will be provided by hydrocarbons or by other methods, such as nuclear energy.

While the European Union is known to have had difficulties in formulating a unitary energy policy, it is likely that it will soon be called to take a decision on nuclear energy at a continental level. It is also almost certain, in light of recent surveys, that more and more European citizens will be ready to accept a return to nuclear power. (full text).

The Contradictions of Washingtons Middle East Policy

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Published on Voltairenet.org, by Justin Raimondo, November 3, 2007.
This article was originally published by AntiWar.com.

Whos Behind the PKK? In a word: Washington

2 excerpts: … The serial numbers of arms captured from PKK fighters have been traced back to U.S. shipments to Iraqi military and police units. Responding to Turkish complaints, the Americans claim these arms were diverted by the Iraqis presumably the Kurdish regional government but the Turks arent buying it: if the large quantity of U.S.-made arms (1,260 seized so far) turns out to have been directly provided to the PKK by the Americans, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul warned, U.S.-Turkish “relations would really break apart.” U.S. diplomats immediately rebuffed this suggestion, and Washington dispatched the Pentagons general counsel, William J. Haynes, to the scene, where he met with top Turkish military leaders. According to at least one report, “The meeting discussed an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Defense into reports that U.S. arms were being sold by U.S. troops in Iraq.

Another clue to what is really going on here is provided by the news that the FBI has volunteered to help the Turks find out where the PKK is getting its funding and weapons and doesnt that strike you as odd? FBI director Robert Mueller said, “We are working with our counterparts elsewhere in Europe and in Turkey to address the PKK and work cooperatively, to find and cut off financing to terrorist groups, be it PKK, al-Qaeda,” or whatever. Yet why would the FBI get involved at all, unless, of course, Americans were somehow involved? Foreign Minister Gul confirmed this to the Turkish media, stating:

“1,260 weapons captured from the PKK are American-made. We documented it to the U.S. These are of course not given directly to the PKK by the U.S. These are the ones that were given to the Iraqi army. Unfortunately some U.S. officers were corrupt. The Department of Defense informed us that a serious investigation is underway.”

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Toute vrit nest pas bonne entendre

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Publi par Voltairenet.org, par Salim Lamrani (Enseignant, crivain et journaliste franais, spcialiste des relations entre Cuba et les tats-Unis), Nov. 15, 2007.

Hugo Chvez, Jos Luis Rodriguez Zapatero et le roi dEspagne

Au-del de son caractre anecdotique, laltercation survenue lors du XVIIe Sommet ibro-amricain rvle la probable implication du roi dspagne, Juan Carlos de Borbn, dans la tentative de coup dtat organise par les tats-Unis contre le prsident rgulirement lu du Venezuela, en 2002. En tous cas, elle manifeste une arrogance anachronique des puissances occidentales:

3 Excerpts: … Plusieurs dignitaires latino-amricains tels quEvo Morales de Bolivie, Carlos Lage de Cuba, Daniel Ortega du Nicaragua et Hugo Chvez ont appel linstauration dun nouveau modle conomique alternatif au nolibralisme sauvage qui ravage le continent depuis les annes 1980. La privatisation des ressources naturelles et des entreprises latino-amricaines, qui ont entran la ruine de nombreuses conomies et plong dans un dsarroi social sans prcdent les populations, ont uniquement profit aux lites locales et aux multinationales trangres. Les services de base comme leau potable, les systmes dassainissement, les tlcommunications ou lnergie ne doivent pas continuer appartenir au domaine priv , a dclar Morales [1] …

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The Monarchys Clash with Socialism

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Published on Dissident Voice, by Pablo Ouziel, November 16, 2007.

On August the 1st 1969, Time magazine quoted Generalissimo Francisco Franco saying: Conscious of my responsibility before God and history and taking into account the qualities to be found in the person of Prince Juan Carlos of Borbn, who has been perfectly trained to take up the high mission to which he might be called, I have decided to propose him to the nation as my successor.

With this statement began the formal relationship between Spains present king and the countrys fascist dictator.

In November 2007, at the Ibero-American Summit in Santiago, Chile, the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, pointed his finger at Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez and asked him, Why dont you shut up? This was after Chvez had called Jos Mara Aznar, Spains former Prime Minister, a fascist and while Jos Luis Rodrguez Zapatero, the current Spanish Prime Minister, was trying to defend Aznar.

