Failure – UN Ten Wasted Years Drug Strategy

Photo credit: www.bbc.co.uk

Photo credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk

The UN strategy on drugs over the past decade has been a failure, a European commission report claimed yesterday on the eve of the international conference in Vienna that will set future policy for the next 10 years.

The report came amid growing dissent among delegates arriving at the meeting to finalise a UN declaration of intent.

Referring to the UN’s existing strategy, the authors declared that they had found “no evidence that the global drug problem was reduced”. They wrote: “Broadly speaking, the situation has improved a little in some of the richer countries while for others it worsened, and for some it worsened sharply and substantially, among them a few large developing or transitional countries.”

The policy had merely shifted the problem geographically, they said. “Production and trafficking controls only redistributed activities. Enforcement against local markets failed in most countries.”

Representatives from governments are split in their efforts to formulate an international drugs policy for the next decade. The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs is due to formulate a strategy over the next two days, but there is widespread disagreement among delegates and a general feeling that an opportunity for a united approach has been lost.

In an article for the Guardian, Mike Trace, chairman of the International Drug Policy Consortium, says: “We’re about to see the international community walk up the political and diplomatic path of least resistance. It will do nothing to help the millions of people around the world whose lives are destroyed by drug markets and drug use. And the depressing thing about it is that we can all book our seats for 2019, to go through this charade again.”

Source: guardian.co.uk 

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European Banks May Need 25 Trillion Bail-Out, Secret EC Document Warns

European banks sitting on GBP16.3 trillion of troubled assets may suffer massive losses, The Daily Telegraph reports, citing a confidential Brussels document.

European Commission officials have estimated that impaired assets may amount to 44pc of EU bank balance sheets. The Commission estimates that so-called financial instruments in the trading book total £12.3 trillion (13.7 trillion euros), equivalent to about 33pc of EU bank balance sheets. In addition, so-called ‘available for sale instruments’ worth £4trillion (4.5 trillion euros), or 11pc of balance sheets, are also added by the Commission to arrive at the headline figure of £16.3 trillion.

A secret 17-page paper discussed by European Union finance ministers Tuesday (11/02/09), also warned that government attempts to buy up or underwrite such assets could plunge the E.U. into a deeper crisis.  National leaders and E.U. officials share fears that a second bank bailout in Europe will raise government borrowing at a time when investors – particularly those who lend money to European governments – have growing doubts over the ability of countries such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and the U.K. to pay it back.

        “Estimates of total expected asset write-downs suggest that the budgetary costs – actual and contingent – of asset relief could be very large both in absolute terms and relative to gross domestic product in member states,” the European Commission document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, cautioned.

The Commission figure is significant because of the role EU officials will play in devising rules to evaluate “toxic” bank assets later this month. New moves to bail out banks will be discussed at an emergency EU summit at the end of February. The EU is deeply worried at widening spreads on bonds sold by different European countries. In line with the risk, and the weak performance of some EU economies compared to others, investors are demanding increasingly higher interest to lend to countries such as Italy instead of Germany. Ministers and officials fear that the process could lead to vicious spiral that threatens to tear both the euro and the EU apart.

“Such considerations are particularly important in the current context of widening budget deficits, rising public debt levels and challenges in sovereign bond issuance,” the EC paper warned.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

Spain’s Ex-Prime Minister Blasts ‘New Religion’ Of Climate Change

Former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar Wednesday dismissed climate change as a “new religion” that is drawing hundreds of billions of euros at a time of economic crisis.

Aznar made the remarks at the presentation of a book by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, “Blue Planet in Green Shackles”, in which he also questions the widely held theories about climate change.

“In these times of global cooling of the international economy … the standard bearers of the climatic apocalypse demand hundreds of billions of euros” to combat global warming, said Aznar, who was conservative prime minister from 1996 to 2004.

“They want to throw onto the bonfire anyone who, like Vaclav Klaus, questions the new religion,” he said.

“The slightest doubt on the man-made origin of climate change is cause of automatic ex-communication.”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said global warming is “unequivocal” and “most of the observed increases in temperatures over the last 60 years is very likely due to increases in human-generated greenhouse gas concentrations.”

