mistersandman: Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory (reversal!)
[personal profile] mistersandman
The pledges were made in two days of talks between the world's two biggest economies which ended with both sides hailing progress in their often tense relationship.

The difficulties in relations, particularly in human rights issues, were underscored by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who described Beijing's rights record as "deplorable" in a magazine interview. China's current crackdown on dissent, she said, amounted to "a fool's errand".

But on economic matters, officials were upbeat after talks.

"We are seeing very promising shifts in the direction of Chinese economic policy," U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.

The annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue yielded more results on economic issues than some analysts had expected, although many remained skeptical China's market-opening vows would translate into concrete benefits for U.S. business.

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When I first heard China call the United States out on some of its own problems with human rights and discrimination, I was euphoric. Finally, a superpower who can stand up to the United States! But it's clear to me now that this is the same situation as the Cold War, where both sides go back and forth calling each other names and things progress as usual, if not slower, just so one side doesn't lose face. Case in point, it looks like China's going to stand firm with this yuan reevaluation stuff for a while, because there's no way Xi Jinping is going to "back down" to the US within the first three years of his presidency.
mistersandman: (SHAME)
[personal profile] mistersandman
treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche
By Raymond Hernandez

WASHINGTON -- After years of fierce lobbying and debate, Congress approved a bill on Wednesday to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers and others who became sick from toxic fumes, dust and smoke after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

The $4.3 billion bill cleared its biggest hurdle early in the afternoon when the Senate unexpectedly approved it just 12 days after Republican senators had blocked a more expensive House version from coming to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

In recent days, Republican senators had been under fire for their opposition to the legislation.

Click for the full story. )

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WELL, IT'S ABOUT TIME. This is an awesome follow-up to a previous post on this community regarding the matter. Anthony Weiner, I hope you're not angry anymore. :)
mistersandman: (hahaha)
[personal profile] mistersandman
The New York Times has afforded you the opportunity to balance the budget!  Check boxes to enact that reform.  Haven't had a chance to do my own version (busy busy busy) but I thought you guys might have fun with this!

The game can be found here.

mistersandman: (sandman)
[personal profile] mistersandman
China on Tuesday urged the United States to terminate as soon as possible its economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.

Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, made the appeal as he spoke at a UN General Assembly plenary meeting.

Wang said the General Assembly has adopted resolutions by an overwhelming majority for eighteen consecutive years on the necessity of ending the US embargo against Cuba which has been imposed since 1961.

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Translation: China can't really boss the United States around and neither can the UN, but it is fun to pretend that the US will get their heads out of the sand and update their foreign policy from the 1970s.

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  Lots of midterms.  Hope everyone is excited for the election!
treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche
Republicans have repeated the lie that tax cuts are always good for the economy so often that all of Washington seems absolutely convinced that it's true. The conventional wisdom is so established on this that all a Republican has to say is, "Everyone knows you don't raise taxes in the middle of a recession..." Or in good times or in mediocre times or ever. All tax cuts are always good.

Republicans add another layer of absurdity to this as they say that tax cuts always lead to more revenue for the federal government because of supply-side economics. The economy expands, people make more money and the government collects more in taxes even though it takes a smaller percentage. Great theory -- how about if we cut taxes down to 1 percent? Would the government still get more revenue?

The question isn't whether tax cuts or tax increases are always the right answer. The question is at what level of taxes do we stimulate the economy, collect enough revenue to run a functioning government and let people keep as much of their income as we can. No one, not even the world's biggest liberal, wants to pay more in taxes personally. We just want to find the right balance so that everyone wins.

Click for the full story. It's worth it. )

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This isn't news to anyone who took AP Macroeconomics in high school or Introduction to Macroeconomics and got a passing grade. But for some reason, Americans fall for the "lower taxes = good" bullshit all the time. Even the smart ones, sometimes!

It isn't about low taxes or high taxes: it's about finding the right balance so that the government is able to maintain programs that everyone agrees are beneficial (like fire departments -- if you don't like getting taxed so that the fire department in your township can function, you can read about what happened to the Cranicks), and investment -- both public and private -- happens, while still making sure that private individuals and their families have enough to live reasonably comfortable lifestyles.