This scene from the Ibero-American Summit has now travelled the globe through every mainstream news media channel; however, it has been used once again as an opportunity to attack Hugo Chavez for his rudeness and out-of-line commentary, when in fact, not only is it a fairly accurate statement, but it also should be used as an opportunity by political analysts worldwide to bring out the extent to which fascist factions are still very much alive in Spains political reality.

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Averting World War III, Ending Dollar Hegemony and US Imperialism

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Published on Dissident Voice, by Rohini Hensman, November 16, 2007.

An excerpt: … If the Bush administration has decided to attack Iran militarily, is there any power on earth that can stop it if the people of the US are unable or unwilling to do so? The argument below is that if the USAs ability to undertake imperial conquests depends on its obvious military supremacy, this in turn is ultimately based on the use of the US dollar as the worlds reserve currency. It is the dominance of the dollar that underpins US financial dominance as a whole as well as the apparently limitless spending power that allows it to keep hundreds of thousands of troops stationed all over the world. Destroy US dollar hegemony, and the Empire will collapse.

David Luddens article Americas Invisible Empire4 sums up the problem of the worlds most recent empire with remarkable clarity. Constituting itself at a time when decolonisation was well under way and other empires were disintegrating, US imperialism could never openly speak its name. Initially, it disguised itself as the defender of democracy against communism; when the Soviet Union ceased to exist, the pretext became the war against terror. National security and national interest were invoked as the rationale for global dominance.

Luddens description evokes the image of US citizens (and a few others) living in a Truman Show world, a bubble of illusion created by state deception and media complicity that prevents them from being aware of the reality of empire, although everyone outside can see it only too clearly. It sounds quite credible that the empire will not be undone until its reality and costs become visible to Americans (p.4777). However, Luddens claim that US taxpayers and voters pay the entire cost of the US empire (p.4776) is less credible. If that were true, many more Americans would see their empire and oppose it; the Democrats would have put up a principled opposition to the occupation of Iraq and threatened war against Iran, and the overwhelming majority of the US electorate would have supported them. But it is the rest of the world that has been paying for the US empire: that is why it is almost invisible within the US.

The history of dollar hegemony: … (full text).

WELCOME TO WORLD WAR 4

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Linked with World War 4 Report

Published on world war 4 report, by Bill Weinberg, Jan. 17, 2005.

When opposite ends of the political spectrum agree on an initially improbable proposition, there is often something to it.

Since the end of World War II and concomitant dawn of the nuclear age in 1945, the planet has been anticipating a conflict worthy of the name “World War III,” with all its apocalyptic connotations. Two days after 9-11, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman announced that it had finally arrived: “Does my country really understand that this is World War III?”

Similarly, the day after the horrific Sept. 3, 2004 schoolhouse massacre in Beslan, North Ossetia, the Times quoted Moscow’s Orthodox Rev. Aleksandr Borisov warning his parishioners of pro-Chechen terror attacks throughout Russia, and declaring: “World War III has begun” …

… The phrase “Fourth World” has also been adopted by adherents of the radical decentralist Leopold Kohr, whose 1957 manifesto The Breakdown of Nations anticipated the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the current worldwide resurgence of ethnic regionalism. Kohr’s vision of a human-scale world was inspired, in part, by the anarchists who seized local power in Catalonia and Aragon during the Spanish Civil War, when he was working there as a war correspondent. Kohr died in 1994, but his intellectual heir John Papworth still publishes a Fourth World Review in England. The journal’s kicker is “For Small Nations, Small Communities & the Inalienable Sovereignty of the Human Spirit.”

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Disarmament and development

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Linked with Pascal Boniface – France, and with Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratgiques IRIS.

Published on Dsarmement Genve, by Mr. Pascal Boniface, February 5-7, 2003.

The logic of disarmament for the development is registered in the UNO Charter itself of which the article 26# sets for mission to the Security Council to support the establishment and the maintenance of peace and international safety by diverting towards the armaments only the minimum of human and economic resources of the world …

… II The way of the taxation:

It is a question of creating resources by the creation of a tax related to the activities of defence. The difficulties are many. It is necessary for that this type of operation is set up, that at least the richest countries accept the principle of an international taxation. One knows the debates – and impossibility of succeeding – on the “Tobbin Tax”. Can one imagine that, based on which plate related to the activities of defence, the imposition will be accepted better? It risks to be more defended that one will not be subjected. The potential not-contributors will be enthusiastic, the contributors definitely less.

