Monday, March 29, 2010

All The World's Estranged IV

Libya and the EU kissed and made up this week by lifting visa bans on each others citizens. The session was complete with an apology from the Spanish Foreign Ministry for blacklisting Libyans, all of which began two years ago when Hannibal Gaddafi was arrested in Geneva and Switzerland initiated a diplomatic tiff.

In the DRC a massacre by the LRA in December has finally come to light, revealing the continued threat of the terrorist group despite the assurances of the government. A former LRA spokesman has denied the association, claiming that it is the Uganda People's Defense Force that is carrying out the killings. After mounting pressure in Washington from groups such as Invisible Children and Resolve Uganda the Senate passed a bill this month authorizing funding for humanitarian efforts in the region as well as military action against the LRA  which the US will likely effect using AFRICOM, the US military command in Africa.

Drilling efforts to reach the largest body of freshwater on the continent and the fourth largest lake on the planet are close to fruition as a multi-national team of British, American and Russian scientists revealed today that they are 300 ft of Lake Vostok. The project is fueled in part by a quest for life on the planet's most harsh environment as well as beyond (Mars, Europa), and also in part by a search for more answers on the prospect of climate change.

Korea is joining the list of nations securing plots of ice for building research stations in Antarctica. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs plans to complete the $88 million research site by 2014 at Terra Nova bay

The NLD, Burma's  main opposition party has declared that it will not participate in the country's first elections in 20 years, after the Junta banned its leader Suu Kyi from participating in the process due to a criminal record. The junta recently passed electoral laws stating that parties may not have members with criminal records, which excludes many NLD members who have been prison records for activism.

The theme at the 2010 AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)  meeting was" Israel: Tell the Story" , which seems to emphasize the revelation of a side of Israel that is often hidden. The council aimed to convince those in attendance that Israel "that Israel is making the world a better place", although some critics viewed it as another "bomb Iran special".

Partyiers in Sydney spend a few more minutes than usual in line at Home nightclub in order to get their pictures taken and fingerprints and IDs scanned into a bio-metric system being tested at club. While Home nightclub is the only one to use the fingerprinting technology, other clubs are using a variety of 13 ID-scanning technologies for the stated purpose of increasing safety for their patrons. ID-tect, the software company which provides the software states that if the patron is not a "ban list", their information is deleted within 28 days, otherwise it may be stored indefinitely.

In Mayo Clinic v CSL Limited, the renowned Mayo clinic has made allegations of conspiracy against  CSL, Australia's largest health care company of forming a conspiracy between its wholly-owned blood-plasma subsidiary CSL Behring and Baxter International, the health care industry's peak medical products company.

The largest trade union in Britain has revealed that it has a piggy bank of £700,000 which it plans to use to aid its British Airways members who are facing up to £900 pay cuts for participating in the recent cabin crew walkout.

Last week's EU summit saw Greece receiving a sustained brush off from Germany, which for the past two years has consistently vetoed proposals for bank bailouts. Germany has a well-known post-war policy of placing European unity before national interests which has been upheld by all post-war chancellors up to this point which is why Chancellor Merkel's ardent stance on the Greek bailout has caught some off guard.

Brazil's is the country of the month, with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledging mid last week to maintain a steady stream of economic stability and later showing a bit of prowess after receiving authorization from the WTO to enforce cross-retaliation measures against the US cotton policy which was found to be illegal in 2008. Brazil has already applied surcharges to many of US products and will be announcing more on US IPR. GM also announced that it will invest $780 million in two Brazilian plants towards adding two new models to the country's lineup. Furthermore, the WSJ sang  Brazil's praises and speculated on a promising future for the biggest economy in Latin America and the 10th biggest in the world. Da Silva also found his popularity rate at its highest since taking office as he finishes his last term.

A Guardian article raises the question, 'when is the last time Haiti was run by its own government, and not NGOs?'. Clinton, the US special envoy to Haiti publicly questioned this week whether US aid was actually materializing into self-reliance in Haiti despite his role in the historic sandbagging of Haiti by the US.