Source – AFP

Rate Cuts Around The World As Britain Launches Trillion Dollar Bailout

THE world’s major central banks last night [together for the first time in history] followed the Reserve Bank of Australia and cut interest rates in a co-ordinated effort to ease pressure on a still gridlocked global financial system.

Rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve, Bank of England and central banks in China, Europe, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland followed a $1.23 trillion rescue package in Britain which included the part-nationalisation of England’s eight biggest banks.

Within hours of the British bailout being announced, the Bank of England cut official interest rates by 0.5 of a percentage point to 4.5 per cent as part of the co-ordinated global effort. The US Fed reduced its key rate from 2 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said co-ordinated action was the only way to confront an “unprecedented financial storm”.

The move was designed to restore confidence and limit the spread of the crisis from financial markets to the real economy. The IMF yesterday cut its forecast for world growth next year to 3per cent, with growth of close to zero in industrialised countries. It warned it could fall much further, but it expects developing countries to maintain reasonable growth levels.

Cutting interest rates can stimulate economic growth and help restore confidence to markets. But doing so may undermine a currency as investors look for better returns elsewhere. The U.S. rate is now the second-lowest among the majors, higher only than Japan.

In other New York trading, the dollar fell to 1.1041 Canadian dollars from 1.1058, and slipped to 1.1340 Swiss francs from 1.1378.

Source – Australia Press Reports

Bank Of China Buys Into Rothschild Bank

Bank of China struck a deal with the historic Rothschild banking family on Thursday to buy a stake in La Compagnie Financiere Edmond de Rothschild, further highlighting China’s financial power.

Bank of China is paying 2.3 billion yuan, or $336.5 million, for a 20 percent stake in the firm, which is a private banking and asset management business of the Rothschild family.

Benjamin de Rothschild will hold 75 percent of the business.

The transaction is the latest sign of the growing financial power of China and other emerging economies. Banks in China, Singapore and Dubai have bought holdings in companies such as Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Citigroup.

China Development Bank, the lender for Chinese policy initiatives, bought a 3.1 percent stake in British bank Barclays last year.

The deal, which requires regulatory approval, will help LCF Edmond de Rothschild expand overseas and the two sides said they would focus on private banking and asset management businesses in China, France and other strategically important regions.

According to the company’s website, LCF Edmond de Rothschild made a net profit of €105 million in 2007.

The Rothschild banking dynasty began when Mayer Amschel Rothschild started a business in Frankfurt in the late 18th century.

His sons set up Rothschild banks throughout Europe in cities including Paris, Vienna, Naples and London. They financed the Duke of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo and the British move for financial control of the Suez Canal.

The Rothschild international banking group is one of the few European merchant banks to have remained independent in the face of sector consolidation.

Source – International Herald Tribune

 

Rapid European Banks Bailouts Another US Bank Goes Under As Financial Crisis Further Spreads

European governments had to step in with a flurry of major bank bailouts from Iceland to Germany as fear and turmoil from the U.S. credit crisis spread through the financial system.

Even as U.S. lawmakers were preparing to vote on a massive $700 billion (€490 billion) rescue of their own banks, [$US700b Bailout Deal Voted Down] the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg took partial control late Sunday of struggling bank Fortis NV, while Britain seized control of mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley early today.

Germany organized a credit lifeline for blue-chip commercial real estate lender Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, while Iceland’s government took over Glitnir bank, the country’s third largest.

The rapid-fire European bailouts were quickly followed by news that U.S. financial giant Citigroup Inc. was acquring the banking operations of troubled Wachovia Corp., the latest U.S. financial institution to fail or be sold. Citigroup will absorb losses of up to $42 billion in a government-facilitated takeover.

European shares fell heavily and money markets remained frozen with banks refusing to lend to each other for all but the shortest periods.

“All banks are having difficulty with long term loans and short term financing. It’s difficult to say which could be affected,” said UniCredit economist Alexander Koch in Munich. “Despite the rescue packages in the U.S. (and Europe) that doesn’t fully correct the problem. I see the problem flowing until late next year,” he added.

