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   PoliticsPolitics for Pros- moderated


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From: LindyBill11/24/2005 4:45:49 PM
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I think this is my first post ever about Burma. I wonder why China and Russia oppose action against the Junta.

Burma's Plight
WSJ.com
By IAN HOLLIDAY
Mr. Holliday is dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the City University of Hong Kong.
November 24, 2005

Recent weeks have witnessed a flurry of interest in Burma. In September, a report commissioned by former Czech President Václav Havel and Bishop Desmond Tutu called for U.N. Security Council action to promote national reconciliation and oversee a transition to democracy. More recently, the world has bemusedly watched as the paranoid ruling military junta, fearful of seaborne attack, relocates the national capital inland to Pyinmana, some 350 kilometers north of Rangoon.

The limelight is welcome. For too long, this country of 55 million people, positioned at the heart of Asia and sharing long borders with China, India and Thailand, has been ignored. Periodically the U.S. and her allies renew or upgrade economic sanctions or plea for the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But few prominent leaders take a sustained interest.

The recent push for change faces major roadblocks. Both China and Russia have signaled that they will veto any attempt to put a Burma initiative on the U.N. Security Council agenda. Other members, such as the Philippines, have expressed reservations. There's a long history of intransigence, too. Burma debates have rumbled along to no apparent effect for 15 years since an abortive 1990 general election saw the military junta reinforce its stranglehold on the country.

If this initiative does fail, Burma will continue to struggle with low-grade civil wars, booming narcotics industries, incipient health crises, extensive environmental degradation and desperate, grinding poverty.

At present, too much faith is placed in quick political fixes. Burmese activists and Western commentators in liberal think tanks frequently insist that with just one more ratcheting up of sanctions, the junta will fall and a transition to democracy will ensue. Yet for every Western corporation that fails to invest, there are many Asian companies lining up to go in, and the regime is probably as strong now as at any time since 1990. In Asia, observers often naively believe that the junta will eventually succeed in striking a political deal that stabilizes the country and enables reform to take place.

For real change to occur, the focus has to move beyond politics to the economy and society. Burma does not now possess sufficient internal resources to undertake a successful transition to democracy. This country, repressed by military rulers for nearly 45 years since a March 1962 coup, needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up if it is to have a reasonable stab at a post-authoritarian existence.

Across much of Asia, it is businesses that are currently pushing the envelope of social development. In China, no more democratic than Burma -- but generally held to be an acceptable venue for investment -- worker terms, conditions and rights have been upgraded by inward investors who are responsible corporate citizens and monitor compliance down their supply chains. In the long run, it is only on these sorts of foundations that political reform and democratization will take place across the region.

While investment flows in Burma remain small, similar developments are taking place. Take, for instance, the involvement of Western oil corporations in the Yadana gas project. Though highly controversial, Western oil corporations have created well paid jobs, established microcredit schemes to boost indigenous entrepreneurship, and reached out to local communities. They have made considerable investments in education and healthcare, on a local and national scale. All in all, they have gone a long way to setting new standards for socio-economic engagement in difficult settings.

While any major investor of course has to do business with an odious and incompetent junta, investing companies are also uniquely placed to help reconstruct and re-energize the society. But it's a fine balance to strike. In the short term, inward investment may well reinforce the position of the junta. In the longer term, responsible corporations under the spotlight of shareholders and non-government organizations can help sow the seeds for a sustainable transition to democracy.

No rapid political remedy is available for Burma. Economic sanctions cannot work. The net they cast is simply not watertight. Despite the immense moral standing supplied to sanctions by the unstinting support of Aung San Suu Kyi, they must be abandoned. Equally, the complacency that continues to pervade much of Asia is a recipe for stalemate and, quite possibly, disaster.

Only an active policy of committed, long-term political engagement and inward investment can set Burma on the path to prosperity and democracy. The journey will not be easy, clean or pretty. But it is hard to think of alternative ways forward for this miserable country.


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To: D. Long who wrote (148620)11/24/2005 4:50:06 PM
From: Ish
   of 766436
 
<<Every year has its "Cabbage Patch Doll".>>

I knew a guy who opened a store in the river town of Havana, Illinois. Barbie craze. He got a doll plus dozens of empty boxes and put them in his window as a draw. The Barbie got sold and his place burned.

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To: briskit who wrote (148614)11/24/2005 4:54:55 PM
From: Lane3
   of 766436
 
This seems like it was written a long time ago

Yes, I had been yacking about going through my clips from the time around the start of the war. I should have put the date on it.

There were a lot of problems with that article now, including what you mentioned. I just wanted to illustrate the preconception as aspect, as I mentioned.

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From: LindyBill11/24/2005 4:55:09 PM
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Weighing pandemic's impact
Though seen as unlikely,
outbreak scenarios have
investors calculating risks
By MICHAEL R. SESIT
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 24, 2005

PARIS -- If avian flu sparks a global flu pandemic, the world will have a lot more to care about than financial markets. But that hasn't stopped economists and strategists ruminating over the possible impact on everything from economic growth to interest rates to stock prices and foreign exchange.