For a president who did not finish paying off his college loans until taking office due to the increasing costs higher education, one would expect Obama to place higher education initiatives high on his priorities, which he did, for a short while.In the summer of 2009 Obama unveiled a plan to propel 5 million university graduates by 2020, however the education bill that was pork-barreled with the recently passed health care bill catered meagerly to higher education and in almost no way to community colleges, which typically receive no attention from the federal government.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Airbus/Boeing Catfight

The WTO has not yet revealed its official ruling on the legality of the aid provided by EU members to Airbus, although it is suspected that the advance loan system will be judged legal, while some of the aid itself will be judged illegal based on section 4.1 of the Agreement;

4.1. Governments shall provide support for the development of a new large civil aircraft programme only where a critical project appraisal, based on conservative assumptions, has established that there is a reasonable expectation of recoupment, within 17 years from the date of first disbursement of such support, of all costs as defined in Article 6(2) of the Aircraft Agreement, including repayment of government supports on the terms and conditions specified below.

Ever since the US pulled out of the 1992 bilateral pact  which created mandates on government aid to commercial jet manufacturers in 2004, the blame game has been tirelessly played with fingers pointing in no meaningful direction.The US alleges that approximately $205 billion in unfair aid was provided to Airbus by the EU and especially France, Germany, Spain and Britain. The EU alleges that Boeing is receiving aid from NASA and the DOD. Both sides accuse the other of hiding aid in various schemes, such as the US calling part of the aid "overhead" and the EU claiming a €750 million site for the A380 was a multi-purpose site.

The WTO must contend with several issues:
  1. The US and EU have their own definitions of the term "subsidy" each one's likely defined for national favor and an absent objective definition in the text of the 1992 European Union Agreement On Trade In Large Civil Aircraft. Are subsidies from states such as those from Toulouse to Airbus/Washington state to Boeing allowed?
  2. The WTO must determine how to evaluate the adherence of a party to a bilateral agreement in which said party officially withdrew its participation six years ago.
  3. How to enforce the transparency measures set forth in Article 8 of the agreement; " public information will include at minimum the total amount of government support for new development projects and its share of total development costs, aggregate data on disbursements and repayments relating to direct government supports for commercial aircraft programmed, the annual commercial turnovers of the civil aircraft industry"
  4. How to address accusations of price-cutting and other aggressive measures from each side of the Atlantic, since the 1992 Agreement explicitly states that  "Action with respect to "matters covered by the present Agreement" refers to trade actions relating to direct and indirect government support as defined by this Agreement. It does not include actions relating to dumping, intellectual property protection, or anti-trust or competition laws."
The term "subsidy" which is {defined by the unabridged dictionary as "a direct pecuniary aid furnished by a government to .."} at the core of the dispute is not exclusively defined in context of the Agreement, however the following are:

- "indirect government support": financial support provided by a government or by any public body within the territory of a Party for aeronautical applications, including research and development, demonstration projects and development of military aircraft, which provide, an identifiable benefit to the development or production of one or more specific large civil aircraft programmes.
- "direct government support" means any financial support provided by a government or by any public body within the territory of a Party which is provided:
1) for specific large civil aircraft programmes or derivatives or
2) to specific companies-to the extent that large civil aircraft programmes or derivatives directly benefit. 

The challenge will be to determine how far along the 'balance sheet' indirect support transforms into direct support. 

The jet manufacture dispute is an extension of the trade retaliations that began in 2004 with Bush's  protectionism of the US steel industry in exchange for re-election votes in the rust belt. As Florida's orange exports and Harley Davidson's motorcycles suffered, the cost of the policy was deemed bearable, however the aircraft dispute bears a price sticker of up to $3 trillion over the next 20 years. The EU and the US, each believing( or at least claiming) itself to be in the right, incredulously questions the others motive in prolonging the dispute.