FULL STORY

Guyana One Man Stance Against EPA Agreement

….But not to sign now would be castastrophic – AFC 

 Photo credit – Kaieteur News

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Raphael Trotman, says that while President Bharrat Jagdeo’s stance on the EPA is commendable, it should have commenced a long time ago.
He added that it is good to see that the national spirit of the country is with the President; but, “On the other hand, we have to be careful of the impact of standing alone…The world is moving towards political and economic blocs.”

Trotman noted that for Guyana to be left standing alone, isolated from the many blocs, it would place the country in a very precarious position.
Meanwhile, party chairman Khemraj Ramjattan added that, given that the other CARIFORUM countries have committed to signing, it would be a catastrophy for Guyana not to sign. He pointed out that the country’s rum, rice and sugar would suffer seriously from the tariffs they would have to endure that would make them uncompetitive.
Jagdeo says that he will hold out for a ‘goods only’ agreement with the European Union for as long as possible.
CARIFORUM leaders met at a Special Meeting of Heads in Barbados on September 10 to discuss the way forward on the controversial EPA, and subsequently agreed to sign by the end of October.
According to Jagdeo, signing a deal governing the trade of services will swing the pendulum in Europe’s favour.
He was pressing for the regional leaders to unite and pause to further scrutinize the services aspect of the deal, “Europe cannot bring sanctions if we collectively pause.”
The Barbadian Head of State, David Thompson, however, debunked Jagdeo’s call, saying that the time for pausing has ended. “Pausing will be thief of time.”
Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, says that he was ready to sign the EPA despite the fact that there were some lingering concerns in his country.
The concerns, however, were not enough, he said, to cause him to not sign.
“Did we get what we want? No…Did we get a good agreement? Yes…Could we have gotten a better deal? …I doubt it.”
He also added that he did not believe that re-negotiating another deal was possible.
Golding also emphasized the dangers of CARIFORUM exports being subject to the Global System of Preferences, and questioned whether the region could afford to have its exports subjected to 20 per cent duties.
He noted that the region could not withstand the duties. “Those who are saying let’s not sign must address the question of what to do with exports that will be un-competitive when it attracts the duties.”
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, noted that the concerns raised by Jagdeo were valid, but he posited that he would have to sign sooner or later.
Recently, the Guyana Government held a public consultation, in which the decision to support Jagdeo’s position was reinforced.

FULL STORY

Venezuela Expels US Ambassador As Cold War Heats Up In Caribbean

  

Russia Tu-160

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled the US envoy to Caracas and threatened to halt crude exports to the United States on a day he highlighted the recent arrival of two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers.

Chavez ordered US ambassador Patrick Duddy to leave the country within 72 hours, in a move he described as an act of solidarity with Venezuela’s ally Bolivia, which also expelled its US envoy.

“Starting at this moment the Yankee ambassador in Caracas has 72 hours to leave Venezuela,” Chavez said at a public event in the port city of Puerto Cabello, 120 kilometers west of Caracas.

He said it was “in solidarity” with the leftist government of President Evo Morales in Bolivia, which on Wednesday ordered the US ambassador to La Paz to leave. Washington expelled Bolivia’s ambassador to the United States on Thursday.

“We will send an ambassador when there is a new government in the United States, a government that respects the people of Latin America,” he declared at a political rally.

Chavez then threatened to halt the supply of oil to the United States, its main client, if Washington attacks his government.

“If there is any aggression towards Venezuela” from Washington, “there would be no oil for the people of the United States,” said Chavez, who used coarse expletives to disparage the US government.

Also yesterday Chavez announced that his government had uncovered a coup plot hatched by active and retired military officers, which he said had tacit US approval.

A military prosecutor said two officers – retired general Wilfredo Barroso and retired major Elimides Labarca Soto — will be tried for incitement to rebellion, a charge punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

The Venezuelan leader also told those gathered at the rally that he had ordered a reduction in flights to Venezuela by US airlines.

Adapted from International News Reports

Bombing Of Iran Imminent Part 2 – US Ready To STRIKE!

Translation: Attack On Iran Expect[ed Soon]

 

 

The biggest Newspaper in the Netherlands today devotes its front page to news that the Dutch intelligence agency has helped the CIA prepare for an air attack on Iran which it now believes is imminent.

AVID, Holland’s military intelligence service, has pulled back from operations it was carrying out inside Iran as it believes an American led attack will go ahead within weeks according to De Telegraaf’s sources.

