Of Earthquakes and Other Disasters…

By InsightAnalytical-GRL

As I write this, a tsunami is bearing down on Hawaii, a consequence of the terrible earthquake in Chile.  Japan was also hit with a quake, and, of course, Haiti is still suffering terribly from the quake that hit weeks ago.

There are a few sites that track such things that I visit to keep up-to-date.

My favorite is based in Hungary and features maps and information that track both natural and man-made disasters ranging from quakes, to storms, to major traffic accidents and pandemics. The site has been updated and is fantastic!  Under the “Disaster and Emergency Alert Map” heading, click the “Global” link for a world map; there are also sections different areas on the globe.  Click on an icon on the map to get a brief description of what’s going on in a specific area.  For example, there is a threat of epidemic in Viet Nam today.  Be sure to scroll down the page under the map for a lot more details on current happenings. The amount of information is amazing!

Check it out at:

RSOE EDIS – Emergency and Disaster Information Service

For a huge database of links to information on all sorts of disasters, plus terrorism information, go to:

CBS NEWS Disaster Links

Finally, there is a site (which requires registration to use) that is dedicated strictly to terror and suspicious incidents. Find it at:

Global Incident Map Displaying Terrorist Acts, Suspicious Activity, and General Terrorism News

Larry Kudlow Has a Fit as Obama the “Declinist” Opens His Mouth in Japan; Says Obama is “Not His President”

~~By  InsightAnalytical-GRL

Well, Larry Kudlow over at CNBC is already having fits about Obama’s first statement since his arrival in Asia. You can see Kudlow flip out in this video.

On the Friday night  Kudlow Report (11/13/2009),  Larry bellowed that Obama was “not his President.”

I had to laugh.  I’ve never called Obama “President” either, in real life or on this blog.  Which just continues my tradition, since I never attached the word “President” to George W. Bush, either.  However, arch-conservative Kudlow apparently thought Bush was peachy keen at the time having no problem refrerring to Bush as President.

Kudlow ranted about how Obama does not do “optimism” and, in fact, preaches “declinism.”  And he cheerleaded about U.S. exceptionalism and our huge economy then railed about how Obama doesn’t understand how oversimplified it is to say that “the American consumer won’t bail out” the world economy.

Here’s the article from the Wall Street Journal that flipped out Kudlow:

Obama Carries a Message to Asia

Trade-Talk Revival a Goal, but World Economy Can’t Rely Solely on U.S. Consumers

(snip)

Mr. Obama’s emphasis on pursuing new pacts comes as he makes his way through an export-dependent region that has grown nervous about his trade policy, and skeptical about his willingness to use political capital at home to support free trade. He has yet to achieve tangible advances on the trade front, nor did he offer specific proposals Saturday beyond a promise to complete the next global round of free talks — dubbed Doha — “in a timely fashion.” So far, his most dramatic moves on trade have involved slapping tariffs on Chinese tire imports and, just last week, steel pipes. In his speech, he said his administration will “pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on issues of mutual concern.”

The speech in the vast Suntory Hall here Saturday morning had a somewhat different tone than many of Mr. Obama’s foreign-policy addresses. He has spent much of his first year in office working toward burnishing what he has called his nation’s diminished stature in the globe. While he also talked of multilateral cooperation and human rights, he came to Asia to deliver the message that the rapidly growing export-driven economies can no longer count on the U.S. consumer to keep them afloat.

Doesn’t this sound sort of arrogant?  I have to wonder what “consumer” Obama’s talking about.  They seem to be half-dead here. I’m sure the Chinese know that, too. They are not dumb, Barack.

Panel member Zachary Karabell of  Rivertwice Research, who has written a book on something related to all this, played both sides of the fence…he sort of believes that we’re not the biggie we used to be (which is the sort of thing that pushes Kudlow’s buttons) but he says there’s a moment at hand now where we have to continue to make sure that we remain a hub of innovation.  He made sure he agreed with Kudlow that a “dual hub” situation is occurring–U.S. & China–which is OK with both of the because they see this as being “very beneficial.”  But Kudlow is totally pissed about how we’re wrecking other economies because of the weak dollar, which is creating an inflationary bubble in Asia region. Basically,  he says Obama is ignoring all this because he’s too preoccupied with “bashing” the American consumer.

Andrew Busch of BMO Capital Markets said he thinks the Administration’s strategy, which he doesn’t like, is to go “hat in hand” to China to try convince China to help us by letting the yuan appreciate…That is where the INSISTING part I discussed in my previous post is supposed to come in, I guess.

Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal editorial board sees this weak dollar situation is what set up the Bush Administration to go down as a failure in terms of economic policy and that’s what we’ve got now.  How encouraging!

Ah, but Kudlow and Karabell think that American companies like Nike and Walmart making stuff in China and selling it here is great (but I’m asking, what about American jobs HERE, Larry!).

Kudlow made some dreamy comments about “stabilization” and “currency cooperation” and “coordination” with Asia. And then, Karabell dropped the bomb about an Asian ‘unified currency bloc to facilitate strength.”   And he said that if we want China to continue to “hitch” themselves to us more, we’re not supposed to freak out if China wants to buy businesses HERE and not have a “knee-jerk xenophobic response.”  Kudlow even decided there should be FUSION.  Later, he also espoused an Asian currency zone a la the Euro.  Kudlow also opined that Karabell should get a Nobel Prize for his book.

Karabell and Busch both think that China WILL  revalue the yuan by 5% with other countries in the region to follow.  Busch pointed out that China could face World Trade Organization actions for protectionism if they don’t.   As for Obama, during the presidential campaign Obama promised to “crack down on China” but during the primaries there was chatter: “But his commitment to that point of view was thrown into doubt during the primaries when a Canadian official said an Obama adviser had privately characterized his tough stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement as political posturing.” (As an example, see: U.S. to Impose Tariff on Tires From China, Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2009.  Detractors figure that “the tariff won’t result in more jobs. Tires will simply come in from other low-cost countries, they say, and U.S. manufacturers, keep making their cheaper tires in China.”) Of course, this is classic Obama…all that “get-tough” talk and “insisting” while we have to go “hat in hand” to China…more blowing smoke.

I have no idea what a 5% revaluation really means in the long run but I doubt it will miraculously revive our exports and restore many American jobs that have left the country.

All I know is that Kudlow finished the segment by again repeating that he likes his Presidents to be “optimists” and not “declinists” and that he was furious about Obama’s first utterances in Asia.  It’s worth checking out the video because I can’t due full justice to everthing that was discussed.

But what’s all this about “FUSION”? Well, it’s that “free-trade” stuff again. Kudlow seems to talk about U.S. economic leadership but embraces all this business leading to globalization.

Kudlow and  Obama both can give you whiplash…

But at least I hear Michelle and the girls are having a good time…

Yuan on the Way to Becoming an Alternative Reserve Currency & Obama’s Off to China to INSIST That the Chinese Play Nice

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

OK, here we go again, in all likelihood, with another big blast of hot air from Barack Obama.

Reuters, like the AP, doesn’t appreciate quoting from their articles.  So, for details follow the link from 11/10/2009:

World Bank: yuan to become alternative reserve currency

Let’s summarize.  Former Bush Adminstration biggie Robert Zoellick who has moved on to become President of the World Bank thinks the dollar as a reserve currency is “relatively secure” but the Chinese yuan is going to become an alternative to the greenback. Zoellick muses that it might take 10-15 years and that we shouldn’t be “complacent” about the dollar.

As if anybody these days is complacent???  And, don’t you think that these comments just confirm the actions of Ben Bernanke and the Fed that are allowing the dollar fall?

Ah, but according to the Telegraph (U.K):

Barack Obama pledges to tackle Beijing on yuan

President Obama, who, since taking office in January, has resisted branding the Chinese government as currency manipulators, promised to discuss the thorny issue of the yuan, and whether it is undervalued, as part of a visit to Shanghai and Beijing.

“Currency, along with a host of other issues, will come up, and I’m confident that both the United States and China can arrive at a broad set of policies that encourages trade that benefits both countries, that allows ongoing economic growth,” said Mr Obama.

snip

But Mr Obama will have to tread carefully as the Chinese government owns almost $800bn (£477bn) of US Treasuries, its largest foreign creditor.

Earlier in the day, the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, urged the US to “effectively discharge its responsibilities” and “maintain an appropriate size” to its budget deficit.

Yup.

A couple of days ago on CNBC, PIMCO’s Bill Gross made this point (see minute 4:30 on the video titled America Still Number 1?:)

Gross notes that over the last year alone the depreciating dollar means that every single Treasury purchased by China, Japan etc with a 1 to 2 % yield has essentially generated a negative 13 to 14% return. Yes, NEGATIVE 13 to 14% return.

