Saturday, 25 October 2014

Grave of the Fireflies – FLNWO #20

from The Corbett Report: On this edition of Film, Literature and the New World Order, James Corbett of and Broc West of discuss Grave of the Fireflies, the 1988 animated film from Studio Ghibli that just may be the greatest war movie ever made. Break out the tissues and prepare for some tears as we hash out the psychological scars this film leaves and examine the movie as a work of art, as an anti-war movie, as a moral tale, and as a stark reminder of how the victors write the history books. 

Brisbane G20: Band Quits In Protest Over Summit

from Brisbane band The Mouldy Lovers (pictured) has cancelled its lucrative gig at the G20 Cultural Celebrations in protest at the political summit.

Band member Jonathan Sri said the cultural events organised by the Queensland Government were an attempt to distract people from thinking critically about G20.

"We looked at how they were being promoted in the media and the kind of messaging the government was using," he said.

"(The decision) was really prompted by a story we saw that had the angle 'Forget politics, let's party.'"
The band's announcement follows Brisbane band Six Ft Hick's decision to publicly pull out of the event.

Queensland Arts Minister Ian Walker said in a statement that the G20 would bring $100 million to Brisbane's economy.

"The G20 Cultural Celebrations are to celebrate the state and its people, as well as give Queenslanders the opportunity to do some celebrating of their own. Its purpose is to show the world and remind ourselves that Queensland is in a class of its own," said Mr Walker.

The Mouldy Lovers were booked to perform at The Flying Cock in Fortitude Valley tonight but publicly announced the cancellation on Wednesday.

Mr Sri, who is also the Greens candidate for South Brisbane at the upcoming state election, encouraged other musicians to do the same, but it was a difficult decision to make.

"It's a bit harsh for people to criticise musicians for taking these gigs when musicians don't have economic power," he said.

The Mouldy Lovers will instead perform at an alternative People's March on November 15 organised by community action group BrisCAN-G20.

Hong Kong’s Umbrellas are ‘Made in USA’

The Washington Hong Kong “Democracy” Project 

By William Engdhal / Boiling Frogs Post: The Washington neo-cons and their allies in the US State Department and Obama Administration are clearly furious with China, as they are with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. As both Russia and China in recent years have become more assertive about defining their national interests, and as both Eurasian powers draw into a closer cooperation on all strategic levels, Washington has decided to unleash havoc against Beijing, as it has unleashed the Ukraine dis-order against Russia and Russian links to the EU. The flurry of recent deals binding Beijing and Moscow more closely—the $400 billion gas pipeline, the BRICS infrastructure bank, trade in rubles and renminbi by-passing the US dollar—has triggered Washington’s response. It’s called the Hong Kong ‘Umbrella Revolution’ in the popular media.   

In this era of industrial globalization and out-sourcing of US industry to cheap-labor countries, especially to China, it’s worth taking note of one thing the USA—or more precisely Washington DC and Langley, Virginia—are producing and exporting to China’s Hong Kong. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China has been targeted for a color revolution, one that has been dubbed in the media the Umbrella Revolution for the umbrellas that protesters use to block police tear gas. 

The “umbrellas” for Hong Kong’s ongoing Umbrella Revolution are made in Washington. Proof of that lies not only in the obscenely-rapid White House open support of Occupy Central just hours after it began, following the same model they used in Ukraine.[1] The US State Department and NGOs it finances have been quietly preparing these protests for years. Consider just the tip of the Washington Hong Kong “democracy” project.

US, South Korea Delay Plan On Wartime Military Control

from South Korea and the United States have agreed to postpone the transfer of wartime operational control - known as OPCON - until Seoul is capable of countering nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

The transfer had been scheduled for late next year. But South Korea has asked for a delay amid rising tensions in the Korean peninsula. However not everyone in the country is happy with the new agreement.

Dozens of South Koreans from various civic groups showed their displeasure in a rally outside the Defence Ministry in Seoul, chanting anti-government slogans. They said the latest decision hurts efforts to reconcile the two Koreas and delays the eventual reunification of South and North Korea.

