Sunday, May 27, 2007

US is preparing to reject climate change proposals in upcoming Group of Eight summit

According to comments written by US officials on a draft document which was handed over to Greenpeace international by undisclosed sources,US officials expressed serious concerns about the draft document:
"The US still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement," the notes on the document read. "The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple 'red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to."

All 27 EU members have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 - building on Kyoto - and by 30% if a broader international agreement can be reached.
United States is the only developed country that has not ratified the Kyoto protocol which calls for developed countries to cut emissions by 5% below their 1990 level by 2012.

The United States has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because of concerns about damage to the American economy. Bush administration officials have also balked because China and India are not part of it.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, who will be hosting the Group of Eight summit has been pushing hard along with outgoing British PM Tony Blair in private talks with President Bush to accept the proposals of the draft.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Clinton benefactor Vinod Gupta sued by infoUSA shareholders

CEO and founder of infoUSA Vinod Gupta was sued by the company shareholders for providing the Clintons corporate jets on different occasions to fly the former president and Hillary Rodham Clinton on business, personal and campaign trips as ABC News reports:

The supporter, Vinod Gupta, also secured contracts worth more than $3 million for Bill Clinton to provide consulting services to Gupta's Nebraska-based company, infoUSA, from 2003 through 2008, according to the suit.

The lawsuit brands the use of jets as wasteful company spending.

So how is this going to affect Hilary Clinton's Presidential aspirations?

Bush continues his lies about Iraq in his Memorial day speech

Once again Mr.Bush lied through his teeth to the American people in his memorial day address :

"Our troops are helping them build democracies that respect the rights of their people, uphold the rule of law and fight extremists alongside America in the war on terror" Bush said.

It is well known that the primary motive for Iraq occupation is oil:

"President Bush's Cabinet agreed in April 2001 that 'Iraq remains
a destabilising influence to the flow of oil to international markets
from the Middle East' and because this is an unacceptable risk to
the US 'military intervention' is necessary."

AS the U.S. celebrates Memorial Day on May 28, commemorating war dead, this will be the sixth Memorial Day in a row with the nation at war.

Since the beginning of US invasion of Iraq 3,433 U.S. personnel have died and more than 25,500 have been wounded, Pentagon figures show. In Afghanistan, 387 U.S. troops have been killed and 1,250 wounded since October 2001.

Iraq civillian casualites stand as many as 70471 according to a database compiled by

In the US, the majority of the population is favor of pulling out of this war and the last Congressional elections saw both houses go back to Democratic majority.

It was only last thursday a divided US Congress finally approved $100 billion (€74.4 billion) to keep fighting the war in Iraq. Mr. Bush had earlier vetoed a bill drafted by democrats which tied funding with troop pullout date.

So when does Mr. Bush realize folly of his Iraq venture and do something to end it?
Probably never because that would mean admitting the wrongs he has done to the Iraqi people and the American people.
The world will likely have to wait till another American President is elected in 2008.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lebanon standoff at a turning point -- Violence could spread to rest of the country

Refugees fleeing from the besieged Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli, Lebanon said anger over the Lebanese army's indiscriminate shelling had reached boiling point and sympathy was growing for the militant group Fatah al-Islam holed up inside the camp:

"The army have been killing us, they were hitting anything that moved," said 27-year-old Maher, who had left the camp the previous night for the relative sanctity of the nearby camp of Badawi. "Nobody can step out of their house without being shot at. Even inside the houses it isn't safe from the bullets."

Abu Ali, 45, added: "We have never experienced violence like this. Not even the Israelis behaved like this."

There were heavy exchanges of gunfire late on Thursday between Lebanese troops and militants inside, breaking a two day truce. Prime Minister Fuad Saniora vowed in a speech to wipe out the militants as reported by Associated Press:

"Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said in a televised address Thursday that Fatah Islam was "a terrorist organization." He blamed the group for "attempting to ride on the suffering and the struggle of the Palestinian people."

