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Atomic dawn – KEPCO wins a nuclear contract

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(South) Korean reactors trump Western ones – Published on The Economist, Dec. 30, 2009.

… Competition for the contract had been stiff. GE and Hitachi, two engineering giants, had launched a joint bid, as had a consortium led by France’s nuclear champion, Areva. France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had lobbied energetically on behalf of the latter group. But South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, was equally keen. As a former boss of Hyundai Construction, he has first-hand experience both of vying for contracts in the Gulf and of building nuclear plants. Mr Lee is said to have promised to share some tips on boosting manufacturing, a fond ambition of the Emirates.

But the chief allure of the Korean bid was price. It was reportedly billions of dollars cheaper than the others, albeit for smaller and less hardened plants. KEPCO’s nuclear subsidiary, which runs 20 nuclear plants in South Korea and plans to build 20 more, has a record of building reactors quickly and running them efficiently—unlike many of its Western counterparts … (full text).

(My comment: this means, lower and lower prices for export goods will become an increasing problem for western workers).

The Federal Reserve Needs More Money

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Linked on our blogs with The Free Gold Monetary Report. – Published on the Free Gold Monetary Report, by James Turk, December 30, 2009.

The Federal Reserve needs more money to continue purchasing US government debt, the aggregate amount of which is soaring because of ballooning deficits.  But the Fed has a problem.

The US government doesn’t pay its bills with ‘cash currency’, the green paper Americans carry around in their pocket.  So the Fed cannot crank up the printing press like central banks did in Weimar Germany in the 1920s, or in recent years, in Zimbabwe …  //

… Side-stepping congressional authority like this is further evidence that the Federal Reserve sees itself as unaccountable to the general public – as if not identifying who received the Federal bailout money was not enough proof of this point already.  Continue Reading…

A Paradise Built in Hell

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Review of Rebecca Solnit’s book: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster (New York: Viking, 2009). – Published on ZNet, by Kevin Young, January 4, 2010.

… There are several reasons behind elite panic. Many elites and bureaucrats (like racists) may sincerely believe that their or their organizations’ intervention is essential to safeguarding peace and order in the aftermath of a disaster. But their panic is also inseparable from their own self interest, reflecting their need to justify the ongoing concentration of power in their hands. If the public is permitted to take control, and it succeeds, the bureaucracy and hierarchy on which elite power is based will be exposed as illegitimate. This principle holds true for the everyday functioning of society, but is especially true in times of disaster, when bureaucratic organizations like FEMA or the military are expected to perform with competence and agility to protect the public. Solnit notes that in disaster, “They are being tested most harshly at what they do least well” (p. 152). Continue Reading…

Miraculous 2010 in Kashmir?

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Linked on our blogs with Paul Beersmans – Belgium, with K.N. Pandita’s blog Kashmir and IDP’s, and with JAMMU AND KASHMIR: A SMOULDERING CONFLICT … Go also to BASJAK.org and click on the internal link: study tours (from 1994 to July 2009).

Received by e-mail: From: Belgian Association for Solidarity with Jammu And Kashmir BASJAK.org, Date: 01/01/2010

Dear Madame, Dear Sir, On this first day of the year 2010 we hope this year will be a miraculous year bringing a peaceful solution for the Kashmir issue:

  • There can’t be a solution without compromise.
  • There can’t be a solution in a violent environment.
  • There can’t be a solution as long as fundamentalism, extremism, terrorism, human rights violations are there.

We hope common sense will prevail.   Continue Reading…

Is the Fed Juicing the Stock Market?

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Linked on our blogs with Mike Whitney – USA (the American writer). – Published on Global Research.ca, by Mike Whitney, January 2, 2010.

Is the Fed manipulating the stock market?  TrimTabs CEO Charles Biderman seems to think so, and he makes a strong case for his theory in an article at zerohedge.com. Biderman focuses his attention on the mystery surrounding the stock market’s 9-month rally and asks, “Where is the money coming from?”  After all, the market cap has increased by more than $6 trillion since March 9. That amount of money should be fairly easy to trace; right?