The fact is, tax cuts don't encourage us to spend, and our GDP lives and dies by how much spending happens. At least when we're taxed, we're forced to spend and do our part to keep our economy afloat. It may not be very pleasant, but those are the facts, unless you decide to renounce civilized society and become a hermit in the woods or try your hand at living in Somalia.
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[personal profile] treesahquiche

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Evidently, the only person in all of Western news media that Premier Wen Jiabao will talk to is Fareed Zakaria. I don't blame him; there are few people in news media in general -- whether it be Eastern or Western -- that are capable of presenting an interview in a way as thoughtful, impartial, objective, and non-judgmental as Dr. Zakaria.

The entire video is about forty minutes long, but it is more than worth it. The interview with Premier Wen is interspersed in relevant segments throughout the broadcast.

The main topic, of course, was economics. What does Premier Wen think about the way the US handled the financial crisis? How does the US stimulus package compare with China's stimulus program, which Premier Wen engineered? What is Premier Wen's take on and deconstruction of the trade and currency imbalance between the US and China?

I thought the segments where Dr. Zakaria directly and frankly asked Premier Wen about censorship in China -- especially Internet censorship -- were interesting, but not very enlightening as far as Premier Wen's answers went; he did some major waffling.

I wish I could have listened to Premier Wen without the voiceover translation. I much prefer subtitles when it comes to these things. Much of the nuance of his rhetoric in the original Chinese may have been lost in translation, since Chinese is one of those finicky languages with turns of phrase for oddly specific things.
mistersandman: (hahaha)
[personal profile] mistersandman
Read more... )

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So many valuable lessons learned. First: never use the New York Times because they will make articles inaccessible halfway through your post. Second: Oil tycoons become really concerned with the environment when faced with the possibility that someone other than they will get to take advantage of it. Third: We demand that President Obama be tough on socialists at home and abroad, some of the time.

This is a major turning point. I hope Raul "We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where one can live without working" Castro uses this opportunity to get some payback for the last century of US-Cuban relations, which has consisted largely of America being a huge condescending asshole. They can sell their oil to China and it would be the sweetest Fuck You in the history of international relations.

Alternatively, Obama might follow in the footsteps of his esteemed predecessors McKinley, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, and Eisenhower and once more "liberate" Cuba of its sovereignty. It would be the first time "environmental issues" were the stated reason for US imperialist-style intervention.
mistersandman: (watchmen)
[personal profile] mistersandman
TINKER with the genetics of salmon and maybe you create a revolutionary new food source that could help the environment and feed the hungry.

Or maybe you're creating what some say is an untested "frankenfish" that could cause unknown allergic reactions and the eventual decimation of the wild salmon population.

The US Food and Drug Administration hears both arguments this week when it begins a two-day meeting on whether to approve the marketing of the genetically engineered fish, which would be the first such animal approved for human consumption.

The agency has already said the salmon, which grows twice as fast as conventional salmon, is as safe to eat as the traditional variety.

Approval of the salmon would open the door for a variety of other genetically engineered animals, including an environmentally friendly pig that is being developed in Canada or cattle that are resistant to mad cow disease.

Read more... )

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Traditionally speaking, Europeans have much more difficulty accepting GE products-specifically vegetables-than Americans.  We could be mere decades away from Jurassic Park, and after that, Pokemon.  I leave it to the ontd_political community at large to decide if that is a good thing or not.
treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche


So, I had no idea who Elizabeth Warren was before this video, but, um, I'm pretty excited too now.
treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche
CHICAGO -- Against a backdrop of American-made cars, President Obama cast his Republican critics on Thursday as having lost faith in the American people, part of an emerging campaign strategy to try to turn the country's populist mood against his opponents.

Click for the full story. )

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BONUS LINK: Yeah ... But what's Obama done for me today? (More than you're aware of, I'm sure.)
treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche


Click here for the related article, which basically says the same thing as the video. )

Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International. His e-mail address is comments@fareedzakaria.com.

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For all his thought-out opinions, approval of many of Obama's platforms, and mild disapproval of Republicans, it comes as a surprise that Fareed Zakaria is a) a conservative and b) not running for public office.