Concerns about a possible pandemic have risen with the emergence of the H5N1 bird-flu virus, which has jumped from birds to humans, killing 67 people in Asia in the past two years. Some scientists fear that if the virus mutates to the point where it can be transmitted between humans, the world could face a pandemic.

"While it is difficult to quantify the precise likelihood of a human H5N1 pandemic, analysis suggests that avian flu is a rising risk to the global economic outlook," says Robert Bonte-Friedheim, an equity analyst at Citigroup specializing in medical affairs and lead author of a recent report on avian flu.

The prospect of that is still viewed as extremely low. But the World Health Organization estimates that a relatively mild global flu outbreak could cost two million to seven million lives. But others contend that a truly virulent virus could rival the 1918-1919 "Spanish flu" in which anywhere from 20 million to 100 million people died.

"The bottom line is that flu pandemics have already developed in the past and may well show up again in the future, with potentially devastating consequences for the global economy and markets," says Lorenzo Codogno, co-head of European economics at Bank of America.

A relatively mild -- and containable -- outbreak of bird flu would likely slow economic activity, cause stocks to fall, bonds to rally and trigger sharp jumps in so-called haven currencies, such as the Swiss franc and possibly the U.S. dollar and sterling. But these effects should prove temporary, contend Citigroup analysts. In fact, they regard the equity selloff as an opportunity to buy stocks that would be expected to rebound with economic growth.

A full-blown pandemic is another story. Even people who regard predictions of a repeat of 1918-1919 as alarmist acknowledge the ruinous impact of such an event. "A virulent, global outbreak of avian flu, which is still considered to be a low-probability event, would cause global economic activity to decline, raw-material prices to collapse, risk aversion to rise, monetary policy to ease and interest rates to fall," says Ben Walker, a fund manager at Gartmore Investment Management.

Economies would be buffeted by curtailed individual travel, increased absenteeism from the workplace, reduced shopping, a steep drop in consumer and business confidence and government-imposed quarantines.

Meanwhile, the combination of increased investor aversion to risk and slowing global growth would damp cross-border investment. That, in turn, should be bad news for the currencies of countries with large current-account deficits that rely on financing from abroad, such as the U.S., Australian and New Zealand dollars, the U.K. pound, South African rand and Mexican peso, says Marvin Barth, a Citigroup currency economist.

Slowing growth, especially in Asia, would also put a big dent in the demand for raw materials, particularly jet fuel. "Severe constraints on global mobility will have a huge impact on oil demand," say Citigroup analysts. "However, some commodities, such as gold and silver, could benefit from a 'flight-to-quality' trade," says Gartmore's Mr. Walker.

To get a notion of what might happen in various markets, investment strategists often use the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003 as a template. East Asian growth shrank. Deflation set in as consumer prices fell in Hong Kong, China and Singapore.

In Hong Kong, tourist arrivals plunged, hotel-occupancy collapsed and the stock market tumbled 10% in six weeks. Consumer discretionary, industrial, bank, materials and real-estate stocks in Asian markets excluding Japan fell 7% to 17%; utilities and health-care stocks rose slightly. Post-SARS, the sectors that fell the most came roaring back. Even so, SARS may be too-optimistic a benchmark. It was short-lived and mostly restricted to four Asian countries.

"In SARS, the market didn't start coming back until the caseload of new patients was on a sustained downward trend," says Citigroup's Mr. Bonte-Friedheim. "With a potential H5N1 influenza, it would probably be a long time before that point is reached."

Under a pandemic scenario, the stock sectors that should perform well include companies that make antiviral drugs and vaccines, hospital chains, cleaning-product manufacturers, home-entertainment providers, telecommunications and Internet-related companies and utilities, according to Citigroup and Gartmore's Mr. Walker.

Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's notes that "businesses that depend on large numbers of people congregating -- such as airlines, lodging, leisure and restaurants -- would suffer serious setbacks." Other "losers" include shopping-mall operators, luxury-goods companies, oil companies and mining and metals concerns.

For all the prognosticating though, some contend that such an event would be so serious that there is little that investors can do. "I don't think you can do anything about it," warns Crispin Odey, head of Odey Asset Management in London. "It's uninsurable."

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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (148616)11/24/2005 4:56:55 PM
From: Lane3
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Don't you see something strange in a column whose first half says, "they were sincere, there was no deception" and whose second half concludes "they will successfully stonewall and cover up"?

No. You can be sincere in your initial efforts, then, when challenged, want to avoid explaining yourself.