"We will work to root out and strike at terrorism, but we will embrace and protect our brothers in the camps," Saniora said, insisting Lebanon has no quarrel with the 400,000 Palestinian refugees who live in the country."

All of this started earlier this week when Lebanese police ended up inside the refugee camp while chasing bank robbers and got into a firefight with the well-armed Fatah Islam militants who are among many other groups who control the refugee camp. They are in no way unique among other similar groups and Fatah Islam has existed in the camp with the quiet acquiescence of the Lebanese government.
The firefight started because of intelligence failure and Lebanese army realized quickly how deeply the militants were entrenched in the camp.
Neither side wanted this fight in the first place, but now both are stuck in a standoff as the army refuses to back off without a complete surrender which Fatah Islam has refused to give and vows to fight till the last bullet:

Abu Salim Taha, a spokesman for the militants, countered on al-Jazeera television from inside the camp by saying it was the army that opened fire. He said the group's fighters remain committed to the truce.

However, Taha repeated that they will never surrender or flee. "This is impossible. We will fight until the last moment, the last drop of blood and the last bullet," he said.

The fleeing familes feel they are once again caught -- they have been refugees from Israeli occupation of Palestine and now they are refugees driven from their refugee camp.
So how this is likely to end?
Despite all the posturing by Lebanese Prime Minister, the Lebanese people dont have appetite for a protracted fight with this Palestinian group or any other as the government is already mired in fight with Hezbollah with no end in sight.
The stand-off is likely to continue for a long time with some kind of deal in the end.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

60 year old New Jersey woman gives birth to twin boys

When asked what she had to say to women of her age, she said:

"Don't get a dog, get a baby."

Frieda Birnbaum gave birth to "Baby A" at 12:44 p.m. and "Baby B" a minute later by Caesarean section at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Birnbaum, a psychologist from Saddle River, underwent in-vitro fertilization last year in Cape Town, South Africa, at a center that specializes in older women. She and her husband, Ken, a New York attorney, have been married for 38 years and have three other children - sons ages 6 and 33 and a daughter, 29.

According to Mrs.Birnbaum age is redefined all the time:
"Age is being redefined all the time," the mother, Frieda Birnbaum, told a television reporter attending the birth.

"I don't feel like 60."

Her daughter (aged 29) apparently thinks her mother is crazy:

"My daughter feels I should be living in Florida having a good life," Birnbaum told Fox News after the birth. "I hope when she's older, she'll see this and understand she has choices. I don't feel like I'm 60."

Hospital officials believe Birnbaum may be the oldest woman to give birth to twins in the United States.

Goodluck to the mother and her newborns.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Major diplomatic row looms between UK and Russia over extraditon of Litvinenko's Killer

Russian authorities rejected demands by Tony Blair last night to extradite from Russia, Andrei Lugovoi, the man accused of murdering the former security service agent Alexander Litvinenko in London last November.
Britain's Crown Prosecution service said police had gathered sufficient evidence to charge Andrei Lugovoi with murder and demanded that he be extradited to stand trial in Britain for an "extraordinarily grave" crime.
Russian authorities immediately rejected any possibility of extradion of Lugovoi:

In a swift response, Russia said there was no chance of Mr Lugovoi being sent to stand trial in Britain, and warned of a political backlash. Marina Gridneva, a spokeswoman for the Russian prosecutor general's office, said: "Under Russian law, a citizen of the Russian Federation cannot be handed over to a foreign country."

The announcement from Number 10 Downing Street to seek extradition comes exactly 6 months after Litvinenko died from radiation poisoning in a London Hospital and marks a resolve of the British Government not to bend under economic and diplomatic pressure from Russia:

Mr Blair's spokesman said: "Murder is murder - this is a very serious case. Nobody should be under any doubt as to the seriousness with which we are taking this case.

"Obviously we have political and economic connections with Russia, and Russia clearly plays an important role in international affairs.