Airbus trade adviser Charles Hamilton  points to a possible larger consequence of the conflict;

Unfortunately, these two WTO cases have enabled future competitors to look at how Boeing and Airbus funded their aircraft programs. Under WTO dispute-settlement rules, both parties had to hand over confidential information to substantiate their claims. Watching from the sidelines were "interested parties" such as the Canadians, Brazilians, Chinese, Russians and Japanese. As a result, potential subsidized competitors have their eyes on a share of the Boeing/Airbus market. Boeing and Airbus are now being forced to upgrade their respective 737 and A320 programs to remain competitive and maintain market share. Boeing's misdirected WTO litigation has enabled others to take on the duopoly. 
Hamilton's point is valid albeit the fact that it cannot be ultimately proven until one of the aforementioned spectators pools funds to launch/propel its own jet manufacturing industry. The EU and US have become so accustomed to dominating manufacturing, technology and financial markets that they rarely consider the threat of competition from DC's and LDC's. 

29 minutes ago, the WTO ruled that Airbus received $13 billion in illegal aid from its EU donors, based on a mandate from the 1992 EU-US agreement which prohibits loan subsidies at rates below the market rate. The WTO has ordered that the $13 billion subsidies pinpointed for Airbus' A380 jet must be withdrawn "without delay" and further loans for other smaller aircraft must be withdrawn within 6 months. The full text of dispute settlement and ruling will not be available until sometime in May after requisite bureaucracy.

The ruling will no doubt tilt the bid for the $40 billion Air force tanker project in favor of Boeing as Airbus will struggle to continue funding its R&D. Although the US has won the subsidy battle, the war is not won yet, as the mudslinging will surely proceed until the bidding is closed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Currently Reading

Intervention points:
"These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything. "

"Earlier this week, a rival consortium composed of Northrop Grumman Corp. and European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. withdrew from the competition, in part because it said the terms favored Boeing. "Such methods by the United States are not good for its European allies, and such methods are not good for the United States, a great, leading nation with which we are on close and friendly terms," Mr. Sarkozy said. "If they want to be heard in the fight against protectionism, they should not set the example of protectionism." In addition, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told the Wall Street Journal Friday that "avoiding protectionism, avoiding exclusion and restrictions is something we should all be very keen to do."

  • US preparations for the next-generation of war; cyber-war in this article on Common Dreams adapted from BBC news
"Summer of 2008, Beijing Olympics. As the world settles down to watch the Games, war erupts deep in the Caucasus Mountains. Georgian rockets fly, Russian tanks roll, - and Russian hackers storm Georgian websites.
Some experts regard this as the first cyber war"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

All The World'S Estranged III

The United States consumes 22.5% of annual oil production and most of that oil comes from Africa- not the Middle East. China, the next largest consumer at 9.6% as of 2008 is on a path of relentless economic growth and has set it sights on Africa,specifically Ghana and Uganda, as a resource for oil among other things. In the past, there  have been many deterrents to {liquid}gold diggers who eyed African nations, however better drilling technology and current periods of dwindling conflict in some nations have revived the thirst for African oil once more. "Explorers salivate in particular at the prospect of peace in Somalia".

Niger is making  large strides (we hope) towards transparency  and independence in its elections, as supported by its declaration that yesterday , excluding many government officials who would otherwise have a conflict of interest, from running in state elections.

In anticipation of the celebratory activities soon to be beckoned by the 2010 World Cup, Britain has pledged £1,000,000 to the hosting nation of South Africa for the appropriation of condoms. South Africa is the continent's worst afflicted country in the fight against AIDS.

There is time to waste in what I call the Arctic race as proven by the unveiled plans to restore and activate the Polar Star by 2013, one of three icebreakers owned by the U.S. The Polar Star can pierce up to 21 ft of ice and will cost approximately $56 million for a 'fresh paint job'.

"You're one in a million"- says many a high school crush trying to express that immature albeit convincing phenomenon of puppy love. Perhaps the effect of uttering those words could be compounded by upping the stakes- "You're one in a zillion". While such statistics are difficult to prove, this penguin can enjoy the royalties of knowing that it is truly one in a zillion. The all-black penguin was discovered by Andrew Evans for National Geographic Traveler Magazine during a recent trip.