South Korea has peacetime control of its 639,000 service members. But under the existing agreement, US commanders take command of all South Korean troops in the event of a war. The two countries had agreed to return wartime control to South Korea next year.

China and 20 Other Countries Sign MOU On Regional Bank

from Strat Risks: China and 20 other countries moved forward on Friday towards setting up an Asian infrastructure lender seen as a counterweight to Western-backed international development banks.

The signatories put their names to a memorandum of understanding to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The institution, whose development has been driven by China and which is widely expected to have initial capital of $50 billion, it intended to address the region’s burgeoning demand for transportation, dams, ports and other facilities, officials say.

“In China we have a folk saying,” Chinese President Xi Jinping told delegates after the ceremony. “If you would like to get rich, build roads first, and I believe that is a very vivid description of the very importance of infrastructure to economic development.”

China’s rise to become the world’s second-largest economy has been accompanied by a desire to play a greater role in international organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the ADB, which have been dominated by Europe, the United States and Japan.

But other than China, among Asia’s 10 largest economies only India and Singapore signed the AIIB memorandum, with three of the top five — Japan, South Korea and Indonesia — notably absent.

The Japanese head of the Asian Development Bank, another regional lender, said Thursday that questions remained over the AIIB’s structure and it needed to adhere to international standards.

“Our position about AIIB is first that it is understandable because there is a very big financing need in the region,” ADB President Takehiko Nakao told reporters.

But he said he was still awaiting details about the bank such as membership, shareholdings, the location of its headquarters and who will head it.

The Japanese government has expressed concern, while the United States is reportedly fiercely opposed to the AIIB.

Xi was reassuring after the signing. “For the AIIB, its operation needs to follow multilateral rules and procedures,” he said.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Abbott's War and The World of Oil and Money

from Oil and money collide again as Tony Abbott carries Australia back into the Middle East conflict for the third time in three decades. Rodney E. Lever reports.

It is difficult to believe that Tony Abbott knows what he is doing in committing Australia to a third war in Iraq. How does one read into the mind of a man who has been a serial liar all his life?

Joan Abbott (no relation as far as I know) tweeted this comment to me:
A war without definition pursued by a man who defies definition. Welcome to Australia, land of the Great (un)Defined.’

Prime Minister Abbott has pegged his place in history to a leaking vessel and it raises many questions and many doubts.

When, for example, did Barack Obama ask Australia to send our squadron of Hornets? Did I miss something? America has its own much more powerful air force. When did Obama request Australian troops? He has declared that his own army will be restricted to training Iraq forces again to meet the threat of ISIL (or ISIS, as America calls it). 

From the beginning, this has been Obama’s war. He was elected to end the first mess in Iraq started by George W. Bush simply because the American power elite no longer trusted Saddam Hussein, who had previously been an ally to the US but had outlived his usefulness.

With pressure from Rupert Murdoch, both John Howard in Australia and Tony Blair in Britain agreed to supply troops to support the Americans in a war that was conducted only by fogging the truth to obtain support from the United Nations. Both Howard and Blair acted without any enthusiastic support from the citizens of both their countries.

The first Iraq war ‒ the Gulf War ‒ was a humanitarian disaster, with half a million dead children not enough to fill the West’s insatiable maw.

It was based on outrageous lies about “weapons of mass destruction” that were clearly shown not to exist — before or after the war.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

China Central Bank Injects $81b Into Major Banks To Support Economy: Reports

from China's central bank is injecting a combined 500 billion yuan ($81.35 billion) of liquidity into the country's top banks, according to media reports, a sign that authorities are stepping up efforts to shore up a faltering economy.

Global shares and commodity prices rose on the reported move, although local money market rates climbed on the day, reflecting continued tightness in liquidity. [MKTS/GLOB]

The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed Chinese bank executive, said the People's Bank of China (PBOC) is pumping in 100 billion yuan each into China's top five banks via standard lending facility in the form of 3-month loans.

When contacted by Reuters, a PBOC spokesman said: “We will make an announcement if we have any news.”