The headline reads:

“AIVD is calling back spy because of US plans
ATTACK ON IRAN IMMINENT”

De Telegraaf reports that the decision has already been made by the U.S.
to attack Iran using unmanned aircraft. Potential targets are said to be nuclear facilities and military installations. The latter have been mapped by the CIA with the help of the Dutch secret service.

A portion of the article reads:

Good sources have declared to the Telegraaf that the AIVD has been operating in Iran for the last few years with the purpose of the infiltration and sabotage of the weapons industry of the Iranian republic.

The operations are said to have been “very successful” but have recently been put to a halt because of american plans for an air attack. Information regarding the AIVD operation has been shared with the CIA in recent years according to the sources.

Iran is probably working towards an atomic bomb and refuses to comply to western demands to stop enriching uranium. In june Israeli vice president Shaul Mofaz made the statement that an Israeli attack is inevitable if Iran continues its quest for atomic weapons.

Holland is a staunch ally of the U.S. government in the “war on terror”. Dutch troops have served on the front lines in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The full article is online here.

Source – Infowars

A roughly translated version can also be found here.

Vladimir Putin: US Staged Georgian Conflict

In an interview with CNN, Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has stated that the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict may have been manufactured by the White House for domestic political reasons. Putin also says that preliminary reports show U.S. citizens may have been present in the combat zone.

“We have serious reason to believe that American citizens were right at the heart of the military action. This would have implications for American domestic policy.” Putin told CNN.

“If this is confirmed, then it raises the suspicion that someone in the US specially created this conflict to worsen the situation and create an advantage in the competitive struggle for one of the candidates for the post of president of the United States.” he continued.

“They needed a short, victorious war.”

“And if it didn’t work out, they could always put the blame on us, make us look like the enemy and against the background of this surge of patriotism, once more rally the country around a particular political force.” Putin explained.

In addition to the remarks broadcast by Russia Today, Putin charged that Americans on the ground in Georgia were “implementing orders” from their “leader” during the conflict.

“The fact is that US citizens were indeed in the area in conflict during the hostilities. It should be admitted that they would do so only following direct orders from their leaders,” Putin said.

“Therefore, they were acting in implementing those orders, doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is their leader,” he added.

The comments come in the wake of news that a U.S. passport was found in a building in South Ossetia occupied by Georgian troops.

FULL STORY

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New World Order? Russia To Respond Militarily To U.S. Missile Shield

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will have to respond militarily to the deployment of elements of a U.S. missile shield in Central Europe.

The deal to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland was reached in mid-August, and followed the signing of an agreement on July 8 by the U.S. and Czech foreign ministries to place a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic.

“These missiles are close to our borders and constitute a threat to us,” Medvedev said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television on Tuesday. “This will create additional tension and we will have to respond to it in some way, naturally using military means.”

The Russian president said that offering NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, two former Soviet republics, would only aggravate the situation. He added that the Ukrainian people should be asked their opinion in national referendum. Opinion polls have consistently shown that a majority of Ukrainians are against their country joining the military alliance.

Moscow has consistently expressed its opposition to the U.S. missile shield, saying it threatens its national security. The U.S. claims the shield is designed to thwart missile attacks by what it calls “rogue states,” including Iran.

Medvedev’s statement came on the same day that Russia recognized the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The move came two weeks after Moscow concluded its operation to “force Georgia to peace” following an attack by Georgian troops on South Ossetia on August.

Western political leaders have condemned Russia’s decision leading to fears of a renewed Cold War. U.S. President George Bush said in a statement on Tuesday: “Russia’s action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations.”

“We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War, but we don’t want one, and in this situation everything depends on the position of our partners,” Medvedev told the Russia Today international news channel on Tuesday.

Source – RIA Novosti

Poland US Signed Missile Defence Base Deal Upsets Russia

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and her Polish counterpart have signed a deal to build a missile defence base in Poland.

The agreement prompted an infuriated Russia to warn of a possible attack against the former Soviet satellite.
Rice dismissed comments from Russian leaders, who say Warsaw’s hosting of 10 US interceptor missiles just 186km from Russia’s westernmost frontier opens the country up to attack.