Google and China are on the cusp of a nasty breakup as China remains unyielding on its internet censorship policy.

This afternoon in Doha, {Qatar} ,Japan is ramping up to voice its opposition against the proposed ban on the cross-border trade of  bluefin tuna, of which it consumes 80% of the world's annual catch . The ban will be debated at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Japan consumes 80% of the species

Victorians have discovered that the Australian government in conjunction with the Victorian Police has contracted a private company AquaSure to gather "intelligence" on protesters during recent protests of the desalination plant project.

PM Tony Abott is {as usual} the subject on the lips of most Australians for his vague proposal to fund a  "fake" parental-leave policy by raising corporate taxes .

 British PM Gordon Brown stated during the Iraq Inquiry that the 2003 invasion "was the right decision and it was for the right reasons" while his Foreign Secretary John Milliband supposed that the result has been a positive Middle Eastern inclination towards during business with the UK, saying " “People in the region do respect those who are willing to see through what they say [they will do],".

The EU and Microsoft found themselves embroiled in another inevitable anti-trust spat over the packaging of IE with Windows OS as the default browser. The EU won, with Microsoft offering five browser options for install on the Windows 7 OS. The options are Safari, Firefox,Opera, IE and Google Chrome.

The largest of Canada's mining companies have been accused of staging a real-life version of the movie Avatar, facing allegations of human rights abuses in the name of retrieving natural resources in Guatemala.

Twenty-seven years into a class action suit by indigenous inhabitants of the  Ecuadorian Amazon against Chevron for pollution and death caused by the company's oil drilling in the 1960s, a US justice recently determined that the blame would be shared by both Chevron and the national company Petroecuador.

The U.S DOS- Bureau on Democracy, Human Rights and Labor released a 2009 report claiming that anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise in Europe. The Bureau backed the claim by calling on the November 29 ban in Switzerland on building minarets as well as the continued ban on burqas and head scarves in France, Germany an the Netherlands.

In an absolute coincidence with the increased interest in African oil, Obama (buttressed by the opinions of some economists and health officials) has frozen US aid distributed from President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, (PEPFAR) to AIDS treatment projects in many African countries, stating that efforts should be redirected from treatment to prevention.

*Must Read
Geoffrey Garrett from the University of Sydney presented an interesting case for the G-2 comprising the US and China, within the global group of the G-20.

The post-global financial crisis world will be increasingly dominated by China and the United States. What the de facto G2 do, together, independently or in conflict, will increasingly define the global bounds of the possible. Both countries want to embed their bilateral diplomacy in the multilateralism of the G20. The problem for the emergent G2 in G20 global architecture is that economic relations between China and the US will be increasingly difficult to manage. The large economic imbalances between the two countries, in which China buys American debt and Americans buy Chinese goods, will endure. Before the crisis, the codependence these imbalances created was a source of stability in Sino–American relations. After the crisis, they will be a source of frustration and conflict, as the second half of 2009 showed. To manage economic relations between China and the US effectively, the G20 agenda will have to move from crisis management to strategic planning for the global economy. The G20 will also have to become more institutionalized, but in a way that resembles more a nonexecutive board of directors of a multinational firm than a management committee of C-level executives.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Internet Freedoms in China - Part 3 of 3

Even more divulging is the claim by Dr. Hung that the Ministry of Information Industry aimed this regulation at free, personal websites, rather than business enterprises. Thus far, thousands of personal websites have been shut down for failure to register. Shortly thereafter in July 2005, newer regulations were passed, requiring instant message users and bloggers to use their real names to log in online. These actions, whose alleged purpose was national security and social stability, were also highly recommended to universities by the Ministry of Education (Hung 14). In this case, Singapore and China utilize equally stringent policies to promote self-censorship in the public. Licensing functions to further intimidate those who may otherwise risk sharing and collecting information, because it requires the disclosure of one's identity. The reason why there exists such a wealth of information (whether good or bad) is likely attributable to the ability of anyone to share personal as well as academic ideas without the need for self-disclosure. Taking away anonymity is taking away new material out of that stagnant pool of information that is especially reinforced in one-party states such as China and Singapore.