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From: LindyBill11/24/2005 4:59:35 PM
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Spielberg steps in it
American Thinker
November 24th, 2005

Warning signs are already out and should be for the coming Steven Spielberg movie on the Israeli effort to hunt down those who participated in, or planned the Munich massacre in 1972. In an article in the LA Weekly about the movie, the clear spin is that it will be a great film: nuanced, balanced, thoughtful, and all the other good stuff. Friends of Israel will wonder of course how balanced a movie can be under the weight of the heavy hand of Tony Kushner, an anti-Israel playwright, who was Spielberg’s choice as screenwriter. . . Spielberg has not said much about the movie, but made one statement about it to a New York Times interviewer that is quoted in the LA Weekly article:

“Viewing Israel’s response to Munich through the eyes of the men who were sent to avenge that tragedy adds a human dimension to a horrific episode that we usually think about only in political or military terms. By experiencing how the implacable resolve of these men to succeed in their mission slowly gave way to troubling doubts about what they were doing, I think we can learn something important about the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today.”

So the slaughter of Israel’s Olympic athletes is a “tragedy” and Israel’s response to capture or kill those responsible is classified as a “horrific episode”, which over time raised “troubling doubts” among the Israelis involved. . What more do you need to know about the film?

This would be similar to describing 9/11 as a tragedy, and our response in Afghanisan as a horrific episode. It is a level of “thinking” that puts one on a par with Chris Matthews, who recently told a college audience that we need to stop hating our enemies, and just understand them better. Yes, we in he West can benefit from talking more to those who murder athletes, behead journalists, and blow up mosques and tall buildings. Our problem is that we are not talking enough to Zarqawi and Bin Laden, to get to understand them better. Sure, and FDR should have hit Japan hard with more understanding after Pearl Harbor.

Spielberg seems to believe that the Israeli Palestinian conflict is resolvable, if only the two sides talked a bit more with each other, and stopped fighting. Note the involvement of Dennis Ross as an advisor to Spielberg on the film. Ross knows from talking to both sides. It was his job. He did it between 1991 and 2001 almost nonstop. And all that talk eventually ended when Yassar Arafat decided enough talk, now let’s get on with a suicide bombing campaign.

For the heroes of Hollywood, living their sheltered existence in mansions on each coast, every conflict is resolvable, if only each side took the time to understand the “other” a bit more, and talked more and fought less. In the real world it is not so easy. But Hollywood is not the real world.

Richard Baehr 11 24 05

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To: Lane3 who wrote (148628)11/24/2005 6:14:56 PM
From: Nadine Carroll
   of 766436
 
No. You can be sincere in your initial efforts, then, when challenged, want to avoid explaining yourself.

Won't wash. The explanation they gave - "we got bad intelligence" IS the alleged coverup.

Logically, either they were sincere and thus there is no cover up (unless you want to discuss the CIA's attempts to cover up and distract attention from its dismal track record), or they were insincere and "intentionally misled" the nation into war, which is the charge being made against them.

You can't have it both ways. Greeley is trying to.

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To: LindyBill who wrote (148629)11/24/2005 6:28:47 PM
From: Lazarus_Long
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Some Iraq Insurgent Groups Consider Negotiations

POSTED: 6:34 am PST November 24, 2005
UPDATED: 2:27 pm PST November 24, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Some insurgent groups in Iraq are reportedly considering reaching out to Iraqi leaders.

Residents of Anbar province said four insurgent groups are considering naming a representative to spell out their conditions to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

The residents, who have contacts with the insurgents, spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

The four groups include the Islamic Army of Iraq, the 1920 Revolution Brigade, the Mujahedeen Army and al-Jamea Brigades.

But the country's most feared terror organization, al-Qaida in Iraq, is not among them. It and two other Islamic extremist groups are believed to have staged many suicide attacks.

U.S. and Iraqi officials believe their best chance for a negotiated settlement of the insurgency involves driving a wedge between extremists and groups led by members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who want a share of power.

continues....
ktvu.com

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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (148630)11/24/2005 6:46:34 PM
From: Lane3
   of 766436
 
either they were sincere and thus there is no cover up

I'm not following your argument. If they selectively heard the intelligence or selectively interpreted the intelligence subconsciously, then they were sincere. Wrong, but sincere.

The explanation they gave - "we got bad intelligence" IS the alleged coverup.

And if some of the intelligence they relied on turned out to be wrong, then they would blame the intelligence. It's better than acknowledging that subconsciously distorted their readings and judgments and that's what lead them astray. Or maybe they don't yet realize that that's what happened.

In any case, no matter how you screw up, bad intelligence is the perfect excuse because it implicates others. Whether or not they were sincere, bad intelligence is their best excuse. Even if you don't want to cover up, only distract, bad intelligence is your best claim.

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To: Lazarus_Long who wrote (148631)11/24/2005 6:47:02 PM
From: Nadine Carroll
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U.S. and Iraqi officials believe their best chance for a negotiated settlement of the insurgency involves driving a wedge between extremists and groups led by members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who want a share of power.


Al Qaeda is lending a hand by blowing up mosques and hospitals, and generally giving the insurgency a bad name.

But it's not going to be easy. The Sunni insurgents are going to want to "negotiate" Palestinian style - with talks at the table AND bombs in the streets. If the Iraqi government wants the bombs to stop they will have to make them an offer they can't refuse.

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