Such comments “border on the bizarre, frankly,” Rice said, speaking to reporters in Warsaw.

“When you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988,” she said. “It’s 2008 and the United States has a… firm treaty guarantee to defend Poland’s territory as if it was the territory of the United States. So it’s probably not wise to throw these threats around.”

The deal has strained relations between Moscow and the West, ties already troubled by Russia’s invasion of its former Soviet neighbour, US ally Georgia, earlier this month.

“The Russians are losing their credibility,” said Rice.

Rice and Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski signed the deal yesterday morning.

“It is an agreement which will help us to respond to the threats of the 21st century,” she said afterwards.

Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said the agreement came after tough but friendly negotiations.

“We have achieved our main goals, which means that our country and the United States will be more secure,” he said.

After Warsaw and Washington announced agreement on the deal last week, top Russian general Anatoly Nogovitsyn warned that Poland is risking attack, and possibly a nuclear one, by deploying the missile defence system, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported. Poles have been shaken by the threats, but Nato secretary general Jaap de Hoop dismissed them on Tuesday as “pathetic rhetoric”.

“It is unhelpful and it leads nowhere,” he said at a Nato meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

Many Poles consider the agreement a form of protection at a time when Russia’s invasion of Georgia has generated alarm throughout Eastern Europe. Poland is a member of the European Union and Nato, and the deal is expected to deepen its military partnership with Washington. Polish president Lech Kaczynski also expressed “great satisfaction” at the outcome of the long months of negotiations.

Poland and the US spent a year and a half negotiating, and talks recently had snagged on Poland’s demands that the US bolster Polish security with Patriot missiles, in exchange for hosting the missile defence base. Washington agreed to do so last week, as Poland invoked the Georgia conflict to strengthen its case. The missiles are meant to protect Poland from short-range missiles from neighbours — such as Russia.

The US already has reached an agreement with the government in Prague to place the second component of the missile defence shield — a radar tracking system — in the Czech Republic, Poland’s southwestern neighbour and another former communist country. Approval is still needed by the Czech and Polish parliaments.

No date has been set for the Polish parliament to consider the agreement, but it should face no difficulties in Warsaw, where it enjoys the support of the largest opposition party as well as the government.

Source – Irish examiner


Sinckler: Barbados Will Sign EPA Agreement

Having conducted several national and regional reviews with independent assessment teams by various organisations, Barbados is confident that the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is in the best interest of the country and the region. Therefore, the island will proceed with the signing of the agreement scheduled for September 2, 2008.

Speaking during a press briefing at the Sherbourne Conference Centre yesterday, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business, the Honourable Christopher Sinckler made this commentary as he sought to reaffirm Barbados position relating to the signing of the trade agreement.

The foreign affairs minister pointed out that despite swirling media reports indicating that some countries [Guyana, Trinida & St.Lucia]  were reassessing their position regarding the signing of the EPA, Barbados has not received any official notification or documentation from any government within CARIFORUM suggesting that they would not be signing the agreement.

Our position is that we are proceeding, there have been no instructions from the heads of government or from the Prime Ministerial sub-committee on external negotiations, which is chaired by Jamaica, that such a signing on that date ought not to take place,Sinckler added.

Reiterating that it was within the best interest of the region to sign on to the EPA, Sinckler pointed out that each country has the sovereign right to choose to sign or not to sign the agreement and therefore Barbados has no intention of bullying anyone into such decisions.

He went on to admit that the EPA was not a perfect agreement, but believes that it would serve the best interest of the country and the region. Speaking on some of the challenges of the EPA, he pointed out that, no country likes to have to open up its markets too wide& therefore the effort at tariff liberalisation is one that would have an impact.

Our analyses and the analyses of the independent assessment team have indicated that over the life of the agreement we would probably reach to about $16 million loss of public revenue from the liberalisation process.

Bearing in mind it could have been worse, we think that this is a manageable amount for us to carry at this stage, but we are also mindful that even as we make the effort to liberalise there are also safeguard mechanisms in place that allow us & (to) look at the volume of products that may come into Barbados, and to react if that goes above a certain limit,he outlined.