Lets mention some projects or proposals however:
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Suicide rate high among US veterans

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Download a video on VOAnews: ‘watch mental health report‘, Nov. 14, 2007.

The following article is published on PRESS TV, 14 Nov 2007.

IRIB English Radio has interviewed Anita Dennis, mother of an Iraq combat veteran in Connecticut, on the factors prompting US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to commit suicide. The transcript of the interview follows:

Q: Mrs. Dennis, findings of preliminary Veterans Affairs Department research obtained by the Associated Press revealed for the first time that there were at least 283 suicides among veterans who left the military between the start of the war in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 and the end of 2005 and a total of 147 troops have killed themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of the war. So on the whole 430 troops have killed themselves over the past six years. What is the reason in your opinion?

A: I think it is the post traumatic stress disorder coming back out of the war where you are fighting or you are not fighting in army and you are sending 19-20 year old kids off to make this decision where they have no choice and then they have to lie with their decisions.

But my son almost shot a 14 year old kid and then had to live the rest of his life with taking the life of a 14-year-old child and so I have spoken to quite a few parents that their sons have come back, committed suicide and also you know my son has been depressed and having intrusive thoughts of suicide for three years …

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Divisions in our world are not the result of religion

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Published by Countercurrents.org, by Karen Armstrong & Andrea Bistrich, 14 November, 2007.

Excerpt of an interview: … What has made Fundamentalism, seemingly, so predominant today?

The militant piety that we call “fundamentalism” erupted in every single major world faith in the course of the twentieth century. There is fundamentalist Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Confucianism, as well as fundamentalist Islam. Of the three monotheistic religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam was the last to develop a fundamentalist strain during the 1960s.

Fundamentalism represents a revolt against secular modern society, which separates religion and politics. Wherever a Western secularist government is established, a religious counterculturalist protest movement rises up alongside it in conscious rejection. Fundamentalists want to bring God/religion from the sidelines to which they have been relegated in modern culture and back to centre stage. All fundamentalism is rooted in a profound fear of annihilation: whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, fundamentalists are convinced that secular or liberal society wants to wipe them out. This is not paranoia: Jewish fundamentalism took two major strides forward, one after the Nazi Holocaust, the second after the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In some parts of the Middle East, secularism was established so rapidly and aggressively that it was experienced as a lethal assault … (full interview text).

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The Grand Delusion

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Linked with Joel S. Hirschhorn – USA, and with Friends Of the Article V Convention FOAVC.

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Joel S. Hirschhorn, 12 November, 2007, and on OpEdNews.com, 10 Nov. 2007.

With an endless, futile and costly Iraq war, a stinking economy and most Americans seeing the country on the wrong track, the greatest national group delusion is that electing Democrats in 2008 is what the country needs.

Keith Olbermann was praised when he called the Bush presidency a criminal conspiracy. That missed the larger truth. The whole two-party political system is a criminal conspiracy hiding behind illusion induced delusion.

Virtually everything that Bush correctly gets condemnation for could have been prevented or negated by Democrats, if they had had courage, conviction and commitment to maintaining the rule of law and obedience to the Constitution. Bush grabbed power from the feeble and corrupt hands of Democrats. Democrats have failed the vast majority of Americans. So why would sensible people think that giving Democrats more power is a good idea? They certainly have done little to merit respect for their recent congressional actions, or inaction when it comes to impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

One of the core reasons the two-party stranglehold on our political system persists is that whenever one party uses its power to an extreme degree it sets the conditions for the other party its partner in the conspiracy to take over. Then the other takes its turn in wielding excessive power. Most Americans at least those that vote seem incapable of understanding that the Democrats and Republicans are two teams in the same league, serving the same cabal running the corporatist plutocracy. By keeping people focused on rooting for one team or the other, the behind-the-scenes rulers ensure their invisibility and power … (full text).

India – communists turn unpopular over SEZ plans

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Published on IPS.org, by Sujoy Dhar, November 12, 2007.