The last significant measure taken by Singapore and China to limit internet freedom is nationwide surveillance of users and web spaces. These governments require ISPs to retain information on users that is collected in the course of their online activities, in addition to surveillance on cellular phones and mobile devices (Gomez 143). Chinese authorities exert more effort, by training and employing a reported 40,000 cyber police whose intended purpose as stated by China's People's Daily newspaper is "to intensify real-time monitoring, to intercept and delete harmful information and to capture and check illegal server data" (Hung 40). The roaring Chinese economy has even inspired "censorship entrepreneurs who, provide advanced text mining solutions to enable censors to monitor, forecast and manage online public opinion, thereby avoiding scandalous and damaging revelations" ( These solutions have been used in situations such as that of a popular internet post in 2007 that exposed the kidnapping and forced slave labor of children at illegal brick kilns in Shanxi province. The post was promptly deleted as soon as the authorities were notified. China is able to maintain such penetrating and prompt measures largely due to its large bureaucracy (Yang 416). The bureaucracy also reduces the transparency of operations and makes it difficult for internet users to appeal unfair practices to higher levels of government. Internet surveillance and regulations that require licensing/registration are incredibly intrusive into and obstructive of socio-political and cultural discourse in Singapore and China. In fact, these two policies are further detrimental because they could deter some internet users from internet activity entirely. The fewer internet users there are posting and collecting ideas and information, the less information is circulated, and the self-reinforcing cycle of stagnation emerges once more.

The Chinese media's declining ranking by the RSF in the new millennium indicates that the progression of internet freedom is likely in decline as well. In 2004 the Chinese government deemed websites hosted by the CNN and BBC to be "subversive" websites, and restricted access to them with strict laws, jail sentences and even crackdowns on cybercafés. Case in point, in 2003, a Chinese activist was imprisoned for 8 years for posting content that aligned with the Chinese Democratic Party. In 1999, then Senior Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew gave a speech at the Asian Media Conference stating that Singapore did not intend to block incoming information, rather to state its position on the information. Within a perplexing matter of minutes, he also admitted that “information technology is rapidly undermining whatever monopoly control of the media government might have had" (Hung 22). In addition, he Minister Yew spoke of the promising joint ventures between the Chinese media and U.S-based FOX network. Despite this, the government continues to monitor and regularly block television channels such as CNN and BBC World News. On April 20, 2006, CNN and BBC were repeatedly blocked, apparently to prevent viewers in China from seeing Wang Wenyi, a Falun Gong protester, heckling Chinese President Hu Jintao on the South Lawn of the White House during Hu’s official visit to the U.S (Chung 735). This reveals that while foreign media enterprises may be allowed to join the media networks in China and Singapore, their material is also subject to filtering, and surveillance. Every government retains the right to determine the policies it implements, however these policies seem redundant. What is the purpose of permitting foreign information via the internet if after the filtering, censorship, and surveillance processes, it is only available to a minority who has passed the licensing requirements?

A recurring theme, especially in the new millennium is the citation of "national security" as a reason for any and all measures to limit internet freedoms. These two words have become as common as grammatical articles in the English language, ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and as some scholars suspect, are used as an all-purpose cover for authoritarianism. Gomez states that “the repressive practices of media control, from the colonial era to post-colonial and contemporary governments, have been applied to the internet and the information carried by mobile information devices. Thus, to a large extent, the cyber security measures resulting from the ‘war against terrorism‘are simply an extension of existing censorship laws and surveillance strategies (145).Propaganda and other media control has likely not ceased to exist in China and Singapore, but has instead taken on a more digital and more ambiguous form (Kalathil 44).

