Robert Greenwald and Brave New Foudation
Published on Monuc, 20 feb 2009
More than 40 Chinese-run copper smelters are standing idle in the Democratic Republic of Congo after their owners fled the country without paying taxes or compensating staff at the end of the commodity boom, according to a governor.
Moïse Katumbi, governor of Katanga province, which is bisected by Congo’s copper belt, said Chinese entrepreneurs abandoned their smelters in a matter of days in a co-ordinated move at the end of last year as copper prices tumbled.
Asked if they would be welcomed back if the price rebounded, he told the Financial Times: “No, no, no. Not as long as I am governor. Katanga is not a jungle. They worked as if it was a jungle.”
Katanga’s notoriously rough-and-tumble mining sector enjoyed a heady boom in recent years as commodity prices soared and foreigners rushed in to exploit its copper deposits. The Chinese entrepreneurs who came were part of their country’s small-scale, private sector-led engagement with Africa.
This has occurred alongside, but not always in conjunction with, a state-driven effort to secure resources, which last year led to a $9bn minerals-for-infrastructure deal between China and Congo.
When global commodity prices tumbled, the result in Katanga was painful: in the space of weeks luxury house-building projects and freshly imported Jeeps vanished to be replaced by unemployment and rising crime. Continue reading
From intelNews, 20 feb. 2009, for fair use only
Author Joseph Fitsanakis
IT TURNS OUT THAT ADMIRAL Dennis Blair wasn’t kidding when he said last week that “the primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications”. Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence warned during his annual threat assessment that “the longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to US strategic interests”. The continuing credit vulnerability of the US economy is central to these fears, and it appears to be forcing the rapid rise of microeconomic concerns to the top of the US intelligence community’s threat list.
CHINA AND EASTERN EUROPE
A major aspect of these concerns centers on the hard-to-ignore fact that China currently holds close to $1 trillion-worth of US monetary debt. Trade experts suggest that, should China suddenly decide to offer these securities for sale, “the US dollar would tank”. The chances of this happening are slim -the Chinese economy would also suffer from such a move- but US intelligence agencies are taking no chances. On February 19, the office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a public warning to the Chinese government that it would consider any attempts to sell US Treasury bonds an act of “financial warfare”. It did so by authorizing James Rickards, a self-described “threat finance” expert who advises Admiral Blair, to speak to the US media about “[c]ountries [that] might […] be tempted to engage in financial warfare” against the United States. Interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR), Rickards warned that the global economic crisis could “damage the ties that hold countries together” -together with the United States, that is. NPR was also granted permission to interview David Gordon, former Director of the Office of Transnational Issues at the CIA, who said that Eastern Europe could potentially dethatch itself from Washington’s sphere of influence as a result of a prolonged economic crisis. The dramatic decline in the standards of living in most of these countries could lead them to more egalitarian economic arrangements, thus “challeng[ing] the[ir] westward orientation […] toward markets”, warned Gordon. Continue reading
Quoted from Hurriet DailyNews.com
Kyrgyzstan parliament approves U.S. military base closure
Kyrgyzstan‘s parliament voted Thursday to close a key U.S. air base in the country – a move that could hamper President Barack Obama’s efforts to increase the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Pubished at Squaring the Net
Paris, Feb.16th – Amendments in the European Parliament to the “Telecoms Package” 1 may allow operators to take control of their customer’s usage of the Net. According to amendments pushed by AT&T, “network management practices” could be used to discriminate what content, services and applications users could access and use. Such “net discrimination” causes great risks to the very structure of Internet, and its innovation and growth models. It is also a massive threat to user’s rights and freedoms. Who would want this for Europe?
On Feb 19th will officially begin the second reading of the “Telecoms Package” in the European Parliament. In reality, at the very same moment, a political agreement may be reached after ongoing opaque negotiations between the rapporteurs, the Commission and the Council. Insights from the Parliament reveal that extremely disturbing provisions2 defended by telecom operators, and mainly the US giant AT&T3, might get through. Using the intentionally vague wording of “network management policies”, operators may be authorised to get total control of the network and their users’ activities.
“At this stage of the procedure, what the rapporteur is ready to accept is likely to be voted in plenary. The responsability of promoting, or conversely opposing to, extra-european interests going against internal market and consumer protection, is lying on his shoulders.” explains Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, analyst for La Quadrature du Net. Continue reading