KOLKATA, Nov 12 (IPS) – When acclaimed filmmaker Aparna Sen refused to participate in a state-run film festival, that began on the weekend, it was a sign of how alienated Bengali intellectuals have become from a programme of economic reforms undertaken by Marxists who have ruled West Bengal state for 30 years.

Monday saw West Bengal paralysed by a general strike called to protest the killings of at least six villagers in Nandigram, as they fought well-armed cadres of the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) they believed were after their land.

Last weeks killings at Nandigram, located about 150 km south of the provincial capital of Kolkata, were only the latest in a series of clashes, between the villagers and CPI-M cadres backed by the state police, since January over the provincial governments plans to acquire land for a special economic zone (SEZ).

Violence in Nandigram has now claimed 34 lives since January and forced the state government to scrap plans for the SEZ. But, a turf battle has raged on in the village between the CPI-M, which leads the Left Front government in West Bengal, and the Bhumi Uchched Pratriodh Committee (BUPC), a local group formed to resist land acquisition … (full text).

… trafficking in human beings in Europe

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Received by mail:

From HREA Human Rights Education Associates, and its Newsletter
Date: 12/11/2007.

Published on Council of Europe: New independent body to be created to monitor trafficking in human beings in Europe

Strasbourg, 09.11.2007 A group of ten to fifteen independent experts will form in 2008 the Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), a specialised body to oversee the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (CETS n 197) in the countries that have ratified it.

Its members will serve in their individual capacity and will be elected for a 4 year term, renewable once, taking into account gender and geographical balance. They will be chosen from among experts of high moral character in the field of Human Rights, assistance and protection of victims and action against trafficking in human beings.

From 8-9 November in a conference in Strasbourg the Council of Europes member and observer states, international governmental organisations and NGOs have discussed the content, selection criteria of members and working methods of GRETA. Council of Europe experts shared their views with representatives of states, the OSCE, the European Commission, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Anti Slavery International, Amnesty International and La Strada International.

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The Lessons of Easter Island

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(Rapa Nui, Osterinsel, Ile de Paques, Isla de Pascua)

Published on Primitivism.com, by Clive Ponting, not dated.

(This article is a chapter excerpt from Clive Ponting’s ‘A Green History of the World, The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations’ and matches with the official scientific statements).

3 excerpts: Easter Island is one of the most remote, inhabited places on earth. Only some 150 square miles in area, it lies in the Pacific Ocean, 2,000 miles off the west coast of South America and 1,250 miles from the nearest inhabitable land of Pitcairn Island. At its peak the population was only about 7,000. Yet, despite its superficial insignificance, the history of Easter Island is a grim warning to the world …

… The Easter Islanders’ solution to the problem of transport provides the key to the subsequent fate of their whole society. Lacking any draught animals they had to rely on human power to drag the statues across the island using tree trunks as rollers. The population of the island grew steadily from the original small group in the fifth century to about 7,000 at its peak in 1550. Over time the number of clan groups would have increased and also the competition between them. By the sixteenth century hundreds of ahu had been constructed and with them over 600 of the huge stone statues. Then, when the society was at its peak, it suddenly collapsed leaving over half the statues only partially completed around Rano Raraku quarry. The cause of the collapse and the key to understanding the ‘mysteries’ of Easter Island was massive environmental degradation brought on by deforestation of the whole island …

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Economic Development in Africa

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

Published on UNCTAD.org, 123 pages, 2007.

Reclaiming Policy Space, Domestic Resource Mobilization and Developmental States, UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT, Geneva

Excerpt of chapter 3, TOWaRDS a DEVELOPMEnTaL STaTE: … In a comprehensive study of these economies, the World Bank was more cautious in its conclusions, to the point of fudging the issues at stake. It identified market-friendly policies as part of the policy menu of these countries. At the same time, the Bank acknowledged the role of government policies in the areas of skills acquisition, technological progress, and financial and labour markets (World Bank, 1993). Not surprisingly, therefore, the Bank has been accused of falling prey to the traditional dichotomies of States versus markets and exportoriented versus import substitution, an attitude which is symptomatic of the reluctance or the unwillingness of conventional economists to acknowledge the contributions of heterodoxy to the development debate (Akyz et al., 1998).