The most distressing factor about China’s and Singapore’s authoritarian governments’ limitation on internet freedom is that it greatly reduces the democratizing power of the internet. I concur with Gomez when he implores that “democracy requires a public culture of participation”; the internet is presently the most promising tool for fostering democracy across borders but is under intense control. Given the opportunity to defend China and Singapore amongst other nations using similar policies, former Senior Minister of Singapore might say
  “The Internet is as much a purveyor of truth as it is of outright lies. Although it may take some time, morality and wisdom must find a way to control and tame the new technology to preserve the fundamental values of society by which parents bring up their children to be good citizens. In responding to this challenge of new technology, Asian societies will seek solutions different from those of the West” (
Wang, Stephanie. "China | OpenNet Initiative." ONI Home Page | OpenNet Initiative. 15 June 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .
Chung, Jongpil. "Comparing Online Activities in China and South Kore." Asian Survey 8.5 (2008): 727-51. University of California. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .
Gomez, James. "Dumbing Down Democracy: Trends in Internet Regulation, Surveillance and Control in Asia." Pacific Journalism Review 10.2 (2004): 130-50. Auckland University of Technology. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .
Hassid, Jonathan. "Controlling the Chinese Media: An Uncertain Business." Asian Survey 48.3 (2008): 414-30. Web. 19 Oct. 2009. .
Kalathil, Shanthi. " for Dictators." Foreign Policy 135 (2003): 42-49. Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, LLC. Web. 19 Oct. 2009. .
"The Media and Asia." Speech. World Affairs Council. Los Angeles. 19 Oct. 1998. Los Angeles World Affairs Council. Web. 19 Oct. 2009. .
"Media Development Authority - About Us." Media Development Authority - Home. Media Development Authority, 29 July 2009. Web. 19 Oct. 2009. .
"Press Freedom Index 2009." Reporters Sans Frontières. Reporters Sans Frontières. Web. 19 Oct. 2009. .
"World Economic Forum - Global Information Technology Report." World Economic Forum - Home. Ed. World Economic Forum. 26 Mar. 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .
Yang, Gubon. "The Coevolution of the Internet and Civil Society in China." Asian Survey 43.3 (2003): 405-22. 2 Dec. 2003. Web. 19 Oct. 2009. .

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

State of the Union

"the country is now immersed in a "doomsday cycle" wherein banks use borrowed money to take massive risks in an attempt to pay big dividends to shareholders and big bonuses to management -- and when the risks go wrong, the banks receive taxpayer bailouts from the government"
-Matthew Jaffe, Common Dreams

All the World's Estranged II

Obama pledged this week to extend economic sanctions on Zimbabwe by one year following a similar  extension by the EU despite the south African nation's inflation topping 321 million percent. That bears repeating. 321 million percent. The sanctions, including an arms embargo by the EU ,were imposed in response to human rights abuses by President Mugabe and his government, as well as suspected election fraud . A coalition government is present, partly Mugabe's  ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Tsvangira's MDC, and although British Foreign Secretary David Milliband has expressed interest in cooperating with the MDC party, the sanctions are likely to stay in place, as international leaders struggle to differentiate Mugabe's abusive influence from that of the new coalition government. Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara goes so far as to call the sanctions illegal

Ministers, assistant ministers, MPs and others allegedly associated with the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya are to be named during a continuing investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The list if left unsealed, will reveal those alleged to have planned and even financed the violence that occurred after President Mwai Kibaki emerged victorious in a heated competition between Kibaki's (Party of National Unity) PNU and RailA Odinga's (Orange Democratic Movement) ODM in which tribalism was a dividing factor.

China has joined the list of nations clamoring to claim some access to Arctic waters, in response to retreating Arctic sea ice. A report by the Stockholm International Peace Institute inds the Acting Programme Director Linda Jakobson relaying that, "To date China has adopted a wait-and-see approach to Arctic developments, wary that active overtures would cause alarm in other countries due to China's size and status as a rising global power". The report, titled China Prepares For an Ice-Free Arctic can be found here.