I agree with everything that he just said and wrote here. I also like how he very subtly called Bush out for not being a real conservative but mostly just someone really incompetent. Can someone please make me a "Fareed Zakaria is the man/a BAMF/really really awesome" icon? Oh wait, made one! :D
mistersandman: (Default)
[personal profile] mistersandman
Little more than a decade ago, few imagined that the oil industry would be drilling a mile below the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico. The vast technical challenges, the risks and the mind-boggling cost of the necessary offshore operations all appeared insurmountable. Yet what drove major companies like BP on to try and harvest these and other "difficult" new reserves was simple economics. It was the relentless rise in demand for crude oil. This demand pushed up the global oil price to levels where there was every incentive to overcome the obstacles and bring the oil ashore. Click for the full article )

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As my conservative father astutely said a month ago, "This oil spill has made environmentalists out of us all." Will we see a greater public push for renewable energy sources in the following months? Now is certainly the time. Or wil lwe allow all further spill-related news to be relegated below the Next Great Tragedy on the evening news?
mistersandman: (hahaha)
[personal profile] mistersandman

Canadian journalist Mitch Moxley told the BBC World Service he was among a group of white North Americans hired by a Chinese company as "quality control experts".Read more... )
By Junaid Ahmed

BBC News
Source

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It's a shame that everyone knows about this now.  I think this is the only job that I, as a white male, would be the first choice for an employer.  'John' and 'Ben' sure have changed their tune for the BBC.  The first time I heard about this, they sounded pretty triumphant.
treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche
TRENTON -- Stephen M. Sweeney, the president of the State Senate here, glowered with disgust as he described how one New Jersey town paid out nearly $1 million to four retiring police officers for their unused sick days and vacation time.

Mr. Sweeney, a Democrat, also scowled about the estimated $46 billion New Jersey owes in pension contributions and its $58 billion in liabilities to finance retiree health coverage for government employees.

For years, Republican lawmakers have railed against public employees' pay and benefits, but now another breed of elected official is demanding labor concessions, too: current and former labor leaders and allies themselves.

Click for the full story. )

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I'm siding with the public workers on this one; if librarians or teachers made decent wages, do you think I'd be studying for a PharmD so I can work for Big Pharma? I'd at least take the slow track (eight years instead of six) so I could enjoy myself and get a Linguistics degree. Shit, even the scientists at the FDA barely make half of what people in comparable private sectors do.
mistersandman: (hahaha)
[personal profile] mistersandman

In his battle against unfair Chinese trade practices, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer has taken up cudgels on behalf of a diverse bunch of American industries and companies, from Harley-Davidson to wind-turbine makers.

Now he’s found a new set of victims to defend: beekeepers in upstate New York.


treesahquiche: (Default)
[personal profile] treesahquiche
China has indicated it will allow the yuan to rise against the dollar and other Western currencies.

Click to read the full story. )

Source

Not strictly political, but there are a lot of political implications involved in this announcement. In the meantime, I am so glad that nothing concrete will happen during the three weeks I'll be in China (starting tomorrow), which means that my paltry allowance which would probably buy me two books and a pair of jeans in the United States will allow me to live glamorously in China.
mistersandman: (sandman)
[personal profile] mistersandman


It's a story that's received virtually no coverage in the Western media, but thousands of South Africans held a march in Durban today to protest against the government's massive spending on the World Cup. They were joined by hundreds of stewards caught up in the ongoing dispute over low wages, which saw riot police break up a demonstration with tear gas and percussive grenades on Sunday, and which has now spread to five of the ten South African World Cup stadiums. From the Mail & Guardian, a South African paper:

"Get out Fifa mafia!" chanted the crowds in a Durban park, their ranks swelled by stewards who were involved in clashes with riot police on Monday after protests over their wages.

Monday's protests triggered walkouts by other stewards, which have led South Africa's police to take control at the World Cup stadiums in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Durban.

Ever since it was awarded the staging rights, South Africa's government has faced accusations it should not be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on stadiums when about 40% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

Spending on the World Cup has cost South Africa around $4.3 billion, a significantly higher figure than was estimated in their initial bid, and due to a variety of factors, early hopes of a financial windfall for the country have largely been dashed. Ticket sales to foreigners have been slower than expected, and FIFA, thanks to the concessions it demands from any country that wants to host the tournament, is apparently paying no taxes on the event. FIFA expects its own World Cup profits to approach $3 billion from television rights alone.

In the meantime, the South African government has asked its citizens to use less electricity to ensure a smooth power supply for the World Cup.

"We urge our communities and the public at large to continuously reduce their consumption of electricity, and thus ensure that Eskom and other role-players are able to keep the lights on,” Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said.

The minister expressed satisfaction that the stadia hosting the games have not experienced any electricity disruption so far.

Image: Getty Images

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Irony behind the cut! )

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