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GLOBALIZATION AND CULTURAL DIPLOMACY

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Linked with Harvey B. Feigenbaum – USA.

Published on Cultural Policy.org, Harvey B. Feigenbaum, 29 pages, not dated.

excerpt page 16 ff: … CULTURE AND THE NEW ECONOMY:

The much-heralded New Economy is more than just a recently deflated stock-market bubble. The term describes a fundamental shift in economic activity from repetitive mass production requiring modest skills to the modern work environment where intellectual and creative judgments are primary. The New Economy is knowledge-based, and knowledge is acquired through institutions that are shaped by culture.

Not the least of these is the educational system, especially universities. In the United States, public funding has been nowhere more effective than in the promotion of higher education and research. Connecting universities with the world expands their knowledge base and improves the quality of research. This is often accomplished through what are, in effect, public-private partnerships.

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African Union Forum focuses on children’s plight

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Linked with Mes ractions concernant les enfants du Tchad, and with Zoe’s Ark.

Published on allAfrica, 8 November 2007, (and reprinted from The Herald).

Harare – At least 43 African Union ministers responsible for children met in Cairo, Egypt to discuss issues affecting children on the continent. The second Pan African Forum on children was held between October 29 and November 2 and the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr Edwin Muguti represented Zimbabwe.

Briefing journalists about the meeting in Harare yesterday, Dr Muguti said the forum, which was organised by Egyptian First Lady Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, dealt with several issues that affect children such as child labour, children in the military, human trafficking and female genital mutilation which came under the spotlight at the forum. He said the meeting resolved to adopt the call for Accelerated Action on the implementation of the Plan of Action towards Africa Fit for Children which will be Africa’s contribution to the UN General Assembly Special Session on children to be held in New York next month … (full text).

Children do not belong to their parents

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Linked (by the theme) with Chad’s children, and with Mes réactions concernant les enfants du Tchad.

Published on The Independent, by Joan Smith, 30 November 2006.

… When a 12-year-old girl from the Western Isles turned up in Pakistan three months ago, declaring that she had left Scotland of her own free will to live with her father and sister in Lahore, it seemed an open-and-shut case.

Misbah Rana, whose disappearance had prompted a police investigation amid claims that she was destined for an arranged marriage, appeared before the media and confirmed she was delighted to be in Pakistan. Misbah certainly looked happy, and speculation in the British press that she had been abducted was denounced in some quarters as evidence of racist assumptions or Islamophobia.

One correspondent to a Sunday newspaper even chided the publication for using the name the girl was known by in Scotland, Molly Campbell. “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the custody case, is it not time we all got used to calling Misbah by her real name?” he asked. But what is the girl’s “real” name? This question goes to the heart of the case, which took an unexpected turn yesterday when the high court in Lahore ruled that she should be returned to her mother, Louise Campbell, in Scotland.

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A Power Audit of EU-Russia Relations

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Published on European Council on Foreign Relations ECFR, by Mark Leonard and Nicu Popescu, 66 pages, not dated.

excerpt of page 7: … Introduction: The Asymmetrical Interdependence After 1991, European governments grew accustomed to Russian acquiescence.

Moscow might have put up a struggle against European policies from humanitarian intervention in Kosovo, NATO and EU enlargement, to visa arrangements for Kaliningrad and the Kyoto Protocol on climate change but the Kremlins bark always proved worse than its bite. The Russian government, crippled by massive debt, financial instability and the war in Chechnya, caved in each time because of its reliance on Western help.

Today it is Moscow that sets the pace for EU-Russia relations. The soaring prices of gas and oil have made energy-rich Russia more powerful, less cooperative and more intransigent. Oil money has boosted the state budget and has dramatically decreased the Russian states dependence on foreign funding. Russias hard currency reserves are the third largest in the world today; the country is running a huge current account surplus and paying off the last of the debts accumulated in the early 1990s.

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Women at the heart of change

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Linked with Nora Castaeda – Venezuela.

Published on Poptel, by Zuleiva Vivas, not dated.

In the last few years, deep and important social changes have taken place in Venezuela …

… One example is Article 88 of our constitution, which establishes that the work a woman does in the home actually constitutes an economic activity that creates added value and generates wealth and social well-being. In this respect, a programme has been launched whereby housewives will receive a minimum salary, which will benefit 200,000 women. This programme will be implemented over the next two years.