Inspire Antarctic Expedition, a program by the 2041 organization will be taking an Antarctic expedition between March 5-18 with group of corporate leaders, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and others in tow. Ok, perhaps that sentence will make less sense upon the extrapolation that 2041 is an organization dedicated to preserving the continent Antarctica, especially with the impending expiration in 2012 of the Kyoto Protocol  for the Environment program. In 2041 specifically, the Protocol for Environmental Protection is open for amendment, hence the name of the program. Upon visiting the sponsors page, one discovers Coca Cola and BP among others. I am puzzled as to why the polar explorer and environmentalist who founded 2041 believes an oil company,a socially irresponsible corporation and a team of corporate leaders will take genuine interest in preserving the fondly described "last wilderness in the world".

Iranian authorities have banned several newspapers including the reformist daily paper Etemad, for unspecified violations. Weekly paper Irandokht which is also in opposition of the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was banned due to "not meeting the conditions in the press law on practical commitment to the constitution" 
Indonesia's Vice President and Finance Minister were the subject of an impeachment debate  
on Tuesday March 2 amid criticism of the $700 million bailout of private Bank Century.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's proposal of a federal takeover of the nations state-run hospital system has been challenged by some, being viewed as a diversion tactic to distract critics of his home insulation program and other controversial programs. {Search queries for the definition and purpose of the program only yield statements of the programs closing as of Feb,19 2010 in addition to criticisms.}
Drought policies in Australia are under amendment as Agriculture minister Tony Burke claims that "Government support and assistance is conditional upon how much debt you are in. If, for whatever reason, you've made some really hard decisions during the good times and are not in debt, your reward for that is to get no government assistance."

French president Nicolas Sarkozy admitted last week that France had made "grave errors' in its judgment on Rwanda's 1994 genocide, although refrained from an official apology. Several days later, Rwandan authorities have commended the arrest by French police of Agathe Habyarimana , the widow of former president Juvenal Habyarimana whose death is said to have triggered the genocide. French police have not declared the national interest in arresting the widow, and although it is assumed they would extradite her, French officials deny an official request of extradition while Rwandan officials confirm it. After the 2006 accusation by a Paris judge that the current government is responsible for Habyarimana's assassination in 1994, relations between the two nations soured, leaving one to wonder why the French police bothered with an arrest if there is no intention  to honor extradition requests.

In response to the use of fake Irish passports in the assassination of a Hamas leader attributed to Israeli agency Mossad, as  well as "a wholesale disregard for international law", the Irish town council of Carrickmacross has torn from its guest book, the signature of Israel's ambassador to Ireland. I seriosuly doubt the effectiveness of this measure, although I am almost certain more public displays of Israeli disapproval will follow from the other nations whose passports were faked.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Raul Castro are the most vocal national proponents of an organization to represent political consensus in the Americas. The organization is to be called the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and is expected to consolidate the international interests of those states, especially as a separation from North American interest.
A Spanish judge presiding over the plotted assassination case of Colombian president Alvaro Uribe claims there is evidence linking Venezuelan government official Arturo Cubillas Fontan to Colmbian guerilla organization FARC and Basque separatist group ETA.

A trick is a trick and that is it. Or is it? Pennsylvania State University professor and climatologist Michael Mann has been cleared after an investigation of emails between himself and a climatologist at the British University of East Anglia. Emails hacked from the Climate Research Institute at the UEA showed a graph publicly used by Mann to profess global warming as having being created using a "trick". The word trick raised suspicions surrounding the accuracy of the data, however, Mann has been cleared after describing the 'trick' as a statistical method of displaying various ranges of data. So when is a trick really a trick?

A prominent advocate of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 ,a standards-based educational program enacted by George Bush II has recalled her advocacy of the program, joining myriad critics of the controversial program. Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch has authored a book titled The Death and Life of the Great American School System in which she disapproves of  the emphasis of standardized testing and other measures which detract from the real subject, which is successfully educating students.NPR's Steven Inskeep interviews her here
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