BRIC Countries are the New Kids on Latin America’s Block

16 June, 2009 – Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Today, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are holding their first summit meeting in Yekaterinburg, Russia. These states are the world’s four major emerging economies (constituting 15 percent of the world’s $60.7 trillion economy) and they are set to discuss a serious agenda. According to their draft communiqué, the BRICs will not formally discuss the role of the dollar in world finance and trade nor the creation of a supranational currency, despite the numerous discussions by BRIC members on these topics before today’s gathering. Subjects under consideration may include revamping the increasingly obsolete contemporary financial system and expanding trade among the BRICs. Whether or not the BRIC members will be able to come forth with relevant findings and a mutuality of ideas and programs will soon be seen.

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Cuban Oil: Havana’s Potential Geo-Political Bombshell

11 June, 2009 – Council on Hemispheric Affairs

As the Obama administration slowly inches towards normalizing its relations with Cuba, pressure is mounting on the new president to lift the decades-old, and universally acknowledged, anachronistic embargo. A relic of the Cold War, the Cuban embargo witnessed the loss of its stated purpose years ago and is now gratuitously hobbling the diplomacy of Cuba and the United States. At the same time, Cuba is struggling to pay for necessary imports and provide energy sources for its people. A lift of the ‘blockade’, as many Cubans call the embargo, would give Havana the opportunity to repay some of its debts and afford everyday necessities, as well as discourage refugees from illegally flooding into the U.S. Normalized relations would give the U.S. access to Cuban oil exploration and drilling, and allow the U.S. to implement environmental regulations aimed at protecting the Florida coast from potential oil spills. Enhanced trade with Cuba could generate up to $1.9 billion for the U.S.’s cash-strapped economy, and the image of the U.S. in Latin America undoubtedly would encounter a much-needed boost. Very few deny that both nations would benefit from a lift of the embargo and trade normalization.

Cuban Offshore Oil
Desperate to end U.S. dependence on oil from the Middle East, United States’ officials are certainly aware of Cuba’s oil-producing potential. In its 2004 assessment, the U.S. Geological Survey found that Cuba has 5 billion barrels of crude oil off its northern shores; Havana claims it has 20 billion . Five billion barrels would put Cuba on par with Colombia or Ecuador, while 20 billion barrels would make Cuba’s oil capacity comparable to that of the United States’ and place it among the top 15 oil reserves nations in the world. Either way, Cuba’s oil is attracting the attention of oil companies from around the globe. At the moment, Spain’s Repsol, Brazil’s Petrobras, and Norway’s StatoilHydro are overseeing exploratory drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. India, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Venezuela also have signed deals with Cuba.

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U.S.-Bolivian Relations: Halting an Avalanche

15 June, 2009 – Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Since the inauguration of President Evo Morales in 2006, relations between Bolivia and the United States have taken an unprecedented, although sometime episodic, turn for the worse. Issue after issue in which the countries are engaged has ended up as being abrasive, including trade, development, and coca regulation. Most of the public disagreements have begun on Bolivia’s side with criticisms of Washington’s policies, which La Paz is convinced are aimed at trying to undermine the Morales government and to impugn the sovereignty of the Bolivian state. Washington has routinely dismissed these charges as being unfounded, leaving diplomatic progress to lie stagnant, if not worsen.

The Bush Administration’s attitude of back burning and patronizing in its Latin American policy was often deemed offensive and at times threatening to many of the hemisphere’s leaders. However, President Obama has vowed to set a new path of autonomy for Latin American diplomacy and already has begun to do so. Nevertheless, in order to gain ground in its relations with Bolivia, Washington’s policy will have to focus on transparency in all aspects of its endeavors in order to ensure the Morales government is not being disrespected or that its sovereignty is being threatened.

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The U.S. and Cuba: Destined to be an Environmental Duo?

12 June, 2009 – Council on Hemispheric Affairs

  • Cuba’s abundant natural resources need to be protected with heightened vigilance
  • Lifting the trade embargo would open up the possibility for a constructive partnership between Cuba and the U.S. by developing compatible and sustainable environmental policies
  • With the support of the U.S., Cuba could become a model for sustainable preservation and environmental protection on a global scale

Through accidents of geography and history, Cuba is a priceless ecological resource. The United States should capitalize on its proximity to this resource-rich island nation by moving to normalize relations and establishing a framework for environmental cooperation and joint initiatives throughout the Americas. Cuba is the most biologically diverse of all the Caribbean Islands. Since it lies just 90 miles south of the Florida Keys, where the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico intersect, the U.S. could play a key role in environmental conservation as well as the region in general. However, when it comes to environmental preservation, the Obama administration is obstructing progress and hindering any meaningful cooperation with its current U.S.- Cuba policy.

Climate change and environmental degradation are two of the most pressing contemporary issues. If President Obama is sincerely committed to environmental sustainability, he must forge international partnerships to implement this objective. Where better to begin than in the U.S.’s own backyard, where Cuba has a huge presence. Only then can Cuba and the United States move forward to find joint solutions to environmental challenges.