The central bank may be worried that an expected tightening in liquidity ahead of the quarter-end as well as a series of upcoming initial public offerings could trigger a sharp rise in short-term rates, as was seen in June last year, when they surged to around 30 percent and roiled global markets, traders said.

Analysts say the amount is equivalent to a 50-basis-point cut to banks' reserve requirement ratio – the level of cash commercial lenders must carry on deposit with the PBOC. However, an RRR cut would have a longer-lasting and larger impact across the economy.

Vietnam, India to Expand Oil Exploration in Contested South China Sea

from Vietnam and India agreed Monday to expand cooperation in oil and gas exploration and production in contested waters of the South China Sea, despite previous objections from China. 

The agreement between ONGC Videsh Ltd and Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, or PetroVietnam, was among several signed between the two countries in Hanoi Monday as part of a four-day visit to Vietnam by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. 

“ONGC has been conducting oil and gas exploration and production in Vietnam for many years, and today’s agreement will pave the way for us to extend our cooperation in other blocks offshore Vietnam,” Do Van Hau, PetroVietnam’s chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal. 

ONGC already has a stake in a gas-production block on the southern Vietnam coast. It is also drilling in offshore exploration block 128 in the South China Sea. It relinquished adjacent block 127 in 2011 after it failed to find any oil or gas in the area. 

In 2011, the Chinese government warned ONGC that its exploration activities off the Vietnam coast were illegal and violated China’s sovereignty, but the company has continued its activities in Vietnam. China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, where Block 127 and 128 are located. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Abe Says He’s ‘Neutral’ On Raising Japan Sales Tax Again

from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he remained “neutral” on whether to proceed with a hike in Japan’s sales tax to 10%, adding that decision would hinge on the strength of economic indicators for the current quarter.

”The economy is a living thing and we are thinking about this in a neutral way,” Abe told public broadcaster NHK.

Abe has to decide by the end of the year whether to proceed with a previously approved plan to raise the consumption tax to 10% from 8% in 2015 after a hike from 5% in April sent consumption into a sharp contraction.

Abe said in an NHK interview that he wanted to see how the economy performs in the July to September quarter after gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 7.1% in the April to June quarter as a result of the previous tax increase.

”We would like to get economic indicators from the quarter and hear the views of economists. As part of that process, we will decide whether to proceed with the tax hike as now set by law or whether to wait. That’s the discussion we need to have,” Abe said.

Abe said his goal was to restore growth to the world’s third largest economy and end 15 years of deflation. At the same time, he has pledged to curb government debt, which is well over twice the size of GDP, the heaviest debt burden in the industrial world.

”We have no alternative but to aim to spur growth even as we get public finance on a healthier footing,” Abe told NHK. 

— Reuters

China's Xi Due In India, Up To $300b Of Investments Expected

from China's President Xi Jinping is expected to commit to millions of dollars in new investments as he kicks off his maiden tour of India on Wednesday (Sep 17).

Chinese officials have indicated their country will commit between US$100b and US$300b on projects including high-speed rail and "smart" infrastructure but it will have to compete with Japan for some of the blue-ribbon opportunities.

President Xi will be the first important Asian head of state to visit India since the new Narendra Modi government was sworn into office in May this year. President Xi's first stop will be in the western Indian state of Gujarat, which is not only Mr Modi's home state but also where China has made huge investments.

Alka Acharya, director of Institute of Chinese Studies, said that both China and India have "huge stakes in a good bilateral relationship". "A lot of expectations from the visit, there is a great deal of promise that both the governments have held out about taking this relationship forward in a very purposeful fashion."

The new Indian government's focus is on the revival of the Indian economy, with Prime Minister Modi promising "smart" cities and to reinvigorate the 'Made in India' label. Key to that plan is cooperation with China and Japan, both of which are racing for a slice of the lucrative investment on offer in India.

China and Japan are in a tussle to rebuild India's ageing rail network with their respective new technologies. Earlier this month Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed Mr Modi to Tokyo and committed an injection of US$35 billion over the next five years. But China is a key player and is certain to bring its own strategic investment blueprint to President Xi's visit.