Anschluss Economics - the Germans Launch a Blitzkrieg on the Greek Debt Negotiations

January 31, 2012 by

News stories continue to suggest that Greece once again appears on the verge of reaching a deal with its private sector creditors on how much of a loss they would be willing to accept on their bond holdings. The latest numbers suggest a 70% write-down. A pretty striking comedown for what is supposed to be a “voluntary default” and, hence, not subject to the triggers of a credit default swap on Greek debt. Naturally, the spin surrounding the proposed agreement is that this is a “one-off” and that other troubled periphery nations shouldn’t even begin to think of securing a comparable deal.

An Onerous Inheritance

January 30, 2012 by

In his 1998 book, Tom Brokaw famously coined the term, “The Greatest Generation,” to refer to the generation of Americans who lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War II, and went on the build the powerhouse that was the American post-war economy. Considering the achievements of this generation, many expected great things of their progeny, the baby-boomers. To be sure, the boomers accomplished many things in their time; America became more open and tolerant; it produced the music, art, and culture of the 1960s and 1970s; America became less sexist, less racist, and less homophobic under the boomers’ watch.

Qualifying U.S. Military Aid to Guatemala

January 29, 2012 by

Public security is a growing concern in Guatemala as violent Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), most notably Los Zetas, make their way down into that country. Indeed, Guatemalans elected Otto Perez Molina to the presidency on January 14, 2011 attracted by his promise to take an “iron fist” approach to organized crime. In part, this “iron fist” approach means relying more on the military for security. With a growing public debt, President Perez Molina is looking to Washington for military aid to support the Guatemalan army. U.S. foreign military aid is currently limited to Guatemala’s Air Force, Navy and Army Corp of Engineers.

The Peace Corps, Drugs and US Foreign Policy

January 29, 2012 by

A few months ago, President Barack Obama was celebrating the “profound” relationship between the United States and Honduras. This happened in spite of the fact that current President Porfirio Lobo’s rise to power was aided by a June 2009 coup. Even though Obama publicly denounced the coup, the administration’s response was timid. It did not take the Obama administration long to warm up to the ouster of democratically elected Manuel Zelaya. Sure, the US briefly halted some foreign aid (around $30 million), but the effect of that was negligible. Besides, remittances from the US to Honduras topped $2 billion that year.

On Capitalism and Responsibility

January 29, 2012 by

A few days before the annual gathering of business and political elites at the World Economic Forum at Davos, British prime minister David Cameron set out his vision of capitalism that is popular and responsible. At a time of acute crisis, Cameron put up a staunch defense of capitalism. He asserted his belief that open markets and free enterprise were the best imaginable force for improving human wealth and happiness. He described them as the engine of progress to lift people out of poverty and give them opportunity. “When open markets work properly,” he said, “they create morality, because there is something for something.”

Tunisia and Egypt One Year On

January 27, 2012 by

January 25 marked the one-year anniversary of the inception of Egypt’s revolution against the dictatorship of the Mubarak regime, eleven days after the success of the Tunisian revolution, when its former president Ben Ali fled the country. Within weeks of the brisk success of these two revolutions (28 days for Tunisia and 18 days in the case of Egypt), the Arab peoples across the region launched their own simultaneous revolts to rid themselves of their decades-long dictatorships, especially in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain. So what is the current status of the Arab Spring? And what are the likely scenarios?

The Kremlin’s Version of Russia Without Fools

January 26, 2012 by

It’s a new website that seems befitting of the angry mood amongst Russians over the last month’s Duma elections and the coming March Presidential elections, which have all but promised the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin. Called “Russia Without Fools” (Rossiya Bez Durakov), the website begins with the following words: Friends, everyday we are faced with stupid standards and laws, decisions far from elementary logic, and complex regulations and unexplainable restrictions…And so we personally offer to you a real opportunity to find and destroy specific stupidities.

War Against “Crony Capitalism” has Officially Become the British Man’s Burden

January 25, 2012 by

Britain has spent billions of pounds of taxpayer money over the last ten years, waging a war against terror and non-existent weapons of mass destruction, freeing oppressed people from tyrannical leaders and protecting and securing British business interests. The Iraq war has cost the UK £9.24 bn, the war in Afghanistan £18 bn and now Britain’s benevolent intervention in Libya which was initially projected to cost £260m is estimated to cost an astounding £1.75 bn by defence experts. Whilst Britain can be proud of its ‘humanitarian’ intervention having bombed liberty into sovereign nations, the majority of British people, unfortunately have not experienced any financial reward from the corporate aspect of these burdened missions.