Wrong.

Biderman: “The most positive economic development in 2009 was the stock market rally. (But) We cannot identify the source of the new money that pushed stock prices up so far so fast.  For the most part, the money did not from the traditional players that provided money in the past.”  Continue Reading…

The Rise Of Judicial Activism: Is Democracy Under Threat?

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Published on CHOWK, by Raza Habib, December 25, 2009.

After the NRO revocation, the opinion holders appear to be divided into two polar camps. First camp is of the supporters who are hailing the advent of the “new” era of the rule of law. Within this section a sizeable chunk detests the president, is skeptic of the concept of democracy and not surprisingly belongs from the middle class. Right now led by firebrand media, this chunk is increasingly critical or at least visibly disappointed by the revival of democratic rule. It is pinning its hope on increased judicial activism where the courts will be deciding the matters belonging to executive. The criticism is no longer exclusively focused on PPP but is increasing to include the entire democratic set up. Right now the main brunt may be borne by PPP but even PML (N), the other main party, is also feeling the heat. The main point of these opponents of democratic set up is that democratic parties have failed to establish the rule of law. Continue Reading…

Possession of Marijuana Now Legal in Breckenridge

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Published on TalkLeft, by Jeralyn (Section Colorado News), Jan 01, 2010.

In November, (the ski resort town) Breckenridge/Colorado/USA voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative decriminalizing adult possession of small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. It went into effect today.

Breckenridge is the first town in the country to decriminalize drug paraphernalia, and the second to allow recreational marijuana use (Denver is the first.) Since under state law, possession of up to an ounce of pot or drug parahphernalia carries a $100.00 fine and is classified as a petty offense, it can leave you with a criminal record. So the change in Breckenridge is a welcome one, and not that trivial. It remains to be seen whether Breckenridge becomes the “Amsterdam of the Rockies”, or takes business away from neighboring Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon, which serve the same ski areas, or results in an uptick in arrests for related activity … (full text).

U.S. Intelligence Found Iran Nuke Document Was Forged

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Linked on our blogs with Gareth Porter – USA. – Published on Global Research.ca (first on IPS, 2009-12-28), by Gareth Porter, December 30, 2009. Remember also: Pentagon blocked Cheney’s attack on Iran, by Gareth Porter, Jun 10, 2008, and: Official Says Iran Accepts P5+1 Talks Proposal, July 2, 2008.

WASHINGTON, 28 Dec (IPS) – U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a “neutron initiator” for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official. Continue Reading…

Capitalism, Banks, Economy and choice

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Watch these videos published on TheRealNews, Paul Jay interviewing Dr. Robert A. Johnson, December 31, 2009:

Dr. Robert A. Johnson currently serves on the United Nations Commission of Experts on International Monetary Reform under the Chairmanship of Joseph Stiglitz. He is also the Director of Economic Policy for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) in New York. Dr. Johnson was previously a managing director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets … (full text).

Iran: Regime change by the people, for the people

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Linked on our blogs with CoDIR.net, and with Ibrahim Yazdi arrested.

Published on People’s World, by Jane Green, December 29, 2009.

The death of reformist cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri on Dec. 19 has sparked a run of protests in Iran which have both caught the authorities off guard and surprised the opposition by their scale. Official reports suggest that the turnout at Montazeri’s funeral on Dec. 21 was up to 500,000 people. Opposition sources claim that the numbers were nearer to one million. Either way, this convergence upon Qom, a city with a population of only 700,000, is significant.  Continue Reading…

Put Young Workers to Work!

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Published on political affairs pa, by Erica Smiley, December 09, 2009.

  • Twas the night before the unemployment reports, and all through the clearing,
  • Young workers slept haunted by jobs disappearing;
  • Having gone into debt for training and education,
  • Only to discover no jobs available in their vocations;
  • Barely scraping by to cover bills and the rent,
  • Of all unemployed, young workers are 48 percent ;  Continue Reading…