Yeah, I guess Obama will HAVE to tread carefully.  China owns us and is not happy, especially about that negative return…

If you read our previous post Globalization/U.S. Decline Right on Schedule Courtesy Obama Backdown…Summer 2010 Projected Completion of Integration of NAFTA with EU to Counter BRIC/ASEAN Bloc, you’ll see an example of Obama’s big talk and big backdown type of leadership.

And, on this currency issue, Obama supporters are urging The Chosen One to live up to his campaign promise:

Yuan Critics Want Obama to Keep Campaign Promise

At the time, Obama said that he would “”insist that China stop manipulating its currency because it’s not fair to American manufacturers, it’s not fair to you and we are going to change it when I am president of the United States of America.”

I can’t wait to see this unfold over the next few days as the Obama crowd hits Beijing…I’ll be looking for the “insisting” part of the trip…

Canada Follows the U.S. Terms for GM/Chrysler; Harper Still Worrying About the “Eased” ‘Buy-American’ Clause in Stimulus Package

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

About a month ago we posted on the subject of how GM and Chrysler were begging from bailout money from the Canadian government. (See: The SCANNER–International/Political Edition, 2/24/09 (Which Deficit is Obama “Halving”?; Canada Rubs U.S. Nose into Its Stable Banking System; GM/Chrysler Beg for Bailout Help in Canada, Too; Half of Foreign Criminals in Canada Are Fleeing to the U.S. [???]).

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

GM, Chrysler ask for billions in Canadian aid

General Motors has outlined a restructuring plan that would cut its Canadian workforce to 7,000 and seek as much as $7 billion from the federal and Ontario governments, while Chrysler is requesting around $2.8 billion in aid.

GM didn’t specify how much it will ask for, but Reuters quoted federal Industry Minister Tony Clement as saying the company is asking for between $6 and $7 billion.

The Canadian government doesn’t seem to want to bailout CAW pensions…time will tell.

MORE

Here’s an update on what’s going on now…right in tandem with what the Obama Administration is doing:

GM, Chrysler scolded but given more time to restructure

Canada, Ontario provide $4 billion in loans to troubled manufacturers

Political leaders on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are giving General Motors and Chrysler extensions on deadlines to come up with viable restructuring plans, saying the auto manufacturers fell short in their first attempts.

(SNIP)

Disappointment in Canada

Canadian politicians also expressed regret that GM and Chrysler could not come up with viable plans.

Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement, along with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Ontario Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant, said GM has 60 days to come up with a plan for its Canadian division, while Chrysler has 30 days to reach a deal with the Canadian Auto Workers union and with Fiat.

At the same time, Clement said the first of the $4 billion in interim loans to the two companies is going out. Chrysler will get $250 million on Monday of the $1 billion allocated, while the first of $3 billion in funds for GM will begin to flow in early April.

“We are making this strategic investment to support an orderly restructuring of a critical industry with [the] goal of ensuring that Canada maintains its 20 per cent production share in the future,” Clement said.

(SNIP)

Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza said the union won’t reopen its collective agreement with GM Canada despite pressure from politicians that more cost restructuring is needed.

“We did it once 10 months ago and we did it again less than a month ago,” he said. “Opening up bargaining won’t resolve this problem.”

Lewenza said the union is still trying to work out a new collective agreement with Chrysler in advance of a March 31 deadline.

The email newsletter I receive from Radio Canada International sums it all up this way:

OTTAWA: GOVERNMENT OFFERS INTERIM HELP TO AUTOMAKERS

Two struggling Canadian automakers, Chrysler and General Motors, were offered help on Monday by the federal government and the government of Ontario. The two companies will receive bridge loans totalling CDN$4 billion to help them to survive. Chrysler would receive CDN$1 billion and General Motors would get $CDN$3 billion. Further government loans will depend on whether the two companies can present acceptable restructuring plans. Tony Clement, Canada’s industry minister, has rejected plans that were submitted earlier, saying that they fail to ensure the companies’ long-term survival. General Motors has until the end of May to present its new plan. Chrysler has until the end of April. Chrysler’s plan must include the company’s merger with the Italian carmaker, Fiat, that was announced on Monday. The plans will depend in large measure on negotiations with the company’s unionized workers. The Canadian Autoworkers Union welcomed the Chrysler/Fiat merger as long as it preserves the Canadian auto industry. CAW’s negotiations with Chrysler will continue, but the CAW refused to renegotiate a deal with General Motors that was arranged within the past month. The CAW also welcomed the government’s insistence that the two American-based companies commit to maintaining 20 per cent of their North American production in Canada. The government offer also requires that company executives agree to limits on their compensation.