Many other laws and institutions have been introduced in support of women, including equal opportunities legislation, an Attorney General for Women and a National Institute for Women.

The National Institute of Woman promotes discussion on issues such as the decriminalisation of abortion, women becoming 50 per cent of those participating in elections, the role of indigenous women, and tackling domestic violence which is regarded as a state problem.

One significant development has been the setting up of the Womens Development Bank, Banmujer. This system provides micro-credits to women, to finance programmes and training, for example in establishing small businesses and cooperatives.

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Missing Nukes on August 29-30, 2007

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Published on Global Research.ca, Centre for Research on Globalisation, by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, October 29, 2007.

Excerpts: According to a wide range of reports, several nuclear bombs were lost for 36 hours after taking off August 29/30, 2007 on a cross-country journey across the U.S., from U.S.A.F Base Minot in North Dakota to U.S.A.F. Base Barksdale in Louisiana. [1] Reportedly, in total there were six W80-1 nuclear warheads armed on AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missiles (ACMs) that were lost. [2] The story was first reported by the Military Times, after military servicemen leaked the story.

It is also worth noting that on August 27, 2007, just days before the “lost” nukes incident, three B-52 Bombers were performing special missions under the direct authorization of General Moseley, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. [3] The exercise was reported as being an aerial information and image gathering mission. The base at Minot is also home of the 91st Space Wings, a unit under the command of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC).

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EU – ASEAN Trades

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some links to EU – ASEAN Trades:

WINDOW ON WORLD: the EU-Asean bilateral trade relations, the Trans-Regional EU- Asean Trade Initiative (Treati), the Asia-Europe Meeting ASEM, Nov. 5, 2007;

Clubs India with US, EU & Russia, Nov. 5, 2007;

European and Asian businesses leverage on platform to exhibit latest inventions and offerings, Nov. 3, 2007;

Have Regional Offices Outsourcing Centres Here, Belgian Firms Urged, Nov. 2, 2007;

While the EU is still negotiating free trade agreements with ASEAN and Korea, negotiations with India should start next December, Oct. 30, 2007;

EU To Sign Trade Agreements with ASEAN, ACP, Oct. 16, 2007;

EU-ASEAN BILATERAL TRADE RELATIONS:

EU Trade Issues, EU-ASEAN BILATERAL TRADE RELATIONS:
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) encompasses 10 South East Asian countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma/Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). Its key position in the Asia-Pacific region, its dedication to peace and stability in the region and its important economic weight have made ASEAN a key partner for the European Union. In October 2003, ASEAN leaders at their 9th Summit Meeting signed the Bali Concord II, a landmark treaty for the future integration of ASEAN, calling for the creation of an ASEAN Community by the year 2020 … (full long text).

See also: ASEAN; and ASEAN-EU; and Bilaterals.org – EU-ASEAN;

And also out of the region:

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EUROPE SELF-SERVING IN TRADE TALKS WITH AFRICA

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Linked with Demba Moussa Dembele – Senegal, with What Is Development Ethics, and with Millennium Development Goals and debt cancellation.

Published on IPS, by Demba Moussa Dembele, September 2007.

SEPTEMBER 2007 (IPS) – The European Commission is pursuing a hidden agenda in its negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with African countries, writes Demba Moussa Dembele, director of the African Forum on Alternatives.

In this analysis, Dembele writes that the EC, claiming it wants to promote trade and investment in Africa, included the so-called ”Singapore issues” dropped from 2003 World Trade Organisation discussions following the strong opposition of African and other developing countries, which do not want to lock themselves into binding agreements on elements that are key policy instruments in their development process, particularly for industrialisation … (full text).

(/NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN AUSTRALIA, CANADA, NEW ZEALAND, CZECH REPUBLIC, IRELAND, POLAND, UNITED STATES OR UNITED KINGDOM/ – END/2007).

Links on Google with the key-sentence: ‘EUROPE SELF-SERVING IN TRADE TALKS WITH AFRICA’, November 04, 2007:

Millennium Development Goals and debt cancellation

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Linked with Demba Moussa Dembele – Senegal.

Published on TransNational Institute TNI, by Demba Moussa Dembl, 15-16 April 2004, (during Globalisation and Sub-Saharan Africa: International Experts’ Meeting, European Parliament, Brussels).