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NATO's War Plans For The High North, Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea By Rick Rozoff

14 June, 2009 – Global ResearchStop NATO

nato-north.jpgSince the beginning of the year the United States and NATO have repeatedly indicated in both word and deed their intention to lay claim to and extend their military presence in what they refer to as the High North: The Arctic Circle and the waters connecting with it, the Barents and the Norwegian Seas, as well as the Baltic.

Washington issued National Security Presidential Directive 66 on January 12, 2009 which includes the bellicose claim that “The United States has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic region [which] include such matters as missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations.” [1] Later in the same month the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] held a two-day Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North in the capital of Iceland attended by the bloc’s secretary general and its top military commanders.

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“Left Must Unite to Create an Alternative”

13 June, 2009 – Socialist Workers Party

An Open Letter to the Left
from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP)

Labour’s vote collapsed to a historic low in last week’s elections as the right made gains. The Tories under David Cameron are now set to win the next general election.

The British National Party (BNP) secured two seats in the European parliament. Never before have fascists achieved such a success in Britain.

The result has sent a shockwave across the labour and anti-fascist movements, and the left.

The meltdown of the Labour vote and the civil war engulfing the party poses a question — where do we go from here?

The fascists pose a threat to working class organisations, black, Asian and other residents of this country — who BNP führer Nick Griffin dubs ‘alien’ — our civil liberties and much else.

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Susan Abulhawa – Does Israel Really Have a Right to Exist?

15 June, 2009 – Palestine Think Tank

Abulhawa.jpgFollowing Netanyahu’s much anticipated policy speech, politicians and journalists, like mindless automatons, have set about repeating Israel’s tired mantra that Palestinians should recognize Israel’s right to exist. Never mind the fact that the PLO and Palestine Authority have obliged this ludicrous call, not once, but four times. And never mind that Israel has always denied Palestine’s right to exist, not only as a nation, but as individuals seeking a dignified life in our own homeland.

Does anyone find it interesting that Israel is the only country on the planet going around with this incessant insistence that everyone recognize her right to exist? Given that we Palestinians are the ones who have been dispossessed, occupied, and oppressed, one might expect that we should be the ones making such a demand. But that isn’t the case. Why? Because our right to exist as a nation is self-evident. We are the natives of that land! We know we have that right. The world knows it. That’s why Palestine doesn’t need Israel or any other country to recognize her right to exist. We are the rightful heirs to that land and this can be verified legally, historically, culturally, and even genetically. And as such, the only true legitimacy Israel will ever have must come from us abdicating our inheritance, our history, and our culture to Israel. That’s why Israel insists we declare she had a right to take everything we ever had – from home and property, cemeteries, churches and mosques, to culture and history and hope.

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Khalid Amayreh – Netanyahu’s Kafkaesque vision of Palestinian statehood

15 June, 2009 – Palestine Think Tank

Netanyahu.jpgThere is no doubt that Benyamin Netanyahu’s odious screed at Bar Ilan University Sunday night was a slap in the face to all those who gave the so-called “peace process” between the Palestinian people and Israel the benefit of the doubt.

First, it was a brazenly direct affront to President Obama who thought rather naively that nice words about peace would make the Israeli leadership change its fascistic mindset and reconsider it colonialist approach toward the Palestinian people.

Just last week, Obama reasserted America’s commitment to the safety and security of Israel as if the Zionist entity, which possesses hundreds of nuclear warheads, was facing any real threats from its neighbors.

However, in light of Netanyahu’s speech last night, it is amply clear that American support of Israel serves only to embolden the apartheid’s state and make it adopt even more extremist postures toward the Palestinian issue.

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Palestine: Tesco defends right to choose illegal settlement goods

Last Wednesday, June 10, Zoe Mars and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, representing PSC’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions working group, had an hour-long meeting with Tesco’s Corporate Responsibility director Ruth Girardet and a member of her staff. This is a report of the meeting:

The Tesco representatives were keen to demonstrate that they were listening to our concerns, although they stressed several times that this was a “sensitive subject” and they would also be listening to people with quite different opinions. We took this as a hint that they have customers who lobby for more Israeli goods, including those from settlements.

We explained that the boycott campaign targets Israel as a whole and would do so as long as Israel acts with impunity, defying international law and human rights conventions. However, in this meeting we were concerned mainly to address the question of goods from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They acknowledged that they do stock such goods.

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The Aftermath of Iran 2009 Elections By Reza Fiyouzat

14 June, 2009 – Revolutionary Flowerpot Society

The actual results of the 2009 presidential elections in Iran may never be known factually. But the actual tallies of the votes cast may have never had anything to do with anything in the first place.

This does not mean that, in the aftermath of the announcement of the election results, the outrage displayed on the streets by the supporters of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, America’s favorite horse in the race, does not indicate real hurt. Those Americans who, to this day, are bitter over the non-election of Al Gore in the 2000 debacle, take your outrage at that clearly stolen outcome and intensify it by a factor of … oh, about a million.

At least in the American version in 2000, they took their merry time to go through a totally legalistic looking and convoluted process of denying a deserved victory at the polls by Al Gore.

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