Now, here’s another rather ironic bit from the same newsletter, considering how tightly bound together Canada and U.S. are.  (See: What’s Going On North of the Border: The Canadian Economy and Stimulus Plan & THE PROPOSED NORTH AMERICAN COMMUNITY/NORTH AMERICAN UNION: 2010 Is Just Around the Corner)

WASHINGTON: PRIME MINISTER EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER GLOBAL PROTECTIONISM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the danger of protectionism is one of his major concerns in the global economic crisis. He’s worried that if protectionism becomes a global option, the world could face a depression similar to the one in the 1930s when countries introduced trade barriers to save homegrown industries. The measures only accelerated and deepened the global economic downturn. Mr. Harper is concerned that the United States stimulus plan includes Buy-American clauses for recipients of government bailout money. Such a plan could hurt Canadian exports to the United States. Mr. Harper made his comments as he prepares to attend a Group of 20 summit in London this week.

In early February, the Senate “eased” the Buy-American” clause as Obama proclaimed he didn’t want a “trade war”…The EU, Canada, and Japan had protested; only the UK hadn’t complained at that point.

US Senate eases “Buy-American Provision in Stimulus Package”

(SNIP)

The measure had sparked fears of retaliatory measures by US trading partners and a possible spiral of protectionism in an already reeling global economy.

The requirement to favour US-made supplies to be used in infrastructure projects, included in a nearly 900-billion-dollar package being considered by the Senate, was softened to allow for exceptions as required by US trade agreements, broadcaster MSNBC reported.

Apparently, Harper isn’t completely satisfied with the changes to the clause. Maybe he doesn’t trust Obama or the U.S. Senate…probably a wise stance to take.

The Past Week: March 22-28, 2009 (A Split in Russian Political Forces as Putin Weakens; The Voice of Korea, North Korean Propaganda Outlet; G-20 Protests Begin; A Prescient Wish for a Bush Successor ca. 2006; X-Rated Google Earth)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

We spent some time last week discussing pronouncements by China and Russia re: the dollar.  But here’s some information on what’s going on in Russian politics.

Apparently, the Russian political system is being strained by the current global economic crisis.  The split between military/security officials versus the economic political liberals is beginning to surface. Vladimir Putin was supposed to be the link between the two factions, but his influence as Prime Minister is apparently weakening:

From The Guardian archives (March 3):

Putin and Medvedev factions locked in Kremlin financial power struggle

• Evaporation of wealth eroding PM’s authority
• Security and economic cliques on collision course

SNIP

The sudden evaporation of Russia’s newfound wealth has set the two Kremlin cliques on a collision course and put Putin – now prime minister – in an awkward position. As a former KGB agent he is heavily identified with the security group, known as the siloviki, but he also has strong personal loyalty to a small clique of liberals from his home town of St Petersburg.

Experts say Putin is losing status as he attempts to contain conflict between the factions. Cracks are appearing in his relationship with Medvedev.

“Putin used to act as an arbiter standing above the two main clans – the siloviki and the rational economists,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, a leading political analyst. “Now he’s been dragged down into the fight and he’s under fire from both sides. The siloviki say he’s a weakling incapable of imposing his will and showing the economists their place, while the economists in turn are consolidating around Medvedev.”

Medvedev, handpicked by Putin from among loyal acolytes as a successor, has begun to issue muffled criticism of his mentor, leading some to believe that he may be enjoying the trappings of power and be prepared to flex his political muscle.

MORE

Who will win?

***

With North Korea moving rockets around for a test of a suspected long-range ballistic missile sometime between April 4-8, Japan is ready to launch interceptors:

Japan Readies Missile Interceptors

Published: March 27, 2009

TOKYO — Japan authorized its military on Friday to destroy any debris from a North Korean rocket that might fall on its territory. North Korea has said it intends to put a satellite into orbit as early as next week, and warned that fragments could fall into waters off northern Japan.

Japan, South Korea and the United States suspect the launching is a cover for a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Taepodong-2. In response, Japan will deploy missile interceptors and dispatch two warships to the waters between it and the Korean Peninsula, said the Japanese defense minister, Yasukazu Hamada.

A battery of Patriot land-to-air missiles will also be deployed in Tokyo, he said. “Whether it’s a satellite or a missile, we are extremely uncomfortable with the object flying over Japanese territory,” Mr. Hamada said.