"However, what that doesn't in any way obviate is the need for the international rule of law to be respected and we will not in any way shy away from trying to ensure that happens in a case such as this. That is the basis on which we proceed."

Prosecutors stopped short of any accusations against the Russian state, but officials in Moscow quickly made clear Lugovoi would not be handed over to face British justice.

That leaves the possibility of a show-trial in which Lugovoi may be used to shift the blame to enemies of the Kremlin.

On his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being involved in his death. Litvinenko's widow, Marina, thanked the British police and made it clear yesterday she would not welcome a trial in Russia:

She said an extradition would be the clearest way for President Putin to prove there was no state involvement in the death of her husband.

Mrs Litvinenko had a 40-minute meeting with the Russian ambassador, Yuri Fedotov, and told him Russia's co-operation "would prove there wasn't state involvement".

Earlier, Mr Fedotov, had been called in to see Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary. Afterwards, Mrs Beckett said: "We expect full co-operation from the Russian authorities in bringing the perpetrator to face British justice."

The decision to seek the extradition of Lugovoi, a former member of the KGB, has been taken at the highest level and in full awareness of the row it would create.

What all this means is a prolonged diplomatic standoff between Russia and Britain as chances of handing over Lugovoi to Britain is highly unlikely because Lugovoi could give British authorities sensitive information that would potentially implicate Putin in the Murder or at least damage his political career seriously.
As for Tony Blair, this could be his Jihad for Legacy before leaving office as Prime Minister.

Monday, May 21, 2007

China to invest $3 billion in US private equity Blackstone

Careful to avoid the kind of political opposition that resulted from its 2005 unsuccessful bid to buy US oil company UNOCAL, Chinese government this time has agreed to buy only 9% stake( 10% would have automatically made it eligible for a congressional inquiry.) in US private equity company Blackstone Group LP for $3 billion. Experts agree:
Its Blackstone interest will be just under 10 percent and is part of a trend, Blackstone co-founder Stephen Schwarzman said, of China's investment plans.

China will learn how to structure and value private equity deals, as well as gaining a network of well connected people, said James Oberweis, president of Oberweis Asset Management Inc., who oversees an $800 million China fund.

"The Blackstone deal is as much about education on how to invest as it is about the actual investment itself," Oberweis said. "From the perspective of Blackstone, what better way to increase your penetration into the fastest-growing, major economy in the world than to have that government invested in you?"

The Blackstone stake may be the beginning of a trend of buying binge by China in US companies.
The Chinese insisted that they do not want any voting power in the Blackstone board.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Carter: Bush had overseen an "overt reversal of America's basic values"

Former President Carter is known for calling spade a spade and he was no different this time as he described Bush administration as "the worst in history" in international relations in an interview with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

During a telephone interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from the Carter Center in Atlanta, the ex-president also accused the current White House occupant of eliminating the line between church and state and of abandoning “America’s basic values.”

“I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history. The overt reversal of America’s basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including [those of] George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me,” Carter said.

Hear part of the interview here.

Telling that the son went against the values of his father certainly warranted a stinging response from the White house and it did as White House on Sunday dismissed former President Jimmy Carter as "increasingly irrelevant" :

"I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there," White House spokesman Tony Fratto responded Sunday from Crawford, where Bush spent the weekend.

"I think it's unfortunate," Fratto said. "And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."

President Carter did not spare the outgoing British Prime Minister Blair either. He called Blair “Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient” as GlobeandMail reported:

Mr. Carter also offered a harsh assessment for the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which helped religious charities receive US$2.15 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 2005 alone.

“The policy from the White House has been to allocate funds to religious institutions, even those that channel those funds exclusively to their own particular group of believers in a particular religion,” Mr. Carter said. “As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honoured that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one.”

Douglas Brinkley, a Tulane University presidential historian and Carter biographer, described Mr. Carter's comments as unprecedented.