He further went on to note that the European Commission has agreed not to export to the Caribbean products that are subsidised to compete in those areas where we are removing duties. However, minister Sinckler highlighted that because of the phased way in which it is being done, Barbados most sensitive products are off the table for liberalisation.

I believe that up to 14 per cent of our products are off the table for liberalisation; that means they would undergo no liberalisation, he added. He also pointed out that there was some concern relating to the MFN Clause, which states that CARIFORUM while it is negotiating, or any member of CARIFORUM should not enter or give in any negotiations, treatment that is more favourable than what we offer the Europeans in the EPA.

While noting that this clause can restrict your ability to determine your futuristic trade policy, the foreign affairs and foreign trade minister opined that alternately this clause also limits the European Commission from entering into a trade agreement and offering something more than they have offered us.

Nevertheless, Sinckler believes that there are favourable benefits that the region can gain from such an agreement, in terms of infrastructural development, trade facilitation and developing its capacity in a number of areas including production.

While pointing out that Barbados was no defender of the EPA, Sinckler asked that critics view the agreement realistically and consider if there is currently a better alternative or any modern trade agreement between developed and developing countries that gives as substantial a development package as the EPA.

Source – Barbados Advocate

AirOne Ventures & Digicel Team Up For Low Cost Carrier

A private commercial airline by the name of AirOne Ventures Limited may ruffled the wings of regionals carriers when its takes to the skies next year.

Simply because the Irish backed proposed low cost airline company have as one of their 4 shareholders and a director of the said company, Digicel Group Vice-President Leslie Buckley. AirOne Ventures Limited is registered in Jamaica but currently based in Barbados due to Jamaica’s government refusal to grant them a license. A search led to a site advertising vacancies for AirOne Ventures. So does Digicel owned, managed or controlled AirOne Ventures? According to the Jamaica Gleaner, the answer from both sides was a quick no.   

………… Airone and Digicel are forming an alliance but last night the latter company moved swiftly to dispel any suggestion that it was an investor in the airline.

“It is an entirely separate legal entity to Digicel Limited,” said group head of communications Maureen Rabbitt.

“Airone Ventures Limited is not owned, controlled or managed by Digicel Limited.”

Pressed on whether the company’s chairman Denis O’Brien was involved with Airone, both Rabbitt and later ProComm, the agency handling media relations for Airone, said ‘no’. – 11/12/07                     

AirOne Ventures is to begin commercial flights from Barbados to some regional and US destinations between March to April come next year [2009] with fares as low as US$10!!! Now that’s a lot uh money to sustained $10.00 fares. But hey, Digicel have never been known to be weak in the sales & marketing department peoples.

Airone has tapped Digicel for assistance, saying that it would be relying on the savvy mobile phone company for sales support.

Tickets? No problem. They can be purchased and collected lock, stock and barrel at Digicel stores. Or what about receiving them via SMS text message? The barcodes will be scanned at the airport and a boarding pass issued.

 Digicel Group is founded by Irish billionaire Dennis O’Brien. The Irish telecom company services 6m subscribers in 23 markets in the Caribbean and Central America with expected revenues to grow to US1.47b at its financial year end March 2008.

One Caribbean Tourism Plan

    Like a drowning man reaching for a piece of rope to save his self before his final demise, tourism planners in the Caribbean have finally [hopefully] placed self interest, jealousy and other insularity issues on the back burner in an effort to rescue the regional tourism market by agreeing to market the region under a ‘One Caribbean’ campaign.

With the ever raising price of oil, increase costs to airlines tickets, seats capacity reduced by international airlines, air flights no longer available and drop in tourists arrivals, Caribbean tourism and government officials have decided to probably lactch on on the last surviving means of rescue to avoid them from going under. As always a classic case of a little too late. Nevertheless a somewhat case can probably be made out for better late than never. But this knee jerk reaction only transpire out of a global crisis. Without such tourism planners would  continue to market the region as separate entities as planets in different solar systems! Desperate times called for desperate action. As Mr Gonsalves PM of St.Vincent and the Grenadines rightly said,

“We don’t have the resources to be aggressive individually,”

And to show their sense of unity the plan would not only include English speaking countries in the region but French and Dutch speaking countries as well. Unheeded calls in the past for such an approach seems ready now to become a reality and not just a blast of hot air.