I want to join my voice to that of the organizers of this meeting and their concerns for the people of Africa. The organizing of this meeting shows your sincere concern for social justice. About 3 and a half years ago world leaders met and pledged to tackle issues of world poverty by setting the Millennium Goals. Yet 3 and half years onwards the Millennium Development Goals have yet to been achieved. This is not for lack of resources but due to a lack of political will among Western leaders and the international financial institutions.

Everybody would agree that one of the chief obstacles to meeting the Millennium Development Goals is the solving of the problem of the unjust debt of poor countries. We remember the commitment made by the G-7 leaders in Cologne, Germany in 1999. They pledged that they would cancel 100 billion dollars of debt owed by the poorest countries. Unfortunately less than 30% of that amount has been cancelled. The world knows that without debt cancellation heavily indebted countries cannot achieve any recovery much less sustainable development and will be trapped in deeper and deeper poverty. These countries will not experience economic recovery.

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about Chad’s Economy

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Linked with Zoe’s Ark, with 5 African voices out of many … , and with ICRC, UNHCR and UNICEF.

Chad is a lower income country comes under the Sub Saharan African region as to the classification made by the World Bank on the basis of income and region for the year 2006 … (full text economy watch).

Among various sector of the economy, the industrial sector constitutes a larger share in the total GDP followed by the services. As to the statistics, the percentage share of the industrial sector in the total GDP was 51.2 in 2005. Important industries of the country are textiles, oil, construction, and soap. Fishing, firming and livestock constitute the major types of agricultural activities. Agriculture constitutes around 20% of the total GDP. The following diagram shows the percentage share of the various sectors in the total GDP over years: … (full text economy watch)

more: on intute world guide; on country studies US; on heritage.org; on travel blog; on info please; on world 66; on nations encyclopaedia; on britannica student encyclopaedia; on UN.org; on University of Columbia; on relief web; on the world factbook of the CIA.

Landlocked Chad’s economic development suffers from its geographic remoteness, drought, lack of infrastructure, and political turmoil. About 85% of the population depends on agriculture, including the herding of livestock. Of Africa’s Francophone countries, Chad benefited least from the 50% devaluation of their currencies in January 1994.

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about Sudan’s Economy

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Linked with The 16 Sudanese Peacewomen.

Sudan is extremely poor, and even if the black economy (that does not become part of the statistics) is considerable, it is still not large enough to change this image … At the present Sudan has bad economic prospects. But if there was to be future change in the economic politics and an end to the civil war, Sudan has many unused resources that could bring quick economic growth to the country. (full text on Encyclopaedia of the Orient).

more: on Country Studies US; on Institute of Security Studies ISS; on info please; on heritage.org; on intute world guide; on ingenta connect; on University of Bremen; on allAfrica; on ISLAMIC RELIEF WORLDWIDE; on the world factbook of the CIA.

Sudan’s primary resources are agricultural, but oil production and export are taking on greater importance since October 2000. Although the country is trying to diversify its cash crops, cotton and gum Arabic remain its major agricultural exports. Grain sorghum (dura) is the principal food crop, and wheat is grown for domestic consumption. Sesame seeds and peanuts are cultivated for domestic consumption and increasingly for export. Livestock production has vast potential, and many animals, particularly camels and sheep, are exported to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries. However, Sudan remains a net importer of food. Problems of irrigation and transportation remain the greatest constraints to a more dynamic agricultural economy … (full long text on wikipedia).

FED injects $41 billion to relieve credit crunch

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Published on MSNBC, by Associate Press, Nov. 1, 2007.

2 excerpts: WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve pumped $41 billion into the U.S. financial system Thursday, one of its largest cash infusions to help companies get through a credit crunch that took a turn for the worse in August.

The action comes one day after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and all but one of his central bank colleagues voted to slice a key interest rate for the second time in six weeks to protect the economy from the ill effects of collapse in the housing market, aggravated by the credit troubles …

… Since August, the Fed has been pumping cash into the financial system to help ease strains from the credit crunch. It also has cut its lending rate to banks a third such cut came on Wednesday. The Fed also has ordered two reductions to its most important interest rate, the funds rate, to help the situation … (full text).