Current Events

Little Turkey Pressures Powerful America

The International Herald Tribune republished the following article by The Associated Press, dated October 30:

“The Turkish prime minister said Tuesday that intensified military action against separatist Kurdish rebels was unavoidable and pressed the United States to crack down on guerrilla bases in northern Iraq. Turkish helicopters, meanwhile, pounded rebel positions near the border with rockets for a second day, and Turkey brought in troops by the truckload in an operation against mountainside emplacements… Erdogan is to fly to Washington on Nov. 5 to meet with President George W. Bush for talks that could be decisive in whether Turkey carries out its threats of a major military incursion… “‘I will once again express Turkey’s determination and the sensitivity of the people on the issue of terrorism to President Bush,’ Erdogan said. ‘We will openly express that we expect urgent steps from the United States, which is our strategic partner and ally and has special responsibilities regarding Iraq.’

“The United States, Iraq and other countries have called on Turkey to refrain from a cross-border campaign, which could spread disorder in one of the few stable areas in Iraq. A Turkish incursion would also put the United States in an awkward position with key allies: Turkey, a NATO member, the Baghdad government and the self-governing Iraqi Kurds in Iraq’s north.”

Iraq Warns Turkey

AFP reported the following on October 29:

“Turkey has threatened a major cross-border assault on PKK bases in northern Iraq if Baghdad and Washington fail to make good on promises to crack down on the rebels there. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari warned Monday that such a move could have ‘disastrous consequences’ and would be met with stiff Iraqi resistance. ‘They are talking about a large-scale military incursion which is getting people extremely, extremely nervous and worried,’ Zebari told the BBC in an interview.

“Describing the situation on the Turkish-Iraqi border as ‘dead serious,’ Zebari complained that Turkey ‘was not responsive’ when Iraqi officials flew to Ankara last week for talks. According to Turkish media reports, some 100,000 Turkish troops have been deployed along the border over the past week.”

Armenians Upset With U.S. Timidity

On October 30, 2007, the Eastern Star News Agency (ESNA) wrote the following:

“The director of the Assyrian centre of genocide studies… called on Turks to put pressure on their government to recognize the Ottoman mass killing of around 2 million Assyrians/Syriacs, Armenians and Greeks during World War I. ‘It is the duty of every individual Turk to lobby his government to recognize the crimes committed in the name of their nation and religion,’ Sabri Atman, Seyfo Centre director, said in a lecture on Sunday in London. Atman’s call came days after the US House of Representatives rejected a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide.”

Serious Water Shortage for America and the World

The Associated Press reported on October 26:

“An epic drought in Georgia threatens the water supply for millions. Florida doesn’t have nearly enough water for its expected population boom. The Great Lakes are shrinking. Upstate New York’s reservoirs have dropped to record lows. And in the West, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is melting faster each year. Across America, the picture is critically clear – the nation’s freshwater supplies can no longer quench its thirst. The government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years because of a combination of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess…

“It’s not just America’s problem – it’s global. Australia is in the midst of a 30-year dry spell, and population growth in urban centers of sub-Saharan Africa is straining resources. Asia has 60 percent of the world’s population, but only about 30 percent of its freshwater.”

The article continued:

“Coastal states like Florida and California face a water crisis not only from increased demand, but also from rising temperatures that are causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise. Higher temperatures mean more water lost to evaporation. And rising seas could push saltwater into underground sources of freshwater.

“Florida represents perhaps the nation’s greatest water irony. A hundred years ago, the state’s biggest problem was it had too much water. But decades of dikes, dams and water diversions have turned swamps into cities. Little land is left to store water during wet seasons, and so much of the landscape has been paved over that water can no longer penetrate the ground in some places to recharge aquifers. As a result, the state is forced to flush millions of gallons of excess into the ocean to prevent flooding. Also, the state dumps hundreds of billions of gallons a year of treated wastewater into the Atlantic through pipes – water that could otherwise be used for irrigation…

“Californians use nearly 23 trillion gallons of water a year, much of it coming from Sierra Nevada snowmelt. But climate change is producing less snowpack and causing it to melt prematurely, jeopardizing future supplies. Experts also say the Colorado River, which provides freshwater to seven Western states, will probably provide less water in coming years as global warming shrinks its flow.”

Steady Decline of the Dollar–American Economy in BIG Trouble

On October 30, The Associated Press reported the following:

“The dollar fell to a new record low against the euro and a 26-year low against the British pound Tuesday… the euro peaked at $1.4440, the latest in a string of all-time highs against the dollar, before settling at $1.4434… The pound rose to $2.0679 in late New York trading Tuesday — a level last seen in 1981, when Diana married Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher was prime minister…

“The Canadian dollar hit a new 47-year high of $1.0510 Tuesday, according to Dow Jones’ Interbank foreign exchange rates, before settling at $1.0488… The euro and the Canadian dollar have been climbing steadily against the dollar, regularly touching new highs since August amid fears over the health of the U.S. economy — worries stoked by the subprime credit crisis and disappointing economic reports — and rising oil prices.