Al-Shabaab and Somalia in the 21st Century

January 25, 2012 by

My starting point is that Somali society today is not what it was in the 1960s. I am not referring to the obvious fact that Somalia became a failed state in 1991. I am referring to subtle and not so subtle changes in the nature of society itself. While clans remain important and, in some circumstances, are still the single most important feature of society, the role of Islam has changed dramatically. This has been accelerated by the breakdown of traditional society following years of civil war, broken families, failure of governmental institutions and the movement of large numbers of Somalis from rural areas to Mogadishu, other cities in Somalia and the overseas diaspora.

“SSC” is the Last Hope to Bridge Somalia Back Together

January 24, 2012 by

Like many nations in Africa, Somalia has endured the legacy of the foreign expedition of greed throughout the continent. After the Berlin Conference 1884, Western European powers sought to divide Somaliland—one of the most homogeneous regions of Africa—into British Somaliland, French Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, Ethiopian Somaliland (the Ogaden), and the Northern Frontier District (NFD) of British Kenya. Thus, sowing the seed for the current ongoing inter and intra-regional unrest of Somalia.

Going Green in New York

January 23, 2012 by

After months of monitoring the disasters in Japan, it is a refreshing change to cover a story about a positive energy vision. Filmmaker, Antonio Saillant, and his friends and mentors, Ron Kamen and Ted Kotcheff, are committed to making the movie business sustainable and are working towards a greener world through clean, green and sustainable energy in the energy hungry movie industry. Antonio Saillant’s company, Angel Light Pictures, expresses his vision and passion for creating energy efficiency in movies and television. Saillant says, “The motion picture industry is such a large user of electricity for its sound stage shooting and diesel fuel for its location filming [that it is a clear target for energy conservation.]”

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 5

January 22, 2012 by

In the early 1960’s from north of Gondar in the Simien Mountains to south of Gondar in Ambover there lived thousands of Falasha Jewish Ethiopians. The name “Falasha” is not politically correct today, however, it was the only name we ever heard used. Since the 1980’s over 80,000 Ethiopian Jews have been permitted to “return” to Israel. Within our school in Gondar we were told that there were three Falasha students, however, no one was ever identified. Once in my classroom I broke up a severe teasing episode where one of my students was being accused of being a Falasha.

The Symbolism of the Keystone XL Pipeline

January 20, 2012 by

The Obama administration has rejected the application from TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline—but without fanfare. If President Obama continues to quiet the issue when so many others are raising its volume level, he will miss a grand political opportunity for his reelection campaign and the U.S. environmental movement. Public policy concerns of such inherent symbolism come once in a generation. The debate over federal approval of the Keystone XL pipeline includes every flash point in 21st century environmental policy: water scarcity, sustainable agriculture, oil price inflation, job creation, property rights, and climate change.

A Case for a United Nigeria

January 18, 2012 by

The idea of Nigeria splitting into different sovereigns has gained traction over the last several weeks. A growing chorus of local leaders in Nigeria, looking to avoid what happened in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Sudan are urging the federal government to look at splitting the nation before there is too much bloodshed. Muammar Gaddafi notoriously said the OPEC nation should split into two distinct nations; although everyone knows his motives were not pure. Still, when one looks at what a divided Nigeria would look like, the character of the Nigerian people and the incendiary faction, along with recent political events; one finds a strong case for unity.

The United States Reassesses the China-Africa Relationship

January 18, 2012 by

China, India, Brazil and Russia and even smaller non-western countries such as Turkey, Iran and Indonesia steadily have been replacing western influence in Africa throughout the first decade of the 21st century. China has contributed more to this process than any other single non-western nation and perhaps more than all of the others combined. China surpassed the United States in 2009 as the largest bilateral trading partner with the combined fifty-three countries in Africa. Although accurate statistics are elusive, Chinese investment in Africa during 2009 may also have been larger than that of any other single nation. Chinese leadership in trade and investment with Africa almost certainly extended through 2010 and will likely continue into the foreseeable future.

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