Tag Archives: Iraq

The Economist Weekly Round Up, Mar 5th – 11th

WHY OIL PRICES ARE SPIKING
1) Oil prices reached $120/barrel due to FOREIGN WORKERS FLEEING Libya amidst the civil unrest. Compare to the peak of $150/barrel in 2008. There is much concern in India and China where the monetary policy is loose and inflation is rife. Aside from the Libya ‘blip’ wider structural issues remain as oil demand is fast outpacing increases in readily availably supply. More must be done in the areas of electric vehicles and pricing carbons.

DEVELOPING WORLD’S BIG HITTERS
A new trend of ‘diversified global conglomerates’ was identified. Examples include Tata (India), Brazil’s Embaraer (aircraft) and South Africa’s MTN (mobile phones). Such groups able to unlock developing markets where governments are frequently incompetent and the markets are hopelessly underdeveloped.

TIME FOR NO FLY IN LIBYA
Britain is pushing for a no-fly-zone over Libya to quash the regime’s use of helicopter gunships and aircraft on dissecting civilians. Deployment of a no-fly-zone helped save the lives of Kurds in Iraq. America did not support this proposal as it is concerned of being embroiled in another misadventure.

REMARKABLE UN SOLIDARITY ON LIBYA SANCATIONS
Although the international community is mostly against a no-fly-zone over Libya, there is surprising consensus on international sanctions against Libya and the referral of Colonel Gadaffi to the International Criminal Court as unanimously voted for by the UN Security Council (which includes Russia and China). It is believed that this because of the inevitable fall of Gadaffi.

COURT SAYS OK TO BASH THE TROOPS
The Supreme Court defended the right of Kansas’ Westboro Baptist church to PICKET the funeral of troops killed in the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. The church believes the fatalities are due to American society’s tolerance of homosexuality. Compare to the picketing of returning British military coffins at Wooton Basset.

OBAMA CONCEDES TO MANDATE WAIVERS
Obama will immediately give states the opportunity to seek waivers from the MANDATES in his healthcare package as soon as it comes into effect. There have been state level challenges against the constitutionality of the healthcare mandates.

2012 RUNNERS
Obama’s looking good for 2012 because: 48% approval rating is respectable, economy gradually recovering and he has a slick electoral machine. Obama’s not looking good for 2012 because: whites are deserting him in key electoral battlegrounds including Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin. Names touted for the republican nomination contest include Romney, Gingrich, Pawlenty, Daniels, Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Hayley Barbour, but surprisingly not Sarah Palin (who only received 3% of the votes at the recent CPAC convention).

WILL APPLE’S CLOSED MODEL WORK FOR APPS?
Apple is steaming ahead in the tablet market (which it itself pioneered) following the release of the iPad 2 (its predecessor sold over 15m units). Competing tablet manufacturers are adopting Google Android’s OS (which has now been adapted for tablets). It is unclear whether the iPad’s closed model will succeed in the same way it did with iTunes (where the music market is dominated by a few major publishers).

SECOND/THIRD GENERATION IMMIGRANTS ARE THE WORST!
Jewish riots in Brick Lane in the 19th Century, black riots in Brixton in 1981 and asian riots in Bradford in 2001. All involving 2nd generation immigrants who are less willing to live with the slights and marginalisation experienced by immigrants. Optimism lies as future generations integrate better. Exemplified by modern day Jews and Blacks.

BANKERS TIRE OF SWIZERLAND
The well off bankers who left London for Swizerland are being outgunned by the super-rich. Schools are a particular background where there is an overdemand for places at the local international schools. Although banks may be regulated less, every day life appears to be regulated more e.g. if you want a Sunday lunch, you have to drive to France (as everything is closed in the city because people are out skiing and sailing in the countryside).

BILATERAL TIES OR GLOBAL INSTITUTIONAL PLAY?
The Labour party is articulating its foreign policy position in opposition. It takes issues against the Foreign Office’s policy of circumventing the international bodies (e.g. EU/UN) in order to forge its own bilateral ties with countries. Douglas Alexander, the shadow Foreign Secretary, believes the real power lies with the internal bodies. He’s seen a right leaning figure in a heavily leftwards Labour party.

HIGH SPEED RAIL NOT NECESSARILY PROFITABLE
High Speed Rail 2 (HS2), which will provide high speed rail to Manchester and Leeds from London, is due to start being built from 2017 and operable form 2026. The cost-benefit on high speed rail investment is not clear following schemes like the Channel Tunnel which has never come close to achieving its projected passenger numbers.

OFSTED ARE A JOKE
Almost half of school pupils leave without 5 GCSE passes despite 89% of secondary schools being rated satisfactory or better by OFSTED.

DEMOCRACY BUT NO LIGHT IN IRAQ
Even though democracy has already been installed in Iraq, street protests against the government continue as it is not able to delivery basic services including a regular supply of electricity.

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The roadmap to a free society

Gordon Wood, Professor of History at Brown university questions the viability of installing regieme change in the Middle East citing that the Islamic culture is a long way away from accepting key liberal democratic fundamentals such as the separation of religion and state.

He draws parallels between the 17th century strife between Catholics and Protestants in Europe (historically acknowledged as the 30 years war) and Iraq’s current Sunni-Shia unrest to illustrate just how far Iraq has to go before it can be capable of supporting democracy.

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Human Rights remain elusive in fledgling Iraqi democracy:“journalist who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush [] beaten in custody”

India still ruling out Pakistan attack:“[Pakistan] under tremendous Indian and American pressure to act”

Leveraging opportunity through diversity in poverty:“poor white boys have the lowest aspirations of all ethnic groups; researchers did find higher levels of aspirations among young people living in ethnically diverse, mobile, urban neighbourhoods”

China’s online lockdown resumes:“[Western] sites had been unblocked after journalists attending the Beijing Olympics complained that the government was censoring sites deemed sensitive [] have been banned again”

AND FINALLY…

Facebook being used to lasso outlaws:“An Australian couple [on the run] have been served with legal documents via the popular social networking site Facebook”

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Mugabe declares landslide election victory:“The [electoral] commission said Mr Mugabe won 85.5% of the vote”

African leaders already faced with confronting Mugabe at key summit:“The [African Union] has a rule not to accept leaders who have not been democratically elected – but observers say it is unlikely to take such strong action against Mr Mugabe so quickly.”

Department of Health declare last year’s smoking ban a “success”:“Almost 100% compliance; survey suggests more than than 400,000 people quit smoking as a result of the ban; dramatic impact unexpected”

Oil industry to be revamped in Iraq:“Iraq has reserves of about 115 billion barrels, the world’s third largest, and the development of its oil facilities are essential to helping to fund the country’s long-term reconstruction.”

North Korea opening up to the International Community?:“Fifty more international monitors will oversee aid distribution and they will be given unprecedented access to rural areas”

Nation building emphasis now on Afghanistan:“Britain is spending more than £120m this year on development aid to the country, but the security situation has seriously hampered progress.”

Government planned Eco-Towns nothing more than a gimmick?:“We are urging the government to go back to the drawing board. Many of these shortlisted schemes are recycled, failed proposals.”

Pension crises looms as a third of Britons respond that they’re “unable to save”:“Just 51% of people are setting aside enough money to provide an adequate income during retirement.”

Wanted War Criminal parades himself openly in Bosnia:“Alleged murder of two CIA agents by Karadzic’s men when they got too close to him; bodies never found”

The A537 between Macclesfield and Buxton – Motorcyclists beware…:“Britain’s most dangerous road; When motorcycle collisions are removed from the figures, the A537 moves to become one of the safest in the country”

Image courtesy of news.bbc.co.uk