“Tuesday saw the release of more disheartening economic data, as the Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 95.6 — its lowest level since October 2005 — from a revised 99.5 in September. It is the index’s third consecutive monthly drop and signals consumers’ insecurities over the economy and their jobs…”

The Financial Times added on October 30:

“… experts [are] warning that the next few months will bring more bad news from consumers and the housing market… ‘The housing market, credit problems and high gasoline prices are casting a cloud over consumer confidence and the economy,’ said Lynn Franco at the Conference Board, a research organisation. According to the board, consumer confidence fell sharply in October and was now at its lowest level since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in October 2005. The October drop in the monthly consumer confidence index was bigger than expected…”

EU and USA At Odds Over Weak Dollar

Der Spiegel Online wrote on November 1, 2007:

“Economic growth in the United States will, in the short term, slow down. That, at least, is the future seen in the US Federal Reserve’s crystal ball. The consequences of that forecast became clear on Wednesday: The central bank cut short-term lending rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.5 percent… In the same breath, the Fed also dropped the discount rate — which governs rates charged to banks borrowing from the Fed — by 0.25 percent to 5 percent…

“It didn’t take long for the results to make themselves felt. Anticipation of the Fed’s move had already driven the price of the euro up — and soon after the announcement, the euro reached a new record price of $1.45 before sliding back slightly. Oil prices likewise shot up, partially due to anticipation stemming from the interest rate cut that the US economy would continue to grow. And gold prices have likewise hit $800 per ounce, a price not seen since 1980.

“… inflation in Europe has recently increased dramatically… making an interest rate hike the logical conclusion. The euro, as a result, will likely continue to rise against the dollar… The stronger the euro, the more expensive European goods become. ‘The weak dollar is not a good thing,’ says Kay Mayland, head of Germany-based SMS Demag, which sells metal-working equipment the world over. Many other managers and investors from across the European continent are likewise becoming impatient. Should the euro climb to $1.50, analysts say, exporters will likely experience a drastic slowdown in sales.

“For Germany — Europe’s largest economy — the consequences could be horrendous. Much of the country’s economy, after all, is based on exports.”

Cristina Kirchner the New President of Argentina

AFP reported on October 29:

“Argentina’s First Lady Cristina Kirchner won praise and pledges of better ties from Latin American neighbors Monday after sweeping the polls to take over the presidency from her husband [on December 10]… A lawyer, senator and snappy dresser who is often compared to New York senator Hillary Clinton, Cristina Kirchner declared herself the winner… Observers say Kirchner faces big challenges, with high inflation, rising crime and low foreign investment all now threatening the economic recovery her husband oversaw in the wake of a 2001 collapse that led to a historic debt default and devaluation of the peso…

“The presidents of Chile, Venezuela and Brazil were the first to congratulate Kirchner on her win.

“Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, who was the first woman elected to the presidency in her country in January 2006, said: ‘It’s not a coincidence that these two neighboring countries, with similar characteristics, have elected women to direct their destinies.’ Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called it ‘a triumph for women of Latin America,’ and said he hoped to deepen ties he has nurtured with the Argentine first couple.

“US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington congratulated Kirchner on her victory, and the Argentine people on participating in free and fair elections. He added that US administration hoped to work with Kirchner on bilateral and regional issues. Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy each invited Kirchner to visit them.

“Aside from the Hillary Clinton comparison, Kirchner’s glamor and confidence — some say arrogance — have also earned her references to Argentina’s most iconic woman politician: Eva, or ‘Evita’ Peron, second wife to president Juan Peron. Peron’s third wife, Isabel, was Argentina’s first-ever female president — but unlike Kirchner, she was unelected. She was elevated from the vice-presidency on her husband’s death in 1974 and ousted in a coup two years later.”

European Imperialism

The Wall Street Journal wrote on October 31:

“Europe now writes the rules for global business across the board — unapologetically to the benefit of its own industry. American companies are learning they have little choice but to obey… [European] control over access to a consumer market of 500 million lets them try to force the rest of the world to play by its cumbersome rules. The result is a quiet but concerted war on non-European commerce, and especially on U.S. companies. Antitrust policy in Brussels is a battlefield, particularly for high-tech firms. [Judge] Mario Monti, the former EU competition czar who issued the ruling against Microsoft’s software ‘bundling,’ told an Italian newspaper last month that putting such U.S. giants in their place was ‘the true strength of a united Europe.’ …

“Since 1997, the EU has banned chicken meat rinsed in such antimicrobial treatments as chlorine. In Europe, poultry meat can be ‘washed’ only in potable water. The EU said the chemicals used in the U.S. were dangerous, then changed its mind two years ago when its own Food Safety Authority declared them harmless. But the ban remains in place… U.S. poultry farmers… are losing a significant market. U.S. chicken exports to Romania were $63 million in 2005, but they stopped cold when Bucharest joined the EU this year…

“Foreign cosmetic companies, for instance, are required to register all chemicals in their products by June 1, 2008. The deadline for their European rivals is at least three years away. At stake for U.S. makers is their $2 billion in annual exports to Europe. American companies are scrambling to meet this deadline even as they wait for Brussels to approve new alternatives to animal testing, which is banned for products sold in the EU starting in 2009.”

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