MORE

With the tensions between North Korea back in the headlines, I’m reminded of what it’s like listening to the Voice of Korea, which beams into North American for an hour every day via  shortwave radio.  If you want to listen to what the last Stalinist state sounds like on the radio and don’t have shortwave receiver, here’s a recording off the radio that will give you a sampling of N. Korean propaganda from Pyongyang  (from June 23,2008).  After the sign on, you can fast foward through the martial music and listen to the news and glorification of the “immortal exploits” of Kim Jong II as well as cultural segments… The site also has audio of such inspiring songs as “I Will Be a Solidier of Marshall Kim Jong II”.

Voice of Korea may sound over-the-top,  but, having experienced the glorification of Barack Obama by the media and the glossing over of the news here in the U.S. and the actions of Obama and his sycophants, it makes me wonder if things we’re hearing here are that much different than the propaganda pouring out of North Korea!   (More at the home page of English Radio from North Korea ).

And here’s some fascinating background on other North Korean broadcasts–coded “Numbers Broadcasts” to agents.  You can listen to some of them at the site using Real Player.

***

In 2006, Antonia Juhasz published* a book entitled “The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.”  It went beyond the Bush Adminstration, however, as it traced the history of U.S. corporations in the growth of globalization and detailed the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.

I happened to pick up the book again in light of recent events and couldn’t help being struck by the opening paragraph of the book’s jacket description…especialy the last sentence.

In this important book, renowned international trade and finance policy expert  Antonia Juhasz exposes a radical corporate globalization agenda more befitting of a ruthless empire than a world leader in democracy.  This agenda has been refined by leading members and allies of the Bush Administration over decades and has reached its most aggressive implementation under George W. Bush. And Bush Agenda adherents hope it will outlast him.

Reading that last sentence has simply reinforced my suspicions about WHY we had Barack Obama shoved down our throats…

By the way, G-20 protests have already begun…

Thousands join London G-20 protest

***

Finally, on a lighter note,we see a kid in the  UK who decided to get Google Earth’s attention.  While many of us try to avoid Google at all costs, this guy decided to use it to full advantage:

Teenager’s 60ft painting of penis on parents’ roof spotted in space

When ancient Britons drew male genitalia on chalk hillsides, little did they know people would ape their customs millennia later…

SNIP

Teenager Rory McInnes painted a giant phallus on the roof of his parents’ West Berkshire mansion, apparently after watching a programme about Google Earth.

The BBC delicately describes it as a “comedy painting”, saying it was there for a whole year before his parents found out.

MORE

And this isn’t the first try at this, either. I must say, it’s a find rendition. Go take a peek for yourself…

***

THE PAST WEEK

*By Kenosha Marge

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 28, 2009) First Hummingbird and First Cactus Flower!; Wisconsin Robin; Happy Birthday, TORO the Dog!; Trooper Shows Off)

Russia-China Proposals; “Rebalancing” Global Currency Reserves: Why the U.S. Can’t Take Anything for Granted Re: the Dollar

EXPOSED! ACORN Behind Protests at AIG Homes, Under S.E.I.U. Rent-a-Mob Contract

A Reminder: Live Streaming of the First “Bernard L. Schwartz Economic Policy Symposium” Today (3/26) With a Rather Interesting Group & Agenda (To End “Fumbling” on Economic Policy)

The Scanner-Politics: March 25, 2009 (G-20; Glenn Beck’s “The One Thing” Segment on the Dollar [Video]; “The Big Takeover”; Al Gore Releasing New Book on Election Day 11/3/2009; Augie the Dog Sends a Deposit to the U.S. Treasury)

The Scanner–International Edition, March 24, 2009: Say Goodbye to the Dollar? China, Russia Proposing a New World Currency for “Non-Credit” Based Economies, Echo G-20 Agenda of Expanding IMF; China Will “Consider” Buying IMF Bonds; 10th China Develpment Forum Underway (UPDATE 1X–Geithner Supports China Proposal??)

*When is Being “Reasonable” Simply “Unreasonable”? (Especially When It Comes to Our Money?)

The Past Week: March 15-21, 2009 (Home Gardens on Alert?; “Practical” Democrats Group; Federal Education Stimulus $$ Going to Rich Schools; Soldiers Pledge to Refuse Illegal Orders; New Marxist President of El Salvador Compares His Message of Change to Obama’s)

***
*Publishing information:
Juhasz, Antonia. The Bush Agenda: Invading One Economy at a Time.  2006, HarperCollins (Regan Books), New York.
(yes, THAT Judith Regan)