Oil Speculators To Be Probe By British MPs [Oil $146/Barrel]

Medium term crude oil prices, (not adjusted for inflation)  

Source – Wikipedia

Concern over the possible role of speculators in driving record crude oil prices has prompted the House of Commons’ Treasury select committee to hold its first hearing into regulation of London’s oil markets, John McFall, the committee’s chairman, said on Thursday.

The development is a sign that the intense political pressure to address – or, at least, be seen to address – the causes of high oil prices are emerging in Britain after initially appearing in the US. In recent weeks, Congress has held multiple hearings on the issue. 

The US House of Representatives last week passed by a big margin legislation requiring the US futures and commodities watchdog, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to “utilise all its authority, including emergency powers, to take steps to curb excessive speculation in the energy futures markets”.

Mr McFall, a Labour MP for West Dumbartonshire, said that the two US presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, as well as independent senator Joseph Lieberman, all had expressed concern about the role of speculation in oil markets.

He said he planned to hold a hearing into the issue – set for July 15.

Mr McFall told a meeting of the UK’s parliamentary liaison committee: “There is a real problem here. We really need to some action because it’s reported there is $260bn of speculative money in the oil futures market.”

FULL STORY

Barbados Mad Rush To Sign EPA Agreement

Ask me what the EPA is and I would be the first  tell you I have not a clue. Other than the fact it is an economic agreement between the European Union and the Caribbean and also at the end of the day it would be most advantageous to Europe than the Caribbean as is always the case I can’t begin to explain what are the benefits to be derived from an agreement with the Caribbean.

So it is with great interest to read that Guyana refuse to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement [EPA] because of legal opinion. A legal opinion not from the University Of the West Indies but from the University of Cambridge.

University of Cambridge International Law Professor, Dr Lorand Bartels have made a case that Caribbean Governments under World Trade Organisation law are not obliged to sign the agreement. Initialled text is sufficient for negotiation  yet today’s Nation highlights Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Trade Chris Sinckler pushing for a full signing of the agreement on July 23.

And what about the agreement in itself?

The minister was of the view that the agreement presented opportunities as well as challenges.

“It does have faults but when we negotiate we are not going to get everything that we ask for but you have to look at the totality,” Sinckler added, noting that there would be an opportunity to revisit the EPA in a few years.

What totality? I want to know how this agreement gine benefit me and my country. I want to know what the government is negotiating in return.? I want to know the pro and the cons of the EPA agreement.  This reminds me of that republic affair. Owen wanted to push it through the back door and keep the people in the dark. What are you not telling us Sinckler? If the Professor is right why are we cowering under threaten export tariffs if there is a case to be made on our behalf?

See – Guyana Reluctant To Endorse EPA

        Guyana President Weights In On EPA Agreement

        Labour Leaders Want Review Of EPA

        Sinckler: EPA Signing In July 

       EPA Agreement Will Benefit Both Sides, Says New EC Ambassador

Bombing Of Iran Imminent

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday warned against the use of force on Iran, saying there was no proof it was trying to build nuclear weapons.

He made the statement when asked to comment on Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz’s statement earlier this month that Israel could attack Iran if it does not halt its nuclear program.

“I hope the actual actions would be based on international law,” Lavrov said. “And international law clearly protects Iran’s and anyone else’s territorial integrity.”

Lavrov said Russia had asked both the United States and Israel to provide factual information to back their claims that Iran was working to build atomic weapons. “So far we have seen none, and the same conclusion was made by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” he said.

FULL STORY

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Bush ‘May Convert To Catholicism’

First it was Tony Blair. Now President Bush may follow suit. The rumours are flying left, right and centre that President Bush may convert to Roman Catholicism from his Methodist roots.

The Independent  states that Bush was given the royal tour around the Vatican grounds by the pope instead of the usual greeting in the papal library. Also noted is the fact that President  Bush brother Jeb converted to Catholicism on marrying his wife Columba, a Mexican.

I wonder what the atheists have to say about that one.

Muslim TV Channel Launches Britain’s First Interfaith Game Show

An interfaith television game show, believed to be the first in Britain, in which Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh contestants compete against one another for cash prizes is to be broadcast weekly from the London studios of the Islam Channel from mid-June. Read more of this post

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