“This is the most forceful denunciation President Carter has ever made about an American president,” Mr. Brinkley said. “When you call somebody the worst president, that's volatile. Those are fighting words.”

Mr. Carter also lashed out Saturday at British prime minister Tony Blair. Asked how he would judge Mr. Blair's support of Mr. Bush, the former president said: “Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient.”

“And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world,” Mr. Carter told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

One can only wish that despite the public rebuke of President Carter by the White House, George Bush would find a private moment to reflect on what President Carter has said.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sarkozy announces cabinet - 50% women, first muslim minister

French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced his cabinet of 15 ministers today. For the first time in French history, a person of North African origin and for that matter a woman of Muslim origin has been appointed as a minister:

Rachida Dati - Justice Minister

The daughter of illiterate Algerian and Moroccan parents, Ms Dati is one of 12 children. She studied law at university and then accounting, working for oil giant, Elf.

She trained as a magistrate from 1997-1999 and joined Mr Sarkozy's interior ministry in 2002, playing a key role in improving relations with immigrant communities in the suburbs.

Ms Dati acted as Mr Sarkozy's spokeswoman during his presidential campaign. She is the first person from an ethnic minority to hold a senior French cabinet post.

Rachida Dati's appointment may come as a surprsie to many who remembers Mr. Sarkozy's anti-arab comment during the Paris riots in 2005.
Half of the members of his 15 member cabinet are women. This is also unprecedented in any democracy anywhere in the world.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs went to a very respected Medical Doctor who is a former Health minster and more importantly also happens to be one of the founders of the fine organization - Doctors without Borders:

Mr Kouchner is an outspoken former socialist health minister and UN governor of Kosovo.

Widely admired in France, he founded the medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and is convinced that countries have a moral duty to intervene in humanitarian crises.

He supported the US-led war in Iraq and has vowed to put human rights at the top of France's foreign policy.

Having appointed a diverse and capable cabinet, Mr. Sarkozy seems to be on the right path to bring about the reforms he promised to the French people during his election campaigning.
Good luck to him and his cabinet.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz finally gives up

After stalling for weeks unashamedly, Paul Wolfowitz, the beleagured President of World Bank finally declared that he is resigning at the end of June:

Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz will resign at the end of June, he and the bank said late Thursday, ending his long fight to survive pressure for his ouster over the generous compensation he arranged for his girlfriend.

His departure ends a two-year run at the development bank that was marked by controversy from the start, given his previous role as a major architect of the Iraq war when he served as the No. 2 official at the Pentagon.

"He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution and we accept that," the board said in its announcement of his resignation.

This may look like a facesaver but in reality truth has finally caught up with the mastermind of Iraq invasion -- his character finally exposed. It will be interesting to see who offers Wolfowitz his next job.

Global Warming: Southern ocean around Antarctica cannot absorb any more CO2

Two very alarming news came out in last few days in the Global warming front as reported by CNN : this and this.

I am quoting from the first link:

The Southern Ocean is one of the world's biggest reservoirs of carbon, known as a carbon sink. When carbon is in a sink -- whether it's an ocean or a forest, both of which can lock up carbon dioxide -- it stays out of the atmosphere and does not contribute to global warming.

The new research, published in the latest edition of the journal Science, indicates that the Southern Ocean has been saturated with carbon dioxide at least since the 1980s.

This is very alarming because Human activity is the main culprit according to researcher of this study Corinne Le Quere.

The phenomenon wasn't expected to be apparent for decades, Le Quere said in a telephone interview from the University of East Anglia in Britain.
She says:

We thought we would be able to detect these only the second half of this century, say 2050 or so. But data from 1981 through 2004 show the sink is already full of carbon dioxide. So I find this really quite alarming.

The second aone is a study by NASA that reports that vast areas of snow in Antarctica melted in the summer of 2005.
NASA's QuikScat satellite detected extensive areas of snowmelt, shown in yellow and red, in west Antarctica in January 2005.

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